The Date

Lee has the day off so we are taking advantage of cooler temps and an overcast day to go to Busch Gardens.

Alone.

Just me and him.

Alone.

We’re going to ride all the fun roller coasters that we haven’t been able to ride because we’ve always had the kids with us.

Alone.

This is an unexpected and lovely treat leading us into our weekend. A date. During the day.

Alone.

I’m not excited or anything…

What’s the most fun or creative date you’ve ever been on?

My ears, they bleed

Alternately titled: Riding in cars with girls…

 

At least twice a week, Tia and I are in the car alone headed to gymnastics. I’d like to say this is a fun, relaxing girl time, but the truth is…it’s exhausting.

Girls talk a lot. I mean, I know that I am a girl and I’m quite certain I talked a lot as a kid (in fact, I distinctly remember my mom asking me to be quiet on occasion because her ears hurt. Hmph…), but I really wasn’t prepared for the intensity of the chatting. Half the time I don’t even understand what she is saying. Take, for example, this most recent conversation (which I can only remember pieces of because I’m not kidding she talks without breathing…)

Tia: “Oh Mom, guess what…(every new sentence begins with this phrase)”

Me: “What?”

Tia: “Riley has an older sister and she got her ears pierced and she said that it hurted really bad and her sister cried and her sister is eleven…and she cried.”

Me: *open mouth to respond but there isn’t time so I close it again*

Tia: “Oh Mom, guess what…”

Me: *open mouth the respond but there isn’t time so I close it again*

Tia: “There’s this boy who is in my group and I think he likes me, but I don’t like him. I mean I do like him, but I only like him like…you know…like a boy. But not like a boyfriend. I don’t like anybody like a boyfriend, right mom?”

I don’t even attempt a response.

Tia: “I don’t know if I want to get my ears pierced. I mean, I kind of do want to get my ears pierced but I’m a little nervous. Does it hurt weally bad to get your ears pierced, Mom? Can I get my ears pierced, Mom?”

Me: *open mouth to respond but there isn’t time so I close it again*

Tia: “Oh Mom, guess what…my friend in my class said she wears a bwa (bra). She’s six! Six year olds don’t wear bwas, right Mom? Can a six year old wear a bwa? Do I need to wear a bwa, Mom?”

I would really like to respond to this, but there simply isn’t time.

Tia: “Oh Mom, guess what…when I play soccer, I think I might be the star player, ’cause I think I’m pretty good at soccer. But I don’t know if I should be a professional soccer player when I grow up or a professional gymnastics girl. Maybe I should be both, right Mom? And a veteranian. I want to be a vet, ‘kay Mom?”

I manage to nod.

Tia: “Oh Mom, guess what…sometimes when I go to school I play with just the boys on the playground, but not usually. Only sometimes. Mostly I just play with the girls. Mom I smell centipedes. Do you smell centipedes?”

I…I just…I don’t…huh? Oh wait. She stopped talking. This is the question she wants me to answer?

Tia: “Mom. Mom!”

Me: “What?!”

Tia: “Did you hear me?”

Me: “I…uh…yes?”

Tia: “Oh Mom, guess what…”

And on and on it goes until we arrive. And I think she only manages to use an eighth of her daily allotted words because it starts all over again on the way home. So if you see me out in public and I look lost in a daze, just know I’m trying to process it all.

And I’m trying to figure out what the heck centipedes smell like…

On Being Intentional, Believing in Miracles and Punching Insecurity in the Face

My husband, God love him, is ornery. He takes a sick and twisted amount of delight in scaring the s*&$ out of me on a weekly basis. While I am busy turning out lights, whispering prayers over sleeping babes and shutting down the house for the night with grace and love, he is plotting evil.

I walk around the dark corners and he acts upon his wicked ways, jumping out at me from the shadows. And I usually yelp in terror and, more often than not, pepper my reaction with a four letter word or four, because honestly, when my heart skips like and that and my senses jolt and buzz I cannot be held responsible for the words that come out of my mouth!

(It is for this reason that I hold firm to my belief that my mansion in heaven will be bigger and shinier than his. And will be stocked with Nutella while his will be stocked with only radishes…and haggus.)

