Tuesday, June 28, 2011

let's get rich!

Hi friends!
Thank you SO much for your comments below... and please! please! if you haven't read the pay-it-forward-have-mercy giveaway, please read, and introduce yourself!!! I would love love love to know who's out there reading this blog, and how it encourages you... but mostly I want to know YOU!! Really, I do. No shyness allowed. Say HI!

Also, my sister introduced me to this artist, sweet Ingrid, and I have a crush on her music. Also, this song reminds me of how Zach and I will have nothin' (we haven't had much, but...) over the next few years... and then we'll be buried under student loans.... and then HELLO! It'll be time to pay for THREE (hopefully at least FOUR) college educations, so you know, we're never really gonna be "rich" unless we win the lottery :). But if we did get rich... we may not buy our parents houses in the south of France, but giving everyone nice sweaters? we'd do that :). And no matter how poor we are, we will always give away $25 gift cards, and then watch you give them away. Because that's what life is all about. (now go leave a comment during this lovely song :) )

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Have Mercy: Giveaway!!!

this is me, in a field of corn. long story.
Hello friends!
Here I sit, Sunday night, the eve of Zach's last week of "real" work before our crazy fun travels begin... and then our permanent travel to our new town. My melatonin is about to kick in so I'd better make this fast...

To celebrate the start of the actual "travel" part of my blog title, I want to do a little giveaway! So many people have been incredible to us over the past few years, showering us with mercy that we rarely deserved. In honor of all of you who have helped us along the way, whether I know you in "real life" or simply through to internet, I thought it would be fun to do a pay-it-forward giveaway. I don't have much... but I do have a $25 gift card to TARGET. If you win, I would love for you to give it to a family or an organization in need in your community. I know it's not very much, but even $25 could brighten someone's day! I would double love it if you blogged about your pay-it-forward moment, or if you don't have a blog, you could email me an entry and we could feature the post here.

To Enter: Leave me a comment, tell me who you are, why you like this little slice of the internet! I would really like to know who my readers are, as well as give mercy to someone in need! I need to limit the entries to people living on this continent of North America, because, frankly, I have no idea where other Target stores are. BUT, if you live somewhere else, would you please introduce yourself anyway? Thanks! At the end of the week I'll put names in a hat and pull one out and announce the winner.

Please please say hello and leave a comment! I'm feeling lonely on this little blog, and would seriously LOOOOOVE to give away this Target card. Don't be shy! Thanks friends!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wedding #2

After our wedding adventure on Friday and Saturday, we had the absolute honor and privilege to attend another wedding on Sunday.

Do you see this beautiful bride laughing? Her face represents pure joy!
We went to college with "B", and then we were in her church community for a number of years. We were never totally in the same community as we had young kids, but throughout our college years and after, Zach and I have always admired her for her beauty, integrity, and kindness. I honestly didn't think anyone was worthy to marry her. I was never a close friend of hers, but I always felt that she (as all women do) deserved the best of the best.

While we went about our daily lives, another family in our congregation was suffering. I won't tell the whole truth here, because it is a painful and messy story, and it's not mine to tell. A wonderful man and his three kids lost their wife/mom. First to a hard life reality, and then she tragically passed away. Knowing that "R" and his kids were suffering broke my heart. Zach and I got to know "R" better and watched in awe as he pieced his life back together and praised God for his provisions. He is a good father, and lovingly parented his children through this hard time.

One day Zach and I saw "R" biking, and he stopped to say hi to us. We chatted and went our separate ways. With Zach (and God, I guess) as my witness, I looked back towards "R" and said "Oh my gosh. He should marry "B". He and "B" would be really perfect together!" ... and that was before they had officially met. OH YES, I should start my own matchmaking show!!!

See, the thing is, "B" is so wise, and strong, and is totally the type of person who could gracefully and joyfully marry a man who had been through incredible tragedy, AND become the stepmom to three hurting kids. I don't know many other people who could do that, but "B" is a really special person. And I know so many of you, my dear readers, do not believe in God or think religion is weird... but this story would bring you to the brink of believing, because I've never seen a person so perfectly designed to partner with another person, all after one of the most horrific events I've ever heard of. Looking back, this was so perfectly designed that it makes me freak out a little. It's borderline crazy! In an awesome way.

So, we got to witness these two incredible people get married. And it was, hands down, the most incredible service I've ever been a part of. There were 500 people there. And people clapped and cheered throughout the whole thing. And the newlyweds danced out of the church! And we all clapped to the rhythm! I will never, ever forget this service, and how it represented so much hope for so many.

