Life in a Flash » capturing life one moment at a time.

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  • HELLO.

    I'm Jenn. I'm a full time mom to five. I love photography, Africa, crafts, thrifting, classical music, and this crazy good life God has given me. I spend my days dreaming up decorating solutions while picking Goldfish crackers out of my hair. I like my camera , guacamole, and old stuff. We've got three home grown littles and two who came to us through the miracle of adoption. We are loud and busy. I take lots of photos because I'm fully aware that life happens in a flash...and I don't want to miss it.

  • let’s be friends.

the hard.

Apparently, I really needed to go for the gold.  Mr. P headed out of town for a couple of days and I guess I didn’t think getting the flu twice in 2 weeks was dramatic enough.  So before he left…I caught it just once more for a slam dunk for the win.  I got sick…he left out of town…and I laid on the couch moaning and crying while Danny Boy raided the pantry and stuffed himself full of M&Ms.  It’s becoming par for the course here.

But I’m not here to tell you how every bone in my body ached.  How I was chilled with fever and grumpy beyond repair.  (Although that is true).  I’m here to talk about something that has been on my mind for awhile.

The “hard” in adoption.  And why doesn’t anyone blog about it?

Whew.  {Deep breath}  If you have hung around the online adoption community much in the past few years you are running for the hills screaming “you crazy lunatic…your are opening a can of worms!!”  And I probably am.  But I’m ok with that.  I’ve had countless conversations with friends, family, and acquaintances and everyone wants to know the answer to this question.   Lots of people have blogged about life after the airport party…but those in the adoption community are screaming for more.  There seems to be a void in the blogging community about {publicly} discussing the hard that is happening inside the adoptive home.  Many in the community feel that this paints an unrealistic picture of adoption…sunshine and roses…and doesn’t prepare others for the road ahead.

This idea has been spinning around in my head for months and I think I’ve come to my own conclusions and I’m ready to share something with you.


I’m not going to publicly talk about our hard.

Not because it isn’t happening.  There isn’t an adoptive family in America who isn’t experiencing hard things.  But you know what?  There isn’t a family with kids in America who isn’t experiencing hard.   Kids are hard work.  Kids with hard backgrounds are hard work.  There’s food issues, sleeping issues, school work issues, disability issues, neglect issues, control issues, sensory issues, language issues, sexual issues, physical issues…and that’s just a partial list. BUT…The struggles we face…the ones that really keep me up at night and make me call out to God in desperation…those are private issues.  Those issues are part of my daughter’s story.  Those are the badges my son has to wear daily and struggle through.   We talk plenty here about our struggles and those things we have been able to overcome.  I hope this space has been one of honesty and integrity and those reading can “read between the lines” and see that life in our house is real.  And real is sometimes hard.

I’m a mom with plenty of problems.  I’m impatient.  I’m lazy.  I’m selfish.  These are traits I have to overcome every day and I definitely don’t want them broadcast to the world for scrutiny.   Just as I don’t feel it is fair to my children to display all of their struggles for the world to see.  As little people it is my job to present them to the world in the best manner possible.   I don’t feel I’m being dishonest in any way by pointing out my children’s positive traits and keeping their struggles within the walls of our own home (or at least within our safe and secure personal community).

In fact…I think this is how I show them love.

I am always open to private conversations about how adoption has changed our family.  Phone calls and emails and private chats between people I know to be real and safe can be a huge encouragement.  But you will not find me here hanging out our laundry for the world to see.  This space is my memory.  It’s a chance for me to look back on our life and bring forth the good and noble moments that are worth saving.  The hard gets tucked in too but it’s couched in grace and compassion.  I can read back to posts I’ve written during moments of struggle and feel the hurt.  It’s there lurking beneath the surface…but I’m also choosing to share the joy and the redemption at the end of the struggle.  I hope our lives come across as normal.  Good things, bad things, and lots of mediocre.  I hope this blog shares the thread of grace that God is weaving through our everyday struggles and encourages others to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  And just like I edit photos of my children and remove the boogers from their noses…I’m going to spare you the details of our worst moments together.  Not because I want you to think our lives are perfect or trick you into thinking that we’ve got this covered.  But because I owe my best to my kids.

