Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I'm struggling with feeling overwhelmed by life. I have several things to blog about (and lots of pictures) but lack the creative or mental energy and the time. So, I'm giving myself permission to not blog. I try to do it nearly daily because it's a good discipline for me but it may be sporadic for awhile. Life takes interesting turns and while I'm SO incredibly thankful for the current path, it's a busy one! It's strange to be expecting a third child but without ever having experienced a newborn and I'm very nervous. Really, the prospect of three with two being very energetic preschoolers and one being a totally new stage makes me feel a little panicky.

You can pray for me as I prepare and trust the Lord that He knows what He's doing. I truly can't wait to be a mom again! I pray that all will work out - the unknowns (birthmom changing mind and other risks) are hard. But it's an exciting time! I'm grateful for amazing blog and real-life (but sometimes far-away) friends who listen, encourage, and most of all share in our excitement. :)

For me, the way God has chosen to beautifully build our family can sometimes be a bit lonely. Adoption is not an easier way to have children, it has a different set of challenges, emotions, and pain. All sense of privacy is gone as we are required to bare nearly every part of our lives to social workers and government agencies. We are held accountable for how we raise our children, our health, our relationships our finances, our employment and whatever else is deemed important and then others determine if we are fit to be parents. I will admit that it leaves me feeling exhausted...BUT, it is completely worth it and we will do it as many times as God blesses!

So all that to say, I will keep blogging and feel free to check back but it may be less than normal or I may write this and then write 3 posts. :) Please know that I'm okay but I am a little scared and I think that's a valid emotion; I'm also a bit emotional right now and feel close to tears almost daily (we'll blame it on expectant hormones). :) Anyway, I'm just trying to keep it real here! I can't believe we are a month until the due date!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dear Patrick

Dear Sweet Boy,

You are our miracle child. When I think about all the things that occured to bring you into our family, I'm amazed. From the moment I saw your picture, I was a goner. You were so handsome and your eyes were so bright. Your dad and I knew instantly that you were ours. And we are so blessed to have you as our son.

On this day three years ago, I became a mom for the second time. Though I didn't know it, God did and He planned for you to be our son from the very beginning. How I wish I could have been there from the moment you were born but know that you were born in my heart.

I remember the first time we met you like it was yesterday - you cried and cried. I think I cried a little, too - I couldn't imagine how hard it must be for strangers to come and want to hold you and love on you. Your trust was not easily won but we knew you were ours and that God meant for you to be our son. I'll never forget the first time you fell asleep in my arms - it was a few days after meeting you and I knew that everything would be okay. Your caregivers told us that you began to look for us every day and my heart swelled with love and joy. Though your love grew slower, it was clear that it was a strong, trusting, permanent love.

The joy I feel when you run to greet me, cuddle up next to me, hug me tight, and insist that I be the one to hold your hand, put you to bed, or read you a book is overwhelming. You have come such a long way. I love to see your pleasure in things from Cars to animals to books. You have learned to enjoy reading books, singing praises, and being a helper. I'm constantly amazed by your generous spirit and eagerness to do whatever task is asked of you. I love to see you play with Calvin and I know you are going to be a great big brother.

You are a delight, Patrick and I LOVE YOU! Never doubt that for a moment. I will love you forever and I'm thankful God made you ours. Though you didn't grow in my tummy always know that you grew in my heart. You are chosen and loved. I pray that you will continue to grow in God's ways and honor Him with your life. Happy 3rd Birthday, son!

Love forever,

Birthday Wishes!


You have been looking forward to this day since before Calvin's birthday and it's finally here! I know you can't wait to have your grandparents, aunts, & uncles over to celebrate!
You are a blessing to us and we love you!

Monday, July 28, 2008

The No Good Day

The first day home from vacation is going...not well. :) Schedules, rules, and routines have been forgotten. Give us a few days and I'm sure we'll get back into the routine. This was the longest time we've been away as a family (other than Kaz which doesn't count). Right now, I'm looking forward to naps all around. :) But we had a wonderful week and weekend so it's totally worth the challenging start to the week.

I've spent this morning sorting clothes, gettting rid of some, and getting ready for massive amounts of laundry. I have a lot of 12 month and above clothes and have been debating how much to keep - the problem is that it seems like a lot but there are actually clothes for summer and winter combined which makes it not so much. So I've put some in donate bags but I'm keeping the rest at least until I see what we need - I really don't want to re-buy everything.

Tomorrow is Patrick's 3rd birthday! We aren't having his family party until Sunday but I'm going to try to make tomorrow special. We will probably go to the Children's Museum and maybe the park. And I'm going to make cupcakes for the boys to decorate. Homemade french fries will be on the menu sometime this week since they are Patrick's favorite (I forgot to put that on my menu plan).

Finally, I'm opting out of hosting a Bloggy Giveaway at the carnival this week but there are a ton of people participating so feel free to have some fun! You might even win something!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Back to Menu Planning

I will admit that I completely enjoyed not cooking or grocery shopping last week! It was a welcome break! This week will feature things from our garden! We have tomatoes, squash, zucchini, red cabbage, peppers and cucumbers. While we were in Michigan we picked blueberries and bought peaches (many of which will be frozen) and cherries so they will be our fruit this week!

