It’s interesting how many people ask me if our kids know we’re adopting a 13 year old.

I can’t imagine ever keeping that a secret from them. It’s too huge. They need to be part of it, almost from the very beginning. We share it all with them. The excitement, the nervousness, the concern.


I also am asked all the time HOW we’re preparing our children for there suddenly being an older child in our home.

This is what we did before bringing home Imani & Ezekiel…and is what we’re doing again now that Aberhem will soon be with us.



First of all, we put pictures of Aberhem all over our house. Sadly, I can’t show you any yet until after our Court Date {when he’s officially our child under Ethiopian law, but he is in framed photos just like the rest of the family. The kids help me place them in the frames and help me decide where to put them. They’re very involved in the process.


As part of our dossier & paperwork for the adoption, families are required to put together many pictures of themselves, activities, and the home itself. Ezekiel, Anton, Laith, and even little Imani have loved deciding what to include, as well as helping me make an album for Aberhem that someone so graciously took with them on a visit to the orphanage. Each photo has been lovingly chosen not only by Ben and I…but by the kids themselves.



We talk about him ALL the time!

Whether it’s as we’re getting up in the morning, playing legos on the floor, eating dinner, or going to bed, we’re in constant conversation…

While out running errands: Do you think Aberhem will like this?

While chatting during lunch: What do you think Aberhem would say if he were talking with us about _______________.

While reading together: Which of these books do you think Aberhem would like?

During homework time: Do you think Aberhem is going to love math, too? It’ll take hard work for him to get to where he needs to be. Will you help him get started?

. . . .

We also talk about how hard it will be for awhile before he’ll be able to speak english and how we need to remember that he’s an older kid and isn’t necessarily going to be a playmate. He may not love legos, dirt trucks, princesses, or…gasp!!…soccer! We just don’t know!



We pray for him ALL the time!

You may remember our Prayer Sticks that have really encouraged our kids to pray for people other than themselves.

I genuinely think that aside from our morning & nightly prayers, this has helped them open up their hearts to praying for Aberhem multiple times every day.


Not only that, but because we’re always talking about him, they’re in conversation with us about how he’s probably lonely and missing us. That we just had the flu run through our house, I hope he’s staying healthy. Because he is a constant throughout our day, they will stop randomly and ask to pray for him {and gosh, they’re such sweet prayers}.

Laith {who was supposed to be asleep hours ago} just came to me and said he wanted to, ”talk to Aberhem.”

I reminded him that we were only able to Skype with him on Saturday mornings {yes! can you believe we get to Skype with him every week?! Thank you Lord for technology!!}.

He replied, ”well then can I pray for him?”

{be still my heart, I love you Laith!}

So we cuddled together, him curled up on my lap as I knelt on the floor and he spoke the most beautiful and thoughtful prayer ever. Little 4 year old Laith put into words what Aberhem must be feeling…he prayed that he knew we loved him, that he could come home soon, and many more sweet things that 4 year olds don’t generally think about. Know about.

{when Anton was 4, this is what he said about adoption}


. . . . . . . . . . .

It’s amazing how God has softened the hearts of not only Ben and I, but our children as well. They’re 100% on board with the new addition and the continued growth of our family. We have NO idea where the Lord is taking us, or how He is tugging the hearts of our children as they grow, but I do know that we all realize it’s not peaches ‘n cream all the time…but it’s worth it.

God has given this as the calling for our family.

…what’s the calling for yours?


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I have been eyeing feather wreaths for awhile and was SHOCKED when I finally looked at a price tag. $100??? For a feather wreath with nothing on it??

Uh, no thanks. I can make that.

So I did.


You can find these wire wreath forms for just a few dollars at pretty much any craft store.


I then ran to our local Party store and bought 3 white boas…yes, just plain ‘ol feather boas. I’ve seen them at craft stores, too.


These 2 photos of me are curtesy of sweet 4 yr old Laith. Love the weird angles.

Thanks, buddy.


Anyway, you simply tie one end and wrap and wrap and wrap some more.

Luckily, it’s much {much} faster than doing the yarn letters I did for Anton & Laith’s room.


My new fluffy etherial wreath was cute on it’s own, but I had these faux flowers leftover from another project {that I’ll share in spring} that were crying out to be used.


I simply cut them at the base…


And hot glued them to one side.


I then added a few random things I had around the house, such as one of these cocktail picks I had left over from a party a few months ago.

And of course some bunting {simple tutorial here}, and red paper lips.


