The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Time is getting away from me! I have had so many blog posts writing themselves in my head, but I just haven’t found the time to sit down and finish any of them. I decided to combine the last couple of weeks into one post. Here you go…the good, the bad and the ugly in my life.


Oh! There has been so much good! I can’t even fit all the good into one post.

Thanksgiving was beautiful. We traveled up to Oregon for a couple of days to visit my dad and extended family. Everyone loved on our kids. We slept all 8 of us across the living room floor in sleeping bags. We laughed and took pictures and enjoyed each other. On Thanksgiving day we woke up in our own home and spent the morning in our pajamas watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And we spent the afternoon introducing our children to turkey (tastes just like chicken!) and all the trimmings.

watching the parade


The Feast


We went Christmas tree cutting! We loaded up the car and headed into the mountains to search for the most perfect of Christmas trees. All that our kids could think about was the possibility of seeing snow. They have talked about snow since we were in Ethiopia. Around the dinner table one night in the guest house, Levi assured us that he could slide down a snowy hill on those 2 long straight sticks all by himself. He didn’t need a teacher because he saw it in a Disney movie and so he knew exactly what to do. And since the weather here has started turning “cold”, our kids ask us constantly if it is going to snow tomorrow.

We made a bathroom pit stop near Lassen Park and lo and behold – SNOW!!! Well, it was actually a patch of frozen, dirty ice about the size of a kitchen mat….but to our children it was exactly what they had been dreaming about! They frantically dug their little fingers in and made “snowballs.” We are so looking forward to taking them sledding for the first time so we can share a true snow experience!

We hiked through the woods and (only because of the magic of Christmas) ALL 6 CHILDREN agreed on the perfect tree. Everyone ate their picnic lunch while Daddy chopped and dragged and hoisted and tied that perfect 10-foot-tall tree to the top of our car. Mission accomplished!




We found it – the most perfect tree!


Daddy’s a rock star!


And today, we took the kids to see the production show “A Cascade Christmas.” All of those little faces were filled with rapture as they watched the singers and dancers and Santa and Mrs. Claus. They loved it! In fact, my girls are begging me to take them back to see the show again this weekend. And just now, while I was sitting here writing, Levi came in and climbed up in my lap. Here is a direct quote….”Today very fun. My good today….very fun day. I like today.”

absolutely enthralled with Cascade Christmas

(P.S. This item deserves at least an honorable mention for my good list – our doctor called and we are all officially giardia and parasite free!!!! Do you know what this means? NO MORE POOP COLLECTION FOR ME!)

I have to stop now or this blog post will be far too long. But really, I could add so much more here. And the fact that I have so many good stories to share – that in itself deserves an award.

We are so blessed to be able to experience these special firsts as a family. There have been so many times throughout these past weeks that I choked up as I watched my children’s faces. Their eyes grow big and round and their mouths don’t stop chattering as they ask question after question about our family traditions. Thank you Lord.


Oh my dear, sweet Leah. You are not bad!

I got a tattoo on the one year-anniversary of the beginning of our adoption journey. One year of waiting to meet our children! I had the Amharic word for “family” tattooed on my wrist. This made me very popular in Ethiopia where all the children in the orphanage would run their fingers over my wrist and marvel at the fact that a ferenji (foreigner) had Amharic on their body.

Last Saturday afternoon, after a very rough day, we found Leah crying and saw that she had “tattooed” the word BAD on her wrist.

We have so much to teach our children! So many years lost to us that need redeeming. So much discipline is required. But how do we find the balance between disciplining when it is needed and not making our children feel that all we ever do is point out their mistakes? No one wants to live in a constant state of negativity. We try to focus on postive rewards, praising the good when we see it, encouraging the correct behavior. And yet….some days it seems like we are constantly saying no.

Don’t talk to your sister like that.

Don’t disobey when I ask you to do something.

Don’t pick your nose in public.

Don’t eat with your fingers (you just picked your nose)!

Don’t lie to Mommy.

Don’t pinch (or hit, or kick, or punch).

