Monday, February 28, 2011

Trying to Gather The Locals

Hey gals! I've heard from many of my adoptive-mom friends in my local area that they would love to see more of a sense of community forming between themselves and other adoptive moms. I'm more than excited at the opportunity to connect with you, hang out together, and share the journey of parenting our treasures in a meaningful and supportive way. So I'm hosting an Adoptive Moms Night Out!

We'll make this first get-together really all about getting to know each other and talking about what interest you have, if any, in making this an on-going thing for those of us who live local enough to do that. Please just bring your favorite delectable dessert to share with us and I'll provide the drinks and salty snacks for us all.

So, my local yokels, please contact me via the email address in my profile for complete details about our Adoptive Moms' Night Out event, or to RSVP with the number of you who are coming.

I realize that communicating this way is casting a pretty big net and many of you are too far away to be truly local for this evening out, but feel free to spread the word to others you may know or that I may have missed. And if you'd like to be kept apprised of our development along the way, let me know!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ummmmm. Yeah. About That.

The other afternoon, Li'l Empress was playing on the stairs.

AFTER I had asked her twice to come down off the stairs
and "please don't play upstairs alone right now."

So, I called to her from the adjoining
living room and waited for an answer.

I called a second time, a little louder in case
she was further up into the hallway and didn't hear me.

In the middle of the third call, she yelled back to me, "What Mommy?"

"Li'l Empress, please come back down the stairs. I asked you earlier not to go up right now."

Silence for a split second.

"But Mommy . . ." (to be read in that universal tone of "that's sooooo NOT FAIR!") ". . . But Mommy, Maggie is playing upstairs!"

Ummmmm. Yeah. Maggie is the cat.

"Li'l Empress?  Maggie doesn't have to obey Mommy. Git your hiney back down the stairs now."

Friday, February 25, 2011

And While We're On The Topic

I'm working up another set of answers to some of the common questions I get about our adoption experience. But I've been waylaid by a cold that isn't fully a cold yet. It is however, a major energy drainer. And the inside of  my thinking processes feel as if they are lined with cotton batting. Not a lot of clear, writing-type thinking going on.

In the meantime, head over HERE and read this. It's a great post about the experiences of a momma who has recently announced that they are adopting (again). And while you are there, the whole site is worth checking out. It's a resource sight created by a friend of mine from our Living Hope Adoption Agency group. I think many of you will enjoy the various perspectives that are offered regularly.

I'm off to snuggle up with my coffee, box of tissues, and sud@fed. We make for lovely companions.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

The other night it was uncharacteristically quiet
from Li'l Empress's corner of the world.
I got up to look around and find out why.
In the dining room, I found this sight.

If you look closely, you will see her magnetic letters
have been strategically placed around the table.

Each letter corresponds with the first letter
of the name of the person who sits there for dinner.
Her version of royal place cards, I guess.
 Li'l Empress rules her empire with an iron fist, I tell ya.

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
(I know, it's rarely wordless here, but it's still fun!)
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom and link up.
Leave a comment and I'll be sure to swing
by your place, too.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

So You Want to Know About Adoption

I'm starting this series of posts in an attempt to answer questions that many of my friends and family have asked me over the last few years.  I must say up front that this is not a definitive discussion of the issues, by any means. Nor will it be scientific, theological, or academic in nature.  :)   (Cuz, gang, I am none of those things!)  Rather, I'm sharing from my own experiences and from the stories of folks with whom I have connected in our own journey to our Li'l Empress. I'm hoping that some of those very same folks will weigh in here on the conversation.  I must also say up front that I would like to give room for differing viewpoints and opinions. But I hope that it can all be conducted in a very compassionate and respectful way.
Several weeks ago, I gave a warm up to the topic and I think that the comments, particularly by my friend, Aus, bear some reading and thinking - especially if this conversation is important to you in your own journey. Click over HERE for the post and its comments. I gotta tell ya, Aus, I almost felt like I didn't need to write this series, so eloquent were your comments and thoughts!  :)
The first question that I often hear from curious folks is "How Did You Know Adoption Was Right For You?"  For a more fleshed-out version of our background story, you can start HERE and read through my archives. But a quick summary that I think will help you, wherever you are in your own journey, is this: We believe that God used a unique-to-me set of circumstances and planted a seed in my heart that eventually blossomed into a full-grown desire to be open to His plan and His Word for alternative ways to build our family. For me, it started with that bookBut that book isn't the only ingredient in this mix that has become my life. And I think it is really, really important to point out that element of the story. Let me expand. . . 

