Thursday, December 30, 2010

adoption update

As our family looks to the beginning of a new year, we are mindful of the great joy this past year has brought us. God has blessed us beyond measure with our new town, new church family, new ministry, new house, new (amazing!) friends and so much more! This past year provided us with many "new" things and we are hopeful that 2011 will be the same as we anxiously await the arrival of our son from South Korea!

We recently met with our social worker from our adoption agency to revise a portion of our home study. (This had to be done because we moved into a new home and our former home study was done in the other home. I am pleased to say that we passed, again, with flying colors!) While Lydia was there, she provided us with some very exciting news! She feels confident that we will receive our referral in the next few months! She even said she wouldn't be surprised if we got one in January!! When she told us that, our hearts were overjoyed, yet cautious at the same time. One of the many things we've learned on this journey is that nothing is certain in adoption except uncertainties! Although we have great hope that we will soon see the face of our sweet child, we know that it still may be months down the road.

**For details on what it means to get a referral, you can look here at a previous post.

Even though Baby K (the name given to our child by his sisters) isn't physically here with us, he is still so much a part of our family. He had a stocking hung by the chimney with care this Christmas and an ornament on the tree that the girls picked out for him.

You can even see in the picture below that, as far as Addie and Ellee are concerned, they have a baby brother already. Ellee did this in school recently and it brought me to tears when she showed it to me...

Aside from the seemingly unbearable wait for him to come home, our biggest hurdle has been the finances. As I've said before, we knew this would be the most difficult part of the process as it is for most families who adopt. We've taken on additional jobs, had a garage sale and have many other fund-raising efforts planned, and are confident that the Lord will provide us with the funds to bring this to pass.

Because we trust that God will use His people to fulfill His commands, we want to provide you with the opportunity to support us on this journey. Although adoption is not a call God places on everyone, caring for the orphans is a command for all His children. We would be honored if you chose to care for the orphans by helping us bring our child home! You can do this through prayer and financial support.

*Prayer - Pray for our child's health and safety while he is away from us. Pray for his adjustment and our family's adjustment when he comes home. Pray for those that are caring for our child at this moment. Pray for a quick referral. Pray, pray, pray for every aspect of this process!!

*Financial Support- An organization called LifeSong for Orphans ( has set up an account on our behalf to help "pay the ransom" for Baby K. If you want to be a part of bringing our son home, please click HERE to be directed to the PayPal account LifeSong has set up in our name. You can also send your donation to the following address:

LifeSong for Orphans
P.O. Box 40 / 202 N. Ford St.
Gridley, IL 61744
**please indicate "Brown #1454 adoption" on the memo line of your check.

This donation is tax-deductable and you will receive a receipt from LifeSong for your gift.

We are forever thankful for any contribution you are able to make, whether prayerfully or financially! God's faithfulness will be demonstrated through this beautiful addition to our family and we thank you for being a part of that!

We promise to shout from the mountain tops when we receive our referral so that you may rejoice with us!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy 5th Birthday to my sweet Ellee!

Why does turning 5 seem like such a big deal? I guess - in my mind - ages 4 and under still count as "baby" years. I know that's not really true, but 5 seems so old!

The amount of love, joy and laughter our Ellee girl has brought us over the past five years is truly indescribable. She is such a bundle of energetic randomness!! She is a child that keeps you guessing and laughing and sometimes leaves you stunned! Everyday we find ourselves more in love with this brown eyed girl...

Happy Birthday my baby girl! I hope your day is as wonderful as you!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

some homemade christmas gifts

I realize that I probably should've posted this sooner than 3 days before Christmas - just in case you saw something you may want to re-create! However, I know that several of the recipients of these gifts tune into this blog every once in a while and I didn't want them to have a sneak peek at their gifts!

These are just a few of the things we crafted and given away this year...

{homemade strawberry jelly}

You may recall from this post that I promised to show you what we did with all those strawberries we picked back in the spring. Well here you have it - jelly! Everyone Lee works with at the church received a little jar of homemade sweetness! By the time the last jar was filled and and the last bow tied, I think I had made 20 jars. I was thankful for our snow day last Monday that allowed me to get all that done!

