Saturday, December 24, 2011

merry christmas

Because He sent His son to pay for our transgressions, we celebrate this season.  Without his perfect plan, we would be without hope.

So we praise Him.

Merry Christmas.

kanarra falls, family hiking - 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

her story - part five

Go here for PART ONE.

Go here for PART TWO.

Go here for PART THREE.

Go here for PART FOUR.

Our journey to being matched with our daughter had resulted in fulfilling confirmations of our decision to move forward.  We shared the news to everyone we could think of and sometimes just sat dreamily with smiles on our faces while we felt the love in our hearts grow for our daughter.

I mentioned previously the "compressed air" feeling of my emotions toward her, but my man described it perfectly (and hilariously) during the days immediately after our announcement.  "I feel like the Grinch at the end of the movie when his heart starts pounding and his emotions knock him on his rear."

It starts about at about 1 minute 30 seconds in this clip.

Oh how I love my Grinch.

I was recently reconnected with an old high school friend who is adopting from China and was just matched with her daughter as well.  We have exchanged some emails and she told me that she found out the meaning of her daughter's Chinese name.  I realized that I had never even thought to ask about the meaning of our daughter's name, so I wrote to the person at our agency who is Chinese by birth and fluent in Mandarin to ask her to translate for me.

"Rough and tumble", "stands with a fist", or "takes no crap from brothers" would have been perfectly appropriate translations and would have made me confident that she will fit in around here just fine.

But the reply I received was more perfect than anything I could have made up.

Her Chinese name means "In the light of winter".

Seriously, if you've been around for very long on this blog, you know that we live in (what feels like) eternal winter.  Our summers feel like other regions' winters.  In fact, we don't really put out winter clothes away, we just take some shorts and t-shirts out to add to the mix.  We smiled when we realized that our sweetie was made for winter.

Predictably, the cold weather and snow started to blow into our mountain town and in the coming weeks, I had the chore of changing out everyone's summer and winter clothes (well, really just putting away shorts and sandals), including my own.

P1000198I came across a treasure that I received nearly 15 years ago to the day.  My dear friend Karen and I met early in our freshman year of college and have always been close.  On the outside, Karen and I can appear quite different.  She like bare feet, I like shoes to protect my soles.  She likes big cities, adventures, and risks into the unknown.  Me, I like small towns, well planned out trips, and certainly knowing what I'm getting into.

On the inside, Karen and I are quite similar and where we differ, we very much compliment each other.  We have shared many cups of coffee and bottles beer over the years sharing our dreams, passions, and lots of laughter.  I am so thankful that we have not lost touch in the 15+ years since we graduated from college and I'm sure that we will still be calling each other in 25 years to share laughter over the births of our grandchildren and sorrows over the loss of loved ones.

When we graduated from college, Karen chose to spend two years in the Peace Corps.  I remember being in the campus library when she came bounding in to tell me where she had been assigned.

P1000197"I'm going to China!!!" she told me with a hug and a smile.

And she did.  She spent two years in China at the foothills of the Himalayas teaching English to Chinese high school students.  Although my kids find it hard to believe, we didn't have email during those days, so Karen and I were faithful pen pals across that tremendous ocean.  In the fall of 1996, she mailed me a beautiful piece of artwork from her new home.

scroll1This beautiful scroll is a wall hanging that I have kept with me for 15 years.  I have moved it many times from one home to the next, and always had it tucked in a safe place.  In fact, my husband (the de-clutter freak) has suggested many times that I get rid of it because I've never had quite the right place to hang it.  I refused every time, saying that I didn't care if we never hung it up, I would keep it until my dying day because it was dear to me.

Little did I know how dear it really was.

As I was taking out my sweaters and putting away my shorts, I saw the scroll peeking out from the open bin from underneath my bed.  I have looked at it many times in 15 years, but this time I had new eyes to see it with.

The pink flowers and Chinese writing instantly made it the perfect centerpiece for Mrs. Nesbit's bedroom.  I was excited to bring it out and start planning her room around this precious keepsake.

But it gets better.

I have never detached the note that Karen sent with her gift.  I have read this note so many times, but again, with new eyes, I was able to see that God had planned this perfectly.

note1"October 24, 1996.  Laurie, I like to think of a piece of China hanging on your soon-to-be own apartment wall next to your photographs from all over the world.  The words at the top are a poem that talk about a man who is far away from home that misses his friends and family.  I cannot begin to express how much I long to have you near.  Think of how much I love you when you glance at the plum blossom.  My friend described this winter flower as 'the one that comes out when the others go away.' Always near you, Karen"

Immediately, my eyes filled with tears as the goose bumps formed on my arms.  In all the times I have read this note simply to feel close to my dear friend who has since lived far away from me, never did I dream that the note spoke of my daughter!

Joya will suffer grief in some form as a girl stretched between two continents.  Her love and loyalties will be challenged and distributed.  Although right now, she is lucky enough to be in a loving foster home from just days after she was found, the painful part of that is that she has no idea that she is an orphan.

When she is placed into our arms in a few months, she will not feel relief that she finally has a family.  She will justifiably feel confused and angry and ripped from the only family she has known.  The family she loves.

But we will wait for our little plum blossom to show herself.  We know that she is the winter flower that will blossom with us when the others go away.  We will patiently endure her emotions through the transition and growth into connection with her new family.

Her forever family.  Our family.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

her story - part four

Go here for PART ONE.

Go here for PART TWO.

Go here for PART THREE.

After making the decision to be Mrs. Nesbit's parents late on Sunday night, I don't even need to mention how hard it was to sleep.

Joya basketball I had a very busy Monday on my calendar, the bulk of which I was scheduled to be at Squirt's preschool.  We were up bright and early printing pictures of Mrs. Nesbit for the boys to take to school to show off.

But first we had to tell them.

What a fun experience.  They were all eating breakfast and my Beloved and I said that we had a big surprise for them.

"Is it a Wii?" one asked.

"It is better than a Wii," we answered and added, "And we are not a video game family, so don't plan on a Wii arriving anytime soon."

