Monday, October 26, 2009

Memory Lane Monday- Halloween

I have always loved Halloween. I don't think I can nail down one specific reason. Maybe it's the candy or the opportunity to become someone other than me for a night. It could be the pumpkins, apple cider or the hay rides. Or maybe the sound of the leaves crunching under my feet as I walked down the sidewalks in my quest for candy.

Now that I am a mom, I derive great joy from taking my kids to the pumpkin patch (and then bringing those pumpkins to "life"), drinking hot apple cider after spending an afternoon jumping in the leaves and, of course, dressing them in cute and creative costumes and drinking in their excitement as they run from house to house in THEIR quest for candy!

I have, of course, taken full advantage of the years where I have had the privilege of making the "BIG DECISION". . . . which of course is the choice of costumes.

Dressing triplets is always fun and the first Halloween was no exception. I had been milling over costume ideas for weeks. Three peas in a pod, the three little pigs, three blind mice. . .they were all good ideas, but I wanted something more original. Then one day, as I was browsing through costumes online for inspiration, it came to me. . . .

A hot dog, mustard and ketchup!

Starring Maren as the "Hot Dog"

Lukas as the "Mustard"

Jacob as the "Ketchup"

And the triple stroller as the "Hot Dog Cart"

The following year was not quite as creative, but it certainly summed up life with 21 month-old triplets:

The Rieben Family Zoo
Featuring Mommy and Daddy as the "Zoo keepers"
Jacob as the "Elephant"
Lukas as the "Lion"
Maren as the "Zebra"

The Rieben Zoo on the move. . .

Sadly, I was literally a world away (bringing Joshua home from Uzbekistan) the next year and missed the glorious event, but the festivities continued on without me. . .

Representing Griffindor:
Jacob as "Neville"
Maren as "Hermione"
Lukas as "Ron"
Will (our best buddy) as "Harry Potter"

Last year was another summary of life as we had come to know it:

Five Busy Little Bees

The Queen Bee

My Baby Bumblebee

My So-stinkin-cute-you-WANT-him-to-sting-you Bee!

*Note: The other two bees decided to buzz off before I could get a decent picture of them!

Sadly, I have a feeling that my years of choosing the costumes are slowly drawing to a close, BUT, I did manage to sweet talk them into one more year. I don't want to give away the surprise completely, but here is a hint. . . .

Have I mentioned how much I love Halloween!?!

Monday, September 21, 2009

7th Annual Rieben Family Founder's Day

September 21st is one of the most important and celebrated days of the year in the Rieben household. It is a day that we look forward to all year long. This is the day that our family was created. Today we celebrated our 7th Annual Rieben Family Founder's Day!

Seven years ago, I knelt across an altar in the Washington, DC Latter-Day Saint Temple and was married to my amazing husband for time and all eternity. As we walked out of the Temple that day, hand in hand, a brand new family of two, we knew that the Lord had great things in store for us.

As we began to welcome children into our family our anniversary became more than a celebration of our marriage, but a celebration of our family as a whole. We wanted our children to grow up knowing that marriage and family are ordained of God and so "Family Founder's Day" was born.

Each Founder's Day we celebrate where our journey began as well as each member of our family. We also introduce our family theme and scripture for the year. For the next year, our family will focus on serving our fellow man.


"Because I have been given much, I too, must give."


"And behold I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God." (Mosiah 2:17)

We celebrate all of the different countries and cultures that make up our family:

Beautiful, handmade wall hanging from Uzbekistan

Sunflowers to represent our children from Bulgaria and Ukraine

And, of course, no celebration is complete without cake!

Finally, we celebrate the love, faith and commitment that our family is founded upon and we thank our Heavenly Father for His amazing and beautiful plan for our family.

Happy Founder's Day!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

One of those days. . .

Ever have one of those days. . . . .

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Life Lessons- Part 2

Wasps don't make very good pets.

