Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Big Boy's New Room

When Jeff and I first built our house it seemed SO big! ... but 13 years and 3 boys later I think it's shrinking! Or at least definitely feels like it. Although the hockey-loving boys might hate to admit it, but their days shooting on the net in our basement are getting numbered (at least by me) as we are going to need to finish that basement sooner rather than later.

We have 3 bedrooms on the 2 above ground levels of our Salt-Box style home. And the one upstairs next to our bedroom has seen so many changes from design room to nursery to a toddler AND baby room, back to a single child nursery, a guest bedroom, a sewing room ... a catch all room ... and now ... my oldest boy's very own bedroom once again nearly ten years later.

The move required me to get serious about sorting and throwing out/gifting away/moving some precious things. Dismantling my baby closet (for real this time), moving my hope chest (that the family totally doesn't "get" and just stuff that I had in the closet that we had not yet found a use for. I did come across a hand-stitched quilt that was given to us for our wedding that I totally had forgotten about. What a treasure to come across now! Although now I don't have a guest bedroom to use it on (ha!)

But three boys ages nearly 10 to 4 all in one room? It was getting a bit crowded (and messy.) And I will be the first to admit it was time to break them up a bit so they could have some space and some privacy without little hands breaking apart legos etc. And Brayden did not hesitate with the idea and never looked back.
So Brayden wanted the theme of his bedroom to be ... The Minnesota Gophers. I went with the basic sports-stripes on the wall, ya not all that creative, (cringing as I added the 3-4 coats of dark read knowing how hard it will be to cover up down the road.) We've still got a ways to go before it's finished (and is a room really ever finished? It just transforms.) But here's the progress we've made and seriously it's the cleanest, neatest room in our house and has inspired some other purging of piles and corners of unused stuff.  (I will apologize for the weird photos, it's hard to get back far enough to get a meaningful photo.)

BEFORE (with the tape for my new painting already applied)
(just plain white walls, no I didn't have a nice nursery for my boys, just vinyl clings and accessories that I hand sewed like the crib skirt, bumper pad and curtains.)

I have not brought myself to take down the vinyl lettering "Giddy Up Cowboy!" from the baby nursery ... but it will be coming off soon I'm sure (haha).

To come I will be making some Minnesota Gopher Pillows for the bed and replacing the green gingham valance (anyone want it?) with something that actually matches. We also need to purchase a bookshelf, a storage headboard and a larger shelf to put hockey stuff on and some wall art or frames for cool photos. But ... it'll come. Next up is the other boys' shared bedroom. Easton has chosen The Minnesota Wild (see a theme here with the Minnesota thing?) although Nolan believes he's getting Iowa State (oh boy this ought to be fun to make happen. Maybe he'll not notice the wall stripe color if I focus the Iowa State on HIS bed?) And since they aren't getting an all new room location I'm gonna have to do something special ... not sure what though. They do have bunk beds in there although Nolan is not quite ready for the top bunk just yet (in my book) and so when we finally retire his toddler bed probably in the Fall (again, anyone want it?) when he starts PreSchool there will be more room in there. So I've got some time to think what would be neat.

One thing I wish I could do over with building our house would be to add more storage. We have absolutely none. It really stinks.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Challenge: Jiayin Designs

I'm not sure when I came across Kelly's blog, "My Overthinking," but it continues to be a blessing along with her connections with The Sparrow Fund and Jiayin Designs. She has a beautiful challenge on her site right now. And if you've not checked out the INCREDIBLE silver work at Jiayin Designs or the other FUN, FUN, FUN stuff you simply must. 
Jiayin Designs' website ( 
I will also mention that there are some Matryoshka necklaces that they are selling for a mighty deal of only $10 that will pair up BEAUTIFULLY with some fabric I'm getting in any day at my little sewing company www. 
So also check that out too.

Here is the challenge that Kelly laid out earlier this week:

I want to hear what your Jiayin charm means to you. Share the significance it has been to you or your family in a blog post, making sure to give the link to Jiayin Designs' website ( and Facebook page ( 
Well, originally I winced at the challenged. 
"Oh if I only had a story to share!" I pined. One of those beautiful ones where it all comes together like something from Hallmark in a perfect time frame and there is even a sparkly pink bow on top ... but as most everyone will admit ... those fairytales are mostly that ... make believe. And Kelly reassured me that "we all have a story to share." 
I stewed and thought and considered ... and she's right ... we all do have a story to share.
And this is mine.

Hope, Faith, Trust, Endure.
I'm not sure which of these words best describes my heart. It is all of these much of the time. My "story" begs to begin every day... and yet it has already unfurled ahead of me even if I don't entirely like the path that it is flowing on. Somewhat like the Great Wall, twisting, turning, and forever steep and long ... it marches forward in the same way as the day before and the day before that ... 

but I long for the illusive happy ending, the reward of having patience and faith and having my dreams come to fruition. I long to have a Jiayin charm with the sweet words of my adopted child's name formed into its silver surface ... but I still wait. 

I'm one of the many, the quiet many, who wait. 

No, I don't wait for a referral or the paperwork or the endless red tape to get untangled or even an age minimum to be reached. I wait for God's call for OUR family ... on my husband's heart.
There. I said it. I pour it into the lap of my husband as the leader of our family to hear The Lord's calling that he "obviously must be ignoring." (keep reading, I'm saying this in retrospective sarcasm.)
I've read story upon story of how this is "supposed" to work through faith and prayer and fasting. Through trust and hope and eventually the clearest message speaks to that mountain and it moves with God's help, sometimes out of the clear blue. 
But here I wait ... and the sky is crystal clear blue ... but there is no movement. Where is the movement?! In fact, as the days tick past and I get older every day into my 40's, my faith waivers that my dream of being an adoptive mom ... maybe even a mom to a daughter ... will never be. It has been years, too many to want to type really, but I will admit that it's been over six years. In fact, when I first had the courage to bring up my burdened heart for the orphan to my husband in 2006, after praying quietly for years before that, I had in my heart that 2012 would be THE year. I remember how I argued with God about how long away that seemed at the time! Now as that pinnacle year has come and gone and been replaced by 2013 ... I wonder why that date 2012 was so clearly placed on my heart. So much hasn't changed.

