Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I would be lying if I didn't admit to sometimes worrying about recovering from adoption and medical expenses. We seek to live a fairly frugal life (although I know there are areas we can improve and we are working on it) but it often feels that life is just expensive. One of our goals is to further trim the budget this next month and while I'm excited to see how well we can do, I know it will be challenging.

How thankful I am for God's provision of our needs through food, inexpensive clothing, medicine samples, and many other ways. And we were so grateful for the extra work for me that allowed us to get away for some much-needed time to reconnect amidst this crazy stage in life. Mostly, I just live in awe at how God cares for us.

*Just as a side note: I am not writing this to elicit frugal tips or to be judged for how we do or do not live frugally - it is merely a reflection of my heart.*

Monday, March 30, 2009

Another First

My poor baby is teething - his first. He is miserable - clingy, irritable, tired... I can't believe how many firsts we have had in the last week; I guess when it rains, it pours. :) Hopefully the teeth will come in quickly - one is almost there and the other one will be a little longer. In the mean time, I'm bracing myself for a tough week or two. Titus is not much of a complainer, so I know he must be feeling pretty bad.

A Scare

Last night, the baby must have picked something off the floor and started choking on it. He still had air moving but he threw up a couple times, screamed & cried, and held his breath. He is okay but it was a terrifying few minutes. We never saw what it was and we were watching him when it happened, so I'm not sure. I'm realizing again how vigilant we all must be and I've been talking to/reminding the boys about taking responsibility for their things. So today, I'm once again incredibly thankful for God's protection and praising Him for His kindness to us.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Making Today

Curried Couscous Salad with Dried Sweet Cranberries
Recipe courtesy Dave Lieberman, Food Network

1 (5.8-ounce) box instant couscous
3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 orange, juiced
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 to 4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on an angle
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/2 lemon, juiced
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Freshly ground pepper

Stir the couscous, cranberries, curry powder, salt, and sugar together in a heatproof bowl. Bring water (amount will be listed on package directions) to a boil and pour it over the couscous. Add the orange juice. Give it a big stir, cover the bowl tightly and let it stand, giving it a big stir once or twice, until the water is absorbed and the couscous is tender, about 5 minutes.

Fluff up the couscous with a fork. Add the olive oil, scallions, parsley, lemon juice, and walnuts. Stir around until everything is distributed evenly throughout the couscous. Make up to 2 hours ahead of time and keep at room temperature until you're ready to serve. Check the seasonings just before you serve the salad and add salt and pepper, to taste.

Note: To toast the walnuts, spread them out on a baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree F oven until they turn a shade darker, about 8 minutes.

Hope it's good! I have a meeting and pitch-in today that I'm taking it to. The first taste was delicious!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Highlighting a Few Things

Today, I just want to highlight a few things that I believe are worthy of your consideration.

First, my sister wrote an excellent post about the increase in people drawing from food banks to provide for their family. In these tough economic times, it is increasingly hard for people to make ends meet. If your church or community group doesn't already have a box for donations, maybe you will consider volunteering to coordinate that effort. It doesn't take much time or even much money to contribute but it can make a big difference in food banks ability to provide for families in need.

I also wanted to tell you about my friend, Kim. She is an amazing mom of two boys and one of the founders of Two Hearts for Hope (I've mentioned that great non-profit before). Anyway, she and her husband are in the process to adopt their third little one and the board of Two Hearts surprised her by holding a quilt raffle benefiting Miss Bear's adoption. Tickets are $5 and will help bring Miss Bear home. Adoption expenses can be/usually are daunting and this is a great way to be involved in helping another child find her forever home.

Finally, I mentioned the Fresh Air Fund a couple of months ago but wanted to let you know that they are still looking for host families for this summer. Just as a reminder, here is what they are involved with, "Fresh Air Children are boys and girls, six to 12 years old, who reside in low-income communities in New York City and are eager to experience the simple pleasures of life outside the city." If you would be interested in hosting a child or helping in any way, please contact them!

