30 April 2010


Did you think I'd forget? Of course not.
Happy Birthday Cori!
Welcome to the 30's!

28 April 2010

Amsterdam Day #2

Let me just start by saying that day #2 was much better than the first. Part of that was due to sleep. Another part was that even though I woke up way too early, I played around on the internet and was refreshed with a facebook convo with Chrissy. It was great to talk about adoption and other stuff. Thanks Chrissy!
Once Ryan woke up, we got ourselves ready and headed to breakfast. After breakfast while standing on the balcony, Ryan captured this photo. If you look close enough you can see Curious George. My kids love CG and so the letters I wrote to them for each day that we're gone have something that CG was curious about and wanted to share with them (ie: map of our travels, pics of an Amsterdam canal). So, we brought CG along, he's a puppet by trade, to take some pics for our kids and to use at the orphanage. So, this is for you Scott and Bethany: here's Curious George at the Art Gallery Hotel in Amsterdam, Holland.
This next photo gives a great overall view into our day - us and the Dietz' being shown around Amsterdam by a very good and knowledgeable tour guide, Ruud Stuurman. It was great today joining them with a little sleep under our eyelids and with Shonda and Travis along. There's a draw bridge off in the distance which isn't very obvious. But across the river there is where the Jews settled. During WWII, these draw bridges were drawn up making it easier for the Jews to be captured. What a sad part of the Jewish history!
I was going to show you a pic from the Red Light District but forgot to upload one. Don't go google the RLD unless you want it to show up on your x3watch as porn. The RLD was originally started for the navy men's entertainment. Apparently the regular ol citizens also enjoyed the entertainment because it is very much alive today. We were there during the day so we didn't see ALL the smut (thank you Lord) but we saw more than enough. A beautiful part of town with the "old church" but every window front is either "toys" or women in lingerie selling themselves. I wouldn't have really caught on to it all but walking past one window front Ruud said "the curtains are closed so they're busy". Seriously? Why do they do that? It was sickening and sad and we kept having to encourage our hubbies to not look inside. This area had nothing on the chocolate anatomy I saw in the stores yesterday. Oh my. God's wrath on that situation will be worse than Sodom and Gomorrah. How log will He, the One who created those people to bear His image, allow that to continue?
We also saw outdoor urinals. Kinda like porta-pots but only for men and not completely closed in. It looked kinda like a phone booth really, you could see the person from shins down and shoulders up. Really odd. We have a pic of that too that I didn't upload.
This next pic is a clean one. It's a view from the canal ride. Did you know Amsterdam was built on a canal system. The history here is amazing. The buildings date back to the 1600's and have this built new but built to look old look. Ryan laughed when I said that about the buildings because I'm so used to the new to look old... these are just old. Funny.
And finally a picture from yesterday that I had to share. This was an orphanage back in the day (there were several in the city). The details are small but the box shapes were boxes that held the clothing of the children. It's like an outdoor dresser. Very interesting.

Okay, there was much more to our day but I'm tired and ready to peel my contacts out of my eyes. we leave tomorrow morning at 1035am for Ethiopia. Our schedule says we're to land at 905pm. I'm getting super-duper excited to get to Ethiopia and meet our son.
Thanks to our friends and family who've kept our kids so that we could have 2 days in Amsterdam before going on to Ethiopia. A big thanks to Ruud and An for showing us around the city the last two days; we look forward to meeting up with you in July in beautiful Northeast Iowa.

Amsterdam Update w/ pics

(Ruud & An, Ryan's dutch relatives and our local guides)

Lots to see here... sometimes more than you want to see in fact. One of the first places we took a picture was here at the Buiten cafe. Considering Ryan is Dutch and we're in Holland, finding something with part of our last name was of particular interest. In talking with Ruud about it later, we learned that Buiten means outside. So this was the outside cafe. We also learned that our name, Buitenwerf, means outside the warf. It was likely derived from the area that Ryan's family was from... outside the warf. Pretty cool huh?

