Wednesday, November 7, 2018

My Story

September 17. September 23. Two ordinary dates in past years. But not in 2018. I suppose if I am to tell my story, I must also mention February 22, a date already significant since both Mark and I celebrate our birthdays on this day. In 2018, though, it is the day my daughter gifted me an Ancestry DNA kit. Honestly, I had few expectations when I spit into the little tube that was provided, sealed the envelope, and slipped it into the mailbox. And those few expectations were met when the first results I received were limited to 3rd and 4th cousin matches. Oh, I tried to make some sense out of those connections, but with no knowledge of any surnames, it proved a difficult, if not impossible, task. So I abandoned my results, simply satisfied with the additional information the test gave me about my heritage. Having grown up knowing my biological mother was Vietnamese, it was indeed fascinating to discover the other half of my heritage was comprised of English, Welsh, and other northwestern European roots.

And so life marched on. Another homeschool year finished well, my daughter graduated, summer began and ended, I dropped my first child off at college, and a new school year began. Amidst homework, soccer games, and Mom Taxi duty, there it was: September 17. Just an ordinary day. I sat down to check my email and mindlessly began deleting junk mail. Out of habit, I started to click Delete on an email from, which I assumed was simply like the almost daily emails I receive from them: Only $59 for an Ancestry kit. (Why do I need ANOTHER Ancestry kit??) Hurry before this promotion ends! But then I saw “You have a first cousin match” in the subject line. First cousin? I know how to make sense of a first cousin! Heart pounding, I clicked the message and read the first words among many that I would exchange with my new cousin, Julie.

My existence was a surprise to Julie, and while she recovered from the shock, I did some sleuthing. I’m not saying my family labeled my activities over the next 10 hours or so obsessive…but I’m not denying it either. I googled, stalked Facebook profiles, and searched White Pages and Ancestry. My oldest daughter may or may not have called me creepy on a couple of occasions, but my research (that sounds so much better than stalking, doesn’t it?) paid off. It really didn’t take me long to identify my father James Hall, his ex-wife, their two daughters and son (my half-sisters and half-brother), and another half-brother with the most recent wife. I also discovered that, sadly, my father passed away in 1996.

All the while I continued to grow my relationship with my cousin through emails, texts, and phone calls. We really connected, and she was kind enough to regale me with tales of the Hall family. And that was enough for me, honestly – at least for the moment, though I do hope to connect with my father’s family at some point. As for my mother, I sincerely believed I would never uncover details about her; I don't know why, but I assumed she returned to Vietnam following my birth and adoption. But on a whim, I googled “California adoption records,” and this search led me to Find My Family, an adoption registry that connects birth families who register with adoptees who register. I had seen this registry before but did not have enough information to register. Now I had a paternal name. So I registered but still had zero expectations that anything would come of it.

I think it was Thursday I registered with Find My Family, and because of my low expectations, I didn’t give the site a second thought. That Saturday night as I settled into bed for the night, I checked my email. It was about 11:30. And there it was: an email from Judy at Find My Family. 

The email said, “I think your mom’s name is Tu Ngo.” 

“Natalie: your possible sister?” WHAT? I have a name for my mother? And I have a SISTER?? 

“Do you have more information?” My heart dropped. No. I registered with all the information I had…which was so much more information than I had ever possessed in all 45 years of my life. I did have a birth certificate number, though, so I gave that to her, then went to bed only to lie there all night plotting my strategy on how I was going to find my mother.

At some point during the night – or early morning hours – I fell asleep, only to awaken at 6:00. September 23. Again, I expected no updates, but my heart still thumped wildly against my chest as I opened my email. And there it was: another email from Judy. 

This email stated, “Tu [IS] your mother.” 

“Natalie [IS] your sister, and this is [Natalie's] possible Facebook profile [linked].” (Apparently other people are as adept at Facebook stalking as I am.) 

Judy also attached information about the brief marriage of my father James and mother Tu as well as Tu’s naturalization information. I studied that last bit of information with great curiosity because it noted that she was granted naturalization in Atlanta. How did my birth mother end up in Georgia where I spent so much of my adult life? I would learn the answer to this question later that day.