"Are we going on a trip?" a second boy took a guess.

"Well, 'we' are (indicating Mom and Dad), but 'we' aren't (motioning to the entire family)," I replied.

At that moment, their proud dad turned his laptop screen around toward them revealing her sweet face.

"Hey, I've seen that picture before!  Who is that?" Sauce chimed in.

"That is your baby sister!" we excitedly told them together.

Excitement and laughter and questions about her quickly filled our kitchen.  We told them everything we knew about her and what her new name would be in our family.  All four boys, who had the words 'Mrs. Nesbit' firmly ingrained in their vocabulary, symbolically left her orphan status in the past by immediately ditching the nickname and have referred to her by her real name ever since.

Joya 3a "Aw Mom!  I wish we could go get her tomorrow!"

"Me too buddy.  Me too."

They all tenderly put the pictures into their backpacks and anxiously headed off to school to show her off.

Like I said, I had to get going with my busy day, but I was bursting at the seams to tell as many people as my excited and scattered brain could think of before I left the house.  First, I called my mom, dad, brother, and aunt, so that they wouldn't hear through email or social media.  Then I compiled a short but sweet email announcement to as many people dear to me that I could think of in the time I had left.

Off to preschool we went and to my delight, replies to my email came in all day.  Thank God for smart phones.

Do you remember my mention of signs coming after the decision was made?  Good.

I want to stop and tell you a couple of things about my sister in-law Andrea, the brilliant neurologist who helped us with Mrs. Nesbit's file and medical diagnosis.  She is so gifted in so many areas beyond medicine.  She is a wonderful mother and wife and sister and friend.  I look up to her in many ways.

She is also VERY logical and fact oriented.  She is much like my husband, seeking concrete evidence to make a decision or determine authenticity.  In fact, when I was getting tired of waiting for that blasted x-ray, she made me laugh by saying to me, "I have to side with Kenyon.  You'll have to go to Jeff for sympathy on this one."  Jeff is my brother (and her husband) and is much more like me in decision making and emotional reactions.

When Andrea experiences God, she does so through clinging to the truth of His Word and deliberately focuses on His promises.  She is not a "sign" type of girl.

Which is why, I am sure, that God chose her.

She did not know that we made our decision late Sunday night.  She was still praying for us through the process, but thought we were waiting for more medical information to solidify our position.  She was included on my email Monday morning.

Her reply:
"I was going to email you anyway today because I had the most vivid dream last night.

The dream was of little Joya clinging onto your leg tightly like she was afraid and you were soothing her like any Mommy would... and then bigger versions of the little girl walked up one by one... the first "bigger version" of the littler girl was a grade schooler, and then a high schooler, and then a grown woman... each one knelt down by the little girl clinging to your leg and told her that everything was going to be alright and that you would take care of her and that she didn't have to cry... and the last one was the grown woman and she was full of poise and grace and had a beautiful smile... and then she disappeared but the little girl stopped crying and was smiling up at you with big, shiny wet eyes...

I was breathless when I woke up. "

Sign from God?  Check.  Kenyon and I were both brought to tears and in awe of how perfectly that happened.  If anyone else had experienced that dream, we could have easily written it off as ordinary for that person.  But not Andrea.  Increased faith?  Check.

As if that wasn't enough, we still received two more little gifts from God that made us delight in our decision.

But it would be no fun if I didn't string you along just one more time!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

her story - part three

Click for PART ONE.

Click for PART TWO.

A sign, a sign, a sign.  "God please give us a sign, whether it be a green light or red one.  A wide open doorway, or a closed vault door with an impossible lock.  Most of all, give us eyes to see the sign.  Give us faith to believe that you're sending it.  Increase our faith in the process."

As if God had not already dealt with us GENEROUSLY where our faith lacked in the financial aspect of this process, now we were asking Him to step in and speak to us specifically about this precious little girl.

Our couples' small group prayed with us for a sign.  My sister prayed for a sign.  My brother prayed for a sign.  I honestly lacked faith that we would see the sign or accept it as coming from God.

Isn't it funny that the Bible tells us Gideon asked for a sign in Judges chapter six though eight and how, when God gave him one, he wasn't satisfied.  He asked for another.

We are no different.  We believe God is there, but it is so easy to question Him at every turn.

When the updated pictures of Mrs. Nesbit came to us, again my Beloved was out of state.  I texted him that the pictures were in his email inbox and he later told me that he was standing in the jetway waiting for his gate-checked suitcase, so he booted up his laptop so he could see her immediately.

When he called me later in the day, I asked him if he looked at the pictures and he responded that he did and he thought they were great.

Joya Christine2a "Did you notice the color of the motorcycle she was sitting on?" I asked with a grin.

"No....  Was it yellow?" he responded.

"Yup." I answered with a giggle.

'It's a sign! It's a sign!'  I wanted to scream and shout.  I wanted to hear my husband say, "Wow, that's clearly the sign.  God knows about our passion for the YELLOW CAR! game.  What may seem ordinary to others, stands out to our family.  We're good to go!"

But that was all in my head.  I knew that it was not my place to be the Holy Spirit in my husband's life and identify the sign for him.  So, I simply smiled and moved on in our conversation.

We waited for another few days to see if that x-ray would come through, but it never did.

One night Kenyon was sitting on the couch looking through the new pictures on his laptop when Sauce walked behind him and peeked over his shoulder.  Our nine year-old son had no idea he was possibly looking at his little sister.  He blurted out one thing.

"YELLOW CAR!"  (smile)  Then he walked away.  He never even asked who was in the picture.

The next Sunday night we were climbing into bed for the night.  It was late (well, 10:30 is late for me) and I was going to read a couple pages of my current book and then get some shut eye.  I had a very busy Monday coming up and I was exhausted.

My Beloved had other plans.  He put his pillow by my feet and told me he wanted to talk.  I said sure, and had a feeling this would be about Mrs. Nesbit.  I was right.

"How do you feel about all this?" he asked.

"How do you feel?" I said, purposely turning it around on him.

