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A Baby Update!

We brought Phoebe home to meet the family almost one week ago.

Progress report: We are surviving.

holdingphoebePhoebe sleeps and sleeps and somehow is still way more DRAMA than Enoch ever dreamed of being. Like, if you pick her up too quickly, she cries. Silly girl.

And Enoch has just flipped the switch from baby to toddler or something. He’s not technically toddling yet, but he’s crawling very fast to get into EVERYTHING.

And then I hurt my toe. It’s really not serious… kind of a massive stubbed toe, that may or may not lose its toenail. But when you’re sleep deprived and the bigger baby is trying to chew on computer cords and the tiny baby just puked down your shirt, a stubbed toe is just too much.

So between all that excitement and spending copious amounts of time holding Phoebe, we haven’t had a chance to give you guys an update on our adoption fundraising.

A couple really exciting things have happened!

First: In a week’s time, you guys have given about $5,000. That’s amazing! We are so grateful!

Second: We received an interest free adoption loan that allowed us to pay the agency their fees. This is a big blessing!

You can help us pay back this adoption loan by giving here. As we return the funds, the money goes directly to finance other families’ adoptions. So your donations are the gift that keeps giving to adoption!

Remember, every donation of $15 or more will receive a tiny little baby, hand-painted by me! (For those of you who’ve already given, yours will be coming shortly, as soon as we are awake enough to remember where the Post Office is!)


Pretty soon we’ll be sharing some exciting fundraising stuff that will brighten your autumn and might even help you out with your Christmas shopping! So stay tuned.


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When You Take City Kids to the Farm

If you are ever in Wisconsin and you think to yourself, “I just want to FEEL Wisconsin. I want to smell stinky cow air. I want to see corn growing. I want to touch farm animals and taste Wisconsin-y things.” If you ever think thoughts like this, there is a place for you.

Go to Mulberry Lane Farm. (There are probably lots of other places to smell cow and see corn, but this is the place my parents always take my city kids.)

I’m not big on the country life, but it’s pretty cool for a farmy type place. The scenery is picturesque and the grounds are about as clean as a farm can be. The animals are all very tolerant of people touching and holding and squeezing them.

Because we didn’t go to the farm on the day Leah expected us to, she spent a whole afternoon moaning about wanting to see kittens. Two days later, when we were actually going to the farm, she felt she needed to stay home, because she was afraid to milk the cow and ride the ponies.

Leaving 7-year-olds at home alone is frowned upon in most States. So we told her to get her booty in the van, because she was going anyway.

We started our farm tour in the chicken-holding pen.

My big kids refused to hold chickens. Something about not wanting to get pooped on. Enoch was willing to tentatively poke a feather with one finger when I held a chicken up by him.


Next was the goats.

Leah refused to let the goats eat corn out of her hand. Isaiah tried to avoid walking on goat poop, which was about as easy as walking on water. Enoch tried to grab the goats’ ears, which he found amusing. I imagine the goats did not.


Then we visited the sheep pen.

The big kids tried to dodge more poop on the ground and they both refused to touch the sheep because they were “dirty.” There were also a couple of calves in the pen that they would not touch.

We got to the pony rides.

Isaiah self-declared himself too old. I declared Enoch too young. So the boys and I parked in the shade. Leah decided she wasn’t, after all, afraid to ride the ponies. She came running back to me like a conquering hero when her turn was done, “I did it! I rode the little one!” Bravery comes in all sizes.

We moved on to the cow-milking station.

My kids were the ones with their backs pressed to the fence, as far from the cow as possible. There was no way they were going to touch a cow udder, which Isaiah said was basically the cow’s “private parts.”

Next was a hay ride.

This was overall a hit. Enoch enjoyed trying to fist handfuls of hay into his mouth. Isaiah “pretend” complained about having to see farm sights. Leah was a little concerned that the ride was too fast. But everyone seemed open to doing it again, should the opportunity arise.


When the tour was done, they released us to find the bunnies, kittens and chicks.

This was the part my city kids had been waiting for. (OK, I’m not going to lie. I’d been waiting for it too.)

The big kids were good at cuddling bunnies. Enoch chortled when I rubbed a bunny on his cheek. Then he grabbed its paw and held on for dear life. The bunny seemed remarkably calm under the circumstances.

The kittens were pretty much the same story, except Enoch chortled and grabbed them by their loose kitten skin. Leah kept telling me she saw a sign saying the kittens were ready to “adopt,” like this was relevant information for our life.

When we got to the chicks, I decided that baby birds might not be able to handle Enoch love.  Turns out, Isaiah has impressive bird catching and holding abilities.