I went to church on that Sunday, wondering all along what I should do. I had found a phone number on White Pages for my mother. Should I call her? Was she even still alive? Would I give her a heart attack if she was alive? With Alex at college and Mark out of town, I texted them for their advice. They said I should call. Once I got home from church, heart pounding out of my chest, I dialed my mother’s phone number. The number was disconnected. Now what should I do? I texted Mark and Alex. We finally collectively decided I should Facebook message my sister, so I sat down and drafted a message in Word, and before I could rethink it a gazillion times, I copied and pasted it into a Facebook message and clicked Send. 

And then I sat there and waited. 

And looked at the computer screen. 

And waited.

Alex, I texted, what does it mean when there is a checkmark surrounded by an empty circle by my message? She said it meant my message had been delivered.

Are you sure? I thought the circle was supposed to be filled in. What if she didn’t get it? She assured me she would.

And I waited some more. And stared at the computer screen some more.

She accepted my message request!!!! I texted to Mark and Alex.

Oh my goodness! There are dots. She’s writing!

And then there it was: a reply from my sister. Although it’s her tale to tell, I know she was, to say the least, caught by surprise. Our mother had never told her about me, so the news sent her reeling a bit, but she still asked me when I would like to chat by phone. I, of course, replied, “Now!” In retrospect, I feel badly, realizing that for me, this had been 45 years in the making, whereas for her, my Facebook message a mere 60 minutes ago changed her life in an instant. But what a wonderful sister to meet my immediate demands and proceed with a phone call!

We chatted that first day, September 23, for over an hour and kept in close touch through texts and other phone calls in the days that followed. We both decided that it was not Natalie’s place to tell our mother about my contact, and we felt it would be best for me to write her a personal letter. Since our mother lives with Natalie, I was kept closely informed about the letter and therefore knew the day it arrived and was delivered to my mother. I wondered what would happen. Would she write? call? ignore it? My answer came the next day with a phone call. It was very nice talking to my mother. She thanked me profusely for finding her. I told her we would meet soon. As my trip to meet them drew near, my mother showed her nurturing side by calling me on two occasions to remind me to bring a sweater because the weather in Atlanta had turned chilly!

The day of my trip finally came and, as any of my friends on social media know, the Big Meet took place on October 30th. Actually, I have a confession to make: my sister and I met alone on the night of October 29th, so we could have some time, just the two of us. It was so extraordinary, yet so comfortable, meeting Natalie that first time. As we had kept in touch throughout the month of October, it was obvious we clicked and that we had a lot in common. “That nature vs. nurture is pretty fascinating,” we mentioned on a number of occasions as we uncovered bit by bit how alike we are. 

On October 30th, I got to spend some one-on-one time with my mother to get to know her a bit as well. We chatted, went to lunch, strolled through the mall, and ate chocolate cake together!

What a blessing to meet and connect with my mother and sister! But there is more: I also got a brother-in-law, a niece, and two nephews in the new deal! Although I only had a day, it was such a pleasure getting to know my brother-in-law, niece, and one of my nephews. I can’t wait to meet the other nephew in a future visit. It’s all so crazy. I have brothers-in-law, nieces, and nephews by marriage, but none that aren’t the in-laws. Now I have my very own relatives! 

What’s even weirder is looking into my sister’s face and seeing myself. Because I never shared a resemblance with my parents, seeing myself in my own children has been fascinating for me. But now to see myself in two adults – my mother and sister – and have people tell us we look alike, well, that is so…intriguing? satisfying? As with much of this whole experience, I don’t always have the right words – or even words at all – to define the experience or what I’m feeling. I do know that I feel nothing but hope, anticipation, and joy in thinking about the future and growing my relationship with my new family.

Before I close this part of my story – which really is just the beginning – I would be remiss if I didn’t share some of the amazing geographical coincidences in our journey. Both Natalie and I were born in California, and both of us left California while still babies: Natalie went with our mother and her father to Idaho; I left with my adoptive parents to Canada, Switzerland, and finally Cote d’Ivoire. After two years in Idaho, Natalie and her family moved to Georgia to join one of our mother’s sisters who lived in the area. Georgia, then, is where Natalie grew up and still lives. I of course moved to Georgia to finish college in 1992, married Mark there, and we were there until we moved to Connecticut in 2010. Tracing the way our paths traversed and nearly collided on multiple occasions between 1992-2010 is nothing short of crazy. My mother and sister both owned houses across the street from each other and a quarter mile from an apartment complex where Mark and I lived with roommates right before we married. Additionally, Natalie lived in the same apartment complex as Mark. Although we were never in these same places at the same time, the time lapses are short, and in our discussions, we have recollected many times where we frequented the same shops, drove the same streets, and journeyed the same paths.

