Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Adoption! That's right. Adoption!

It is currently 12:04 am as I begin writing this post.
It's just one of those nights when I thought I'd be out as soon as my head hit the pillow but no.
Two hours later and my head is swirling.
Among the various conversations with myself, the prominent one is "Oh my gosh. We did it. We adopted our daughters. They're ours for as long as can be. "
So you can imagine.
Not a lot of peace and stillness is flowing from thoughts like that.

More like joy and plans and hopes in a way we had scarcely let ourselves indulge in before.


It was official one whole week ago on December 1st.
We met our family, a friend, our case worker, and our attorney at the court house at 8:30 in the chilly morning.
The girls wore the dresses they had each picked out for this special day.
After a short wait, our whole party was led into the judge's chambers.
Adam, I, and our girls sat in front of the judge with our support system at our back.
A short interview, an oath, the speedy consent of the judge, and it was official!
Just like that!
The friendly judge gave each of our daughters (!) a sucker and put on his roomy black robe for the photo op.
!






I was a little shell shocked.
It was done.
Adam and I are Larissa Mae's and McKinley Joy's parents forever.
They are Conners!
Praise God.
His generosity is overwhelming.

Larissa hugging our tireless case worker. 



It's too much!
So much joy!
So much rich, complex sweetness.
Countless tender looks have passed between the four of us.
And there is no end in sight.

We will continue to love and work daily for our boy.
Hopefully within the year, he will also have the Conner stamp ;)



Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween 2016

This year is the first year our kids were able to get into trick-or-treating.
At ages two and three, they were STOKED about being able to dress up in special costumes (even if they weren't store bought) and getting as much candy as they could.

Girls after my own heart.

Now I've got some pictures to share but I just want it to be known that it is getting SO old that we still cannot share faces yet.
Their faces are the best part!
Little goofy smiles, apple cheeks, and shiney, smiling eyes.....
Just letting you know, you're missing out.
But soon.....very soon.....things will be changing.....

But back to it.



Thumb in mouth from the get-go


All three kids dressed up as care bears.
We went to a friend's baby shower a month ago which was care bear themed.
The girls LOVED it and have been into the cartoon ever since. 
I knew it would be so easy to whip up costumes from things they already had plus a couple inexpensive bits from a second hand shop.
The finishing touch was painting on heart shaped noses on their own noses. 
Sweetums usually led off with "Look at my nose!" at each house. 

Right after dinner, we started off walking around our neighborhood while it was still light out. 
Then we drove around to a couple friends' homes and ended with stopping by my mom's work to see her. 
By then, even though it was only a little after eight o'clock, our little baby bears were beginning to sugar crash from their steady stream of suckers and mm's. 
Pumpkin had wiped out before we even got to see my mom. 
It was time to wrap it up and head home.


Once everyone was tucked in, I took the opportunity to safety check the kids' booty and also maybe skim off my own commission (especially when it was in the form of a KitKat bar mmmmmm).

I loved seeing all my friends' kids on Instagram in their great costumes.
So fun.

I'm not going to get into what a Christian can or cannot do when it comes to Halloween. 
As Christians we are 100% free in Christ.
But not all things are God honoring or even beneficial to ourselves. 
Therefore, I believe what a family does in relation to Halloween is between the family and God. 
I read an article recently that helped me think about it anew.
And that's all I have to say about that. 


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Taking a Walk

Lately I've been trying to take walks as often as possible.

Sometimes it's alone at 7 in the morning before all the sleepy heads are up.
Sometimes I take a kid or two (one on my back, one in a stroller).
Sometimes I sneak out after dinner with heavy handed hints about how much the kids need a bath like I did tonight...




It's been a nice thing to fit in here and there for a breather.
Time to think, pray, and soak in the changing air.
Sometimes I like listening to a book as I go.

So far I've listened to Give Them Grace (loved it), Steve Martin's Pure Drivel, The Blue Tattoo, Bear Gryll's auto biography Blood, Sweat and Tears (favorite!), The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God, The Lifegiving Home, several books of the bible, and right now Hands Free Mama.

