Filtering by Tag: family

26 summer activities inspired by my kiddos

1. Nerf gun wars. 

2. Book club with my daughter. Reading together, discussion, dreaming and learning.

3. Riding our bikes to the donut shop.

4. Paddle boarding on the lake and then looking for treasures on the shore.

5. Picnic with yummy food and a ball to play soccer.

6. Movie night....outdoors too! Pleassseeeeee!

7. Ice cream...lots of it.

8. Swimming...at the pool, lake and at grandparents house.

9. Painting outside. Making art and selling it. Giving some proceeds to a charity.

10. Church activities.

11. Day trips, exploring and not having a big agenda.

12. Water balloon fights mama!!!!

13. Sleeping in the back yard in a tent...with lucy.

14. Going to Rome.

15. Beach adventures. Exploring and building sand castles.

16. Having a lemonade stand and selling lemonade and making lots of money mommy!

17. Traveling. 

18. Family time. Lots of hugs, cuddles and kisses.

19. Sleeping in....this is my activity....my kiddos did NOT come up with this one!

20. Getting certified in babysitting.

21. Floating on our donuts...we love our donuts!!

22. Dancing...and making videos. It is so fun mama!! Lots of dancing please.

23. Walking to our farmers market in our neighborhood.

24. Taking lucy on walks...you run with her mommy.

25. Camp at grandparents home.

26.  HAVING A FUN SUMMER!!!

Have a beautiful summer darlings! Have fun with your kiddos!

xo jennifer

marriage....being aware. loving through.

When I think of my husband I literally get giddy. I smile and think, why me? How did I get so blessed? I believe God had a plan and I was aware. Aware of when the right man walked into my life because I could have chosen another path....

Early on in our marriage I had a difficult time of understanding why he didn't do what I wanted him to do. Sound familiar? I just expected him to have the same expectations I did. Not reality ladies, not reality. It took me years of understanding, learning and maturing. I am still in the process as I believe I always will be growing in this area, but I am aware. Aware of the good, aware of the expectations and aware of what our marriage can handle.

Being aware of our downfalls gives us the ability to give ourselves grace when matters are different than we would expect. I am emotional. My husband is not. Sound familiar?  I could never understand why he just wouldn't cry with me. I would even beg sometimes..... could we just cry together I would cry out!!!!! Seriously!!!? Would be his answer. We have had to learn how to communicate when I am more on the emotional side and it has been a process of being aware, communicating and learning from each other. 

During my 4 years of health issues I had difficulty understanding why he couldn't be home with me more. He had started a business and we had to survive. I didn't have my second baby that I yearned for and had a husband that was gone 12 hours a day and my body hurt. I look back and wish I would have given myself grace then. I had so many expectations on me, my husband and my body. I would put blame on the one person who gave me this biggest security in the world and would put him down. Ladies!!!! The biggest thing I have learned through these experience's is to build your husband up. NO matter how you feel or what the circumstance is. We had some icky times in those years. Building him up instead of complaining would have been such an encouragement in so many of those darker days.

One of the most lovely things I adore about my husband is his willingness to learn and grow. He has taught me to be a better listener and communicator. Not only with him, but our children and family and friends. I have learned so many things from this love of my life and I thank him for always standing up for our marriage first.

Marriage is like an ocean. The waves go up, they come crashing down. Sometimes it is wild and crazy, sometimes it is as calm and still. Above all, it does become a choice of how we are going to react to situations, how we are going to encourage and how we are going to deal with hardships.

Love is a roller coaster......always be aware of the twists and turns. Look towards the finish line. Never give up.

Have a beautiful day darlings.

xo Jennifer

1950's ranch bungalow

When I think of a 1950's home all sorts of things come to mind, but the biggest thing is WORK. Always in progress, never done kind of home. My sister lives in a 1950's ranch bungalow that defeats the odds and is such a special place that she shares with her husband and two precious blonde blue eyed girls.  Along with 9 chickens, two bunnies, a cat, a beautiful garden and a little vineyard they have created a unique space in Napa, California.

They purchased the home in 2009 and have worked diligently on making it fit their needs. They live on 1/3 of an acre and have transformed it into a backyard haven. The girls enjoy playing with the animals, picking strawberries and playing in this cute playhouse.

