23 March 2015

let's talk television

I think it's fairly well known that I think Friday Night Lights is one of the best shows that ever was. It was so well written and the characters were relatable, and I still want to grow up to be Tami Taylor. So when I saw a preview for the new Netflix series, Bloodline, I was absolutely positive I was going to check it out because I still have a schoolgirl crush on Coach Taylor and Kyle Chandler plays the lead (cleareyesfullheartscan'tlose).

All 13 episodes of the first season began streaming last Friday and I started up the first episode while I was baking some birthday cupcakes. I am a multitasker and I admit, I feel a little guilty if I am not doing something productive while watching TV. I pressed play with a little trepidation, nervous I wouldn't like it or it would be terrible and my hopes would be dashed.

But you guys, it's good. It's uncomfortably good. There isn't much happening in the first few episodes that give you any warm fuzzies, but that's not what this show is about. The story follows four siblings in a family with dark things in their past that slowly reveal themselves over time. It's set the balmy beaches of Florida, which makes for an beautiful backdrop that is also strangely eerie. And there is an amazing cast of actors, all playing significant roles really well. I can't decide if I actually like any of them, but I am mesmerized by each of them. And if you need a selling point: my husband liked it, and we haven't watched a show together with any regularity since Lost, so he's not easily sucked in.

I mean, it's good enough that I can't do anything else while I watch it, so there goes 13 hours of my life, but I'm pretty sure it's worth it.

03 March 2015

grief and hope in a time of loss: an adoption update

It appears that our birthmother has changed her mind. We don't know all the details, other than she stopped communicating with our agency about three weeks ago. Her due date has come and gone and we suspect it will be a long time before we hear from her again. Our hearts are broken, for so many reasons, but we also know that God will work it all out for the good. We have been through this before, but this time is a bit harder since we already have a relationship established with her. We hurt for her, and we are in constant prayer for her - that she would know the height and depth and width of God's love for her, and that she would know we love her no matter what. 

We have been slowly processing all of this and what it means for our family. We've spent the last several months preparing our hearts and home, sharing with people, fundraising, planning with our kids; it's easy to ask why we've been led here. But, it's not an easy question to answer.

We trust so completely that God is the designer of our family. That no mistakes have been made in the timing of each of the little gifts in our lives. We trust that if more children are in our future, they will come at the perfect time and in the perfect way. So right now, as we process and grieve, we still rejoice in His goodness. We are praying for discernment as we move forward. Another adoption wasn't in our plans, and yet here we are. We are asking for wisdom as we decide what comes next - pursuing another placement, supporting other families as they move forward in adoption, whatever He may have us do, whatever is right.

Please know that we are humbly grateful for all who have walked alongside us in prayer, encouragement, and financial support. We will keep everyone updated as we move forward, in whatever capacity. Sometimes we feel an urgency to decide what is ahead, a responsibility to answer "so, now what?" to all those who have followed our story. But right now, we feel like the right thing to do is take time together, to pray, and to wait. Thank you so much to all of you, for being a part of our story and for caring for our family.

We know that God is always good. We know that every story can be a redemption story. It doesn't take away the sting of pain that comes with loss, but it sustains us with hope, buoys us up in His peace, and draws us ever nearer to Him.

27 February 2015

a weekend away and netflix saves the day

For the last couple of years, Nick and I have taken the kids with us on our church's youth retreat where we do some of the speaking. It's such a great weekend - we get our own little cabin at a camp by the lake, and our kids think it's the most amazing 36 hour vacation of their lives. The church provides babysitters just for us, which is like our boys dream come true (and mine, let's be honest). They get to play foosball with the big kids and eat from a buffet line, and run around on trails and jump in the mud. Basically, a little boy's dream come true.

The girls love it, too. Speed walking in the fresh air and being held by nice ladies, and eating cookies three times a day. It's a treat for the whole family.

I love it because we're away from the distractions of every day life - my phone doesn't work and there aren't any televisions or laptops in close proximity. And I get to lead alongside my husband, sharing with the high school kids about God's desire to lavish His love on them. I get to listen to Nick lead worship and share is heart, and it always reignites something within me, a fresh appreciation for the gift that he is to me and to the kids. And to the world, really, because he is just that great.

