Thursday, August 29, 2013

You Can Stop Worrying Now {He's Already Provided}

Good Evening, Everyone!
Okay, so I wasn't kidding earlier when I said 
that this Roller-Coaster Life has been OVERWHELMED with children lately.
In addition to the kids I take care of at work,
I've been doing quite a bit of babysitting on the side.
You know, trying to make ends meet.
'Cause honestly, that's the other thing this Roller-Coaster Life
is currently OVERWHELMED with:
(Yeah, I know I just used the dreaded four-letter "D" word...)

In my early twenties, I wasn't the best steward of my finances.
In addition to student loans, 
I wracked up debt on multiple credits cards.
Yes, I said "multiple".
I'm not proud of that and I've been working to rectify the situation.
However, its been relatively slow going
and even though I"m cutting corners wherever possible
I'm not seeing a lot of progress.
Lately, there have been some "extra expenses"
and I'm finding myself coming up short.
I keep finding just enough to cover my bills,
but no extra money for gas or Wal-Mart necessities.
Obviously, this isn't okay...

This is the place I found myself in yesterday.
I have right at a quarter of a tank of gas
and absolutely no money til I get paid on Friday, Sept. 6. 
Naturally, I was driving when all of this dawned on me
and I glanced up through my sun-roof to Heaven and said, 
"Okay, Jesus, how am I going to pay for gas this week?"
Then I pulled into the parking lot at Thomas Jefferson 
and my attention went to the 26 little people I was in charge of
and I momentarily forgot about my gas situation.
However, when the day was done and I was back in my car driving home,
there it was staring me in the face again.
I kind of rolled my eyes in disgust at the whole situation
and then tried to think about something else.

When I got home, mom announced that she wasn't fixing dinner; 
that we were going to Panera instead
I set down my work bag on the dining room table
ready to follow her right back out the door
when I spied the day's mail on the table. 
On of the envelopes with my name on it
was from Macy's. 
I'm used to getting mail from Macy's:
I have a Macy's Credit Card
(I told you I had multiple...).
However, this enveloped looked different
than the traditional billing statements
I was accustomed to getting. 
Aloud I gasped, "Is that a check?!"
I snatched up the envelope and opened it
to find a check!
It was a check worth less than $25,
but it was still a check. 
And it would be enough cover my gas expenses
for the upcoming week.
I started laughing and burst out, "Thank You, Jesus!"

My mother, of course, was stunned 
that I truly had received a check from Macy's.
Furthermore, she was beyond confused that I had somehow known ahead of time 
that that is what the Macy's envelope contained.
I explained to her that several months ago,
I received a billing statement from Macy's 
informing me that my Macy's charge account was now paid off
and that I had accidentally OVERPAYED them $24.41.
(How this occurred, I do not know...)
Naturally, they invited me to visit their store
and make a purchase to use up the credit on my account.
Being a Macy's Girl at heart,
I naturally decided that is exactly what I would do!
However, time just got away from me
and I never made into Macy's to make a purchase.
To make a long story short, 
I suppose Macy's was tired of showing a credit on my account
and decided to reimburse me the money.

I could write this off as a simple coincidence.
In fact, that's exactly what my mother did
after I related the whole story to her.
But I'm choosing not to.
I'm choosing to believe that my Father,
Who own the cattle of a thousand hills,
orchestrated this pay out from Macy's to occur
just when I needed it too!
He already had this all in the works
when I asked Him, 
"Okay, Jesus, how am I going to pay for gas this week?".

Can I offer you a bit of encouragement?
If He did this for me, and I believe He did, 
He will do the same for you.
He knows what we have need of before we can even ask
or THINK to ask about it.
God cares about the stressers in our lives.
Whether they be financial or otherwise,
they do not go unnoticed by Him.
What concerns us, concerns Him.
He loves us and therefore "is not out of touch with our realities" 
(Hebrews 4:15 The Message).
The Apostle Peter invites us to:
"...humble [ourselves] (YES! I am including myself in this!)
under the mighty hand of God,...
casting all [our] cares upon him,
for he cares for [us]."
(I Peter 5:6-7 NKJV)
In other words, 
you can stop worrying now.
He's already provided!

