Sunday, June 19, 2011

a father's day to remember!

we had two very special events planned today for father's day.  as always, we planned a cookout to enjoy time with my dad & grandpa but then quickly found out that our church was having a father' day cookout planned at a  neighborhood park and that everyone, family & church family alike were invited, encouraged even to come and bring the whole family.  we quickly put the kabosh on a cookout at home and made plans to be there instead.  i made the mistake of getting distracted by the friends and family and forgot to take pictures but it was really fun and the food was great!  somehow the hubs was still drafted to cook but he got to enjoy the day too, especially since we weren't gone all night long and he got to come home and relax on the sofa.

the second big event for today (that actually happened first) was that my beautiful niece casi got baptized today!!  we don't believe in baptizing children, like some churches do, because we believe that dedicating your life to Jesus is a personal choice, not one that can be made for you.  we believe that it's something that takes quite a bit of thought, prayer and discussion before the decision can be made and it's not a decision to be taken lightly.  i realize that you lovely readers may not believe the same things we do but that's what being free to believe what we believe is all about!  casi was given the choice as to who she'd like to baptize her and when and she chose today, father's day, and one of her teachers from church, the lovely annette.  casi met annette two years ago during vbs, really began to bond with/learn from/rely on her last year during vbs and continued during our midweek classes over the last several months.  annette has really taught casi a lot about herself, how to act more like a young lady, what is and is not appropriate behavior and how to deal with the drama that several of her classmates seem to bring, in short, she's amazing!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

fiona's homecoming

a little over a year ago i did this post to tell you about my lovely niece fiona and the amazing journey that my sister and brother-in-law were on to adopt her from Uganda.  and even though I failed to post an update on fiona's room after i finished it you can finally see the pictures now!  

this is the first thing you see when you enter her room, arching branches with an owl to watch over her as she sleeps!

to the left is her dresser with some photos of the first trip sara & dave made to uganda, an adorable owl print from target and a mirror, apparently it's a pretty big deal to have a mirror in the house in uganda because she loves looking at herself

to the right of the headboard is the only window in the room, fiona's name is on the wall above her toybox and, at some point, will be a beautifully framed picture of some sort.  the butterflies are from target and they were beyond easy, they're plastic forms that clip onto the attached pushpins, you just stick them in the wall and rotate the butterfly whichever direction you want!

the butterflies continue around the corner and over her desk which holds more photos, a lamp and a few stuffed animals that tyler won in a claw game

the photos on her dresser, as i mentioned, are from sara & dave's first trip to uganda which, as i talked about in my first post, we were hoping would be their only trip to uganda.  you can read the full story here but i'll post a short refresher for you.  after several weeks in uganda they learned that they weren't going to be getting a court date for quite some time and because of some trouble with the lawyer they hired there it might take even longer so they returned home, sad that they couldn't bring their daughter back and frustrated.  several months later sara & rachelle returned (without dave & mark) because they finally had a court date thanks to corrections in their paperwork by their new lawyer (also named sarah).  after making a huge amount of progress with their court dates, both sara & rachelle were granted full adoptions of their daughters.  unfortunately though, before they could celebrate too much, the american embassy denied their paperwork for visas, basically saying they didn't believe that the girls were orphans and that sara & rachelle must have paid off the judge or somebody to bring the girls home.  because of their immense faith sara & rachelle again returned home without their girls, put their faith in God and prayed that soon the embassy would grant their visas.  after several months we finally received the news that their visas has been granted and that sara & mark would be returning to uganda to finally bring their daughters home.  the first step was to get plans together for an airport greeting followed by a small welcome party at the brodzinski's house when they got home.  wednesday, may 25th, we piled into two vehilces and set out for chicago.  tyler and i practiced the self-photoing in the backseat while papa bruce (my father-in-law) drove.

 the closer and closer we got to chicago tyler kept asking about the sears tower.  i told him how it was renamed the willis tower and talked about how soon we'd be able to see it.  at first i was surprised that it wasn't on the horizon but figured we just weren't in the right spot.   then, almost magically, the clouds started to part and we saw that it was much closer than we though, just heavily veiled in fog!

