in that house… 


In this house, we experienced God’s grace.
We experienced the highest highs and lowest lows of our international adoption, we were called by Jayden’s birth mom and brought home Milo Jayden two weeks later, we nervously committed to an overly friendly mutt dog, and we cried so hard and laughed harder. In this house, I experienced months too long of loneliness, I got the “perfect” job, and I nervously invited new friends into my home. I experienced the worst migraine of my life and came back three days later after brain surgery, unsteady of my feet. We grew closer to each other, and we pushed each other closer to God. We pursued God willingly and sometimes begrudgingly. In this house, we experienced God’s mercy.

Milo: months 8, 9 + 10

Time is really flying now. I can’t quite remember what he did when, and I forgot to do this post a month ago, so we’re lumping it all together! We used to call Milo Screecher Creature, but he’s now transitioned to Reacher Creature. He will nab anything within his reach especially if it isn’t a toy. Favorites to grab: Glasses of water, high chair tray, bib, food in bowl, cell phone, and hanger.

He’s sleeping really well again, and we’re feeling so refreshed! It’s been a long time since he last woke up in the night. Most days, he takes two 1.5-hour naps. Some days are weird and his naps are a little irregular, but we just roll with it.

Bedtime has been a bit of a struggle in the past month or two. We were constantly missing his window of tiredness and frequently unintentionally pushing him to the point of being overtired. It’s so hard to believe that putting him to bed earlier might truly make him wake up later… but it’s true. We’ve had a string of good nights lately, so here’s hoping the weeks of finally getting him to sleep only when we’re also exhausted are over.

Sweet boy still loves his sound machine, sleep sack, and blankie. He likes chewing on it, so it’s often damp and frequently being washed. He wakes up happy every day, and we sometimes have no idea how long he’s been awake because he’s talking happily in his crib by the time we notice. Other days we’re very aware of when he woke up, because he likes thumping his foot on the crib, which is just on the other side of the wall. We call him Thumper.

In the last two months, we’ve found our groove with solids and bottles. He has a bottle when he gets up, after both naps, and before bed. We do solids three times a day after he wakes up, after his first nap, and after his second nap. We most frequently do purees with oatmeal mixed in, but we do a good number of finger foods, too. Usually fruit for breakfast, veggies for lunch, and meat for dinner.

He still likes everything we’ve tried, though he definitely likes some things more than others. Cheese, chicken, and crackers seem to be his favorites. And they’re mine, too, ya know?

Rolling, rolling, rolling. He’s not crawling, but he is proficient at rolling to all corners of the house. He also loves finding any bit of dust, dog hair, or leaf particle to put in his mouth. There may have been an incident in which Oscar chewed up a stuffed toy and Milo later rechewed parts of the stuffed toy we missed with the vacuum.

Milo still loves being outside and in new places. In Target, he leans back in the cart to look at the lights on the ceiling, sits up to stare at people, and cranes his neck to see the TVs.

Dislikes: He still does not like the sun in his eyes, especially if he’s trying to sleep in the car. On a recent hour-long drive, he thrashed around until we opened an umbrella in the car to block the area where the sun was coming in. He doesn’t like getting stuck in spots he can’t roll out of, and he really doesn’t like getting his mouth cleaned out when we know he’s got a non-food something in there.

In the last three months, he experienced his first trip to the apple orchard, first trip to the pumpkin patch, first trip to the zoo, first taste of a French fry, first real owie, first time petting a cat, and first trip to his paternal grandparents’ house.

Milestones: So many changes in the past three months! He has eight total teeth, with six of them coming in all at the same time. He’s sitting all the time, rolling all over, getting up on his knees, and reaching for everything. His first word was “Mama” and his second word is “Oskie,” our nickname for Oscar. Still working on “Papa!” He claps on command pretty often.

(at his 9-month appointment):
Weight — 25 lbs 13 oz (97th percentile)
Length — 32 in (99th percentile)
Head — 46.5 cm (80th percentile)

showing love to our neighbors + others with Hallmark

On Halloween night, during a lull in the action at our current home, I loaded Milo into the car. We were just going to drive by our new home (yes, this home!) to see how many trick-or-treaters that neighborhood gets. Then I noticed several future neighbors’ lights on. My stomach felt a little nervous…  Introvertedness and a feeling that I’m always awkward in conversations I haven’t had the opportunity to rehearse… I wasn’t going to let that win.