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 preset

We ended the day at the farm’s playground.

The kids had been asking about the “park” all day, like there was some kind of gravitational force pulling them in. They played in a sandbox and climbed on things. Enoch tried to rip up as much grass as he could and eat it.

So here is a recap of our visit to the farm:

My small people went to a farm, which they enjoyed, as long as they didn’t have to touch anything but kittens and bunnies (which they could find in any pet shop). And so they could play at a park. City kids.

farmboytractor   farmgirltractor

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Crazy Baby Name Parents

So an odd thing happened when we named our youngest son Enoch.

We thought, “It’s a Bible name. It may be a bit obscure, but most people can pronounce Bible names regardless of their religious background, because they filter into culture.”


Even those nearest and dearest to us couldn’t pronounce it.

Before we brought him home, my mom was talking to Isaiah about “baby EE-nick.” Isaiah somehow had snagged the correct pronunciation from the beginning and corrected her, “GRANDMA. It’s EE-nock.”

I was completely mystified how I had grown up in this woman’s home and somehow still came away pronouncing a Bible name differently than her (you might not think that’s shocking until you realize how MUCH Bible she read to us).

I didn’t even know “EE-nick” was a potential pronunciation.

But it became an increasing problem. I heard our friends at church stumble over his name the first few times, because they knew it wasn’t supposed to have “nick” on the end, but old habits die so hard.

People who met Enoch, after only seeing his name written under his Facebook pictures, called him EE-nick.

Even the guy that reads the audio version of the ESV Bible on YouVersion says, “EE-nick.” For the love!

I was starting to feel insecure about our pronunciation. Maybe they were all right and I was wrong. I mean, there is no “I” in Enoch, so phonetically, I couldn’t see how they had a leg to stand on. But it was so prevalent.

Then Chris’ mom completely brought awareness to the issue.

She was visiting a few weeks back and asked, “Did your church people have a hard time learning to say Enoch’s name, since they were used to saying EE-nick?”

I mean, she just assumed that all “church people” said EE-nick. And people that aren’t church people don’t even know the name exists (trust me, I’ve painfully discovered this as well). So church people are pretty much the pronunciation plumb-line on this one.

I started to wonder if I was one of those parents. You know, the ones who name their kid Ann, but spell it “Ayhn.” Or they name them something gender neutral that really isn’t so neutral any more, like Leslie for a boy. Or they name them after whatever they just ate for breakfast: “This is my daughter, Toast.”

That’s when kids start going by J.D. or something.

So, fearing for Enoch’s future name pronunciation self-esteem, I decided to google the correct pronunciation of his name. This typically should be done BEFORE the baby is born. Not 8+ months into his life. Because there’s not much we can do about it now.

But turns out. YOU ALL ARE CRAZY!

We’ve been pronouncing his name right all along! Told you so.

Someone even took a poll:


In case you’re still in doubt, here’s a video:

If you can’t see the video, click here.

OK, I feel vindicated. We are not those parents. We aren’t like people that name their daughter Brian and claim you say it “Bree-Ahn.” Nope.

I realize I’m going to have to include pronunciation guides for his name on all his school forms and camp forms and VBS forms, world without end. But at least I know I am right.

We’re normal people, with a normal baby name, with a normal pronunciation. Now if I could just convince everyone around me…

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Feels Like Flying and Other Myths

feelslikeflyingThe other day, I read someone say that when you’re doing exactly what you’re created to do, you feel like you’re flying.

I admire the sentiment.

The concept actually kind of annoys me. Because I know I’m doing what I was created to do (for this season of life, anyway). And it rarely feels like “flying.”

Sometimes it even feels like drowning.

There are days where the big kids WON’T stop arguing. And there are no clean bottles. And the key ingredient for dinner fell on the floor. And the dogs have to bark at every car that drives by.

I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. But it doesn’t feel one bit like flying.

It’s hard work. And frustration. And a nagging sense of futility.

But it’s something worth doing.

Worth-doing things don’t always feel shiny. Or glamorous. Sometimes, in the moment, they don’t even feel fulfilling.

If a sense of being on top of the world is considered the plumb-line for deciding if my pursuits are worthy, that scares me. Because it places A LOT of emphasis on my feelings. And offers me a chance to give up too easily on something that might be hard and painful, but still completely mine: Completely something I was created to do.

So I’m going to keep at it.

And in between all the chaos, there are moments that pull everything into perspective.

Like when the whole family agrees that dinner is delicious. When one of the big kids says something that let’s me know they really get the Gospel. When the baby grabs me by the earrings to pull me close for a sloppy kiss. When my son sticks up for his little sister in a playground dispute. When my husband cuts some of my favorite outside flowers and puts them in a vase so I can enjoy them inside too.