Pasta & Tomato Sauce, Garlic Breadsticks, Cucumber Salad
Fish, Couscous Pilaf, Sauteed Zucchini, Fruit
Pizza, Veggies & Dip, Fruit
Couscous Sausage Stuffed Peppers, Tomato Salad
Soft Tacos, Slaw, Chips & Salsa

That's about it! Things are busy, busy around here. I think we will probably eat four of these meals. :) Check out for more plans. If you have any questions, feel free to ask! Have a great week!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Beautiful Companionship

Something I have found encouraging and beautiful lately is seeing couples that have been married for 15, 20, 40, or even 60 years loving each other. I noticed this a lot during the past week and couldn't help but think how sweet! They have been walking down the path of life together for many years, have often raised children, no doubt have experienced pain and heartache amidst the joys of life and are still passionately in love. They hold hands, exchange glances, tease each other, spend time together, and unashamedly show the world that they love each other. They are not just enduring or staying married because it's convenient - they find pleasure in one another. In a culture with little respect for the covenant of marriage, I find it refreshing!

Marriage is a lifelong commitment, not a trial run or test drive. It's a beautiful, challenging, joyous journey. Your spouse knows you better than anyone else. For me, my husband is my best friend, my confidante, my love. We don't have a perfect marriage because we are imperfect people but we work at it and we love each other. I pray that we will have many years together. And someday I hope to be the cute, silver haired couple strolling hand-in-hand enjoying companionship and loving one another while surrounded by our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. May God be glorified in our marriage.

Friday, July 25, 2008

And the Winner is....

Finally, I had a chance to pick a winner! Patrick drew a name out of the bucket...and the lucky name and winner of the big prize is ROSE! Congratulations! I think I have your address so I will get it in the mail next week for you!

More Vacation & Congrats!

We've decided to extend our vacation for a few days - just the four of us. So we will be home on Sunday. We were planning to go camping in August but won't be doing that, so this is it. Hopefully the weather will be nice so we can head to the beach tomorrow! Today we went to a Dutch Village which the boys really enjoyed! I'm planning to make a slide show of pictures but probably not until early next week. I need to get the hang of uploading photos with the new camera. We now have uninterruped internet access so I'm planning a couple of posts that have been brewing. :)

I was so excited to receive a call from one of the doctors I work for telling me that they just got a referral yesterday for twin girls through international adoption. I'm sooo thrilled for them! Our little office of about 10 has had 3 families adopt over the last couple of years and another is considering it - the love, support and common connection has been awesome! Congrats to Dr. Y - I can't wait to meet her little girls in a few months!

Stay tuned for posts on marriage, the suburban mom, and next week's menu plan - in separate posts. :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Vacation Misc.

I'm sitting here trying desperately to focus on the work I need to get done before baby #3 makes his arrival. I have deadlines yet can't seem to form coherent words. Nothing like working on vacation - we've both been doing that. :) It has been such a joy to visit with friends we haven't seen in years and family that we rarely see - that is one of my favorite parts of this conference/camp. It comes around only once every four years and we try hard to make it. This is the first year for us to have kids (and for many in our peer group) - it makes it a bit more challenging but still totally worth it!

I'm super impressed with the campus this year. They are working hard to be more eco-friendly. They even have cups made from corn and disposable spoons made from potatoes. They boast using local ingredients and hormone-free milk. Impressive on a college campus!

The boys are doing well for the most part. Patrick seems to be potty training himself this week (that would pretty much be a highlight for me!). They aren't too sure about their class - we've had one successful day and couple not so much. :) We'll see how tomorrow goes. I'm hoping this will prepare them for preschool since it starts in about a month.

I'm working on a list (based on much of what you all shared!) of things that I need to find/purchase when we get home. I'm sure it will be a busy few weeks but this is my labor of love as we anticipate welcoming him to our family.

I really should get back to work - amazingly it's not doing itself. I'll try to write more interesting posts one of these days :) - I'm afraid I've been a bit pre-occupied! One note, we LOVE our camera! It's awesome!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Alive :)

Hello everyone! We are alive and well but internet is not very accessible here. We are enjoying our time, getting some extra rest, not cooking (yay for me!), catching up with people and having a wonderful time sharing our news with family and friends. :) There are so many kids here and a large number of families who have adopted which is always fun! The boys weren't sure about their class yesterday but so far so good today - at least nobody has come to get us. :)

We still have a hard time believing all that has transpired in the last 10 days. We pray for C and the baby every day. We feel honored and humbled that she chose us - we assured her that we felt her decision was loving and courageous (she kept apologizing during our meeting). I cannot imagine making such a difficult choice. We love her and we love the baby! We see God's hand every step of the way and are so thankful.

I'm trying to get to e-mail! Please know that we are so grateful - it's just the internet situation that has kept me from getting several of you e-mailed!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Thank You!

Thank you all for your kind words, congratulations, advice, and offer of things! You have blessed and encouraged us! I haven't had a chance to respond to all the comments, e-mails, and facebook messages but I have read and enjoyed them all and hope to start replying next week. We are going on a much-needed vacation to a family camp. I'm planning to take the computer for some work I need to do and hopefully I'll get to post a little bit, too. :)

Thank you also for the camera advice! We are the owners of a Canon Rebel XT - after looking at several, this seemed like a great fit. I'm looking forward to playing with it and figuring it all out. God blessed us with unexpected money that exceeded the amount we needed for the camera - awesome in light of the also unexpected anticipated addition to our family. :)

I haven't been home today much at all and we are leaving in the morning so I will plan to announce the winner of the giveaway soon but maybe not tomorrow. I hope you will understand and I promise the gift will be going in the mail when we get back! Thank you again for sharing in our joy!