Over the years of my life between reading that book and signing our first adoption application, there were countless experiences and events about which I had to make choices.

I had to choose to keep my heart and mind open to whatever plan God had for me and my future family, even if it meant that He didn't actually desire for us to adopt. It wasn't about the actual process of adoption in those early stages, rather it was about being willing to take the path He was opening and trusting Him for the bigger picture of our life and our calling as a family. For example, at our wedding ceremony, there was a prophetic word spoken over us that our marriage was not just going to be for our benefit and our family, but that it carried a higher purpose for serving and expanding His kingdom. Now, I believe that every godly couple has that same higher calling and purpose - every believer carries the mission to build His Kingdom, in ways and paths unique to that believer and the way God wired them. But to hear it spoken out loud in that vehicle, we had to choose to heed it and point our life in that direction as a mark of trust and obedience. And to know that almost 200 other folks heard it that day, too, was a huge sense of accountability and purpose.

I had to choose to look at the things that happened to me and around me as opportunities to learn more about the issues surrounding adoption, orphan care, international crises involving children, and so on. For example, in my freshman year of college, when given an opportunity to write a paper about timely social issues, I chose to research and study trans-racial adoption issues. In my senior year, I developed a business plan to create and staff and run an orphanage. (Oh, the ignorance of youth! I can't believe how naive I was in my planning!)

I had to choose to tell The Boss JUST HOW deeply I felt about the idea of adoption, as soon as I felt our relationship becoming serious enough to contemplate a life together. (I'm so thankful that he didn't go running the other direction when I told him I didn't care how big our family grew!) I had to choose to surround myself with other folks who would support that dream and help us wait for it in those years. Those friends and family were invaluable to this heart when it grew weary or numb with waiting.

I had to choose whether or not to open the door of my heart to conversations about the orphan crisis in Eastern Europe when The Boss and I would watch the news together in college.  I had to choose to dig a little deeper in prayer and conversation when I found myself completely undone after a church service that featured missionaries sharing about building churches and children's ministries and medical relief centers in remote Asian villages.  I had to choose what to do with information that friends shared about their life experiences in the foster system or their own adoptions.

I had to choose to keep watering what I thought might be a seed of a dream for my family, even when the circumstances of our life together didn't look as if adoption was ever going to be a path we'd take. Between the time that I first read that book and felt broken in my heart for the children who needed parents and parents who needed children to when I put my name on an actual application from Living Hope Adoption Agency was approximately 25 years. That's a long, long time to dream.

I don't say any of that to discourage you who desire to learn more about adoption. I share it to give some context. It was our calling. It was our mission for our family. It needed to be part of The Gang's identity. While I don't believe that one should be adopting children solely as a rescue mission or as some fulfillment of "The Great Commission" (a topic I am certain will be talked about in a coming post),  I certainly do believe that parenting any child God gives to our family is a life-long calling and a mission all its own. Building your family by any means is not for the faint of heart. But how does that answer the question posed? How did I know adoption was right for us?

Simply put, it wouldn't go away. Over those 25 years, it was in front of us as a possible path to pursue. It was around us. All the time. I can't think of even one single year, even when we were in the mad-dash rush of two and three little ones in diapers, that it wasn't in my mind. In my heart. It just wouldn't go away.

Many times, it was almost as if I was seeing things about a circumstance or event that no one else around me would see. Or I was seeing them in ways that didn't connect IN THAT WAY with those who were seeing and experiencing those same things. At other times, I felt like God had given The Boss and I a pair of adoption-lensed glasses. What we saw and experienced came through those lenses and always led us back to the desire, no, the need, to seek out that child He was planning for The Gang beyond the biological options. The choices we made along the way to pay attention to the things in our life helped us clarify the big question of whether adoption was right for us.

