Sunday, December 30, 2012

Trying To Find The Good Stuff

This whirlwind of a weekend has my head still spinning and the sound of a thousand temper tantrums ringing in my ear.

Yesterday we drove from the Seattle-ish area to Clackamas County, Oregon to visit my husband's grandma. Ryan slept the whole way and Jacob nearly talked our ears off. If we knew his nonstop chatter would eventually turn into nonstop complaints about being bored and hungry and thirsty and tired, we would not have complained.

Then we arrived at grandma's house and we discovered a whole new kind of adventure. Ryan was on a quest to chew through the cords of grandma's oxygen tank. I was, no joke, pulling the clear plastic cords out of his dragon-like jaw every five minutes. When I wasn't prying Ryan's teeth from the oxygen tank cord, I was keeping Jacob from knocking over Grandma's table which showcased her half-completed 1,000 piece puzzle. There were several near misses and each time my heart stopped as I imagined the hell that would ensue if we had to track down every one of those 1,000 pieces out of grandma's thick, orange shag carpet. Ryan probably would have helped by putting several of them in his mouth. When we removed the children from the dining room, thereby seperating them from their respective temptations, Jacob decided it would be awesome to play with grandma's flashlights, turn on her air conditioner, try to stick his fingers in her fan, and practice Olympic swim diving by jumping off of grandma's furntiture. 

After trying to keep the kids rounded up and entertained for several hours within a small area surrounded by fragile objects, I decided that I would invest in two pint-sized straight jackets before our next trip.

After our visit, we swung by Portland to visit the zoolight display at the Oregon Zoo. It, in every way possible, was quite a zoo! We somehow survived waiting in line for over an hour in 39 degree weather during which time Ryan decided that he did NOT want to wear a hat. So we played an hour long game of...Ryan Takes Off His Hat and Mommy Forcibly Places the Hat Back on His Head.

All bundled up!

Unfortunately, I had completed a 20 oz bottle of water during our drive to the zoo. Minute 49 of waiting outside in the freezing cold with a near-bursting bladder, I resigned to answering nature's call in the woods behind one of the zoo shuttle busses. Of course, that sole private area had to also be the home of expertly hidden prickly bushes. It was not my favorite moment of the day.

Finally, we got inside the zoo where we, desperately cold, waiting another 15 minutes for hot cocoa. All of that waiting led to a 40 minute waltz around the zoo before we rushed back to the car for warmth.

I didn't get that many pictures. My hands were too cold!

While the zoo lights were awesome, unfortunately, their awesomeness was diminished by our freezing, long wait to get inside. It was pretty. But we probably won't go back.

After yesterday's adventures, I was hoping today would be more relaxing and laid back. The kids, per usual, had other plans. The morning started with some friends stopping by to visit. Then we ran to Target to return some poor quality gifts from Santa (tsk tsk, you elves!). I explained to Jacob that when we return toys to Target, Target sends them back to Santa at the North Pole and gives us giftcards from Santa to buy new toys. Thankfully, he was so excited to pick out a new toy that he didn't ask too many questions.

Tie clipped onto nice sweater over camo shirt...typical Jacob.

By the end of today, I was grumpy and exhausted. There were so many times this weekend when I thought Jacob was going to make me lose it. I swear that 85% of this weekend was spent threatening time-outs and following through on those threats. I swear I am going batshit crazy.

At one point this weekend, someone said to me, "You have two kids and a full time job. I don't know how you do it." I thought about going off on a rant about how my house is an absolute mess. How we are frequently eating leftovers and frozen pizza. How the dirty and clean laundry sits in piles all over my house for a week before it ever gets put away. How I easily lose my temper and scream at the drop of a tantrum. Fortunately, I caught myself before I could go off on a soliloquy about how hard my life can be. Instead, I just smiled and said, "How do I do it? Simple. I DON'T."

Based upon occassional comments from friends and family members, I guess people often assume I have my life perfectly together (or maybe they are just being nice...). I will admit, I am very blessed. I have a great lawyer job, a husband who also works, a home, two kids, etc. But even when I seem "put-together," the reality is so different from the outward facade. If only people could spend one weekend with me. One weekend precisely like this past weekend. They would see how crazy things can be.

But luckily, my days are never truly all bad, or even all good for that matter. The reality is, there is always some goodness in a rough day and some badness in a perfect day. This is necessary. It's how we learn to adapt and be flexible. To be grateful and discerning. And....this was true even this past weekend.

Ryan, trying to grab Jacob's tongue.

Happy boy.