Over the last month, I have repeatedly questioned: Why did God allow our lives to cross so specifically, yet didn’t allow us to connect? The only answer I know and accept is that it is all in His timing. Whatever the past, whatever could have been, is irrelevant because the present is now, and we can make the most of all that is ahead of us. Best of all, no matter the timeline, I found my mother and little sister! My SISTER! I still can’t believe it! All my life I wished for a sister, so Natalie is truly a gift! While I couldn’t be a big sister to her all my life, I’m all about being there for her now. And as the September 23rds pass by in future years, I know we will continue to be a blessing to each other.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Digging My Own Cistern

I have been receiving Kay Warren's daily video devotions about choosing Joy. In today's video, she discussed Jeremiah 2:13, which says, "'My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water'" (NIV).

She offers this illustration: Imagine you're in the desert. You're hot, tired, and thirsty. Suddenly, you see a kiosk off to the side, and you see Jesus there offering you water. But instead of taking the water and quenching your thirst, you say, "No, I got this" and you start digging your own cistern.

As a person who always likes to be in control, this is such a great verse to ponder.

While this verse is pointing out that the Israelites chose to do it their way rather than God's way what I love about it is that God's way is obviously so much better. God offers a spring of living water while what the Israelites dig are cisterns. When I think of a spring of living water, I think of fresh, flowing, cool water.

When I think of a cistern I have in my mind this cistern that was outside our dorm at boarding school in Africa. It would collect rain water, but then that water would sit there. Algae would grow on the sides of the cistern, and a nice green scum would coat the top. Leaves, grass, and dirt would fall in and rot in the water. The water really didn't smell so fresh either. It was by no means a place where you would want to quench your thirst.

So if  would just stop trying to take control over every situation and give that control to God, look at the wonderful, better plans He has for me.

When Audrey gets sick, instead of worrying and trying to control every aspect of her life in MY attempt to make her better, if I would give that control to God, He will take care of her.

Instead of trying so desperately to control my future, I need to rely on God, and He will show me where He wants me to be 10 years from now, 20 years from now.

When I'm feeling down, instead of complaining or trying to drown my sorrows in chocolate or my favorite TV show, I need to turn to God.

How much better and more joyful would life be if I gave him the reins instead of so foolishly yanking on them myself?

Friday, April 17, 2015


One of my Facebook friends started a thread about faith recently which has elicited some thought provoking - and surprisingly civil - comments from many. I found it interesting that I came to Hebrews 11 in my Bible reading today.

Hebrews 11:1 - "Now FAITH is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see" (NIV). One commentator I read suggested that "substance" is a much better translation of the original language instead of the word "confidence", but I rather like the word confidence. The word confidence reminds me of the Proverbs 31 woman who goes about her life with confidence. She has faith. She knows that no matter what she will spend eternity with Christ.

I want to live with that confidence because of my faith.

Hebrews 11 goes on to give examples of people in the Bible who truly lived out their faith. Abel was faithful by giving his very best. Being faithful in giving is one of the best things you can do. This is one of the only areas where I feel I have been consistently faithful to God. And I'm not pointing it out to be applauded but only to say that giving to Him what He asks us to give is a step of faith, yes, but it is also a chance to observe His faithfulness.

By faith, Noah in his old age built the ark God told him to build and built it to God's exact specifications. I can't grasp how much faith this would have taken. Imagine being old man in the middle of an arid land that rarely, if ever, saw a drop of rain being asked to build a boat. And not just a little row boat but an enormous ark. I can just imagine it: as Noah started his project people probably gathered around to watch out of curiosity. I wonder if he told them outright what he was doing when they asked him what he was building. If he did, they would have scoffed at him. As the boat began to take shape, I'm sure the ridiculing mounted. After some time passed, though, I bet people just ignored him with a shake of their head: "Looks like our neighborhood crazy man is making progress on his boat."