I know its there.  YOU know it’s there.  But if it’s all the same…I’m going to keep on sharing the good.

{Decorating photos to come next…and not because we’ve had a hard week…just because I’ve got a fun project to share!}

November 13, 2013 - 9:12 am

Jessica - Enjoyed reading your post! I couldn’t agree more! Through the past 5 years I’ve been blogging, I’ve received a handful of emails and comments that have been less than pleasant…all in some shape or form commenting on what to them seems a “perfect life”. But as you so eloquently put into words, the times I’m pulling my hair out and everyone is throwing fits and in tears are not the times I want to remember when I’m 95. Sure they happen in our home…don’t they in everyone’s? Why the need to memorialize those moments through pictures and posts? My heart hurts when I see parents shaming their children through social media and I refuse to engage in that behavior just to add a couple of points to the “real life” column. Thanks for sharing your heart! Always enjoy your blog.

November 13, 2013 - 9:53 am

susan - Jenn,

I have been following your story for some time as we added 2 boys from ET to our family in 2011. As I started to read your post this morning I thought “oh no, where is she going with this?” After reading it I am so pleased my initial response was way off base. Your words ring so true. I love that you state “Kids are hard work”. I have bio and adopted kiddos and they all present their different challenges. And my parenting gels better with some than others.
Anyway, all that to say thank you. Thank you for being real and not lamenting the constant challenges we face very day with our kids, whether from our womb or not.
You have created a beautiful memory box in this space for your kiddos.
May God continue to richly bless you and your hubs.

November 13, 2013 - 9:32 pm

Kathryn - So beautifully said. You have a gift with words and I have no doubt this will encourage many. Thanks for sharing

November 16, 2013 - 1:07 pm

Paula - I don’t know where these people are hanging out that think all the adoption blogs are writing about the sunshiny rosy side of things… to me, there it is so much the OPPOSITE. While I recognize all of the ugly things that happen in international adoption (and adoption in general), I feel that “side” is taking over all of the conversation. Nobody seems to want to hear about the beautiful things that occur because of adoption. I made a conscious decision last week that I am going to enjoy the children God gave me… by birth and by adoption… and stop focusing so much of my energy on worrying about the “what ifs” that come with each kid. There are hard, hard things in my adopted kids’ pasts. Things we don’t ignore, but that I refuse to let dominate the rest of their lives. There is a fine line between being “real” and over-sharing. And another one between acknowledging an ugly circumstance and letting it run one’s life. Bravo to you for walking the line gracefully.

November 16, 2013 - 8:34 pm

Shawna - I might even love you more after this post. Sadly it’s not very often a momma respects her kids the way you do. The poster above me said it best. “Bravo for you for walking the line gracefully.”

November 17, 2013 - 4:26 am

Natalie - Well said. I couldn’t agree more!

November 22, 2013 - 3:04 pm

Angel/TaDa!Creations - Beautifully written as always.

July 23, 2014 - 12:03 am

domonique - We are preparing our hearts and minds to adopt. We have inquired on three children ages 10,13,15 and are waiting to be matched. We have three children ages 3,7,10. I am so nervous, I keep praying for God to prepare me for this journey. I love the way you admitted your flaws I have the same ones. I wonder if God picked the right person for this epic journey. He hasn’t failed me yet. Thank you, for honesty and a window into lives blessed by obedience and held by grace.

I’m obsessed with white paint.

Just popping in with a few Instagram photos between illnesses and other craziness.   I’ve caught a flu bug twice and now Dantisimo is down for the count too.  Anyone have some killer good immune system boosts they can recommend?

So here are just a few snippets of the last week.

{pretty much}

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{my girl. and also…no teeth.}


{last minute tickets to the symphony}


{first stop trick or treating}


{operation get candy}


{loud…and of course…snacks handy}





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I’m busy, busy painting our downstairs guest room.  Painting the trim (white).  Painting the ceiling (white).  Painting the walls (white).  Painting the windows (white).  Painting the built-ins (white).   If it’s in the room, it’s going white, baby.  First room I’ve EVER painted completely white in my 17 years of marriage.   I’m diggin’ it!  Hoping to have the 102nd coat on by the weekend so I can share some results!

