Baked Easter Eggs

Thanks Pinterest, this totally works……..and just in time for Easter. I’m not sure why, but my hard boiled eggs never turn out. So I was anxious to try baking them.

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Place a dozen eggs in your muffin tin. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes. Then cool them in a bowl of ice water.

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They come out perfectly cooked, and are easy to peal…..Bonus! Happy Easter Peeps;)

Hello Out There

We’ve been sort of in a fog, and then really busy with exciting things. When we found out we were ending our plans to adopt from Ethiopia, I can now admit that I was devastated. In shock really. I just longed and mourned for that little one, and was just a little confused about where to turn next.

In the midst of the fog of March, I wandered into a beautiful little shop in downtown Lewiston. Northwest Handmade Goods, go it’s adorable (527 Main;). As soon as I walked through the doors I was in love. The place was beautiful, the store owner Erika is so charming, and the merchandise was perfection and fun. Erika hand picks handmade items from all over the northwest, it’s kind of like the best of Etsy. And she has a great eye for beautiful things. And then an idea popped into my head, ” I would love for a few of our pieces from Junk In The Trunk Vintage to be in here. Oh what’s that you don’t remember……I love junk! I like to thrift, hunt, and repurpose old things and make the beautiful again. Remember this:

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This was Chase and I’s first time putting Junk In The Trunk in a flea market (Funky Finds) back in September. Since then we have mostly been selling our “junk” online. So I finally had the courage to ask Erika. I was blown away when she already knew of Junk In The Trunk. She walked me back to a whole room, and I was beyond flattered when she asked if we wanted the whole room! Eek! It was a ray of light through the fog. We have completely immersed ourselves in it for the past few months, and it has been so therapeutic. I am in heaven, thanks for the opportunity Erika!

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My trunk always has junk in it!

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We go on a lot of treasure hunts on the weekends.

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Laken and River are the best little sports and quite the “Junkers”. The Junk Hunk has had a blast doing DIY projects and repurposing. I could not do this all without his talents;).

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This is our sweet new sign that Jenny at Northwest Media designed! And some shots of the store.

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The break, and creative energy has been so wonderful for this mommas soul. We have an exciting announcement. We have started to pursue a domestic adoption! I am so beyond melted and know this is right where our paths were meant to turn. I know I’ve mentioned the call to adopt before. But I should clarify that I feel like Ethiopia was only part of the call….and a very important piece to our journey. I wouldn’t trade my love for the people of Ethiopia, and the compassion that is now in our hearts for the care of vulnerable families there. This piece had made me the person I am, and was an amazing part of my growing faith.

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During our struggle with our decision my bracelet arrived from Farmgirlpaints (Instagram). “I searched the world for you.” When I ordered it, I had a little Ethiopian in mind. This was going to be the billboard for my heart. I was a little sad when I first opened it. But now I rock it, it’s my favorite piece. I did search the world for whomever ends up being our next child. And we hope to share all that we learned on this journey with our little one. The journey to him has made us better people. He is our greatest adventure.

We are now finished with all of our paperwork and are “active ” with our agency. During the past month we have set up our nursery for a newborn! A birth mom will pick us to parent her baby when she is likely still carrying him. So we have to be prepared for a tiny new member in our family. Eek!

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I spend a lot of time daydreaming about rocking him in this chair. Chase paints a rocking chair for each of his babies. He chose orange this time. I found the softest vintage chevron afghan on Instagram. And the bicycle pillow is from Northwest Handmade Goods. His nursery is “our greatest adventure” themed.

We just printed and sent in our profile book. It’s a book that birth moms will look at to get to know our family initially, and help her to chose who she wants to parent her child. It was extremely lovely to write. After imagining little contact with our international birth family……we are really excited about the opportunity to know and love our babies birth family, if they choose too. Here’s a few pages from our profile:

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Just last night we were emailed a “situation”. When we are waiting we will be notified of “situations” that our agency feels might be a good match with us. We read the situation (story, circumstance, etc) and decide if we would like our profile to be presented to the birth family. From there she/ he makes a decision that is best for her baby. Unfortunately this particular situation was not right for our family…but it was lovely to be moving in the right direction again. We are looking forward to what is down this new road;).

These two have been enjoying the sunshine, and spring weather. Here are some pictures from a beautiful spring adventure in the wildlife park.

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And a few other gems

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All Good Things Are Better When Shared With Friends

These are all good things, good things y’all. 

Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar {Immune Booster}

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Our family has not been sick during this past cold and flu season.  This drink has really helped us to boost our immune systems.  Apple Cider Vinegar balances the bodies acids.  In it’s raw and organic form (Bragg) it provides healthy bacteria that boosts your bodies ability to fight off the icky stuff.  We drink the following health drink daily.  If we feel a bug coming on, we drink it up to 3 times a day.  The littles just take a shot. 

  • 1 cup of cold water
  • 1-2 teaspoons of Bragg ACV
  • 1 teaspoon of pure maple syrup or local honey for sweetness.  *Bonus-local honey is a natural remedy for seasonal allergies.

Now I’m trying to sneak this Bragg immune booster into meals wherever I can.  My bestie, Liz, shared this simple fresh recipe a few years ago. It’s a good thing to sneak the Bragg ACV into;)

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Strawberry Spinach Salad

Fresh spinach and sliced strawberries, dressed with:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 T Apple Cider Vinegar (just use Bragg’s here)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste

Another good thing, a sneaky good thing is the Moscow Mule.  This timeless classic is all the buzz in the LC Valley right now.  A fun new lounge opened up in Beautiful Downtown Lewiston (Brock’s) and this is one of their signature drinks.  A few weeks ago we tried one there and fell in love……the beautiful voice of Shanie Rales may have topped it off:)    My sweet friend Jen, made this drink at home, and inspired us to do the same.  Traditionally a moscow mule is served in a copper mug, which we do not have, but is a fun little detail if you do.  Chase came up with the following good thing recipe.  It simplifies things a bit, and is delicious.  We made them for our visiting family this week, and woop they sneak up on you.  Watch out!  But they are so fresh and delicious. 

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Moscow Mule~simplified by Chase

  • the juice of one small lime, or half of a large one.
  • 1-2 shots of vodka
  • a little bit of ice
  • fill the container with Reeds Ginger brew (found at Rosauers huckleberries).

*Bonus:  Reeds ginger brew (non-alcoholic) is a natural remedy for nausea.  This would be an excellent mocktail to serve (sans vodka) for pregnant friends. 


 

All good things are better when shared with friends:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

How We Can ALL Love And Care For Ethiopia

Friends!  Here it is.  We have selected a Non Profit Organization to sponsor in Ethiopia.   We are so excited to share the amazing work that No Ordinary Love does in Ethiopia.

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No Ordinary Love Ministries mission is to bless and serve people living in extreme poverty in Ethiopia, and beyond.

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Jimmy and Rachel Gross moved to Ethiopia in March of 2011 to form this non profit organization.  In April of 2012, they opened Emmanuel House, a place of refuge and love for at-risk women, children, and families living in their community and/or from different regions of Ethiopia.

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No Ordinary Love Ministries “Emmanuel House” is located in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and serves the community by providing Home Based Services for vulnerable and destitute young women and children who have been abandoned, orphaned, trafficked, and/or somehow displaced from their communities. 

No ordinary Love also provides Community Based Services for Women and Children:

“We provide support services for children living in extreme poverty in the community.  These children have working parent(s) or guardian(s) but there is not enough money for them to receive educational, medical, food, counseling, and other kinds of support.”

For $25/month you can sponsor a child through No Ordinary Love Ministries.  Yes, for the cost of your unused gym membership (guilty) you can provide food assistance, education assistance, medical assistance, psychological support and daily access to Emmanuel House for a deserving individual.  You can view children and/or women who currently are in need of a sponsor here.  You can read about their story, and ultimately make a huge difference in their lives.  Chase and I are most excited about this opportunity, and are confident that the program that Jimmy and Rachel have developed keeps vulnerable families together.  A few of our adoptive family friends have served at Emmanuel House, and highly recommend the work that they do.  We have chosen to sponsor little Tesfaye.  You can read more about his mother, and their story together here.  I love that his name means, “there is hope.”  

We encourage you to check out the other meaningful work that No Ordinary Love does in Ethiopia.  If you are feeling a tug at your heart, there are many other ways to support their work on their website.  Including one time donations, and even support through prayer.  Remember that your gifts are 100% tax deductible.  Please share about this amazing ministry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Adoption Journey Update

Well friends this post is extremely difficult post to write. As most of you know, things are not looking great for the Ethiopian International Adoption community. Let me preface this post by saying that Ethiopia has not closed international adoption. However, certain government organizations that play a key role in adoption have made it clear that they are not in favor of international adoptions. The country as a whole is looking to reform international adoption, and certain groups are aiming to close international adoption.

