Sunday, October 23, 2016

reese's peanut butter cookies


if you're looking for a deliciously decadent + richly chocolatey treat this fall [let's be honest.... we're all looking for just this thing, right?!].... gather up your ingredients & preheat your oven.  these reese's peanut butter cookies are perfectly divine!!

ingredients:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 tablespoons salted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
salt [to taste]

1/3 cup white sugar
24-36 unwrapped reese's miniature cups


directions:
1.  preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  cream peanut butter + salted butter in a stand mixer until smooth.  add in brown sugar + mix well.
3.  add in eggs, one at a time, then add in vanilla extract.
4.  add flour, baking powder + salt [i use pink himalayan salt for a yummy twist!]
5.  using clean hands, roll dough into quarter sized balls + coat in sugar.  place two inches apart on a silpat lined cookie sheet.
6.  bake for seven minutes.  remove from oven + gently push unwrapped reese's cup in the middle of each dough ball.  bake an additional six minutes.
7.  cool on cookie sheet for ten minutes.
8.  hide your cookie stash from your family ;)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

finding hobbies & me time with three kiddos

can we just say that mom life is tough? it takes up a LOT of time [multiplied by how ever many kiddos you have] & growing from one to three kids practically overnight REALLY sends life in a spiral.... the boys have been home with us for almost five months now + i'm finally resurfacing to pick up some of my old hobbies during my "me time"!!

i've been diving into tons + tons of books lately.... i can grab one to tuck into my purse for the ride to church on sundays, or while waiting in the lobby for amelia to finish dance practice.  books travel well out to the backyard while the kids dig in the dirt too ;)

here's a few of my fave reads with easy, clickable links for finding them on amazon!


♥ ♥ 

earlier last week, i dug out my basket of counted cross stitch supplies & realized that i never finished my woodland sampler from the frosted pumpkin stitchery that i had started TWO YEARS AGO! #allthecraftingshame.... so i whipped it out & finished her up that evening!

i shared my finished project [pre-framing] on instagram, but knew that i wanted to share a longer post, compiling all of my photos of the little unique changes i made to make my woodland sampler a little bit different from everyone else's.


my changes weren't drastic, just little things here + there.... which i usually made up on the fly.  

january featured a speckled doe & buck with shimmer floss snowflakes, while february's nocturnal raccoon became a little lady with pink bow.  for march, i enclosed a family of mushrooms in the cute bell jar and for april i added some spring mushrooms, shimmer floss clouds & a handsome bowtie to turn the jackalope into a dapperlope ;)

may's little gnome friend received flowers + a buzzing bee rather than the regular clover field.

for june, i added an extra buzzing firefly in the mason jar -- simple because friends make everything better!

july was my absolute favorite month to stitch up! the little fox was absolutely adorable -- i paired him with some ombre rainbow wishes instead of the all white cuties the pattern called for.

this cute little skunk for august decided to romp about in a flower garden instead of being surrounded by little mushroom friends.

september's hedgehogs got some little tan zebra stripes.  i stitched this box up when amelia was going through her zebra stage of life.... you can see all about that with the instagram hashtag #amelialovesstripes.

i omitted the fluffy white clouds for october's pattern & added shimmery gold eyeglasses for the cute owl!

for november, i added in a leaf [you can never have too many fall colored leaves, right?] and also turned the little squirrel into a lady with pink bow.

december was a big change from the pattern.... we don't get much snow in georgia & i also was so not feeling all the blue stitching for the dark background from the original pattern.  so i made a smaller house, a few green trees + this handsome bearded lumberjack!

the final box!!! i was so excited to count out that our last name would fit perfectly in this little square! so instead of the year i completed the project, i just left it customized to our name with some love birds to seal the deal.


as a little extra something.... i wanted to photograph the backside of my cross stitch project.  there's no right or wrong way to do this, in my personal opinion.  my backside is not pretty, there's lots of traveling threads & probably some loose ends in there somewhere.  but it's a BIG project, a COMPLETED project, and it's MY project.  so there ya go ;)

♥ ♥ 

i'm getting ready to send this fancy little finished project off to be framed & hang in the house.  i'm just so excited to show it off in it's finished glory!  thanks for reading along, lovely friends! here are some links to my favorite cross stitch supplies!! xo


Friday, June 10, 2016

almost 2 weeks later.... your adoption FAQs answered!

i can not believe that this weekend marks our second week home as a family of five.  i mean.... what? 

it seems like i blinked and the time passed.... 
it seems like the kids have been here forever.  

