Monday, December 31, 2012


I feel so old saying this, but I absolutely cannot believe tomorrow will be 2013.  I remember sitting her last New Year's Eve planning resolutions, creating goals, and dreaming big ole' dreams.

2012 ended up being a very hard year for us.  Without a doubt, it was full of so much good and yet so much heartache.  I am happy for all the great memories that were made and thankful for all the struggles, for I can truly say they brought me so much closer to God.

Per the status quo- I have SO much catching up to do on the blog.  Lots of Christmas to recap.  But for now, I'm going to continue focusing on enjoying time with my little family!  And, getting all our stuff packed for our Disney Cruise Vacation that we leave for on Friday!!! :D  Thanks so much to my Mom and Dad for gifting us with the most amazing present ever-a week to make the most magical memories with our little P.

{thankful for}
P's first movie theatre experience today!  SO fun
BWW 'lupper'
Play dough time with P and his log skidder
A master bath remodel that is well on its way-
SO grateful for J and my Dad and all their handy work!!
Two new fabulous blogs I've found

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tips for Being Merry and Bright

I can’t imagine that I’m the only one sitting here this evening wondering how in creation Christmas is NEXT TUESDAY???

I’ve waited all year for this day.  I’m one of those that starts counting down the days until Christmas on January 1.  Seriously.

I make it an absolute point to ENJOY the season.  I refuse to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and ridiculousness of the season, and each year I actually get better and better at it.

Here are my very random tips for helping one stay Merry and Bright during the Holidays:

1) Do not care about gaining weight during the festivities.  Walk an extra mile a week if you want to, but seriously.  TASTE and see that the Lord is good! Psalm 34:8
Keep your New Year’s resolution in the NEW year.  Not now.

2) Start your Christmas shopping in January.  Now, I’m not saying that I am done shopping, but I will say, I only have 2 more gifts to purchase and I was sure that neither one must be bought at the “go to malls.”  Make it a goal to finish the majority of your Christmasing by Thanksgiving.  That way, if you have one or two straggling gifts, you have all December to buy.  Plus, you are not scrounging and willing to pay an astronomical price for something simply because you don’t have a gift.  Shopping all year long saves a pretty penny.

3) Keep a list of things purchased and start wrapping as soon as you buy.  Store them in a “gifting closet.” That way, the day after Thanksgiving, you can put up your tree and put gifts under it, all in the same day.  It also prevents hours of wrapping-which I’m not good at.

4) Wrap in brown paper.  So classic.  And beautiful.  And versatile.  And cheap!

5)Buy cookie dough at least a week before Christmas.  Freeze it if you must.  It never fails.  They are out of Sugar Cookie every Christmas Eve.  And we ALL know Santa’s absolute favorite is Sugar Cookie!!

6) Make Christmas breakfast the night before.  Quiche, omelet baggies (beat the eggs, add cheese, onions, peppers, ham, bacon, etc.  The next morning, throw each person’s unique baggies into a pot of boiling water.  Everyone’s omelet is ready at the same time!), or breakfast casserole.  That way, after everyone opens their presents and they’re hungry, all you’ve got to do is pop it in the oven or in the water.  Breakfast in ten minutes-guaranteed.

7)Have a hot chocolate bar on the counter.  Packets of cocoa, chocolate AND caramel morsels, marsh mellows, and peppermint sticks all within hands reach.  When you start to feel guilty about your nightly indulgence, refer to Holiday Tip Numero Uno.

8) Spend time telling the Christmas story to your children.  I {HEART} Truth in the Tinsel and enjoy doing it with P.  BE REALISTIC.  You will NOT get to every single day.  And that is PERFECTLY fine.  Minimize stress by preplanning and having things organized by day into zip lock baggies.  All your supplies are there and all you have to do is grab a bag and sit at the kitchen table.  Make it a priority to have this organized before Thanksgiving. 

