Monday, April 29, 2013

adoption :: is age really just a number?

In this crazy process of adoption, we have been asked literally hundreds of questions as we think about the child or children that we will one day bring home... Domestic?  International?  Boy?  Girl?  Special needs?  Race?  ...And age.

Age was the one question that I didn't think we would have any trouble answering.

Newborn.  Done.


Well... it seemed simple enough.

But once we decided that our adoption endeavors included not just 1 little tot... but 2 instead, (meaning possibly siblings)... our hard and fast "newborn" answer shifted slightly to, "newborn - 3 years old."

3 years old still seemed manageable.

Then our agency called.  Knowing we are interested and open to sibling groups, they strongly encouraged us to consider "newborn - 4 years old."

Okay... 4 years old.  We could still do that.

Then... our agency sent an email out to all the families in their Uganda program... It was an email regarding 2 separate sibling pairs... both pairs older than our "newborn - 4 years" range... one sibling pair was a 5 and a 7 year old... the other was a 4 and an 8 year old.  The email was pretty general... mostly information from our agency about the advantages of adopting sibling pairs... a couple of sentences about the kids...

And pictures.

Photos.  Of the sweetest faces I have ever seen.

Oh, my heart.  My once convinced "newborn - 3 years old" age range, suddenly began to waver.  Both Lance and I found ourselves sneaking glances at that email... staring at those sweet faces... wondering is age really just a number?

Such a hard question.  One we still don't entirely know how to answer.  We desperately want to be responsible as we continue to push through this adoption process... knowing that God will give us the strength and wisdom to love our children well... regardless of their ages.  But none-the-less... it's scary.

As parenting should be.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

thankful thursday {link up}

{Link up your own Thankful Thursday post below...}

This Thursday I am thankful for...

1) Birthdays.  April seems to be quite a month for birthdays.  I have loved celebrating with so many of my special friends (both near and far) this month.  I am so thankful for these dear friends... the memories we share and things they have taught me.

2) Chicken love.  The chickens have recently started eating out of my hand... which is awesome.  I'm telling you, they totally love me:)  Now... if only I could get them to let me hold them...

3) Settling in.  It's week 3 of my new job and I finally feel like I'm settling in a bit... settling in with my new schedule... settling in with my new co-workers... settling in with my new job responsibilities... just simply settling in.  And for that I am grateful.

What are you thankful for this week? Grab the Thankful Thursday button from the right sidebar and link up your own post below. Be sure to visit the other Thankful Thursday participants and share the love!!

I may be linking up with these fellow Thankful ladies:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Sooooo.... I have recently been going through a slight blazer-phase.  I feel like I was just recently re-acquainted with classic professional piece.  I'm not sure if it was going through the whole interview process that did it, or simply the excitement of dressing up for a new job... but either way, I'm digging them right now.

I think part of it is the fact that in today's fashion world, blazers are no longer the definition of boring, stuffy, business attire.  They now come in all sorts of colors, prints, patterns and fabrics.  Many are actually even comfortable.  I know.  Crazy, right?

It all started with this amazing royal blue blazer that I scored from Forever 21.  I'm not going to lie... I pretty much wore to all of my interviews and recruitment meetings...

{WARNING: lots of awesome selfies to follow... most of them while parked in my car... because I'm cool like that.}

It is a gorgeous royal blue, comfy cotton fabric lined with silk on the inside.  I love that it has a classic shape, but the bold color definitely ensures that it's not boring.

On the first day of my new job I pulled out this black & white striped blazer that I've probably had for over 2 years.  I'm not quite sure why I haven't worn it more often?  It' super comfortable and I love the way it looks with the bright yellow:)

I recently bought this floral blazer on clearance from Target.  It's some kind of denim material, so not quite as comfy and stretchy as it's cotton counterparts, but I'm totally loving the feminine floral pattern.  I'm thinking this blazer would look great with a simple gray t-shirt as well??

