the leaves were crunchy today.

i never knew how much fun they were to crunch until we swirled around for an afternoon basking in their noisy glory.

we tossed and wrestled and ran amuck this afternoon. i layed down to snap photos and became a tackle target....
hence foster's pre-tackle fist pump...

rowie was giggling so hard as he sneaked up from aside to tickle me, he kept falling over from laughing so hard before he could even begin his wigglie finger tickles. i would laugh because he was laughing which would make him giggle all the more.

they would 'secretly' gather piles of leaves to toss on top of me to which i would retaliate profusely.

i wore a sticky sweater that seemed to have extreme leaf magnetism.

i sat down to pull leaves out of my hair and clothes and foster came over and plopped down next to me. "here, i'll help you mommy. ooh, here's one stuck in your hair. i'll get these off of your shoulder. oh mommy, i got you really good. rowie, come help clean leaves off of mama. she's got leaves everywhere!"

so i tackled him with kisses for his sweetness. and we got leafier again.

they hunted for the giant leaves to add to our collection.
we have various collections of leaves in every part of our lives. in the front seat of the car. in the backseat...but now those got stepped on so they are just bits of leaves now.
we have a shelf in their room just for a gallery of leaves. a discovery bucket next to their shoes as they come in the back door that collects little else except leaves.
we love leaves. what oh what will we do when they are all gone? when the trees are bare? when winter comes?
i can hardly bare to think about the winter months spent inside dreaming of spring, save for cold days we spend outside bundled like polar bears.
oh how i dislike cold.
i dislike extreme hot also.
i'm so picky, it's true.
perhaps those in san diego have no such problems.
can i transplant all the things i love about chester county PA and take them to the CA coast?

here's to an awesome fall.
maybe one that i've loved more than any other because we've made so many fun memories and discoveries together.
please stay a little longer...i miss you already :)

now i'm off to build a wall-e robot for foster to wear at the neighborhood block party tomorrow night. i'm determined to turn a huge box, a roll of duct tape and anything else free laying around the house into an awesome robot :)



i've been moonlighting as a photographer recently. and my soul rejoices because i love it so much.
the moonlight is awesome. i mean, really, really awesome. even if it's in my backyard, i love life better. from behind the lens i see it in a new way. i wish my eyes were transformed into nikon lenses with aperture and iso readings for life and the areas that needed tweaking. it would be divine.

on saturday, i moonlighted with a lovely family. they laughed. they threw leaves. they were delightful.


today was the day

after 4 months of waiting, i opened the mailbox and saw the "Show Hope" grant foundation letterhead on the envelope. my hands started shaking. i could hardly open it fast enough.
we applied exactly 4 months ago for the biggest adoption grant available. it's huge. life changing huge.  because of it's life changing qualities, everyone else applies for it, too.

i knew right away from the first line of the letter that the outcome was not as we had hoped.
i really didn't have my hopes up...well, maybe a little. a bit of me thought maybe, just maybe. the grant would make things easier for us...a LOT easier. effortless, in fact, from here on out after all of this struggle.

my heart sank. it was a long walk back up the driveway. i wanted to be mad. i wanted to scream a little. maybe a lot. i wanted to rip up that stupid letter and forget it even came. can't anything go right? with all that's happened in the past 6 months i can't take anything else.
but as i walked, God spoke to my heart. He reminded me it's not up to me. no matter how hard i try, i'm not in control. i must choose to let go.

when i got home, i remembered what i had written the night before.
when i wrote it, i didn't feel like it was finished. now i know it is because the part unfinished was me. 
God so patiently allowed me to see what this is all about before breaking the news about the grant.
it's about me letting go and getting out of the way so nothing can be seen but God's amazingness.
it's about not always being comfortable. it's about not expecting things to go according to my selfish plan. i am quite sure i will spend the rest of my life trying to get myself out of the way.


 written 10/25/10:

i get a little jumpy when something tugs at my core. spazzy and motivated. inspired and determined.

like how i well up with protection when i see my child being bullied. made fun of. shoved aside on a bouncy castle (i gravely dislike those hoppity germ incubators)

it's the same welling up that occurs when i feel something true in my very core but just can't quite express it. 
i'll explain.

i've been getting a lot of emails...really sweet, amazing, kind, endearing emails from amazing moms...all across the country. i don't know them, but i know they have passion. they inspire me. they are on our side. i'm on their side. it's a cool community of people that are united by blogs. by being moms. by adoption.

i've also gotten a lot of  "we would love to adopt, but we just can't afford it." emails.

and i struggle with how to respond.
i'm not all i'm cracked up to be. i get irritated. i get quippy. i pester my husband with little things that don't need pestering. i hover over my kids for no good reason. i get frustrated when they take their shoes off in the car just as we are pulling into a store parking lot and i get impatient when it takes me an hour to get out the door.
and that's just scratching the surface.

