29 September 2010

from there to here...

in a round-about sort-of-way.

You might be kind of wondering about how I went from "bring me home a baby from Africa" to adopting from the state of Georgia.

Its interesting. This journey God leads us on. Each journey unique, each child being led by the One who knows every step, every twist, every turn. And then, you know, if you are married - well, God leads each of you uniquely but simultaneously. And sometimes when I try to ponder it, I am just awed at how He does it.

If you know us (which the last time I checked everyone who reads this blog knows us), you know we are a bit different from one another. . Not total-opposites-attract-different; but most certainly not two-peas-in-a-pod. And our pastor says that is a good thing in a marriage, because if we were both the same then one of us wouldn't be necessary. Which is actually a really great point, and a wonderful thing to ponder in the midst of circumstances that bring your glaring differences to a head - just keep that in mind for yourself down the road.

In a letter to our families, I mentioned that Brad and I didn't have an "aha" moment about adopting. He wasn't at work, and me at home when we both sent each other a two-word text "Let's Adopt!" Didn't happen that way...

It was many hours of talking. Spread out over many, many, many months. Perhaps years. I couldn't tell you the first time it came up. (Brad probably could because he has a killer memory - we are different in this area).

I can tell you that I was kind of set on adopting internationally, because I adore Africa. I would love to go there again...and I knew if we adopted from there I would get to. Not really the best motive, but I am being honest.

I can also tell you that I was kind of set on not adopting domestically through foster care.

So that's where my heart started. I sort of had a little plan going.

Brad was on to me fast. He always is... and besides I am so transparent that I pretty much give those sorts of things away.

Brad asked me to do the research part of this... His schedule was so crazy (IS so crazy), so I started off reading books, and requesting informational packets. We would discuss my findings on our date nights. Among other things.

The State of GA didn't have a very user-friendly website. It took me weeks to track down someone to contact locally. And weeks to get a return phone call.

During those weeks, I began to assume that my plan was going to end up being His plan (like how often does that EVER happen?)

Brad was patient to wait.

In my heart, I thought that even though international adoption takes quite some time, at least you kind of know the steps and can kind of time the process - and besides all the people at those agencies call me back right away AND reply to my emails!

On July 3, I took the boys to see the fireworks on post. Remember? We were expecting Mom & Dad the next day so I didn't really want to be out that late, but I also didn't want to miss out on the fireworks. But when we got in our car I was determined to beat all the crazy traffic.

I sat there figuring out which way would be faster. I thought that instead of following the rest of the traffic toward the main artery, I would take a short-cut through post. I thought my way would be faster. I thought my way would be the right way to go.

As soon as I turned out onto the road, the opposite way of a long-string of brake lights I felt so smug - for about half a block. The place that I planned to turn was closed. I am sure I started to blush at my own ignorance. But at the same time, I felt a sense of reassurance. "My daughter, won't you please let me lead you? Won't you please lay down your own plan and stop your silly figuring? Let Me lead you." And I spent some time finally laying down my own ideas, my own plans... and my heart opened up for Him to lead me. I realized that I hadn't even considered adopting here because I was too afraid of the unknown and the unlikely. I confessed, somewhere in some neighborhood behind a bunch of cars that were stopped because we all knew we would be able to beat the other traffic, and my heart was changed.

I'm not much of a "what-if" kind of girl. We had a SS teacher at our last church that would ask things like "What if Jesus never died on the cross?" And I always had to fight the urge to yell something like "He did. Why waste time on what ifs?" But this little adoption scenario (little is used loosely) has caused me to ponder a huge "what if." What if Brad wasn't the kind of man that insisted on weighing all of the options? What if he was the kind of man that just wanted to please his wife and jumped on board with my ideas? Thank God I can't answer those questions. Thank God for making Brad such a good match for me.

"The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9

28 September 2010

look what the cub scout won...

Brad took Wilson to his cub scout meeting last night... and Wilson came home with this...a little archery set and a DVD (Down and Derby, I think). They had the official popcorn sale kick-off last night and Wilson earned four tickets in the drawing. He was beaming when he came home and showed me!

27 September 2010

some cute fall stuff...

front door wreath finally updated!and some little dresses for "A Bit of Benning" a crafter's shop here on post...