But maybe that was never in the plans. Maybe my husband IS clearly hearing the call of The Lord ... for our family. He is a Godly man and is in The Word daily. If it was meant to be I am certain that God would have moved his heart in an instant. Yes, perhaps it will happen in time. I will always have Hope. But in the meantime while I have clung to Hope and begged and pleaded and cried quietly with God and waited, time hasn't been for nothing. This is where God has brought me. I have had the honor of helping families bring home many children through supporting their adoption journey fundraising, praying for them, advocating for little ones waiting on lists, donating some of my hand-sewn dresses and skirts to personal adoptive fundraisers and Love Without Boundaries art auctions, as well as donating my profits from my sewing to fundraisers like Sparrow's Nest from my business Ruffled Feathers Company that already gives a portion of every sale to Orphan Relief. I monthly help edit some of the Sponsorship Updates from a Special Needs Foster Home in China. We sponsor the sweetest little girl in Southern China that I would love to bring home. God allowed me to be a big part of one dear family's personal adoption story by being their Stateside Fundraiser Coordinator in bringing home their very special girl. And I have had the deep pleasure of being on a special prayer team for a little boy who turned my heart upside down and inside out who needed a very special family to bring him home. I also love using my graphic design knowledge to help promote the adoption story for a specific Foster Home outside of Beijing. And it is so sweet when I can share my connections and open the heart of someone new to the beauty of adoption and how it is so closely linked to our own adoption into God's family. 

But I don't list these things to be like a resumé or to toot my own horn ... far from that. It feels uncomfortable to mention much of this in fact ... but it does help me to see things from a different perspective than from my selfish heart. 
God's charge in James 1:27 isn't to adopt all the orphaned and widowed ... but to care for them in their distress. Because he wants OUR hearts to change in working WITH Him.
So, perhaps it is unfair to say that, "Much hasn't changed." God is changing my heart daily in all of these things, and in so many others that I don't necessarily see in daily life. God's call for each of us is unique and as different as each of us is from another. To wait for our specific plan to unfold in the way we envision would have robbed me of so much growth and joy in so many other areas. Yes, I still long for that personal adoption journey for OUR family to share together over a specific added family member. But I rejoice that God has woven me into His plan for His Adoptive Family and the larger Christian adoption family. I am so glad that He has me engraved on the palm of his hand (Isaiah 49:16) and will never forget me or the heart that he specifically made and placed in me.

I fall so short of His purpose for me everyday, but I continue to strive with His help to grow and continue to have Hope that my goals would be in line with His as my vision becomes clearer the path winds on further.
Hope, Faith, Trust.
Yes, it's all of these ...
But the one thing that over rides it all is that God's Love ... Endures Forever. Through the good, the bad, the unexplainable joys and sorrows, through hopes shattered and hopes revealed and fulfilled, God's got it in His mighty hand.
And maybe that is what I need to place on my Jiayin charm ...

Jiayin Designs' website ( 
Facebook page ( 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

All Things Northwoods: Skating, Skiing and Fishing

Christmas ... oh boy ... what a huge holiday.

I would LOVE to spend it at home one year with my family in our own home in our own church on Christmas Eve maybe even having the boys be shepherds or in a play ... open gifts under our own tree instead of hiding them in a tote and hauling them far away, lounging in our PJs sipping cocoa or coffee Christmas morning, taking toys out of boxes not having to wonder if all the parts will ever make it home ... sharing this special time with my side of the family instead of making a few hours to be with them days before the actual holiday ... but that dream would probably never be as sweet as I imagine anyway, right?
I still dream of it. Because it might be.

So once again, we traveled to Minnesota for more days than I care to remember ...
but the boys had fun ...
and moms will sacrifice deeply for their children's happiness, even if it takes years off of her life.
(And I'm reminded of the sacrifices my own mother made every year of MY young life as she never spent it with her family but always with my dad's side ... and how ungrateful we were of this fact. Ug.)

Luckily I was the only one to come down with the achy, cold-type influenza which hit Christmas Eve (yuck) but that's better than the usual case of ALL of us on the road with the stomach flu! I will mention (again, most likely) that in the 10 years we've had kids, we've traveled at Christmas to MN every year and only TWO times we've been well! That's just crazy.

Highlights of the trip were Nolan learning to ice skate AND ski!

 Easton caught 3 fish ice-fishing AND lost his first big front tooth and now looks more like a hockey player!


 Brayden had fun skiing and skating ... but didn't do so well ice fishing (but neither did Jeff.) And when we returned to Iowa Nolan had a day-out-with-Dad and tried ice fishing for the first time too.

Before we left the boys had 2 Snow Days home from school due to a blizzard that hit our area. It was nice to have a trial run of the snow gear before heading into the great white north ... but with the Christmas deadlines I was trying to meet I'm not sure if having three rambunctious boys (and a husband who was sick) home for those days leading up to the holiday was really helpful, ha! But the deadlines were met and we all had fun.
NOTE: I did participate in all the activities (except ice fishing) despite being sick ... although I'm always behind the camera and therefore rarely photographed. Another one of those mom-things.

The family

The family