Friday, December 09, 2011

Our Christmas Card

We decided not to send out Christmas cards this year. It felt overwhelming.

Our kids were pretty bummed when we told them, so they asked...

"Can we put together a little song and dance to share with everyone anyway?"

How could I refuse...

Hope you enjoy their production!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Adoption Ideal

I'm guest-posting on the MomLife Blog today.

"Idealize (Def: to attribute ideal characteristics to)
Ideal (Def: existing as a mental image or in fancy or imagination only)
Christmas, Birthdays, Vacations and other special events are prime targets for any idealist. Marriage and motherhood too, especially if you are single and have no kids...."

Want to read more, check it out here...

Monday, November 21, 2011

For my birthday...

... watch this video. It is exciting!!

It is proof that the cycle can be broken.

And even more exciting... there is a piece of land available in Ukraine that Lifesong will buy if they raise enough money. This land will be used to plant strawberries. It will be used to give more orphans a chance to rise above and make something of themselves.

It will allow them to beat the odds.

Odds like 80% of orphans who age out of the system end up dead, doing drugs or in prostitution.

Terrible odds.

BUT, Lifesong is making a difference and YOU can help.

Here's how... for my birthday (which happens to be today) I am asking for presents:

$33 donations to Lifesong (in honor of my 33rd birthday)

Donations that will be invested in the lives of orphans, so we can tell more stories like Sergie and Andre's.

Go here now to give!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Something Orange

Tami's Photography Challenge, Day 19:  Something Orange

I had to make a special purchase for this. I hope you all appreciate the lengths I'm willing to go to keep this challenge, at least in a skip-a-few days kind of way.  "Something Orange" gives me the perfect opportunity to show off my newest Etsy purchase, but in order to properly show it off, I had to purchase a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks to go with it. For the record, also orange.

And since my partner in crime, armed with Puppy, just happened to be wearing his orange coat...

He made it into the post. Lucky him. Lucky me and my pumpkin spice latte wrapped in Etsy cuteness.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Your Shoes

Tami's Photography Challenge, Day 18:  Your Shoes

I don't actually have the shoes I'm picturing here today in my possession, although they are on the way. Due to arrive tomorrow in fact. Here they are in all their tiny glory. If you squint and look really close (I couldn't figure out how to make the picture bigger without blurring) you can see why I'm so excited for tomorrow. They are my first pair of Toms.

I am sure you all know what Toms are? If you don't here is the scoop. Toms is a company that gives one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes you purchase. So while I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new pair of shoes, a child somewhere is anxiously awaiting the arrival of their pair new pair of shoes. Pretty cool stuff. 

Which brings me to my next blog topic... Gifts that Give back.

Last year I set myself a goal to give as many gifts as I could that gave back in some way, kind of like giving two gifts at once! My mom got a scentsy warmer that also funded an adoption. My dad received a beautiful piece of artwork (from pitter-patter art) that also funded an adoption. You get the drift.

I'm attempting this again this year and thought I'd share a few links with you if you'd like to do the same. 

Check out these shops:

The Mercy Shoppe - all proceeds go to benefit a maternity home in Kenya
Wild Olive T's - 10% of all profits go to help children in China and Uganda
Toms Shoes - donate one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair you buy
Gobena Coffee - 100% of the profits go to support orphans in Ethiopia
Junk Posse - your purchase supports numerous non-profit organizations
Minus One Project - an adoption fundraiser
Hearts at Home - all purchases support the ministry Hearts at Home

These are just a handful, I know there are more. 
If you know of others, please share the links in the comments.
Happy Shopping!!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Tami's Photography Challenge, Day 16:  Technology

Can I reuse a picture from day 13?

Cause I have been loving my iPhone. It, quite frankly, amazes me. 
Today I set my calendar to sync "in the air" through iCloud. If I make a change on my PC Outlook, it shows up on my iPhone. If I make a change on my iPhone a state away from my PC, it shows up in my Outlook within minutes. Woot! Woot!

It's the little things. The mind-blowing little things. Pandora. Skype. Facebook. Words with Friends. ITunes. Google Earth. Take a minute to think on what any one of these little apps can do, especially compared to ten-years-ago technology and it is CRAZY how far we've come so fast. 

Now my kids are growing up taking all these crazy technological advances for granted. I overheard them talking yesterday while playing a game on the computer, 

"Look, Aunt Leslie is on-line. We should skype her." 

Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy. 

Crazy, mind-blowing technology.

Thursday, November 03, 2011


She has the most amazing big brown eyes. They are one small part of what makes her beautiful. 

