Wednesday, December 29, 2010

End-of-the-year pictures

Dear Son #2 turned 12 on Dec. 11th. Here he is reading one of the homemade cards from his siblings (with sister & Grandma looking on).

There's a story behind this gift...our boy has seen that all our bio kids have gotten blankies as babies. He never got a blankie and mentioned that to me one day, saying he felt sad and left out. My first thought was 'You're too big for a blankie.' Then I paused and really thought about it...no he's not. Every baby in this family needs/gets a blankie. So, here he is with his blankie. He was one happy boy & I got a HUGE hug that night!

Our yearly tradition of 'see-if-you-can-make-the-birthday-boy-talk-so-he-has-to-sit-under-the-table'. He's normally tough but he busted out laughing at his siblings attempts...so, here he is under the table! **Notice brother's foot... hehe

I got this picture idea from a friend. She's reading the Christmas story out of Luke 2.

Angel Baby

Princess

**Smiley** (her new nickname given by her softball coach)

Big brother

Little Brother

Big sister (home for Christmas from school)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Did you know?

Did you know you can buy 2 chickens (that will supply countless eggs providing protein) for $25? Did you know a pair of goats costing $150 helps to provide protein for children to grow? A family can sell extra milk, cheese & yogurt at market to earn money for medicines and other necessities. Fertilizer from goats can increase the amount of vegetables grown in a family garden. For $40, a family fishing kit can be purchased including nets, lines, hooks, a pole and a basket. You can empower a family to put food on the table. Did you know 5 fruit trees can be purchased for $30? How about a donkey that can help transport produce, firewood or other goods that can be sold at market. That same donkey could carry a sick child or family member to a distant clinic. Donkeys are reliable and hardworking and can live for 30 years or more. Does it make sense that you can buy $1,100 worth of medicines for $100 (including antibiotics, antiseptics, disposable syringes, painkillers, antifungals, de-worming meds, anti-fever drugs and vitamin A)? What about the low cost of providing a family with a bed net for $18 to help protect from malaria? Contaminated water infects and kills many children, worms alone contribute to 200,000 needless deaths every year. You can contribute to a clean water fund or even help a clean well to be dug in a village across the world. Why is it $1,650 worth of school supplies can be purchased to stock an overseas school for only $150? What about the low cost of giving one Bible for $18, in a child's own language, that shares God's love and Jesus' salvation? Did you know America is suffering too? Economic crisis has dramatically increased the number of American families falling through the cracks. $300 worth of necessities can be given to an American family for $50! What??? Did you know U.S. classrooms, especially in low-income neighborhoods, lack basic school supplies. Education is power, right? $150 worth of school supplies can be delivered for $25.

We have seen first hand the devistating effects when some of these basic needs are not provided. Our African children (their friends and biological families) have suffered at the hand of protein deficiency, lack of clean water and it's effects, non nutritious sources of food, lack of vitamins and/or medicines to treat simple issues (and medications that were given that were severely expired), malaria because of a lack in mosquito nets or nets with large holes, schools with no materials and/or teachers trying to educate in a room with little or no chairs and a broken piece of chalk board hung on the wall (and no chalk to write on it).

As I sat here this morning going over our Christmas lists and tidying up my to-do list, I thought about the different kinds of gifts that can be given. A lot of American families have struggled this past year because of many reasons. Many parents want to give their children that perfect gift and place it under the tree. Did you know that on Christmas, in Africa, my children looked forward to a boiled egg (or chicken leg) and Kool aid for a special treat? How much more are we able to give all our children? But how much hurt and lack in basic needs still exist?

There are many organizations that pull on your heartstrings, especially during this time of year. If you feel led, find one that you feel is legit and give a gift to help. What about Operation Shoebox? If you missed it this year, start planning for next year. We know the pain and lasting difficulty that physical and emotional depravity brings, we experience it first hand in our 'heart-babies' every day. When you're buying those last minute items and those dollar signs are swirling about, would you give a thought and prayer for those less fortunate than us? They are all around us...

One organization that we try to contribute to every year is Heifer International. We haven't been able to buy a whole animal to gift, but shares are available. A share allows you and your family to give $$ towards the purchase of an animal. In the past, instead of exchanging gifts with family members, we've honored them by purchasing a share of an animal from Heifer International. We were able to print off a card to give in explanation of their gift.

Another organization along the same lines is World Vision. Check them out to see how you can contribute to their cause.

Above all, please remember the reason for the season. If you don't feel led to give towards food, clean water or medicines- please pray about giving the gift of a Bible. That is the eternal food most desperately needed around the world.

Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Shutterfly Savvy!

I just adore Christmas picture cards! You know, the kind that has the fancy background in which you painstakingly place your favorite family picture in the center and choose a fancy font (in usually silver or gold writing) to tell everyone 'Merry Christmas 2010'! Or something of the sort... Our family has only done this once or twice in the 10 years since we've had children, mostly because of finances (sad but true). BUT....this year I ran across something quite interesting and lovely, to say the least! Shutterfly is having a Christmas promotion where they are 'giving away' 50 free cards. And all I have to do is tell you about it! They have so many cute and adorable templates! I think my favorites are the collages...I'm trying to figure out a way to squeeze everyone in there! My plan is to try and include a family picture as well as individual shots of each child. Question of the day: why have I not done this before? Answer of the day: Because I usually do things the hard way....urgh...I really don't like admitting that. :)

They make it so easy for you, go and check it out! And while I was looking around, of course I noticed all the other great things they offer besides Christmas cards. Here's just a few of the products that caught my eye:

Christmas photo cards

Birth announcements

Desk Calendars (great Christmas gift idea!)

How's that for going viral? Pretty sweet promotion if you ask me! Have an awesome holiday season, enjoy your family & remember the 'reason for the season!'