What would I do if God asked me to do something for him and that something earned me the ridicule of all of my friends and neighbors? And not just ridicule for a day or two but for years? Would I obey?

Abraham trudged up a mountain with his son, all the while knowing he was about to do the unthinkable, yet it was the unthinkable that God had asked him to do. He kept going, one foot in front of the other, in faith.

But God would never ask me to sacrifice one of my children, right? We don't offer sacrifices to God in that manner anymore because of what Christ did on the cross, right?

Mark and I fully committed our children to God. We committed to loving them and caring for them to the best of our abilities, but ultimately our children are in God's hands. Which is the best place to be.

When I worry about my children, though, aren't I disobeying God's command to place our children in to His loving hands?

Abraham was faithful with Isaac. My constant fears that something will happen to my children outside of my plans shows me to be unfaithful.

By faith, Moses, though hesitant, chose to obey God and lead the people of Israel out of Egypt rather than staying with his adoptive family, a family who could offer riches and freedom to him.

"He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:25-26, NIV).

What if, by faith, I lived a life where I consistently chose the right path even if it meant giving up worldly treasures and conveniences? What if I lived a life where I didn't fear what others' opinions would be? What if I lived a life of perseverance without worry?

What if I lived out my faith consistently?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

This is Now

"This is now" (Laura Ingalls from Little House in the Big Woods).

I recently took one of those Facebook quizzes. You know, the quizzes that you probably shouldn't take because by doing so, you're dumping your personal data on to some server on the other side of the country, but sometimes you just can't help it because who doesn't want to know what 80's big hair band you should be in or what sitcom mom you most closely resemble?

So the question on this particular quiz was, "Where do you mostly live: in the past, in the present, or in the future?" I did not have to ponder this question at all. I live mostly in the future. I am a planner. I plan. Everything. I plan school for the day, for the week, for next year. I plan meals. I plan finances. I plan. I plan.

I am also a worrier. If there were trophies for worrying, mine would be on my mantle. And it would be a BIG trophy because I am a champion worrier. And I worry about the future a lot. In fact, a worry that has been on my mind lately is college for the kids. Where will they go? Will I have prepared them enough to get in? Will they score high enough on the SAT? How will we pay for college? With college only three years away, I grant myself some allowance in worrying about it.

But then there is the fact that I worry occasionally a lot about what in the world I am going to do with myself as an empty nester. Since that time is eight years from now, even I roll my eyes at me.

So, yes, I do live in the future. Which isn't healthy.

I've been reading a book by Kay Warren called Choose Joy. I sought this book out because I long to live a life of joy, but joy is often elusive to me. Happiness is not. I find great happiness is many things; I just don't consistently live in joy. Really by its very common definition, I am not by nature a joyful person. I am a glass half empty, expect the worst kind of gal, so joy by its simple definition does not fill me consistently. That is why I was so happy to hear Kay label herself an Eeyore. It's always refreshing when a spiritual leader is honest; the honesty makes them so much more relatable.

I love her more defined idea of joy: "Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things."

And I love that she shows that joy is a choice. I have always just thought that because of my pessimistic nature, perhaps a joyful life will always be out of my grasp. But choices? I can make those.

There are so many things to learn from this book, but I focus today on her admonition: "To experience joy on a daily basis, learn what it means to live in the moment." Not for the moment because living for a moment is unhealthy, but live in the moment.

My eyes are so often directed to the distant horizon that I miss the moment.

Psalm 118:24 says, "This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it."

Not that God didn't make all the days past, and not that He is not the author of all the days forward, but this verse says that this is the day. Today. Rejoice in today. Don't worry about the future. Rejoice in today.

I said I was a planner. And I am. I actually love to plan, especially when it comes to homeschool stuff. The problem is - and I hate to admit this - I am much better at the planning and enjoy the planning more than I do the implementation. The action is always the hardest.

And it's easy for me to choose joy. It's easy for me to choose to live in the moment. It's the putting that choice to action that's difficult. I know what kind of person I want to be. It's the allowing God to mold me into that person part that is hard.

