Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Black and White Wednesday--What I See in My Mirror

Since we live in a rural area, a trip into "town" (ie: the bigger town about 17 miles from where we live where we do all of our shopping etc.) means we try to make the most out of all our travel miles with as many stops for as many errands as possible.

Unfortunately, my errands list is much longer than the boys' list of what they can handle. So, this is what I usually find in my rear view mirror about 4 errands from the end. *sigh*
At least they're sleeping!

P.S. If you haven't checked out the fundraiser button to the right, please do ... or read the post below this one. Thanks for your support and prayers!!

We can do no great things, just small things ... with great love.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Snapshot--A Heart of Giving

My Sunday Snapshot today is aimed at your heart.

I'm kicking off a fundraiser today that I pray you will stop by and visit, support and pray for.
The "suggested donation fundraiser" is for The Rippee family, who live in China, and are in prayer for adopting a child into their family. Okay, actually, they remain in prayer ... they have embarked on the long paperwork trail and are stepping out in faith as they don't know how it will financially happen for them.
They don't have U.S. salaries but instead volunteer their time at a foster home ...

They aren't plugged into the adoption blog network like so many of us are and yet have had a hand in helping so many families connect with orphaned children by directing a Child Sponsorship Program ...

This fundraiser isn't even being pulled together by someone who has oodles of adoption networking friends or has lived the road of adoption personally. But it's something that I have felt so called to help with ... for them ... for this child who needs parents ... but ultimately because God asked me.
No, not verbally ... but with a tug at my heart that could not be ignored and that has been confirmed over and over again even through some tough moments. And believe me I've been scared at more than a few moments, now included. But I just have an overwhelming calm when I continue to offer it to God as what I can do and offer it to YOU as something you can do too.

The Rippee's do have is a passion for helping orphans and a heart for Christ ... and they do have FAITH that God will make this personal family adoption happen.

Please visit their blog at to read their story and to heartfully consider supporting them. You'll notice their button on my sidebar. If you put that on your blog and make a post you'll earn some extra entries into the suggested-donation fundraiser too!

I cannot wait to see the snapshot of our hearts when we all come together around them!

Ni Hao Y'all

Friday, May 21, 2010

The look of 7

Things are busy here with the end of the school year nearly here, baseball in full swing, hockey continuing, the Blessings A Hundred Fold fundraiser just about to kick-off ... AND Brayden turning 7 on Tuesday!

It is incredible that 7 years have already flown by!

Here is our birthday boy and his birthday cheesecake:

His birthday surprise! A new bike!

And he's off ...

We topped off the night with an evening at the local golf course to hit some balls and practice on the greens.

Happy Birthday Brayden! We love you!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Fundraiser You Don't Wanna Miss

Maybe you've seen this new button that's been popping up on people's sidebar ... please check it out!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

So Much

Wow, last week was busy! With our anniversary, my mom's birthday and Mother's Day all jam packed into Thursday, Friday, Sunday it was kinda hard to enjoy things. But maybe that's because I also have to figure in planting 65 trees, a flag football game for Brayden, a funeral AND an actual date with my husband for our anniversary too. (we almost NEVER get a sitter and go out, especially ALONE!)

I find myself having things to blog about, but never the time I need to sit down and write about them ... which I think is a common thing as I see many "Lists" surfacing on a lot of blogs lately!

So, to be "in" with the hip crowd, here's my list:

We went out to eat for our anniversary at (our) My favorite restaurant in the area.

It features "Innovative Asian Cuisine"
Of course the atmosphere, the food, the ambiance ... just was incredible. And it was wonderful to spend time with my husband and enjoy such great food. I will say though that my chopstick skills have gone down hill since last year's anniversary (yes, we went there then too!) I guess that's a good reason to practice right?! Well, unfortunately we can't afford to go out all that often AND last week marked the last Asian meal that I was allowed to cook (per my poor family's request that they are HUNGRY and need to eat!)--I can be a good cook, really ... but I am not finding success with any attempts on the Asian front. Perhaps the funniest thing was that after Brayden's football game last Saturday, we arrived home to this GREAT smell of CrockPot Mongolian Beef ... however, the family all preferred the Take n'Bake "back-up plan" pizza that I also cooked. HA!

