Friday, December 14, 2012


Oh Christmas Tree:
This is the only place our Christmas tree is safe from little fingers this year.

But I couldn't stop at a teensy one foot-thing. So we put one outside, too.

Adoption Update:
We are home study approved! 

Our family profile is in the mail.

Light show:
One of my husband's bosses gave us tickets to an outdoor Christmas light display. It was awesome! Over 3 million lights bedecked a mill, danced across a covered bridge and filled a gorge as a nearby waterfall roared through the night.

Book Review:
I finished War and Peace. Woot woot! I read it on my husband's e-reader. I am usually opposed to electronic books, however I highly recommend using one to help you plow through this tome. It is long and it uses antiquated language. Having a built in dictionary was a big time saver. And when you are reading War and Peace, you can use all the time savers you can get. Almost every time I highlighted a word I wasn't familiar with the definition started with "archaic." 

I enjoyed the book and will probably recommend it to my sons once they are adults. I want to be sure they have a rock-solid, healthy view of women before they read Tolstoy's versions of females. Only one character felt "real." The rest were over- sexualized, hyper-spiritualized or mere shadows of people. 

It was a fun way to help make history come alive. It certainly helped me keep the dates and facts of European events straight. Tolstoy did a brilliant job of blurring fact and fiction so that the reader feels he/she is privy to Napoleon's thoughts.   

Now on to The Confessions of Saint Augustine. . . 

Mental/Emotional/Spiritual Status:
I'm all over the board. Having the house and the adoption up in the air is a daily test. Continuing our search for a church family has lead me to dread Sundays. I know that God has me in this place of struggle for a reason. Some days I feel like I'm close to peace and growth and other days I just feel pathetic and like I'm never going to mature. Some days I reach for my Bible and praise music. Other days I reach for internet surfing and chocolate. I vacillate between wanting to have hope for my future and just wanting to give up and live a small, lonely life. I don't think I have found any middle ground yet. Fortunately, I lived a roller coaster existence from about 14 years old to 23 years old. So I'm not throwing up, just a bit dizzy. *;) winking 

Mama did good. I googled a recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies and came across this recipe. In addition to giving me a recipe, the blog gave me inspiration to take pictures. Commence drooling.

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Allergy Free Thanksgiving

Yes! It IS possible.

This year I made my very first Thanksgiving meal. This is the only time in my life that I have not celebrated the holiday with extended family. It was a marvelous day, hanging at home with my boys. It did feel a little odd to not have more loved ones milling about the place, though.

It is a blessing that I had never made an entire Thanksgiving spread on my own before. I didn't have to re-learn how to make everything this year. I'm hoping that T will outgrow his allergies in about six years. Thanksgiving 2018 may be problematic, as I suddenly figure out how to do everything with allergens. The challenge to make a holiday meal that was dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free and soy-free was no different than making dinner any other day of the year. It just took longer.

Now for a review and recipes!

The turkey.

Ugh. I have such a love-hate relationship with turkey. White meat is icky. Dark meat is yummy. If only a turkey could be entirely dark meat.  I would be deeply satisfied to have no turkey at Thanksgiving lunch. I do so love a turkey sandwich for dinner Thanksgiving night, though.

My angst was compounded by trying to find a turkey that didn't have a bunch of chemicals injected in it. I found some {happy dance} but they were whole, 20lb turkeys {despairing sigh.} I refused to buy a turkey that would feed us for six months. I went to a local health food store and found turkey breasts {yes!} that didn't have anything injected in them {yes! yes!} but did have a wee bit of dark meat still attached {yes! yes! yes!} I then went to the check out with my little 9lb turkey. {dark clouds roll in} I placed it on the conveyor belt. {cue the scary music} Blissfully ignorant of my impending doom, I  happily congratulated myself for both hunting and gathering a worthy bird for our meal. It cost $55. {gasp. heart flip-flop. blink. look around in a daze. drop head in defeat.} I still bought the thing, though. It was either that or eat lunch meat. I had already looked in every other grocery store. I simply resolved to cook it up right and then eat rice & beans for a month.

Cook it up right, I did. My brilliant sister recommended I brine the turkey. She said I should find Alton Brown's brine. I asked who he was. She was horrified that I had never heard of dear Alton. And not eye-rolling, you're-so-dumb-horrified. It was a deep sigh, I'm-so-sad-for-you-horrified. I actually just had to google his name again to remember it. I did find the brine, though. And it is FABULOUS! Not only is it delicious, it is already allergy-friendly.  I didn't have to adapt a single thing. Click here to find it. Always cook your turkey with this recipe. If you have extra brine, like I did, you can use it in your mashed potatoes, or as the broth in soup. I actually used the left overs for both of those things.

That turkey was the gift that kept on giving. I still have half of it frozen in the freezer and we have had four meals with the other half. So if I divide the chest-pain inducing total of fifty-five dollars by eight meals, I only spent $7 per meal. Not bad, after all.

I cooked it in the crock pot in an effort to make it more juicy. It was okay.  I still don't like white meat. Unless it is smothered in veganaise and squished between two pieces of bread.  The crock pot also gave me room in the oven to make the other dishes. For crock pot cooking recommendations, click here.

Wow, I've been wordy. I have even been going back and deleting myself, but still this is a long post. I will try to double-time it through the rest of the dishes.

The mashed potatoes.

(I couldn't figure out how to make the white blob of potatoes look pretty, so here it is with some friends)
I discovered how to make delicious dairy-free mashed potatoes last year when T was first born. We were following a dairy-free diet at the time for abdominal comfort reasons. One of the women from our church brought us a delicious dinner that included mashed potatoes. She said she used chicken broth instead of butter and milk. Oh my! They were so much better than my own. I have been using broth ever since then. But since I had extra brine and it was so yummy, I used it and our version of butter.

The stuffing/dressing.

Hit it out of the park! I had never made stuffing before and I was thrilled with the results. I was particularly happy it turned out so well, because it took such effort to make.  I made my own bread a few days beforehand. I have not been able to find allergy-free bread, so I make my own. And I don't have a bread machine. My bread recipe is a combination of this one and this one. And since I love combining recipes, I did the same thing for the dressing itsself. I combined this with the traditional family one my mom handed down to me. The recipe isn't a secret, it just isn't typed up anywhere. Hopefully I'll remember exactly what I did and duplicate it again sometime soon.

