December 31, 2011

A Year in Focus

(Some of my favorite photos from the year.)

I've never been one to get sappy over losing an old year and starting a new one.  I like to remember the memories from times past, but the anticipation of a new year excites me to no end.  
 This year was filled with waiting.  Waiting for sophomore year, waiting for paperwork, waiting for The Four. Now that they are home, it's like a whole new world is waiting.  And it is.  It's a whole new life, just waiting for us to get to it.
 Nevertheless, so much happened this year that I am extremely thankful for.  I learned so much about myself and others.  I began seriously thinking about my future, Ethiopia left its mark on my heart, and I got serious (and not so serious) about photography.  I broke and dislocated my toe - my first broken bone.  I had an almost perfect summer with days spent at the lake.  I promised to never stop blogging in one way or another. And finally, The Four became forever ours.
 My faith was tested by waiting...and more waiting.  I often dream of being an adult: working, college, marriage.  My almost sixteen year old mind makes me older, but my almost sixteen year old body reminds me I'm not.  God did too.  I'm still a part of my home, still have to obey the rules.  I realized something though.  I'll always be an older sister and I'll always have to be an example; no matter where I am.  This time right now is training.
 It's time for another year.  Another year to learn, grow, and perhaps, even teach.  Another year to become the person God has made me.  It's more time, and for that I am thankful.  Time to discover, time to prepare, time to flourish.
 1 year, 220 posts, 240 followers, and 1,503 comments later, this little blog of mine has become something I love.  This blog itself has changed me and taught me things.  
I don't like to make promises I can't keep.  And let's face it - in six months time, I forget any resolutions I make.  This year, my one goal for this year will be to live thankfully.  I want to live and count my blessings  There are so many and I don't ever want to forget them.

Happy New Year, and may your 2012 be blessed.  

December 30, 2011

It's About Time for an Update

It's officially been a week.
A hard, long week - I won't lie.

 Slowly, we are working on English.  The laundry has been running 24 hours.
And somehow we've managed to keep the house relatively clean.
 The little girls are having the most trouble.  The place they lived in Ethiopia wasn't the best atmosphere for them, but that couldn't be helped.  The girls do not know how to entertain themselves.  At all.  The word "no" coming from anyone but themselves does not go over well.  And bedtime equals screaming and crying.
It's hard.  Really it is.  You don't read this on the adoption blogs.
 Slowly, our family is learning to open their hearts.  We're learning that even though it's not going to be "just us" anymore, we can still be a family.  We're learning to lower our expectations a whole lot.
 At the same time, however, there's a lot of love swirling around this house in so many different forms.  With the coming of a new year, it's like a whole new world is waiting for us - one that holds eleven children, two parents, and one family.  

December 27, 2011

December 24, 2011

christmas time

It might be that it's 40 degrees and the ground is bare, or the fact that I spent a grand total of 24 hours in airports and airplanes yesterday, but it just doesn't feel like Christmas this year.  Oh, and it could be that fact that my family just gained four more bodies and doubled in noise.    

 There are so many things going through my mind that it's hard to focus on Christmas.  When you spend the week before Christmas in a place where people are just trying to survive rather than celebrate extravagantly for a month, Christmas loses its magic.  I love what Carlotta said "It's not about feeling merry and bright -- it's about the quiet anticipation of the birth of our Savior, who humbled himself to be born of a virgin, who died the death of a criminal on a cross."  
 I'm not a huge fan of change.  I love home and its steadiness.  Now that its been shaken, traditions have to be taught...and relearned.  Maybe that's the hardest part for me - changing traditions that have always been a part of me, of my family.
 Tonight, as the whole (and I mean whole) family sat in church - taking up the entire row - I began to feel Christmas.  The words of the songs, the reminders of the true meaning, helped me to refocus.
 Oh, sure, I'm excited for the presents.  Who wouldn't be?  In fact, as soon as I finish this post, I'll crank up the Christmas music and wrap presents.  (OK, so I'm a little late.  I have a good excuse.)
 The Four are home and life's about to change, but Christmas - and its namesake - are steady.  Where would we be if He wasn't?
Merry Christmas!