That being said ... after our dinner out THIS Saturday, we went to Barnes n' Noble and I found this:

Jeff gave me a reprieve to try one last time ... I mean how couldn't he?! ... the pictures look really good!
(If anyone has some tips, hints or recipes they'd like to share, I'm always ready and willing to listen!)

Jeff and I also planted 65 Silver Maple and Red Oak trees earlier on the day on Saturday--in our yearly plan to reforest the world. (just kidding about the last part.) But seriously Jeff planted nearly 100 last year And this year, even though the day was cold and rainy (I even had to drag out all the winter stuff I had just washed and packed away) ... all and all it went well and relatively quickly . It is so cool to know that now after 4 hours of planting and a few broken fingernails, 65 beautiful little trees are stretching out their roots in our fields and calling it HOME! Just think what it will look like in 25 years or so?!

Another thing I have been working on lately is a long time dream ... no, not adding to our family through adoption ... but
I put in a garden this year! It's taken a bit like so many things as I had to take off all of the sod from a portion of our yard with a shovel ... by hand ... but it was theraputic to have my hands in the soil, working slowly, making something that I have dreamed of and hopefully will grow something so wonderful down the road!
It started as a small 6' x 6' plot ... grew to be 6' x 8' then 8' x 12' and now will be a proud 10' x 14'! (Okay, it's nothing huge, but it's a start!) I hope it is successful and that I can keep up with the weeding and watering. I also hope to plant some flowers ... especially these that my grandma always grew in her backyard.

They were always one of my favorite while growing up living next to her because they make the most gorgeous dried flowers! Ya know, I'm starting to think with all the Asian stuff my Grandma enjoyed she must have had some sort of Asian connection ... I wish I had asked her more about that. It's just now striking me how interesting that is. Maybe it's just a coincidence with the era in which she lived ... so close to the Arts and Crafts movement ... maybe it was all seeds that were being planted long ago ... but I will definitely make a post down the road about me having to eat "chicken feet" in a bowl while visiting them at suppertime one night!!! (Yes, chicken feet, toenails still on!) ACK! ... but as far as I know she was 100% Czech.

So many other things are brewing too ...
I'm still offering to create SPONSOR BUTTONS for ANY New Day sponsors FOR FREE. (You may have seen these popping up all over?! and notice SWEET Samuel on my sidebar.) Please email me or leave me a comment on my most recent post so I'm sure to see it to let me know who you are sponsoring if you would like one. (I also got the A.O.K. thumbs-up from ND on this so what a blessing!!!!!) I think I've created 5 now ... and I know there are more people out there! Spread the word!!! I would love to do this as a way to spread the word about these children and about ND.
I will also leave you with this "teaser" I'm not sure what it is going to develop into, but I'm hoping for big things.

this has gotten WAY TOO LONG as it is and if you're still with me, THANK YOU SO much!

This is a quote I came across at BarnesNNoble on Saturday night ... I thought it was SO fitting for the day.

One generation plants the trees,
Another enjoys their shade.
--ancient Chinese proverb

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ten Years Ago

I was driving in Cedar Rapids the other day when I caught myself saying to my 4 yr. old, "There's the cemetery where your dad and I had our wedding photos taken."

I paused, thinking about what an odd thing that is to say ... but we did ... the cemetery was right behind Christ Episcopal Church ... there were lots of trees and some flowers .. it was and is a bit odd I will admit (and if you look in the photos ... well ... there are a few flat stones that I know what they are even if nobody else does!) I wonder sometimes if God had a purpose for that little oddity. Maybe something to keep me looking ahead to a time even more perfect. But on that day and at that time it was a bit like salt in an extremely open wound. We had been planning this wedding for a year and a half ... every detail and dream ... and then 5 months before the anticipated day, my father died suddenly of a massive heart attack while playing tennis (his favorite sport.) It rocked my world to say the least. And in some ways our wedding day was the final day of my dad's funeral for our family. It was a happy day, don't get me wrong. But in unspoken ways it was hard. Hard on my mom and my siblings, hard on me and even on Jeff as he lost his own father when he was only 15 to cancer ... and now his soon-to-be father-in-law. It was unspoken, but I know we all felt it. It was that day that we had planned for so long (I was not a young bride btw, my parents had been looking forward to this for a LONG time and probably thought it'd never come!) And my dad was supposed to walk me down the aisle and give me away to Jeff. It was supposed to be a storybook day. The day every girl dreams of. But, that wasn't the plan.

