Sunday, December 8, 2013


This first week of Advent was all about hope. And I felt it so intensely.


As we prepare our hearts in anticipation of the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ.


As we prepare our hearts for another child in our home.

I am at such peace with this adoption process, and I have complete faith that God's hand is in all of this. I feel patient, even with the wait this time around. Somehow, I've found the way out of my type-A shell, and I am letting God. It feels right.

We received an email early in the week that the orphanage is willing to send our little one for a new MRI, since they haven't sent the original for whatever reason. As I mentioned before, Jimmy and I will gladly pay for this new MRI. Believe it or not, in China the MRI will only cost $200 U.S. dollars.

We also received another new piece of information...a CT scan report from 2012. We have forwarded the report to a couple of trusted medical professionals, but again...we realize that we want "the real thing," which is why we have asked our agency to proceed with our formal request. Whether the information helps us decide to bring this child into our family or someone elses, we do believe that it is money well spent for this child's future.

Jimmy and I received, on Wednesday, notification of our appointments with USCIS for fingerprinting on 12/18...another important step in the process that we look forward to knocking off our list. 

As we enter this second week of Advent, we have a nice surprise visitor at our house. Madi is in her second year of CCD classes, and since the beginning of the semester, Sister Lucy has been rotating a special statue of the Blessed Mother among the students. When I picked up Madi from class today, I noticed she was holding a big red bag. I had forgotten about the statue, which Madi has so desperately wanted to bring home, and I asked her where the bag came from.

"I GOT MARY!" she replied so proudly. 

I don't know why but I became very emotional. Weirdly, I couldn't stop crying. I guess it just seems like a beautiful and very fitting time for us to have the Blessed Mother's presence in our home, and I felt like it was a sign that the Holy Spirit is with us.

I pray she brings us miracles this week.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Round two.

It's taken me a few days to bounce back from our second garage sale on Saturday.

But let me just begin with this...


We are SO blessed by our community. Again, people showed up to donate items for the sale. Again, friends came and overpaid for items on purpose. Again, some friends made an appearance only to give a donation. And again, we had angels who broke their backs to help us through the sale.


There were some crazy lows...the haggling is such an ugly place sometimes, and I lost patience in the battle more than I'd like to admit. And though there wasn't rain on the forecast totally poured. A deluge. Sadly, it ruined a lot of things. I thought Jimmy was going to cry. But then, suddenly, he didn't have time to cry, because Charlie and his little buddy had decided to pour 1/2 jar of dried worm food into the turtle tank. Thank goodness for Madi, who came running out to deliver the news, but she was devastated because she felt responsible. And that was after Charlie decided to touch Peter, our Christmas elf, which had Madi in a troubled state to begin with. It was shaping up to be a Murphy's Law kinda day.

Then came some amazing highs. Jimmy removed himself from the scene to clean the turtle tank. Thankfully, he made it back out front in time to see the RAINBOW, which had formed at the very end of our driveway right before our very eyes!! It only lasted for a few minutes, but we saw it. And it seemed like we were standing right next to the pot of gold.

We felt HOPE.

And you just know, by now, that there's always a special story to share. Well, toward the tail-end of our sale, a beautiful family whom we know from church, pulled up. Seeing them was such a bright spot, and their timing was so perfect. The Holy Spirit, indeed.

Their daughter handed me a card, with a generous donation clipped inside, and it read:

Dear Murphy Family,

I found money on the ground. Although I tried to find the owner, I could not. I decided to do good things with it. First, I gave some to the Core Ministry. Then, I planned to do something helpful at Christmas. My mom told me that you were going to adopt another child and I thought that I can donate some money to you. I hope this donation helps.


Seriously?  Oh, my heart. People just amaze me. What a testament to the goodness of God on this Earth. And from a young child's heart no less. 

The sale ended early, once again, due to the weather and the fact that I was rescued by a commitment to speak about adoption at the 4 o'clock Mass. Time in the Lord's house was exactly the peace and calming medicine that I needed for my soul. And you won't believe who the altar servers were at Mass..the sweet girl who found money and donated it to our adoption, and her brother. Amazing, huh?

Our timing for these sales was perfect. Banyan Creek, Madi's elementary school, happens to be having a clothing and shoe drive this week. We delivered four huge Hefty lawn & garden bags and one large box full of clothing and shoes. I think we might've filled the bin!  And our church, St. Vincent Ferrer, is already collecting items for their Spring rummage sale, so they are going to get the mother lode this week! It feels so good to give in the midst of all this receiving!

Thank you, thank you to ALL of you on this journey with us. It takes a village, and we sure appreciate ours more than you'll ever possibly know.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Where we're at...

First of all, Jimmy and I were blown away by the encouragement and support we received after my last post. The Holy Spirit prompted my to share this journey publicly, and I'm so glad that I listened because those of you who commented have given us so much insightful input, and some of you provided trains of thought that we'd never even considered. Thank you for your honesty, and for understanding how incredibly difficult this is. We are in a much more peaceful place now.

