Thursday, February 26, 2009

Around the House

Some things that are neither here nor there; an assortment of adventures in life this week around the house.

Culinary Expeditions~
Two of the many recipes suggested in this post were put to the test, and both to great success! This included my first ever attempt at a roast, complete with the embarrassing moment when I had to ask the meat man in the grocery store exactly what kind of meat is used in a pot roast. He led me to a section of meat ambiguously labeled with large stickers that said "pot roast," doing his best to act like this was a question he was asked routinely. His tact did not go unnoticed. That turned out to be the toughest part of my roast preparation, and the finished product was a winner. I also tried the taco soup recipe someone supplied, and I have been enjoying that one all week. The kitchen is definitely not the place I spend most of my time, but what I loved about these two selections was the payback with the leftovers! Cook one night and eat for three. That I can do.

Also related to new food adventures is Adrienne's introduction into the world of table food, so far, an introduction she has spurned. The doctor gave me the go ahead to begin giving her some soft table foods instead of baby food if she will tolerate it. Oh boy, I thought, now Adrienne will be able to sit in her seat and eat unassisted at her chair. What a nice change of pace this will be, I mused. And so I have begun with things from dinner, like a bean from the taco soup or a mushed carrot from the roast. Delicious things. Things her sister would have gobbled before they had hardly had a time to touch the plate. But these things we soon found out are quite repulsive to Adrienne. In fact, if forced into her mouth, she launches into a mellow dramatic rendition of someone dying from food poisoning. Maybe that's what she considers we are doing to her. In any case, it is still baby food for now.

Fitness Soirees~
Before Adrienne, I actually used to exercise. I ran several times a week, and for the most part I enjoyed doing it. But now, especially during these cold months, I've traded the actual "exercising" for my own brand of fitness fun. Here's the basic idea. Cleaning up the play room= Right lunge, pick up the book, left lunge, clean up the play groceries, double lunge, clean up Candy Land, double lunge, pick up the dolls. Heading to the tv to clean up the DVDs = Walk two steps, throw two punches, walk to two steps, kick to the right, walk to two steps, kick to the left. Deep knee bend, grab the first DVD, deep knee bend, grab the next. The list goes on, as would the entertainment if Nathan ever decided to install a Nanny Cam. Does this work? Probably not. I'm sure a treadmill would be the more conventional solution, but for now, I'll keep plugging away.

Soapy Encounters~
I recently switched the soap in the guest bathroom to instant foaming soap from Bath and Body works without thinking about what this would do to revolutionize Marianna's hand washing habits. It's been a full week now, and I believe she has spent at least thirty minutes each day, usually with the door locked, enamored with the magical soap. I didn't notice at first, but then I began to pick up on some significant absences every time she announced she needed to use the bathroom. I quickly caught on. This whole soap sud affair reached a climax last night when after an unusually long time locked away in the bathroom, I decided to check and see what was going on. I found Marianna, with not a stitch of clothing on, lathered up from head to toe. But it didn't end there. The floor, the door, and the bathroom walls were all generously soaped. The truth that later poured out was something to this affect. Marianna had not been able to get her play dress off in time to avoid a small accident in front of the potty. She then jumped to action cleaning the mess by soaping everything in sight. At least as far as messes go, it was a clean one =)

Singing Revelations~
I have found myself singing around the house with a little more than normal gusto and volume. It doesn't matter what it is, a hymn, a Disney sing-a-long, something from iTunes, each time I sing I find myself hoping that something amazing is going to come out of these vocal chords. Sometimes I even wonder, "hey, that wasn't bad, was it?" and then I'll sing later to Nathan and he brings me back down to size. It's hard to say why. I see there being a very great possibility that it is rooted in American Idol. But whatever the case, I feel positive that the thing I am most looking forward to about my heaven body is a new voice. I think the reason God didn't give me one here is because He knew I would be, how can I say this delicately, carried away. Yes, it would be a source of more than a little pride in my life, so He is reserving that belt-it-out voice I'm longing for now for some day later. One more thing to be looking forward to in Heaven.

