Friday, September 4, 2015

Fearlessness

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





Wednesday, June 3, 2015

WWRW: Parenting Teens

I've talked about parenting books before, but typically with a focus on younger children.  (See Grace Based Parenting and How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk).  Both of those remain my favorites, and I have bought my own copies and re-read multiple times!

With our adoption finally approaching, I figured I could use some guidance on parenting teenagers.  I picked up How to Talk so Teens Will Listen and Listen so Teens Will Talk from the library.  It's by the same authors as the kid version and written in the same conversational style.  I love the practical help of exactly what to say.  And the authors do not shy away from hard topics - drugs, sex, etc. are all talked about in a very straightforward manner.

The skills are generally the same as the kid book, but the teen book shows how to apply them in a way that makes sense for teens.  It focuses on being respectful and getting results without using punishment and without exasperating our teenagers!  I love the techniques because they are simple to understand and while they might be challenging at first to put into practice, especially in the heat of the moment, they promote healthy relationships and lasting responsibility.  I highly recommend!






Linking up with Jessica for What We're Reading Wednesday!



Monday, May 25, 2015

Work to home fashion

One of the troubles of being a part-time stay-at-home-mom and part-time teacher is that I need two outfits every day.  First thing in the morning I get dressed professionally and then when I get home mid-morning, I need to change quickly before sticky kid hands reach me!  I typically take off my dress clothes and throw on a t-shirt and sweats.  But of course this doesn't make me feel very good about my appearance, especially if we need to run errands that day!

One idea I had to remedy this was to keep a similar vibe with both of my outfits for the day.  Maybe the same color scheme and/or same jewelry and/or the same cardigan.  That way I'm sort of only thinking of one outfit for the day.  When I manage to do this, the results are usually pretty good!

Here's some example pics I snapped one day back in the winter!

    

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

WWRW: Teenager Picks

We're in the process of adopting a teenage girl who LOVES to read.  One of the ways that I've been able to connect with her is through books.  She loves Harry Potter, which I've read multiple times, but she also loves many books that I'd never read or even heard of!  She suggested for me two series - the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan and the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.

I started with the Percy Jackson series because it seemed much more manageable - 5 books, approximately 300 pages per book versus Wheel of Time with 15 much lengthier books.  Plus Percy Jackson is young-adult-lit, which makes it a quick read with lots of action!  

In a lot of ways, Percy Jackson is much like Harry Potter.  The title character is a pre-teen boy who is a year-older in each successive book.  There is a prophecy that predicts that Percy will have to be the one to defeat evil and like Harry Potter, alludes to him needing to die to accomplish it.  Instead of a secret world of magic, there is a secret world of greek gods and demigods, a.k.a. half-bloods, who are children of the gods.  While it didn't come quite to the level of Harry Potter, it is a fun fantasy world and I imagine that my middle-school-self would have loved all the mythology!  


I haven't started the Wheel of Time series yet, but my husband tells me it is quite good.  It is lengthy and has a higher reading level than Percy Jackson, so I don't imagine it's one I can read while watching the kids in the backyard!  Its appeal is more high school to adult versus middle school and up with Percy Jackson.  Wheel of Time is similar to Lord of the Rings in terms of creating a very large fantasy world with a huge cast of characters.  I look forward to reading it!



Linking up with Jessica for What We're Reading Wednesday!


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

My daughter

We got to see her again.  We got 3 hours with her at a mall near her foster home.  So surreal.  Visiting with your 14-year-old hopefully-soon-to-be-daughter.  Surreal.  And amazing.  And so emotional to leave.  I feel like a chunk of me is missing.  In some ways very similar to the loss I would feel when John and I were dating long distance after each weekend visit.  But in some ways so different.  My mama-bear instinct is in full gear.  She is a child.  A mature and lovely and intelligent 14-year-old, but still a child.   And I have no way to communicate with her until our next visit!  

The stress and the excitement are causing me one heck of a backache and my sleep is all thrown off.  Strangely enough my body's response to all this is much the same as when I've been pregnant!  I guess my body doesn't care that I'm expecting a teenager and not a newborn!  

----

In other news, do you follow me on Instagram?  If not, you should click on over there and check out some of my recent posts.  I'm participating in an adoption/foster care share with #knittogetherbyadoption.  There's some awesome information and inspiring stories from a whole lot of fabulous moms.  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

This Mother's Day

In some ways, this Mother's Day is much like the ones in the past few years - breakfast in bed, church, and John handling the children for the afternoon so I can get some quiet time.  But I feel much different today than in Mother's Day's past.  Today I yearn for the child I met only a week and a half ago.  I've spent much of the day crying, wondering how she is.  We haven't heard back yet about setting up our next visit, so I have no clue what she is thinking.  Is she excited?  scared?  does she want this?  does she know how much we want her here with us?  does she even know that we said yes?


I bought this sign to hang in her room.  You are loved.   

Friday, May 1, 2015

Meeting my daughter

Yesterday I met my daughter.  Well, technically I met the girl that I hope will one day become my daughter.  Sure, it's a long way off to make that official.  Heck, we're a long way off from even having her move here.  Things could definitely still fall apart.  But I fell hard.  I was amazed at the instant connection I felt to her.  I was awed by her beauty and her spunk.  I miss her terribly.  I had to hold myself back from crying when the meeting was over.

We didn't even expect to meet her.  We drove nearly 2.5 hours expecting to only meet with social workers.  And then, while we were sitting in the waiting room, in she walked.  After 18 months of waiting to be approved and being so frustrated with the system, there we were, sitting in a room full of social workers who were on our side and wanted things to work and meeting our child for the very first time.  A room full of love and positivity and potential.