9) Have at least three random gift cards on hand at all times.  For emergency gifting purposes only, as we all know, gift cards are impersonal.  Unless you’re gifting to your brother-in-law which is perfectly thoughtful and abundantly personal.  *Insert ‘I-have-no-idea-in-the-world-who-you-would-be-talking-about’ face.*

10) Order from small online businesses.  Shipping is not going to cost more than your gas to get to the store and your hassle anyway.  I {HEART} Etsy.  Gifts are unique, meaningful, you are supporting small business, and customer service is typically, oh, just about a BILLION times better than most major companies.

11) Spend time with our Lord and Savior.  Take time to snuggle up to Him this Christmas season.  Thank Him for being Emmanuel-God with us.  You will feel so much more peaceful and joyful if you do.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Tree Farm 2012

The Christmas Tree Farm is one of our favorite family traditions.  Each year, we go the day after Thanksgiving to choose our tree.  Last year was a little frustrating as we had not one, but two of the trees we chose swiped from under our noses.  This year, we wasted no time choosing our tree and then asking the workers to make 110% sure they didn’t accidently give our tree to someone else.  He assured me that never happened and I politely said, “It happened to us last year.  Twice.”  So… he kept a good eye on our tree! ;)

I must admit, I think this tree is the most beautiful Christmas tree we’ve ever had!  We’ve played with the idea all year long of selling our house and moving, so Justin wanted to get a large tree just in case this is our last Christmas in our home with vaulted ceilings.  So, our tree is 10 ½ feet of perfection!  (I’ll be honest, I’m already a little worried I might be disappointed in our tree next year because I just don’t see how another could compare.  So I keep telling myself that there’s NO way another tree could possibly shed as much as this one does so at least there will be a positive there!)

After nabbing our tree, we browsed the gift shop where we always choose one special ornament for the year.  Then, it was a visit to the reindeer, who were a bit antisocial this year. 

We managed to capture our annual ‘peep-hole’ photo where Justin is appropriately posing as the little angel girl… not sure we completely thought that one through. 

And last, but certainly not least in my book, is the obligatory sleigh photo.  I managed to sweet-talk Justin into not wearing his cap and sunglasses, FINALLY talked Perry out of his silly faces and captain Morgan pose, only to get a great family photo of everyone but myself.  But, thanks to Photoshop and a little head swapping, I am satisfied.

We finished off the afternoon with our tradition of Logan’s Steakhouse and a quick shopping trip to Lowe’s for some Christmas decorations.  We made it home just in time to slip P into his jammers and head back out to The Polar Express!!  

Friday, December 7, 2012

 I stumbled across one of the cutest things a few days ago, and it has become a nightly ritual in our home during this Christmas season.  It's called the Reindeer Cam.  You can go to and watch Santa feed his reindeer every night!!  Just check at the top of the page to see what time he feeds in your time zone!  It happens to be 8pm for us, so its perfect for right before bedtime!

And of course, everything in the South's more enjoyable with a little sweet tea with lemon! ;)

{thankful for}

51. Fun traditions
52. Sweet tea
53. Lemons
54. My MacBook
55. Comfy couches
56. Family time

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Oh, the Lord is Good to Me!

We have loved teaching Perry to say his blessing, but little bitty is SOOOO funny blessing our food before every.  single.  snack.  random bite. meal time.  or midnight snack.

So, we decided to change it up a little bit and teach him a new one.  

And I just can't get enough of his cuteness during his learning curve!


{thankful for}

47. A little boy who loves the Lord
48. Blessings from the heart
49. Our food
50. An Aunt Becky who spoils P with the cutest clothes

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

May Your Days...

Be Merry and Bright!

{thankful for}

42. A SILLY boy 
43. Tiny piggies
44. A new strand of lights for my photography props
45. Pretend barn wood flooring
46. A husband who willingly helps me decorate for Christmas

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Who Needs Mistletoe? {Sunday Snapshot}

I had so much fun this past weekend practicing my photography skills and shooting a friend that I've known since Kindergarten and her sweet husband Tyler!

We had to dodge no less than a million Christmas decorations at our location,

but we prevailed and got this lovely couple lots of photos to remind them of such a fun afternoon!

