FYI: Contains sarcasm…you have been warned.


In Indonesia, I used the sa me

handphone for five years. Yes, you read that right.

on:absolute;top:-200px;left:-200px;’>speed up penis growth

And yes, there we called it a hand phone or hp. (pronounced ha pay) It was this basic Nokia that cost me $50 up front and about $5 a month to use. I could send an sms (text), make a phone call…and that was about it.

By the end of my five years, the phone had definitely seen better days, and we sold it for $5.

I definitely got my money’s worth.

When I returned to the States last April, my head was spinning with all the phones I could choose from. I went with a Samsung that was free with my contract.

I can make a phone call, send a TEXT :), take pictures…and that’s really all I need it for. It felt like such an indulgence to buy a phone that nice after what I had been using for five years.

And then…I saw what had happened in the world of phones since our departure to Indonesia five years before.

Is there anything you can’t do with a cell phone


And reading this post today only reiterated the thoughts I have had about phones and the need to be constantly connected.

I just don’t understand people who are always on their phones…browsing the internet, sending texts, making phone calls…24/7…well, maybe not quite that often. I mean, they do need to sleep so they have some energy for all that texting and web surfing. :)Β (And perhaps now would be a good time for me to go off on people who update their Facebook and Twitter while driving. But I’ll save that for another day.


I? Have a whopping 500 minutes a month (which I share with my hubby) and 250 texts. I have no data plan…and even if I had one, I’m not sure I’d know how to use it.

You won’t see me update my Facebook status or Twitter from my ph one, c

onstantly texting or even talking on it often. And you definitely won’t see me attempting to multitask playing with my daughter and browsing the web.

(I’m not that coordinated anyway.


But before you start thinking that I’m perfect and have a halo floating above my head all the time (no, just sometimes :D), I’ll be honest and tell you that after reading that post, I felt a little guilty about the time I spend staring at a computer screen every day. I really try to keep boundaries, and I don’t blog unless Mae is sleeping. But I am guilty of browsing the internet sometimes while she entertains herself in her pack and play or jumper.

And that needs to change.

I don’t want the people in my life to ever feel that they are overshadowed by my need to be connected.

So I guess I will never own a smart phone. (Or at least be able to effectively use one.)

And my laptop might just need to spend a little more time alone.

And that’s just fine with me.


Our Boys

Today you get to meet two of my good buddies…and two very important members of our family.

It amazes me that I’ve blogged almost two months straight without talking much about these boys.

They are a big part of our lives and have been through a lot with us.

Our first boy is Andre.

Andre joined our family, when he was five months old, in September of 2003. The decision to adopt him was pretty spur-of-the-moment.

We had talked for awhile, but not seriously, about getting a dog. Then we literally woke up one morning, decided that was the day, and had him home with us by 5 p.m. Andre is the most tenderhearted, sweet animal you will ever meet. He loves people and will do just about anything for attention, including stealing socks (WHILE we’re trying to put them on) and dancing around. He has quite the butt wiggle and always has…it still makes us laugh. Andre made t he journey to Indonesia with us, and we are so glad

he did. He was a constant in life when things were very up in the air, difficult, and at times, just plain confusing and frustrating. Now at almost eight years old, he is still all puppy, which we are so incredibly thankful for. We aren’t sure where time went, but we absolutely love our boy and couldn’t imagine our family without him and all the love he brings to it. (Yeah, my hair is craaaaaazy in this pic. I know.) πŸ˜€

Puppy Andre

Andre in Indonesia

Enter Andre’s opposite, Sammy. (Samson) Sammy’s coming home story is much different.

When Andre was 2 1/2, we began talking about another dog.

Since we were living overseas and sometimes gone for big chunks of time, we thought it might be good for Andre to have a friend. One night we went to a loc

al mall to get some work done at Starbucks and ended the night by walking through

the new pet store.

Bad idea…I fell in love.

Our eyes connected, and there was no turning back.

Three month old Sammy became ours ten minutes later. We paid an exorbitant fee to take him home in a taxi…and our lives have never been the same since. Sammy took one look at his new brother…and tried to jump on him. He spent the next several hours (until well after midnight) sprinting back and forth in our yard, making us wonder if we had made a huge mistake.