That's it for this Friday! Oh and in case you haven't noticed, I decided to do a fun poll to the right - vote if you like! Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Yesterday was haircut day and Titus had his first haircut. It has been getting in his eyes, so I decided it was time. He did great! (I'm the family barber. :)) It probably needs a little more trimming but it will do for now!

Titus also started pulling himself to standing on everything yesterday (crawling on Tuesday, standing on Wednesday - yikes!). He is SO proud of himself. He is quite accomplished at standing one handed or no handed (just leaning against the table or furniture) and he can even play at the table. I'm afraid we may have an early walker - he is a very determined little boy. :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Waging War, Fighting Battles

So, the past few weeks have been pretty horrible in terms of sleep - particularly the last week or so. We have been forced to wage war and every night is a battle. We went from having a baby who slept decently...not great...but decently, to one who wakes up every 2-3 hours. It is miserable for all of us. We've tried different methods and strategies and so far, not much is working. The kicker - he wakes up happy and smiley every single morning and we wake up feeling worse by the day.

I'm about to break down and call the pediatrician for more ideas and I've seriously considered breaking the bank ordering books on sleep. Our sweet kiddo is S-T-U-B-B-O-R-N when it comes to sleep. I've read differing perspectives over the last several months and we've tried pretty much all of them with seemingly little success (and yes, we try them for longer than one night :)).

Our doctor would like us to start phasing out his last bottle (between 10:30 and midnight) but we aren't even close to doing that (though we were the last time he had a check-up) - I'm just trying to not feed him in the middle of the night. We are having some success with that; he does go back to sleep and doesn't seem really hungry, just bored and lonely. Did I mention that he's very social? :)

Anyway, I'm a little sleep deprived - I think Andrew and I are averaging 4-5 hours of interrupted sleep a night. I think it's worse than when he was a newborn. We are praying that consistency will pay off and he will start to sleep like a champ or at least give us a good 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep. No wonder I've been taking a nap almost every day.

Oh and I should positively note that naps have gotten better - he is, for the most part, taking longer than a cat nap. Although, perhaps it is effecting his nights? Let's hope not. And on one final positive note, our other boys have been sleeping great! You may remember that we have one that sleep walks and we've just generally had trouble with one or both getting up at night, so we are thankful to only have one kid not sleeping well!

Sigh...I know we will get through this and we will probably/maybe forget how hard it's been. We had one other son that had serious sleep issues and I think I've pretty successfully blocked out that challenge. In the mean time, I'm catching zzz's whenever I have a chance and reviewing the books with chapters on sleep. :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

And We're Growing Up

Today I was informed by my two oldest sons that not everyone liked the snack we provided for school (raisins, cheese curls, and apple juice). I was given a list of who liked what and was told that one of the kids claimed he had brought the snack.

I suddenly realized that we have crossed in to a whole new stage - the one where kids actually start noticing and discussing everything. I'm not sure I'm ready for it! I guess, for starters, we'll bring a different snack next time because we certainly don't want to be the kids who bring bad snacks. :)

And another stage we've crossed in to - crawling. Titus started fully crawling today. My goodness, it's been a big day at our house.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Looking Forward...

I'm starting the planning for some exciting things coming up!

A Nauryz Celebration - we will do this in a couple of weeks. I know it's past the actual time but we have been too sick lately to even think about doing it. We are planning to invite a few friends over to celebrate this traditional Kazakh holiday and I have several recipes to try for it! I can't wait!

Easter Brunch - this is the holiday I usually host for my family every year. My sister and BIL will be in town so I think everyone will be together. I like doing it as a brunch, I make a whole ham and then egg casserole, potato casserole, fruit etc. I love planning the menu, the table scape, place cards, and favors! I think I will be using green, blue, yellow, and maybe splashes of pink for this year.

