Monday, September 30, 2013

A Getaway.

Matt had to be in Houston last week for work so Gabe and I went with him.  We went down a few days before he had to be there and then escaped off to Galveston Island for a little vacation when his meetings were over.

I took a lot of photo's over the 9 days we were gone.  There are many more to come but this is one of my favorites.

Incredibly thankful for these two guys.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

There's an App for that?

A few years ago Matt and I had a goal of buying things only made in the United States.  We started off strong; looking at labels and putting things back that weren't made in the USA.  It seemed like a good idea until we realized just how impossible that endeavor was going to be.  While there's quite a lot of goods made in the United States, there's even more made else where.  And a lot of the stuff that's made in the US costs a whole heck of a lot more than things made else where.  At that time we were painfully unaware of just how wretched the conditions in which some people work (safety, child and forced  labor, unjust wages, etc) just to save us a few dollars.

Subsequently our little adventure didn't work well. 

Fast forward a few years and we have learned a lot about fair trade, livable working wages and that the fact where we spend our money effects not only our bank account but the lives, livelihood and future of the people making our clothes and household goods. We've become more aware and had been trying to shop more fair trade, remembering brands that have good working conditions and fair wages and not perpetuating the American idea that cheaper is better.   

But it is hard.  

And then this fall I started doing the Bible study The 7 Experiment: staging your own mutiny against excess by Jen Hatmaker.  I'm not even going to start sharing the ways God is using this Bible study to teach me, to help me re-evaluate the way I think about things and draw me closer to him.  Maybe I'll share that some other time.  Maybe not.  But I will share something Jen Hatmaker shared with us on the video of Week 3.

Week 3 of the Bible study is about clothing.  And how much clothing we American's have, buy and then inevitably store in our closet.  Ha! Because we would be going out of town, I borrowed the DVD from the leader of the Bible study and watched it at home.  The segment was fairly short and most of what she shared wasn't new to me.  

But one topic instantly caught my attention!

Not for Sale has created an app (search Free2Work) for your iPhone (or any other smart phone I suppose) that allows you to scan a UPC label and then it tells you the grade it has been given by Not for Sale in regards to preventing modern day slavery (forced labor, indentured servitude, child labor).  There are a few quirks, and only about 200-300 brands listed so far (according to the website their working on adding more, it's intensive work to thoroughly examine a brand) but it's very interesting, informative and for me, useful.  

You see, we were going on vacation to Houston.  Matt had to go for work so Gabe and I tagged along with him last week.  We spent a few days in Houston seeing friends, going to some of our favorite spots and, as I firmly believe Houston's shopping is much better than Ohio's, we were planning on shopping for fall clothes for Gabe.  And I needed a pair of jeans.  

Prior to leaving I browsed through the Free2Work App.  I was surprised, and not in the wee-it's-a-surprise way.  More in the oh-dear-yikes way.  

Many brands of children's clothing received very low grades.  We decided that we wouldn't shop stores that weren't doing a B or better.  Most of the brands that received an "A" grade I didn't recognize so I'm assuming they are very pricey.  When I saw Oshkosh and Carters (two of the children's clothing stores I planned to shop at) were graded a D I was disheartened.  There is no way my baby was going to wear clothes who's material or manufacturing most likely involved child labor.  Ain't no way.  

So we walked through the Outlet Mall, The Galleria and Memorial Mall looking for fall clothes for Gabe.  With my trusty phone in hand with the Free2Work App ready I browsed, price matched and scanned.  We found quite a few things for Gabe for Fall and avoided buying Gabe any clothes less than a "B."  I was also searching for jeans and came up empty handed at the Outlets.  I found a super cute pair of jeans; good fade, straight legs and fit well.  But when I scanned them, that brand was graded a "D".  Back went the jeans.  Eventually I found a pair a few days later... and score, they were even made in the USA.

I'll be completely transparent with you.  We spent more on individual articles of clothes for Gabe than we normally do.  But we feel good about our purchases.  Gabe will just have a smaller wardrobe and just wear things more often.  We have a washer and dryer so he'll always be clean.  Well most of the time, at least [smile].
I also realize that not everyone is able to (or wants to) make the same decision regarding clothing for their families as we did.  We just know that this is something that has worked (so far) well for our family.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Life Song for Orphans: Church Adoption Funds

This months Life Song for Orphan's topic instantly sparked my interest. Since moving back to Ohio I've been helping my friend Mari with our church's Orphan and Adoption Ministry.  Our Foster and Adoption support group (Westside Family Connections) is ready with a full schedule for fall, Orphan Sunday is coming and a community of adoption and foster care is growing.  What I'd love next is for our church to start an adoption fund.  It's easy, free and can help families adopting overcome one of the scariest parts of starting the adoption process - the seemingly insurmountable cost of adoption.