"I feel like you're shutting me out.  Why haven't you been talking to me about her?" he answered.

I then explained that I had been intentionally silent, letting him process the situation we were in and the decision we faced.  In a conversation that took another hour, we faced that decision together.

Kenyon said a couple of things that stand out in my memory.  He told me that he heard a quote by Colin Powell that said something like, "If you can't make a decision on 70% of the information, you'll never be able to make the decision."

He also explained that he had come to the realization that his struggle is with wanting control.  He accepted that this was a decision we would have to make with gaps in the information.

AND that he took note of the yellow motorcycle.  Smile.

"I'm in." is how he summed it up as he positioned his pillow back into the rightful place at the top of the bed.

"What?  Did we just make a decision?" I asked with a trembling voice.

"I don't know if you did, but I did." he answered with a smirk.

Oh my word.  The moment passed me by and I didn't even realize it was happening.  "AAAHHHH!  Can I call my sister?" was the first thing out of my mouth.  It was 11:30 in Utah and my sister works the night shift as a nurse in the Chicago suburbs.

Smiling, he said, "Sure, but don't you think we should name her first?"

We knew all along what her first name would be.  Joya was our favorite girl's name for several babies now.  No one knew that though because I never said it out loud to anyone but my husband in all those years.

We took all of two minutes to settle on Christine as her middle name.  Christine is my sister's middle name.  Amy is my only sister and my best friend.

Less than a minute after that, I had Amy on the phone wondering what in tarnation would have me calling so late.  We shared happy tears and giggles over what lay ahead on this journey.

I was thankful for the sign that God sent to us, however, little did we know that the most profound signs were to come AFTER we made the decisions to be Mrs. Nesbit's forever family.

Curious?  Check back soon.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

her story - part two

If you haven't read part one, go HERE.

Although I was assured by our agency that an x-ray is not an unreasonable request and should be easily attained, we were never promised that it would happen.  Every few days, I checked in with my main contact there and quickly made myself "the squeaky wheel."

Inside of a week, we received an update about Mrs. Nesbit, consisting of thorough answers to our follow-up questions and six recent and PRECIOUS pictures of her.

Some of our major concerns were taken off the table simply by reading the updated information about her.  But before we announced to the world that we had a daughter, we decided to wait for the x-ray so that we could have a better assessment of her future surgical needs.

We then entered a time of delicate emotions.  My husband wanted as much information as possible so that he (the amazing provider and planner that he is) could prepare himself for what was ahead and make a confident decision that we were the right family for her and her medical needs.

Being less detailed and more a "step of faith" type of girl, this was a struggle for me.  I wanted to take a chance and believe that whatever need met us in the future, we would rise to the occasion with our best effort and God would take care of the rest.

Not being just a planner, but also a very wise man, my husband told me at one point, "Laurie, I can't be pressured into this by you.  I want to be 100% in this so that down the road when it gets hard, as it surely will, I won't blame you.  I will own it."

Enough said.  He made a great point and it reinforced the vow I made on the day we made the decision to pursue adoption.  I promised myself and God to never be in the driver's seat.  I did not want to pressure or force our family into a direction that my husband (and God) may not be on board for.

I immediately imagined my inner emotions toward this little girl as compressed air inside of me.  I kept them to myself.  I prayed for her, prayed for the process, our decision, for my husband, and for our marriage.

When we did finally get word on the x-ray, it wasn't what we hoped.  Her caretakers had taken her for an x-ray, but she wasn't cooperative (go figure for a 21 month old toddler).  Her caretakers had reservations about sedating her in order to get an x-ray, and Kenyon and I were grateful for that.  The last thing we wanted was to cause her any harm.  I dare say that we were feeling like protective parents already.

Although the information relayed was that they would try again, I think we both realized that it was unlikely that we would get this piece without sedation.

I continued on keeping my mouth shut and letting my husband process this life-altering decision in his own way.  Each time the subject came up, I would answer his question or give a short answer and then let the subject die.  I had full faith that he would make the right decision for our family. And whatever it was, I was dedicated to unity.

In the midst of all this, he also decided that we should ask God for a sign.

Hold the phone here..... my husband is not the "sign from God" type of guy.  In fact, although I consider his faith to be one of the most genuine I know, I often tease him that he can be such a cynic sometimes.  A sign from God can be a tricky thing for a cynic to process.  In fact, this was the first time in the 15+ years that I've known him that he was asking for a sign from God.

Next up, we ask and God delivers.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

her story - part one

The call for Mrs. Nesbit's referral to us came quite unexpectedly.  I was at the very tail end of putting our dossier together and had left a message at our adoption agency with a question about a specific portion of the paperwork.  When my phone rang with the agency's number on the other end, I was assuming it was just the call back to answer my question.

When I heard the director of the China program greeting me, I had a teeny-tiny suspicion that she wasn't calling to answer my rookie dossier questions.

She calmly informed me that they had a little girl's file that they wanted us to look at and did I want to hear about her?

Um, yes please! (Imagine shaking hands, pounding heart, regretting that my Beloved was away on business, and scrambling for a piece of paper -all in the next few seconds.)

I then reminded myself to cherish this moment, because it would likely be a highlight when we tell Mrs. Nesbit her adoption story.  I grabbed the only paper I could find which happened to be too small for all the things I wanted to jot down.

She was described as 20 months old and living with foster parents.  She was found nestled in a paper box on a doorstep of a home on a cold day in January, 2010 when she was just 11 days old.  Her birth mother was loving and cared about her future as evidenced by the note she left with her.

I have not seen the note yet, but it said something to the effect of, "She was born on {gave her exact birth date}.  I would appreciate if some kind hearted people would adopt her."


People, if that is not evidence that there are trials in this world that we cannot even fathom, I don't know what is.  I think about her birth mother all the time and have so many thoughts about her possible situation and struggles, but that is for another post.

The kind woman on the phone from our agency then described her medical need to me as " a deformed right ear and an asymmetrical mouth."  Hmmm, what might that look like?  Did we want to see her file and photos?

