Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Ya'll.  I know I sound like the most broken of all records, but how can 2013 possibly be coming to a close?  Seriously.  It feels like it was sand running between my fingers that I didn't realize was almost gone.  But it is finished.  There are no more days or sand.

When I think back on this year, obviously, what stands out the most is the fact that we welcomed two more children into our family.


Where would we be without Violet and William in our lives?  Well, we'd be a lot more rested, but that is neither here nor there.  To see what God did in our family in this year is still stunning.  Our whole adoption story blows my mind, and to see God's hand through it all is the biggest gift of 2013.  It will forever be a watershed moment in the life of our family to look back on and know just how faithful the Lord is and how his plans are bigger and better than our own.

But, 2013 brought more than just babies.  Let's run through a quick list.

John caught a bad guy in our neighborhood, for real.

We had a  Cinderella night with the girls.


Celebrated eight years of marriage.

I wrote a series of posts about losing my dad, because 2013 marked 10 years without him.

We opened an Express CFA in downtown Little Rock.

We took some great trips -
the Keys,






and St. Louis to name a few.


In all those trips, we really nailed down the differences between a vacation and a family trip.

We watched the babies grow from month to month - can you believe its been eight months?


We said Hello and Goodbye to baby Branch from afar, and I got to visit his awesome parents in November.


The first Walk for the Waiting was amazing, and the second Immerse AR banquet was a success!


We had a great first Halloween as a family of six - Cowboys and Indians.


I made a lot of cookies this year.  These CFA Christmas cookies were some of my favorite from the year!


All in all, it was a memorable ride.  I look forward to 2014 with enthusiasm and a teensy bit of trepidation.  So many things could and will happen, both good and bad.  I am so thankful to know the Lord and know that he will be walking with us and before and behind us.  Our lives are his.

Thanks for reading along with us.  This journey is much more fun and rich because of the people in our lives, and I include anyone who reads the blog part of that family!  I appreciate the encouragement and enthusiasm that I've found in this little online space of ours.


Peace out, 2013.  Happy New Year from the Spenst family!

Monday, December 30, 2013


You may have noticed on Instagram that John and I had an overnight getaway without our precious children courtesy of John's wonderful parents this past weekend.  We went to the faraway and glamorous city of Memphis.  You see, we found out that the Zac Brown Band was playing there, and it was right up our alley to check it out.

I worked at Kanakuk Kamps for 4 summers, and for breaks, we would get a "2-4", 24 hours off.  I remember being amazed at how much you could cram into that time, but also how quickly it went by.  I experienced that same feeling when we left Friday afternoon.  The world was our oyster.  The sky was the limit.  We got to Memphis without even hitting the dreaded 1-40 traffic.  What will we do with all this time?

We had planned in time to hit the traffic, so we found ourselves near our dinner reservations with an hour and a half to spare.  When does that ever happen?  We hit the mall with no double strollers that needed to be pushed.  I actually purchased some new jeans, because everything was in major after Christmas mark down mode, and I had time to try them on.  Having some new jeans will allow my polka dot jeans a little rest from their busy work schedule.


Dinner was delicious at the Melting Pot.  Sitting some place for a couple of hours and being served scrumptious food was such a privilege.  Here's a peak at our white chocolate/milk chocolate dessert fondue.


Then it was on to the concert.  It truly was one of the most enjoyable concerts that we've attended.  We are huge fans of the ZBB.  (Did you see how I did that? Obviously we are huge fans if I can refer to them by their initials.)  After two opening acts, the band played for 3 hours, and it was never boring.  Here we are - so excited to take it all in.


It was so good, and Zac Brown seems like the nicest guy that also happens to be an amazing musician.  Though he didn't say this, from what we heard, he spent the afternoon with the kids at St. Jude, and he did dedicate several songs to kids he met there, some of whom got to attend the concert.


For their encore, the band came out to black lights wearing skeleton suits.  We did not see that coming, and they rocked it out.


One of the best parts of the trip was getting to sleep through the night.  John didn't sleep as well as I did, because when you become an actual adult, sometimes you lose the ability to sleep through anything at anytime at will.  Which is a crying shame.  Next time we get away, there will definitely be Tylenol PM in our bags to help him to stay asleep.  But, even when we did wake up, no one needed us to do anything.  There was not a stinky bottom to be smelled near us.  Nor was anyone crying or asking for a granola bar to be opened, though everyone who eats granola bars at our house can actually open them by themselves.

We took in breakfast at the Blue Plate Cafe.  And by "took in breakfast," I actually mean that we ate much more than is healthy for people to eat in one sitting.  It was so very good.


Oh - and there's us again, looking happy and moderately well rested.


I have realized that when I am away from the children I have a totally different experience out in public.  The difference is quite marked.  When I'm with the kids, which is usually, the only questions or comments that I get relate to all the kids I have with me.  Also, I can really only focus on the kids myself, because someone always needs something, and it takes all my mental energy to do whatever I am trying to do while also keeping them simultaneously well fed, entertained and generally happy.

