Jack and Taylor’s First Twins Game

Today we saw the Twins play (er, lose to) the White Sox. For a noon game on a day which promised to reach 95 degrees and had a heat advisory warning. With both kids and Kyle’s mentoring kid from our local middle school, Hunter. Crazy much?

I was the one choking over our ticket prices – gone are the days of knothole Sundays and cheap nosebleed seats and Dollar Dome Dogs. When all was said and done, taking 2 adults, 2 kids and a baby to a game at Target field cost almost $100. that was tickets, gas, parking and one treat per person.

I only found myself wishing for the 72 degrees of climate controlled beauty that was baseball in the Metrodome a couple times. Our seats were blissfully in the shade and there was a lovely breeze.

It was really fun to see Jackson’s absolute rapture over big league baseball. Thanks to the incredible plasma jumbotron, he was able to follow a little bit. The two home runs the Twins pulled off got him excited! And this was Taylor’s response for a few innings.
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We had a great time, even though it was a shame that the home team didn’t win. The final score was 12-2, two hot and tired babes, one pretty happy 7th grader, and two exhausted but pleased adults. Go Twins!20120627-172131.jpg

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30 of my favorite things::THREE-OH

today I turn the big 3-0. what? how in the world did I get here? I’m pretty sure I was 23 yesterday. Or the day before.

and now I’ve got a husband, a house, a dog, two kids and a mini-van. {typical American. :rollseyes:}

today and yesterday I’ve been thinking of and singing this song over and over in my head – Sara Groves’ “His Always Been Faithful”. This decade of my life has seen me change the most, I reckon. From a 20 year old single girl working at ITC to a married, mother of two who writes on the side. Through it all – the constant has been my Jesus. Always there, always mine, always faithful.

And here I am. 30. With probably at LEAST another 30 years, probably 50, stretching out in front of me like a long train track dissolving into the far distance. Good memories to spur me onward in my journey. The best is yet to come!

On this day, I thought it would be fun to list a few things I love these days. So, in no particular order of importance…a few of my favorite things.

  1. my husband. He remains one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. 
  2. my children. i cannot believe the blessing of my kids. i love them more than I ever thought possible. 
  3. coffee. dark roast. with cream and sugar or vanilla syrup. or a vanilla latte.
  4. sunshine on my shoulders. 
  5. mountains. I need a mountain fix so badly. 
  6. rainy days. with a good book. 
  7. dark chocolate. 
  8. cupcakes.
  9. coffee dates with my girlfriends. 
  10. sleeping babies on my chest.
  11. the smell of a freshly bathed baby. 
  12. long walks with my love, after dark. 
  13. Lake Superior. (and Duluth.)
  14. traveling. 
  15. my dearest friends and the way they keep me grounded. 
  16. getting real mail. 
  17. sunsets over Port Susan Bay of the Puget Sound. 
  18. Psalm 16
  19. sleeping with the windows open on a cool summer night. 
  20. the book “The Bronze Bow” by Elizabeth George Speare.
  21. cinnamon rolls. 
  22. fresh flowers on my kitchen table. 
  23. a long chat with an old friend. 
  24. Starbucks. 
  25. Target. 
  26. pesto on angel hair pasta. 
  27. “Shawshank Redemption” (movie). 
  28. people who are real. 
  29. pretty paper and stationary and printed things. 
  30. pedicures. 

Today was truly a gift of a day, full of little surprises and big ones, kindnesses and many sweet greetings. I love Facebook for the reason I hear from so many corners of my life on my birthday. Though it is nice to get “real cards” in the mail, its so fun to hear from friends far and wide, even if its a sentence on my timeline. 🙂 Thanks for making my life and this birthday a beautiful one. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for this next decade of my wonderful, blessing-kissed life.

adopting: a new adventure

learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. Isaiah 1:17

Adoption has always been something awesome that other people are doing. Lots of great people we know have adopted children into their families. After Kyle’s trip to Haiti, my heart was torn up by the pictures of genuine orphans he encountered and the desire to bring one of these little ones into our family was born. A small, quiet desire that would grow through various means of grace and Divine encouragement.

A few days ago we booked plane tickets to Atlanta to attend the Together for Adoption conference. We hope that this will be the launching pad for us as we pursue bringing a child into our family through adoption. We don’t know from where yet – maybe Africa, maybe here in the U.S. Probably under 3 or 4. But we need a place to start in the overwhelming world of referrals and agencies and mountains of paperwork, so this is where we’re starting – this conference. This week, Noel Piper is giving away 6 registrations for the conference on her blog. Check it out!

And please pray with us as we start down this road. Most of all, that God would prepare our hearts for this adventure and that we would have our faith multiplied on this crazy ride.

road trip!

we had SUCH an amazing time on our recent trip to Tennessee. It’s been 5 years since I was last in that beautiful state – in 2007 I made three trips there (one with Kyle, one with my mom and one for my grandpa’s funeral). Since then, a lot has changed in our family, namely adding our two kids! I’ve been wanting to introduce them to my extended family there ever since Jack arrived on the scene, but it hadn’t happened yet. So it was high time we headed down there. Mom joined us for the trip, which was our first official family road trip (well, further than WI anyway).