When my 5 year-old niece was asked what her favorite thing to do in her enchanted garden (as she calls it) she proudly stated, "picking fava beans." Isn't that cute? They pick veggies and eggs on a regular basis and make home cooked meals most of the week.

My sister recently converted the baby girls nursery into a playroom/guest room as their space is on the smaller side of just over 1300 sq feet. I love how she kept some of the same decor and repurposed this table for a work space for the girls.

She just added the new day bed from CB2 called the lubi turquoise sleeper and she loves it! Such a fab color and perfect for the girls during the day and for guests when they visit.

I asked my sister what style she would consider her taste and home. She said it is eclectic with a mix of more mid century being added over time. She loves a good pop of color and incorporates this into her home. 

She recently did a wonderful transformation to her kitchen adding new counter tops, subway tile, a fun island unit and painting the cabinets.  Take a look at this cuteness! 

When asked about living in a smaller house she said it is a never ending task. "Your life keeps evolving and your home has to change with your needs." They changed their fireplace during their first year as it needed a big upgrade. They used reclaimed wood from a nearby city and my dad and sister got to work. It is her favorite part of the house and mine too.

When asked what her next project is my sister quickly responded, "the laundry room!" She found recycled cork made in Portugal for flooring and is so excited to begin. I can't wait to see what she does!

Thanks for stopping by on this little bungalow tour! Have a beautiful day darlings!

xo jennifer

grandma

There are not enough words to describe the love I feel for her. She is a women of faith, an encourager and a light in this world. My grandma. I love her so. She will turn 100 next January and to this day she has never dyed her hair and it is such a beautiful shade of golden gray.  She is what true beauty means to me. Her smile shows years of her telling the silliest jokes. Her hands show signs of being one of the best cooks I know. She was married to my grandpa for over 60 years. They had a love story that I look up to and strive for in my own marriage.  My grandpa hand carved her name in a tree trunk when he was 4. Yes, 4!!! My grandma has always looked for the good in anything. She is calm, bright and loves the Lord.

My grandma has always written notes. Everywhere! When I didn't pass my occupational therapy exam the first time she wrote a note to me every week for the next six months until I could sit to re-take the exam. That is beauty. That is love. I have been so blessed to be able to have some of her cherished items now in my home. There are little notes on these pieces that tell me a little bit about the story behind the item. I love the idea of each item in my home telling me a story. Don't you?

One of my favorite pieces is this mint stool. Of course, mint is one of my all time favorite colors and then when you hear the story behind it...hello! It was a bathroom stool from the Stanwood place my grandmother grew up in. This mint beauty then became a passenger item as one of the four girls in her family would sit on it on the way to church. Can you imagine? How beautiful. 

There have been many different uses for this cute stool as it has also been a great stepping stool in my kitchen.  Sadly, this fiddle leaf is no longer with me.....which is another story....

 This painting was done by my grandmothers mother's sister-n-law before she even wed her brother. It is an unbelievably beautiful acrylic painting. Over 100 years old and looks so beautiful like it was done today. I imagine the stories behind it as it hung in a family home filled with love and joy.

Do you have items in your home that tell a story? Please share! 

Have a wonderful evening darlings, xo jennifer

ps. I did not get permission from my grandmother to write this. I love her. I know she will say, "What is the internet anyway? Good for you, I am proud of you."

family photos...

(photo by Else Kerkmann)

A photo. A memory. A time when everything stands still. A moment that is captured and taken with you the rest of your life. Pictures really do speak a thousand words. When I look at a photo I can remember that time in my life, in our families life. The good, the bad, the blessings and the difficulties. I started having my daughter's photo taken when she was a baby and then our family photos were taken around the same time. I remember thinking, oh this is expensive and over our budget at the time. I tell you what! The best over spending I have ever done!

There are so many great photographers out there and a lot will do mini sessions for a discounted price. I love some of my local peeps Janine WagnerAmber Noelle and Else Kerkmann. It has been fun using different photographers as they give you a different look for your photos. 

Displaying your photos in your home can be overwhelming. I did one gallery wall of my kiddos as our space is small. However, I like the more artsy look with art and findings and photos mixed in. One of my favorite photos is one we had printed out on wood from Wood Snap. I love this company and they do such a great job. Sign up for the emails and get ready to get a discount!

It isn't too late to start your photo gallery. If you are a darling single, a couple, family, an extended family, a pet owner, young, old....go for it! It all can be done and memories can be made.