Thank you for reading!
I hope you found a little hope to take away with you!
Keep your chin up...
tomorrow is Friday!
And even if it wasn't,
I know a God Who can help you make through til Friday! :)

  P.S. This song has been stuck in my head 
since this all happened yesterday...
Enjoy :).

Tissue Paper Stained-glass Windows Tutorial

Yep! It's another kiddy craft on the blog today!
Hey, this Roller-Coaster has been OVERWHELMED with little people lately!
Don't be hatin'! LOL ;)

As I mentioned in my last post, 
the first week Back to School with the kiddos was themed:
"Around the World" week.
On Thursday of last week, 
we "visited" a.k.a "discussed" France.
I showed the kids photos of the GORGEOUS Notre Dame Cathedral
and then we made our own "Stained Glass Windows". 

What you will need:
Lots of brightly colored tissue paper
Black Construction paper
Contact paper

Cut the tissue paper into squares.

Cut two identical pieces of contact paper 

Place several pieces of the multicolored tissue paper 
on the sticky side of one piece of contact paper.
Use your discretion about how much tissue paper you use.
When you have enough tissue paper,
simply put the sticky side of the second piece of contact paper
down on the tissue paper. 
Next "frame" the contact paper and tissue paper
between two pieces of black construction paper.
I chose to make different shapes out of mine.

Finally, tape to a window or punch a hole in 
the top of the black construction paper frame and string in front of a window.
Now, isn't that lovely? :)
But that's just part of the fun! :)

Have fun!
Stay tuned!
More fun stuff coming soon!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Sunny Craft with the Kiddos

Good Morning, Everyone!
for my absence
(I do realize it has been 10 day since my last post).
Let me just say that this whole
"Kids back in school" and "me back in school" stuff
is UTTERLY and COMPLETELY exhausted me!
I'm hoping to find my groove soon
but I can't say I've found it yet!

Anyway, with the kids back in school,
I'm back to working my usual split shift. 
Our theme for last week was "Around the World". 
We "celebrated" a.k.a "studied" a different country/continent
every day of the week. 
 Monday = China
Tuesday = Africa
Wednesday = Germany
Thursday = France
Friday = Mexico
 Our craft for Africa was a Paper Plate Sun.
The kids did GREAT with it
and even added their own creativity
(which I completely LOVE)!
Check them out!

What you will need:
Plain, small paper plates
Paint (I used orange and yellow)
Tissue Paper (I used yellow)
Googly Eyes
Black Construction paper scraps

Pass out a paper plate to each child. 
Have the child paint their paper plate. 
I just let my little kiddies use their you can see :).

After the paint dried, I had the children glue on googly eyes and a black scrap paper mouth. 
Next I had them glue tissue paper around the edges of the plate.
Again, I let them use their imaginations. 

Some of the kids folded the tissue paper and some did not.
I love how they all turned out!
I also love the expressions the scrap paper mouths and googly eyes give the suns :).

This one looks kinda worried to me...but I still adore it!

I hope you enjoy making these with your kids
as much as I did!

Got some great posts in store for the next few weeks!
Keep checking in! :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Change is a GOOD thing...

At least that's what I keep telling myself...

Good Morning!
I don't know about anybody else,
but lately my Roller-Coaster Life has been CRAZIER than usual!
In more ways than one!

Summer Camp at the YMCA has ended
(THANK THE GOOD LORD! I don't think I could've handled much more!)
Overall, I would say it was a productive summer.
No serious accidents, no broken down buses, no nervous breakdowns.
But that being said, I DEFINITELY do NOT 
wish to have another summer like this one.
I can't point at one issue and say "THAT was the problem";
it was like a buffet of annoying little issues
with a couple sides of "ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!?!?" moments.
But its all over now and that's what it is important! :)

I received permission to share some photos with you all
from some of my Camp Parents.
People occasionally ask me why I put up with the stress at the YMCA.
This is why: my babies
(If some of these photos look familiar to's because I've posted them before) :)

For obvious reasons, I can't tell you who these beautiful kids are, but I want you to know that each of them are 
 in their own right!
The first little guy was my helper.
He would happily do anything and everything I asked him!
The precious little girl playing in the water ALWAYS ran to hug me each morning yelling, "Mith Thawah! Mith Thawah! Mith Thawah!" :)

This little dude was a CHARACTER!
He made me laugh and occasionally made me want to pull my hair out!