Well, I couldn't make that decision without first talking to my man, who was working hard in Denver and had no idea that this call was coming.  Luckily, he answered his phone the first time and we quickly discussed it.  We had some fear over the vagueness of the description of her medical need, but in the end, we wanted to see her.

I nervously called the agency back and asked them to send her file over.  Then I hit "refresh" on my email box about 764 times, waiting for them to come through.

The bulk of her file was from her 18 month check up.  Her development and milestones exceeded some of my boys' timelines and the description of her personality made us giggle.  "Outgoing," "Likes other children and cats and dogs," "Lovely."

I have never even met her and she is lovely to me.

We had a short amount of time to review her file and have medical professionals advise us regarding her health.  I immediately called my "personal medical professional" - a.k.a. my brother's wife who is a brilliant neurologist at one of the most highly regarded medical facilities in the country.  She is always willing to help us and has been excited for our adoption journey.  Did I mention that she is one of the smartest people I know?

Mrs. Nesbit's health needs are not exactly in my sister in-law's area of specialty, but she was eager and anxious to get the ball rolling for us and dig a little deeper in order to get a thorough medical assessment.  If she wasn't an amazing doctor, I think she would make a great police detective - except her big heart wouldn't be able to handle the tragedy in detective work.

I also called my friend from church who had adopted a son from China with a cleft lip and palate.  She gave me the name and number of her son's craniofacial plastic surgeon AND the name of the office manager, Bonnie, who turned out to be wonderful.

I called the office before they opened and left a message for Bonnie explaining my situation and my time crunch.  Five minutes into business hours, she called me back and offered me an appointment for noon the next day (over the surgeon's lunch hour).  Bonnie was warm and friendly and had a calming effect on me.  After traveling all week, Kenyon just happened to be home the next day AND have a flexible schedule that allowed us to go to the appointment together.

We walked into the office the next day and gave our names at the front desk.  I informed them that Bonnie had booked our consultation and she immediately came out of her office and around the front desk to the waiting area where we were standing.  I extended my hand and started to introduce myself, but Bonnie would have none of that, she wrapped her arms around me so quickly that I wasn't sure what just happened.

What just happened was that just when I needed it most, God sent that warm, reassuring person that I needed to calm my fear and nervousness.

We talked with her a little bit about our family and our adoption journey as she walked us back to an exam room.  She hastily cleaned the room up, as the rest of the staff were all clearly on their lunch hour.

Shortly after she exited, the surgeon came in and shook our hands as we all introduced ourselves.  This man is Asian himself, and has a very calm, soft spoken nature to him.  He reviewed our daughter's file and confidently gave a name to the larger syndrome that he is certain that she has (which of course, was the exact syndrome my sister in-law came back with the night before).

He calmly explained it at a more basic medical level.  The most impressive part was the fact that he sat and let us ask as many questions as we could think of in that moment.  We even repeated and rephrased some of our questions.  He let large moments of silence pass comfortably, never rushing us to get going and let him be done.

Overall, we felt he gave us a generally positive prognosis with the little information we had at hand.  In order to solidify his diagnosis, we left with a plan to request a jaw x-ray and answers to some specific medical and developmental questions about Mrs. Nesbit.

We never asked in advance how much the consultation would cost us.  But, we had discussed it and knew that even if we had to pay $200 out of pocket, it would be money well spent in this process.  When we got back to the front counter, I took out my wallet and asked Bonnie how much we owed.

"Oh, there is no charge."

The wave of emotion immediately flooded me.  I choked back the tears and tried to force the words of gratefulness out of my mouth.  Seven months into this adoption journey, I had not yet met a major component of the process that didn't cost us money.

We walked out in a bit of a daze.  At our favorite sandwich shop, we visited some of the tougher scenarios and things to consider about her future needs.  Our goal was not to go in this blindly, but to face the situation head-on.

I called our agency that evening and expressed the need for a jaw x-ray and then compiled the email of remaining questions to be answered about her.

Then we faced some of the hardest times of waiting yet.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

we're just a tad bit obsessed

Sometime within the last six months our family has grown to love a game we play whenever we're in the car, without fail.

A game most affectionately titled: "YELLOW CAR!"

I wasn't there, but I'm told that it started when my Beloved and Sauce were on a somewhat long drive together.  They, in their matching competitive natures, craved beating each other at something, so the game came to life.

The (unwritten rules) are these:
1.  The game starts over each time we start a new ride, i.e., each time our car is turned off and back on again the scores reset.  No one needs to officially start the game, it is always ON.

2.  The first person to actually see a yellow vehicle yells out "YELLOW CAR!" as loudly and obnoxiously as possible with absolutely no regard for anyone who might be speaking at the moment.


3  The first person to call the YELLOW CAR gets one point.

4. Construction equipment does not count.  It must be a vehicle that can actually drive on the road.

5. Due to his age, Squirt gets every point regardless if he is the first to call it out.  We all just respond with, "Good job Squirt!"

6. The game grows and morphs the longer we play it.  "Slug Bug Yellow!" now earns an extra point.


7.  If you call out "YELLOW CAR!" and the car you've called is so far in the distance that you only thought it was yellow (and took a chance because your kids were winning by an embarrassing number of points), and the car is not actually yellow in color, you then LOSE a point.

8.  If a sibling argument results from calling a YELLOW CAR, both arguers lose a point.

So, now that you know the game, you can understand why a sight like this might make us get into a fender bender of some sort.  :-)


And why watching movies of any kind will have us screaming, "YELLOW CAR!" from the couch at the slightest glimpse of one in the movie, hence distracting us from the actual dialogue and general plot of the movie.  Because c'mon, we can't willingly lose a game!!!

Enter our current problem:


I just thought you should know in case you catch a ride with us somewhere or come over for a movie night.

Monday, October 31, 2011

trick or treat


I have a really hard time spending money on costumes for the big kids when they no longer play dress up in their spare time.  So, my little thieves were delighted to wear plain black shirts wrapped in white duct tape, strips of black fabric as their masks, and cheap pillow cases with $ signs written all over them with a big sharpie.

