Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I didn't really make New Year's Resolutions this year. I usually do, but this year I made goals instead - things I'd like to accomplish or do (rather than things I want to change about myself, which is how I think of resolutions.) For January my goal was to declutter and simplify (February's goal? Continue to declutter and simplify.)

I decided a few weeks ago on another goal - rather than just pinning things like crazy, I want to actually DO some of the things I have pinned on Pinterest. Although I don't spend a lot of time on the actual site, I use Pinterest a LOT. I use it like a search engine if I'm looking for a certain type of project (for example: a few weeks ago when I cleaned out our closets and donated, I kept quite a few sweaters and made a "Uses for old sweaters (Repurpose!)" board. Can't wait to make some of those things!) And since I follow quite a few craft blogs, I pin any projects I'd like to keep in mind for the future - my biggest boards are "Things to make and give" with wonderful handmade gift ideas, and "Crafts to do with the kids," which is out of control. 60+ pins, many of which I've shown the boys & which they really want to do. And none of which we've actually done.

I love doing crafts with my kids, and heaven knows they need things to keep them occupied! But it's so easy to let that slide and just let them watch TV or whatever while I get some work done. So I've made it my goal to do at least one thing a week that I have pinned, primarily crafts with the kids. Most of the crafts I've pinned (for kids at least) are super easy and take little prep work - because that's the kind of kids' craft that is up my alley! So there's really no reason I can't accomplish this, at least most weeks.

First up, something the boys have been BEGGING for, Hot Rocks.

 This was one of the first projects I pinned (although I can't find the original pin now...), from a blog called Play Based Learning out of Australia, with lots of great kids' ideas.

The best thing about this craft is that it uses things you're bound to have on-hand: rocks from the back yard, your oven, and broken crayons.WIN.

While I gathered broken crayons, Tobin went on a rock search in the back yard. I told him to look for bigger ones that are smooth. He came back with about 43 rocks, and couldn't really resist the shiny jagged ones, so I just picked out rocks that looked like they'd work.

We peeled the wrappers off the crayons - you probably don't have to do this, but I thought if the crayons melted down to the wrapper, it would be frustrating for Tobin and Micah. In the meantime, the toaster oven was heating up.

The original pin said to heat the rocks in a oven set to 150 degrees Celsius - which I looked up on a converter and found was 304 Fahrenheit. 300 degrees seemed pretty hot to me, since we'd be handling these rocks, so I started us at 250 degrees. But...that wasn't hot enough and cooled off too quickly to melt the crayons. So back in the oven they went.

300 degrees was perfect - just on the edge of being too hot to handle, and the crayons melted right on. I used tongs to take the rocks out one at a time for the boys, leaving the rest in the oven to stay warm. I put them in Tupperware containers so that the boys didn't have to hold them, and also so they weren't sitting directly on our table.

**In retrospect... Should have put dishtowels under the containers to keep the heat completely off the table.  ALSO... Those particular Tupperware containers now have crayon melted permanently to them. So don't use a container you're really attached to.

 Luke (11) really enjoyed this activity - he painted all his rocks black with other colors mixed in. It was cool to see the way the colors bled together.

Tobin (4) continued to work 30 minutes after the other 2 boys finished, and has asked several times since if we can do hot rocks again. He hasn't noticed that I dumped the 33 rocks he found that we didn't use.

Micah (2) was not a fan. I think this would be a great project for most toddlers, it doesn't require skill, and I let his rocks cool a bit more than the others (and helped him press his crayon down.)

But my particular toddler?
Is a little weird about getting things on his hands. With his first rock, he got some melted purple on his finger. So all I heard for the rest of the time was, "MOM. Mom. MOM. Finger. NAPKIN. MOM. FINGER." I gave him a napkin, but it really didn't come off. He spent a LOT more time happily trying to un-purple his finger than he did coloring. At least he was occupied...

Here's the final product:

This was a fun and easy activity, great for a rainy day.

Like most kids' crafts...not sure what I'm supposed to do with these now. At the moment, they're in a ruined Tupperware container on the counter. I'll probably just toss them back outside with the rest of the rocks, but I'll have to wait until Tobin isn't looking, because he'd FLIP.

Technically I already have one "Pinned it and Did it" for this week, because we had my friend Amy's Coconut Chicken Curry for dinner last night. I thought I had everything on hand that I needed, but didn't have the right amount of coconut milk, and I had the wrong kind of curry paste. Oops. I still  liked it, but it wasn't very popular with my fam (as I expected, since I'm the only one who likes coconut.)

Tobin is doing a doing a craft inspired by several pins right now (you'll have to wait to find out what that is, but it involves shaving cream, so it's a hit, and has allowed me to write this entire post.) And I think next up will be this fun looking thing - again, because it's made with things I already have on hand.