My First Blood~
I'll end on this slightly gorey note. I have just today encountered my first blood as a parent. Marianna came up stair telling me that she had stepped on a shiny stick. She then plunked a bloodied foot onto my lap as further evidence. I've got to say that her calm helped keep me calm, because I don't think I would have done well if she had been in hysterics. We went downstairs, cleaned her up, and then found the culprit. A distressingly long shard of glass turned out to be the shiny stick she had been talking about.

As you can see, it's definitely not something you want turning up on your living room rug!

And here is the patient, posing with her Hello Kitty band-aid. I offered to carry her around, but she told me she could manage on her heel. Braver than her mom, no doubt about it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Just a tent

The past week, I've been thinking a lot about Heaven. One week ago today our beautiful friend Vivienne was released from her courageous battle with brain cancer when Jesus came to take her home. She now joins the many, many other precious babies, including Poppy, who know what it like to be free from a body that is crippled with disease and who now are more alive than we will ever be this side of heaven. With this in mind, I want you to read the following verses from II Corinthians 5.

For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we'll never have to relocate our "tents" again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what's coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we're tired of it! We've been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what's ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we'll never settle for less. That's why we live with such good cheer. You won't see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don't get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It's what we trust in but don't yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we'll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.


I'm sure I've read that many times before, but when I read it this morning, it was like I was reading it for the first time. None of us, healthy or not, were made for this world, and no matter what the status of our personal fitness, these bodies we are in are shabby at best! But having to watch a baby fight against something like cancer or trisomy 18 or any number of other illnesses makes it crystal clear that there is something so much better that waits for us. And when I read that, I can't help but feel excited about what Poppy and Vivienne and all the others are already experiencing. We grieve only for our loss, and that is something I can live with. It is not easy, and it never will be, but as long as I have this promise, this absolute assurance, that what they have left behind doesn't even share comparison for what they are enjoying right now, I can rejoice for each of them!

If it weren't for that, I can tell you I wouldn't be able to wake up and move each morning. It would be impossible. Unbearable. But God hasn't asked us to do that. He has asked us to release these babies to Him, knowing that they are perfect, whole, living in His presence and experiencing what living really is. What we are living in is such a dim, murky shadow of LIFE, I think we wouldn't be able to stand our time here if we could taste what is in store. But there is a reason for our time here. We are here with such a specific, important purpose: to live in such a way that points others to Jesus and the Hope he gives us.

So in the end, thinking about Vivienne, thinking about Heaven, stirs a passion in me to live purposefully, not wasting the time we have here. It will be worth it when we are able to leave these tents behind, and put on something that exceeds what my imagination is capable of grasping. It is indeed what keeps us going.

Friday, February 20, 2009


I've never done one of these things before, but after Kenzie tagged me, I thought I might as well go see what was in that fourth folder at picture slot number four. It was one worth sharing, so here we go.

Here's how you play!
1. Go to your 4th folder where you store your photos.
2. Select your 4th picture (no exceptions)!
3. Post the picture with an explanation and link it back to your tagger
4. Tag 4 people (or as many as you want) to do the same!!

This picture was taken when Marianna was six months old, weighing in at a whopping 19 lbs! Goodness gracious, have you ever seen so many arm rolls? This picture makes me laugh now more than it did then because of the contrast I have between her and Adrienne. At her nine month check up this week, Adrienne weighed 15.5 lbs. There's no denying I have a lizard and a toad =)

Okay, now for the tagging. Renae, Amy (that means you need to get a blog!), Melody, and Tracy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


There are some days when having a dog seems like a great thing. And then there are others when you come home to something like this, and all the days where it seemed great no longer matter.

Have I ever told you that our dog's name is Marlee? It really is. Long before there was a book or a movie, we had Marlee, and as it turns out, she lives up to the name.

what do you think?

