"Anyone can have one kid. But going from one kid to two is like going from owning a dog to running a zoo." - P. J. O'Rourke

Friday, February 28, 2014

And Away We Go!!

Vicarious vacationers, the car is packed, the pets are dispatched to their various temporary homes, and the muffins are made.  Time to get in the car and drive......and drive....and drive some more!

No more blog posts until we arrive, but my Facebook friends may be able to stay up to date there.

So long........

Six Years

Six years ago today, we landed in Minneapolis with Marcus and Zoe, having just taken them from warm and beautiful Ethiopia into the frozen tundra we call home.  The 20+ hour flight and the submersion into a completely foreign environment was quite a shock for them both, I am sure.  Marcus spoke almost no English.  We spoke even less Amharic. We made do, and somehow managed to muddle through those weeks and months that followed.

Time marches on, and now I can look back on six entire years of our journey with Marcus and Zoe.  I would be an utter liar if I told you it has all been a bed of roses.  I would be just as much a liar if I told you it has been awful.  Truthfully, it's been both.

Life is messy.
Life is hard.
Life is glorious and beautiful.

You get it all rolled up in one package.

Anyway, we are so thankful that God brought Marcus and Zoe to our family.  They bless us in so many ways, big and little.  We are so excited to see how much they've overcome and how much they've grown.  We look forward to seeing all that God has for them and for us in the future.

The very first picture we ever saw of our future son and daughter

It didn't take Zoe long to adjust :-)

Marcus sporting his new winter clothing.  He had probably never worn so many layers in his life!

Cute as can be!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Feeling Divided

While I am VERY excited to leave this -30 degree windchill, and I very much look forward to walking on the beach, I am somewhat sad to be leaving on vacation!  How can this be, you ask?  Well, this year half of my kids will be left at home. 

This makes me sad.

While they will be in the capable care of friends and family, they won't be with ME!  One of my favorite parts about vacation is spending "uninterrupted" time together as a family, and as my kids get older, this just isn't going to happen as much.

So, if you end up seeing Evan or Erin or Nina or Molly or Aidan in the week we are gone, give them an extra hug from me!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Virtual Vacationers

Time to start packing, all you who are going on a virtual vacation with me!  We leave Friday evening.  Here is the forecast for our destination...

It's not going to be tropical by any stretch of the imagination, but to put things in perspective, here is the forecast for home....
I'd like to point out the lack of snowflakes and subzero temperatures in the Gulf Shores forecast!

Don't forget your sandals and beach towel.  I'm sure if we're out of the wind we will be doing some sunbathing!

Oh, and you might want to stock up on snacks for the long drive down.  I'll bring the chex mix and gorp.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I was going to write a post this morning about being anxious.  I've actually spent large chunks of the last several months battling anxiety, over my kids' futures, but I can't quite express the nuances of what I'm going through with the written word.  Maybe other moms out there can relate...

That's okay though, because this morning, I'm just feeling thankful.  Monday nights are "family night" around here, meaning that Evan and Erin come over for dinner and hang with the rest of the family for the evening.  They decided before they were married that they would visit once a week.  This decision made me a very happy mama!

What a joy to just spend time together as a family laughing and talking.  Seeing Evan and Erin is actually very therapeutic, as it is a visual reminder to me that God will, indeed, take care of my children even after they reach adulthood.  Also, the genuine love that my older children have for each other makes my heart just sing! My girls are blessed to have a big brother who loves them fiercely.

Okay, that's enough of this mushy-mom post.  Back to the trenches I go, more peaceful and less anxious.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Making It Easy On Me

The weather is certainly making it easy for me to get excited about leaving!

I have no problem giving up this white stuff...
For this white stuff...

I can almost hear the waves already!!!! Seven days!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ten Days

Those of you that will be virtually vacationing with us, it's time to start making our lists...

  • sunscreen
  • swimsuit
  • shorts
  • beach towels
  • windbreaker
  • sandals
In a few days you can start piling the items you'll be bringing in piles throughout the house.  Better find your razor, too, so you can shave your legs when the time comes!

Oh, we better make a To Do List....
  • Get out summer clothes
  • Find sitter's for the animals being left behind
  • Find homes for the children being left behind
  • Stop mail
  • Stop newspaper
  • Get extra batteries for the camera
  • Check the weather for Gulf Shores, AL a dozen times a day (this will help in the packing)

I am so sick of this snow!  I can't wait to be OUT OF HERE!

Carry on.....

Friday, February 14, 2014

So Worth It

In 2012, we made the decision to undertake a large addition to our house.  Not only were there financial decisions to be made, there was the huge inconvenience of living in a home under construction.
It was a looooong three months, that I do not wish to go back to, but we did it with a vision in mind. Not only a vision to have a living room in which our whole family could comfortably sit, but a living room and home in which we could bless people.  A place where people could gather and we could show them the love of Christ.