This blazer is a tad darker than the royal blue one pictured above... and I'm digging the black leather trim details on this one.  Again, this blazer is super comfortable, in a stretchy cotton fabric, with 3/4 sleeves.  I love the classic, polished look of this jacket.

And how about some polka-dots for good measure?  I'm not typically a big polka-dot fan, but I figured the black & white color combo toned down the polka-dot party.  You can't really tell from this picture, but I paired it with a simple mint green t-shirt, which I surprisingly really loved.

Told you.  I'm a little out of control... a little blazer-happy lately. 

However... I do have this one blazer that seems to have stumped me.  It's a bright coral blazer from Forever 21.  I bought it several months ago, but it still has the tags on it.  I can't seem to figure out how to wear it.  I'm not sure if it's the color that is throwing me off or the more formal-feeling fabric?

a) I thought about doing a pink-on-pink type of look and pairing it with a floral feminine tank?

b) Or maybe a nautical touch?  A white flowy top with little black anchors on it?

c) Or how about my favorite heart blouse for a more classic, collared look?

What do you think??  Are you a fan of the blazer?  Thoughts/opinions on styling the challenging coral blazer?  

Linking up to The Pleated Poppy.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

top 10 :: spring cleaning ideas

I'm not sure what it is about springtime that prompts organization and cleanliness... but regardless, I have spring fever.  I'm loving this warmer weather and I'm ready to knock out a few things off my spring cleaning list.  Here are the top 10 things on my spring cleaning to-do list... and all Pinterest inspired (of course:)...

1) Organize my expedite shelves.  I recently moved some stuff around in my office, which included a big expedite shelf... and for now, there is all kinds of crap shoved into the shelves.  I'm hoping to bring some order to the chaos eventually.

2) Create a "life folder" of some sort.  With all of the adoption paperwork we have been doing lately, now is the perfect time to clean up and update our personal files.  I've been using a similar system for our adoption paperwork, so I'm thinking this will be fairly easy to create.

3) Paint something.  Spring is the perfect time to paint that old piece of furniture that you keep talking about, or maybe you're super artsy and need to pull out the brushes and canvas?  I'm not quite sure what yet... but I'll be painting something this spring:)

4) Do something with my pictures.  I have been working on a Project Life album this past year, but I am incredibly behind.  I would love to figure out a system that works for me... especially in getting all of those past year's photos off of my computer and into an album of some sort.

5) Bring order to my closet.  I may not be able to have a customized walk-in closet... but I can organize parts of my closet.  I love this idea of using an old dresser in a totally new way.

6) Organize those recipes.  I may not cook much... but you would never know that by the amount of recipe cards I have stuffed all over the place.  I have a cute little recipe book... but the cards just never seem to make their way back to the right spot... which is proof that I actually used some of them at one time... 

7) Make use of unseen cabinet space.  This is the perfect spot for take out menus, important phone numbers, baby-sitter notes, and even calendars and doctor appointment reminders.  And those little Martha Stewart self sealing protectors make it super easy to corral everything in one spot.

8) Clean out the fridge.  With my new job, I have been trying to make my lunch more often... and the task is way easier if everything is visible in the refrigerator.  I also love the idea of having all of the sandwich supplies in one convenient container... makes the whole "make-your-lunch-experience" way more tolerable.

9) Splurge on fresh flowers.  It's amazing how much fresh spring flowers can boost your mood.  And how cute is this bouquet in this adorable teapot!

10) Keep going.  And just in case you run out of spring cleaning ideas... here is a website that lists out 40 very attainable organizing ideas.  Most of these are 5-10 minute tasks.  Brilliant.

What about you?  Do you have a spring cleaning list?  Have you already started?  Finished?  Any tips for us late bloomers?

Linking up with...
Michelle at The Vintage Apple
Angie at Many Little Blessings

Monday, April 22, 2013

weekend festivities... texas style

Why is it that weekends always seem to move faster than weekdays?  I swear, I turned around and blinked and I was on a plane back to Louisville.  I guess that whole, "time flies when you're having fun" thing is really true.