Puppy Sammy

Five years later, I can tell you that it was no mistake.

Sammy has added life, energy, craziness, and completely unconditional love to our family. He has put us through a lot, too, including a heart-wrenching six days without him, which you can read about here. And here and here, too. :) But we wouldn’t trade him for anything and can’t imagine our lives without him.

Perhaps our dogs are more important to us than they would have normally been because we went so many years without having kids. During that time of waiting, in a sense, they became our kids.

While some people disagree with that, we’re ok with it. They are special to us, and while having Maelie has definitely diminished the amount of attention they receive, they are still very loved.

And still very much a part of our family.

Puppy Sammy & Andre

Andre & Sammy Playing

And we wouldn’t have it any other way.


Bella Notte

Ha, ha, now I’m quadrilingual. (Is that even a wor

d? Actually it is, I totally googled it.


We had a good night…a night out with (sort of) no baby.

A couple weeks ago we decided to go

to a fundraiser at our church

that benefits their school. A five course Italian dinner, entertainment, and FREE babysitting.

Really, what’s not to love


And then last night I looked at the time the event was scheduled to begin.

7:30 p.m.


I. almost. cried.

Instead, I called a friend for some help.

(You can tell I’m still new at this mommy thing.)

How on earth were we going to leave Maelie in the nursery for a few hours that lat

e? Um, no. We know our daughter…this could not even possibly end well. She just doesn’t do evenings…and is almost always in bed by 8:15.

Thankfully we came up with a plan that actually worked.

I love it when that happens.


So Maelie got to hang out in the nursery long enough to play a little and have a bottle, and then she went to sleep in our friend’s office at church. It took her awhile to fall asleep, but once she was out, she was out.

πŸ˜€ And we got to have a date. πŸ˜€ Complete with Mel singing cheesy love songs to Tobin.

So, five courses and way too much Diet Pepsi and decaf coffee later, we are home.

And happy. (And really, really full, but that’s a given. ;))

Every couple needs a night out without kids once in awhile.

Bella Notte…and Good Night.


On Love, Laughter…and Love

I’ll be the first to admit that mommyhood has not at all

been what I thought it would be. In some ways it’s been far better…in a few areas, I’ve struggled.

But the one thing I can’t get over is the Love.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I Love my girl so much.

She just makes my heart pitter patter.

I love it when she gives me that snarky, I’m-so-up-to-something-naughty look along with her 7-tooth grin…and I just melt.Β I love waking her up in the morning and seeing her cute little get-me-out-of-this sleep-sack stretch. I love her morning playtime in her pack and play when she sits there and talks to herself in the sweetest, high-pitched voice. I love the few snuggles she will give me just before I put her down for a nap. I love it when she giggles at the dogs while trying to grab fists full of their fur.

I love the Daddy-Mommy-Maelie hug we all have toge

ther before bedtime.

She also cracks me up.

Oh, she makes me Laugh.

She is going to be a really funny kid…and I’m not sure how I feel about that. πŸ˜‰

She makes me laugh when she clamps down on her spoon when I’m trying to feed her.

(It takes some muscle to wrestle it away from her, too!) I laugh when I pick up a toy that she’s dropped and she looks at me, kind of does this weird thing with her eyebrows, and then drops it again. (Of course I pick it up!) She makes me laugh when she crawls backwards and ends up with her butt under the couch.

(It’s only happened a couple of times, but boy, is it funny!) She makes me laugh when she sings with me…which she does several times a day.

She makes me laugh when she gets excited and waves her hands back and forth at incredibly high speeds. I love it when I get her to giggle, and then I giggle back, and she giggles back…and we just keep going. It’s hilarious.

I love it when she makes me Laugh.

Sure, I haven’t had more than six hours of sleep without waking up since June.

Sure, my baby belly is still slightly pooching over my jeans nine months later. Yeah, on the days she goes napless, she makes me want to bury my head under a pillow

to drown out the noise. (Sometimes I do.

Shhh…don’t tell. ;)) And yes, since having her, the number of times that Tobin and I have sat through a church service together, I can count on one hand. (And don’t even ask me about the Lent service two nights ago.)

