Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Perfect Boy is 1 Today!

His sweet smile. His infectious giggle. His go-with-the-flow demeanor. His perfect little hands and his perfect little toes. The way he says "baaaaa" no matter what animal he is looking at. The smile he gets when I enter the room and the way he reaches for me, wraps his arms around me and burry's his head in my shoulder. The happy go lucky attitude he has EVERY single morning. The no fear approach he takes as he crawls over our Great Dane and then makes his way to our German Shepherd's ball.   Everything about my little boy is perfect and the fact that I can call him MY little boy just takes my breath away.

What a blessing God handed us one year ago today. As we waited with anticipation by the phone last December 20th, we had no idea what joy this little boy would bring us. We didn't even know he was a boy yet! We got the phone call just after midnight that our baby boy had entered this world happy and healthy.   Our hearts welled up with excitement and the love that had already began to grow just tripled in size!

I think about Ryker's birth mom quite often this time of year.  What a blessing she is to us. She let God orchestrate such a beautiful family and was willing to let him work through her to bring Ryker to us. She gave him life. She chose his happiness over her own and she, along with her mother, chose to see the beautiful big picture that God was painting. They said over and over that, "We know God planned this baby for your family." And oh did he ever!  I see Tyler's personality shining through in Ryker. I can tell he will be goofy and fun loving. He's also as easy going as his daddy in almost every way. He loves music like I do.  In fact the only time he throws a fit is if the music is not loud enough in the car as we drive down the road. He wants to ROCK and so do I, so our times in the car are always fun.

This year has flown by so fast and I wish sometimes I could just slow it all down. I try to enjoy every moment with my sweet little man, but somehow I still feel like I have let time slip through my fingers. I love him with all of my heart.  Ryker is the greatest gift God could have ever blessed Tyler and I with. Someday, I pray, he will truly understand the love I have for him.  But as my mother always said, and I now truly understand, he most likely won't until the day he holds his little one in his hands for the first time.  This love I feel is beyond description, beyond understanding, and without a doubt God given!

Happy Birthday my sweet son!  I love you more each day and cherish you every moment.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Where is Home

The last month has just been a whirlwind of crazy, unexpected blessings!  We are moved out of our old house and trying to get settled in our new place.  Although we have not slept there yet, not even once, we've had two events (NNU's Twirp and our Harvest Party).  We already have three weddings booked and two other special events booked out there.  My mind is just blown away at how faithful God has been to walk us through this fun journey.

Something I've noticed through all of this is how my definition of "Home" has been solitified.   From our old home on Choctaw to my parents house to Ty's parents house to our new house, I find myself calling them all home.  When and why?  When that's where I'll be with my husband and son.   I've said several times, "See you at home." or "We're on our way home."   Each time "Home" is a completely different location.   I love this.   I love that my heart instinctively thinks of home as a place where I am with my family.   I love my boys more than any girl could and am extremely thankful that God for some reason entrusted me as a wife and mother to them.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Home=New Business Venture

Well, things have certainly been exciting around our house lately.  About a year ago we started praying about a piece of land that we had only dreamed could one day become our home, our business and our mission.  In January 2008 we were engaged at 18120 Dean Lane in Nampa and if all goes accordingly on October 18th, 2011 we will be calling it our home.   We will also be calling it Still Water Hollow.   Throughout this whole process of writing a business plan, putting our house on the market, etc.  the verse Psalm 23:2 "He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters" has been our anthem.   It has reminded us to trust in His will and His timing.  We know that none of this could be possible if it weren't for God's incredible plan and we must give Him and only Him all the glory. 

Just a little information on the property, for those of you who are curious.  It's 5 acres of beauty!  There's a 700 sq. foot pond located right in the center with a gorgeous water fall.  The chapel, located at the back of the property was built in 1899 and originally located on McMillan.   The previous owners, the McKellips, moved this little white chapel onto the property and restored it.  The chapel holds approximately 160 people and has a vintage organ inside that just completes the feel.   There's also an adorable mining town with old shacks and a mint still that transports you to a simpler time.  In the front of the property there's a shop that we plan on turning into the perfect place to hold indoor events.  We went coffee shop hopping the other day and gleaned ideas that would help give it that rustic, yet cozy feel. 

Some insight into our plans for Still Water Hollow:
We obviously will love having weddings, family reunions, class reunions, birthday parties and other special events out there.  Our hope is that this will become a place families can come and make memories.   We all know this is a difficult time for families to find fun activities to enjoy together while staying on a budget.   I wish we could go to the movies every weekend, or Roaring Springs, but it costs an arm and a leg these days.   It's our goal to create fun events at Still Water Hollow that are affordable and sometimes even free for the community to come and enjoy themselves even while their on a budget.  Music is obviously a passion of mine, so it's my dream to create an atmosphere where great music can be enjoyed while being in such a gorgeous atmosphere.  We plan on having concerts and jam nights out there.  Remember Sunday's when you'd go to church, then come back home and enjoy a big dinner with great fellowship alongside family and friends?  Well, someday we'd like that tradition to turn into you all coming out to Still Water Hollow to enjoy food, fellowship and great teaching.   Just taking it back to basics where we learn, encourage and uplift one another.  Stripping aside the worries and politics we tend to get wrapped up in and reminding our selves what it's all about.

So, I hope this little post helps give everyone some insight into our plans and dreams for our soon to be home and business.  The biggest favor I could ever ask is for you all to spread the word.  It would mean so much to us if you'd tell all your friends and family members, especially those who may be looking for a place to hold their next event.   We now have a Facebook page and we are working on gathering all the marketing tools needed.   The website should be up soon.   We are still 2 weeks away from moving in, but we'd like to hit the ground running, starting with getting the word out! I hope we'll see some of you at the Harvest Party, or at one of our other events.  