Mike Wazowski won the candy weigh in due to pure cuteness.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


We are very excited to announce that we have been matched with our daughter!

Joya Christine

Joya Christine (A.K.A. Mrs. Nesbit) will be in our arms and home with our family where she belongs sometime in the next four to six months.  Even after doing all the paperwork to get here, we already feel that the wait to travel and get her is definitely the hardest part.

Her future medical needs will involve mouth and jaw surgery, but we consider her perfect in every way!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

the tough decisions

I'm sitting here on our first snowy morning of the school year.  Yup, you read that right - snow.  Although I'm not really ready to give up flip flops and short sleeves, I know this is the price we pay to live in the mountains and enjoy all the benefits of a ski town.

So, I'm choosing to embrace it.  I have a hot cup of coffee sitting next to my computer and the fireplace is roaring to keep me toasty.

My problem this morning is that I'm also sitting here staring at Sauce's binder that contains his homework that he so diligently worked on yesterday afternoon, and every day for that matter.  He rarely gives me much trouble when requested to complete his homework before having more fun.  He is careful with his answers, has neat handwriting, and generally takes pride in a job well done.

My first instinct was to hop in the car and bring it to him at school.  But, after some internal-parental-decision-making-wrestling, I decided that the only way he won't depend on Mommy to make sure his homework gets to school one way or another is to NOT bring it to him.

Ouch.  You see, this is the first time I've had to do this with my #2. 

Our #1 has been giving us a run for our money for years with things like this.  Last month, when fifth grade grades started streaming in, The Hunter was trying to explain away three zeros on homework assignments and a D+ on a quiz.

My man and I had to make it undeniable that the buck stopped right then and there.  The Hunter is passionate about karate training and he had a quarterly testing event to advance to the next belt color coming up.  It was harder for us than it was for him to miss that testing and remain at his current belt level.

The boy was heartbroken, angry, and embarrassed in front of his karate friends.  It was really hard for us to endure and he tried every way he could think of to change our minds.

Lo and behold, two weeks later we are seeing nothing but A's and an occasional B streaming in.  Admittedly, it has taken much more effort on my part as well.  I'm having to pester him to remember to bring home his homework, review each assignment with a fine tooth comb, make him redo incorrect work, and remind him to actually TURN IN his completed homework.

But, I'm seeing more proactive behavior from him.  He's learning how to succeed and little by little he is developing independence in this area.  It has NOT been easy.  But it HAS been worth it.

So, after reflecting on that victory, I'm expecting Sauce to come home from school upset about forgetting his binder.  I might even get a call from him asking me to bring it in.  But I'm holding out hope that this tiny lesson will reap great profits of personal responsibility for him in the future.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Generosity breeds generosity.  This I am sure of.


Meet our friends the M's.  This family dove head first into the adoption world last year.  After deciding to adopt domestically, they endured the heartbreak of a failed adoption before their littlest guy A was born and came home with them, his forever family.

Since then, their eyes have been opened to the plight of the fatherless both here and around the world.  They are currently pursuing another adoption of a sweet brown skinned beauty (or maybe two), only internationally this time.

Although they are facing the tremendous costs of their own adoption, they keep a jar on their counter called the "Adoption Jar".  In it, they collect spare change and put money in it when they are consciously making a choice to forego a treat such a coffee or a meal out.

Their children have gotten very excited and involved.  They look for spare change on the sidewalks and in couch cushions and have at times chosen to donate some of their hard earned chore money to the jar.

Every so often, they choose a family in the adoption process or an orphan related cause to give the contents of the Adoption Jar to.

Then they take the empty jar and start all over again.

We enjoyed the M's company for dinner last Sunday and had no idea what they had in store for us.

$283.77 towards the cost of bringing Mrs. Nesbit home.


I was blown away and full of emotion when they unveiled it.  We are grateful beyond words and our kids immediately wanted to start a jar of our own.

Generosity breeds generosity.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

God's math

I have written about the crazy unusual timing of our decision to adopt a child.  By the world's standards, it made no sense.  My Beloved changed jobs and left the company that had a $10,000 reimbursement benefit toward adoption and gave up his company car.  We had just emptied our savings on refinancing our house as well as buying a new(er) car for our family.

We are known by those who know us well as pretty financially anal conscious.  We plan ahead for things we want to purchase, track our monthly spending carefully (envision DETAILED Excel spreadsheet), and other than our home mortgage, we haven't carried any debt in our fourteen years of marriage.

I'm not bragging, but that was an important detail to my story.

So here we are, new job, cash poor, and deciding to adopt a daughter with special needs from China.  To us, that kind of decision could only come from God.

I have been very open with others from the beginning of this process that I am FREAKING OUT very worried about where the money for the adoption expenses will come from.  Really, we had just accepted that we were going to be taking out a loan for the thousands of dollars of adoption costs.

Accepted is a bit of an overstatement.  I should say that we realized while kicking and screaming and throwing a toddler-sized hissy fit about it.

But, pretty soon, we were in too far to quit.  People kept reassuring me that God would provide for this.


After a pastor (and friend) at our church told me of several ways that God had provided for their adoption costs years ago, I quickly countered with, "That's great Eric.  But you're a PASTOR.  It is SUPPOSED to happen to you.  I believe that God does these things, I just don't believe that He will do it for us!  We're just 'regular Joe's!  My husband has a good job that pays our bills, and we live in a nice place, but we don't have the money to pay for a $20,000+ adoption without going into debt."

Lord, help me with my unbelief.

I believed that God thinks that adoption is a good thing.  I believed that He laid it on our hearts for a reason.  But I thought we would be on our own to figure out the financing.

Our homestudy was approved in July, at which point we were responsible for the next portion of payment in the process to the tune of $3,000.  We didn't have the money and we decided to wait until we had all of our documentation ready to move forward before we took out a loan to pay it.  Unfortunately, I was informed by our lovely non-human government that we would likely see the page of October on the calendar before we would receive this lovely $890 piece of paper in our mailbox.

