Thankful for Nurses

In the month of November one of our goals is to practice gratitude with our five-year-old in practical ways by doing projects with him. This week we focused on our thankfulness for our health and for nurses.


The members of our household this year have had two surgeries, three hospital stays, four cortisone shots, numerous doctor visits, three braces, occupational therapy, physical therapy, early intervention, lots of amoxicillin and breathing treatments and one feeding tube (that was pulled out numerous times).

We appreciate health and we appreciate those who help us get healthy.

So this week we did a spur of the moment visit to the Emergency Room after dinner.

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Our family of four arrived bundled up with a paper bag.  We declared that there was no emergency, but that we would like to speak to some nurses to thank them.

There was one uncertain looking nurse who asked if we wanted the pediatric nurses, and I explained that we were grateful for all nurses.  She used the card around her neck to open the doors and then they locked behind her.  I had Colton reach into the bag to pull out cinnamon donuts.  He gave them to the people working in reception, thanking them.

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A few minutes later the nurses arrived.  There were five of them and one supervisor.  We had brought five starbucks giftcards.  Cole handed them out to each one saying, “Thank you for helping people.” “Thank you for being a nurse.”

We explained to them that this had been a year for us of coming to really know and appreciate all that nurses do.  We thanked them for how their knowledge and their many abilities.

These nurses beamed.  They seemed filled with goodness and light.

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When we left we felt as if we had been blessed all over again by these incredible, special human beings.

A great big thank you to nurses.

Remember to thank a nurse.

Intentionally Find Time To Read

Each Tuesday I write a blog post to share with you a way to be in more intentional in your day to day.


A couple of years ago my brother-in-law had a great deal of insights from books he had recently read.  He named a number of titles I was interested in, but had not found time to sit down and read.  Curious I asked him when he had time to read, and his answer revolutionized reading for me.

He read while he did the dishes, while he worked out, while he waited.  He was listening to audiobooks.

I have been listening ever since.  Listening to books is thought provoking, and informative.  It can be an adventure listening to someone else’s journey or a work of fiction.  Why not allow yourself to read more, by joining audiobook or taking out audiobooks from your local library (many download right to your phone).

Here are a couple of my favorite reads/listens:

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

Gratitude for Friendship

In the month of November one of our goals is to practice gratitude with our five-year-old in practical ways by doing projects with him.  This week we focused on our thankfulness for friends.


Colton started kindergarten this year.  He went to pre-school in another town and did not know any of his classmates when he started the school year.  He went from being known by everyone to feeling a bit unsure about himself.  It was a hard transition.

But now we are two months in and he has formed some new friendships. This week we talked about these and who he is grateful for.

We decided to make friendship buckets for a few of his new friends (and he best friend from pre-school).

We decided to pick out some crafts, because Cole loves to do crafts.

I picked up crafts at Michaels and Buckets at the dollar store. Cole, Andrew and I worked to put them together.

Here is what they included:


  • A Happy Thanksgiving hat to color and make
  • A Necklace to craft (Cole said it could be a bracelet too)
  • A Cup of Fall stickers
  • A Stamper
  • A Crow (that Cole made)
  • Candy (that Cole gave from his Halloween stash)
  • A Cup Craft like the Crow (either a Turkey or an Owl)
  • A Leaf Wreath Craft

Cole made the Crow Cups with his papa.  He picked the candy to give.  He sorted the stickers and crafts.  He cut out instructions and put together the bags.  We topped it off with leaves.

He was ready for delivery.

We delivered each to his friends.  I emailed the parents to know why we were doing this and to be on the lookout.


Friends are a great gift.

Thankful Thursday – Food

In the month of November one of our goals is to practice gratitude with our five-year-old in practical ways by doing projects with him.  This week we focused on our thankfulness for food.

Thankful Thursday

One thing that Colton is grateful for is food.  He is unaware that there are people in the world who are hungry.  I was unsure of how to introduce this to him.  I researched on-line and appreciated the simplicity and authenticity of this video by Sesame Street.

Cole continues to remember the young girl’s story about snack time.