The sweet potato souffle.

Meh. It was so-so. Egg replacer can only do so much. Also, I opted not to put the coconut & sugar on top. I didn't think it would be the same without the nuts. And it really isn't supposed to be a dessert. My boys liked it, but they never had the original, so they don't know any better. I'll probably try to do something different next year.

The pumpkin pie.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! This turned out so well. I found an incredible vegan pie crust recipe. Click here to get the recipe. So yummy! My husband fell in love all over again. Adapting the traditional recipe you find on the side of the can was otherwise easy with coconut milk & egg replacer. And the whipped cream on top? That would be the thick stuff that floats to the top of the cans of coconut milk, whipped with sugar.

If I can pull together a Thanksgiving dinner that doesn't kill anyone, you can too!

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

National Adoption Awareness Month

Our adoption consultant, Tracie posted the following on her blog. She gives great information on what to do when people around you are adopting. To go directly to her blog, click here.

Support, Love, Serve, and Celebrate

It’s easy to know what to do when a family is about to give birth to a child. If you’re a good friend, you throw a baby shower; you might even help clean or watch kiddos when the expectant momma is nearing the end of her pregnancy. You might volunteer to watch any other kiddos when she goes into labor. You might start a meal calendar so she doesn’t have to cook those first two weeks home with a new born. We’ve been doing this forever, we know what to do.

When a family enters into the adoption journey, we sometimes forget that they need the same, if not even greater support. 

Adoption takes a community. It takes a family of friends and loved ones gathering around to support, love, serve, and celebrate with a family that is growing through adoption.

Adoption is costly. Many families who have said yes to adoption are not sitting there with a pile of money ready to go. You can help by giving.
(And let’s just dismantle the notion that you shouldn’t have to give to an adoptive family because it is their choice to have a child, just like you don’t give to pay for the hospital bill of a family giving birth to a child. Rubish! It’s not the same thing at all. As one dear friend of mine has said for years about serving and giving and loving well, “You don’t have to, YOU GET TO!” It’s a privilege to give and support adoptive families, and I challenge you to give it a try. I’m 100% sure you will be blessed!)
-Give Financially: Most families are able to set up ways for others to contribute that give the donors a tax deduction for charitable giving. It can be as easy as 300 people donating $100 can cover the cost of an average adoption.
-Give of your Talent: I’ve seen artists, photographers, jewelers, you name it… donate services or products to sell for adoption fundraisers. One of my clients had a friend donate bracelets and this simple little jewelry sale raised $1000, then to top it all off her uncle agreed to donate an additional $5 for every bracelet sold! My son raised $5000 for our international adoptions by donating his time as a photographer doing family photo shoots in our local community, he was 15 years old. Anyone can give!
-Give of other Resources: Donate flight miles for travel, discounts on hotel or hotel points, donate a condo or time share in the area where the family is traveling, host an adoptive family in your home if they are traveling to your area. One sweet family was welcomed into the home of a widow after they called churches in the area where the daughter was going to be born to see if anyone might be willing to host them. They ended up developing a life-long relationship with this sweet woman. Having a place to stay at no cost to the adoptive family can save the family $1000-3000. What a gift!
-Help with Fundraisers: Adoptive families often fundraise through hosting garage sales, benefit dinner, or other community events. Donate to yard sales, volunteer to cook for a fundraising dinner. Help gather  or donate items for an online auction or live/silent auction at a fundraising event. Auctions can contain donate items or services. (Be creative: babysitting services that include bringing pizza to feed the kids, hair cutting, massage gift certificates, house cleaning, whatever your gift or talent, GIVE!) 

Adoption is a journey of the heart. It is emotionally exhausting. A family who is in the process of adoption needs to be supported by love and friendship.
-Listen- Be part of their journey by listening. Sometimes having someone listen is the most precious gift an adoptive parent can receive.
-Pray- Pray for an adoptive family as they prepare for adoption and welcome a child into their home. Pray for financial provision, pray for emotional strength, pray for God to direct every step of their journey. One adoptive momma recently shared with me that her friend were hosting a “Prayer Shower” both before baby and after baby’s arrival. What a precious gift!
-Ask-  Ask the simple questions: “How are you doing?” or “What can I do to help?” and insist on an answer.


Adoption is hard work. Seemingly endless paperwork, traveling to welcome a child, traveling home, adjusting to life with a new family member. You can help ease the strain.
-Give Time: You can give the family time to complete paperwork by helping watch other children during the home study process, give the couple a “date night” so they can connect and work through adoption decisions and planning.
-Child Care: If a family is traveling they may need support at home. Help with child care while they are away from home, or volunteer to travel with them to watch their child/children there. When they get home, this support is needed more than ever. Even a couple of hours a week volunteering to take other young children to the park, or even overnight for pizza and a movie, allows the new adoptive family to have time to bond and rest.
-Household: I’ve had adoptive families share with me that some of the most loving gifts they have received are gifts of service: house cleaning, providing meals, mowing the lawn, or other household projects. One family shared that their friends got together and gave their home a “deep clean” while they were out of state for their adoption. What a blessing to come home to a clean house! Another shared that she had a friend come over several times a week just to wash and put away dishes, help with laundry and other household chores. Larger families have been blessed by having friends manage their family’s carpooling needs to school, lessons, practice, etc.

Celebrate with the family and rejoice with them over their new arrival. This is easy and so much fun!
- Baby Shower: Yes, an adoptive family needs a baby shower too! If the family is adopting an older child or children, they need a shower too! Clothing, toys, you name it, they need it all! This can be before baby or after baby comes home as a welcome baby time!
-Meal Shower: So many great options for making this easy with online signups via websites like Meal Baby. Restaurant gift cards can be ordered and given through a website like this as well, so that out of town family and friends can share in this gift! This is one of the best gifts ever for an adoptive family.
-Food Shower: Fill an adoptive families cupboards and freezer with food, give a grocery story gift card.
-Hand Me Downs: Yes, we want your gently used baby/child items! Good quality car seats, strollers, baby carriers, clothing! Give it! A number of families (including my own) have been blessed by last minute drop offs when the adoption happens fast and there is not time to have a baby shower!


