Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rainy Saturday

I wonder if other people get so worked up about making blog changes like I do.
I worry that if I change something and don't like it, I won't be able to fix it, or put it back the way it was.
Such hardships, I know.
But how do the changes look?

It has been raining since late Thursday night.
Ethan played a far-away away game this morning and is just getting back into town now. This is the very first game ever that Bill or I haven't gone to. I didn't like it.

Jonah played this morning, too. Now he is at an all-day birthday party.  =)

I have a gazillion piles of fabric and stitchin' things laying around and I just can't seem to do anything with them.
I used to make clothes for myself all the time, but then it wasn't fun anymore after my body changed post baby-producing. I did run a few times this week- and I should be running now- but it's raining, and rainy days are good cookie days, so I'm eating cookies. Sigh. I really really need some new clothes for church and am supposed to be making a dress. But it just isn't very fun anymore.
Maybe I'll go for a walk.
Or puddle jumping.

We saw this cute newt on a trail last week.
 I found one in the driveway and excitedly saved it for the kiddos the other day.
 But he perished about an hour before they got home. I really don't know what happened.
It made me SOOOO sad. I felt like a murderer.

Isabelle Kate and I met up with my niece Darianna for lunch yesterday. Pizza Hut buffet rules!
I ate salad. Lots and lots of salad. No joke, I did!
Caleb was home "sick," so he crashed our girl party, but that's okay. He's so cute.
Then we headed over to my parent's house to meet their new kitty.
I was so busy chasing, snuggling and petting that I didn't even take one picture.
There is nothing like a new kitty to make the world happier for a little while!

I suppose this random post fits the kind of day we're having, ha.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Out of the Mouth of Babes

I always tell myself that I'll remember all those ridiculously cute things the kids say and write them down. Later.
And then I promptly forget. So I thought I'd jot these few down before they too are lost in the chaos that is my brain of late.

These sweethearts are from the little princess in our family.
Oh dear sweet Isabelle, you are seriously killing me.
Not even kidding, kinda.

This evening, after dinner- okay, to clarify, after the 56 & 3/4 tantrum for the day- something wasn't going her way. Shocker.
Whine Whine Whine
Ears officially bleeding, and she's still ranting on.
Finally I can bite my tongue no more and tell her,
"Isabelle, we are not going to listen to any more whining about your puppy dog."
Her response, in the most matter of fact 5-year-old voice you can imagine,
"I am not whining about that, you know. I am whining about my mouse (mouth) wash."
Well then. HA

Earlier today she informed me that she has been talking to a little boy (who incidentally whacked her on the back with his shoe yesterday...) about Jesus. And I quote again,
"Yup, I told him that he better do what Jesus says (pronounced with a long 'a') so he bees gooder, and then Santa will not have to put him on the Naughty List. That made him listen to me real good."

Are you laughing out loud yet? 
I just snorted thinking back on that particular backseat conversation.

Here are a few recent statements that made me chuckle.
"Mumma, I don't hear my heart beatin' with this telescope!"
"When we goin' to Peach Park?" {Jonah plays soccer at Keach Park.}
"I'm going to hug you forever!" Embrace, slight pause. "Okay, is it forever yet?"
"I'm bein'-tend I'm a race car driver. Now I'm bein'-tend I'm a cat. Who got hit by a race car." And she flopped down on the ground in a heap. HA
She also says "muddah" (mother) and "bruddah," (brother) and with such gusto. It's hilarious!
But she only says Daddy, never father. Or faddah.

Isabelle Kate still insists on being a princess ballerina- who happens to have a mermaid tail- when she grows up. And on marrying a prince. The beautiful dreams of a five year old!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Autumn Awesomeness

It's been a busy week like usual, but I've been trying to be purposeful in carving out some more time for FUN and FRIENDS!
Last night I met up with some friends at Panera at 7...well, actually I arrived around 7:25...Thank you  Nascar fans. And Joe Biden, who apparently was in town, clogging up all the streets downtown.
Maybe I am a little ashamed I had no idea the VP was coming to town.
Then again, maybe I'm really not.
I had a fabulous time catching up with friends, and was still home by 9 so Bill and I could enjoy the rest of the evening. Win win!

Yesterday afternoon, one of my pals stopped by to take Isabelle out in the canoe. This friend doesn't have a little girl, so our joke is that I "loan" her mine every now and again for her girly fix. I totally get it!
Isabelle was in 7th heaven!
 so beautiful!
whenever I'm feeling displaced, I just go look out the window
how can this view not help?

