Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Charleston was 11 days ago.  Eleven more ugly days of reading articles that come from all sides and wondering what to make of it all.  I desperately want to "get it" for my kids and myself, and I wish that "it" did not seem like such a moving target.  I've realized that it is not my job to tell other people how to think, though I often want to.  I can tell you some of the things that are growing in my own heart as our country continues to be divided in the wake of tragedy after tragedy that involves skin color.

Yesterday I saw the news that black churches have been burning throughout the South in the past week.  It's sickening, really.  What is becoming clearer than ever to me is the racism that continues to live within the hearts of people.  We can legislate rights all day long, but until hearts are truly changed, racism will be alive and well.  Taking down the Confederate flag will not fix what flies inside the minds of individuals.

Last March, we went to Branson and drove through Harrison, AR where I actually laid my own eyes on this billboard.


There are places that encourage this sort of thinking.  This place is unfortunately not very far from where I live, and you can be sure that we will not be stopping in Harrison if we can ever help it.  I was so offended as we drove past, and I hate that they used the blatant lie on the bottom as some sort of sick tag line.  Love cannot go hand in hand with something that so obviously wants to be exclusive.  It just doesn't.

I feel like I will be walking a really fine line as an adoptive parent.  I'm white, and I've grown up in privilege and with my own baggage that comes with living in a racially divided city.  I have black children who will grow up with much privilege, but that won't protect them from the color of their skin.  Their beautiful chocolate skin and their precious tight curls are things I adore about them, and these things can and will be viewed so differently by those who do not know them.  This is just reality, and if I choose to ignore it - I do us no favors.

Because we are an US now.  Why did it take me adopting outside of my race to get it?  I hate that I didn't really listen before.  I hate what I thought I knew based on my limited life experience.  So I am repenting and listening.  It's the best I've got.  I'm hoping and praying that we can move towards a world that actually has more love.  I think it will take a lot of heart work from each of us, and I hope and pray that you will consider being on this journey of repentance and openness with our family.  It matters very deeply to us.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Parenting is such a joy and privilege and also about 20 million times harder than I thought it would be before I had children of my own.  I had no idea there would be so many complexities or so much work.  John and I have always wanted to instill a good work ethic into our children, because we honestly believe it is one of the things that will always serve them well in life.  Also, in many ways, it would be easy to spoil our children, and we do not want them to grow up entitled or expecting to be handed things.

As summer has landed, we realized we have a good opportunity to start giving the girls some good work experience.  Last Saturday, Lily and Bella put on "uniforms" and were so excited to head to "work."  When we got there, John had them fill out applications (write their names), and he interviewed each girl separately.

We realized that we need to give them a little more interview coaching for the future.  When John asked each of them why they wanted to work, both immediately answered, "To make money."  Children certainly are honest!  And obviously, that is one important reason why we do work, but it may not be the best to lead with.  Thankfully, we have a few years to work on the skill on interviewing.

They spent time working in the dining room with John a couple of days this week.  John taught them to say, "May I interest you in a mint or wet nap?" They also cleared trays and wiped down tables - with a lot of supervision and assistance.  It was really cute to watch, and my heart swelled with pride to see them giddy to learn.

We helped them divide up their money into tithe, savings and spending, and John even took them to the bank to open savings accounts.  It was an exciting week all the way around.  They figured out that they would be able to combine their spending money from this week and purchase the much desired Lego Frozen Ice Palace.

The girls are so excited to have a way to earn money, and I like that they are not expecting money for the work we ask them to do at home.  We've decided that doing chores at home is just part of the deal with living here.  We may do an allowance during the school year when they aren't able to go to the restaurant much, because we do want them to have money to practice with growing up.  We give them practice at lots of things in life, and practicing with money is really important to us.

We are learning as we go, and I am sure we will have to revise some things about teaching finances along the way, but this is one giant perk of owning our own business.  Bella was worn out after a long day (2 hours) at work.

And lest you grow concerned that there is all work and no play, the girls also completed a great week of swim lessons last week!


