Saturday, January 31, 2015

Our Sidge is Six

It has been a crazy few days here. Briana, me, and the three oldest kids took a trip out to the farm. We just got back this morning -- Sidge's sixth birthday. We will celebrate it with a big party tomorrow. Daddy is coming home from a trip tonight so we wanted to wait until he was home to celebrate. Much more to come about our awesome six year old. But for now, just a quick big Happy Birthday before I head to the airport to pick up Daddy!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Our friend Briana

Briana and Abigail playing make-up

The kids, not cooperating for a photo yet again

Briana and I can't even remember how we really met. I mean, I know she married my first cousin, Ryan. But Ryan and I weren't in very close contact at the time of his marriage. They lived in Washington. We were in Florida. But somehow, and most likely through the unifying bond of infertility, Briana and I became great friends.

The only time Briana and I had met, prior to this week, was back in 2010, when we took a vacation to Washington State and connected with them for a quick dinner.

Isaac, me, Ryan, Sidge, and Briana

Over the years that followed, Briana has become a very dear friend to me through our nearly daily Facebook chats. And when they agreed to be one of our new Because of Isaac couples, our bond grew even stronger.

When I learned that JB was going out of town for the week and that my in-laws were probably going to be gone at the same time, I asked Briana if she would consider spending a week helping me in Tennessee. She agreed and flew out from their current home in Denver to keep me company and majorly help me!

Oh what a wonderful week we have had. Briana is a true kindred spirit. We see the world so similarly and my kids absolutely ADORE her. My kids are pretty particular about the people they connect with and all four of them have connected intensely with her. She and Ryan are going to be AMAZING parents. Please continue to pray for the baby they are waiting to be their's forever. (And if you could, pray that it happens FAST!)

So blessed to have had her this week!

Friday Funnies

Isaac: "Do men have beards?"
Me: "Yes."
Sidge: "Do girls have beards?"
Me: "No."
Abigail: "Daddy said some girls have beards."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Identical

Last night, I had the opportunity to review the Christian movie The Identical from

What's even better is that I got to watch this movie with my cousin Briana -- both of us women have dealt with intense infertility. I have adopted and Briana is in the process of adopting. I also live in TN (where must of this movie is set) and she is visiting me here right now. A perfect audience if I do say so myself!

While obviously not a big budget movie, we were both moved by the infertility and adoption story lines that were intertwined throughout the entire story. And not only by the presence of these subplots but also by the faith that helped guide the decisions the characters made. 

In The Identical, twin brothers are unknowingly separated at birth; one of them becomes an iconic rock 'n' roll star, while the other struggles to balance his love for music with pleasing his father. I am hesitant to ruin the movie by discussing exactly how infertility and adoption are intertwined, but I do want to say that I think they are presented very accurately. The intense pain of infertility and the extreme joy (for the adoptive parents) that walks alongside extreme loss (for the biological parents) is raw and accurate.

This won't be a movie that wins any awards, but it will be one that your entire family can watch and have good discussions about faith, the Lord's calling, loss, and what it really means to be a family.

You can get  The Identical and hundreds of other Christian DVDs from

Review: I can Learn the Bible

Memory verses and devotions that will write God’s word on your children’s hearts.
I cannot recommend this devotional enough.  A 52-week book featuring memory verses and devotions that will write God's word on your children's heart -- this book is a spin-off of The Joshua Code by O.S. Hawkins. His daughter, Holly, has taken her father's words for adults and transformed them into an incredible book for children.
Using kid-friendly language, I Can Learn the Bible teachers scriptures in a way children can understand. You can read this book one entry per week (there are 52 entries designed just for this), or you can do what we are doing which is reading one each evening and redoing them at the end of a 52-day period.
A common struggle exists among Christian parents today: as our culture moves further and further from the truths of God's Word, how can we influence our children to love God and follow His purposes for their lives? Holly Hawkins believes Joshua 1:8 has the answer. "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your was prosperous, and then will have good success."
All the church and activities and prayer and discipline cannot compare to the Word of God being planted in our child's heart. And what I love about this book is that it does it in such a way that my children -- currently ages 3, 5, and 6 are enthralled with what I am reading. They are answering questions and asking questions and contributing and participating in the prayer at the end of each reading.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone looking to make God's word more alive in the heart of their child.

Another BOI fundraiser!

One of our current couples on Because of Isaac is having a fundraiser through the organization Thirty-one. Please take a moment to view their fundraiser by clicking here.  You can also view the fundraiser directly on the Thirty-one website by clicking here.  This month, you can purchase a ZOUT for $45 (includes taxes and shipping.) For every two bags purchased at $45, $38 goes directly to this family's adoption costs. Their goal is to sell 20 zouts at $45 each and raise great funds to help Chris and Renae bring a child into their family forever!