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I'm still trying to absorb the fact that I'm very likely going to be a mom again soon! We've felt a little numb and a lot many unknowns! We are cautious but we can worry all we want and it won't change anything so we are definitely choosing to rejoice and be very excited! I can't wait to meet our 3rd little man!

One of the very cool things for me is that I have two friends with adoption due dates in August - one is on the 30th also and I have another adoptive friend expecting a biological child in Aug. also. This is so new for me and thrilling to be "expecting" with others, to have a concrete "due" date and know that our children will be the same age. I'm so thankful for the awesome new friends (adoptive moms) God has brought into my life over the last couple of years (and even months!). It's such an encouragement!

So, does anyone have a list of essentials for a newborn? I'm feeling completely out of my league and completely overwhelmed to even know where to start. What do I take to the hospital? We are going to take a newborn care class in a week or two at a local hospital so perhaps that will help with some answers.

I'm also wondering if you could weigh in on baby carriers and baby wearing - what do you like? How did you decide? Do you have more than one style? Here are some factors for me: I'm planning to use it a lot, I have some back and neck problems, I think the baby will definitely be under 7 lbs. at birth, and I need to be able to put it on by myself (if possible). We had a baby Bjorn with the boys but we accidentally left it in Kaz so we are back to square one. :)

Another question - we will be bottle-feeding and I'm planning/hoping to use Playtex drop-ins for a number of reasons. Have any of you bottle-users bought the newborn kit that has several different nipples etc.? Was it helpful? It seems like a pretty good deal and perhaps really helpful in determining what is the best fit for the baby.

Cloth diapering - I have had several recommendations for bumgenius, any thoughts on quantity to get started? Any other brands worth checking out? I'm going to be reading a few blogs and talking to some of you more on this... :)

I think we have at least 3 weeks until the birth and maybe as much as 5 but probably not much more than that - thus the overwhelmed, need to gather, nesting feeling.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008




Well, we have had one of the most eventful, amazing, overwhelming, and surprising weeks. :) How's that for a start?

Last Thursday, I came home to a message from the adoption agency we used for the boys telling us that they had a potential birthmom and wondered if we were interested or if we knew of anyone that might be interested. To say I was shocked by this message is an understatement! I quickly called Andrew and told him I had already promised the boys a trip to the pool but would call the agency back at nap time to see what was up. Andrew couldn't believe I could possibly wait. :) He called to get the details and then called me back. We immediately knew that we were to say yes. Andrew called the agency right back (they had called several families) and said we would be interested. The next step was for the birthmom to learn about us and decide if she was interested in us. To make a long story short, within 12 hours of the initial phone call we found out the birthmom wanted to meet us!

We were ecstatic and shocked. We have been planning to begin the adoption process again and had even met with a different organization and planned to sign with them very soon. We had also planned to begin our homestudy in June but due to illness on our part and the social worker being on vacation it had been delayed. Wednesday night, we had the discussion about whether we should delay a little longer or go ahead and Thursday came THE CALL. We woke up Friday and wondered if it had all been a dream and have had the deer-in-the-headlights, pinch-me-is-this-real feeling ever since.

So we found out yesterday that today would be the day that we would meet C. We drove to KY and had lunch with her. I had put together a small photo album of our family to show her and she brought pictures of her daughter. We really, really liked her and she liked us! She would like for us to parent the baby - yes, she chose us! She will call us when she goes into labor!

Here's an important detail, she is due on August 30 - yes, approximately 6 weeks from now! And the other important detail, IT'S A BOY! We are SO EXCITED and SOOOO SURPRISED!!!! It's been hard to hold in for the past week but we wanted to wait until after we knew if the birthmom had chosen us since we really weren't in process. :)

Here are a few more details - birthmoms do change their minds over half the time and while we do not feel that is very much of a risk in this situation, we are still cautious. The main concern is some potential birthfather issues - we are really praying that it will not cause problems. We pray for her and we pray for the baby that whatever the outcome, it will be the best for all involved. We will travel to KY for the birth - she thinks she may go early. We are not sure how long we will be there - maybe a couple of weeks.

So our lives are a little turned upside down right now - in a good way. And if you see us smiling cheesy smiles that won't stop, you'll know why. :) They boys don't quite understand but they are looking forward to a baby (they have been for awhile, now!). They assure us that they will be big helpers. :) Anyway, God may be growing our "meant-to-be" family very soon!

If you had told me a week ago that I would be writing this post, I would NOT have believed you - this is so unexpected!! And if you have any newborn things you don't need anymore, please send them our way. We weren't planning on this and don't have much - we thought we would have awhile whenever we did start the process! :) So, SURPRISE! It looks like we are probably going to be parents again!