One morning while Nick and I were preparing our final session with the kids, we had all of our little people with us, and they weren't content to sit still and wait patiently while we set everything up and made some final adjustments. That's when I noticed that in the common area where we were meeting, there was a TV that probably dated back to early 90's, along with a VHS player and a couple of tapes stacked on top. I went to see what movies they had, and was excited (maybe even more than my kids) to see the 1986 version of the made for TV version of The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

I'd read that book to the boys the previous summer, and they loved hearing about all of Ralph's adventures. And here it was, made for the screen... I said a little prayer that that all the vintage technology would come together in one magical moment, and it did! All five of my kids sat quietly engrossed for the next thirty minutes, and all five were disappointed when we turned it off as the high schoolers slowly started filtering into the room.

I promised I'd try to find a copy when we got home. I searched and found out I could buy the movie... on VHS. So that wasn't super helpful, since it's 2015 and I am already nervous my DVD player is on its way to the antique shop. I soon forgot about my search, and thankfully so did the boys.

UNTIL. One beautiful day when The Mouse and the Motorcycle ended up in my Netflix recommendations. IT'S LIKE THEY KNOW ME. There it was, in all its 80's glory, ready for my kids to watch. And they were seriously so happy, it perked everyone's afternoon right up. It made dinner making stress free and pleasant. It was miraculous.

And the even better thing, which my kids aren't privy to yet, is that there are two more of Ralph's adventures in made for TV movie form right there in my queue. Ready to save me at a moment's notice. So, thank you, Netflix, for making dreams come true.

30 January 2015

the big game and my affinity for sports movies.

Not sure if you know this, but there's a big football game coming up this weekend. My boys are slightly excited about it. We love our Hawks.

Some people say we are a city filled with bandwagon fans. That may or may not be true, but I know one thing for sure: my husband is a tried and true diehard. He has been faithful since he was a boy, and his love for his team even changed my heart toward football.

He took me to a game on our second date, back in October of 2003. He picked me up wearing a much too big for him team jersey, excited to share something so special with me. I was pretty skeptical, having never paid one minute of attention to football, and now here was this boy on my doorstep in a jersey? I wasn't sure there'd be a third date. I guess we all know how that turned out.

nick and caleb at the game in NJ
nick and lute at the victory parade last february (in vintage seahawks, because he's my kid)
Nick has gone to games over the years, watched all the others on tv, and analyzed every play and match up more than I realized possible. He's passed his love onto our boys, and I doubt the girls are far behind. We listen to Seahawks rap songs in the car to and from school, and I have even geared up for Sunday in my own way. 

We're ready for you, Super Bowl. We are so proud to be 12's!

In addition to my love for the Seahawks, I've also become so sappy when it comes to sports movies. I don't even know who I am, but that goes to show the influence my cutie husband has had on me. My favorite show of all time is Friday Night Lights (well, tied with Parenthood, may it rest in peace), I love Rudy and The Perfect Game. All of which you can stream on Netflix. And if you haven't watch FNL, please commence the binge watching ASAP. Coach Taylor 4EVER. Or if you're fancy and you get Netflix at your door: Hoosiers, Moneyball, Trouble with the Curve. Each may have made me cry a little bit. So even if you're not crazy into sports, I promise these are worth your time. 

And now, the countdown begins.

23 January 2015

easy and amazing loaded brownies

I think it was probably five years ago that I discovered that making brownies from scratch was just as easy as making them from a box. Easier, really, because I didn't have to go to the store and let's all be honest: if you don't have to go to the store, you're already winning.

These brownies are so quick and easy and delicious, but here's the beauty - it's a small batch. Obviously you can double or triple them if you need to feed the masses, but nobody needs extra brownies laying around, amiright? Now don't read "small batch" as "light". Because these are by no means a health food. But when you need a chocolate fix, or you have the urge to bake, or both, these are your new best friend.

These are the richest, fudgiest, BEST brownies of life. Promise.

Easy and Amazing Loaded Brownies
makes 6 reasonably sized brownies
or one big chocolate fix
1/2 cup butter, melted
scant cup white sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cups chopped walnuts

Whisk together butter, sugar, and cocoa. Add in eggs until well blended. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour mixture into a 6x10 baking dish (or 8x8 if you don't have one). Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. Allow to cool for a bit, then cut and serve!