Maren learned this lesson the hard way.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Life Lessons

Sometimes you get poop on your hands. That's what antibacterial hand soap is for.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

2009 Mom's Choice Awards

Most "Detail Oriented"
This award goes to Lukas

I think he folds better than I do!

These books are stacked one on top of the other while leaning against a large piece of foam board

Most Nurturing
This award goes to Maren

Okay, so she is a work in progress, but despite her confusion in the diapering department, she does have a big heart and loves to take care of those around her.

Most Creative
This award goes to Jacob

This is a treasure map.

This is the treasure box.

This is where the buried treasure was found.

Most likely to be covered in dirt from head to toe by the end of the day
This Award goes to. . . .well, you be the judge!

Best Hair
This award goes to Maren and Evan

Need I say more?

Evan's "mohawk" on Hilarious Hair Day at preschool. . .I cut his hair the next day!

Best Legs
This award goes to Evan

He has worked hard for those good-looking legs!

Most Expressive

This award goes to Joshua

Most "Domestically Inclined"
This award goes to Lukas and Jacob

These boys are going to make some lucky girls VERY happy!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wanna know a secret?

I've been keeping a secret. A BIG secret. Want in on it?


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Secret Combinations

As I nestled the phone back onto the receiver after making a call this morning, I took note that it was eerily quiet for a house occupied by five young children. Immediately the red flag of suspicion was raised. I walked quietly through the house so as not to alert them (I find immense pleasure in catching them in the act). As I rounded the corner into the hallway, a trail of silver, leading from my open bedroom door to the boy's closed bedroom door, caught my eye.

The light bulb above my head suddenly shone bright.

I tiptoed the rest of the length of the hallway and then threw the door wide open. Three, startled, chocolate-covered faces looked up at me. The massive bag of Hershey kisses (stolen from atop the dresser in mommy's room) lay empty on the floor in front of them, silver wrappers scattered all about.

I collected what little candy had been spared and shuffled the kids off to their rooms while explaining that, because they had chosen to gorge themselves on stolen chocolate, they had forfeited snacks for the duration of the day. Once they were all within the confines of their own rooms, and I within mine, I burst into fits of laughter and laughed until the tears rolled down my cheeks.

The looks on their chocolate-covered faces had been priceless! And I could suddenly recall many a mischievous conquest in my own childhood. And the tears. . .well, I am sure I shed a few at the thought of what these three might be capable of as teenagers!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ken's Demise

With so many boys in the house, it didn't really come as a surprise to find this in the hallway yesterday:

Imagine my shock, however, when I learned that, it was not one of my boys who had done the deed, but my daughter, Maren.

Apparently she and Ken were not seeing eye to eye on a particular issue (his fashion sense) and so she quite literally ripped his head off.

My husband will be happy to know that, he will not need to pull out his guns for cleaning when the boys come to call. Instead, we will just provide this wonderful visual of what she does to those who cross her.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fabulous Five- Snowflakes and Cherry Blossoms

1. Bird watching in our pajamas. We have two bird feeders on our back porch and we love to watch and identify the birds. This morning we sat and watched many of our little friends come and go. Among them were cardinals, mourning doves, robins, crows and house sparrows. The kids are very good at identifying the birds and, long after they had flown away, we all sat on the dining room floor looking through our bird books and talking about all of the different birds.

2. Spending some quiet time reading with Joshua. He is really starting to enjoy books and being read to. Today I found him in the playroom alone, looking through the pages of one of his favorite books. After watching him for a moment, I sat down beside him and he climbed into my lap and together we read his book. I cherish those moments.

3. Catching big, cold, fluffy snowflakes on our tongues. . .in April. Although I long for the warmer days of Spring, it was fascinating to see snowflakes resting on the cherry blossoms.

4. Enjoying free cookies from the bakery at Sam's Club with my children.

5. See post below.

The Joys of Boys

Lukas: "Hi Mommy."

Me: "Hi Lukas."

Lukas: "I peed on your toilet seat."

Me: "That's nice."

I love little boys.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Words to Live By- What will you CREATE?

"The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.

Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.