A lot of parenting really is looking for opportunities for our children to practice things we want them to be able to master as a grown up.  I'm praying we know what to help them practice as the years go on.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


I sat down to write a serious post, but with the heat of the day, my brain feels mushy and like it might be frying slowly from the inside.  I am defaulting to a few scenes from this week.

We are doing swim lessons every day this week, which the girls have informed me is the best part of each day this week.  They do seem to really be getting it this year, which is exciting!  And, I love when they wear goggles.


Now, while we are at swim lessons with the big girls, it means that littles must stay somewhat entertained.  Thankfully, the house where we take lessons also has horses, which has been a major win for the twins.


However, other moments tend to go from this.


To this.


To this very quickly.  She was unhappy when I pulled her down.  Though you may have deduced that from this picture.


There are playdates with friends.


And beautiful flowers in our neighborhood.  I think hydrangea is one of my favorite colors.  There are so many subtle variants even on one bush, and the colors are so rich.  I love them.


Sometimes I still bake cookies, though these are certainly the easy ones compared to sugar cookies.


And we are all so glad when Daddy comes home.


Today we got haircuts for the girls who hadn't had them in about a year.  (gritted teeth emoji!)


And we all looked strangely at the Barbie head that someone brought in with them to play with.  (pictured in the background of Bella's picture.)  None of my kiddos could quite figure it out.

This is my first full actual week of doing summer at home, and I had a mini meltdown last night when I realized that many weeks of this stretch in front of me.  My children are at rather exhausting stages, and I fought battles on many fronts yesterday that left me feeling defeated and a bit depressed.  I wondered if I would hate the rest of the summer days.  I felt guilty for not loving all this time with my precious children.  I felt guilty for wishing they were all older so we could do more fun stuff without quite so much work.

And while traces of all those feelings remain, today I had a firmer grip on truth.  John helped me try to think through some plans last night to keep hold of sanity.  I'm trying to embrace the reality of where we are, which involves certain limitations that cannot be changed this year.  That's okay.  We will have an okay summer this year, and I am okay with that.  It won't be the sun drenched summer of our dreams where we frolic and play and learn and aren't exhausted.  That's okay.  I will get sweet time with my sweet children who I really do adore, and I will also liberally hire sitters so that I will keep adoring my children as summer goes on.

I'm also asking God to help me adjust expectations and do the things he wants for our family, which may look different than things I think I want.  I need a little settling down and settling in when my heart wants to go and do and keep going.  I always wanted to have children close together, and this slow down is the flip side of that - there are limitations with four children within four years of each other this young.  I wouldn't have seen those, but God knew I needed them - so even though I don't always like it, I'm learning gratitude in the midst of it.

Monday, June 22, 2015


Just a few thoughts on this summer Monday. . .

As we were driving home from our latest trip to Dallas, John commented that he wasn't sure he ever wanted to take another family trip.  We had so much fun - truly, we did.  We love our friends dearly and getting a chance to have our families together is such a privilege - one that we do not take for granted.

But, we came home exhausted, and the truth is that our regular life still has an edge of every day exhausting that cannot be denied.  Granted, we did two separate trips within two weeks, which was probably a bit on the "too much" side of things.  Sleeping anywhere that is not home is a challenge with two year old twins.  They basically need their own room with no light at all, and since we can't exactly have that set up everywhere we go, things tend to get a bit sticky in the wee hours.  Especially when one is teething.  And sweet V tends to cry about 1/3 to 1/2 of any time we are in the car.  This is true around town as well, and not much seems to be able to mitigate it.  She has a wild heart that cannot be broken by the constraints of mundane things like car seats or strollers.  She wants to be free.

That said, we definitely have to "count the cost" on any trip that we take right now.  It's so fun and so much work all at the same time.  I just never want anyone with young children to read this blog and think that we make things look easy when they are not.


Father's Day is always a little tricky for me.  I had the best dad, and now he's gone.  I have the best step-father imaginable.  I have a very dear father-in-law.  I have a truly fantastic husband who is a wonderful daddy to our children, and I am so very thankful.  My life has been indelibly marked by each of these fathers, and I certainly understand what a blessing and a privilege that is.  They all love the Lord and love their children so very well.