{painted ornaments}

This year I tried something new. I've seen painted initial ornaments everywhere and I decided that it wouldn't be too hard to make a few of my own. And I must say that my assessment was correct! Using a paint pen, I painted an initial on a plain glass ornament and then embellished them with a few other things and added ribbon to the top. And there you have it - a personalized gift with a homemade touch that was super easy! I actually made about 8 of these and managed to only take pictures of 2! And not even my favorite 2 at that! Oh well, you get the idea! Most of the ornaments were given along with another gift. In the picture below, you'll see that I used the ornament to "spruce up" the outside of a bag filled with peppermint bark - a personal Christmas favorite!!

{Fleece Scarves}

These are perfect if you need a quick and easy-peasy gift idea for little ones! The scarves are made from a single strip of fleece. I simply cut out a piece of fabric in the shape of a long rectangle (different sizes based on the age of the child) and cut 2-3 inch fringes at the ends and tied a knot in those fringes. Because it's fleece, no hemming is needed. There are so many different options for fleece so you can make tons of these cute (and cozy!) goodies!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Our thoughts on Jolly ole' St. Nick

disclaimer: I fully expect this little ditty to be pure randomness as I am working thru a foggy brain this morning. Because I've found myself in several conversations lately regarding Santa, this is an attempt to gather some of my thoughts on this jolly fella!

Yes, we are those people. Let's see - I've heard "fundamentalists," "scrooges," "Christmas wreckers," and I'm sure some things under muffled breaths that I care not to repeat.

Our girls have always known that Santa is not real.

It's really not that big of a deal around here. We are not Santa-Haters! As a matter of fact, you'll find Santa in our house...

On the girl's clothes...

And with the girls in pictures...

When family and friends (and strangers in the stores!) ask the girls what they want Santa to bring them, I don't jump in with haughty pride and say, "We don't believe in Santa." The girls don't say that either. They simply tell everyone what they want!

Here's how it works around here...

We treat Santa just like we treat Frosty, Barney, Dora or any other character! The girls still get presents on Christmas morning and we even leave out cookies and milk on Christmas Eve. They think it's fun to go along with the idea of Santa, the difference is that they quietly thank Daddy and Mommy for the gifts they got.

I don't know that I can give you a hard and fast reason why we chose to go this route. When Addie's first Christmas was approaching, we talked about it and this is where we landed...we're not banning Santa, but we're going to treat him like a character, not a real person.

Now to answer the question I always get - No, I don't think anyone is wrong at all if they choose to treat Santa like real person who really comes down the chimney during the night and really lives at the North Pole. Lee and I both grew up that way and we turned out just fine. Or at least I think we did! :) Not that we are experts on anything, but we don't think there is any harm in allowing your child to think that way, nor does that make you a bad parent. However - we also don't feel that there is any harm in allowing your children to know that he's not real, nor do we feel that we are bad parents because of that either. It's our personal decision and we don't expect everyone to follow suite.

The most challenging part is explaining to the girls that it is not their duty to let all the kiddos in the world in on their secret information! We have told them over and over again that this issue is between kids and parents and that they are not the ones to inform all the others. I wish I could say that they always heeded my instructions, but I don't think that's always the case! So far, I've not had any parents slash my tires because of this, but we'll see!

Our desire is simply that Jesus will be the focus and center of our Christmas - and our lives for that matter!

PS - I would love to hear any thoughts and ideas on this issue!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

confession is good for the soul...

...or at least that's what I've heard. We'll see how it goes...

So last Friday night the plan was for me to join my hubby in taking a busload of people from our church to a concert in Evansville. Because we didn't think our girls were "concert ready," my sweet sis-in-law agreed to put them up for the night in Tennessee. She and I met in the middle, I delivered my precious cargo and began my trek back home.

This is the part of the story where things went wrong...

And this is where I'm going to let my ugly pride down and confess my utter stupidity...

Only some of you are familiar with the Natcher Parkway that runs between Bowling Green and Owensboro. Apparently I am not one of those people.