Enjoy your day darlings!!

xo jennifer

darlings do you love to travel? part 2!

Traveling can be rewarding, exhausting, frustrating, relaxing and exciting all at the same time. Our family tends to do well on vacations, especially recently. Our boy has grown and matured a little which has made a big difference in the frustrating and exhausting part to travel. Now don't get me wrong, there were some moments of craziness like when our little one thought he would jump off the trolley when know one else was getting off.....eeeekkkkk! Our Little boy in the Big city had its ups and downs, but the ups out weighed the downs any day of traveling.

 

We stayed in a little town called Tiburon on the water over looking San Francisco.  The Lodge at Tiburon was a block from the water and had an outdoor heated pool for the kids and a yummy restaurant on site. We stayed there for 3 nights and took the ferry into San Francisco two of those days. The kiddos loved the ferry and the adventure of the city that awaited them.

The highlights of San Francisco per my children were the ferry, China town, riding the trolley and finding a store filled with hello kitty items. The highlights for my husband and I were walking 8 miles the first day, getting to see diversity and culture, eating yummy things and watching our children's excitement. We did a lot of tourist things, but one of our favorites was walking up to the Coit Tower and looking over the beautiful city. It looked a little like this....

The views in San Francisco are incredible and there are so many opportunities for fun photography. I especially enjoyed Chestnut street. It is a must see with beautifully colored buildings, yummy eateries and quaint shops. I found this bright yellow alley filled with happiness. Of course behind this photo you don't hear my kids whining, me saying right here? Stand here? And an instagram hubby being incredibly patient.

Exploring the city by foot and by trolley is the best way. My kids loved the pier and waterfront and there was a lot of adventures wrapped up in just two days.

Now on to next adventures like doing laundry, helping with homework and styling a few homes. Until then, here is my favorite photo of our trip.

Enjoy your day darlings!

xo jennifer

darlings do you love to travel?

Traveling is like an adventure out of a story book. For our family, it is a way to re-connect, spend time giggling, getting lost, problem solving and loving on each other 24/7. Travel has always been a passion of mine and when I met my husband and we had the same love affair with travel I was smitten. We lived all over California our first four years of marriage and had both lived there before getting hitched. Our first year of marriage was in Mill Valley, just outside San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge. Our second year was in the lovely San Luis Obispo and so many beautiful memories remain there for us. We have visited a few times over the past 11 years after moving to Oregon, but this trip was extra special and here is why.

Last year was a big change moving from a much larger home to our bungalow. We did that for many reasons, one of them having more freedom to travel over the next couple of years. Our family has had a season of challenges and now to be able to venture out more has been incredible. Our son is now at an age where traveling is easier and our daughter is the perfect age to get some wonderful education through travel.

Our travel board for 2016 looks a little like this...

We have some travel goals! Of course, not all will be met, but why not dream big? We plan to travel as a family, as a couple and as individuals for the hubs and I. What!? Travel alone and not be a wife and mama!!?? Hold on...that sounds kind of nice.

Here is a little recap of the beginning of our recent road trip to California...

We started our road trip journey to Monterey and stayed at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa. I would highly recommend it as it had an outdoor heated pool, fun outdoor games and yummy food options. It was a perfect retreat with kiddos and I was able to get a deal that was comparable to much cheaper hotels in the area. The kids especially loved the ping pong area.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is filled with beauty and sea wonder. We especially enjoyed the tank with the 200 pound tuna and a variety of big sea life and sharks. If you get a chance, go when they are feeding them. Fantastic! The jellyfish never disappoint...

The Monterey Pier has amazing views of the ocean filled with eateries and shops. We spent the day at the aquarium and strolled around the pier for lunch and photo taking and great discussions with our kids.

Santa Cruz was a fun day stop and the Santa Cruz boardwalk was a highlight for the kids. It was the first time my daughter had ridden a roller coaster in her little life.  It was fun seeing through her eyes and hearing her screaming for joy as we went up and down, around and around.

We ventured around the boardwalk and then found the best acai bowls I have ever tasted at a cafe called Samba Rock. They currently do not have a website, but if you go to Santa Cruz, this place is a must! The downtown of Santa Cruz is quaint with shops and food and an all around pleasant feel.