 Isabelle hosted a tea party for Miss Shelley

 notice the polish in the back?
I think 6 or 7 shades were used between the two of them, ha!

this boy is a regular ol' Daniel Boone living here
always outside, in the water or the woods
I love it!

Look at that cutie face!
Jonah has had a great start to the season!
He plays hard and well.
And he's lightning fast!

a high five or shoulder nudge from assistant coach Dad
Love it!

I smell homemade waffles from the other room right now, mmmm....
Bill is the resident Saturday morning chef, and the chef is calling.
Have a great Saturday!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hearty Slow-Cooker Beef Stew

Fall is in the air.
It's awesome!
Do you know what's even awesome-er?
The smell of steaming hot beef stew wafting through the house at the end of a busy busy day!
I'll share the recipe I adapted from my beloved BHG wedding-gift cookbook.

Aw, just looking at the picture above has me feeling nostalgic and a little sad...
That's my kitchen.
I really do miss my kitchen.
It's hard not having your own space, particularly your own kitchen.
But dry those tears everyone because- insert drum roll please- we finally found a house!!!!!
I'll share more on that later. Let's get back to the stew.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Menu Plan Ideas & Fun Fall Weekends

Soccer schedules (and baseball in the spring) always do this to me...
mercilessly point out the necessity of having -and following- a meal plan.
This is what mine looks like these days:

Monday = Make-ahead casserole

Tuesday = Italian night

Wednesday = CrockPot night

Thursday = Favorite chicken dish

Friday = Hamburg-inspired night

For whatever reason, I am much more likely to stick with this plan when I keep things categorized and not terribly specific. 
Go figure!
I always have plenty of veggies to use as sides, so I don't bother to write those in.
I'll occasionally swap in something like salmon or BLTs & Chowder so it doesn't get monotonous.
And on the weekends, we do pretty much whatever we want. That also helps break up the routine.
I love reading how busy Moms maintain some level of sanity in the kitchen, so I thought I'd share my own strategy. I'll post some favorite recipes throughout the fall, too.

Speaking of fall, we had the perfect weather this whole weekend! I wore a long sleeved shirt for the first time in months, ha!
Jonah spent the whole weekend in Maine with my family- boy was it good to see him again last night!!!!!
Isabelle had a birthday party to go on Saturday, so Bill and E & C took Ryder mountain climbing. Then yesterday afternoon we visited Meadow Ledge Farm, along with every other person in New England it seems! It was so, so crowded, but it's also a lot of fun!

 pictures when someone's missing just feel like...someone's missing  :(
don't worry- he was having a BLAST!

 they always have music- we love it!

the tractor jerked just as I snapped this picture, ha!
We were on our way to the upper fields to pick some apples- they are SO GOOD this year!

 Ethan and I braved the line for freshly-made apple cider donuts
these things were lovely to look at- the lines were so long we started outside near the parking lot!
 We finally made it to the inside!
And this, on the other hand, definitely not as lovely as the pumpkins!
Just that teensy plate of glass separating me from, well, thank you!
 Totally worth the wait!
You get to watch them being made right before your eyes- awesome!
Caleb-approved!  =)

Now we're all geared up for a super busy week! Good thing it's casserole night, tee hee hee!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

This and That

Right now one of those horrid commercials detailing animal abuse is blaring in the background and I'm begging Bill to turn it because I just can't stand it. Soooo sad.
We have had such a busy week {yet again} between soccer practices, soccer games, school stuff, church stuff, and life in general. I blinked and then it was Friday! Which was awesome, not only because Fridays are awesome, but because I got to meet some of my best friends from my old 'hood for lunch downtown. It felt so good to catch up!
House hunting is not for the faint of heart. That's all I've got to say about that right now.
But God is good, and from the mouth of Coach Taylor (no, not that Coach Taylor...the one from Facing the Giants...), "We'll praise God if we win, and we'll praise Him if we lose."
That's really how it feels, like winning and losing. And it's hard to be thankful when my circumstances seem uncertain. I want to have that peace and joy that transcend circumstance. I want to trust God fully.

Here are a few fun pics from our week ~
On our way to wish Auntie Kristen a Happy Birthday on Tuesday

This was a bit of a surprise to come home to, ha ha!
Yes, that is Ethan up on the roof cutting branches


This looked so cute I had to snap a picture

Ethan is a hard worker!
He had several jobs this summer mowing lawns, and even staining a whole deck!
How horribly sad that my kid has more cash than I do, ha!

