Thursday, August 30, 2012


That day was today.

I am not a yeller by nature.  I usually get more quiet with anger.  I have definitely never screamed at my child.

Until today.

I didn't really know I had it in me.  I hoped I didn't.  There are a million and one excuses.  It's been a long week.  I needed to get things done.  She was whining.  Again.  About nothing.  I was a bit frazzled from life.  I didn't want her to wake up her sister who actually was napping during nap time instead of coming out every 12 minutes with about 2 ounces of urine in her little potty, asking for her chocolate chip or marshmallow prize.

And it escalated.  She began screaming, like she does often because she is three.  I tried to stay calm, because this is not my first screaming rodeo with her doing the screaming.  But, I wanted sister to stay asleep, because she was so tired and so cranky, and I knew a shortened nap would not bode well.

Despite all my attempts, threats and calming words, she was determined to wail, scream and moan.  Then, I heard sister stirring, upset at being woken.  I snapped.  I yelled, "Stop screaming!  Stop it right now!"

The irony is not lost on me.  Or John when I told him about 10 minutes later.

I shut the door to her room, her now in intense, but still screaming, breathless shock.  I sat on the couch and texted John a plea for prayer.  I had lost it, I told him.  Totally lost it.  I felt awful and was in tears, and I knew I needed to apologize to her and ask her forgiveness, which I did about 10 minutes later, giving us both a chance to calm down.

Having the ugliness revealed like this is so unpleasant.  Why is it there?  Why am I always so focused on myself and what I need or think I need?  Why do I not have more of a Christ-like spirit?  I've been a Christian my whole life, so you would think it would have rubbed off a bit more.

Ultimately, why do I ever think I am above these things and silently judge others who respond poorly to their children?

Oh, I have so much to learn and so many ways to be humbled.  Children seem to be excellent for both of those things.  Finding the buttons and jumping on them.

And, there is joy in forgiveness.  In teaching my child how to own up to mistakes.  In seeing how much she loves me and feeling the love I have for her.  God's gifts are rich and true and good.  Even on days when I scream at them.


The stakes get raised every year of parenting.  It seems to get harder, and there are so many things that I don't know.  So much to guess about.  Things that make me crazy and make me wonder if I can possibly get up and do it again tomorrow.  Moments of this afternoon and tonight I have had my doubts.

But, tomorrow is a new day, and God's mercies are brand new and fresh each morning.  Thank you, Lord.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Lunching with friends is a lifeline in my life.  Seriously.  After a tough morning, or even after a good morning, meeting up with friends in the same stage of life is such a blessing to us.

I have lunched with a friend or several friends every day so far this week.  This is actually pretty common for me and the girlies, and I just wanted to state that and remark about how awesome it is.  I don't have many pictures from our many lunches, but here's a great example from a couple of months ago at the zoo.


Today, lunching with friends saved my sanity.  As I was headed to pick up the girls from MDO, John called saying that his car was on the fritz.  Let's just say that the next 20 minutes involved a series of phone calls, ordering lunch that we got to eat about half of, John's car breaking down completely and spewing smoke on the interstate, an accident involving urine all over the floor and several full blown tantrums.  Oh, and a lot of disjointed conversations.

Getting to my car felt like the hardest thing I would ever have to do in my life.

Having friends that helped clean up the pee, laughed with me instead of at me and were generally encouraging and comforting about the whole thing was great.  Thanks, friends - you guys are the best and lunching with you makes my life better all the time.

Hopefully getting John's car fixed will not cost us an arm and a leg.


We'll see.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


At least, I am hoping and praying that we are finished, and I am pretty sure that we are.  I thought we would be having this celebration last Friday, but then I found out that I needed a few more signed and notarized documents.  Just what I wanted to rustle up this weekend.  But, by the grace of God and some willing friends and family, we got the rest of what we needed.


This was all so exciting that it required two pictures with our dossier packet, the first one indoors.  The lighting was bad, so I decided I wanted another one out of doors.  I posted both to show what a good sport my husband really is.  Also, he is really glad to be done as well.  He said that doing all this paperwork and education has made him feel like he is in school again, and it is nice to be graduated from this phase.