This sweet little girl was SO SMART!
She didn't miss a thing!
Nicknames are always a lot of fun at Summer Camp...
we called her "Encyclepedia".

The little guy on the left was one of our youngest campers.
He was adorable and completely stole my heart.
For some reason, we started calling him "Pickles" and it just stuck...:)

This is the same little guy from the first photo...
I HAD to share this one though...
(sp? can't say I've ever had to spell that before...)

And, I would have to say this is my ALL TIME FAVORITE CAMP PHOTO!
This guy was my buddy and is ALL BOY if you get my meaning!

As I previous stated, I am glad camp is over!
However, with a new season comes new changes
A few weeks before Summer Camp ended,
my boss informed me that I will NOT be 
returning to work at Concordia Lutheran School.
(THAT was a twist of the Roller-Coaster I was NOT expecting!)
(You can find a story about Concordia and the very special kids I had over there here.)

I was not happy with this news to say the least.
My boss explained that the reasoning was primarily budgetary.
I am one of the highest paid site coordinators the YMCA has.
Therefore, I need to be placed at a large school
that generates a large amount of revenue.
THAT would DEFINITELY NOT be Concordia...unfortunately for me.
Logically, it makes perfect sense to me
but I would be lying if I said my heart wasn't breaking.
Ssssoooo, that being said,
starting tomorrow I will be the site coordinator at
Thomas Jefferson Primary School.
 I'm not completely dreading it,
but honestly, I'm not expecting an easy transition.
The site coordinator that had run TJ before me
had been there for nearly a decade.
Teachers, kids and parents are accustomed to how she ran things.
I am not going to run it like she did.
On top of a new curriculum from the YMCA,
I have new ideas for TJ.
As I said, I'm not expecting an easy transition.
 But change really is a good thing.
It is NECESSARY for life.
So, ready or not, HERE WE GO!

Another twist of the Roller-Coaster occurring at the moment:
as of today, I am a Medical Administration online student at
Colorado Technical University.
(You heard it here first!)
I didn't make the decision to return to school on a whim.
It was something I've debating about
since the ICC X-Ray thing
(Don't have a clue what I'm talking about? Check out the story here.)
And, I guess, I just feel like it's time.
I've prayed about it LONG and HARD.
And I have a peace about this.
We'll see what happens.

The Roller-Coaster has thrown yet ANOTHER twist at me
that I'm not comfortable discussing yet.
I mention it not to drive you crazy with curiosity
but to ask for your prayers.
I've got some decisions in front of me
and I NEED the Lord's WISDOM.
Please pray with me that His Will will be accomplished in my life
and that His Kingdom will be furthered through me
and all these changes in my life.
I very much covet your thoughts and prayers.
Thank you!

So, enough about me! :)
How has your personal Roller-Coaster Life been treating you?
Any news you'd like to share?
You know, I'm ALWAYS up for hearing about you!

Thanks for reading!
Please visit again soon!

P.S. Got some great posts coming up!
Be sure to check back in! :)

P.S. 2 What do you think of the new Blog pic?
My good friend, Tiffany, who blogs over at A Marine's Love
is "re-exploring" her photography skills.
I think she's doing a GREAT JOB!
You should check her out! :)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Mother's Love

 Good Evening!
Tonight we have a GUEST POST
that I am beyond excited to share with you!
Please meet one of the greatest women 
I have the privilege of knowing:
my BEAUTIFUL cousin, Candace!