Super cute, easy…and inexpensive.

We’re officially ready for Valentines Day.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

{just had to add this photo!}


Anton brought this home for me today.

I love his Kindergarden spelling: “I luv uoo mom”

…oh and those are arrows, of course!

I’m in love with it.

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Do you ever get excited when you’re out & about and find THE perfect thing?


At Hobby Lobby recently, I came across chevron curtains. I didn’t even know they HAD curtains.

Surprise!!! They do.

It’s not the typical place I’d look for something like that. Nevertheless, I was intrigued.


I bought a few panels as well as pillow covers.


…and…they’re amazing.


They’re thin enough that the light shines through {which I love} yet have a burlap like texture {which I also love}.


We live in an older home so the ceilings aren’t super tall. I adore how long the curtains are and how they casually pool onto the floor.


Ok…lets be honest.

THIS is maybe the best part of my curtain purchase. Living in a home while you remodel it, means a constant stream of almost done projects.

{love that it covers it up ’till we finish the project}


This is what we started with though. We’ve come a loooong way.




And the pillows!


As if I needed more:

a} pillows   b} chevron

Whatever, I think they’re fantastic.


What do you think??

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Did you know that every year, there is a secret meeting in a capitol of one of the European countries to decide the colors used throughout the next year?

pantone spring 2013-edited

Whether it’s furniture, jewelry, clothing, etc…designers worldwide use these color codes.

And within those colors, one is chosen as THE color of the year.

pantone color of the year

This year, that color is Emerald.

Emerald is the sophisticated sister to preppy Kelly Green. It’s lively, radiant, & according to Pantone themselves, it “inspires insight and clarity while enhancing our sense of well-being.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“From one extreme to the other, combining all three greens presents an intriguing choice much like Mother Nature intended.” the designers at Pantone go on to say.

And wow…look at this staircase. I couldn’t agree more!

pantone stairs

{casa sugar}

pantone in fashion

pantone sephora


pantone jolie

{stella & dot}

Perhaps I’m a bit biased because I’m a Stylist for Stella & Dot but I’m loooooving the emerald hues in our freshly debuted Spring 2013 line.

pantone zinnia

{stella & dot}

pantone julep

{stella & dot}

Can you believe this vintage inspired julep bangle is only $19??

So cute worn alone or stacked high with an arm party of other bracelets.

pantone skirt

{spokane bridal blog}

I don’t think it’s possible to wear this cute of an outfit and be in a bad mood.

And there would most certainly be dancing in the streets.

{{swoon}} it’s amazing, right??

pantone tory burch

{tory burch}

Oh Tory…you get it right every time.

pantone ties

{martha stewart}

According to Martha, emerald & aqua are the combination of the season.

pantone in homes 1

pantone table

{show home}

This blog may not be in English, but the photos speak for themselves.

pantone 1


pantone rug

{shades of light}

Have you heard of Shades of Light? It’s one of my favorite places to shop online for our home.

…definitely more than just for lighting.

pantone light

{shades of light}

pantone bowl

{one kings lane}

pantone cherries


pantone boxwood

{coco cozy}

Even if your bravery with Emerald only goes as far as to add the lush green of a boxwood…go for it.

pantone in life

pantone cake 1

pantone ipad

{olivia avenue}

pantone martha stewart

{martha stewart}

I really do like the mixture of all these.

And that’s what’s so great about color. Nothing needs to be matchey-matchey.

In fact…it’s better when it’s not, don’t you agree??

pantone what's your favorite

pantone books

{south bound bride…south african wedding style}

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Melkam Gena!

Our Christmas celebration may have been weeks ago…but Ethiopia celebrates it in January because they go by the Julian Calendar.

Do you remember my post from last year? We had such fun with the amazing Ethiopian community we’re blessed to be part of.

And this year may have been even more fun.

Here is our Gena {also Genna} celebration via Instagram…

As we walked through the doors, we were met by a bunch of beautiful high school aged Ethiopian girls who helped us all write our names on our name tags in Amharic.


The boys had all vanished to play with the other kids so I was left to do them all myself.

As I finished I asked proudly, ”whatcha think??” to one of the girls.

She laughed slightly and said, “ummmmm kind of.”

That’s what I get for getting cocky. Geez that’s a hard language!


Last year, the kids were all about learning the Ethiopian games, and such.


This year, it was ALL about the coffee ceremony.


They probably sat with those ladies close to an hour learning all about it.


Anton r.e.a.l.l.y wanted to drink it. Straight up black.

