slide show

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How our kids make their own school lunches!

I'll start off by saying that if I'd just make the lunches all by myself, it would be so much easier and faster. Really, it would! But in the long run, after years, it wouldn't. I know that much is true. They'd be in high school, and I'd still be making their lunches! Or they would skip lunch altogether. Not that I'd know that from experience or anything. Just saying. That's what might happen.
Never you mind my crazy-crammed unorganized freezer.
Or the hat and water bottle on the floor that everyone just steps over.
These are both on the bottom of a very long list of things that need to get done... eventually. 
I think I was especially impressionable a few weeks ago when I was reading an article about the Dutch and how they raise their children differently, encouraging more responsibility than us 'Mercans. There was a short line or two about kids making their own lunches starting as early as kindergarten, with guidance of course. And I got to thinking in a moment of impressionable insanity, why not? Why couldn't my younger ones make their own lunches?! They are more than capable of doing it, and I have to clean up the mess already anyway.
Until this point, Papa and I get up way earlier than human being should have to wake up at 6am. Papa makes breakfast, and I pack the lunches. The younger kiddos hear us and wake up about the same time. The older kiddos need to be roused with a electric cattle prod but that's another story entirely. Breakfast is promptly at 6:35, (Some of the kiddos have to leave the house at 7:15am so we have to do it all way earlier than I'd choose.) so lunches need to be completely packed by then so we can have breakfast together. The kiddos get dressed pretty fast, so that leaves them about 20 min to get their own lunches made before breakfast.
See! The water bottle and hat are still on the floor. Kids are completely oblivious to it. 
She's loved hard-boiled eggs since the day we met her!
So here's how it works. While they are still getting dressed, I set out some lunch options. Cheese. Hard boiled eggs. Cuties. Strawberries, grape tomatoes...  They aren't limited to these items, but it helps them not be overwhelmed by looking in the refrigerator. I ask them to pick out and/or make at least 1 protein, (a pb&j, hard boiled egg, ham sandwich, bagel with cream cheese...) 1 fruit or veggie, and they can add most anything else they like (pretzels, goldfish, more fruits or veggies...) including add 1 dessert like a cookie, left over piece cake, rice krispie square, piece of chocolate...  (Who am I kidding?! Rice krispies never ever last long enough to make it into a lunch in our house!) And all the while I supervise.
By the time they were done today, this is what the girls came up with. Tess had a pb&j, celery sticks and salami slices "for desert." Mimi had a hard boiled egg, crackers with cheese slices and salami, and a cookie. (Jude had Tylenol and Motrin for the 3rd day in a row as he's been sick lately, poor little dude!)
Note size 14 Man Child shoes. 
Another bonus is that they get practice with putting things away and cleaning up after themselves too! Not that I expect them to perfectly wipe down the counters or anything. I have to help put away items that go up high, re-wipe the counters and wash the dishes that they put in the sink after they are gone. Like I said, it'd be so much fast if I just did it all myself, but in the end, I think it's gonna be worth it.
And this little kindergarten cutie has been not only enjoying her lunch more than when I made it, but is actually eating it too! Dare I say they are appreciating their lunch more than if I had made it for them?!
So I started supervising/assisting the 3 youngest kiddos making their school lunches last month-ish just to see how it went. And the verdict is that it's going great! Totally worth it, and I hope that I'm instilling some responsibility, knowledge about food and nutrition, and skills that will last a long while. The kiddos will definitely be making their lunch the rest of this school year and when school resumes in August. I have lofty ambition of them taking turns making family dinners someday!

And ps - please remind me to never ever ever choose cabinetry and floors with orange and red undertones in it again.
Nothing good comes from that.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Tiny bugs

Common Knowledge:
When you have petite children and they end up in the back row of a school play, sometimes they disappear behind sombreros.
This is how Tess and Jude looked for the 99% of the 2nd grade play. Thank golly for the antennae or we would have lost them all together. Thankfully Livy took pics and drew arrows when I didn't.
Lucky for us, Tess's boldness helped us see right where her brother and she were sitting. 
But seriously, how cute are out little bugs?! A yellow shirt with black duct tape. And a green shirt turned inside out. Adorned with a couple accessories via Amazon prime. A bumble bee and a green something-or-other. I love simple costumes so it's all about the kids, right?
We sure do love our tiny little bugs!

