Friday, September 4, 2015


One of my friends from my younger years has started a great blog - Gabby Yellow - where she is exploring strategies for courageous living.  She is currently in the midst of a daily challenge, 50 Days of Fearless.  I have been so inspired by her willingness to tackle hard things especially because I can relate so well to her anxiety about things.

Today I channeled Gabrielle's courage and challenged myself to overcome a recent fear - parallel parking.  Let me give you some backstory.  I work part-time in the afternoons.  At work we park in a long line down the side of the school driveway.  Typically when I arrive, there are a few empty spaces interspersed in the line, but I'm always too nervous to parallel park.  I know how to parallel park, but I don't do it very often, so when I do, it takes many tries.  And with each successive try, I find myself becoming more and more self conscious.  I'm certain that everyone is looking at me and thinking how ridiculous I am for not being able to do this easily.  

And so each day at work, I walk extra far just to avoid the ridicule.  But as Gabby points out in many of her posts, this ridicule is only in my head.  I have never actually been condemned for my multiple tries.  In fact, no one has ever said anything to me about it.  And even if someone did say something to me, my logical self is quite certain that it would be a light-hearted interaction and not an accusation.

So today I set about to calm the voices in my head and parallel park.  It took 4 tries, but I did it.  It was terrifying, but I kept reminding myself that no one else cared about what was going on, or likely was even seeing it!  

So if you want to be inspired to tackle your fears and anxiety, go read Gabrielle.  Also, if you have kids and find yourself passing your fears onto them, go read this post by Beth about overcoming her fear of crickets for the sake of her daughters.  Thank you ladies for your inspiration!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Secondhand shopping after Twice

My beloved online secondhand store, Like Twice, is no more.  They were bought up by eBay.  So I've had to try some other options.

1.  ThredUp.  Lots of people love this site.  I find it overwhelming.  Too many items with not enough filtering options.  Plus, even if I find something I like, I always worry that it won't fit.  Unlike Twice, ThredUp does not have full measurements for each item.  And both shipping and return shipping are pricey.

I did once buy some school clothes for Blaise on ThredUp.  The pants I got him, which were listed as boys, had a small ruffle on the bottom.  Not large enough to be seen in the online picture, but clearly visible in person.  So I also don't trust them.

2.  Tradesy.  I love my Reebok EasyTone sneakers.  LOVE them.  I've worn through my second pair and am needing another.  However, these particular shoes haven't been sold in stores for many years.  But a quick google search turned up a like-new pair in a store I'd never heard of - Tradesy.  They are a google verified store and run a lot like eBay with individuals selling direct to buyers.  I decided to give it a shot.  Big mistake.  My first order was cancelled because the seller never responded.  Then she responded and I gave her another chance and purchased again.  And when I finally got the shoes, they were the wrong size!  I'm still in the midst of dealing with the return and really hope they refund my credit card rather than giving me store credit.

3.  eBay.  The site that sells everything.  In the past, I've bought used purses, kids toys, our Ergo carrier, and even floor mats for our van from eBay, but had never ventured into the realm of clothing and shoes.  But lately I'd been yearning for a skirt that I bought off of Like Twice a while ago, but returned because of ... I don't know... something.  Thoughts of said skirt had been consuming me, so the only solution was eBay.  And my skirt came.  And it is perfect.  I guess.  Still not totally into it, but better it taunt me in my closet than in my memory!  Ha!  I also bought a new pair of work shoes (with heels since the 9th grade boys tower over me!) and another pair of Reebok EasyTone sneakers (which are actually the right size)!

I like eBay when things are "Buy it Now" and I like them even more when the listing says "Best Offer".  I dislike bidding, but I'm pretty good at guessing how much something will go for and setting my bids so I guarantee a win.  Occasionally I'll also be one of those crazy people bidding live with 10 seconds remaining!  Especially if it's for another camel for the little people nativity scene!  Because, really, did they have to give us only one for all three wisemen to share?

So in conclusion, it's eBay for the win, though I still wish Twice were around!  Know of any other online consignment shops I should check out?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Summer Activity Quick Takes!

Last week I gave a run down of some of the major events of the summer.  This week, I figured we should focus on some of the little things that have occupied most of our days!

1.  Face Painting!  We were at the zoo a few months back and Blaise was enamored with the face painting booth.  Of course at $5 per kid, this was outside of our budget, so I promised him that we would do it at home.  I ordered a kit from amazon and we've been painting faces multiple times per week!  It doesn't take me long and make the kids soooooo happy.

2.  Splash pad (or just the backyard sprinkler).   These pics are from a very fun splash pad near my parents' house that also happens to have a giant sand box with toys!  But most days we just enjoy our backyard sprinkler and sand box.


3. Library story time.  There's books, rhymes, songs and crafts.  And sometimes even trips to the fire station!


4. Games.  Every time we go to the thrift store, we try to pick up some games.  They are usually only a dollar or two, so I don't really stress about the kids losing pieces.  I mostly buy older children games both because they are plentiful at thrift stores and because they are more interesting to the little kids even though we have to modify the rules.  Mastermind and Parcheesi are the current favorites!

5. Reading.  I read to the kids a lot.  But they also like to "read" to each other!

6.  Gardening.  Fresh veggies are both yummy and healthy.  And when we grow them ourselves, they are also cheap!  We have pumpkins, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, onions, carrots, and various herbs.  The kids are great at planting, watering and picking, but only occasionally helpful with the weeding!