We have a local food bank, so I researched how to donate to them.  If you are looking for local food banks you can find them by using this website FIND Food Bank.

I looked around on-line to find out what the primary needs are for a food bank (our local food bank did not list these).

  • canned meat
  • peanut butter
  • fruit cups/kids snacks
  • rice
  • pasta
  • canned vegetables and fruit

We went to the store and purchased these items.  And then on recommendation of this site, we dressed them up a bit with pictures by Colton.

We headed off to the local police station that accepts donations 24/7, only to watch them all drive away!  There was an accident in our small town.

We were able to drop off the food in the foyer.


A simple way to show gratitude this month is to donate to a food bank.  Let us work together to eliminate hunger.

Intentionally Balance Adventure and Retreat

Each Tuesday I write a blog post to share with you a way to be in more intentional in your day to day.

Adventure and Retreat

We believe that in each year, month, week, and for us, weekend that we want to balance Adventure and Retreat.

Adventure is a time when you step out of your day to day routine.

It can be an activity that educates you, opens you up more, allows you to face your fear, exposes you to another way of doing things.  We see adventure as stepping outside of what is required of you and into what challenges you.  An adventure may be heading out on a white water rafting trip, traveling to a new place, or seeing with new eyes in a local museum.

We like to follow up a time of Adventure with a time of Retreat.

We see Retreat as a returning.  It is a returning to home or comfort or quiet.  It allows time to rest the mind and body as well as reflect.  Retreat can include times of pampering, like drinking a favorite warm drink, sitting by the fire.  It can also be simple and quiet.  Retreat is the time when we recognize how we want to realign to our core values, principles and intentions.

When we as a family, a couple, and as individuals live a balanced life of adventure and retreat, we are able to stretch ourselves and reflect on how that stretching impacted us.

Our intentional Tuesday challenge to you is to choose a couple of Adventures and balance them with times of reflection and Retreat.

  • You can see our list of Fall Adventures here
  • This month we are Adventuring into gratitude, we will be giving to a food bank this week (by donating at a local police station.  Have you done this?  Something similar?
  • What silly fun thing have you wanted to try?  Sometime we are going for Monkey Trunks, but the boys will need to be older.  We loved our adventures at 5 Wits
  • Because one of our words for the year is “Lighthearted” we have been going to comedy and improv shows  it has been wonderful choosing to laugh.

If you could plan a simple time of retreat in your home what would that look like for your family?

  • This weekend we drank mulled apple cider and ate donuts.
  • We cozied up by the fire and talked about what we are grateful for.
  • We like to drive to the ocean and sit and brainstorm about the month (or week) ahead.
  • Colton loves to draw when he thinks about things.
  • Andrew and I both like writing.

Take some time this month to Adventure and Retreat.

Adoption Preparation – Hannah

For 31 Days I blogged about Adopting Intentionally, you can find an overview and links to daily posts hereOn the weekends during this series I invited guest bloggers to share their personal stories. This weekend, Hanna is sharing her practical preparation for adoption. 


How did you take your first step towards adoption? We researched. Holy cow did we research. We looked into international adoption versus domestic adoption. We went on the State Department’s website to look into what countries were available to us for adoption. We called adoption agencies to talk about our options. We spoke with friends who had adopted their children. We spoke with Kenny’s parents about their adoptions. By the time we had made a decision to go with an international adoption from Korea, I thought I knew everything there was to know about it (insert eye roll here). In truth, you will never know everything you need to know. Things change. New laws are made. There are always special circumstances. You just have to be prepared to flexible and patient. But, having a strong foundation of knowledge is huge. You need to know why you are making a decision to adopt domestically or internationally; or why you chose China over Kazakhstan; or why you decided on an infant over a toddler. Not only will your friends, family and even strangers ask you this, but so will your child. No decision is a wrong decision, but each one should be made with intention.