Now, let's hear from you who have already answered that same question for your family? Tell us, how did YOU know adoption was right for your family?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

Ni Hao Yall

LadyBug is really a chip off the old Momma block.  For weeks now, she's been begging me to help her move her room around, to change things up a little. No real reason, except that a girl likes some renovating once in a while. And it's even more fun when it's free and not driven by necessity. Like another project that The Boss took on this weekend. {Cough Cough} Ahem. But that's another post entirely. . . 

Disassembling the room turned into some purging and organizing.
I LOVE it when that happens! I mean, I don't love that this child
seems to need that kind of help more often than other of my children.
But I do love filling up a garbage bag and moving it OUTTA HERE!

 We bought this used dresser when we first moved here
from neighbors who were retiring and down-sizing.
Over the course of its life, it's been teal, red, and mint green.
The mirror was free, from the master bath of our previous home.
It used to be gold. There's nothing like the power of pure white
paint to revitalize and re-purpose old furniture!

Moving the room around also prompted a heavy duty cleaning
of all the corners and radiators. The first Spring cleaning of the season.
The Boss found the nightstand on one of his morning runs.
It was 80's off-white with gold trim.
We really love white paint around here!

I found that mirror in a neighbor's trash pile this evening.
Once The Boss is finished the "big project" that keeps getting
bigger each time he heads in to work on it, he'll take it out
to the side yard and spray paint the frame and feet.
White, of course.

Here's a close up of my trash-treasure:

The carpets and walls are all dusted and clean and every surface is gleaming. Purses are sorted, toys are purged, and junk drawers are emptied. LadyBug is thrilled beyond words (literally, she couldn't speak when I brought the mirror in) with her "new" room re-do and I am thrilled to have taken out a garbage bag full of junk. I LOVE changing a room around. She really IS her momma's girl!

Link up HERE and join in
on Sunday Snapshot. If you leave me a comment, 
I'll come by and check out your pics, too.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Nothing says "Happy Valentine's Day!"
like a chocolate-chocolate chip brownie cake.

Unless you are an Eagles fan.
Then, it's all about the new team tee.

If you are a fashionista,
then funky tees speak loudly to you.

If you are a Momma, handsome sons
dressed to the nines (or not!) speak clearly, too.

And if you are the Li'l Empress over it all,
then a red doggie who rewards you with happy barks
and "Atta boys" works pretty well, too.

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
head over and link up! 
Leave me a comment and I'll drop by.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Why I Love Valentine's Day

I love Valentine's Day.

I love the proliferation of hearts and flowers that take over the stores. I love seeing my and my neighbors' flags fluttering across the neighborhood. I love watching the flower trucks zooming past the house on their delivery routes. I love the love songs that the radio stations pull out from the archives, sparking memories as I listen. I love the sappy television commercials (Well, except for that dumb one with the couple looking out the window during a storm where the crack of thunder makes her jump. Ugh. Really? Puhleeze.) and all the Hallmark movies with all the Hallmark ads. I even loved watching the two managers of my local grocery store set up their annual flowers and chocolates display at the entry to the store and listening in on their banter while they worked.  I love it all.

I'm a sap. I know that. And I'm perfectly content with it. I like my sappiness. Frankly, I think that a few more people should give in to their inner sap more often. Instead, far too many folks seem to camp on their cynical, critical, jaded side. And this particular holiday seems to bring out the worst of it.

Oh, yes. I went there. I wasn't gonna do it. But I went there. And here's why.

I KNOW that what we experience as the "day-after-New-Year's" headlong media blitz and retail snow job called Valentine's Day promotion is overdone.  I know it and I don't like it any more than the rest of you.  But I don't buy into the commercialism of it all. I recognize that it's way overdone in the media. The car and jewelry and travel and chocolate ads are bent on selling us stuff we don't need.

(Well, okay, we all need some chocolate. And now that I stop to think about it, I might need a bit of a tropical vacation while I'm staring out at all the dirty snow in my front yard. But I digress....)

I also know we're "supposed" to show love and express love every day of the year. Really. And I do, every day. In countless, often menial and unnoticed ways. I mean, I am not scrubbing toilets and sorting stinky socks cuz I'm getting paid so well, right?

I also know that Hallmark and American Greetings and all the other card companies have been cashing in on the holiday. Yada yada yada. I know all that.

And I still don't care. I love Valentine's Day.

