December 26, 2011

I love Christmastime.

Here are our past few days in pictures…

First, celebrating Christmas at my parent’s house. Do you see the amount of matching clothing going on here? This was not even the full extent of it.
Oh, and I have to give acknowledgement for the "waiting for you sign" in the last picture. I meant to on a previous post and totally forgot. I cannot take credit for the sign, I kind of stole it from Pitter Patter Art. The author of that blog is much more crafty and creative than me and when I saw this idea I just loved it. I am REALLY hoping this is our last Christmas as a family of 4!

I really cannot get enough of this kid. Don’t you just want to squeeze him? I know I do. 

The many faces of Taylor. She was SUPER excited. I like to think it was becasue we were celebrating Jesus' birthday, but we all know the truth. Girl was just excited about her new toys.

Noah went from this, to this in a matter of seconds. We decided he only likes his tractor when it's in the garage.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~Isaiah 9:6
 I hope you had a wonderful Christmas celebrating the birth of our Savior!

December 21, 2011

birthday, Christmas Cookie decorations and dancing lights

This past Monday, I turned to BIG 30. I thought it might bug me, but it did not really seem any different than 29.
I mainly just want to brag on Mark. Everyday, for 30 days before my birthday, I found a note. The note gave me clue as to where I would find the next note and a clue as to what he was going to give me for my birthday. On Monday, I found out he is taking me to the Biltmore. He’s a keeper, that’s for sure!

Last night was family Christmas cookie decorating night. Mark grew up decorating cookies so he was pretty excited and the kids got to eat them, so of course they were thrilled.
My sister-in-law and her sister don’t mess around when it comes time to cookie making. They EACH made 12 dozen cookies. You do the math, 24 dozen cookies to decorate and split among 3 families. Anyone need any cookies?
Somebody should teach this girl some manners...where is her Daddy?

First we let the kids decorate…

Then the adults had their turn…

I am not sure who made the bigger mess and whose cookies looked the best. I will let you be the judge.

And then we went to a house that has the Christmas lights set to music. It was AH-mazing!

December 16, 2011

December 15, 2011

gingerbread man decorating

Let me start by saying that I LOVE Trader Joes.
We found this little gingerbread kit there for about $3. There is no way I could have made the gingerbread man, the icing, and bought decorations for anywhere near $3. AND this little kit saved me the trouble of having to make anything.

In the last picture, Tay is actually talking to the talking to the gingerbread man, or as she so cleverly named him “cookie”.
Good times for a rainy Thursday afternoon.

December 13, 2011

layering and an update (although there is really not much to update you on)

I think Tay has mastered the trend of layering. Let me tell you a little about what is going on here.
Everyday Tay has “quiet time” where she theoretically stays in her room for about an hour. We just gave her full reigns to her closet where all her shoes become cars and she dresses herself in random attire.
Today she came out with not one, not two, but three pairs of britches (as we here in the south like to call them). She also managed to put an additional shirt on. Not sure how it got on or how it came off.  
Oh, and the big busted lip is from a collision with Noah. Or as Tay likes to tell the story, “Noah hit her with his dino”. Poor, poor girl. Always being bullied by her baby brother.

In adoption news, we are still waiting on a referral….and it will be like that for somewhere in the ballpark of 6 more months. Once we get our referral, it takes about 4 more months until we travel to Uganda. So if all goes as planned (HA, like anything ever goes as planned), we will hopefully be home with our baby by this time next year.

December 4, 2011

2nd Annual Neighborhood Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

Have I told you before how much we love our neighbors? Well, we REALLY love our neighbors. In fact, I have forbid any of them to ever leave the neighborhood unless we can all go together. I don’t think that is too much to ask…right?

Last night was our “2nd Annual Neighborhood Ugly Christmas Sweater Party”. Thanks to Pinterest, we had some pretty rockin’ games to play. The highlight was Christmas Minute to Win It. My personal favorites were “Can-you-get-the-red-pompom-on-a-string-up-on-your-Vaseline-covered-nose-in-a-minute game?” and “Can-you-get-the-cookie-from-your-forehead-into-your-mouth-without-using-your-hands-in-a-minute game?”

Oh and all the pictures are blurry because I still don’t quite know how to use the camera at night or inside :)

The nut stacker game winner! Do you see the motivation on his face?

I don't have to tell you who won the red pom pom on your nose game. Do you see the amount of Vaseline on his nose? Amye, I know you are so proud!
I gave it a whirl too. I even pulled my hair back….that’s how serious it was.