We started out on a slightly overcast Wednesday morning, as soon as we got everything loaded after Kyle came home from work at 6am. We hit the road at about 8am and went through the fertile plans and rolling hills of Wisconsin, instead of down I-35 during rush hour. 🙂 We’re so smart. Armed with snacks galore, toys, books a plenty, one movie on the iPad, games on the iPod and Adventures in Odyssey’s to listen to, we were in good shape. Mom took driving duty first and I was on kid duty. Kyle, the warrior, slept.

We got hung up in some traffic in Chicago, which was par for the course, but arrived at my dear Lindsey’s house at 9pm, after 13 hours on the road/in the car. The kids did AWESOME. Nary a fuss out of either of them! Jack loved listening to Odyssey, Taylor was highly entertained by being able to see Jack directly behind her and everyone had a smooth ride. It was with gratefulness, however, that the kids fell into bed at Lindsey’s in northwestern Ohio. We had fun chatting it up with her, Marcus, Jessica and Janelle into the wee hours of the morning. The visit was far too short, however. I love Linz way too much to live as far away as we do. 😛

When we woke up, we enjoyed a few more minutes with Lindsey before she headed to work, then we took some pictures outside her house and hopped back in the car for a little drive to Uncle Pat and Aunt Annette’s house for lunch. Annette was already in TN for a scrapbook weekend, so we just saw Uncle Pat. The last time I visited them, they still lived in their house in town. Now they have a wonderful, charming and pastoral (I think I even uttered the word “bucolic”) little hobby farm on the edge of New Knoxville. We enjoyed lunch with him and his grandson, John; listening to Kyle and Pat swap cop stories. The boys played so well together and we were all glad for a chance to stretch our legs for a while! But all too soon, we had to get on down the road. We made another pit stop along the way for the incredible ice cream at Graeter’s in Cincinnati. I’d never been to Cincy – it seems like a cool town with lots of neat history.

Kyle navigated us through a terrific rainstorm while crossing Mt. Jellico and Jack was overheard saying, “We having fun, Mom!” with 250 miles to go before arriving, road-weary, at our final destination: Aunt Tamara and Uncle Rick’s home in Sevierville. :happy sigh: We settled into our guest quarters and slept so well.

It was odd and sad to be in TN and not see my grandparents. This was my first trip down there since they both went to heaven. Passing their street, going places they used to take me when we visited when I was a kid – it was all bittersweet. I was SO glad to bring my family there, but so sad that Grandpa and Grandma didn’t have a chance to meet my kids. The first morning in TN, I smelled honeysuckle on the air and imagined they were smelling it too…only in heaven it was even sweeter.

We did a little puttering around Pigeon Forge and Sevierville that first day. Papa and Grandma Meri bought Jackson some new Keens and we hit up the ol’ favorite of the Apple Barn for some more apple butter for the pantry and their fantastic apple dumplings. That night was a big birthday party for my cousin’s daughter and a friend of my other cousin. Everyone got to meet Jack and Taylor and it was such a fun night with family. I wish to heaven that we’d snapped a picture, but I forgot to. 😦

On Saturday, we were SO happy to see Karla! She was able to come over from NC with her friend, Ashley for the weekend. Jackson was so very excited to see her and made quick friends with Ashley too. That morning, my cousin Meriam joined Kyle, the kids and I for a hike up to Clingman’s Dome! One of my favorite spots in the Smokies. And it was a perfect day for it – not too chilly, not too warm. Jack was super duper excited to go through the tunnels and up the windy mountain roads, and did a good job hiking the 1 mile to the top too. It was so nice to spend extra time with Meriam. It’s been several years since we’ve seen each other and never have we had a chance to just sit and talk like we did while we drove to the dome and back. 🙂 One of the highlights of our trip for me! Later that day we had fun at a carnival fundraiser for my cousin’s kid’s school and spent time just hanging out as a family.

Sunday morning, Mom, Karla, Ashley and our family all piled into our van for a drive to and around Cades Cove – a TN vacation tradition. Why? Because 33.5 years ago, my parents exchanged vows to have and to hold from that day forward in Cades Cove. It’s where it all began for our family! Not to mention, its an absolutely beautiful part of the Smoky Mountain National Park. It was another positively gorgeous day and we saw baby bears, deer, turkeys, and woodpeckers in the park as we drove around. We stopped to take pictures in the field where my parents were married and at “The Tree” in Cable Mill, where we’ve taken family pictures ever since I was a wee little lassie. Precious memories.

We said goodbye to Karla and Ashley and had another family supper with my cousins, complete with homemade ice cream by Uncle Rick. SO yummy. Another fantastic day in the books!

Jackson is ALL about golf these days and we thought he would really love to go play mini-golf. We decided that would be our one “splurge touristy” thing of the trip. So while Mom and Aunt Tam kept Taylor, we took Jack to Professor Hackett’s Adventure Mini-Golf (or something like that). It pretty much made his life. LOL. It was so fun to see him get so excited. He even got a hole-in-one on the last hole! However, the excitement of that was overshadowed by the fact that the ball went into the hole and never came out again. 🙂 “I didn’t want it to go in da hole and down the tube, mom!” We grabbed Five Guys fries and Sonic burgers on our way back to the house for much needed naps after our fun excursion.