Randomly, during the moments I though I would explode, I'd suddenly catch Jacob giving Ryan a kiss. Or singing Ryan a song. Or picking up his toys without asking. These little glimmers of sweetness are the only things keeping me from running out of the house, repeatedly throwing myself against a wall, or guzzling pitchers full of Costco Ready-Made margarita mix.

At the end of today, an especially trying and exhausting day, I put the kids in the bath. As I was getting ready to wash their hair, eagerly looking forward to their bedtimes, they started to play. My clenched jaw slackened and a smile spread across my face. Jacob was filling his mouth with water and spitting it out in a steady stream across the bathtub. Ryan was giggling hysterically. Then Ryan would reach up to grab Jacob's mouth causing Jacob to laugh and dribble water all over himself. This made Ryan laugh louder. Suddenly, they were crawling all over each other, sharing toys, and laughing. Before I knew it, I was exhaling deeply and joining in their laughter.

Jacob giving Ryan a mohawk (or, as he calls it, a "mohog.")

Jacob squirting water over Ryan's head.

Ryan tries to make his escape.

Those are the moments that make all the roughness, exhaustion, worry, and frustration that comes with being a parent seem so small.

Adoption Post

How I wish the title could be written backwards: Post-Adoption.  Won’t that be a great day?!

I can’t believe we’ve been a “Waiting Family” for 25 days.  Twenty-five looooooong days.  I’d be lying if I said that waiting for that phone call doesn’t’ cross my mind a good 25 times an hour.  It does.  It TOTALLY does.  I try to pray about it anytime I think about it, asking God for patience, but also letting him know that we’re ready, too!  Ha!

I always wonder how I will receive that magical call.  Unless you’ve been through the adoption wait, you probably can’t relate to this level of crazy, but I constantly come up with all the different scenarios and how it might play out.

Maybe I’ll be at school and miss the call.  Our social worker will call B, who will then call school and have me paged over the intercom.  I’ll be all caught off guard and break into tears in the middle of the office when B gets to share the good news with me. 

Maybe it will be a day that the house is a disaster and I haven’t left my pajamas.  And there’s a foot and half of snow outside, making it almost impossible to leave the house, let alone go pick up diapers for a baby that’s waiting for us at the hospital.

Or maybe it will happen over the summer, while I’m out of town and unable to get home quickly.  We’ll have to pack quickly and get home from vacation to pick up one of the greatest gifts we could ever imagine. 

Or maybe the call will come on an ordinary, boring day, where we’re just going through the motions and receiving our “matched” call is the furthest thing from my mind. 

The truth is that in the back of my mind – and sometimes in the forefront – is the thought that every passing day was supposed to be the day.  But then it wasn’t and I’m back to wondering whether the next day will be the day.  Sigh.  I wonder if it ever gets easier?

* * * * * * *

I’ve really appreciated reading all of your comments – the well wishes, sharing in our excitement, or telling your own adoption story.  I love reading them and feeling the hope that others have been there or are right there with us or are just praying for our family. 

And, for those who’ve asked, we’re doing a domestic infant adoption.  Our agency says that placements usually occur anywhere from 6 months to 2 years after the completion of the home study (which we’ve completed), but, of course, it could happen at any time.  I’m faithful that God knows the best time for it to happen for us, but I’m only human and can’t help but wonder when that time will be!

If you or someone you know are considering adoption, you can check out our agency, our profile or the profiles of other amazing waiting families by clicking the picture below.  Our agency is also doing great work in Guatemala at the Hope for Tomorrow Children’s Home and assists many other families with domestic and international adoption. 


Have a great Sunday, friends! 

The Wonderful World Of Parenthood

Sometimes, when you're a mommy, you become oblivious to the world of the kidless. I'm convinced that sometime between changing your first and 1,000th diaper, you lose all sense of your pre-kid reality and become a whole new person. A person who makes frequent references to Thomas the Train, who always parks next to a cart return (baby carseats are HEAVY!), and looks forward to dentist visits as much as any tropical vacation because it means sitting in a chair without kids for an extended period of time!

It's easy to forget that some people live a life completely free of diapers, cartoons, and fruit snacks... until, like me, you make a tastless joke about Elmo which is completely lost on your boss. Or you start to absent-mindedly sing songs from Dora the Explorer ("Mermaids are the heroes of the ocean!") while waiting at the copy machine for your print job to finish only to receive strange looks from your coworkers. As they flash you worried/confused looks, you wonder how someone can escape life without having experienced Dora.

The other day, I was walking aimlessly around a new grocery store. A clerk came up and asked me if he could help me find something. Without skipping a beat I replied, "I'm looking for Butt Paste." His eyes widened in what appeared to be a mix of embarrassment and horror. I can only wonder what he thought I meant. I quickly explained to him the intricacies of diaper rash creams so he wouldn't think I had some kind of embarrassing medical condition.

