Precious’ 1st Birthday


Our big family vacation was planned on the same week as Precious’ first birthday before we knew she existed, but it worked out great to have her aunts, uncles and cousins from my side (who all live in Eastern PA) to be there to celebrate with her. I had no intentions of having a BIG first birthday celebration for her, because I like the idea of keeping birthdays for little ones as small family get togethers. We kept it super simple with homemade cupcakes (decorated by Jason and me), party hats, blowers and balloons, and a special handmade banner that I sewed a few days before our trip. It says “HOORAY” so we can use it for many occasions in the future.

Precious, who loves music, looked at us very strangely as we sang Happy Birthday. The majority of us can’t carry a tune, so… Sorry, Baby.

She knew exactly what to do with that cupcake though…

She also got all sorts of neat gifts. This photo-dump is to document and give thanks where it’s due!

Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa, for the puzzle and neighborhood wagon!

Thank you, Uncle Jeff, Aunt Jess and Iris, for the Eric Carle books, wooden Costa Rica puzzle and the play breakfast set!

Thank you, Uncle Aaron, Aunt Laura and Eli, for the new clothes and pull frog toy!

The party girl.

Party cousins: Eli and Iris.

My brother Aaron and his boy Eli.

My sister Jess and her girl Iris.

My sibs and their families had to leave the day of her birthday so we had a little bit of celebration the next day, too, on Precious’ actual birthday. We gave her a set of musical toys.

Thank you, Uncle Steve, Aunt Char and Aiden for the gifts you sent. She LOVES My Pal Violet and she’s getting the hang of the sippy cups.

Jason programmed Violet to say and spell her name and mention her favorite food, color and animal. (We took our best guesses: peaches, green and alligator!)

When Precious joined our family at 2 months old her toenails were painted green. After I took that off, I decided then that I’d wait until her first birthday to paint her toenails again. Light pink!

And one last photo…Jason and Precious waiting for her birthday dinner on our last night of vacation.

Happy Birthday, Ali-gator! I hope you enjoyed your celebration. We love you so much!


Emerald Isle, North Carolina


The week before last, we snuck off for a week of family vacation in Emerald Isle, NC. My parents rented a beach house and invited us, my siblings, their spouses and their kids to join them. Here are my awesome, generous parents:

It’s a rare occasion to have us all together, especially for such a long stretch. The house arrangement couldn’t have been better for 6 month old, 9 month old and 1 year old – we were close enough to the beach to come and go at our own pace and the house had a small pool in the back, perfect for floating around in while babies were napping.

We celebrated Precious’ first birthday while we were there and I’ll write a separate post about the party. One of her gifts was a red wagon from my parents. It will be great for trips back and forth from their house to our new house, just down the road. We decided to bring it along to the beach for walks to the ice cream shop and evening strolls on the beach.

The view from the back patio where we spent a lot of time:

I did a really bad job of documenting the adults on vacation (surprise, surprise) so the rest of my photos are centered around the little kiddos. Grandma with my 6-month old nephew Eli:

My 9-month-old niece Iris playing with Precious on the deck:

Somebody got pictures of all three babies together. We also attempted some self-timer portraits of all of us together. Eventually I’ll track those photos down… Here are some shots of Precious exploring the beach. She didn’t mind crawling on the flat sand but the ocean was a little scary:

Hmm, what’s this? Looks like cinnamon…

Doesn’t taste good!


Phone Photo Friday


Precious: Monthly Portrait 12


Ali-gator, holy cow, you’re one! We celebrated your first birthday in Emerald Isle, NC with your grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins on my side of the family. It was a small but special party at a beach house with party hats, noise makers and balloons for all. You devoured a chocolate cupcake with strawberry frosting. (More posts about all of that coming soon.)

This past month has brought an explosion of language. You’re repeating words and sounds all the time. We’re still surprised when we ask you if you want another a drink of water and you say “yeah” or if we over you a bite of calzone and you say “tank you” all on your own. You’re obviously understanding so much now and learning new things everyday. You’re really getting into music. Any time you hear a beat, you start bopping. You’ll sing back to Daddy when he sings you tunes or try to sing along with the song. When you do something good, we often clap and say “yay!” so now you do the same for us. Yesterday when I changed your diaper you clapped your hands and said, “yay!” Good diaper changing job, Mommy! You are still super friendly when we’re out and about which means you draw people like a magnet with your smile and “hi!” Keep it up and you’ll have no trouble making friends.

You’re still an excellent eater and sleeper. Your sixth tooth came through the week before your birthday. You’ll try anything we offer you, but won’t open your mouth all the way anymore until you’ve had a taste. Some foods like scrambled eggs or green peppers sometimes get spit out. We’re quite impressed that you love strong flavors and unusual textures like artichokes, olives, dill pickles, pancakes with syrup, pepperoni, and fried okra (a new favorite from vacation). Peaches might be your current favorite food. You can polish off most of one all yourself in one sitting. For the most part, you eat whatever we’re eating, which is really convenient. You sleep a lot—8pm to 9am most nights and 2-3 hours worth of naps during the day. You went through a period of resisting sleep time by crying but we pretty much ignored you (sorry!) and now you’re back to happily going to sleep, snuggling up with Little Lucy before you fall asleep.