With Cookie Monster on my hip, we knocked on two doors and met two very kind neighbors. Mary and Tori. I was glad to have introduced myself to these neighbors. But I regret to tell you I’m not sure I know many names of the neighbors besides us and across from us at our current home.

It’s a pretty big regret, honestly. By not being more intentional about getting to know our neighbors, we’ve missed opportunities for friendship. We’ve lost out on conversations we could have had about Safe Families and adoption and the kids who have come into our home. We’ve diluted many of our relationships down to a “Hey, how’s it going?” and “Chilly out today, huh?”

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It is quite convenient that we will be moving to our new home right before the holidays. We are excited to be intentional about quickly and directly introducing ourselves to our neighbors and new mail carrier. (It’s important to be friends with the mail carrier when he or she is the person your dog dislikes most.) My mind is already reeling with the ways we can do this in the least awkward way possible. Homemade cookies, boxed treats, coffee gift cards, candles, handwritten notes in greeting cards? But I don’t think it’s worth it to analyze all the options. We’re just going to do it.

I had the fun opportunity to check out Hallmark’s holiday offerings, and I was quickly drawn to the greeting cards, gift wrap, and gift trim. I bought several, because I like sprucing up the little things we give to our neighbors and community service people around the holidays. I have always wrapped a greeting card with cash or a gift card inside to give to our mail carrier. I think (hope!) it helps the card stick out and not get lost in the shuffle of other mail.

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I was truly impressed by the variety of cute, contemporary gifts and holiday decor at our nearby Hallmark. And I was this close to buying a stuffed nativity set for Milo’s first Christmas. But I think he and the neighbor babies would just gnaw on them this year.

I made a little video of our experience… Though Milo doesn’t make it in any of the shots, he visited Hallmark with me and later “helped” wrap up a box of cookies and a little greeting card. I can’t wait to celebrate Christmas with him in our family this year!




Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Hallmark Gold Crown, but experiences expressed here are my own.


Halloween 2015: Cookie Monster + Oscar the Grouch

For those who don’t follow on Instagram, Facebook, and anywhere else I frequently post the cutest pictures of these two. Conveniently, Oscar got ahold of Milo’s plastic cookie and gave it a good chewing before we took this picture.

the two best questions my husband asks me

So Much Love by Kristi Kohut

Whether social work or marriage or motherhood, I’ve never been more mindful of the emotions I’m feeling and why I’m feeling them. But there still seems to be some sort of gap between recognizing them and putting them to words and not letting them negatively affect my interactions with Dan.

(Just don’t read Brené Brown’s books or listen to her TED Talk unless you want to get your mind rocked, friends. We were laughing with tears in our eyes about the ways her interactions with her husband are like mine with Dan.)

I recently became more aware of interactions I’d have with Dan that would leave me feeling so cared for despite being so simple and short. It was pleasant, but I couldn’t figure out what he was doing. I eventually nailed it down: He’s been asking me two questions that are perfectly suited for my sometimes-jumbled-mess-of-being. Here we go.

If you’re prone to disappointment and high or simply not-communicated expectations: What are your expectations for today? (Or this date, this meal, this trip to the mall, this party, this visit to Target… My expectations are apparently endless.) 

It works really well when I can examine my expectations and communicate to them. It works even better when he responds to them with agreement or with a challenge that they may be unreasonable. It may work best when I say — and mean — I don’t have any expectations.

If you’re a feeler. You know, an “F” when you take the Myers-Briggs assessmentHow are you feeling today? (Or about this recent news, about your grandpa getting sick, about a new job, about an upcoming move.) 

This isn’t a question about physical well-being… It’s about emotional well-being and what’s going on inside my head. I sometimes feel like I’m feeling things ten times more deeply than Dan, so sometimes I don’t willingly communicate what I’m feeling because I don’t like how it makes me feel embarrassed or uptight. Or like a burden to him. These are lies, though — lies! — so this question is golden for me. He gives me the opportunity to unload what I may have been feeling and not communicating.

This is really a small snapshot. I use these questions with him, and I use them with friends. I like them.

the two best questions my husband asks me

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate link used

roles + expectations in our marriage as new parents

In pre-marital counseling, our workbooks had a section where we wrote different household tasks and who would complete each task. It was a joke. Because of Dan’s constantly changing schedule and my changing roles as student, social worker, and mama, we just haven’t had continuity since day one. And any semblance of a routine we established was thrown off by the addition of a baby man in our home.

