Hang it on the wall…

…I’m pretty sure that was/is my mother’s decorating mantra. She finds the most wonderfully random and odd antiques and then promptly hangs them on the wall. From antique tools, to cutting boards, to baskets, to pitch forks — they all find their place displayed vertically. They are not hung in a Cracker Barrel sort of way, but in a slightly more fresh and modern way and it works. Let’s just say she was Pottery Barn before Pottery Barn was cool. Old things tell a story in a way that a new trinket from Steinmart or Kirklands just can’t tell. My mom was on to something and in my own home I’ve adopted many of her ways. As I was hanging a grouping of baskets that I’ve collected from around the globe I started to laugh; I really am turning into my mother. It happens to all of us as we grow older and I’ve finally come to realize it really isn’t such a bad thing.

So we went camping…

…and we survived.

It was our first try at camping with our little tribe and while it is true that I mumbled more than once as we were packing that I would NEVER camp again, I actually think we might make it a semi-regular thing…like maybe once a year. Let it be known that camping is A LOT of work! It’s probably one of those things that gets easier the more you do it but this time around packing for the trip was exhausting! Whew!

We went to Vogel State Park with a few family friends (also non-camping types) from Passion City Church and it really was a blast to hang out with these amazing people for a couple days and watch our kids become friends. Passion City took a 2 week Sabbath Break so we had a longer weekend than usual to just rest and be. What better way to “be” than to hang out in God’s beautiful creation with some incredible people. It was a very memorable weekend and a perfect (though not necessarily restful) way to spend Sabbath break.

If you’ve ever wondered what lurks in the North Georgia mountains, wonder no more…

I took on the meals responsibility for the camping trip. Mostly because I like to eat good food. Which can be a problem, but that’s a post for another day. Bryson and I are food snobs. Well, Bryson more than me, but we both can be snobby about food…and when we don’t eat well, we get grumpy. Fact. So, it was more for selfish reasons I took on the role of Master Chef for the camping trip. I had so much fun putting together the menu and making some good grub for the whole crew. Feeding people is one of my love languages. Waffles for breakfast, BBQ Chicken Pizzas over the charcoal grill, marinated flank steak, campfire cooked loaded baked potatoes, grilled corn, coffee cake, s’mores made with Reese’s Cups, cobb salad with homemade ranch and I even brought homemade iced coffee. YUM! I learned a lot this first go round, so I’m ready to stretch my cooking muscles for next time and see what I can come up with for the menu in 2013. Needless to say we spent a lot of time eating, but we also fished, sat around the fire, tried to stay dry when it rained, took little nature hikes, played in the creek, played duck duck goose, kept the fire roaring, and just enjoyed each other’s company. Life’s simple pleasures are often the best.

Meal time was fun for all…

She’s a natural! I’d say she’s got a little redneck in her blood. 

when did he become such a little man?

Fishing!

new friends…

playing dolls in the dirt…

Making s’mores

Some of the worlds cutest kids. Man, oh, man were they FILTHY dirty by the time we got home. It was awesome.

Quality time and Little House on the Prairie & a head lamp…sweet times.

sweet.

siblings.

a little relaxation!

Birthday…Lego style!

We celebrated our firstborn, Nash, in 5 year-old Lego style this weekend! It was so fun! Nash loved every bit of it…except for the part where everyone sings Happy Birthday to him…he hates that part and falls completely apart. Nash has always hated the attention of everyone singing to him…and I always forget that small detail until we are halfway through singing and I see the tears coming. Oops. Even with that little hiccup, Nash loved the party and felt so loved and celebrated. It was a fun group of boys from church and school. I’m grateful for the people in our lives who love us and our children so well.

Happy Birthday Nash! My hopes and dreams for you are massive, but they pale in comparison to those Jesus has for you. It’s going to be a great year. I love you more than words could ever say.

The birthday boy!