November 8, 2013 - 10:55 am

Sarah Rothwell - Love the pictures of your sweet family! We need to get you guys healthy! Lots and lots of probiotics. And the real stuff, not the kind found on the shelf at Target. That’s the best way to strengthen your immune system. And elderberry is a huge help during the winter months. Let me know if you want more information!


I am definitely not a Halloween junkie.  My kids can’t get enough of it though.  They are in dress up clothes most days anyways…so any day where it is socially appropriate to wear a pirate costume to the grocery store is a good day for them.  We try to wear hand-me-down costumes whenever possible.  And I don’t go wild and crazy making intricate designs for them.  We don’t typically do a lot of “spooky” stuff at our house because I am a big fat weenie and don’t like scary things.  So it is jack-o-lanterns and mums and fall garlands around here (much to my cobweb, ghost-lurking, witches brew loving kids).

For the past few years we have done the “Boo at the Zoo” with the kids.  Sunday night the temps were in the 60s and we just couldn’t pass up a fun trip through the zoo.  Actually…the adults could have totally passed it up.  But the kids insisted so we went anyways 😉

{I’ve spent 45 minutes trying to figure out why this photo looks perfect in Photoshop but blurry in this post…and now I’m going to bed and it will have to stay fuzzy!}


Sunshine was aghast when we got out of the car.  We tried to prepare her for the onslaught of crazy costumes but when we got in line she turned to me with a huge smile and yelled “THIS PLACE IS CRAZY!”  Of course..she loved it.  That girl embraces crazy like no other.  Dapper Danny was scared of everyone and everything and clung to me like a spider monkey.  His little legs were wrapped around my waist like a vice grip and I ended up carrying him most of the way through the zoo while he said “scary, scary!!”  He did NOT like his rocket costume when I tried to put it on him…so he went as an astronaut instead at the last minute.  He did however, like the candy.  So all was not lost!

(Can I please rant for a moment on the subject of disgusting/disturbing/gross costumes for young children?  Great, thanks.  At the zoo I saw tiny tots walking around in the most absurd costumes.  I saw a 2 year old dressed as a member of the mafia with a teeny tiny handgun.  And I saw another very young baby boy beating his Dad in the head with a pair of miniature numchucks.  PEOPLE.  Where is Winnie the Pooh?  Mickey Mouse?  Little Bo Peep?  Have we completely lost our senses?  I thought “Mafia Boy” was actually a concert pianist until I spotted the gun.  Now all faith in humanity has been lost.)

If you’ve been around my blog long, you will recognize several of these costumes…but hey…that is how we roll!

The Brainiac as Sacajawea


Miss Middle as a Husker Cheerleader


Sunshine as a Garden Fairy


Super Sam as a Pirate


The Destroyer pinch hitting as an Astronaut


Tomorrow night is trick or treating.  I plan to stay home and pass out the goods.  Be safe and try not to eat all your kid’s candy, ok?

October 31, 2013 - 11:16 am

Julie B. - Great costumes, I love the variety!! And I’m with you, I’m a fan of creative and NOT creepy or gross, especially with little ones. Mine are very cool handmade costumes (thank goodness my kids still don’t mind handmade). We have a ninja, Dorothy from Oz and her baby Scarecrow 😉

pumpkin patch.

I don’t know about you…but it seems that as soon as we do something ONCE…my kids deem it a tradition and there is NO way you are getting away without doing it EVERY year.  We took the girls as itty bitties to the pumpkin patch and every year at the end of September they start plotting our yearly trip to purchase gourds.   There are so many things to draw you to the pumpkins patch.  Namely, pumpkins.  But there are also haunted houses, bouncy things, slides, hayrides, and yummy snacks.  But my kids really dig the 3 for a dollar gourds.  I don’t know.


So, we made our trip out to Roca Farm on a blustery day during Fall Break.  It was a bit too chilly for me even after stealing Miss Middle’s hat.  The kids were running in t-shirts for the half the day…completely oblivious to the falling temperature.  And the grown-ups were huddled together turning blue.  Good times!