You may not be called to adopt, but we are ALL called to LOVE and you can be part of an adoptive family’s life for a lifetime of giving, supporting, loving, and celebrating. It doesn’t have to stop with the airport welcome committee. It CAN’T STOP THERE! Over the years we have been blessed to have many people give, serve, love, and celebrate way beyond our “Welcome Home” party.

ADOPT:  Yes, you can adopt an adoptive family. We have been blessed to have been adopted by some very precious people over the past few years. They have chosen us, adopted our children, taken on the role as extra grandparents, aunties, and uncles. They have given financially to us, sent gifts to our children, and prayed for us faithfully. If you are “too old” to adopt or “too young” to adopt, but have a heart for adoption, I urge you to adopt a family. You won’t regret it.
GIVE RESPITE: Give the gift of your time to baby sit whether for an evening so adoptive parents can have a date, or for a weekend to give them time to get away and reconnect. This is invaluable to any adoptive family.
SERVE: You can give of your time and talents. We have a wonderful young man who contacted us sharing his heart for adoption. He said, “One day my wife and I want to adopt, but for now we want to be available to serve your family.” He went on to share that he was talented as a contractor and would love to be available to do little fix it jobs for us. He’s been such a blessing!
WELCOME AND INCLUDE: Invite adoptive families over for dinner, include them in play groups or mom’s outings, call and text and let them know you continue to pray for them.

It’s never easy to ask for help, so it is my hope that this article will be helpful for adoptive families to share with their family and friends as a tool to help communicate their needs. I pray that those of you reading this who are not adopting but long to support adoption, will grab ahold of some of the ideas here and implement them. And be creative, this is just a guide, a tool to help you start! 

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Reece's Rainbow Update

My, but I've been a blogging fool lately.

Don't worry, I will soon fall off the map again and quit flooding your inbox. I thought you would like some follow up, though, on Reece's Rainbow.

Here's the message from them:

Thank you to Cultivate Wines! We came in second place and won $10,000 for our waiting children. Thank you to all of you for your votes each and every day! We have been blessed by your hard work on our behalf!

They used the money to put $1000 towards each of ten children's adoption expenses.

Remember, you can also find out information from Reece's Rainbow by going directly to their website:

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Provision and Pursuit

*note - after hearing from local police officers at my MOPS group today I will no longer be using my family members' full names on this site. If you know me personally, you know their names. If you don't know me, you don't need to know them.* Oh! and I am sooooo glad I am not on Facebook. 


I love the way God provides for all our needs. Even the seemingly "silly" ones. Especially the small ones, actually. What blows me away, though, is when the provision is so clearly set in motion long before the need arrives. His sovereignty just thrills me. I revel in stories of God making impossible links.

Jesus is already providing  family identity for our adopted child. I have been asked three times in the last six weeks what ethnicity T is. Today a woman at the Korean grocery store about fell over when she found out he was my biological son. She thought he was Korean. And not because of the embarrassing white thought that 'all Asians look alike to me.' She IS Korean. She knows what they look like.

T snarfing down a Korean cracker.

This double provision is so delighting me that I smile every time I think of it.

First, I'm getting practice answering people when they ask me about my child's race/ethnicity/heritage. This is new territory for me. I would have thought I would be better at it since I have thought about it so much. But it's different to think about how you're going to respond and then actually responding when caught unawares.  The second provision is that our child(ren) will have an older sibling that he/she/they can relate to. Just like he/she/they may face embarrassing questions and stares, his/her/their big brother T does, too.

T knows he belongs, he's just trying to figure out if he can grab that umbrella from his brother. Or eat my face.


God has been mercifully revealing some things that need to change in my life/heart. Mainly one thing, really. That is my lack of loyalty, love & real relationship with Him. I have fallen into a superficial life of Christian habit. I have been reading my Bible, but not in an effort to know Him more. I have slipped into outright prayerlessness. I go to church begrudgingly. I write tithe checks out of habit.

But I never saw the decline. I didn't even realize what had happened. Just like some people allow their marriages to rot to the point of becoming something in name only, I had become a Christian in name alone. Thankfully. Yes, thankfully, God did not allow it to stay stagnated there. He has used a number of Scripture passages to convict, enlighten & revive me. Here is one:

Come, let us return to the Lord.
For He has torn us,
and He will heal us;
He has wounded us,
and He will bind up our wounds.

He will revive us after two days,
and on the third day He will raise us up
so we can live in His presence.

 Let us strive to know the Lord.
His appearance is as sure as the dawn.
He will come to us like the rain,
like the spring showers that water the land.
 Hosea 6:1-3 HCSB

I love this whole passage, but I'm going to share the word study I did of the word in verse 3 that is translated here, "strive." I wanted to know what "strive to know the LORD" looks like. First, here are a few other translations:

 So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. NAS
And let us know, let us follow on to know Jehovah. ASV
And let us have knowledge, let us go after the knowledge of the Lord. BBE
Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. NKJV
The Hebrew word is transliterated Radaph. It means to hunt, pursue, chase after. The first time it was ever used in the Bible was in Genesis when Abraham rescued Lot after he was kidnapped. It is a rather strong, perhaps even violent term.
Imagine someone just kidnapped a family member and you are hunting that person down. What sort of energy and focus would you pour into your pursuit? What would distract you from reaching your goal? What hardship would cause you to stop short of saving them?
Do you pour that same energy and focus into your quest to know God? Does only the extraordinary serve as a distraction? Is the only thing that stops you from digging into Scripture a life-or-death difficulty?
I know my answers are rather pitiful "No's." Some days I grant God just the ebbing energy left right before I fall asleep. Pretty much everything serves as a distraction from my time seeking to know Him. Chores, internet, children, books, etc., all serve as effective roadblocks.  I don't wake up and say, "If I only accomplish one thing today, it will be making an effort to know my Savior." Brushing my teeth is of greater importance to me than striving after the knowledge of Jesus.
But now that I am aware of my misplaced priorities I can (and am) asking God to fix that. I am also putting forth greater effort to know Him. Even when I'm tired. Even when I don't feel like it. Though I am not in a full-blown hunt mode yet, I am picking up steam. Hopefully soon I'll be sprinting by, eyes focused only on my King, striving to know and love Him above all else.