Three - just three - things I want to focus on to learn to choose joy by living in the moment:

1. Be thankful. Instead of complaining about everything, be thankful.

Philippians 2:14: Do everything without grumbling or arguing.

Psalm 31:19: How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.

Psalm 100:4: Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

So instead of complaining about the incessant winds that sweep across this state, I can be thankful the sun is shining.

Instead of complaining that I have to be TaxiMom tonight and drop three off at three different places at three different times and then pick them up the same way with no time to go home in between, I can be thankful that I don't have to cook dinner tonight, that my kids get some time with friends, and that I get to have a night out with my baby girl.

2. Bring joy to others. Even if it's inconvenient for me. Especially if it's inconvenient for me.

Romans 15:2: Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

3. Say yes more often. I'm usually "too busy" to say yes to the kids. I need to not as my oldest would say.

Ephesians 5:15-16: Be very careful, then how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity...

I've been farsighted for so long, it's difficult to think of becoming more nearsighted, but I don't want to be someone who regrets the past in the future because I didn't live well enough in the present.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Hockey Puck Biscuits & Puke Gravy

This morning I made a favorite for breakfast: biscuits and gravy. Except the biscuits didn't rise like they normally do, rendering them into the overused description of failed biscuits: hockey pucks. And I tried one of Chef Hubby's tricks and put the sausage in the food processor to improve the texture of the meat in the gravy. But instead of pulsing it, I put the food processor on full blast and left it alone for a minute. Mostly because at that very time I had to rescue the hockey pucks from the oven, or they would have been burned hockey pucks. So the sausage, instead of being fine bits of pork heaven, became a pork slurry. I wasn't about to waste breakfast and start all over, so I added the slurry to the gravy. It looked like barf.

And, naturally, one of the kids was kind enough to also point out that it looked like barf.

I've discovered that in this season of my life, it's easy to feel like a failure. I think most moms struggle with this feeling. There aren't many accolades in motherhood. There are no awards, no promotions. And it's so much more personal than a job when you're dealing with your own flesh and blood.

I often say that I'm so grateful that my kids are really good kids in spite of me. And it's true. By God's grace, they really are good kids, awesome kids. But saying these words doesn't make me feel any less of a failure as a mom.

It's definitely harder now that they are older. As a mom of littles, all it takes is a fun sandwich or a paper craft, and the delight that comes over their little faces makes any mom feel like a superhero.

Smily-face sandwiches and glitter don't always elicit such a response from teenagers.

So how can I overcome this feeling?

Well, this morning I pondered three things: Honestly, I'm a mess. Obviously, I'm a work in progress. Clearly, I must fully rely on God.

That last thing is so hard for me because not only am I a perfectionist, but I am also a control-freak. It is hard to fully rely on God. In fact, I don't honestly know what that even looks like. But I so badly want to learn what it looks like.

So, this morning I decided to check in on Ann Voskamp whose blog I haven't visited in forever and whose blog is always so encouraging and full of wisdom. Naturally, there was something there just for me: a post called "When You Feel You're Not Enough." In this post, she shared some insight from author Scott Sauls. Here is what I needed to hear:

We are not called to be perfectly awesome.
We are called to be imperfectly faithful,
because we have been perfectly loved,
liberated, and highly esteemed
by the Most High.

I still can't grasp why God loves me. Why me? Out of all of the extraordinary people in the world, how can God have enough love to also love me?

Despite the fact that I cannot fully comprehend His love, it is liberating to know that He loves me in spite of me. And that He forgives me when I mess up. Which is a lot.

He loves me and forgives me when I'm not as kind as I should be, when I lose my temper, when I don't put as much effort into a task as I should, when I complain, when I worry, when I'm impatient.

I know I still have so much to learn about Him, so much growing to do, but His love and grace is such an awesome comfort...especially when all I have to serve for breakfast are hockey puck biscuits and puke gravy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

On Blogging...

I keep eyeing that shortcut button to Treasured Chapters that sits on my browser's Bookmark Bar. It occasionally taunts me, really. I've come to the conclusion that I no longer blog for three main reasons. First, I still hold a huge grudge against Google+ for making it so easy for me to inadvertently delete all of the photos from my blog. As a perfectionist, it's difficult for me to continue a project that has holes in it. At least I know I can keep busy during my empty nester years restoring those photos. (Of course, my premature worries about what in the world I will do with myself once the kids have flown the coop is fodder for another post altogether. Or 100 posts. Or maybe just material good for a reclined position on a psychiatrist's couch.)