Calvin's Birthday - he turns 4 in a month (how can this be?!)! I'm not sure how we will be celebrating but I know there will be an orange race car cake somewhere in the mix. :) We usually try to spend a day just as a family, so I'm really looking forward to that! I don't know if we will do a family party this year or not. Calvin has already ordered chocolate cake and would like some cars for a present - no surprise there!

I always get excited this time of year to start planning for the garden and the activities for the summer. Something about the sunshine and hint of warmth is just thrilling!

Anyway, hope you are having a blessed day!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Found Today - Updated!

I realized as I was sorting through clothes this week that Titus had viritually nothing for summer. And by nothing, I mean, he had 1 or 2 short sleeve shirts and a couple of short sleeve/pants outfits. So today, I set out to begin to rectify his summer wardrobe.

The result:
8 shirts
7 pairs of shorts
2 one-piece outfits
2 hats
1 pair of sandals
Total spent: $15

I found some great deals - thanks to a couple of thrift stores with half-off! I'm so thankful! He may need a couple more shirts (being a spitter and all) but overall, I think that will give him a great start.

**UPDATED: I'm feeling super blessed tonight! I kept feeling that I must have a few summer things somewhere for him but they weren't with the 6-9 month clothes (yes, he is small - still wearing 6 mo. clothes at 7 mos. :)). Tonight, I happened to glance into another box of clothes and found the summer things we had in the 6-12 mo. size so, he is done! He has plenty of cute clothes and hats for the summer! Hooray - what a great day!**

Friday, March 20, 2009

Coffee at the Corner

A local church (the one where the kids go to preschool) gives out free coffee for the morning commute about once a quarter. Today was the day! They bring it to your car while you are stopped at the light and give you a packet with sugar, creamer, information on their church etc. It totally made my day as I headed into work this morning in the 25 degree weather. What a great ministry!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I Get It

Last week, the boys and I visited the local Children's Museum. And, as always, we took a bathroom break in the family restrooms. When we came out of the bathroom, another family was coming out of the one across from it and a little girl rushed up to us and excitedly said, "Guess what? I went potty!!!!" As I warmly congratulated her on this accomplishment, her dad laughed and noted that she was quite pleased with herself. I sensed some fatherly pride and knew she wasn't the only one pleased. I told him that we've been there and we get it!

As I walked away, I couldn't help but think, "You go girl, you celebrate those victories." And I couldn't help but acknowledge once again that yes, I get it, I totally get it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Kind of Day

What a gorgeous day! Ty and I enjoyed fellowship with friends I haven't seen for awhile. I threw caution to the wind and let the boys skip naps in favor of playing outside and going for a walk. They are all spending a little quiet time in their beds right now as we head into dinner time. We are having my sister and her fiancee for dinner - mushroom & swiss burgers, grilled asparagus, homemade sweet and white potato fries, pineapple, and dessert (yet to be determined :)).

While I have appreciated God's provision of some extra work recently, I'm SO glad to be back to just Friday mornings. This has been the kind of day I love - beautiful weather, family, friends, and good food.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dallas: Part 2

Let me first say - I "stole" some of these photos from Jen. :) She was all prepared with a camera and we left ours in the car.

Friday was our day just to hang out and relax. We went to a really nice mall and bought nothing, went to a matinee (Slumdog Millionaire - excellent!), and had a fantastic lunch at La Duni. For real, the lunch was amazing and we finished it with a cupcake since we had heard that they had good dessert. Cupcakes will NEVER be the same - I seriously need to figure out how to make one that good and it was beautiful! Okay, I'll admit that we even went back just for cupcakes after our anniversary dinner on Saturday night - it's a very good thing that we don't have one around here. :)

Friday night, we had a great time with our friends, Megan and Kc. She cooked a delicious dinner and he added us to their "Wii family." The girls ruled in tennis and Mario Kart was definitely dominated by our hosts. We are pictured below with them at the wedding.