Much Love!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Call Him My Son

I prayed for him each night before I knew there was a him to pray for.   I prayed he'd grow healthy and strong inside the womb.   I cried when they said, "It's a Boy!"  I fell in love before I saw his face and then I took a free fall when I held him in my arms for the first time.   I've wiped away his tears, rocked him as he's cried, sang to him as he falls asleep and kissed him goodnight.   I've been up with him all night and chased him all day long.   When he smiled for the first time I was the one standing over him, when he rolled over for the first time I was the one with the camera and when he crawled for the first time I was the one cheering as though it was a football championship.   My heart breaks each time he's sad, sick or uncomfortable, my soul smiles every moment that I look at him, think about him or hold him.  I've called him my son since the day he was born.   And after 281 days they now call me his mom. What an honor, what a blessing and what a day!

Today we had Ryker's finalization at the Canyon County Courthouse.  We were surrounded by our parents, brother, sister, and brother-in-law.   There hasn't been a time during the last 9 months that I haven't thought of Ryker as my son, but now I can officially say that I am his legal parent and he has the birth certificate to prove it :)  It was such a special moment in the court room seeing as our judge is a long time family friend and made it extra special for us.   At one point she said she didn't feel she should even ask any question or else she might start crying.   We each had a moment to share what Ryker means to us and how it has been as a family the past 9 months. Tyler went first and explained our excitement we felt as we waited by the phone to hear of his delivery and then the love that grew and grew from the moment we laid eyes on him.   My favorite words I heard my husband say were, "I would do anything for him."   I know that's true and he is such an incredible father.   I have a feeling the words he spoke will mean so much to Ryker someday.   Well, then it was my turn and as usual I was a blubbering mess. About all I could get out was how much we love him and how special he is to us.   I can hardly even think about him without my eyes welling up and my heart bursting with love!  What a blessed mother I am.   I could have never dreamed of the love that would fill my soul once you become a parent.

We are off to celebrate with family and friends this evening and I hope one day Ryker can look back and the photo's and memories shared of this day and realize how deeply he is loved by so many!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wanting What You Can't Have

There are silly little things that are making me go absolutely crazy right now.   I've never been great about being told "NO", ask my parents.   They said, "no" and I usually found a round about way to turn it into a yes.   So, needless to say there are some no-no's of pregnancy out there that are driving me banana's...things that never used to even phase me and others that I've realized have become an addiction!

The billboard with the soda cup filled to the brim and frosty drops of water sliding down the outside....

The sound of a soda can being opened and that infamous "ahhhh"....

A turkey sandwich piled high with yummy veggie's, but COLD COLD turkey sliced perfectly and stacked just so....

The glass of wine I carried down the stairs that smelled so sweet and had a hint of raspberry, only to hand off to one lucky lady who enjoyed the crisp cool flavor in the hot evening sun...

The trampoline....yep, I just wanna go jump on one...

The smell of bleach.   I just want to go clean something top to bottom and maybe even sit in a room that smells like bleach (oh man I think I'm getting this one from Ty)....

I'm sure as soon as this is all over none of these things will be appealing to me, but if you asked me today I would tell you the day after this baby comes into this world I will spend the afternoon scrubbing everything in sight with the strongest cleaner I can find, then I will go get my workout by jumping on an unexpected strangers trampoline, and finally I will reward myself by sitting in a hot tub with a Big gulp, Starbucks coffee, and glass of Ste. Chapelle wine...alternating sips after taking large bites of my cold turkey sandwich ;-)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Post for Jen

I can only imagine as a parent to be separated from one of your babies would be extremely difficult.   So, I thought I'd write this post for Jen in hopes that she would feel like she spent the day with her beautiful Ari. I had the privilege of watching Ari this evening and as we speak she is cuddled up under her fort we made in Ryker's room.   When Ari got to my house I was told she had been up since 5am (wow, I didn't even realize that there was such a thing as 5 am), so a nap was probably necessary if we were going to make it through the evening with a smile :)   Ari informed me she was not tired though because Ty had just told her we were going to the RODEEEOOOO that evening and she was so excited.   I still insisted that she go lay down and at least have some quiet time before we packed up.   Within minutes she was sound asleep and not even Ryker's high pitched screeches were fazing her.  By the time we had to start loading up the car she was still in a slumber, so I had to wake her up.    I know, I know, I'm pretty sure this is a no no in babysitting 101, but we had to go.

We headed toward the rodeo and her excitement was building.   Somehow she got the idea that she was going to get to ride the horses and kept talking about how excited she was to ride the nice, slow horses.  I tried to clue her in on the probability of that not occurring tonight, but she has faith like fire!  As we were walking into the rodeo I think the heat and lack of sleep had hit her.   I started seeing the happy, smiling face turn into a pouty one and when we gave her the "cool necklace" (aka her ticket on a lanyard) to wear she was not in the mood to put it on.  I tried my tactic I had used with students.   I immediately stopped and said, "OK, we can just go back to the car and hang out there for a few hours"  She looked at me very puzzled and said, "No, I want to go to the rodeo".  I told her we couldn't go to the rodeo without the necklace on, she told me she didn't want to put her necklace on, I said OK and started walking to the car.   She looked at me, handed me the lanyard and let me put it on her, but then wanted some consoling in return.   I picked her up and her head went straight into my shoulder.   I started feeling bad and wondered if I had chosen the right tactic, but by the time we got through the gates she had that big beautiful smile on her face and was asking where the horse she was going to ride was waiting for her at. Whew :) I guess I didn't completely mess up because we had a wonderful rest of our evening.

I learned Ari is a very friendly young lady and I think she was saying hello to almost everyone that walked by that looked half friendly.   She was also telling anyone and everyone that she wanted to go ride a horse.   She went right up to one of the cowgirls and started a full on conversation with them asking, "Do you know Brianne?"  We also found out that one of the board members of the CNR and a Caldwell Police Officer love Jesus, to which Ari exclaimed, "Great!  That means you're going to heaven!"  They both laughed and said, "That's right".

