Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Let me just start by saying that at the beginning I too had moments of thinking we were crazy to drag our children down to Central America.  I have no bad feelings toward anyone who may thought anything similar.

Now, onto the stuff I don't really want to share.

We've been feeling discouraged lately.   I think a lot of it has to do with seeing our family together and loving it, then returning home.  We really feel like we're missing half of us.  Top this with the fact that Nicaragua 'technically' isn't open for adoptions and we're feeling pretty down.  Then, to add to the stress, Maricela isn't doing well at the orphanage.  I can't go into it here, but she had a fight with her sister and it's not exactly smooth sailing there right now. 

More than anything I just want to be with the girls.  I know we don't know them that well.  I know it's going to be hard, but I am ready to offer them a life with our family without anymore significant transitions.  A life where they don't have to wonder if they'll be sent home.  A life where they can become secure in a family, their family and have that identity.  I don't care where we have to be.  Nicaragua, Oregon,'s not important.  That we're together is what is most important.  I hope and pray that we are the vehicle God uses to give these girls that.

The bottom line we're resting on is God's word.  Thoughout that good book He talks about orphans.  He loves them.  They are close to his heart.  We are commanded to take care of them.  I know that his best for the girls will be better than I can imagine.  I'm just praying, and asking you to pray too, that the doors open soon for us to be a part of that best. 

Thanks, friends.  We love you!


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

You're bringing your kids WHERE?

If I had a dime for every person that thinks I'm crazy for bringing my kids to Nicaragua, I'd be a very rich woman. 

So why do I continue to bring them?

Since a picture is worth about 1,000 words, here's 8,000 reasons...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Nicaragua: The Girls

We had a great time visiting the girls this last week.  Probably the best visit we've had.  We were granted permission to take the girls out, so we got to go out together as a family. 

As we piled the kids in the truck, Mark turned to me and said, "I'm so happy!  We're a family!"  And he was so right.  We were full to overflowing (literally in the truck, and in our hearts, too).  The kids were excited, we were excited, it was so FUN!  I know in the future difficult days will come, but we'll always have the memory of going out together.  I look at it like a daffodil, ( I know that's cheesy) but when we're "stuck in the muck" as Tate likes to say, we'll be able to look back on the fun we had together and know that even though things are difficult, we truly love each other. 

For our "date" we took them to the mall and then out to Tip Top (like McDonalds with the playplace but they serve chicken).  The mall was clearly overwhelming...they had never been before.  Escalators were really scary but the girls went on them.  If you can picutre the scene from the movie was kind of like that. 

There also may or may not have been an incident with me trying to (unsuccessfully) run up the down escalator to get Maricela and Ana onto it. 

Mark may or may not have been laughing so hard he was crying at the bottom. 

A stranger may or may not have lifted the girls onto the escalators after watching me try to reach them in vain.  (Give me a break, I was in flipflops!)

We had a great time.  The girls asked if they could come home with us now.  They were nervous about telling me that their mom came to visit, but I reassured them that I'm not competing with her, she's their mom and they should always honor her.  They were visably relieved not to have to choose sides. 

We could really use your prayer for two specific things regarding the girls and the adoption:

1.  That Nicaragua would open up for us to be able to continue with the adoption SOON.
2.  For grace and wisdom dealing with their mom.  We think she just wanted to visit and see how the girls were doing, talk to them about the adoption, etc. but we really don't know.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit concerned, but in the big picture we're confident that God's got it taken care of. 

Thanks, friends!

Peace and love,

Saturday, March 27, 2010

One Big, Happy, Attractive (4/7ths of a) Family!

On our way to Nicaragua:

1.  Mark made several comments about my fantastic hair.  He made several comments referencing a light socket.

2.  When we got to the hotel to rest (12 hour layover after a red eye flight) Theo crawled from the bed to the table and started making calls to the front desk.  His guilty look here is priceless.

3.  Tate was not in the mood to cooperate.  Not that this is uncommon for our dear three year old, but I don't often capture it on film. 