Eyes that all but disappear when she smiles, which just happens to be another small part of what makes her beautiful.

She is the only one in our family with brown eyes. Beautiful brown eyes. I hope she will always see them the way we do. I hope they will never become something that makes her feel different or excluded.

We are all different in our own way. Some ways are more obvious than others. But even more, we are a family, a team, by God's perfect design.

Her beautiful brown eyes add a unique flair to our family and we wouldn't be the same without her.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Yourself with 13 things

Tami's Photography Challenge Day 13, Yourself with 13 Things

That's me with my 13 favorite apps. Except there aren't 13 apps, there are really just a handful. Only one that I downloaded myself last night because I am a fresh, baby-new iPhone user/owner.

The phone isn't baby new. Kory's been using it for the last year, but he just made the upgrade to the 4s and I, lucky me, get his Iphone4. Sweet!

So I'm trying to figure this iPhone thingy out, including all the apps. And since I don't have 13 favorite apps yet, would you mind sharing yours?

What do you consider the must-have or funnest-ever or just-plain-cool apps that every iPhone user should have?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Sorry, no sunsets today. I'm taking a break from Tami's Photography Challenge to post yesterday's happenings instead.

We were invaded by a candy-hungry crowd including a pirate, Heidi, a knight, Bob the Builder and Snow White. They were wild. I'm exhausted. And with the loot they brought in we are looking at a three month sugar high at least. 

Or maybe we will donate their loot to the troops, save our teeth and see if we can go longer than a month between dentist visits. Seriously, our dentist has gotten to know me too well over the last 4 months. There has been talk of naming a wing after me, or at least a chair. This is something I'd rather avoid. 

Unfortunately, I don't think Hubs will let me give up the loot that easily. He walked over a mile last night to earn his cut. He has a bucket labeled "Dad's Stash" and has warned us all their will be a penalty for stealing from it. 

As for me, I will spend the next month trying not to eat the candy as well as taking on the responsibility of rationing the sweets, adding the title "Keeper of the Candy" to my already too long list. 

Ah, the Joys of Halloween.

I'm being sarcastic.

Happy November 1st. :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Something Blue

Tami's Photography Challenge, Day 11: Something Blue

We tell people to think Jonah and the whale, blue water.

It is a little trick we've done since they were little to help people know who is who. When you have identical twins, it helps. And after six years of wearing blue, his favorite color is red. BUT, his favorite color to wear is blue.

We've brainwashed him.

We've brainwashed both of them.

Last summer Simon received a shirt that had a little bit of blue on it. He didn't want to wear it because it looked too much like Jonah. Once I was able to convince him that it was his and did not look like Jonah, he went from never wearing it, to wearing it all the time.

He would have worn it every. single. day if I'd let him. If you look back over our pictures from summer of 2011, you will know which shirt I am talking about.

But enough about Simon; Jonah is my something blue.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Childhood Memory

Tami's 30 Photography Challenge, Day 10:  Childhood Memory

I could have spent hours spinning my days away in our old brown chair. She was my favorite place to read or listen to old records like the Carpenters, Psalty or Music Machine.

She was situated in a corner, the perfect distance from the wall making it possible to push my feet off with enough force to make it to the other side. I could spin for hours if I wanted, never leaving the chair or touching the ground.

I could also see out the front window. Spin, pause, look outside, watch a bird or the tree limbs blow or a neighbor ride by on a bicycle. Spin, pause, daydream, spin again.

As my sisters got older I sometimes had to share, but I always considered her my chair.

When we moved to the country, there was a problem. She didn't match. I'd like to think my passion saved her, but I don't remember. I only know that my parents decided to recover her, changing the brown to red.

I do remember being unsure the first time I sat in her. She didn't feel the same. She was no longer in a corner. But she was still my favorite spot to read.

I have a very distinct memory of sitting in my now red chair finishing Jane Eyre. I was nearing the end of the book where Jane was finally going to be reunited with her Mr. Rochester, never to leave him again. I remember tears coming to my eyes, completely engrossed as that perfect moment I had been waiting the entire book to read came into view. And then, my mom called me to set the table, and kept calling me until I was forced to respond, pulling me from the world of Jane and completely shattering the mood.

I think I finished the book before I went.

One day, long after I had moved out, my parents decided to redecorate. My old brown, changed to red chair once again did not match. They needed to find her a new home and I had the perfect one in mind.