Those are the moments that feel like winning.

They are why, with my feet planted on the ground, I keep doing exactly what I was created to do. Because I believe beauty is found in mundane. Sometimes you just might have to look really hard for it.

But it’s there.

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Who Told the Baby About Food?!

I know pediatricians get a bad rap. They’re always trying to get you to conform to immunizations and formula and making your baby sleep on his/her back.

But my Pediatrician is pretty cool. He has teenage sons and PERSPECTIVE. So when I tell him I don’t want to do baby cereal, he’s like “That’s fine.” And when I tell him crunchy moms scare me, he says, “I understand.” And when I tell him I want to use coconut oil on my baby’s skin, he’s like, “Sounds good.”

So at Enoch’s 4 month appointment, when he said I could start feeding him baby food, I was OK with listening (even though it went against everything I believe in), because he’s not the crazy “Have your baby drink juice! Put infant cereal in his bottles!” kind of doctor.

He told me that the allergy people (whoever they are) now say early exposure to foods is what prevents allergies. Just like babies that have pets in the home are rarely allergic to them.

It kind of made sense, or at least made me think it doesn’t matter all that much. Enoch was already living on formula (horrors!) anyway, so from the “healthy” perspective, how much worse could it get?

So we let him start tasting fruits and vegetables. I thought he’d do the normal baby thing and act all shocked and “What evil thing have you just put in my mouth?!”


Enoch thought real food was the greatest thing ever. No spit-it-out vetting process. He knew exactly how to get that goodness down into his tummy.

Once he got going, he cried for more in between each bite. And grabbed the spoon to “help” get the food into his mouth faster. Score one for baby-led feeding, I guess.

The problem is, now he knows.

He knows about food.

He doesn’t say much if it’s at home and just one person is eating.

But restaurants are a different story. For some reason, he’s decided that when everyone else at the table has a plate, he’s entitled to have one too. He’s fairly vocal about this opinion.

When we were attending Mom’s Day at the big kids’ school, they gave us a snack of an apple and an orange juice. (They used to give out donuts, but somebody got the idea that we need to eat healthy.)

Enoch decided that the school cafeteria was pretty much a restaurant and that he needed food like everyone else. Of course, I had no food for him.

My brain decided the best solution was to let him attempt to sip juice from the cardboard carton and suck on my apple, after I got some peal off. You can imagine how clean and neat this was.

It may have been very bad parenting. I’m really unsure at this point. But Enoch was sticky and happy, and his big brother and sister thought the whole situation was highly entertaining.

But it’s official. My days of having an oblivious baby are definitely over.


Here is Enoch, trying some of his first bites of real food. Please pardon my vertical video and his siblings making derogatory comments about dinner:


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A Real Parent

kidvideogamesMy oldest son is 10.

That’s weird.

Last I remember, I was barely 21 and I had a new little baby and no idea what I was doing.

And I still don’t really know what I’m doing. I’m just winging this parenting thing and hoping I hit all the big stuff.

Maybe someday I’ll feel like a REAL parent.

You know? Like when we were kids and our parents totally knew what they were doing. They had that parenting thing in the bag. I’m still waiting for it.

But the other day. The other day, I might have seen legit-parentness coming on the horizon.

Isaiah was playing video games with his friends. Except they were at their houses and he was at ours and they were all talking to each other through the TV. Because, technology these days.

So, Isaiah’s friends asked him if he had a certain game.

I heard him say, “No, I don’t have that. Because my parents won’t let me.”

I mean, how parenty is that?!

We must be real parents. The ones kids talk about when adults aren’t around.

We are THE MAN.

It’s so odd and heart-touching all at the same time.

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Sorta Chinese and Books

The kids and I have a tradition of going to a Chinese Buffet on spring break.

I think it started when Isaiah tried egg rolls at school and liked them. I was overjoyed, because Chris got food poisoning the first time he ate Chinese and still holds it against the whole food genre.

Turns out, the school must have given the kids freezer-section egg rolls, because Isaiah doesn’t like REAL egg rolls. But we’ve all kept going out for Chinese together anyway.

The kids eat anything sweet they can find and I get my fill of delicious chicken and broccoli and crab rangoons.

Notice the distinct lack of Chinese food on my children’s plates:

photo 4


The waitress was sweet and gave me a fortune cookie for Enoch. I let him hold it. He promptly tried to eat it, which was very smart of him. But not a good idea.

enochholdingcookie  enocheatingcookie


We named Enoch after the Enoch in the Bible, who was known as a friend of God. His middle name, Irvin, means “friend.” So the Chinese word his fortune cookie wanted to teach him? Check it out:

fortune cookie


After the “Chinese” food, we went to the library next door. It was Enoch’s first visit, so we took a posed picture in front of books, because we’re all Pinterest like that. He immediately spit out his pacifier so he could taste the book. Don’t worry. No books or baby immune systems were harmed.