Saturday, we attended the wedding of Jason & Courtney. It was beautiful and we were so glad to share in their day! Jason has been a friend of mine (and then ours) for many years and we met Courtney this past year - she is so sweet! I also had a chance to meet Katie for the first time - I love her blog! She is just as great in person and I hope we can get together now that we've officially been introduced. :)

The Happy Couple! Courtney was stunning!

The reception was on the 42nd floor of one of the buildings - it was so nice and the view was incredible!

Saturday night, Andrew and I went to Blue Mesa for dinner to celebrate our anniversary. It was also very good. I loved that they served a mix of chips with their salsa - blue and white corn chips and sweet potato chips. The latter were surprisingly good with the salsa! And as I already mentioned, we happened by the cupcake restaurant for dessert which we took back to our hotel.
Sunday, we met up with Jen, Megan & Kc for lunch and enjoyed visiting. It was great to spend some time with Jen before we headed back home.

Megan, Jen & Me - friends for years!

Sunday afternoon, before we went to the airport, we had a chance to see our friend Saige. We met Josh and Saige in Kazakhstan when we were all bringing home our boys. We instantly clicked with them and miss them so much! The boys were all away but we were so glad to see her and catch up! It was a great ending to our trip. Unfortunately, we forgot to take a picture. I know you are all shocked by that. :)

So, there you have it. It was a full but very good weekend. We found a few things to bring home for the boys and a thank-you gift for my parents for caring for our children. We arrived home safe and a little tired. :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009


The request tonight from my 3 1/2 yr. old, "Mom, I want pasta with red sauce."  Yes, that is exactly what he said.  Andrew looked at me in shock and verified that he had indeed made that request and then burst out laughing. He is now convinced that Patrick has watched too many cooking shows. :) Okay, perhaps...his favorite show is Rachael Ray and he does like to tell me what she is making. 

Patrick and I have a shared interest in all things food and cooking - he asks me almost daily if he can watch a cooking show when he gets up from his nap. (And no, he isn't allowed every day. :))  Honestly though, I would much rather him watch something educational (like a cooking show) than many other programs.  

Budding Chef? Food Critic?  Restaurant Owner?  An aspiring chef and foodie like his momma? :)  None of the above?  Only time will tell.

In the mean time, I treasure the moments we enjoy together - discussing food, watching the food network, and creating new things.  And I love to hear him say, "Mom, can we make that?" or "Mom, I want pasta with red sauce."      

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Does It Get Better Than This?

Dallas: Part 1 :)

Andrew decided to upgrade our rental car to a convertible.
The weather was gorgeous - a couple of the days were in the 80s!

Enjoying our fun ride with my very pale skin!

My sweetie of seven years!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Celebrating Seven

Seven years ago (this past Sunday - March 8), Andrew and I committed in marriage. We had no idea what the next seven years would bring but we entered into that covenant with great joy and anticipation. And while life has not always been easy and we have experienced deep pain that we never could have anticipated, we are so thankful that we are going through life together! So in honor of our seven years, I want to post a couple "top" seven lists.

7 Things I love about Andrew:
1) His commitment to the Lord.
2) His love for our sons.
3) His constant desire to demonstrate love in a way that commincates to me.
4) His faithfulness to his work and providing for us.
5) His support of my interests and love and tolerance of my quirkiness. :)
6) His amazing help when life gets overwhelming.
7) His sensitivity.

7 Things that Have Been Awesome in the Last 7 Years:
1) Our children - absolute #1 best thing!
2) Living in Florida for our first year of marriage.
3) Building and buying our first house together.
4) Our trip to Mexico (BC).
5) Our trip to Kazakhstan - amazing in a whole different way.
6) Learning more about each other.
7) Sharing passions and seeking to live out our lives as God would have us.

Can you believe that during our weekend away, we did not get one picture of us together?! Some things will probably never change - like our picture taking. :) We have LOTS of pictures of the kids and very few of us.

