nursery art

God has been opening a lot of doors this week in terms of growing our adoption "start up" fund.

First, I was commissioned to make some soap baskets to serve as "thank you" gifts.

When I was searching for baskets for the soap, I came across some large plastic Easter eggs that made me smile. And then I made these...

These were Birthday gifts, but wouldn't they make adorable Easter baskets for those that don't want sweets? I know, who doesn't want sweets : ).

Then, my very pregnant co-worker and friend, Jennifer, asked me to create a painting for her sweet baby girl's room. I absolutely LOVE creating nursery art. Not the cheesy, super-matchy stuff that comes with the baby bedding, but one-of-a-kind custom art that is meaningful and specific to a child and his/her family. Jennifer and I are still in the planning stages of her nursery art, but I wanted to share some of those meaningful pieces I've enjoyed making over the last couple of years...

"You Can't Spell 'Dunnen' Without U"

I made this piece when my super artsy friend, Susie, was pregnant with her son, Dunnen. She wanted to spell Dunnen's name out on his nursery wall, and asked 6 different artist friends to create one of the letters. Pretty creative, huh? But pretty bold and trusting of her friends! Susie didn't give many parameters--just no pastels, please!  I was assigned the letter "U."

I loved the idea of a mama and baby giraffe creating the "U" as they shared a moment. The giraffes also represented Jude waiting on us in Africa and the bond of friendship that we hoped our sons would one day share.

Jude and Dunnen Thanksgiving 2010
-from the look on their faces, 
I think I must've interrupted some serious male bonding time

Golden Slumbers

This painting hangs above the crib of sweet Abigail Jordan. This painting has quite a history. I originally painted it to sell at our art auction fundraiser, heART for Africa in 2008. Abigail's parents, Matt and Gentry (eight months pregnant at the time), made several bids on the painting, but were "out-bidded" by someone anonymous. It turned out that my wonderful co-workers had anonymously purchased the painting to give to me because they knew it had such a special meaning to me! I painted each quilt square to represent the important people in my life and it was inspired by my very favorite artist, Gustav Klimt. But it was never intended to be mine, and when Abigail was born I knew that it was meant to be hers.

And, what could be more fun than making art for your very own nursery? Here's a sneak peek into Jude's room...

I wanted to do something with safari animals, but with a twist;
I added buttons and strings and tried to create the look of some vintage toys

 notice the "J" pillow that coordinates perfectly?
you can go here to order your very own custom pillow

Jude kisses this giraffe every morning when he wakes up--


30:30 at 30

I ran the 5K portion of the "Run the Reagan" race on Saturday. I finished in 30 minutes and 30 seconds. It was glorious. It was only my second race. I ran my first 5K this past December in 33 minutes, so my only real goal was to beat that time.

Richard took this cheesy picture of me when I got home (this is not Ronald Reagan Parkway in the background : ). He suggested the pose--I knew better but I gave the thumbs up, anyway. 

I am not athletic. My family is not athletic. But I have always wanted to be a runner. It wasn't until I had some pent-up anxiety during the adoption process that I actually put my feet to the pavement and gave it a real try. And it felt good. When I run, I grin from ear to ear. Just because I can.

After church Saturday night, Richard and I attempted another seemingly impossible task: we went out to eat with our two year old! It's been a while since we've gone out to eat as a family, especially since Jude has become more independent. He kind of likes to do his own thing, when he wants to do it. But, we gave it a try, and it was a great night out. Jude didn't even ask to "go, go" (which translates to "get me the heck out of here and let me go play with my trains!!") the whole time we were eating. 

this is the look he gives when you ask him to smile : )

sharing Daddy's fries--yes, our New Year's Resolution has been 
broken a few times, but so worth it

stealing his daddy's hat

and challenging his daddy to a straw joust

Jude goes for the neck...

but Daddy is too quick : )


he's mine

Today was a great day. The weather was beautiful so Jude and I headed to the park around noon. We ended up on a swing next to a super cute Romanian girl and her son. We exchanged smiles and I made a comment about how big Jude looked next to her 15 month old son. Then she asked me if I was babysitting.