December 20, 2011

photos from ethiopia

When words fail, pictures will have to suffice.  Needless to say, we made is safely to Ethiopia.
The Four - well, there is a large language barrier, but things are going well.
We'll be home in time for Christmas.

December 17, 2011

leaving on a jet plane


Oh yes.  The time has finally come.  Early (read 3 a.m.) tomorrow morning, we will drive to the airport, and for one last time, this family will be a family of nine.  Finally, this family will be a family of thirteen.  

Thursday was chaotic as my dad worked to find a flight.  With Christmas coming, it was difficult to find room and a reasonable price.  But so many people were praying.  And God worked in only ways that He can.  The original price to get to Ethiopia was astronomical, but when our travel agent checked a few hours later, the price had dropped by half.  Wow God.  

My dad and I will be in Ethiopia for four days, and I cannot wait to meet my siblings.  So excited!!  We get home on Friday - just in time for Christmas.

I get to do a lot of this:

Pinned Image

We'll be skyping with friends and family.  I'll try to do a post or two, depending on the internet access.  Of course, there will be pictures. 

Thank you for your prayers, once again.  I know I say that a lot, but I truly mean it.  

December 14, 2011


 I'm waiting, waiting on You Lord
 And I am hopeful, I'm waiting on You Lord
 Though it is painful, but patiently I wait
 And I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step, in obedience
 While I'm waiting, I will serve you
While I'm waiting, I will worship
While I'm waiting, I will not faint
 I'll be running the race even while I wait.
I'm waiting.  Waiting on You Lord.

Everything seems to be at a stand still.  Oh sure, we are plenty occupied with school, decorating, and Christmas shopping, but things seem to be slow.  We are all waiting.  Trying to be patient.  We're all waiting for the email that will send either good or bad news.  So we pray for the good and prepare for the bad.  Thank you for your prayers - I know many of you have been praying for us.  Thank you so much.  

I thought of this song this morning.  Listen.  It's perfect right now...such a good reminder.  

December 10, 2011

b&w christmas shots + life

I don't want to continue my complaints of how the Four aren't home, etc. etc.  Christmas just doesn't seem as normal as past holidays...for a good reason.  Truthfully, the Four are all I want for Christmas.  Currently, I'm being pulled in either direction by Time Moves Too Fast and Time Doesn't Go Fast Enough.  You probably know what I mean.  Let's move on.

Life lately:
+singing with my baby sister
+reading while sitting in front of the fire
+reading in general
+finals (ew.)
+dying of laughter at one in the morning with my bestie
+listening to Ingrid Michaelson
+painting and preparing
+making Christmas gifts (I haven't even gotten to the wrapping part yet.)
+sending really really late birthday presents (sorry, girlie.)
+wearing tie-dye ones at that
+sweaters & boots
+neglecting photography (good or bad?)
oh hey!  :)  the end.

December 02, 2011

making cookies in december

Have I ever mentioned how much I love baking?  There's just something about the measuring and dumping, the sound of the mixer, and the smells that make me want to do it over and over.  Lately, it's been cookies, because that's what everyone likes and they're easy for a quick evening snack.  Plus, a lot is made from a little, because when seven kids see cookies, they don't last very long.

I love the way the kids crowd into the kitchen when they hear the clank of measuring cups and the oven heating up.  They peek in the bowl, and, yes, try to sneak a pinch of dough.  (It never works, because I'm always watching...mwahaha.)  But even as the last cookies were dropped on the pan, I might have given the little ones a small bite.  (I may or may not have given myself a few bites too.  I'm  not telling.)  It tasted good uncooked, but it tasted even better cooked.  Here is the recipe, adapted from this.

3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color.  Add egg and vanilla and blend in.  Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.  Then, stir in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.  Using a standard-size cookie scoop of tablespoon, drop dough onto prepared baking sheet.  *Bake for 16 minutes.  Let cool on the sheet then transfer to a wire rack.
*A note about the baking time: The original recipe called for 8-10 minutes, but my family likes crunchier cookies, so I baked them longer.  You can experiment depending on what you prefer.

Pour yourself a glass of milk and enjoy!

p.s. Interested in a sponsor swap for the month of December? I'd love to swap with you!  Email me if you're interested!