This was one of the messages that hit me the most, sent by someone who I've never met, but gave us so much to think about from a different perspective:  

"My heart is telling me that God sent you the MRI. It was His way of giving you a heads up that perhaps this little girl belongs with another family for whatever reason. Perhaps there is another child that is meant to be your son or daughter and that will never be if you harbor guilt for saying no and decide to proceed. There are many more ways I can try to express what I am saying, but I think the true test is are you strong enough to say "no" because you need to do what is best for your entire family? I think your child is out there waiting for you to find them and you should proceed in doing that without any guilt or worries what others may thing. That is the real and true unknown."

So, this is where we're at...

We are trying to use both our hearts and our heads in this decision. One of the "conditions" that Jimmy and I agreed to in this fourth adoption, is that we will try--to the best of our ability--to add another member to our family whose medical issues and needs are not so severe that they might take time and energy away from our other two children. We are aware that there are many unknowns in the adoption process in general, and that it is--by nature--a leap of faith, but we also realize that we must go into this with our eyes open. When you adopt a child with medical conditions, you complete a checklist of conditions that are acceptable within your family, and honestly--for whatever reason--neurological issues have never been on our radar.

I know, to some, that "criteria" may seem shallow--or perhaps heartless--but the truth is that we are somewhat old and we don't have much in the way of financial resources. And if you don't know us personally or aren't familiar with our family's adoption journeys, special needs and unknowns aren't new to us. Two of our sons came home with medical conditions, and one of those sons, who had congenital heart disease, now resides in Heaven. He was a gift from God, and we were blessed to have him in our lives for four months. Daniel will live forever in our hearts. Our profound loss, I'm sure, is subconsciously adding to the emotional conflict that's taking place within us.

Since we already love this child, this little beauty half a world away, and we do believe that the Lord has placed her in our hearts for a reason, we are not ready to close the door with this new diagnosis. Several of you suggested that we get the actual MRI for this child, rather than relying on the report of the MRI. Some have asked, "Are you sure that is her MRI?" Good question. We are not sure of anything. And if it is her MRI, was it read correctly?  And translated accurately?  

We have now officially requested the actual MRI of her brain, and we have also offered to pay for a new MRI, if that's an available option. Even if we decide that her diagnosis is more than we can handle, we are hopeful that this information will help the family who's destined to find her, if it's not us. 

All we can do now is wait. The brutal truth is that, if we are unable to get our hands on this piece of the puzzle, I fear that we will be unable to proceed with all the current unknowns. It breaks my heart to say that, but we have to remain faithful in God's plan, either way. 

On the back of my book, With an Open Heart, I have written this, "What happens when you have one plan, and God has another? Do you still believe?"

If this precious child is meant to be in another family that's better served to care for her, then we have to accept that, and yes...we will still believe and we will continue to trust in God's plan. But we will still love her.

Having said that, we are not ready to give up HOPE that she is our daughter.

Please keep praying for our baby and for discernment. Your prayers will be treasured.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Laying it down.

I'm sharing this publicly because I really feel like we need your faithful prayers. If you haven't read it already, I'll ask that you take a moment to read the post before this one, so that you are caught up.

Just a few days after my last post about our daughter, we received some news that would change everything. Well, almost everything...

Our baby girl's primary medical diagnosis, all along, has been a somewhat "treatable" bone disorder generally caused by a Vitamin D deficiency. She was also noted to have developmental delays that had no tangible explanation. We thought her inability to speak and her late walking were all side effects from rickets and life in the orphanage, and we were ready to deal with it. 

Last week, we received an update containing the most beautiful photo of her, and the wonderful news that our match had been pre-approved. Reason to celebrate.

But along with the photo, we also received an alarming MRI report that had surfaced out of nowhere. It was from an MRI of her brain that had been taken when she was one-year old, and it indicated that she has a very serious brain abnormality--one that is not likely treatable. I felt the walls crashing down around me.

As you might imagine, Jimmy and I were devastated. My tears flowed for two days. We felt so helpless about all of this. This match felt so right, and it felt so good. I mean, I just wrote my last blog post about how much we love this child, and do you recall this mighty quote given by a friend?

"I think that it is perfectly normal to have fear, even when the child is meant to be yours. But courage is not the absence of fear, it is action in the face of it. Anything that might come up that you weren't expecting, well, you will rise up to meet that challenge and it will feel like a privilege to do it because you love her."

And do you recall my response?

"And each day, as we've looked at our baby's precious face, we've realized that we do love her, and we simply can't afford to be afraid of the unknown. Or we might just miss the blessing of a lifetime."

So...what has changed? We still love her, and we still might miss the blessing of a lifetime if we say no to this precious child who has already found a place in our hearts.

Do you have any idea how difficult this is? If I were carrying this child in my belly, would I deny her a chance at life? NO...I wouldn't. So, now, because we've received this new information about her, we're contemplating whether to accept her or not?  My heart aches right now...