Insecurity does the same thing to me. I can be moving along, calmly taking care of business, then BOOM! I round a corner and insecurity is there waiting to steal my joy. Where moments ago I felt confident and secure in my path, insecurity works to instill doubt. I walk forward with trepidation, fear dictating which way I will turn.

Left unchecked, this fear can begin to order my steps, filter words spoken and limit opportunity.

I left last weekend for dotMOM with a lot of doubt and insecurity. I was part of a group of bloggers brought in by Lifeway for the conference and from start to finish it was everything I needed right at that moment. I entered completely unsure of myself and my abilities and I left with a fresh perspective about why I do what I do, and with the knowledge that there are some amazing people in this world doing amazing things.

I felt immensely loved all weekend by the other bloggers in attendance. They laughed with me, spoke wisdom into and over me and gave me all the courage to believe that this path that we’re on as a family – this path of adoption - is right. It’s good. It’s going to be great.

Every time I turned around this weekend, I met someone who has adopted and oh the grace they shared with me. They didn’t sugar coat things, they didn’t make it seem like sunshine and roses, but they did tell me that the process is beautiful and good and worth all of the effort.

I learned to be more intentional in all areas of my life. More intentional in parenting, more intentional in blogging, more intentional in wife-ing.

The amazing Jen Hatmaker in her sassy dress and boots...

There are so many women who blessed me this weekend. My roommate, Stacey, poured wisdom into me…and coffee. She bought me coffee in the mornings. I mean, that’s not why I fell in love with her, but it didn’t hurt, you know?

Jessica rushed up to me when she heard our adoption story and told me she wants to help. Then she spent the rest of the weekend making me smile and feel special.

Amanda encouraged me to be more intentional in mothering.

Jen amazed me with her grace and sweet, calm spirit. She’s raising quadruplets, people! Boy quadruplets!  It exhausts me just thinking of it.

Erin and Brooke speak directly to the hearts of mother’s of boys. Nish keeps it real and tells it like it is and in so doing requires you to stop and think about this journey called faith with a little more depth.

I heard amazing speakers like Jen Hatmaker who encouraged us to push our children toward courage. Don’t hover over them. Safety isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. “I don’t want to be the reason my children have chosen safety and comfort over courage,” she said.

I enjoyed a wonderful dinner with Vicki Courtney who later encouraged us all at the conference to be aware of the dangers of media and how the internet, with all it’s goodness, can also be a crutch to both us and our children. “You need to lighten up from trying to be the perfect mother,” she encouraged.

There was so much good that came out of last weekend, so many wonderful people met, so much laughter and praise. But perhaps the moment that impacted me most came late one evening, after we had raised our arms in worship together. I met Amanda Jones, a fellow Compassion Blogger and a sweet woman with a deep heart for Jesus.

Amanda and I spoke of the adoption and the many times I sit back in doubt. Will God provide? I say with my lips that He is bigger than the funds needed, but do I believe it with my heart? As we spoke, Amanda reached forward and grabbed my hands. “Can I pray with you?” she asked.

And she did. And I believed.

And just like that, all insecurity fled and I came home filled with…peace – ready to face the dark corners and excited to see what comes after each next step.

What are you facing that insecurity threatens to ruin?

The Story

 


 

Random side note: If for some reason, the ChipIn widget is not showing donations made or doesn’t refresh after a donation, delete the cookies in your internet browsing history and hit refresh again and they should show up.

We would love for you all to be a part of this adoption miracle with us. We want you to be part of our daughter’s story. We want to share with her all the people that loved hard enough, believed big enough and felt love enough to step forward and be a part of something big.

We want to put together a book for our daughter showing her all the people who fought to bring her home. All the people who gave of their time by praying, who gave of their resources by giving. We want to bind all the names together in a book that she can look at and read over the years as she grows and know that yes – she is loved, she is a miracle.

We are looking for 1,000 people who would be willing to give $10.00.

 

When you do this, we would love for you to send us an email with your name so we can include it in her story. You can send us just your name, or if you want to send a picture, or words of wisdom, a prayer or a quote or a simple message, we would love it. If you would like to remain anonymous, that’s fine, too. We will list a page of anonymous donors.