Tonight, we hosted a movie night for our youth group.  As I looked around the room I once again remembered why we added on.  It was worth every penny and every inconvenience!

I love having my home as a gathering place!  I love it!!

Monday, February 10, 2014

It Is Time

Dear Winter Clothes,

I know we have had a long, on-again/off-again relationship, but I am growing weary of your company of late.  I know we have spent many days snuggling together with a cup of hot tea or reading by the fire, and I have enjoyed those times immensely, but I think it is time for me to move on. Quite frankly, I find your covering me from neck to toe to be quite constricting.  Not to mention, my tattoo hasn't seen the light of day in well over four months now.  I partially blame you for the extra five pounds I'm carrying around, as you make it far too easy to hide the extra pudge. Lastly, you bore me.  Where is the variety in jeans and a sweater?

I hate to break this to you, but I will be starting a relationship with someone you have met - Summer Clothes.  I won't be seeing him often initially, but I hope the relationship will grow quickly.  He is exciting and colorful. He likes walks on the beach and lazing around in hammocks. I hope we can still be friends, you and I. Maybe I will feel differently about you in a few months - eight, to be exact.

Stay in touch,

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Sequel

Y'all seem to like a good story, so I will bless you with another one.

This is a sequel to the previous story.

I think we will title our new series, "Barb's Life On Display For All To See" or better yet, "God's Love On Display For All To See!"  Yes, I like that much better!

In the last episode, you will remember that God blessed us with a beautiful baby girl, through quite amazing and difficult circumstances.  We will begin the next episode three months after Nina arrived home.

Totally enjoying my new little baby, I was slightly surprised, and more than slightly terrified to discover that I was pregnant, yet again.  For those of you that have suffered multiple miscarriages, you know that a positive pregnancy test is not the purely joyful event that it used to be. While happy to see that little + sign, the next emotion was utter, raw fear.  After having three miscarriages in a row, I had every reason to believe that I would soon be dealing with loss and grief all over again.  My heart still hurt over the babies we lost.  I did NOT want to go through that again....EVER!

Knowing fully that I had done nothing to cause my previous miscarriages did not prevent us from taking every precaution conceivable to help this baby live.  Caring for a three year old and a newborn hardly allowed me to lie around all day, but I did the best I could to take it easy.  Nonetheless, I began spotting at around seven weeks.  Certain that this pregnancy would end the way the previous three had, I BEGGED God to spare this child.  In my head, doubts crept in about whether He even cared for me at all.  I mean, really, how much did God expect me to go through? Did I have to lose another baby?

In all my fear and doubting something strange happened. My cat ate the top off a baby bottle nipple!

***Pause, for scratching of heads, and asking "what does this have to do with ANYTHING!"****

My cat had done this before when Evan was born.  It cost us over $300 to save her life, and we vowed never to spend that much money to save the cat's life again. So now, while fully expecting my baby to die, I was going to have to face my cat dying as well.

The vet told us to give her syrup of ipecac to try and get her to throw up the plastic piece.  We did.  She didn't.  The vet said if she didn't throw it up in 24 hours, it would pass on into her digestive tract and lodge somewhere.  If we weren't willing to operate, she would die.  Tick, tick.  Twenty-four hours past and she didn't throw up.

So now, while praying for my baby, I began praying for my cat as well.

TWO WEEKS went by. I continued spotting.  The cat was obviously ill, but did not vomit up that nipple.

Miraculously, one day we came home from church and there on the steps, in a puddle of cat throw-up, was the nipple.  I started sobbing.  Not because the cat was going to live (although I was happy about that), but because God had just shown me that He cared about something as insignificant as my little cat, surely he cared even more about my unborn baby.  The peace that only He can give flooded over me at that moment.

In September, Miss Molly came into this world.  A gift from God!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Come On In

I tell my friends they can stop by anytime - no need to call ahead, my door is always open. I mean it.  I love having visitors!  Just be forewarned that if you do stop by unannounced, my house will NOT look like the cover of a magazine.  My children may be dressed strangely, my counters may not be wiped off, and there WILL be dirty socks on the floor.  I'm okay with you seeing that; I hope you're okay with seeing that, too.  We do life over here...and I'm not a particularly neat person.

That said, I do get slightly self-conscious (or is it home-conscious?) when we INVITE people over who haven't been here before.  Next week we are having "new" people over, and I'm already stressing a little about it.  I am starting to look around at my house and notice....things.  Things which may not be "normal" to our guests...Things which may, or may not, still be laying around when our guests show up.

For instance...I'm guessing MOST people don't have a chipmunk pelt tacked to their wall.

The bag of feed corn under the dulcimer table probably isn't too normal either.

How about a vase stuffed with Starbuck's coffee bags (those aren't going anywhere by the way, as they are worth a free cup of coffee!)

