Wednesday, March 31, 2010


**This giveaway is now closed! You can check out the winners here!**
This is officially my 1,000th published post which is very hard to believe! So much has changed over the past several years and I've had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this blog and blogworld in general. I've happily just kept this blog personal and will eventually merge the boys' blog here, since I don't write over there much anymore. Overall, it's been really good for me, it's been a wonderful way to chronicle some of our family's life, and I've made some great friends.

I will spare you 1,000 things about me or any other such post - I'm really not that interesting. Instead, in honor of this monumental post and to thank you for stopping by and making blogging fun for me, I'm doing a giveaway! I will draw two winners!

The two winners will each receive a few of my favorite things:

- $5 Starbucks Card

- A Cookbook (probably not this one but it will be a nice one :))

- 1/2 dozen Homemade Cookies

Here's how to enter:
- Leave a creative comment about whatever you would like - "pick me" or "enter me" will not win. :) I would love to hear about how you came to stop by here, how long you've been reading, etc. It's a great time to introduce yourself!
- One comment per person, please.
- I will close this giveaway on Monday, April 5.
- Two winners will be randomly drawn and contacted.
- You must have a U.S. address to win.
- The prizes will be mailed after I am back in my house - so please be patient!

You can't win if you don't enter! :) We are planning to go to the zoo today. See you later!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In the Making?

I think perhaps Calvin will be a politician. He has this innate ability to make people feel great about themselves, to make promises that he doesn't keep, and to be constantly involved in whatever we are discussing or planning. No really, he's sweet. :)

Last night he told the lady that was putting out food at the hotel (this is a direct quote), "You are the best person ever." She was flattered and quite taken with him. She had brought him some milk which evidently made his life all that much better - he barely drank it. :)

He has also recently been telling people goodbye after school, church, etc. and tells them to, "Have a good day." He thanked our oven repairman countless times, "Thank you for taking care of our oven" and then of course, "Nice to see you. Have a good day." He stops strangers that are leaving stores or restaurants or our hotel to say goodbye and wish them well. Sometimes people don't know quite how to take this smaller than average almost 5 year old but mostly we get a lot of smiles and chuckles. I go between wanting to burst out with the giggles and swelling with pride.

In reality, Calvin makes me laugh. Every. Single. Day.

Monday, March 29, 2010


There are so many times that I get overwhelmed or busy or frustrated and find this stage of life challenging but really I just LOVE our little family. The hugs and kisses, the "I love yous", the cuddles, the obedience, the helpfulness, the flexibility, and the love is incredibly sweet. Each member of our family is unique and with that individuality, they bring so much joy. I wouldn't trade being the mom of my three boys, the wife of my husband, and the pet owner of Pippi for anything. The moments we share, the memories we make, and the love that overflows is inspiring and empowering and precious. No, I wouldn't trade it for a minute. I am blessed.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Remembering to Trust

Even before the smoke damage to our house, it had been a challenging several weeks for many reasons. I have found myself feeling incredibly stressed out lately and continually trying to turn it over to God. I feel like I have many more questions than answers. It has been difficult and I'm not complaining, just noting (many people have it much worse and I'm well aware of that). And quite honestly, there are many things I simply have not talked about here or anywhere for that matter. Remembering to trust is hard.

So, today I'm reminding myself to trust because all I really want to do is crawl back in bed and have a good cry. But I believe that all things happen for a reason - even when I don't understand the reason. I'm thankful for so many things and here is a list of a few things I'm incredibly grateful for on this Friday:

- My parents graciously letting us (and our dog) stay with them this week - if you know my mom, you know that it is incredibly kind of her to tolerate our dog.
- Pippi being exceptionally well behaved.
- Andrew having several cases he worked on come down in their favor.
- Winning an entire set of Wilton Gold Bakeware.
- Friends that make me laugh.
- My sweet husband and boys who constantly remind me how blessed I am.
- Much better health for all of us.
- Spring Break and lots of fun, local plans for next week!

It's good to focus on the blessings...that's what I'm choosing to do today.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What's Your Favorite?

