Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Self-Care: Hygge Style


This fall I have been eager to embrace comfort. And no, this isn't just chocolates and a bottle of wine. Although, that would be a nice way to spend an evening.

Maybe it is because we are grieving the loss of our foster daughter after raising her for two years...maybe it is because I am in need of a deep breath while we a break from foster parenting and all that comes with it, for however long God wants. Maybe because I am just emotionally and physically exhausted. Whatever the reason I have felt a need for slow, mellow, comfort, making my home a place to breathe.

This fall I have started bringing more of the hygge lifestyle into our home through little changes. And it helps. The comfort helps me get through my day, this season of grief.

For those who don't know what hygge (hoo-gah) is, there are many definitions out there but it is a danish way of living, embracing the moment, enjoying those around you and quiet time alone. Hygge is about soaking up conversation in a quiet environment, laughter, warm drinks, the comfort of a blanket or candles. It is a concept that involves cozy contentment and enjoying the simple things in life.

Here are some ways I have introduced self-care: hygge style into my routine.

Our Classroom Tour



When we decided to homeschool our kids, I looked ALL over Pinterest for ideas and asked all of my homeschool friends for insight as we started to prepare. There are just too many choices. In researching what we wanted to do, I realized that everyone's house and family size is different so of course their classroom space will be different. This is one of the wonderful aspects of homeschooling.  Meeting the individualized needs of your family.

However, many suburban type homes have a front room, an office space, etc... this is how we transformed ours.

Our front room is right by the front door of our house and we used it for various things in the last five years. But mostly it was just a sitting room of sorts, although my husband and I would have coffee dates in there, some mornings, while the kids watched cartoons.

I knew that for our family, we needed this to be our "classroom."

Here is our BEFORE and AFTER.


Of course we also planned to do school at the dining room table, on the couches, and even in our kitchen and backyard. But I wanted a place that we could keep all of our supplies and the kids could have a place to call their own. For me to keep any kind of order with a large family, we needed to have a homeschool room.

Here is the tour of our classroom....

Our First Year Homeschooling!




After years of praying what God's will is for our kids and their education, my husband and I decided to homeschool our five kids. It be
came clear that we needed to listen to the urging of the Lord and take this next step. 

We had a long list of educational reasons but my husband and I also felt like we needed a season of calm, to regroup as a family so we could devote time to helping each child in our care, thrive.

Of course we were eager for mellow mornings, learning about subjects and life together, cooking more healthy meals at home, exploring nature with more "field trips", reading aloud together, spending more time in God's word, stepping away from the rushed life for a bit. 

But we also saw more and more that the public school setting was not working for most of our children, for some of our kids there were huge red flags, for others, a few smaller red flags that brought concern. We couldn't shake the feeling that we needed to try something different.

We named our little homeschool, Oak Tree Academy, after being inspired from Max Lucado's book, The Oak Inside the Acorn. It is one of my favorite children books and I really wanted a name that validated what our hope is for this next year. The story is about the acorn that becomes who God created him to be. This was the theme I wanted, helping our children become who God created them to be.

Here are some things we have been praying about for our kids.

We hope they grow into the person God created them to be.
We want them to take root in the Lord so they can withstand the storms in life.
We want them to stand tall and confident knowing they each were uniquely created.
We hope they will learn in all areas of life so they can discover their purpose from God.

So as we dove into our first year of homeschooling, we made goals, wishes, hopes, and prayers for our kids. We do not have our routine down, it is often changing but I will share some of our favorite things in upcoming posts... 

It is been too long...

Wow.

It has been a long time since I have had a new post.

Life has been, well, hard. We have been going through some rough seasons and change.

So. Much. Change.

Our foster daughter who we raised since she was just three weeks old, moved out of our family after two and a half years of being in our family.
My husbands job changed, same place, new role.
Our life group came to an end, our church location will be moving this year, still waiting to see God unfold the details.
We started homeschooling all five of our kids this fall.

It is difficult to put it all into words sometimes. Honestly, so many times I wanted to post and felt like I needed to digest my reflections more before I did.

But this year is coming to a close and I hope to start writing on this platform more.
But don't forget to check out my column, Spilled Milk, in the Fostering Families Today magazine.

You can also like my Facebook page, What Led Me to You for more updates.

My husband and I have made some new family goals and we are eager to see what God will be doing  this next year.

Friday, May 5, 2017

A Love Letter to my Gluten-Loving Spouse




An Open Love Letter to my Gluten-Loving Spouse

We married before either of us knew about my Celiac Disease. I remember the days we ate french bread and frolicked through the park, until I had to run in a desperate search for a bathroom. Oh, those were the years.

