Thursday, July 29, 2010

Patrick Turns 5!

I can hardly believe that Patrick turns 5 today. What a wonderful gift he is to our family! I wonder if his birthmom thinks of him today - I know I think of her and feel deep gratitude for her giving him life. And I wish I could tell her what a beautiful, responsible, delightful, precious son he is - maybe she somehow knows (I hope so!). I just love my son!

Dear Patrick,

You have been eagerly anticipating the day you would turn 5. You carefully planned the menu and cake and you have beamed from ear to ear every time we talk about your big day. It's been so fun to watch though it's bittersweet as I see you growing up so fast.

It seems you have grown so tall this year! You are adorably handsome (even if I am a bit biased!) with your dark eyes and hair and very good looks. You are so particular about what you wear and choose the most comfortable clothes in your closet - sport shorts and t-shirts. I love that you humor me and dress-up a little more when we are going out but only after asking, "Can I change back into this when we get home?"

You finished preschool and did well! You made so many friends this year and it warms my heart to see how much you care for them. I can't believe how much you like letters and numbers - you are so ready to read and write and you ask me how to spell things all the time! And your artistic side has definitely emerged as you color pictures, draw, and paint. You can hardly wait until kindergarten and I'm looking forward to us spending lots of time learning together this fall!

Patrick, you are such a great brother. Both of your brothers love you so much. Sweet boy, you bring so much joy to our lives. I love your stories, your company, your responsible help, and your excitement about food and cooking. You are so affectionate and cuddling with you is so fun whether we are talking, reading, or resting. And I like the way you scratch my back and always make sure that I like precious.

This week I overheard you proudly tell a friend that you were born in Kazakhstan by pointing to the flag on your shirt and explaing that you were born there. And my heart overflowed to hear how you embrace your heritage - a heritage that we love! What a blessing that God brought you to us from halfway around the world! We love you so much and feel incredibly blessed that we were chosen to be your parents and that you are a part of our family!

I love you forever and always, Patrick. Happy 5th Birthday!

Love, Mommy 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Working It Out!

Next Monday marks the start of my new fitness regime. My sisters are joining me in acountability as we work towards our personal goals. I'm so excited to be doing this together! We have worked out some fun get-together rewards that depend on all of us working hard on our list of goals. One of my plans is for our family to continue incorporating vegetarian meals into our diet - at least twice a week. I'm looking forward to branching out and trying some great new recipes!

The four of us don't live in the same area, so we started a private blog that we can all update it with our progress. The way we have set it up, makes it easy for us to set our own individual goals and for us to identify what we believe will be our most challenging one to meet. So, this week is prep week - getting ready to embark on a much more agressive and purposeful health and fitness plan!

Accountability will be key for me - I MUST have it. I'm simply not motivated enough to do it all on my own. Perhaps I will update here occasionally with my progress and feel free to check in with me and find out how it's going!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Creative Outlet

Yesterday, I had to stay home from church with a sick kiddo and so I made dinner while the sick one slept and the rest were at church. It was blissful (other than the heat and, of course, missing church!). As I stirred and mixed and tasted and put together three new recipes, I couldn't help but realize how much I love, love, love to cook and bake. I mean it's no surprise except that sometimes I can lose sight of what I enjoy, how I am gifted, and what my creative outlets gets busy, meal time is crazy and I'm sometimes rushing to get dinner on the table. And I totally forget how much I actually need to step back and take a breather and have some time by myself to just cook and bake for fun.

For me, putting a beautiful meal on the table is a way I show love. I carefully think and plan and seek to make it special for whomever is joining us for dinner - taking note if I know they have certain likes or dislikes etc. I enjoy the process and it is a delight to add the extra touches, to try a new recipe, or to make it a little fancier. It's not to say I always succeed or that every meal is a masterpiece but rather that it is a creative expression for me.

Creativity comes in many forms and I think it's important to take time for whatever we enjoy as our outlet or hobby. And I'm always curious what inspires others, so feel free to share!

Now if only that dish fairy would show up, I'd be set and my sweet, dish-washing, taste-testing, super-supportive husband would get a break! :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: 7/26-8/1

It's been entirely too long since I've seriously menu planned and I'm feeling it. So, at least for this week, I'm back on the wagon and joining in to Laura's MPM over at I'm an Organizing Junkie. So here's what will be happening in my kitchen this week!


MONDAY: Baseball Game (it's $1 night so we will be enjoying ball park hotdogs, popcorn, etc. :))

TUESDAY: Soft Tacos or Quesadillas, Sauteed Zuchinni w/Onion, Strawberries

WEDNESDAY: Chicken Vegetable Stir-fry, Brown Rice, Blueberries

THURSDAY: Hamburgers w/the works, Veggie tray, Chips, Watermelon, Cake & Icecream (it's my middle son's 5th birthday so he ordered this!)