I'm always curious about what people enjoy food-wise. I would love for you to join in and leave your answers in the comment section. It not only helps in selecting recipes and working on the cooking blog but it is also very interesting to me. So without further adieu, here are five "favorites" questions with my answers:

Food: Any Cheese - brie being right at the top.
Dessert: Cookie - this has changed over the years but I love them with a cup of coffee.
Cold Drink: I'm mostly a water or unsweetened iced tea girl w/lemon or lime.
Hot Drink: Coffee - straight up, Americano, or unsweetened/unflavored latte.
Ethnic Cuisine: Probably Asian for me but it's a toss up - I really like eating international cuisine.

When we spent quite a bit of time overseas, we enjoyed wonderful food! I will say that the thing I craved the most when we landed back in the U.S. was a burger and fries. I found that fascinating - I guess it's the quintessential American food.

How about you - what are your favorites? Have they changed over the years?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Celebrating Nauryz

As I previously mentioned, we had a wonderful time with our friends this weekend! Our four families gathered here - two from TN and one from nothern IN. Adorable t-shirts were designed by K so all the kids matched on Saturday.

All but 2 of the kiddos. :)

A and I had planned some Kazakh dishes - roasted lemon chicken, mantys (meat dumplings), plov (a rice dish with fruit, vegetables, and meat), and two salads (a daikon radish one and a potato salad). I think it would have been wonderful but we had to change our plans due to moving our celebration to my parent's house. Instead, we had a spaghetti dinner - actually, we probably all ate some kind of Italian while were in Kaz.

All of the Kaz born sweeties!

The kids made adorable masks - thanks to G! I put together some simple coloring books from some pages I found online that included a Kaz map, flag, and a variety of pictures.

We had wonderful weather to celebrate the end of winter and beginning of spring. We love getting together and try to do it as often as we can with all the hours that separate us. How thankful I am for all of our great friends!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Take Comfort

There are two sort of comforting things I have been told during this process:

1) "This happens. It's happened to me. It happens to a lot of people and it's okay. We will take care of you." After wishing I had listened to my own caution, it's good to hear. I will make chicken stock again but not for 24 hours or even overnight despite many people having success with that. For me, it's not worth the risk.

2) "You are clean people." I so often feel frustrated with the clutter and chaos that this made me feel a tiny bit good that our house didn't seem dirty to them. :)

The care with which our insurance company, cleaning company, and laundry company have treated us has been incredible. Every single person has been so kind - you can tell that they deal with people who have experienced huge loss. And while ultimately we will not lose much, it has been such a blessing to be treated with such concern.

We try always to be glass half-full, silver-lining people and we are finding that it helps tremendously in this situation. We are blessed. We are thankful.


We will be out of our house for 2-4 weeks. They consider it a protein fire even though there were no flames. Not what we hoped for. They will clean everything - walls, ceilings, baseboards, duct work, dishes, cupboards, and all. I guess that's one way to get your deep spring cleaning done - not that I recommend it. :) At the end, our house will be cleaner than it has been in years (since kids).

The news yesterday was tough especially when we initially thought we might be able to clean it ourselves and not even involve insurance. Today, I will be inventoring all of the food to be re-imbursed for everything that is not brand-new sealed from the grocery. Lovely. I cook ALOT and have a well-stocked pantry and cupboards. They keep talking about toxins though and we want no risk of anything.

It's been a difficult several weeks for many reasons but I know it could be so much worse. We are thankful for protection and health (we are all doing better!). God is good.

I'll write more about our Nauryz celebration tonight or tomorrow - for now, I'm just absorbing the news and working to get things in order.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Close Call

I am dealing with insurance today after waking up to a house filled with smoke on Saturday. We are all fine - no actual fire (we caught it in time) but the house smells awful. Never, never again will I cook a chicken to make stock overnight - it was a first and a last and I was nervous despite knowing many people that do it and cook their chickens for 12 - 36 hours. I monitered it for 1 1/2-2 hours before we went to bed but the steam escape opened on it's own - I had closed it. Over 1 gallon of water boiled out on a very low setting in 5 hours or less. Despite our precautions and discussing leaving it on with Andrew, I just feel irresponsible and awful about it. Sigh. Live and learn. So thankful it wasn't worse.