I can't wait to share some other fun sessions I've done recently and to catch everyone up on all that's been going on behind the scenes lately.

A family member told me last week she "didn't think I was a blogger anymore!"  ;) Sooooo... I aim to prove her wrong!

Ni Hao Yall

{thankful for}
38. The opportunity to shoot such a sweet and photogenic couple
39. Electricity at our location
40. Beautiful weather
41. A delicious (and cheap) salad 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gia Love


A word with a BILLION definitions.

Love, Faith, Hope, Grace, Mercy, Child, Family, Despair, Loss, Joy, Hardships, Excitement, Trust.

This is Gia Love and her story touches me to my very toes.  

Quite some time ago, in September of '11, Justin and I were just getting started in our adoption journey and had recently turned down the file of a cutie we were quite fond of.  When our agency sent out the new photo listing about a week after that tough decision, Justin pointed to a photo and said, "Why don't we check out her file.  She's adorable!"

I glanced, agreed she was cuter than cute, but passively said, "I just can't even look at another file right now.  My hearts just not there yet."

We didn't really think too much about this little bitty, just knew she was meant for another family.

About 6 months passed and I haphazardly ran across a Korean adoption blog.  Malerie's.  She and her husband Kevin were waiting on their match.

And I started following.

And then.... they made the announcement that they had been matched.

With Gia Love!!!!  

The SAME little girl Justin had thought was such a doll baby!  I honestly never thought I would have any idea about where this angel bug would end up.  

Not only was she adopted by a family that lived in Birmingham, but I have had the privilege of becoming friends with her Mommy.

And then- her Mommy asked me to do her very first photoshoot!!!  I'm just telling ya'll.  Adoption is SO cool.

Though it was beyond windy and Little Miss certainly preferred her mother, it was impossible not to get good shots of Miss Gia Love.

She is beautiful beyond reason and the love she exudes is overwhelming!  There were a few moments we had to take a bit of a break because I kept tearing up at all God has done in her/her family's lives and I was just so in awe of his awesome and the honor of witnessing it.

This photo, as many of mine are, is not "photographically perfect."  But, I think that's why I LOVE the photo-journalistic style best.  This darling little one, squished all in her mother's loving arms.  To me, it's the very definition of adoption and it's ultimate goal: 


{thankful for}
35. A fabulously fun photo shoot
36. Meeting Gia Love in person
37. Good adoption conversation with another Mommy who "gets it"

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween!!!

From the world's CUTEST Ogre! ;)

Hope your Halloween was absolutely Shrek-tacular!

{thankful for}
32. Family that helped me create the perfect homemade Shrek costume
33. An awesome trunk-or-treat experience-complete with nachos and cheese
34. Friends that Perry loves to play with

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Odds and Ends

Itty-Bitty- First and foremost, I wanted to make the announcement that our precious HJ has a forever family!  I’ve known for a while, but honestly, it has made the past month the biggest blessing and the most heartbreaking all in the same.  I’m beyond thankful that she has a forever family, but knowing that all hope of her coming home to us is gone has been very difficult for me. 

We really do love her beyond words.  I’m SO grateful that I actually know her family and they are only about 2 hours away from us!!!  Her mom has also asked for us to write letters to her for her life book and even to do some monogramming for her in the future.  I’m beyond thankful that God answered our prayer to allow us to be a part of her life, no matter how small.  My new prayer is that one day, Ruby Grace and Miss Nell (her new name) can play together and become friends!

·      Adoption- In case anyone is now wondering about our adoption process…. It is still creeping along at the lightning speed of a…..snail.  A big, fat, barely-moving, stinking snail.  Uh-hum.  Feel free to pray for our patience, hope, faith, trust, etc as we continue to wait (what, according to our agency) is seeming like/could be a very. long. time. before we see our precious daughter’s face.  I’m absolutely convinced that waiting for a referral is the most excruciating part of the adoption process.  Now, after we see her pretty face and we’re waiting to travel-I’ll tell you if I’ve changed my opinion.  ;) Until then, I honestly do covet your prayers.  We are SO ready to see our sweet angel’s face.