I don't think kidless people will ever understand how wiping someone's butt can become just another mundane daily routine.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012



In some ways, I’ve looked forward to a December like this December for a few years.  I wanted to enjoy the holiday to the fullest extent, starting from the day that the local station started playing Christmas music.  In October.  Christmas day is great, but nothing beats the build-up.  The months-long preparation, the decorations in Target, the random acts of kindness, the holiday cheer, family time, carols, ugly Christmas sweaters, parties.  Really, I could go on and on.  I just love it!

001     003

010      011

Oh, and did I mention that I turned the big 3-0?  As in THIRTY? As in I am no longer a 20-something?


It’s true.  And I’m so okay with it!  Twenty-nine ended up being a pretty crazy-amazing year, and I believe that God has a few things up his sleeve for 2013, too.  I can’t imagine what, but I’m going to keep the faith.

Until next time, here’s a few pics of my boy over the past two days.  And, no, he hasn’t been out of his jammies since Christmas Eve at 8:30pm. 


076   078

Merry Christmas 26th!

Christmas: A Little Happy. A Little Sad.

If this post were about how awesome our Christmas would be a total lie. Christmas was challenging. Mostly an internal one. A struggle of expectations.

From Christmas Eve:

We returned home late on Christmas Eve after celebrating with family. We put the kids to bed and dragged the gifts up from the basement. I was trying so hard to get in the Christmas spirit. By the time I crawled into bed (1:00am), it sure LOOKED like Christmas.

And Santa had even left proof of his presence with two large snowy footprints.

The next morning, I heard Jacob open the door to his room at 6:30a.m. I held my breath and waited for him to shout in excitement. All he did was plod over to the couch and turn on the TV. The kid waltzed right past the presents and didn't even notice! I was still exhausted so I just dozed back to sleep. A full hour and a half later, I heard Ryan cry and Jacob (having just decided to plug the Christmas tree lights in) finally stormed into my room declaring that Santa had left presents.

Much to Jacob's disappointment, I made everyone eat breakfast before presents. I tried out my new waffle maker (gift from my family's secret santa exchange). The general consensus from most was that the waffles were just "ok." But Ryan, on the other hand, was exceptionally happy about eating his first waffle.

After breakfast, we sat down in the living room to open gifts. What ensued was nothing short of a chaotic blur. What took me an entire hour of gift wrapping was all undone in less than 10 minutes. Just like that, gifts were done. The presents I had painstakingly selected the past several weeks were unmasked and tossed aside as new gifts were revealed. I could tell from his face that my husband was not exactly thrilled with his gifts. Jacob seemed more excited about Ryan's presents than his own. And Ryan, oblivious to the whole charade, was crawling around the floor trying to eat discarded scraps of wrapping paper.

Then there were more than a couple temper tantrums and yelling matches. I guess kids are kids. Even on Christmas Day. Obviously, they did not get the message that today was supposed to be sickeningly happy and magical.

Jacob talked me into assembling his beloved new Slushee maker. I reached into the freezer to grab some icecubes only to find that they were all melted. My heart sank. I opened the fridge and touched the first thing I saw. It was warm. Sometime during the hustle and bustle of Christmas morning, our refrigerator had died. The $100 that I had spent on groceries was slowly and painfully spoiling right before my eyes. The meatballs, the chicken, the beef, the milk, the creamer, the everything. We hauled everything out and either tossed it or stored it away in coolers. The entire contents (or what was left of it) of my fridge is now sitting in three coolers full of ice out in our front yard. A new fridge has been added to the list of expensive things that need to be repaired in our 100 year old home (we recently discovered that we need a new $4,000 furnace but this purchase was put on hold so that we could repair the car that I wrecked earlier this month).

And with that, my holiday skepticism turned into sourness. I sank to my knees in the living room, stared out the window, and let the tears silently fall down my face. Today didn't feel like Christmas. It felt like any other day. The anticipation, which took its sweet time in coming, was now over. Jacob wasn't as thrilled about Christmas as all those kids in the TV commercials (and Ryan hadn't a clue). The gifts were done. Christmas morning was now in the past. Where was the magic? My heart didn't feel warm and full. That's all?

I sat there and silently cried for a good ten minutes. I wallowed in the let-down. I succumbed to the negativity that had been welling up inside me for the past couple of days. The one magical day of the year was here and it was not...magical. In the rush of the refrigerator incident, I had even missed Christmas Mass.