 

It was a sad little cake…but Nash loved it and it tasted pretty good, so let’s just overlook the fact that it doesn’t look that great! Thanks.

Fighting back the tears. Hold it together. Get those candles blown out. Mama’s here for your little man. Maybe 6 with be a better year for singing. 🙂

This is so much fun!!!!!! Sugar high!!! Lego high!!!! I love being 5!!!

Pinata time!! Not that Pinata’s have anything to do with Legos…but when you have 10 little boys gathered together for a party it’s good for them to get some energy out!

I love this action shot!

Great expression on Nash’s face!

Meyer’s fake smile. She had a great time partying with the big kids!

Evyn’s turn at the photo booth…

Lego scavenger hunt! I made sheets with pictures of 10 different Lego men for each of the kids. I then hid the Lego men around the yard and the kids had to go hunt for them and circle the matching Lego man on their sheet. It was a fun and easy activity.

Cake from Nash’s actual birthday (Friday). Mimi and Pop Pop came over to celebrate with us. Per Nash’s request we ordered in “sweet Chinese chicken”.

It’s sad to see your friends go…and the party end! There’s always next year little man…

Swim Swim Swim.

We finally got a couple weeks of swimming lessons in–at the end of summer. Better late than never. All in all, they did great. Evyn was fearless, but didn’t like getting her hair wet or messed up. Nash was so tall that the swim instructor had to take him down to the deep end of the pool so he would have to put his head under the water. I love my silly fish.

Love this picture of Evyn and her friend Gavin, chattin’ it up during lessons.

Instructor Jason will go down in the history books as Evyn’s first crush. ‘Mr. Jason is sooooo funny mom!” -Evyn with a silly grin. You should have seen the way she gazed at him. Hilarious.

First Day of Pre-K Awesomeness

Sweet Nash boy! Look how grown up you are! I am believing great things for you this year! (and I do need to get your hair cut, asap!)

Nash is headed to his first day of pre-k today! He is going to a precious little school that several friends of ours attend. What I love about this little school is that it is a Classical Education school, Jesus focused, and is excellent in everything they do. A wise friend who is a few seasons ahead of me shared some word of wisdom that has really helped guide me as we determined the right school option for Nash this year. She said when you are thinking through school options for your kids take it “one kid and one year at time”. This little wisdom nugget has given me so much freedom as I think through school options for my children. I was getting overwhelmed thinking about where I was going to send my kids for the next 12 years….like I had make the final decision right now for the next decade! But this freedom to go year by year and child by child feels like such a better approach. For Nash, this little school is the perfect fit for him for this year and I believe he is going to really thrive and grow under their leadership. I can not wait to watch him become a little man!

Gathering in front of the school with his class for the Balloon Ceremony…

a little timid…and overwhelmed… but holding it together! No tears!

Gathering to hear a word from the headmaster…

Letting the balloons go and signifying the start of a new year!

Into the school he goes…
tear.
sniff sniff.

Evyn. 2011-2012 Recap Photo

I forgot to post this a few weeks ago on Evyn’s Birthday. On my kids birthday’s I like to write down a few phrases or words that will help remind me down the road what was important to them during that time. Here is Evyn’s recap for her 3rd birthday. It was a great year and it makes me smile to see words that will help me remember the past year spent as the mama to this spunky little girl….oh, I mean, big girl.

Mommy’s Heart Went Pop!

Our friend, Peter Greer, over at Hope International sent us a copy of the new children’s book he and his wife wrote called “Mommy’s Heart Went Pop!” based on their adoption journey. It is a beautifully written and illustrated story of a mama’s journey to her son on the other side of the world. What I loved about the book is it is very real to life (at least to our story) and uses language I use when telling Evyn her “special story”. It shares how the mom prayed, thought about, and longed for her child, chronicals how she got the nursery ready and how her friends gave her a baby shower. The book talks about getting “the phone call” and how the mom and dad boarded the plane to travel to get their baby. My favorite part is how it describes the moment when she meets her baby for the first time — her heart POPS and the love she had been holding in her heart for this child was able to gush out as she was finally able to whisper “I love you” in his ears, kiss his sweet head and hold him…and never let him go. That was exactly how I felt when I held Evyn the first time.

