Scenes from a Holiday

Remember when we were kids and all the futuristic movies we watched were set in the 2000’s? The year 2025 seemed to be a popular setting for movies filled with flying cars, highways in the sky (skyways?), and robotic keepers of the peace.

Basically what I’m saying is car makers only have 11 years to get that flying car up in the air or Hollywood is going to lose all credibility.

Flying minivans?



Also, it’s high time someone came out with the Hoverboard. The future is now, people! Get on it!!!

Happy New Year, everyone. This is a year of expectation for our family. We are looking forward with great expectation of all that God has for us to do. Last night I rang in the New Year with a kiss from the most precious 17 year old old who has stolen my heart right away, from the man who has been a rock through a couple of rough years, and from a ten year old with a heart as big as the ocean.

This morning I kissed the freckled cheek of a six year old who giggles his way through life in a way that projects sheer delight. Soon I will welcome home a seven year old who got to ring in her new year with a sleepover at a sweet friend’s house, and I will force her to hug me because she’s not really the touchy-feely type.

I’m so blessed it’s ridiculous.

Here’s to a great 2014! I am thankful to have 2013 behind me. Looking forward to this new year.

Happy New Year fist bumps to everyone!!!


Enjoying one of our many morning walks.


So cute! The birds are fun, too.


Playing with “The Girls.”


I love these kids!


Florida + December = Awesome


Exploring a new park.




New cowboy boots, which she has worn every single day since Christmas.


Tampa Aquarium


If only they had some personality…


Rainbow Loom – It’s universal…

One Year

One year ago, I sat on the edge of the bathtub and I sobbed.One year ago, my heart broke into a thousand tiny pieces, and it has taken a full twelve months to reassemble those pieces in some order.

Twelve months is a long time. Healing takes a long time.

With the space of 365 days between then and now, I’ve had time to gain a little perspective. There are some who have said that it wasn’t meant to be for our family. God clearly didn’t have it in His plan for us to bring home a child from a Russian orphanage. While there may be some theological truth to that statement, I can say with no uncertainty that that is not a comforting attitude to hold, and the thought has brought little peace to my heart.

The fact is, God led us down the path of adoption, and He led us right into the fire of a disrupted adoption. This was so that we could be refined, so that we could know Him a little more.

It was so that we would step forward out of the fire with courage and not abandon the fight for children living without families.

One year later, our situation is different. We’re in for more heartache in two weeks when we put K on a plane back home. Our kids will be broken hearted again to say goodbye – our precious children who still hope for another sibling. God is refining them as well – teaching them to give sacrificially, even when it hurts.

While this year has provided a blanket of healing for our family, there are still many families living with the deep pain of separation. There are parents who actually held their children in their arms, who promised they would return to get them, and who cannot go back. There are children in institutions who could have had homes.

These are the people who need your continued prayer. These are the people who still sit in the unknown. Pray for the children who are left behind. Pray for the families in America who want to adopt them but cannot. Pray for the families in Russia who would like to adopt, but don’t have the resources or the help necessary to take in institutionalized children.

No child should grow up without a family. I have evidence of that sleeping in a room down the hall.

Watch this video, and keep praying everyone. A New Year awaits.

A lot can happen in a year…


A lesson learned and learned and learned again

20121231-090810.jpg We close out 2012 in Arkansas. As I look out the window at the snow, which slowly melts on the ground, I feel a similar thawing in my heart. It’s grey and gloomy, but the hope of Spring calls with promise. There are a few months before the grass will begin to green and the flowers bloom, but I know it’s coming. The snow and ice provide a necessary fertilizer. I just have to wait for the beauty to bloom.

It has been a hard week in more ways than one. My heart has been broken and twisted and squeezed and tugged. I have mourned mostly in secret because who wants to be around a killjoy at the holidays, right? But I’ve been sad.