My sad thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the kids laughing. Ryan was crawling excitedly after a new ball and Jacob was laughing as he threw more balls in Ryan's direction. Ryan's eyes caught mine. His face cracked into his familiar gigantic grin. Then the two boys were back to rolling around on the floor and taking turns cracking each other up. I wiped away a couple tears and I couldn't help but smile as I sat there and watching them.

Ryan propped himself from a laying position to a sitting position. He giggled loudly, flapped both arms in the air repeatedly and rocked back and forth at the same time. Jacob approached and tickled his belly in encouragement. Then Jacob leaned into Ryan so far that they both came crashing to the floor. Ryan giggled. Jacob giggled. I giggled. I spend the next ten minutes just watching them enjoy each other and, yes, their new toys.

I somehow got Jacob to pose for this picture below. Notice his pants. He is wearing size 18 month sweats here. I'm failrly confident that his daddy did that.
Although my sadness lingered, I was suddenly also thankful that I had the entire day to spend with the kids. Yeah, Christmas morning was over and it had been disappointing. But, silly me, that wasn't the only thing I had to look forward to. As reality set in, I suddenly remembered how great our ordinary everyday was. I had been so consumed and obsessed with Christmas these last few weeks that I had lost sight of the everyday special moments. Sure, Christmas morning was over. But watching the boys play and enjoy each other is what really makes holidays special. And that can happen anytime. As soon as I realized that, my spirit lifted and I reveled in the fact that I had many hundreds of more days with these two special little men.

Sadly, however, my fridge still looks like this:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours....

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas

What a beautiful Christmas Eve! We went to the candlelight service with my parents. 
 Kal was being completely crazy so Tyler had to leave early but Keeler did great. This is a tradition that means the most. 
Then we headed over to Tyler's parent's Christmas. We had a blast!! I loved watching the kids open their gifts and being around family. We are so blessed. Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Advent 2012 {Week 3}

If you are a grandparent, aunt or uncle who we have not yet opened Christmas gifts with, TURN AWAY NOW!

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:10-11

Source: via Gina on Pinterest

This was the one craft that we didn't get around to.
Maybe next year?
I think these little sheep are super cute!

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2

Cardboard and yarn star brooch.

 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 
Matthew 2:9-11

The girls wrapped the gifts they had made for family.
They also when on a special shopping excursion to pick out something special for each other.

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
Isaiah 1:18

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29

This was why Jesus came.
The girls painted snowflake frames and added some colorful stones for decoration.

Not Ready

It's late. Well, technically, it's early. Christmas eve morning, in fact. Everyone is sleeping. I'm soon to follow. But there is so much going on in my head. I'm in disbelief that it is Christmas Eve. I'm a little disapointed actually. I'm not ready.

Physically, I'm ready. We have our tree. I'm done with shopping. We put up our decorations. We mailed out all the cards. We hosted our annual Christmas party. The fourth candle of my advent candle is lit. BUT. BUT. It doesn't feel right. My mind isn't ready. My heart isn't ready. I feel a little bit empty.

It just snuck up on me. I haven't had time to be excited about Christmas. I haven't had time to be anxious in anticipation. I badly wanted to plan a family outing or two this month. But our weekends filled up with chores and to-dos. Ryan's nap battles and Jacob's whinning put a damper on every free day that we had together. It's taken all my energy to do the mandatory stuff that I haven't had time to do much of the fun stuff. And when I actually did the fun stuff, it felt mandatory and chore-like.

I know, I know. Christmas hasn't happened yet. I still have two days left for things to start feeling like Christmas. I'm doing myself a disservice by going INTO the holiday feeling let down. I'm just not very hopeful. It doesn't help that I am feeling especially anti-social. Socialy media has poisoned me this year and made me feel, even though I know it's not true, as if the world is full of fake and self-centered people. I am the first to admit that I am guilty of over-sharing and selfishness on social media. That just makes me feel more disguisted. I have a hard time believing that people will set aside their personal agendas as we gather for the holidays. I need to start practicing my "wow, I really care so much about the thing you are passive agressively bragging/lecturing about," face (re: the insane fitness dieters, the vegetarians, the clean-freaks, the holier-than-thou). Ugh. I'm so negative. Gross.

See? I told you I'm not ready for Christmas. I really need to shake my negativity.

I'm just disappointed that my family-of-four hasn't had much of an opportunity to enjoy each other or create fun holiday memories. It's hard to dive into huge family gatherings and give my attention to extended family when I feel a deficiency within our own family. But, there's no stopping Christmas. It comes whether we are ready or not. If all else fails, I'll just grab my kids and ride the coat tails of their enthusiasm.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Journey of the Jesse Tree

The Jesse Tree is becoming a beloved Christmas tradition for my little family.
We haven't been doing it for many years so it is yearly changing in one way or another as I attempt to find the best elements to include in this daily activity.
Anyhow, I thought I'd fill you in on what we're doing different this year.
It's helpful to me to be able to look back and see what we did and what worked or didn't work too!

