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Minimalist Easter

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Let me start by saying I am soooooo not a minimalist. I want to be. Like REALLY want to be. I feel like I am drowning in clutter daily. I want everything to have a home. I want to have no piles. But I’m not there yet. I’m not even close.

If minimalism were a road trip, I’m not even in the car, much less  with my seatbelt on. Nope. I’m still looking for my keys.

Now that we have THAT cleared up.

I’ve decided that minimalism is a journey. I’m enjoying the scenic route right now. I am trying to tackle small areas without giving away all my worldly possessions to the local donation center.

For the time being, I’ve decided to take a closer look at why and how we do things. I’ve really been looking at our clothing lately. This is probably the part of my life that is CLOSEST to minimal. Seriously. Clothes are just not my thing. I could wear the same thing everyday and never care. Give me a good pair of blue jeans, a black shirt and my Chucks and I am good.

Next topic on my mind has been Easter baskets.

Yep, deep, huh?

I loved waking up Easter Sunday morning to my basket of goodies. Mostly candy, maybe a few treats. I love candy and chocolate more than I could ever express. Chocolate especially is my love language.  We, of course, celebrated the resurrection of our Savior, got a beautiful new dress always handmade by my mom and went to church.

Easter baskets were just a fun celebration of spring at our house. Not the reason we celebrated….it wasn’t about the bunny…feel like we needed a disclaimer there.

So I asked my Facebook friends about their thoughts on a minimal Easter basket. Some answered not-s0-minimally. 😉 Some had some great ideas. Many bought things for baskets that they were already going to be buying anyway. Makes sense.

This year, I’m looking for fun treats that are consumable, maybe a few things that are activity related…something for them to DO…we don’t want to go overboard and treat Easter like a MAJOR gift giving holiday. We have six children still at home…baskets can get PRICEY. For real.

We also don’t want to load them up on junky sweets. I’ve read way too much to want to continue taking my kids down the path of unhealthy eating patterns. I struggle enough trying to break my own chains from the sweet monster. I don’t want them to have to do the same.

Below are a few things I’m looking at, as well as some suggestions from friends. I’d love to know any great ideas you have too!

  • For the last several years, we put out our baskets on Friday night and wake up to find them on Saturday morning. This is HUGE y’all. I mean HUGE. This was possibly one of the best parenting moments Bryan and I have ever had. HA! We get to wake up on Saturday, look through our baskets, eat chocolate for breakfast (kidding! Well, maybe!) and have a fun time checking out our goodies. Sunday morning we wake up ready to worship our risen Savior!
  • We always reuse the same baskets. Looks like lots of my friends do too. We kind of have a shabby assortment of them right now. This may be our last year to use them and they will all just go away. One less thing to store. A terra cotta pot might be nice, you think? Fairly inexpensive and we can reuse it!
  • What about grass? For years we have used the colorful plastic shredded grass. But it really just gets in the way. Who needs it? I say leave it out, no one really cares about the grass.
  • Lots of friends mentioned that consumables like bubbles, sidewalk chalk, crayons and even their favorite snack items were always popular basket stuffers.
  • A new toothbrush and toothpaste would be a great addition that another friend mentioned! Especially to combat any sweet treats!
  • Water bottles are a great reusable option too. We opt for stainless steel so we can use our essential oils with them but glass is a great option too!
  • Looks like lots of people help their kiddos get ready for spring and summer buy including swimsuits, goggles, flip flops, etc. That would make this momma-of-many go BROKE…but a great idea!

 

MORE IDEAS…..

Check out these seed bombs! Perfect for your baskets! You could even divide this set up among multiple kiddos!

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I am in love with these hair ties!!! So cute! Every girl needs these! Check out more like these at Sweet Emmeline Ltd. on Etsy.

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I love this Fairy Ribbon Wand from Modern TOT Shoppe. They have the most lovely Waldorf inspired play things. My little girls would love these!

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What about these vintage yarn hair ties? I was just thinking about these the other day! They were the bomb! I know two little girls at my house who might be needing these!! Mom do you remember these?!?!?!?