The major item on sale for this is the ZOUT. You can see what a ZOUT is by clicking here.  Jump on over to the party on Facebook and just PM the gal in charge to get all the information you need on this great deal!

Blog Reader Question: DIscipline

How do you discipline your kids? At what age do you start with it? Do you teach them first time obedience?
Well, since I have a 25 month old, a 16 month old and a 7 month old, I think I am just really interested in how you teach your children the right behavior. 


Great question!

I am, obviously, far from a professional. However, I do think I have fairly well-behaved children and so I feel comfortable sharing what has worked for us. Please note that I am not writing this post to debate our methods as the best or only. If you have something that is working for you, great! This is simply sharing what has worked for me. 

Firstly ...

We start teaching obedience as early as we can. We reward for listening and good behavior with hugs and cheers. 

We do not start disciplining until we are sure the child can understand what we are talking about and comprehend what we want them to do. In our opinion, this really occurs sometime around 18 months of age.

Our philosophy can be summarized in the following four bullet points. We believe that ...
  • delayed obedience is disobedience. For this reason, our children are encouraged to listen immediately, the first time. We do not count. We ask that they obey right away. Here is a link to an online article I discovered this week which discusses this concept. 
  • we are raising men and women, not children. For this reason, we take the molding of our children very seriously. 
  • how a child speaks is very important. We are very concerned with tone and respect. We do not tolerate our children talking back or talking rudely. We correct and remind them about this every time. 
  • patience and consistency is key to success. If it works with dogs, by golly it should work with children. Repetition and rewards are vital! Staying calm is something I strive for continually (but do not always succeed in!)
I also want to refer you to the discipline "system" that we use in our home. I did a review on this book on my blog. Here it is: Parenting with Love & Logic. This book revolutionized my parenting. My husband never read it, but I read sections to him, and he bought in immediately as well.

To summarize this book/philosophy briefly, we present a child with options. You can read the details at my link above, but for illustration, here are just a few examples:

  • Isaac does not want to put on his clothes for church. I present him with two options (that I feel comfortable following through with). "Isaac, you can either put on your clothes and go with us to church, or I can make you put your clothes on and when we get home from church, you will not get a popsicle like your brother and sister." Another example of options might be: "Isaac, you can either put on your clothes and go with us to church, or I will stay home with you and you can sit in your room the entire time." You must present two or more options that you are positive you will follow through on. You cannot back out once you present the options!
  • Elijah hits his sister. I say to him, "I am very sorry that you made the choice to hit your sister. Because you did that, you have chosen to spend 4 minutes in time-out." The child sees that the punishment is a consequence of a decision he/she made. If I have time, I present this option before they make the bad decision. But sometimes you don't catch what has happened until it is over.
  • Abigail does not want to eat her dinner. "I'm sorry you don't want to eat your food. That is your choice. But if you choose not to eat your dinner, you will not get the three marshmallows that your brothers are getting after dinner." The incentive may not even be on the table until I need to put it there. And that's okay. I decided to use marshmallows when I realized that Abigail needed to make a choice.
We use a system of rewards to encourage good behavior. It is our hope that this encouragement means not having to punish for the bad.

We use a chore chart as pictured above. Each boy has a separate chart. They get magnets for their daily chores. At the end of the week, these magnets correlate into marshmallows. It's amazing what they will do for thirty-five tiny marshmallows. Here is a post I wrote detailing how we use the Chore Chart

Here is a blow up of the chart. Magnets are given for feeding and watering Scrubs, cleaning up toys (two times a day), and saying their memory verse.

We also use pennies for good behavior. Each child has a bank, and I keep a bowl of pennies in front of the bank. I give them a penny for anything and everything I can think of throughout the day. Any time I catch them doing something nice, volunteering to help, using good manners, etc., they get a penny. Periodically, we open up the banks and count the pennies. Every 100 pennies equals $10 that they can spend on something they want. If they have something they have had their eye on we can tell them, "Save your pennies."

**** Updated ***** Now that the boys are older (5 and 6), we have started using 1 penny equals 1 penny system and we have thrown nickels, dimes, and quarters in there. We are teaching them money while rewarding them, and they love saving up their money to buy things that they want. We have also begun teaching them about saving and tithing with this as well.

I hope this answers your question!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Chugging Away!

Don't worry! I am still here and the Blog is still here. I've just been very preoccupied with our Fundraising auction for Because of Isaac. We have currently raised over $2,000 and it looks likely that we will hit our $3,000 goal! If you haven't taken time to view some of the awesome items up for bid, please take a moment by clicking here. 