You see, I have been to the orphanages. I know what they’re like. I have seen the children. And for more than half my life I have been waiting for the moment when I could bring one home. So this week has been a punch in the gut. Had we begun the process six months earlier, things might be different, but we didn’t and God had a reason for that. I don’t know what that reason is, yet, but I trust His timing even if I don’t like it.

As I enter into 2013 I believe God has laid the word “Wait” on my heart. This will be my challenge this year. I will wait upon The Lord. Hope is not lost. There is a chance the adoption will be able to proceed. But there’s a better chance that it won’t and I am waiting for God to tell me what He has planned.

I am praying for the little girl that is supposed to be ours. I have even begun praying for her by name. A name has been on my heart for some time now, but I haven’t had the guts to say it out loud. But this week changed that. I am crying out for her by name. I will share that name with all of you when I feel the time is right, but just know that I believe she is real and I believe she is out there waiting for us.

I haven’t written much in the last few weeks. Usually at the end of the year I post my top posts from each month as an end of the year recap, but I don’t have the heart to do that this year. I did, however, receive a report yesterday that revealed my top post of 2012. This was my most viewed post and it surprised me.

It didn’t get the most comments and it wasn’t passed around more than the others. But it remains my top post.

The title of this post? Hope is Slow.

I needed that reminder yesterday and today and for the rest of my time here on Earth. I will always need to be reminded that the hope that I long for is slow, but IT IS NOT DEAD! Hope is alive. Hope is real. Hope is here.

But hope is slow.

It’s fitting that that very post would be revealed as my top post in a time when I feel like hope is dying. It is right that it was revealed to me yesterday when I needed it most. It makes perfect sense that the words I needed to read again would come from the very trip and experience that pushed Lee and I over the ledge of doubt and gave us the courage to step forward toward adoption in faith.

Hope is slow, friends. But it is not dead.

Happy New Year.

To read all my posts from my trip to Tanzania with Compassion International, click here. This was the defining moment of my year. I will carry those lessons with me for life.

A Year in Review

This was a year of change for us. Hard, painful, exciting, beautiful growth. Four seasons have passed, three children have grown and a year’s worth of life was lived. This little corner of the web has been a bit of a refuge for me. Scrolling through old posts last night I realized it got a little depressing around here for a time. As we processed the move, I found myself stuck in the contemplative ponderings of change. And so many of you stuck it out as I processed.

Thank you.

I know I’ve already said that, but I need to say it again. I don’t like to get too serious around here. I don’t know why – I guess my ultimate hope is to make you all smile. Life is fun and there is so much joy to be had.

But sometimes life is also hard. Winter settles in and you have to search a bit more for the beauty in the frosty darkness.  A dear friend told me during this more difficult time of transition that she could always tell when things weren’t quite right. “Your writing takes a completely different tone,” said said. “It’s still beautiful, but I just know that your heart is aching a bit more than usual.”

But inevitably winter must thaw and joy breaks through once more. We’re walking toward spring and it’s balmy and sweet. And funny.

So without further ado, I give you 2011 in review:

In January, I laughed until I cried and I beseeched my male readership to please, for the love of all things holy explain to me the obssession with Star Trek. (Best I could tell, Star Trek is to men what Twilight is to women…)

In Feburary, I threw one heck of a pink princess party and lived to tell the tale.

In March I gave you the first sneak peek into my novel (which I will finish in 2012 – hold me to that, internets!).  Oh, and my dorky husband and I made a movie about how hot minivans actually are.

In April my first grader and I debated Creationism and the Big Bang theory. Later Tia and I discussed whether or not she would be able to do handstands in heaven while Landon swore up one side and down the other he saw a kangaroo on the side of the road. My kids are so delightfully weird.

In May I did NOT feel bad about Bin Laden’s death, and I mercilessly mocked my husband’s shoulder shaking dance moves. Oh yeah…and I lost my cool pants. Or maybe I never had them?

In June I gave you all a cavity with the sweetest pictures of childhood ever published.  I also traveled to Montreal and spent the day on a movie set where I interviewed Christine Baransky, died laughing at my husband’s reasoning for why the kids should not touch a bird’s nest and I dug down deep and got more personal than I’ve ever done before.