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TruJoy has a line of organic sweet treats! Pricey but much better for you! If you are only going with a few candy items, then spending more is not an issue.

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I’m loving these organic jelly beans from Surf Sweet! Maybe the kids will share!

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Check out these candies from Unreal…..looks like they are even available at Target! I’m going to look for them the next time I go! No GMOs and even Fair Trade!!!

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I’ll come back and add more things as I do more research! Share your ideas too and I’ll include them!

Love, Jenifer

For those not walking my path….

John Preston has been home a little over six months….and the journey has been hard.

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Not harder than I expected.

I expected the WORST.

And I recognize that things could be so much worse.

And most days…almost every day…it’s not as much HIM as it is ME.

It’s me who needs to let go of the ideas I had in my mind. It’s me who has to let go of worrying about what other people think of me…of us…as we navigate this journey. It’s me who cries out to the Father to give me grace as I parent him.

I am afraid you will stand back and say this is what we asked, wished, hoped and prayed for.

I am afraid that you will be unable to conjure up sympathy for us at the times me might need a bit extended because of the hard days.

I am afraid that our family has become so vastly different than what we used to be that you don’t recognize us any more.

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I have so many friends who are adoptive parents. We get each other. We walk these hard days together. With an understanding glance or words typed, we know exactly what the other means. Sometimes we don’t even have to fully explain. We can just admit that today is one of THOSE days and the other momma instinctively knows. She just KNOWS. She offers to pray…she offers to listen…she sends no condemnation or judgment. She just sits with me in the moment and exists. And I need that.

Then there are those of you who have no idea about this path we have chosen. I have no doubt that many of you WANT to understand…you WANT to know how to pray for us…you WANT to make it easier. You just haven’t lived it. And that’s ok.

I want YOU to know today that I see you. I know that you care about us and love us even if you haven’t had the same experiences. I know that you ask about us and John Preston because you truly care and want to know how to pray and encourage us. For the times, I have ever made you feel LESS THAN….if I ever have…because you haven’t adopted….I want you to know TODAY that I don’t see that when I look at you. I don’t judge you because God hasn’t called you to adopt. All I see is your friendship and love for our family. And I am grateful more than you can ever imagine.

I want you all today to know that I can see the light….

I can sense the end of the tunnel in my distance vision and I am seeing the light pouring in…it hasn’t reached me yet…but it is stretching out towards me.

There have been days where all I could see was “orphan”…”orphanage”…”behaviors”…”defiance”…”control”.

Those days are so hard.

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But now I am starting to see days that look like “son”…”family”…”safe”…”unguarded”.

There are entire days now where we don’t struggle. Those days feel good. They are often followed by a string of struggling days but we are still beginning to see progress.

I just want you to know that we still know, despite the struggles, that John Preston is our son….that God called us to this…that we know that God did not promise us “easy” but He did promise us strength and grace.

I want you to know that we covet your prayers still. This journey is not over. The path we walk is still hard. We still need you.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

Love, Jenifer

 

Taking a rest….

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Sometimes, I just want to scream from the rooftops that you have me all wrong…….

I really think YOU THINK I have it all together.

You say things like…

I don’t see how you do it all!

I could never do what you do.

No worries, Jenifer can do it!

But that’s where you’d be wrong. 

I don’t have it all together. Truth is, I often times feel like I am falling apart at the seams.

The extrovert in me has you fooled.  The smile on my face…the need to speak to every person I know out in public….can be so deceiving.

Somedays I just want to be me.

I want to admit that I’m not having a good week.

I want to admit that I’ve made mistakes.

I want you to not assume I have it all together.

I want to be the me with strong opinions that you may not like.

I want to be the mom that is not always the mom of the year.

I want to be able to say that my house is a wreck or that my laundry is piled sky high.

I want to be able to just have a bad freaking day and it be OK to admit it.

 

So for the record, I don’t have it all together.  In case you were wondering.

And I’m tired of carrying the weight of a person who is expected to.

I’m tired of not being able to share the way the Lord leads me for fear someone will be offended and place the weight of THEIR reaction on my shoulders.