Monday, May 16, 2016

9 seats left!

Update: 8 seats left!
     .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      

"I have found a lot of stuff to chew on- so thank you! I have taken two other classes about using Manual Mode but neither have gone into such depth as you have... I'm having a great time practicing- you have really helped me add some great information, techniques etc-to my photography tool box- Thank YOU Nancy- as always your classes are such a joy." ~Joanna

Joanna is a mom of 2 gorgeous children, and I have loved teaching her and watching her photography skills grow! If you know me, you know I LOVE teaching photography basics and any tricks I know to both beginners, (and those who know the basics but feel like they still have some holes in their photography foundation.) If you feel like that describes you, this is the class for you! And just in time for those summer photos too! NO need to be online at any particular time. Class starts next week, and there are only 9 seats left! Grab 'em while they last!
Details and the link to register is HERE! Give me a holler if you have any questions!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016 order to remain sane and healthy.

I'll let you in on you a secret.
'Cause I don't really believe in secrets anyway.
China's beautiful countryside
Since my China trip I've been thinking a lot, and honestly all that thinking has been getting me pretty down. In the dumps. There are things that I've come to realize more deeply, and with more intensity, then I did before the trip.

I'm not even sure that even now that I'm willing to commit it to print, except to say that I am changed.

I think of myself as glass-half-full girl. I can usually see the silver lining for most events, and I live in the assurance that no matter how bad things are, my attitude shapes my continence more than any external crappola. But I was really having trouble snapping out of this grief. My mind seemed to be consumed with grief day and night, and no matter what I did, I just couldn't stop thinking about it. In the middle of not sleeping and all day long there were long stretches of prayer and tears. Isolation. Grief and wallowing. Spiraling down. Good cries with my best girlfriends. I had the classic signs of depression. Then suddenly it dawned on me that I needed to do something about it. That doing something, doing anything good could be a way out of my sadness about things that I just cannot change. I wrote, I can't not act anymore. I need to DO something in order to remain sane and healthy. 

So I talked to Papa about it. And we talked to the kids. I prayed and talked some more, and ultimately we all agreed that doing something good, was well... good for all of us. And we all wanted to do it. And in addition to being the proudest mama right then and there, the weight in my heart was lifted.

So all this to say, it's Wednesday, and we're expecting a visitor any time now. A new little visitor that needs a little good in his life, maybe for a short while and maybe longer. We don't know where it is going to take us but we're committed to the long haul if that's where God takes us. And even though unknowns are scary, (and land's sake are they!) we can do that.

And my spirits have been lifted because doing good, actually makes all of us better.

To be continued...

Monday, May 9, 2016

Star Student {Julie Gainey}

Before I introduce my amazing Star Student, I do want to remind that registration for the next Manual 'n More class is underway. Class starts in 2 weeks and I anticipate that this class like all the others, will fill up too, so don't wait too long to register. Go here to learn more and here to actually register. 

So now let me tell you about this amazing lady! 'Cause I love love love to share with you how amazing my students are and show them off! 

Julie was one of my very first students. Even before I started offering classes, she and I did one on one mentoring. Like a lot of other moms, she has two amazingly beautiful children, (Actually when we started together she only had one.) that she wanted to capture some beautiful photos of so that was our original goal. 
In the couple years since we first met online, not only have her photography skills grown, but she has now moved to Kenya with her family on mission work.. amazingly beautiful Kenya with it's amazingly beautiful people.
And now I find myself so blessed to have students on 4 continents. And I get to see Julie's world all the way in Kenya, through her personal blog from another continent! I find myself drooling over the images she shares, the people she meets, the things she encounters... Julie and her husband are boots on the ground, making a difference. And the world is a better place because of that. 
Julie's crazy awesome skills combined with the beautiful scenery of where she lives makes you feel like you are getting to look over her shoulder into her world. 
From Julie, 

Nancy is the most encouraging teacher I've ever had in all of my years of schooling. She doesn't mind answering questions, almost daily, and she didn't mind explaining things until I actually got them!  

Photography online seem intimidating, until you take a class from Nancy.  I would recommend her to anyone remotely interested in learning more about their camera and shooting in manual.  It has become such an outlet in my life.  