Caleb on the sidelines at one of several soccer games this week

Isabelle has been quite a little mother lately
I was hanging clothes on the line while she was teaching her babies manners  =)

This is one chore I never complain about!
Look at that view!
In another week or two, everything will have transformed into vibrant reds, yellows and oranges-
Autumn in New England is amazing!
It almost makes up for the months we endure when it's dark at 4:30 pm...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Helping Adoptive Families

In case you didn't already know this, I'll let you in on a little secret.

Raising families in today's world is really, really expensive.

For those of us who feel called to adopt, the costs just keep on rising. And it feels downright overwhelming at times.

The adoption tax credit helped us tremendously after Isabelle's adoption. We had about $88 in the bank when all was said and done, and we've worked diligently since then to recover financially. The tax credit really eased a great burden, and it is one of the only US relief programs available to adoptive families. There has been talk of discontinuing the credit altogether, leaving many families unable to consider adopting. 

You can help!

Please consider contacting your state officials to tell them that this tax credit has helped save lives and build families. Thank you!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Baby Showers, Soccer Games & Anniversary Dinners

I got to see some of my former high school students this weekend! I was SO excited to see them! It has been a long time!

I met these beautiful ladies 16 years ago when I got my first {paying} job as a teacher.
16 years ago!
This is Amy on the left, and Loralee, who is going to have her first baby in October, so this was her baby shower.
They look so lovely, but of course I think I was instructing my Mom on which button to push to take the picture...oh well. I tried to have her get Loralee's belly in the picture, but this was the best I got. 
It was a fun day! Loralee's mother is my parent's interim pastor at church...what a small world!

One of the shower games was to write down family "pet" names for male and female body parts. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry- it was horrible but oh so funny! I just about clamped my hands over Isabelle's ears at one point, ha ha!

I had to miss Jonah's first soccer game Saturday because of the shower, but several friends facebooked me to let me know what a great job he did. I thought that was really neat! Of course Bill gave me the low-down, too.

Ethan had his first game Friday afternoon. Soccer is Ethan's true love. It's really the only sport he cares much about, so he plays outside in the summer and fall, and indoors during winter. He's so much fun to watch!
 GO #3!!!!!!! So proud of him for working so hard and making the A team!

Thursday night the kids made pizzas with their grandparents so Bill could whisk me far, far away to...well, downtown to a very nice restaurant for dinner. It was deliriously good! We ran into friends there and ended up sitting together for over an hour. What fun!
Ethan was the photographer this time, and I hadn't changed out the big lens so he couldn't fit us in very well. He was ready to hop up on the edge of the deck, but, since I didn't want my camera killed, I told him we were good to go. 
Well, I didn't want Ethan to get maimed either.

It was such a warm, summery night, not at all what I'd originally planned for, so I wore this cute dress and sweater for the last time this year. Today it truly feels like fall- I got goosebumps hanging out the laundry earlier! It feels wonderful! 

I do have a problem, though. I cannot for the life of me find my jeans! I have no idea where they are, or why I would have packed them away somewhere! I probably put them someplace "safe" and they're most likely in some box in the very back of the storage unit. So I'll take that as a good reason to look for some new jeans.  =)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fifteen Years

15 years is a long time!
It hasn't been all sunshine and roses, but it's pretty great.

I love my husband, I love our life.

Happy Anniversary to us!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Our Forever Family {Reunited} Anniversary

September 4, 2008 - One of the happiest days of my whole life

If I close my eyes, I can still feel the wind along I-93 N blowing against my face from the open car window on our way home from Logan Airport. I remember it felt odd sitting up in the front of the car, since I'd spent the last 3 months either walking through Antigua or taking taxis to the city whenever necessary- you sit in the back in a cab, and it just felt so strange being up front again. Even stranger, I think, is how fresh the air smelled. I will never forget that. It was like taking my first deep breath in such a long time, and the air was so sweet. Perhaps this is my mind playing tricks on me, as we were just outside of an airport, riding along the highway. Nothing too meadow-like in that equation. But it was like heaven to me. I couldn't stop inhaling air from home.

I can't even begin to describe the ecstasy of throwing my arms around my boys. I hadn't seen Ethan or Jonah for 2 months, Caleb for over one. I missed his first day of Kindergarten. I missed the other first days of school. The feeling of seeing and holding those boys again simply doesn't compare with anything else. I kept right on inhaling, my face buried deep against their skin for hours on end. I never wanted to let those little bodies go again.