FRIDAY: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Birthday leftovers (we have a wedding to attend)

SATURDAY: Homemade Pizza (vegetarian), Carrots, Celery & Peanut butter, Fruit

SUNDAY: Roast w/potatoes, carrots & onions, Salad, Bread, Cherry Pie

I'm also hoping to make a new blueberry muffin recipe for breakfasts this week and a blueberry cake for a gathering at my sister's house. And those recipes will hopefully be featured on Thursday over on the recipe blog I co-author - The Cooks Next Door.

BREAKFASTS: Muffins, Oatmeal, Cereal, Toast, Fruit, Yogurt

LUNCHES: Leftovers, PB & J, Yogurt & Fruit, Burritos, Quesadillas

Hopefully I will be able to stick to the plan this week! Check out for many more menu and recipe ideas and to join in her Menu Plan Monday carnival!

Friday, July 23, 2010

This Funny 23 Month Old Little Guy...

...went potty on the potty for the very first time this week! There was much cheering and the little guy was pretty proud. He enjoyed his treat very much. Earlier that same day, he picked out his first pack of big boy pants - from the three choices, he very quickly and adamantly chose Toy Story underwear. He hasn't seen it but I think he recognizes the characters. :) Too cute. And here are some pictures of said little guy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Merits of Home Phone

We've been seriously contemplating cancelling our home phone and relying solely on our cell phones.

There are a few things that are keeping us from it:
1) We are attached to our phone number - crazy, I know. BUT it identifies us as residents of our town since the post office doesn't handle our mail.
2) We like not being reachable by everyone at all times. No offense. :)
3) We are a little old-fashioned and just like the idea of a home phone.
4) We are concerned that we would need to significantly increase our monthly cell minutes which might not save us much in the end.

Reasons we are considering cutting it:
1) We want to decrease monthly expenses - this is, of course, the #1 and main reason.
2) Most people have our cell numbers and use them.
3) We are not attached to the MANY sales, donation, and other calls we receive.

So...any thoughts on this decision? Have any of you made that decision (to cancel your home phone...not to never sign up for it)? Also, more generally, if you only use your cell phones, do you like it?

I'm sure it seems a bit ridiculous that it's such big deal for us but it really is...for both of us! :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Menu & Food

We (the sisters) carefully planned our menu for the weekend taking into consideration the various dietary needs of our family. In the end, for the main course we had a theme of food on sticks. :) It wasn't really on purpose but it was delicious!

I used lemons & limes as inspiration for decorating and making the menu cards. The colors were vibrant and summery!

Hummus & Pita
Crudites & Dip
Homemade Sushi (courtesy of my brother, Noah)

Dinner Menu:
Beef & Chicken Kabobs
Brown Rice Medley
Roasted Vegetables
Caprese Salad Skewers
Fruit Skewers

And somehow I missed getting any pictures of dessert!

Dessert Menu:
Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Angel Food Cake
Strawberries & Blueberries

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Seven

Here are some photos of my siblings. I'm the oldest of seven. It was a blast growing up! There was pretty much never a dull moment. My youngest brother (the one standing by me) is a senior in highschool this fall...meaning there is 14 years, 2 months from the first to the last. The four girls were in the first five forcing my brother (4th born) to threaten to pack a suitcase and leave if #6 wasn't a boy. He probably meanr it - I'm sure we scarred him for life making him dress-up, come to our beauty salons, and much more. He was a good sport, though. 

We have all given our parents many gray hairs over the years (some more than others...ahem) but don't they look absolutely great?!

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Family

We had a great weekend! It's always so fun to have my whole family together and doesn't happen very often at all anymore! We ate lots of food...started a corn hole tournament (that we had to abandon due to lightening and darkness)...shared gifts...took photos...watched an old movie...and laughed....alot. I hope it's not so long before we are all able to get together again but I have a feeling we'll have to wait until the holidays. Anyway, here is the whole family photo from the weekend - other photos to come. :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Some Days...

...I have to remember how cute and sweet and funny they all are! :) Yep, today is one of those days -hopefully good attitudes and obedience will return soon. As for today, I'm grateful they all still rest in the afternoon...I needed the break!!! And despite the less then stellar day, I am truly blessed - always.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I'm busy this week getting ready for our family gathering this weekend. We are hosting it on Saturday - partly in honor of my parent's 35th anniversary (celebrated in May) and partly celebrating the fact that we will all be home at the same time. The seven of us siblings and our families haven't all been together since Christmas. Considering we all live in the same state - it's been awhile! We are looking forward to a wonderful weekend and hoping the weather will cooperate!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Capturing Personalities

They say pictures are worth a thousand words - here's a glimpse at our life:

Calvin - 5
Patrick - nearly 5
Titus - 23 months

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Wonderful Day

What a wonderful day! We met up with friends that we hadn't seen in six (6!) years. We've kept up some through blogging, facebook, and Christmas letters but it was amazing to reconnect and visit in person. Last we saw them, neither of us had children and now we each have three. Such sweet kiddos and our boys thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them as we played at the zoo.