To Whom It May Concern

Dear Door-to-door salesmen:

1) Don't ever, ever ring my doorbell early in the afternoon; my kids are napping.
2) I will be grumpy if you do.
3) If your product is SO good, have a brochure to leave me.
4) If you don't have a brochure, I will never buy from you.
5) I'm not going to buy something expensive without consulting my husband.
6) I will pretty much never buy anything over $5 at the door.
7) I will only buy things from neighbor kids.
8) Don't act like you know me.
9) Don't flatter me. It won't work.
10) I can say no and I mean no.
11) Don't be rude when I decline your offer.
12) Actually, don't bother to come at all.

An annoyed mother, homeowner, and consumer

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


The giveaway is now closed! Thank you all for entering and for sharing your tips! I will draw a winner in the next few days - probably not tomorrow. So look for a winner by Saturday!

On Green Living

My husband is an environmental attorney and while that has spurred on our interest in green living it has not dictated it. We are conservative, pro-life Christians and you don't often hear of environmental awareness accompanying our views - I think that is too bad. While we perhaps don't agree with some of the hyped problems (and resulting solutions), we do know that as Christians we have been given the responsibility of stewardship here on earth. When God created man, He gave us dominion over the earth and gave direct commands to care for and subdue the earth. I hardly see how this doesn't directly apply to us today. It is an undeniable fact that pollution, waste, and chemicals are at an all time high. Sometimes (maybe often) these go so far as to effect people's home, lives, and health (all are my husband's area of work) and yet, we often continue to deny that it has anything to do with us personally.

While we've been somewhat conscious of all of this, we became very convicted of our personal responbility last year. The 6th commandment is, "Thou shalt not kill," which also means, "Thou shalt preserve life." So our journey in green living started with that realization. We have a responsibility to decrease our physical impact on this earth that God has given us to live on. We are still figuring out what this means. We are not vegans or vegatarians, we do still drive an SUV and a mini-van, we do not "hug trees", but we do desire to make practical changes that will lower our impact on the physical world.

Some of the things we are trying to do:
  • buy locally as much as possible
  • grow/produce some of our own food
  • take reusable bags to the store or (if we forget) reuse or recycle the bags we do get
  • use nalgenes for portable water rather than bottled water
  • leave our a/c (when on) set higher
  • turn off lights
  • multitask with the oven
  • wash clothes on cold more
  • convert to non-chemical cleaners (in process)
  • switch to eco-friendly laundry soap (does an awesome job and smells great!)
  • use a reel mower
  • drive less
  • donate
  • recycle newspapers, cans, bottles, and plastic
  • buy used
  • teach our children how to be better stewards

Some things we are planning to do:
  • start a compost (we've kind of done this)
  • buy recycled paper goods when we do need/want them
  • use cloth diapers at least some of the time (I can't believe I'm saying that!) if we are blessed with more children
  • use newspaper instead of paper towels in the kitchen and for cleaning
  • switch to cloth napkins
  • buy a hybrid car (eventually - it would not be good stewardship to do this right now :))

I would contend that most of those changes have very little impact on the convenience of daily living. Some of them may take a little extra time but in the long run, I know it's worth it. We don't obsess over green living and sometimes we fail more often than we succeed but we do try. We are enjoying this journey and finding it fun to see where else we can make changes. I'm thankful for my husband's leadership, encouragement, excitement, and research that have really pushed us to think beyond ourselves. He has challenged our family to make changes, read books, look ahead, and most of all to honor God.

We had a wonderful time at the Green Festival in Chicago (back in May) and while we didn't agree with everything, we learned alot. It was an interesting gathering of people from all types of backgrounds. I think as we make changes and are committed to conservation, we gain a hearing with many people. It's another way to be a witness since our reasons for green living are usually a little different than the average eco-friendly person. I offer this post as the reason we have chosen greener living and as a challenge to those who haven't given it much thought - neither had we until recent years. You can make a difference with a little effort and a little change.

Monday, July 14, 2008

100 Things

First, I must say I'm loving that I can write whenever and just schedule posts to publish at a later time - so it seems like I write a lot but actually sometimes I'll sit and write three posts and then have them publish on different days! It's awesome!