When I left my kiddos in Tennessee, I took advantage of some quiet time in the car and turned on my iPod to listen to one of my favorite pastors. As I was deeply intrenched in the gospel of Luke, I heard the "ding" indicating my gas light had turned on. Huh, I hadn't noticed I was that low on gas. But ok - no big deal, right? At that time I noticed I was in Morgantown and I thought I'd just stop at the next gas station. THAT GAS STATION NEVER CAME! Apparently there is a 30-40 mile stretch of the Natcher that has no gas stations (at least none that the common man would know of because there are no signs!). So what do ya think happened?!?

Yep, I ran out of gas and ended up on the side of the parkway - alone, in the dark, in very frigid temperatures. And I didn't even have a coat with me! Of course I freaked out, called my hubby in tears and did what every normal person would do - began blaming other people (or things)!

Stupid Kentucky DOT - why wouldn't you post a sign saying "caution - no gas stations for the next 40 miles."

Stupid Car - even when the gas light comes on you say I still have 45 more miles to empty. That's why I wait until the light comes on to fill you up.

And on and on the blame shifting goes.

After about 20 minutes (plenty of time to dream up horror stories of the freaks that could've stopped to "help" me), my Knight in Shining Armor saved the day. Lee sent the bus ahead to Evansville and rode in on his white horse to my rescue!

Here's the lesson I learned...

Unfortunately, I take pride in being an organized and prepared person. I don't like being caught off guard without a needed tissue or band-aide or tylenol. Running out of gas is such a doofus thing to let happen because even though I want to blame everyone else, I just goofed! I know I'm so not above making mistakes, but I prefer grammatical mistakes, or cooking mistakes, or calling someone by the wrong name. Things like that. Not mistakes in areas that I think I'm good at.

So here's the confession...I make mistakes in organization and planning. I'm sure everyone knew that, but I need to say it aloud. I asked my husband to keep this incident our little secret, but even in that request, I saw my ugly pride. So here's my attempt at letting my pride down. Confession...

Is it really good for the soul? I don't know about that, but I know I find freedom in it and I pray God is glorified through it!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Take a look at the newest members of our family...

Meet Kit Kittredge and Julie Albright!

Over Thanksgiving, the girls got their first "official" American Girl Dolls from their Grandpa and Mimi! For a long time now, Addie and Ellee have been hauling around poor Molly...

As you can see, this sweet thing has seen better days! This is my American Girl Doll from 20 years ago! I've loved seeing them play with Molly, but Grandpa and Mimi thought it was time for them to have one of their very own! There were no objections to that!

Along with Kit and Julie, look where we spent Thanksgiving Day...

No, no - this is not our new house! :) My family, along with my parents, went to The Biltmore on Thanksgiving Day. As you can imagine, it was absolutely beautiful!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are now gearing up for Christmas. Like many people, this is my absolute favorite time of the year! I love the excitement and anticipation of the season. For me, even the most mundane tasks, like grocery shopping, seem a little more exciting because of the decorations and Christmas music! My girls also think it's the most wonderful time of the year! Last year I made something to help us count down to Christmas Day.

I got this idea from a friend (Thanks Donetta!) and made just a few changes. This is a super easy project and I actually made about 10 of them in one night. It's just a piece of green felt cut into the shape of a rectangle with 25 small pieces of ribbon sewn down the middle.

I hot glued the top over about an inch so that a piece of ribbon could slide through as a hanger. Then I printed out the poem on a yellow piece of paper, cut it out and used modge podge to attach it to a wooden star (bought at Hobby Lobby for less than $1) and hot glued the star on top. Super Easy!

{Each evening when goodnights are said, take off one candy and hop into bed. When only the star is left to shine, that's when you'll know it's Christmas time!}

Our tradition has been that the we allow the girls to take of one candy cane at night (beginning December 1st) and then have them tell us one thing they are thankful for. It's really a fun thing to do!

One line from a Christmas song keeps playing over and over in my head as we enjoy this wonderful time of year. It's from a song the choir at our church in Tennessee used to sing. "To think that God could shrink Himself into the Milky Way." I know very little (even that's giving myself too much credit!) about astronomy, but I did do a little research to find out that the Milky Way galaxy is about 100,000 light years in diameter. My tiny brain can't comprehend that, but I know it's HUGE! But God had to shrink Himself into that when He left His throne to come to earth in the form of a baby to redeem His people. That is truly the wonder and amazement of Christmas!