Happy Birthday, Layla Bean!


Our Layla Bean turned one on February 10!  How has it already been a year?  Last year on February 10, we had no idea that Layla was born.  And here we are a year later celebrating her birth!  We are so grateful that this little girl joined our family!  She is sweet, stubborn, happy, determined and oh-so-cute!

Love you Layla!  Happy Birthday!

Of Surgery, Robots and Broth

As you may recall, Nathan had surgery on January 17.  A bowel-resection, to be exact.  He has had this surgery twice before, but unlike the last two emergency surgeries, this time it was scheduled.  Which means he was stronger and healthier as he headed into surgery.



Also unlike last time, they were able to do this surgery robotically.  Yes, tiny robots, controlled by the surgeon, did the surgery.  The robots allow the surgeon to make smaller cuts and to be more precise, making the recovery much easier (although, it’s still not a walk in the park…he couldn’t stand upright for several days after the surgery.  Definitely no park-walking).


Another big difference (yay for robots!) was that he could have liquids right after the surgery!!  This was HUGE.  For his last surgeries, he was living off of i.v. fluids for about a week, but this time he was having broth for dinner.


Now, he is a few weeks post-op, slowly getting better each day.  We are so grateful that he could have this surgery here in America with a skilled surgeon and robots.  Did I mention the robots??  And we are also grateful that it is all over and he is on the road to recovery!

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us, brought us meals and just generally been awesome!

Accidental Breakfast Dates

This week, Nathan and I accidentally had two breakfast dates, just the two of us!  You see, we had planned to meet one of our pastors for breakfast…

On Thursday morning, we set an alarm and got out the door before either of our kids had woken up (with Grandma and Grandpa as babysitters) and drove 45 minutes to the agreed upon restaurant.  We got a booth, ordered coffee (me, not him), and admired the menu (nutella crepes! eggs benedict! sticky bun french toast!).  After about 10 minutes of waiting, Nathan reread the exchange of texts with the pastor and realized that breakfast was supposed to be on Friday morning.  Oops.  Whelp, what does one do when you’ve driven 45 minutes, already have coffee and babysitters?  Order breakfast, of course!  It. Was. Delicious.  And time with my favorite man?  Priceless.

On Friday morning, we set an alarm again and got out the door before either of our kids had woken up again (with Grandma and Grandpa as babysitters again) and drove 45 minutes to the agreed upon restaurant again.  We got a booth again, ordered coffee again (me, not him), and admired the menu again (denver omlets! apple pancakes! migas frittatas!).  After about 10 minutes of waiting, Nathan texted the pastor….and this time it was him who messed up.  He had gotten busy working that morning and just forgot.  We laughed together at our mutual mistakes, ours the day before, his that morning.  Agreed on a different day to try to meet.  And then we ordered breakfast!  Breakfast dates are my favorite.

Nathan heads into surgery next week.  Wednesday to be exact.  So, he is facing several weeks of recovery.  Our kids will be extra needy while Daddy is out of commission.  We really don’t know what to expect, health-wise, for Nathan.  And so I am extra grateful for our accidental breakfast dates this week.  Maybe God knew we needed some extra time together before the weeks ahead.

He is a good, good Father.


Layla’s Bean

If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed Layla sporting a fancy helmet.  We’ve gotten a lot of questions about the helmet, mostly why she’s wearing it.  Well, our pediatrician noticed that Layla’s head was very round, not oval like it is supposed to be.  This can be caused by her position in the womb or from laying on her back as an infant. So she recommended we have her evaluated for a DOC band (the helmet).

The DOC band specialist said that Layla had a mild/moderate case of Brachycephaly.  Had she not worn the band, the largest consequence would have been trouble finding hats and bike helmets that fit correctly.  Since we had already met our family deductible for the year, we figured it we should just go for it!

Layla's Bean

Layla's Bean

The band did not bother Layla one little bit.  It is light as a feather so she barely knew it was there.  Although, this was also the time where she was getting much more mobile, so she was bonking her head everywhere.  The helmet gave her a little layer of protection from the edge of the coffee table!

Layla's Bean

The band doesn’t put any pressure on her skull, it only stops her skull from growing a certain direction, changing the shape of her head.