I was scheduled to fly out of Louisville sometime around 6:00 on Thursday evening...

But one margarita and two hours later, I finally boarded my plane around 8:00pm...

Thankfully, Houston seemed to wait up for me:)

Friday night consisted of dinner-and-a-movie with my parents.  We went to the Alamo Draft House Cinema to see 42... the movie about baseball legend Jackie Robinson.  It was sooo good... I definitely recommend...

Saturday was spent doing a couple of photo shoots (the main purpose for my trip).  My first session was with a beautiful family, where this little guy seemed to steal the show...

The second photo shoot was a bridal portrait session for a wedding I am shooting in May.  I won't be sharing any sneak peeks on the blog until after the wedding day... but take my word for it, the bride was stunning...

Saturday night I joined my parents and my Nana & Pop for some live music at Wine Styles, an awesome local wine tasting bar.  The evening was filled with great wine and even better music...

The music was by singer/songwriter Lizi Bailey, and her husband Matthew Bailey.  They are an incredibly talented pair.  They have become family friends of ours and are seriously some of the most genuine people.  Head over to her website to check out her new album, Bells & Whistles.

Of course I couldn't leave Houston before sneaking at least one kolache.  I'm kicking myself for not just buying a dozen and bringing them home with me.

I was welcomed home with laundry and sunshine.  But thankfully I flew back early enough to be able to enjoy both:)

I'm glad to be back and thankful for such a wonderful weekend with family and friends.  What about you?  How was your weekend?

Friday, April 19, 2013

happy weekend.

I finally made it to Houston last night.  Just 3 hours later than I thought I would.  Thanks to a 2 hour airport delay and a 1 hour in-flight delay due to weather (we had to re-route and fly over Dallas).  Yay. Fun times.

But regardless, I am here.

And I am SO, SO, SO looking forward to spending time with my parents and a couple of super fun photo shoots tomorrow.  It will be a quick trip, but wonderful none-the-less.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

thankful thursday {link up}

{Link up your own Thankful Thursday post below...}

This Thursday I am thankful for...

1) A trip to Houston!!  I am flying out to Houston tonight and I am super excited!  The main purpose for my trip is for a photo shoot, but obviously I will be staying with my parents and I am so looking forward to my time with them.

2) A fun bridal portrait photo shoot.  As I mentioned above, the main purpose for my Houston trip this weekend is for a bridal portrait shoot.  I will be photographing the wedding in May, which I know will be stunning.  But I especially love bridal portrait sessions... I love that quality time with the bride as she sees herself for the first time all decked out as she will be on her wedding day.  Such a fun time.

3) Relaxation.  I'm also hoping to sneak a little bit of R&R in this weekend.  The first two weeks of my new job have taken it out of me.  It's kind of mentally exhausting being on your A-game all the time:)  I'm looking forward to some low-key time with my parents... some sleeping in... and maybe even a massage.

What are you thankful for this week? Grab the Thankful Thursday button from the right sidebar and link up your own post below. Be sure to visit the other Thankful Thursday participants and share the love!!

Also linking up with:

Monday, April 15, 2013

chicken shit and other probing questions...

Last week I posted a bit about our new feathered friends and I tried my best to answer as many anticipated questions as possible.  Turns out there are quite a handful of you that have considered having a few backyard hens of your own, or are simply curious about what the process might be like.

So today, as I sat outside eating my chicken sandwich while watching my own chickens (disturbing, I know) I thought I would do a follow-up post, hoping to answer some of your probing chicken questions.  I figured who wouldn't be thrilled to start their Monday off with a post about chicken shit.

No really... that's one of the questions... chicken shit...

1) "I'm kinda wondering about the poop... weird question?  Seems like 8 chickens would get a little messy..."