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I went on a date with N last night. We had a blast attending the symphonic orchestra. The show started at 2000, (8pm) which is usually N's bedtime. He took a bath before hand. But instead of changing into pajamas, he dressed in his vest and tie.

We heard Gershwin, John Williams, Tchaikovsky, Mackey and many more. We didn't last through all the numbers, but were able to drink in about 2/3rd of the evening together before sleep demanded its dues.  N thrilled at seeing all the instruments. His favorites were the trombones and french horns. We sat in the balcony so he could dance & sing while causing the least disturbance.

The best thing? It was free! I highly recommend checking with the music department at the college or university near you. See if they offer any concerts for the public. We had a wonderful time together. Hopefully this becomes an annual treat.

That would be lotion in his hair. The one danger of bathing before the symphony. The grimace is the new smile.

Though N was truly excited, our attempts at a real smile failed even when vertically oriented.

Finally! A real-ish smile! It took a lot of work to get a non-squinty grin out of this kid.

A shot from the balcony with the symphonic orchestra warming up in the background.

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Status Report

We are dangerously close to being home study approved for our adoption. I imagine we'll get the official green light either at the end of this week or the beginning of next week. Once that happens we'll be able to start applying for grants. The few that are willing to take a look at us will be getting piles of paperwork from me. I'm not sure if God is going to fund our adoption through a grant, or not. I won't know for sure unless I try.

Ann Romney called me last week. I was out, so she left a message. Seriously. It started, "Hi Elizabeth, this is Ann Romney." N heard the message before I did. When I got home he dashed to me and exclaimed, "We have to save America! We have to get it untrapped!" When I listened to the message I discovered that Ann feels that Mitt Romney can get us back on track. Pre-school ears translate "on track" into "untrapped."

Living in a swing state has its perks and its drawbacks. Perk: My vote actually counts. And Ann Romney calls. Drawback: so does everyone else in the world. I have also spoken with the NRA. And some other political "survey" company keeps calling for my husband. Pretty much every yard is boasting political signs & blowing leaves.  The blowing leaves I'm used to. The signs everywhere leave me sighing and singing songs from the 60s.

Here's the most recent picture I took of my boys:

N was thrilled to be riding in the grocery cart. T didn't understand what the big deal was. Though later in the store he appreciated having someone to lean against.

M turned 38 last week. I'm having a hard time with how close he's getting to 40. He isn't the least bit ruffled. Which is good. If we were both freaking out we might scrap our adoption plans and head to a plastic surgeon instead.

T has become super speedy. His crawl is still the funky knee-toe-thing he does. But now it has some speed to it. He is pulling up on everything to stand and cruising all around the place. At this point, he could probably start walking. I think we're in the head game phase of walking. I'm not too anxious to put that speed on feet, though. So I haven't been urging him on much. If he's still not walking in a week or two I may whisper the truth to him and let him know that he can actually run, too.

I still don't have any friends. As pitiful as that sentence is, the next one is worse. I don't think I have any prospects of any friends. I have joined a total of four different groups through the week to meet other women. Everyone is nice, but we don't do anything outside of the group time. I have a lot of fun burning calories with zumba, but haven't started any relationships with my fellow sweat-ers. We have started attending a new church. It is filled with lovely people. But the women are all busy raising their families.  Pretty much it feels like everyone here has full lives and don't need any new friends. The bright side, though, is I have found the time to start reading War and Peace.

I think I'm getting the hang of this no-milk, no-eggs, no-nuts, no-soy diet. The hardest part is finding protein rich snacks. I am open to suggestions.

God has been speaking to me a lot this week about fighting for my faith. Don't give up. Press in. Forget what's behind, push forward. I think I'm going to start waking up early to get out of bed to read my Bible. Somehow lying in bed and reading from my Bible app hasn't been doing it for me.

We still own a house in Kansas.

I figured out which electric plug I can use to vacuum my whole apartment. Which delights me. I smile every time I plug it in. Can you say that about your vacuum?

My mommy heart is in a peculiar place. I am thrilled with my family. If I have no more children I will not feel cheated. If God does give us more, though, I'll be equally ecstatic. I am happy with two boys. I would be happy with six boys. I am willing to receive a daughter from Jesus, but am not demanding her.

Summary report: We're good. I'm good. Because God is good.

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

That Mom

I have become "That Mom."

Last year I went to Silver Dollar City with my family. They have bitty bits of shacks around the park to allow women to breastfeed privately. I ducked into one with my three week old to feed him. While I was rocking and nursing and gazing in wonder at my son another mom came in with her son. Only he was not three weeks old. He walked in holding her hand. When she held him on her lap he draped entirely across her body with his toes just missing the floor. I'm guessing he was somewhere between 18-24 months old. I thought she was out of her mind. And I was a bit jealous because she was so thin. But that's a different story. I think. Anyhow, not only did I criticize her in my mind, I called my sister to talk about the wacko still feeding her toddler.

I am still breastfeeding my toddler. I am now the crazy head. I have become that mom.

We are choosing to continue breastfeeding because T's alternate nutrition would cost $500/month minimum. Perhaps that little boy had severe food allergies. Maybe the choice was made for them by outside forces. But what if it wasn't? Maybe she just wanted to breastfeed still. It doesn't legitimize or excuse my snarkiness at all.

Through the years I have had occasion to see families out when the weather is cool. Living in the Midwest helps facilitate these moments. There have been a few times when I have seen a mom wearing pants and a jacket while her kid is skipping along beside her in shorts and a tee shirt. My thoughts have not been kind. Generally I think, "Nice lady. Way to bundle yourself up, but not your kid." Sometimes I even point out the villain and share my thoughts.

I am now that "neglectful" parent. I have become that mom.

T's eczema is triggered by heat. If he gets even slightly overheated his skin itches, breaks open, and bleeds. And by slightly overheated I mean 75 degree weather is toasty. I still bundle N up. Though he has inherited my build, he received a broken internal heater from my man. So in addition to seeming to expose my baby to the elements, it also looks like I favor my preschooler. I can only imagine what the people around me must think.