I took my big girl camera and when I could feel my fingers…I tried to capture a few of the kids.




The kids all had a blast.  We ran into several groups of friends there too which made for a fun time for all of them.


Destroyer Dan was unsure about the block-long slide.




She was a little bit happy.


I think we can all agree that being a parent and making all these memories is a whole lot of work.  But we do it because we love our kids.  If I was going to plan a fun afternoon by myself, I don’t think I would be at the pumpkin patch picking hay out of my boots.  But somehow, kids bring out the magic everywhere.


We’ve carved pumpkins, hit up the pumpkin patch, and had our pumpkin bread.  I’m feeling very on top of my Fall game right now.  If I only had Halloween costume ready to go 😉

october scripturesmash.

I have so many things to blog I hardly know what to say when I pop on here in the evenings!  But I thought I better share our October Scripturesmash session in case anyone is trying to follow along.

For the record…you are free to copy ANY and ALL Scripturesmash ideas on here.  Some of the lessons (in parts and in their entirety) were not mine to begin with and I don’t know who originally created them.  Some of the aspects we came up with on our own.  I named it.  But we are putting it all out there with the hopes that you might find some fun little girls in your life who would enjoy this as well!  So jump on board with your own group!  If you are working with a group and would like me to email our lessons before blogging them…please let me know!

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We have tried to loosely tie each lesson into the time of year.  So with Halloween just around the corner….this lesson was God’s Voice vs. Satan’s Voice.

This was a hard lesson for our girls (5th grade) as it was less concrete than the ABC’s of God.  But I think it will be a lesson that they can re-visit in years to come.  The world (and Satan) is full of lies.  God’s word is full of truth.  Sometimes it can be hard to find the truth because we live in the world…but the truth is there if we listen to it.

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{I don’t know why the spacing on this is so funky…I have played and played with it and now I am just going to embrace it}

God’s Voice                                                                                                                                     Satan’s Voice

Truth                                                                                                                                                   Lies:

God’s voice stills you  (I Corinthians 14:33)                                                                          Satan’s voice rushes you

God’s voice reassures you  (Isaiah 41:10)                                                                               Satan’s voice frightens you

God’s voice enlightens you  (James 1:5)                                                                                   Satan’s voice confuses you

God’s voice encourages you  (Joshua 1:9)                                                                               Satan’s voice discourages you

God’s voice comforts you  (Matthew 11:28-29)                                                                     Satan’s voice worries you

God’s voice satisfies you  (John 10:10)                                                                                      Satan’s voice tempts you

God’s voice guides you  (John 16:13)                                                                                         Satan’s voice lies to you

God’s voice leads you  (Psalms 23:3)                                                                                          Satan’s voice pushes you

God’s voice convicts you  (James 1:22)                                                                                    Satan’s voice condemns you


We talked about the examples of Adam and Eve in Genesis Chapter 3 and the Israelites in Exodus Chapters 16-17.  Then we had the girls get busy smashing!!!  They used the handout and taped that into their books.  Then we used fun paper and thought bubbles to come up with personal examples of things they might hear God say (or Satan say) to them.   “You are dumb”,  “You are ugly”,  “You aren’t good enough”, “Don’t trust God” are examples of things the girls said Satan would say.  But God says…”You are beautiful”,  “I love you”, “I made you”, “Trust me”, and “I’ll give you the strength to do anything”.

I think it is an important lesson for all of us.  Who are we listening to?  Are we believing lies about ourselves or are we listening to the truth?

October 24, 2013 - 12:40 pm

Julie B. - Thank you for this! I printed this out and will be sharing with my 9 year old who is currently struggling with some issues. I think reading these scriptures together tonight will help!!

November 12, 2013 - 10:11 am

Melanie - I appreciate these ideas – Thanks so much for sharing!

September 28, 2015 - 10:31 am

Jennifer Coleman - Hi there! I just found your website and I am in love with the scripture smash idea! I’m not certain if you have more months/ideas….but I’m trying to gather a group of girls to do this. I know most of these posts were from 2013, but I would love to do this and borrow your ideas. We have some adorable 5th grade girls who would love this!!