Thanks, Nancy!

I'm so grateful to have taken her classes.

Julie, thank you so much for letting me have the honor of working with you in your photography journey, and thank you for sharing your amazing journey with us! It has is truly my pleasure to see your photography stretch and grow. I can't wait to see more from all the way over on the other side of the world!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Mother's Day kindergarten style

2 weeks later, and I'm just now starting to feel like myself. Jet lag from Asia always kicks my bum hard when I return home. Not so much on the trip over, but coming home is HARD! especially when I'm doing regular ol' mom duties like car pool, packing lunches, playing tooth fairy... And for some reason I'm always shocked when it does. A couple days ago I actually fell asleep in the parking lot of the doctor's office when I decided I should just rest my eye just a little bit. 20 minutes later I was late for my appointment. But I think I'm on the mend because this morning I actually brushed my hair! I know... crazy! But I did, and then I even put on some mascara and am feeling kinda normal again. So lest I forget next time, someone remind me that it take a full 2 weeks to recover from jet lag!
And my extra incentive for being remotely presentable was that I had a special date with a special kindergartener!
And I'm feeling like the luckiest mama in the world to get to be her mom!
Look how she's turning into all legs these last several months! Don't get me wrong, she's not tall by any means. At a whopping 35 lbs, she's still petite as ever and always will be. But it does seem like she's lost all her baby fat now. That makes me so sad!

And if you look very closely, you'll see that Mimi has lost her first tooth! Stop growing up I tell you! After discovering it was loose one morning, she wiggled it and giggled it and cried so sadly fearing it was never ever going to come out. We explained that sometimes these things take time, like more than 1 day certainly. She had it out that night.
Happy Mother's Day all you sweet mamas! Squeeze 'em tight and treasure the moments! And be sure to pass off the camera as often as possible so your children have photos of you with them too!

And one more thing, registration for the next Manual 'n More class is underway. This is the beginning class that starts off the whole photography journey! (Or if you feel like there are some holes in your photography skills this is a great class to fill them up.) Class starts in 2 weeks, and I anticipate that this class like all the others, will fill up too, so don't wait too long to register. Go here to learn more and here to actually register.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Goodbye China and the Yichun SWI

My last orphanage... for now.
I'm likely traveling home by the time you read this.
It's going to take a while to process this trip. All the days have been full, but some days are heavier than other. And some days have been so heavy for a myriad of reasons. I'll need some time not only to recuperate from jet lag but also for prayer and processing.
Many many thanks to the amazing Martha Osborn for giving my a kick in the pants when I needed it. I needed it. To my sweet friend Erin for thinking of me for this trip. For Darla, Mai, Keely and the other Nancy for being the boots on the ground with the incredible care they give these beautiful children and their hearts of gold. To Gong Zhan and our interpreters who made it all possible. To the advocates on the first half of the trip who will now take action and help find some forever families for these amazing little ones. I was truly honored to be in such company.

I am changed.

I'll leave you with my last day with come of the wonderfully-made children in the Yichun Social Welfare Institute in Yichun, Jiangxi, China, where not even measles and influenza stopped us! (thus the masks)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ji'an, Jiangxi, SWI

Several people have asked me, or maybe rather it's just come up, what I do here on this China trip. Mostly, I want to capture image that move people, and mostly move people to action. I think the first pic in the post especially has the potential to do that. To show the realness of Down's syndrome and the orphans of China. Martha was quite smitten with this gorgeous little dumplin', and honestly I had a hard time not taking pics of her. She is just such a delicious little puddin' pop! And smart! And ready to grow and take on the world! Then again, in the arms of a forever family, they all are really. 
We hauled this "stander" all over China, in and out of many airports and train stations and vans just to leave it at this orphanage. This little guy has CP and I don't know or not if this is his first time standing, but look at his face at the brought him upright for the first time! And that smile made it all worth while! This is the type of stuff that I got to witness over here with this amazing team.
Crazy beautiful smiles filled my heart and I'm reminded how children seem to be the same in so many ways not matter where they are from or their circumstances.
And do not even get me started about this last little one in the photo above. He will never ever leave my memory for as long as I live. Perhaps if we meet in person, I can share more. But for now, I am still processing. The days are full as is my heart. 

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