Anyway, it's a custom in blogger land to post 100 things about yourself for your 100th post. Well, at the time, I didn't know about this tradition and since I'm approaching 500 posts it's a little late. :) I'm sparing you 500 things about myself and just giving you 100. :) These are in no particular order. Enjoy.
  1. I became a Christian at the age of 3.
  2. I'm the oldest of 7 kids.
  3. I've been a dental hygienist since 2001.
  4. I've lived in 4 states.
  5. I've moved 9 times.
  6. My husband is 4 1/2 years older than me.
  7. I tell him he robbed the cradle.
  8. We married in 2002.
  9. He completes me.
  10. We knew we wanted to adopt before we married.
  11. We didn't know it would be so soon.
  12. We planned to have biological and adopted children.
  13. God had another plan.
  14. I am passionate about adoption.
  15. It is the most significant life-changing event of my life.
  16. The world looks different to me now.
  17. I hope to be a mom again through adoption.
  18. One of my sons had an unrepaired cleft lip and palate.
  19. It was adorable to me.
  20. I work at a living history museum.
  21. In costume.
  22. It's the most fun job I've ever had.
  23. I really dislike doing dishes.
  24. I love to cook and bake.
  25. I was president, secretary, recreation leader, and vice president of my 4-H club.
  26. In different years.
  27. I was secretary/treasurer of my dental hygiene class.
  28. I don't floss every day.
  29. I actually don't like to floss but don't tell anyone. :)
  30. I don't think you can ever have enough hand sanitizer.
  31. Parenting is the most difficult and rewarding calling.
  32. I love chocolate.
  33. And coffee.
  34. And ice cream.
  35. And fruit.
  36. I used to be a size 4.
  37. I'm not anymore.
  38. It's okay.
  39. I create recipes.
  40. Growing herbs is one of my hobbies.
  41. I'm thinking about using cloth diapers.
  42. Because I believe in environmental conservation and stewardship.
  43. I thought I wanted to be a judge.
  44. Sandra Day O'Conner was my inspiration.
  45. I could never have been a judge.
  46. I love to entertain.
  47. Planning the menu and favors is my favorite.
  48. I have 14 cousins.
  49. I'm still close to many of them and their spouses.
  50. I also love cheese.
  51. I rub my feet together as I fall asleep.
  52. My kids are the greatest.
  53. And cutest - I can say that, they don't look like me. :)
  54. Pedicures make me happy.
  55. I edit my writing about 10 times before posting and then about 5 more times after. :)
  56. I don't like to talk on the phone.
  57. I only like to talk to my family and close friends.
  58. Laundry isn't my favorite.
  59. But I love clean clothes.
  60. I dream of travelling.
  61. I've been to Scotland, Belize, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Bahamas, and some other places.
  62. I lived in Florida for a year.
  63. I loved it!
  64. Moving sounds fun to me.
  65. Only in theory.
  66. Watching my kids sleep is one of the most peacful and beautiful things.
  67. Imagining my life without my kids makes me want to cry.
  68. I've never really been an animal person.
  69. But I've changed a little.
  70. And I love my dog.
  71. I love to camp.
  72. U2 is my favorite band.
  73. I took piano lessons for 12 or 13 years.
  74. Sadly, I don't own a piano now.
  75. I wish I did.
  76. I love to play.
  77. It's therapeutic.
  78. I also played the trumpet.
  79. I wish I had stuck with it.
  80. Our kids will be required to take music lessons for at least 2 years.
  81. I was homeschooled.
  82. And I was socialized.
  83. We "built" our house in 2004.
  84. It was a great experience.
  85. I love going to the Farmer's Market.
  86. I don't like gooseberries.
  87. I love to read.
  88. I devoured books as a kid.
  89. I would read several per day.
  90. These days, I'm doing well to finish one in a couple of weeks.
  91. Green is my favorite color.
  92. I dream of publishing my own cookbook.
  93. I kind of want to be The Next Food Network Star.
  94. But I actually don't like public speaking.
  95. I used to love acting.
  96. Now it kind of terrifies me.
  97. I'll be 30 next year.
  98. I think age and life experience have made me more reserved.
  99. I'm quieter and less social.
  100. That said, I love my family and friends.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Menu for this Crazy Week

Well, this week is going to be absolutely crazy and we leave for vacation on Saturday. So I'm just going to plan 3 simple meals and we will eat leftovers or sandwiches on the other days.

Couscous & Sausage Stuffed Green Peppers, Cherries
Sloppy Joes, Cucumber Salad, Blueberries
Pizza, Veggies, Grapes

Check for more menu plans! I'll not be planning for next week so I'll see you in two!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Camera Woes

I recently found a little gray button and a tiny spring in my purse and neither Andrew or I could figure out what it was from. We assumed some toy of the boys or perhap part of a pen and threw it away. Wrong. So wrong. Alas it was the button for taking pictures on our camera. I'm so sad. I'm now using a toothpick to take pictures...that makes the picture of Wednesday all the better because it was taken via toothpick button. :)

So I'm sort of beginning the search for a camera upgrade - though we may go ahead and have this one repaired. I think I'm ready for more than a digital point and shoot. I definitely want to stick with digital, though. I do not want to spend a ton of money but would like a camera that is easy to use and takes excellent pictures. Do you have any recommendations?

Friday, July 11, 2008

What Type Are You?

I try so hard to be that put-together person who runs on time and has everything you could possibly need in her bag. But the truth is, 80% of the time I'm dashing out the door at the last possible minute and forgetting at least one thing if not half a dozen. :) It's my own fault. The nights I prepare ahead for the next day always go better - you would think I would learn.

I've always been a bit of a procrastinator - in college I wrote many a paper the night before it was due. Over the years, I've realized the value of planning ahead but that doesn't mean it always happens. But it's just so much better to have the extra shorts and underwear in the bag or in the car (right, Jenny S.? :)) and to always have snacks and drinks just in case, to carry extra napkins, hand sanitizer, and a plastic bag just in case of wet things, sickness, or whatever... I try to pack a bag that stays in the van with fun things to fill time and I try to keep the necessities close at hand but sometimes the supply gets depleted and sometimes I forget to re-stock and sometimes it accidentally comes inside. The days I have it together are the best - maybe I should shoot for 80% of those kind of days...who am I kidding, I'll try for 50% and go from there. :)