The woman in front of us, whom Ari called Heather (not sure that's her name, but we went with it), was smitten with Ari and kept telling her she was going to go find Ari a nice horse to ride every time she made her way to the beer stand.   Ari would turn to me and say, "She is a very nice lady."   I thought to myself yes, she is certainly in her "happy place".  I sure wasn't complaining though because between my child who was screeching in that high pitched, make me want curl into the fetal position and hide, scream and Ari shouting at the top of her lounges, "GO COWBOY! GO COWBOY! GO COWBOY! GO COWBOY!" (Yes that was my fault,  on the way to the rodeo I told her to yell that each time they rode by....learned a valuable lesson) I was just thankful the group in front of us was turning around with smiles on their faces, let along making friends with us.

So, I just want to end with telling Jen she has raised a beautiful, sweet young girl.   I had so much fun tonight with her and as I tucked her into bed and we said our prayers I thought how blessed I am that Jen feels so comfortable with me watching her sweet baby.   I could not have asked for her to be more well behaved, especially because I know it must be tough taking orders from someone other than your mommy, but not once did she ever say to me, "you can't tell me what to do" when I would correct her.   She has such a tender heart and my favorite comment of the night was when her flip flop fell off her foot, but she grabbed it before it fell below the bleachers, she said, "God caught my shoe!   How does he do that?"  So sweet......

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Domestic Mommy Makeover

I feel like I've had a domestic mommy makeover this month.   Between making home made strawberry freezer jam, cooking my sons baby food, and making home made meals much more often I have completely transformed.  

There's something very therapeutic about preparing food for your family.   I've never been much of a cook and between the three recipes I had mastered we were eating the same thing week after week.   I think I was afraid of cooking.   While in high school and college it seemed I'd always mess up a recipe.....even if it was on the back of the rice a roni box.   I'd put all the ingredients in at once when I was supposed to put them in one at a time.   We were out of vegetable oil, so I figured peanut oil would do the same trick in my brownie mix.   Let's just say most of my dishes came out tasting anything like the real deal, so they'd get tossed and I'd head to Mongolian BBQ.  

The most rewarding task I've taken on is making my sons baby food.   My Aunt Marci got me this amazing cook book for baby food called Top 100 Baby Purees by Annabel Karmel (highly recommend).   I haven't found a recipe that Ryker doesn't love and it's amazing how excited he is to eat dinner when it's the home cooked meals compared to the jar baby food.   After my parents got me a food processor/blender making his meals was something I could accomplish while he napped and I even had time to spare for reading a good book or taking a nap myself :)   Today I made him blueberries with plums, bananas and apples- Broccoli with potato and carrots- Sweet potato with cauliflower, onion topped with a tomato cheese sauce.   Sounds so gourmet, but it was a piece of cake.  

My new favorite website for tasty recipes for the grown ups is   I have had so much success with everything I've tried from her site.   Tonight we are cooking up Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork.  Go to this website to try out the recipe for yourself!

Last night we had some great friends over for dinner and enjoyed my favorite lasagna ever!

Overall, I think my family is really benefiting from this makeover of mine and so am I :)  Happier, healthier and such a feeling of accomplishment washes over me!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thirsty for More

I sit here eyes filled with tears.  Not sure if it's the pregnancy hormones, or the fact that I've always had a tender heart.  Dad and I always cried while watching Touched By An Angel and when my mom starts to tear up I quickly tell her to stop before I begin welling up.   Right now though my eyes are filled with tears because I just read a blog by a pastor who has blessed me in more ways than he'll ever know.  He brought life to God's word, he challenged me to challenge my relationship with God- to grow closer and deeper than I've ever dared to go before.   He restored a hurt in me that had been broken when I was young and never fully healed....just shoved under the rug.   As I read his blog I am again encouraged because for several weeks I've been missing the authentic and real way he makes me feel as though God is sitting in the room with me and speaking right to me.

His entry is about lying down in green pastures.   Oh is that something I can relate to.   I get so caught up in the worries and even dreams that will only last me a blink of an eye compared to eternity.   Why don't I focus more of my energy on the things that I will carry with me beyond this time on earth?   Lately, I don't spend a lot of time alone just to think, pray and read.   This entry he wrote just really made me stop in my tracks.   I feel like I've got God standing next to me saying, "stop....just stop".   In my Bible study this evening Beth Moore talked about Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God." I can not really know him if I'm running around and never taking a moment to be still.

What a blessing this entry from Tim has been to me.   I miss his teaching and look forward to when I'll be able to listen to him again soon.   After you experience a teacher like Tim you realize how the most important thing in church is the message.   I really have to admit I've focused more on the paint color, music, coffee creamer, and how much the pastor can make me laugh in the past.  Now I am thirsty for the meat.   I want to hear the good stuff....the stuff that leaves me more and more satisfied in Christ each week.

I wish that the desires of our hearts would be to simply learn and grow in God's word.   I wish we did not get so focused on making Christianity "cool", "hip", "relevant".   It just needs to be real.   The fact is a church won't save you, the sweet coffee shop (although I love them just as much as anyone else) in the corner won't bring His word to life, the lighting, the music, or even the people that fill up the pews (more like soft cushiony chairs now) won't fill you with joy, hope, grace, love and peace.   What will though is the power God can bring through those who just ask him to be used.   The kind of worship that brings the man in the Harley jacket to his knees, the message that leaves you with a deeper understanding of God and makes you want to run home and dive into His word, or as I've heard a beautiful woman put, a pastor who teaches the word in such a way that brings color to the black and white image you've had of Jesus for so long.   The real and powerful presence of God in a space where He is welcome and His opinion is the only one that matters.   That is what will draw us in.   That is what leaves my heart overflowing with His spirit.  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Radio Rescue Festival

Hey everyone I'm a part of Radio Rescue Festival, which is a concert that is going to be held out at Woodriver Cellars on July 16th from 4-8pm.  Here's the skinny....

Three local bands - Interstate, Myself and the Jake VP Band, and Grand Falconer - present Radio Rescue Festival - a full afternoon of music, food and a raffle to help children half a world away.  