I have memories of going out to eat with our friends, and by the time we got home my stomach was so swollen without us knowing why. But oh, how we laughed and giggled over the fact that I looked like I was nine months pregnant. Life was a simple time back then. Eat, Get Sick. Repeat.

But in all seriousness, you loved me through pain and fear of my symptoms and walked with me through my diagnoses and changes in diet. Here we are now, a decade later, living gluten-free and I don't know that I ever said thank you.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Portland Mom's Blog: Just Say No to Summer Guilt




You can find my guest blog post here:

http://portland.citymomsblog.com/parenting/summer-guilt/

Portland Mom's Blog: 6 Tips that Allow Mom to Enjoy Family Vacations Too



You can find my guest blog post here:

http://portland.citymomsblog.com/travel/enjoying-family-vacations/

Portland Mom's Blog: 6 Tips that Allow Mom to Enjoy Family Vacations Too



You can find my guest blog post here:

http://portland.citymomsblog.com/travel/enjoying-family-vacations/

Portland Mom's Blog: My Special Needs Daughter is an Every Day Princess




You can find my guest blog post here:

http://portland.citymomsblog.com/parenting/special-needs-daughter/

Portland Mom's Blog: Why I dress My Kids in Matching Outfits




You can find my guest post here:

http://portland.citymomsblog.com/parenting/why-i-dress-my-kids-in-matching-outfits/

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Racial Mirrors: Who Do They See?

This topic has been on my heart lately. I wrote this piece for my column, Spilled Milk, in the Fostering Families Today magazine July/Aug 2016 issue. You can get your subscription HERE.


Racial Mirrors: Who do they see?

My five-year-old son was holding my hand as we walked down the sidewalk on the busy street so he could get his first big boy hair cut. I was determined to walk into that barber shop with confidence, because I knew that if I was going to show my son that he could embrace this part of who he is, I should to feel comfortable too. I think I was nervous about being judged as the white, adoptive, mom who hadn’t done this before. Aren’t we all, when we step into a new part of parenting? 

We first became a transracial family five-years ago, when our son came to us just before his first birthday, I immediately started learning about hair styles and skin care products. I started scanning the toy aisle for any African-American toys I could find for him. Books with diversity in their illustrations made their way into my shopping cart. I will never forget my excitement the year that I found a black angel for the top of our Christmas tree. I was eager to fill my house with items that my son could identify with, but I know even more now, that parenting a child of a different race involved so much more than that. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Portland Mom's Blog- How I Connect with My Kids Before School



                                 

You can find my blog post here: 

Portland Mom's Blog



I am happy to share that I am now a contributing writer for the Portland Mom's Blog! Over the next six months I get to share blog posts about motherhood! I am so excited to connect with this audience! 



You can follow along and find their social media outlets at: http://portland.citymomsblog.com


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Garbage Truck Birthday Party


My youngest son is obsessed with anything related to garbage. He loves the garbage trucks, squeels with joy when it is garbage day at our house and even steals his sisters tiny toys and puts them in socks, you know- garbage bags. :)

So we of course had to throw him a garbage truck themed birthday party. Here are some ideas for you! Enjoy!


These were so fun to put together. Party favors with candy and tattoos and treats inside. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Fostering Families Today magazine column!

                       

I am beyond excited to share with you that starting in the May/June 2016 issue I will be find my column in the Fostering Families Today magazine!

I am so honored that they asked me and I can't wait to connect with the readers. I have already started working on article ideas and praying about what subjects I should touch on. As most of you know I am a very reflective writer and love to advocate for support and connection among parents.

So, be sure to get your subscription going in either print or digital. You can find more details at http://www.fosteringfamiliestoday.com


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Doc McStuffin Themed Birthday Party

Our foster daughter of six months was turning 5 years old and loved the cartoon show Doc McStuffins! She was about to leave our home with her brother and we were so glad we could celebrate with her before she left! I had a lot of fun putting this together for her. I hope you enjoy and get some great inspiration! 

Our very happy birthday girl! She moved into our home right before we celebrated two of our kiddos birthday parties and was very much looking forward to her own party. She wanted to dress up and had such a good time! Oh I miss her so. 

All of our Doc McStuffin's themed food! 

Disneyland Road Trip: Large Family Adventure!


I am so excited to share with you all of my tips and tricks as I planned our first family trip to Disneyland! We took 8 days, (2 driving from Oregon, 4 Park Days, 2 driving home).
Our kids were ages 8, 6, 5, 5, 4.


PREP WORK: 

Snacks! 
I made snack containers for each of us!
 I added a variety of snacks that would not go bad like fruit, or get too messy, like applesauce etc...

