Time stood still {2 year adoption anniversary}

When we decided to adopt we didn't realize that time would stand still for two full years. The rest of the world continued to spin, but we didn't move a day. Every day was the same. The stress was immeasurable. Craig and I reeled and clung to one another as we ran the daily race of parenting and living. And it all blurred together into this timeless vortex that was our lives.

Lots of people told us it would be hard and we completely believed them. But when you are walking it day in and day out you can't remember what anyone said or didn't say or suggested or I-told-you-so-ed. You were just surviving. We cocooned ourselves (like our adoption classes and adoption agency told us to) to give the boys a stable, simple life the first six months and this isolation only added to the strange space-time-continuim we felt. As the first year home rolled into the second year home, we didn't see an end in sight, which made it even harder.

The boys were making progress in attachment and reaching developmental milestones, but Craig and I couldn't see the trees for the forest. We walked on, drinking coffee, consuming unhealthy amounts of junk food, and binge watching Netflix after the kids were asleep. To call our life "living" would be inaccurate. One foot in front of the other was the mantra.

Then we hit the two year mark of adding Andrew and Simon to our family and something changed. I was working during the holiday season, we were joyfully adding new holiday traditions and the Barber family was thriving. We began to feel a sense of rest, as if the adoption vacuum that had sucked us up in January 2012 had finally decided to spit us out again. And for the first time in three years, Craig and I could breathe again.

And what do you do when you breathe again? You dream. 

This new year holds the promise of so much for us. Our lives are beginning again as a complete and functional family of six. There is anticipation in the air and the joy permeating our house is infectious. The two years of working diligently day after day seems to be ending and our hard work is showing it's fruit. And it is sweet.

Andrew and Simon show affection to us and their siblings. They express emotion, communicate their desires and share many jokes. Their appetites are healthy and their imagination is vivid. And boy, can they climb, jump and run! They embody everything a healthy three year old should be and we are so thrilled! What parent would ask for more?

We all still have our days of troubles and tantrums and turmoil, but it is less frequent and more easily tended to. This is what I envisioned when we adopted. These sweet moments and long hours of parenting come to fruition. Two years later and life is starting to feel normal.

In November 2012 we flew around the world and made two strangers our sons. 
The oddness and wonder is not lost on me. 
Love (and years of hard work) builds a family.

p.s. Read our 1 year adoption anniversary using YouTube videos or our Gotcha Day post.

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Performing during the holiday season

Walking around in a costume through a shopping center gives you a really unique perspective on how people view and interact with the world. I just completed my contract as a Merry Maker with RWS and Associates at Westfield Brandon Center. It has been fascinating to see people's reaction to us spreading the cheer of the holidays.

Our basic function as Merry Makers is to perform in two different shows and spread merriment and cheer through random acts of kindness. It a very fun job and since Christmas is one of my favorite times of year, this is an ideal job for me during the holiday season. Not only do I get to perform, it's my job to spread the holiday spirit through giveaways, story times, Elf-ercise, mistletoe stick and a caroling. It is a blast and the cast I am working with is a joy to be around.

Throughout the season, there are have been thousands of different interactions with the shoppers at the mall. I have probably said "Happy Holidays" 348, 296 times in the past four weeks and everyone one of those has had a recipient on the other end responding in some way.

There are four main ways people interact with us:

1. Avoidance

2. Polite acceptance

3. All-in loving it

4. Rude comments (these were rare)

Oh! And people hitting on us. How could I forget the fun that was (eye roll)?

The first is a result of shyness, people on a mission to accomplish things, and not wanting to be sold anything. As someone who very much identifies with the last two, I completely get it. And I respect people who react this way to our slightly over the top personalities and happiness, because they know that for whatever the reason, they do not want to interact with us. And I would never want to make someone uncomfortable. But at the same time, would it kill you to say, "Happy Holidays" back?

A little shout out to the BEST vendors in the mall! They gave us a home to perform our show and were abundantly kind and our biggest fans. Thanks to Curtis, Alexis, Josh, Jay and Eric!

Most people fall into the second type of interacting which is a polite acceptance of whatever we are doing, whether that is a watching our show, "Joy: The Gift of Christmas" or accepting a free chocolate or smiling back at us when we compliment their festive sweater. These are great and make up the bulk of the interactions through out the day.