This event supports the work of Invisible Children, which utilizes the talents of artists to bring awareness and action to end the use of child soldiers in the longest running war in Africa.  The war in northern Uganda has been called the most neglected humanitarian emergency in the world today. For the past 23 years, the LRA and the Government of Uganda have been waging a war that has left nearly two million innocent civilians caught in the middle. Hundreds of thousands of children have been forced to serve in the LRA as soldiers.
Money raised at the Radio Rescue Festival will help Invisible Children with its comprehensive work to help bring peace to east Africa and to give war affected children a chance to return home and begin a more normal life.
Tickets are just $5.00 and can be purchased at the door .  A raffle will also support the effort, and of course, all additional donations will go directly to Invisible Children.  

We are looking for donations for the raffle, so if this is something you think you or your company would be willing to donate to anything is helpful.   There's also lots of work to be done and some fun ways you could help out the day of, so if you'd like to volunteer please let me know.    And last but not least we'd love to have you join us and help make this concert full of energy and excitement about helping this great cause!  We are really hoping to get a great turn out for this because it should be a really great afternoon for families! Please let me know if you can help in any way

Thanks so much! 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bad Timing

I'm desperately wishing my child would stop screaming and go to sleep, so that I can too.   It's amazing how kids seem to pick the most inconvenient night to decide to stay up screaming.   He didn't choose the countless nights when I had nothing to do in the morning.   Oh no he chose the night before our yard sale, the night before I should be getting up around 5am to get everything ready (including him).   I'm on the other end of the house covering my ears from time to time to keep sane.   I've tried it all, rocking, bottle, shushing, music, walking, etc.   I thought maybe he just needed to let out some steam, but it's been over an hour now.

He really is such a good baby, but when he feels a little rebellious it's never at a good time :)  Here's to motherhood!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Our Sweet Baby.....#2 :)

Well, I thought I was going in for a blood test today, but to our delight it was an ultrasound!  We got to see our little one all curled up in Mommy's tummy.   Our baby loves sleeping on his/her tummy and so we didn't get a good look at their face, but nevertheless we have some precious photo's.

I laid there in awe as I looked at this sweet little baby that we are eager to meet come December.  Then I looked to my side at the most incredible husband and father holding my precious little boy.  Wow, my eyes are filling up with tears just thinking about the blessings God has given me....blessings I never even asked for.  He is so faithful and shows His love in more ways than I can count! What a life He has given me, one I do not deserve and one I could never earn, just a life full of grace.

Blessed Birthday

Well my husband did such a great job of making my birthday special this year.  He got together some of my close friends to surprise me at Cool Hand Luke's.   I had no idea what was in store, other than the fact we were going out to dinner without our little man.   This was a grown up date :)  He did a great job of keeping everything sealed and I literally didn't realize the wonderful surprise until we turned the corner and I saw all my friends sweet faces!  We had such a great night of laughs, amazing food and fun stories.  Then  Tyler surprised me with a wonderful night at a hotel.  This was our first night away from Ryker and although I was excited to get a good night sleep, I missed him like crazy!  The good night sleep will have to wait though because of allergies I was up every hour bowing my nose!  All in all I could not have asked for a more special day.   I am overwhelmed with all the love my friends and family have shown me and am so thankful for the incredible people in my life!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Surprises in the Gray Home

Well, the last couple months have been exciting and quite a whirlwind, to say the least.   Ryker is growing like crazy.  He is smiling and babbling all the time.  When he sees new people he takes time to study them, but it's not long before he's smiling and giggling for them!  
He is absolutely the joy of our lives!  His personality is showing more and more each day.  No matter where we go or what we do he always goes with the flow, but he wants to be moving all the time.  He'll usually start fussing the moment we try to sit down with him, so I have a feeling we're going to have our hands full once he starts crawling and walking.  We're trying to get everything finished up for finalization of our adoption (this is when he'll receive his birth certificate with our names and his name on there, as well as we officially become his parents - not just his legal guardians).  This day could not come sooner!  We are very anxious to have everything official, although in our eyes he was our son long before he was even conceived.   It's been so apparent throughout this that God had such a special plan for our family long before we could even dream of it.  What a perfect blessing God's given us in Ryker.

Our big surprise:
We're Pregnant!
That's right, we learned some very unexpected news recently.   About three weeks ago I was not feeling well and after running through every option in my brain and trying everything to feel better, I decided to take a pregnancy test and then I made Tyler go buy two more just to be sure- ya know the ones that clearly define "pregnant" or "not pregnant"instead of those silly lines that are hard to interpret!  Needless to say we were in shock.  While I was having a bit of a "freak out" moment my husband's words were, "Well, here we go!"  That's why I love him so much.  He takes everything in stride and is able to completely let go and allow God to take control.   Since this wasn't planned we had no idea how far along I was.  I went to the doctor and learned I was already 9 weeks.  Today, I am 12 weeks 4 days.  Our baby's due date.....December 18...2 days before Ryker's birthday.  Boy, does God have a sense of humor.   We certainly never would have planned on having our kids barely a year a part, but I know he's got something amazing in store for us.  We don't have any ultrasound pictures yet because of how everything has worked out.   I wish I did though, but baby is healthy and that's all that matters.
I will be honest, I had some difficulty with this news at first.   Here we are just beginning to enjoy our son and I'm loving every minute with him and I want to focus all my attention on him.   I felt bad at first because I didn't want anything to be taken away from him and I was worried I wouldn't be able to fully enjoy every single stage.  I also started worrying about the reality of how difficult it will be to have to kids so young.   I had a moment in the grocery store where I looked at Ryker in his car seat, sitting on top of the shopping cart, then I looked at Tyler and said, "Where will the next one sit?  Ryker won't be old enough to walk and the other one won't be old enough to sit up on their own in a shopping cart!"  Thankfully, my fears are fading and I'm getting more excited about how fun it will be for our kids to be so close and be able to play together.   I know Ryker is going to be such a good big brother.  This will be an adventure, but I count my blessings and they are far more than I deserve.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Big Prayers Take Big Faith