I’m tired of having friends, yet feeling lonely.

I’m tired of dear friends moving away or living so far away that a cup of coffee and conversation is out of the question.

I’m tired of being reduced to an acquaintance instead of a true friend because my heart ACHES to shout for orphans and to make sure that my kids with special needs have every opportunity.

I’m not who I was.

And I’m ok with that. I think.

I’m learning to be.

The last few days, I’ve tried to take a break from the watercolor of social media.

It’s been a good break. I’ve gotten some projects done. I’ve done some reading. I’ve enjoyed my babies. I’ve taken care of some junk that I didn’t want to deal with but I had to.

And, lo and behold, the world has survived without me.

And I’ve realized a few things….

True friends don’t have to be five minutes away in order to positively affect your life.

As friends, we don’t all have to have the same goals and convictions. But if you abhor the things that are important to me, then it might be time for us to bid each other farewell.

I am not solely responsible for the unity of the Christian body. Do I play a part? Sure. But you need to do YOU friend. And let me be me.

The 1,881 friends that I have on social media are not all truly my friends. Many need to go. If you’re just there for the show and not to be a supportive, encouraging friend then I just don’t get why you stay. Pack a bag.

I miss having a voice on my blog. I have been reduced to sound bites on social media and I have more to say. Do others want to read it? Maybe not. Doesn’t change my desire to express it.

I need some boundaries. I’ve worked this week to set up my social media accounts in a  way that works best for ME. I might miss your latest news, picture of your beautiful baby or a funny meme from time to time. You’ll have to forgive me. But boundaries are good. And much needed.

I feel unwelcome. Where? Lots of places. Often times in my town, often times in the body of believers, often times in the world at large. Does it hurt?  Yep. But I feel like it gives me a window. An opportunity to see things as others do….as someone who doesn’t quite fit in. I think God is using this time to open my eyes. To see things through the lens of an outsider. And it is changing me.

I don’t want to do life like I’ve always done it. I don’t want to bend over backwards to make the comfortable feel even more comfortable. I want to use the gifts that God has given me to live life differently. I don’t want you to look at me and assume you know what is in my heart. I want you to get to know me and see that God is changing me. That God is using me. Even when it hurts.  And I want friends that sharpen me….not friends that dull my edge.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

If you are one of those friends, trust that I know who you are. I love you for building me up and encouraging me. I love you for being a listening ear and hearing all the things that I’m embarrassed to tell the world. I love that you sharpen me and I hope I sharpen you in return.

Love, Jenifer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save Time With Facebook Lists

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Let me start by saying, I am no expert on this…all new to me….I was just trying to find a way to see more of my actual friends’ posts in my Facebook feed instead of so much junk. Sometimes I only have a few minutes to check out Facebook…I don’t want to see EVERYTHING…I don’t have time….I just want to see posts from friends that I interact with most.

Ok…let’s see if we can walk through this…. first go to your Friends page on your computer. Next to the friend’s name, you’ll see a little pull down box. Click on it and click “add to another list”…in this case I made a “Sample – Mom Friends” group. You can create a list named ANYTHING! Go through your friends and add them to lists. I plan to make one for family as well as work friends.

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Then go to your home screen. Over on the left hand column do you see where it says “Friends” and you see my new sample group? If I hover over the left side of it then it gives me the option to add it to “favorites”.

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Now see it popped up to my favorites on the left hand column?

 

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So NOW I can log on and click over on the “Sample – mom friends” list or whatever list I want to look at and it will show me ONLY the posts of THOSE people on my page.

See below at the top it says “custom list” and it shows me only the posts from the friends I added to that “Sample – Mom Friends” list? EEEEEEEEKKKKK!!!!! This is AWESOME!!! Now I’m going to make one for FAMILY so I don’t miss any family posts! Then probably close friends, work friends, adoption momma friends that are IN PROCESS so I don’t miss adoption updates….the possibilities are endless! ❤ ❤ ❤

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If you are on your phone, just click those three little lines, bottom right, and scroll up a bit to see your favorites…see my sample group there?!?!? YAY!! I would just click “Sample – Mom Friends” to see only those friends in my feed.