And here we are, four years later. It's no secret that our adoption journey is marred with many scars and detours, and lots of hidden, obscure valleys to boot. The good thing about those valleys, you can only look UP.  We looked up a lot. Now, in the throes of parenting, we're still looking up and wearing out the carpet beneath our knees. But it has been so worth it. SO WORTH IT! 

If you are considering adopting but don't know where to start, simply pray about it. Pray that God would lead to the right people for advice, guidance, support. Listen to those yearnings in your heart. Be willing to walk forward on the path God has for you. And when those challenges do come, remember to look up.

He is faithful.

Look at that face!
So worth it!

This is one of my favorite pictures of my sweetie and me during our long stay on Guatemala
 My best friend Beth snapped this before we left for church that morning- this was in the courtyard outside our apartment complex where Isabelle and I lived for 2 months

Monday, September 3, 2012

Just So I Don't Ever Forget

I wanted to jot down some things about this past week before they get lost forever in the muddled mess that's my mind recently.
Blogs are pretty handy that way.
 Last Tuesday was the first day of school.
My mind was racing, but not so much with the usual thoughts. More like, Howintheworld am I going to get everyone everywhere on time?

Here was our day:

4:45 Shower, make lunches, get waffle batter ready. Oh, and read the 2nd Hunger Games novel...awesome!
6:35 Either traipse through Isabelle's room or walk outside to get to the other part of the house to go get Caleb...surprise! Caleb was up and dressed on his own and waiting for waffles by 6:18.
6:40 Breakfast. Round One.

Normally, Isabelle would be getting ready at the same time. About two weeks ago, we found out that our town has changed the way they "do" Kindergarten.
Since Caleb was in K 4 years ago, this was news to me.

7:00 Breakfast. Round Two.
7:10 Drive Caleb to school (it's 5 minutes extra to and fro in this house); plus, with the addition of a brand new elementary school for K-2, the traffic was every which way. 
7:23 Arrive at school
7:29 Finally find place to park
7:40 Still waiting for Caleb's teacher to come outside and form The Line
Let's not forget about the rain. Buckets of it. We are completely drenched.
Somehow this was not the image I'd conjured up about the glorious first day of school.
7:50 Make it to car but am stranded until what seems like the entire town has driven through the parking lot.
8:02 Back home. Decide to wake Isabelle since we'll have to do this for real soon enough. She eats and I do her hair...
8:17 My heart stops when I realize it is a full 10 minutes past leaving for school with Jonah. His first day in a new school! And he's already so nervous, and I know I just made him late! Already fighting tears, but trying to keep them to myself as I sing-song to him that we need to go. Now.
8:19 (It takes J forever and a day to tie his shoes. Go figure.) My seat belt isn't working. As in, won't pull out enough to latch. Mild irritation quickly leaps to hot rage. I have to go, I can't keep fiddling with this seat belt. I have a teensy meltdown of my own. Go me. Pretty instantly, I apologize and assure my nervous little boy that it's all going to be fine, no matter what, and I admitted to him that it was completely my fault for the late start. I felt truly awful. He was counting on me and I know I let him down. 
He returned my smile and set the world right again. He has a good heart.
8:29 Arrive. Thinking good thoughts until I see that the outside of the school looks deserted. I instantly wonder if I've messed up the date. We park, get soaked all over again. No one in sight. My heart is pounding. Three wild good chases later, we finally find his class. Thank you Adults #1, 2 & 3 for looking official and knowledgeable but sending us in all the wrong directions. (If you don't really know, then don't act like you do, in my humble ol' opinion.) I was really fighting tears now, and my heart sank when Jonah had to walk into an already-seated around tables room full of students and teachers. Who would enjoy that situation, whether you're shy or not!
8:55 Across town and back at home again
9:05 Bring Isabelle into school for her Meet and Greet in her classroom

 Now I'd been giving Isabelle prep talks because her first day would last a whopping 15 minutes. Not even kidding. We were given blocked schedules. 15 minutes.
That was her first official day of Kindergarten.
The prep talks were because I was scared to death she would have a meltdown when it was time to leave.
She wants to be in Kindergarten sooooo badly.
She kept asking when I was going to leave her there by herself, ha!
And the next day?
In order to make the transition smoother, or something like that, half the children attend.
Isabelle's half went Thursday.
It all seems very silly to me, but at least we got in a play date at one of our best friends to ease the pain.
Thursday was a big hit! 