·      Johnny Appleseed- We celebrated Johnny Appleseed’s birthday at school this week.  That was fun!  Any excuse to drink apple juice really is a good one.  Until one child asks if we are drinking “pee.”  Thank you for that one.  I think I’ll be sticking to grape juice for a while.  Oy, these children.

·      Photography- I am beginning a new photography class next week and I’m SO beyond excited I can’t even put it into words.  I’m really hoping that this takes my mind off of our adoption.  Ok, who am I kidding?  BUT-surely it will help a SMIDGE!  One can only hope….

·      C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S!!!!  Do you people realize that fantastic holiday is less than THREE months away?!!  And, since we are broke-as-a-joke this year, I have already started making everyone’s Christmas gifts!  Yep- you read that right.  I figure if everyone receives all the Pinterest ideas they’ve pinned, but will never get around to actually creating, they should be pretty happy, correct? Yes?

·      Bible/Chapel- they are my two favorite things about private school.  I LOVE reading God’s word to my student’s everyday.  And listening to them laugh hysterically as I butcher all the Bible character’s names.  :/  I’m pretty sure Seminary should be a pre-requisite for teaching in a private Christian school.  I mean, honestly, who names their children these things?!  Where were all the Sams and Jakes back then?  Very thankful for the few Mommas that dubbed their offspring James and John.  Now, there’s some women with good heads on their shoulders.

·      Palmer- she’s our new gray kitten!  She made a 15 minute journey down a four-lane highway last Thursday in a co-worker’s engine.  :/  She was also a stray that had apparently lost her Mommy and said co-worker didn’t want her.  I happened to LOVE her!  428 days into our adoption, God doesn’t give us a daughter, He gives us a kitten… I suppose we’ll take what we can get??  That God of ours sure does have a sense of humor, huh?  Nevertheless, Perry is smitten with his new baby kitten. 

·      Home Décor- We painted our bedroom gray!!!!  :D  It was teal with a map of the world covering one wall.  Pretty cool for geography lessons… not so much for a peaceful, serene, adult master bedroom. 

·      Dreams- While we’re on the topic of décor, I’m to the point where I want to decorate and prepare RubyGrace’s nursery.  I’m starting to have the mind set of “If I build it, she will come!” ;)  haha- just kidding….Ok, not kidding at all.  All this “Ruby stuff” lying around the house in random crooks and crannies is a little strange.  It needs a place. 

·      Sunday School-This week will be my last Sunday teaching the precschool K4 classroom, and while I’m a little sad about moving on, I’m also pretty excited about having the opportunity to join an adult Bible study again.  I think at this stage in my life, the more Bible study, the better.  I think God agrees.  I’m pretty sure if He has every gotten tired of listening to someone… it would be me.  I recently read a devotional about Jonah and how God just needed to give him a “time out,” therefore sticking him into the whale’s belly.  I’m currently pretty thankful that the ocean’s a few hours away.  Just sayin.’

·      Cool weather- How I love thee!  Though, seeing as how Fall has officially begun, it’d be nice if you would STOP going up to a humid 90 degrees during the day!  

·      Planes, Trains, and Automobiles- My car was deemed fixable, with a nice fixable price tag to the tune of $16,00,0 so for the past month they have been fixing my car.  Only to find MORE damage today that they say will likely push it over into Totalsville.  I’m FO-REALZ over it already.  Whatever.  Just SO ready to have this whole shabam behind us, one way or another.