4.  Mark won the award for best attitude on the least amount of sleep.  He also won the award for "most frustrating person" at the airport, because seriously, who likes to be around cheerful people when you're grumpy?  Answer: Not the three of us.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Glimpse

Of our Crazy/Beautiful Life...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We may have been chastised by a flight attendant for falling asleep while our 3 year old pushed the call button...flying the friendly skies (or something).                                                                                           Love, Jenni

Monday, March 22, 2010


Thursday, March 18, 2010



Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Brief Pause

Long Night.  Longer morning.

Our flight left at midnight and we got here at 6 for our layover.  I had a day reservation at a hotel and so we were ready to crash.  Did I mention that Theo didn't fall asleep until more than an hour into the flight?!  This kid's normal bedtime is 7, so he was giddy tired. 

We got to our hotel and find out that they were completely booked last night, so our room was given away (they had actually assigned us a room since we were getting in so early).  The most frustrating part is that we called from the airport to make sure things were ready and they didn't tell us anything.  Grrr.  I was very polite, but asked for a discount because it was going to be 2 hours until we got a room.  They said no.  I was fine, but planned on coming back down to ask.  We went and stuffed ourselves with the free breakfast and things were going fine until Theo lost it.  He was SCREAMING because he wanted to play with the TV remote.  After we got him calmed down, the manager came over and offered us a discount.  I guess sometimes having your child scream in a full room is a good thing, right?  I promise I didn't pinch him to get that to happen.

At a little after 8 we finally got our room and we came in and crashed for about 5 hours.  Now I'm going to go hit the gym for a few minutes, shower and get ready to get on the plane tonight at 6.  Our bags were checked through to Managua, and I'm really hoping and praying that they make it. 

OK, I'm out for now.

Peace and love,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Almost Here!

In a few hours we'll be on our way!

We're so excited to go back to seems like it's been ages since we visited and yet it seems like it was just yesterday (in reality it was in November).

We're ready to see our girls again, ready to see our boys again.

We're ready, ready, ready!

Some interesting/not-so-interesting factoids:
  • Tate is convinced he left a bus at his Hermano's house (hermano means 'brother' and that's what Tate calls the boys in Nicaragua).  In a preemptive strike, Mark went out and bought an entire package of matchbox buses. 

  • I'm almost done packing.  The only problem with getting done packing early is that I have several hours to add things to our suitcases that we really don't need.  I'm really trying to contain myself.
  • We're hoping to send in our homestudy papers on the way out of town.  That would be a huge relief. 
  • Tate cried last night because he thought he'd be at his Hermano's house instead of our house.
  • Theo slept from 7-7 last night!  First time ever!
  • FYI, packing with small children in the house is a recipe for insanity.  Everything I've put in the suitcases has been taken out at least 3 times.  Ugh!  CHILDREN!
Well, that's it for now.  Soon we'll be on our way...did I mention we're kind of excited and ready to go?

Peace and Love,

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Tapestry, Part 2

I'm sorry that this has taken so long to get's an emotional story for me, and not one I choose to share with a lot of people.  It took several days of thinking, writing, erasing beause I didn't want to share, get the idea.  Since I want to be able to look back and remember where God's brought us and maybe encourage others who are struggling, I feel like it's really important that this day is shared.  So here you go...

If you'd like to read the first part of this story, go here

I had been up early for swim practice, so I wasn’t sure I even wanted to go out in the boat. But, since my grandparents and cousin had driven 5 hours to see us and they really wanted to go, I agreed. My dad was at work, but my mom, Stephen (my brother), my cousin Cortney, both of my grandparents and I went out to the lake. Water skiing is a legacy in our family, so we were each going to have a turn.

I’m not sure who went first or what, but I do remember my grandpa’s turn. He wanted to slalom, but since he was in his 60s and hadn’t skied in years we all encouraged him to use two. He got up after a couple of tries and went about 70 yards or so. He got back in the boat happy that he’d gotten up, but irritated that he wasn’t able to stay up very long. Stephen got into the water to kneeboard and my grandpa was sitting down to catch his breath. Stephen got up on the kneeboard and we were in the middle of the lake. Since it was early afternoon there weren’t any other boats on the lake. We were thrilled to have it to ourselves.