I promised Miss Sarah a blog and well it’s more like a slog (slowly typed blog) but here it is none the less. I’m not sure why but Miss Sarah asked if I would contribute to her blog by sharing my story. I guess the beginning is a good place to start. Growing up I had a half-brother, older sister and two younger sisters. We were a big family according to the standards at that time. Then suddenly we had a neighbor put a bug in my mama’s ear and before we knew it we were becoming a foster family. After fostering several children for short periods of time we took in a bitty little boy who happened to steal my mama’s heart. Then said mama found out that said boy had two older siblings. Then she found out said boy had a baby sister on the way. Suddenly, before we knew it, we added four kids to our family tree through the miracle of adoption. 
Papa & Mama Lutz - Photo Courtesty of Southern Reflections'
The Lutz Kids :) (Oldest brother not pictured) Photo Courtesy of Southern Reflections
Being in my teens at the time set me in a position to help with and care for these additions. At this point, I can’t imagine my life without them. In the back of my mind I always said that when I grew up, got married and had a family I would also like to foster and adopt. So, I met a cute little Italian man at our church, fell in love with him and yes, married that man.

Bruce & Candace - Christmas 2012. Sadly, a wedding photo was unavailable.
We started our lives out together under one condition . . .One day we would adopt. We didn’t think that we wanted our own children right away so we both agreed that once we had been married for over a year we would look into becoming foster parents. We did just that, we began to foster. In the ten years as foster parents, we have fostered over a dozen children. Our kiddos were of all different ages and stayed for different lengths of time. We wouldn’t trade our journey for the world. A couple of years into our marriage I was diagnosed with a condition that causes infertility. We were advised by our OB/GYNE that if we wanted children of our own we should start trying right away. We tried for over two years with no success. Finally in desperation we asked our foster care agency to put our name on the list to foster a legal risk baby. In other words, a baby that most likely would be permanently taken away from the birth parents and eventually be placed for adoption. We felt we were ready to begin our forever family. I was still undergoing fertility treatments at this point but together we decided to proceed in both directions at the same time. I will never forget the day that I finally found out that I was expecting DePinto Bean #1/#2. I had been told just a few weeks prior that the fertility treatments were unsuccessful and that in order to proceed I would need to see a fertility specialist. It was valentine’s day 2005. I had missed my cycle. Out of desperation I had decided to take a home pregnancy test. I had purchased several from a local dollar store because with fertility treatments you had to be certain you were not pregnant before moving onto the next cycle of treatments. Just before tossing the test into the trash I took one last glance and found a faint line in the positive column. Not believing it I took several more. My husband even called the 1-800--- number on the back of the package. Until we were told the blood test results we were still in doubt. Yes, I was pregnant with a miracle.
Photo Courtesy of Tiffany S.
 A week or two later we received a call from our agency letting us know that they had a baby girl that would most likely become adoptable. She was ours for the taking if we wanted her. We said yes. She was perfect.

Sweet Miss Danielle - Photo Courtesy of Tiffany S.
Photo Courtesty of Tiffany S.

We announced to our agency that not only were we taking this baby girl into our home but that in nine months we would be introducing our own baby into the family.
 They questioned our decision but we were head over heels in love. Did I happen to mention one tiny detail? All during this infertility battle, miracle pregnancy and baby girl joy, I was at Illinois Central College completing my pre requisites for Saint Francis College of Nursing. 

Camden, our Miracle Boy!

 Cami & Dani :)

The year our children turned five I finally graduated from nursing school. After the dust settled, boards were passed and my first job was broken in, my heart started to feel like it had a little more room. Just when we considered infertility treatments again, we got a call from our agency asking us to take in a little new born boy. I bet you can guess what our response was. 
Mr. Ruben Anthony!
Photo Courtesy of Southern Reflections

 Two years into raising baby #3 my heart yet again began to think it had just a tiny bit of room left in it. So, we began fertility treatments. We then received another call from our agency asking us to take baby #3’s baby brother, and we did.
Mr. Tony Alexander (Xander) & Big Brother, Ruben
Still on the fertility treatments, yes, yes I was. Five failed attempts later we decided that the stress and lack of sleep surrounding baby #4’s chronic illnesses was not conducive to conception and at this point have decided that our family is most likely complete. The following was written as a love letter to baby #3 but is so true for all my fostered/ adopted children. I consider myself to be one lucky mama with four amazing children who joined our family through four separate and unique miracles. I hope you find some inspiration the words I have written.
"Born in My Heart"
By: Candace DePinto

No, I didn’t nervously wait those three eternal minutes and see the two lines appear on a stick. No, I didn't carry you for forty weeks, anticipating your arrival or feel you kick inside my womb or feel you move. No, I didn't collect blurry black and whites of your tiny growing body as you stretched my own. And no, I didn't get to hear your very first cry or hold you in those first precious moments of life. But still you are very much my baby. 