When I used to drop N off at the nursery I would sorta smile as the other moms gave lots of instructions. "Poor spastic thing."

I have become that mom.

I volunteered in a nursery for awhile. One of the children in there had severe food allergies. I can't distinctly remember thinking it, but perhaps I did wonder why the mom didn't just keep him at home. Why did she risk my peace of mind, the other children's freedom and her own child's health just to get out of the house for two hours?

I have become that mom.

And I have a lot more thoughts about being that particular mom.

Those will follow.

For now my plate is full of crow.

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 5, 2012

One Year Ago

In October, 2011 I woke up and breathed a prayer of thanks. I was grateful to have had a solid night of uninterrupted sleep. It would be the last time I uttered that prayer for almost 10 months.

One year ago today I gave birth to T. You can re-read that story here.

Twelve short months ago I started the fun adventure of getting to know my son. And what a marvelous boy he is! He is calm, determined, cheerful. He doesn't ooze sunshine. But when he smiles, he smiles with his whole body. And since those smiles aren't  thrown about the place pell-mell, they are all the more precious. It takes him awhile to warm up to new people and new environments. Though a very contented baby who entertains himself, he is strongly attached to his Mama. And I am doing nothing to break that bond. He loves to jump. He is very inquisitive. He is more than the fulfillment of a dream. I never could have created such a wonderful child on my own.

One year ago I fell head over heels in love with a new little man. Somehow, unbelievably, I have grown even more in love. The more I know this sweet child the more I love him. Sometimes I literally want to scream because I can not contain the affection I feel for him.

I started breastfeeding. I'm still breastfeeding. I know this is a gracious gift from God. Breastfeeding was not easy. But it was important to me. Now it's easy, which is good, because it is now VERY important. Our alternative nutrition costs over $500/month.

This child has spent a significant portion of his life scaring me. At twelve weeks pregnant we thought he had died. At 32 weeks pregnant he decided to get a funky heart rhythm. A shining happy report made me think that we had survived the one health scare everyone is allotted and that everything would be beautiful. While life with T is beautiful, it is not a free of health scares. I had no idea one year ago that the first time I held my son his body would be limp. I never dreamed I would feel his lifeless body in my arms again just a few months later.

But today his body is not lifeless. He rolls, and sits, and stands, and cruises, and peg-leg crawls. He breathes, he laughs, he sighs and cries. Today he is full of life. (and it's a good skin day to boot!)

Today my heart is filled with gratitude and joy at the thrill of knowing and loving T.

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Reece's Rainbow


Cultivate Wines has chosen Reece's Rainbow to be eligible for this quarter's $50k grant in "The Give."

They need your help to VOTE once a day, and SHARE with all of your friends, family, colleagues, FB, blogs, everywhere!

If they should win this grant, $5000 grants will be given to (10) waiting orphans with Down syndrome in (10) countries around the world as adoption grants.

The visibility this contest can provide for ALL of theirwaiting children, especially as they go into their Christmas Angel Tree in just 7 short weeks, is invaluable. 

This is the link to VOTE on...once a day every day through October 31!
It's free, takes 2 seconds of your time, and can change a child's life forever. Must be 21 years of age to vote. You need a Facebook account to vote.

The mission of Reece's Rainbow is to rescue orphans with Down syndrome through the gift of adoption, to raise awareness for all of the children who are waiting in 25 countries around the world, and to raise funds as adoption grants that help adoptive families afford the high cost of adopting these beautiful children. The above link has a video to tell you more about them.

I'm hoping that since I have never posted anything like this in the life of my blog that you will know how important this is. You could literally save a child's life.  

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hope Chest

I never had a hope chest as a young, single woman.
I have one now, though.
Here is a picture of it:

In cae you're having a hard time figuring out what everything is, here's a close up:

My hope is that someone will find a cure for eczema.

The above photo boasts numerous ointments, creams, steroids & antihistamines. We've tried them all. Some work, some don't. The ones that work have to be smeared on twice a day. Every. Day. If we miss T's  medicines by even a few hours he is miserable. The top picture also had tops with protective hand covers to keep T from scratching his skin bloody in his sleep.

When this post started tumbling about in my head I was quite articulate about the endless frustrations of eczema. Today, though, I'm just tired. I'm worn out by the relentless nature of eczema. The best we have obtained so far is still pretty crummy. My kid has good days, and bad days. But the good days still aren't "normal." The good days have his flares under pretty good control, but not gone. On good days his skin only feels bad, it doesn't look bad.

I don't know what's more demoralizing: seeing his skin get bad again after a couple of good days, or people calling to ask me if his skin is better yet. Because, no, it's not. It's not better. It's not going to get better.

So, feeling tired and disjointed, I have deciced to quit writing paragraphs and instead to compile a top ten list. There are  way more things than on this list, but I'll try to limit my whining.

The Top Ten Things I Hate About Eczema:

1. People see T's skin before they see him.

2. It makes him itchy and miserable.

3. Smearing steroids on my kid twice a day, every day.

4. We can't play outside when it is hot.

5. It costs money to buy all those prescriptions & creams.

6. Hearing, "Oh, you just need to try _________."

7. It indicates his immune system is messed up. It's a co-conspirator with his food allergies.

8. There is no cure.

9. Spending time with dermatologists.

10. Impaired skin integrity means increased risk of infection. We must vigilantly guard him from microorganisms.

Is there anything about eczema that you hate that I didn't include? Join my raging rally. Tell me what you hate, too. If nothing else, it will help reduce my feelings of isolation.

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Motivational Speaker

I am not a motivational speaker. But something big happened last week. As I have been pondering it and pre-writing this post in my head I keep using cliches that motivational speakers build their lives on. So I sorta feel like one. Hence the title.

On Friday, August 17th I had an epiphany. I experienced a major paradigm shift. My life will never be the same. (See what I mean?) I was kneeling on the floor to change my baby's diaper. More than the diaper was changed by the time I stood up, though. (Ugh. Even I groaned at that one.) As I was doing the very routine duty of caring for my son a thought landed so squarely on my head that it slammed all the way down into my heart. Here it is: "I am no longer trying to adopt a baby. I'm just getting ready, in case God wants me to."