No sugar, no milk.


After the 1st sip, he looked at me with a big smile on his face.

“I love it!!!” he exclaimed excitedly.

“ohhh noooo.” I thought in my head.

After the 2nd {larger} gulp, he made the face I expected. “eew. no. gross.”



Imani meanwhile, thought she was a princess at an Ethiopian tea party as she daintly sipped her warm milk.


Sweet little Laith is my non-adventurous one. Food & drink wise anyway.


I was floored when he decided to try the injera with chili sauce {that for him was spicy}.


He loved it so much, he patiently waited in line {several times!} for more.



So super proud of him.

I refuse for our kids to not love Ethiopian food. It’s too amazing not to adore.


After several hours of play & filling our stomachs, we were tired.


What a fantastic day. So providential to have moved to the most incredible city who is also home to the 2nd largest Ethiopian community in the US.

We didn’t know that when we moved to Denver…

but God sure did.

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Happy New Year!



I thought I’d do a quick recap of my 10 most popular posts of 2012 according to Google Analytics.

1. How Can I? | adoption vs. {more} bio kids


2. Our New House! {& construction}


3. a lot of color…and a bit of organization


4. taking the scary out of dyeing {tutorial}


4. perfection & joy


5. yarn wrapped letters & easy kids room art


6. a busy mom’s guide to: meal planning


9. prayer sticks {tutorial}


10. my {early morning} quiet time


Ok, I’m adding one of my favorites because Imani is just so darn cute…

11. little miss makeup {tutorial}


There you have it! The ten eleven most popular posts from this year…what post was your favorite???

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As much as I love Christmas, I hate…h.a.t.e putting it all away. The whole of it is depressing.

Sadly, it’s my last chance to blast Christmas music, too.


So here’s our home today, the day before it all comes down. Christmas, I’ll miss you. You came too quick again this year.



I love these little houses I got at PB Kids a few years ago.

Would love to find a church sometime to go with them.



It’s fun having my own monogram machine, especially for the kid’s stockings.


With Aberhem coming soon, we’re going to run out of room on our fireplace!

{and we still don’t think we’re done}


I am {{thrilled}} that we’ve finally found a finish carpenter who has not only designed us the most perfect mantle, but also a beautiful way to finish our fireplace.

Can’t wait for him to get back from visiting his family in Oregon so he can get started.


Every year while growing up, my parents would take my brother & I to get an ornament showing something significant from that year.

{something we did, were interested in, or place we went}

I love this tradition…it’s so fun to tell the kids stories about “when Mommy was a kid”. The above ornament is when I did equestrian dressage {and jumping}.

My favorite activity e.v.e.r.


Our family tree is a fun mixture of kids ornaments, new and old.


The boxes beneath our “family tree” are empty. All throughout the Christmas season the kids love to box up their toys, books, and drawings and “give” each other gifts.

It’s really cute how excited they get when one of us opens up the special something they are gifting us…even if it is just for pretend.


Our other tree, the one we refer to as the “pretty tree” is FULL of ornaments from our wedding.

Ben & I were married late February and it had a Winter Wonderland feel, full of candles, ice blue, winter white, feathers, and anything sparkly.

Gendron Wedding #4 185

It’s so fun to think of the ornaments first here…

Gendron Wedding #3 115

Gendron Wedding #3 122

And now here…


I’m sure you have plenty of stories from your ornaments, too. I’d LOVE to hear about them!

Time to get out the bins & boxes. Merry Christmas!

May this upcoming year be full of blessings!

take joy-signature-new-pink

. . Merry Christmas! . .

I hope you’re having a warm and cozy day with family & friends on this, the most exciting of days…the birth of our Lord and Savior!

I wanted to greet you this morning with a couple photos {ok, maybe more than a couple}:


. just a few around our home .


I’ll be sad to take it all down next week







. . . . . . . . .

Because Ben & I were depressed that we didn’t have any family in town for the holidays, we decided to take our family to Breckenridge and stay at our sweet friends home while they were out of town.

We had THE most fantastic time!! Thanks again, Melissa & Carl! We love you two!

. . . . . . . . .

Yesterday we found a fun sled park




. . . . . . . . .

Christmas Eve {& Christmas Day}, we went skiing.


Well…Ben, Ezekiel, & Anton did.


Imani was reeeeeeeeeeeallly grumpy so Laith & I tried to entertain her.



I wanted to get Laith a treat for being SUCH an amazing little buddy all day. He was the sunshine on an otherwise {{really}} rough day.