I've heard the adoption process broken up into three trimesters before like a normal pregnancy.  The first trimester is the paper chase, and it is pretty glorious to have that be mostly in the rear view mirror.  I wanted to do our paper chase faster than anyone had ever done it before, because I am a bit psycho like that.  Since life, speed bumps and hiccups came our way, it wasn't quite as quickly as I had hoped, but it is done now.  We are still waiting on our immigration clearance, but our dossier can be submitted to our agency and hold a place in line while we wait for that.

We are entering into the second trimester - the Waiting.  With a capital W.  It's hard, because we really don't have any idea how long this trimester will be for us - we only have feelings and expectations that it could be quite long.  We should get our actual waiting list numbers probably at the start of October - apparently they are released at the beginning of each month, and since our dossier will officially arrive sometime in September, that is the first time we will be eligible to get a number.

The third "trimester" is after you get your referral, and you are preparing to meet your child/children.  My stomach churns with excitement just thinking of that.

As we continue down this road, I am amazed at how many unknowns there still are for us.  It is a good reminder that we are not in control, and that I can choose to over-analyze and try to micro-manage - OR, I can submit to the work that God is clearly doing.  He is working on behalf of our sons, whoever they may be.  He is preparing us for each other.  I am so thankful to trust that God knows it all and is working it all for his glory and our good.

Hooray for Second Trimester!

Monday, August 27, 2012


Sometimes, being a grown up is pretty awesome.  I get to be married to my best friend, live in a house that I love and generally do some of the fun stuff that I have always wanted to do.  That is all pretty great.

Other days it hits me that when you are a grown up, you regularly have to do stuff that you don't want to do.  I love checking things off a list.  I use a program called Evernote (an app for my phone and computer) that lets me make lists and check them off for all kinds of things in my life.  What I am realizing, however, is that things creep back onto lists and have to be re-done.

As life moves on, I am constantly having to go back and re-do stuff.  I wish I could do something once and never think of it again, but that is not the nature of things.  I decorate and clean my children's rooms and things get broken and dirty and just plain crazy.  Lily's top bunk currently looks like this.


Not exactly what I had in mind.  I used to dream of that perfect day in the far off future when I would have done everything on my list, and then I could enjoy my leisure time in complete peace of mind, knowing that I was not avoiding something responsible that I should be doing.  Accepting that that day will never come and is a giant pipe dream is a hard pill to swallow.

Kiddos exacerbate the issue.  They grow out of clothing every other season, which means their closets need to be rotated.  They grow out of toys and into new ones.  They color on my duvet cover with a highlighter (maybe that's just my kids.)


As I have been lamenting these things to myself, it has occurred to me that this is the nature of the most important things in my life as well.  I cannot put my marriage on auto-pilot and think that I can cross loving my husband off the list.  That is something I must continually put energy, effort and time towards.  Circumstances and situations are constantly in flux, but I must make the choice to put John before myself regularly - and just like cleaning and fixing stuff, this does not come naturally to me.

Most importantly, I cannot check God off my daily, weekly or monthly list.  My heart does not stay right or clean for any amount of time, and I must repent often and thoroughly.  I must seek the Lord's wisdom constantly.  Whatever wisdom I might have had for yesterday or last week will not suffice for today.  It needs to be fresh, and I need to learn how to do this better.

I read recently that any desire we have for the Lord is him moving in us.  I am thankful that even when my desire is weak, I know that it is there, and even that is God stirring in my heart and meeting me where I am - which is often many steps behind where I wish I was.

Thankfully, I serve a God who promises new mercies every morning and relishes the mundane repetitiveness of life as a way to show himself faithful in things both big and little.  And, he's good to fix my stuff when I get it messed up, again.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Did you know that the 8th most productive diamond mine in the whole world is located right here in the great state of Arkansas?  Well, it is.  And we went.  And the whole thing was kind of awesome.

It started several months ago when our community group wanted a family day together and scheduled August 25 to be the day to head to Crater of Diamonds State Park.