Until, in mid sentence, my grandpa stopped breathing and slumped over in his seat.

My mom, grandma and I went into panic mode. I checked for a pulse but couldn’t find one. I had mom double check because I couldn’t really tell for sure. She verified no pulse and sent me to find someone, so I gracefully dove belly flopped into the lake. Stephen thought that the boat was sinking and I was bailing. After what seemed like an eternity (but really was only about 1 minute) I realized that there was no one I could swim to in order to find help. I got back into the boat and I started CPR. At that moment my mom looked up and happened to see someone out in their yard, talking on the phone. She drove the boat as fast as she could to the dock. As we were coming in she was yelling at us about the no wake zone until she realized that we had an emergency.

She called 911 while my mom and I tag teamed CPR. I remember that when you do the breaths the lips do a “raspberry” thing while the air is escaping from the lungs (or exhaling). I never knew that. It surprised me, but I just kept going. I was doing the chest compressions while my mom was doing the breathing. It was easier and more efficient with two people and we had a good rhythm down.

I felt his ribs crack under the pressure I was putting on them. I remembered from my training that if ribs crack you are doing it right. I was relieved to know that I was at least on the right track. I tried to treat this just like any regular monthly CPR skill assessment (I was a lifeguard, I had to practice monthly), but that lip motion made it impossible for my mind to accept that. Thankfully I had enough practice under my belt to be calm, collected and fall back on my training. My mom did, too. We worked together well, in perfect rhythm, knowing that this and praying was the only thing we could do. We didn’t get hysterical, it was too important to keep our heads calm and stay focused.

After a few minutes the husband came down to see what was going on. He assumed that I was a teenager and had no idea what I was doing because as soon as he saw me he physically lifted me out of the boat and started to do CPR himself. I was too shocked and suddenly too tired to be angry. I took Stephen and Cortney up to the road to wait for the ambulance, shaking and praying the entire way. At this point I really started to lose it, but I was trying to keep calm for Steve and Cortney, who was only about 7. Luckily the ambulance came quickly. The paramedics rushed down and got him on a backboard. They took over CPR and got out the paddles to shock his heart. At this point it had been between 10 and 15 minutes since he collapsed, even thought it felt like several hours.

The paramedics asked his name and repeatedly called him by name as they shocked him. They told him what they were doing and asked him to fight. Suddenly, his heart was beating again. They loaded him in the ambulance and were off. Just like that. We raced back to the cabin to dock the boat and were off in about 3 minutes ourselves. We were quite a sight, all of us in our bathing suits and towels. I’m sure there was some sort of cover up (maybe shorts or something?) but I don’t remember. I do remember that I couldn’t find my shoes so I just wore my dad’s flip flops. They were about 4 sizes too big.

At the hospital all they told us was that he was still unconscious. They were unsure of the amount of damage he had sustained. My best friend’s parents came and picked us up from the hospital and we went to their house until my dad came to take us home. Over the weekend we learned that my grandpa had a very little bit of his heart left, and the doctors agreed that he had between 6 months and 2 years of life left.

When school started on Tuesday there were about 20 people staying in our house. I had somehow managed to finish all of my summer assignments and was excited for the year to begin. With everything going on with my grandpa, I was ready to be distracted by school and everything that went with it. After school we had our first swim meet, the Jamboree, and my mom and grandma showed up! I was thrilled to see them because I wasn’t sure they were going to be able to get away from the hospital. They told me that my grandpa had wanted to sneak out of the hospital to see my meet! Of course he couldn’t, but knowing that he was awake and aware enough to not want to be there was good enough for me.

I don’t remember how much time passed before my grandpa was out of the hospital. I don’t remember how long he stayed at our house. But one thing I do remember thinking and storing in my heart: the realization that life is short and can change forever in an instant. It took me a long time to work through some of the fears that I developed from that day (fears of a health crisis and death- I can share more of that struggle later) but I can honestly say that this event shaped my life in a way that none other has. My grandpa is still alive today, outliving every doctor prediction about his future.