Through our journey we have met several families on the same journey as us, and have a wide support network. Unfortunately, our friends who are in process continue to encounter road block after road block in their adoptions. Since the PAIR process has been implemented (Fall of 2013) we are aware of few families that have brought home their children under the new process. We are praying for movement soon. As referrals are slowing down, we are watching agencies close programs as it is no longer profitable for them. Some of our friends, and the children they are already matched with, are stuck in paperwork and policy:(. We are sad that Ethiopian adoptions are in such a fragile state, and that the risk factors continue to grow.

As these road blocks have come up, it has given Chase and I the opportunity to dig deeper and research more behind the surface. We are curious why so many organizations are not in favor of international adoption. We are fully aware that international adoption is a roller coaster (we have been researching and working towards this since October of 2012), we are with an agency that we trust and believe works in the US as ethically as possible. Unfortunately as we dig deeper, we are heartbroken by what has unfolded. Several adoptive parents are stepping forward as advocates for their adopted children, and revealing that they feel their adoptions were unethical. Not specific to one agency, but across many agencies. It would be foolish of us to not listen to their voices. Most concerning to us is that it appears that birth families have been deceived about the adoption process.

Last year an adoptive family friend introduced us to a trusted searcher through facebook. Many adoptive families will hire a searcher to gain more information about their child after an adoption is complete. A searcher can often find out more information about a child’s history than what comes in their paperwork. Seachers also act as a contact for birth families and adoptive families (exchanging letters and photos, arranging meetings, etc). We have planned to use this searcher to keep in contact with our adoptive child’s birth family. I have “watched” the process as handfuls of our adoptive friends have used him to connect with their birth families. As the months have gone by I have watched this “searcher friend” carry adoptive mothers through the bush to remote areas for a meeting, I have seen him kiss the hands of the poor, and serve God with the very core of his being. Last week I sent him an email, asking him for his unfiltered opinion of the state of international adoptions from Ethiopia. {This man makes his living working with adoptive families}. He responded, “My heart is heavy for most birth parents, as their children were adopted without them knowing about it. I know there is a need, but I don’t think these agencies address where the need is.” This was a punch in the gut for us, and a blaring red flag to keep our eyes wide open.

As we dig we are finding that some families, whose child was as an “abandonment” case, are finding out later (through a search) that their son or daughter has a family (often with several other siblings still at home). Their parents often give them up for adoption, but the case is filed as an “abandonment case” as it is easier to process. We have spoken with adoptive families who later find out that birth families were told that there child was going to another country for an education, but would return one day. Do these things happen with every adoption in Ethiopia, no. But yes, sometimes they do. And when we know that sometimes they do, we have to be on high alert. Adoption is big business and when money exchanges hands, corruption often follows.

We know there are millions of orphans in Ethiopia (an orphan is defined by UNICEF as a child who has lost one or both parents). Perhaps, millions who need a loving parent to step in, largely older and/or sick children. However, as we keep our eyes wide open, we are not sure it is possible to guarantee that our adoption would be ethically sound with the current climate of international adoptions in Ethiopia. If we continue with this journey, I will one day have to answer to my son. What will I say? I will one day have to look into the eyes of his birth family (now our family). How will we look at their pain, and wonder did we do the right thing? We yearn for a child we have never met. With that being said, we cannot be a part of taking a little one from their birth country, who we cannot be certain is truly orphaned. We are just not sure that we can ensure that an Ethiopian adoption is ethical at this time.

Our adoptive family community is very dear to us. We are 100% supportive of our friends who have, or continue on the road to adopting from Ethiopia, and we will continue to pray for their little ones and birth families. We are hopeful that Ethiopia will be able to reform their international adoption process so that truly orphaned little ones can be placed with forever families.

We grieve for the people of Ethiopia. This experience has stirred in us a desire to be better global citizens. I am sad that we will not be able to raise the child that we have dreamed and planned for from this beautiful part of the world. We are so blessed that there are so many ways to love and care for the vulnerable children and families in Ethiopia. I may not be able to mother them the way that I yearn to. But in my heart I am so glad that we can now switch our focus to orphan care, and preserving vulnerable families through sponsorship. We are supportive of Ethiopia and their efforts to care for their own. We are not ready to close our eyes to the extreme poverty and social injustices in Ethiopia, and will not be turning away from it. I will just have to fix my heart on mothering a little one in a new way. I am so glad that my eyes have opened to things that were not so easy to see. I am blessed to have a broken heart for what breaks His^. As we have been down this road, we have met many families who have decided to dedicate their lives to mission work and NPO’s located in Ethiopia. We will be selecting one to support this week, and we will share the profoundly meaningful work that these organizations do on the blog this week {in case you are feeling a tug at your heartstrings too}. A mission trip is definitely in our future. And I would love to be a part of orphan care ministry for Ethiopia.