As it turns out, several families were not able to go due to stuff coming up in life, but those of us who did really enjoyed our time - though we missed our other friends, of course.  We started the morning at Krispy Kreme, a great place to start any road trip, short or otherwise.


We hit the road and drove the almost two hours to get to Murfreesboro, AR.  We told the kids what to look for, as well as getting educated ourselves in the visitors' center.  Then, we headed out to the field of diamond dreams.  About 600 diamonds are found here each year, so we felt those were pretty good odds.  It is a bit daunting, however, to head into that field and realize that you will just be sifting through the dirt, literally looking for a diamond in the rough.


The kids were in heaven.  We brought pails, shovels and sifters along and told them to play in the dirt.

Bella took diamond mining very seriously.

Keri and I acted as keepers of anything that we thought should be checked out.  Apparently, diamonds that you find in the ground are sort of sneaky and may not reveal themselves entirely.  There is a geologist on site that will tell you what you have when you are done digging.  John did find this thing.


Which turned out to be quartz.  A real bummer, since we were going to use it to fund the girls' college.


We headed out of the field for a picnic lunch - most of us bought food from the restaurant on site.


Then, we hit the pool, known as Diamond Springs.  It was such a fun pool with a giant playground in the middle and slides.  Here is the group picture I tried to take of all the kiddos.  Mine are definitely the hardest to wrangle for pictures.


I didn't realize until I saw this picture later that Bella was treating this as a personal water fountain.  Oh well.


It was fun, until we started to hit the melting point.  At just about this moment, the whistle blew for pool break, and it was time for us to head home.


This is really a fantastic day trip and definitely something to have on your Arkansas Bucket List.  It is perfect for kids, especially since you have several fun options right there on site, with a side bonus of possibly striking it rich by landing a giant diamond of your very own.  Maybe next time for us.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


It's been a strange week.  We've been getting back into our fall groove, which brings highs and lows.  Here we go.

High: More Major Potty Training Progress.  We hit another major milestone just today when Lily peed in a real potty - which she had never done, at a place that wasn't our house - also unheard of.  I actually teared up as the she was peeing.  That makes me sound crazy, but I just didn't know if this day would ever come.  We are finally getting somewhere - thanks be to God.


High:  We had some great ice cream tonight to celebrate the potty achievement.

Low:  I love getting back to routine.  I sort of forgot that our routine starts earlier in the morning than I have been used to.  I am sleepy.

High:  We are so close to getting our dossier done.  I mean - we may be able to send it off tomorrow, fingers crossed.  This is major.

Low:  Bellapotomus has been the Bella-beast a lot this week.  It has been so bad that on two separate occasions, as we have been walking to the car, I have had to carry her while she is screaming and trying to fall on the ground.  On both occasions, men that were looking on have made really helpful comments like, "She threw her bag on the ground" or "It looks like you need help."  Thanks for that.

Low:  Watching a close friend go through a hard time.  Sometimes it is difficult to understand what God is up to, but I am looking forward to seeing the ways that he makes it all good.  He certainly promises to do that, and I know he will.

High:  I know I am probably behind the times on this, but today, the girls and I enjoyed watching parodies of the Call Me Maybe song.  This one was our favorite.  Who doesn't love Cookie Monster?

We also liked "Farm It Maybe", Soldiers in Afghanistan singing it, and the girls loved the Dog Version.  Silly, mindless fun.  Sometimes I really like that.

Low:  Realizing that the tags on my car are over a year expired.  I don't know how that happened.  When I got a bogus parking warning at the bank when we were getting adoption paperwork notarized, the robo-cop asked me if I knew my tags were expired.  And I had to say, "Yes."  It still hasn't been fixed.  Please don't tell the police.

That about sums it up.  Tomorrow morning we are hoping to have our certified home study in our hands to be able to mail off our life in a packet, our dossier, as well as mail off our immigration approval form.  So, so excited for that to get this stuff behind us!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Summer is officially over, and we are back to "school" - also known as Kid's Day Out or Mother's Day Out round these parts.  I wish that I could say our morning to get there went smoothly, but alas, that is not the case at all.  Some of the badness actually started in the middle of the night with Lily screaming us awake from the other side of the house.  It is still a mystery what she was all bothered about, but it took a while to calm her down and definitely did not help towards a good night's rest in preparation for today.