I’ve looked high and low for great children’s books about adoption and it is tough. So, when I find a good one…I want to let everyone know! So, check it out! Get a copy for yourself or one for a friend who is on an journey to bring home their baby from the other side of the world.

The last of Oregon…

Here are the last bits of pictures from our Oregon adventures.

Thank you dear Oregon for the cool weather, good eats, kind people, and beautiful sights. We’ll remember you forever…and if not, we will come back and look at these pictures on the blog to help us remind us…

Eating Ice cream…in her new too-big-but-cute Rockaway Beach sweatshirt

Stop with the cuteness.

The fine art of cooking crabs…

The master cooker, Grandma Betty…

Got one…

Dad teaching Meyer to eat fresh crabs. That’s a serious face, daddy.

action shot…eating the crabs…

Daddy showing the kids how to climb the tree…

Go Pop Pop, go!

popsicles on the porch…

Great memories of our day spent at the OMSI museum. What a great place! Cool science exhibits, awesome kids area, submarine tour, IMAX movie. Whew, what a day!

Astronauts Evyn and Meyer…welcome home. How was the flight?

Nash LOVED this gravity ball track at the OMSI Museum. He stared at it (just like this) for a very long time.

touring a real submarine!

silly girls.

I think our new meterologist are a little too short, eh? (see their little heads at the bottom of the screen?)

The Vogeltanz Men. We got to celebrate the life of Roy’s brother, Larry, who passed away just a few days before we left for Oregon. We were grateful to be in Portland to celebrate his life with his family.

Well, that’s the last of the pictures. I promise no more! We can move on to other topics…

…to the mountains

From the beach to the mountains! With Mt. Hood majestically standing guard over Portland, how could we not make the short drive up and let the kids touch the snow and watch the skiers and snowboarders…in JULY?! It’s not every day that you get to be at the beach in the morning and with skiers in the afternoon. The funny part was it was freezing cold at the beach and actually hot on top of the mountain. Nash had been asking all week to climb the big mountain, so we did…

Headed to the top of Mt. Hood.
Hold on tight daddy. Um, this makes me nervous.

hi from up high!

Meyer and chubby cheeks…oops, I mean Bryson

Just a little further…

Huh?

not our best picture, but were all there.

weeeeeeee! This is fun!
Then comes the realization that his legs, shoes, and bottom are completely wet and ice cold.

I love this man. And these sweet girls.

The famous Timberline Lodge

For those of you who thought our vacation was “picture perfect”, here’s a little dose of reality. We all have our meltdown moments.

The Oregon Coast

I posted some pictures about campfires on the beach, but here are a few more of our time spent on the beautiful Oregon Coast at Bryson’s grandparent’s beach cabin.

We walked down to the beach as soon as arrived so Nash could put his toes in the Pacific…

Bryson chasing Nash with a crab…

When the girls woke up from their naps we hit the beach again. This time with sand castle gear in tow.

The Meyer walk. This girl walks with purpose. I pray she always does. 

Look, water!

Sweet friends… Meyer and Mimi

He learned the “peace sign”

Evyn didn’t really appreciate the cool air and spent most of her time completely bundled up on the blanket.

I just can’t get enough of Nash’s smile! He loved the beach!

Can we go back, please?!

An Oregon Fourth of July

We spent the morning of the Fourth of July at the End of the Oregon Trail Museum (that was for you, mom.) and on a trolley ride around Oregon City. It’s always good to squeeze a little educational “fun” into your vacation.

Thumbs up for the end of the Oregon Trail. This one’s for you, Marmi!

Mom, do I really have to wear this bonnet. Yes.