We've seen some other cool things too. The Anne Frank house was pretty cool. Reminded me a lot of the Holocaust Museum. Only this was the actual place they hid out and still has the pictures she glued to the wall, etc. We didn't get any pics there but it was very humbling for me.

We also saw the Palace (I'm sure this isn't the real name). It was beautiful and the details of their work was impressive.

And we went to this really old church that has been running since 1605. It was beautiful too and had some rich, cool history. One thing that we found interesting is that people were buried in the floor so the concrete slabs you were walking over, were the graves of people.

This morning when I was awake at 5am and chatting on FB with Chrissy, I shared with her a little else of what we've seen. It just dumbfounds me. We were in and out of a couple of open air markets and souvineer shops. The market was cool and I really wanted to buy and eat some fruit. The souvineer shops surprised me. Apparently Amsterdam is known for and takes pride in their prostitutes, marijuana and chocolate covered male anatomy. The souvineers bragged of this stuff... not something I want to take home to my children but thanks anyway. The other option for gifts has been wooden clogs and or soccer jersies. So far we haven't purchased anything besides our food and drinks.

It's common practice here to sit on a terrace (patio) and have a drink and people watch. I wonder if anyone works. We'd walk a while and then stop for a refreshment. A 10-ounce bottle of coke or water runs almost $2.75 in USD. I've debated on buying a soccer jersey but they run 35 euro (almost $50 USD). That's just crazy. This tight budgeted momma would way rather buying things that cost way less in Ethiopia!!!

Speaking of Ethiopia, in just 25 hours, we'll be on a plane heading to Et. So exciting. It has been fun to get to know Shonda and Travis a little more. We didn't see them yesterday after checking into our hotels but we plan to get together with them this morning and spend part or all of the day together. Tomorrow night we'll get to meet up with Jamey and Andrew which is way exciting!

27 April 2010


We arrived at the hotel (a converted old home, not a Marriott) and the kindly let us check in super early.  We have LOTS of bags and the men at the desk asked us if we were moving in :)
We enjoyed our first breakfast in the Netherlands - simple and quick.  Headed out with a camera in tow and hoping we don't get lost!
Met up with Shonda and Travis from www.godwiilladd.blogspot.com in Detroit.  They were in the seats behind us... hoping we can connect with them while here so we can hang out some more.

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26 April 2010

Headed out

We're headed out today. We hope to be able to post some while we're gone. I have a few scheduled posts over at our adoption blog www.journey4hope.blogspot.com. Click on over there and follow us on our trip to Ethiopia via Amsterdam.

24 April 2010

Gotta Love Creative Minds

Apparently this is what happens when you have 3 kids under 3 playing together. I love these little ones and their families.

I also love those in our small group bible study that don't have kids.

Today I'm especially thankful for one of them who came over and helped me with my flat tire last night when I was on my way to the women's retreat. He was there before Ryan could get there and didn't mind getting his hands and clothes all dirty to help me out. I love that we're all a family like that... and that those 3 guys (another friend came too since I was at his house) dealt with my tricky spare tire while I left and rode with Tracy to the retreat.

23 April 2010

Journey Bags

The bags are done. Yipee! I finished them up just before midnight last night. Lots of thanks are in order because I didn't do it myself!

  • Thanks to Denise: for being patient and allowing me to be working on bags while visiting. And also for getting the bags to Janel.
  • Thanks to Ryan for putting the tags on and for sewing one of the edges of a bag (he's a rockstar with a sewing machine).
  • Thanks to Aunt Janie for helping with cutting fabric and purchasing some of the canvas.
  • Thanks to mom for letting me use her sewing room and machines when I didn't want to work at home.
  • Thanks to my mother in law for helping and sharing some cute fabric.
  • Thanks to Mabels Labels for donating the awesome tags that are associated with each bag.