I am an American Idol junkie. I went through a phase of denial early on, pretending I couldn't be sucked in by any form of reality t.v., but there gets to be a point where you have to admit the truth. And when you are a die hard fan that rarely misses an episode, I think it's safe to say that point has been reached. Something in me loves watching, season after season, the good and the bad, and though I can't pin point exactly what it is about the show that draws me in, drawn I am. I want to know what it is about Idol that has made it a facet of our culture. I'm not saying it is universally loved, because I have no doubt that there is a huge contingent (maybe even many of you) who can't stand it, or are over it, or never got into it to begin with. But we're heading into the 8th season here and it continues to be the biggest show on the air. What else has had a run like that?

I guess it's possible that the show's success has to do with it's the pure entertainment value. Or maybe it has more to do with a universal love for music? Or it could be the human connection that the writers work so hard to achieve week after week between the viewers and the individual contestants? Or maybe the draw has something to do with the fact that the show is frivolous and all of us need a dose of frivolity every now and then to balance out all the junk we deal with each day. Or perhaps it's a combination of them all instead of one single thing that makes it what it is. I guess that's the most likely option. And I guess these questions are spurred on by a curiosity that stems from that small part of me that really wanted to be a psychologist, and had I actually pursued that path, maybe this whole topic would be of more interest. Or maybe I would understand human nature well enough to know what it is and move on.

Okay, I'll put the deeper musings aside and turn briefly to the specifics of last night. For what it's worth, here's my analysis. I like the new elimination system, which although much more brutal, spares us from watching the worst of the talent week after week. And at this stage, it's pretty easy to pick out the front runners. To me, hands down, Danny took the night. I have to admit I was already in his camp when I heard his story, but that aside I think he is tremendous. I also really liked the second guy, Ricky Braddy. I don't remember him being highlighted up to this point, but he stood out to me last night. The girls had a rough night of it, but I feel like the Memphis girl, Alexis Grace, rose above all the rest, and I feel confident she will go on tonight. What do you think?

And finally, I'll end on a completely non-related note with this picture I took today at the park. I really love this one. American Idol and all the silliness aside, these girls are the highlights of my life.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bible Adventures

This morning I heard Marianna talking to herself, and I wasn't surprised to find her pretending. She usually spends some time every day reenacting Disney movies or making up entirely new princess adventures.

I happened to ask, "What are you doing, honey?" She looked up and smiled, "I'm pretending that God is killing me."

Oh my. Hmm. What response is appropriate?

"Why are you pretending that, Marianna?"

"I'm the big girl, so God is killing me. You remember how God killed all the big girls in Moses' story?"

Ahh. Now I understand. She is the first born, so God is killing her during Pass Over. Obviously she's an Egyptian as well.

The funny thing is, I've never specifically told her that story, but she has been watching The Prince of Egypt this week, and one day she asked why Pharoah's son had died and I explained the concept of Pass Over. It looks like she really took that explanation to heart. Oh well... in addition to learning one of the great stories of the Bible, she's also picked up a fun little pass time.

I'm thinking of all the situations she might be in where, "I'm pretending that God is killing me" might not come across as an indicator of a disturbed mental state, but pretty much every one that comes to mind points to that conclusion. Hopefully the fact that she's three will cut her a little slack =).

Friday, February 13, 2009


Since tomorrow is the big day, I thought I would share my top two recommendations for romance.

The first is something Nathan and I stumbled upon nearly four years ago, but since that fortuitous discovery, we have made it a tried and true tradition. Love Potion Number 31 is the hands down best ice cream I've ever had in my life, and it is only in Baskin Robbins stores during January and February.

As you can tell from the picture, it is a vanilla raspberry blend with a raspberry gel swirl and dark chocolate hearts with raspberry filling. In my opinion, nothing can touch it, which is why we buy it by the quart when it is available. I have never come across a more romantic treat, so if you get a chance to try it out tomorrow, you won't be disappointed.

My other pick for romance is the movie Fireproof. To be honest, Nathan and I went to see this in the theatre with low expectations, but it turned out to be well worth the watch. Definitely a good pick for a little recharge for your marriage, and what better time for that than tomorrow?

If you haven't heard anything about the movie, it's an amazing story, so check out the website to hear how one church in GA has come together to produce these movies.

Happy Valentines!


