At any given point, we always have several flying friends visiting in our backyard.  Cardinals, woodpeckers, pigeons, blue jays, kingbirds, sparrows, blue birds, and lots of others.  I never thought I’d be a bird watcher, but I am simply fascinated by these tiny little creatures.  Today, this brilliant cardinal juxtaposed against the whitewashed snowy scene was so stunning.

He’s been working so hard on his preschool skills these last few months.  When we go downstairs to the school room he runs to his desk and declares, “Ma, I READY!”  It’s just adorable.  And such a difference compared to where we were two years ago!  He used to get mad at me when I’d sit him down to do an activity, and he almost never wanted to stick with anything for longer than a minute or two.

But now?  Now he delights in learning new things and doing his “dool wuk.”  His vocabulary has exploded, though he’s still difficult to understand a lot of the time.  He tells fantastical stories, puts more complex sentences together, and can tell us the names of all kinds of nouns.

And today he did this.  He wrote his name six times by himself, unassisted, and without tracing.  I was so proud of him I almost cried.  The squealing and jumping and high-fiving was off the hook.  For me.  Ha.  He just smiled at the thought of his accomplishment.  And then when he saw how ridiculously I was acting, he giggled too.  I’m not sure whether he was giggling in excitement, or giggling at me.  But either way is good.  Because we are all about celebrating big stuff like this.

Yes, with 20 of our best xiǎo péng yǒu, we made sensory bottles.  It was such a hit.  It was also a little bittersweet because it was the last activity we did with them before saying goodbye.  But seeing the sensory bottles in a video of their Spring Festival celebrations, weeks after we had been there, put a big smile on my face.  Knowing they hold onto these bottles as sweet treasures gives me hope that they think fondly of us, too.

My heart aches for these precious babes, many of whom still wait simply because of their age or because their special needs sound scary on paper.  They are on my mind every day.  I pray that the Father multiplies our efforts on their behalf so they can come home to their forever families.  I pray that families boldly step forward to claim these children as sons and daughters, despite the medical unknowns.  These children are so worthy and will be beloved sons and daughters, ones who bless their families unimaginably.

  • January 31, 2017 - 9:09 pm

    Ruth G - I think I remember reading on your blog before about sensory bins – but what’s a sensory bottle? And what are the other things the kids are holding?ReplyCancel

    • February 7, 2017 - 6:05 pm

      Nicole Renée - Ruth, sensory bottles are fun to look at and are supposed to be calming 🙂 The other toys are “look and finds” that another teammate made out of ziplock bags, duct tape, rice, and little toys. So creative!ReplyCancel

I didn’t even know Kombucha was a thing until December when I was looking into starting sourdough baking again.  When I saw it on the Cultures for Health site, I made a mental note to go back later to see what it was all about.  Then a few weeks later, a friend was trying to pass on a few SCOBYs on Facebook, so I went back to the site and started doing more research.

Kombucha is a fermented tea that apparently offers many amazing health benefits, including for the liver, for joints, for digestion, and for building immunity.  It contains lots of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, antioxidants, as well as probiotics.  The list of health benefits abound all over google.  According to the internet, it’s basically a super food!  Sounds good to me!

The way kombucha is made is kind of gross though.  Yeast and bacteria, contained in a gelatinous substance that multiplies (the SCOBY), ferments strong sweet tea for 7-30 days.  After the fermentation time, a kombucha drink is the result.  I was intrigued enough to give it a try, so my friend graciously sent me a SCOBY to get started.

I researched how to make kombucha, but admit that I felt a bit ill-prepared because there are a lot of different directions online.  I went with what I saw most consistently.  A half gallon of home-brewed sweet tea, a cup of already-fermented kombucha, and a SCOBY.  Fermenting kombucha is a fascinatingly disgusting process, in my opinion. During the 8 days I fermented my kombucha, I watched the SCOBY grow and even create a new baby SCOBY.  I watched strings of yeast grow and float in the tea.  Eeek.  All of these things are apparently good signs that the fermenting process is working correctly though.  So thumbs up!

Today I strained out all of the stringy stuff, as well as the SCOBYs, and set aside the kombucha needed to make my next batch.  And then I tasted the fruits of my labor.  The result was a slightly-sweet, slightly-vinegary, slightly bubbly, light and refreshing drink.  It wouldn’t be a drink I’d chose on purpose, but it’s pretty tasty if it really does everything the internet claims!  Of course there are lots of other websites that claim home-brewed kombucha can be contaminated and cause sickness too … so I guess I should proceed with caution.

I’ve already started brewing my second batch.  I’m cautiously optimistic.


Today was a big day for my sweet girl!  She’ll have her hardware for about 2 years while her new smile slowly works into place.  I almost didn’t get the before shot, but I managed to grab it as we were walking out the door this morning.  I don’t think she was all that excited about me making her pose, but I know it’ll be so fun to compare the changes over time.