For a while now, I very frequently find myself disappointed. Without realizing it, I spend all day every day thinking about how an event with go, what this person will say, and how I will feel when this or that happens. I have expectations. They’re usually high expectations, and if they’re negative expectations, I’m even thrown off a bit when something goes better than I expected. You can see how this would negatively affect a marriage, can’t you?

Before we had a baby, I would go into the office for a few hours and come home to find Dan had made lunch, picked up the mail I had tossed on the couch, and walked the dog. Once Milo came, I would tag off baby duties to Dan, go into the office, and come home to find the house slightly more messy than I left it. I was annoyed.

I couldn’t manage to get much done in the way of household tasks while Dan was at work. But surely he could get more done than me, right? I was not communicating my expectations at all. And the expectations I already wasn’t communicating were way too high. Crazy high. I needed a reality check, and it came painfully late in the game.

We’ve found it’s best to be painfully direct about our expectations. If Dan’s heading out for the day, I ask what he hopes I’ll be able to get done by the time he’s back. If I’m leaving to run some errands, I suggest when I think he should feed Milo solid foods and put him down for a nap. If the dead plants on the front step are driving me crazy, I ask if Dan could please throw them out by the end of the day. It takes some humility to say “yes, I will do that,” and we really do it. 

To simplify it further, we bought a tear-off daily notepad. I get to write one thing for him each day, and he gets to write one thing for me. No discussions about who has more time in the day or if the task is to big to accomplish in the day. We give each other grace and offer flexibility, of course.

We’re getting in the swing of things, but his schedule still increases or decreases in hours from week to week. I know any change — more work hours, the addition of more kids, new responsibilities at work — will change it up again. But this direct communication of expectations? This is here to stay.

my striving, His promises, and buying a home

 I burst into tears telling Dan, “I just don’t feel like God wants us to have nice and good things.” Whoa. Where did this come from? I got in the shower, where I seem to do my best processing lately — maybe it’s the lavender bath salt I’ve been dumping out every time — and I pretty quickly figured it out.

In the past month, we’ve decided to commit to staying in Indianapolis when Dan finishes residency, unless we feel a strong calling to go elsewhere. The appeal of the Pacific Northwest and other more glamorous, scenic areas of the country is strong. Our minds tell us to go and explore living other places while we’re still young! But our hearts are telling us the Lord has called us here and we need to lay aside some of our city-hopping desires to commit fully to our friends, church community, and city. Like, invest in the good of our city. 

With this commitment, we’ve started talking about home buying. When we should do it, where we should do it, if we should do it, or if we should ride out this we-don’t-have-to-mow-the-lawn situation as long as possible. Our home buying decisions were majorly sped up when I walked by my “dream house.” We (foolishly?) went to see it before taking the other steps one usually takes before touring homes for sale.

This house sent me into a tizzy. I wasn’t sleeping well. And I was obsessed with the thought of relaxing baths in a nice, new bathtub, and our children playing on the floors of their freshly carpeted bedrooms. I wanted it badly. We started looking more closely at our finances and talking about goals and contacting banks. And then the tears and frustration and fear and worry hit.

Because, here’s what I have foolishly taught myself: If I don’t work hard enough and fast enough to get something I want, God will take it away. Unfortunately, I still kick myself about not overnight mailing a specific document for our international adoption a few years ago. It’s truly possible that if we had overnighted it, our boys would have been home two years ago. I can’t let it go. And I use it as The Example for why I must always work hard and fast. And The Example for why I think God sometimes punishes me for not working hard enough and fast enough.

That’s a load of sad, yucky, untruthful lies, isn’t it?

I burst into tears, got in the shower, and realized I’m believing the lie that I must work as hard and as fast as possible to get a good thing God has set before me. And that if I don’t work hard and fast, He will take it away.

The very real truth is that He has plans for me and He wants my good. Ultimately, this “dream house” may be out of our reach financially. Or we won’t get things in order in time to make an offer on it. Or we will find out it’s not a good option for our little family. I don’t need to strive and fret. I don’t need to dwell on the paperwork that wasn’t overnighted. I can feel peace and hope going forward at all times.

motherhood makes for a terrible hobby

I observed it a bit before becoming a mother, and I’ve confirmed it to be true now that I’m a little more inside the motherhood circle. It can be very easy to make motherhood a hobby. And if I may be honest, it really doesn’t make a good hobby for me.

I was slow to get in motherhood-type groups and conversations with other mamas. I hoped I wouldn’t be enveloped in conversations about cloth diapering and natural childbirth and baby food and potty training. I just don’t enjoy it. I wanted to talk about my favorite TV shows or the book I just finished or the new restaurant I just tried. These are really fun for me. They make me excited!