In the meantime, I'll probably have pinned 5 more projects. Oh well...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Capture Gratitude/1000 Gifts


Tobin is ALL better, praise Jesus. But Luke developed a sore throat on Friday and tested positive for strep on Saturday morning.  While I was at the doctor's office with all 3 little boys, Matt was at Urgent Care - he woke up with Conjunctivitis, his eye was swollen up and almost sealed shut. Luke could have been back at school today, but one of his eyes hurts and is bright red. We started him on drops this morning (which they called in for me, which is good because 3 visits to the pediatrician in 2 weeks is too many.)

My eyes aren't red at all, but they feel puffy, and I can kind of feel the inside of my eyelids. Double sigh.

I guess it's just this time of year.

Nevertheless, there's lots to be thankful for - not the least of which that we can afford healthcare, prescriptions, and have easy access to doctors and pharmacists.

We had company Sunday afternoon... I had plenty of time to get everyone ready, since we couldn't go to church or let Luke be around people until he'd been on his antibiotic 24 hours. What I didn't have was time to everything I needed to do AND hold Micah Marvin as much as he was wanting to be held.

So I strapped him on. I haven't resorted to carrying MM at home yet (although I have worn him a LOT in public), because he hasn't really wanted/needed it. But I wore him on my back for HOURS on Sunday, and he was so happy. He periodically hugged me from behind  or say, "DIS DIS", wanting me to crane my head around so he could give me a kiss. Darling.

Despite company and rampant sickness, I have been able to get a few things done this week.This is a season of adjusting to being a family of 5, and we're spending a LOT more time than usual at home.  I've really wanted to use this season of homebound-ness to get some things more organized around the house - projects that are easier to do when you're at home for larger chunks of time.

First up was the pantry. I just reorganized my pantry a few months ago, but we've still had a problem with weevils. Now it's mostly because little hands don't always seal things back in their packages. But I'd also found them in my pasta containers - so I bought some new sealed containers, and put everything else in glad ware containers from our massive post-new baby meals collection. While I was at it, I also put down new shelf liners and reorganized.

I also did the sink under the boys' bathroom (to make room for our large collection of Micah-lotion and conditioner.) I didn't take a picture of that, but I did get one of the inside freezer, which may be the place in our house that most needed to be cleaned out.

 I realize this doesn't look super organized - it actually doesn't look that different than it did before I cleaned it out.

The difference is that this picture shows all food that's been bought RECENTLY and will be used in the next few weeks. Before it was FULL - I could hardly fit any of our daily/weekly needs food in there. I was keeping everything like that in the standing freezer in the garage. Because our indoor freezer was full of food. Mostly stuff from several years ago. Ugh. Why didn't I do this 3 years ago? It didn't even take very long. And now when we need a new loaf of bread, I don't have to go into the freezing garage to get it.

Refereeing and negotiating sibling conflict is my least favorite aspect of being a mom (even lower than poop and vomit, and that is saying something.) When I get glimpses of brotherly love, it makes my heart SO HAPPY.

Yesterday, despite having hardly left the couch for 2 days, Luke really wanted to play in his basketball game. We have a few players out of town, so he knew the team really needed him (without him, there were only 5 players.) The doctor said that as long as he felt better, he'd be on antibiotics for long enough by game time (4:45), so play he did. He was SO TIRED when that game was over!

While he was playing, Tobin made this sign and ran along the sidelines with it (he really wanted to go over and show Matt, but Matt was filling in for our coach, who is out of town.)

I asked him what it says, and he translated for me: "Go Luke Meyer". Love.

 Aunt Terry was in town this weekend. It was her first visit to Nebraska since we lost Uncle Jon, so it was hard - but so good to have her here. We got lots of good time with Matt's dad and stepmom, and Betsy's family, and hopefully didn't infect them all with strep. Or pink eye. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I mentioned that Tobin has been sick for a good long while now?

We're on our third bottle of children's ibuprofen. Our second antibiotic. And the PA at Urgent Care suggested I get some kids' Mucinex to help with all of the congestion in his head.

Super T? Has had ENOUGH.

He especially resents the Mucinex, which he says is "spicy."

Yesterday when it was medicine time, I couldn't find the antibiotic or the Mucinex. Tobin had hidden them under Micah's bed.

And right now? I tried to make a party out of the fact that rather than taking THREE medicines like he's had to the last 2 days, he only has to take ONE.

He locked himself in the bathroom.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Capture Gratitude (1000 Gifts)

“There is no event so common place but that God is present within it, always hidden, always leaving you room to recognize Him or not to recognize Him.”  Fredrick Buechner               ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tobin has been sick ALL WEEK LONG. I took him to the doctor Tuesday (as in a week ago tomorrow.) He tested positive for strep, which is what I expected - he was running a fever, had a sore throat and a tummy ache. They put him on Amoxicillin, so I thought we were good to go. We went to our preschool music class Wednesday @ 11, since Tobin had been on antibiotics for 24 hours, and he seemed to be feeling much better. We went out to lunch afterwards (Buffalo Wild Wings - my mom LOVES wings), and Tobin ate NOTHING and lay in the booth with his head in my lap. Even though I'd ordered him Mac & Cheese, his absolute favorite. In retrospect, I should have been more worried, but since he'd woken up at 4AM screaming from his tummy and generally not feeling well, I just thought he was tired. It was all downhill from there. I called the doctor again on Thursday, but they said they like to give it the antibiotic 72 hours. Ok. So every day, Tobin seemed fine, like he was getting better (which is why we were out and about some). And then at night, his fever would spike and he'd wake up at 4am miserable. I am SO TIRED.