Between July and September, we made significant household cutbacks.  Bye-bye cable television, meal plans, hand-me-downs, etc.  No extras around here.

Two Saturdays ago, my Beloved and I sat down to look at our Excel spreadsheets from the summer and put together a plan for moving money little by little into a savings account for adoption expenses as they came in.  We didn't want even one extra dollar just to be absorbed by the miscellaneous expenses paid out of our checking account.

We were expecting to be able to put some money in there, we each had a number in our head of how much we should be able to save after expenses.  We don't have huge amounts of surplus income each month, so both of our predictions were only a portion of what we already owed.

After studying our checking account and comparing it with our budgetary tracking, we realized that there was exactly $3,000 waiting to be moved out of our checking account.

Isn't that just like God?  Not $2,800, not $3,150.  Exactly the amount on the adoption invoice waiting to be paid.

My Beloved is a numbers man.  When the budget is finished each month, I depend on him to make the pie charts and the summaries and savings decisions.

He looked over everything again carefully and made the statement, "I have no idea how we had that much to save.  I can't find it anywhere."

With plans to move the money on Monday when the bank opened, we went outside to take a bike ride with our boys.  Sweet Rufus went to get the mail from the carrier as we all waited in the driveway and he handed the stack off to me.

Nestled in the middle of junk mail and bills was a simple envelope with the return address "Department of Homeland Security."

God's perfect math.  God's perfect timing.

APPROVED We were both a little shaken - my faith more than my hands.  My strong man looked at me and said, "I think we have just seen God move."


The next invoice we see will be in the ballpark of $11,000.  I'm excited to see how God's math will add up for that one.

Monday, September 5, 2011

full swing

First day of school pictures are finally up.  This is the last year these three will go to the same school.  Rufus is in first grade, The Hunter is in fifth grade and Sauce is in third grade.P1000122

They were literally running to the bus stop.


  Until I made them slow down so we could enjoy the walk together.


With their buddy at the bus stop.


No tears from Squirt this year.  He happily rode home on his bike and enjoyed the day with Mommy.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

twas the night before school

Twas the night before school started and all through the house,
Not a boy was stirring because the Melatonin knocked them out.
The backpacks were tossed by the door without care,
With hopes that no homework tomorrow they would bear.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
With the memories of sleeping late still stuck in their heads.
And Mom at the counter, and Dad on a trip,
Both prayed hard that all boys will flourish.

When out of the folders that came home from open house,
Came such a stack of papers Mom was forced to fill out.
She found her favorite pen and a comfortable seat
Because filling them all out would be quite a feat.

Names, grades, parents, and allergies,
Phone numbers, addresses, and who to call in emergencies.
Not so bad if it was just one,
But the three copies ruined the fun.

But she made it through every single last page,
Even though her wrist cramped like someone twice her age.
She let the dog in and locked all the doors,
Then prepped for breakfast so they'd be sure to want more.

She then climbed the stairs with the dog right behind,
And checked on each boy with kisses to remind
That these years are short, though days are long for the parentals,
And someday she would look back and be quite sentimental.

She collapsed into bed and gave a big sigh,
And drifted to sleep to a fan turned on high.
But when the alarm rang, she wiped off her drool,

Friday, August 19, 2011

don't make me come up there!

My man and I were fumbling with an attempt at hooking up a television antenna on our roof(something we're absolutely not qualified to do) between dinner and bedtime last night.

Mistake number one.

At first, the boys were just playing in the yard, screaming and laughing and having a sword fight with the weapons they were awarded as party favors at a birthday party earlier in the day.  Cut a pool noodle in thirds, stick a two-foot PVC pipe in the end, and ta-da, you have hours of entertainment for boys.

It started to get dark outside and we hollered to the troops to get PJ's on and brush teeth (as we were balancing a large television on the edge of a mantle, while managing marital harmony over a wire that was too short to reach where it needed to go).

I'm sure you can imagine that we were not able to actually follow through and reinforce our instructions until we finished the project-that-we-should-not-have-started-until-AFTER-the-kids-were-in-bed.

As instructed, the little angels trotted up the stairs and did exactly as they were instructed to do.


We heard squealing, yelling, running, stomping, thwacking, giggling, whining, thumping, hollering, and screaming.

My beloved and I returned fire with threats of what would happen when we got up there if they didn't knock it off and do what we told them to.

Suddenly we heard the ruckus silence and drawers opening and closing and water running.


This is why threatening does not work with parenting.  We were stuck to the problem television and they knew it.  They called our bluff and continued on with the wild rumpus.

We finally man-handled the wires and finished our project.  I headed immediately upstairs to man-handle my children, but was met with this:


P1000119To which I busted out laughing and went and got their dad. 

And the camera.

I don't even know what to say about the snake skin tucked into The Hunter's pajama pants.  There are no words, so I will just stop here.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

the far side of the moon

That's where I have been.  I've been living life to the full, working hard to keep my priorities straight and make the important things in my life important.  Writing and blogging, although I love them, have fallen off the radar this summer because I want to chill work on my tan take lots of naps make the most of each day with my kids.

I'm sure you all have your hands on your hips in disbelief that I would announce such big news of our adoption and then go dark for weeks on end.  But I'm sure you'll also realize that mountain towns get about 45 days of summer (okay, maybe 50) and we are soaking it up.

In less than three weeks, my mornings will surely look like this:

Well, minus my man cooking breakfast because that is just not his gift and we have all accepted that.  He does bring coffee to my bedside in the mornings though which is key to my day.

Anyhoo, we are still on the adoption paper chase and are waiting on the federal government to issue our I-797, which is will be the last major piece to our dossier to China.  We would be thrilled if we could have it all wrapped up and submitted within the first month of school.

Our boys have been asking what we will name our new sister, and instead of answering them, we have asked them what they think we should name her.  They all have their favorites, but one fairly lively discussion was brought to a gut-busting halt when our comedian Rufus chimed in, "I think we should name her Mrs. Nesbit!"

