Tuesday, December 31, 2013

'14 It's Almost Time!

A new year feels like a breath of fresh air.  2013 has been a good year, but I am looking forward to moving on from here and kind of hitting the reset button and refocusing on things that we want to improve. We all enter a year hoping for the best but know there will be bumps in the road.  I can't help but wonder what this year will hold.  With that being said, here some of my hopes and goals for 2014!  I'm not making any bold claims for a calm year ahead, because at this point I am pretty well convinced that we just don't roll that way.  

  Peter and I are doing great and so I don't feel like there is anything that stands out in my mind for our marriage this year.  Minor things to work harder and just enjoy our time together.  I'm not always the best (especially after a busy day with the kids) of appreciating Peter or letting him know he is loved and I want to get better at that.  I would love to try and get out on dates a little more often and maybe sneak away for a weekend together at least once before LB (nickname for the new baby) gets home. 

    I am hoping for a good year ahead with the kids.  I am hoping the age of 4 will give us some respite and that as Eli is leaving the 2's behind that maybe the no-itis will disappear with it.   Not sure how a 2 year old girl is, but with all the attitude bundled up in her already it could get interesting. I look forward to the yard being more put together this spring and summer for the kids to enjoy and digging in to more days of school time with the kids in the days ahead. My highest hope is that we will get to welcome LB home in the year ahead.  Can't wait to see who God has in store for our family! 

  Fortunately a lot of the big jobs on the house are now complete.  This year, we would love to get a garden planted and finish up a few more odd jobs outside.  I would love to get a gas fire pit but that may  need to wait awhile longer.  We were hoping to get a sprinkler system and new yard planted but I think that is going to get delayed another year too.  As our atrocious electric bill in December proved, we will need to focus on getting a new furnace this year for the house and that is going to be the big upcoming expense on this place.  

   We want to continue our trend of running. I would love to throw a few more days of strength training in there.  We also want to focus on better eating and possibly losing a few pounds. With running I would love to see myself get a bit faster.  I want to consistently be able to run those longer mileage days between 9-10 minute mile pace.  I want to get more comfortable with 7 and 8 mile runs and possibly start contemplating increasing my mileage up to the half marathon level.  Peter is hoping to run a marathon in the year ahead.  Hoping for more energy free running this year as that slowed us down several times this year. 

  We are starting this year off with a bang as we prepare to travel to Ethiopia in just a few short weeks.  My parents also gifted us a week at Eagle Crest with the kids in August but besides that our travel calendar is pretty empty.  We have no plans for a Disney trip this year.  If we get matched this year, then we will be spending at least a couple weeks somewhere else in the US and it will be exciting to see where that will be!  

   Ugh, the worst part of it all.  We have a lot we want to work on here this year.  We need to get better with our budgets and continue to stay focused on our ultimate goals.  A lot of our financial goals are kind of on the back burner right now as we try to focus on funding our adoption.  

   Peter will hit 5 years with his company this year.  That is exciting because he will be getting more vacation time which is always appreciated!  We are also hopeful that this year  holds some exciting advancements for Peter.  If that works out then there is also a decent possibility that he could be going back to school to get his masters in tax which would just keep that crazy train rolling right on through this place!  

2014!  I hope you are a good year to our family. Here's to a year of prosper, lots of loving, and health for us all.  Happy New Year friends!  

Monday, December 30, 2013

A real year end recap!

Well, my month long recap kind of fell apart.  Such goes life.  December, following the whole theme of the year was a bit crazy.  So, I figured I would write a brief little year categorized review here and in my next post will share some of my goals for the year ahead!   

   A year ago, we told ourselves that 2013 was going to be a calm year where we didn't do much of anything and just rested up.  HAH!  I think 2013 could collectively be the busiest, most chaotic year for us yet!  I like to be an organized person but organization has been hard to come by this year and I find myself just looking a day or two ahead on the calendar because I don't have the time to prepare for anything beyond that!  

     Just because of the busyness of life, we've had a few more nit picky moments this year than normal but we've also worked through a lot of things which is a good thing.   We're very happy and have put a lot of time and effort into communicating and connecting.  In the few minutes we have to ourselves we have learned to put more effort into focusing our attention on each other instead of less important things. 