I am SO excited about the new recipes!!!! Every single one of them sounds delicious, and with the exception of Paula Dean's soup, which I have tried and loved, I haven't had any of them. I seriously can't wait to get in the kitchen and start trying them out, one by one. I won't lie to you, Nathan looked pretty happy about it last night as he scrolled through the comments =). He never complains about anything, but a few sly glances over his shoulder while he was reading confirmed that a little variety is always welcome.

But now to my confession. We were able to go out last night with a couple who has recently travelled a similar path to what we did with Poppy, and it was so good talking with them that before we knew it we had been at the restaurant for three hours, and the grocery store was closed. I was forced to do what is the equivilent of play group suicide: I went to Target and got a frozen enchilada casserole and some chips and dips. Yes it's humiliating, but even before this, I know I wasn't kidding anyone about my cooking abilities. And if I'm going to keep going with the honesty, I have to admit that this might not even be the low point. The last play group I hosted I actually ordered pizza. Yikes.. On the bright side, at least I had prepared for the crafts, so we'll be doing some killer Valentines for daddies and heart picture frames.

I am making a resolution to not let this happen again, and thanks to all the input, sticking to the resolution shouldn't be that hard. Please take the time to look through the list and get some ideas from those who shared... The ideas really are wonderful!! Gracias to everyone who took the time to give a recipe. I will try and highlight some of the ones I try over the next month!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

any ideas?

I'm looking for a great crock pot or soup recipe, and I'm dreading resorting to the old google recipe search (always a little risky I think). So, I thought I would come here and ask if any of you have something tried and true that you could share with me.

Here's my dilemma. I am hosting play group tomorrow, but I'm going to be out all evening, so I won't have time to do any prep work before the morning, and unfortunately, all my recipes call for a little more time than I have. That means that I'm ideally looking for something I can wake up and throw in the crock pot early, or have simmering on the stove by the time everyone gets here. So, any ideas? Something that's a favorite around your house?

And beyond my immediate situation, I am less than creative in the kitchen department, so any new recipes I can add to the mix would be appreciated!

Monday, February 9, 2009

her story unfolds

Adrienne will be nine months tomorrow, and she has quite a few things to add to her resume of accomplishments as she sails into her next month.

She started month 8 with her first encounter with snow. We had about a quarter inch dusting, which was just enough to cover the ground for an hour or two before the sun melted most of what had fallen. Of course I bundled her up and rushed out there so that we could get the picture and mark it down as one of her firsts. It only took five minutes for us to get our fill, but at least she got to wear the snow suit once.

Then not much later, Adrienne developed a keen love for standing. In fact, her drive in life right now revolves around this passion, and she spends most of her waking time standing on whatever object is closest to her, seeming perfectly happy just to be vertical.

It was this love for standing that finally pushed her to her next major milestone, crawling. Her intense desire to stand was thwarted when I placed her in the middle of the room with nothing but level ground surrounding her, so she finally took the plunge to becoming fully mobile. Adrienne can crawl anywhere, although usually her destination is the closest piece of furniture, and once there, of course she stands.

As our baby bird gets bigger, it has put us that much closer to the time when she will be able to understand how she came to be a part of our family, and I thought some of you might be interested in exactly how we plan to go about communicating that to her.

Before we dove into the adoption process, I can't say that I gave a thought to how adopted children came to know that they were adopted, but as soon as we decided that's where we were headed, it was instantly of major interest to me. Before we had even begun the paper work, I had thoughts of the moment we would have to sit down and tell our child that he or she was adopted, and to be honest, it overwhelmed me. I found myself anxious as I anticipated the gammut of emotions that we might face, unnerved at the possibilities before we really even began. That's why it came as a relief when we found out that contrary to the image I had conjured in my head, the recommended approach is a much less nerve racking process. Basically, the idea is to tell your child about her story from the very beginning, so that there is never a single moment of revelation, but rather a gradual, age appropriate understanding that begins to form as early as she can remember.