I guess, at the end of the day, I end up feeling towards Father's Day many of the same feelings I feel towards Mother's Day.  Since it was to be a day honoring John in our house, I decided to not ask him for a picture of him with the kids.  He doesn't always love picture sessions (read: he rarely loves taking pictures and does it graciously because he loves me), so I figured that sparing him one was a greater gift for the day.  I also managed to get us a sitter so we could go see a movie sans children, because - let's be honest, it is often easier to celebrate these occasions without the kids.  At least that is the case at our house right now.

We saw Jurassic World in IMAX 3D which means that we forked over about half of our childrens' college fund.  But, it was a big, fun experience, and I felt like I was walking among the dinosaurs.  I actually vividly remember seeing Jurassic Park in the theater with my dad and brother when it came out.  I was a big wimp about scary movies - still am, for that matter, but my dad said that I would like it and that I could always close my eyes.

So, as we seemed to soar over the new Jurassic World last night with the old Jurassic Park music playing, my eyes filled with tears.  I do miss my daddy, but I know he would have loved the new movie and had the same kind of fun that John did making me jump extra in the suspenseful moments for his own enjoyment.


My mind has been spinning on Charleston and the pervasive racism in our country that has been revealed time and again in the past months.  I've read countless articles and blog posts and comments and opinions, and my faith in humanity is a bit on the shaky side.  I'm thankful that I do have faith in a good God in the midst of the heartache.  I may process more in the coming days, but it feels difficult to choose words carefully - not because I am particularly afraid of offending anyone, but because I cannot seem to capture my own emotions and thoughts on it all.  We shall see.

Those are my "deep" thoughts this Monday.  I hope your week is off to a good start.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


As I go back through the pictures, I'm not sure how or why we managed to do what feels like ALL the THINGS.  And the truth is, there are so many other things we could have done.  We headed to Great Wolf Lodge on Sunday afternoon and were greeted with a massive line at check-in.


Thankfully, the children were entertained by all that happens in the lobby, and it didn't feel like too incredibly long before we were getting changed into swim suits and headed to the waterpark.  We went to Great Wolf Lodge last year in Kansas City, but I must say, I like the one in Grapevine a bit more.


Our children were at better ages for it this year, which definitely made it more fun.  It sits right next to DFW, so there are planes landing every couple of minutes which was fantastic in room entertainment.


We had a ball enjoying all of the slides, the pools and the lazy river.


Violet LOVED jumping into John's arms.


We certainly had tired kids.  Though, that didn't stop William from being up for a couple of hours in the middle of one of our nights there.  John ended up on the sofa bed with him after I threw in the towel on getting him to sleep and was quite frustrated.

On Saturday and Sunday night the Clauses had the ingenious idea of swapping Girls and Guys night and getting a bit of time away from the children, because as you might imagine, eating out with 7 children six and under can get a bit wearing.  Steph and I had a lovely dinner out and a trip to Wal-Mart, which totally felt like college except that we were buying dramatically different things than we would have been back then.


Monday night we headed to see the Dodgers play the Rangers.  We were graciously gifted some tickets for some fantastic seats which was such a treat!


We parted ways with the Clauses after the game.  I am so thankful for the time with them.  Driving matching Swagger Wagons around wouldn't have been the same with anyone else!


We got back to our hotel room pretty late after the game and all hit the sack not thinking to set an alarm due to the fact that we sleep for four little alarms.  Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine sleeping straight through til 9:45 a.m.  Especially when we had tickets to Legoland for 10:15 a.m.  After a brief moment of panic, we pulled it together, realized they would likely not turn us away at the door on a random Tuesday and set to packing.  We got to Legoland around 11:15, and we were all in pretty good spirits because of the extra sleep.  We enjoyed our brief time there before hitting the road to head back home.


Our drive home was a stressful mix of monsoon-ish rain, crying and almost running out of gas.  Needless to say, we were glad to have Little Rock back in our sights and have enjoyed sleeping at home since this trip.  Traveling is always worth it, but it is certainly a lot of work at this stage in the game.