I don't sit in my red chair and read as much as I used to, but no worries, she's not neglected, because I'm not the only one who considers her a favorite anymore.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Someone You Love

Tami's Photography Challenge, Day 9:  Someone You Love

This was an easy one. After 12 years of marriage he still makes me laugh more than anyone in the world. This is no small feat.

He is an amazing man, father, husband. He provides, leads, takes care of us.

He is someone I love, like crazy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Bad Habit

Tami's Photography Challenge, Day 8: A Bad Habit

This was a hard one. Because, you know, I have like zero bad habits. Kory even agreed with me (smart man!). And, all I could think of was the Berenstain Bears and the Bad Habit, where Sister tries to kick the bucket on her nail biting. I don't remember much else except that by the end of the book she had beautiful nails so I'm assuming she accomplished her goal. 

Then I remembered that ALL my kids bite their nails, except Suhn, which I'm sure has very little to do with the fact that I often forget to cut their finger nails for months at a time. I'm sure Suhn will eventually join the rest in their nail biting glory. But because she doesn't (yet) I am actually remembering to cut her fingernails and hence every one else's as hers actually get long enough for me to notice and do something about. 

For the rest, I just cut what little is left of their nails, say something about it being a bad habit and move on to their toenails, which they used to bite as well, until recently. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Tami's Photography Challenge, Day 6:  Fruit (I hope they won't kill me when they are older) of a Loom :)
An oldie, but an oh-so-cutie!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Something Green

Photography Challenge, Day 4: Something Green

She has been with us as long as we have been us. I believe she was our first furniture purchase as a couple. She has served us well over the 12.5 years we've been together. I say "she" because "he" feels totally wrong, as does "it" when referring to a piece of furniture that has been sat on by us for as long as she has.

Oh, the memories...

She was the inspiration for our guestbook in the early years when we crammed her into our one bedroom Chicago apartment. If you visited us during that time, chances are you sat on her and had your picture taken as proof that you had indeed been there.

When the kids were born, she became a bed for Grandma's and Aunt's who were willing to help us survive the newborn years, especially the twin newborn years. The Grandma's moved on pretty fast, but the Aunt would periodically come back, that is until she moved to Africa.

She has always been one of my favorite reading places. The kids' too!

And by far, my favorite napping place.

She has comforted sick kids...

... and been the spot where we have enjoyed movie after movie. Sometimes all seven of us have crammed together on her to enjoy a film and when the kid's go to bed and it is just Kory and I...

I get 3/4 and he sits on the end. That is until he moves to the floor which is when I know it will be just me and her finishing the movie. I fill him in when he wakes up to go to bed.

There are days I wish she was a different color or a little more modern, but when I really think about it...

I'm glad she is who she is.

Something soft, cozy, and comfortable.

Something green.

Don't forget to head over to Tami's to see other 30 Day Challenge participants!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


30 Day Photography Challenge, Day 3: Clouds
Here are a few of my favorites...

If you can't tell, I'm going about this photography challenge from a mom perspective. Because, well, I'm a mom and that is pretty much my life right now.

I don't have a fancy camera, just a point and shoot with 8 megapixals. You aren't going to see great photography on this site, I will save that for Tami.

Regardless, this should be fun.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What I am Wearing Today, cause I know you were curious.

My friend and photographer extraordinaire, Tami, is doing a little 30 day photo challenge. She invited her blog readers to join along. So I am.

Today's "photography challenge" is "what you wore today." If you hop on over to Tami's blog (one of my favorites!), you will see her working the wrinkled shorts look and totally pulling it off. 

What I wore today... not so styling. It's a gym day (yay! my gym days are harder to pull off lately) and the sun isn't shining and its cold and after the gym I have no where else to go. Add that up and I'm working the sweats today.

And since you were curious about the turquoise hoodie...

I bought it at the Old Navy in downtown Seattle last summer on our way to China. We had a nine hour layover. I was cold and realized I had forgotten my white hoody at home. So I bought the turquoise one. Only to realize, again, several hours later as we waited to board our plane that I had, indeed, brought my white hoody. I didn't need a new one. Especially in the oven that was China that week.

So there you have it, two hoodies.

One of which I wore today. :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Has Thomas the Train moved on?

If you have followed my blog over the years, then you know my boys love playing with Thomas. They received their first train set on their second birthday and were hooked. Barely a day would go by that they didn't play with Thomas. At bedtime they would "talk trains" late into the night.

They would disappear into the basement for hours. Sometimes I would sneak down to "listen in" on their play and hear snippets of life in train world.

"Come over here, said Thomas"
"No, said James"

Wordless Wednesday would often feature the many places Thomas was found in our house. The pictures were never posed and I loved finding Thomas in surprising places.