Read on to see what a blessing a church adoption fund can be and how your church (or ours) can start an adoption fund.

Life Song for Orphan's Monthly Update:
church 100Adoption Funds: Helping the church financially support couples as they bring home children into their forever families through adoption.

MEETING THE NEEDS - Adoption Funds

win win win 100
We see Adoption Funds as a "Win-Win-Win" solution: the local church is actively involved on behalf of orphans, the financial roadblock for families is removed, the orphan child is adopted into a permanent Christian family...all with minimal administrative burden for the church.

Using the adoption matching grant and interest-free loan processes already established by Lifesong, churches can easily navigate through the details of adoption funding....all with no cost to the church.

Church Fund Children

ALWAYS WITH YOU - Adoption Fund Story Cameron and Sarah experienced the love of their church family through their adoption journey. His Kids Our Homes Adoption Fund, at North County Christ the King Church have blessed this family and others as children are brought into forever families. Listen in on their journey...

mouse copySee how your church can benefit from establishing an Adoption Fund by visiting our website.

Read More:

Bringing Churches Around Adoptive Families - Dave and Carrie, directors of His Kids - Our Homes (Lynden, WA) share how they have experienced the blessing of having a Lifesong Adoption Fund.  Watch Video

"God Worked to Bring Them Home" - Scott and Kathy bring two more children into their home through adoption with the help from TAMBA adoption fund. Read more

God's Revealing Love - Sam and Maria share how God continued to reveal His love for them and their 7 children, through their local church, North County Christ the King. Watch Video

Adoption Fund Testimonials - Hear what Adoption Fund partners have to say about their experience with Lifesong Adoption Funds.  Watch Video

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Gabe learned how to take "selfies" on my phone.  I think we may be in trouble. 

Friday, September 20, 2013


Toy Story Water Park.  Hours of Fun.

 Date night at the Indians game.  Love him.

Coloring.  See that balloon floating along the ground.  We bought it June 26.  Crazy!

I'm doing a couple of different Bible studies this fall.  I was super excited to do this one: The 7 Experiment: staging your own mutiny against excess by Jen Hatmaker.  More on that later.  And did you hear, Jen Hatmaker is going to TV?  HGTV is filming her family for a show to be released in 2014. Super excited about that.

Evidently, I'm loving Gabe's blue and navy striped pants.  He's wearing them again today.  [Smile].

The best entertainment at the Browns game... watching Gabe practice his walking!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pain Killers & Veggie Soup

This video showed up on Facebook a few days ago and while Gabe was in PT this morning I finally had the chance to watch it.  I realize it's just a commercial.  I'm not entirely sure what they're advertising for because I don't speak Siamese (language in Thailand) but I know what they're promoting.


Yes, it is a commercial but just try not to shed a tear when you watch this.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Walk on by.

June 20, 2013 Gabe surprised us by walking independently for the 1st time.  An accomplishment we were never sure when or if it would happen.  Since then he has continued to work hard and his determination is astounding.

At the zoo last week Gabe wanted to walk "holding Mommy's hand."   But once we entered the Dinosaur exhibit Gabe was ready to go on his own.  Nearly 3 months later it's still impossible for tears not to prick my eyes when I watch him walking along with such pride and confidence.

He is amazing.  We are so proud of our sweet boy.

Gabe walking at the zoo from Meredith on Vimeo.

Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not the muscles
-Alex Karras

Monday, September 16, 2013

Good bye, Dinosaurs

The dinosaurs were set to leave the zoo this past weekend so the cooler weather called us to the zoo to say good bye.  I'll be honest, I'm not looking forward to the next time we head to the zoo and I have to explain to Gabe that they're not there.  Nevertheless, we had one more time to see the dinosaurs.  

While we saw the flamingos, elephants, lions, giraffes and koala's, Gabe was most interested in the prehistoric creatures. 

Giving the baby dino a smooch
After the dinosaurs we headed over to ride the train through the Australian outback where we saw beautiful flowers (not indigenous to Australia) and a mama kangaroo with her joey sticking out of her pouch.

Sweet, beautiful boy.

Gabe preferred to walk throughout most of the zoo asking "hold mommy's hand?" whenever he wanted to get out of the buggy.  Holding mommy's hand didn't work in the dinosaur exhibit though because Gabe was so excited he just wanted to go, go, go!  But that is saved for a later date... 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

2 Years Waiting

Friday marked two years...

...two years that we have officially been waiting on our agencies wait list.

It's been three years since we contracted with AGCI.

I'm not completely sure how I feel about it.

Last year we figured we'd be waiting another 15-18 months to get a referral. 