To give, simply click the ChipIn widget and you can donate securely through paypal. If you would be more comfortable donating by check, please email us at stuartadoption (at) gmail (dot) com and we will send you an address where you can mail a check.

If you would like to include a photo or a prayer or quote, or simply have your name included in our daughter’s story, please email us at stuartadoption (at) gmail (dot) com. THANK YOU!

In addition to giving, would you be willing to spread the word about what we’re doing? All of this exact information will remain posted on our Adoption page at the top of the website. If we can get the word out to the many large, loving and supportive online communities, then just how far could this miracle reach?

 “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Ephesians 1:4-6

Thank you, my dear community, for your faithful love and support during this journey. We couldn’t do it without you.

Other posts about the adoption:

And then there were six?

Climbing the Mountain: Part One

Climbing the Mountain: Part Two

Adoption Update

 

The Amazing Video was made by our dear friend, Jenni, at Avodah Images. She is wicked talented, has a heart for Jesus and is quite possibly one of the funniest people I know. She and her family will be traveling the United States in an RV next year building memories and growing closer to the Creator. This is why she is also one of the coolest chicks I know…

dotMOM

I’m leaving this afternoon for the dotMom conference and the timing could not be more perfect. It has been a long, emotional, trying week. I need the refreshment. I need to get away. I need to be reminded of so many things. I’m so grateful and honored (and a little flabbergasted, to be honest) to have been asked to come to the conference by Lifeway. I look forward to soaking in all the wisdom offered by the many amazing women who will be there.

I’ll only be gone for two days, but I think it’s just what the doctor ordered to lift me out of the funk. I have packed dresses and scarves and boots because by golly if ever there was a chance to dress cute, this was it. I don’t need my yoga pants or my tennis shoes for any reason at all!

Hot dang!

Are any of you headed to dotMOM? Find me, please? Let’s hang out and get to know each other in real life!
Happy Thursday!

How to dress like a mom without LOOKING like a mom

Yesterday, I made my way downtown to the County Clerk’s office to track down yet another elusive form needed for the adoption. When I entered the building, I decided to run into the bathroom before heading up to the sixteenth floor. Friends, what I saw upon glancing in the mirror both shocked and horrified me.

I looked like a mom.

But Kelli, you ARE a mom.

Yes, I know. I know I’m a mom. I’m a mom who drives a minivan, no less. BUT IT DOESN’T MEAN I HAVE I LOOK LIKE IT!

I had put zero effort into my appearance before leaving the house yesterday. I hadn’t even brushed my hair!

(But I did brush my teeth. Go me.)

(For Real. GO! ME!)

I had simply pulled my dirty, greasy hair back into a ponytail, slapped on a little mascara and chapstick, threw on the first clothes I managed to grab out of the drawer (in the dark, no less, since I woke up before the sun) and I skipped into a very public place looking like I’d been hit by a truck.

Case in point:

A couple of months ago, I bought the above pictured shorts at GAP. I didn’t try them on when I bought them which means I came home with a pair of shorts that were one size too big (which is always more encouraging than coming home with shorts that are too small, mind you).

Because I am the most orgainzed scatterbrained person on the planet, I almost immediately lost the receipt and decided they weren’t really that bad as long as I belted them. They were kind of comfy, actually.

Lee came to me the second time I wore those pants and leaned in close. “You know those are Mom-Shorts, right? They totally give you Mom-Butt.”

I’m not entirely sure what Mom-Butt means, but the way he said it did not lead me to believe that it was something I should be striving for. I was a bit disappointed as I really loved the shorts, so I decided they would just be around the house comfy shorts from there on out.

Until yesterday, when I had a moment of terrible mombrainitis and decided to leave the house in said Mom-Shorts. I also had Tevas on my feet, which let’s face it, scream Mom-With-A-Minivan.

At least it wasn’t a skort and Keds! Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Upon seeing my unkempt appearance, however, I made a resolve to try juuuuust a scooch harder to put forth an effort in my appearance before heading out in public. Thus, I give you:

I generally tend to leave the house looking a bit frayed for a few different reasons. Sometimes it’s pure laziness. I don’t feel like washing my face, or brushing my hair, or putting on a semi-cute outfit.