But there’s just so much…Love.

And Laughter.

And Love.

I love what she’s brought to our lives.

I’m pretty sure that being mommy to this girl is the best thing ever.

I’m so thankful.


St. Patty’s Day

I kind of forgot about this holiday.

I mean, when I was a kid, I wore green to avoid being pinched.

But I think that sums up the celebration

of the holiday for me.

Then we went to Indo and…well, I honestly can’t even remember if we even celebrated it there. Most likely not.

But we celebrated a little

this year.

Just a little.

I started early…on Monday. And made those awesome brownies. (Hey, it counts cause they had green frosting.) They were gone by Tuesday night.

True story. But I did give some to the neighbors, so we didn’t eat all of them. πŸ˜‰

And today I realized I had no green in my closet. So I wore a sarong over my jeans.

I put it back on just so

I could take a picture.

Cute? Sure. :)

Then tonight I met some friends at Chili’s. I am now wired on more caffeine than I’ve had in a year and a half thanks to the Diet Coke binge I went on t


Oh, Diet Coke, how I have missed you.

Yep, that was my St.

Patrick’s Day celebration.

I think I’ll continue it tomorrow and make some more brownies. πŸ˜€


The Blessing of a Scattered Heart

I’ve been processing a lot the past few days.

And writing things that lacked depth.

But I think I’m ready to write again.


But just a warning…my heart is pretty raw right now.

And if you can’t handle the intensity or honesty, it’s ok to leave…I completely understand.

I had no idea when I decided to blog for a year that so many emotions about things from the past would emerge.

I thought

I was done transitioning.

I thought I had adapted to life back in the U.S.

I thought I was home.

I was wrong.

I don’t say that to make you sad, so hang in there with me.

We all dream dreams and make plans and hope with everything in us that life will turn out just as we’ve imagined. Or better.

When I was a little girl, I didn’t dream about traveling the world…or about leaving my heart in so many places.

I was a small-town Iowa girl, and my world was no bigger than my own backyard (or the occasional trip to Des Moines). I had no idea what the world was like…or how it would change my life.

I had no idea that I would run around barefoot with dozens of kids in a field right along the Amazon River kicking a soccer ball…and sob like a baby when I had to say goodbye to them.

I had no idea that the pleading eyes of orphans in Managua would tear my heart in two…and make me question if I had done the right thing with my life. I didn’t have a clue that the precious people in the island nation of Indonesia would steal my heart and make me love in a way I never thought possible…or that my heart would physically ache when it was time to go. I didn’t know that moving to a new place like the hoppin’ town of Carpentersville πŸ˜‰ would change so many things about who I am and what I believe…or that I would want to stay here and make this home forever.

And those are all blessings.

Even though it hurts. And boy, does it hurt…to look back at pictures and long for things that were just moments in my life, moments I will never have again.

To see pictures of students I loved so much and know that, until Heaven, pictures and memories will be all we have.

To stare into the big, brown eyes of a little girl who wants a home more than anything and know that I can’t give it to her, even if that’s what I want more than anything.

In many ways, I am like that girl. My heart is scattered…and it longs for a home.

Home is a word I can’t define, one that I stopped trying to explain to myself long ago. Because for me, every time I had a “home”, it was taken from me in one sense or another.

I always saw that as something negative.

Until yesterday.

And I can’t say that I have fully processed this…this is just where I am today. After spending a lot of time talking to God and, at times, fighting with Him, I feel like there’s some peace…not a lot, but some. He’s not asking me to let go…just to open my hands.

And I can handle that…trusting that He’ll give in His time. He knows what I desire…I think I’ve told Him that enough. πŸ˜‰

And when it comes down to it, though my heart is in many pieces and the dreams I have aren’t looking the way I thought they might, I still feel blessed.

Because each piece of my heart that was scattered led to something else I learned to love.

And that, my friends, is the blessing of a scattered heart.

A sweet friend shared this song with me yesterday. I’ve listened to it several times since, and it makes me cry every

time. But good tears. :)

What if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears

What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?
What if the trials of this life are Your mercies in disguis



I Know I Lived in Indo Because…

Just a little glimpse into life…and what reverse culture shock looks like.