As we look back, we see God’s hand everywhere in this incident. God allowed this to happen when my grandpa was with people that knew CPR. Had this happened at home, he wouldn’t have survived. My grandma was still working at the time, and she hadn’t taken a CPR class yet (now I think our whole family is certified). Even though this was a very difficult time in my life, I am comforted knowing that God was there, and he was in control. I believe that our faith “muscles” are built as we learn to rely on him, and this was one of the first instances that I can look back on and see my faith muscles forming. I’m willing to bet that if I hadn’t gone through this, I wouldn’t have been able to get through other trials in my life with my faith intact.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


There are a million reasons excuses that I haven't been blogging the last couple of days.

Bottom line: I'm just tired!  We've been playing hard (as Tate would say). 

But we're enjoying it, and that's what it's all about, right?  Umm...maybe not, but we're still having fun.


Setting: In the car on the way to church.  Tate had eaten 2 waffles for breakfast.

Tate: Mom, my tummy is REALLY full.
Me:  Full with waffles?
Tate: No, silly!  Full with Jesus.  He lives in there. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

2010 Craft Project #9

Project # 9:
Knitted (and felted) Lucy Bag!

This is probably one of my favorite things to create-I love it because the yarn stripes naturally and the felting process at the end creates a really neat product.  This bag was started by my mother in law a couple of years ago as a favor for me, and it was sitting until a couple of nights ago.  I finished it and felted it, and I'm thrilled with the results.  The black sets off the grey and I think it turned out beautifully.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Adoption Update

  • I went to the doctor today for the paperwork.  I'm the last in the family to go.  Along with the routine appointment, I supplied a urine sample for a drug test, got a TB test and a blood draw for and HIV test.  The forms will be sent in upon the return of said tests.  It should be no later than a week.
  • I was able to retrieve the documents from our first homestudy that were on our old computer.  The screen broke and it was a little bit of work to pull off the documents, but it saved us a ton of time.  For a refresher of what the questions were, click here.  They aren't all the same, but a good number of the questions are.  A huge relief, let me tell you.
  • We got to talk to Teresa and Stanley on the phone on Sunday night!!  It was WONDERFUL and made me so homesick for them.  All of them.  Are you wondering how this was possible?  Well, let me tell/warn you about cell phones in Nicaragua!  When you go, it's best to make sure you can't call out unless you really want to.  I mean REALLY want to.  Either that, or don't let the kids play with your phone.  They are incredibly adept at using phones.  The first trip our phones wouldn't call out (we don't have an international plan) but the kids tried.  A lot.  We just thought they wouldn't because they know it's expensive, but to the kids there, the amount of money we have is so much that they don't see a problem with it.  So, there's a college group in from William & Mary, and Stanley borrowed one of their phones and was able to call us on it.  I'm almost certain that the only reason there was an international plan on the phone was so that the kid could call his there will be a nice surprise on the next phone bill, for sure.  It was so good to hear their voices, though!
We're hoping to have our stuff in to Bethany in the next week!  I'll let you know how that goes.  And, a WEEK from today I'll be leavin' on a jet plane to see my kids!  Can't wait!

Peace and love,

Monday, March 8, 2010

Project #8/ New hair

Project #8:
 Crochet Throw for Rocking Chair

Kinda fun, huh?  I made it with the same stuff from project #7.  I used up a couple more ends, too!  Yay!  This compliments the couch very well, and combined with the pillow (from my Grandma) really makes the chair stand out!!


Here's the new hair.  LT Wonderful gets major bonus points for setting the appointment up for me for my birthday!!

(He also got me a massage and cleaned the WHOLE house, top to bottom.  He's a star!)

Sorry the picture is distorted like that, some of them seem to do that while others are just fine.  Not sure why that is. 

OK, off to bed!

Peace and Love,

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tate Quote

"Mom, sometimes I jes' don't want to be growed up."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I've got a lot on my plate these days. 

And I'm pretty happy about it!