Jimmy's reminded me that we can still love her, even if she's meant to be in another family. But I still feel like she's meant to be in ours. As I type this, tears stream down my cheeks. This is a painful process.

We've already had two trusted medical professionals indicate that her condition is "not good." And the more I learn about this diagnosis, and all that the unknowns "could" mean for her future, it sometimes makes me want to curl up into a little ball, and I feel certain that we are in no way equipped to handle her needs. But then each day brings a new feeling of hope. This week, I am trying to get this MRI report to some pediatric neurologists for review, and we will remain hopeful for something...some shred of evidence that this isn't as serious as it seems.

Will she be our daughter? I don't think we're prepared to answer that yet. I hate that we are fearful. I hate that I have written a book about listening to the Holy Spirit and leaping in faith, and now we are the ones who are afraid to dive in with both feet. I feel like our faith is being tested, and we're not passing the test right now.

I hope that you won't pass judgment against us, whichever path we choose to take. We are human. It has been a difficult week, and this is not a comfortable place to be. We have two children who we need to consider in all of this, too.

Please pray for our baby girl. Please pray for our discernment.

I know the sun will still shine, but I will grieve the loss of this child in our family should we choose not to adopt her. I am laying this burden at the foot of the cross, and I have to remain faithful that God will show us the way.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Our Baby Girl

Many have inquired, "Do you know who she is yet?"

The answer is yes. We know who she is. Our love for her is growing already.

I can't say too much, because we haven't received confirmation from our agency (and China) that she's officially "ours," but inside our hearts, we do feel like she is meant to be ours.

I also sense that there's another book in the making here, but for right now, I'm just going to record the short version...

This time around, I have felt a strong calling to the "waiting children," those with moderate to severe special needs who have been designated as "special focus" in order to match them with families expeditiously.  This has been a much different experience than the referral process with our other three children, whom we trusted our agencies to match us with. This time, I felt strongly urged to seek her find our daughter, and then file the necessary paperwork to make it happen. So, over the summer, I began looking at files and searching to find our baby girl.

I remember the night I first saw her face. Her eyes called out to me instantly, and I immediately contacted the agency that held her file. It was not an agency that we'd worked with before, but that didn't bother me in the least. Since I've been part of the Waiting Child Advocacy Group on Facebook, I've learned a lot about the various reputable agencies and how they operate, the dedicated people who represent them, as well as the angels who advocate for the waiting children designated to these agencies. At that time, I also reached out to the remarkable woman who was advocating for this child who'd captured my heart. She has become a good friend and a true source of encouragement.

For two months, the kind-hearted and efficient agency contact worked with me. She tried and tried to get updates from the orphanage where our little one resides to no avail. Her file hadn't been updated since she was a baby, and we continued to receive only sparse details. Jimmy and I didn't feel comfortable moving forward without more information, yet I knew in my heart that I didn't want to lose her.

During that time, we moved ahead with our home study. I knew we had a couple of months in which our home study process would take place, so that gave us some time to try and get the information we needed.  But then, time flew by, and finally, our home study report was ready. The only thing missing was the name of an agency. Jimmy and I sat down one night and had a heart to heart about this child, and our agency. That's when my husband sincerely divulged that he would really feel more comfortable using thte same agency that brought us our two sons.  There was one big problem though. Our daughter's file was not with them.

Suffice it to say, a string of miraculous events took place, and the agency who held her file graciously released her to our agency for us. This compassionate woman, who could have scripted this story differently, truly acted on behalf of the child, and chose to help us. We are so grateful for her decision. But there's just so much that happened in between. So much that I'll have to save for another post...or a second book perhaps...

Jimmy and I have, honestly, both encountered temporary waves of fear, mostly about her health concerns, that kept us from initially saying yes to this child. And it bothered me. I mean, didn't I write a book about listening to God's promptings and leaping in faith? But then every time I've had a weak moment, the Holy Spirit has brought me something...some sign of HOPE, some confirmation that we should trust God and fear not. In a few cases, even a friend or family member has delivered a message of faith and hope. One of those inspirational messages came from a truly amazing mom named Andrea, who currently sits by her precious daughter's side, as she fights for her life in a hospital bed on life support. Andrea took a few moments to share a piece of her strength and grace with these words of wisdom...

"I think that it is perfectly normal to have fear, even when the child is meant to be yours. But courage is not the absence of fear, it is action in the face of it. Anything that might come up that you weren't expecting, well, you will rise up to meet that challenge and it will feel like a privilege to do it because you love her."

She is so right. And each day, as we've looked at our baby's precious face, we've realized that we do love her, and we simply can't afford to be afraid of the unknown. Or we might just miss the blessing of a lifetime.

So, in our obedience to God's calling, we submitted our Letter of Intent several days ago to bring her into our family, and we are now waiting for confirmation. It could take could take months.

So, are you dying to see who she is?  I know...and we're dying to tell you all about her.  But we can't share just yet.

