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.

on 7 months home.

Seven months.  It feels like an eternity and a blink of an eye.  Some days she’s always been mine.  Other days she’s a complete stranger.  I would suspect this feeling will carry on for awhile…this merging of hearts and learning more about each other.

When we first inquired about Sunshine, we learned some hard things.  She was struggling and that is always difficult to hear.  But we still felt the nudge forward…the whisper “This one is yours” and we pushed forward because we were trusting that God would be able to do His Thing and work in her broken heart.  While she was still in Ethiopia, we got monthly reports and they were mostly somewhat grim.  She was sullen.  She wasn’t speaking much.  She seemed excessively shy and somewhat withdrawn.  I began praying for her heart and that somehow she would KNOW we loved her even though she hadn’t met us yet.  I prayed that her heart would begin to heal and feel again.

The early pictures we received were hard.  Of course we looked forward to EVERY photo because it was a tiny glimpse into her life there.  I remember begging another mother who was visiting to PLEASE try to get her to smile just once.  I wasn’t sure she could.  In the meantime we nicknamed her “Sunshine” because every photo looked like this. (And because I really do have a somewhat sick sense of humor I guess).

 Helina 5

Helina (2)

Helina (4)



Picture after picture hit our email box and my mama’s heart broke to see her smile.  After a few months…the shy smiles started to come.   And then as we were getting ready to leave to visit her…we received a glowing photo of her smiling in a pretty pink dress.  And I knew the healing had begun.

Since coming home Sunshine has come alive.  I’m not talking about a a little bit of personality emerging…or even just a dropping of her guard.  I’m talking…this girl is NOTHING like we predicted.  She isn’t shy, reserved, socially inept, withdrawn, or sullen.  She is ALIVE!  She’s the life of the party.  Always talking.  Always laughing and doing crazy things to get you to laugh alongside.  She’s silly and funny and LOUD.  She’s poised in social settings…appropriate…kind and polite.  She laughs just to hear her own voice.  She sings and chants and hums through the day.  She tells you when she’s not happy (although…trust me…you would already know).  She can turn on the waterworks as quick as a leaky faucet and be laughing again in 60 seconds.  She’s determined and stubborn and she loves to be around people.  She has friends at school who adore her.  When she’s tired she gets crazy loopy and laughs hysterically until the tears roll.  She’s full of adventure and is always looking for a good time. This girls can be down right fun.



Some people say all she needed was a family.


I say…all she needed was a GREAT BIG GOD!


Thanks for 7 months of laughs you crazy girl!

October 21, 2013 - 9:49 pm

Jennifer - I love this. God certainly has done an amazing work and it is something to behold!

October 21, 2013 - 9:52 pm

Jessica - This post made my heart so very happy, Jenn!! I see our sweet Jesus reflected back in her smile! Happy 7 months!!

October 21, 2013 - 10:13 pm

Ta - My heart smiles with your heart and with your sunshine girl…god is good all the time, God is so good!

October 22, 2013 - 10:02 pm

Sarah Cerone - I love these pictures of her! She has grown SO much in many different ways. I love knowing your family. Hoping we can hook up when we are back in NE for Christmas!

October 23, 2013 - 3:14 pm

Sarah Wolfe - This whole post makes me want to praise God for the work He’s done in her life and in yours 🙂

October 24, 2013 - 8:08 am

Angel - Absolutely beautiful!

November 1, 2013 - 1:42 am

Cheap Coach Trips To Europe - hello
that are a ok article. Cheap Coach Trips To Europe

another graduation.

The Brainiac zipped though her Suzuki Violin Book 5.  She just did her graduation recital from Book 4 in March and I was still recovering from that event!  But it was time to press forward and do it again.  So we cleared out the music room, brought in chairs, baked cupcakes, and practiced like crazy so she could graduate in style.


Her teacher requires each student to play the ENTIRE book for memory at their graduation recital.  The Brainiac had over an hour of non-stop music to prepare and perform.  The pieces she performed were:

Country Dance by Webere

German Dance by Dittersdorf

Concerto in G Minor, No. 1 (all three movements) by Vivaldi

Concerto for Two Violins by Bach

Concerto in A Minor, No. 6 (2nd movement)

Gavotte by Bach

Gigue by Veracini


In all honesty, I didn’t play this long of a program by myself until I was in college!  And I was a violin performance major.  It amazes me that she has so much diligence and drive.  And she does truly seem to enjoy performing…especially the socializing afterwards.