It sounds simple, but it is dramatic for me. My heart and mind have been so filled with peace since that moment.

I've known for awhile now that I have no control over my family. Both times my husband and I decided we wanted a biological child a major refusal from God reminded us that He is the author of our lives, not us. When we chose to adopt a child we thought we knew what we were getting ourselves into. But after two years, mucho dinero, piles of papers, no baby, and returning to square one, it is confirmed that we can't even redeem our children.

When we moved we discovered that our previous home study was only worth "the paper it's written on." So we are starting that all over. Starting the home study all over means new reference letters, background checks, physicals, fire inspections, etc. Our family profile is two years old. We have a different house, different job, different family members. So that needs to be re-written. The agency that we had been working with is closing. We are starting all over. Again. But with less money. So much less money that we can't throw our hats into any rings.

We have the money to raise children, but not the gigantic chunk required to adopt them. Though my ability to find loop holes and strategize my way out of tight spots is pretty fine tuned by this point in my life, I can't do it here. It is not possible for us to adopt a baby. I've known this for about 6 weeks now. Those days have been spent thinking, worrying, plotting, pleading, stewing. We can't do it.

Perhaps the impossibility of the situation is what caused my sudden clarity of thought. Maybe it was because we renewed our passports the day before, "just in case." I'm not sure why God granted me the grace to finally understand my role in my family. I'm grateful He did, though. I'm not going to keep trying to orchestrate it. I'm going to do my part to get ready to adopt, "just in case." I'm going to love the ones I've got. If God has a baby (or two) for us, He will bring that/those child(ren) and the money needed to adopt him/her/them.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26 NIV

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:30-31 NIV 

Cartoon Credit:  Frank and Ernest by Bob Thaves: “Paradigm Shift”, originally published on February 26, 1998. © 1998 by Thaves.

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Kansas City Recommendations

Since we are no longer living in Kansas City, we're not there to point people to our favorite things. (obviously) But thanks to the handy dandy internet, I can still tell the people who are blessed to live in the KC metro where to go for excellence. This post is meant to be informational, unlike my other ones that tend to be more emotional. Though thinking about all the delicious food I'm missing out on now, I am feeling a bit weepy. . . .

Personal chef:: Sarah Stears *Not a hoity-toity luxury. Cheaper and more nutritious than eating out. Call her today*

Pediatrician: Dr. Grimes. Everyone in the practice is wonderful, though. The only time I have cried from loneliness is when we went to a pediatrician here. If they are only accepting newborns and their siblings (as was the case a few months ago) then it is TOTALLY worth it to have another baby just to get into the practice.

Indian food:Swagat. Go at lunch time so  you can eat a variety of things from the buffet. Have a cup of masala tea for me.

Church: Church of the Open Door. Even if you can't attend, you can listen to the messages on-line. But you should attend. A church is so much more than a pastor. Though Pastor Efta is a treasure, he is not the only one. This whole church rocks.

Quilters: Vicky Beasley andTheresa Ward. Vicky makes tops. Theresa quilts them. Gor-Geous!
Artist: Eric Hoins

Dermatologist:Dr. Menser. I trust her with my baby. The car she provides is extraordinary. Send anyone to her for any skin thing.

BBQ: Well, pretty much any hole in the wall place is going to rock. It is Kansas City. It's hard to go wrong. But, there is a reason why Jack Stack's is famous.

Grocery service: Door to Door Organics

Naturopath: Dr. Farhang Khosh

Pumpkin patch: Louisburg Cider Mill. Eat a donut for me.

Dentist: Dr. Blaha

Dim sum: Pine and Bamboo Garden. Their website isn't up right now, so no link. They are on Shawnee Mission Parkway. Go on a Saturday or Sunday at lunch time for carted dim sum. Delicious! And a cultural experience. Here's the sure-fire sign that it's good: the place is filled with Chinese people.

Appliance repair: Dennis' Refrigeration and Appliance. Based out of Leavenworth. The man knows what he is doing. And he doesn't just want to take your money. When he fixed my crazy oven door he took the time to show me how to fix it myself  in the future.

Race: Run for Mercy. Hosted by Oceans of Mercy. 5k or 10k. If you've ever wanted to race, or are looking to add another to your spring routine, this is for you. Even if you don't want to race, you should still do it. Exercise, helping orphans, a fun family activity, pancakes, a cool shirt. Do it!

If there is anything else you would like to know about, or if you see a glaring omission, please tell me all about it!

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 27, 2012

A jumping jaunt

Much has happened since my last post. But I have little time measured out for blogging today. So I'll give a brief glimpse into various subjects that have been rolling about in my head. I hope to go into greater detail on some of them in later posts.

The Older Brother

The Bible records for us a parable that Jesus told. It's rather famous. Usually it is referred to as The Prodigal Son.  The story revolves around a father and his two sons. The younger son is a spoiled brat. So is the older one. Many people (myself included) focus on, and relate to, the younger son. I've been thinking about that older son lately, though. I'm pretty sure I have transitioned from the younger brat to the older one.  There are people in my life that are walking in rebellion, totally disrespecting God and otherwise trashing up the planet. And they just keep on keepin' on. And it ticks me off. I want them to get their heads out of their backsides. I want God to do something.

The parable hangs a bit at the end, sort of like the you-choose-the-ending-books that you read as an elementary school student. The interesting thing about the story that Jesus told is he resolves the younger son's life. He leaves the older one's unresolved. How are you going to resolve it? What will you do, O older brother with the cranky, self-absorbed heart? (Brilliance is not what revealed this aspect of the story to me, I was reading a blog that pointed out the unresolved ending. No clue which one, though. Sorry.) And the fact that Jesus was telling this story to the muttering Pharisees and the teachers of the law reinforces to me which son was being dealt with.

To read the story again, click here.


The other day N was encroaching on T's space. T put out his chubby, 9-month old elbow. It looked rather intentional. I pointed it out to my husband. A minute later M said, "Oh, that was on purpose. He just put up his hand to push him away."

