Sunday, July 27, 2014

That Summer List

Between shoveling gravel, a week of camps and an out-of-state trip, we've REALLY enjoyed this semi-quiet Saturday. A lot has happened in July with many things slowly getting crossed off our summer wish list. Here are a few of the favorites we actually captured...

-Swim at the lake. 

We were invited to visit friends who were staying at a castle cabin and had a blast relaxing, swimming and playing.

-"First" tooth.

While this wasn't on the wish list it was a big deal to us as Reshma lost her first tooth since being with us. While it's not her true first, we are really thankful to still have time to celebrate these coming-of-age events complete with fun traditions of tooth fairies visiting in the night! Reshma requested $10 for her tooth but the tooth fairy was setting a precedence and negotiated a better deal for the bloody tooth.

-Visit family in Alabama. 

We made it to see lots of relatives a few states away and as a bonus we got to stop in at a conference on the way to surprise my dad and see him get a really special award!

-Spend time at IKEA. 

That one really wasn't on our list either...but with the renovation project going on in the apartments some returns and purchases were par for the course.

-Summer camp! 

The kids looked forward to this week for almost two months and finally got to enjoy soccer (Levi) and a local day camp (Reshma). The week gave us a glimpse of what early school mornings will look like...and we're glad to have a break before the early days start in earnest.

Levi, to the right, is conserving energy watching his teammates run circles around him.


We have two more small projects and everything will be FINISHED! Just the last day or so here's what we've been working on. The first picture is after renovations but before wall decor was up. The second is a panoramic of the awesome cityscape Jason created with Duct tape! When the tables are done we'll have a full renovation post.

-Finish apartment projects.

Here are a few of the tons of rocks that have transformed our apartment complex. Jason's a true visionary seeing what would make the apartments both look and function better. The benches and gravel were additions to our area this summer.

This week looks promising for finishing projects up, resuming summer school and taking the fun maternity glucose-test. We'll be excited to share the before and afters from this summer's work.

Friday, July 11, 2014


I don't have an Instagram account but really enjoy the interesting pictures and stories I read from those who link up for InstaFridays at Life Rearranged. We had a couple of fun pictures from the week so here's to the beginning of what probably will become sporadic InstaFriday link ups.

I enjoyed an evening out with some friends and came back home to vacuumed carpets, mopped floors and my husband pressure washing our rugs. They know my love language!

July 4th on the Harrell/Strickland side of the family involves lots of fried...shrimp, fish, hush puppies, fries. Really, everything deliciously fried...except the mouthwatering desserts!

(Here you go, knew it was coming!!) 
These women make my heart breathe a sign of relief and comfort. My mom, aunt, daughter and cousins who are practically sisters. I LOVE these ladies!

We've been blessed this last month by a precious lady who is tutoring Reshma in reading. Really, we're overwhelmed with her generosity helping our girl get ready for 4th grade! While she and Reshma read, Levi gets to hang out with his new best friend, Peanut.

We had our cousin Maddie over this week and celebrated Christmas in July with a gingerbread train. Thanks to Mrs. Donna we had a fun afternoon chewing bubble gum and decorating with lots of color and sugar!

There is a major renovation going on in our apartment complex on campus and this week we got to go on a big shopping trip. By the time we finished we were packed like sardines....with no one getting hurt in the process or having to hold up a heavy mirror the whole way home. Pictures of some of the changes to come!

There you have our first not-so-Instagramed Friday pictures. Hope you have a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


A few months ago we did a little rearranging of rooms resulting in Levi and Reshma now sharing a bedroom making space for a school room/play room/ nursery.  Since neither of the kids liked falling asleep alone, the arrangement is working well with Reshma in a loft bed and Levi tucked under the slide in a cubby. Last night when we were cleaning up Reshma realized there were no sibling pictures of the two of them only shots from India and of our whole family. So, much to Reshma's delight and Levi's dismay, we set out to take a few pictures in the short time we had before bed time. Here are a few of the pictures we got that capture some of the sweeter sibling moments...

And just for fun, here's the other side of the sibling love...the outtakes.

the silliness

the "rascaliness"

...and the full out grumpiness

These still miss Levi running away in protest, almost falling on his head and the choking incident. ;) Life is always real and interesting! It's fun to play with the camera and capture a bit of it for our walls!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Six Months

We totally missed it Wednesday on our six month anniversary. On Thursday sitting around the table with parents we realized that we've been home six months with our girl!! We waded through some intense spiritual warfare, scrimped and saved, kept faith through discouraging seasons and FINALLY we have her home. We've said it often vaguely but getting her home was only the beginning of the real journey. The last six months have been beautiful, rich and incredibly difficult. We've learned a lot about parenting, our own selfishness and God's heart of adoption that led us down this road. A whole lot of change has happened in between these two pictures.

Both Jason and I agree we're glad the harder days are behind us and the new normal has emerged. Good things are happening in all our hearts and even though six months came Wednesday without much fanfare other than Chick-fil-a, lemonade and a lot of bathroom breaks during a long car trip, we celebrated the milestone at week's end in an unexpected way. Reshma, all on her own, came up to give each of us a hug and say, "I'm really glad you're my Mom and Dad." It was an incredible, undeserved marker for a short six months together! We know the pendulum might swing in the opposite direction and back again over the next few years, but it sure is nice to hear evidence of bonding after all the changes and growing pains of the last six months.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


It's been a while since we've updated with details about the kids. Truth is that life is so interesting and full there isn't a lot of time to sit and write long posts about it all, but here's a little glimpse into a few of the latest milestones.

She's grown a few inches and gained about a pound a month since being home. Slowly her tastes are changing and now she often asks for pancakes for breakfast. She didn't like them at all when we came home so we cooked lots of chapatis, boiled eggs and sambar. Her favorite meal still, though, is biryani. It's taken a little time to adjust to someone who wants to help with every recipe we're making, but she's been learning a lot while helping.