Also, and not to scare my non-religious friends away (but I do ask that you respect this couple's/family's faith and how it got them through, truly, one of the worst things I've ever witnessed), but I really need to share this song. This is what "R's" three kids sang during the service. His son played the guitar, and his daughter sang (sounding EXACTLY like Sara Groves), and his other son sang along with the chorus. It was all I could do to hold in the sobs, especially knowing what the precious kids had gone through in their young lives. Somehow I hope this story encourages you today, the way it encouraged me.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

here comes the bride...

After the hustle and bustle of the rehearsal, the real wedding day arrived on Saturday! We had time to play with the kids all day and get a ton of errands done for the reception, and then it was time to clean up and arrive at the church. Lenora and her sweet bridesmaids were getting beautiful before the ceremony....



...and Leah had a blast being a part of it all...
The boys got their flowers pinned on, and looked quite dapper....

mommy and Leah got to take a mother/daughter picture!
Then it was time for many pictures before the ceremony began!

We had to go hide in the basement while the guests arrived, and you can tell who started to lose some steam...

But then the ceremony arrived. I have no photo evidence of this, because I was too busy keeping my boys from ruining the whole thing. Leah stood up front, but the boys sat with us on the front row (wise decision). It was tricky, but we got through it! Guess what my secret weapon was? Marshmallows! Each boy had almost 20, but it kept them quite, AND there were no stains on their white shirts, AND no crumbs, AND no crunching noises.... I know, I'm brilliant...

The ceremony was splendid. Something that made this wedding extra awesome was the story. You know, the big story... the way these sweet young people (I feel old calling them that... but it's true... sigh...) came together as a couple. They met in a band, and then both were a part of our faith community, and you really can't find two nicer, gentler, sweeter people. But they both come from some difficult life things (their stories to tell), and they choose every day to see the positive, to lift up their eyes, and to find the good in people. They are re-writing their story. They are making a new way, a better life, and they are starting with their marriage. I find this incredibly beautiful and redemptive and hopeful... not to mention their friends who gathered around them to give them a gorgeous celebration. They, and the community we're lucky to be a part of, are really remarkable people. We're sad to leave them all!

During the ceremony this was read by our dear Suzanne, who is famous for her poetry readings:

Love (III) by George Herbert
Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd any thing.

"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, ungrateful? ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
"My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
So I did sit and eat.

And so it all ended, and the real FUN began at the reception! Of course, we needed to take another family photo to document our cleanliness... and the fact that we do, actually, have some pretty clothes... :)
We were trying to get a fun little head-circle photo but you can see how well that turned out... cute nonetheless!
And then my children proceeded to party and dance for 3 straight hours. It was beyond fun, but I also got a glimpse of their college years and partying potential... I am slightly frightened by their party-animal ways...
The amazing bride and groom...
Ah weddings. They give us all hope... for the future, for their love, for our own relationships. That's really the reason I'm sharing all of this here, I suppose. It's nice to be reminded of all this. This beauty and joy that exists all around us... that we can see every day if only we open our eyes and our hearts a bit wider. I hope it encourages you the way it has encouraged me.

Tomorrow I'll write about the other wedding we attended this past weekend. Another story that refreshed my soul and stirred my desire to live more purposefully every day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wedding # 1- the rehearsal!

I have a TON of pictures from this past CRAZY weekend! We had way too much fun, so I'll attempt to document it here :).

first up... the rehearsal for our friends Sean and Lenora's wedding! We looked cute, so I found it necessary to take a family picture to document our actual clean, dressed-up selves... behold...
We arrived at the church amidst the buzz of rehearsing music and the order of things... the kids did great...




Sam had to entertain himself while waiting for his turn to practice the big Walk Down the Aisle... sliding under church pews does, in fact, cause weird brown stains all over the back for clothing...
The kids did great concentrating on what they were supposed to do! Total Pros! (this was Leah's 4th gig as a flower girl, so she's got it down...)
The beautiful Bride taking it all in...
practicing for their big moment!
This weekend was wonderful in so many ways. Both weddings were incredibly full of joy, hope, and redemption, and restored my faith in love. It was an honor to witness such beauty! Stay tuned... the big wedding #1 photos will be posted tomorrow!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

wedding bells!