Sometimes it’s because I’m running late. We moms generally have to attend to all the chicks in the flock before we can fluff our own feathers (how do you like that metaphor, eh?) which means we run out of time to do anything more than make sure we at least have the proper undergarments on before leaving the house.

(Um…there’s a chance I’ve left the house in the past without even getting to this step. Maybe. I mean, I won’t say for sure, but…)

Sometimes I have high and lofty expectations of getting to the gym after I drop children off where they need to be and I have no desire to try and look cute only to go work out. More often than not, though, I never make it to the gym so I walk around looking like a drowned gym rat without ever having worked a muscle.

*hangs head in shame*

So what is a busy mom to do? How do I dress like a mom without looking like a mom?

First things first. I will fix my hair!

Even if I’m throwing it into a ponytail, I can still brush it. And if it’s dirty? Well, that is the perfect excuse to invest in a couple of cute hats. Am I right?

Second - Never underestimate the power of accesories:

Yes, it’s only September, which in Florida means we are now enjoying temps in the mid to high ’80′s every day. Not exactly scarf weather, but how cute is this lovely? I have been dying to wear it, so yesterday I put it on over a tank top with a pair of jeans and voila! Cute outfit in less than ten minutes!

Third: Wear clothes that fit. I dunno, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Mom-Butt has something to do with shapeless formless clothing, giving one the appearance of a wide, saggy derriere. Just conjecture, but I’m pretty sure I’ve hit the nail on the head.

Fourth: Make up. I know some of you are so naturally beautiful that you simply don’t need make up. I salute you (and I’m secretly envious).

I am not one of those people. I mean, I’m not afraid to leave the house without make up, but I also feel MUCH more secure with a little bit of color on my cheeks and some mascara to give the old eyes a lift. Just me. Even if I’m going to the gym, I’m putting on a little make up.

Because I would rather not scare everyone in my path!

Finally – a pair of cute shoes goes an awfully long way. They can make or break an otherwise drab outfit. I mean, even a skort can be dressed up with the right pair of shoes.

Hmm? What’s that? Forget trying to make the skort sound good ’cause you’re not buying it? REALLY?!

Is it time to give up on the idea of the Skort? *sigh* Fine…back to the shoes.

Listen, just because I have three kids, am nestled somewhere in my thirties and drive a minivan doesn’t mean I have to abandon all hope of dressing sassy. Even if I’m headed to the gym, I can do so looking cute and put together. I can look like a mom without LOOKING like a mom.

Know what I mean?

Have any cute fashion tips for us frazzled, busy Moms? Do share!

*PS-Please know this is all written very tongue in cheek. It’s not meant to offend. Here’s the obligatory winky face emoticon so you know I’m only writing in jest;)

Amidst the flames

Last night I smothered them all in kisses. Soft cheeks still ripe with innocence and youth. Noses dotted with the freckles of childhood, when life is secure and free and beautiful and each day can be met with wonder and imagination.

I don’t tell them about the fires. I don’t mention the lives lost and the political uproar, the fear for what tomorrow might hold. I don’t share the unrest or the prevailing hatred that threatens to overwhelm. While flames lick the embassies and grieving loved ones bury heroes, I play another round of UNO, wipe another runny nose and gather my chicks under my wing with nothing more than a prayer.

These are scary times. I look at my children sometimes and I wonder, what will they face? I think of the little girl who may already be waiting for us across the ocean and I long to gather her close, too. To protect her from the scary. To tell her it’s okay, everything is going to be alright.

I haven’tcompletely sheltered the kids. Sloan and I talked politics just the other day. He watched footage of the 9-11 Memorial and I did not try to hide my tears as I listened to a mother remember her son who perished in the flames of that awful day. He knows that evil exists. He understands that there are those who possess a hatred so fierce it causes them to commit the unthinkable.

But while these flames burn, I feel an overwhelming urge to keep my little ones near and to guard their innocence with all the ferocity I’ve been given as their mother. I whisper prayers over them each night. I pray for protection and peace and for days filled with the magical fantasy that only the youthful can possess. 