Blood, Sweat, and Tears by Bear Grylls was my favorite (other than the bible, duh).
I love the adventure and hearing about the stuff he's conquered is fascinating.
He gives all the glory to God.
It's always good to hear people's testimony about what God has accomplished in their lives.
If my life was completely different and I didn't have my beloved husband and cool kids I like to think that I'd be a hiker and do big backpacking trips.
Maybe not on Grylls' level but that kind of life always looks good to me.





But in the life God has blessed me with, for now, I walk.
Usually I walk along the road and pass by the park
Then I circle around and head home the long way through our neighborhood.
I love walking in our neighborhood.
It's an old one with tons of old, original homes built in the early 1900's.
There are a lot of homes that really aren't that big but have tons of style.
I love when there's a ton of charm packed into a small, well-kept house.
Some keep it pretty classic and traditional.
A few are quirky but they make it work.
I never get tired of oogling each one of them as I pass by.



I'm starting to feel the press to get as much walking in as I can before the temps really dive.
Even then, I can see plenty of snow walks in my future. 



Saturday, October 15, 2016

Sunday Mornings

It's Saturday night and I know I have a Sunday morning to tackle ahead.
Uh duh, Kensie.
Sunday comes after Saturday.....always.

For any family who goes to church but has a parent that works Sundays, you know it can be a beast that needs taming.

My husband is a pastor and is up and out every Sunday morning by 7.
This leaves Mama in charge of getting the three kids up, dressed, fed, in the the car, and in the church building.
I feel pretty good about the routine we've got going but I started looking around tonight for some fresh tips, any new ideas that would make our machine run even a little bit smoother.

You know what I found?
Not much.
Bummer.
I love a good how-to or a new way to step up the game.

Because that's kind of how I think of it: like a game.

(She cute)


So here's our game plan:

Adam is up and out by 7 every Sunday like I said.
He leaves after kissing me which is usually my wake up call (not a bad way to start the day).
I try to really get myself going at this point, take some time to get a cup of coffee and to focus on the Lord, the reason we live this ministry life.
If I'm honest, sometimes I just snooze for another 20 minutes.
(Shame, shame, I know your name)
I get myself totally and completely ready between 7:30 and 8. I never shower in the mornings so that helps.
I use the next 15 minutes to gather everything we'll need for the day and get it into the car.
This includes a very simple breakfast for my girls, a bottle and lunch for my boy. and diaper pouch.
Next, I get my boy up, dressed, and sit him in his highchair with cheerios while I get the girls dressed and groomed.
By 8:30 we are headed to the car.
We get to church a bit before 9 and I sit with them all while the girls eat breakfast and I give my boy his bottle.
Success.

So that's it.
I keep it bare-bones to minimize messes that need cleaning up or getting myself frazzled.
Sometimes it doesn't go so smoothly.
Sometimes someone wants to wear tights, someone poops, someone has to use the toilet, someone can't decide between the black heels or the knee high boots (my bad).
But 97% of the time it works.

I think the most important part of this routine though is focusing on the Lord alone in your heart at some point before you walk into corporate worship.
Like I said, every once in while I can slack on making that moment happen.
And sure it may not wreck a Sunday. but I am more in tune with the Lord and feel more secure if I've centered myself on Him.
If you don't keep Him as the priority of the day, it will become just another day full of obligations.
That easily opens you up to bitterness and acting like a martyr. Not cool. I've been there.

I love to see how other families pull off a busy morning with lots of kids and maybe only one grown up in charge.
Please share!
Just hit on the comments link below.



Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Let's Wrap It Up

I'm coming in a little late on this bit but I want to sum up our summer real quick.
This was such a fun summer!
And precious because as everyone knows, little kids don't stay little.
It was fun to share so many new things with them.
I was bummed to see it go.

We didn't get around to doing every little thing on our list.
But the things we did get to do we enjoyed to the limit.


Taking our girls on vacation with us was really awesome.
Spending time with our family, watching the girls play with their cousins, taking them boating and swimming, hiking every day for a week, relaxing the rules and routine...... such a nice breather.