In July Jennifer Aniston did my hair, we announced our impending move to Florida and my posts got a bit contemplative.

In August people disrespected my smokin’ hot minivan and it was suggested I add ghost flames down the side. I also announced our intention to homeschool and I went to Hollywood and took a million pictures of myself at a movie premiere.

In September I explained why I would not be raising a bimbo of a daughter, then we all rejoiced as she made the most beautiful decision. We also found ourselves finally settling into a home after three months of living like nomads.

In October we worked with our son on toughening up and learning to play with the big boys. Then I humbled myself and admitted to my tendency toward acting like a true blonde.

In November I cried a freakin’ river for a second time, then my daughter and I were scarred for life when we walked in on a man in an airplane bathroom with his pants around his ankles. And I officially coined the phrase “Air Butt.” I also wrote this post, which is another one of my favorites.

Which brings us to December. I found out my eyes have betrayed me this month, I contemplated the value of a man when Albert Pujols left the Cardinals for the Angels, I admitted my aversion to Math (maybe I’m allergic to numbers…) and I died my hair pink.

It’s been quite a year and I couldn’t be more excited to head into 2012. I have big dreams, several goals and a lot of confidence. I think it’s the hair that’s given me a little boost. I hope you’ll join me as we jump into the new year. Perhaps we could all take a lesson from my youngest and leap with reckless abandon and unabashed joy.

Who’s with me? What are you looking forward to and hoping to accomplish this year?

From our family to yours

I pray you all had a lovely, wonderful Christmas filled with joy, laughter and maybe even a bit of silliness. Thanks for taking a journey with me this last year. We’ve covered a lot of ground and so many of you have walked us through this season of change. Seriously…thank you.

I bid you all drive forward in your minivans, proudly entering this new year with your heads held high and your back seats clean.

Here’s to another year of crazy!

Sometimes He Calms the Storm

New Year’s Eve brought unseasonably warm temperatures around here.  St. Louis is the arm pit of the United States.  We get a conglomeration of everybody’s weather.  Which means it can be 60 degrees at 9:00 and 20 degrees by 2:00.  We get the snow and ice, the heat and humidity.  We live with weather whiplash.


So the unseasonably warm temps were not all that unseasonable…or at least they weren’t unreasonable.  However, the warm weather mixed with the frigid temps immediately following made for some contemptuous weather.  And this set up quite a disaster.

Sloan’s terror of all things weather has been well documented over the years.  Remember this post?  So when the skies turned nasty Friday morning, he grew all aflutter with nervous energy.  Thankfully the kids were having friends over.  A brother and sister who are the same ages as Sloan and Tia.  It was the perfect distraction. 

Before the friends descended upon us, Sloan got more than worked up about the impending weather.  So he asked Lee to pray with him and pray they did.  Sloan pleaded with the Lord to stop the storms and keep the tornado away from our house. 

It turns out Sloan’s friend may have him beat in storm terror.  Around 11:00, the tornado sirens went off and so did the boys.  There were tears, there was quite a bit of jumping around and then the neighbor begged us to call his parents.  And the girls stood in the corner protesting loudly.

“We’re not scared.  We don’t want to go home.  We want to keep playing.  No!  There’s not gonna be a tornado!”

After the kids left, the sirens went off a second time.  Hmmm…we turned the TV on to see what was going on, but that sent Sloan into a freak out of massive proportions.  So off the TV went and we delved into distraction mode.

The sky turned ugly…green.  Rain pelted sideways.  And yet, there was not wind.  The trees weren’t bent.  No limbs fell.  And then – it was over.

The sun came out and Lee ran out to the store.  A friend called shortly after.  “Are you guys okay?” she asked.  And suddenly I panicked.  What had I forgotten?


“The tornado touched down in your back yard.”