Time will tell, and God willing, she'll be our daughter.  Please pray for our baby girl.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Adding to the Murphy Mix

The start of National Adoption Month seems quite apropos to share this post. This one's been on my heart for a while...

The waiting children.

There are so many of them out there in this estimated 150,000,000 orphans longing for a family to call their own, and some desperately needing the love and support of a family without even knowing it. It burdens my heart. Child advocacy is an act of God, and I am constantly amazed at how I see His hands and heart working through countless, loving people who make it part of their life's work to advocate for the least of these. Once again, I have seen miracles come from Facebook and Yahoo groups. 

As I found myself, this year, verbally advocating for "the least of these" to friends, I realized that it is our family who needs to answer the call once again. The Holy Spirit has been totally working on me this year to bring home one more. I suppose I began strongly feeling this call from above at the tail end of 2012, when I wrote this post.

And the intense feeling just kept growing and swelling within me.

I prayed for months for the Holy Spirit to open Jimmy's heart, too, since I know that this will be a burden on his shoulders, financially, given the advent of his new real estate career this year. But I knew that eventually he would warm up to the idea. After all, my husband has a heart of gold.

That brings me to our BIG, joyous National Adoption Month announcement...we're going back to China! We started building our dossier over the summer and our home study report is almost complete. We have officially applied with Holt International Children's Services, the same agency who brought us our two precious sons.

The fact is...we may not "have it all," but we have enough to give to another child, especially when you consider their current living conditions in an institution. And we have enough love in our hearts. That is what really matters, isn't it?  I guess some would argue that it's not, but we believe we'll reap so much more joy and happiness by having another family member to love.

We are wise enough to know that we won't be able to do this alone, so, I've decided to start a "Trading Stuff for Love" fundraising campaign to help bring this child home. And we are going to sell some of our "prized possessions" knowing that the end result will be so completely beautiful and worth it.

I'll likely be posting these items through our With an Open Heart facebook page.  If you simply "Like" the page at your convenience, you will be able to view the TSFL posts and you can bid on the items (kinda like a silent auction) by sending us a message with a bid/donation amount. The highest bidder gets the item. Pretty simple, right?  Lord, I hope it works...

We humbly ask for your prayers on this journey. And for discernment about that child--our daughter--who waits for us. She will have special needs, and we pray that God equips us to meet them.

We realize that not everyone is called to the adoption ministry, but we have been. It is our sincere desire to say "yes" to God, and through our obedience, we hope and pray that He will be glorified, and that another child will come to know Jesus through the love of a family.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Documenting the hilarious...

Yesterday afternoon, we hosted a playdate with one of Madi's besties, Sophia, and Charlie's buddy, Mason. 

I set the boys up outside with Charlie's water play table, and went back inside to tend to the big girls. As I was setting them up with a snack in the dining room, I looked outside and my jaw dropped.

"OH MY GOSH!"  I blurted out,  "The boys are NAKED!!!"

Charlie and Mason had stripped themselves of every single stitch of clothing--except for Charlie, who was sporting only a red plastic fireman's hat. Oh, the visual...I am serious when I say I had tears streaming down my cheeks.  The girls stood there with their mouths agape, not knowing what to do.

That wasn't even the funniest part. We watched them proceed to take cups of water, run through the yard, and empty their cups onto the slide. Then they climbed up and slid town...still totally naked.  Because they were wet, these boys literally flew down the slide like greased pigs, and took air about two feet forward, skidding into the grass. Mason, whose skin is quite fair, had a rear-end that was bright red. His poor little bum practically matched Charlie's hat.

Thank goodness I was able to convince them to put swim trunks on, for a while.

But Charlie was not about to lose that hat.

The entertainment value of kids is simply priceless...

Monday, September 30, 2013

Crazy eight.

I can't believe Madi's eighth birthday came and went, and Mommy never even posted about it. Boo.

We actually did a double celebration for the kids since their birthdays are just days apart. We hosted our traditional family celebration at home with a few of their closest friends present. It was a fun day.


And on Madi's actual birthday (September 19th), which fell on a weekday, Daddy and I surprised her and showed up at school to have lunch with her. She loved it. We were able to leave early, with Madi, since it was an early dismissal day!


We celebrated that evening...again...over dinner with Bubba and Grandpa at her all-time favorite spot, LaBamba Mexican Restaurant.  No pictures of our dinner to post, but it was a fun celebration, which included those crazy trick birthday candles in a fried ice cream to top it all off.

The kids were gifted with enough birthday money to collectively purchase an ipad!  They are both loving their new gadget, and they will certainly be teaching Mommy and Daddy many new things, I'm sure...

Monday, September 16, 2013

My baby.

My baby boy turned four today. And that reminds me that Charlie doesn't like being referred to as my "baby" anymore. Nope. Those days are gone. He's my "big boy" now.

The last few months have been full of great leaps and bounds for Charlie. Over the summer, he learned how to swim. And he pretty much taught himself, after Madi and I took turns pushing him back and forth in the pool. After a while, he just plunged under the water and took off.  He needed faster teachers!