Also, in other news, my cousin Ryan's wife, Briana, is here visiting with us for the week. This is Briana, our second couple for BOI! They are fully funded and just waiting for their child to come into their lives forever. She is spending the week with us, and my kids are absolutely in love with her. Oh what an awesome Mom she is going to be. I will try to post pictures soon!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Auction is Live!

For the next week, our online auction will be raising money for Kevin & Tessa's adoption. Please click here to go to the Facebook page and bid on items! There are over 180 items in this auction. If, on average, each item gets a $20 bid, we will raise $4,000! Here is just a sampling of some of the awesome things you can bid on:

Scrubs first day in the snow

Scrubs has lived in Florida, Turkey, and Portugal. But he has never, ever experienced snow of any amount or type! You can tell how unhappy he was about the prospect of going to the bathroom in this stuff:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

BOI Auction Goes Live

Our auction goes live starting tomorrow (Sunday) at 8am CST. I will be featuring various pieces on my blog during the next week. Today, I feature my friend Linda who has graciously donated five prints of her photos. Each winner will receive a 16x20 print from Linda's European travels. To bid, simply click here to jump over to the Facebook auction site. Go to the "album" on the page, view the items, and put a comment under any picture to bid on it. That's it!

Here are the ten pictures that winners of Linda's giveaway can choose from. Aren't they gorgeous?

Happy Birthday JB

My husband turns 39 today. This picture above was on one of our first dates -- homecoming 1994. I was 16. He was almost 17. This was 21 years ago. 

My husband graduated from high school in 1994. He received a full scholarship to the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute. He moved to Kentucky to be with me, started his own graphic design business, put himself through undergrad at Western Kentucky University while running his business full time, got into one of the most prestigious medical schools in the country -- Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, joined the military, started a very popular permaculture website, and most recently, switched careers into ER medicine while pursuing his dream of owning a farm. 

During this time he has been an incredible husband and truly the best father I have ever seen. He loves me and his children with every fibre of his being, and everything he does, he does for us. There is not a moment that goes by that I ever doubt whether I married the right man. Some people question a teenagers decision to fall in love with her first boyfriend for the rest of her life.

It was the best decision of my life.

Happy Birthday JB. 

17 Ways Your Life Changes After You Live in Turkey

A great post discussing some of the awesome things you take away with you after living in this amazing country. I will always hold a very special place in my heart for Turkey and hope I can one day return to visit again.

Friday, January 23, 2015

We bought a farm: This isn't temporary

Since I first moved out of my parents home in 1995, my moves have been temporary.
  • 1995 Dorm room at WKU
  • 1997 Apartment off campus at WKU
  • 1998 Rented townhouse with new husband in Bowling Green, KY
  • 1999 Rented duplex in Franklin, KY
  • 2003 Small apartment in house in Rochester, MN
  • 2004 Purchased condo in Rochester, MN
  • 2007 On Base housing on Eglin AFB, FL
  • 2010 On Base housing on Incirlik AB, Turkey
  • 2012 Off Base housing on Terceira Island, Portugal
  • 2014 Rented home where we currently live in TN
Ten moves. All very temporary in nature. All moves that we went into knowing we had a very limited time there.

As a military family, you learn how to do these moves well. We unpack our boxes fast. We hang up pictures quickly. We do our best to make a house a home as soon as we possibly can. We need to maximize the little time we have in a place and make it more than just a stopping place. It has to feel forever even if it isn't.

We are good at this.

So now, the tides have turned. We have purchased our first home. We've purchased before but that was a condo that we knew we would only be in temporarily. 

This time we have purchased a house that we plan on being in for a very, very long time. 

Maybe forever.

And as JB and I discuss things around the house, he keeps having to shift my thinking away from temporary. I keep coming up with "quick" ideas to solve storage problems or lighting problems or space problems.

And my husband keeps saying, "We don't have to live with that problem."

Don't get me wrong, we won't be fixing a lot of things right away. But while we love the farm we purchased, the house is not perfect. It is new and nice and adequate, but it isn't my dream home, and we have decided that because the farm is our dream farm, we are going to make this house our dream home.

That is going to mean renovations and changes. Not right way. But eventually.

While the house looks big from the outside, it actually isn't nearly as big inside when you get in it. It will fit us well now. But it will be a tight fit when I am homeschooling four teenagers. The kitchen is too small for us long-term. The laundry room is itty bitty. 

That type of thing.

I was standing in our master bathroom and JB was telling me how one day he'd like to put in new cabinets. I told him that the cabinets were fine and that I could live with them.