I flipped the TV on to see if there was any news on our area.  I called Lee and told him to drive by the nearby golf course where the tornado hit.  He came home shortly after with the news that the golf course had quite a bit of damage.  Huge trees uprooted and lying on their sides.

“Sloan and Tia come with me.  Let’s go see the tornado damage.”

So off they drove to survey the damage.  Driving down our street there wasn’t a limb down.  No debris.  And then they turned left off our street where branches lay scattered.  Driving past the next street, a large tree lay on it’s side.  Driving past the second street, several houses were missing shingles and more trees and limbs lay strewn about.

Lee turned down the third street down and was shocked at what he saw.  The tornado had come right through there.  Cars lay flattened by trees.  Houses were missing large sections of their roofs.  There was extensive damage.

But no wind blew past our house.

As the crow flies – or tornado blows – that neighborhood was 300 yards from our house.  And it appeared as if the wind stopped blowing right at the threshhold of our street.  As if some invisible source was holding it back…

Did God withhold the winds and tornado from our home because Sloan prayed?  I think that’s a tricky question to answer.  Because there very well could have been people who were affected who prayed for protection as well.  I don’t claim that God chose Sloan’s prayers over another.  I do think, however, that God revealed Himself in a mighty way to my seven year old.  I do think that God held even a whisper of wind at bay so He could show my son that He is, indeed, the One who controls the wind.

We were also able to show Sloan the grace of God’s protection as we pointed out the damaged homes and the people who were not harmed despite the tornado’s passing.  We were able to point out that God’s protection does not always extend to the material things we have on this earth.  But He protected His people that day.

Sadly, six people were killed (none in our area) by the storms that came through the Midwest on Friday.  Does this mean that God’s protection wasn’t extended to those who died?  No.  It does show that our days are numbered and life is never a guarantee.  We didn’t get into those truths with Sloan just yet.  We’re trying to dispel fear in his heart.  But we were able to confirm to him that God hears and answers prayer.  This is a lesson I want my kids to know and trust without wavering as they grow older.

Had the tornado come just 300 yards to the North, we would have been able to confirm in Sloan’s heart that God is a God of protection and grace.  Had our home been destroyed we would have been able to show Sloan that God is One who remains the same, even when our circumstances change. 

More than anything I’m grateful that my son’s tender heart was given a valuable lesson on New Year’s Eve.  I’m grateful we were spared.  I’m praying for our neighbors.  And I’m thankful that we have a God who says Let the little children come to me.

A few grainy cell phone images of the damage near our home:

tornado pic 1

tornado pic 2

tornado pic 3

2010: The Wrap Up

This year can only be described as blessed.  As we move into 2011, I find myself feeling filled with anticipation.  What will this year bring for our family?  What blessings?  What heartaches?  What new challenges and opportunities?  What joy and laughter?  How will the kids grow and develop?  How will Lee and I grow and develop?

In looking back on 2010, I have seen some definate areas in my own life that need improvement.  I enter 2011 aware of those and prayerfully seeking the strength and discipline to implement the necessary changes.  I look forward to a fresh start.

I also look forward to another 12 months of blogging and laughing with you all.  Because what fun is life if you can’t laugh…a lot!  So in order to look back at the fun this year has brought, I give you the official 2010 wrap up.  It’s been a hilarious ride!


The Minivan Mom Runs: Remember when I decided to take up running again?  And then I quit.  But then I decided to take it up again?  And then I quit.  This fall, I took it up again and I was actually doing quite well.  I was actually enjoying it.  Then I got pneumonia and the cold that wouldn’t end and haven’t been able to run in a month.  Good times…

Battoning Down the Hatches…or something like that: In which, like a modern day Ma Ingalls, I survive being snowed in alone with three kids.  This was during our Little House on the Prairie kick.


From his perspective aka A really bad idea: Lee decided we needed to change our life insurance policy, which meant a scary nurse lady came to our house and jabbed me with a needle.  I was too afraid to consider not having the children watch.  Sloan thought I was being put to sleep…

Sometimes sticking to your guns is hard:  The one where I had to defend my position on vaccinations in a very uncomfortable manner.  Ugh…


The Dance of the Little Bee: This post still makes me laugh.  This is my reminder that my son, already a Ladie’s Man, is growing up far too fast for my taste.