Yep, our investment in Thomas and friends was well worth the money, probably the best toy investment we have ever made.

The other day I overheard a clerk in a fabric store inform a customer that Thomas is not as "in" as he used to be. I wanted to argue, but even I had to admit things have changed around our house since the boys started school.

I don't find Thomas the train in surprising places anymore, at least in train form. And the boys don't stay up late discussing Thomas's adventures. I don't get to overhear "train talk" like I used to.

This makes me a little sad.

Instead, my boys have found a new passion that still includes Thomas, which makes me happy.

As Suhn would say, "Ta Da!"

They have become quite the artists and yes, we go through a LOT of paper.
Now instead of finding Thomas the train laying around the house I am finding portraits of Thomas and James and all their train friends.

These portraits used to appear taped to the walls throughout our house until Mya had the brilliant idea of creating an art museum in the basement.

Our basement museum continues to grow. I love the creativity it represents.

Thomas may not be as "in" as he used to be, but he will always hold a special place in this momma's heart. And our little museum will commerate (for now) the days of yore when Thomas was all the rage.
 Even though they grow up and move on, there is nothing quite like a boy and his train.

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Discipline of Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is not so much a feeling I feel when I’m feeling thankful...

Instead, it is an intentional act. Or better yet, an intentional thought process. It takes discipline.

The more I practice it, the more I am rewarded with that feeling I feel when I’m feeling thankful. It’s a good feeling. Like Grandpa says, it can make a person feel almost selfish it feels so good.

A thankful person is one who remembers where all good gifts come from. And even if the circumstances of life don’t feel good, a thankful person is one who trusts that God is in control anyway. Even when life is hard, there is always something to give thanks for. The person who finds that something and gives thanks for it, in all circumstances, lives a joy-filled life. I believe that is true.

I want to live that kind of life.

I want my kids to live that kind of life too.

Thus begins my quest to live a more thankful life.

I bought a little notebook the other day that sits on my bedside table. The goal is to record five things I’m thankful for every night before bed, so that I can end each day on a thankful note. I started this little practice two weeks ago. And while I’ve only actually written in it, ahem, three times, I have found my days are interrupted more often with thankful thoughts and the intention to add these little praises to my notebook.

I’m still hoping to get more consistent with the actual recording process. A notebook filled with reasons to be thankful has to be a motivating read when I’m finding it hard to find things to be thankful for, right?

Yep, I think so too.

Today I am giving thanks for fall colors, a working vehicle, the God who hears me, a Starbucks gift card, and Focus on the Family podcasts.

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, September 26, 2011

He did it again

If you ask his kids or grand kids, or anyone who knows him, you would end up with a long list of wisdom. He likes to talk and the words that come out of his 80 plus years of living are ones to be remembered. In fact he made a list once, filled with some of his favorite sayings gathered and used over a lifetime. Some he used more often than others. I blogged about it once a long time ago.

He did it again the other day. I heard about it from my dad. He added another bit of wisdom to the list. One I have been mulling over for days. I think he is on to something.

He said, “It is almost selfish to be thankful for everything because it makes me so happy.”

If you know him, I have to ask… doesn’t that sound like something he would say?

How cool would it be to have a statement like that “sound like something you would say.”

Yep, I wanna be like my Grandpa.

I think I will start by giving thanks for him!

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Friday, September 23, 2011

There She Goes

She's officially off to Africa. My sister and aunt extraordinaire has left the country and is on her way to Zambia where she will live for the next year teaching art and music at Lifesong's school. She will be loving on kids and putting her vigorous auntie training (provided lovingly by her 11 nieces and nephews) to good use.

I am so excited to see God work in her and through her. I am so excited to see her live out this dream.

But I will miss her.

A lot.

Which I'm trying not to think about.

So let's move on.

If you are interested in following along on Leslie's great adventure, she will be blogging here (hopefully with more frequency than she's blogged the last 6 months, hint, hint).

You can also follow along with the McB family here. They arrived in Zambia today. Leslie will be living with them for the first two months until their guest house is complete. Then she will move across their yard.

Leslie, I love you. I'm praying for you. And I can't wait to see the adventure unfold.

Glory to God, for "great are his purposes and mighty are his deeds." (Jer 32:19)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Read this

A friend forwarded me this link yesterday.

Man, I can relate with this post on so many levels. The details may be different but the feelings are so much the same.  I am thankful when people share their struggles honestly with Truth sprinkled in. It is therapy. A reminder I am not alone.

But enough about me.