Do hear me say this: If you really enjoy talking about the ins and outs of the methods and products and experiences you have used and had as a mother, I respect that. If your experiences have more often than not been hard and unenjoyable, I respect that, and that may very well be me at some point. If mothering little people makes you pop out of bed each morning with vigor for the day, I really respect that.

But motherhood doesn’t make a good hobby for me. I find great joy in my son. I love being his mama, and I love watching him grow and develop. I don’t love dwelling on his tendency to take 45-minute naps. I don’t love talking about the types of diapers he wears (Kirkland Signature) or the types of baby food we feed him (whatever is on sale).

I have to remind myself of one fact in all of this: God has designed and equipped each of us differently. He has given us each unique passions and interests. Some of us like to widely share all our struggles and some of us like to widely share only specific struggles and some of us choose to only share struggles with our two closest friends. I sinfully struggle to offer grace to people who aren’t like me. At times I really struggle to offer grace to the mamas who are grumpy and negative and weary. I do think it will be me one day, though. And I hope to goodness you offer me grace when it is.

I want to remind you of one fact: Though we were all united under this common purpose and call on our lives as mothers, we all have so many other parts of ourselves to share. Treating motherhood as your ultimate hobby and finding your identity in it will eventually let you down and suck you dry. I like hobbies that bring me rest and fuel my creativity and educate me. So far, I’ve seen very little of that happening when my sole focus day-in and day-out is keeping this little man safe, rested, and fed.

Motherhood is a highly important calling, but it’s really fun and okay to immerse ourselves in other healthy interests and hobbies. So, if you’re feeling let down and sucked dry while you sit down to feed baby another bowl of turkey and rice pureed mush, remember you have so much more to offer to those who know you, and God has given you so much more to enjoy. There’s room for all of us and all our interests in the mom conversations.

Milo: months 6 + 7

I started crying at Milo’s bedtime last night. Dan was holding him in the rocking chair while I saw sitting on the guest bed in his nursery. I had just put him in size 18 months pajamas (that have to run small!) and a new, bigger sleep sack. He looked so dang big sprawled out in Dan’s lap, and then he held his own bottle. And promptly dropped it. But, man, time is flying. I wish I had savored more of his tiny days. I wish I had cuddled him more and read to him more and taken more pictures of him. This is very normal, right?


A few little things I want to remember, because I’m afraid they’ll go away some day soon: He always sneezes twice in a row, and he almost always makes a sighing/murmuring sound after he sneezes. It’s the cutest. He gives a pretty stern and non-expressive face to strangers who talk to him, but the lucky ones get to see a smile cracked for a brief bit. He likes looking up at me while I walk around with him in a carrier. He’s discovered his hair, and he likes running his fingers through it when he’s tired.

He loves when I sing hymns in my old lady church voice, and it’s the easiest way to get him to smile on demand for pictures. He wakes up happy all the time. He strokes and chews on his blankie and rolls around and talks to himself sweetly. We frequently don’t know what time he woke up in the morning, because he’s so quiet when he does. He also talks to himself softly in the car after we’ve been out in some sort of social setting like Dan’s work events or church. I like to think he’s rehashing what he saw and did. Also, the big closed-mouth smile? My favorite.


Sleeps: We’ve had some ups and downs in this department the last couple months. Teething, travel, and sickness threw our little buddy off. Lots of 45-minute naps and multiple nighttime wake-ups. We seem to have turned a corner, though. He’s sleeping through the night again most nights, and he seems to be taking longer naps most days.

He’s a bit of a mess if he’s overtired, so we try like crazy to avoid that. He seems to enjoy his little naptime routine of putting on his sleep sack, turning on the sound machine, and being handed his blankie. He puts himself to sleep for naps and bedtime. We’ve managed that without any “crying it out,” and I’m really proud of that. I read a lot about awake time lengths in babies at different ages, and I’ve learned his sleepy signals. I may be a little too informed about baby sleep patterns right now, but we’re all happier with lots of sleep and no crying!


He drinks about six ounces of formula every four hours and has solids in between. He’s slowly tapering off how much he drinks as he eats more. We’ve done a mix of feeding him purees and letting him feed himself different foods. Letting him feed himself usually results in food in his hair and lots on the floor for Oscar to eat. He seems to like everything equally right now and doesn’t mind when we introduce new foods. He really likes warm rice cereal, and he’ll open wide for that over and over again.