Are you a plan ahead, always prepared or a let's hurry, we're running late kind of person? When I am prepared and together, this is my list of essentials in a bag for toddlers:

clean set of clothes
clean underwear or diapers & wipes (depending on stage)
hand sanitizer
Wet-ones wipes
Shout wipes, Tide-to-go pen, and/or bleach pen (I like Shout the best!)
plastic bag (or two)
2-4 pre-packaged snacks (granola bar, dried fruit, trail mix, crackers etc.)
2 cups w/lids or 2 juice boxes
1 bottle water
1st aid kit (bandaids, triplebiotic, cleansing pad, gauze)
a few small books
2-4 matchbox cars or trucks
writing utensil or small pack of crayons
hat per kid

It's alot but it will all fit in one diaper bag, tote bag, or backpack and I find if I have this list of things, I'm rarely frustrated by situations. It's what I need to be prepared. Oh and I try to always keep a couple of jackets or sweatshirts in the car just in case. We don't often need all of the above but I think we've used every single thing on the list at some point. It pays to be prepared. Note to self: follow your own advice. :) I'm off to update our bags and put them in the van...

Thursday, July 10, 2008


In honor of my blog make-over, I decided to have a GIVEAWAY!

I've been debating what to give but finally decided on:

1 - box of tea
1 - $5 Starbucks giftcard
1 - reusable bag
1 - cookbook (yet to be determined)

I chose tea because I have been loving ice tea this summer - made in my awesome ice tea maker, I chose Starbucks because I love their frappucinos (so summery!), I chose a reusable bag because they are awesome and green, and I chose a cookbook because I just can't have a giveaway without one.

One winner will get the whole prize package!

Here's how to enter...leave a comment on this post telling me one eco-friendly thing you do! That's it! Oh and one entry per person. You do not have to be a blogger to win just make sure I have a way to contact you! I will leave the drawing open until Tuesday, July 15. The winner will be selected randomly. Have fun!
**Thank you for all your kind comments about my new look and name. I did design it myself using scrapbook paper for the header from - it took me awhile because I'm not very computer savvy. :)**

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Lots of Photos

We did a mini photo shoot today and here are several of the better shots. First together and then a few individual shots. My very favorite shot is here.

Favorite New Picture

Trying to get 2 kids and a dog to look at the camera and smile is a monumental challenge. Several pictures there was only 1 smiling (or none) and a couple had Pippi's eyes closed... But here is the best one and I love it! Some of the other pictures are here.

Food Hole

A week or so ago we were enjoying dinner as a family and Patrick looked at his belly button and said, "Food hole." He then asked us if he could put food in his food hole - we were laughing almost too hard to answer. :) We assured him that it was his belly button and food didn't go there. He decided his food hole is his mouth - we agreed. So creative and logical - I mean really, it seems a shorter path to the stomach. :) They keep us laughing...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

My Gymnast

A lot of people tell me that my boys look alike and I suppose it's somewhat true. I think it's because they have the same ethnicity more than anything. Anyway, there is one very major difference between them - Calvin is flexible and Patrick is not, not even a little.

Calvin flips, turns somersaults, stands on his head, and even attempts cartwheels. He cannot stay still for very long. He contorts his body (and has the ability to!) and stands up smiling. He doesn't care if anyone is watching, he just loves to do gymnastics. I'm seriously thinking about putting him in a tumbling class. I think he would love it!

Patrick, on the other hand, is so unflexible that I feel a little sorry for him. He has trouble putting his own socks and shirt on. He is just that solid. Perhaps he will be our linebacker. At least he doesn't seem to mind at this point.

They are so different and I love that! They have different strengths and weaknesses that compliment one another. It's fun to see!

The New Name

I decided that the blog has evolved enough from its start, that it needed a new name (although I admit I'm a little nostalgic about re-naming it :)) and a fresh-never-before-used look. After much thought, I chose the name Meant To Be but decided to keep Reflective Ponderings in the description. The new name has dual meaning for me. First, I believe in the sovereignty of God. In other words, that God is in control of all of life and that the things that happen in life (no matter how wonderful or how difficult) are meant to be. And second, I have no doubt that our family built through adoption was meant to be. We were designed to be together.

So, I feel that the name is fitting for our life and for this blog. Everything that I say and do is founded upon these beliefs. I couldn't quite part with Reflective Ponderings because it is a name that Andrew and I came up with together when we both blogged here and it seems only fitting to keep a bit of the history of our very first blog intact. So without further adieu, welcome to Meant To Be (formerly Reflective Ponderings).

Favorite Quick Meal & Traditions

One of my absolute favorite meals is homemade pizza! I grew up enjoying made-by-mom pizza and while I loved it, it seemed like a huge deal to make it. I'm sure it wasn't - just my perception. :) Anyway, after I realized how easy it could be, I've never looked back. We pretty much never order out pizza these days. It takes me less than 30 minutes to have a homemade pizza on the table and it's one of our favorite menu items for family nights!

Here are some keys to great pizza:
1) Let your dough rest for a few minutes after kneading (I let my mixer knead it).
2) Oven Temperature! This is probably the biggest thing - turn that baby up! I bake my pizzas at 450 degrees F.
3) Bake it on a stone.
4) Be creative with toppings.