Of course there was swimming nearly every week.
By the end of the summer, we were all nice and tan.
Thank goodness we never had to deal with any terrible bouts of sunburn. 



I was totally blessed to not only visit our student ministry teams at camp but also to fly there in a tiny little plane with some friends. 

We celebrated this sweet little thing. 
She's growing so well.
She's healthy and strong and silly and smart.

Adam took some time away with our young adult group. (Sweetums and I got to tag along along one day)





And I just got tons of time to get around and have fun with my gang while Adam was working.
We visited the library, went to the park, played at new to us splash pad, looked around a local nature center, went to a yard sale, bought groceries (because even normal stuff is new to a couple of toddlers).
It was just really satisfying.





Ours kids aren't perfect and we have struggles (some of them on-going) but each kid is just so uniquely cool.

I was looking back at some of our pictures before we had any of them and just felt struck at how empty it seems in comparison.
I mean mostly how empty my day to day seemed.
Those years before our family grew were filled with going to school just to get a degree with my name on it and hours working at pointless jobs to help get bills payed.
Many days were gotten through with only will power and not much enjoyment other than my wonderful husband.

These kids though have brought so much weight and meaning to my life.
Sometimes the weight of the responsibility can be nearly crushing!
Like oh my gosh.
What have we done? We are going to mess these kids up so bad.
But within a beat, I just can't imagine life if they were removed from me.
My heart would be a cavern without them.

God has used those three little people to knock down false supports in me, add family living spaces, make more room for another person's need, put up hallways of mirrors so that I'm always having to relook at myself and take stock of what God is really asking me to do and what I am just doing because of dumb pride.

I love being a parent, more specifically a mom.
And it makes me ask God constantly to help me be more like Him.
I want Him to always be teaching me how to lead them like He leads me.
With fun, joy, discipline, grace, coziness, encouragement, honesty, truth, courage, and of course, love.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Kids Wreath for Autumn

 The girls and I wanted to do something to bring fall to our house so I threw together this so very simple craft in, like, 5 seconds.

You'll need:

  • a paper plate for each
  • crayons/markers/anything to color with
  • glue
  • pretty paper
  • scissors
  • yarn, ribbon, or string to hang your finished wreath with
  • not pictured, but I also grabbed some twigs from our back yard for more texture



First, cut the center out of each paper plate.



Have the kids color their wreath forms. 
Encourage them to fill up as much white space with color as they can.

While the kids color their wreath forms, you can cut out a bunch of "leaves" from the paper. 
I just free-handed each one but if you'd like to make a stencil you could.
Of course, if you have older kids who can handle scissors, they could do this step themselves. 


Once everyone is done coloring, cover the form in glue. 
I also did this step for my little girls and they were happy to follow along pressing on their paper leaves and twigs.




For anything that didn't seem to be attached very securely, I went over it with the rubber cement glue we used and it dried clear. 
Once all the glue has dried, tie some string around it and hang it!


As promised, so simple and it's a good way to let your kids help transition their home into a new season. 
Plus it's just nice to do something fun like this together. 
I wish we did it more. 
This one was a winner for us and I hope your kids like it too. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Two Projects

I'm not sure both of these can really be called projects.

Both both were ideas that had been pinging around in my head for a while and I finally got them out into our real world.

First (and the least worthy of being called a "project) was reorganizing and writing on labeling my daughters' dresser they share.



 My girls are fourteen months apart in age but are now wearing the same size clothes.
Until recently, they each had two drawers for their own clothes in a small four drawer dresser.
This was becoming a silly solution because I would want a shirt for one but but it would be stored in her sister's drawer.
I was constantly opening and closing drawers over and over again to find this one top.
Easy solution: combine 'em. Duh.
Now everything is completely shared.
Of course, let's take the accessibility to the next level and write all over label the drawers so it's easy for sitters and grandparents and dad to find what the girls need.

For the labeling I just used a chalk marker.

Inexpensive, fool proof, and easily wiped away. 


Of course I embellished a bit with it too. 
Go crazy!
Remember: it wipes away. 



