Saturday, October 18, 2014

Apple Orchard

This family is in full on fall mode. We are all things pumpkin, knit, golden, cozy, and harvest-y. Last week my mom took the girls and me to the apple orchard in town. Apple picking was one of the girls' first fall activities last year. With that memory front and center while reflecting on the ways to celebrate autumn the girls had been asking about the orchard for weeks.  

Last year, especially as I adjusted to motherhood, I always felt like I had my home and hands full, so there are only a couple cell phone pictures of the girls after our orchard trip. This year I took my camera to capture the outing. Norah has already looked through the pictures multiple times often exclaiming, "That's me! Oh, look...that's Norah picking apples!" She is a good reminder that when I stop and snap I am preserving her history. I am recording it in a way that had not been available previously. And I am honored to do so. With each picture I capture a moment in my girls' story and I hope each shot gives a glimpse of a larger story. A story about seasons, family, redemption, humankind, the greatest love that could ever be. I hope our moments reflect the One who gave them to us in the first place. I hope our moments both preserved and fleeting keep telling the larger story. 


Last Sept. was so hot that we wore shorts/sandals to the orchard and just pretended it felt like fall.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fall, and a year of bravery

While today the weather still feels like summer and the forecast tells me we'll reach a sweaty mid-eighties our family has switched into our fall routine. All of the major events marking our summer have come and gone, leaving me with the first signs of the next season; NFL football, pumpkin spice creamer, the sounds/sights of school, fall fashion pins on Pinterest, TV's fall lineup, the arrival of Christmas decor (although they've yet to sell me a pumpkin), and the giddy anticipation of the time's "fall back". Autumn happens to be my favorite of seasons and crisp air, bonfires, fall colors, (my birthday!), and rich flavored baked goods are all on the horizon. With the official first day of fall only weeks away there is much to look forward to, but I'll save more of my gushing over the change of seasons for another post.

Today we are celebrating what was one year ago the metaphorical end to our family's summer. On this day last year we landed, simultaneously exhausted and excited, in a Chicago airport after a summer spent in Uganda. Our time there allowed us to grow our family from two to four through international adoption, which has proven to be the best and hardest undertaking of my life thus far. Now, having spent weeks together in Uganda, the four us had experienced a number of family "firsts" by this time; however, no less special was this day, the day we stepped together onto American soil and our daughters hugged and kissed our immediate family for the very first time. This morning the girls wiggled and smiled excitedly as we reviewed the date at the start of our school day and I shared with them the anniversary of their arrival to America. Norah gave a short cheer, because she loves to celebrate...well, just about anything, and Catherine's eyes lit up with pride as she commented on this momentous day with a voice dripping in a sense of achievement. And what an achievement this year has been! For all of us! And what grace we have been given these past 12 months! The way Tony and I celebrated the metal (and physical) toughness involved in a summer spent in a foreign country, far away from things and people familiar/comfortable, pales in comparison to our celebration of the mental (and physical!) toughness present in our daughters. They have weathered a year far away from the things/people once so very familiar and comfortable while living in what I hope one day will cease to feel like a foreign country. My girls are so very strong.

Our household is so excited for this next phase. It's with great joy we move forward from this anniversary into a season where for the first time in a long time many things will seem familiar to all once again. In my mind I can hear the girls' comments: "On the first day of school we always..." "Remember at Thanksgiving diner last year...", "Can we make caramel apples again this year?", "I know who that guy is!", "You open that with this." or "Our family celebrates x by doing y." While I am aware that we live a life of constant evolution, the confidence I see in my girls with a year of American experiences under their belts is heart warming. A year of learning about the food, the customs, our family, our friends, the appliances, the culture, the idioms, the music, the weather, the expectations, the history, the pronunciations, the so on and so forth. Oh, what a year it has been.  

So I'd like to say cheers to the fall, to the ever changing seasons, and congratulations to all of you who have weathered a season or a year which required amazing strength and bravery!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Road ID

Emily and I are big fans of Road ID. If you haven't heard of them, please check them out. Basically, they're a cool company that provides bracelets, shoe lace tags, and even some clothing which offer your ID in an obvious location in case of emergency. No one likes to think that something might happen while out on a ride, run, or hike, but if you end up in a situation where you can't speak for yourself, your Road ID will do it for you. 

We've been using the wrist ID's for years now, but a few weeks ago I stumbled across their new app. It is sweet! You load all of your information into the app and then it literally breadcrumbs you while you go and train. The new training plan I am currently using is all by time, not distance, so when I go out for a run/ride I am free to go wherever I want. I don't have to worry about going ___ miles. Instead, I worry about running/cycling for ___ minutes. The downside to this kind of plan? Since I don't have to stick to a specific route Emily doesn't really know where I am most of the time. Until now. 

This new app tracks me wherever I am. If I'm fifteen miles from my house on my bike, she knows. If I'm down the road coming in from a long run, she knows. Before I head out on a run/ride I open the app and start my training. She receives a text letting her know I'm on the road which includes a link to a page that shows in real time where I am. You can even include more than one person in your text notifications, so I included my Dad. Mainly because I know he likes to cheer me on when I'm training. Using the Road ID app not only puts me at ease, it also helps family relax. Why?

Because there is also a 'stationary alert' setting. This means that if I don't move for 5 minutes they receive a text that pretty much reads, "Yo...I haven't moved in 5 whole minutes. Come find me because I am not well!" How cool is that!?  

Road ID is a sweet company. Their customer service is top notch. They're also pretty witty. I like to think that I can be witty from time to time, so we get along well. Just take a look at the email they sent me a few days after I downloaded the new app:

Hello Tony:
Thank you and congratulations on downloading the all-new Road ID app. As one of the first, you've made it very apparent that you are a wicked-smart pioneer, a trendsetter and all-around amazing human being.

First, it's good being "one of the first." I don't get first a lot. Second, even though they don't use the Oxford comma, I believe I AM a wicked-smart pioneer and ALSO a trendsetter, and HECK YES I am an all-around amazing human being. Thank you, Road ID. You are pretty swell, too!


Friday, July 18, 2014

Our Family's Adoption Day

Today we celebrate our family's Adoption Day! It's been exactly one year since paperwork was signed legally declaring what our hearts already knew; we are a family! 

Tony and Emily