When all was said and done last night, I had 24 completed bags all looking different. I have been so blessed to make them for such a good cause. It has me thinking of a new little project... I'm considering making more bags. My sewing room will have to get moved from the dining room to the spare bedroom but it would work. I'd like to make and sell bags. For each bag I sell, I'll donate one to someone in need. If I go ahead and pursue this idea, you'll hear from me!

20 April 2010

Cuase they're cute...

Lots to do so a quick post to give a little insight to two of my favorite guys:

On Sunday he asked me if I would make him a little something for our trip to hang around his neck and hold his passport. I told him that I could but that I felt like I had 100 other things to do so I didn't want to commit to making one. Shortly after that conversation I left the house for a few hours. When I came back home, my manly and handsome hubby proudly showed me the little something that HE sewed together to hang around his neck and hold his passport. I was super impressed!!!

He's really growing leaps and bounds in multiple areas. He loves to pick out his own clothes and get dressed like a big boy (yes, he's almost 5 and we've babied him a little). This morning he came down stairs dressed on his own. From the bathroom, I heard Ryan ask "honey, did you tell him he could wear sweats?" I laughed and confirmed that I did indeed tell our son to pick out his own clothes. I'd seen the light cotton pants with the stripe down the side that he laid out on his bed. What I hadn't seen was the thick striped shirt that he grabbed to go with it. It's a school day today. Oh dear!

And a little something about Bethany so she doesn't feel left out:
this child is testing my limits but she is precious... how can those two things go together? She's solid in her independence yet she wants me to carry her around and snuggle her at night... how do those things go together? She's beautiful but can show one mean face. Yes that's my daughter and it all goes together for her. Bethany's world is about to get rocked when Judah comes home and she knows it!!!

18 April 2010


Just checked the weather for Amsterdam. Ten days is a long ways out but currently it shows:
high in low 60's, 40% chance of showers.

And in Ethiopia:
high's in the mid 70's, lows in the low 60's. Now that's what I'm talkin about!

Are you Packed?

I've heard that question several times lately. No, of course I'm not packed. I have a long ways to go before I'm packed. Even if I was packed, I'd likely have to re-pack because of my OCD, and because even though I desire to pack light, I will re-define the term "light".

I haven't even pulled the suit cases out of the spare bedroom closet yet. In fact, when I cleaned the spare bedroom before church (amazing what you can get done when your kids are gone), I piled some more blankets in front of said suit cases. We have company coming this week and I figured she doesn't need all the winter blankets and I don't need to be packing while she's here. In the meantime, the corner of our sitting room (which still isn't put back together following the make-over) is being taken over with supplies for donations and for our use and consumption while gone. Pack light, pack light, pack light... I gotta get this in my head!

I did manage to borrow a few suit cases from some dear friends. I borrowed her money belt too. I'm so glad they're such a giving family. We don't have luggage that we need. I also plan to borrow the power adapter/converter from another friend which saves me some cash (thank you Jess). Now all I need is to come up with a GPS unit so I can GPS our trip and be able to plot it on a map. Anyone have a GPS they'll let us borrow?

16 April 2010

10 more days and I'm emotional

In ten more days we're leaving for Ethiopia. I've been busy and am getting more excited each day. I'm also a bit sad to be leaving my kids but know they'll be in good hands.

I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve and I think that's increased in the last few days. God's also been softening my heart in some areas. Last night I felt so broken as I heard about a guy who's battling cancer and has a young family. I couldn't imagine what they're going through. Today, they continue to be on my mind as I pray for them.

It was an interesting day at the office. Business interspersed with time for prayer and encouragement. One guy in my office today shared with me about doing missions work in Cuba. How cool is that!?!? It's been a good time of prayer and reflection for several people today including Ryan's grandpa who had a successful gall stone removal, my little buddy M who had his adnoids and tonsils removed, my friend J who's battling and beating cancer.

I'm so thankful that we have a God who listens to our prayers.