...I know, I said I never wanted to sell my sewing; but as we were looking for ways to bring in a little extra income I realized this might be a good opportunity. I was even considering doing one of those home businesses (Thirty-One Gifts), and I thought about making cold calls or trying to set-up parties (and with Brad's schedule that would likely include hiring a sitter). I thought about how much I would literally hate doing those things... and God reminded me about how much I actually do enjoy creating gifts. I am still considering an alternate website for selling stuff or possibly etsy. For the immediate time, I am just working on making some stuff for the little gift shop on-post and taking personal orders through PayPal. We'll see where God takes this venture!

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

26 September 2010

"POPCORN!...

Get your FRESH, HOT, POPCORN!"

I don't know why, but in my head, I hear one of those guys at the ballpark hawking this popcorn. We've decided to embrace the after-school-activity of Boy Scouts this year. Wilson is pretty excited about all of it. Which makes it awfully hard for us, his adoring parents, to not share in his excitement. Heck, even Walker is geeked about it. Who knew?


The Pack Leader mentioned that it is nearly impossible for customers to resist the little cub scouts in uniform selling this popcorn. So, I knew I needed a couple pictures to accompany this post... Just look at that face...And is it just me, or is there a glimmer of "baby Wilson" in that top left picture below?
We can't start selling the popcorn on-post until next month because of the "Combined Federal Campaign" which is ongoing right now. However, we are free to begin online sales... ***SORRY I CAN"T FIGURE OUT HOW TO LOAD THE LINK CORRECTLY*** Email or call us if you are interested and we'll get you the correct information!

I promise* this is the last of the popcorn-pushing. We did a facebook blitz yesterday and now the blog. That pretty much covers our bases.

*unless of course he is somehow close to winning some sort of prize, and then, well, you know I just can't help myself under those circumstances. Just sayin.

25 September 2010

what's cookin?

Friday night Brad had to work overnight... and sometimes {on Fridays especially} I make breakfast for dinner when Daddy is away. Brad abhors breakfast for dinner - you might remember that while he was deployed breakfast for dinner was every Friday. Sometime during the day Friday, I determined that I did not want to get the griddle out (probably determined that while I cleaned out the buffet where the griddle is stored). When Wilson came home we debated on what to eat - chocolate chip scones or applesauce cake. Wilson suggested a coin toss - he wanted scones. Much to his dismay, the applesauce cake won. He was certain that he would not like it - and he told me so quite plainly. However, I do believe this picture suggests otherwise...I called Rene as I was getting ready to make this applesauce cake - Grandpa Lewis' recipe that Aunt Becky put in a recipe book for me as a shower gift. I asked her about frosting... and when I told her we were having the cake for dinner, she rhetorically asked, "Brad's not coming home is he?" (She knows us well!)

And yes, we did have smoky links with our applesauce cake. Why wouldn't we?
This morning I made the chocolate chip scones after all. Because sometimes I am really nice like that. And also, I have a lot of buttermilk in my fridge that is going to expire on Monday. And I wouldn't know what to do with sour buttermilk.

I had the buttermilk because I signed-up to bring scones for PWOC on Thursday. I made three kinds. It was like Scone Henge on the counters in the kitchen! Our PWOC has such a high attendance that I felt like even though I had made three batches and made them half-size portions (because scones can be rather huge, you know?), I couldn't leave any extras home. The boys did eat one or two Wednesday night but that was it. Brad doesn't care much for the scones, so he wasn't disappointed.

Back to the chocolate chip scones this morning.

I ran out of baking powder after making three kinds of scones in one day. So I had to google for a substitute. I thought I would just make more cranberry scones because they were my favorite on Wednesday. However a very cute 2nd grader was very dismayed. He really wanted the chocolate chip scones. But my original chocolate chip scone recipe called for heavy cream, and I couldn't dare use two different substitutions in the same recipe. I'm just not that clever in the kitchen. So I googled again and found buttermilk chocolate chip scones. And we determined that they were even tastier than the others...