So we stopped for hot chocolate.


The guy behind the counter must have been able to tell it was a ROUGH day…suddenly I had a free cup of hot chocolate complete with baileys & peppermint schnapps.

I wanted to hug him.


He also gave Laith a free pretzel.

I decided he was my best friend.

. . . . . . . . .

After skiing on Christmas Eve, we made it home just in time for quick showers and heading back out into a thick blanket of snow for the service at a church down the road.



…then back home for dinner and the kids’ one gift:

Christmas pj’s and some sort of activity to do.


This year, that activity was watching The Nativity Story.



Laith & Imani didn’t last long & fell asleep. But Anton & Ezekiel loved it…and Ben & I loved all their questions.

Gosh, I love our family. Grumpy little girl or not. We are so blessed.

. . . . . . . . .

Hope your Christmas Eve & Day are full of joy and laughter as you celebrate His birth!

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Several friends have asked me lately how we do Christmas and juggle the balance of Jesus & Santa…so I thought I’d share it.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

First of all, more than doing the regular Santa-thing, we incorporate St. Nick. We have found 2 beautiful and fantastic books that explain who the real Saint Nicholas was & our kids absolutely love them both and ask them to be read often.


{The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving}


We’ve been working really hard to help our children understand that Christmas is more than about presents.

It’s important for them to not get caught up in all the excess of the season and know…truly know…what the real reason of this holiday actually is.

{and enjoy that reason!}


{Santa, Are You For Real?}


I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with Santa Claus, I’m just saying that we need to be careful that the man in the red suit doesn’t overshadow the baby in the manger.


And yes, we still do Elf on the Shelf, though it’s more about finding what crazy thing he’s doing or silly spot he’s hiding than about being Santa’s little messenger.


{he toilet papered the tree last week. that got a big laugh}

. . . . . . . . . . . .

At the very center of our fireplace, hangs a stocking for Jesus.


On Christmas Eve, our family grabs several tags and writes {or draws pictures of} things that we’re thankful to Jesus for and prayers that He’s answered.


Christmas day, we all take turns drawing the tags back out of the stocking one-by-one, reading them, and sharing why we wrote what we did.

We love that this fosters not only a spirit of Thankfulness, but also helps remind us how good God is as we look back and see what He has done for us throughout the year.

. . . . . . . . . . . .


For the past several years we have incorporated the 4 gift rule:

. something to wear .

. something you want .

. something you need .

. something to read .


This practice has REALLY helped Ben & I become intentional about what we give the kids for gifts. We brainstorm together for each child & each topic. It not only has helped our pocketbooks, but it has helped us get to know our Crazies better because it’s forced us to observe what they really enjoy & are in need of.


And, once again…they still get fun gifts…there just isn’t all the excess.

{a big thanks to Emily over at Jones Design Company for the free printables. nice timing!}


{Need more fun gift tag ideas? Click here}

/// UPDATE! ///

This year we’ve revised the four gift rule. Rather than “Something you Need” what about “Something you DO!” Make a memory together instead!!! {FREE printable gift tags} click here.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

w vision catalog

After the stockings have been emptied on Christmas morning, it has also become a tradition to go through World Vision’s Christmas Catalog.

{World Vision Gift Catalog | How it works | video}

We tend to use the copy that comes in the mail, but I’m excited to see you can also do this online.

The plus of doing it this way is you have the opportunity to watch a personal testimony of a person or family all the way across the other side of the world, who has been greatly impacted by these gifts!

Since bringing Ezekiel home, the kids have consistently chosen goats {we also do this for birthdays} because E tells us his family had a goat and it was so very important to their livelihood.

{World Vision | goats are my answer to prayer |video}

Even as young as our kids are, they REALLY get into it. They pour over every page and excitedly debate and imagine how it will impact those people’s lives.

Whoever conceived of that catalog idea is a genius.

. . . . . . . . . . . .



Depending on what the days hold, either after dinner on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, we have a birthday party for Jesus.


I remember my cousins doing it when we were young and always thought it was such a fun idea!


In addition to singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and eating red velvet cake {with crushed candy canes on top and in the filling}, we also read the Christmas story in Luke 2.

Since having little ones, we’ve been reading it in The Message or in the Jesus Storybook Bible because it’s easier for the kids to understand.

Jesus Storybook Bible

After the party, the kids get to open one gift, which holds their Christmas pj’s and something fun to do that evening.

Sometimes it’s a book to read as a family, other times it’s a movie or board game.