Tyler and I were engaged on January 5th 2008 at what I consider to be one of the most beautiful pieces of land in this area...That's when the dream began...
We started dreaming about buying this gorgeous land that has a picture perfect white steeple church, large pond, and plenty of space to make so many dreams come true.  We started with the obvious, a wedding venue!  Thoughts of where the ceremonies could take place, how I could help decorate and run sound for the events.   Then our dreams got bigger.   There are three little houses (almost like little shacks you would have seen in the old west) that we dreamed could be used as an oasis.   Maybe there could be women's retreats that would be held out there, or children's camps.   Then I started thinking how we could make this a place for families to enjoy an evening out; barn dances, chili feeds, all-day music festivals, Easter egg hunts, pumpkin carvings, on and on and on....
Here's where my dream has become a BIG prayer and a BIG leap of faith.   I've been praying incessantly that God would use me in a big way.   I know we probably won't end up in Africa building wells or, like our cousins, in Peru doing His work.   BUT that doesn't mean I don't want to be faithfully serving Him and I believe there are so many people here who are desperately in need of the truth.   So, what if this could be our ministry?  What if this could be a place of peace, a place to learn more about Him, a place families could come and could actually afford to have fun with their children and know they are safe?   What if we dedicated Sunday to a day full of great food, great music and have a wonderful teacher come and share with whomever shows up the good news?  What if we had family events where we could fellowship with one another and begin creating a great environment for our children to grow up in?  What if we had weekend retreats for those who are thirsting to know more about Christ and dig deeper in their relationship with Him?   What if this is our ministry?  God has made us very aware that we can not do this on our own, not only financially, but the work we would be putting into running this place would need to come from a supernatural strength.   I LOVE that though!  Because now I know that there is no way this could happen unless it comes from Him.  So, if you're reading this and feel compelled to pray for us we would so appreciate it.   We are seeking His will above our own and this has definitely been a dream of ours for years, so we don't want to let that effect what we feel He is leading us to do.  We just simply want to pray that if He desires to use this gorgeous piece of land for His glory then we would be honored to play a role in that.   And if he wants us to buy this piece of land then we're going to need that money tree to start growing in our backyard soon :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dilemma: Finding meals that my husband likes

My husband is a simple kind of guy when it comes to meals.   He calls himself "plain" I call him "picky", but that's a debate for later.   The problem I have is finding these "plain" meals that have good nutrients in them.   I know my kids will probably end up being the same way at least for the first few years of their life, so I have been on a mission to find healthy, simple meals.  Last night I made good 'ol Mac 'N Cheese (the healthy way) and it was DeLish!   Here's the recipe courtesy Deceptively Delicious:

Bring Large pot of water to a boil and add 1 1/2 cups wheat elbow macaroni.  Cook according to package direction until al dente.  Drain in a colander.

Coat large saucepan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.  Add 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil, then 1 Tbsp. Flour, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture resembles a thick paste but has not browned, 1-2 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup Skim Milk and cook, stirring every now and then, until the mixture begins to thicken, 3-4 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup Butternut Squash Puree*, 1 1/2 cups Shredded Cheddar Reduced Fat Cheese, 4 ounces non-fat Cream Cheese, and Seasoning (1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, 1/8 tsp paprika).  Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.  Stir Macaroni and cheese sauce together.

Place in baking dish, top with desired amount of cheese and bake at 350F until cheese is melted. Serves 4-6 people.

* Cut top off Butternut Squash, cut in half and scoop out seeds.  Place on baking sheet flesh side down and roast the halves at 400F for 45-50 minutes.  Scoop out flesh and puree in blender or food processor for about 2 minutes.

Hope you all enjoy this dish as much as we did!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thanks Forever

Our little man is getting more fun everyday!  He is such a happy and content little baby.   He spends his time smiling and looking at all the shiny wonders of our world (like our fan).   I spend hours just in marvel over the miracle he is.   I'm so thankful to his birthmom for giving him life because I can already tell he has a future full of possibilities.   His birthmom passed on her calm nature and he has this joy that just fills up the room.   I'm trying to savor every moment that I get to snuggle with him, rock him and stare at his gorgeous face because I know in a short time he will be taking on the world!

The other night I just laid in bed with him, praying and thanking God over and over again for the blessing he is in my life.   Tears just began streaming down.   I truly can not imagine life without him.  To think how many things had to fall perfectly into place for him to have landed in our arms brings me to my knees. My world has flipped.  I've never been so content in where I am in life.   I've always felt like God must have more in store for me and I always went searching for it in music.   Music has been my passion and I couldn't imagine being content unless I became successful in that area.   Oh how I was wrong.   I found my "something more" in this precious boy.   

"You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.   O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever." Psalm 30:11-12

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Time

Do you ever wonder what God cares about?  When I take a step back I realize how much time and energy people put into things of this world and how flustered, angry and distraught they become over these same things.   I'm not saying I don't do the same.   I'm probably one of the worst offenders.  What if....just what if we put that same time and energy into spreading the good news?   What if we spent our days contemplating how we could walk up to that lady at work that spreads depression like poison ivy, and tell her there is hope?   How about I spend two hours to sit down and write a letter to a friend and tell them how having a relationship with Jesus Christ could transform their life and give them a new meaning and understanding of joy, peace, love, grace.  I wonder how the statistics of our worlds most political issues would stack up to the statistics of how many people leave this world never knowing of God's love, even though they were surrounded by His children?   Can any of this even be compared? How fulfilling it would be if I spent more time fighting for His Kingdom than fighting for matters of this world.  

My life has been changed, not once, but daily because of the relationship I have with God.   Why daily?  Because I mess up a lot.   I get caught up in the hours of sleep I didn't get, the things I didn't get to do, the people I had to "put up with", on and on and on and on.   Thankfully I can rest in the fact that God already knows I'm not perfect and that I never have to be because I never will be.   What matters to him is that I seek him.   He is jealous for my time, my willingness to become more like Him.    "I want to be better.   I don't like who I am.   I feel helpless."  The only way to be more like Him is to spend time with Him.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Time for Happy!