I think everyone needs to stop once in a while and play in the puddles of sappiness a little bit. I think everyone should pause and think about their first love for a moment. It is my firm opinion that everyone should take a stroll down memory lane and remember their favorite Valentine's Day. I think we all need a little mush. I am determined that we all ought to find a moment or two - or, say, a whole day! - to let the sentiments of all the glorious, lavish, crazy, sweet, innocent, and interesting kinds of love wash over us.

Husband and wives should take an extra minute to kiss a little naughty.
Don't worry, it won't kill the kids to see it - after all, it's Valentine's Day!

Parents should hug some extra and kiss the sweet faces
of their babies, no matter the age. And if you have teen boys like I do,
it might be the one day that they LET you be a little mushy
and maybe even be a little mushy back!

Siblings should stop and say "I love you" to each other
and acknowledge that the love they share
is vitally important to keeping a family healthy and growing forward.

Friends ought to take a moment and recognize
that their love is sustaining in good times and in bad.

You see, I come to this strong set of feelings out of a long history. My mom always made Valentine's Day special when we were kids growing up. A fancier than normal meal prepared just for the occasion. A card by our plate. A little box of chocolates or conversation hearts from my dad.  A special, usually decadent dessert to share together. It wasn't over the top. It wasn't sensationalized. It wasn't commercialized. It was a pause in the regular routine of our busy home to acknowledge that the everyday love in our home was to be celebrated. To be cherished.

Later, my dad started a tradition when I went off to college of picking out a Valentine's card and sending it to me with a little something that every college kid loves: cash. And while I really appreciated the moolah, what I really treasured was the card. It was all done by him. (I suspect that ours was like many other families - most of the correspondence was from both of my folks but usually carried out by my mom, so his handwriting on the card took on special significance to me.) And even now, when I get that card in the mail addressed to The Boss and I in my Dad's script, I still feel a little thrill.

When the grandkids came along, he continued the tradition by picking out cute little cards for each one of them and tucking a crisp dollar bill inside. And each year, my kids LOVE the anticipation of seeing his distinctive handwriting on the card, addressed to each of them individually. They smile and delight in their "monies" (as Li'l Empress called it this morning) and they revel in the feeling that Grandpa (and Grandma - he signs it for her, too!) loves them. Even though my two oldest are far past the thrill of a simple dollar bill, they tuck it in their pockets with soft smiles. They GET what that card means. They know that they are loved. 

And THAT, my friends is why I love Valentine's Day. It's a beautiful excuse to pause and appreciate the love you have in your life. It's the perfect reason to stop what you are doing and let the ones around you know in no uncertain terms how you feel about them. Celebrate love today. In whatever form it appears in your life - go and celebrate it simply or lavishly. Just be sure you do it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

Ni Hao Yall

We spent Saturday at my sister's house, just around the corner (I know, how cool is it that I live so close to not just one but two of my sibs?!). It was a grand celebration of my handsome nephew's 11th birthday. There were balloons, streamers, and food.

OH, THE FOOD!  My family knows how to do it right when feeding the ones we love. Two different kinds of home-made soup. Deli meats, chips, veggies, and dessert. Dessert in itself was a sight to behold. My mom made her Ricotta Cookies, frosted in pink and green and white. She also made sugar cut-out cookies in heart-shapes and frosted pink and white. There were big, thick, chewy Rice Krispy treats, chocolate-frosted cupcakes with mounds of sprinkles. Lots and lots of sprinkles. And lots and lots of sticky pink-colored kisses along the way.

But you'll have to take my word for it. I forgot my camera. The fuzzy, cottony, ick inside my head must have kept me from remembering to grab it on the way out the door. Drat!

However, I did catch this delightful shot when we got home and let the kids decompress in front of a favorite show.  How cute is our little Sleeping Beauty?

All that play time with her cousins wore her out. Especially since she was up so late the night before for our church's Valentine Dessert Night. And up early that morning. Skipping a nap for this one is usually a recipe for some serious grumpies the next day, so even though it was pretty late in the day to catch some Z's, we let her enjoy the slumber for a little while. Especially after we counted how many of Grandma's cookies she'd consumed. The crashing off a sugar high is even worse with an already sleepy girl!