"Wendi," he began. "You just don't get it. You have to stop thinking like a military wife stopping here temporarily. We aren't stopping here. We are going to live here. And we can make this house a home! Our home."


It is going to take quite some time for me to adequately wrap my mind around what this means. I don't have to think in questions like: "What will stick to the wall but not damage it so I can remove it easily?" or "How can I decorate my child's room in a way that we can easily take it down and pack it up and move it to the next room?" I don't have to think of my living room in terms of "How can I make this furniture work in this room?" I can instead say, "How can I make this room work for my furniture?"




Friday Funnies

The boys attended their cousin Nate's basketball game. I told them I wanted them to try to learn a few things about a new sport and tell them to me later. After the game, I asked them what they learned. They didn't have anything to share, so I started prompting them for answers.
Me: "What does a person do when they are moving from place to place?"
Sidge: "Run?"
Me: "Okay, yes, but what do they have to do with the ball when they are moving from place to place?"
Isaac: "They have to drop it to the ground and pick it up again."
Me: "And what is that called?"
Sidge: "We don't know."
Me: "It is called dribbling."
Isaac: "Is that like drool?"


I told Sidge to brush his teeth, shortly after he had finished his popsicle. "But Mommy," he began. "If I brush my teeth now, I'll lose my blue tongue."


While in the van, Sidge was crying hard, emotional, as he can get when he is overtired. I explained that he needed to calm down.
Sidge: "I can't."
Me: "It's fine if you can't. But if you can't, you'll need to lay down and get some rest when we get home."
Sidge: "Because if I am crying it means I am tired?"
Me: "That is often the case."
Sidge: "Okay. Well I'm trying not to say anything."
Isaac: "If you want to not say anything, just close your mouth and then no words can come out."


The kids and I went over to a friends house and played out in the woods. That evening, Isaac told JB he felt something funny on the back of his head. Sure enough, it was a TIC! JB has had plenty of experience with these but still could not get the head on this one all the way out. It was very deep, and he was going to have to do a lot of digging around to get it out. He decided he would numb up Isaac's head to get it out. Isaac was quite upset and did not want to put his head on Daddy's lap. JB finally said, "Listen. You have two choices. You do this with me, here, now, or we go to the ER and let another doctor do it. Which idea do you like?"

Isaac looked at him, tears running down his face and said, "I think they are both terrrrrrible ideas!"

Can't argue with that.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

'Sup Dawg!

This picture illustrates, yet again, what an amazing dog we have. Oh the things this dog allows all of these kids to do to him never ceases to amaze me.

But it also shows the skin problem Scrubs is having. See all those horizontal lines on him? This dog has more allergies than I do!

I'm going to try a Benadryl regimen starting tomorrow -- to try and see if we can combat it without another trip to Vet. I had hoped America would cure of him of his allergies.

Guess not.

But he's still a super, awesome good boy!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

BOI Auction!

We are preparing to launch our third Because of Isaac auction and are so excited about all of the donations coming in. Please take a moment to check out our auction in its new format by clicking here. 
Instead of running the auction through this blog, it will instead be run through Facebook which will hopefully be easier for everyone on all ends.

We are setting our goal VERY high for this auction. We are going to try and see if we can raise $3,000, but in order to do that we really need YOUR help.


(1) If you can think of anything that you can donate, please email me at There truly is nothing too big or too small and nearly any item can be listed. Look around your house, think of your talents, or think of something you might be able to purchase, and let me know before January 25. If you don't have anything yourself, maybe you know someone you could ask to make a donation.

(2) Bid and encourage all your friends to bid! And remember, it isn't so much about winning an item but about getting items to go harder and donating to a good cause.

We now have 149 items donated and more coming in every day. SO EXCITING!

Can't wait to launch this awesome event on January 25 at 8am CST!

What makes a good day

Sometimes, at the end of the day, I look back, and I see nothing substantial.

If I looked back on yesterday, I'd probably have chalked it up to a not good day. I fought a headache off for much of the day and there were lots of moments I felt like I wasn't the best mom and the kids were fighting a little bit more than they should have been and Daddy was working and the dog was driving me crazy ...

And so when I look back I see a day that held nothing really ... consequential. 

I know that sounds negative, but is the truth.

About how I feel.

But not about reality.

Because while I may feel that nothing substantial occurred, there were lots of inconsequentials that actually, when added up, made for a jam packed ... substantial day.

I have to remind myself, all the time, that it isn't the big things that equal substantial. 