Mr. P accompanied her on the piano on most of the program as well as playing with her on the Bach Double.  I can’t even explain how amazing it is to watch them perform together.  I am one blessed gal!  The Brainiac was so focused and poised during her performance and we are so very proud of all of her effort!  It is such a great accomplishment to learn so much literature and be able to share it with her friends and family.

Of course we had to provide some fun refreshments after the recital (this was her favorite part…she loves picking out the napkins and plate and planning the menu!)



She had a great turnout of friends who came to support her!  And almost all of them are violinists themselves.  The two sweet boys who came even brought her flowers (which elicited a serious blush!)


{enjoying the time with friends stress free!}



So thankful to be able to share our love of music with our children.  I hope and pray that this music will carry them far in life.  Not necessarily just as musicians…we will support them in whatever direction they find their passions!  But that the music will shape them and teach them about the beauty in life and sharing that with others.


Way to go girl.  We are so proud of you!  (Maybe wait a bit on completing Book 6 to give your Mama a break!)

October 21, 2013 - 4:36 pm

Jennifer - Amazing accomplishment!! She will definitely go far in life with such drive and determination!!!

Way to go!!

Miss Middle turns 9.

She was always our littlest peanut.  Lots of drama packed into a tiny little package.  But somehow at 5am yesterday morning….that teeny tiny toddler turned NINE (how dare she).  She came into the world with a flash and has always been such a fun, spunky girl.  A true girly girl…although she has traded in the fairies and Disney princesses for All-Star cheerleading and lip gloss.


Miss Middle is usually the easiest to please in our family.  She is a happy-go-lucky girl most of the time.  And when she’s not.  D.r.a.m.a. all the way baby.  She is the biggest bestest snuggler a mama could ever hope for.  She is kind and compassionate and often has tears for others.  For years she always had the cute little bob hair cut but insisted last year on growing it out.  Now with hair half way down her back, I can’t even begin to pretend she’s still my little baby.  She’s a big kid.  Full of life and her own passions and dreams.





She asked for pizza, bowling, fro yo, and a couple of friends to spend the night.  We were happy to oblige.

The next day we trekked out to the pumpkin patch with Mimi and Baboo to celebrate a little more.



She’s still a pretty little package.   But there is a whole lot of Jules in that little body.  She is funny and silly and determined and affectionate and loyal.  She has taken on the role of big sister AGAIN this year with so much grace and tenderness.

And although I miss those chunky little toddler legs…I love this girl at nine!!!

Happy Birthday Jules.  You are a bright spot in my everyday!


So apparently, having your husband out of town most of the week and subsequently coming down with the flu is not conducive to blogging.  Mr. P shot out of town for work and within 3 hours I thought I was dying.  I am really tough a super huge wimp when I am sick.  As in…I laid on the couch for four days moaning and crying.  It was bad.  Think fever, chills, stomach ache, congestion, headache, back ache, fingernail ache, left big toe ache.  I hauled my sorry self to the doctor and she said “congratulations…you have the flu…someone has to be the first one of the season.”  Yay for me!

But enough about me.  Let’s talk about The Brainiac.  This one has a knack for keeping us on our toes.  She’s a thinker.  A planner.  Witty and funny but also really a whole lot of emotional work.  Her art teacher at school noticed that she has a real hankering for artistic endeavors and started questioning her about how often she does art at home (all the time) and how much she likes to draw and paint (more than life itself).  Her teacher encouraged her to apply for an art mentor through the school district.  You may remember my post about her art portfolio that she worked on before the start of the school year.

So she put together her portfolio and then we waited quite a long time to hear if she would receive a mentor.  The mentorship program is open to all elementary kids in Lincoln Public Schools.   There are 38 elementary school here (our school alone has 500+ students).  We received a letter about a month ago.  I ripped it open, saw the words, CONGRATULATIONS, and handed it off to The Brainiac.  She whooped and hollered and disco danced around the kitchen.  Awhile later I decided to go back and actually READ the letter and realized (much to my dismay) that the process was not over.  The district had narrowed the playing field to 16 students who were each assigned a time to be interviewed by the steering committee.  The letter also asked each student to bring in any artwork they had finished since compiling their portfolio.