We are staying with my parents - we cannot stay at home until the smell is dealt with. So if you need to reach us - call our cell phones or e-mail us. We are fine though I admit that I've gotten nervous a few times when I thought I smelled something odd.

On a much more positive note, we had an awesome time with our friends this weekend! There were 10 boys and 1 girl and they all got along very well. We feel incredibly blessed with such amazing friends! They were so understanding as we changed some of the plans due to our house being unavailable.

Finally, Happy Nauryz! It's the Kazakh celebration of spring and we had a great time commemorating it this weekend!

Friday, March 19, 2010


These were the first photos of our oldest two and their newest silly ones (smiling is always optional these days :)) - I cannot believe how much they have grown and changed! Love these boys!

Calvin THEN at a little over 1 year:

Calvin NOW almost 5:

Patrick THEN at 1 year:

Patrick NOW 4 1/2:

What sweet blessings they are!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


When we knew God was calling us to adopt, no one ever told us about the amazing community we would become a part of. It has been truly incredible to see the different friendships and the strong bonds that have come through being a part of the adoptive community. It continually blesses us. These are people who get it - they understand the financial and emotional sacrifice and the even greater reward. Many have been in orphanages and understand the need and the millions of children left behind. Others have been through the emotional journey of domestic adoption - building a relationship with the birth family, saying goodbye to birth moms who choose no contact, having a birth mom change her mind, and all the emotions that accompany that process.

Everyone's story is different, no family's journey is the same but we have all been touched by adoption. Most of us have made choices - like driving older cars, taking smaller vacations, scrimping, saving, mortgaging our houses, taking out loans, fundraising and many other things to make growing our family through the miracle of adoption possible. We are passionate about it - how could we not be? We love our kids, they are miracles, they are our own - finding them wasn't always easy but having them forever makes the pain worth it.

I'm thankful for this community and for these friends. And several of my dear friends and their families are coming into town tomorrow and I'm SO excited! There is still so much to do. I'm making lists, making food, cleaning, organizing, and praying for good weather! For today, my youngest sister is coming to help and to play with the kids - I'm so happy to have her! I've got a little bit of grocery shopping to do, some copies to make, and quite a bit of cleaning to accomplish. This is the first day in several that I am actually feeling better - here's hoping I'm on the road to full recovery. That would be awesome.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

Last week I cooked an Irish Feast (you can check it out here). So this week I'm less inclined to do a second big Irish meal. And we really aren't doing a whole lot for St. Patrick's Day - mostly because we are definitely still not 100% - not even close - especially me. Frustrating - yes. But I am resigned.

So, no parade and no big meal; just some coloring and cutting of shamrocks and wearing green and if I find some energy somewhere, maybe something green to go along with dinner. :) I'm okay with it. I have to be but I also have to remind myself that I shouldn't feel guilty.

Why are we so quick to compare ourselves with others? My kids probably don't even care; well, unless I mentioned the parade...which I won't...

Oh and Calvin would like to know when it will be his day. Somehow I think he will be a little disappointed to know that we don't celebrate a St. Calvin's Day. :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Time With My Baby

I have treasured my Tuesday & Thursdays with Titus. The older boys are off learning and growing and thriving. They are making friends and enjoying it. And Ty and I have had a wonderful time playing and laughing and cuddling and running errands. It's been delightful.

Next school year will bring many changes and I will miss the individual time with my littlest man. But it will be a good change. We'll find other time to spend individually with our guys because that's important to us.

For now, I'm enjoying the remaining school days with Titus and feeling so thankful for our time. I love being Mommy to my boys. What a joy!

I've been feeling a bit nostalgic looking back at the pictures of when Titus was just born. He was all of 6 lb. 10 oz. at his birth. So little! Our now 23 lb., 19 month old toddler is a hilarious ball of energy. So fun!