When I am out by myself or just with John, I am shocked to discover that I actually somewhat enjoy interacting with strangers.  I can be moderately charming and pleasant.  I can smile and look at their faces when we talk.  I can take pictures for somebody else.  It is a different world, truly.

And, being away with just John was such a treat.  He's my very favorite in the whole world, and having time away with just him reinforced that once again.  We got to see each other again.  We had breathing room.  We laughed a lot and talked over lots of stuff that never seems to come up when we are at home deep in our normal lives.  24 hours can do wonders for your heart and soul.  I am so thankful.

But, like all good things, it had to come to a close.


Though we could have stayed away for several more days, coming home was really nice too.  Our peeps were so happy to see us, and we were glad to see them and hear their precious little voices and receive their exuberant hugs.  We are richly blessed, and I never want to take that for granted.

(A special shout out and thanks go to John's parents and sister who care for our children so well in our absence.  Thank You!)

Saturday, December 28, 2013


I really do love where we live, and sometimes, we take advantage of fun perks in our city.  Thursday was one of those days.  We headed downtown to hop onto the trolley and ride around, and it was a beautiful day for just such an adventure.

After finding a trolley stop, which took us just a bit of detective work with our cell phones, we waited for it to arrive.  The time was passed with a pleasant bout of Ring around the Rosie with the grandparents.


It was decked out for Christmas, which always makes it more fun.


The girls got chances to ring the bells and whistles, which they loved.  They were mesmerized by the whole experience, in fact.


It's a cheap, fun ride through all of downtown Little Rock, across the river and into downtown North Little Rock.


There was a man that was riding the trolley who was clearly not "normal."  He sang loudly for much of the journey and wanted to talk to everyone.  He seemed quite harmless, but it is always hard to know the best way to respond to people who exist on the fringes of society.  We listened and interacted a bit, but that was the extent of our effort with him.    It became clear that the trolley driver knew him and had a real heart for him.  He made sure that the man stayed near to him so that he could keep an eye on him, and when the man got off, the trolley driver made sure that he was okay and welcomed him back on his trolley should he need a ride somewhere.

I almost started crying while watching the interaction.  Seeing God's grace through someone first hand is remarkable, and it was clear that our trolley driver sincerely loved this man - a man that would be considered a nuisance by many.  What a blessing to behold.

After our trolley ride, we headed to lunch at the River Market, which capped things off nicely.  Everyone was able to get what they wanted and enjoy.


We are enjoying time with grandparents in town!

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Christmas 2013 is in the books, and it was a good one.  Ours was pretty low-key as events go around here, which was a blessing.  John worked on Christmas Eve day, while I hung with the children and Aunt Rachel, once she came home.  Merriment was in the air.


We headed to our Christmas Eve service at church.


It was a great time of worship and focus.  Though, there was the craziness factor of having all four kids with us.  Amazingly, they did great - even when the fire came out.  I can assure you that though we sang Silent Night, we did not have one at our house.


We had dinner and then did birthday cupcakes for Jesus.


After reading the Christmas story with the advent wreath and managing to not catch Lily's hair on fire this time, we watched White Christmas, which the girls have become minorly obsessed with this holiday season.


I finished the babies' stockings in the St. Nick of time.  (I'm sure I am the first person to ever make that super clever joke.)


Christmas morning brought such fun and excitement!


Our big present for the girls was a trip to Disney World in February.  We are so very excited, and we tried to figure out a fun way to tell them.  John came up with something out of the box (doesn't he always?).  We had done a Disney gingerbread house with the girls and hidden a note about Disney World inside.  A note is a bit anti-climatic for two kids who can't read, so we tried to make it a fun experience.  John got hammers and safety goggles for effect.


Then, we let them bust open the house.  Surprisingly, Lily was much more up to this task than Hurricane Bella.


To help them catch the vision, we borrowed a promo video from a friend, because I forgot to order one in time.  The only catch was that the video we got ahold of was in Spanish.  So, we heard all about the trip in Spanish.  Lily kept getting frustrated with Bella for talking loudly, and I kept telling her that it didn't matter if she could hear, because she couldn't understand.


But, the video did show a lot of fun stuff, and they are so excited about the trip.  Gran Gran came by for a visit and brought more presents, but I didn't take pictures.  John's parents flew in a 1:35 and arrived for our third round of presents.  Such a fun day!


Celebrating is usually not without mishaps (cue Spanish Disney video), and this year was no exception.  I mailed packages to all family that we weren't doing Christmas with, and for a variety of reasons, no one got their packages for Christmas.  One of them is stuck in Wichita supposed to be headed back to me.  Perfect.  I also made cinnamon rolls, which I do with some regularity.  This time, I tried something a bit different and ended up with hockey puck cinnamon rolls.  Bummer.  Even the girls wouldn't eat them, and that is saying something when it comes to sugared bread.

But, in my old age, I am coming to accept these mishaps as part of life.  When the cinnamon rolls turned out badly, my SIL said she was glad to know that I do screw things up occasionally, and I laughed, because I screw things up a lot.

None of it stole the Christmas joy that was very present in our home.  Celebrating the birth of our Savior with family was a true blessing.  Hope your Christmas was a good one - mishaps and all.