Making a dipped candle…

On the trolley ride…with old fashioned candy sticks. There is really nothing special to see in Oregon City…but the trolley was free and the kids thought it was fun…and we had a few hours to kill, so why not?! The candy sticks where good, though.

serious about their candy.

Fish face by the Willamette River

The second half of our day was spent with family at Bryson’s aunt and uncle’s home. They have a beautiful piece of land and know how to host a fun party. Tons of people, volley ball, skeet shooting, fired turkey, hot homemade french fries (yes!!), covered dish heaven, creek playing, treehouse climbing, family and fireworks. The kids had a blast!

Cousins

Evyn and her new besties: “ollie and jessica”

Bryson and his mini-me. Nash LOVED LOVED LOVED playing Volleyball. I don’t think he hit the ball once, but still thought he was the VIP of the game. This was among the highlights of his entire week in Oregon! It’s amazing how something so small can make such a big impact on a kid.

Up for a serve.

Action shot. Um, someone is competitive.

Cousins, spouses, and kids.

My Aunt Sandy showed me some old photos of Bryson and his cousins from when they were little. This pic is of Bryson’s cousin, Andrea. I couldn’t believe how much Meyer resembles her. I guess thats the Reynolds coming out in Meyer!

From the Beginning. Oregon 2012

Atlanta to Portland. Bryson prepping the kids for the trip ahead. A perk to Bryson traveling so much is spending a few minutes raising havoc in the Sky Club. Thanks for the muffins and snacks. Sorry about the mess.

Bryson was born in Oregon City, Oregon just outside Portland. Much of his extend family still lives in the area, including his grandparents, so we decided to head out west for a visit this summer. It’s been over 3 years since we last visited so we are excited to bring the kids out and show them Oregon. We had an awesome time hopping around to Portland, the coast, Mt. Hood and everything in between. Oregon’s cool summer was also a welcomed change from Hotlanta’s 100+ degree temperatures. So, so nice.

The kids were so excited about flying on the plane.  **Meyer wears that Hello Kitty necklace almost every day. Finds it and puts it on each morning by herself. Funny baby.

The purpose of our trip: spending some time with these two special people, Bryson’s grandparents, Betty and Vern.

Evyn is such a little cuddle bug and let Vern hold her and answered all his questions. at one point he said, “Her hair is fluffy. I like it.”

us.

Betty lives in a great little Senior Citizens Community so our crew stayed in the guest apartment during part of our stay.  You should have seen our crazy kids running up and down the hall way with all the old people! Thankfully most of the folks are a bit hard of hearing so when my kids were yelling and squealing up and down the halls they would just smile at us! It was pretty hilarious! I’m glad they put up with us…but I wouldn’t be surprised if they change the rules to “no children allowed” after our visit. We can be a bit of a circus act at times! Full of life and energy! 🙂

What my kids loved best about “our apartment”(as Nash called it) was how there were little tables outside each door in the hallway decorated with little trinkets….like fake flowers, 4th of July holiday plates, framed cross stitch sayings, photos of relatives, little glass angels, etc. My kids were facinated with the little treasures on display.There were also endless bowls of candy just within reach of their little hands. My kids LOVED this and thought it was Halloween! One particular door along the hall had a battery operated kitty cat that looked like it was curled up sleeping. Meyer and Evyn, though concerned that the kitty was ALWAYS asleep, LOVED stopping to pet, speak to, and kiss the cat every single time we passed by. Needless to say, it took us several minutes to make our way to our room each time. We had a great stay and hopefully we brought a few smiles to some of Betty’s friends living in the community.

Meyer and the beloved kitty.

The girls loving on the fake cat. That kitty got a lot of love this week.