Our favorite major development is that Charlie potty-trained himself over the summer, too. I am so glad I didn't spend time agonizing over that milestone, and just let him work it out when he was ready. It was such an easy transition...even tries to clean up after himself, which is not always a good thing! All kidding aside, he's really doing great with the whole shebang.

Last week, our little man started Pre-K3! He has the same fantastic teacher who Madi had, and this kid didn't miss a beat. He ran right into that classroom and never looked back. So far, he is loving it, and he loves Mrs Bivins. I adore his late birthday, which gave him an edge that he really needed...more time.  And I just know he's going to thrive.

Charlie's speech has really blossomed in the past few months. He's progressed so much...but I was still anxiously awaiting that phone call from Child Find services to have him evaluated, and our call finally came last week.  I took Charlie in, and they did a wide range of testing. 

He first passed his hearing test, which came as a relief. A few people have questioned Charlie's ability to hear, and we now have proven that our son has very selective hearing!  They also conducted a developmental test on Charlie, and he was doing some skills on a seven-year old level!  But they did confirm what we've suspected since early on. Charlie needs help in the speech department. I'll meet with them again next week, and I'm hoping that he'll end up right in our neighborhood school at the same wonderful speech program where Madi took classes. I have my fingers crossed for the same lovely teacher, too.

So, as you can tell, things are really shaping up for our baby big boy around here, and we have a lot to celebrate!

Sunday, September 1, 2013


There's a new Murphy at the hacienda.  Meet Coonie.  Funny name, you say?  There's meaning...hold that thought.

Last week, Madi and I ran a few errands together. While we were out, she knew we would be passing the pet store. So, she asks, "Mommy, can we get a pet turtle today?"  Of course, I dismissed this crazy question and we went about our business.

When we finished our errands, the kids and I suited up for a swim at our community pool.  And in less than five minutes, guess what we found swimming around alone and helpless in the pool? 

Yep. A baby turtle.

How could we not claim him as ours?  I realize that we could have easily delivered him to the lake that is only a few steps away, but no...we felt that this cute little guy was destined to be ours. Jimmy happened to drive by, so we hollered for him to bring us a storage container. We also happen to have some good friends in the hood who are "turtle people" so we knew they'd hook us up with some food and good advice/turtle parenting skills. 

Back to the name. When Madi was little--like around two years old--she couldn't quite pronounce "community pool" so it always came out as "coonie poo."  I loved that. In fact, I adore it so much that I still call it the "coonie poo."  And that's where we found our little pet, in the community pool, so "Coonie" it is. His shell is just over an inch long and honest to goodness, he has reddish markings on his underbelly that resemble Chinese writing.

The next day after school, we went to the pet store to get the full turtle goods. When it was revealed to me that this could get pricey, I called Jimmy in somewhat of a panic...I was getting cold feet.  But then, I watched our daughter weep quietly, and I knew the damage had already been done. I'm a sucker for a crying kid. She pointed out that we had given him a name and everything. We left the pet store empty-handed, but I still wasn't sure how to resolve the situation.

When we got home, I called another pet store to discover that they were having a sale on tanks...a sale that saved us $30 on the tank alone. I called Jimmy with this good news, and we decided that we would surprise Madi and keep Coonie. Jimmy managed to save some money on a few other tank necessities, and after work, Jimmy arrived with everything we needed to keep the turtle.

Made. Her. Day.

Daddy wasn't really happy about our new pet...initially. But now, he's the one who's obsessed with the turtle, watching him constantly and making sure we're meeting his needs.  Jimmy is the official "keeper of the tank" who makes sure the water is properly balanced and filtered. He's good like that.  

We love watching Coonie bask under the heat lamp. It's hard to see in the photo, but he splays his tiny little webbed toes and kicks out his legs.  He seems to be a vegetarian and loves munching on lettuce, spinach, and pieces of carrot. Yesterday, Jimmy and Madi introduced him to dried shrimp. Definitely his new favorite. Hopefully, he won't outgrow his tank anytime soon!

Monday, August 19, 2013

The beautiful face...

...of a second grader with her lovely new teacher, Miss Tata.

I have a very good feeling about this year. When we all dropped Madi off this morning, she could hardly wait to get into that classroom. And after she put all her stuff down, she darted over to choose a book and grab a spot on the rug with her old pals.

I had to practically drag her out and beg her for a picture with her Mommy!

When Charlie and I picked Madi up from school today, she had a smile from ear to ear and couldn't wait to get in the car to begin refreshing her math skills. Seems she is ready to be right back into the swing of things.

I love this girl and her fierce determination.  She amazes me.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Library

Madi and I were so excited to take Charlie to the library yesterday.  Getting him his first library card was BIG on our agenda.  But on Charlie's?  Not so much.

We were accompanied by three of Madi's friends, and the four girls all ran around like old pros searching for books and movies, while Charlie and I sat at a little child-sized table and read a few books together. Then he grabbed a few puzzles. Bubba got this little "creature of habit" used to making puzzle time a part of his library routine. He loves them, and he's rather good at putting them together, too!