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When you start to create a post on your page, you can also choose for a particular list of people to be the only ones to see it. So for example, you could make a list of people from your kid’s baseball team. Then post pictures from the game and chose their “list”. then they would be the only ones to see your post.

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Hope all that makes sense! I am just figuring it out myself! Ha! Got a question? Leave a comment and maybe we can figure it out! 😉

Love,

Jenifer

My Bucket List!

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I’ve always wanted to sit down and type up my bucket list.

bucket list: noun – a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.

So here goes nothing. I think I’ll start small and come back and add to it as things come to mind. My memory is terrible so maybe this will help me remember all the things I want to do. HA!

  1. Take  train to New Orleans, eat beignets at Cafe Du Monde and take an Anne Rice book tour.
  2. Grow a  successful garden.
  3. Travel to Great Britain.
  4. Travel to Scotland and Ireland.
  5. Own a pair of Tieks ballet flats.
  6. Take Ruby Kate to Canada.
  7. Speak ASL fluently.
  8. Get a tattoo of MinLan and John Preston’s Chinese names.
  9. Visit Alaska.
  10. See Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Water” or any of his houses. There’s even one in Alabama….Florence, maybe, I think!
  11. Learn to play chess.
  12. Anonymously fully fund someone’s adoption.
  13. Go on a Down syndrome/adoption world tour and meet my favorite online momma friends.
  14. Visit the Statue of Liberty.
  15. Plant an herb garden.
  16. Volunteer in an orphanage.
  17. Go to the San Diego Zoo.
  18. Host a fondue party.
  19. Write and publish a children’s book.
  20. See the Northern Lights.
  21. Take our whole family to visit China and visit our children’s birthplaces.
  22. Raise chickens.
  23. Start a Gigi’s Playhouse in our area.
  24. Make my own elderberry syrup.
  25. Create a capsule wardrobe.
  26. Learn to knit.
  27. Sit on a jury…hopefully an interesting one.
  28. Own another Anatolian Shepherd.
  29. Make a quilt from all of my adoption t-shirts.
  30. Take some college level graphic design courses.
  31. Visit the Holy Land.
  32. Put shiplap on one wall in my house.
  33. Visit the beaches at Normandy.
  34. Purchase an RV.
  35. Completely gut and remodel our small bathroom ourselves.
  36. Learn to play the piano.
  37. Take a vacation to Disney World with only Bryan.
  38. Organize all of our books by color.
  39. Ride a double decker bus in London.
  40. Take a road trip with Courtney, Kristin and Millie.
  41. Create a fairy garden for my little girls.
  42. Take my children to the Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  43. Read all of C.S. Lewis’ books.
  44. Become an early riser. (But not today)
  45. Buy a salt lamp.
  46. Take a ballroom dancing class with Bryan.
  47. Attend the Kentucky Derby and wear a BIG hat!
  48. See the Grand Canyon.
  49. Host a Chinese New Year celebration at our home.
  50. Play with real life penguins.
  51. Go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal.
  52. Read War and Peace.
  53. Take a trip with my mom and my sister.
  54. Attend the Olympics.
  55. Live in a tiny house.
  56. Visit the White House and meet the President. (Dream big, right?)
  57. Own a succulent.
  58. See Mt. Rushmore.
  59. Flip a house.
  60. Take a calligraphy class.
  61. Have at least ONE entirely handmade Christmas.
  62. Own my old black Dodge Avenger.
  63. Participate in a 5K.
  64. Take a photography class.
  65. Learn how to make THESE COOKIES.
  66. Visit New York City and see a Broadway play.
  67. See the Rockettes perform at Radio City Music Hall.
  68. Visit the Great Wall of China.
  69. Go to an Alabama football game.
  70. Purchase Alabama season tickets.
  71. Have a family portrait made with all of our children.
  72. Learn to make soap.
  73. Take Ellie to Paris.
  74. Sew a piece of clothing for myself to wear.
  75. Take a pottery making class.
  76. Be in the audience of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

I’m sure I’ll think of more to add but this is a great start! Tell what’s on your list!