Fires on the beach

The Oregon coast has won my heart. There I go sounding like my mother! She LOVES Oregon and always dreamed of moving here. But she is right (as usual). The coast is beautiful! We spent a few days at Bryson’s grandparents beach cabin on Rockaway Beach. It is like stepping back in time. The cabin is stocked with all the same old cups, plates, blankets and tupperware salt and pepper shakers that Bryson remembers using as a kid some 25 years ago. It is cabin perfection. Full of nostaglia and ready to make new memories.

What I love about the beach in Oregon is, it’s cold. A no-swimsuit-needed beach…yes! 🙂 No, it’s not a nudist beach…its just way too cold (even in July!) to wear a swimsuit! Throw on your your newly purchased sweatshirt from the nearby beach town and head to the beach. It’s perfect weather for building sandcastles, kite flying and seashell collecting. No sweating, no sun burning, no melting away in the sun! But best of all is campfires on the beach as the sun goes slowly down. I love fires on the beach! Bryson and I made a fire on the beach with Nash and he loved it as much as I do! What’s not to love?!

Sticky S’mores…

cooking the perfect s’more.

Delicious.

 

Deep talks with mom.

Low tide silliness.

Drumroll please! Introducing our MEGA DEN!

Finally!! Pictures of our Mega Den!! It aired tonight so we can share pictures!

We LOVE our Mega Den and are grateful for Anitra and the entire team who worked so very hard to make it perfect for us. What an amazing experience!! Check out the BEFORE pictures to remind yourself how far this basement transformation has come!

If you missed the episode, it will likely be able for viewing on the DIY WEBSITE HERE. Ours is Episode 11: Colorful Basement Surprise.

A few fun facts about our show:

  • I applied on a whim and had never even seen the show before! 🙂 I had no idea we would actually get chosen to participate!
  • Our show was sponsored by Home Depot because so much work had to go into our space. Thanks Home Depot.
  • Our basement was a concrete dungeon (walls and floors) and they turned it in to an awesome livable space for our family. It adds so much to our house.
  • Before they started the basement had only one electrical outlet, 3 lightbulbs and no other electricity.
  • They put in new windows, insulation, HV/AC, carpet, electric throughout, re plumbed the laundry, furnished and accessorized the entire space, and gave us tons of gadgets!! Crazy!!
  • True. We did not like the carpet initally, but warmed up to it once Anitra put all the finishing touches on the space. Always trust the designer. My new mantra.
  • I smile too much when I’m nervous!
  • Bryson looks HOT on camera (and in real life!)
  • The Mega Dens team was amazing. Really special people! Grateful our paths crossed with these great folks!
  • Pictures do NOT do it justice, so ya’ll will just need to come over and hang out and see it in person!
  • We can not believe we were on a TV show!!

going down the stairs…new carpet runner…

sliding barn door that hides the laundry room which houses our new front loading washer and dryer!!!

built in’s under the staircase. There is a huge table that slides out. AWESOME!!!

My FAVORITE part of the room. This is an antique table from Brazil. It is an old wash table (there is a hole in the center) and it is made out of a single piece of wood. it’s amazing.

The custom art work. It looks amazing in person. So many details that are unique to us and our story. Thanks Katie!

The new door into our storage area

Anitra is AMAZING!! THANK YOU GIRL!!!! (Evyn’s looking a little loopy from a week of craziness!:)

Our TV debut!

Tonight’s the night. Laugh with (or at!) the Vogeltanz Family as we make our TV debut on DIY Network’s Mega Dens at 8pm and see our basement renovation. AHHH!! I’m so nervous to see how they edit a whole week of footage into 30 minutes!!

This will be FUNNY!

Lessons Learned…

It was such a beautiful night out that I let the kids play an hour past bedtime. But when I called them inside for bedtime this is how Evyn rolled in..

But man is she a cutie…

So the lessons learned? Either Dad needs to rake the grass after mowing, or Evyn shouldn’t roll down the hill. I like the idea of the rake.

Either way, I’m pretty sure I will be picking grass out of her hair for the next week…or two. At least she had fun, right?