    The kids are doing great.  We now have 3 toddlers and things can get pretty crazy.  However, in a lot of ways I feel like we really settled into a great routine with them this year.  Malachi and Eli are doing preschool work and that has been great for them and I have seen a lot of growth with them.  We also conquered potty training for Eli early in the year and reached lots of new and exciting milestones for Sabrina.  And of course, even among all that craziness, we felt like we were missing some craziness and needed to add another little baby to our family!  

     On a wild hair idea, we decided to sell our house in the new year which was nowhere on our radar.  We also found a house that was a total dream come true for us!  We sold our old home and moved into our new home and did a ton of work on this place!  Working on our house consumed a lot of our time this year!  

    We successfully continued running this entire year to complete about 18 months of running! We ran several races this year and both conquered new goals this year as Peter ran his first half marathon and I ran a 10K.  

   Along with a few trips locally to Eagle Crest and the beach for the 4th of July and 2 trips up to Seattle.  We also went on fun trips to Atlanta on business for Peter and a trip to Disneyland to run our races!  

   We met some huge financial goals this year as we became officially debt free (minus the mortgage) and were able to start on baby step #4 as we started our retirement nest egg.  With that being said, this has also oddly enough been our toughest year financially.  Money has been very tight but we've survived and the new year is feeling like a breath of fresh air!  

   Peter has had another great year at work as he takes on more responsibility.  He is fast approaching 5 years with his company and has taken several steps in the direction of furthering his career in the year ahead!  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Think Box #8

Yeah, I missed another one in there, but life is busy!
Today's is

What completely surprised you this year? Was it good...or not so good? Tell us a story!

Fortunately this year has been full of the best kind of surprises.  A year ago, I would never in a million years fathom where our life is today.  Selling our home was not even on my radar.  Adopting again - nope, not there either.  We knew we needed a bigger house before we could go to 4 children.  Our small, 3 bedroom house just wasn't going to cut it much longer.  So we figured in a few years we would sell that house and then adopt again.

But for some odd reason that made no sense to me, we got the idea to test out the market and try to sell our house in the New Year.  By February we were on the market but trying to avoid finding any houses to fall in love with.  And yet, it didn't take long at all before a house that felt completely out of our league popped up on the market and by a miracle turn of events, it was a foreclosure in our price range.  The crazy thing is we had looked at it just for fun about 6 months earlier (since it was the really nice house behind my in-laws and she's a real estate agent) and it got an offer very fast.  By some crazy turn of events those buyers passed and it was available again.  It had several offers in on it within a couple days and by another miracle turn of events - ours was picked!  It all felt way too good to be true!  We have an amazing house that is beyond my wildest dreams and truly perfect for our family.  After 8 months of living here, I still can't think of one design flaw or thing I would change.  I feel so blessed every day we're here!  

So there we are. Surprise of all surprises we were able to get in to an incredible home this year and we're adopting again.  2013 I said would be our calm year where we just rest and enjoy life.  I can tell you with a lot of certainty that there has been VERY little rest this year!  Oh well!  

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Today I am supposed to make a collage of what I see 2014 looking like.  Some are just wishes and probably won't happen but just in case, here it is:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Think Kit #6

So I missed yesterday's and I'm not even going to attempt to make it up, but I'm back on track today.

This Think Kit has me looking forward to next year and thinking about acts of charity and generosity and what I want to accomplish next year.

In just a few short weeks, Peter and I will be embarking on a journey back to Ethiopia.  This desire has been in our hearts for several years now and we are excited and nervous and know this trip will greatly impact our lives.  I know there are a lot of opinions on short term mission work and whether it does good or just makes the trip goers feel good.  Peter and I worked hard to make sure we were going with an organization that truly understands Ethiopia and is highly invested in organizations that do daily work in country.  I believe whole heartedly in the mission of Ordinary Hero and the work Kelly Putty does in Ethiopia.