12 April 2010


In our small group bible study, we start our evenings with a hi/low.  I wanted to share with you my hi-low emotional rollercoaster for today and ask for prayer.
Low: Friday several families were contacted by Holt about being in the travel group for the first week of may.  We were not contacted.  I was a bit dissapointed but trusting in God's timing and thankful for how He has provided.
Hi: At 5pm, I sent an email asking a few people to pray about our travel opportunities and taking a friend with us.  I hit send and refreshed my inbox and had an email from our agency.  We are in the travel group for the first week of May! 
I'm so excited my heart is pounding out of my chest and I can hardly type!  We're going to Ethiopia.  And this is no April Fool's joke! (I told my small group that we were going on April Fools).  My emotions are all over the place.  I was and am trusting in God's timing. I had resigned myself to not travelling in the first week and was thrilled with the possibility of Kara travelling with us (she can't go the first week), getting to go on a free mini-vacation to the Dells (scheduled for May 6th), and having more time to prepare.
Today is the 12th.  We have to be in Addis on the 29th.  That's 17 days people.  Pray for us please... it will be a wild two weeks!!!  Okay, now I have to go read the email from Holt about the actual travel :)

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08 April 2010

Bare Your Sole

Just one day without shoes.

Most children in developing countries grow up without owning a single pair of shoes. These children aren't out walking on four-foot wide sidewalks either. The infections and parasites that come from not having shoes is painful to see.

How many pairs shoes do you own? That you actually regularly wear??? When I answer that question for myself, it convicts me. I've already been thinking about taking my extra shoes to Ethiopia and leaving them there.

Today, I would encourage you to go without shoes to serve as a reminder of how blessed we are. Maybe you can't go all day without shoes because of your work environment. But you can spend some time today without shoes to remember all the children of the world who don't even have a simple pair of shoes. Let it not only serve as a reminder, but a call to action on our parts.

Tom's Shoes is sponsoring http://www.onedaywithoutshoes.com/.

06 April 2010


Yesterday I forgot all about the potato casserole for Easter dinner so it should be no surprise when my friend Jen didn't want me to bring anything for our gathering of families tomorrow night.  When I told Ryan that she wouldn't let me bring anything, his reminder of the potato casserole was humorous when he said "we'd probably forget anyway".  Yesterday that wasn't so funny, today it is!
Speaking of forgetting things, don't forget to
Buy Quilt Raffle Tickets online at
to help support our Ethiopian Adoption.

$1 buys 1 ticket
$50 buys 55 tickets
$100 buys 115 tickets

Last week I traded a haircut for that dollar value of tickets.  What a great idea!  If you would like to trade for tickets, I will pay the dollar value of your item for tickets and put your name on them!

The New Busy is not the too busy. Combine all your e-mail accounts with Hotmail. Get busy.


You realize how much you touch things with the edge of your thumb when you slice into it with the quisnart blade. Thank you hubby for getting a band-aid on my owie and helping me zip up my pants this morning.

05 April 2010

Oreo Truffles

Have I written about these before? My first encounter with Oreo Truffles (aka oreo balls) was around Christmas. My co-workers fiance sent some home with him and they made it to the office. The second encounter was the Sweetheart Supper where Kara made them and explained how easy they are. Indeed, they are an easy and scrumptious little dessert. They're rich enough that one is enough but yummy enough that you have to grab two!
I made a batch and took some to Easter dinner. Finished up the rest tonight to take to a friends tomorrow. Only problem was that I had 5 left to dip and remembered that our friend is allergic to peanuts and I used the PB oreos! Ryan was a good sport and at 10pm helped me make another batch so that our friend could also enjoy the richness of my dessert. Since it's late, the'll have to chill in the fridge over night and I'll finish them after work tomorrow.

Here's a simple recipe: http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/easy-oreo-truffles-95085.aspx. The only thing I do a little differently is use chocolate almond bark (not white chocolate as shown in the above pic). If you google oreo balls or oreo truffles, you'll come up with lots of recipes

04 April 2010


Let me just say that I've had a rough few days. Do you want the details? I think not. I have too much going on and not enough time in the day. I don't like when I forget things that I'm supposed to do - like bring the potato casserole for Easter. I also don't do well when I get called names. I know, they were just playing, but I didn't care if they were just playing, I didn't feel good and didn't want to be playful.