Likes: I think Milo still likes just about everything. Seriously. He really likes water… He’s happy to kick and flap if we hold him in the pool, and he really likes laying on his back in the tub when it’s filled with very shallow water. He kicks his little legs and flaps his arms and talks to himself. He has never fussed in the water. I think he forgets any amount of tiredness or hunger or coldness he feels when he’s in there.


He loves being outside. Walks are still way fun for him, and he’s happy to chew on the straps of the stroller harness the whole time. He’s started trying to grab at Oscar’s leash to help us walk him. Really, he seems to enjoy new experiences and new places. It’s fun to push him in the stroller or carry him in the carrier and watch him take it all in.

He’s a pretty loud guy when he’s comfortable at home. He yells a lot and screeches (though that has diminished, thankfully). He’s making sounds that sound much more like words lately. He also likes to make fart noises with his mouth. (“Blow raspberries” is the nice way to say that, huh?)

Dislikes: Having the sun directly in his eyes, being put down for a nap too early, waiting for us to make a bottle when he’s hungry, getting knocked over by Oscar while trying to sit up. That’s really all there is!

Firsts: Film festival (ha!), solid foods, swinging at the park, baseball game with friends, swimming in a pool, swimming in a lake, and first overnight away from us.


Milestones: TEETH! Two little teeth. One popped through and the second popped out about two days later. Finally rolling both ways. Mostly sitting up without assistance. He topples over often, but he doesn’t mind it. He’s start to trying to get up on his knees, but so far just lots of floor swimming.

Milo’s adoption was also finalized shortly before his 7-month birthday! I’m still trying to wrap my head around all that his adoption finalization means to us. I want to right about it. Soon!

Stats (at his 6-month appointment):
Weight — 21 lbs 6 oz (94th percentile)
Length — 29 in (98th percentile)
Head — 44.5 cm (68th percentile)

social media and my blog: it’s complicated

patterned cactus by maria hilas louie for minted

Patterned Cactus by Maria Hilas Louie

My relationship status with social media and my blog has changed from “in a serious relationship” to “it’s complicated.” I think.

I learned the idea of keeping what brings me joy from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and it hasn’t left my mind. I’ve started considering it in terms of all “things” in my life… not just objects in my home. I know my theory is flawed. I know I can’t only do, see, read, watch, eat, and use things that bring me joy. There’s a lot of necessary but mundane parts of my days that I can’t just give up on. But social media — or aspects of social media — has stopped bringing me joy. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed the times I turn off and disconnect while we’ve been on little trips or I just needed a weekend to unwind. I unintentionally stopped reading blogs in Feedly — a blog reader where I receives updates from 400 blogs — on our last trip. When I realized, there were definitely a few I wanted to check in on. I evaluated those, and I realized they were blogs of people who write in a raw, stream-of-conciousness, these-are-stories-from-my-life sort of way. Not posts like 5 Uses for Baby Wipes or How to Style a Chambray Shirt. There is nothing wrong with these, of course. They’re just not my primary interest right now.

My Twitter feed has become a stream of advertisements and sponsored posts and promoted posts. My Instagram has become filled with loop giveaways and highly-styled shots. My Facebook has become an advertising platform for small businesses products I can’t usually afford.

So, in an effort to simplify and clear my mind and fill myself with joyful, uplifting things, I’m attempting to step back. Unfollowing people and businesses that just don’t do it anymore. Bookmarking a handful of blogs to check on once in a while. Getting excited about Snapchat, which is silly but possibly one of the social media platforms I’m enjoying the most. Writing here only when I really feel compelled to share a genuine glimpse into our lives and what I’m being taught. 

While not being enveloped in the time suck that is my social media usage, you’ll find me rediscovering a love for reading and devouring books. And getting excited again about one of my favorite (expensive) hobbies: film photography. I’ll be loving and enjoying my Milo and Dan. I’ll be trying to develop more in-person relationships with those we’ve grown to love in Indianapolis. You’ll find me working more hours interviewing and assessing potential foster and adoptive parents while sneaking work time in during Milo’s naps. I’ll be attempting to exercise and cook healthy meals which I’ve learned does, unfortunately, take a good amount of time. I’ll be trying my best to keep up with She Reads Truth. Oh, and you’ll find me on Snapchat as littlethingsbig. I’m seriously really into that lately.

This is where I am right now, and it may change. But it feels like a good choice right now.