Then there's the shelf of dying plants in the basement

Speaking of dying, the hamster died this week, and his cage is still sitting there.

You mean you don't have a cooler of water bottles sitting in your kitchen?  Why not?

Oh, and then there's this guy!  I think we'll keep him around, too.

So if you're invited to my house next week, could you please try to overlook the above items?  Except for, maybe, Aidan.  You don't have to ignore him.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

And Now, The Rest of the Story

About two weeks ago, I wrote a post about our miscarriages and subsequent adoption.  It has been one of my most widely read posts.  There were really two stories in that post, but I only gave a small glimpse into the second one - the one about Nina's first mom, Rebekah.  When Rebekah read the post, she felt lead to share her story as well.  I was thrilled!

Rebekah is far more than Nina's first mom to us, she is indeed part of our family, and we love her dearly.  I am honored that she is willing to share her story with us her.  Without further ado, here is the rest of the story....

 I am a very private person by nature. I have never shared this story in written form and most of my friends and family only know parts of it; however, when Barb posted a blog recently, I felt prompted to share. This is by no means a complete account of my thoughts, actions, and the happenings surrounding my experience.

Barb’s blog post the other day was a story about loss and a gift. She posted the link to her Facebook and commented that the blog was really about two stories. I agreed with her and commented the same thing when I shared her post on my Facebook. Since then, I’ve thought about it a lot…this story is the second of two stories, but they’re part of one plan – God’s plan.

I turned 19 years old in the summer of 1995. I was arguing with God about the happenings in my life thus far. I say arguing, but it was more like war. I was angry and I refused to obey Him (although I wanted to sometimes). I absolutely would not give up control of my life. I knew God and I was a believer.

I made a promise to God in December of 1995 and I broke that promise at my first opportunity –the end of January 1996. I was a couple months along when I realized that I was pregnant. It was scary and strange and miraculous and amazing. I couldn’t believe it! The only thing that I knew for sure at that time was that God’s plan for my child was to be adopted. It wasn’t a decision that I came to by weighing the pros and cons and so on and so forth. It was a sure thing; I just knew it. I can justify my decision by giving you my circumstances: I was in a relationship that would not last, I worked at minimum wage and my child would be raised on welfare, I had so many issues to work through, etc., I really could go on. But the point is that my child would not have been raised in the way that I would want my child/ren to be raised.

I quickly had to figure out what I wanted in a family. In some ways it was like trying to look into my future to decide how I wanted my life to eventually turn out. What did I prefer? What did I value? What thing was more important than another thing? Those were some very difficult questions for me. I was completely self-centered and hadn’t thought much about how my life would affect anyone else’s life, yet God was giving me a life to take care of. I didn’t care much about my own life and was fine staying in an angry relationship with God, but I wasn’t going to mess up someone else’s life! I always say that I wasn’t ready to raise a child and a child was not ready to be raised by me.

I was nearing the end of my pregnancy when I went to a private adoption agency. I filled out some paperwork and met a woman caseworker. I don’t remember all of the details of our meeting but I do remember discussing what I preferred in a family. I was pretty focused on what I was looking for and since this decision mattered forever, I wasn’t going to settle. I flipped through several files of families, but none were my child’s family. I was a bit disappointed because my expectation was that I was going to find the family for my soon-to-be-born little girl immediately upon my arrival in their office. Our appointment time was almost over and I must have looked disappointed because the caseworker started asking more detailed questions about my criteria for the family. Then she asked, “Can you wait for a minute? I think I might have the family for you. Their approval process isn’t quite finished yet, but I can give you their profile.” I said yes, of course. I don’t remember if I brought any other profiles home with me that day, but theirs is the only one that mattered.

 My daughter was born seven weeks before she was due. The doctors couldn’t give me a real reason why, only speculations. She wasn’t breathing when she was born and then she stayed in the NICU for three weeks and one day after her birth. I never worried about whether she would be alright. I trusted God and His plan for my daughter.

The day that my little girl went home with the family God chose for her was certainly the hardest day of my life. I tried to be strong and not cry. That didn’t work out at all. I cried constantly for the entire two weeks afterward. I took comfort in knowing that this was God’s plan and He was the one who was taking care of my child. Otherwise, I can’t imagine how I would have gotten through it. I didn’t know Barb's family, but they had the one person who I loved more than myself. The loss was painful and difficult, although it was for the best.

 Almost 18 years have gone by since my daughter went home with her family. I wanted a family that would be open to updating me on my daughter’s life by sending pictures and letters. Over the years, they have done that and more, and I can easily say now that they are more than my daughter’s family; they are my family, too. They are a blessing in my life that would not be here, had it not been for my loss. This experience has continued to give me peace and comfort in knowing that even when we aren’t obeying Him or are wondering why we have had to suffer through something, God always has His plan, and it’s a better one than ours.