My Mom, Mimi, had asked about picking up Jonah, since his half day ended at 11:30.
And Ethan's began at 12:30.
11:05 We planned to meet up at McDonald's for lunch to kill time. I realize I spent all that time making lunches for nothing.
Oh well. Caleb needed his and said his bagel sandwich was awesome!
And Jonah said he had a great morning!
The rain stopped too.
12:12 Say goodbye to Mimi. Drive us all over to school, park the car, and walk with Ethan to meet his new teacher. Only Ethan is walking faster and faster, and soon is with a group of friends with his back turned to me. Fine. I coaxed Isabelle to yell out sweet nothings at him in front of everyone as we walked back to the car. He smiled and his cheeks turned red. Mission accomplished. =)
12:30 Back at home for the third time today. We talk all about school and play games.
2:10 Time to go pick up Caleb. I'm really excited to hear about his day, and he loved every minute of it. Except the sitting parts. Huh? I laughed. That boy doesn't like to sit still, that's for sure!
2:48 Fourth time pulling into the driveway. Snack time. Peanut butter on graham crackers with chocolate chips sprinkled on top. A favorite.
3:50 Bill comes home with Ethan, who had a good day.

I left out something, because somewhere along the way, I made an early dinner- Ethan had soccer try-outs at 5, so he had to eat by 4:10. Ugh.
I'm really going to have to plan meals this year, and stick with it- our schedules are already crazy!

Ethan and Bill returned around 7. Then Ethan handed me a stack of papers. Which, he informed me, were due the next day. Um, that stack is sitting right here beside me on the desk. Whoops! Isabelle has a picture page to make, and the others have things much for a day off!  =)

After reading through that day, I have a little more grace with myself for not getting the pictures I wanted that morning. The sheets of rain didn't help, but we got some cute shots later on when the sun peed through. There were also a couple dog walks and house things I didn't write about- it all takes time!

So...Happy Labor Day!
This holiday always coincides with our anniversary, so we always get a day off.
I would tell you how smart I am to have planned it that way, older cousin was getting married for the first time that same year and I wanted to give my family a couple of weeks to recover before they went through another big wedding.
I don't think we realized until a few years in, when we kept getting 'Anniversary' days off work, ha ha!

Oh, by the way, the seat belt finally cooperated about 5 minutes in. Whew!

Saturday, September 1, 2012


This has been a hard week.
First, there was moving; or rather, the preparations to make the move.
While our living arrangements are temporary, we're fairly settled and determined to make the most of it.
I just got internet (and phone and cable) back on today, but honestly, it was a nice break.
The REAL thing occupying my thoughts all this week was the first day of school.
Am I ready? Are they ready? Did we have enough fun this summer? 
Can I handle the soccer schedules?
When the boys were smaller, I was so SO excited about each new school year, but now it feels very different.
There aren't as many years left, not quite so many grades to go through.
And it leaves a nagging ache in my chest.
Nobody prepared me for this part.  
Isabelle is now in Kindergarten, and that stings as well. Our life with her has so many gaping holes already, and this one feels huge. I feel the angst of missing out on her first 19 months this week, especially, more than I have in a while.
But she is eager and ready for school- I haven't seen her this excited in a long time! Her first morning was filled with raw nerves, moments of sheer joy, uncontainable excitement, and maybe a dash of confusion thrown in for good measure. That pretty much sums up how I felt too.  =)

Here is my baby girl back in August 2007, the very first time I laid eyes on her.
My heart still beats fast when I look at the pictures and remember my first trip to Guatemala.
She was the most exquisite, precious little thing I ever saw...

And here she is as a big Kindergartner exactly 5 years later!

Mid-morning, when I was ALL by myself, I noticed this in her shoe cubby...
You have to understand her love of shoes to truly appreciate the humor in this.
I laughed so hard I think I snorted!

She told me her favorite thing was riding the K-bus home.

Our city has spent the last two years building brand new elementary schools, so Isabelle's school is so clean and perfect. Here she is, ready to go stand in line by her new teacher. Moments after this, she saw one of her best friends walk in and they gave each other a big hug- it was adorable! I think it was just what she needed to wave goodbye to me and walk forward.
She is going to have a wonderful year!

Here is Caleb-

And Jonah-

So handsome! They are such good boys, and I know they're going to have an awesome year!

I feel slightly ashamed that Ethan escaped the first day of school photo.
I think he felt quite proud of himself.
I'll get him this week. Don't you worry.

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