Exhibit A that my kids have overdosed on Toy Story:

So, until further notice, our daughter waiting in China is lovingly referred to in this family as Mrs. Nesbit.

I will try to be back soon.  But I can't make any promises.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

paid in full










sfcoming up2


sfcoming up


sfcoming up3





Baptism Sunday at Willow Creek Community Church.  My sister Amy, my mom, and my niece all chose to be baptized today.

It was a great day.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Only Love can leave such a mark
But only Love can heal such a scar.

Our lives have turned some major corners in the past year.  After deciding to discontinue home schooling, we sent our three big boys to the local public elementary school for the first time.  What a very big change all around for us, but we all agree that it was a good choice.

Kenyon left the company he had worked for for his entire 15 years of post-college life.  He took a chance at a new opportunity with a more local company.  Always thinking of his hunting season our family, he had the goal in mind that we wouldn't have to move geographically in order for him to move up in his career.

I couldn't be more proud of him.

As a result, we had say good bye to his company car and purchase a newer family truckster.  This is the first time in our marriage that we've owned (and insured, and repaired, and gassed up) two cars.

I know, poor us.

Shortly after his new job started, my Beloved revived a conversation that I had thought was dead some time ago.

You see, from the time we had a few years of parenting under our belts, the subject of orphans had caught our attention and our hearts.  Kenyon was the one who pushed me to go to Russia in 2006 to spend a week loving on precious children who are without families of their own.

That trip changed me.  I brought home with me faces and names, personalities and memories that defined the word "orphans".  There are an estimated 145 million + orphans globally, and I could not run from them or ignore it anymore.  I hugged them, sang with them, played with them, and said goodbye to them.

Then I came home to my loving family.  When I kissed my kids goodnight, I thought of the rooms with 30 beds filled with kids who don't get stories or snuggles or kisses at bedtime.

When my family was laughing and re-living our day at dinner time, I remembered looking into the rooms where those 30 children ate together - in silence.

My little boys love bubbles and stickers and puppets.  But now those things triggered memories of children who had never seen those things and when the Americans left, would likely not see them again until another group returned.

My kids go to the doctor for simple things like ear infections and yearly check ups.  I spent time with many children with easily correctable medical conditions that will spend their lives labeled and institutionalized.  There is no one advocating for their medical care.

You get the picture now, I'm sure.

For years now, our family has supported orphan care organizations and contributed to adoption funds of several families.  We had considered adoption, but various factors always added up to it not being the right time.

Personally, I didn't know if adoption would ever be written into our family's story.  And I had come to a point of complete peace with that.  If my husband did not want to adopt, then I knew it was not for us.  I shut my mouth and prayed that God would show me where I would fit in to this puzzle.

I am sure you can imagine my surprise when exactly one week into his new job, my man came to me and said, " I really think we should move forward with adopting."


Have you ever wanted something so badly for so long and when you finally have the opportunity to get it you question if you really want it?  Yup, that was me.

After about a week of heavy discussion and constant prayer, we filled out the application to adopt a child from China.

That was March 18th.

Last night was a big milestone in the process.  After months of paper chasing background checks, birth certificates, marriage certificates, writing 20 page autobiographies, and visiting doctors to sign off on our health status and our children's as well, our social worker came to do our official home visit.

After two and a half hours of individual and group interviews, she promised us our precious home study report within the next week or so and with that in hand, we will be moving forward toward our ....


We are all so very excited to start on this journey.  We hope you will join us with your prayers and support.  We hope that by this time next year we will be settled home as a family of seven.

I know, the poor girl will never go on a date with four big brothers and a dad - all with weapons.

More to come soon.  And, needless to say, I'm taking suggestions for new blog names. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

little wild horses

I often think about the fact that my kids have no concept of how exceptional their surroundings are.  They climb mountains, ski down them, visit national parks (often), and have been exposed to some of the most unique back country wilderness that I have seen in my life - all before my eldest even finishes elementary school.

Heck, our views on our walk to the bus stop would stop any flat-landers in their tracks.

Our visit to southern Utah this spring was no exception.  Amidst all the hiking memories we have created as a family, Little Wild Horse Canyon stands out easily as my favorite.

As much as I really enjoy writing stories, this time the pictures are really worth a thousand words.

2011-04-12 13.08.03

2011-04-12 13.31.31

2011-04-12 13.43.23

2011-04-12 13.43.53

2011-04-12 13.45.55

2011-04-12 14.08.57

2011-04-12 16.15.30

2011-04-12 16.15.35




My men are already talking about hiking this one again.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

for jules

For my sophomore year of college, I transferred from a smaller satellite campus of my university to the main campus.  I was assigned to an all girls dorm that was set up in suites, having four bedrooms attached to a living area.

Julie lived in the bedroom next door to me and was a junior that year.  Her kind heart and loads of sarcastic humor made us fast friends.  She probably doesn't know it, but she was one of the major reasons that I enjoyed living there.  Okay, maybe she does.

The following year, Jules and I started working on the school newspaper together.  That required lots of procrastinating and pulling our stories out of thin air at the eleventh hour all nighters to get that very serious piece of journalism published each week.

We laughed a lot.  We ate a lot of pizza.  We cranked the music and danced in the newspaper office a lot.  Did I mention that we laughed?

Right now it would be hilarious to go in my basement and dig up some embarrassing photos of our college years - like the time Julie put on a paper pleated Christmas tree skirt as a real skirt - complete with black high heels.

But it's late and I'm too tired.  If I can muster the mojo chunk of time tomorrow to dive down that rabbit hole, I will.

Jules and I have always had a bond and after I got married we lost touch for a bit (definitely my fault).  After catching up at a friends wedding several years ago in Denver (where I got to meet her delightful, hilarious, and perfectly matched husband Jeff), we started sending Christmas cards and occasional emails.

thompsons Through that time, I found out that as grown adults, Julie and I share a heart and hurt for orphans.  She and Jeff have three beautiful biological children and have taken the leap of faith to apply to adopt a baby boy from Ethiopia.