Today we're still looking at least another 12 months.  

Thinking about timelines is so discouraging. 

Looking back at all that's happened in the past 12 months... wow!  

Two separate times we thought we would be adding another child to our family. 

Alas, today, we are still a family of 3. 

We aren't the same people we were two years ago when we officially began our wait.

We're not even the same people who last September marked one year on the wait list. 

Our hearts have been stretched, changed and rearranged through this adoption.

And through this wait. 

We've watched children come home to excited families. 

We've seen friends stand faithfully as their wait continued.

And recently we were witness to the relentless faith and love as a family traveled halfway across the world to bury their beloved son. 

Adoption is hard.  Crazy hard.  

So is the wait.  

The wait can go two ways though.

It can make you cynical, angry, anxious or disheartened. 

Or?  You can use it...

Use it to draw closer to God, 
build your faith,
learn more about yourself,
develop a passion or
grow your relationships deeper.


Waiting is hard but it doesn't have to be bad thing. 
I want to wait well.
I want to wait faithfully.
Yet, I still can't wait until we see our newest child's face,
hold them close 
and bring them home.  

Two years waiting.
We're waiting for our sweet little one. 
But what are you waiting for?
A husband, a new job, a long needed vacation?
We are all waiting for something.
Let's wait well together, shall we?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Glasses Off

If you ever hear Gabe yell "glasses off," be prepared.  Be very prepared.  It means he is ready to wrestle and he is coming after you.  His favorite wrestling partner is his Daddy and there's no doubting Gabe's fun when you hear his high pitched squeals, deep belly laughs and his pleas for more (or for mommy to go away).

The smile says it all.  

As evidenced above Matt doesn't even always have time to change out of his work clothes before the glasses come off and the laughter starts. 

Monday, September 9, 2013


"Therefore do not lose heart but take these truths and day by day focus on them.  preach them to yourself every morning.  Get alone with God and preach his word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for." 
- John Piper

In the past couple of weeks, four friends have posted this video. The first time I listened to the song but then became distracted and never listened to what John Piper had to share. 
This last time I watched the whole video and listened to John Piper.
If you are going through something hard, 
listen to John Piper. 
My heart hurts when I think of all of my friends that are going through the hard stuff right now. 
 Gut wrenching, heart stretching, faith testing stuff.
Let yourself be encouraged by him.  
Listen to John Piper and know your pain, your trials are not in vain. 


Though tonight I'm crying out
let this cup pass from me now
You're still all that I need
You're enough for me.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Just going for a walk.

It's the little things in life that sometimes bring the greatest joy. 

Pride.  Joy.
I love this boy.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Gone Fishin'

Saturday was the perfect day to learn how to fish.  

And while no fish were caught, a lot of fun and good memories were made.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Catching Up (picture overload post!)

Besides special events like turning four and visiting with the Cleveland Browns, we have been keeping busy with every day life.  A brief synopsis!

Lake Erie Science and Nature Center.  Climbing through trees.  Looking at animals.  Making fish faces.

We baked cookies.  Well, I baked and Gabe practiced his stirring techniques which resulted in our kitchen covered in flour.  But we had fun!

Lots of basketball on the front lawn.  And bubbles, chalk drawing and playing with the neighbors dog.

Gabe took a short trip to the moon for some weightless walking.

I fear The Cat in the Hat will never get old to Gabriel.  Matt and I can pretty much recite it in our sleep. 

Splash pad fun.  Crocker park.  The Metroparks.  If there is a splash pad, we will be there.  It's kind of like a Field of Dreams thing with the whole "if you build it they will come" minus the baseball...and the ghosts. 

Raspberry and blueberry jam making.  All organic ingredients resulting in super delicious jam.  I don't think I'd ever had blueberry jam before and I am in love with it.  In love, I tell you!  It's good on a sandwich, toast, crackers and in plain yogurt.  On a spoon out of the jar!

Above my stove.  "I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Psalm 27:13.  Love that verse.

Building at Barnes and Noble.

Bounce house fun at Uncle Mark's BBQ

Spending lots of time with this sweet guy.  Eli and Gabe are definitely BFF's!  Gabe has shared his love of trains, dinosaurs and Toy Story with Eli.  Eli makes Gabe laugh a lot.  They're a great match.

More swim therapy.  Gabe has so much fun with Miss Keri and is loving learning how to swim.

Gabe spent a lot of time watching the construction crew work around our house.  This was his second favorite spot.  He could usually be found hiding behind the curtain on the front door watching the tractor and cement truck.

Life with this boy is phenomenal; it's full, it's lovely and it's ours.

 "Where there is love there is life"
 - Mahatma Gandhi