What thrills await us as our sons work out their relationship?

Watchman Nee

Is one of my favorite authors. Perhaps my absolute favorite. I'll give it a few more years to see if anyone else rises to the top. I was reading "The Character of God's Workman" the other day. He gives a suggestion for something to say when people begin providing you unnecessary information. (The nice way of labelling gossip and emotional vomiting.) It cracked me up. I wonder if I'll ever get away with saying this to someone?

"What you have said is enough. You may stop now."

Imagine if someone were to start ranting about their work situation, as usual and you say, "What you have said is enough. You may stop now."

Or if the person on the other line starts complaining about their day. Two words into it, you know enough to pray for them. Which is Watchman Nee's point. Once you know the scenario, you don't need anything more. "What you have said is enough. You may stop now."


In the spirit of the Olympics, I feel like I am in the emotional starting blocks. With the least provocation I can be off and running on a variety of tracks. If undisturbed, I am at a pretty mellow baseline. But I have found myself rather angry, lonely, despairing and sad in recent weeks.

I know this is only a season. It will get better. But it will be a bittersweet ending. As awful as some of the alone-ness is, it causes me to run to Jesus. I have thoroughly enjoyed my times with Him.


Saw some dude on Tuesday. Did not go well. Quick, narrow, rude. Not helpful.

Later on in the day as I was washing T's puke out of M's pocket I realized that I would rather wash out another pocket than see that doctor again.


Saw an extraordinary physician yesterday. Went well. Patient, kind, treated T (and me) like whole people. Helpful. Informative. Did testing.

T is allergic to:


And by allergic, I mean allergic. Not intolerant. Anaphylactic allergic. We carry epi-pens allergic. Signs hang in my kitchen and on my diaper bag allergic. Gonna make some shirts allergic.

But at least we have answers.

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Friday, June 29, 2012

PROMISED and-recap-of-whirlwind-crazy-month PICTURES

Hello beloved!

I have internet access! Woot Woot!

There are not enough exclamation points to express how happy I am that my life just got a lot easier. It is tough to manage my home from my phone. So now that I am done paying bills, I can post some pics for you. I am also going to give a brief update on our wild lives. We slept in six different states in ten days! My man and I have exchanged looks a number of times these past couple of weeks and declared, "Never again!"

June 1-16: Pack, welcome a new niece into our hearts, pack, disperse furniture to friends & family, pack, sing happy birthday to lots of folks, pack, survive major overhaul of bathroom with lengthy visit from plumber, pack, tow car, pack.

June 17-27: Here is a super brief summary of the places we stayed and (thrills we experienced.)

June 17: KS house (pack)
June 18: MO Papi's (everything loaded in truck)
June 19: OH hotel
June 20: OH apt (everything unloaded from truck, welcome in-laws)
June 21: OH apt (unpack, blow house breaker at new place)
June 22: WV hotel (play in pool)
June 23: MD house
June 24: MD cottage (shatter window in car - vicious tree)
June 25: MD house (catch grandmother from falling down the stairs)
June 26: PA hotel (rush T to ER)
June 27: OH apt (zoo, move boat after fire to neighboring apt)

*for those of you counting - yes, the longest we spent any one place was two nights in a row at the apartment when we first moved in*

*explanation on T - we went to eat at a restaurant in Pittsburgh and allowed T to have table food for the first time. He had a little bit of bread. We went to the mall after dinner. When we got there he had a large, dirty diaper. About five minutes later he vomitted. Soaking his backup outfit sent me dashing to a store for a new onesie. About five minutes after that he developed a rash on his chest in the area where his clothing had been wet from vomit. Thinking we had another eczema flare on our hands we continued on to play & buy me a non-wet, non-vomitty shirt. About ten minutes later M sent a text saying his skin was getting worse. He stripped T's new clothes off. I focused more. About five minutes later he called to say it was getting really bad. But his breathing was fine. I hustled. When I got to T he was one giant hive. When M handed him to me he crumpled in my arms. We power walked/jogged to our car. I prayed outloud. We flew towards the hotel to get to our antihistamines, all the while scanning for an easy access pharmacy en route. I sat in back. I had to keep shaking T and saying his name to get him to stay awake. He wasn't crying. At the hotel M flew inside before me to draw up a double dose of meds. His phone fell, popping apart in the parking lot. He kept moving. I ran behind with both boys in tow. T woke up enough to take his medicine, but immediately started fading into unconscious again. A friendly man returned M's phone after reassembling it. I slapped a cold wet cloth on T. He woke for about two seconds. He still didn't cry. His skin was so red his pink/red eczema patches were yellow in contrast. We decided to run to the E.R. The concierge gave us a map. M ran red lights. The hospital was only two blocks away. T quit responding to all my irritating stimulants.  I ran in the E.R. saying we had an eight month old male with allergic reaction, unresponsive. The registration desk got his name and date of birth from me. A nurse grabbed him from me. M & N ran in. I asked if I could follow T. She said yes. The nurse who had him ran into the Peds trauma bay. The room filled with personnel. When the nurse set T down he woke up and started to cry. He vomitted again. He cried for the next hour. He was stable. He survived three IV attempts, oral medicine that made him violently ill & being up way past bedtime.

The doctors were trying to understand how he could have such a severe reaction & go into shock without his airway being compromised. They asked lots of questions to figure out if I was forgetting to give any details. A number of nurses chimed in describing how sick he was. One described him as "a limp, red bag of potatoes." When we were checking out a few hours later a number of people checked to see how he was doing. Several E.R. staff stated how scary it was when he came in.

Emergency health care providers were scared.

I was terrified.

I think I am still in shock. I've been running too hard to slow down & process. As of right now I am deeply grateful that I have been allowed to keep my son. I am also recommited to being neurotic about his food. Until Tuesday night he had only eaten organic baby food with new foods being introduced every three days. We're going back to that. I will check with the pediatrician next week about getting him allergy tested. His flares find me much more watchful. His silliness delights me even more. His eyes melt my already liquidy heart. Everything is "more" now.

But enough words. Here are some photos:
T's response to the Arch.

N's reaction to the St. Louis Arch. Notice the half eaten sandwich.