Enochbook1    Enochbook2


That was our day. I’m going to go sleep off my MSG hangover now.


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How to Smell a Baby

Babies smell awesome. I should know. I smell one every day.

Now, I’m not talking about poop-smell. No. Poop-smell exists to weed out the weak, the unworthy.

But the good smell. Oh man. If you could bottle that and sell it, you’d be a millionaire. It smells like happiness and joy, and (in my baby’s case) coconut oil.

Now, there is an optimum way to smell a baby. You can’t just walk up to an infant and sniff. I mean, it wouldn’t be bad if you did, but you’d miss out on the full experience. photo(4)

How to properly smell a baby:

1. Find the sweet spot. This is typically located between the cheek and ear. Or sometimes on the neck.

2. Press your nose and lips to the sweet spot. It helps if your nose is slightly smashed into the sweet spot.

3. Kiss and inhale at the same time.

You have officially smelled a baby.

You are now addicted.

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Texting and the Modern Child

girl using phoneNow, don’t get all self-righteous or report me to your favorite crunchy parenting blog when I tell you this: My 7 year old daughter texts.

I mean, it’s just from her iPod and only to extended family. But it’s still a bit different than when I was growing up.

Especially how it affects parenting.

The other day Chris was away from the house and I got a text from him, “I told Leah she could get up and play at 3:15.”

The thing is, Leah wasn’t feeling good and I had done what any sensible mom would do. I told her to take a nap.

She, on the other hand, felt there were more important things she needed to attend to. We had already had quite the discussion about this, but I hadn’t heard any sounds coming from her room for a while.

So I told him, “I think she’s sleeping now.” I mean, there was no way I was going to wake a sick child, just so she could get her playtime in.

Chris replied, “No. She’s texting me.”

Really? Really?!

I thought the girl was peacefully sleeping her sickness away, with visions of sugarplums dancing in her head. But no. She was texting her dad, trying to get out of Mommy Jail.

It was the classic, “If you don’t like the answer from one parent, try the other one,” ploy.

So. I guess, maybe technology hasn’t really changed parenting that much after all.

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Baby FAQ

IMG_4666Basically, when you have a new baby, everyone asks the same questions. Which is fine, because at least I know what to expect. Like, if they asked me math problems or something, it would totally throw me off.

So, to save everyone time, I’ll just cover the most common baby questions.

How are you adjusting?

I’m not sure. But then again, I don’t even know what day it is. I mean, I never sleep straight through the night and I don’t even know what “personal space” is anymore.

None of this comes as a shock, since I’ve done it a couple of times before.

But there’s no adjusting about it. You don’t get used to having an infant puke down the INSIDE of your shirt (there’s a reason Jesus makes babies so adorable). It’s never really enjoyable to clean poop off of someone’s butt.

You just survive, wishing he’d stay small forever and hoping he’ll potty train in the next week or so.

Is he a good baby?

What EXACTLY makes a baby good? He doesn’t rob banks or anything. So yeah, he’s pretty darn good.

Has he reached ______ developmental milestone?

OK, just don’t ask this one. It basically giving me a recipe for something to worry about.

When Enoch was about a month and a half, we went to the pediatrician. The nurse quizzed me from her developmental list:

“If he wakes up crying in his crib, and nothing is wrong, does he calm himself down and go back to sleep?”

Um. No. Does any baby? I’ve certainly never had one that did.

My kids have all been very goal oriented people, so when they wake up, it’s because they need something done. And they will not relent until it’s accomplished.

“Does he follow you with his eyes?”

I… I don’t… Um. I haven’t noticed. OMG. MAYBE HE’S BLIND.

(He started following us with his eyes about a week after the appointment, so I’m breathing again.)

“Is he giggling and smiling?”

No. No, he just stares at us with huge eyes and a serious face. (Yes, I realize this should have negated the blindness question.) So, if he’s not smiling, maybe he doesn’t like us. Maybe he’s not happy! Oh dear.

(He is starting to smile. I guess he’s planning to keep us.)

“Is he sleeping through the night?”

Don’t. Just don’t.

Now that I’ve covered the basics, you don’t have to bother with them next time you see me. You can just walk up and ask the question you’re REALLY dying to ask:

“Can I hold him?”

Yes. Yes you may.

photo(2)          photo(3)

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