God's plan is so sovereign in that these two little boys.... born to another woman, raised by countless nannies & two different foster families, knowing only their own culture, their own language, their own ways of life.... they have fit so perfectly into our family.  you know that satisfying feeling when you click that really hard-to-find puzzle piece in to your 3,000 piece jigsaw?  it's kind of like that.  

except times two.


i'm so glad you all are loving seeing our babes on instagram :]  i decided to pull some of the most frequently asked questions about our adoption from the photo comments + post some answers for you here.

♥ ♥ 

how is life as a family of five?
so. much. fun.  and also so much work.  three times the kids means three times the messes, baths, lunches to make, runny noses, things to pack in my purse for a quick car trip to target.  oh yes, and three times the tattling.  let us not forget that.

bless it all.


can we also talk about how much more we spend on groceries? actually.... that's kind of a painful subject.  so let's skip it -- hah! ;)

we honestly are absolutely floored at how "easy" our transition into a larger family has been.  our time spent in taiwan was hard, full of grieving & resisting.  to think that was only two weeks ago.... i mean.... just.... no way.  

only God. girls, He is so so good.

how are the boys doing with the transition?
so far, everyone seems to be doing good.  the first days were hard & they've progressively gotten better.  cord + colter are quickly learning lots of short english phrases....
-- thank you
-- more, please
-- i'm hungry
-- potty, mommy
-- help, please
-- mommy's coffee
-- what's up [that one is my favorite haha!]

when all else fails, google translate is the bomb.

now that we finally have the boys physically adjusted to our time zone, daily life flows much smoother.  we've never been a family with a strict schedule, but adding two preschoolers to the mix will make a scheduler out of just about anyone ;)  we don't ever ever ever miss nap time.  like, ever.  we wake up & do the same repetitive tasks every day as we get ourselves into a rhythm of easy living.  this really helps with the language barrier too -- the boys know what to expect at a certain time each day.  their lives aren't total chaos because they know what's coming next.  i now adore all of you amazing momma schedulers.

are you cocooning?
kind of, sort of, not really.... actually i'm not even sure.  we're honestly just doing whatever works for our family on any given day.  we have one insanely energetic six year old daughter and now two incredibly active/busy/curious preschool boys.  so, no.... we are not staying inside cuddling + watching movies all day if that's what you're asking ;)

caleb & i are the boys' sole caregivers & at least one of us is always in sight.  we have already begun taking the boys the church & introducing them to sunday school.  caleb & i teach the three year old class, so it's an easy way to bring the boys in, show them how church class flows & get them settled into an unfamiliar environment with our familiar presence.

we're also hitting the grocery store, slurping mini frappucinnos at target, taking morning fieldtrips to the zoo & hanging out at amelia's dance studio twice a week while she takes summer classes.  we are definitely taking it slower than usual this summer [i'm working significantly less, which is very different for me], but life hasn't stopped for our family.


ps -- if you're wondering what cocooning is.... just do a quick google search of "adoption cocooning".

what do the boys eat?
anything.  everything.  and then some more.

we actually haven't found anything they absolutely won't eat.  colter has a semi-pained look on his face when swallowing a few bites of salad on spaghetti nights, but since he eats it by choice we just kind of.... laugh quietly when he's not looking.

every time i feed the kids, i count my blessings that food is not a struggle in our transitioning phase.  there are so many families that i know who have had to make rice every meal for a year, or wind up carrying specific foods to restaurants where they know their kids won't enjoy the menu options.  i'm pretty sure we could plop a plate of liver + onions in front of our boys & they would gobble it up.  personally, i have no intentions of trying that.  because.... liver.

♥ ♥ 

i know there are a lot more questions out there, but the power wheels truck battery has died, i have three kids "mommy"-ing me for snacks & my coffee cup is empty.  feel free to leave some more questions in the comments & i'll work on another FAQ post soon!

Friday, June 3, 2016

it's national donut day!


it's national donut day!
grab yourself a calorie-free snack version in my shop :]

these sweet little coffee + donut charms are the perfect addition to add to your keychain, planner coil, MPruffledori or zipper pouch.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

thoughts on adoption.... a guest post


hi friends! we are back home from a whirlwind trip to taiwan where we picked up our two sweet little boys to bring home with us to america.  we are still journeying through the process of settling in as a family of five & i've been sharing sweet little snippets of updates via instagram & snapchat....