Then it was time to check-out, which meant library card time. Madi was so pleased to assist Charlie. He was more intent on marching around aimlessly--and loudly--through the library checkout area as if were some kind of Indian Chief at a pow-wow...on peyote, I might add. 

Silly boy. Yeah. He's still trying to warm up to the concept of  "quiet" during a library visit!

I filled out the necessary forms at the front desk, and BINGO. Charlie's new library card was ready shortly thereafter. He was pleased to bring home three Clifford books. And he wasted no time trying to bend his new card in half.  

Boys will be boys.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


We enjoyed our little annual summer getaway to Marco Island a couple of weekends back. We pretty much charge our life on a Marriott Visa card and reap the rewards each year with the points we accumulate. It is amazing how these three days/two nights refresh us and feel like we're away for a week. It is a beautiful venue and only a two-hour drive. Sweet.

The kids really enjoyed swimming together this year. Charlie has become quite the water baby, and Madi loves helping him "practice fim" as he says.


The resort has a really fun water slide that the kids love. This year, Charlie really loved it. He must've gone down one hundred times. And yes...he was tall enough:) 

It cracked us up, because it seemed like he was making his way through the line pretty quickly. Then we realized he was probably cutting, so Madi followed him, and yep...guilty. So, big sister took the opportunity for some teaching moments about line etiquette and patience. Charlie happily complied.


The kids enjoyed their first poolside Pina Colada. I know what you're thinking, and yes...they were alcohol free people!  Look at our little diva relaxing in style!

On day two, we rented a water hammock. Charlie's favorite part was pulling the anchor up and then letting it go. All  that anchor haulin' wears a boy out. 


I found myself, again this year, totally addicted to shelling. I don't know what it is about trying to find that one perfect shell. We always end up with a bucket full, and I do love the thrill of the hunt!

We really had a great weekend, and our little monkeys were great travelers.  We can't wait until next summer to return!


Thursday, July 25, 2013


Yesterday, I was reunited with a dear friend who I haven't seen in about fifteen years. She was one of my roommates down here before I met Jimmy, and she was my maid of honor in our wedding twenty years ago! Sherri and I shared some fun, fun times together.

But we totally lost touch, unfortunately, when our lives went in separate directions. Jimmy and I moved to another town eventually, after we were married, and Sherri moved back up north. For years, I've thought about her, and even tried to find her, on occasion, through Facebook. But I always came up empty handed.

And then, this month, she found me on Facebook. Outta nowhere. My jaw dropped when I saw her name. Who says social media's good for nothing?  I could hardly believe we'd found each other again. And on Facebook, no less!

It turned out that she and her family were vacationing here in the area, so we took the opportunity to get together.  The kids and I drove to their vacation rental to swim and meet the families. When I pulled into the resort, and saw her in the parking lot, I literally had to put the van in park and just run to her. I don't think either one of us expected to get so emotional about our reunion. We visited for three hours, which went by like a flash. It was such a blessing.

Sherri's children are beautiful, and her husband seems to be such a nice man. She is still a beautiful soul and her faith is still a number one priority in her life. I always loved that about her.

After all these years, we picked up as if it were just yesterday...the sign of a true friend.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Kids, meet your new teacher...

I never thought that "teacher" would be on my resume in this lifetime. But then again, I never thought "author" would either!

Thanks to my favorite little preschool of all times, I am receiving the opportunity to do something that I have learned to adore over the past several years because of SVF Bible Camp and my Room Mom post...teaching children!

I have been offered a position as one of the Early Literacy Instructors for the three-year-old class at First United Methodist Church Preschool. How could I not accept such a wonderful offer? The class is one morning a week from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m., which is a perfect part time job for a stay-at-home mom.

I will have a group of eight to ten little ones, and Charlie will have the chance to join the class, too, though he will not be one of my students. I am not sure he would thrive with me as his teacher, and I am certain the other students would suffer, as well!  I am just thankful that he'll be able to participate. I believe it will be a great experience for him, and I know he'll enjoy it, especially given his love of books.

I am very excited about this new post! I have a feeling it's going to be a really great school year with many blessings in store.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Charlie's Court Date

When our children came home and their precious little feet hit U.S. soil, they automatically became U.S. citizens and received their Certificates of Citizenship.

But authorities also recommend that you readopt your children in your state. This is a legal proceeding that solidifies the adoption further, and gives them a Certificate of Foreign Birth, which is the equivalent of a birth certificate. This is a document they will obviously need throughout their lives. 

We finally met with our attorney and scheduled a date for Charlie's readoption. It took place on Friday!

The kids marched up the courthouse stairs in anticipation of our court hearing at 9 a.m. sharp. We were there a half-hour early for safe measure. We were joined by Grandpa Murphy and Miss Suzanne along with Aunt Sheila (Charlie's Godmother) and cousin Murphy.

Though Charlie knew the whole ordeal was about him, I think he really didn't grasp what was happening, and the "unknown" made him a bit uncomfortable. He was pretty squirmy.