Because of this, I've already told Adrienne many times how she came to be a part of our family, and even though I know she has no understanding right now, each time I tell her, it rolls off my tongue more naturally. Marianna is usually near by when I tell Adrienne her story, and she is excited to be a part of the telling as well. I really like it this way because it eliminates that fear that would come from a sudden "unloading" of the story, and at the same time, I pray that it will allow Adrienne to grow up with a sense of pride and appreciation in her own unique and beautiful story. I'm not saying that I don't anticipate that there will be times when she will struggle with different aspects of her adoption, yet I am hopeful that many of the unnecessary portions of stress and worry can be eliminated by this approach.

I believe that every child, whether adopted or not, will have moments of difficulty as they try and grab hold of their identity, so my prayer for each of my girls is in many ways the same. I pray that they will grow up knowing that they are both vitally important, unconditionally loved members of our family, and I want them to see that that their worth comes not from what they do but from who they are, beautiful creations of God.

"My frame was not hidden from You, when I was skillfully wrought int he lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them."
Pslam 139:15-16

Thursday, February 5, 2009

the art of persuasion

This morning when I woke up, I primed myself for battle, the reason being that today marked the beginning of the spring semester of a Bible study I go to that is specifically geared for moms. Sounds pretty innocuous, doesn't it? Well, for the majority of moms I talked to, that appeared to be the case, and in fact, it seems everyone woke up energized, having anticipated the kick off for weeks.

So what makes my experience starkly different from the rest? Let me tell it to you from the beginning, and the beginning for me started precisely at 7:45 when Marianna rolled out of the bed. You see, Marianna doesn't like going to her class at Bellevue. Wait, that's not quite true, let me rephrase. Marianna does not like walking into her class at Bellevue (she has a perfectly fine time after she's actually in there, and she tells me as much herself each week when I pick her up). She made this decision one day last semester when her friend Maggie happened to be absent one week, and ever since she has drawn a line in the sand which she will not cross. She has determined that she won't under any circumstances willingly enter her classroom. Only physical force on my part, accompanied by mountain lion like shrieks and flailing of all appendages on Marianna's part, will get her inside the room. It's pretty much my most embarrassing moment as a parent, and during a MOMS semester, it happens on a weekly basis.

I made the decision sometime this week that this semester, I'm fighting back. Just like her extreme aversion to going to bed, this to must (and hopefully can) be conquered. So this morning when Marianna appeared in the living room, I was ready, game plan in hand, to attack this day with the fine honed skills of a persuaisionist. I decided to get her warmed up to the idea immediately, so as soon as I handed her a glass of milk, I casually remarked, "this is a great day to go back to MOMS, isn't it?" This was met with no response.

A little while later I started in with phase one, beginning by asking her if Jesus wanted her to be kind. She replies, "yes." I followed this up with a question asking if she was going to be kind to her teachers when she walked in the room. She replies, "NO." An inspirational talk ensues. I tell her about how much Jesus loves us, I encourage her to think about how much Jesus wants us to love others, and I end with explaining that in this situation, she can show that love by walking into her room like a normal human being. Marianna calmly explains that she doesn't care and that she will not go into her class this morning.

I let some time pass before I launch into the second phase of the plan. If appealing to her higher morals won't work, I will move on to positive reinforcement. While Marianna is in the shower, I ask her if she would like to know what really exciting surprise she can earn if she goes into her class room. She pauses a moment to think before giving a decisive shake of her head. No she would not like to know. Okay, a slight wrinkle. I'll have to throw the bait right out in front of her since she's not biting. I ask her if she would like to earn the Horton Hears a Who DVD for being brave and going into her class. "I don't like Horton, Mommy." I wasn't expecting that. "How about Peter Pan?" Marianna looks at me, almost if I am the child, and says, "Mom, there is no room left on my DVD shelf for another movie! It is stacked up and I can't put any more in it! And Mom, I don't like any DVDs besides the ones I already have." The double whammy of logic and contentment. This was tougher than I had anticipated.

More time passes before I come at it from a different angle. As I'm putting on my make up I ask her if she is braver than Adrienne, hoping to lure her into a trap. She sees through me, and immediately responds, no, she is not braver. Just to make sure she's on the same wave length I am, I pursue it further. I say, "Adrienne goes into her class without crying and she has a great time. Are you not as brave as Adrienne?" Again, simple, calm logic. "No mom, I'm not as brave. I don't go into my class without crying."