You might say, “I’m not the creative type."

If that is how you feel, think again, and remember that you are spirit daughters of the most creative Being in the universe. Isn’t it remarkable to think that your very spirits are fashioned by an endlessly creative and eternally compassionate God? Think about it—your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination.

You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us. The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.

If you are a mother, you participate with God in His work of creation—not only by providing physical bodies for your children but also by teaching and nurturing them. If you are not a mother now, the creative talents you develop will prepare you for that day, in this life or the next.

Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.

As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you."

(For a full transcript of "Happiness, Your Heritage" by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, click here.)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lemonade anyone?

I have seen many awards floating around blogland, but, of all of those awards, I feel most privileged to have been nominated for the "Lemonade Award" by my amazing friend, Jill.

It makes me smile to know that at some point, I have helped someone to make lemonade from the lemons in their life. Of course, much of the lemonade in my life is freshly squeezed from the love, encouragement and support of the many blessed friends that surround me, both physically and through the world wide web. So, it is my privilege to nominate ten of those amazing people to receive this award as well. In no particular order, the nominees are:

1. Melanie at "Melz Midnight Brew". I "met" Melanie about six years ago in an online forum. Melanie is an adoptive mom who also happens to have biological triplets, two of whom have special needs. She and her family are currently in the process of adopting a precious little girl from Ethiopia. She homeschools, knits, gardens, makes delectable meals and inspires everyone who has the privilege of knowing her. It is such a blessing to "know" Melanie!

2. Elaine at "Looking for George". Elaine is the mother of five incredible kids, two of whom are adopted from Korea and Vietnam. She was my international adoption mentor and kept me afloat during the tedious and often painful, paperchase and the wait to bring my boys home. She continues to keep me afloat with her wit and wisdom and she never fails to bring a smile to my face.

3. Kristy at "Purely Monkeying Around." I met Kristy shortly after moving to Ohio. I was on bedrest during my pregnancy with the triplets and Kristy came to visit me at least once each month (for those of you who are LDS, she was my visiting teacher). She has always been a ray of sunshine in my life and is one of my greatest friends. Kristy and her beautiful family moved to Wyoming several years ago and I miss them dearly, but, even from far away, she brightens my days with messages of hope and encouragement and continues to put a smile of my face and in my heart.

4. Charissa at "Country Living the Urban Way." Although we have never met in person, I feel like I have known Charissa my entire life! Charissa is the mother to five incredible children, one of whom was adopted from the same orphanage in Ukraine as our Evan. We rode the roller coaster of adoption together and she continues to inspire me every single day with her heart of gold and her zest for life and love of the Savior.

5. Jenny at "The Ramsey Clan." I met Jenny when I transferred to Southern Virginia University in my Junior year of college and she has been one of my best friends ever since. Jenny is a pillar of strength and has been my rock and support through some of the most difficult times of my life. She is always there with an encouraging word and reminds me to put my trust in my Heavenly Father, whose plan for my life far exceeds my own! Jenny has faced many difficult times in her life and she does it with such grace. You could say that she is an expert at making lemonade with the lemons she is handed!

6. Richard at "Eastern Impact." Yes, I am nominating my husband for this award! In the 7 years that we have been together, we have weathered many storms and we have always come out on top. Much of that is due to his amazing ability to always see the rainbows at the storms' end. He is a faithful friend, an amazing husband and an incredible father. He is compassionate, giving and inspires all who are privileged enough to know him.

7. Sara at "The Magnificent Seven." Sara has been an inspiration to me since the day that I met her four years ago. Sara is the mother of seven magnificent children, including a set of quintuplets. She is an amazing wife, mother and friend and, on my toughests days, her patience and strength gives me the courage to press on.