And yes.  You're right.  Having eight chickens definitely is a little messy.  Initially, we kept the girls in their run (fenced in area), so the poop really wasn't an issue.  But now we open their run during the day so they can have free-range over the entire backyard... so, to be blunt, there is basically crap everywhere.  But I will say this, chicken poop dries up very quickly, so while there is a lot of poop... it's not necessarily "messy" if that makes sense.  Also, as soon as the yard is mowed, it will be good as new... poop free, but extremely fertilized:)

2) "Do they eat the grass?"

Yes.  They eat pretty much anything growing in the ground.  They eat grass, but love our patches of clover and dandelions.  And as I found out yesterday, they will also eat Cheddar Sun Chips.

3) "You guys could start making some money off the eggs (free-range!) if you wanted to..."

For sure.  We definitely plan to sell some of the eggs... especially if we have as many as we think we will.  I mean, a girl can only eat so many omelets.  We will be sharing eggs (free) with several of our neighbors, and we also plan to do some trading as well.  I'm hoping we can find someone to trade a dozen eggs for homemade bread.

4) "How much did it cost to buy the birds and get the coop and cage set up?"

This is a great question.  Surprisingly, chickens are pretty cheap.  We paid just $12.50/each for ours.  It's the coop that can end up getting expensive.  If you decide to purchase a pre-made coop, it will likely cost anywhere from $300-$500... and that was a little (okay, a lot) out of our price range.  So, Lance, being the handy man that he is, set out to purchase all of the materials and build our own coop... all for just over $60.  Then he probably spent another $15 on the run (cage) portion.  If you can build your own, or know someone that can help you, that is definitely the most affordable route to go.

5) "Is it (the cost) going to be worth it in the end for all the 'free' eggs?"

I'm going to say yes here.  Although technically we haven't experienced any of the "free" eggs yet (the girls will start producing in about 7-8 more weeks).  But here's the thing.... for us, this endeavor is more than just the free eggs.  Sure, that's part of it... and I'll be sure to let you know if free-range eggs that come out of your backyard are really that much better than the eggs you buy at the grocery store.  But a bigger part of this for us is building relationships within our community.  We are having conversations (about eggs) with neighbors that we have never spoken to since we've lived here.  We are talking to local farmers and restaurant owners about trading goods.  We have neighborhood kids stop by the house to see and feed "the chickens."  And that is awesome.

6) "I've been wanting a small brood of chickens myself, but we're renting the house we're in now and all of our neighbors have dogs."

Some backyards and neighborhoods are totally not chicken-friendly... but you would be surprised.  We are also renters, but we have an awesome landlord that has pretty much given us free reign to do as we please in the backyard.  We don't have any restrictions on backyard chickens in our neighborhood (no roosters though)... but we did make sure to check with both of our next-door neighbors before bringing any feathered friends home.  Both of our neighbors have been extremely supportive and excited about the chickens.  One of our adjoining neighbors has a large black lab, who on occasion likes to bark at the chickens, but other than that, she's been harmless.  Our backyard is obviously well-fenced in, which helps.

If you are truly considering some backyard hens yourself, I strongly recommend the book City Chicks, by Patricia Foreman.  It has been extremely helpful in answering a slew of questions that we have had.

If any of you decide to take the plunge and become "city chicks" yourself, I would love to hear about it... In the meantime, I'll be sure to keep you posted with our own stories of chicken adventures:) 

Friday, April 12, 2013

i want to embrace.

I want to embrace the early mornings... because it means I have a new job here.  

I want to embrace our busy calendar... because it means we have upcoming adventures.

I want to embrace my new 30 mile commute... because it means I have some protected quiet time.  

I want to embrace my unfinished to-do list... because it means I was spending time doing instead of planning.

I want to embrace the dirty dishes... because it means we were well fed.

I want to embrace our stack of adoption paperwork... because it means we are that much closer to bringing home our babies.

I want to embrace the unknown... because it means that even though I don't know... He does.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

thankful thursday {link up}

{Link up your own Thankful Thursday post below...}

This Thursday I am thankful for...