I pray this not just for my children, but for all the children. I think of Moses and Mwajuma and the different kind of innocence they possess. I pray for the little ones who are trapped right in the center of the flames, the ones burying their daddies and the ones who go to sleep at night to the sporadic sounds of gunshots.

In the nighttime hours, I study the candidates and dissect what they believe so that, when the time comes, I can use what little power I have to try and protect the future for my children. I learn and try to understand and ultimately I remember that in the end, it is God who places people in power and it is all for a reason.

I will fight the flames the only way I can and I will do so with as much education as I can to ensure I truly understand the choices I am making. Because those choices don’t just affect me - they affect them. They affect my children, the ones who are set to grow up in this beautiful, wonderful, scary, volatile world.

My vote and my prayers are the only weapons I’ve got and I take my responsibility to utilize them seriously.

 

Yesterday, I sat behind a woman and her three children who had that very morning said goodbye to a husband and a daddy. He had left in the early morning hours for a nearly nine-month long deployment to Afghanistan. I watched as she and her mother-in-law clutched hands through the worship set, each swiping tears from her eyes in a swift motion of strength and vulnerability.

Two women with the young ones huddled securely beneathe their arms. A hero sent into the flames. My vote and my prayer all I have as back up.

 

 

I believe in the power of both.

 

I will utilize both my vote and my prayers with as much humility and wisdom as I have been granted. I will vote with passion and conviction, but I will not step into the voting booth with hatred.

Hatred ignites the flame.

I have a responsibility to guard my chldren – all the children - from the heat of those flames.

I urge you, my friends, to educate yourselves before this election. Don’t vote based on emotion or popularity or even based on what you’ve voted in the past. We cannot be lackadaisical in our knowledge of the issues. We must go forth with conviction and courage.

The heat of the flames must compel us forward in wisdom, grace and humility and, above all else, we have to protect the little ones who are coming up behind us.

Are you prepared to vote?

And then I made Nutella Fudge completely by accident!

I’m not what you might like to call a “cook.” I don’t enjoy preparing food. I do, however, like to bake because, let’s face it – it’s way more fun to eat baked goods than healthy foods.

Am I right?

I also consider myself an addict a connoisseur of all things Nutella. Some might call me obssessed, but they’re only the people made of tin…See the thing is, I’m a firm believer that Nutella will be the centerpiece of the heavenly banqueting table. I mean, technically the Bible makes no mention of Nutella, but it’s probably just an issue with translation, you know?

So a couple of weeks ago, my online friend, Karen, sent me a recipe for Molten Nutella Chocolate Pudding Cakes.

I KNOW! It’s almost too glorious to even imagine, isn’t it?

This is why Karen is my favorite.

Just kidding…I don’t play favorites.

(Yes I do. She’s my favorite…) 

I had no real occasion to make said glory cakes, but the recipe seemed too good to pass up, so last Friday, I bought the necessary ingredients (of course I already had Nutella in stock!) and whipped up these glorious mini-cakes. People of the world, I do not exaggerate when I tell you that these cakes are life changing.

LIFE CHANGING!

In fact, I don’t want to brag (yes I do), but when we served the cakes to friends Friday night, I’m pretty sure they got saved after eating those cakes. Maybe even twice…

Now, here is where my accidental brilliance comes into play. See, anybody can be brilliant on purpose, but to display brilliance completely by accident is something different. Try not to be intimidated, of course. I’m still the same girl. Nothing has changed.

I’m just an accidental genius.

When I bake, I have this odd compulsion to ALWAYS DOUBLE THE RECIPE. If a recipe calls for two eggs, I must use four. I can’t escape the need to make double, because you never know when something is going to be so life changingly good that you need extras.

So I doubled this recipe. Because if 6 TBSP of Nutella is good, then 12 TBSP of Nutella MUST BE BETTER! (Yes, the all caps is necessary. I’M WRITING ABOUT NUTELLA!)