The only one to get the cookie into his mouth with no hands. We were all pretty excited. It's the little things in life, you know?
And these guys just had some pretty awesome facial expressions so I thought I should probably share these too (you're welcome Matt and Amye)

It’s Santa…nope it's just Eddie with a phone. Isn’t it crazy how kids just know when someone breaks out a phone and then they all gravitate to it?

Not sure why Luke decided to put himself in timeout, but he did. And the kids played "Pin the nose on Rudolph"

One minute they are loving on each other and the next they are belly bumping. I know it is fuzzy, but if you look close you can see the look of anticipation on Ben’s face and that Tay is about to fall down from the belly bump. It was pretty awesome. 

Now everyone has to practice up for next year because you know we are going to play some serious games! And I will also be nominating either Diane or Tiffany to take pictures :)

December 2, 2011

Fall Family Pictures 2011

Our sweet and talented friend, Diane McDaniel, took our family pictures this fall. 

Not that I am biased, but we probably have the cutest kids ever!

December 1, 2011

Did you know?

Today is World AIDS day. I have been mulling over this post for a while, so I thought today might be the best day to post it. 
When you hear the letters “HIV”, what emotions do you feel? Is it fear, worry, uncertainty, anxiety? Or is it hope, love, and passion?

Please know that this post is not meant to be judgmental. Only months ago, we fell into the category of uncertain and fearful.

But now we know. We have had the privilege of learning about the spread of HIV and we are no longer fearful. We are now passionate.

Here in the States, we have access to medication that can control the HIV virus. Antiviral medication can make the level of HIV in the blood UNDETECTIBLE! In addition to this, HIV is an extremely fragile virus. It dies almost instantly when exposed to air.

Mark and I have spoken with infectious disease doctors, HIV educators, and pharmacists specializing in HIV medication.
They all had different facts to share, but the consensus was the same. Once the level of HIV in the blood becomes undetectable, the risk of transmission by blood is so close to zero it cannot be measured. We were even told that we are more likely to have a fatal car accident, get struck by lightning, or hit by a meteor than contact HIV though blood to blood exposure!

Children with HIV often get overlooked when it comes to adoption. We should not fear that HIV will be spread in a family setting. The facts against it are there. We have to fear the psychological effects due to the stigma attached to HIV.

So, is it fair? What do you think?

November 30, 2011

hot chocolate? yes, please!

Let’s be honest, this lady loves her some chocolate. I sort of have a weakness for it. Hence the reason we do not keep sweets around the house. I have no control…none! 

For example, we bought chocolate chips last weekend to make chocolate chip pancakes (which were quite yummy). We still had some chocolate chips left, so I just had to make chocolate chip cookies. That was Monday. Here we are on Wednesday and all 2 dozen are GONE! It’s pathetic, I know. But in my defense, I had some helpers :)

This afternoon when I needed my chocolate fix, I decided to find a recipe for hot chocolate. I knew we would have the ingredients because we always have cocoa on hand. It was easy, semi-healthy, and yummy so I thought I should share.


  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • miniature marshmallows


Blend cocoa and sugar in a small bowl. In a medium saucepan, heat milk to scalding. Mix about 1/3 cup of the hot milk into the cocoa-sugar mixture, then pour cocoa mixture into hot milk in the saucepan; stir until well blended. Stir in vanilla. Serve with mini marshmallows. Serves 4.

November 28, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

We had big plans to go to a Christmas tree farm and do this…
FYI, that is not us. Although they are rockin’ some pretty awesome attire.

But it was rainy and cold, so we did this…don't you see the excitement on the kids faces?
Yep, that’s Lowes. I figure the kids don’t know the difference, at least this year. Besides, they had so much fun looking at all of the blow up lawn decorations. If it were up to Mark, we would have at least 3 of those in our 1/100th of an acre front yard. 

Here is a fun tip I learned last year, instead of going around your Christmas tree with lights, go up and down in a zigzag pattern. It is easier, takes less time, and, in my opinion, looks much better. 

And just in case we ever need a photo to embarrass Noah.
What? He wanted to dress up too. Note to self…must buy super hero costumes for Noah to play “dress up”.

November 22, 2011


It seems that I am becoming somewhat of an expert on fundraising because it plays such a  HUGE role in bringing our baby home. Mark and I are both dorky planners, so it was necessary for us to make an Excel spreadsheet outlining what we needed to save, what we needed to raise, and any ideas we had to cover the expenses. It was pretty intense…Mark loves him some Excel spreadsheets! 

We have sold t-shirts, hosted a parent’s night out, had 2 garage sales, put on a benefit concert and silent auction, done a baby bottle fundraiser, and a friend had a jewelry fundraiser for us.  