And while she slept, LadyBug and I surfed the net for a couple good pics of Bono. Why, you ask? Well, LadyBug was invited to a Celebrity Dress Up birthday bash and she really got into her brother's suggestion to find a celeb that her other friends wouldn't automatically imitate. I was thrilled when she picked Bono. And even more thrilled that she seemed to know more about his "faith in action" activism than his music.  Here's the picture she chose to copy:

And here is the look we came up with to copy it.

Not his most current look but I think she pulled it off pretty well. And I was totally thrilled that she was all about his relief work and not just his music career. There were lots of other pop stars represented, but she was the only Irishman with a mission :)

We also started the planning and purchasing process of re-doing the upstairs bathroom this weekend. Took advantage of a big huge "Bath Event" sale going on at the local home improvement store. But none of you care about seeing pics of a boxed toilet. No matter how many stars it gets for flushing power, right?

I really need to be better at bringing my camera where ever I go. This week's boring Sunday Snapshot is proof positive!

Link up by clicking HERE
but leave me a comment before you go.
I'll come by your obviously-more interesting-
post-of-family-fun and leave you a comment too!

Friday, February 11, 2011

That Crazy Girl O' Mine!

Every so often, when things are getting too quiet around here,
I go looking for Li'l Empress.
And every so often, this is what I find when I go looking.

That cupboard normally looks like this:

But when Li'l E is bored, or when she needs to show a
certain member of this family JUST WHO IS REALLY THE BOSS,
she does this:

And stuck behind that open door, fortified with all the biggest pillows, toys,
and blankets that she can find to keep it barricaded "just so" 
is that previously mentioned family member:

I'm not sure just who needs therapy
more at this point: my poor diva kitty, Maggie
or that crazy girl o' mine?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Working Up A Post

I'm working on a post about adoption. I'm hoping it will be series of answers to some big questions I've been getting from friends and acquaintances in recent months. I'd like some of you to weigh in on the topics. Please leave a comment with your thoughts to some of (or all of!) the questions below.  Feel free to add your own questions, as I'm fairly certain that these few are NOT enough to get us started!

  • How do I know if adoption is right for me?
  • Why should I adopt?
  • How do I choose what path of adoption is right for me and my family?
  • Where can I go to learn more about adoption?
  • How do I talk to my family (my spouse, my kids, etc.) about my interest in adoption?
  • What do I look for in an agency? Do I even need an agency?
  • What questions should I be asking to help me start the process of readying my heart and my home for an adoption?

This post (or series of posts) will be BY NO MEANS exhaustive. Or even authoritative. Rather, I'm seeking to answer from my experiences, to share the resources I've encountered, and to utilize the community of adoption-built families in a way that helps those who are seriously inquiring. I'm looking to put together some ideas, anecdotes from real life, and starting points for the folks who come to me with interest.  I doubt that everything I know will be ENOUGH for these folks, so I'd like to hear from you.

One of my favorite things to do is to network folks with resources and with other people who can be meaningful in their life journey. If you are interested in adoption, then this coming post might be for you.  If you enjoy sharing what you have experienced or helping folks connect with resources and information, then this post might be for you.  If you have done this process called adoption, even once, then this post I'm brewing up might be for you.

Come on, share away. Ask me anything.  Tell me your story. Share your tips and tricks and secrets. I'm anxious to hear from YOU!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Give-Away!

Who doesn't love a little bit of free these days?  Especially if you've been stuck in the house with cabin-fever washing over you in waves of icy wet, antsy, ickiness.

Not that I'm feeling any of that.


Head over to my friend's blog. It's brand new, encouraging, uplifting, and a great read.

And today?

Today she's hosting a give-away.

I think you might really, really like this one.

Go on. You know you want to.  Really. Go.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Scenes from the epic Ice Storm of 2011 . . .

Our front yard was a sheet of ice at 7 a.m.

I would love it if the pine trees at the corner
of our lot would just crack under the pressure.
It'd save us and our neighbors a lot of money
this coming summer!

My pretty little Japanese Maple
is holding up pretty well under all the
weight of this ice.

 The Boss captured all this frozen beauty
when he ventured out to check the drain pipes and gutters.

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
If you came by today, let me know
by leaving a comment.
I'm getting lonely for adult conversation!