This weekend we have not one, but TWO weddings to attend! I loooove weddings. The kids are in one! It's a gorgeous, casual summer wedding and we adore this sweet young couple, so we're looking forward to the fun festivities :).
Last time we were really part of a wedding was for my brother Tyler's marriage to Ginna. I have no clue where most pictures are (why am I so bad with pictures?), but here is a cutie one of Sam and Pete. This is 6 weeks after Sammy came home. After this picture was taken, he fell forward off the steps. Oopsies.
(look how tiny they are!!!)
Guess what? Zach only has two more weeks left at work. You know, his "real job" that has paid our bills since college. This is pure craziness, thinking about what a big step we're about to take... and FUUUUN to think about how I will have about 5 weeks of Zach WITH US, with no job and just time to PLAY! Before starting school! Yippeee! We have a big adventure planned, and I'll blog from our destinations, so you'll have a fairly good idea as to where we are. It involves airplanes and trains and big mountains... AND right after that, lots of sand, sun, and ocean waves. Can't wait!!!

The weekend we return from the beach portion of the trip? We move. I Can't believe it's almost time to set up our new home. This is part of our new backyard, now full of green leaves (this was taken in Feb. I think). Just beyond that line of trees is big dip in the land, going down to flood plain and a river tributary. I can't wait to explore the land! My biggest hope for next summer is to grow lots of veggies on that sunny plot of land. Having fresh food grown right out my back door will be amazing, and I think the kids will learn a lot from having a big garden.


We are so grateful for the blessings that have come our way during this transition time. It's almost too much to take in! For now, we'll take it one day at a time and enjoy these weddings :).
Who, being loved, is poor? ~Oscar Wilde

Sunday, June 12, 2011

living...


I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.

Agatha Christie

Saturday, June 11, 2011

never grow up

Lately the kids have been talking about what they want to be when they grow up. Sam tells me he wants to be a boy, my boy. I tell him that is fine, he can always be my boy :). Leah goes through a list... teacher, doctor, food critic (she does love food, in a very sophisticated way). Pete has been mentioning surgery for some time now... he wants to be a surgeon. I always tell them they can be whatever they want to be... reach for the stars, do what you love. I remind them that they are, in fact, very young, and they have plenty of time to figure it all out. In the back of my mind, though, I know how fast it is coming. If these first 7.5 years of parenthood went by this fast, then it must be true... they do grow up, much to my joy and sorrow. The other day, Pete was talking about being a surgeon again. Suddenly he said "wait. wait mommy. I don't want to be a surgeon anymore. I don't want to grow up... I just want to be a kid!" Of course I said he could be a kid for as long as he wanted. He is my baby boy, and always will be :).



After that discussion, my kids have been singing "never grow up" sweetly in the car as we travel from here to there....
Oh darlin' don't you ever grow up... stay this little...

Friday, June 10, 2011

we're all swimming to the other side

tears, lots of tears.
This week Leah wrapped up her time at her beloved school. This place shaped her, and shaped us, as a family. The community there taught me how to better live among all kinds of people. Both allowing me to freely keep my faith in God, and love Jesus and the wisdom he has taught me, and also to love, learn from, and enjoy people of other faiths or no exact religion. I know, I know. I may seem too "inclusive" for some, or not firm in my own faith, by openly learning from others, too, and not boxing myself in to only one tradition. By allowing myself to be open, I've not only grown closer to God, but I've softened to others. There is less judgment in my heart, and more swells of grace and mercy. I have LOVED seeing my daughter surrounded by so many different kinds of people, who have celebrated her faith even if it is not their own. This was a wonderful community to be a part of- a lot of love, respect, the finding of the common good in all of us, regardless of race, religion, culture, income, etc... And we will be forever grateful for this experience in our lives. Moving on... it's hard, especially in saying goodbye to this community.



Zach, the boys, and I attended the last "Friday Sing" (the whole school (k-5) gathers for the last 30 minutes of school on Fridays to sing songs) of the year. The music director led this song, and I decided it was so perfect to describe what we're all doing as humans. I cried (I HATE public crying, but the tears came as I grieved leaving this community). We're all just "swimming to the other side..." we really are. Zach and I have decided that this will be our "family song." It doesn't threaten our existence as Christians. It teaches my kids that it's impossible for us all to be the same... it's impossible to all have the exact same opinions, because none of us have the same life experience. Our Christianity exists to teach US how to better love our neighbors, not to tell them that they are lesser or worse for not believing what we do about God. This song teaches love, inclusiveness, and the respect that we must carry in our hearts for all people. This is what I want to fill my kids' thoughts as they grow up and go out into the world. They may absolutely have faith... and they may absolutely love all people and live compassionately.