Some of our favorite topping combos are:
bacon, onion & green pepper
chicken, smoked cheddar, sharp cheddar & BBQ sauce (instead of marinara)
plain cheese (mozzarella & cheddar)
Greek - olive oil (instead of marinara), mozzarella, feta, & gyros meat (this is excellent on pita!)
broccoli, onion, pepper, tomato

Most of the time we top pizza with marinara, cheese and then other toppings. I make my own pizza sauce with tomato sauce, fresh herbs (or dried, depending on season), garlic, a pinch of sugar and a little salt. Sometimes I add a can of tomato paste and sometimes not - I prefer it with. The dough recipe I use is the one I frequently post on my menu plans. :) It's easy and delicious - for an extra great finish, I occasionally brush the edge of the finished crust with olive oil.

Our kiddos associate pizza with movie night (not that it always means that :)) and they LOVE it! It makes a great family tradition - we put a tablecloth on the floor upstairs and enjoy our finger food while watching a kid movie. I think Andrew and I look forward to it just as much as the boys. Pizza makes us all happy and family times makes us even happier. Establishing family traditions is important to us - we both have great memories from childhood and we long for our children to have fantastic memories, too. This is an easy way (and inexpensive!) to create a fun family evening. And for other days, it's a go-to recipe for a quick meal. What does your family enjoy for fun nights?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Celebrating Independence Day!

We had an absolutely wonderful weekend! I realize the older I get just how much I appreciate our country - the freedom, the history, and most of all the amazing men and women who protect us. It makes me swell with pride and it makes my eyes a little teary.

Anyway, back to the weekend. Friday morning we headed to the parade despite the chilly, overcast day. It was worth it. The boys had a wonderful time and it only rained a little. :) They thought that picking up candy was the best and they also really, really enjoyed all the different vehicles. We met up with our friends and neighbors and several of their friends, too! The kids were all pretty close in age which was fun for them and cute to see them sharing their candy.

We decided to enjoy a late brunch/early lunch at one of our favorite local breakfast places. Then we headed home for naps. :) Andrew and I worked hard to get the picnic together for the evening while the boys slept. We met up with Andrew's parents (Grandpa & Grandma F.) and went to a local living history museum and toured it for a little while. Afterwards we took them to an outdoor patriotic symphony performance and picnic. The evening finished with awesome fireworks and then a jazz ensemble. Here are a few pictures from the evening:

Patrick took the picture of Andrew and me. :) Saturday and Sunday where filled with lots of family time. We thoroughly enjoyed it! It was hard to have the weekend be over but we started the week with visiting friends from out of town. It was great! How was your 4th/weekend?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

MPM: 7/7-7/12

It's that time of week again...planning dinner. We did pretty well last week and the flag cookie (in honor of the 4th!) turned out great! We harvested the first of our green peppers today (2) and the first of our green beans yesterday (3 beans :)). I can't wait for everything to be ready - especially the tomatoes and zucchini. So, here's the plan for this week:

- Grilled Steak w/Bleu Cheese Butter, Baked Potatoes, Salad, Fruit (our date night in)
- Chicken Stir-fry, Brown Rice, Egg Rolls or Wontons
- Fish w/Orange Sauce over Sauteed Greens (Kale, Beet or Mustard Greens), Couscous Pilaf, Fruit
- Vegetarian Pizza, Jello Jigglers, Carrots & Cucumbers, Fruit (our family night)
- Chicken & Veggie Kabobs, Corn on the Cob, Mixed Green Salad, Fruit

I think I'll leave it at 5 meals - we'll have leftovers, eggs, or tacos for other meals this week. Feel free to check out my recipe blog, ask questions, or leave ideas! And as always, thanks to Laura for hosting MPM every week!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Living Without AC

We've been enjoying the beautiful and mild weather this spring and early summer. It's unusual for it to be July and this mild. We've turned off our air (we used it a few times in May & June) and opened our windows! We hope to see a lower electric bill and we love to conserve energy. Even when it is 80+ degrees inside, the breeze has made it feel much cooler. We are drinking lots of water, spending most of our day downstairs where it is cooler and where we get better air circulation and I allow the boys to run around in just shorts (they love it!). I'm trying to limit the use of the stove and oven so as not to increase the temperature inside. I'm hoping we can leave it off for a little longer and continue to acclimate ourselves to a warmer temperature. Maybe we can leave the A/C set at a higher temperature when we do finally succumb to leaving it on. In the mean time, we have a greater appreciation for nature and enjoy the peaceful evenings with a gentle breeze lulling us to sleep.

**I should mention that on the recent rainy days we've turned it on due to not being able to use the windows and the resulting humidity in the house.**

Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day!

HAPPY 4th EVERYONE! Enjoy your families and have a safe holiday! Hopefully the weather will clear up!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Fun Things

Despite the trying days of destruction:), we have had some really fun and great times! Yesterday (after naps) we got out the construction paper, stickers, glue, and scissors. I helped them make American flag projects and then we practiced cutting. The boys especially loved putting the star stickers on and cutting. Calvin made a 2nd flag that was his own creation - he began with a yellow sheet of construction paper and added black, orange, and blue cut pieces. He was so intent on the cutting that he didn't want to take a break for anything. This project also gave us a great opportunity to talk about (review) what is appropriate to rip and cut in a really positive way.

Calvin's Flag

So delighted at the prospect of choosing what to cut & paste.
Intense concentration on holding the scissors and cutting just right.

Carefully selecting the next star to be added to his flag - by far his favorite part!