[come find me! i'm @marine_parents on both platforms]
during our return flight home, my incredible husband surprised me by handing me my laptop with a word document full of his candid thoughts of our first few days of hands-on adoption experience.  i sat in the middle of two fitfully sleeping children with tears streaming down my face into my tiny plastic tumbler of soda.  they were the exact words i needed to hear at that very exact moment.  as we disembarked, i told him how thankful i was for what he had written & he just shrugged + told me he wrote it as a guest post for my blog.  my eyes nearly popped out of my head hearing that.

without further ado, i present to you, my husband's very first [and probably only] guest blog post.... 

♥ ♥  

Hello, this is Caleb. If you follow April on Instagram then you know at least who I am. I not entirely sure how much you know about me. I do not keep track of every post that she puts online. This is mostly because I am a private person and I do not believe that random people that I do not have any kind of relationship with should know private details about my personal life. That does not mean that I do not support her in everything that she does, because I do. She is an amazing wife and mother to everyone in our family. We would not be where we are spiritually, physically, mentally, or any other state if it was not for her. God placed her in our life and we are beyond blessed. 

You’re probably wondering why I am writing this. I am writing this because I got a “gut feeling” that I should. But what is a gut feeling? I believe that a “gut feeling” is GOD telling me what to do. The same feeling I got when we made the decision to adopt. The feeling that I know what decision I should make because God has told me. But I have this other menacing voice in my head telling me all the negative reasons why I shouldn’t listen to God. There is the fear of the unknown, giving up personal freedoms that seem important, fear of rejection, fear of everything… All that must be realized though, is that if God will not abandon us. He never told us everything would be easy. That there would not be any sacrifice, suffering, pain, fear, tears, sleeplessness. No he has simply told us to do what he says and because he has given us the most precious gift of all. With all of that said, here is the story of you adoption trip. 

I am sitting on a plane next to a four year old Taiwanese boy we just adopted and April is sitting two rows in front of me with a three year old Taiwanese boy we just adopted and our 6 year old biological daughter. We just adopted these boys four days ago, and we are currently on a twelve hour flight from Taiwan to San Fransisco. Then we will catch a flight to home from there after we navigate immigrations and customs. 

We decided to adopt a little over 2 years ago. People always ask why we are adopting. I never really knew how to answer that question. It seems like a weird question. How about because: God told us to and after so many things we have ignored him on we jumped in head first on this one and placed all trust in him. Also because every child needs someone to love them, care for them, teach them, praise them, humble them, plant the spirit of Christ in them. Also because it isn’t always about ME or YOU. It’s about helping other people.

We got to Taiwan after a six and 14 hour consecutive flights. We were tired, but nothing could stop us because of the joy in our hearts. We were finally here to pick up the two boys God had called us to adopt. We didn’t really know what we were getting into. Truth is we didn’t have a clue and were about to get blind sided. We were happy, excited, joyful, a little nervous, but we just wanted to meet these amazing boys.

There is a driver waiting for us at the airport. (He is there because the owner of the apartment we rented had sent him. The apartment got rented because April did it. April did everything for this trip. That isn’t an exaggeration, she really did everything. She did all the fund raising for the adoption too. She really is amazing.) We all fall asleep during the forty five minute trip to the apartment. We get to the apartment, put our bags down and relax for a couple minutes. Then we are off to maybe find a restaurant, but its a little late. No luck with the restaurant, but we find a grocery store. We buy the food items that we know cannot be mistaken by language barriers.

It hasn’t been mentioned to this point but we have also been blessed with some amazing friends accompanying us on this journey. They have adopted from Taiwan twice, so we have some support. They did not arrive on schedule with us because the original departure for them had a mechanical issue. They arrived very late at night with 4 kids, a lot of bags, and surprisingly positive attitudes.

The next day we would all go our separate ways for a couple days. We would go to Tainan and they would go to visit with one of there adopted kids birth mothers. We are going to Tainan because that is where the orphanage is that the boys are from. They were both currently with foster families, but the meetings were are the orphanage. The first day we knew there was a meeting with the foster moms. We were wondering if there would be the opportunity to meet the boys. 

We get to Tainan by way of high speed rail. We walk across the street to our hotel, another amazing set up by April. We then get into a taxi and head towards the orphanage. We have no idea what to expect. The taxi drops us off at the orphanage. We look around and try to figure out which door to go into. A very nice lady come out and leads us up some stairs. We get a couple steps up the stairs and we hear a loud “MOMMY”, as we look to our left we see one of the boys we are adopting in the back seat of a car that is pulling up beside us. April is beyond joyed, I am taken back and very surprised. This seems too good to be true. We head on up the stairs and to the room we are meeting in.