My Stud Muffin with his Stud Muffie: The video of my hot husband and my youngest child and their mad basketball skillz.  That’s right I said skillz!


The confidence to walk away: Sloan was bullied and my mother’s heart was broken into tiny pieces, rolled in broken glass, doused in alcohol, then lit on fire.  He’s emerged a stronger kid, though, and for that I am beyond proud.

Tia Tales: The Four Year Old Edition: I got my magic camera this month, and thus my pictures got so much better.  And Tia?  Well, there’s always a story to tell about my crazy middle child.

Girl Meets Boy: I began a series entirely dedicated to the love story I share with my husband of a decade.  It was so much fun walking down memory lane with him.  You can read the entire story here.


He had to be first: The month we experienced our first broken bone.  We just finished paying that sucker off.  Good times…

Disturbing: My son’s addiction to coloring on anything but paper freaked me out…a lot.  I threw that doll away, incidentally.


Just call me MacGyver: In which I got creative with Kotex.  Don’t ask.  Just read…

Toy Story 3: Better Titled “Let’s Tear Mom’s Heart from Chest and Stomp on it.”: I took the kids to see Toy Story 3.  Then I bawled my eyes out.  For days.


Lemonade for Haiti: Sloan urged us to let him have a lemonade stand for Haiti, so we did.  And in the process, my son once again taught me a valuable lesson in giving.  Later that summer, he got to hand my uncle the envelope with $120 in it for Haiti relief.  He’s quite a kid.

The Photo Session: We spent three weeks in Florida last summer.  And I lived to tell the story.  I almost didn’t though.  Despite it being just a tad too much together time, we had fun.  And I managed to get some great pictures of my kids – with a few outtakes.


The Wedding:  My cousin Whitney got married and Sloan and Tia were her ring bearer and flowergirl.  The cuteness was over the top.

Ice Cream Surprise: We surprised our kids with an after bed ice cream treat.  It is a great memory and gave us a hilarious video.

This I Pray: I sent my son off to first grade.  We had our first experience with a full school day and I grew increasingly aware of the need to bathe him in prayer while he was gone.  It was good for me to re-read this post and be reminded of that again.

Phew. August was a fun blogging month.  I had a hard time narrowing it down.  That was the same month I admitted to not showering on a daily basis, I went to New Orleans to cover the Katrina memorial and I posted more than one random post filled with bizarre little tidbits. 


This is the month Lee and I took the trip of a lifetime through Switzerland, Austria and Italy.  We talk about this trip almost every day – sometimes multiple times a day.  It was that amazing.

Hallstatt – A Day in the Life of a Postcard Town: I still can’t believe we made it to Hallstatt.  It is truly the most beautiful place I have ever visited and was our favorite part of the trip.

Italy: Austria was by far our favorite country, but Italy wasn’t half bad either.  I mean…we weren’t complaining or anything.

A Different Kind of Mountaintop: We came home after ten days ready to be with our kids.  Rocking Landon to sleep the night we got home was a different kind of mountaintop experience.  Read with Kleenex…

The Day we Spent $127 on Soap: We made a very stupid American mistake in Hallstatt.  It’s funny now.  A little…


He is Dad: The one where I made my dad cry.  Then he made me cry back.  All mushy, mushy…

The day I questioned everything I know to be true: I cleaned out the back of our minivan.  In the process I doubted whether Minivans were actually Hot.  My faith has been restored in the hotness of minivans, just as long as I never go back there again!


Cry me a Freakin’ River: We took down the crib and in doing so tore a piece of my heart out.

How to go from Reverent to Irreverent without even really trying…: Sloan brings us to church when he prays.  Tia brings us back to reality.


The Brawl: I think this might be my favorite post of the year.