Next on the docket....

An honest to goodness project that I am so stoked is finally done!

We had this nice blank wall in our living room that would be a perfect place for some snapshots.
So after looking around for some inspiration, I landed on this idea from www.kellimurray.com....


I ordered a bunch of my favorite shots of this summer as 4x4's from Shutterfly.


Then I found some sturdy branches in our yard (one for a top support and one for a bottom), trimmed them to 3 feet long, and painted them white.
I taped each to my kitchen table 3 feet apart and strung them with copper wire.

Once I hung the structure, I attached all of my photos somewhat randomly to the wire.


We're all in love with the finished product.
And I really like that the pictures can easily be switched out for new ones.
I'd like to get a photo box to keep close by to store the removed ones.
It would be fun to flip through those.

It feels so good to get some stuff done.
This has been a full, fun summer and that has meant that home things have been kept to a minimum.
But I'm starting to feel the pull towards fall.
I'm wanting to prepare our space and things for the seasons to change. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Summer Post #2

One of the biggest things that keep me from blogging regularly like I used to is dealing with all the photos!
I take pictures of EVERYTHING these days.

Every moment with little kids seems like something you'd want to remember in 50 years when they're grown and your just remembering....
Plus of course all those little people of yours are moving CONSTANTLY so you have to take a bajillion shots to get a good one (read: in focus and not a blurry mess)

To weed through all those test shots, edit a handful of good ones, and finally post them is a task.
Plus to delete even one of those bad pictures feels a little like deleting a memory, no matter how brief or bad the shot was.

Agh.
And of course I make more of than it needs to be.
No wonder I'm lucky to post once a month!
Ha!

Anyways, I did it.
I went through my bajillions of ordinary moments captured and here are a few for my books to remember when I'm 70.....

Let's kick this off right:

I think this look promotes fear rather than festivity.
Also note the doubled up glasses. 

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Lots of swimming at a local state park. 
It has one of those great zero entry pools that are fantastic for our young crew. 

This hair!!
He did actually get a BIG haircut a few days after this. 
His beautiful locks were just a bit too much though I love long hair on little boys.

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We were planning on going to a family reunion on the 4th of July.
It turned out to be a messy, rainy, gloomy day so we brought the kids to see Finding Dory. 
I thought it was "ehhh" but the girls liked it :)

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The rest of that week, Adam went with our student ministries to church camp in Ohio.
I was able to fly over and visit for a day in a small private plane flown by a man who goes to our church!



Needless to say, it was awesome!
The whole day just felt like an extravagant, sweet gift straight from God. 
Seriously. 
I felt like I was on an all day date....... with Him!


When Adam came home at the end of the week, he was well missed and well loved. 

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The following week, we had a birthday girl to celebrate!









We kept this little 2 year old's birthday very small with swimming, 
a family dinner, and a couple gifts the day of. 
The following Saturday we went to a splash pad with some friends and cousins. 
It was really fun.

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Adam's sister Allison was nearby staying with Adam's parents for the week so we made of point of spending the day with her. 

She bought the kids these great bubble guns!
So that occupied an afternoon. 

While the girls were happy playing, we went off on own.



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Last week was filled with day camp at our church. 
We had about 50 kids take part each day with breakfast + lunch, games, crafts, songs, a skit, and a short lesson taught by Adam. 
I got no pictures except the last day when we had water day and a big blow up slip in slide was set up. 


Our oldest getting her druthers and getting to be in charge of the hose. 

And you better believe we got in on that!
Actually I was the first one to "test the waters" before the kids got to it!
I think I know what I want for my upcoming birthday....

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The last big event of July was a young adult retreat. 
The group stayed the night on a nearby lake taking in a couple study sessions on a chapter in the Psalms. 
The second day of the retreat was spent out on the lake boating and tubing. 

I was able to make it out that day and brought Sweetums as my side kick. 


Miss Emily and Lauren out on their flamingos.






So that's it for now. 

Lots of fun, lots of sun, lots of gratitude. 
There's still a whole 'nother month of summer!