They have completed all of their paperwork and are in "queue" for a referral to their son.  They have been chosen for a fundraiser this month by "Go. Seek. Love."

Visit Julie's blog or go straight to the Go. Seek. Love. website.  For each purchase, or simply spreading the word via any social media, you will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card.

Did you hear that?  NO PURCHASE NECESSARY!!!  But once you look at the cute t-shirts, you'll want one.

Let's bring this boy home to his amazing forever family.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

dear 22 year-old self

Dear 22 year-old Self,

SCAN0030 Remember that guy that your roommate suggested you should date and you responded that he was a little nerdy for your taste?  Well, that guy man will be your husband soon.

After knowing him for 15 years and being married to him for 14 of those years, I'd like to give you some advice and wisdom I've gathered.

First of all, NERDY IS GOOD!!!  Remember the "cool" guys that flattered you with a glance or a short conversation during your high school and college years?  Yeah, those guys, you know which ones.  They flattered you because clearly they thought more of themselves than of others - namely you. 

Those guys are not the ones who will ask permission for a first kiss or bring you a rose as a public declaration of his pursuit of you.

SCAN0033You thought getting along with your parents was tough?  You, my sweet young lady, are about to enter into the toughest relationship of your life.  But being difficult does not mean it is without rewards.

It is also the most rewarding and fulfilling relationship you'll have with another human being.

First of all, when he proposes, just say YES!  Don't stumble over your words and tell him to shut up.  Sure, it makes a good story later, but give the guy a break.

cakeYou'll do great with the wedding plans, but get a better photographer.  The dress will (quickly) go out of fashion, the flowers wither, but the photos will be looked at by your children's children.

Yup, there will be children.  I'll get to that part, be patient.

Read this and this before the wedding.  Then read the first one again because it is just that important.

The first couple of years of marriage are going to be a roller coaster.  The poor guy did not have any sisters and thank God he never lived with any women but his mother.  (No, falling asleep on your couch in college does not count.  Even if he did wake up the next day.)

Take all the ups and downs less personally.  Don't get upset during the first year when he wants his own space in your bed so that he can actually sleep.  He was used to sleeping by himself, it's not personal.

Define some limits about what neither of you will ever say during arguments or within your marriage at all.  It will cause less pain to decide that at the front end of the relationship rather than learning it the hard way.  Learning the hard way sucked.

SCAN0015 Prepare yourself to move around the country a bit.  The man you're about to marry is wired for success.  He gets bored when he masters one thing, so get ready to change and adapt.  He might even decide to move your family across the country without discussing it with you first.  He'll only do that once though, so go with it. 

Those qualities make him a wonderful provider though and when it is your time to quit your paying job and raise those little ones, you can trust that he will take care of you all financially.

Never lose sight of taking care of him first and foremost.

I will let you in on a little secret.  Your husband's love languages are "quality time" and "words of affirmation."  Prioritize those and love him well.

You are NOT his Holy Spirit.  Talk less.  Pray more.  Seek God.  Wait on God.  God will work on your husband.

SCAN0032When those promised children come along, you can study all the books and parenting programs that you want, but it is still a learn-as-you-go-with-each-individual-child process.  Be flexible because kids are not a "one size fits all" rule.  Even though they are all boys.

Yup, boys.  All of them.  When you least expect it, there might be a little estrogen in the mix.  Just wait.

Regardless of the curve balls parenting will throw at you, you must keep your marriage as the top priority.   When other women stand in disbelief at the number of days he spends hunting, you just kiss him good bye, tell him to bring home a lot of meat for the freezer, and remind him that there will be good reasons to come home.  IMG_2229Wink wink.

Speaking of staying home, SERVE.  Serve your family with a thankful heart.  I'm sure I will be writing a letter to the 36 year-old Self in another 14 years that talks about cherishing the time you have before they all grow up and move out.  So when you're 29 and in the thick of little ones needing you all.the.time. and a husband who (thank God) wants quality time with you, die to that selfish desire to get in your car and drive to TJMaxx away for that coveted "me time."

During particularly stressful times, your man will convert his stress to conflict.  Again, this isn't anything personal.  He carries the weight of a large family and drive for success on his shoulders.  Job change or financial stress can cause him to act like a jerk.  I am writing to remind you that you are no gem when you're PMS-ing, sleep deprived, or in labor (to mention just a few of many examples), so give grace as you would like to receive grace.

When he acts like a jerk, don't EVER complain to or confide in anyone who doesn't already love him and think the best of him.  It will be so important to have women in your life who will tell you that, "Yes, he is acting like a jerk.  He is a wonderful man (and here is why), now go home and treat him well."

dublinstation You will be shocked as marriages around you dissolve into divorce.  You will be wise to have a very real conversation with that man of yours about protecting your relationship, because clearly, no one is safe from that danger.

And after 14 years of marriage, he will still:

  • kiss you first (then the kids) when he walks in the door from work.
  • kiss you randomly and with passion when he walks through a room you're in (to the point that your older kids will tell you to get a room).
  • want to spend time with you and will weigh his attendance of social activities with missing out on hanging out with you.
  • laugh at your jokes and sarcasm.
  • be interested in your writing pursuits and read each one several times.
  • compliment your outfits, even when you're feeling pretty ordinary.
  • care about and invest in what you want out of life.
  • periodically ask for feedback as to how he can be a better husband to you.

datingCherish that my dear.  Work like mad to be the best wife you can be and then take each day and enjoy it!

Because 14 years goes quickly.  Your parents are right on that one and so am I.

Love, Your 36 year-old Self

About Me

My photo
Messy and wonderful perfectly describes my life as a wife and mom of five. I'm passionate about advocating for orphans by telling their stories and encouraging adoption and orphan care. My schedule is messy and wonderful as I am charged with four sons and one daughter. We love living in our little mountain ski town. We do a little camping, a little skiing, a little hunting, and a lot of laughing and loving. Life is dirty and loud around here but we wouldn't want it any other way. Okay, maybe a little less dirty!

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