(you can ignore the somewhat odd art and listen to the music- and imagine this beautiful group of children singing this at the top of their lungs. Pure beauty).

Swimming to the Other Side By Pat Humphries

We are living 'neath the great Big Dipper

We are washed by the very same rain

We are swimming in the stream together

Some in power and some in pain

We can honor this ground we walk on

Cherishing the beings that we live beside

Loving spirits will live forever

We're all swimming to the other side

I am alive, and I am searching

Hungering for answers in my time

I am balanced at the brink of wisdom

I'm impatient to receive a sign

I will follow with my senses open

Imperfection, it be my crime

In humility I will listen

We're all swimming to the other side

{Refrain}

On this journey through thoughts and

feelings

Finding intuition, my head, my heart

I am gathering the tools together

I'm preparing to do my part

All of those who have come before me

Band together and be my guide

Loving lessons that I will follow

We're all swimming to the other side

{Refrain}

When we get there we'll discover

All of the gifts we've been given to share

Have been with us since life's beginning

And we never noticed they were there

We can balance at the brink of wisdom

Never recognizing that we've arrived

Loving spirits will live together

We're all swimming to the other side

{Refrain}

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

inspiration???

I got nothin'! Just normal life...

This past weekend was FUN... full of pool time and dinners with my sisters while my parents were in NYC! Get this... my grandparents have been married for SIXTY FIVE years and are in their late 80's, and went up to the City with my parents for a cousin's memorial service. This cousin was a well-known choir and symphony director (as well as famous music teacher) in the city, and this memorial was held at Cooper Union (was going to be at the church (St. Peter's? Patrick's?) but they needed more space) and was (according to my family) spectacular. Prominent musicians donated their time for the service... ANYway, my grandparents spent the night in NYC for the first time since their honeymoon night 65 years ago! I'll share pictures soon! (hi Mimi and PopPop! you're famous!).

We're wrapping up the last week of school here, which is nothing short of weird. Weird to be leaving a school that we are so in love with and where Leah has thrived. I feel so sad about this. but, onward! Actually, speaking of onward, will you please say a prayer or send out a happy thought that Leah will get into the same charter school that Pete got into? I would LOVE for them to be at the same school next year. She is second on the wait list. Just second! All we need is for TWO kids to move/choose another school/something and then she'll get a spot. I have everything crossed. Will you help me with this huge hope of ours??? thank you!!!

The ending of school signifies that our move is REAL... that life marches on... that we're all growing up... and so does THIS:
And let us all say "AMEN." My baby's growin' up. And my 7.5 year stretch of diaper changing is OVER. WOOHOOOO!

So besides not changing diapers anymore, I have no blog inspiration. Maybe it's because life is just humming along. I'm working on a case (Moldova!), wrapping up some post-adoption cases, preparing for some weddings coming up (the kids are in one!), going away gatherings for us, and a baby shower for my sis-in-law. Just lots of little, fun, busy things. The only reason I'm blogging right now and not driving carpool/at yoga is my stomach. It is not cooperating today. Oh well.

Give me something to blog about. Do you have any questions you'd like to ask me? Appropriate ones, of course. Ask away. I'll do an answer post.

ta ta for now. Happy Tuesday!

Friday, June 3, 2011

local talent*

*Chatham County Line

**the Mighty River Project

**I'll start with The Mighty River Project, started by our dear friends. You should read their blog and start following their journey (you can find them and "like" them on FB too). They are amazing local talent, of the non-profit variety. And of the adoptive parent variety. We love them!

*My sis-in-law bought me this music for my birthday... i love some new music! Especially music that sounds like summer, AND sounds like good ol' NC. This area produces unique musicians... and when I listen, even if I want to put down roots somewhere else, or explore new areas, I'm ultimately reminded of how much I love it here. This is home... this music is home. Maybe some things are bigger, better, more refined... but this? This is real :).

We're entering our last bit of time here before leaving for some crazy travels, and then it's time to start our new life in our new town. I'm so excited to see what the future holds :). Also? I want to adopt a little girl. Like right now. I'm hoping the stars align somehow... maybe I'll have to wait a few years, but maybe not... hmmm....

Enjoy this lovely local (to me) talent...
welcome to summer!
Have a fantastic weekend!