Celebrating Christmas: We started what I hope will become a great tradition for our family.

So there it is.  My 2010 list of favorites.  This is not an exhaustive list and these certainly aren’t all my best posts, but they represent my favorite moments of the year.  I’ve tried to keep it light and fun, but there have been some heavy moments too.  Thanks for sharing them with me.

As I thought about what my favorite photo was of the year, I had a really hard time narrowing it down.  I think I got it down to two…okay that’s not true.  I have 478 favorite photos from this past year.  But I’m just going to share two:

Me, my man and an Austrian mountaintop. Just an awesome moment...

Me, my man and an Austrian mountaintop. Just an awesome moment...

I love those faces.  And I lov ethis picture. It captures them perfectly...

I love those faces. And I love this picture. It captures them perfectly...


Happy New Year to all of you!

In which I ramble on about nothing

It’s cold outside. Not brrrrrrrrrrrrr chilly. It’s freeze your face off cold. It’s single digits with wind chills below zero cold.

My husband is checking out real estate in Florida and in the Bahamas. He typically starts this process every October and it tapers off around mid-March. It’s like clock work.

I loathe cold weather. I despise it. I’m not a cussing kinda gal, but if I were this weather would lead me to make sailors blush.

Just to remind you – it wasn’t that long ago that I was here:

I know – that picture makes you want to cry doesn’t it?  So ya know – I’m allowed to gripe about the weather.  Gripe, gripe, gripe

Coffee gives me a stomach ache.  But I’ve stayed up way too late the last two nights so coffee has been a necessity.  It’s either a stomach ache or mommy the zombie. 

I drink coffee so rarely that I don’t even know how to make a pot of it.  I think I’ve made all of three or four pots of coffee in my life.  Good thing Lee got this coffee maker for his birthday.  It’s going to make addicts of us yet.  And grown ups.  Because there’s nothing that makes me feel more like a grown up than a cup of coffee in the morning.

Seriously, I tried to clean Lee’s windshield while driving the other day and the water froze as it sprayed out leaving streaks of ice up and down his windshield.  That’s how cold it is.  I almost cussed.  But I’m not a cussing kinda gal.  See above.

It’s Day 5 of the new year and I’ve already slacked on one of my resolutions.  My goal is to be more productive with my time.  One of the ways I’m hoping to do that is by getting up earlier in the morning and getting my writing done before the kids get up.  I’d also like to be dressed before they wake up so that the mornings run more smoothly.  I did great yesterday and I was super productive.

But Lee and I stayed up too late the last two nights.  Did I mention that already?  We’re busy watching Season 5 of The Office.  We got it for Christmas.  We only planned on watching one episode, but the show is so doggone funny that we couldn’t stop. 

In order to accomplish the aforementioned resolution, I think I need to add to it that I get in bed at a decent hour.

My hands are cold right now as I type this.  I got new gloves at Target the other day.  They have no fingers so I can wear them while I type.  They look kind of like this – only not as cute…

And I’m wearing them right now.  My hands are warm…but my fingers are still cold.  Not totally sure what the purpose is, but I’m going to wear them anyway.

My husband is a bit of a nerd.  He keeps yammering on about Facebook and how ridiculous he thinks it is.  He’s leaving nonsensical status updates.  Right now I do believe he is claiming to be a Greek god on his Facebook page.  As nerdy as it is, it’s making me laugh.

I think that means I’m also a nerd.

Okay, I think it’s time for me to close this out.  I need to make a second cup of coffee.  And I need to put on another shirt because I’m freezing my arse off.  It’s not cussing if you write it with a Scottish accent is it?

I also need to start the car.  If I let it run for the next 20 minutes it should be warm when we have to leave to take Tia to school.  Did I mention it was cold outside?  If any of you hear of a job opening in the medical device field in Florida or the Bahamas, let us know…

Okay, seriously – I need to go.  This not a productive use of my time.  I’m failing abismally at my new year goal. 

Stay warm everyone!