I can't wait to get our first official visit scheduled.  And the kids can't wait to meet her.  Both Blaise and Finn cried when they learned that we had seen her without them!  They sobbed as they told us how much they wanted to meet her :-)




Friday, April 24, 2015

Quick Takes Updates!

I've been out of the blogging grove lately both because I'm so busy and I feel I have so little to say!  But today seemed like a good time to share a few things!


1. First, on the adoption front, we have an interview!  We expressed our interest in being matched with a teenage girl and for the first time the answer wasn't "no"!  It was, "come interview"!  So next Thursday we'll be traveling down to central Indiana to meet with the girl's caseworker and maybe a few others.  I have no idea what to expect since we've never made it to this stage before, but I am cautiously optimistic!


2.  Last night we made asparagus risotto.  I always forget just how yummy this recipe is.  Click on the link, make the risotto.  Even though you have to stir constantly for 20 minutes, it is so worth it!  Yum!  


3.  Lucy is potty trained!  Except for diapers at bedtime, we are a diaper-free house!  After 5+ years of continual diaper changes, we are done, just like that!  And I couldn't be happier!  It's no secret that I'm really not a baby person :)


4.  Easter time was full of fun and chocolate.  I applied my traditional method of allowing the kids to have as much as they like.  I see it as a win-win.  The kids are extremely happy, I don't have to police the moderation, and the candy disappears quickly,  In fact, sometimes they get bored of eating it and play in it instead!  Finn created some peanut butter cup towers and then squished them when he was finished!  


5. Lucy also enjoys sweet things and making messes.  I was doing some work in another room while Lucy was supposedly having quiet time.  Instead, she was enjoying all of the sugar from the sugar bowl!
 


6. And not to be left out, Blaise also enjoys sweet things, although usually not in such messy fashion!  Here he is with his wishing cake, from the book "Zuzu's Wishing Cake".  It's supposed to have a dandelion on top rather than a candle, but this was taken back before the dandelions took over our yard!



7.  I'll close with a picture from our pi day celebrations, which, contrary to what the above pictures suggest, did not include any pie!   Instead, John gave a great lecture on pi using our new chalkboard painted kitchen cabinet!  


Linking up with:
seven quick takes friday 2



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Answered Prayers

We're still waiting to find our child, but I wanted to share some answered prayers.  It's so easy to lose faith and think that God isn't working, or that He isn't listening.  But He is.

So far in this process there have been three kids that we thought would be ours.  The first was a young man.  We prayed diligently that God would bring him home.  And He did.  This young man found his forever home - it wasn't with us, but he was adopted.

The second was a young woman finishing her junior year of high school.  We prayed for her to come home, but also that God's will would be done in her life.  She chose to stay where she was and age out of the system.  While that might seem sad, I believe it was an opportunity for her to have a choice in her life.  In a life that was often chaotic and where she had few choices, she was able to make the decision for herself to age out of the system rather than it just happening to her.  God answered.

The third was another young woman.  We prayed for her to come home, for her to have a family.  Though we won't be able to adopt her, a relative stepped up and said they would like to.

None of these answers is what I want.  But they are answers.  And they are things that bring good to these children.  And I suppose that is truly what I should desire.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Their faces, their stories

We're still waiting to find our child.  We asked to be considered for a 17-year-old girl and were told no.  We received more files and asked to be considered for one.  We're waiting on a response.

We're also now on an email list that sends out files of kids in need of homes.  I read every file.  Even the files of children who clearly don't fit our family.  I read them.  Because they are real kids.  Real kids with very painful pasts.  Real kids in need of families.  I read them, slowly and deliberately.  They'll never know I did it, but I want to acknowledge them all the same.  I always pray for them as I read the files.  And I often cry through them.  

There are so many kids.  Each day I go to the Indiana list and look at their faces.  Their beautiful, smiling faces.  Since I started looking in October of 2013, the list has grown.  Some children have left the list, but many many have been added.  They each have a unique story.  They each come from brokenness, but still have such potential.  I see it in those smiles.

My Lenten goal is to pray more.  To pray the rosary daily, to pray for more children by name, and to pray for friends to step up and be families for these children.  Please, if you are a friend who reads my blog, please pray if God is calling you to be a family for one of these children.



Click on the picture below for some videos that explore adoption from foster care from different perspectives.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The process beats you up

I feel beat up.  Beat up by the process.  It's completely emotionally draining.  It's been such a long time getting to this place.  Bad information, people quitting their jobs and random unexplained factors have made it seem like a lifetime ago that we started the process.  But it's not just the time that has me feeling beat up.  I got a copy of our home study and read it.  All 16 pages.  Mostly really great stuff, especially from the letters of support from our friends and family and from what John and I had to say about each other and our kids.  But it wasn't all good stuff and it wasn't all true.

There was the part when describing our bedrooms where it said we don't have an open bedroom or extra beds.  That's just not true.  We have 1 open bedroom, 2 open twin beds, and 1 open queen bed.  The open bedroom has been set up with a twin bed since we started our classes, long before the home study.  We walk by that room daily and think of our future child.  

And then there was the part that questioned our character because of our lack of patience in the process.  Yes, we were frustrated with the months of delay in writing the home study.  But that is because we are invested and we care.  That is what makes us good parents - we're already fighting for our kids.  

In the end, it doesn't really matter.  We're approved.  And we've already received some child profiles and we asked to be considered for a specific child.  But even in the midst of the hope, it's hard. 

"If there's a cause worth fighting for it's this: children belong in families." - Nicole Skellenger of MLJ Adoptions. Adoption Quotes