The doors have closed for our family adoption with Ethiopia. But our journey with adoption is not over. We are keeping our hearts open, and have so much love to share with some little one. We have two little ones who are anxiously awaiting the arrival of a “baby brotha” and a nursery waits for someone special. Although we are saddened, we look forward to what God has around the corner for our family. Peace friends.

iPhone photo drop

I’m not a very good “blogger” lately, thank goodness this isn’t my job;). I’d so be written up by now! So here is a spew of photos that I’ve been meaning to say something clever about. Just not today….Bahahaha!

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The gorgeous downtown Lewiston library has fabulous natural light, even on these gloomy January days. The littles love this huge window seating area.

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Cheers at a froyo cupcake date with Grandma Ivy in Pullman. She comes on lots of our adventures now that she is retired;)

We snuggle and take a lot of cozy winter selfies lately.

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A girl that grew up on the same street as me, got married in Orofino. We made it a weekend getaway to our hometown…..just the two of us.

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River is mischievous, naughty, and testing boundaries;) Here he is shoving his hoho down the air vent.

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And crying because , “Kids who eat their dinner, get to go to ice cream,” is a hard lesson to learn:(

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He loves to “read”

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And adores his babies. Daddy training going on right here: learning to diaper his baby.

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“This is ‘L’ and Grandpa Rod, except for he has hair!” -Laken

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Laken had a lovely day today, we stumbled upon a craft day at Home Depot today! Lucky;). She built, adorned with stickers, and painted her race car pink!

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I I love this pic of her, I think this is her pure joy face.  I dare you not to smile back:)

Refrigerator Oatmeal

Tried out the new refrigerator oatmeal craze! It is delicious, and super healthy friends……definitely shareable.

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1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 heaping teaspoon chia seeds
2 teaspoons of pure maple syrup
1/4 – 1/2 cup of *mix in
*mix in options: strawberries, bananas, pineapple, apple sauce, almonds, coconut, raisins, endless possibilities and combinations!

Combine ingredients in a container, and mix well (I used mason jars and shook them with the lid on).

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I will probably double the recipe for each jar next time;). Then refrigerate overnight…..THAT’S IT!!!

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In the morning stir and serve. It is delicious and the texture is fun and filling. Chia seeds are new for me. I found them at Costco. They end up with a tapioca consistency in this recipe, and do not change the flavor. But they are a nutritional powerhouse:

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And the biggest bonus, the kids loved it! And we still have 3 more jars in the refrigerator for tomorrow;). I’m excited to try out more combinations!

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Reflection: A Beautiful Life Is Not Perfection

2013 treated us well, and we are looking forward to the year ahead. I’m not sure if I’m a resolution kinda gal. But I luuuhuv (love) reflection. I over analyze everything…….and looking back at my life/year and making sense of it is the good stuff…..where it gets real.

*I tend to ramble when I write, but that’s just how my mind works so this will be a scramble. I appreciate an organized and eloquently written blog post, but sometimes I’m too busy living for that;).

2013 slapped me in the face and left me raw……..in a beautiful way!  I’ve felt the sting, but phew it’s great to be alive!  Adoption has rocked my little world.  It started as a beautiful idea.  And it still is, but it is so deep, and complex, life-changing, earth shattering, and profound.  I had no idea last year, that I would be the person that I am today.  I just didn’t anticipate the way that this journey would change the very core of who I am.  But it has….and its only beginning. I can hardy wait to see my little boys face.  Some days I long for him so much that it stings, and I worry about him terribly……and it feels like someone knocked the air out of me.  And other days I feel silly, because we are not even matched yet!  But in my heart I know that God has already made his match;)  And somedays I play with his things, and rearrange his little closet a million times.  Somedays (ok yesterday) I bought him a few of the softest onesies I can find.  But then I felt silly because I have no idea what season it will be when I hear his name, and I can only guess what size he will be.

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Many nights I wake up and grieve for his little heart.  I grieve for his family.  It is such a beautiful journey.  One of the things I am learning about life is that the most beautiful things are not perfect.  Beauty is not perfection.  The moments that are worth living for usually have a heavy dose of pain, problems, or struggle on the side.  I think the same might be true of people:)…………and parenting, marriage, and faith. Ok so maybe this was the theme song for 2013 “Beautiful ____________is not perfect!”