Anyway, happy anniversary to my sweet husband! May the next seven be even better than the first seven!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I Know

Yes, I'm still here and I know I promised a post about our trip... I came down with a cold or something last night/today but had to work this morning. I can barely talk, I have sore throat & cough, and I'm absolutely exhausted. To top that off, Titus has been constipated to the point of crying and just not being himself - hopefully things will be better tomorrow on that front. And yes, it does seem that we haven't been very well lately - I'll blame it on the crazy weather because, you know, you can blame anything on the weather! :)

So, a blog about our trip will be coming, I just haven't had the time, energy, or creativity!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Back to Reality

We are home. Pink eye is almost gone but not quite, so lots of laundry today. We missed the kids - alot. :) The warm weather, beautiful wedding, southern hospitality, great food, awesome friends and a fun convertible all made for a wonderful and memorable trip! I'll write more later, for now, it's back to reality - laundry, meals, cleaning, and kids. :) The latter being the absolute BEST part!

Thursday, March 05, 2009


I find it ironic that as we have been planning to get away, I've had triple the amount of laundry due to pink eye. :) Yes, we are still fighting it and yes, all five of us got it. Titus is the most recent to succumb. Calvin is better and Patrick is on the mend. Andrew and I, well, there's nothing more romantic than a getaway with pink eye. :) Oh well - I think we will be over it soon.

We are nearly ready to head out. I'm going to miss the boys SO much but I know that we need this weekend to recharge - besides the temps are supposed to be in the 80s! We are so excited to visit Dallas, to spend time together, to share in Jason & Courtney's big day, and to see lots of friends!

I had hoped to write a couple of posts to self-publish but that didn't happen. And we've agreed to unhook for the weekend (leave the laptop at home) so I'll see you next week! Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Thoughts On Marriage

I think that The Bachelor is just more proof of why so many marriages end in divorce. Clearly he measured relationships by feelings and not commitment (this was evident throughout the season). What a tragic and sad saga that I'm afraid is all too common. And I'm not saying that feelings of love and passion aren't important but rather that there is SO MUCH more to relationships and marriage.

Marriage is hard work and not every day is sunshine but the commitment is so worth it. The way we deal with the challenges that come, truly make or break the relationship. In our limited experience, we have found that difficult circumstances, devastating news, unimaginable pain and lonely heart break made us work harder at communication and ultimately deepened our love and commitment. While going through those trials didn't (and don't) always make things easy, we know that we are in this for the long haul.

How thankful I am for God's work in our lives to bring us together, for challenging and sustaining us, for giving us examples of couples who honor Him, and for teaching us that love is way more than a feeling. And perhaps most of all for keeping us deeply in love through everything!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Pink Eye...

...as in, we have pink eye for the first time. And the one infected is the one that has a high need for touching everyone and everything. Try as I might to keep his hands clean, I'll be shocked if most of us don't get it. I guess it was only a matter of time... :)


- Wash clothes for the billionth time (having a spitter has been hard on clothes and laundry is an unending task! I seriously cannot remember the last time everything was clean at once. :)).
- Start packing individual bags for everyone (since Andrew and I are going away this coming weekend, I'm trying to sort and pack for the boys to make it easier for my mom to find things for the kids).
- Clean the kitchen and pantry (the downstairs is looking good thanks to our dinner party and the kitchen is mostly in order just a few things there - the pantry needs a bit more).
- Play Chutes & Ladders (this has been constantly requested since yesterday when we didn't have time, so we will definitely be making time for it today!).
- Eat (sandwiches for lunch, veggie eggs & pancakes for supper - Andrew will be working late).
- Read books (always on the daily plan for the boys).
- Build train track (it will be destroyed by the end of the day but perhaps they will enjoy it, in the mean time).
- Watch The Bachelor (dare I even mention that I've been hopelessly in to this show this year? Unusual for me but my little sister and I have a weekly girl's night to watch it. :))

So much to do...so little time. :) I have a few posts rattling around but I'm not sure when I will get a chance to write them. Our laptop is still out of commission which makes blogging more challenging.