You’re walking with assistance and crawling like a pro—you’re quick! With that has come with some new needs for discipline and we’ve had to start saying “No!” and redirecting you a lot more lately. However, you’re getting it! You often respond to, “Do not touch the tv!” or “Do not play in Lucy’s water bowl!” on the first time now, without us having to physically move you away. You are a very bright girl. Often before you do something prohibited you’ll look at us to see if we’re watching you and we can tell you’re making sense of it all, thinking, and learning to enact some self-control. It will get easy as you mature, dear daughter.

Getting these monthly pictures had gotten more difficult each month as you’ve become more active—so I’m officially done. 10 monthly portraits from 3 months old – 12 months old. That’s the best I could do. It’s so fun to watch you grow!

New Home Update


Last week our family was out of town. While we were gone, the framing of our home started. We got these pictures from our friend/neighbor Jeremy:

From the street:

Back of the house (flat roof part is my office/laundry room):

After we got home on Sunday I took these:

Courtyard to the front door (approx where the step ladder is):

Great room (from the dining room, view of the kitchen and living room):

Great room (from the living room, view of the kitchen and dining room)

There will be a corner window in the master looking right out at this beautiful crepe myrtle tree that started blooming last week:

Next week I should have another update of the finished framing. I love this progress. So exciting!

Family Yearbook – Vol. 1, 2011


I bought a coupon from Living Social for a photo book from Shutterfly a few months ago. At first I was thinking of doing the photos all based around Precious since I take so many pics of her. But then I couldn’t decide on the time frame. I couldn’t really do her first year since we don’t have any pictures from her first two months. I thought about doing the day she joined our family until her adoption day, but I wanted to have the book out at her adoption party so that wouldn’t work. And what about Ladybug, our first child through foster care? I had intended to make a scrapbook of her time with us since I took about 300 pictures during the 5 weeks, but I never got around to it. I wanted to have some kind of album to honor her, too. I finally decided on doing a family yearbook of 2011, starting what I hope to be a tradition of making a family photo book of each year. With careful planning I managed to stick to 20 pages. Even though I’m a graphic designer by day, I decided to use one of Shutterfly’s templates for the book rather than doing a custom design—because I had a feeling I’d spend way too much time on the design and the book would get put off. So here it is:

I’m really happy with how it turned out. It chronicals the biggest milestones of 2011. Here are a few of the highlights, starting with our niece Eliza’s birth day in February.

Jason’s and my anniversary

Preparing our home to become foster parents and when Ladybug joined our family

Our first weekend trips with Precious to Pigeon Forge and Cincinnati

The birth of our niece Iris and our friends’ son Jaron, Thanksgiving in PA with my family

“Surrender Day”, purchasing the land for our future home, and Christmas

Raggedy Ann Brown


My mother-in-law recently made Precious a special, crocheted Raggedy Ann doll. She customized Ann with caramel brown skin, just like Precious. I decided she should be named Raggedy Ann Brown. That is, until Precious makes up her own name for her doll. I could hardly snap one picture of her before Precious made her way over to grab her.

She especially likes Ann Brown’s red nose…

and she likes to make out with her, giving her big open mouth kisses.

Thank you, Grandma K!

Happy 1st Birthday, Beautiful Girl!



Our joyful, sweet, precious daughter turns 1 year old today. I am so excited to celebrate her today! The joy she brings into my life everyday is way beyond what I had ever imagined. She makes being a mom such a delight.

Dear daughter, you are one year old today. We missed out on the first 9 weeks of your life so I’m sorry that I can’t tell you stories about the day you were born. I know that you weighed 7 lbs. 7 oz. because I saw it on a slip of paper once and it caught my eye because I was also born at 7 lbs. 7 oz. I know you were born on July 20, 2011 by C-section and I know your first mom loved you very much. Though I can’t tell you much about your first two months, so much has happened between 2 months old and 12 months old. Someday we’ll tell you all about it, and the beautiful, bumpy road that led us into becoming a family of three. Our lives will never be the same because of you, and we would never want to go back to the way it was before. People often talk about parenting being about giving, and while it’s true that we give everything we’ve got towards being your parents, you have given us back so much. You bring sunshine and laughter and smiles into our home everyday. You are constantly learning new things and encouraging us to get down on the floor and experience the world from your perspective. I have no doubt that God has tremendous plans for your life, sweet daughter, and I’m looking forward to journeying along side you for as long as you need me. Guess how much I love you. “I love you right up to the moon—and back.” Love, Mama

Phone Photo Friday


I’m doing Phone Photo Friday on Thursday this week because tomorrow is a very special day.

Jason and I were down at our property last week and we found this 1950s-60s guitar amp in our yard, by the side of the road. It looked freshly dumped since we’d had rain the night before and it wasn’t wet. A sign from God? A gift from heaven? Very strange! The screen on the front is pale blue. It’ll be a lovely decoration if nothing else.

Help Us Pick a Paint Color for this Brick Ranch


Our good friend and real estate guru, Jeremy Hundley, is in the middle of remodeling a sweet brick ranch our here in East Nashville. It’s getting a complete makeover inside and out and will be for sale in the next couple of months. Jeremy asked me to mock up some paint color ideas for the exterior of the house, which is currently an ugly peach-colored brick. I went a little crazy and came up with way too many choices. (I had a hard time choosing the top 6 to post here!)

Can you help us narrow it down? What is your favorite color combination?

Don’t get hung up on the front door design. It’s solid now…I was just experimenting with options. Also, it looks a bit naked without any landscaping. That will be remedied after it’s painted. Please choose your favorite overall combination in the poll below, but feel free to get specific in the comment section.

Thank you so much for your help!