Ok, have I told anyone how much I love my little man?   He truly is the greatest gift from God!  I'm learning that he loves morning, which is not like his mommy :)  This morning he just spent an hour smiling and cooing.   I was absolutely in heaven!  Daily I'm reminded what a gift he is and I'm so thankful God brought us together.  There is so much joy found through having a child and I'm finding that being a mom was truly God's purpose for my life.   People always tell you there's nothing life becoming a parent and I really never understood what they mean....well, now I do.



I changed my settings so that only members of my blog will be allowed to make comments.    After reading a comment that a "Josh" left.   I do not appreciate people who seek out my blog to make personal attacks with misguided information and who choose to read between the lines and make their own accusations.  I do not know who this Josh is and it is frankly a little disturbing after his comment to know he is reading about my family.  I would encourage everyone to make their profiles private, as I had to learn the hard way.   If you are to make comments on people's blogs it is best if they know who you are.  I thought that my blog would be a neat way to keep family and friends updated on our family life, and yes I chose to write about a "touchy" subject because it was on my heart at the time.  I did not do so to offend anyone or offer up the opportunity for someone to use as a form to attack what I believe in so strongly, which is choice in education.   In fact my blog did not even talk about choice in education, so I am wondering who this individual is, how they knew that was something that I feel strongly about and how they found my blog.

I have been on the charter school debate for many years and one thing that I continue to be baffled by is how people can be so closed minded and are so intent on attacking the intention of those who want to provide options for students.  I have never said that traditional public schools, private schools, alternative schools, technical schools, or online schools are a bad choice.  In fact I believe quiet the contrary.  We need these choices because we are all individuals and we learn differently from one another.   As parents we need to have the choice to send our child to a school where they can learn to the best of their ability.   That may be the school who's district you reside in, or it may not be.  My husband and I will continually asses our child's needs and always place them where they will be able to thrive.

I apologize if I offended anyone on my blog, but then again, this is my space, where I can write about what I believe.  I truly think that is how we become wiser is by listening to other people's experiences and take on situations. If anyone knows who this "Josh" may be will you please let me know because I would like to find out how he knew so much information about me and how he found this blog.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Education Reform

If you know me really well you know that I have strong political views and that I can get fired up about politics fairly easily.  If you don't know me all that well then you have probably never heard me talk politics.  I have no interest in arguing about topics unless I feel it will actually make a difference.  I know it is unlikely that I will change another persons view and it's even more unlikely that they will change mine from one conversation.   There is a topic that has been bred into my being, so I am going to talk politics now because this is a topic that is close to my heart, education.  My parents have been heavily involved in the education conversation and some extremely vital movements in education since I was 12.  While growing up the last thing I wanted to hear about was education, but look at me know and you would never know it. While in college I lobbied at the state house in the education committee.  I've been extremely involved in Liberty Public Charter School, based on the Harbor method, for several years (I was a teacher's aid and also taught computer)  until I had my son, which now I still plan to volunteer at the school.  My husband and I are also founders of a new school that will be built near our home that will be a sister school to Liberty.  I guess you could say I have lived and breathed education for 12 years.

We are so involved in these schools because they are educating our children the way they should be.  The teachers are hands on, involved and inspired to come to work daily with their best game.  They are rewarded for their hard work and innovative thinking, rather than just by the number of years they have been there or by test scores.  Text books are rarely used (only for math and science)  instead they are using interactive ways to engage these young people and keep them focused.  Student performance is off the charts and children who come in from other schools have tremendous growth within a years time.

You would think that this is all due to small class sizes, long contracts for teachers/tenure, and a whole lot of money.  Quiet the contrary!  The school runs on a fraction of the budget most surrounding schools have allocated to them.   Their class size ranges from 28-32 students and if there is an ineffective teacher in the classroom there would be no hesitation to let them go.  Because of their support from administration the teachers are able to set high expectations for attitude and performance.  Why do we belittle our children and expect so little of them?  They can and will rise to the challenge no matter their background, race, IQ or special needs.  At these schools, classes are managed better than most companies.  So, here is a school that is already putting in place many of the proposals Tom Luna is suggesting in the Education's working! If you strongly disagree with these proposals and if you feel taxes or money could fix the problems, then you haven't seen it in play.  I encourage you to seek out one of these schools that is making it happen and take a tour.  If you are asking our government to look under "every rock"  shouldn't you yourself?

There's experiences in my life that certainly sway my opinion as well.  Do you remember when you were in high school and you'd go to registration, look at your schedule and your heart would sink?  All because you got stuck in that one teachers class that everyone hated.  I'm not talking about the teacher that was just strict or the class that was really really hard.  I'm talking about the math teacher that I had who was spent 5 minutes at the beginning of class to go over 2 questions that several students got wrong and then went back to her desk while we read our text book, so she could sip coffee until her retirement came.  I'm talking about the teacher who I truly believe hated children.   She had no desire to meet with students who were struggling, or who said "are you stupid" to me when I asked a question that apparently was too ridiculous for her to answer.  I'm even talking about the teacher who students all loved and wanted to be in his class because he gave everyone A's and let you pass notes and hang out all class because he had a job that couldn't be taken away.   I have all the respect in the world for teachers, but I'm sorry those are not teachers.  Those are people with a free ride to a salary every year.   My husband puts his life on the line each and every day,  men and women are sent off to war to fight for our freedom, but at the end of the day, if they mess up, make one mistake, don't take their job seriously, do you think their Sergeant, Chief, or supervisor thinks twice before sending them on their way?  No.  Teachers should have the same fear, so they will have the same drive to do well every single day.   When do NFL stars have their best season?  That last year before their contract is up for renewal.

As far as the online classes,  I took one online class in college because it was only available online,  I did not do well, so I didn't take another online class. Even though there were certain classes only offered online and even though it would have been more convenient for me to take the class online, I avoided them like the plague.  This is most people's reasoning for not making students take an online class in high school.  So, let me get this right:
Colleges and University's are increasing their online classes and requiring most classes to be taken in that manner.
Study shows that most students will be required to take online classes in college

We should not prepare students to succeed in college by making them take online classes in high school, so they can get used to the difference.
We should not set up our students to excel in an ever increasing technological world
We do not believe students can learn how to take a class online, even though they can learn how to link their tweeter to their mybook and blog about their medical diagnosis from wiki all while updating their status?