Last year, we had our Jesse Tree in the kitchen.
We read the readings as a family and added a corresponding picture to the tree.
Our Jesse tree came into being last year too - simply painted on brown packing paper with relevant verses and quotes added around the branches.

This year we are using the same tree but it is posted in the living room at the kids' level.
We did the readings as a part of our school time for the month of December as opposed to at supper time.
(We simply found it difficult to stay consistent with it at the end of the day. I knew if it became a part of our school routine there would be a far greater likelihood of it happening!)
For our readings, we are using The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean.
And instead of simply posting pictures, the girls colored a picture while I read.
They loved this and enjoyed getting to post their picture on the tree every day.

Although they don't quite understand the importance of the lineage of Christ at this point, I think it is important to establish this tradition now.
They love hearing all the different Bible stories and at this stage I simply focus on the fact that God keeps His promises.
In particular His promise of a Rescuer.
The journey of the Jesse Tree shouts this loud and clear!

For next year, I'm not positive I'll use the same book.
It was good but not great.
I'm half debating using The Jesus Storybook Bible since each story points out how "every story whispers His name".
The whole Bible points to Jesus.
It's amazing really - to see God's plan unfold.

I also came across the following song that I think would be really fun to teach the kids in connection to the Jesse Tree.
It makes me happy that someone could take what can appear to be a very dull portion of scripture and turn it into a catchy tune!

{Guest Post} Lead By Example To Prevent Diabetes In Kids

Fellow blogger Carolyn writes about her goals for achieving health and balance at Full-On Fit. She has been kind enough to write the following post for this blog. Check out her blog and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Lead By Example To Prevent Diabetes In Kids

Although November was American Diabetes Month, the disease of diabetes is something that should be thought of and worked at to prevent at all times of the year. Until recently, I never have diabetes that much thought in a personal way – but that all changed when one of my little cousins was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes just recently.

According to research from St. Joseph’s Hospital Cardiac Center, 1 in 3 children under the age of 20 are diagnosed with diabetes, and this number continues to be on the rise. As the numbers of children diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes continue to rise, it’s become more apparent to me that I need to work with all of my cousins to get them living healthier lifestyles overall. Being that the 2 main factors of Type 2 Diabetes are unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity, I have been working on both of these aspects with all of my cousins.

A healthy diet
Eating healthy is a big part of preventing diabetes. Parents who eat healthy usually have kids who eat healthy. Many parents don’t realize that they aren’t feeding their children a balanced diet until it’s too late, so the earlier nutritional eating is implemented in the family, the better. The healthy plate strategy should be employed, using more vegetables on the plate than anything else. The smallest portion on the plate should be the starch, which could be potato, rice, pasta or even corn.

Kids can find eating healthier more fun when parents involve them in the process. This means teaching them how to cook, giving them jobs in the kitchen and even letting them go grocery shopping to help determine what will be made (this was probably the biggest reason that I was able to get my cousins to start eating healthier on a regular basis!)

Getting active
The National Institutes of Health has a fact sheet that focuses on diabetes management. They call for physical activity to help control weight. It not only lowers blood glucose levels but it can maintain cardiovascular fitness as well.

Physical activity can consist of anything that gets the heart pumping. This may include bike riding, running, swimming or playing outdoor games. When it’s raining or cold outside, yoga can even be a way to help with the physical activity and maintain an ideal weight.
When children are taught to eat healthy and be more active by those around them, the changes are likely to be permanent. The more I “practice what I preach” the more I notice my cousins following suit. It’s a gradual process – kids don’t change overnight (who does?!), but setting good examples, and being consist with the new lifestyle changes will help to ensure that these changes stick for the long run!

Carolyn is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and overall well-being. She is an avid cycler, golfer and has been known to bust some serious moves on the dance floor. Check out Carolyn’s blog at! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Advent 2012 {Week 2}

Spoiler alert!
If you a grandparent, aunt or uncle: Refrain from reading the following!!

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.
Matthew 1:21

Melted Crayon Stained Glass Jesus Craft

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
Luke 2:1-5

Little Town of Bethlehem prints
(We used foam paper to make our templates.)
We had so much fun we did more another day...

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

Luke 2:6-7

Instead of tissue paper, we used glitter.
Also, I prepared some contact paper for them to complete their project on - it made it a bit easier to contain all that glitter!

She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Luke 2:7