In my house, on any given day, it is unlikely that we made a Pinterest-worthy craft. And it is not likely whatsoever that my kids had on all the right clothes or ate all the right foods or went on a family outing that resulted in photos plastered on Facebook to make everyone jealous. There are toys scattered everywhere and dishes in the sink and smears on the wall and a yard with dog poop that really needs to be picked up before we have another freeze.

There are lots of moments that are sort of a mess.

(In fact, we got to church the other day, and while admiring how cute the girls hair and dresses were, I realized that I completely forgot to brush the boys hair and in fact, Isaac had put on his own shirt completey inside out.)

(Fifty percent success counts for something I think.)

And in the mist of the non-substanital ...

I saw Abigail give the dog a kiss.

(And I captured it on camera which is no small feat.)

And we'll look past the fact that it is the middle of winter but she wanted to wear a sleeveless shirt and shorts and I let her.

And then, on a beautiful 60 degree day in the middle of January, we went to the park (after realizing the Library was closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day), and with no prompting at all, I stopped and realized that all four of my kids were on the swings at the same time, next to each other, and that I had a phone and could snap a photo of it. And even though it would be blurry and not at all an awesome photo, I would always remember that moment.

There were silly giggles that occurred and impromptu hugs and legos stepped on and, oh yeah, a banana found on the window sill. 

There were tiny bits of inconsequential that added up to something substantial.

And that ... makes a good day.

And so, I'm going to be okay with the fact that I wasn't on my best mom game and instead embrace the little bits of craziness that made my day ... substantial.

I hope you, will do the same.

Hang on

Monday, January 19, 2015


A great video to share with your kids today -- so that they understand a little bit of what this day is about. I think people of all ages would benefit from this Reading Rainbow story time read of a Martin Luther King Jr. book. However, my kids (ages 3-6) especially appreciated it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Alumni Game

To say I had an amazing day yesterday attending the WKU Alumni game would be a huge understatement. 

It was one of those days where you are just enjoying every single minute -- eating and talking and hanging and reminiscing. 

I left at 8am and made the 90 minute drive to the college where I had breakfast with these lovely ladies.
Me, our former trainer Paula, former coach Mary, and my roommate and dear friend Kristi. Paula was in her early 20's when she got the job at WKU so she was young and very close with the players. Paula now has two sons and is a professor at Western. I was a member of Mary's first recruiting class. She had no kids when she started recruiting me and today, her oldest son is a senior in high school. Kristi and I were placed together as roommates. Kristi was not happy about it. She thought I was way too "goody two shoes" for her taste. We were night and day but soon became inseparable. She now lives in New Mexico with her husband and three kiddos.

After breakfast, we drove across town to Mariah's for lunch. Shea is sitting there in the front left. She and I are fantastic friends and because she lives in Bowling Green, have had the opportunity to see each other frequently. And Jaime, sitting next to me, came in in the class behind me. She's another very  dear friend.

Time to line up to go out on the court for introductions.

After that, we made our way to the game -- here they are announcing all the alumni at half time. There were managers and players. There was even a player there from the 1974 team!

We all sat on the floor for the first half of the game. Here is Jaime Britt, who was a year behind me, with her daughter and our mascot -- Big Red.

During the second half, we all headed up to loyal fan Belle Hunt's suite. She wasn't there -- but we made ourselves right at home.

Jaime, Kristi, me and Jamie. 

Here is a picture of the four seniors during our 1998-1999 season. Shea, Kristi, me and Katashia.

And here we are nearly 20 years later. Katashia, on the right, is one of my favorite people EVER! I hadn't seen her in over a decade, but we sat down and started talking like it had just been yesterday. She is in Georgia and will only be 4 hours form the farm -- so we are really hoping to reconnect. Katashia is famous for hitting the winning shot against Louisiana Tech -- a coast to coast dribble and score.

A bunch of us in Belle's suite.

JW and JB were in the graduating class one year behind us. This meant that we had all 6 of us there!

 Last up was a reception and some photos. Here are all the alumni with the current players. 

Shea, Jaime, Laurie, Coach Sanderford, and Jaime Walz (with one of Laurie's twins on the ground.) Laurie was one year older than us and another very good friend. She is now doing color commentary during games and lives in Bowling Green. Coach Sanderford was the legendary coach that recruited me. He left WKU for Nebraska halfway through my time at Western. He is a great man and was a great coach -- even though he caused me to cry more times than I can ever count.

This day was so full of memories. It also reminded me of what a joyous and incredible time of my life playing Division I college basketball at Western Kentucky University was. These people were my family, and despite time and distance, we are so unified from that experience. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that WKU was where I was supposed to be for those four years and the friendships I took away from there will be friendships I have until the end of my days.

Thank you ladies for the memories and for being some of the greatest friends I have ever had.