Each of these fundraisers was not possible without the help of lots of family and friends! We are always overwhelmed with gratitude from the support we receive. While we are so appreciative of all those who donate, there are a couple who have really stood out to us.

My parents teach a Sunday school class at their church. We did a baby bottle fundraiser with their class. Each couple received a baby bottle to fill with spare change over a few months time period. My parents brought back one of these bottles to us this past weekend. We are excited to get any bottles back, but this one was particularly special because of who had filled it up.
When the couple who had this bottle took it home their daughter, Lizzie, asked what it was for. They told her about us and our adoption and she responded that SHE wanted to use HER allowance money to fill it up. She is SIX!

When we announced that we were adopting, Kelly sent me a message that she wanted to help. Kelly was the coordinator of a mom’s group I used to be part of.  As part of the group, we might have hung out 5 times…so we hardly know one another. Despite this, she has donated items for our yard sale, made tutus for our silent auction, and hosted a jewelry party where a percentage of the profits went towards our adoption.

If you have fundraised before, you know that it is HARD. If you are like me, it is difficult to humble yourself and ask others for help. Having people like Lizzie and Kelly, people we hardly know, come behind us and help us get closer to our baby has been absolutely amazing!

November 20, 2011

giving thanks

My initial reason for this post was to share some wonderful news with you…yesterday we received a letter in the mail that made me so thankful.

As I opened the letter my heart skipped a beat wondering what it entailed. I read the words “we are pleased to inform you that you have been awarded an adoption assistance grant in the amount of $3,000”.
We received a $3,000 grant from Show Hope! Praise the Lord!

Today, our Pastor spoke on thankfulness. He asked us to think of events in our lives from the past year, first joyous occasions and then times of struggle. At that point, he asked us to give thanks for the times of struggle.
Ephesians 5:20, reads “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
The words “always and for everything” struck me.

Yesterday, I had no problem praising God when we received the letter from Show Hope. I was joyful and words of thankfulness came easy. But for me to be thankful during trials is such a different story. Showing gratitude to God is the last thing I want to do when I am stressed or angry or sad. Nevertheless, isn’t that what God asks me to do?
Something I most definitely need to work on :)

November 18, 2011

wrapping it up…or at least trying to

Remember that silent auction we had about one month ago to raise money for our adoption? Remember how many awesome items we had donated? Well, we still have a few items left and I want to give you the opportunity to bid on them.  
Everything raised goes towards our adoption!

Here's how it works:
I am going to list the items, description, and value. There is NO minimum bid. Email me ( what you want to pay (keep it real though…like please don’t bid $1 on an item worth $150). If you are the only one to bid, then it is all yours.
Click on the item to go to the website. 

Need to get your hair did?
Shine the Salon – haircut with Sarah Shepard – value $55
Salon Salon – men’s or women’s haircut – value $30
Classic Sports Barber Shop – $20 gift card

Fun times for you and the is getting cold outside. 
A-Game Sportsplex– 5 laser tag passes and 5 ice skating passes – value $78
My Gym – Lifetime family membership and 1 month of classes - value $150
Goofballs – 12 admission and 12 attraction passes (I can split these up if you do not want them all) – value $10 per pass, $120 total
Mathnasium – assessment and 1 month of math education – value $285
Coco BonBons - $10 gift card

Getting fit...almost time for New Year's resolutions!!
Temple Fitness – 4 weeks of boot camp – value $209
Fleet Feet – product package including arm warmers, mug, and training program. Click here for more details on the training program, you can pick any…it sounds awesome! – value $150

Photography session (think Christmas cards) – value $250
Interior Design - value $150
Titans tickets - vs. Jacksonville Jaguars at LP filed, Saturday, Dec. 24th at noon - 2 tickets, Section 329, Row D, Seats 8 & 9 - value $120

Got questions? Want to bid? Email
Thanks y'all!

November 16, 2011

chocolate yumminess and hashimoto's

So, here is the deal-i-yo…I have been CRAZY tired lately, like I cannot even make it through the day without wanting to take a serious nap. I also noticed a few unaccounted for pounds creep on and some major outbreaks of fever blisters (yuck!).

All of this combined made me decide that a trip to the doctor was in order. First, let me just say that I love our doctor. She is all about the natural way of doing things and then if that does not work, we talk about medication.

When I told her what was going on, we tested my thyroid and did a food allergy test. Turns out I have hashimoto's…basically, I have some inflammation going on in my thyroid. And most of the time, inflammation can be controlled by what we eat, hence the allergy test.

I got my allergy test back and I am sensitive to some random stuff; chicken, cantaloupe, potatoes, yeast, haddock, peanuts, and honey. Most have been easy to cut out, but yeast gives me a little trouble. Mainly because everything yummy has yeast in it. And since I eat yeast almost everyday for lunch in the form of a sandwich, I have had to find a new favorite lunch item, enter chocolate yumminess.