Ten Years Ago today ... at three o'clock in the afternoon ... on a gorgeous Spring day, my brother walked me down the aisle. Our families were there with us as we said "I do" and became one. It was Jeff and me and God. It was a beautiful day and one that I will remember forever.
So many days have come and gone, so many memories have been written in the last 10 years and I pray for so many more yet to come. Thank you Sweetpea for every one of them! Some days are easy and fun. Some are hard and painful as we both grow. But God has matched us together to sharpen the other through sharing our strengths and weaknesses. And I Love you!

I cannot wait until we are united with our fathers again in Heaven at our Heavenly Father's wedding banquet table. It will be a celebration like no other. But in the in between time, there is so much to do. I am so glad that I am blessed to journey on this road together with you Jeff. The last 10 years have flown by and it amazes me all the blessings that have poured over us. I give thanks to God for his abundant love for us!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Black and White Wednesday--Scarlet Threads Apron

Okay ... it's ALMOST black and white. But this apron is so beautiful (handsome in the case of my little guy Nolan wearing it) that I couldn't take away ALL its color. If you have not already, there is still a few days left to enter the "Apronize America" contest. (click on the blue type to find out more!) YES! The deadline has been extended through the end of the week! It seriously only takes a few minutes to brainstorm, click a photo of yourself or someone else wearing an apron (a Scarlet Threads apron if you have one ... but I don't know if it has to be though) in a photo that represents your state. You even get a perk JUST for entering! So, check it out ... and even if you don't enter the contest consider purchasing an apron ... perhaps for Mother's Day? Or ... maybe Father's Day. As Nolan proves here even a man can make these aprons work! (And that is Easton peeking in at the corner of the photo. What a cheeky monkey.) Here's a link to their site to make it easy.
They have a beautiful NEW Spring line!

Oh yes, and here is "the Phoebe Apron" in color in case you are curious.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Oh Buttons!

Did you notice the cool button on my sidebar?
The really sweet one of Samuel.
How 'bout this one ... that you'll find at followingourleader

Wouldn't you LOVE a button for your very own? Well, all you have to do is sponsor a sweetie-pie from New Day and let me know and I'll make you a special button of encouragement for your blog. Just leave me a comment or send me an email (you can find that address in my profile info) along with a photo suggestion if you have a preferred one.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Extreme Home Makeover--The Carr Family

If you missed tonight's episode of Extreme Home Makeover (Sunday, May 2nd--The Carr Family, episode 726) you should definitely check it out here!

I truly do not watch much television (other than the hockey channel or the Boomarang Cartoon Channel, both of which are usually running in the background) and so the fact that I saw the preview for THIS show is pretty amazing. Actually, Brayden saw the preview first and was excited to tell me about "these children without feet from an orphanage." Okay ... well, he kinda paraphrased and got some of it right ... but it is so cool to see him being molded in a good way about the things around him and that there are challenges that others face that he (and most of us) take so for granted.

I emailed a couple of you in hopes that you would watch the show, but it was so good I wanted to pass the word along further if possible. Of course it is something that touches my heart for so many reasons which if you follow my blog you're not going to need help understanding.

The Carr family have adopted 4 children from Kazakhstan ... 2 of which have amniotic band syndrome which did not allow certain appendages to grow while they were being formed in their mother's womb. To see these children and ALL they can do is amazing! I was crying on and off during the whole thing ... happy tears only of course. It only gets better too ... because one of the little girls, Ryanne, who is 7 and has prosthesis for BOTH legs and is quick as a jackrabbbit!, decided to donate all her outgrown "leg prostethis" to the amputees in Haiti. It is such a touching episode and one that speaks volumes on not setting limits on yourself or others on what you can do. Watch it and enjoy!
And as a side note ... I hope that Samuel's forever family was watching that episode and is being prepared at this very moment for him and ALL that his bright future will hold! (I cannot explain where all this hope comes from that I feel for him when I see him ... but it's there and so real.) And I also pray that God will use this family's story/journey/heart of love as a way of opening hearts of other families who are or will be considering adoption to grow their family to consider children with limb differences.
God is good. :-)

The family

The family