A beautiful marriage is not perfect.

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“Perhaps it is our imperfections that make us perfect for each other.” -someone wise. We are two little souls who both brought some “messy stuff” to the table, back in the halls of OHS;). Boy has it been a wild ride for these two! It isn’t always easy, but we sure have fun. And we always come out better on the other side. I think we both would tell you that our challenges have made the successes of our love so much sweeter. I would ride the lowest of lows with this man, just to belly laugh at our mistakes a decade later. He is the twinkle in my eye. When I see it in his blue eyes….I know that beautiful struggle, because we’ve lived it together.

Beautiful motherhood isn’t perfection.

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I’ve never worked so hard at something with every intention of my being. And simultaneous felt like I was failing, and questioning every move. These two have given me the happiest most fulfilling moments of my life. They have also taken my life and turned it inside out.
I’m only three years in to being the one that they call mommy. But I’ve learned a lot! I started out striving for perfection. Creating the perfect home, spending a lot of energy keeping everything in its place, planning the healthiest meals, agonizing over the decision to stop breast feeding……because “breast is best,” keeping those little faces clean and bodies covered in adorable things, trying every ridiculous infant and toddler organized activity until the perfect one comes along……! The list was long and unachievable. And really I just had to live it out to see that my kids really just needed me to relax and be me. The beauty of motherhood isn’t in the perfection. The beauty is in the moment your unhappy baby sucks down a bottle of formula and you are both content…..and you finally know that you made the right decision. The beauty is when your child shines and not the clothes that they are wearing. My most cherished photos of those two are often in just a diaper, a plain white tee, and hair all askew;). My house is more often messy than clean. And we dabble in toddler activities. I am a much more relaxed mom now. Honestly raising children has so many seasons. And if perfection is a priority it’s difficult to ride the waves. Beautiful motherhood is not perfection.

Cheers to a beautiful and messy 2013! I would love to hear what you choose to fill the blank with. “Beautiful _______is not perfection.” Faith will have to be on another day for me;)

A Merry Little Christmas Break

We had a simple Christmas at home and with our little family this year;). This is a peak.

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We skipped over the “rock house” to celebrate with Mom and Rod later that Christmas morning.

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River has decided to work on potty training again. We spend a lot of time in the bathroom;)

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Daddy spent a lot of quality time with the littles over the break. Isn’t he sweet………..potty time tunes;)

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Laken invented the pancake hot dog! And got the sweetest little sassy haircut;)

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We are number 58 on the wait list for our adoption. We’ve heard that families often get their referral in the “20′s”. Still praying for Ethiopia adoptions to continue.

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We played hard over the break!

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Spoiled Willow, who loved the tree, wrapping paper and extra attention.

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Today marks the end of Christmas break. Laken headed back to school and we are all getting back into a routine;)

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Christmas is magical and exhausting! Happy New Year’s friends! A resolution? Shhhhh, I’m still resting from Christmas;)

Do Not Be Afraid

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(Deep breath) Friends please pray……pray hard.

We are waiting to see the face of a child we gave our hearts to months ago. And we are ALL IN on this journey. Like most waiting families we hang on every word of news, good or bad. Today is a scary time for Ethiopia adoptions. An article was published on December 26th, regarding international adoption in Ethiopia.This is an excerpt:

“In a press conference, House Speaker Abadula Gemeda and the Minister Zenebu Tadesse told journalists that stakeholders should work closely to end foreign adoption.”

Much of what we are hearing is here say at this point, but the whole Ethiopian adoption community is up in arms. We aren’t hearing much at this point for our agency, and will have to wait and see how this unfolds in the weeks to come.

Of course it is best practice for children to stay in their birth country. Unfortunately, Ethiopia is not set up to care for the countless number of children who are orphaned. If Ethiopia closes international adoption, the outcome will likely be unspeakable. It will always be my hope and prayer that Ethiopia continues to develop and grow options to alleviate the orphan crisis in country. However, so much needs to be done before this can happen……and that takes time. What happens to the children during this time if international adoption closes?

My stomach hurts. My mind wanders. I keep clinging to this verse on our mantle. But the fear creeps in. The worry is heavy.

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth.” — (Isaiah 43:5-6)

This verse brings us a peace and calm within this unknown vulnerable place we are in. They are the words that speak to me during the wait, but resonate deeply during this time especially.

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