After Santa Cruz we headed up north where we stayed in a town outside of San Francisco called Tiburon.  We had such a lovely time and it was a great experience for our kids. Stay tuned as I will share more about that part of our trip and the big city of San Francisco tomorrow!

Have a lovely day darlings!

xo jennifer
 

you are ok

Hello darlings.

Today I write from the heart. This blog has a lot of different aspects to it. I don't get paid to advertise which allows me to have a little more freedom to be me. Today I thought it would be relevant to talk about being ok.

I posted on instagram a video of me bopping around dancing. Do you feel like you are luke warm and just bopping through life at times? It happens, and sometimes it can take years to feel ok with whatever situation you were given.  I do believe challenges are what make us unique human beings. Experiences give us more gratitude and awareness of what we have and what we have been given. There are so many different stories I could share on here, however my health as been a huge part of my 30's and now that I turned 40 I feel the need to express it and be there for others if they face similar challenges.

I am going to be ok. I had a wonderful pregnancy and it was easy. I had a horrible delivery that lasted 32 hours with a c-section and lots of fear. I was in the hospital for a week after with a baby who didn't sleep and a hubby who thought what in the world just happened?!! Our daughter was born independent and really felt sleeping was for babies...not her. The first year consisted of a sleepless whirlwind and gratitude that my body was ok. Fast forward to a couple years later as we decided it was time to shoot for another one, and life became a series of endless bopping around for years.

I had three surgeries and too many exams to count after we decided for baby number two. The hardest surgery was my abdominal hysterecomy at the age of 34. I have a scar from my c-section and a scar right above it from the hysterectomy. Both scars remind me of my adorable kids. I believe God works in so many incredible ways. For me, I had to have the traumatic c-section to give birth to my daughter or she would not be here. For my son, I know the hysterectomy gave me the faith to choose adoption and he would not be with me today without that challenge. It breaks my heart to think of him not in our lives and the lack of faith I would have had if it were not for certain challenges.

I am ok. You are ok. It might be your relationship, your child, your health, a death, a job and so on. I believe we are here on this earth for such a short time that I must make the best of it, even if it isn't what I want. People experience trauma that is beyond what our brains can even comprehend. I am filled with joy when I hear of humans who take their experience and use it for good. We all can learn from others and we are all going to be ok.

Happy Spring Darlings,

xo jennifer

 

be yourself.....even as an adult, why is it so hard?

Why oh why are we consumed with what others think? Our society teaches us how we should be, what we should have. You see it all the time in children as they grow and experience more independence and learn to develop decision making skills. As adults we still can carry this child like behavior. Have you ever been in a room being your true self and then thinking....wait a second I feel incredibly strange and uncomfortable, I think I will retreat to a different me. A less confident, a more weary and unintentional person. This feeling can drag us down and can make us feel empty and insecure. Being yourself can be scary and challenging....why is that?

I love people. I can be outgoing and shy at the same time. I have struggled with social anxiety a better part of my adult life. Challenges arose that led me to feel less confident and more insecure. Adopting my beautiful son left me feeling more aware of the world and tireless for many years. Navigating this new family of mine had me question what society felt a family should "look like."

How are you yourself around others? Is it easy or difficult? Strange or just right? I have learned as I have matured that being me sometimes can be challenging or can be an insecure feeling. It is OK to feel this way. It is a process and a process I now cherish. I thank the good Lord that He has given me different qualities than my neighbor, my friend, my dear family member.

I was fearfully and wonderfully made. So were YOU. Own it friends. Own it.

My dear Lucy up above sure is.

Be blessed.

Have a lovely day darlings.

xo jennifer

joy....thinking outside the box

What brings you joy? God, family, friends, freedom all come to my mind quickly. I believe my joy is up to me and my daily choices. I wanted to think outside the box of joy and ponder what really makes me tick daily outside of my given God, family, friends and freedom.

Thinking outside of the box. Colors. I am able to control most of what I see and take in. Colors are so beautiful. They mix and intertwine and make up such a beautiful landscape. I love to have that landscape in my home as it brings me complete joy.

Infertility. I never in my wildest dreams thought infertility would bring me joy. We had considered adoption when we were madly in love dating and it brought us both joy to dream about. I look back and think, would we really have adopted without infertility? I don't think so. Infertility was a dark hole for four years. However, at the end of the dark tunnel came a joy that I had never experienced before. A joy that brought me my son, FAITH, a different culture and love.