We included all GF friendly snacks: 
Cheetos, Popcorn, Whole grain chips, fruit snacks, Dry cereal, Pretzels, Larabars and cookies. 


Everyone had their own snacks with their own name on it. The idea was that  they could pick and choose what they were in the mood to eat at the time and eventually make their way through the tub.

The plan was to put them under their seat so they would have them with in reach as we stopped for breaks. However, our suburban was getting the check up for our trip weeks before and it turns out we needed a new engine! WHAT?! Yep that wasn't my favorite piece of news. SO thankfully we had our second 8 passenger vehicle available and squeezed into it. So my plan for room got tight real quick.

What I would do different:
Put 7 of the same snacks in each tub, this way we can condense tubs when empty and just pass around one tub as needed. We ended up having to store most of them in the back because of space issues. 


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Book Review: From Carrie at Reading to Know


Last weekend I attended the Called to Love conference for foster and adoptive moms in Silverton, Oregon. It was a wonderful, reflective time away and I was blessed to have my book, What Led Me to You, at a table.

One lady chatted with me and we bonded over the fact that both of our names are Carrie! :) She bought my book and started reading it that night. She connected with me the next day because she realized we had a connection more than just our names. We had been through similar trauma.

After returning home from the weekend I got an email from this mama and she let me know that writes book reviews! Who knew? So she passed on this book review that is from her heart as she reflects on her own story and her response to What Led Me to You.

I have to say it brought me much joy knowing that God used our story and what we went through to touch this woman's life and help her share something that she had been holding onto all of these years. God is good. I am so passionate about connecting with other parents, and it is my hope that our story will help them feel less alone in their own journey. So it was such an honor to meet this sweet lady. :)

Here is her book review:
http://www.readingtoknow.com/2015/11/what-led-me-to-you-by-carrie-dahlin.html

Friday, September 25, 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Book Review: Fostering Families Today magazine


Fostering Families Today magazine is such a great resource for Foster Parents. 
I am honored to have had a voice in their magazine over the last several years. 

So today I am thrilled to share with you Fostering Families Today's 
book review for What Led Me to You in their Sept/Oct 2015 issue. 

Be sure to check out their magazine and find out how you can get a hard copy or an online version: 


A subscription to Fostering Families Today magazine would be a great gift idea for the foster parent in your life! 



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Photo Ledge- Afternoon DIY

I am excited to share with you my latest project...Photo Ledge for my entry way!

We moved into our house over two years ago and I was eager for decorations to get up on the wall. So the BEFORE picture is what we looked at...and I loved it! However, as the years went on and the rest of the decor in the house came together I realized that the black frames were not meshing well with my new love of lightening up the house by using, natural colors, whites, and blues. 

Another reason I wanted to change this entryway look was every time I shut the door the frames that were hanging before tilted from one side to another. They never hung perfectly straight. :(  I was constantly looking at crooked pictures or adjusting their direction.

So I stared at that entry wall for several months before having time and my plan put together. And now that it is done I am happy to share it with you~

Here is our BEFORE and AFTER look and I am in love with it.


With having a large family, it is simply too hard to choose which photos to put up. What I LOVE about the photo ledge is how easy I can change the direction of a frame, add a new photo or even a new frame all together. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

DIY Homework Station


I am so behind on our vacation posts from this summer but wanted to share my excitement with you from my little DIY project!

This next year I will have four of my five kids in all day school and at the same school! It is going to be much different from this last year when I had kids with so many different start and stop times at three different schools.

So I am getting a little excited about how my routine at home will look. Last year I left every hour to pick someone up or drop them off or to take them to therapy.

So...in all of my day dreaming about this year coming up I did a little bit of prep work. Lets just say I am sure I looked like a crazy lady stalking the school supply isle at the store with supply lists for four kids. It is a good thing I went during a quiet time or things could have been rough for the other shoppers.

After bringing home, what felt like the entire school supply section I sorted (with the help of my two oldest girls who are organizers after my own heart) and we stuffed each backpack with their needed supplies.




Then came the fun part... 
Our own little organization station for homework folders, library books, and permission slips. 





I found this at my local office supply store and I did a little happy dance in the store when I saw that it had exactly five sections for my five kids. (Our two foster kids are expected to return to parent before the fall, and are not in school this next year.)