And because I love you all so much, I am sharing this recipe with you :) (thanks to Tracy Wells)

1 cup milk (I use almond)
1 banana
1 or 2 T almond butter
1 T cocoa powder
½ scoop chocolate greens powder (optional)
a bit of agave (you like that measurement?)
1 cup ice

Blend and enjoy :)

November 10, 2011

better later than never

Me and the computer have not been friends lately. For some reason I have not been able to upload any pictures over the past 2 weeks. The longer it took to get the pictures off of the camera and on to the computer, the more I built them up in my head. You know how that goes.

Let the randomness begin…

Pumpkin painting and carving

Our neighborhood chili cook-off. I love these guys :)

I am a last minute Halloween shopper, so we took what we could find. Tay was a bee and Noah was Batman. And let me tell you, Noah was HILARIOIS! Anytime we put him down, he would just take off (surprise, surprise). The quote of the night was “there goes little Batman”.

Tay also wanted to be Batman

The first picture is our attempt at getting a cute picture of the kids. In the second, you will notice that Mark is a whoopie cushion. Thankfully (?) the couple who hosted the Halloween party had an extra costume...
Oh, and we found out that Noah loves golf carts :)

November 2, 2011

Wait list!!!

Does this title sound a little familiar? But this is not the wait list for Ethiopia; this is the wait list for Uganda :) 

If you remember here, I posted about the day we got on the wait list when we were in the Ethiopian program. And then here where I posted that we switched countries from Ethiopia to Uganda. When we switched, several of our documents had to be updated.

So here we are again, on the wait list, but this time for Uganda. And let me tell you, I have such a wonderful peace about Uganda. I am thankful that this is where we are and this is where we are going to stay.

Now on to update more paperwork…

October 20, 2011

pumpkins and port-a-potties

We made our 2nd annual trip to Walden Farms. It was fun to take pictures because we got several that were similar to last year for comparison purposes (see below :))

We also discovered that Taylor is deathly afraid to pee in a port-a-potty. Actually, she sort of has a fit in any bathroom that is not extremely clean or if we attempt to have her go outside. Not sure how to get past this we had to put a diaper on her so she could pee.

This was the best family picture we got...ignore squinty eyes and the fact that no kids are looking at the camera.

October 19, 2011

too yummy not to share

I am not a big fan of pumpkin, but Mark LOVES it. I made pumpkin pancakes for his birthday and needed to find something to do with the leftover pumpkin. Enter pumpkin cookies. Tay helped me make these and to my surprise, they were actually really yummy!
Iced Pumpkin Cookies (source)  
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork.
  4. To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners' sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.

October 17, 2011

One Less Weekend

Most of you know this past weekend was a pretty big one for us. We had a huge benefit concert and silent auction fundraiser for our adoption.

I also planned a little somethin’ somethin’ for Mark on the side. Mark turned the BIG 30 earlier this month, so on Friday we had a little surprise party for him. Nothing too big, his parents came in from Ohio and my family came over. I have a hard time keeping anything from him, so I was pretty impressed with myself for keeping this a secret for the past 5 months. 
Tay sort of got in to one of the cookies...according to her "I just needed to taste it".

Before I give an overview of the concert…let me take you back. Over the past few weeks, Mark and I began to become discouraged about the benefit concert and silent auction. We kept talking to people who were not going to be able to make it the event. It felt like we were getting one blow after another. We both got to a pretty low place. But it took us getting there to remember the real reason we were putting on this benefit. It was not to fill up an auditorium or have an event that looked good. It was to raise money to bring our baby home and glorify God in the process. Once we came to a place where we remembered that, our expectations changed, and we were able to see all of the great things that God had already done to make this benefit a success.

The benefit was great! We don’t have the final numbers yet, but we raised around $6,000!!! Praise the Lord! We could not have pulled it off without the help and support from friends and family. We are SO appreciative of all who volunteered their time and energy to help us pull this off.  We were overwhelmed with the support we felt. LOVE you guys!
The bands were amazing! 

October 12, 2011

getting crazy in the kitchen

Some of you may know that I have a slight OCD issue when it comes to cleanliness, especially in the kitchen.

A few weeks back, a friend posted some pictures of her boys painting in the kitchen. It was a MESS, but it looked like too much fun not to try.

So this morning, I broke out all the sheets I could find, covered the floor as best I could, and let the kids go crazy. Tay mostly painted herself and Noah mostly tried to eat the paint, but I am calling that a success! I might even try it again…