We handed out hundreds of chocolates, coffee mugs, bottles of water, tote bags and reindeer ears. It was a fun way to bring a little sunshine to someone's day as they did their holiday shopping.

My favorite interaction is the full-in loving what we are doing as Merry Makers. They will join in caroling with us, dance along, ask for pictures with us and just smile from ear to ear. This is the best kind of customer to interact with all day and they give us that extra pep in our step to go out and do it all over again. Most of the people that fell into this category were kids and their parents.

A lot of what we did as Merry Makers is geared towards children, so it makes sense that they would enjoy us. The best interaction was a little 3 year old boy named Ezra who was so overcome with infatuation that he continually hugged me and planted a big 'ole kiss on my cheek after we finished a show. Poor guy got a face full of sweat, but he didn't seem to mind one bit.

And let me take this moment to brag on my amazing cast: Ryan Caudill, Steve Austin and Sarah Katherine. We all got along so well and made quite an amazing group as we dealt with all the different types of interactions we encountered in our four weeks together. I wouldn't mind one bit if we all did this again next year together. I couldn't have asked for a better team to spend the holiday performing with and spreading cheer.

This was a wonderful experience overall, but I am truly glad to be home with my family now that my contract is complete and just rest in the familial love!

p.s. Did you know I have a separate website for my acting? Check it out!

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Gifts for book lovers { kids AND adults }

We kind of love books around here. Well, that might be an understatement since half of my husband's double major was literature. Books can be found in every room in the house, including in the hallway and kitchen. Everyone in my house can't get enough of books! 

The only thing that would really cement our love of books is to actually transform our entire house into a library, which is actually a great idea!

Books are timeless gifts. We keep our Christmas gift shopping to something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read. I stumbled upon some of these book-themed gifts while deciding what to buy for our family and just had to share them with you.


1. Pride and Prejudice and board book from Baby Lit
I actually bought this for my daughter. I mean, Jane Austen was the inspiration for her middle name so it seemed like too cute of a gift not to buy. And the paper dolls are age appropriate my almost kindergartener.

2. Complete adventures of Curious George with audio books
We own this as a part of our homeschool curriculum and adore this children's classic. The car is a great place to use the audio books while running errands.

3. Wind in the Willows hand painted wooden toys
Unique and based on the beloved story, these intricately detailed wooden figures would be a hit with any fan of the book.

4. Tell Tale card game
Create stories using their 120 different colorful illustrations and four game variations to improve creativity, listening and language skills.

5. Edgar Allen Poe action figure
There are several different popular authors developed into action figures including Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, and William Shakespeare.

6. I'll eat you up, I love you so wooden baby teether
"Where the Wild Things Are" has charmed many families over the years and this baby teething ring is just perfect.

7. Personalized storybook
With over 25 different stories to choose from, this is the ultimate in personalized gifts.


1. Book Map
A street map of 600 English literature books placed on a turn of the century London map is a classy and timeless gift that doubles as a stand-alone piece of art work.

2. Personal library kit
What book lover doesn't fantasize about being a librarian? Now they can personalize all of their personal library with this all inclusive library kit.

3. Parody book lover match boxes
Bathroom humor in a literary way sounds like a great gag gift for the book lover in your life. There are three options to choose from in this Etsy shop.

4. Recycled rice bag tote bags
This is environmentally friendly and a fair trade way to carry your books back and forth from the libarary. In many different designs from elephants to koi fish to camels, you will find something that strikes your fancy.

A cookbook of cocktails with a literary twist. With drinks like "Cocktails of Two Cities," "S(ide)carlet Letter," "Romeo and Juliep," and "The Cooler Purple" it is sure to amuse and test your literary knowledge all at once.

Puzzles and books have one thing in common: time. Combine the two and you have hours of fun ahead.

This gift does double duty as a book for literary lovers and those who enjoy the Star War's movies. 

Tell me you aren't smitten? I am totally in love with all of the items listed! {swoon} Have any other ideas for gifts for book lovers? Share your great finds in the comments below!

p.s. Check out this easy DIY Christmas gift.

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