This morning, as I was lying in bed not wanting to get out of it, I realized that I had bought all the school supplies but neglected to label them.  And, I needed to shower and wash my hair, since that hadn't been done in days.  Then, I thought about how I also wanted to take pictures today, since that seems to be the thing to do, so that at the end of the year, I can compare and see how much they have changed and grown.  All that to say, there was a lot that stood between me and getting out of the door.

To my great surprise, my difficulty this morning did not lie in getting the girls to take pictures.  Bella showed from the moment she woke up that she wanted things to be her way.  She tried to hit/bite/scratch me numerous times.  It was like trying to dress a wild beast, though she is about as subtle as a freight train, and I can usually spot her open mouth coming and avoid the bite.  She also threw herself to the ground screaming and banging her head on the floor/cabinet/door.  Here's a picture that sums it all up, from our actual car ride.


The picture time went pretty well - especially for Lily.


Bella still looks like there is a bit of attitude, like "What's up, Mom?  What are you going to do about all my tantruming?  Do you like it when I try to bite you?"


However, once we got there, Bella turned on the charm and apparently had a great morning, as usual.  Lily got to play with one of her best friends who is in her class the whole morning.  What a delightful year we have ahead of us!  Though, we need to figure out how to tame the Bella-Beast that came out this morning.  Being almost two is a rough gig.


Monday, August 20, 2012


It's weird how life ebbs and flows in its intensity and drama.  This past week brought us very little of those things, though we certainly saw a fair share in others' lives.  Instead, during the past week and weekend, we got to enjoy some of the little and big gifts that God gives us in life.

Here are some of the happies in bullet points.

- New rugs in our kitchen


This may not see like a big deal to other people, but about a year ago, I spent much more time than I would really want to admit looking for the perfect rugs to replace the ones that we had.  I ordered some online, which turned out to be even more risky than I imagined.  I returned the rugs and life happened and we made due with the perfectly fine rugs that we had.  Then, magic struck (as it often does) while the girls and I were wandering through Target gnawing on our cheesy pretzels.  And these rugs which are moderny but also a bit rag-ruggy with a chevron pattern that is not over the top and the colors of our home starting singing to me.  They sang loud and kept the best news for the end, "We are on sale!" they crooned to me.  Done and done.

- Seeing a movie with the hubs.  We finally saw the Dark Knight Rises.  It was good.  Everyone else knows that cause they already saw it.



I seriously doubted whether I would be able to report progress ever.  I was even doubtful all week as Lily was using the little potty in her room, and John was telling me how much progress we were making.  But on Saturday, I found a game-changing piece of evidence in her little potty.  I had told her just that morning that if she could produce that kind of poopy evidence of being a big girl, then we could go to get a pedicure at the real nail salon, as well as play with the legos that we bought last weekend as a prize for this milestone I never thought we would see.  I about fell over backwards when she showed me the potty, and as soon as John got home, Lily and I headed off for pedicures.  She loved it.

We are extremely encouraged to say the least and grateful.  I've said it before, and I will say it again, I am fairly certain that God has allowed this to be so hard for us to help me see that parenting just holds challenges I never dreamed of.  I cannot judge or assume that I know what is going on in other families - there are just difficult kid things that are unique to each family.  While I wouldn't pick for potty-training to be so hard around here - there are ultimately much harder things to face.  And, I am so glad to have progress.

-  Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.  It's just good stuff.

-  Listening to Lily talk to our friend's baby.  She keeps calling her "sweetheart," and it is about the most precious thing I've ever heard.

- Reviews of the Victorio Banana Slicer on Amazon.  Not kidding - I laughed until I cried.  We ate dinner with friends last night who showed us this jewel of outrageous reviews.  Some are stupid, many are funny and it seems all are bogus.  Awesome.  Thanks, Jason and Sarah.