If you are adopting or have adopted. If you are muddling through the aftermath of some life change or know someone who is...

I'd like to encourage you to read this.

Monday, September 05, 2011

An Adventure in the Backyard.

They were excited and that made us excited.

A backyard camp out.

I have so many fun memories of my own backyard camp outs as a kid.
Driving up to the gas station to pick out treats to eat in the tent.
Hostess cupcakes or Whatchamacallit candy bars for me.
Going to sleep with Dad in the tent.
Waking up to find him mysteriously gone.

An adventure in the backyard.

We didn't run up to the gas station to get treats.
But we did roast marshmallows and make smores.
Kory pulled out the guitar.
We sang Twinkle, Twinkle little Star as the stars made their night-sky debut.
We took turns telling scary/funny stories that involved ghosts, bears, squirrels, golf balls and smores.
And then, we fit five kids and one brave Dad into a 4-man tent, while Mom (that would be me) headed in to sleep in her own bed.

They fell asleep with Dad in the tent.
And woke to find him mysteriously gone.

An adventure in the backyard.

Epilogue: Kory tried to sleep in the tent until about 2:00 am when he decided to move in to the sofa, where he tried to sleep with the window open and a clear view of the tent. The kids went to bed late, woke up too early and were all feeling tired today. They loved sleeping in the tent and we are going to love sending them to bed early tonight. :)

Gabby God's Little Angel - a book review

Gabby God’s Little Angel, is a sweet picture book about a fun-loving guardian angel named Gabby. If you are familiar with the Gigi, God’s Little Princess series, this book is written in the same style which should not be a surprise as both characters are the work of author Shelia Walsh.

The illustrations, done by Marina Fedotova, are whimsical and sweet. Without a doubt, they add value to the story and make this book a fun one to look through.

The story is based on Psalm 91:9,11, “The Lord is your protection… He has put his angels in charge of you. They will watch over you wherever you go.” And while I love anything that reinforces the message that we are precious and loved by God, which is a clear message of this story… my one concern is the idea that God shows us his love by protecting us from harm. While I believe He does protect His children at times, I also know sometimes He does not.

Despite my concern, which could get me accused of way over thinking a children’s book; I look forward to sharing the story of Gabby with my girl. It is a sweet, whimsical, girly story book that will be a fun adventure for us to share together.

***DISCLOSURE NOTICE: A free copy of this book was supplied to me for the purpose of review by Thomas Nelson Publishing. No monetary exchange was given. All comments and wording in this review are purely my own.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Christmas Shopping!

Yes,  you read that correctly.

And even though it is 100 degrees outside, I am beginning to think Christmas.

Last year I set a goal to purchase gifts that gave back. This year I'd like to do the same.

So, in the spirit of Christmas, I'd like to share a few opportunities with you.

Have you ever heard of Scentsy? Head over here to learn more.
The Scentsy fundraiser will only last during the month of September. What makes this FUNdraiser extra fun is if you make a purchase over $10 you can be entered to win other prizes. AND, for every purchase you make money goes to help orphans in Henan (Suhn's province in China). So go knock a few items off your Christmas list and help orphans at the same time. It's a win-win-win (which is by far the best kind).

One more "gifts that give back" tip (and I'm hoping to share more over the next few months so stay tuned)...

Wild Olive T's

Awesome, awesome t-shirts for women and kids. Better yet, a percentage of EVERY purchase you make goes to help orphans.

My "So Loved" t-shirt if an easy favorite. Mya and Suhn's too! Go check out the site. Seriously, t-shirts don't get any better than this.

Happy Shopping and have a great Labor day weekend!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Caught in the Act

I thought I was being economical.

At first everything was going according to plan. No problems. Life was great. Until, I started noticing...

It really seemed like nothing. A few crumbs behind a chair or under a table. No big deal.

Then, the crumbs begin to show up on his face. I'm ashamed to say I looked the other way. Denial set in.

Things proceeded to get worse.

I started locking the box in the cupboard, but it continued to "disappear." It would mysteriously show up behind a chair or in the toy cupboard. I started getting sick to my stomach every time that box was gone.

I knew something was up, I knew it was bad and I needed to confront, but it is so hard to admit your loved one has a problem.

The day finally came when I caught him in the act.

We were getting ready to run some errands. He smiled sweetly and ran to "find his shoes." I followed. He led me right to it. He had hidden the box again for easy access. He grabbed a handful, stuck it in his mouth and turned. He saw me.

We silently regarded each other. The jig was up. We both knew it was time for change.

Hello, my name is Sean, and I'm a... goldfishaholic.