On top of being a wife, mom, follower of Christ, daughter, granddaughter, friend, sister, etc. I am also attending one women's English Bible study, one Spanish women's Bible study, one couples bilingual study, Spanish church, English church, playgroup every other Tuesday, trying to start a regular game night with some friends from Mark's work, getting all of our adoption stuff done, and training to run a marathon.

Whew!  I'm tired just writing it all down.

I've been feeling pretty overwhelmed by all of that stuff lately.  As I've been praying about it, I remembered my swim coach's wise words from several years ago.  He said "Jenni, if you ever want to be excellent at swimming you're going to have to cut something out of your schedule."  I responded with indignance.  "I'm not doing anything bad...youth group, church, classes, choir..." 

I will never forget his response.

"Jenni, I'm not worried about you doing anything bad.  Bad things rarely get in the way of excellence.  But good things do.  Sometimes you have to give up good things to achieve excellence in other areas."

In honor of my coaches wise words, I've decided to give up something good for the next few months. 

Normally I'm a huge bargain shopper.  I don't like to pay for toiletries.  But I need a break.  I need to focus my energy on other things and the energy I spend on this just isn't worth it.  At least until my marathon.  Once that's over I'm sure I'll go back to being the crazy bargain hunter I am, but for now I just need a sabbath from couponing. 

It's so freeing just writing this!! 

I feel 10 lbs lighter! 
(If only it was that easy, right?!!)

In relentless pursuit of excellence,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Two Weeks!

Two weeks from tonight I will be boarding an airplane to go see the rest of my kids. 

These ones:

And these ones:

I cannot wait!  I'm uploading all of our past pictures for some stuff for Mark and I'm feeling very nostalgic about being there.  It's been too long.  I need my kids.  I know they're doing well, but I want to see it with my own eyes.  I miss them, just like I would miss Theo or Tate if they weren't here with me.

But this isn't just a social call.  We'll be working down there, too.

I could go into my thoughts on short term missions, but that could be a bit controversial and I'm all about sowing peace and love, not controversy and discontent. 

So instead I will simply say this: our goal is the same here and in Nicaragua.  We want to share the love of Jesus.  In Nicaragua we do that by showing the kids that they are valuable and worthy of love just for being who they are.  Unconditional love hasn't been a huge part of their lives before the orphanage, and even though they are loved very much by the staff there, a child can never have too much love.

Another thing we do to show them our love is work to not just meet their needs, but also provide them with opportunities to flourish. 

We're very excited about this trip because we have been working and planning for this project for a long time.  This time we're starting a chicken project!!  The boys are going to be in charge of it, we're just providing the funds.  They have a budget worked out, they have a list of supplies they need, they know how many chickens they'll be able to house, they know how long it takes to raise them, how much they can get for each part, the cost of grain and medicine...they've done their homework.

The project is for butchering chickens, not laying hens.  The boys did the math and butchering is much more profitable.  There are several goals: Education, self confidence, and the self sustainability of the project.  Per the projections done by the boys and the agriculture leader at the Orphanage, they should be able to sell half and consume half of each crop.  That means adding some much needed meat to the kids' diet.  It will take a while to build up funds for an emergency fund and such, but the eventual goal is sustainability of the project. 

There you have it.  That's what we'll be doing in Nicaragua, in case you were wondering.

Have a wonderful day!!

Peace and Love,

Monday, March 1, 2010

Happy Birthday (yesterday) Theo!

Happy Birthday Love!

I can't believe you're already one!!

You have no interest in walking, preferring to crawl everywhere.  It's quicker, you know.

When you crawl you look like a little bulldog, hands facing each other.  It's stinkin' cute!

You headbutt my face when you want kisses.  It hurts, but I love it.  LOVE it.  And you do it over and over again, smiling.  It warms my heart.

You talk. And talk.  And talk talk talk talk. 

Your favorite toy is your brother.

You prefer people to things.

You are nearly always happy.

Except when you aren't.  (But that's not very often).

You are a joy. 
 You fill our lives with laughter and love. 
We are so blessed to have you, my son. 

We love you!

Mom and Dad