Lost & Found

If we have met in person, and talked for more than 5 minutes, you probably know that I have a passion for story-telling. More specifically, telling stories through photography and preserving those photos in beautiful scrapbooks for my family.

Years decades ago, when I was first introduced to scrapbooking, it was all pretty paper and cutesy stickers and glue. Lots and lots of glue. But then, as all things do, scrapbooking evolved. And now, in order to scrapbook an entire year of my family’s life, all I need is my handy laptop, an external harddrive, and a moscow mule. Change is good.

Well, most of the time.

Long story short, and three laptops later, and online photo-hosts being bought out and getting rid of all files in my account… I was pretty sure I had LOST the jpeg files of the scrapbook pages of Emma’s baby book. This is a book I completed 6 years ago and have not ordered. And part of the reason I scrapbook digitally is to have a digital copy of these files should anything happy to the hard copy. But in this case, I had not yet purchased a hard copy and I was panicked to find the digital copy!

So tonight, I pulled out my old dinosaur HP laptop and said a little prayer. And while we watched Once Upon a Time as a family (GREAT show by the way!) I slowly combed through the files only to successfully recover these images! I am so happy!

Here is a little sneak peak of Emma’s baby book images:

Emma's Baby Book - Page 001 Emma's Baby Book - Page 002 Emma's Baby Book - Page 005 Emma's Baby Book - Page 012 Emma's Baby Book - Page 013 Emma's Baby Book - Page 029 Emma's Baby Book - Page 032 Emma's Baby Book - Page 040 Emma's Baby Book - Page 046 Emma's Baby Book - Page 049 Emma's Baby Book - Page 052 Emma's Baby Book - Page 054

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Revisiting a Favorite Recipe

IMG_5702

Chicken Farfalle with Balsamic Poppyseed Reduction Sauce

1 box Farfalle pasta – the bowties!

6 boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins (again, you can adjust this. I have made it with less when I had less on hand….and more when I can – I have even made it without meat at all!)

1 tsp poppyseeds

Shredded Asiago cheese to taste (we put about 1/3 c in the dish once it’s cooked up, and then use some to sprinkle on our own plates once it’s served)

Marinade:

1/2 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

4 cloves garlic, minced

6 TB water

4 TB Dijon Mustard

8 TB sugar

Stir together the marinade ingredients and pour it over the chicken. Allow to marinade anywhere from 3 hours to overnight. Boil the pasta. Grill up the chicken. Once it is all grilled up, cut into small bite sized pieces – small enough for the little ones to eat! Boil the excess marinade until it reduces by half. (When I don’t use meat, I just do this as a sauce.) Add the poppyseeds. Toss everything together, top with extra asiago cheese shreds and serve with your favorite colorful salad!

#wearethefosters

Life has been an adventure around these parts the last 3 weeks or so. We got our license to foster parent in writing just about a month ago. Dec 4th.

It was a Wednesday.

Then we spent the entire weekend wondering if we would get a call. And we did not. It wasn’t disappointing of course, it was just nerve-wracking. We had our dear friend’s oldest daughter who goes to college in a nearby town over to our home all weekend so she could rest, eat real food, and I could do her laundry and buy her groceries. Just loving on her. So we were busy. But it was on our minds.

Then the call came. Tuesday, Nov 10th.

Our sweet, sweet littles came into our home that night. Late that night. They were tired and for sure a little bit scared. I fed them some animal crackers and milk and whether they were stress eating or really hungry, I couldn’t quite tell, but they munched for a long time while we got to know each other a little.

“Princess” is 4 1/2.  But really she is more like a very young 2-3 year old. She is verbal, but can be very hard to understand. She does not have most of the developmental markers of a 4 year old. We have no idea yet if this is due to an actual delay, or if she just hasn’t had the right stimulation/environment to nurture her along. She is also in 2T clothing, so it helps to remember her developmental stage, since she is so tiny. She is truly delightful and we are enjoying loving on our little Princess.

“Dash” is 2 1/2. But he is really more like a young one year old. He is also very small – wearing 18 month clothes and even they are roomy. He is smart as a whip, just like sister, but when he came to us he only said the following words:

bye, hi, drink, no, and he could sign ‘more’.

Since living with us, his speech has improved dramatically and his vocabulary has increased by at least 100 words. It’s been awesome to watch.

Highlights:

Emma & Timmy adore Princess & Dash. They dote on them and snuggle with them and tell them how much they love them. This was exactly what we were hoping for when we made the decision to bring children into our home for whatever season God had in mind.

Princess & Dash are both incredibly happy. They have adjusted really well to life in our family. It’s been kind of ridiculously easy. Natural. Right. Even things like family prayer every night, they each get settled in for it and can’t wait to bless everyone. Tonight we skipped because we did evening mass & devotions around the Advent dinner table and at bed, Princess couldn’t stop blessing me and asking for blessings. Beautiful.

Everything is just more fun with littles around. Going for a walk, going to the park, going to the store. Everything is more fun. They are so adorable, and so easy that we spend a lot of time giggling. Giggles are a balm to the soul.

and

Lows:

All.The.Diapers. I mean, for real, that’s not really a low, but kind of. I mean, we haven’t had diapers in our home for nearly 8 years and so this is just a bit of an adjustment.

