Saturday, December 31, 2011

Loving this Texas Weather...

As a Texas girl transplanted to Nebraska, I am LOVING the weather this week.

Normally by this time in December, I'm wondering if the winter is personally out to GET me. So days when I can take the dog for a walk/run outside? December days when we can walk to the park? I'll TAKE it.

Who knew we wouldn't have to wait months to introduce the little mister to our neighborhood park?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Capture Gratitude


“There is no event so common place but that God is present within it, always hidden, always leaving you room to recognize Him or not to recognize Him.”  Fredrick Buechner


7. Christmas dinner @ Grammie's.

I am thankful for the perspective my Thanksgiving in Africa gave me - and thankful to have been RIGHT where God wanted me at that moment. But I am also VERY thankful to be home for Christmas, and eating turkey, dressing, and sweet potatoes (instead of meatloaf.)

8. Handmade Gifts

I love my sister-in-law for many reasons. One of them is that we share a love of the hand-made. This year for Christmas, she made Micah this awesome set of roads (out of old jeans):
And Tobin these AMAZING Angry birds. Both boys love both of these toys. And so does Mama!
(by the way? Both of these gift ideas came from Pinterest. Which Mama also loves.)

9. First Red Cup of the season (Peppermint Hot Chocolate)


10. Home

I'm still not over the joy of being home. Home with all five of us in one place. I love Uganda, and I loved being there. I would not have minded staying for longer, if all five of us had been there together. But it sure is nice to be in my home, not living out of a suitcase - even if here I have to do all of my own laundry and clean up after myself (and everyone else.)

11. Christmas Mail
This week, in addition to so many lovely Christmas cards (ours can be found HERE), we got MM's final immigration approval. He won't be officially a US citizen until we finalize his adoption (which in Nebraska, we can't do until he's lived with us for 6 months). But it sure was fun to get this:

12. Sleep
We've had some sleep difficulties this week, so every time I see this, I am thankful:
 I especially love this picture, because it's the first time I've seen Micah Marvin really cuddle with a stuffed animal. He plays with them sometimes, but pushes them away when it's time to sleep. To add to the sweetness, this is officially Tobin's monkey - it was a birthday present from build-a-bear last year. When T first got it out, M went NUTS for it, and T wouldn't share. But M loves it so much, and Tobin is sharing. Thankful their friendship is blossoming.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas at our house...

A glimpse into our Christmas...celebrating JESUS, and rejoicing in the gifts He gives so freely.

On Christmas Eve Eve (Friday night :D) we piled the boys into the van in their jammies. Mission: Christmas lights. Sometimes we do this on Christmas Eve, but wanted a more relaxing Eve this year. (Notice the variety of facial expressions here... Micah is like, WHERE ARE YOU TAKING ME IN MY PJs????)

 Viewing Christmas lights in our family requires travel mugs of hot chocolate, and Grammie's spice cookies. We haven't gotten our yearly dose from Grammie, so I tried my hand at her recipe. Yummy.

At the Christmas Eve service with Grammie & Papa. I always miss my family on the years we're not in Texas for Christmas, but LOVE getting to celebrate at our church, and wake up in my own bed on Christmas morning. Thankful.

Before the boys woke up this morning, I lit the Jesus candle in our advent wreath (except I couldn't find the wreath this year, and got home just a few days before the first Sunday of Advent. So we used candles I already had on hand that don't require a wreath, and I bought a new candle for the Jesus candle in the middle.)

Stockings not hung by the chimney with care, because we don't have a fireplace. :) I love seeing them stuffed with Ugandan goodies for the younger two boys.

The aftermath. Notice Luke's stocking was almost entirely 1. Vikings 2. Husker 3. Candy. He was happy.

I bought some squinkies for the younger 2 boys. I think they're adorable, but Matt thinks they're the dumbest thing since silly bands. And he thinks we need to brainstorm and come up with the next cheaply made children's collectible and make a mint of money off of something dumb. Indeed. (I do think the marketing is hilarious. Good luck trying to make these things seem tough and cool enough for bigger boys. Your first problem was naming them Squinkies, I think...)

After stockings, we had our Christmas breakfast. I've had a hard time landing on a set tradition for Christmas breakfast (mostly because every other Christmas we're in Texas with family, so I have no control over it...) I think we've found it this year.

The Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls, with Christmas sprinkles:

And breakfast casserole. YUMMY. And both assembled ahead of time, all we had to do was stick them in the oven this morning.

Thankful to have the rest of the day to relax and enjoy being together. And SO thankful to be HOME. Throughout the morning my mind keeps turning to several friends who are far from home today...praying they'd find their Home in the One Whom Christmas is all about!

Hope you're making many memories and enjoying the Peace Jesus gives. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Everything sad is coming untrue...

"Dear Little Flock,

You're all wandering away from me,like sheep in an open field. you have always been running away from me. And now you're lost. You can't find your way back.

But I can't stop loving you. I will come to find you. So I am sending you a Shepherd to look after you and love you. To carry you home.

You've been stumbling around, like people in a dark room. But into the darkness, a bright Light will shine! It will chase away all the shadows, like sunshine. 

A little baby will be born. A Royal Son. His mommy will be a young girl who doesn't have a husband. His name will be Emmanuel, which means, "God has come to live with us." He is one of King David's children's children's children.

The Prince of Peace.

Yes, Someone is going to come and rescue you!

But he won't be who anyone expects.

He will be a king! But he won't live in a palace. And he won't have lots of money. He will be poor. And he will be a Servant. But this King will heal the whole world. 