but affording adoption? this is something i know. the best part is, i have learned all about how much i can't afford it and how we are doing it anyway.
how God taught me ever so painfully that i don't need money to adopt. i need God.

i will confess. i waited to turn in our application to adopt for 6 months because i just couldn't wrap my brain around how we would ever come up with the money. i would lay awake and calculate our bills. i went over and over it. i gave up. i couldn't think about it anymore. i put the application in a file. i closed the drawer.

reluctantly, i started reading adoption blogs. i cried over and over. i went back through my photos of our time in China. i cried over and over. my heart ached. it didn't matter anymore how much it cost. i told God he had better provide a way because my heart couldn't recover without her. i mailed our application. we could barely cover the application fee. that's it. that's all we had.

i knew something to be true even before i knew it. God's heart is for the orphan. He will do amazing things in your life and in your family to provide a way.

but, little did i know, a big part of this process...part of God providing a way...was in my own life. providing me a way to see myself in the light of who i really am.

i needed to know my own excess. i needed to see my overspending. i needed sacrifice.
i needed to know the pain of not having plenty of everything and still knowing we had more than so many. and seeing my heart, full of selfishness, wanting more. 

our past months have been a giant exercise in needing a lot of God, and lot less of stuff.

in may 2010, we sold our house in hopes of finding a bigger, better one.
we moved in temporarily with my husband's parents. 
3 months later we found the perfect house. it was bigger. better.
i called and scheduled a showing. i was already decorating in my mind.
the next day (sept 1st) my husband lost his job. 
humbled doesn't even begin to cover it. someday i'll tell that story. it's pretty amazing.

God needed to teach me...is still teaching me...what it means to sacrifice.

if i want to hang on to the excess.
the overspending.
the target runs for nothing except whatever catches my eye.
then no, i can't afford adoption. 
something's gotta give.
a willingness to let go is required.
letting go of the excess.

knowing upon knowing we can't afford adoption.
and doing it anyway.
we aren't supposed to just fork over the cash from all of our abundance...it is from the sacrifice that it can be provided in a supernatural way.

it's the coolest thing i've ever learned.
painful. irritating. stressful. beautiful. powerful.


boys, swords and adventure

our afternoon was filled with those three things.
there's nothing quite so great
thank you dollar store for 3 light up swords.
thank you Lord for a gusty wheat field. a leaping herd of dear. a pricker free trail through the woods, as well as one that wasn't quite so pricker free.
for blessing me with an afternoon to remind me of the simple things.
they're always the best.


fort washington. my new love.

i traveled with a heart as light as air on friday.
i trekked up the turnpike to fort washington, pa with my hand holding tight to a little packet that holds something so special, i can scarcely let it out of my sight.
it's our dossier.
a strange word that had no meaning to me before this all came about.
it still bothers me that the spelling is so wacky.
but wacky spelling aside, it's like a packet of gold. priceless diamonds. worth more than i can express.
it's our adoption paperwork.
it's everything about us. literally, everything. our life on paper. early childhood memories. financial history for the past 5 years. worst fears. strengths. places we've lived in 1978. family members. their spouses. their children. legal guardians. references. clearances. birth certificates. marriage licences. passport copies. medical reports. you name it. it's in there.

i smiled as i saw the sign ahead. "Living Hope Adoption Agency. Forever Families"
i get chills when i hear that phrasing. because of what it means.
my little girl coming home. a place where she belongs. where she can grow and dream. and have a mom and a dad. and two big brothers. and a community of family and friends who will cheer her and root her and love her. not because she is adopted, but because of who she is. beautiful, amazing, delicious.

my trek to fort washington was a direct result of all of the orders sold in the past month. i'm blessed beyond words at the many many people who placed orders and gave me a way to take our little bundle to our agency. would you believe i profited nearly the exact amount we still owed with only $50 to spare?? i cried when i got the bill from our agency this past week because i knew it was only God's amazing blessing that the amounts lined up so perfectly.

i try to picture what it will be like when i finally meet her. i try not to picture her running into my arms and embracing me. i know it won't be like that. i know it will be a process for her to know me. to love me. to trust me. but i just can't wait to start. to grow with her in love. to bring her lyche fruits and oranges when i meet her for the first time. a soft blanket and a coming home outfit. gifts from her brothers and pictures of home. i'm already scheming how to make one of these:

so i can carry her for one entire week while we are in China together. i want to walk and hug and love. through the streets. the markets. the night air shops. together. buy us matching chinese necklaces. gifts for brothers. gifts for daddy. gifts for my daughter. to actually call her my own. i want it so badly.

i pray daily for favor. for fast processing. for them not to loose my oh-so-precious bundle of dossier.
dear Lord, please don't let them loose it. i might just have a heart attack and never recover. it should really come attached with a homing device. i'd feel a lot better :)

we have another 2 months to wait. that's a piece of cake.
our packet of gold travels to harrisburg for 2 weeks and then new york for 2 weeks and then to china for at least a month until it gets logged into their system. after that, it's on, baby. we can start to look through profiles! i'm anxious for it and dreading it at the same time. i can already feel guilt at the thought of having to make a choice which means turning away the 1,000 of others that remain on the waiting list. waiting for forever families.