Sunday afternoon I took him to urgent care because frankly, we need to sleep. They switched his antibiotic and last night he slept through the night and woke up without a fever. YAY! But it's been a long week.

AND I just dropped my mom off at the airport. Sigh.

So if ever there was a week when I needed to be counting gifts, this is IT!

We missed out on quite a few fun plans this week - most notably, the Omaha Children's Museum with my awesome sister-in-law and nieces. And lunch at the newly opened Chick-Fil-A. I may or may not be bitter about the "wish you were here" picture of them eating their Chick-Fil-A sandwiches.

We did NOT miss preschool music - and I sure hope we didn't infect the whole class. Are you still contagious on antibiotics that aren't working to heal you? 

Anyway... We are signed up for a fun time every Wednesday morning with one of my boys' favorite people, teacher Susie. Sue leads the children's worship at our church and has a music studio. I love seeing the boys learn music and also have a great time with fun friends.

 Our little Ugandan was a little unsure at first (as he is in every new situation.) But his LOVE for music, singing and dancing won him over QUICKLY. I think we're raising a future rock star. Or broadway dancer. Or classical musician.

33. Friends on the same path
Our other outing this week (at which I ALSO thought Tobin was feeling better, and hope we didn't infect everyone else) was a get together for Nebraska families who've adopted or are adopting. We had a sweet time (as always) with our friends the Blockers, and also got to meet an internet friend face-to-face. Erin and her family are waiting on their referral, and it was fun to (hopefully) encourage them and get to know them.

I am thankful that despite having my mom here and being woken up at 4am most days this week, I have had some time to read and pray. I had pretty regular reminders that I NEED the Lord, and am thankful that He always fills my cup, when I'm willing to lift it to Him.

This week I'm reading about how He is my shelter. I want to make my home in Him.


I know, I'm obsessed. But Tobin has felt really left out of the footie pajama club, and I found some on clearance (for $3!!) at Target for him this week. He was so excited. So here are my footie boys:

Of course, being feverish, T was way too hot in footie pajamas, so he hasn't worn them since this picture was taken. Maybe we'll try again tonight, I think they just came out of the laundry.

36. HELP (and the beauty of organization.)
Wouldn't it have been nice of me to treat my mom and let her really relax on her vacation? Especially since we were relatively homebound?

Nope: I put her to work. We took advantage of the time stuck at home to tackle some big organization projects. The biggest was my craft area, which was a MESS. It was once relatively organized. And then I learned to sew. And several people gave me large bags of hand-me-down fabric, which had no home, so ended up being piled up all around my little craft corner. It was ugly to look at and unpleasant to work in.

Thursday it was FREEZING here (and Tobin was obviously not well, as opposed to looking like he felt better.) So we holed up in the basement and I organized while my mom folded fabric.

And folded and folded and folded.

This is halfway through.
And here's the end result, which was ALMOST worth being homebound for 2 days and missing out on the Omaha Children's Museum and Chick-Fil-A.

Aaaaah. Beauty.

Honestly, I would never have gotten it finished without Mom's help. She got me going (it was pretty overwhelming to decide where to even start). She did the grunt work part, and kept me on task when I wanted to quit. So. Thankful.

It was a good week for my mom to be here, since it was the first week of college ministry events. #1 I would usually have been at those events, but have stepped back from most things as we transition into a family of 5. I'm happy to be right where I am, but also missing out on my usual activity (and missing many people!) But #2 Matt was gone a LOT this week. For both of those reasons, it was good to have my mom here right now.

But even better than that is a Daddy who, even in the midst of a busy week and very little down time for himself, takes any time he can to love on his boys.

38. NANA
I wish she lived closer, along with my whole family and many others who are near and dear to me. But since I'm not in charge of that... I'll stick with being SUPER grateful that my mom is such a wonderful Nana, and that she was able to come for a nice long visit.

And every time Micah Marvin says sadly, "Nana. Airplane. Bye." And every time Tobin says, "But WHY did Nana have to leave? She could have stayed longer!" I'll just keep giving thanks.  And keep giving thanks and keep giving thanks. Because if this afternoon is any indication, they're both going to say these things a LOT. :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's like an episode of Hoarders up in here...

Like the rest of the country, I hit January and get the urge to declutter. Thanks to my time in Africa, I have even more motivation to toss things than usual. I learned that I can quite cheerfully live with 1 week's worth of clothes and almost none of my stuff...but not without books or my family. (although I AM going to make myself go through our books. I haven't decided if I'm going to give them away or try to sell them on half.com - thoughts?)