Monday, March 15, 2010


Today my son told me that he would like to be a princess. :) I explained the difference between prince and princesses but he has also told me that when he grows up he wants to be a mom. I figure things will work out in time. Meanwhile, he has given us his life plan. I find it incredibly adorable. What a sweetie.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


It was convenient that we already had clown costumes for the boys since they both chose to dress up as clowns for trick-or-treating. They were excited to have a chance to wear them for their circus at school. Here are some pictures from their fun and cute performance. :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Right Instinct

Yep, we have relapsed. Patrick's swab came back positive so the pediatrician swabbed all of us which was beyond nice (I had only made an appt. for P). I was so thankful. Titus' came back positive. Calvin and I were negative but she said if Calvin starts to complain, to go ahead and give him antibiotics - his tonsils are HUGE which I noticed this morning. I'll call my physician if I don't get better - could just be allergies for me. I'm not fully convinced but I'll accept it for now. :) Seriously, it wasn't even our regular pediatrician (she is off on Fridays) and I really appreciated her taking the time to diagnose us all - even me!

We are hunkering down, hanging out at home and keeping our germs to ourselves. New tooth brushes are ready, everything will be scrubbed again and hopefully this time it wil work!!! Here's hoping you all have a wonderful weekend! We are going to try. :)


I'm pretty sure we are having a relapse of strep. We all finished our medication last weekend and now two of us have very sore throats again (me & P). I think I may have re-infected the family - we cleaned, I promise! :) My body is extremely sensitive and allergic a lot of antibiotics and so the ideal treatment for strep is not a medicine I can take. I think what I did take surpressed it and made me feel better but didn't kill it. We'll see what the doctor says.

I'm very discouraged. We are generally health conscious and eat well overall. I think we need to be better about taking our daily vitamins - we haven't done the best on that lately. So today, I feel grumpy and tired and frustrated that we can't seem to get well. The idea of going back on antibiotics and feeling awful for yet another several days does not appeal. Caring for the kids and our house and the things that need done feels daunting.

And here I was all ready to post cute pictures of the boys' circus at school. :) Oh well, what can I say? I'll post them later or tomorrow. Right now, I have zero energy and have to take three kids and myself to the doctor. All right, I'm done wallowing in self-pity; we'll make it. And we'll cancel our plans for the weekend - we most certainly don't want to share.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Two Good Causes - UPDATED

I like to occasionally share opportunities to get involved and today I have two things to bring to your attention.

1) Two Hearts for Hope is collecting items for our upcoming trip to Kaz. These donations need to be received by April 1. If you would like to help, feel free to send them to the address provided or get them to me!

Here is an UPDATED list of the items still needed:

Diaper rash cream
Crib toys/rattles (plastic only)
Sneakers size infant to 5 years in new condition
Pajamas size 0-2 in new condition
8-10 Bumbo Seats
Bean Bag chairs (to be shipped at a later date)

They are also collecting monetary donations. We also very much request your prayers as we prepare to travel and as we serve!

2) Our friends and neighbors are adopting from the Congo! We are so thrilled for them. They are working on fundraising and have given some ways to help here. Adoption is expensive and they know God is calling them to this - please check out their site! One of the ways to support them is to order coffee and we can vouch for how wonderful the coffee is - fresh roasted right before being sent!

Adoption is so close to our hearts. We truly believe that every Christian needs to consider how they can be involved - whether welcoming a child into their family or supporting others through prayer and finances. There are literally millions of orphans around the world. Millions.

Thanks so much for the love and support so many of you have shown in praying for my upcoming trip and for helping me reach my goal! And thank you for letting me share about these two opportunities!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Ah, Spring, You Tease...

The hint of spring in the air is exhilarating. We went for a walk and to the park yesterday and it was great! I'm starting to think about what we will plant and making plans for my herb garden. We are coming into my favorite seasons for cooking - everything is so fresh and delicious! I like things simple and seasonal.

We are planning to put the big boys in a rec soccer league which will start next month. I think it will be great for their energy level and also great for their coordination and team participation. They will be so excited - the older two really love sports. We'll see if that lasts throughout their growing up years.

Is it bad that I've told my oldest that he is going to have to pray about another brother or sister? He is quite insistent that we are to have four and we aren't really feeling that #4 is in the near future. :) He was awfully excited to see one of his classmate's 1 week old baby sister today. Perhaps God has more children for us but right now we are enjoying the ones He has given us and not looking to add anymore. :)

So anyway, back to spring... I'm ready and waiting for the warm, sunny weather, for the soccer games and park days, and for grilling out!