See for yourself... thumbs up!
Chocolate chip grins are priceless. (And Brad still doesn't care for them too biscuit-like in his opinion).
Oh, and I finished my "give thanks" bunting. I used scraps that have been around... initially I just used fabric glue to stick the letters on...

...but today I decided to sew them on to ensure that this baby hangs around for a long time. It makes me really happy. I was a little afraid that it would be too big up there and I might have to sell it, but thankfully, its a perfect fit. Oh and the pilgrims are out too...

21 September 2010

two questions...

Q#1 - Should I paint this baby or not? Originally I had planned on painting it, then when I was washing it/sanding it with a Brillo pad, I found a sticker (UNDER the spray paint) that said, "Godinger Silver Art Co, Ltd." What do you think? It definitely is old & used, but kinda has some character. Paint or patina?
Q#2 - What the heck kind of spider is this?

18 September 2010

a mixed bag

so the other day when I was looking for small fall ideas, I came across these "boo" bags... then I realized that Wilson has had a felt trick-or-treat bag for-ev-er but Walker doesn't have one. The original post linked to the Pottery Barn bags for additional ideas, and I when I saw the owl on the green felt, I knew that was the one and thankfully Walker LOVED that one too... I had all of the materials at home and in under half an hour... he had his very own felt trick-or-treat bag (of course, when Wilson came home he quickly informed me that Walker used his bag last year and he had to carry a paper one - which he had to shelter when it started raining so he didn't lost his candy... man, that kid has a great memory).And, I think Barbie is the only one that ventured a guess to the give-away... guess I'll be keeping my TEN CENTS because I made these pj pants with that old shirt... not too shabby... or at least not as shabby as the rags I have been wearing around as pj pants... Brad even said I could get an old t-shirt out of his drawer to make another pair.
We had the post-wide garage sale today. I meant to take a picture of Wilson at his lemonade stand, I have no good excuse for not doing it - it wasn't that busy. We sold some stuff, and brought very little back into our house... which is ALWAYS a good thing. I got a little sunburn, can you believe that? In September? Crazy.

Tonight the boys were playing in the backyard and Brad ambushed them with the hose...
...by the time I came back out with the camera, the only thing left to capture on film were two-soaking-wet-crazy-faced-cuties!

16 September 2010

the adoption post

I'm not exactly certain how to start "The Adoption Post" so here goes...

Our family is in the process of adopting from the State of Georgia's foster care system. It has been a long road to get this place. Lots of prayer. Lots of discussion. Lots of research. Lots of prayer. Lather, rinse, repeat. You know?

I think probably since this happened, I have been sort of hoping to work out something like that for our family. And then when God sent Brad to Africa (via the US Army) for 15 months, I joked one or twenty times about Brad bringing us home a baby. Which I knew in reality wouldn't happen, but there's a popular expression 'round these parts that "There is a little truth in every joke."

And all along... God knew my heart about adoption. And He knew Brad's heart too. And He knew the perfect time for our family. We have come to the conclusion that at this point in time we would be disobeying God if we did not begin this process.

"Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin." James 4:17

We also felt a strong sense that we should begin here. In our own community. I have a specific story that really solidified this for me. Eventually I will put it on paper, or this here blog, so that our new little one can learn about how God talked to me about His plans for our family. I know I would cut too many corners if I started that story right now.

We have taken 20 hours of classes, been fingerprinted, drug-tested, had physicals and personality tests. We have had a home visit and filled out a LOT of paperwork. Walker is holding our file in this picture, the day we turned it all in! He was pretty excited, and so were we!The next thing on our list is the 3-4 hour home study. The state is currently working on contracts for the social workers so it might be awhile. We believe God's timing isn't impacted by the way the state government makes decisions. We trust God.

This summer as I was praying over some things very specifically, So Long Insecurity knocked me over the head. Beth Moore talked about how she used to pray, "Lord I trust you to...{fill in the blank}." And she said she realized that God wants us to pray, "Lord I trust you.{PERIOD}." You see at the very time I was reading this book, I was praying that God would connect me with a military family that had recently adopted (at the time I was thinking internationally because sometimes I really get ahead of God). I earnestly believed that I was exerting so much faith because I trusted God TO BRING THAT CONNECTION. Rather than simply TRUSTING GOD {PERIOD}. I was literally waiting for God to bring that connection into our life BEFORE stepping out in faith to do what we were certain He wanted us to do. I think shortly after confessing this to Him, I got that return phone call from the State of Georgia (and the ball began to roll...)