Flowers. It seems simple, but flowers literally bring a smile to my face wider than I can express. I get complete joy from these fresh things and my home looks lovely adorned with them.

Africa. In particular Ethiopia. Everyday I think of this beautiful country and it brings me so much JOY! The people, the beauty, the landscape. We were blessed to be able to travel twice to Ethiopia and we hope and pray within the next few years we can bring our kiddos there and show them where part of our family is from. Joy.

Health. It gives me complete joy.

Speaking of health. Veggies and greens. We are so blessed to live in a country where we can go pick out any fresh veggies and come home wash them and prepare anything we like. Wow folks. That is joy.

Sea salt cardamom hemp lattes. What? I can get them at one place in my little town. I sit there and sip them so slowly and smile away. Joy peeps.

Hubby. In conclusion I must give a shout out to this guy. To watch him be a Godly leader in our family, an amazing father to our kiddos, a husband who works on our marriage....that my friends is Joy. Marriage isn't easy. It takes a lot of work, faith and communication. It is up to us to make it the best we can in this little life we have and bring joy to it.

Joy my lovelies, what is yours? Please share.

Enjoy your day lovelies.

xo jennifer


lucy

The saying goes...a dog is a man's best friend. I was in denial about this until we were blessed with this little pup. I now understand unconditional love from a furry animal. As some of you know, this little lucy lou is quite dependent on me and it is funny to watch. As you can't see in photos, real life shows her on my hip at all times of the day and snuggled by my side at night. God knew I needed a needy pup as it had been 3 years of trying to get pregnant with no success when we welcomed her into our home. This little creature helped my emptiness feeling and continued to be a strength as my health started to become an issue.

I had an abdominal hysterectomy at 34. My life was crashing down, yet my life was building up as 6 weeks to the date of my surgery we were flying to meet our baby boy for the first time in Ethiopia. My body was in so much pain and my mind was confused. This little pup brought me joy and never left my side as my recovery took almost 6 weeks.

When I look back I really don't understand how I was even allowed to fly and meet my son. God worked a miracle and I believe Lucy helped me heal and keep going. I was depressed and in pain and this little fluff ball kept me sane. God knew what I needed and He provided. He does that you know? Sometimes we can't see it at the moment, but when we look back and see His works it can blow your mind. God is good. All the time.

To you lucy loo, I kind of like you.

xo jennifer

5 years ago....

In Ethiopia, bonding and loving....love has no boundaries.

My son is a blessing to us that I strongly feel was God's plan all along. Our journey began 7 years ago, even before his sweet little self was born. We waited in anticipation for almost 2 years before we got the photo of our precious son. He was so beautiful, and we fell in love at first sight. 

Adoption has a magical component to it and there is a love struck feeling like nothing I have ever experienced. You pray and wonder who your child will be, what they will look like, how old they will be when they are placed in your arms forever....

Our forever was on February 7, 2011. A moment that changed me. A moment that made me more patient, more forgiving, a better mama and wife.  I have asked God many times, how was I so blessed to be a part of a journey like this? How did I get chosen to be his mama? Why me? God is good.

Our journey has been one of incredible lengths of love. Love like this has no boundaries, no structure, and no self help book. It is a journey that has given me the opportunity to see life differently, and to be more accepting of life with less judgement and more love.

A few days after bringing him home....oh my heart.

A few days after bringing him home....oh my heart.

We traveled to Ethiopia twice to meet our baby boy. The first time was over Thanksgiving in 2010. What a thankful and most memorable time. The feeling I had when the doors to the orphanage opened as I stood there with 40 children embracing me and not letting go was unbelievable. In one second, life changing.  He had one tear running down his cheek, and so did I. Our lives had just changed for the better. We were in love.

Leaving our baby after being in Ethiopia for a week was like taking my baby from me after birth. As much as it hurt, it gave me a better understanding of how it felt for our baby's birth mama. Adoption has two sides. I am forever humbled and grateful to his birth mama for allowing me to raise him and be his mama. I think of her so often and realize how strong of a woman she was to be able to let her son go to another mama. That my friends, is love.

5 years ago this Sunday we celebrate our boy and our forever family. A day that we are so blessed to have in our lives. A day a special boy became our forever son.

If you have any questions about adoption, please send me an email in the "hello section." I would love to chat.

xo jennifer