I'm taking a bit of a break now that my mom is here...but the week before she came I was in a frenzy.

I don't consider myself a hoarder, but after going through my closet and coming up with THIS MUCH STUFF to donate/toss, I'm beginning to wonder. This is what I loaded up to take to our church's clothing exchange donation box. See those 3 big bags on the right? All my stuff. Just a few things of Matt's, in the smaller bags on the left. And the top bag? Shoes. ALL SHOES. Some of which I've had for YEARS. Why have they survived years of periodic decluttering? Because they were formal shoes, so of course they didn't get worn, but you never know when you might need them. So shoes from weddings I was in 10 years ago were still living in my closet. Sigh.

I'm trying to break free from the tyranny of "you never know when you might need..." Some of the decisions I made were a bit painful - if it hasn't been worn in a year, it went, even if I still like it (I've decided clothes can't have sentimental value.) The pain is completely assuaged by this:

I'm so happy with my organized closet, I want to move in there. I actually LOVE being organized. Why did it take me 40 years to learn that YOU CAN'T BE ORGANIZED WHEN YOU HAVE TOO MUCH JUNK. Once I got rid of things, my closet was super easy to organize.

Scarf storage was something that really mystified me. I'd had them hanging around a hanger at the front of my closet, but that was a mess. I searched Pinterest, but it was no help at all (and usually Pinterest is GOLD for any kind of organization ideas.)

I had the brilliant idea to use a wine rack (I was hoping to find one that looked sort of like this, so I could roll up scarves and stick them in the slots). But not being a wine drinker, I had no idea where to find one. After checking Hobby Lobby and Target (my 2 most frequented stores) to no avail, I found them on Amazon. But it wasn't exactly what I was thinking, and I didn't really want to pay $40. So I settled for these boxes, which have worked out just fine. And they are cute.

I just have to make myself roll the scarves up and put them away instead of laying them on my dresser.

I had so much fun organizing my closet, I tackled the kitchen. I really wish I'd thought to take before pictures, but I was almost done before it occurred to me.

But maybe knowing that what I'm getting rid of (this time in a coming-once-the-weather-permits garage sale) filled two boxes, you can use your imagination.

Omelet pan: Used once and made a mess.
Pots and pans: Handed down to me when I moved into an apartment, before I was married. When I married Matt & he had a nicer set, I kept my old ones because????  I'm like a survivor of the depression or something. Believe it or not, I've actually decluttered my kitchen for a garage sale before. I have no idea why I held onto all of these pots and pans.

Oh. And if you're friends with me on facebook, then you recognize the french whisk in the top picture. I had no idea what it was or where I got it, so I posted a picture and got like 40 responses. "It's a whisk." "It's for serving honey." "We had one growing up and called it 'the boingy thing!" Hilarious. Even funnier, when I found out it was a french whisk, suddenly it seemed like something I need to keep. I have actually been using it (for hot chocolate), and I really like it. Not just because it's french. (or maybe still because it's french.)

Once again: After getting rid of everything that I don't use regularly (and things that I have many versions of), the cabinets were super easy to organize.


These pictures make me happy.

And the cabinets have stayed this way for a few weeks now.

I saved the hardest one for last. And I did get a before picture of this one:

Ugh. After receiving WONDERFUL meals every other day for a month after bringing MM home, we were busting at the seams with gladware. I pulled everything out, and got rid of things that were discolored or broken. I put all the lids with their matching containers, and threw out anything that didn't have a top or bottom. I then gathered some of the bigger containers, which we won't use regularly, but which I could use when providing meals for others. I put those in a cabinet in the garage, and now our plastics cabinet looks like THIS:

Ah. Happiness and order. This is the one I'm not sure will stay organized without work on my part - the lids seem to have a life of their own. And I'm not often the dishwasher-unloader. But I'm willing to keep an eye on this cabinet, or at least to live with a little disorder there, as a trade off for having someone else unload the dishwasher. :)

I'm ridiculously happy with all of this organization. The next big project to tackle is going to be my craft area. I am not sure how organized I'll be able to get it, since I've learned that the key to organization is getting rid of stuff. Not sure if I'm willing to apply that to fabric and craft supplies! But my mom is here and she's pledged to help me, so we'll see how it goes!!

Linking up at my friend Amy's Anti-Procrastination Tuesday. Because if ever there was a project that was procrastinated....

Monday, January 16, 2012

Capture Gratitude/Counting to 1000 gifts


“There is no event so common place but that God is present within it, always hidden, always leaving you room to recognize Him or not to recognize Him.”  Fredrick Buechner

I posted this picture on facebook yesterday with a comment about living MLK's dream - little black boys holding hands with little white boys, "as brothers."
I got a very insightful comment from my friend Robert, first questioning whether MLK really dreamed of white families adopting black children (nope.), and then sharing a blog post about Martin Luther King's legacy (the short version: He didn't just make speeches and march. He ended the terror of life for African Americans, especially in the South. But I'd love it if you'd go read the whole post.)