Funny thing is, a few weeks ago a lady from PWOC asked me some very specific questions about adopting through the state of Georgia... I won't share her personal information here, but let's just say our God is so good!

To say that we have seen God's Hand all over this thing already would be an understatement. I'll share more of those stories in the days and weeks ahead. This might be a really long road, it will certainly be a hard one. God knows each detail already and for that I am so thankful. I told Brad last night that I was ready to "have an ultrasound and see if it's a boy or a girl!" I guess this one will be a surprise! EEEK!

Please pray with us for the new one. Ask questions. Share in our journey, we are so happy to have you come along!

15 September 2010

a {RIDICULOUS} bargain

ok seriously... this is just like a makeover show, you know, when they give someone a new outfit, but in the before picture her hair is wet & she isn't wearing any make-up... and after, well, not only does the outfit look good, so does the hair & make-up. You know what I am talking about right? Well this is like that, because Wilson's room was a bit of a mess in his before {bargain} picture...and TWENTY-FIVE CENTS later.... How awesome of a deal is that? I'm just not usually the one that finds the bargains that are this good. I had wanted to get Wilson a bed skirt for quite some time, but I never wanted to risk it not matching... (and heaven knows I wouldn't remember to bring a pillowcase with me or anything like that). Well, for a QUARTER, I took the risk today. So happy (Wilson thinks its a bit too ruffly, I told him he can hide whatever he wants under his bed and nobody will know). (And for those of you that don't miss a thing, yes, that is a gun case under Wilson's bed... it now holds Nerf guns rather than actual guns. Brad had to get a new gun case so that when we have our home study we don't get busted for not having things secured properly).
And I am doing a little giveway {little}... TEN CENTS to the person that can guess what I made out of this ladies 2x tshirt today. Here's a hint, its something for me...
and I took a picture of the capes today...
I'm thinking of taking some orders. So I made a few "extra" samples for a couple little people that I love because they are quite super too. And really aren't all the little people in your life, SUPER, and wouldn't they love their very own customized, reversible super hero cape? We'll see. I'll get you the details once I decide if I am taking orders or not.

Still undecided about the garage sale. {in two days}

14 September 2010

some projects & what-not...

...Brad's been working a crazy schedule which has given me some time to sew in the evenings... last week I finished these dresses for Victoria (the turquoise one was a juniors dress and the plaid one was a skirt!) I can't wait to see them on her... Mom L sent me another dress to try to refashion for Victoria, so I might work on that one tomorrow...Walker has been working hard at school. If there is cutting and/or gluing involved, then he is super thrilled. I found another great web-site with printables for him...

Oh, and I did some work on a couple super-hero capes....

I r-e-a-l-l-y need to get a better picture of the capes while the boys are wearing them... although the Krispy Kreme hat, does make nearly-naked-Batman seem more intimidating. You think?
Oh, and one more project I am working on... thrift-store-find from a few weeks ago... 3-tiered-serving tray. Not exactly sure how I am going to paint it, I have a couple ideas floating around in my brain. Here's an in-progress picture. When I brought it home, Brad's comment was, "its crooked" (or something like that), so I immediately disassembled it. Therefore, this is my best "before" picture... I did some sanding tonight, not sure how much I need to sand it...


We may or may not be having a garage sale this weekend. Its the weekend for the post-wide garage sale. Last spring we thought about it, but then decided to donate our "sell piles" - which means we don't have much to sell right now. And this corner lot is not high-traffic like our other one was... So we'll see. If we have one, the $$ will go toward the New Year's Day Gala that Bryan & Emily are hosting (otherwise known as a wedding, but I like that title I just made up for it).

I think this will be the week that I finally write the adoption post that I promised a few weeks back.

09 September 2010

happy birthday, Grandpa Carl...

so tonight (in the middle of dinner, because heaven-forbid if I can remember to do something 10 minutes after I think of it...) we called Grandpa Carl to sing "Happy Birthday." Dad and I chatted for a few minutes more. While chatting Dad mentioned the number "48" and well, I'm not getting any younger either, so I went along with it...