timeline of the past 1 and 1/2 years

** if you've ever thought about adoption, start the process. it's longer than you think. i wish we started when we started talking about it, which was a year earlier. you will wish the same thing :)


leaf splashing

i had a day this week. it was tuesday. it was long.
the 5 previous days had been filled with all kinds of super amazing and i was super amazingly tired.
it was 5:30. dinner was over, and the boys were rammy. jumping-off-the-walls rammy. they had asked me 5 times to go outside and race. i kept thinking of reasons i could stay inside and collapse on the couch and hope someone else would be fun and happy for them. after getting poked numerous times while laying on the couch, i gave in. we headed out and i plopped on the steps and watched them run sprints.
every 2 laps, they begged me in their cutie tootie voices to join them. to see how much faster they had gotten. to watch how high they could jump and to check out the caterpillar they had just found.
but i sat.
i told them mommy needs a few minuets to rest.
i said that at least 5 times.

clint came outside. i think he knew it was an evening that called for something new and special. he knew the boys needed something to occupy them and i needed something to occupy them.

before i knew it, he strapped on a leaf blower backpack and began building the worlds largest leaf pile.
it was as if the leaves blew rejuvenation into the air. among the delight and squeals and the delicatee swirls of fall goodness, something inside of me changed. i softened.

i could sit and watch and be a grump, or i could play.
i peeled my tush off of those stairs, mustered enough momentum to spur my legs forward and ran for the leaves.
a lot of laughter and leaf splashing followed.

i think these are some of my favorite photos of all time.
because i know the mood. it was one of the most delightful evenings. i know my pure joy at seeing my kids revel in something so simple and find so much gusto and fervor for life that they can inspire a very exhausted and gumpy mom to fluff up some leaves and skip around as if i were 4 years old again.

yes, raising kids can be exhausting.
ok, life can be exhausting.

but in the midst of what could be a tiny moment to sit and watch life pass by, my kids remind me that even in my most exhausted moments, i can find my gusto for life. i can find the strength to laugh. kick it up in the leaves. to not leave anything unfelt on the table. to feel and taste and get the most out of our moments.

last night, i let the kids stay up late. we wrestled and played escape from the giant spider and daddy watched the phillies and assisted in encouraging the kids to tickle my feet in order to escape from my spider grasp. we laughed. i mean really laughed, not the fake kind.
i tucked them into bed knowing i had given them my best, in the midst of the life and kids that can be exhaustively fun. not in spite of the exhausting, but in the midst. it's still there...the life and the stress and the big stuff that can weigh my spirit down. in the midst of that, there is still joy. bright, shining, in the midst of the everyday mundane, joy. my kids continually teach me what it means to be a friend. to love no matter what. to discover something new in all the things everyone passes by. to find out who you are when you don't feel like finding out. to delight in things like swirling leaves and giant wrestling spiders.

magnet man

foster (singing):   i stick to metal...i stick to metal...i stick to metal...metal metal metal...
clint:  what are you talking about foster?

foster:  i'm magnet man!!



as i was boxing up a few orders for a post office run later today, i overheard the following transpire from the vicinity of the living room. keep in mind the only two female cousins in the family have been here this past week and have infiltrated our boy land with some lady accessories. for the record, i love it...little boys naturally play trucks and mud and giant leaf jumping piles, but seldom does anyone encourage them to embrace what will later be their future fathering abilities. when we are among our little lady friends, we do our share of stroller pushing and baby doll carrying and teeny tiny tea sets. they love it. i love it. someday they will be dads like their own dad. able to rough house and rock a baby to sleep with the same gusto.

ok, back to this morning...

foster: lets play dolls.

rowan: ok. i want this one.

foster: lets adopt a baby doll.

rowan: ok. i'll drive.

foster: this one looks nice!

rowan: oops, i drop her. sorry baby! you ok?

foster: she's fine. can you be more gentle?

rowan: ok. i wove her.

foster: i love her too.  ok, lets go make a party.

you and your awesomeness

there is someone i have loved and admired for years. she's downright one of the coolest, fun, genuine and honest people anyone will ever meet. gorgeous, rugged, God loving, adventurous. i could go on and on.

and then i spent this past weekend with her and love her all the more. it's not often (ok never) that i get a night or two out with the girls. when i can be myself...my real self. joking, laughing, sometimes a little flighty self...and know she is right there with me...now that's a friend. in fact, she is quite possibly one of the coolest people on earth. her name is julie. she's my sister in law, or should i say, sister in love.

this was the wedding.

this was friday.

i love you julie.
this post is dedicated to you and your awesomeness.

and now that you are my most faithful reader of all time, you are now cemented in blog history.

i (heart) you.


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