1) My new job.  So far the first 3 days of my new job have been pretty awesome...  My new job is an accounting position with a large label manufacturing company... they print all kinds of consumer labels... Coca-Cola, Tide, Folgers, Miller, 5 Hour Energy... all kinds of good stuff.  My new co-workers have all been super friendly and the training's actually been kind of fun.  Overall, no complaints here:)

2) Sunroof weather.  The weather has been AMAZING this past week and has definitely made my new commute much more enjoyable.  There's just something about driving with the sunroof open that makes 30 miles way less painful.

3) New sprouts.  In my weekend post, these little guys were just starting to sprout up... and just a few short days later they are now out of control!  Our beans have shot up overnight... and now all of the tomato plants have sprouted.  These little guys are so fascinating to me.

What are you thankful for this week? Grab the Thankful Thursday button from the right sidebar and link up your own post below. Be sure to visit the other Thankful Thursday participants and share the love!!

Also linking up with:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

a post about chickens...

So... Chickens.  

True story: We are now the proud owners of chickens.  Eight of them to be exact.  Yes, eight.  Just call me Farmer Julia.  Well... truth be told, it's really Lance that is the farmer here.  I'm just here for moral support... and the scrambled eggs:)
I'll admit, at first I was pretty skeptical.  Chickens??  In our backyard??

But sure enough, these gals are starting to grow on me.

A few things to note in case you don't know much about chickens (I certainly didn't)...  All eight of our chickens are little ladies... no roosters at this party.  We got them for eggs... not chicken legs.

The girls have their very own chicken penthouse... compliments of Lance.  They have a "coop" (the metal part) which is where they sleep and eventually is where they will lay their eggs.  And then they also have a little "run" (the larger cage part) which is where they can roam around a bit while still being protected.

We typically open the run during the day so the girls can wander around the entire backyard.  They are absolutely hilarious to watch.  Chickens really are as dumb as people say they are... which makes for some pretty awesome backyard entertainment.

The main reason why we decided to get the Astralop chickens was because we had read that this type was known to be super docile.  We wanted our friend's kids and our neighbor's kids, and even our own kids eventually, to be able to play and interact with the chickens.  So far we've been pretty impressed.

We feed them a blend of grains, and fill up the feeder about once every 2-3 days.  These little ladies are very well fed... and so are the neighborhood squirrels, so we've learned.

We also give them a few handfuls of mill worms (aka chicken crack) everyday.  It's like candy.  I know it looks gross, but it's like dried peanut shells or something... and the chickens love this stuff.

All you have to do is shake the mill worm bag a couple of times and the girls come runnin'.  They love them some chicken crack.

Probably the number one question that we've been asked is, "Aren't they loud?" or "Don't your neighbors mind?"  And the answer is no, and no.  Surprisingly the chickens barely make a peep.  They do a little bit of soft chirping, but you can hardly hear it.  On a rare occasion one of them might let out a little squawk... but even that is pretty quiet.  From what I understand, it's the roosters that are typically the noisy ones, and since we have all girls, noise just hasn't been an issue.  And as for my neighbors... they love them.  Both of our next door neighbors have been over numerous times to see the chickens and everyone's excited about the eggs.

Which is probably the number two question... "When do they start laying eggs?"  Typically a hen will start laying her eggs around 20 weeks.  Our chickens are about 11-12 weeks old right now... so we should start seeing some eggs in about 2 more months... and after that we'll have eggs coming out of our ears.

Bedtime comes like clockwork for these girls.  As soon as the sun starts to go down, one by one, the chickens walk up the ramp to settle in their cozy coop.  We have a couple of roosts built inside and they all huddle together for a good night's sleep.  If you go out late enough at night, you can even hear them snoring... swear.

So, what does Little Cat think about his new sisters??
He's completely unimpressed.  He will sit and watch them for hours, but for the most part doesn't really know what to make of his new feathered friends.

What about you?  Do you know anyone that has backyard chickens?  Have you thought about it yourself?  Stay tuned for more tales of urban farming...