When I got off the phone, I said to the boys, "Forty-Eight."

Wilson ponders it, and I say, "that's how old Grandpa Carl is."

He looks at me, "how old are you?"

I reply, "Thirty-Four." Knowing there's no way I could switch my own age on him...

a few quiet moments and then...

"How far apart are you and Grandpa?" he questions.

"um, he's not really 48, Wilson."

oh he's a smart one.

06 September 2010

a little labor...

on Labor day. Well Brad did more than "a little" since he is working all day/night. But the boys and I just did a little... We finally got the Presidential Busts out on Wilson's desk. Now, as long as nobody bumps into Wilson's desk, we should be alright...Grandma Lewis offered me these busts two summers ago when they were sorting through some of the stuff that was in the attic of the house in Flushing. I didn't feel right taking them then, but Grandma kept them aside for me. When we went to see her this summer, she reminded me to take them with me! And Aunt Denine had them all boxed up, and their shelf out ready to go! These babies are deceiving.. they are little, but they are SOLID bronze, so they are HEAVY! We didn't want to try and figure out a way to hang them on the wall. So finally, today, we got them out. I couldn't find ANY images of a full set (with the wooden blocks) online, so we just had to guess how to arrange the various height blocks. We found a list of presidents with pictures to make it a little easier to sort out the busts quickly. (The busts have their names on the bottom, so I just needed to get them in the correct order.) It was actually pretty fun and Wilson enjoyed finding them to put in order. I am certain that Grandma would be tickled!

The boys also made shirts from supplies that Aunt Becky sent them this week. They were SO excited to make them! I let them pick what words they wanted on their shirt...
Wilson picked "ROCK STAR"
He also wanted to have "rank" on his sleeve, as did Walker because Wilson did...
At first, Walker had chosen the word "kangaroo" for his shirt... and I honestly didn't think there were enough letter "o"'s for that option.... after a few suggestions he settled happily on "SGT LUTZ"

Wilson wants to wear his to school tomorrow and cannot wait to tell his teacher all about it. Thanks, Aunt Becky!

full battle rattle (& etc...)

the guys had a Nerf battle Saturday morning... they were all suited up...in their best fighting apparel...
very intimidating...

(& etc.)

Saturday evening right as I was getting our pizza ready for movie night, two boys from Wilson's class came to see if he wanted to play... they went over to the park for a few minutes while the pizza was cooking....
and this morning we had breakfast outside. Its so nice to be able to drink my coffee on the patio without breaking into a sweat!

04 September 2010

freezer cooking 101

{THIS POST IS LINK-TASTIC; click on the light-gray words to go to the links}

First and foremost
, there is no "correct" way to cook for the freezer. There are definitely some things that make it work better... BUT the key is figuring out what works best for you and your family. This here internet makes it easy to find tips, but sometimes it can be overwhelming.


To start, make sure you have the proper materials to freeze in. Always use actual freezer bags (vs. regular zip-locs) for freezing food - it just makes sense. Bags work great for almost everything. They are ideal for soups because you can fill them and lay them flat - they take up very little space and thaw quickly. Bags don't work for everything though. You can also use aluminum pans for freezing casseroles...and of course, foil for covering them. This is especially handy if you might potentially give away a frozen meal, then you don't have to worry about getting a dish back. You can also use plastic containers (like GladWare) which are great for cookies, because they don't get all banged up in them. And have a sharpie ready. Its always easier to write your directions out (on the bag or the foil) BEFORE you put the food in its container.
As for recipes. Look for ones that include directions for freezing, and include directions for cooking from frozen (or after freezing). The internet provides enough options that you should never have to guess about if something is going to work or not. You can use words like "freezer cooking" and "once a month cooking". Pick things that you would normally want to eat. Just because you find a freezer recipe for seafood casserole doesn't mean you should give it a try. Especially if you hate seafood. You know?
What's worked for us?