That evening, Kyle and I enjoyed a lovely date to Texas Roadhouse and a movie back at the Harrell’s on their big screen. We had to catch up on Captain America before The Avengers came out later that week. My mom was so sweet to put our kiddos to bed and love on them so we could escape for a while. I loved every minute of the time we got to spend together with our kids over this trip. It was a really neat week of sharing memories of my childhood with the people I love the most in the world.

We had ONE last day in Tennessee on Tuesday before we made the two-day trek home. And of course, we went back to the mountains. Jackson just plain loved hiking and going to the mountains, so it wasn’t a hard choice. I’m really glad that so far, our kids are up for the crazy adventures we like to enjoy. The hike of the day was Laurel Falls. Worth every bit of the 2.1 miles up. The last time I had hiked to Laurel Falls was when I was 15 or 16, with all my cousins and aunts and uncles over the week we celebrated my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary. The trail had a few more potholes and worn spots than I remembered from 15 years ago. 🙂 It was a beautiful hike and a lovely time in the mountains.

Vacation was wonderful, but going home is always lovely too. We left the Harrell House and went north to Indiana, where we stayed with my mom’s cousin Steve and his lovely wife Janet and saw my great-Aunt Doris (94 years old – hale and beautiful!). It was weird to drive past the Meridian St. exit in Indianapolis (where I went to culinary arts school 12 years ago) and painful to miss visiting with dear friends like Jamie as we went a little further north to be closer to home the next day. Steve and Janet told us tales of their farming life and we slept with the windows open and the crickets serenading us from the green fields of the Hoosier countryside.

One more day of driving – Adventures in Odyssey (Jack pronounced it “Awentures in Ossadee”) and a showing of “Babe” got us through Illinois, Wisconsin and then, we were at the Minnesota border! The kids did great again – until we were 5 miles from home. Jack didn’t take a good nap that day, so he was just DONE. Like my butt was DONE with the sitting business. We tumbled into the house and were greeted with a lovingly prepared by Papa Keith meal of penne and meatballs.

I’m so grateful we were able to make the trip – a huge thanks to my parents for making it possible financially, to Toyota for building the lovely Sienna minivan, to Lindsey, the Harrell’s and the Hurley’s for the lovely places to stay and the tasty meals, and to God for creating this beautiful country of ours. Traveling it by car was a delight and a fun adventure we won’t soon forget.

taylor charlotte::8 months

my sweet Tay-Tay, how in the world are you already this big? Just a minute ago, I gave birth to a tiny bundle of sweetness that was protesting this brave, chilly world. Today you sit on the floor grinning at me from ear to ear, babbling stories in your secret language in the ear of your little stuffed teddy bear.

You have made my already beautiful life even more lovely, dear daughter. The way you light up a room with your twinkling smile brings a joy to my heart that I can’t put into words. Taylor, you are a gift and a treasure from a gracious God. Your daddy, brother and I love you to the moon and back.

Little bits about you at 8 months:

  • you LOVE stuffed animals, music and playing with toys on the floor.
  • you are trying table foods left and right and enjoy being fed or feeding yourself (aka – making a royal mess).
  • you can sit up, scootch backwards and are darn good at getting whatever you set your mind to reach.
  • you don’t crawl forward yet, but I’m sure you’re just days away from figuring it out.
  • Jackson is your favorite person on the PLANET. If you hear his voice, you find his face in the room.
  • The adoration is mutual. Jackson wants to hold you all the time and loves you dearly.
  • when music comes on, you bop up and down. It’s adorable.
  • you have started mimicking us when we laugh, roar at you or cough.
  • we’ve begun showing you signs for more, thank you, milk, all done and please.

I prayed for you this morning, Taylor, that you would grow to love Jesus and serve Him all your living days. I thank God that He created you and put you in our little family. We are on an adventure of grace and I’m so glad that you will get to be part of it all with us. Hold fast to these two things: God made you for something great and we love you always, because you are our precious daughter. Nothing will EVER change those two truths.

Just for fun, here’s you and your brother at the same age.

Happy 8 months of life, Taylor Charlotte! Love always, Mommy, Daddy and Jackson

when I’m bigger, mom

several times today Jackson told me about what he is going to do when he is “bigger”.

  • he’s going to build big buildings on astruction sites (construction sites) like the one they are building near our house (a new laundromat).
  • he’s going to be a policeman and take the bad guys to jail in his police car (he asked Kyle if he would get him a police car, and Kyle said he would if Jack would go to school and get a job).
  • he’s going to the cabin
  • he’s going to make coffee for me when he’s 5 or 6.

He also had his first ice cream truck experience tonight, which was so fun. I got a little choked up when he ran down the street to pick out his treat.

All of a sudden, all of Jack’s 3T clothes are too short and too tight. I can’t believe how big he is getting right in front of my eyes. I sure love this little boy God has given to our family.