I quickly said, "Oh, he's mine!" And then she stumbled over a few words and the only thing I could make out was something about him being "so dark." Instead of trying to make sense out of the awkward mumbling, I gave her a break and told her that he was from Ethiopia and I adopted him.

It's funny because I truly forget that we look different. I don't say that to imply that I "don't see color."

I see Jude's color every morning when those big brown eyes peek over the crib and I run my fingers through his tight black curls. I see color every time he wraps his little brown fingers around one of mine. His brown skin is not something I am trying to see past. When I look at him, I see him for everything that he is, but mostly I just see my son.

This is all I know of motherhood. He is my son. I am his mom.

I guess what I really mean to say is that I forget that we look different as a family. I forget that for most of the world, children match their parents. It is in those moments at the park that I am reminded : ). And it is mostly innocent, like this evening in the grocery store. I was pushing the big "car" cart (how did people shop with toddlers before those things were invented?) and Jude decided he wanted to get out and help push. So what that really meant is he was walking about two feet in front of the cart, grabbing every item at  eye level. We passed a woman in the aisle, and I noticed that as she walked away she kept looking back over her shoulder at Jude. On the third glance, she stopped. I knew what she was thinking. She was looking for that poor little lost boy's parents. Once again, I smiled and said, "He's mine!" She laughed and said something about him walking around like he owned the place and I laughed, too.

I am so proud that he's mine.


my funny valentine

Jude got some new shoes for Valentine's Day compliments of his Aunt "Na."

I didn't think we'd ever get them off of his feet. I finally managed to slip them off just before laying him down in his crib for the night. 

Jude also received a sweet Valentine card in the mail with $5 for his giraffe bank (why does it always have to be a pig?) from his "Ma" (my sweet Mom) and another gift from Aunt Na which accompanied us for a walk last night.

Jude has been talking up a storm this week. He's repeating everything we say, from "booty" (thanks for that one, Richard) to "noise." Some of his current favorite words are: "moo-eeee" (movie), "nexxxxx" (next), roll and boots.

here he is, posing with his ride

a quick pose for the camera before going down the slide

Happy Valentines Day to you and yours!


growing up.

Yesterday I realized that my baby boy is growing up. Literally. I mean, there have been clues lately--like when we dressed him for church last weekend and found that only 2 pairs of jeans didn't resemble capri pants, and when I put my favorite pair of footie pjs on him (the super cute ones that have little doggie faces on the feet--awwww) and realized that his toes were being forced to curl upward. Yep, those should have been signs, but I was in denial. Until I found myself at Target last night buying our boy some new pants : ).

He is also growing in other ways, too. Being that he was adopted from Ethiopia at 1 year old, there have been some delays in speech. There is no doubt that our boy is bright--he clearly understands everything we say and has been creative in communicating when he doesn't have the words, including making up his own sign language--but up until recently we have had to beg him to try new words: "can you say (fill in the blank here)???" Luckily I work next door to a wonderful speech teacher who has given me some great ideas and techniques that have really worked.

Just this week we were playing with his train set (thank you Aunt Tiffanie and Uncle Beau!) and he pointed to the end of the train and said "dat?". Forgetting that we'd learned the word "caboose" from his current favorite book, I Love Trains, I said, "back." He looked at me for a second and said, "Boofff." And moose is "moofff"...I'm sure you see the pattern here : ). He is talking more and more each day, trying out new words on his own, at his own pace. It is so fun to watch his vocabulary develop and see him make associations with each word. Today while playing with that same toy train (it's a favorite) he pointed at the part of the train where the steam comes out and said, "hat." I guess if trains wore hats, it would look something like that : ).

Is it obvious why I want 10 more just like him? Okay, at least one more : )...