·      Awana- I L-O-V-E watching Perry at Awana each Wednesday night.  He does so well saying his Bible verse on the stage.  I can’t help but think he’s adorable and oh so sweet… as apparently, he does too.  According to his teacher (his Aunt Becky), when learning about sin and how ALL have sinned, Perry was pretty adamant that he is the one exception to this little piece of Bible trivia.  When asked if he ever did anything wrong, his response was, “Nooooooo!”  Becky said that every child in the class finally admitted/talked about how sometimes they made bad choices/sinned, but not Mr. P.  He’s apparently perfect!  Haha!.... Can we see the only child syndrome coming into play?  For crying out loud Korea!  Home Boy NEEDS a little sister!!!!!  For salvation’s sake! ;)

OK- I will try to be a little less sarcastic with my next post and actually post something of worth, versus total nonsense and slight whining.  Thankfully, this happens to be MY blog and I can do such every now and then!  ;) 


{thankful for}
28. A God that really never gets tired of hearing from me...again
29. A blog that I can vent on
30. A good devotional that is emailed to me every morning
31. Spicy hummus dip and pita chips

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dandelions {Sunday Snapshot}

A while back, I took this photo of P and it quickly became one of my favorites.  But, the evening light had made it a “not technically perfect photo.” 

But, recently I purchased Florabella’s Classic Workflow set and I have been practicing with it on older photos (since I seem to be Instagraming it a lot lately…) If you are on the fence about this set (as I was for SEVERAL months), GO FOR IT!!  I {HEART} Classic Workflow!!  My favorite set yet!  (Though I have not purchased the new one, which I hear is equally awesome!  
How does that Shana Rae do it?!)

Anyway, with the help of: classic color, soft warmth, rosy cream and then classic black and white to finish, I am falling in love with this image all over again! 

I adore how a child can find such joy and wonder in the world-even through such simple things as a weed. 

If dandelions were hard to grow, they’d be most welcome in any lawn.  ~Andrew Mason

{thankful for}
23. Our newest member of our family, our kitten, Miss Palmer
24.  Joy in the ordinary
25. Cheese ball
26. Celebrating my sister, Melissa's, and her fiance, James', birthday today with family
27. A new photography class starting up

To see more Sunday Snapshots, visit Stefanie's blog:

Ni Hao Yall

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Simplicity {Sunday Snapshot}

Several weeks back, I read a post that Stephanie (from Ni Hao Y’all) did on photography.  One thing she said in particular that day really stuck with me.  I’m paraphrasing, but she said the author of a good photography book she was reading suggested that unless color is going to add to the photo, it should be presented in black and white. 

I had the honor of doing a photo shoot for my friend’s littles the other day, and the simple beauty of these two girls just blew me away.  I’m a HUGE fan of black and white photography anyway, so it was no surprise I preferred the black and white in these as well.

As I was editing, I really liked some that I left in color, but the ones in black and white just radiated the pure joy, beauty, youth, and innocence of these sweet sisters.  I hope the simplicity of these precious moments caught on film are a treasure for their Mommy for many years to come!

{Settings for First Image}
Camera: Nikon D5000
Time of Day: Approx 6:30pm
ISO 600
SS 1/250
Post Processed using Florabella's Classic Rich B&W

{thankful for}
21. The opportunity to practice my photography skills
22. Gorgeous evening light

Ni Hao Yall

To see more Sunday Snapshots, visit Stephanie at Ni Hao Ya'll! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Inland Lake {Favorite Photo Friday}

We enjoyed another afternoon at the lake recently. 

Justin got up on the wake-board!  ... Finally! ;)

P enjoyed tubing... though he wanted to do it by himself.

And we all enjoyed a little time to relax and forget the world.

{thankful for}
18. Time spent with family
19. Laughs and giggles from all as we watched Justin attempting to get up
20. A lake so close to home that we can enjoy each summer

To see more Friday Favorites, visit my friend Lisa's blog!

the long road

Our Adoption Timeline

  • June 19, 2011- We are officially "Paper Pregnant!" We have submitted our Waiting Child Application to Holt!
  • July 5, 2011- Submitted our formal Home Study Application to Villa Hope
  • September 6, 2011- Submitted all of our paperwork for our Home Study
  • October 8, 2011- Completed our First Home Visit
  • October 17, 2011- Completed our Second Home Visit
  • November 14, 2011- Home Study Approved
  • December 1, 2011- Filed our I600a
  • February 1, 2012- I600a Approval Letter
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