Judge Barkdull was great. You could tell he was a kind family man. He took an instant liking to big sister, Madi. The judge questioned Jimmy and I both, under oath, about our intentions for Charlie and our desire to adopt him officially.

Then he asked Madi to raise her right hand, which she did. Judge Barkdull asked her questions like, "Do you promise to be a good big sister?" and "Do you understand that your little brother might frustrate you at times?" Jimmy and I chuckled knowing that Madi's already well aware of that fact!

Madi, of course, responded favorably to every question and promised to teach Charlie and to be patient with him, too. Madi's facial expression was classic. It's a certain look that Jimmy and I see on occasion, and it's a perfect blend of pure joy and feeling really special.

Then, Judge Barkdull asked Madi if she wanted to go sit in his chair!  What an honor and a treat! Our daughter had the most priceless smile on her face. We took some pictures of her, and then took some group shots with Judge Barkdull and our attorney, Weston.


We were done with the whole proceeding in about fifteen minutes, and most of it was just plain fun. We were thankful for a terrific and memorable experience, and now we have all the necessary paperwork we need to enroll Charlie in preschool this Fall.

One BIG thing to cross off that list:)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A first-the movies!

Last week, I finally felt like it was the right time to take Charlie to see his first movie at the cinema. Monsters University was the only "G" rated movie playing, so that simplified the decision making process for me. I really wasn't sure how he'd do, given his sensitivities to loud noises, and being the squirmy little guy that he is. So I was thankful that we had some of our best buddies, Carmelina and Sophia (and their parents), to make the trip with us, and I knew big sister would be a good helper, too.

Our timing wasn't great, and we found ourselves a bit ahead of schedule. It was pouring rain, so we decided to make a pit stop at Barnes and Noble. Charlie loves the train table, and once again, I forgot just how relaxed my son gets when he's in the presence of this table. This was the third time I've been in this same situation, at the same place, and completely unprepared, again. Yeah...sorry for the T.M.I., but please remind me where to go if I ever tell you that my son's constipated. Okay?  Thanks.

The trip really started out a little bumpy, as you can imagine, but it was all uphill from there...

He did great! The girls shot right up to the highest row possible, which Charlie loved, given his obsession with stairs. I had forgotten what it's like taking a little one to the movies and trying to sit them in those big seats. The seat quickly flipped up and sandwiched him, to which he hollered, "WHOA!" He's such a sport. Luckily, I had his backpack handy, so I used that as a backrest to sufficiently prop him up.

While the previews played, Charlie was very animated and squealed quite a bit, and loudly, I should add. He was totally ready for the occasion. I was a little nervous when the movie started, and the monsters were practicing their "scaring skills." Thankfully, no repercussions so far.

Charlie enjoyed the movie, for the most part, but he did get a little antsy towards the end. Don't we all sometimes, after being held captive for two hours? And that was partially my fault for poor timing smack in the middle of the day when he's the most tired. More than anything, I think he loved the snacks.

Next time, and there will be a next time, I will definitely shoot for an earlier movie, more popcorn, and no stops at Barnes & Noble before the show!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Baby.

I have totally coddled Charlie. I've been treating him like he's perpetually two years old or something. Charlie even classifies himself as a baby.  But no...he'll be four in September. 

Some of my excessive pampering, I believe, is partially because of his speech delay. But now that he's starting to become more verbal and able to use his words, I'm realizing just how smart and capable he is. 

This kid knows exactly what's going on.

Last night, a commercial came on for this silly Pocket Pal thing. Charlie began jumping up and down insisting that he wants "needs" one. Jimmy, in a rightfully harsh tone, said, "Well, if you even want us to think about getting you one of those, you better start cleaning stuff up around here first."

I chuckled under my breath. Because Mommy knows just how impossible that is. I mean, our "baby"--he doesn't even know how to clean anything. After all, he's a master mess maker.

Then all of a sudden, a miracle happened in front of my unsuspecting eyes. Charlie sprung up from the couch, and magically began putting his toys away. And then he began picking up our throw pillows and putting them back on the couch--the same pillows he typically hurls off the couch on a daily basis. Today he was even at the kitchen sink attempting to hand wash the dishes and sweeping the floors because our house is "yuck yuck."

Yeah...this little stinker's been playing me like a fiddle.

Game on, baby-no-more. And the anti's been upped: Cleaner house. Plus potty training. Equals Pocket Pal.

Bring it, Char Char. And you might just get two Pocket Pals before it's all over.

Pocket Pals - Doggie - Product ImagePocket Pals - Doggie - Product Image

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bible Camp 2013

Finally, summer has arrived at the Murphy household.

Last week was our annual Bible Camp at SVF, and--once again--I was in charge of the snack session.  It always proves to be a blessing heading up that post, but it definitely comes with lots of planning, time, grocery trips (thanks, Jimmy:), and for a short-fused gal like me...there was some added stress planning a menu for ninety kids, even with the Holy Spirit behind me!