Anyway, the second and probably most influential reason I haven't been able to pick up my blogging pen much is that it's just not as easy to blog about older kids. Dare I say they don't do things so cutely anymore? That's not to say my joy in sharing life with them has in any way been diminished; in fact, I am enjoying them more now than ever. They are witty and insightful and funny and just a lot of fun to be around. Just not cutesy, which is kinda what I used to focus on.

Facebook wasn't around yet when my babies were babies. I feel like I missed out a little because I didn't get to show off adorable photos of my babies on a daily basis. Of course, that very point serves to emphasize the third and perhaps equally as important reason I've been avoiding Treasured Chapters. I have such a love/hate relationship with any media that falls under the social label. It's hard enough being a patient homeschool mom to four kids and a loving wife to a traveling husband without being barraged by daily reminders from photos and status updates about how incredibly awesome other moms are, what supermoms they are. Of course, they probably think the same about me; we tend to post the highlights of our lives that we think others will admire. It's more difficult to be real and thus vulnerable in front of others. I know from experience that the devil uses this to cultivate a culture of comparison with a huge dose of feeling like you can never measure up.

I'm working on combating the devil's schemes by spending less time on Facebook and other social media. At the same time, however, I feel like time is flying by so very quickly and I'm not capturing enough of those quick moments in a way that I can savor them more fully later.

So I am back with my random ramblings, my photos, and my desire to save these moments in a way that I can better treasure them.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

I spy...

With a traveling husband and three out of four kids involved in numerous church activities, it's been difficult lately to keep all of my family members all in one place. So when one of our local homeschool groups offered us the opportunity to participate in a Family Scavenger Hunt, I realized it would be best to complete it in shifts so everyone in the family had a chance to be involved.

Last weekend, Mark was away in Europe, and a scavenger hunt adventure afforded us the perfect way to make the time without him pass more quickly. Our adventures took us to Hubbard Park and Castle Craig.

So, yeah, we've been here before (and, coincidentally, on another weekend during which Mark was absent), but the beauty of fall gave us a different experience this time.

It was a beautiful view and a lovely drive up and down the hill upon which Castle Craig sits.

Afterwards, we enjoyed a bit of time on the playground at Hubbard Park.

Oh, and there was a potty stop too.

If you know me, you know I have portopottiphobia and will hold it 'til I burst rather than stepping foot in one of these; however, my son doesn't seem to have a problem with it. I caught the horrid things in black and white; it seems to give them a more sophisticated air, don't you think?

* * * * * * * * * *

This week was a busy one of running one kid here and picking another kid up there. But Mark was home. So, though we were down one kid by the time Saturday afternoon rolled around, we decided to continue the Family Scavenger Hunt.

First, we drove through a small town called Collinsville. A couple of weeks after we moved to the Arctic, I called Mark and told him that I had just driven through the prettiest, most charming little town. You can see why:

Next, we stopped by one of my favorite farms, Tulmeadow Farms. They offer veggies, grass-fed meats, and Amish popcorn. They also have delicious ice cream. But in light of our recent sugar-free lifestyle change, we skipped the ice cream today, and I picked up some popcorn. We're going through the
popcorn quickly!

Today Tulmeadow not only had popcorn, but also quite an assortment of pumpkins.

The next stop on our adventure was Stratton Brook Park.

Stratton Brook is one our favorite places. During the summer, we visit weekly with homeschool friends to enjoy the beach and the lake (which is more of a pond) and to play frisbee.

I've mentioned this before...I love all of the farms in Connecticut! Our last stop was another farm. Flamig Farm is a popular place with its petting zoo and farm store.

We did not enjoy the petting zoo today; however, we did meet some adorable, fuzzy little chicks.

And we appreciated some of the other charm as well:

And then it was back to home sweet home where we've added some charm of our own:

We went a little overboard on Halloween decorations this year...since we're going light on the sweets, we over-compensated by letting the kids go crazy on our front porch. Happy Halloween!