Layla's Bean

Layla's Bean

And since she had to wear the band 23 hours a day (1 hour off for bathing), we had to make it cute!  I decorated it with stickers sealed with clear nail polish…easy peasy.

She wore the helmet for 3 months and now she’s done!  The doctor’s office took before and after pictures for us so that we could see the changes the helmet made.



She did it!  Her first graduation!


My Layla Girl

My sweet, spunky Layla-girl is going to be 10 months old in 4 days!  Why oh why do these things go so quickly?  When Elias was a baby, we took weekly photos.  And for child numero two, I’ve managed to take them once a month.  If we ever have a third…poor baby. 😉  These photo shoots never picture perfect, and who cares right?  We’re not going for perfection, we’re going for memories!

Milestone photos

I feel ya baby girl.  I don’t always like having my picture taken either.

Milestone photo

But daddy calms her down.

Milestone photo

Maybe just crawl to him for a minute so he can snuggle you.

finally got it!

And then we’re good to go!  Love this sweet little bundle of joy!


November is the month when we reflect and give thanks.  And this month I have been ever so thankful for our family!  We have gotten to see all of our siblings in the same month.  This hardly ever happens!  My baby brother (who is 34…) had a baby in early November.  Our new niece, Evaleigh, was born in Tucson!  So we were able to drive down and visit her in the hospital!

Isn’t it amazing how quickly you forget how tiny newborns are?  I mean, we had our own newborn just 9 1/2 months ago and I’ve already forgotten how little she was!


We also had Thanksgiving with Nathan’s side of the family.  So. Many. Kids.  All of these cousins together reminds me of my childhood, running around with my gaggle of cousins.

Turkey.  Stuffing.  Cousins.  What more do you need really?

Fagerlie cousins

Fagerlie cousins

Since Billy (my brother) was still in Tucson with his little family and my parents and older brother flew out to meet Evaleigh, we had a second Thanksgiving with them.  More turkey.  More stuffing.  More cousins (well, only one cousin in this case).

I love how much Elias loves Evaleigh.  He was rubbing his face on her head during all of these photos.  I had trouble getting him to actually look at the camera.  I’m not sure Evaleigh loved it as much as he did :)

Tjernlund cousins

School Days

In the midst of all of our travel, work, and other activities, I have been attempting to do preschool with Elias.  Somedays it’s super fun, somedays it’s super frustrating and somedays it doesn’t happen at all!  This year, I bought curriculum called “A Year of Playing Skillfully.”  It is based on the idea that preschool-aged kids learn through play.  So far, it’s been pretty fun and much better than my night-before Pinterest scramble that I was doing in Indonesia!

FAITH School

FAITH School

FAITH School

FAITH School


Elias has started to develop a love for books, which is basically this mama’s dream because it gives me an excuse to buy ALL the children’s books.  My kid book wishlist is longer than my own book wishlist.  It’s an illness.  Of course, he mostly wants to read about Legos and ninjas, but it’s a start, right?  Lego books are a gateway to E.B. White and N.D. Wilson, I’m just sure of it!  In the meantime, we’re learning all about Hero Factory, Ninjago (Legos and Ninjas!), Lego City and Lego Batman.  Hashtag: boymom.  Hastag: yesiknowthatsnothowhastagswork.


Of Crohn’s disease, Adoption and Gratitude

I’m just going to jump back in here…


Hi. So, furlough has been…well, not what we planned.  It came suddenly (for very good reason.  Yay Layla!) And it’s been a ton of travel and a lot of doctor visits.  We have been to Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and California.  That doesn’t include all of the states Nathan drove through on his way from AZ to MI and back again.

Two weeks after we arrived, we found ourselves in the hospital with two-week old Layla sick with RSV.  Thankfully she was the “healthiest RSV baby in the hospital” and was released a few days later.  Still…not fun to rush your newborn to the hospital with a 104 fever at 12:00 a.m.

Two months after we arrived, Nathan starting having a Crohn’s flare-up.  And now, 7 months later, he is still in the midst of it.  He is on a new fancy medicine with promises of being “disease altering.”  It will take 12-14 weeks to know if it is effective or not.  He’s on week 8.  If it is effective, he will potentially be on this medicine for the rest of his life.  But words like “disease altering” give us hope that it could be amazing! Most likely, he will need to have surgery come December to remove the parts of his intestines that are too damaged, but the doctors want to give the meds the full 14 weeks before they decide if surgery is necessary.