I really enjoyed reading this perspective, as well as a guest post from a fellow transracial adoptive parent on one of my favorite blogs, Rage Against the Minivan.

The truth is that I've always admired Martin Luther King, Jr. Like everyone else who gets MLK day off, I'm thankful for a holiday. And even being white, I am thankful that I grew up in the post-civil rights era south. The pre-civil rights south is a place and time I'd rather not think about.  I care about racial equality. And I truly believe that we are all of equal value to the Lord, regardless of our skin color. Our laws should reflect and enforce this. I want my children to grow up valuing differences in race and culture, and want to expose them to as many different peoples and cultures as possible.

But the reality is that Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy was relatively meaningless to me until it was personal.

Additionally, I didn't intentionally buy books showing people of different colors until I knew I had a child of color coming home to live with us. Before adopting, I made choices on parks, libraries, and outings based on convenience. Now that we're a transracial family, I'm making deliberate choices. I'm looking into parks, libraries, and outings that will allow our family to interact with many different people - not the entirely white-bread world of southwest Lincoln.

I wish that I'd been deliberate about these things before. I think they are almost as important for my older two boys as for my Ugandan born son.  As someone who has travelled the world and prides herself on valuing culture and differences, I wish it didn't take adopting a black child to really kick me into educating my family in multicultural issues.

But. I am thankful that I'm thinking about these things now. I am thankful for friends who push my thinking, particularly in the area of race and civil rights. I don't want to go with the flow of our culture. And while I'll never fully understand the experience of being a person of color in the US (or anywhere else), I am thankful that now "multicultural education" isn't just an issue of political correctness. It is personal.



When we first got home from Uganda, MM used "HOT!" for both hot and cold. He's finally learned the difference:

Thanks in large part to ice cream...

29. BIG BAGS (and free things)
When I first started reading craft blogs, I entered every giveaway that came along. And then I realized that they are ALWAYS coming along. And usually you have to follow a new blog (I have two many already), or post about it on facebook (and I already post about plenty.)

I quite entering giveaways (even though I did win a pretty sweet necklace from one of the first craft blogs I read) with just a few exceptions. I really love all of the Noonday Collection, but can't spend that kind of money on accessories (even for a good cause), so I've tried to win giveaways on several friends blogs (no luck, so far.)

But just before I left for Africa, another of my favorite craft blogs had a giveaway to Mixed Bag Designs. I can't really resist bags, plus Little Bit Funky doesn't make you jump through any hoops for her giveaways - you just have to comment. So I entered. And I won. Yay! I even got the bags before leaving for Africa, and used one of them as my diaper bag/carry on (they're laminate, so it's great for travel.)

My favorite, however, is the large weekender. I haven't had any weekends away (and likely won't for a while yet.) But it was GREAT for hauling things around over the holidays. Here it is loaded up for a day at my in-laws "watching" football. It has PJs for all three boys for the ride home, MM's lotions, chips for the dip I brought to share, my knitting, plus my Kindle. Matt is insistent that I have more than enough bags (and I really do), but I sure am thankful for this one :).


Sometimes I think our family is just not suited to Basketball. We're a bunch of hotheads, and I feel like basketball brings out the worst in Matt & Luke. Every basketball season is another chance for us to stretch and grow (publically. I wouldn't mind the growth so much if it were in the privacy of our own home). Sometimes I think we should just move on to other sports - but Luke LOVES basketball, and we NEED the chance to grow. So I'm  thankful. But especially that though yesterday's game was a very close loss, everyone in my family kept our cool. Luke played hard, but wasn't super mad at himself after the game - that, my friends, is a victory.

31. MY MOM
 This should be #s31 - 100 or something. But my mom is here for a while, meeting her newest grandboy and getting the chance to love on all her Nebraska boys. I love having her here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

How to bless a family in the midst of adoption...

As I look back over 2011, I can't help but see how richly the Lord has used so MANY to  bless our family as we pursued adoption. The last few days, I've been thinking, "Wow. My friends could really teach people how to love an adopting family, because we've been loved WELL."

I am still learning and wanting to be a better blessing and encouragement, especially to other adoptive families. But from my experience as the recipient of so much blessing, here are some ways to bless families in the midst of adoption:

Before the adoption...

GIVE There's no way around it. Adoption is expensive. Having biological children is expensive too, but in most cases insurance covers the biggest part. And usually giving birth doesn't involve thousands of dollars of international travel. Or lawyers. Or immunizations. Or notaries. Or 800,000 copies. Or international exchange rates and the sinking power of the dollar.

We were overwhelmed at the support we received - both in gifts, buying the things we sold as fundraisers, and spreading the word about our fundraisers. We received small gifts and large gifts, and we are thankful for every single one.