Monday, March 08, 2010

8 Years!

Today we celebrate 8 years of marriage! The beautiful weather echoes the beautiful weather on our wedding day. We looked so young!

I'm so thankful our paths crossed those many years ago!

Sunday, March 07, 2010


We had such a good time this weekend. It was so needed and so restful. We didn't really do much but we enjoyed some wonderful food, an art show, and caught up on a lot of sleep. It was blissful. We had time to talk and reflect and plan.

It's hard to believe that we are celebrating 8 years of marriage. We have been through a lot and we have come through more committed to each other, to our family, and to seeking God's best for our family. I look forward to many more years of wedded bliss.

We know God has much in store for our family in the coming months and years. For now, we are enjoying being parents to our three gifts, renewing our commitment to each other, making wonderful memories, and trusting the Lord.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A Circus

This morning we went to the three-ring circus with the boys' preschool. It was fun and it was long. And I couldn't help but thing how life can be a three-ring circus and how lately, that's exactly what it feels like around here. :) No two acts are the same but they come one right after the other. Between everyone being sick (I'm finally starting to get some energy back!) and the crazy, crazy schedule of late, I hardly now where to start on catching up. It can be discouraging and frustrating.

But then there are funny (because you don't want to cry about them) moments mixed in, like when I was changing the sheets on all the beds and heard something rattling - it was valentine conversation hearts hidden in someone's pillow case. And like when I learned that Titus had been given a sucker in bed first thing this morning. Sticky mess, sugared-up boy, and naughty brothers. All candy (at least that I have found) has been confiscated and thrown away.

Yes, a three-ring circus might be a good way to describe it. I have three "clowns" who need lots of training and correction as they prepare for the "show" of life and all that it brings. I love them and I pray for wisdom as we teach and guide them.

In the mean time, I'm stifling a laugh. Because sometimes laughing makes everything just a little easier.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


Tomorrow (after Andrew gets off work), we are going away for a few days. We aren't going far but we are going without kids. I'm so excited to have some time to rest and relax together. Andrew's schedule has been awful lately - as in, he is seeing the wee hours of the morning every night either working from home or at work.

I'm looking forward to time to re-focus together, make plans, and spend time considering what God desires for our family. Not to mention, we'll probably bring some games and movies and enjoy a few nice meals out. We like to do this once a year - though it doesn't always happen. :) We will be gone until Sunday this time and we are so thankful for willing people to keep the kiddos - they will be staying home with an aunt and uncle.

Our 8th anniversary is on Monday and we are planning to enjoy our celebration time away!

Monday, March 01, 2010


I'm sad that the Olympics are over. What can I say? I'm a sucker for the amazing stories and awesome show of prowess. I love that it brings out patriotism. I love that my family cheers for two countries and that my kids are proud of their Kaz heritage.

Watching the Olympics is a tradition in my family - I remember many games and many athletes over the years (I think the first games I have memory of are probably 1984 - I was 5). I've dreamed of winning a medal (as an underdog, of course) and I remember our ice skating and hockey on roller skates in the garage. Mostly, I love that for two weeks I connect to people who can do things that I will never be able to do and that I can still dream of taking up a new sport.

Now, my children watch the Olympics and pick their favorite sports. Titus is in to the ice skating and has his own "routines" and Calvin and Patrick like the bobsled, hockey, and skiing. My favorites this year were the snowboarding, the short-track, speed and figure ice skating (as always), and the skiing. Still can't get behind the curling. The sport I would most like to try? Ski jumping. I would love to feel like I'm gliding on air.

It's wonderful to see people from around the world compete, support each other, and congratulate one another (well, most of the time). It's the kind of world I like to think of - a peaceful one.

Goodbye Winter Olympics. Can't wait for your return in four years. Perhaps one of my four year olds will be well on his way to mastering a sport and creating his own heart-warming Olympic story - likely not, but hey, a mom can dream.

In the mean time, perhaps I will get a little more sleep. :)