What the roadtrip looked like. The view caravaning behind my man.

The boys' new room. I've removed the changing table since taking this pic. The rest of the apartment is still a box-strewn mess.

Except our patio. This is put together.

Your eyes do not deceive you. Gus made the trip. And he's ready to celebrate Independence Day.
Hanging in the back seat with my N

Chillin with T. I could not get a steady picture for anything. Blame my man's driving.

The boys decided to take over the wheel.

Tired, but stable in the E.R.

Hives & Failed IV site. The hives had already been resolving for an hour when I took this.

Guess which parent thought a meatball sub in the car was a good idea. Almost home, though!

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

One Week In

It almost feels like I should write this post next week. I am not in my new home. We landed at our abode last Wednesday. We unpacked ~2 per cent of the stuff we brought, then hightailed it to my husband's native land. I stayed the night in my home just two nights. Now we are staying with M's beloved grandparents. They are beloved by my man, my boys and me. What an absolute blessing to receive more grandparents from God!

This week's prayer requests:

*May God reveal our new church,  grocer,  mentors, doctors, friends, mechanics, etc.
*May God's will be done in our family as it is in Heaven.

In the weeks leading up to the move I shared some of the things that I am going to miss. Now I want to put a positive spin on this future laid out before me. Here are some things that I am looking forward to:

*No weeding

*More family time

*Exploring a new town

*Awesome exercise facilites

*Being a day-trip-away from some really cool places. We are living in an area of the country that I have never visited before. There is much to experience.

*Making new friends

*Bike trails everywhere

*Having a garage

*Being close-ish to a safari adventure park

*Creating new healthy habits

*Ministering with my man. Actively supporting him in his work.

*Less toilets to clean

*Less floors to sweep

*Less everything to maintain

*Watching my man flourish

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


i am writing from my phone. so i can not capitalize or use contractions. the only punctuation that works is the period. yes i am having chest pain. shudders of horror convulse through me as the voices and faces of my high school english teachers materialize from the recesses of my memory.

but i want to keep you posted.

here is another indication of how wildly i love you. i had to download an app, then upload all two hundred pictures from my phone to post the images that follow. it is taking forever. and i compromised my soul by giving google permission to store my photos. sigh.

but here is a brief summary of the trip.

the house of my dad. hashbrowns. yum.

missouri. here is a photo of n reacting to seeing the arch.

and here is t.

illinois. when i think illinois, i think chicago. turns out chicago does not take up a whole lot of the state. now when i think illinois, i think farm land.

indiana. traffic. trees. pretty roadside art in indianapolis. traffic.

ohio. a fun, random bridge to welcome us.

it still feels like we are on a trip and just packed very thoroughly. we will see if reality settles in deeper tomorrow.

though it vaguely feels like vacation, the view should not be turned into a postcard. here is what i saw for the last six hundred fifty miles...

dude. nevermind. stinkin technology. i have been trying to load pics for twelve hours. i will just have to wait til my computer is set up. sorry.

more updates to follow once our pc is up and running. i am developing a twitch.

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Moving Day!

We did it! We actually made it through moving day! And everyone is alive. And at peace with one another. Woo hoo! I refuse to dwell on the thought that we are going to be unpacking everything tomorrow that we just spent the last two weeks packing up.

Being the neurotic girl I am, I developed a system for keeping our boxes organized. (Of course I did!) Towards the end, though, the system sorta fell apart. It disintegrated largely because we started running out of time. But my husband being an artist at his core contributed, too. His boxes make me smile. He started out trying to conform to my system. By the end, though, he said, "We have to have a little fun." Can you see the drawings of the box contents?

Here's a close up:

The truck got to our home at 0830. The packers got there at 0915. They started loading things at 0930. They finished loading at 1630. Why on earth did it take three grown men six hours (subtract an hour for lunch & breaks) to pack our already boxed things? That would be because we had 10,220 pounds of stuff. Ten thousand two hundred twenty! That's five tons. RI-DIC-U-LOUS! 

We were waving good bye to the truck at 1700. We hopped in our own cars and headed to my dad's house at 1830. He is a good stopping point on the journey. We will likely be spending many nights with him throughout the years as we travel between our new home and the old one. We pulled into his place at 2300. We fell into bed at 2345. We then woke up again at 0400 because T's top teeth decided this would be a great time to break through the gum line. Simultaneously. Seriously. 

Here are some ways to pray for us this coming week:

*Smooth transition to new time zone & culture. (Yes, it really is a different culture. Though our new area refers to itself as the Midwest, it is wrong. Having lived in the Midwest the first 33 years of my life, I believe I am qualified to identify it. We aren't there anymore.)
*A continued sense of security for our children.
*A deeper knowledge of Jesus through this next chapter of our lives.

A prayer for today:
*Safe trip as we journey throughout the day in separate cars, hauling a boat, a toddler & a teething baby.

And because the other posts involved lists with stars marking them, I have created another one. Here are some lessons we learned throughout the process so far:

* You fill whatever space you have. So for the sake of your sanity, your marriage & your physical health don't ever, NO NEVER buy a house with 3500 square feet. Plus basement. It will be stuffed so full of stuff you will get nauseated as you contemplate having to deal with it all.

* Find one type of lotion that works for everyone in your family. I discovered seven different types of lotion in our house. Come on, now. There are only four of us who live here.

*Don't put maps on the wall with tape. If you do, have new drywall available when you remove them.

*Cook ahead and freeze. The chef clocked out when the packer-girl clocked in. Our GI systems are most unhappy with a diet of restaurant food for a week. And the worst part? We're staring at two more weeks of the same.

*Try to move before having children. If you can not avoid it, then duct tape them to a chair far away from whichever spot you are working in.

*Contact paper sticks to nothing but itself.

*Caffeine is your friend. Sugar is, too.

*If you ever find yourself saying, "Look at all the storage!" when contemplating buying a house: RUN! Flee temptation.

*You need about 500 more boxes than you think you do.

*Invest in your relationships. That way the folks that love you will bring you food & company. Even when you leave them. 

Here are some more pics from the day to brighten yours:

copyright (c) Elizabeth, Bug's Beef. All rights reserved.