{this is also when we tend to do the Jesus stocking}

. . . . . . . . . . . .

Thanks for being curious how we spend our Christmas Holiday…I would love to hear some of your ideas & traditions, too!

Happy Birthday Jesus!


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What do you do when God tells you to do something that takes you completely and totally out of your comfort zone?

Ignore Him?

…or have faith & trust.


We have chosen the latter.

This is Aberhem, our son. Well, it’s Ezekiel’s rendering of him since we’re not yet allowed to show you photos {cute, right??}.

Yes…we’re adopting again!!!

About a month ago Ben and I saw separate posts about this sweet 13 year old boy.

You read that right, THIRTEEN!

For some reason he deeply struck both our hearts. We weren’t looking to adopt anyone even remotely that old. To be quite honest, we weren’t even actively looking to adopt ANYONE again yet.

But sometimes God plans things out FOR you, doesn’t He?

Not that we don’t still have a choice…of course we do. But why on earth would we possibly choose to go down another path when He has so clearly brought us to this one??

. . . . . . . . . . . . .


Want to know his story?

{we’ve seen Aberhem’s name spelled different ways on different things. For now this is how we’re spelling it.}



What we know as of now is first his mom, then his dad passed away, leaving him with no immediate family. Though he’d been going to school and had gotten aid from some sort of organization that supported children in his area, once his parents died, he was cut off.

Knowing he had no ability for the future he wanted for himself, Aberhem decided to travel to the Capitol, Addis Ababa. We’re not sure if it was his aunt, or simply his mother’s good friend, but this generous woman gave him a loaf of bread for his travels and all the money she had from selling “local beverage” {20 Burr, equivalent to about $1}, which is more money than she earned in a month.

20 birr

He somehow hitched a ride for the 2 day trip to Addis Ababa and {again, somehow} made friends with some officers at the Police Station, who allowed him to take shelter there for a few nights.

During his time at the Police Station, he also forged a friendship with folks who worked with MOWA {the Ministry of Women’s Affairs…the branch of the government who oversees adoptions}. They began to not only advocate for him and try to find him a family {us!} but also gave him $200 Birr {about $11} which is an incredible amount to have been given! Think of that versus what the sweet woman in his village gifted!


{addis ababa, photo taken on our last trip}

MOWA got in touch with our agency, Celebrate Children International and he is now at one of their orphanages, waiting.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

After much prayer and conversation, we are excited to announce that we are gaining an amazingly brave and inspirational son. A few weeks ago, after we thought we’d been given the green light from our agency, we received an email saying that in fact, another family was further along in the paperwork than we and therefore, they had preference.

For about a week, we thought we’d lost him.

After the initial sadness of it, I felt an overwhelming peace. I knew, without a doubt that God would work things out in our favor. Just like the 1st moment I met Ezekiel and felt the Lord whisper in my ear, “this is your son.” I felt the same when I saw Aberhem’s photo. “This is our son, isn’t it, Lord?” my heart inquired. “Yes.” is all I received as reply.

The peace I felt within was indeed from God because just as I felt Him tell me to be patient, He provided the situation to change in our favor…allowing our son to be placed not only into our hearts…but in the next few months, into our arms as well.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .


So here’s the thing…

This time around, we’re having to fundraise. The idea of this takes Ben and I once again out of our comfort zone. Ask people for money???

Technically  yes, but it’s far more than that.

We’re asking YOU to be part of bringing Aberhem home.

Over on the Right Side, toward the very top of our blog sits this button:


donate here button


See it? We would be humbled and so very grateful if you gave as your heart prompts you. Any amount, you feel led to give.

If you prefer to have something physical rather than simply giving toward our adoption however, I invite you to our newly opened Hugs & Punches Shop!

Look for this:


butter-sidebar-shop us



{includes many more items than those shown}

. . . . . . . . . . . . .


Can you believe that this past weekend we got to MEET ABERHEM over Skype?!

The kids, Ben, & I got up crazy early on Saturday morning and were able to have a very excited and giggly conversation with both Aberhem and some of the nannies we remember from when Ezekiel was at the same orphanage {the nannies finally started to translate our conversation with Aberhem after they finished screaming and jumping up and down when they realized it was Ezekiel on the other side of the screen, it was so sweet}.


{half asleep & chilly!}


Gone are the days when our family hopes to sleep in every Saturday morning. Instead, we’ll wake before the sun hits the horizon, so we can spend time as a family.

All 7 of us. And what a blessing that is.


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