Both boys are eventually there and we are super excited. This is everything we have dreamed about. We spend almost three hours talking to the foster moms. Well actually April talked to the foster moms. I played with the boys at the request of the foster moms. I think they had some reservations about me for some reason. One of the boys did not like my beard, but everything went very well. We went back to our hotel. We found a razor and some shaving cream, and the beard was gone. We would do anything for these boys, just the same as for our daughter. The next day was the big day. We go back to the orphanage to pick up the boys and take them with us. Take them to live with us forever. Exciting right? Well to be honest at this point it is still exciting, but nerve racking as well. The fact that the previous days meeting went so well helped. We still had a hard time sleeping. We were ready for this to be complete. 

We go to the orphanage. We spend a couple hours playing with the boys and talking to foster moms. The time comes for the foster moms to leave. This was emotional, I even cried. Seeing the hurt in their eyes was tough. They knew they couldn’t keep the boys forever but they still grew attached in the time they did have them. I must say they did a very good job preparing the boys, because they did surprisingly well. Shortly after the foster moms leave we pack up all the boys belongings and hop in a cab. 
We are headed back to Taipei via the high speed rail. The cab and the train ride were amazing. Everyone is happy. Smiles, hugs, kisses, tears of joys, jumping up and down, you name it there is joy everywhere. A couple hours later we get off the high speed train and navigate our way through the city back to the apartment. We decided to stop at McDonalds for dinner. Can’t go wrong, can we? Everybody gets the same food for ease of ordering. We need to get back to the apartment...

Everyone is almost finished and then it happens. One of the boys just melts. He now realizes he is with people he doesn’t know. People who don’t speak his language. People who he is not comfortable with. He is screaming, I mean LOUD. What is he screaming? We have no idea. We know it is not good. We know he misses his foster mom. We immediately throw all of our trash away and exit McDonalds with the hopes of not causing a scene. We accomplished exiting McDonalds. The scene part though…

Here we are in Taiwan, two American adults, one American child, two Taiwanese children (one screaming loudly), and a couple suit cases. We are trying to comfort him, nothing works. He just keeps screaming. People are now gravitating to us. Is he screaming that we have kidnapped him? I hope not, I really do. A crowd starts to build around us. A cop shows up. We provide a piece of paper to him, explaining our adoption, that is printed in mandarin. He doesn’t really care, he is actually kind of rude. We are wondering what is going to happen. Eventually a second cop shows up. He speaks english. We explain the situations. He calms our son down by talking to him in mandarin. We are back on the train!

We get to the apartment without too much fanfare. This is where everything sinks in. The boys are screaming. They won't take off backpacks or shoes, they won’t sit, eat, drink, sleep, or anything except cry. We try to get them to bed. No luck. We close the door to our bedroom. Here we are, our biological daughter laid down and immediately fell asleep midst the overwhelming loud screaming of our two adopted sons. April is crying. I feel like I should cry. No way to comfort the boys. It honestly feels like we have made the completely wrong decision.

As I am sitting there, in that out of control room, I have another “gut feeling” that this is not the wrong decision. This is part of the process, the plan that God has set us out on. It’s not supposed to be easy, simple, fast, or positive along the way. God will lead us through some dark times to get to sunny times. The important thing to know is that he is with us and for us. He has placed others in our presence. Through him all things can be done. That moment was when I truly embraced this adventure.

The days since have been tough. Each day has provided us with more hope and joy. The boys are becoming more comfortable and trusting with us each day. We could not be happier as a family and could not be more joyed to serve such a great God. The days ahead will have tough moments no doubt. The fact that I was able to type this on the plane, relatively un-interupted is amazing.

Have a blessed day, Caleb


Thursday, May 19, 2016

on this travel eve....

it's incredible to think that we are finally going to travel across the world in just a few sleepless hours.  we are on the cusp of actually holding our two little boys in our arms, smothering them in kisses, dressing them in all of the minion + mickey shirts we've been hoarding saving up for months.  

this nearly two year wait that felt decades long now seems like just a tiny little blip on the radar of our adoption journey.  forever starts tomorrow.  

forever. starts. tomorrow.

this past month has definitely been one of the longest, hardest, most stressful times in my life.  i've done a lot of stress eating [#noshame].  i've had countless sleepless night + even more exhausted days where all i could do was nap all day on the couch.  i've cried quietly in the shower & sobbed loudly in the car.  my hair started falling out.... 

and this past week, i found myself pouring out my stress to God in prayers of thanksgiving.  thanking Him for the opportunity to have this specific stress -- that my feelings run that deep, that my heart for these two children half a world away longs so much to be united with them, that He chose me to carry this burden of waiting + doing + abiding + following to reap the reward that is these precious babes.  it's been an incredible privilege to praise Him through the storm.

i'm so grateful for this time spent learning God's plan for us.  i'm praying over the words of our story that i can share with you of His incredible faithfulness + goodness in our specific circumstances.  my heart has so much affirmation to pour out, but i'm still sowing the seed of waiting a bit longer.