I would have never opted for an online class in high school.  BUT I would have much rather failed an online class in high school instead of failing it in college where I was paying hundreds of dollars for it.  I do believe we need to implement a plan to educate students how to take online classes and how to benefit from them.  There needs to be a way to help these students prepare for their future.  I would have benefited from that in more ways than one.  I would have appreciated if my high school would have looked at what would help me do well in higher education rather than just my four years there.  Most company's are using online classes now to educate their staff on new policies and risk management topics.   If the purpose of high school is to prepare our students for a higher education and or future employment, then it is crucial that we train these students how to use technology for learning and how to successfully complete a class online before their college diploma, or future job is on the line.

I say all of this not get people riled up, but to encourage everyone to do exactly what we are asking of the government, look at the possibilities.  If you have not seen a school who has these policies in place, then you truly can not say it will not work.  And once you see it you can make judgements yourself, but I hope this will encourage you to seek out a school that has similar policies in place.  If you do not know of one please let me know and I can give you the name of several.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

One of the perks of going through the adoption process were the classes our agency offered us.  They have everything from financial classes to classes that help you learn how to do your child's hair.   The most beneficial class we took ended up being a class that dealt with the questions adoptive parents might encounter about their child.  When we took the class I was floored by some of the testimony from fellow parents who had been asked questions or been put in situations that were very uncomfortable for them and their child.  At the time I really thought I would never encounter such things, I couldn't imagine people really would ask questions like that.  Here I am with my 7 week old precious boy and I have already been asked almost every single question they prepared us for in that class.  I don't believe these questions come from bad intentions, but I do believe they come from ignorance.  Today I had a shocking encounter at lunch and just really feel the need to share my experience in hopes that those of you who have adopted will find comfort in knowing you aren't the only one who's been asked these questions and for those of you who meet a child or couple that has a family built through adoption, you might understand how to be curious without offending anyone.

I'll set the scene, my friend and I were eating lunch and sitting in a booth.  A family of three (mother and two daughters, probably age 8 and 13) sat in the booth behind me.  As soon as they sat down the older daughter began googling over my little man...who wouldn't?  They asked the usual questions like; "How old is he? How much does he weigh?" My friend left the table for a moment and then the ignorant questions began to flow.  Here are a few examples of both their questions and my answers;
"So is his daddy black?"
     "Both his bithmom and birthdad were black and they chose us to be his parents, we adopted him."
"Where did you get him?"
     "He was born in Georgia"
"So why didn't his parents want him?"
     "His mother loved him very much and knew they couldn't take care of him, but could give him a better home."
"How much did it cost?"
     Thankfully at this time my friend walked back in and I didn't have to answer, but I would say contact an adoption agency if you are interested in those details.   Please don't ever ask a family directly unless they open that door.
"When he is old enough to understand will you let him go back to live with his real parents?"
     "We are his real parents and he will always live with us, but if he would like to meet his birthmom at some point and she would like the same then we of course will allow that."

Keep in mind all these questions came from a 13 year old and so I was probably a bit kinder in my response.  I understand children can be curious, but for goodness sake there were plenty of moments her mother could have explained that these were not questions to ask a stranger.

What I have a difficult time with are the questions that refer to my son as an object that you can get from someplace or that he isn't "really" ours and we aren't "really" his.  I want to educate those who haven't had adoption as a part of their lives, which is why I try to answer questions with a statement that shows a more appropriate way to ask in the future.  "Where was he born?"  "What is his heritage?"  And then there are questions that are just not OK to ask someone you have never met.   My hope is through educating people now the next time they run into a family that has adopted they will choose a better way to inquire about their family.  I also hope that my son will a) not have to hear, "Where did they get you?"  or, "Do you want to live with your real parents?"  BUT b) If he does hear those questions I pray that I will have set a good example of how to answer them without frustration and ultimately to be confident enough in our love and our family to not let them effect him.  I pray his identity will always be found in CHRIST and in CHRIST alone.

In hopes that this post does not come off rude, I hope that you can glean some light from my very uncomfortable situation I was in today.  Never would have thought one 13 year old would have covered every question from that class we sat in several months ago.   I guess it's good I've gotten all the awkward out this early in the game though, eh?

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Month of Firsts

This is such a fun stage to see Ryker going through.   There are so many firsts that we are experiencing with him.  He had his first smile, that wasn't just gas, and he had his first bath.

I'm falling more in love with this little boy everyday.  He is so sweet and I cherish our cuddle times.  Today I was trying to make dinner, clean the kitchen and put away the clothes.  I had him in the swing and he was  just whaling. I started to think to myself, "Why won't you let me put you down?  I just need to get a couple things done."  I stopped and realized before I know it he won't want to be held, he will want to run free all the time, and eventually he will probably be embarrassed to even hug me.  So, I am going to soak in this time that he screams when he can't cuddle with me and I'll save to dishes, the laundry, and the daily to-do's for when he is too old for that.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Close Call

When you receive a phone call and can hear the heart monitor beating in the back ground and your moms first words are, "He's ok, but..." your heart tends to begin sinking.  Last night I got that phone call after my brother had been in a snowboarding accident that left him unconcsious for over 5 minutes.  Thankfully, he is recovering well and there were no life threatening injuries, all because he was wearing his helmet!  I'm so proud that he is a responsible kid!

I just have to say my brother and I have one of those unspoken love kind of relationships.  Of course my mind went to, "When did I tell him I loved him last?  When did I give him a hug and tell him how awesome he is?"  The answer to both of those questions was, "too long."  I'm not sure he'd appreciate me gushing over him every day though.  By the off chance that he reads this someday I hope he can tell how much he means to me.   I wasn't always the best sister.  I am 7 years older than him and I sure picked on him a lot, ignored him a lot and tried to steal the lime light a lot.  I wish I could take back the sister I was when we were kids, but I hope I've somehow made up for it as I've grown out of my selfish ways.  He means the world to me and I could not be more thankful that he is my brother.  He is a great Uncle and I am really glad my little man is going to be able to look up to him because he will be a great role model.  He has made really good choices in life and I can only imagine what God has in store for his future.  My brother can make everyone laugh and he is total guy all the way through.  He can get through a store within 5 minutes (shopping line included) and there's no sense in talking to him about mushy stuff.