Don’t leave your underwear on the counter.

The fact is, we are all sinners. We were born with an uncanny ability to do the wrong thing. Our God is a God of mercy and grace but He also disciplines us and teaches us. I want to be more like my God. I want to find that right balance between grace and discipline.


My heart.

I have been struggling with jealousy.

Of my husband.

He has the life that I want!

You know, every morning he gets to take a shower! And then he gets dressed (usually in something that he hasn’t worn for the previous three days) and then he heads off to work. I am pretty sure this is where he chats with his friends, drinks leisurely cups of coffee, exchanges witty banter with co-workers, lunches in nice restaurants, eats warm food that he does not have to cut up for his lunch partners and takes 15-minute breaks whenever the heck he feels like it!

This is pretty much the exact opposite of my day.

Before we had children I had this noble vision of being a stay-at-home mom. In my daydreams, I giggled and played with my perfectly dressed offspring in the middle of our clean and inviting home. I greeted my husband with a kiss as he arrived home to a delicious dinner. I never raised my voice in anger but handled every situation with grace. And by the way, I looked darn good while I was doing all of this. My hair and make-up were amazing and my wardrobe was functional yet fashionable.

This is also pretty much the exact opposite of my day.

Honestly, it is not that I want to leave my children every day and go to work. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to stay home with them. I guess what I really want is to be a stay-at-home mom with a full-time nanny, maid and cook. (And also with perfectly behaved children who never need disciplining.)

Sometimes, especially after one of “those” days, I take out my frustration on my husband. I forget the fact that he has just completed 8 (or 9 or 10) hours at a stressful job. He has juggled employee’s requests, client’s irritations and the struggling economy. He walks in the door and I expect him to take over and give me a break because, hey….didn’t he just get done with his full-day vacation? So now that he is home, he needs to take out the trash and handle a certain child and pour the milk for dinner and….I am not going to ask nicely because WE ARE EQUAL PARTNERS IN THIS CRAZY ADVENTURE!!!!

I am starting to realize that God is asking me to die to myself. My own selfish desires can not be the measuring stick.

And He said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23

Deny myself.

Take up my cross daily.

Follow Him.

I don’t want to make it sound like my life is full of sacrifice and that I am a self-righteous martyr/saint who thinks only of my husband and children. Because I am not! Just ask hubby dearest.

But if I could keep my attitude in alignment with what God asks of me, I think everything would be a lot more peaceful around here. Still working on this – keep praying for me!

I need to stop now! This is the longest blog post I have ever written. Half of you probably aren’t even still reading this because it was preceded by so many words. But if you are, let me sum up our last few weeks with this one word….



8 thoughts on “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

  1. Jaclyn LaBarbera

    Thank you yet again for sharing your raw honesty and insight! I enjoyed every word I read! Praying for you always!

  2. Nicole Huber

    Love it all Natalie, mostly your honesty! You are amazing because you are human and grace-filled by God! You call yourself out on your stuff and that can be the hardest to do! Growing a family that fast takes an abundance of time to get balance! God is holding your hand and keeping you up right girl! I love you and all the joy you bring to your family balanced with reality (nose picking!) and for the joy you bring those around you and in your life! God’s light shines in you and through you!

  3. maxgrace

    I’m with Kim… loving your ongoing story. Thanks for not sugar-coating it. So fun to introduce your kids to Neighborhood. Thank you, and carry on! Love to all.

  4. Kristy Statkus

    We’ve never met but I feel like I’ve grown to know you as I have followed your story throughout this year. You are amazing! You have taught me so much about following God during real struggles and in all circumstances. I pray for your family often. Bless you all!

  5. Lisa M

    I would love it if you could email your mailing add. so I can send you a Christmas card.

  6. Jim Boetjer

    Other than Bill…I guess I am the only guy who has responded. I can’t actually speak for your husband but I am sure he is very grateful that he has you by his side. I thank you for your honesty and being real. Your kids will rise up and bless you as you keep loving them and training them up in the way they should go. Because when they are old they won’t depart from it.. Praying for you

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