You’re my heart, my soul and my existence extended. Down deep, so very deep in my heart, there was this little empty spot, a void placed there by God Himself that longed for you. Oh how that spot grew and grew as I waited for you. My arms ached ceaselessly to hold you and my eyes longed to see your face.
Photo Courtesy of Southern Reflections

 My mind would not stop thinking about you. I did anticipate what you would look like, how little or big you would be, how old you would be, what your hair and skin would look like. I imagined you one million and one different ways, none of those ways would do. I still longed to meet you.

The moment you were placed in my arms I knew it was a lifelong love affair. You were finally mine to hold. My arms no longer ached, my eyes, finally were full of the picture of you. My mind no longer had to wonder, my heart was no longer empty. 

Yes, conception, and birth are miracles. Adoption is also a miracle, a miracle of the heart. Legally, you may not be mine just yet but my heart adopted you long ago. That unmistakably is all that truthfully matters.

 I have heard this story and read Candace's words many times.
And they never cease to move me.
I think you will agree when I say that 
Candace loves her children with everything within her.
She and her husband work incredibly hard
to provide for their family
and always go the extra mile 
to ensure a great childhood for their babies.

Candace's story does not end here.
She asked me to tell the remaining part 
because she simply couldn't find the strength 
to discuss their current situation.

The most difficult part of being a foster parent isbecoming attached to a child that you could potentially lose.
This is what is occurring in the DePinto household.
Candace received news yesterday that their youngest,
Xander, will be returning to his biological mother on October 1, 2013
We have known for a while that this was a possibility
but it wasn't until the words were spoken out loud that they hit home.
Naturally, our entire extended family is devastated by this,
but no one more than his Mommy.

As Candace mentioned earlier, Xander is not a healthy baby.
He has had multiple hospital stays due to several chronic illnesses 
and the poor baby struggles with many different allergies.

Candace's number one concern is Xander's health and safety.
She is worried that his biological mother is not prepared to handle his medical issues.

The following is her written response 
to the news of his soon departure from us.
"Empty Arms"

You came to us at the spur of the moment. Unplanned were you; unprepared were we, but still we said yes, for love's sake.

Mommy has held your sick body, nursed you back to health, kept you alive.

What will my empty arms do when they are no longer full of you?

The only thing that comes to mind is to raise them high in surrender to our God Who knows all things and sees all things. Raise my hands in praise to a God Who, despite my current pain, loves me and loves you. What's left but to simply surrender to a more Divine plan that I could orchestrate and to shout from the depths of my soul that I still trust in Jesus!

I don't think there's anything I can add to that.
Candace, you are an inspiration to us all!

Please keep the DePinto family, particularly Mommy Candace,
in your thoughts and prayers as they face this hardship.
Words of encouragement are welcomed here 
and on ItsaRoller-CoasterLife's Facebook Page. 

Thank you for reading! 
Please visit again soon!

Friday, August 9, 2013

He's Such a CATCH!!!!

Good Evening!
A few weeks ago,
I was privileged to take Newborn Photos
for a girl I have known since childhood
(Shout out to my Ping-Pong instructor!).

This shoot was exciting for me for a few different reasons. 
First of all, this was my first infant shoot OUTDOORS.
Secondly, this was my first infant shoot OUTDOORS 
in a private backyard that was BEYOND GORGEOUS!!!!
Thirdly, this little man was (and is!) one of the most expressive babies I have ever seen...
and he is COMPLETELY CHARMING about it!

Please meet: Mr Riley!

Just look at that face! <3


Awww! Doesn't that just rip your heart out?!?!?!?!

Like I said, WHAT A CATCH!
Thank you for Viewing!