What was required of you in preparing to adopt? Ugh. What wasn’t required would be a shorter answer. With our first adoption, we had to get one home study prior to the adoption and three home studies post placement. There were state forms, federal forms, agency forms, medical forms. They needed copies of our marriage license, birth certificates, social security cards, passports and other things I can’t even remember. We had to get health physicals (Korea required that we not be obese among the many other medical requirements). Our pets had to be up to date on vaccines and assessments. We needed criminal background checks. We had to certify our employment and have letters from our supervisors basically recommending us as adoptive parents.

Honestly, I think some of the things we had to do should be required of all parents; things like taking a seminar about raising children how you plan on disciplining your child. One really wonderful thing we did was attend an adoption seminar at our agency’s campus to prepare us for interracial adoption. Things that I hadn’t really even thought about were brought to light: from now on, our family would be a walking billboard for adoption. Strangers will want to talk to us about adoption. Sometimes they will ask us completely inappropriate questions in front of our child and we have to think about how we will respond. We were told that people will come up to us and ask “how much did your child cost?” or “is that your real child?” I didn’t believe that people would actually do that, but it’s true. In talking with a fellow classmate of mine after we had adopted Evan, she said to me “I just don’t think I would love an adopted child as much as my own child.”

But some of the things we had to do were just plain insulting. One of the things that bothered me the most occurred during our second adoption. As I have previously said, we decided to go with a national agency, but that meant that we still had to use a local agency for our home study. This was a faith-based agency and it was clear that they wanted us to comply with their standards of faith. At one of our first home study, the social worker sat Kenny and I down next to each other and gave us a test. We were not allowed to talk or look at each other’s paper. The questions were things like, “is there pornography in the house?” “Does your spouse drink alcohol?” “How much does your spouse drink?” “Has your spouse ever used drugs?” It felt like a set up. Like we were presumed to be bad people. I hated it. On top of that, they gave us “homework” which consisted of 20 pages of questions about our history. They actually thought it was appropriate to ask if I was sexually promiscuous in high school. And that wasn’t all. They wanted us to tell them what our own sex life was like now. I remember screaming at the form and using a lot of four letter words about how ludicrous I thought it was. But we were trapped. We had to play by their rules if we wanted to complete the adoption. To this day, it baffles me why there isn’t a state funded home study agency available to every adoptive couple.

How did you emotionally prepare for adoption? Kenny and I talked a lot about what our expectations were for our adoption. And it was a rollercoaster. We got our visa approval to bring our son home from Korea right before Christmas one year. Kenny got it in the mail and thought it would be fun to wrap up the approval and put it under the tree. I remember opening it and thinking, “Oh my God! I have to pack!!” I cried with excitement and relief. In reality, we still had four more months of waiting until Korea gave us approval to bring Evan home. We didn’t travel until April. Taking things one day at a time and knowing that there will be an endpoint was huge for me. But the most important thing was communicating with Kenny. He knew exactly what I was going through and could relate to all my frustrations and worries.

How did you practically prepare for adoption? Well, first and foremost, we saved money. It was helpful that our adoptions took some time in the sense that we didn’t have to borrow money because we were able to save so much. As we went along, I slowly prepared for the baby. I would by a crib one month and then a couple months later I would buy a baby monitor. I would only allow myself one item and it seemed to help me feel like the adoption was still moving along. We did a lot of research about travel and tried to have a blueprint of where we were going to stay and how we were going to get to Korea and Kansas.

How were you intentional preparing for adoption? Again, we had to make a lot of decisions in the adoption process. And each one opened another discussion between Kenny and me. I think that our adoptions have made us a much stronger couple because they forced us to be excellent communicators. We know each others’ strengths and weaknesses an are able to rely on each other to accomplish a shared goal.

November Goals

Each month we set goals together, intentionally setting a tone for the month.  Here is what we are planning for November.  You may read more about this here.

November Goals

A Month of Gratitude

  • Practice Gratitude with Andrew by doing the Instagram Challenge

    • follow Andrew @the_little_a

    • follow Liza @lizabsharp

  • Model and teach gratitude to Cole by having a project to work on together each week about Gratitude

  • Be grateful for what we have by returning to No Spend November

  • Intentionally plan for the holidays

  • Read a book together

Linking up to The Tiny Twig