Time for a last resort. If Jesus doesn't inspire her, maybe the Disney princesses will. I ask, "Marianna, is Aurora kind?" She immediately responds in the affirmative. "Well, then how do you think Aurora would act when she went into her class?" Marianna took immediate offense to my apparent lack of movie detail accuracy. She informed me that Aurora doesn't go to a class in her movie. "Yes, I know that, but what if she did go to a class? Would she be kind to her teachers and say hi, or would she cry?" She responds with conviction, "Aurora is a character! She does not go to class. She is just a princess." What more is there to say?

Finally I give the ultimatum. I tell her she may go in her class, where she will play with friends, go to the playground, make crafts, and listen to stories, or she must sit silently in my grown up class with out any toys. To the last option she cheerfully replies, "Okay, Mommy! That's what I want to do!"

So that is exactly what we did. I dropped off Adrienne, and Marianna skipped happily by my side as we went to the adult session. She was quiet for about 10 minutes before she asked to go to class. I smiled, congratulated her on a good, brave decision, and carried her to her room. We got there, she saw her teacher's face, and in that moment I knew it was all in vain. The mountain lion shrieks, the fingers digging into my arms, the wild eyes...all of it happened anyway, just as it would have if the first two hours had not played out. She could have told me this morning before it all started not to waste my breath. Of course, when I picked her up, her teachers told me she was totally fine after the initial drop off, and Marianna told me she had a wonderful time.

The stubborn streak is rare, but when it shows itself, she makes it count.

I will leave you with this. Proof that the morning took a little more out of her than she would like to admit =).

Monday, February 2, 2009

to my sweetheart

February is here, and I've had it in my head for a while now that I wanted to make my first post this month about someone who doesn't normally get a lot of face time on my blog. He's not as cute as the girls, although he is quite a bit more handsome, but just because his picture doesn't get posted on a regular basis doesn't mean he's not the single most important person in my life. He is my partner, my friend, my first and only love, and my husband.

I've never shared anything about our story that I can remember, so I'll start at the beginning. Nathan walked into a Taco Bell and into my life 9 years ago in May. I had known who he was for years having gone to the same high school and church, but it wasn't until that night, as we were both eating dinner with friends, that we spoke for the first time. I couldn't have guessed that my love story would spring from such unromantic beginnings, but seeing as Taco Bell is still a weekly part of our life, I suppose it's fitting.

We met the week after my 18th birthday, and three months and many emails later, we went on our first date. Nathan surprised me in every way, blowing away all of my expectations and replacing them with things I realized I wanted much more. He made me laugh, he loved the things I loved, he was incredibly smart- but there were other things that were just as important, but not as typical. Nathan was, and still is, one of the most faithful people I have ever encountered. He believes in doing the right thing, no matter how difficult or inconvenient. He is patient to a fault, never losing his temper with me and always understanding my quirks and personality flaws. He is selfless, responsible, and kind. It was when all of this began to really sink in that I realized he was the one I wanted to be with for the rest of my life.

Nathan asked me to marry him in September of 2001 and we set the date for May 24. Now, coming up on 7 years later, there are some things I know now that I didn't know then.

I love Nathan more today than I could have ever imagined the day we said our vows, and I am a better person because of Nathan's influence in my life. He is strong in all of the areas I am weak, but to his credit, he never gloats or holds it over me. He is an amazing dad, and he loves all three of our girls with everything he's got. He is the best partner I could ask for in this life, both in the good and the bad. We have experienced our share of both, and he has been a rock for me through every situation, every heart ache, and every happiness. I trust Nathan implicitly, and he has earned that trust over and over again. He has been my biggest supporter in whatever I have done, cheering me on in everything. He isn't perfect, but he is perfect for me.

This Valentine's, I thought giving you a glimpse of Nathan would give you a much better idea of why I am who I am. He has changed my life for the better, and I will never get over being grateful for the love he has brought to my life!