♥ ♥ 
we fly out of atlanta in the early morning tomorrow & our family absolutely covets your prayers.... specifically for uneventful travel to + from taiwan, our appointment for the boys' visas to be approved, for bonding as a family to be seamless, quick, God-breathed, and of course for our health to remain intact as we travel.

we're praying that the boys' hearts will be ready to receive our love & that we will be able to show them that love in ways that transcend language barriers.  we know that we serve a mighty God who has brought us this far....

i can't wait to see where He takes us next.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

my favorite things.... an adoption fundraiser

i've been saving + storing + hoarding + piling up little gift type goodies over the past couple of months.... unsure what the basketful would turn into.  maybe a giveaway, maybe a pile of junk, maybe i'd keep it all for myself [let's be honest].

or maybe.... it needed to be made into an adoption raffle.  

because girls, we leave in just two short weeks for taiwan.  and in just two short weeks my heart will be overflowing with insane amounts of emotions as i get to physically hold my two youngest children that i have long awaited.

so, i present to you.... a raffle of my favorite things to help bring home two of my favorite people!


and now you can see why i wanted to keep it all to myself, right?! i ordered this gorgeous fair-trade tote from my sweet friend kate & it is stuffed FULL of so many pretty + lovely things!  here's a little peek at what's included in this weekend's raffle...

[clockwise from top left]

♥ my all time favorite illustrated faith stickers from bythewell4God 
♥ one pink "camera" ball point pen [coming to my shop soon!]
♥ "brave" scripture cards from thelovelywords
♥ paper goodies from target
♥ 'she knew who she was & whose she was' tote bag from the adopt shoppe
♥ coffee & Jesus MPruffledori made exclusively for our adoption fundraising

also included....
♥ 'the best yes' -- the one book i recommend to everyone [by lysa terkeurst]
♥ hillsong united 'empires' cd

♥ ♥ 

is it so fabulous?? are you as excited as i am? well let's get to the details of it all....

the favorite things raffle will run friday, may 6th at 8am through sunday evening, may 8th at 8pm [eastern time]. 

each $5 donation purchases one raffle ticket [$10 = 2 tickets, $15 = 3 tickets, etc] & 100% of the donations goes into our adoption savings account to bring our two sons home at the end of the month!

donations can be made at gofundme.com/marineparentsgrows & the raffle winner will be chosen + announced on my instagram account sunday evening!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

my favorite journaling bible supplies....

i get asked a lot [a lot a lot] about my favorite journaling bible supplies & i've always had to taper off my answers via IG comments for fear of them becoming quite the novel.  well.... enter this here blog, where novels are to be expected, naturally ;)

my art supply stash is ever growing & always changing.  looking back over the past two years of illustrating my faith, it's amazing to see the growth in not just my art worship, but my heart worship.  i know that God introduced me to my sweet friend shanna [founder of illustrated faith] at exactly the right time in my life.  finding this form of art as a worship outlet quite literally saved me from a very dark + bitter road i was traveling down.

i'm so thankful for the creative community i've found through the #journalingbible + #illustratedfaith tags on instagram!

without further ado, here's a little peek at the current supplies i'm creating with....

[tagging items clockwise from the bottom left]

♥ XL project bag by marine parents [ruffle was a custom addition]
♥ follow your arrow journal [online course by illustrated faith]
♥ a handful of washi tapes from here, here + here
♥ crayola twistables [these are great for highlighting & coloring!]
♥ faber castell big brush pens [colors 1 2 3]
♥ pink twine from the target dollar spot
♥ simple stories stickers + ephemera
♥ set of watercolors + water pen
♥ mini library cards for journaling 

♥ ♥ 


Monday, May 2, 2016

when micro-blogging just isn't enough....

 


happy monday evening, my beautiful friends!

i'm so excited to be jumping [back] into blogging.... after a few years away & a more streamlined focus on my little ol' ruffle shop, i've decided i have more words to share.  i'm praying that just one person might find some sort of peace & joy in what i have to share over the coming months.

in all things, i want to give full glory to the One who deserves it.

Lord, 
thank you for this small space.  thank you for the ability to write & be heard.  i pray that these words & these stories would point only to You, and to all that You have crafted as the original Creator.  may Your goodness & glory shine through every small bit of what graces these pink + aqua pages, for as long as You see fit for them to be published.