Saturday, January 29, 2011

cake for Keandre

It's challenging to have a child with food allergies. 

I think it's even harder to be the child living with those food allergies. 

How do you wrap your little mind around the fact that if you eat just one bite of egg, or one almond, you could die?  Or that if there is hidden dairy in your food, you will soon throw up your whole meal and get hives all over? 

Keandre is so brave about it.  He even insists that we regularly 'test' him by offering him foods he is allergic to when we serve them to others, and then he grins and says, "I can't have cheese, Mama.  I'm ALLERGIC!"  I sometimes wonder if that is his way of not feeling as left out. 

But sometimes he does feel left out.  It's inevitable.  And his fav fruit suckers from Trader Joe's don't fill the void as easily as they used to.  (If you shop at TJs, check them out....yummy, colorful, organic, and dye-free!)

Recently my mom pulled out some allergy-safe (or as we say, "Keandre-safe") chocolate cake.  She had made it for Keandre to eat during a family birthday party and then frozen the rest for 'next time'.  She understands what a treat this is for him!  We brought it home, and for two days, he ate as much cake as he wanted, until it was all gone.  It was so fun to watch him enjoy it. 

"Thank you, Granny!"
love, Keandre

For a copy of our favorite dairy/egg/nut-free chocolate cake recipe, click here.  We definitely recommend this cookbook!

Friday, January 21, 2011

New Year bliss

Camera issues prevented the taking of memorable photos during our trip, but we did capture this one during our time with Claire & Kyndra.  Auntie Elise was probably next to me, jumping up and down in hopes of getting everyone to look forward at once.
Not bad for 6 kiddos, huh?

We are three weeks into the new year, and still, I am feeling so thankful for the start of a new year.  And it's all because of the week between Christmas and New Year. 

We spend that week with Andy's family, in Southern California.  I'll be the first to admit it is hard to travel at Christmas time.  We do it every year, and with a young family that seems to grow in number on a very regular basis.  Most years I threaten that this may be the last time I'm willing to spend the week before Christmas doing all the normal celebratory activities AND packing up our whole house family.  But we sure love it once we get there.  And here's why....

Every year, our travel time is a wonderful opportunity for Andy and I to catch up.  We talk about anything and *everything* during the six hour drive to Southern California.  And my sweet husband is so patient that he doesn't even complain if I talk his ear off about whatever topic is closest to my heart at the moment.  I suppose at the very least, it is entertainment during a long drive! :)  Seriously, though, God uses this time every year to knit our hearts closer together as we evaluate how our year has gone, and what changes we need to make regarding any areas of life that are not running so smoothly. 

And oh, how we love to dream together.  We talk about books we want to read with the kids (Narnia!), home projects we'd like to start (landscaping and a chicken coop), and ways to better organize our time.  The kids travel pretty well, so although there is always some restlessness, for the most part it's not too bad.  This year we listened to half a dozen Adventures in Odyssey cds!  (Incidentally, we avoid the Aventures in Odyssey dvds and books like the plague.  We love using our imagination to picture the town, the people, and the adventures.)

Once we arrive in California, my week of bliss begins.  Maybe it wouldn't be bliss to others, but I love it!  I often go to bed a little earlier than Andy, and relax in the quiet of our room as I listen to Keandre and Brooklyn sleeping peacefully.  I definitely get more sleep than at home, even if Brooklyn decides to go through a growth spurt and get her first tooth in the same week, and wants to cuddle and nurse every 3 hours around the clock.  In fact, I may complain a little, but I'm more rested than usual, so it's really not too bad. :)

In the morning, we take turns getting up at 7am with the kids, who have strict instructions to not leave their rooms until then, and we eat breakfast or snuggle by the woodburning stove while I feed Brooklyn and read Keandre stories.  During the day, we go on long walks with Grandma's dogs following along behind, traipse through the many acres Papa and Grandma live on, make dams down at the creek (which was actually running this year!), and watch the kids ride trikes, skateboards, and play tractors down the steep driveway.  Oh, how they squeal with delight!  There is also lots of cousin time.  For Destany and Lisa, that means playing with dolls; Lucas and Cooper spend endless hours playing outside.  Oh, the memories they are creating.

This is also the only week of the year that I actually have time to read, journal, pray, and reflect on how things are running in our family, what God seems to be calling us to in the new year, and start getting excited about the weeks and months ahead.  And I take full advantage of it.  By the time we are heading home, I feel refreshed, excited for the new year, and ready to jump in.  The new year is so full of HOPE! 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

our own little farm

Some people might think we collect children.  That's ridiculous.  After all, we only have four children.  Let me tell you what we do collect, though.  Pets! 

Currently, we have:

6 fish

1 snake (found in the backyard, surrounded by a circle of chickens)

7 chickens, and 1 rabbit who thinks he's a chicken (more on that later)

One of our chickens lives in the house.  I know.  You are so jealous.  After all, not just anyone gets to have a chicken in their house
(She has a broken leg, and will hopefully re-join the flock outdoors in the near future.)

Having your own little farm is educational, right?  And we homeschool.  So....that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it. 

Monday, January 17, 2011



Have you been keeping an eye on the fundraising thermometer? Amazing, isn't it?! In one month, we are more than half way to our first goal, and if we keep going at this rate, we will meet it by the middle of February!  This first $1,000 will allow us to be presented as a ready and waiting adoptive family while we continue to save the money to pay the legal fees.  We would love to pay that first fee and go active with our agency the first week of June, right after Brooklyn turns one.  Only four and a half months to go!  (Where does the time fly???)