What a blessing to have a chance to share what has happened in our lives including job changes, church involvment, and our children (they have two bios and recently returned home from their first adoption journey to Ethiopia with their youngest little guy). We laughed and we shared and we rejoiced and we encouraged one another. It was delightful.

I'm thankful for their friendship that has spanned time. We picked up like it hadn't been so many years and our conversations where deep and meaningful.

All in all a fantastic day. Here are our three at the zoo today...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Blogger & Misc.

Blogger has come a long way! I've been having a great time exploring some of the new features and customizable templates. We use wordpress for The Cooks Next Door and while I like it, I still find that I have a soft spot for blogger. The improvments they have made, makes me even a little more loyal. :) So if you haven't had a chance to check out the changes, you should!

In other news, I ordered curriculum for the start of our kindergarten in September. The boys are more than ready to start school. They practice writing and ask me how to spell things on a daily basis. I've been pretty overwhelmed at the prospect of homeschooling but I keep reminding myself that it's kindergarten. I think we will have a great year and I think the group we have joined will be excellent! But I'm still not thinking about it too much for another few weeks. :)

By the way, we are having a couple of giveaways over on the cooking blog this week - check it out!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


I've been contemplating the boys' blog for quite awhile. I simply don't have the time to keep it up and over time I've included my writings about the kids and our life and the cute things they say and do over here at Meant To Be. But I've kept that blog because I love that our journey to becoming a family is chronicled there. And the blog was such an encouragment to us when we spent so many weeks in Kazakhstan going through one of the most emotional and wonderful journeys of our life.

And so it is with alot of thought and some sadness that I decided to conclude the boys' blog. I have merged all of the posts and comments here and closed Our Three Sons. It's time. We are so thankful for the amazing way God has blessed us.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Knowing & Responding

Sometimes I find knowledge difficult and sometimes it makes it tough to sleep at night. My trip to Kazakhstan changed my life...again...just like the first time when we became a family of four...only different. And I don't mean that in a cliche way. This time, I experienced the country and culture in a different way - I wasn't there to grow our family and all of the stress that includes but rather, I was there to bring hope and blessing. And beyond that, I was blessed by the children and people of a country I have come to love so much. I was reminded of the fact that smiles, laughter, tears, and hugs are the same in every language.

I'm still processing the trip. Re-entry was harder than I ever imagined it would emotions have been all over the place. I think about the need, the children, and the reality of their life. I don't feel guilty for the things God has blessed us with but rather, I think about what my response needs to be and I realize I can live with far less.

The baby house we visited was incredibly sad. The babies and toddlers were so understimulated. The smell, the cries, the lack of development, the little voices calling us "mama" - I will never forget. My heart ached for each of the precious little ones. I met two little boys with clefts and my heart ached a little extra for them. And I know what happens to all of these children if they are not adopted or are unadoptable and it's unspeakable.

What does God desire of me and especially of our family? It is a question I ponder daily. And I don't fully know the answer. I know that we were called to bring our oldest two home from there, I know we are to raise awareness, and I know that we are to continue giving back. Are we to bring another child into our family from Kaz? I don't know. It is a question we have been seriously pondering. The door has not opened for us at this point but we remain open to what God desires.

I know this is a weighty post. It's been much on my mind and heart. Here are a few pictures from the babyhouse (we took some treats for a party for the kids):

Friday, July 02, 2010

Festival Fun

I'm completely disappointed that I forgot my camera last night! We took all of the boys to our town's festival - it's put on by the Lion's Club is always the week of the 4th. This year, the big boys were old enough (and brave enough) to enjoy the rides even more. Last night was wristband night, so we let the boys have wristbands and bought a few tickets for Ty. It was so fun seeing their eyes light up as they went from ride to ride and the huge smiles were delightful! I love being a mom but some things make me enjoy it extra amounts and their joy at this "treat" was one of those moments.

Titus was a bit jealous that he wasn't big enough for very many of the rides. :) He rode the carousel and the train a few times each. It was super cute.

We had dinner before we went but enjoyed sharing a bit of fair food - some cotton candy, lemon shake-up (from the "lemon house"), ear of corn, and some potatoes. Delicious.

Anyway, it was a wonderful evening filled with smiles and laughter. I love making memories with my family!