I don't know what this trip to Ethiopia holds for us.  I do have a strong sense though that God is putting us there and that God is just planting a seed in our hearts for something bigger to come.  We plan to spend our entire lives heavily invested in Ethiopia and I think this is just the beginning of that for us.  I hope this trip will open our eyes a bit more to the amazing people of Ethiopia and the true needs in the country and allow us to get deeper invested in Ethiopia.  I'm totally clueless to what this trip means for us beyond that I just have a gut feeling that this trip is the spark that will ignite more of SOMETHING in our lives!  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Think Box #4

What was the wisest decision you made this year? Who did it impact? Describe your decision-making process, discuss the results, or just share a little learned wisdom.

This has been an incredible year for us.  We have accomplished so much.  It hasn't been what I would consider an easy year and there has been a lot of stress and sacrifice at times but the accomplishments and strides forward in our life have been great!  We have continued to live life in the fast lane for sure!

When I try to think of all we have accomplished, the biggest accomplishment I can think of though is becoming debt free!  We've been following The Total Money Makeover for several years now and had been working towards that day.  It was a huge goal of our lives accomplished!  Not being tied down by student loans or car payments has been a huge relief!  We've learned some valuable lessons financially and have worked hard to find the balance between meeting our financial goals but also living in the moment and enjoying ourselves just a little bit!  

It was a big step towards our future.  We still have a long ways to go and we've had to just ignore those financial goals for awhile while we focus on more important things (adoption!) but we know we can pick it all right back up and get going again when the time is right.  We've set ourselves on the right path and that will make a huge difference as the years go by.  And if we're lucky maybe we can teach our kids a thing or two and set them on the right path too.    

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Think Box #3

Share the strangest experience of your year. Did you do something new or unexpected, see something out of the ordinary, or have a unique experience? What was so strange about it?

Now, I have to tell you on this one, I was completely stumped.  This whole project of reflection is seriously difficult for me because I can't even remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday!  Fortunately I have a husband who can come up with all sorts of ideas for this one.  

As many already know, we bought a new incredible house this year.  Every single item on our must have list was meant in this house which was a HUGE blessing because on paper there is just no way we should have been able to find anything even remotely in our price range.  Our house is perfect and the only thing missing is acreage, but since that request was pretty much impossible, we got the next best thing.  Essentially our house has 3 lots for the kids to play on!  We are fortunate that our house was actually built on a double city lot.  We have our own private basketball/tennis court!  

 Now, the part of all of this that seems strange and surreal to Peter is that this home is the home behind where he grew up in!  He spent a lot of time as a child envying this yard and now it is his!  To make it even crazier, his parents still live behind this house!  I like to joke that we have our own Everybody Loves Raymond going on, but I'm not sure my in-laws find the joke quite as funny as I do.  

So, in a way we have 3 yards in one because the kids love to trek up to Grandpa and Grandma's and play in their yard which has an in ground trampoline which is a lot of fun in the meantime as they try to sneak into Grandpa and Grandma's house.  So, I know to a lot of people this whole living arrangement is bizarre but it works for us.  

Another odd and out of the ordinary moment on the same side of things is having some seriously heavy duty "Bob the Builder" equipment in the backyard!  When we bought this house we made the difficult but right for our family decision to destroy the pool in the backyard.  It was a fun and loud few days of fun as we watched them tear that thing out!  


Monday, December 2, 2013

Think Kit Day 2

Take a poll and share the results. Is there something you've been curious about? A decision you're struggling with? Ask the crowd, and report back on what the results might mean.

This is something I actually did a few weeks back with my FB friends and got an overwhelming response.  You see, awhile back when we decided we wanted to adopt again there was one remaining matter of business.  I have to say goodbye to my beloved Jeep and we have to get a bigger car.  As much as I have not embraced the idea, the most logical option is to move into the swagger-wagon.  

I began researching options and trying to figure out the overwhelming options.  I love to research and boy was there a lot to research.  Different brands, different models.  What sacrifices we're willing to make to get it in our price range.  It has been hard for us to decide if we want to aim to save money or buy a higher quality vehicle at the top of our budget.  I have a ton of mom friends so I knew I had a huge minivan population a fingerprint away.