we made it to the airport and quickly found their flight on the big board... see the post for amsterdam at 1:22pm? do you also see that the time on the clock is 1:40pm? ugh... this is why i dislike waiting at the airport, as it turns out, their flight never showed 'arrived' on the board, it just kept moving up the line until it disappeared.

so we waited... and tyler played with the welcome home sign he made

and after a couple of hours (seriously) we got a call from Mark's cell phone asking where we were because they had exited the gate (not the gate we were waiting at after being directed by airport staff) so we ran to the other gate and there they were!

slightly dazed and definitely very tired but both families were very happily reunited

fiona was definitely tired and overwhelmed by all of the attention but

and she stayed close as we exited the airport as well

after arriving home we picked up lots and lots of fried chicken, had many more family members and dear friends join us and welcomed everyone home.  fiona kept sneaking away to explore her room and several times focused on this photo, one of the large group of family and friends in uganda that had helped her survive over the last six years

a few days later was a bittersweet sunday at church as the entire harris prairie family welcomed racheal and fiona home we also said goodbye to the grahams who left for seattle that afternoon.  thankfully we got some pictures of everyone together one last time before they left.

we were so glad to have dr. larry williams, our senior minister join in some of the photos

within a week or so fiona had pretty much adapted to the family and church family and attention and was surprised by some neighbors with lots of hand-me-downs, including this bike which, thanks to tyler's training wheels and an old helmet, she was ready to ride!

i could post for days and days all of the pictures we've taken of this newest member of our family but, i suppose, it would just like any other family welcoming a new child.  we're just so thankful to be able to say 'welcome home fiona!'

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

paige's milk & cookies party

to help catch up on posts i missed i knew i should mention my lovely niece Paige's 6th birthday party. during the initial planning stages we were hoping to have a dual party with my other niece fiona but, unfortunately there was quite the delay in her visa paperwork and it took several months longer to get her home than originally planned. i'll tell you more on that later but for those that don't already know, she's home and fitting in quite nicely!

lisa, my sister, and i had been planning a milk & cookies themed birthday for several months and during the initial stages the only thing i knew was that we were going to have it in the fellowship hall at our church and that i wanted a smaller version of this oreo cake to be the centerpiece. i'd seen it on an episode of martha and fallen in love (how could you not!)

we also knew that we wanted several kinds of cookies and most of them would be homemade since we are ridiculously obsessed bakers when it comes to holidays, birthdays, because-you-need-baked-goods-days. then i stumbled upon this post from V and Co. (love the blog!) with these lovely cakemix cookies.

i instantly knew i had a theme and would have to work the oreos back in somehow. our fellowship hall was already decorated in lots of fun colors so all we had to do was set up some tables, balloons, trays of cookies, some smaller pre-bottled milks and call it a day.... easy as pie, er, um, cookies! easy that is, until my sister realized that a milk and cookies birthday with a stacked oreo cake meant that there wouldn't be any actual cake at the party. i had known this all along but apparently she had not processed the thought. we then brainstormed and debated (fancy word for argued) and brainstormed and came up with:

oreo cupcakes! chocolate mini cupcakes for the kiddos, one giant cupcake with her birthday candle (thanks to a large starbucks sized muffin pan my mom uses to make homemade giant muffins) and no worries about a cake-less birthday. we stuck mini oreos in the oreo buttercream and voila! the other centerpieces we discussed were cookie bouquets coming out of glass milk bottles. unfortunately at the moment i don't have the full photos to show you (i'm really bad at remembering to put a memory card in my camera so i hijacked my sister's but then forgot to download the pics before giving the card back, oops) but here you can see the cookies on a stick post-decorating.

i didn't search around a lot for a method to do these although i probably should have, i used my favorite sugar cookie recipe, laid the cookie sticks onto a baking sheet and laid the cookies on top of them as i cut them out. i barely squished the cookie around the stick because i wanted the cookies to stay fairly flat for decorating and only had a couple fall off but they fell off straight out of the oven so i re-used the stick to make more, super easy. I made royal icing according the recipe that came with my wilton meringue powder and went to town. it really was that easy. we found glass milk bottles, filled them most of the way with rice and stuck the sticks in.