I don’t want to complain because really this is a very happy story.  But OH MY…when I read that letter I felt defeated!  There were 11 spots available which meant the committee would only cut 5 students!   We had no new “artwork” because The Brainiac has been busy making “How to Draw a Walrus” greeting cards not chalk pastel still lifes.  I was also slightly disturbed that the interview was scheduled for 8:30.  My kids are in bed EARLY and this just seemed ridiculous for a Friday night.

We geared up for the interview. We practiced being interviewed.  I collected her newest work which consisted of the aforementioned greeting card, a hilarious sketch of the inside of an Eskimo Store (with cartoon drawings of people picking out igloo makers and shopping for woolen underwear), and 402 horse drawings in various mediums.

{on our way to her last minute interview}


As we were heading out for school Friday at 8:35 am the phone rang.  It was the elementary school.  The art teacher had called wondering why we weren’t at the district office for The Brainiac’s 8:30 AM interview.  I died a thousand deaths in that very second.  We rushed out the door and flew to the school to deposit the other children.  When I slowed the car at the curb of the school to let off the girls, a gigantic spider climbed over the center console and I started screaming.  The car behind me began honking his horn and I completely went off the deep end.  I may have yelled “GET A GRIP I’M DEALING WITH A LIFE OR DEATH MATTER HERE” before screeching out of the school parking lot.   I looked back in the back seat to the wide eyes of The Brainiac…dressed in a glittery Huskers hoodie…perfect interviewing attire.  We flew into the district office and took a big composing breath.  Then my Brainaic walked into that interview with all of the poise of a 40 year old woman and told the steering committee “If I am awarded a mentor, I would really like to work on incorporating more light and artistic value in my paintings”.  She was funny and clever and when she passed around her “Eskimo Store” sketch she had them howling with laughter.


So it’s a long story.  But it’s a happy one too.  She won her mentorship.  She’ll receive her own private art mentor at school for 2 hours every week.  She’ll also have 2 additional hours of studio time at school each week where she can work on her own to explore different artistic ventures.

I’m thankful for this opportunity for our girl.  I’m proud of her tenacity and creative mind.  I’m still a little worked up over the near miss on the interview (in my defense…when I went back to look at the letter it did NOT specify AM or PM…I was just an unlucky guesser!)  Maybe someday day our girl will have her own line of Walrus greeting cards?  Hallmark?  Are you reading?

October 15, 2013 - 5:06 am

Kara - Way to go A! Very exciting opportunity and so well earned! Count me in for a set of those walrus greeting cards!

October 15, 2013 - 8:35 am

Sandy Kokoruda - What a wonderful story! Congrats to your amazing daughter! But, I want to SEE the walrus and the Eskimo Store, please, please, please!!!

October 15, 2013 - 7:24 pm

Jen - So happy for Anna!!!!!! I am a big supporter of the arts; this is so fabulous!!!!

October 15, 2013 - 10:23 pm

Becky Gipson - Congratulations Anna! How exciting!

November 5, 2013 - 11:13 pm

Lessie Cooper - Okay. The huge spider coming over the center console may have stolen the show for this post. Your reaction was totally a reaction I would have had! So proud of Miss A and looking forward to seeing her art work in person soon. 🙂

around here.

Things are hopping here.  Some days it is hard to catch a breath between the lunch making, violin practicing, homework helping, dentist going, cheerleading, horseback riding.  I am truly amazed everyday how full and rich (and exhausting) our lives are.  We are in the thick of some serious blessings.  Sometimes they disguise themselves as a whole lot of hard work…but I know they are there.

Here are a few Instagram photos in no particular order and with no particular theme.  Just a few moments of our weeks together.  The little snippets of life around here that seem to fly by quicker than I am able to document them.

{rainbow mask making}


{early morning interviewing}


{paying the price for a getaway}


{fall sprucing}


{friend missing}


{tutu wearing}


{the ultimate thrifting}




{shades wearing}


{world saving one blankie at a time}


What’s keeping you busy this week?

October 8, 2013 - 6:26 am

Phillippa - I check for updates on your blog every couple of days Jenn, and find you and all that you do so refreshing, uplifting and inspiring. At times I have tears rolling down my face in utter joy. Do not stop!