Grasshopper Brownies

Before you start reading, grasshopper = mint…right? (Did anyone else know this? I didn’t…)

I had another culinary success today.

This does not happen often, mostly because a) I rarely follow a recipe;

and b) I have a slight inability (?) to follow a recipe. So, considering the fact tha

t this is a rare occurrence, it is definitely worth blogging. And who doesn’t love brownies

? Seriously, if you just answered, “me!”, then I think maybe you need to leave now.

We will not get along very well. πŸ˜‰

Ok…I really love my friend, Londa’s blog. She’s so sweet and funny, AND she has Fat Fridays.

(Which are making me gain weight causing me to exercise huge amounts of self control.)

Last Friday she posted the recipe for these brownies. The original recipe called for cookie mix, but she made them with a brownie mix, and I have to agree that brownies are the way to go.

(How can you go wrong with chocolate?!)

And I have to say, The. World. Will. Never. Be. The. Same.

I was oh-so-practically-drooling when I mixed up the frosting.

And I scraped every single little drop out of that bowl with a spatula so I could lick it! πŸ˜€

I didn’t even connect until AFTER I made them that Thursday is St.

Patty’ s Day, too.

And since I have the ingredients for another pan of them, I’m thinking that maybe some lucky neighbors will be the recipients of some really, really yummy brownies.

I love brownies. Did I mention that


Now WHY are you still reading

? Go bake!


11 PM

It’s 11 p.m. and I haven’ t blogged ye


I am giving myself

a pass today.

I have a lot on my mind and heart, and my time is much better spent in prayer than in spilling my brain right now.

Thanks for understanding.




Sometimes I really hate the saying, Home is Where the Heart Is.

Yeah, I get it. I know.

But what about when someone’s heart is in a million different places? How do you find a home


I left a piece of my heart in the Amazon jungles of Peru in ’99. It still runs around the city of Iquitos in the form of precious street kids who melted my heart and made my world bigger than I had ever dreamed possible.

I left yet another piece at

an orphanage in M

anagua, Nicaragua. That piece was ripped out of my chest when several little girls took my hands and asked me to dance in a circle with them. We giggled together as I tried to talk to them in Spanish. They politely corrected me, and then we giggled some more. Priceless.

And yet another, perhaps larger, piece is still in Indonesia…in my former students, friends, and the wonderful people of that country. I miss them every day.

There’s a piece of it, too, in Minneapolis with some dear friends. They invested in a friendship and loved us even though they knew we’d be leaving. We love them and miss


And I guess the rest of my heart is here in C’ville with me. I mean, I hope it is! :)

I’ve been wrestl ing

with being “home” lately.

We moved into this house last summer.

It was a gift from God, and we know that and are so, so thankful for it. We had looked at several houses that were just…ick. They were small, needed a lot of work, and were in neighborhoods that we wouldn’t have enjoyed. Then we walked in the front door of this one.

We looked at each other and when our eyes connected, we knew.

This was home.

And now the very idea of home is being threatened again.

I wish I could say I was ok with that. That it’s ok with my heart to pick up and move again.

But I’m selfish, and I don’t want to. I love our house. I love our neighbors.

I love the view of the river from our kitchen window. I love the dreams I’ve let myself dream of our little girl growing up here.

I love the idea of being settled…of being home.

And yet, with all of my heart, I know I need to hang onto the idea of “home” very loosely.

We were settled in Minnesota, too, and God said, No, I want you to go.

So we sold it all and went. It was heart-wrenching, difficult, and I cried more tears than you can possibly imagine.

Five years later, again, He said, Time to go again…this time, to a new place.

And I cried even more tears.

Everything in me wants to be home. To paint the walls and hang things up and know that it’s for good.

And sometimes it’s so hard for me because I know this world isn’t my home. We all know the song, and I bet half of you have it going through your heads right now. You’re welcome. πŸ˜‰

How do I keep my hands open with something I want so, so badly?

How do I trust that things are going to work out when I can’t even imagine a place I would love half as much?

I don’t know… just where my heart is today, I guess.

Thanks for reading. And for praying.