Making sure the placement is just right.
Last night, Andrew was working late so I decided that we HAD to get out of the house. The boys practically danced when I told them we were going somewhere! They were so excited. We got some dinner and headed to the park. We ended at Nana & Papa's house to play on their jungle gym and have an ice cream treat. Andrew made it home around 8 - in time to see the boys and listen to their stories of the day. :)

I think we are on the mend. Patrick didn't sleep well last night which resulted in two 2-hour naps today but he seems like he is feeling better. Calvin is coughing a little but seems a lot better. He had some swollen lymph nodes in his neck which are going down (meaning he is successfully fighting off this virus!). I'm still struggling with low energy, a cough, sinuses and some sleeplessness but I can tell improvement with each day. Thankfully, Andrew has remained well. He has been very busy at work and with a short week that translates into a lot of hours for the first 4 days. We are looking forward to a long weekend! DIY home projects here we come!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


The theme around here has been destruction. I don't mean that in a good way. We are at our wit's end to know what to do. I'm reading parenting books, taking away things, redirecting and trying desperately to explain and remind and train. The past two weeks we've had books torn, papers ripped, walls written on, couches written on, and toys colored on. The rules have clearly been in place for a long time, reminders have been given of proper and improper use, and writing utensils put up (only to be used with supervision) but somehow crayons, chalk, and whatever else is being scrounged up from I don't know where. We've had conversations about honoring God and taking care of the things He has given us, tried to get to the heart of the matter (and of the offending child), and we've used a variety of discipline techniques but with seemingly no success. It's been a frustrating process with no end in sight. It's difficult for me to get anything done because I cannot let my children out of my sight for even 2 minutes without disastrous results.

Please someone tell me this is a phase. My days feel forever long as I try to protect and correct. I feel we must be missing some key but perhaps the key is consistency as we (and the rules) are being tested. It's making me crazy! It's not just an obedience issue but a care and stewardship issue. Both children (though there is a main offender) KNOW it's wrong I have no doubt of that - it's evidenced in their response (verbal and nonverbal) and the hiding when sin has been committed. Any advice for this battle-weary mom? :)

WFMW: Get Out of the Kitchen!

Recipes with 5 ingredients or less is the fun theme for this week! I don't have very many recipes with so few ingredients but my husband loves these sandwiches for a really quick supper. Other quick things we enjoy are grilled chicken over mixed salad greens, bean & cheese burritos, and pastas with quick sauce (marinara, pesto, or cream).

Need other ideas for quick meals, click on the picture!

Ham & Cheese Melts

2 slices sourdough bread
2-3 slices deli ham
1-2 slices swiss cheese
2 tsp. honey mustard

Butter outside of bread. Top bread with ham, cheese, and honey mustard. Cook sandwich in griddle over medium heat until cheese is melty and sandwich is hot (5-8 minutes). Makes 1 delicious sandwich. Serve with pretzels, carrot sticks, and grapes or strawberries for a quick dinner.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Frugal Wardrobe

I've read several articles, books, and blogs about how to be frugal and modest with your wardrobe and it's a subject I've been thinking on for months. I will admit that I've read these articles with disbelief as the authors have shared about their miniscule wardrobe with only a few colors, a few pieces etc. And while I don't think what they are doing is wrong or bad, I tend to disagree. I think we can be fashionable and modest without being frumpy and uncreative (just to clarify - I don't think everyone who holds the above view is)! Before you jump on me though, hear me out. :) I'm not espousing massive wardrobes that spill into two closets with more clothes than you could ever wear nor am I recommending spending above your means. :)

I love being a woman. I'm glad God made me a woman and I enjoy wearing a variety of clothing. And while I build much of my wardrobe on more classic pieces, I also enjoy having a few of the more recent trends. It keeps me young (wait, I am young!), current, and somewhat fashionable. Recognizing that we are women created by God and often given the creative desire to dress in a pleasing manner is important. I don't want, say, 5 mix-and-match outfits, 2 sets of jewelry, and 2 pairs of shoes. Part of who I am and part of celebrating my womanhood is dressing in beautiful (hopefully), stylish, and diverse clothing.

Perhaps the biggest thing is that my husband prefers me to dress this way. He notices and appreciates when I wear clothes that complement my body type, are in season, and are fashionable. There are some things he absolutely does not like me to wear and so I don't. What I choose to wear honors him and pleases him.

I do not usually buy designer clothes, I have shopped at Thrift Stores, I have made some of my own clothes (okay, not for years - I was never very good at it), I do shop at outlet malls, and I definitely always shop on sale. There are very, very few things I have ever bought at full price (scrubs and work shoes being the exceptions). Oh and I don't shop often and we donate or pass on to friends or family anything we are no longer wearing.

If God calls us to minister in another country, changes our economic circumstances, or has another plan for us then I will truly be okay with changing my wardrobe habits accordingly. But right now, this is where He has us.

So I'm making a case for more variety without guilt. I'm suggesting a little more creativity balanced with frugality. If your individual circumstances don't allow or your personal style is different that's okay but please don't make the rest of us feel guilty for buying a cute shirt, the perfect pair of earrings, or an adorable new pair of shoes. We are just enjoying being women.

It's not about the brand or the store or the style or about how much money you spend. It's about celebrating womanhood, honoring the man in your life, and staying within your budget. Okay, you can throw the tomatoes now... :)