So, with a quick click, the poll was out there and my friends started pouring in the results.  I got an overwhelming response that cheaper was not the way to go and that there is a reason (of course) that people are willing to pay more for the quality ones.

All that to say, I am trying my best to embrace my future car purchase and it won't be too long now before I am sportin a new to me swagger on the road!  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Think Box 2013 Recap : Year in photos

As I had forgotten until I received an email today, it is once again time for the Think Box 2013 December Recap.  That's right people, you're stuck with 31 days of posts recapping the year we are leaving and looking a bit at the year ahead!  

This first post is meant to recap "just a few" of my favorite photos from 2013!  I tried to show a lot of restraint but darn it, when I have such cute kids that bring me so many wonderful memories. It's just hard to only choose a few.  So here you go, these are the pictures that instantly bring back a special memory from this year and man oh man, my kids sure have grown this year.  I can't believe it!  

Thanksgiving 2013

We had another wonderful Thanksgiving this year.  Holidays seem so much sweeter surrounded with our sweet little family.  

We were up bright and early Thanksgiving day to run the Give N Gobble Race!  We got there a bit late so didn't take the proper time to warm up and get ready but we were looking at it as a fun race opportunity and not as much a PR race for us.  I had a cold and was not feeling all that great and Peter has been recovering from injury.  From a mental standpoint this was definitely my best race.  I have a tendency to wig myself out before races and then don't run well but I was able to settle down pretty quickly with this one and get into my own routine.  This was also the first race I chose to wear headphones and I think that made a huge difference for me mentally too.  I find running a lot easier with music on.  My first mile killed me because I was amongst the crowd and was disappointed to see 11 minutes on my watch at mile 1.  I played a slow and steady catch up the rest of the race bringing me in at 32:19.  Not a PR but all things considered I was pleased with that finish. It was an easy and fun 5K!  

Peter of course always finds a way to do fabulous even in the worst of conditions.  He ran the 10K and came in at 47:52!  He's just a beast and there isn't much more to say about that.  

After we got ourselves all cleaned up it was the loooong trek up the walkway between our yards to Peter's parents house for dinner.  This living arrangement proved valuable a few times already just that morning.  It was easy for Peter's dad to come down and watch the kids while we ran. They had the use of another oven for cooking, and we were able to conveniently plop the kids in their own beds for a nap midday and then head back up later for more visiting.  

It was a really great Thanksgiving with a wonderful meal!  

Another big part of the long weekend was making wreaths for our adoption fundraising.  We did this one 4 years ago when we were dreaming of our first little baby and it was really sweet that this time that baby got to go out and help Grandpa and Grandma get the greens for his baby brother or sister!

Peter's parents and grandma worked very hard this weekend to make a bunch of beautiful wreaths and this has been a hugely succesful adoption fundraiser!  I feel so blessed to have grandparents who work so hard to support us on our adventures and a wonderful group of friends and family who are willing to support us financially as we come up with the funds to adopt again!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Called to Love Recap


This past weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to attend a brand new retreat for adoptive moms!  I went in to it with no real expectations for what I would experience there.  Worst case, it would be a rare opportunity to get away for a few days of rest.  What happened was so much more than that and here is a very brief recap of my wonderful weekend surrounded by like-minded women!

General Retreat:
1)  I had no idea just how needed a retreat like this was for families in the NW!
2) Connections happen quickly when you are surrounded by people who share your passions!
3) My large, diverse family was normal!
4) Ethnic hair care was a common topic of interest!
5) There sure is a lot of love going around when you are surrounded my adoptive moms!
6) We're all struggling with something.
7) The food was surprisingly good and it was nice to get to eat a whole meal while it was still hot!
8) Big Passenger Vehicles were also a topic of discussion.
9) A lot of woman worked REALLY hard to put this whole thing together!
10) It exceeded my expectations, especially for a first ever retreat!

We, meaning my MIL (also an adoptive mom) and I, headed out to the retreat center at the Oregon Garden's early Friday afternoon.  If you are in the adoption community at all, you have probably heard the names Karyn Purvis and Amy Monroe.  They are pretty much celebrities in my book!  Amy Monroe was hosting an early evening break out session for us early arriving moms and we definitely did not want to miss it!