7.  Home improvement projects.  OK, so this is mostly just us grown-ups.  John and I have been working to make our house more beautiful and more functional since we moved in three years ago.  Back in January, we contracted out to build a half-bath in our basement.  Certainly the best investment we have made in the house.  Since then, we've been working on all the finishing touches for the basement.  We've added a chalkboard, build-in bookcases, and most recently, a closet in the guest bedroom!  The bookcases and closet are both Ikea "hacks".  Instead of building from scratch, we bought them from Ikea and retrofired them to work as build-ins!  The chalkboard is a piece of sheet metal painted with chalkboard paint and framed with 1x2's.  


seven quick takes friday 2

Friday, August 7, 2015

Quick Takes - Family of 6 style!

There's been quite a lag in my blogging lately, so let's end the silence with some quick takes!

1.  First things first, we are now a family of 6!  Although the adoption won't be finalized for many months, our new 15-year-old daughter is home!  

2.  Right before our daughter moved in, we took a trip to Pittsburgh to see my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend.  We had lots of fun and I was so glad to be able to spend some quality time with my brother's girlfriend.... because.... she's now his fiance!  

3.  While in Pittsburgh, my parents agreed to watch the little kids for two days so John and I could get a night away.  We stayed in a lovely bed and breakfast and ate some fabulous food.  It was a great way to spend our 7-year anniversary!

4.  Right after our daughter moved in, I left for a crazy two day trip to Wisconsin to meet some of the lovely ladies of the Instagram hashtag KnitTogetherByAdoption.  Shala, the fearless KTBA leader is traveling North America with her family to lead retreats for foster and adoptive parents.  It was totally worth the 1000+ miles of driving.  I feel much more confident and equipped!

5.  Much earlier this summer, we were blessed to have dinner with one of my college friends.  She was in town for a conference and Notre Dame and was able to spend an evening with us.  Although we hadn't seen each other in over a year, the conversation flowed easily and we had a great time!  Here's a picture of us from now and one from back in college.  I think we've aged quite well!

6.  Nana, Granddad, and Uncle Stephen just left our house after a fun four day visit.  We packed in lots of things: touring Notre Dame, the Minions movie, swimming, bowling, and a cookout with friends.  It was so much fun to have them here, especially because they were able to meet their newest granddaughter!  

7.  And now we're gearing up for Grandpa and Grandma's visit next week and then the beginning of the school year!

seven quick takes friday 2

Friday, June 5, 2015

Quick Takes: Our Adoption Journey

I was blessed to find a wonderful, supportive, authentic community of foster and adoptive moms on Instagram.  We share life together through #knittogetherbyadoption.  For most of the year, the conversations are unstructured, but a few times a year our fearless leader, Shala, will host a month-long photo share with daily prompts.  We just wrapped up a month of sharing for foster care awareness month.

You can find all of the responses on Instagram at #knittogetherbyadoption.  You can find all of my responses on my Instagram @kristelaine.  Today I will be sharing 7 quick takes of my posts from the month, which take you through our adoption journey!

1.  First Time Considering It

My husband and I started talking about older child adoption way back when we were dating. But it was always something far off in the future after our bio kids were grown. But then about 2 years ago we started reading about it and opening our hearts. And then we heard the news story about Davion Only, a 16 year old in foster care who stood up in front of a church and asked for someone to adopt him. "I'll take anyone". Those words broke our hearts and convinced us that the time was now.

See also my blog post on Davion.

2. Preparation

We've done the usual stuff, like setting up a room, buying fire extinguishers, and getting the cats their rabies shots. But we recently started a new phase of preparation, reading! The teen we are hoping to adopt loves to read science fiction and so we are entering her world a bit by reading her favorite books!

See also my "What We're Reading Wednesday" post on the books!

3.  Quote a Friend

This is Matthew West. technically, he's not my friend, but I'm pretty sure we'd be friends if we ever met ;-) He has an awesome song called Do Something. it's about how we are God's hands on earth. When we see bad things around us it's not enough just to ask God to help. We need to be that help. maybe everyone isn't suited to adopt or foster, but everyone is suited to do something to help with the orphan crisis in our world. "if not us, then who?"

 See also this post, which includes the song.

4. Co-parenting combined with Hard, But Worth It

Today we had a wonderful day with our hopefully-soon-to-be daughter and her foster mom. The day went great and her foster mom is great, but it's still so hard to leave at the end of the day!  It's hard to trust another person with your child.  Even if it's a child you have just met.  For as caring and as competent as foster mom is, she is still not me.  She doesn't necessarily respond in the same way that I would.  But I have to trust her.  And I'm thankful that her love for my daughter is so evident.

5.  Prayer

Prayer has been an integral part of our adoption journey. First there were prayers as we discerned that this was indeed a call on our lives right now. Then it was over a year of praying that the state would complete our home study and approve us. During the waiting it was tempting to lose faith. I got the @theadoptshoppe necklace pictured during this time and wear it regularly as a reminder that God is faithful. Even when things seem insurmountable, God is faithful to his promises. And now every night we can pray for our soon-to-be daughter by name and thank the Lord for his faithfulness.

"Blessed is she who believes that the Lord will fulfill His promises to her."  Luke 1:45

6.  Thankful

This is my God-daughter. I met her 10 years ago when I was her 9th grade science teacher. She and I bonded right away and I'm so thankful for all she has taught me about overcoming hardship and unconditional love.  She gives me courage to embark on this adoption journey.  

7.  It's About...

It's about family :-)

Linking up with Kelly!
Manticore Mantoan