Madi was in a group with lots of her besties. It was a great week for her. And Charlie...he was a champ!  He was in the playroom all week, from 8:30 to 12:00. I was fearful that after day one, he would stage a protest, but was quite clear that he was all in, and he enjoyed every day! 


I am sad to say that, because I was totally preoccupied with the whole shebang, I neglected to take one single picture of the kids. Bad Mama.

This year's theme was about Service. I was a bit late with menu planning this year due to the end of school activities, but with the help of my trusty and creative Christian sister, Carrie, we sat down one afternoon and came up with a much better plan than the "Bible Camp in a box" had provided, so I thought I'd share our little snack ideas, in case any of y'all want to incorporate these messages some way, somehow into your summer fun.

Monday - Serve Family
We used a waffle cone as a basket to represent our families which hold us, protect us, and unite us. We filled them with a portable yogurt to represent our faith which binds us together and sustains us. And we added pieces of fruit (strawberries, grapes, blueberries, bananas) to represent the different members of our families.

Tuesday - Serve Friends
The kids walked through a buffet-style line with a partner (friend) and made their plate for them. It was a creative way to get the kids to get to know each other and to truly serve their friends! The buffet was filled with various snack items including chocolate goldfish (sweet), Chex mix (salty), cheese cubes (cheesy), orange slices and grapes (fruity), carrots (crunchy), raisins and Fig Newtons (chewy), popcorn (fluffy), and pickles (sour).

Wednesday - Serve Neighbors
We talked about how neighbors, in the Biblical sense, are not necessarily the people who live next door.  A neighbor could be the mailman, or a homeless person, or an unknown kid at school, and while people may appear funny looking to us or different on the outside, they may be really beautiful on the inside. We drew a parallel with fruits that God made using a pineapple, a kiwi, and a lychee nut, and I asked the kids to step out of their comfort zone, as if they were meeting a new neighbor, and to try something new that they hadn't tried before. We gave them a variety of fruits to choose from, and they placed them on a bamboo skewer to represent God's love running through us as neighbors (raspberries, pineapple, kiwi, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, dates and lychee fruit). I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the kids did, indeed, step out of their comfort zone and tried new things! 

Thursday - Serve Community
The Bible story was Zacchaeus from Luke 19:1-10, so we chose to use examples of "transformation" and change of heart. We used a dry noodle as an example to show something that is, in one form, very hard, dry, and brittle. But when soaked in water, the noodle transforms into something soft, pliable, and good--just like humans when they have Jesus in their hearts! So, the kids enjoyed bowls of pasta for their snack. In addition, in keeping with the "community" theme, I talked about how one chocolate morsel is good, right? But when put one morsel together with lots of other chocolate morsels in cookie dough, it transforms into something much, much better. This was my "Plan B" from making banana bread out of rotten, mushy bananas. I had no idea that it was virtually impossible to find a loaf of banana bread at this time of year in Florida, and I needed ten of them. The cookies were a much easier choice!

Friday - Serve Jesus
We focused on the Holy Spirit for the lesson, and the snack. We discussed praying for the Holy Spirit's guidance, and I shared a prayer that someone had once given to me, "Light a fire in my heart with the kindle of your love." The kids built an "edible fire pit"--pretty much a soft taco--using a tortilla as the base with turkey meat, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, red peppers, and salsa as the kindle for their fires. They got the message, but Friday was kinda chaotic after a full week of Bible Camp. Yeah...I pretty much just stopped talking and let them eat!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Boo Boo & Ya Ya

A couple of weeks ago, we were blessed by a visit from my S-I-L, Kathy (affectionately known at "Ya Ya" by the kids) and our niece, Kelsey (affectionately known as "Boo Boo" by the kids). They flew in so we could all celebrate Murphy's graduation together.

Kathy and Kelsey don't make it down from Michigan often, nor do we make a trip often make to see them. So, we treasure our precious time together, and this visit was no exception.

Kathy actually arrived when Madi and I were at Girl Scout camp. It worked out great because it gave Aunt Kathy a couple of days to bond with Charlie one-on-one. They had a blast. By the time Madi and I entered the picture again, it was clear that Aunt Kathy and Charlie were tight. Madi has always adored her Aunt Kathy, so they picked up right where they left off, too.

Despite ugly weather, we enjoyed family time, hanging out, sharing our love of good food, and even some pool time.

Kelsey's time with us was limited to the weekend. She's a sophomore at Michigan State now, and it's amazing how she's transformed into this beautiful young woman. Kelsey always has been a beautiful person, but each year seems to add another layer of charm. I can't wait to see how God works in her life, and what good things she'll do. She's already in a nursing program to specialize in Hospice care. That ministry obviously takes a very special person.

We just received word that Kelsey's going to come back for a few weeks this summer. Apparently, she misses all of us already:)  We miss her, too, so we are totally psyched that we will get more time with her!

Here are some photos from our time together. You can kinda tell which ones were taken by the little man...