That's about all I've got for now.  Happy Monday!

Thursday, August 16, 2012



Just two mornings ago, Lily ran in from the other room and started speaking frantically, "Mom!  Her eyes are changing.  Bella's eye are changing to be green, like mine!"
I think I said something brilliant like, "Really?"
"Yes, Mom!  They are not blue anymore.  Bella's eyes are changing to be green."

The truth is that Bella's eyes are just as blue as they have always been.  Lily's eyes started out a dark blue when she was a baby and changed to the greenish hazel they are now, but Bella's eyes have always been blue.


It got me wondering why she would say all this, especially with such urgency.  And it hit me that the comparison starts young, my friends.  It starts real young.  And, they are always listening, those children.  They are listening when strangers talk about their eyes and eye color and hair color and cuteness.  They are listening when people draw attention to them and ask if they are twins or say how friendly one of them is.

Now, let's be honest here.  They are not listening when I ask them to obey or stay close or not touch that.  Toddler/Little Girl hearing is selective.  But, when people are commenting on their manners or appearance, they must perk up, though you would be hard pressed to know that poker-faced Lily is ever paying attention to a stranger.

And I am realizing that I will have my work cut out for me.  Having two girls close in age will bring many obvious comparisons, probably for much of their lives, but especially while they are living at home.  They are already so different - with unique gifts and challenges and completely different looks.  I don't know where life and the Lord will take them, but I imagine their lives will hold distinct paths.

I want to do what I can while they are young to build into them things that matter.  Already they hear a lot about their appearance, and while I appreciate the compliments, sometimes I wish there was not so much emphasis there.  I want to talk about character issues and hearts issues and not be camped out on eye color.  I want them to hear things from us, as their parents, that will give them strength and courage when they start to hear less flattering things from peers.  And, ultimately, I want them to see us talking about things that matter, because at the end of the day, they are listening and usually when we least suspect it.

I hope and pray that they hear good things, and I am sorry for those times when they don't.

(These pictures are from having dessert the other night - here is what Bella look liked towards the end of her Klondike Bar)


Right now, she certainly doesn't care what she looks like, and I want to relish that - though I don't want to have to clean it up often.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Yesterday, a canoe was delivered to our garage courtesy of Amazon Prime, which just paid for itself.


After I told Lily what it was, her first question was, "How will Daddy get that boat onto the car?"  Great question, little lady.  Good thing JP likes a challenge and knows how to watch YouTube videos.  We were excited, so John took the morning off, and off we went to canoe.  I told Lily we were going on an adventure, and she said, "NO, Mom!  We are not going on an adventure!  We are going canoeing."  She was quite adamant, even when I explained what adventure means.

We left our neighborhood and civilization behind.


Well, not exactly civilization, since we put in at Two Rivers Park, still in the Rock.


And then, we headed into open river.


Within literally a minute, we saw a snake swimming across the water in front of us.  I used to be straight up phobic about snakes, but after reading/watching Harry Potter and probably a little intervention from God, oh and also growing up a bit, I am less phobic.  But, I would still not call myself a snake fan.  Thankfully, that was the only one we saw, though it made me wary the whole time.


I was glad to be sharing a canoe navigated and mostly paddled by JPS.  He's pretty awesome and did the lion's share of the work for many reasons.  One of them being that my arms got tired, since I am not exactly in the practice of giving them a workout.  The other reason I didn't paddle as much is because I was wrangling our children.


This involved handing out snacks and drinks, getting hugs and giving cuddles and making sure they didn't dredge their snack traps through the water.  (Bella only did this once.)  Oh, and I had to make sure their hands didn't get attacked by snakes.  For the most part, the girls had a great time and enjoyed pointing out birds, flowers and turtles along the way.


All things considered, it was a beautiful morning to enjoy some sweet family time.  The water really is a serene place (minus the snakes and kids).


Also, if you recall this post at all, you will remember that I would have some cause for nervousness about how Bella would respond to the life jacket.  She did great, which we were so grateful for.

Verdict is in: the canoe was a great investment!  Looking forward to more adventures.