If I am making something like chili or lasagna I almost always freeze a 2nd meal for us. We aren't good at eating up leftovers immediately. Lasagna is easy to divide into two pans from one batch (once our boys start getting bigger appetites, this won't always work). Most 13x9 casserole recipes can be divided into two 8x8 pans. Just make sure you can find directions for freezing it (just google the same recipe name and add "freezer directions" to your search and see what you find.)

Start simple. Brown twice as much (or three or four times) ground beef as you need for tonight's recipe. Use what you need and let the rest cool. Then freeze about 1 lb* in each zip-loc for the next time. Having pre-cooked ground beef in your freezer makes throwing together a crock-pot of chili or sloppy-joes a snap on a week-day morning! (* most ground beef recipes call for 1 lb.)

You can do the same thing with chicken. If you bake chicken, throw a few extra breasts in the oven and dice those babies up after they've cooled. And if you should happen to cook a whole chicken (or buy a rotisserre one) shred those leftovers and freeze them - measure them in 1C increments and freeze. Most cooked chicken recipes call for a measurement rather than a weight. These are great basics for lots of recipes.

Breakfast foods aren't always on the radar for the freezer. We have a griddle, so I always make extra pancakes or french toast. It works best if you flash freeze these individually on a cookie sheet or something and then put them all in a bag after they are frozen. (I've layered them with wax paper before as well, but the flash freezing works best.) I pop the french toast in the toaster to heat it up or throw them in the microwave for 20 seconds or so. Nice, simple, hot breakfast!

A couple recipes we like:
Make Two Macaroni and Cheese
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
The Best Meatballs (flash freeze these individually as well, and then put them in a large zip-loc so you can just use what you need per meal. These work for meatball subs too)

What hasn't worked?

When I randomly freeze things improperly. I froze a batch of muffins in a bag. All the muffins had ice crystals all over them. They had soggy patches when I thawed them. This week I found directions for freezing muffins by individually wrapping each one in plastic wrap then putting them in a large ziploc.

Freezing recipes we don't like. They usually end up in the trash. Its worth it to give the recipe a try before making enough to freeze.

Forgetting things in the freezer. Move stuff around often so you remember what's in there. keep a list of what you've got in there.

sidetracked...

sorry, Lindsay, I know you were on the edge of your seat waiting for me to post my freezer-cooking tips yesterday. I got side-tracked by a phone call... a phone call that said I won the gift basket from a sale Walker and I stopped at earlier in the week... The caller asked for directions to my house and brought it right over....There was quite an array of goodies... including a one-hour massage, and a Christmas card photo session. As well as a little purse from Thirty-One, beer bread mix, a Scentsy room spray, Silpada earrings, some Avon & Mary Kay products, and a mini-scrapbook album kit. Oh and a clay snowman. And a certificate for a 4.0 oz "Coochy" from Pure Romance... {not sure if I'll cash that one in...}

Brad said this does not bode well for me & future prize opportunities. I think he thinks actually winning makes me more likely to get in a tizzy about winning in the future. As if.

p.s have you all heard of Thirty-One? Are there a lot of consultants around? I doubt that I will ever actually sell anything, but this looks a little tempting...

p.p.s freezer post up next.

02 September 2010

september

its here again... I don't know about you, but August seemed especially long this year.

I had to snap a picture of Walker doing "school" yesterday. (How long until I stop putting in in quotes, I wonder?) He seems to really love it. Except when he doesn't. I was talking to Rene last week about how I taught Wilson how to write his name when he was like barely 3 years old, and that I hadn't worked with Walker at all... and you know, I had a fair amount of mom-guilt and thought surely it would be a good, long time before this boy would be able to write his own name...

Or maybe it would be two days of practice... I hate to honk my own horn, but BEEP BEEP! I am awesome at this teaching stuff. Or my son is a really smart. So proud of him! And what's even cuter is that HE is SO proud of HIMSELF! Love it!
And this was just thrown in for fun. The kids playing on the swing set in the backyard. Wilson's friend, T, came over after school today. Its cooling down a bit, I think the kids played for 7 or 8 minutes before coming in red-faced and panting! Fall is definitely getting ready to come around these parts...

tomorrow I am going to post some freezer-cooking tips for Lindsay... if I were a good cousin, I would've done it today and made it a birthday present for her. Maybe next year, Linds.