In happier news, we completed Layla’s adoption on September 29.  We were in the courtroom a whopping 8 minutes, and just like that, one little bang of a gavel, we officially have a daughter!  Layla is this amazing little ball of happy.  Seriously, I think God totally knew we needed this baby at this period in our lives.  She is such an easy baby!  And, oh is she a joy-bringer!


Furlough has ended up being longer than we expected. And more doctor visits than we expected. And more travel than we expected (20,000+ miles on the car). But we are grateful to be in America where there is great healthcare and Taco Bell. We are grateful that we will get to meet our new niece when she’s born (any day now!) We are grateful that we will be able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with family. We are grateful for our awesome churches and supporters who have been so understanding of our extended time away from Indonesia. We are grateful for each of you that have asked us how we’re really doing.

Now, go eat some Taco Bell and pray for Nathan’s gut while you’re at it!

The Big 4

Well, we’re still alive!  Life is a little busier for me these days and I have a hard time finding time to sit down at the computer.  I have two little monkeys keeping me on my toes!

Elias turned 4 in March and Layla just turned 4 months old yesterday!  How does time simultaneously go so slow and so fast?


This boy.  He is smart, sweet, and thoughtful.  He has handled all of this transition better than I ever could have imagined!


This girl, with her easy smile, crazy hair and bubbly laugh, is such a joy to our family!

We will be heading to Idaho next week for our second meeting with our case worker in which we hoped to be cleared to finalize Layla’s adoption. And then its on to the Midwest for a few months to hang out with my family and our churches in Illinois. Yay!

Furlough So Far

Well, it’s been awhile since you’ve heard from me!  I’ve been head deep in a new baby, a four-year-old with culture shock and lots of sickness.  This has been our life lately:  Layla gets sick.  Layla gets better.  Elias gets sick.  Elias gets better.  Nathan gets sick.  Nathan gets better.  I get sick.  I get better.  AND REPEAT!  I don’t know if it’s these good ol’ American germs that our bodies haven’t been around for the last few years or what, but man, we have been sick a lot!

I don’t want to be a total Debbie Downer though so here are some awesome things about furlough:

Soft toilet paper. Maybe I shouldn’t put this as the first thing I list.  But it is the first thing that came to mind because soft toilet paper is amazing and makes life better.  AmIright?

Drinking fountains. With drinkable water to boot!  We taught Elias how to use these and now he is all about it.

Date nights with places we actually want to go! Does this really need explanation?  I like Nathan…and yummy restaurants.  Mexican is my jam, ya’ll.

Anonymity. We basically can’t go anywhere in Nabire without someone asking to take our picture or pinching Elias’ cheeks.  So blending into the crowd for awhile is quite nice.  Elias still doesn’t quite understand why we don’t know every single white person that we see, but he has stopped asking “who’s that?” at every turn.

English. While I love that we learned Indonesian and can make conversation with our Indonesian co-workers, English is easy and doesn’t take as much brain power.  I don’t have to translate everything in my head before responding.  Maybe I’ll get to that point someday with Indonesian, but I haven’t gotten there yet.  Plus, church in English=my heart language.

Family. This actually should be #1 on the list.  I love hanging out with our family.  I love that Elias loves his cousins, grandparents and aunts and uncles.  Family is cool.  Family that is close-by is even cooler.

Grocery Stores. You know what’s amazing??  Going to the grocery store and buying exactly what you came in for!  And about 50 things that you didn’t come in for because, well, Cheeze-its exist.  And so do tortilla chips.  And jelly beans.  And Pop Tarts (Elias has newly discovered Pop Tarts).  I know that people are jumping on the ClickList bandwagon and I get it…sorta.  But man, do I love walking through a clean, organized, fully stocked grocery store!

Traffic Laws.  Ok, admittedly this may seem like a strange addition to the list.  But when I drive in Nabire, I come home with tension in my shoulders.  When I drive here, there are rules…that people follow!  It’s like a day at the spa.  Well, as much as driving can be a day at the spa.  You know what I mean.

Obviously, there are about 1,000 more things I could add to this list.  But I’m going to stop here for now because Layla needs some attention from Mommy :)  Peace out ya’ll.

easter family