So give. If you have no money to give, spread the word about fundraisers. Offer any services you provide at a discount or for free (our notary donated all of his services - which were MANY - as his donation to our adoption fund.)

PRAY  Pray for patience in the wait (our wait was miniscule in the adoption world, and it was still excruciating), for endurance in the paperwork (oh.my.word. The paperwork.)

Pray for WISDOM. As you negotiate any adoption, but especially international adoption, there are so many decisions. Families need and hopefully want to make ethical decisions, work with reputable lawyers, agencies, and individuals, and research in order to know they are working in their prospective child's best interest (and the best interest of their prospective child's first family.) I've always felt a strong sense of my need for the Father's wisdom, but NEVER more than in this process.

BE INTERESTED... BUT SENSITIVE I'm mostly thinking of the number of times I answered the "But WHEN" question in the last year.  Even in countries with very streamlined adoption processes, there are still lots of unknowns. With Uganda, while we knew what was next, often that next step could take 1 week or 6 months. It was so hard to answer "I DON'T KNOW" over and over again. I had to remind myself that the person I was talking to had only asked me once...they didn't realize I'd been asked that same question by the last 50 people I talked to. Sometimes I didn't mind at all...other times I wanted to cry. I was thankful that so many were interested in our journey, but also VERY thankful for friends who learned enough about our particular process to stop asking, "WHEN?"

Just a side note: In addition to being sensitive to the waiting, you should also NOT say things like, "As soon as you bring your adopted child home, you'll get pregnant." (Statistically, you are highly likely to be treading on very painful ground there, since there are many families adopting after years of struggle with infertility, or even the sure knowledge that they'll never be able to have biological children. Be quiet.)

During the adoption...

ASK about their new (prospective) child... Who is he? What is she like? How are you attaching and bonding to him? What makes her smile? What makes him laugh? What is fun? What is hard? How can I pray?

DON'T ASK How did he become an orphan? What happened to her? I know that many Americans have a very rosy view of adoption - I did before I actually entered the arena myself. It honestly never occurred to me that adoption ALWAYS involves loss. No one becomes available for adoption without tremendous loss.

I asked this question of adopting friends before we were in it ourselves. And was told, "We're keeping his/her story private to our family, we believe it's her/his story to tell." I was really suprised and confused.

But now I understand: Of the stories that I know - the few children at the babies' home whose stories I know, the back stories of children being adopted by friends I met along the way - ALL of them are heartbreaking. If it were your story, you wouldn't want people discussing it in casual conversation.  I don't think people realize that when they ask "So what's his story?", the answer is deeply personal and not necessarily something you want a child to grow up with everyone around him or her knowing. 

An adopted child's history is THEIR story. If you're interested, here's the blog post I read that really informed our thinking on this: The one with all the privacy.

It's actually pretty hard to tell people who are close to you "that's his story to tell". Even if you say it nicely, you're still basically saying, "That's none of your business." And it IS none of your business. So I'm thankful that our friends and family have been SO understanding of this.

ENCOURAGE Oh people. I have some encouraging friends. I thrive on being a part of a team, so being alone in Uganda was hard for me. It was a LIFELINE that so many friends posted on my facebook wall and sent me messages of love, support and encouragement. So many people told me they were prompted very often to pray - it made me feel like we were all in it together. One of my favorite things is that the encouragement came from friends across my entire life... High School friends I wouldn't even be in touch with apart from facebook, college friends, years of Texas college ministry friends, girls I discipled, women who've mothered me over the years (I'm looking at YOU Pam!), sweet friends from every stage of life, as well as my real life Nebraska friends. AND wonderful women I've met along the way who are fellow Ugandan adoptive Mamas. What a precious fellowship.

I loved the long notes I received. I loved the simple posts saying, "Praying." I loved the people who actually messaged me prayers. I especially loved when people shared Scripture that was encouraging in my situation. I love that several friends included our good news in their facebook statuses.

And OH the CELEBRATION when we had good news. When I posted that MM was OURS, it got hundreds of likes and comments, and again when I posted the news that we were coming home. It was so fun to feel everyone celebrating with us, and for Micah Marvin. I read each and every message I received, and I was so thankful for every word.

However...I also appreciated that MANY of the messages I received included "you don't have to write me back." The power was out a LOT and my internet time was limited. I appreciated that freedom was given me to just read encouragement, be encouraged, and move on.  

PRACTICAL BLESSINGS A friend here in Lincoln called me from Bath & Body Works just before we were flying out, asking me what my favorite scent was. I never would have shelled out for fancy lotion for the trip - but that Japanese Cherry Blossom was like a fragrant aroma and reminder of friendship every time I used it. And I used it a LOT.

For 3 weeks, Matt was here with the boys by himself (before that, he & Luke were with me in Uganda, and Tobin was at Matt's mom's - where he stayed for most of the time I was gone, since Matt had to work.) Luke was at school during the day, and 2 friends of mine took turns picking him up from school and letting him hang with their families. For THREE weeks. He's old enough that he could have just gone home by himself after school, but it was so nice to know he was having fun and being taken care of. These friends also messaged me funny things he'd said or done, and encouraged me that he was doing well. And they even seemed to enjoy having him - I know their sons were disappointed when MM and I got to come home because it meant an end to their Luke time!