8. Stacey at "The Kirchner Way of Life." Stacey is my life preserver. She keeps me afloat when I feel like I can barely hold my head above water (yes, even I have days like that). AND, she is courageous and generous enough to take on my brood whenever I need her to (and that takes a very special person)! There would not be as much lemonade in my life if Stacey was not around to help me squeeze my lemons :-)

9. Megan at "The Happy Hippies." I went to school and coached cheerleading with Megan at Southern Virginia University. She is the mother of two gorgeous children, one of whom has autism. Megan is a beautiful person inside and out. She is passionate about her family and her life and her passion is contagious. She inspires me to be the best person, the best wife and the best mother that I can be, each and every day.

10. Jennifer at "Our Uzbekistan Adoption Journey." If anyone knows how to make lemonade out of lemons it is Jennifer. Jennifer and her family started their jouney to adopt from Uzbekistan at the same time that we did. They were scheduled to travel to bring their beautiful daughter home just a few weeks after I traveled to Uzbekistan for Joshua, but problems with paperwork and officials in Uzbekistan kept them from meeting their daughter for almost 16 months after their original travel date was issued. With patience, faith and an eye single to the glory of God, they hung in there and finally arrived home with their daughter on Sunday. Jennifer and her family are an amazing example of faith and perserverance and beautifully illustrate the phrase, "Good things come to those who wait."

These amazing people are only a few of those who lift and inspire me on a daily basis and I am deeply grateful for their presence in my life.

To nominate others for this awards:

1. Copy the above logo and put it on blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs that show attitude and/or gratitude (Those who add sweetness to life and/or inspire you by making lemonade.)
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know they have received this award by commenting on a post.
5. Nominate your favorites and link to this blog.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Memory Lane Monday- Sisters

I know, I know. I've been a slacker. And I am sure that you thought another Monday would pass us by without a Memory Lane Monday post, BUT, I didn't want to become too predictable!

I am the oldest of six children. As the first child, I spent two, wonderful years being the lone object of my parents affections, so, naturally, when my younger sister, Claire, joined the family, I wasn't thrilled. This tiny little person absorbed so much of my parent's time and attention with her crying, constant need of feeding and her smelly diapers. To spite me, she liked to wake my parents over and over throughout the night leaving them too exhausted to play with me. At least, that's the way I saw it. And so the plotting began to get rid of this undesirable addition to the family.

It took a few years for my master plan to materialize, but finally the day came. I was 4 and Claire was 2. While our mother was busy in another room I grabbed a child-sized suitcase and stuffed it full of clothes and other odds and ends necessary for survival. You know, crayons, coloring books, a stuffed animal and a blanket with "silkies" (an addiction that both Claire and I have always shared). Once the packing was complete, I checked to make sure the coast was clear, then I grabbed my sister's hand and we quietly tiptoed out the back door. With the suitcase in one hand and my sister's hand in the other, we walked quickly down the sidewalk towards our destination.

After what seemed like an eternity (two year old's don't walk very fast, you know), we finally arrived. The Super America Convenient Store seemed like the perfect place to leave my "unwanted goods." Upon arrival I promptly helped my unsuspecting sister up onto the bench outside of the store, placed the suitcase beside her and turned to head back home. Luckily our father, who was on his way home from work, happended to drive by right at that very moment. He continued on to our house, thinking that my mother must have been at the store with us, but he arrived to find her in a panic. She couldn't find us anywhere.

They piled into the car and drove down the street to the convenient store where my sister still sat upon the bench, completely oblivious. I had not made it very far when they pulled up to collect my sister and within moments found myself in the car as well, face to face with what I would eventually come to call my mother's "death stare."

Although the details are a bit fuzzy, I can imagine that I spent a good amount of time alone in my room that afternoon and chances are, my mother didn't let us out of her sight for quite some time after that (now that she knew that I was serious about getting rid of my little sister, she wasn't taking any chances). Fortunately for Claire, this was my first and last attempt at dismissing her from the family.

Although we didn't always see eye to eye growing up, we eventually learned to love and appreciate each other and now that we are older, we are the best of friends. To say that I am grateful that my plans were foiled that day would be an understatement. To not have had the privilege of knowing Claire would have been a great tragedy as she is one of the most amazing people I have ever known!