I typically love to play and joke. It's my nature. But I've also been trying to hold my tongue. The combination of not feeling well (sinus infection???) and watching my words affected my overall attitude.

I'm learning that I have too much going on. I'm trying to cut back some. It's hard. Ryan reminded me last night that I love to do for people even when it requires me to sacrifice myself. But how much sacrifice can I give before I give too much? At one point do I take care of me?

I want to have a warm and welcome home. It's warm and I'd gladly welcome people in but I'm so behind on keeping my home, that I haven't invited anyone. Last week I made an effort to serve my hubby by making him supper. This too came with a price because after dinner I was too tired to do anything else. Laundry is still on the couch, the kids' rooms still aren't completely organized, I still have journey bags to finish, etc.

Oh how I could use a weekend to be home and do those things. But as usual, our weekends go by so quickly when you're doing a million things. Maybe I need to learn how to say "not right now, I need some time to keep my home healthy". I'd like to get back to playing my guitar, playing outside, and having clean home. Is that so much to ask?

02 April 2010

Our trampoline no longer looks like this:

Friday we had a wind/rain storm around here. The protective netting acts like a sail in the wind. Our trampoline sailed away on Friday. Ryan found it down by the barns where it got caught on a "t" post. Ryan managed to drag it back up the hill to the house. The netting is destroyed but hopefully the trampoline itself can be salvaged. Scott cried and cried about it because the whole way home we'd talked about playing on the trampoline while I fixed supper.

Darn thing. It was just a few weeks old and provides lots of exercise and entertainment for my kiddos! Hopefully we get it back to working or get a new one quickly!

Late Update in Pics Plus

Okay, well I just got pictures last night from my dear friend Kara (shown below). Thanks Kara for sharing your amazing talent of photography with so many.

Would you pray for Kara, that she would be able to join us on our trip to Ethiopia. We've asked her to join us so that she can photograph our experience of adoption, teach the care-givers the basics of photography, etc. We're trusting that God will have her join us for His glory!
Back to my update of pics from our time with Isaac at the end of February. In no particular order:
Ryan and I snuggling on the couch... do I really have that double chin???

Our quick snapshot as a family... not sure what Bethany is doing but Ryan looks like he's trying not to smile.
Scott, Isaac, Bethany and Noah sporting their team Mexico soccer jerseys.

Mexico Team together again... in the US this time.

Playing in the snow, I have a wonderfully amazing hubby who carries me when I'm weak... or lazy :)

Got snow?
And a little more recently, because I've not been blogging lately:
It's been a fun but tiring week. I tried to every night for a week to fix my family supper. Ryan's the usual cook in our home. Ryan got two nights of cooking simply because of scheduling. Cooking takes time and while I've been busy in the kitchen, Ryan's been having fun playing out on the trampoline with the kids.
We had parent/teacher conference for Scott. What fun! We're proud but also realize that our child has lots of room for improvement.
Last night we had an amazing time at bible study. We talked about the last supper, the death and resurrection of Jesus, did business with God and had communion. I love that our group is close enough to have communion together.
Our house is being attacked by those crazy little asian beetles. Only near the windows... it's so frustrating. Lots of cleaning to sweep up those little buggers. Good thing is that once they get inside, they quickly die of starvation.
Today I had lunch with Lisa from www.jockandlisa.blogspot.com. It was such a blessing to meet her and her little babies that she brought home from Haiti. Our time went too fast. I look forward to meeting up with her family again sometime!
This weekend is another busy weekend. Ryan works this weekend. The kids and I are helping some friends move to Elgin. We're excited about that. I need to get food together for that. I also need to dye a few eggs for the kids, make oreo balls for Sunday, and other normal cleaning. Hoping for a long day tomorrow so I can get all those things done in time that really doesn't exist. Sunday of course we'll be celebrating the resurrection of our Savior!