Breakout #1 -
Connecting While Correcting with Amy Monroe
Something that I don't think a lot of people realize is that every adopted child comes from a hard place.  Because every adopted child comes from a hard place, normal discipline tactics are not ideal for them and so as parents we need to adjust our parenting to meet their needs.  I have read The Connected Child (highly recommended reading for adoptive parents!)  and well, some of the stuff hasn't sticked.  Parenting is hard work!  But hearing it all laid out in person, really helped me.  It is a great reminder for me that my goal as a parent is to connect and train my children, not to punish!  And extra great bonus: Connecting While Correcting also works great for biological children!

Another side note: I always thought that Amy Monroe would be like the perfect parent.  I had her on a pedestal but I must say I was pleasantly surprised to find that she is SO normal and faces the same struggles that we all face!

Main Session Friday Night:
Stephanie Fast
I have heard Stephanie Fast speak 3 times now, but every time I hear her speak I am amazed.  She has the most tragic orphan story I have ever heard.  But her story of redemption and adoption always gets to me.  She is an amazing woman with an incredible story to share.

Main Session Saturday Morning:
Saturday morning we had the great opportunity to listen to an adult adoptee panel.  This was great to gather insight into what their lives have looked like as they are now in their 20's-40's.  A few points that really stood out to me is that each one of these adoptee's whether adopted as a 2 day old baby or as a 13 year old was deeply impacted by the loss of their birth family. Like it was described from one of the adoptee's, a piece of the puzzle will always be missing.  Another thing that stood out was how profound the birth of their children was to them, to have a biological connection of someone who has similar features to them.

Breakout #2 -
Something to Talk About with Amy Monroe
This one was so important to me. Malachi is now getting old enough to start asking questions about his story and well, sometimes I look like a dear in the headlights (which is NOT what we are supposed to do) and I really needed some encouragement on how best to help him learn about his story.

 Main Session Saturday Evening:
We had one final chance to listen to Amy Monroe speak and she really spoke to our hearts as adoptive mother's.  The fears, doubts, and shame that play games with us.  It was another great session from her.

We also ended this evening with an opportunity to listen to a birth mom panel.  This was something I looked forward to as we embark on the journey of domestic adoption and will more than likely have a lifetime relationship with our child's birth mom.  I gained some valuable insight into their unique hearts and stories.  Again, just like with the adoptee panel, the decision to place a child for adoption leaves a lifetime impact on these woman and a hole in their hearts.  In general, it took years for each of these woman to process their adoptions and finally get to a healthy place with it.

Main Session Sunday Morning:
Sunday morning ended up being the emotional rollercoaster ending the weekend.  I didn't really know what to expect from the morning session and was even thinking we should have just left after the last evening session but it was worth staying.  I don't even remember the speakers name because she was a last minute addition when the speaker who was supposed to be there got sick. But it worked out so great in the end and she did amazing.  One minute there was laughter and the next minute there was crying. It was crazy but such a good send off to all of us moms as we set back out to do better and connect more with our kids.

All in all it was a great weekend and I am so grateful to all of the hard working adoptive mom's who put this retreat together.  I was able to meet "in real life" quite a few woman who have been online friends for quite some time.  And I even made some new friends too!  I hope to attend again next year, but as we are currently expecting a baby with no due date we will have to see how this next year plays out!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Playing Catch Up!

A bit behind and trying to catch up on the happenings over here.  

Last week was (obviously) Halloween.  The boys are at a really fun age with holiday's and carving pumpkins and trick or treating was very exciting this year! 

You want me to stick my hand where?  

We took a quick weekend trip up to Seattle to hang out with Peter's brother Andy.  He drove us around and showed us a lot of the tourist sights.  We look forward to spending more time up there and getting to do and see more!

And if all that wasn't enough, this past week we took the plunge and signed paperwork to adopt again!  We are so excited about this next adoption journey and that is a lot of why this blog was being ignored.  I promise to do better on updating here, but for all of the adoption process happenings check out our Adoption Blog!