If you can't tell I love my brother....if you can't tell I love you bud.  I hope you know that and I pray you never wonder if that is true.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hitting my knees

My boy is sick for the first time and this is not something I was prepared for.  He is so tiny and we can't do much to help him.  We get a cold and shove zycam up our nose or take a dose of tylonol.  I just have to watch him cough his way through it.  He looks up at me with his big brown eyes in desperation, as if to say, "mom, please help."  I'm not getting a lot of sleep because I'm checking to see if he's breathing, or I'm quickly sitting him up as he coughs.  The sleep can wait though.  It's just emotionally exhausting feeling so helpless.  I know every mother faces this time and I'm sure those of you who are reading this understand where I'm coming from, or wish I would stop whinning.  This all puts in perspective parents who have to watch their children go through very painful things (surgeries, illnesses, etc.).  I have much respect for them because I'm about to have a melt down over a cold.  I'm just saying I completely understand why my mom always looked like she was in more pain than I was everytime I was sick or hurt.  I'm guessing since I have a boy there will be many more sick nights, hospital visits and that desperate look in his eye.  I just never realized how hard it would be to be the strong one. 

Praying God makes this stuffy nose and cough go away.... 

My boy looks cute in hats!

I just LOVE these crochet hats!  He looks so handsome, dontcha think??? We got this one from Boise Butterfly

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

So many friends and family who love our boy

We have just been overwhelmed by the outpoor of love since we have been back!  Thank you to everyone who has come to love on Ryker, or sent a thoughtful card our way.  This has been such a fun time, but also an adjustment as we try to become parents.  It's very evident the importance of that quote, "It takes a villiage to raise a child,"  and I'll tell you what our child has a pretty amazing villiage.  Here's just a few....

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tips for those adopting out of state

While I had it on my mind I wanted to offer some tips to anyone who might end up adopting out of state.  There are so many tips for mothers bringing a baby home from the hospital, but I found it hard to figure out what to take while traveling and possibly staying in a hotel for 2 weeks. 

Here are some great things to take with you:
Madella Sanitizing bags - all you have to do is add water, add bottles/Binky's and zap in the microwave for 5 min.  Great way to keep things clean without a dishwasher!
Summer Swaddle Me blankets - Ryker loved these!  It helped him feel so secure and it was the only way he could sleep at night.  This was a neat way to imitate what he felt in the womb as I held him. 
Soft Washcloths-  We used these as burp rags as well as to give him a sponge bath.  We brought 10 of them and had to wash them half way through the trip there. 
Moby Wrap-  LOVE THIS!  We did some sight seeing and this was a great way to carry little man around without feeling tired.  It also kept strangers from coming up at touching him, or getting to close to him.  Not to mention the special feeling of him all snuggled up in my chest!  BEAUTIFUL!
Small notebook & folder- We used a notebook to keep track of his eating and diaper changing schedule, which you will need for the pediatrician.  We used the folder to keep all the medical and adoption records in, so they wouldn't get lost. 
3oz formula bottles-  We use Gerber Good Start formula and they carry 3oz glass bottles, which were awesome for when we were out and about and were perfect for traveling on the plane.  We were able to take them on our carry on bag and since they are sealed they don't have to be refrigerated. 

Last of all don't forget to bring a journal, or something to keep track of all those special moments you'll spend with your new little one.  There are so many emotions that ran through me and the time flew by.  I felt like I was living a dream and I'm so thankful I wrote things down otherwise I might have forgotten what day I was peed on for the first time :-)  Or when he spit up all down my back for the first time :-)  Or my favorite....when he turned toward my face when I spoke to him, looked up at me and grinned for the first time! 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Home just got a lot sweeter

Well we had a wonderful surprise yesterday!  Our paper work went through a lot quicker than we expected and we were given the go ahead to come back home :)  We had a wonderful time in Atlanta and made memories and friends to last a lifetime, but I just could not wait to get my boy home and introduce him to his new family.  When we landed on Boise's great soil this afternoon we were greeted by loving smiles....

Our immediate family met us back at our home for a wonderfully prepared dinner (by the new grandma's) and a night to just praise God for this beautiful baby boy!  Ryker is so loved, not only by us, but by many friends and family.  He is a lucky boy and I'm thankful for those in our life who have been praying for him and for us through this journey.  He couldn't be more perfect and I truly am the luckiest woman in the world to be his I get teary eyed just saying those words.  I love him so deeply and he's already brought a tremendous amount of joy to Tyler and I. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1/1/11 at 1pm

Once there were two women who never knew each other
One you do not remember, the other you call Mother
Two different lives shaped to make you one
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun

The first one gave you life, and the second taught you to live it
The first gave you a need for love, the second was there to give it

One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name
One gave you a talent, the other gave you aim

One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears
One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried you tears

One made an adoption plan, that was all that she could do
The other prayed for a child, and God led her straight to you.

Now, which of these two women, Are you the product of?
Both, my darling, Both, Just two different types of love.
---- Unknown

Today we had lunch with little man's birthmom.  Of course we were nervous.  We didn't know what we would say or what to talk with her about.  I mean how do you thank someone for the beautiful child they chose to hand over to you?  How do you express how much you admire a 13 year old for keeping her baby, making a wise decision to give her baby a home with two parents and then to come meet you and spend time with you.  We met for lunch and when we walked in the door there was an instant sense of peace.  You could just tell God was in the room throughout the whole afternoon.  Their was so much thankfulness and gratitude both ways.  For us, it was what I said earlier and for them it was a sense of hope that this child would be cared for and that they could continue to focus towards goals any 13 year old should have.   His birthmom is so sweet and gorgeous.   He looks so much like her, especially when he gets a sweet smile on his face.   I'm so thankful I will be able to tell our son about the special girl who gave him life.