He will be a Hero! He will fight for his people, and rescue them from their enemies. But he won't have big armies, and he won't fight with swords. He will make the blind see, he will make the lame leap like deer. He will make everything the way it was always meant to be...

...And one day, when he comes back to rule forever, the mountains and trees will dance and sing for joy! The earth will shout out loud! His fame will fill the whole earth - as the waters cover the sea! 

Everything sad will come untrue."

From the book of Isaiah, as retold in The Jesus Storybook Bible.

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011 in pictures

In lieu of a Christmas card this year (because I am trying to simplify this season in both time and money...although I LOVE receiving Christmas cards)...

Here is a video of the highlights of our year. What a year it still seems amazing to me that this time last year I was feeling the Lord nudge me back toward international adoption (for a variety of reasons I had let go of that dream, thinking the Lord had other plans for us.) And here we are...I spent 6 weeks of 2011 on the other side of the world, and came home with a precious new boy. Our joy overflows...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I continue to be so thankful to be HOME. I love Africa, and would have loved staying there for as long as needed (or even longer)....except that 3/5s of my family was in the US. So this is where I'm happy to be.

Coming home was such a whirlwind. I picked up Micah's passport Monday morning, went straight to the embassy to turn it in. Had our exit interview that afternoon, where I was surprised to be approved for his visa and immigration to the states on the spot (I was the last of the families to be interviewed that day, and the rest were all told they'd have to wait and would be called when they were approved.) Wednesday afternoon I picked up Micah's passport with his visa in it, and we said goodbye to our friends and got on a plane that evening. 30 hours later, we were walking through the Omaha airport, introducing Micah to his family and being reunited with my loves. AMAZING.

There are some homecoming pictures in our video (click the link to go to that post). I thought I'd share some of my favorites here, so you don't have to click pause to really look at them.

Finally with all 3 of my happy :)

If you're ever meeting someone at the airport with their arriving child... I'd highly recommend bringing balloons. Someone told me this and boy am I glad I followed that advice, if only because it resulted in this darling picture!

Ready for Nebraska!

We headed over to Grisanti's for dinner. I knew it might be overwhelming for both Micah and for me, but I didn't want to spend just 10 minutes at the airport with all my people, after being away for so long. 
Also: Chicken Marsala.
Meeting his Opi...
 and Grammie.

 Micah & I drew kind of a crowd at our end of the table...

After dinner, we headed back to Lincoln. Micah and I both CRASHED on the way home, but Matt woke me up when we got to our neighborhood so I would be sure to see this waiting for us on the yards down our street:

Precious friends from my prayer group did this. What a darling homecoming. We have the signs in our garage, I can't bear to get rid of them. What a fun surprise!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Capture Gratitude/1000 Gifts...

A while back, when I first read 1000 Gifts, I decided to start blogging my gifts. While I've faithfully counted gifts, my blogging of them lasted all of one post. Typical.

A friend I met in Africa, Mandie Joy does a gift list on her blog but she uses pictures, which I LOVE. I thought I'd give that a try, since it helps me focus on what I'm thankful for, but also share our life in pictures.

So here's my first "CAPTURE GRATITUDE" post... Hoping it lasts longer than 1 post :).


“There is no event so common place but that God is present within it, always hidden, always leaving you room to recognize Him or not to recognize Him.”  Fredrick Buechner


Gift #1: I was home in time for our church's Christmas program. 

My original flight home was scheduled for the day of the concert. I was SO thankful to be home in time to be there, and for Tobin to participate. He's such a microphone hog at every opportunity, I thought he'd love being on stage.

As it turned out... He just stood there. I think he sang 2 lines from one song. The rest of the time he spent watching the big screen or distracted by the little girl behind him (who was falling to pieces.) Oh well. I was still happy to be there, and with Micah strapped to me on his first outing.

2. My journal. 
Journalling is more of a necessity to me than a discipline... And I am thankful to have a lovely place to keep my thoughts. I was SO thankful for the amount of time I had to journal my thoughts and prayers in Africa...I'm looking forward to going back through what I wrote at some point.

3. With that in mind... 
I'm VERY thankful for a DVD player, DVDs that hold both smaller boys' interest, and the sight of them piled up on the couch with all their "friends" in the morning. Offering me the chance to write in my journal now that I'm home.


4. I'm grateful to be a family of five... Even if it's hard to capture that in a picture. :)

If you're facebook friends with me, then you know that I was a little frustrated by our first attempt at a family-of-5 photo. We're not sending out Christmas cards this year - trying to keep things as simple as possible. But I would love to send something out early in the new year, to our family and to the MANY who supported us and helped us to bring Micah home.

Maybe I'll send this one out, just to keep things real?

5. A 4 year old who loves to "read".

6. Family Christmas traditions (and being HOME to enjoy them). 

Sometimes the amount of family we have makes it hard to enjoy Christmas - there's just so much celebrating to do with 5 families to celebrate with.

New perspective this year... Thankful to be here for EVERY one of these celebrations, and the ones still to come.

 Singing at the McCutcheon family Christmas... Blue Christmas, but also "Rockytop". Precious memories, and fun to add our "gee-tar" loving little one into the mix this year.

 My favorite tradition: Our homespun nativity play at Grammie & Papa's. Group picture (and a video!) coming soon... In the meantime, here's the angel and the smallest shepherd.

Decorating cookies with the little ones. It was a HIT with Micah: I put frosting on his plate, and he wiped it all over his cookie and himself, put on sprinkles, licked everything off. Then repeated the process until I dragged him screaming from the table to hose him off in the shower. :)

Here's the cookie Tobin made "just for you mom!" (which he then proceeded to take one big bite out of, to make sure it was good...")

So many things to be grateful for!!