All.The.Plastic. I am working really hard at doing some things differently than how we did with our littles – you know because you learn some things along the way. And as we get older, you know, things just shift. I love wood toys and soft felt things and creative experiences instead of plastic and lights and sounds. But then life happens and people are generous and give you things and you pull out the toys and they love them so much, that you just clean them up again and stick them on the shelf and you acknowledge that perhaps you have bigger fish to fry.

Mom. The kids call me Mommy. And mama. So when I talk about Mom, I am talking about the dear sweet woman who gave birth to these two sweet souls that sleep in the other room. Those sweet souls who call me Mommy and look to me for comfort when they are sad, or for just an extra touch of security when we are out of the house and they want to know I am still there. Friends, this is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my entire life. I still simply cannot wrap my mind around this reality. It seems so completely impossible to me that some where tonight there is a woman whose children are absent from her life, from her home, from her sight and that she is so broken that she doesn’t seem to care. I am not saying she doesn’t care. But when you are supposed to have the first visit to see your children the week of Thanksgiving and you cancel, it really makes it seem like you don’t care. And my brain? It CANNOT figure that out. This tragic world has got me completely wrecked. And so I just do the next thing: I feed the children, homeschool the olders, fold the hundredth load of laundry, bathe the children, rock them to sleep, sing them all the songs, and pray my guts out over them. Then I crash into bed and do it all over again the next day.

Because really, I can’t wrap my brain around it. So I just live it.

All in all, our season of life, our experience of foster parenting thus far has been nothing short of miraculous. While I cannot wrap my brain around the tragedy of the situation itself, it is not lost on me that I am participating in the very real work of the Gospel and that is humbling and encouraging in a way that is just so authentic. I have never felt more fully alive. We are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing and for that I thank God every moment.

This video speaks to what foster care means when lived as a calling for the Kingdom.

You are not foster children, you are engrafted into my home.

I am your Mama. Everything that belongs to me, now belongs to you.

Same way with the Kingdom. Now you’re engrafted into the Kingdom of God and everything that belongs to the Kingdom of God belongs to you.

Family Camp

This summer I started making a list of all the things I wanted to do with my chiklettes around town… and even around the state of Kansas. Before long I had a gigantic list of ideas and I realized that if I wasn’t super intentional, NONE of these great adventures would happen because, well, sipping sangria in a plastic cup by the pool is hard-wired in my DNA and I am inherently lazy.

So, I decided to channel my inner camp counsellor (a throwback to a life I lived long before kiddos) and put together an actual plan for all the fun! Believe me, I also knew that in doing this, we would also plan for plenty of what we call ‘slug days’ where no one has to go anywhere or do anything and we stay in our pjs until dinner. Days like that are my favorite.familycamp

As my creative juices started flowing, a camp theme developed and FAMILY CAMP 2015 was born. T-shirts followed and the themed weeks were not far behind. Now I can basically rest-assured, knowing that we will do all the fun things this summer that the kids want to do, including hanging out with friends and seeing all the things… and there will even be some sangria by the pool for mom.

Blessed be Your Name!

I have been not-so-silent on here about how much I dislike this place. This hot, dry, life-sucking place.

I have not however spoken to the depths of what the Lord has done out here for us, in the desert. It has been, well, nothing if not renewing. We have been stripped bare and left with nothing but our Lord and one another. It has grown our family in ways we wouldn’t trade for the world. A time of truly cleaving to one another that has brought us to a level of depth and understanding that is worth every blisteringly hot day, and every moment of feeling as though we may suffocate out here.

One of the things the Lord has done is to call us to something totally new.

He is calling my husband out of corporate america and back into ministry! We could not be more thrilled. We would be honored to serve Him in whatever capacity He may see fit to call us to, and we are just over the moon that this particular calling brings with it a return to the Heartland.

We will be moving in 16 days!!!!!!!!!!!! Back to the midwest, the land we LOVE. We will not be returning to St. Louis, but to Kansas City. Where Tim will be working for the Archdiocese of Kansas City, running a retreat & conference center.

To be just a couple hours from friends and family in St. Louis…
To be living in a climate that has 4 seasons again….
To be living in a city where we have friends and family…
To be moving just in time for the crisp autumn air….
To be returning to the natural rythms of life….
To be closer to home….
To be helping plant community….
To be making this new city “home” ….
To be serving Him again in the everyday…

Oh, Blessed be your Name!

Unplugged and uninhibited

So we are about to embark on a pretty extensive family vacation. We are road tripping to Canada to see my family, and participate in my nephew’s baptism. After a week there, we will load up again and begin a 2 week camping adventure through the western Canadian coast & down through Washington, Oregon, and California.

We are pumped.

My new iphone4 will be rendered into a simple ipod & camera for the 10 days we are in Canada, because no amount of data connectivity is worth the hundreds of dollars it would cost us to stay connected. And don’t even get me started on International Roaming Charges!!! Sooooooo, we will not be reachable by phone or text for almost 10 days, and can I just say that I am eagerly anticipating the freedom that will bring!

Who knows, once we are back in the states, we may just go ahead and leave those phones off for the 2nd half of the trip. Lord knows we will talk more, play more card games, and enjoy just being together more!

All of that being said, we will have email most days if necessary and we will be able to access facebook on occasion to give awesome trip updates and the like. But that will require an wifi network at a coffee shop, and that just won’t always be feasible. So, best to say goodbye for now!

See you on the flip-side!