When the time came to bake the cakes, however, I didn’t have enough ramekins to bake them in, so I pulled out my cupcake pan. But even then, I still had so much batter left over, so I pulled out my loaf pan, greased it up, and poured a thin layer of cake mix in the bottom. Then I used almost half a can of Nutella (don’t judge me!) and spread a thick layer on top of the cake mix. I finished by pouring the rest of the batter over the Nutella, then I baked it for thirty minutes.

After it cooled, I realized that I couldn’t cut this cake without it crumbling and falling apart since the Nutella was in the middle. I needed to get things cleaned up, so I just covered the loaf pan with aluminum foil and stuck it in the fridge so it would be out of sight.

ACCIDENTALLY BRILLIANT!

When I pulled the loaf pan out a couple of days later, I cut into the cake. It was difficult to cut through because it was thick. But upon putting it on the plates, I realized that the Nutella had hardened between the layers of cake and when I bit into it…

Well…I got saved. Twice.

 

It tastes just like fudge!

So learn from me. Go forth and make Nutella cakes, but please, please, please DOUBLE THE RECIPE and refridgerate the extras. I hereby proclaim with certainty that it will indeed change your life.

HALLELUJAH!

Anyone else have a good Nutella recipe they want to share?

 

(Oh, and FYI – You have to keep the Nutella fudge refridgerated. As soon as the Nutella thaws, it gets gooey again, which is equally delicious so honestly it doesn’t really matter what you do. You’re eating Nutella sandwiched in chocolate cake for crying out loud! It’s hard to ruin…)

Here is the recipe (without my accidental modification):

Molten Chocolate Nutella Pudding Cakes

 

1/2 c. all purpose flour

1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

4 oz semisweet chocolate chips

1 stick butter

4 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 c. sugar

6 TBSP Nutella

Preheat oven to 350.  Mist 6– 6oz ramekins with cooking spray.

In a bowl, whisk flour, cocoa and baking powder.  Melt chocolate chips and butter in microwave and whisk until smooth.  In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs, vanilla and sugar until pale yellow….at least 3 minutes.  Beat in melted chocolate mixture and then flour mixture.

Place a “blob” of chocolate mixture in bottom of each ramekin.  Layer with 1 TBSP of Nutella and then divide the remaining batter equally over the top of the Nutella.  Place a roasting pan in the oven and fill with a 1/2  inch of hot water.  Place ramekins in the pan with water and bake for about 30 minutes.  Cakes will rise and may crack a bit on top.  (I did not have a roasting pan so used a casserole dish and was able to fit 4 ramekins in it)

You can make these in muffin pans do not cook them as long…. about 17 minutes.  Tops may or may not crack.  If using a dark muffin pan, then bake at 325!

When life tangles

Life is messy.

It tangles and weaves and chokes and hurts.

 But somewhere in the tangle, beauty springs forth.

A cool breeze on a stifling day.

A blanket of snow on a frozen ground.

A tender giggle when the tears threaten to fall.

God has woven so much beauty into this world, but…

Sometimes you have to look through the tangles to see it.

Life is busy and the busy leaves us tangled.

So many plates spinning and every last one threatening to drop.

Can we catch them all?

Can we keep up the spinning?

Can we weave through the tangle?

Sometimes it takes a conscious slow down to stop the spinning.

Then we can see the beauty.

A deep breath on a hectic day.

A good book when the laundry climbs.

A phone call to a dear friend instead of a clean kitchen.

There is beauty to be had in the tangle.

Do you see it?

Can you weave through the tangle today?

Leave the plates to spin on their own for just a little while.

Take the time to breathe and see the beauty.

Tangled, beautiful mess.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

 

 

The winner of the American Girl six book Caroline Abbott book set (try saying that five times fast) is:

Number 17: Bethany says: “This is my official Facebook entry comment. Boom!”

Thanks for entering everyone! I wish I could have given every single one of you a copy. This is why I don’t do giveaways often - the inability to please everyone just about does me in.

Have a FANTASTIC Tuesday. Go outside and soak in a little vitamin D! Ride a pony! Eat some Nutella! Search for the end of the rainbow! Pet a puppy! Sit in the silence! Put your toes in the sand! Listen to the ocean (surely there’s an App for that)! Dance to some good music! Kiss a baby! Kiss your spouse!

There are so many possibilities!