the only decorations we purchased were balloons and colorful tableware. i'll probably update this more later with the photos of how everything turned out and the custom game we made for less than $10 but for now that's all i have. it was a really good day even though we couldn't share it with fiona and we're really glad we planned it inside because half way through the party it downpoured!


can i just tell you how obsessed i've become with pinterest and how it's taking up all of my time. it started a few weeks ago after one of my mangers mentioned how cool it was and that she was totally addicted and then, within a day or two i was reading my new favorite blog, Young House Love (i'll probably have a post all about their brilliance later) Sherry was posting about mother's day and how her brilliant husband checked out her pinterest board to see what to get her for mother's day... i told you he was brilliant! i figured that if two people who's style i admire that much were totally in love with this new thing called 'pinning' that i had better try it out.

long story short, my sister and i have been co-contributing to some of her boards so that we don't continuously re-pin each other's pins, and i'm really upset that there's no pinterest app for android at least there isn't one yet... my addiction to pinning and re-pinning is, well, it's almost getting out of hand... but i just can't stop myself, it's a beautiful thing! want to see my boards or my sisters? i think you should... then join pinterest and start pinning things... then i can see your pins and share them

but seriously, check out Young House Love and Pinterest i hope you'll love them as much as i do!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

its been too long..

i spend so much time reading blogs that sometimes i forget that i'm neglecting my own blog. here i am, almost 6 months past my last post and there is so much i feel the need to say. over the next several days i'll be posting quite a few things (at least, that's the plan), lots of updates, lots of project photos and i'll be revealing a few changes along the way! i'm sure you'll notice the new layout but it feels a lot more like the direction my style has been changing over the last few months. i've changed positions at work and have begun to realize that, while i generally like having the things i use near me where i think i'll use them, it's really difficult to find things when people have put them where they think they'll use them the best and often results in a lot of clutter on the small surfaces we have available to use. did you follow me on that one? it basically boils down to me cleaning up after people all day long while trying to do my job. this is quickly translating to my home life because, as much as i once loved having multiples of things so that i could have just the right size and shape ready at hand, i'm realizing that i keep using the same things over and over again and the multiples are getting lost in the backs of really cluttered cabinets. i've begun to notice that all of the surfaces in my house are getting overly cluttered because i'm saving lots and lots of things 'just in case'. it's tiring to clean everything up because i keep putting things where i think i'll need them, my husband puts things where he thinks he'll need them and my dog puts things where she wants them and the cat moves things because they're not where he wants them... ugh! don't get me wrong, it's not like my house belongs on hoarders or anything, it's just that i'm realizing that it's too cluttered and i really feel accomplished when i've cleaned off the surfaces and everything looks more open. i'm on a mission to improve the clutter situation and, in the process, finish making my house into the home we've been wanting.

the first step was to pair down and get rid of all of the duplicates or excesses that we're not using. the hubs was great at cleaning out all of his excess computer equipment, electronics and miscellaneous cables and cords and even went as far as to sell the dvd collection he'd been building over the years because we don't watch dvds, we netflix! we also decided to pair down our bills and expenses (the main reason we netflix) so we ditched the premium cable and only kept the basic cable because it was only about $7 more than no cable when paired with internet so we know that we'll have HD local channels and we get a few other miscellaneous channels just in case there's nothing else to watch. now it's my turn to pair things down and, instead of taking things to the pawn shop like the hubs did, i'll end up having a yard sale later in the summer. i can only hope that i'll make some decent money for all the work it'll be... especially since the hubs made about $1,000 and didn't have to sort and price things and then sit in the sun waiting for people to paw through lots and lots of our belongings!

the next step was to finish the projects we've been working on around the house. you'll have to wait until later to see those projects but i promise they're worth coming back for! goodnight ya'll!