So many things Reshma has been experiencing are firsts from what we can tell. Like hiking to waterfalls, roller skating and swimming lessons...

She's finally about caught up with immunizations...just in time for day camp that's coming up in a few weeks and then school. For her bravery she earned a new watch which is helping with our current Math chapter on time and temperature. You may notice her wearing those great, grey wristbands in some pictures. She still has lots of trouble with motion sickness in the car and those little bands seem to offer some relief.

Finally, a few of Reshma's favorite things- she loves painting, swimming, telling her brother what to do, wrestling with Dad and riding her new Razor scooter.

He's made the transition to booster seat, can buckle himself in our new-to-us van, loves all things boy, has started skipping naps and would give anything for more television time especially if it involves Paw Patrol.

He's more aware of life and death and found a love for all animals. On a recent trip to a waterfall he found a snail that he had a really hard time parting with. He leaned down to the shell to say, "Remember, L for Levi. I love you." And with his chubby, still baby-looking pointer finger said, "Never forget!" He even inched up uncomfortably close (for this mama) to a black snack and watched it with wonder.

Some of Levi's favorite things would be driving me crazy talking about poop, pestering his sister, singing Great I Am or Let It Go in his cape and getting wet.

Baby T.
With Levi we recorded every detail (way too many details) and this little one hasn't had many mentions or growing belly shots. Our monthly doctor visits have been going well although we did have a little scare at our ultrasound appointment when we found out her gender. The tech found some bright spots on the heart but a more detailed ultrasound and blood screening settled the concerns. She's growing just perfectly, super active and loves sucking her thumb. We are so relieved and thankful that the findings showed a healthy little girl with no heart issues!

Here we are at 24 weeks though I think this picture isn't quite accurate. I feel a whole lot larger than this shows and have been more than wiped out most evenings lately. 

This picture, lounging on the couch, gives a more accurate shot I think! 

After about thirteen weeks with Baby, Indian food started sounding good to me again. The other day when Resh and I were whipping up some of her tasty sambar I wrote down the ingredients (Indian cooks don't really seem to measure stuff) so we could share this curried veggie dish with you!

Reshma's Veggie Sambar

2 tbl. oil
1 tbl. mustard seed- add to oil and let splutter
1/2 cup finely chopped onions (Reshma doesn't like the idea of onions so we leave them out sometimes but I think they add great flavor!)
1 to 2 tbl. sambar powder
2 cups pureed tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 1/2 tbl. garam masala

2 cups chopped veggies (we use carrots, green beans and Indian drumsticks though the last time we used stew veggies with potatoes, green beans and carrots from the freezer section which was much faster!)

red chili powder to taste (we use only a pinch)
salt to taste

Let everything simmer for about thirty mins. or so. Add water if the mixture seems dry...I like a juicier sambar so we often add about 1/2 to 1 cup during cooking. If using freezer stew veggies I blend up half to make the sambar thinner. 

We often eat with boiled eggs, chapati and chai!

For a link with clearer directions and more details, check out our friend's great recipe!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Our Summer List

A few weeks ago we all added a few ideas to a wish list for what our summer will look like. There are about twenty or so things ranging from fishing to hanging in hammocks to eating ice cream at a local creamery. In between the fun we're still working through Math, Reading, Writing and Science all summer giving our best attempt to prepare our girl for PUBLIC SCHOOL next year! We finally made the decision after talking to our school's guidance counselor and are excited to see how the semester goes!

But, before the big first day of public school, we've been working on checking off those summer wishes. So far two of our wishes have come true with our recent trip to see Mimi and Papa in Georgia. And bonus, my cousin Bekah was able to join us. She's "Aunt Bekah" to the kids and about the closest they'll get from my side since I'm an only child. She entertained with fancy nail painting for Resh and a polish tattoo for Levi!

My parents live close to the ocean so we enjoy the waves every time we visit. This time both kids were braver wading out farther and letting the waves topple them over.

During the trip down we also checked off the wish of fishing with my dad. Though both kids need some toughening to better handle heat and bugs, we got some good laughs every time a fish was on the line and they went scrambling to get away.

Getting braver around the monster fish... 

We caught four of the ferocious beasts.

And on my personal wish list for summer, we relaxed on a quiet front porch for hours and hours talking about baby names (still not even close to a decision) and other general catch up banter.  I even made it through a book and caught up on some phone calls! It was a great start to a summer that's already moving along way too quickly!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Blogging's Top Four

Everyone's list would look a little different on this topic, but during a sleepless night I thought I'd share a few of the reasons we keep blogging:

4. Blogging gives some purpose to a sleepless night. Be it from the waking of a child who couldn't sleep or the most amazing, late night iced Americano treat that must have been a decaf imposter, the stolen sleep seems somewhat redeemed in the quiet with some Bible reading, school organizing and blog posting to keep the family updated on our craziness.

3. Blogging affords some accountability. Countless bloggers who work in the quiet of their homes inspire me. I'm a better, more sane mom for it. Blogging is a way of giving back and staying on my toes in this stay-at-home, behind-the-scenes role.

My recent photo confession to friends that this is my new hideout and prego obsession.

2. Blogging keeps family better connected. If a phone call can't happen most days, pictures and stories sure help make the distance of our separate lives more doable! We're able to better share even the little things...

Releasing our emergent butterflies!

Enjoying honeysuckle!

1. Blogging preserves family memories. Just recently after our computer collided with our living room floor and lost, everything on our hard drive crashed losing almost all of our pictures from the last six months. If not for blogging and iCloud, we'd be in disarray and without many of these jewels!