I was tempted to spray paint it white and I still might do that later on but for now it is perfect. I added their names in Sharpie and am so pleased with how it turned out.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Guest Blog Post at God-Sized Dreams




It was such an honor to have the opportunity to share my story, my heart, with the God-Sized Dreams audience today! Be sure to head over there and read how God walked my family through the unexpected.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Magazine Article: Trigger Day




I have had the privilege of working with Fostering Families Today magazine over the last few years. They included my article, Trigger Day in their July/August 2015 issue of the magazine. It is my hope that this article will connect and relate to other foster parents who are also living in the trenches.

You can read my article below:


You can find copies and subscription information to Fostering Families Today magazine at http://www.fosteringfamiliestoday.com.



Thursday, June 4, 2015

Book Review: from Jessica Good at Adoption.com




Jessica Good, wrote a sincere book review for my book, What Led Me to You at Adoption.com. She really captured so much of what I was hoping would come across in the book and I am so honored that she took the time to share her heart with all of you!

You can find the full review here: http://adoption.com/a%3Fpost_type%3Darticles%26p%3D17499

To read more from Jessica, check out her blog: http://goodandgrowing.blogspot.com

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Interview: Adoption Reflections Radio Show





It was an honor to share my story with the Adoption Reflections radio show, located in Colorado. 
If you missed it you can listen to it HERE

It is about an hour long…I get introduced about about five minutes in, as you click on the link above.  




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My guest post on Not Alone

What an honor to be able to share an excerpt of my book with the Not Alone audience. 



You can find it here! 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My book is here!




This is such a fun moment! I got to hold my proof copy in my hands yesterday and it looked amazing! So, I am happy to announce that my memoir, What Led Me to You, How a mother's faith and family grew in ways she never expected is finally here!

Get your copy today!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1511801514/ref=tsm_1_fb_lk

Here are a few more pictures! Enjoy!








Thursday, April 16, 2015

This Busy Bee....

.....has been working hard!

We are close to publication! Soon, What Led Me To You will be available on amazon.com and a few other places!

 These last few weeks have been busy for our family. Not only with all of the chaos that comes with having seven little kids at home but I have been spending the late night hours and nap times getting this going.

I am adding the finishing touches to the interior and working on the cover design! I have been blessed to have a few amazing, talented people work with me as we pull the last finishing touches together.

So check in now and then because I hope to soon announce that we are finished!

I am so excited and terrified. Is it bad that my eye is twitching? :)

So just a quick note today before I run out the door to take the littles to preschool.



Much love.






Monday, April 6, 2015

Certificate of Merit

Look what came in the mail today!



Last month I found out that I made the top 15 finalists for the Deep River Book's Writer's contest for my manuscript, What Led Me To You!

How fun to get the actual certificate in the mail today.

Keep your eyes open for more publishing announcements to come!  :)



Sunday, March 22, 2015

African-American Hair Care Week #3

My sweet girl wanted a pony tail this week.

Bath time went great, her hair has been staying soft and untangled for the most part.

This week was the first week we didn't have anxiety about hair day or meltdowns over it. In fact, M was looking forward to it. We have special time while the other littles are napping and she gets to watch a movie on the counter.

Our look for this week! Super cute and girly. 
This week I was eager to give her a new part since the last two styles had her hair parted down the middle. I wanted to give her hair a break and have it in different directions. So I started with a braid centered on the top of her head with a new area parted.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Controlling the Chaos: Traveling with the littles.

Traveling with littles.

Going to the doctor with our group can be a huge adventure! :) The picture below is six of my kiddos while my oldest daughter was still in school. 

My new foster son put a bead up his nose, yep, he did.  Surprisingly, this was a first for me as a parent. It was way up there and we all had to go in, to a new doctor mind you, since he and his sister just came into my care a week earlier. 



Planning so we are early or on time: 
I have learned that the more I am rushing everyone, the more they are bound to meltdown from the stress. So for the sanity of everyone involved, I work hard to keep at a calm pace. This gives me extra time when I suddenly lose my keys while buckling everyone in the car and spend over ten minutes looking under all of their bums and carseats trying to find them; or for the times when the seatbelt has been pulled over and over by one of the kids and completely locks up and won't stretch to the buckle, and it won't retract because it is tangled in the carseat loop; or on the mornings when I hadn't even had time to look outside and I see that my car is completely frozen over. I plan in order to make time for the chaos. :)

Expectations:  
When we arrive at our destination and sometimes even while we are driving to our appointment, I go over all of the rules before we get out of the car. I talk to the kids about walking with a buddy and staying in our group while we cross the parking lot. I remind them we have to have quiet voices in the waiting room with no fighting or fussing. I let them know that I packed a special treat and if they can do these things, then they get a treat when we get back to the car to head home. I usually keep it a surprise so the anticipation keeps them going. Otherwise they sometimes decide that it isn't worth whatever I have. :)