But along with a growing sense of excitement, a bit of anxiety is creeping in.  We received some news from our adoption agency on Friday afternoon.  Our caseworker was looking into a few things for us, and she had a meeting with the agency director and discussed our situation with her.  The director decided that in order to be presented us as a waiting family, our income must be stable enough that we are no longer receiving unemployment.  This was a bit of a blow for me.  It was not a complete surprise, but it hit me harder than I expected.

Although Andy does odd jobs and architecture contract work (anyone out there need an architect?) to support us right now, there are slow weeks where we receive unemployment to help us stay on track with our mortgage.  The director is concerned about what would happen if that money was not there.  We know the answer is that God would provide...He always has.  But we also understand her position, and we respect it.  They need to do everything possible to ensure that children are being placed in stable families.  And although we are stable in real life (right? ;), we must also be stable on paper.  (I'm holding back here -- the sarcasm could be crazy! LOL)

Andy was laid off a little more than two years ago.  It has been a hard road, but also a very meaningful one.  We have learned so much.  But we would really appreciate your prayers regarding his job situation.  We know that God has a plan in all of this, and we want so much to patiently wait and see what He has in store.  We want to continue to stand strong in the knowledge that God has led us to be available for one more little one.  He has already done so much to affirm this as we step out in faith and obedience, and we MUST trust that He has this issue under control also.  But I am only human.  And 2+ years of unemployment and fluctuating income is wearing on me.  So I appreciate your prayers for us. :)

Saturday, January 15, 2011



These girls are a crack-up.  They are the best of friends.  I remember when we bought our house, and we hadn't met anyone in the neighborhood yet.  Lucas was 2 and Destany was 7 months old.  We really hoped there were kids on our street. 

One day, as we started working on the house to get ready for the move, a sign went up across the street.  "It's a Girl!"  Turns out there are many little boys on our street, but only one other little girl.  These two stick together.  It may get loud (oh, the drama these two create!), but their friendship is a gift. 

And yes, they have blue hair.  It's all the rage on our street.  Not on yours???

Rest assured.  That make-up kit is a goner.  They used the whole thing in one hour, much to my delight.  There are many layers of makeup on their beautiful faces.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Funny Friday (caption contest winners!)

"Stand back evil do-ers, I have a broom and I know how to use it!"
(courtesy of Jamie)

"Famed Rap artist reported missing from studio. 
Found safely - doing chores in the backyard."
(courtesy of Megan)

Hear no evil, see no evil, have no balance. :)
(courtesy of Amy)

Jamie, Megan, & Amy -- email me at with your address, and I will mail out your body & hair butter right away! :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

campfire prep

As I mentioned recently, the weekly campfires are a highlight of our week!  The kids are so excited for us to begin that they often start preparations early.  But since there is a lot to do, I don't complain.  This week, they....

hauled wood,

cut some pieces smaller,

and laid out copious amounts of junk food.

Ever the helpful baby, Brooklyn took it upon herself to break the graham crackers into lots of tiny pieces.  There were no complaints, though, as the other kids know that this ensures the opportunity to eat graham crackers for snacks, not JUST at campfire, like mommy prefers!

After a month off, Lucas was pretty stoked (ha ha, get it?) about this week's campfire.  He started getting ready at about 3pm and did almost ALL the prep himself.  He was amazing!  He raked the whole yard, swept the patio, hauled wood, and put out the table of food.  We rewarded him with a run to Trader Joe's for 'healthy hotdogs' (nitrate free, minimally processed, etc.) that he could roast over the fire for dinner.  Yum!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Caption Contest & Blog Giveaway

picture #1
picture #2
picture #3

These pictures were too good to keep to ourselves.  But I need your help! 

Caption Contest: Leave your best captions to these pictures in the comments.  (Make sure to specify which picture, and sign it or choose Name/URL if you want credit for your captions!) 

Blog Giveaway: If we choose your caption for a picture, you can choose a free tub of body butter from this page.  If you don't live nearby, I will mail it to you! :)

Captions will be chosen on Thursday night, and we will re-post on Friday morning as a Funny Friday post.  (By the way, isn't our little guy just too cute? ;) 

Sunday, January 9, 2011



Creation Groans from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.

Trust is believing that GOD will tell us when our family is complete.  

It is believing that His plans for our family are good, even if they challenge us. 

Trust is leaning on the knowledge that He will provide.  

It is asking Him for the courage to follow wherever He takes us.  

Trust is teaching our children that God is good, all the time, and that WE are part of the answer to the orphan crisis. 

Every one of us. 

No matter what role He gives us. :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Glory to God!


I love the Livesay family.  Okay, so I don't actually know them personally, and maybe I'm using that word a little loosely, but....  We follow their blog, and I absolutely love the way their family is so REAL.  Troy and Tara have seven children.  They regularly share the ins and outs of serving and loving the beautiful people of Haiti through Heartline Ministries and WorldWide Village.  They speak openly about what it means to serve God in the hard places, and share His grace and hope with those living in desperate poverty.  And there is no pretense -- along with the adventures and the joy, they are real about the struggles and doubts that we all face in our journeys to live for God and bring glory to Him in imperfect world.  Oh, and did I mention that their little ones fight?  Ah, yes.  Real.

Our children have friends who were adopted from Haiti.  Sometimes I share the Livesay's blog posts with our kiddos.  We talk about the realities of life in Haiti, and pray about the situations shared.  Sometimes a post is hilarious, and we all crack up together.  Like this year's Christmas video:

Other posts, like last year's Christmas video, spark meaningful conversations. 

Our sweet girl has the whole song (a Troy original) memorized. It is precious listening to her sing her heart out in unison with Hope, the Livesay's middle daughter.

She listens to it over, and over, and over, and.....  It's okay.  I think I could listen to it a hundred more times before I'm tired of it.  That should be at least 3 days from now, right?

ps - Troy and Tara are supported by donors.  Check out their blog if you're interested in getting involved.
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