PRAY Obviously, this is the biggest blessing. I felt totally carried by prayers, supported by the body of Christ. It was an intense time, and I was battling to trust the Lord - maybe harder than I've ever had to fight. So thankful that so many were fighting with me.

After coming home...

We've been overwhelmed with blessing since we came home.

CELEBRATE  We came home to LOADS of emails, phone mail, and facebook posts and messages. In addition, our neighbors and the ladies from my Moms in Touch prayer group got together and made signs to put up on our street welcoming us home. So fun.

PROVIDE This week (we've been home 5 weeks) was the first full week we've had without meals being provided just about every other day. I felt a little bad - some of our meals were provided by families who have more kids than we do, surely I can figure out how to cook for my family? But the first time I tried to cook for us, it was a MESS. I've got it figured out now (as much as I have anything with 3 kids figured out, I suppose)...but it was so nice to have that buffer time to learn how to live together as a family of 5 - and still eat well. :)

I've also really appreciated how many people offered to give Luke rides home from school or help in other practical ways during our first month home. I have a friend who has kept Tobin each time I had a doctor's appointment for MM - we had quite a few immunizations to catch up on... plus needed to draw liters of blood to get a good picture of our little guy's health. I was REALLY glad Tobin was not there for that bloodbath (literally.)  And just generally, it was so good to have help during this time of transition.

GIVE SPACE I have so appreciated how understanding all of our friends and family have been. Everyone is SO EXCITED to meet Micah Marvin, but people have been super about giving space. We haven't needed nearly the space that I'd heard we would (I think because Uganda requires a slower transition than many countries - so MM already was building trust with me before we came home.)

BUT DON'T STAY AWAY! While I appreciate the space we've been given - I also appreciated that so many friends have said, "When you're ready, we really want to see you!"

I've said no to almost all of my regular activities for this season - so aside from holiday activities, we didn't get out of the house much the first month home. That's not really my gig - and I think it could be really lonely and isolated. Thankful that we were able to see a few friends in small doses in our house - and thankful that they turned a blind eye to my total lack of housekeeping during those first weeks. I mean seriously - one day my neighbors came over and then a friend brought a meal. And they were literally stepping over JUNK EVERYWHERE in the post-Christmas all-our-toys-are-out mess.

BE UNDERSTANDING   I'm thankful for the grace we've been shown with my messy house, but even more so as we've tried to learn to parent a former-orphan. There is an overwhelming amount of material available to prospective adoptive parents with how to foster attachment. I have read blogs, magazines, books, and read things from all over the internet, as well as classes required for our home study. The bottom line is that we're trying to teach our little guy that he can trust us to meet his needs - us specifically, not any person who comes around.

We haven't had to be nearly as protective of this as some families - I think in particular because the process in Uganda is a longer one, so Micah and I had already built quite a bit of trust before we ever hit US soil. But we have had to do things like make sure either Matt or I are always the ones to meet his needs. I fed Micah by hand (using a fork or spoon, but putting food directly into his mouth, like you do for a baby), which caused some big fits in the beginning. For almost all of our trips out of the house the first month, I kept Micah in the Boba carrier, so he was close to me and couldn't be held or picked up by anyone else. Having groups over to our house (which we only did because M was adjusting so well...and it was the only way I could attend) brought out a few orphanage related behaviors that made me feel uncomfortable. So 10 minutes in, I announced to the group that even if MM was asking them to pick him up, we needed them to just give him a high 5 and direct him to us. It's awfully hard to turn a toddler who wants to be held away, especially one this cute. But without really understanding the reasoning why, everyone did, and graciously. (For the record, when friends come over individually, we've had no problem at all... And after making sure that Micah knows them and understands that they're our friends, he's given lots of hugs).

We are SUPER thankful for the community we have brought Micah Marvin home to (both physically here in Lincoln, but also our dear friends and family in other places.) Many adoptive families face questions and resistance, and many more come home to little or no support. If you are one of the MANY who have embraced our family and made this year possible and so much easier than it had to be - THANK YOU. Seriously. You rock.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Capture Gratitude (1000 Gifts)


“There is no event so common place but that God is present within it, always hidden, always leaving you room to recognize Him or not to recognize Him.”  Fredrick Buechner

20. Kairos moments
I read a blog post today and it really resonated with me: Don't Carpe Diem (click the link to read). Also: Hilarious. She talks about how hard it is to follow the advice EVEYRONE gives to moms of young ones, "Enjoy every moment because they grow up so fast."  I try so hard to live in each moment and thank the Giver of all moments - but sometimes the noise and chaos are just too much for me.

The gist (and you really should go read the whole thing, especially if you're a mama to littles):
There are two different types of time. Chronos time is what we live in. It’s regular time, it’s one minute at a time, it’s staring down the clock till bedtime time, it’s ten excruciating minutes in the Target line time, it’s four screaming minutes in time out time, it’s two hours till daddy gets home time. Chronos is the hard, slow passing time we parents often live in.

Then there’s Kairos time. Kairos is God’s time. It’s time outside of time. It’s metaphysical time. It’s those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day. And I cherish them.
I think that just about sums up why I've enjoyed doing these Capture Gratitude posts (and counting gifts in general.) It helps me step outside of Chronos, into Kairos.

I had a Kairos moment this week, reading this book to MM:

It's called "Thank You God", and I read it to MM every single day (several times a day) while we were on our own in Uganda.

Now that we're home, he sits and "reads" it to himself frequently, and he still wants it read to him just about every night.

"God made moon and God made sun, God then made the stars for fun. Thank You God for what You've done. Amen." Amen indeed.

I had a moment a few nights ago where I was just transported back to reading that book to M on the bed at our guesthouse. WAITING. Trying to thank God for everything, but also really wanting to be HOME. And here we are. SO THANKFUL.

(Also...for the first time, this week MM noticed that the little boy in this particular picture looks like him. And he and Tobin just got stars for the ceiling in their room for Christmas. So now MM points to the darker boy and says "MICAN!" (that's Micah Marvin for short :D). He points to the blonde boy and says "BOBIN!" and to the dog and says, "DUDWY!" Makes my heart happy.)

21. Long awaited gifts
I decided a while ago that I'd like to start collecting Fiestaware. The dishes we use every day were ones that Matt & Julie got for their wedding however many years ago (sorry... I can't remember how long they were married.  But Matt & I have been married for 6.5 years, and Julie died 2 years before that... and they'd been married 7 or 8 years? They were from Pottery Barn and got lots of use.) I got some every day dishes when we got married, but they were from Target, and haven't held up well at all. (So Pottery Barn > Target.)

Anyhow... It's taken me a while because I've only used gift money or received them as gifts. A few sets last year (which then sat in our garage waiting for friends), and finished off this year. Well. Sort of finished off. One of the gifts I received was bought at Kohl's - and the set that Kohl's sells is different than all the others I received (it has a teacup and saucer instead of a mug.) So I returned that, but Kohl's would only give me store credit and they don't carry the mugs. So... I have 7 place settings of Fiestaware, and $25 at Kohl's. But I'm happy.

I've had these out for a week, and each time I've had my coffee from one of the fiesta mugs, I've been strongly reminded of drinking delicious coffee from a fiesta mug at Uncle Jon and Aunt Terry's. Aunt Terry was the giver of several of my fiesta sets, so I think of her fondly, and miss Uncle Jon with each cup.

22. Time to do things I love
This is still in pretty short supply. BUT I have tried to work hard at the things that MUST be done, so that I can have some time for things I want to do.

One of those things is sewing - I bought inexpensive plush blankets as the boys' bedspreads, thinking that I would make small quilts for them to have at the bottom of their beds. Then we got our court date, and all but the necessary was put aside.

Little by little, I've been working on the boys' quilts, and it makes me happy. They're very simple, and could probably be finished in one day, if I had a whole day to give. Since I've just worked on them occasionally during nap time or weekend nights, it's slow going.  (But: don't be impressed, these are my first quilts, and they're so simple I hesitate to even call what I'm doing quilting. But there is batting between 2 layers of fabrics, so technically.....)

23. Being outside

Had some work that HAD to be done last week - and when your boss is your husband and you don't actually get paid, it's kind of hard to be motivated. I found that drinking iced coffee and working outside (again - nap time) did the trick. Thankful for the opportunity for some sunshine (and iced coffee!) in January.

24. Organization

I'm going to do a whole post on my organization efforts and decluttering, but I couldn't leave this off my gift list. Because I am SO ENJOYING putting things in order! I only wish I'd thought to take before pictures, because the bottom of my closet was a MESS. I had one of those metal shoe racks with bars,which was all bent out of shape from the kids playing house in my closet. There was just a mess of shoes in there. I got rid of tons of shoes, and put in this organizer and I LOVE IT.  We have a sliding door closet, and not much closet space at all. I thought it was just hopeless, because every time I got things in order, they just got messed up again. But I think this time the organization will keep.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Capture Gratitude (1000 Gifts)


“There is no event so common place but that God is present within it, always hidden, always leaving you room to recognize Him or not to recognize Him.”  Fredrick Buechner


I am a lucky lady. I married an absolutely wonderful man, and there are many things that made me want to marry him. But I would have married him it just for his family. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law are 2 of my best friends, and not many women can say that.

Sara is wonderful in many ways, and is the BEST mother-in-law I know. She's also a fantastic wife. It's nice to have a mother-in-law who is so happily married, and such a wonderful example.

We spent Christmas afternoon at my in-laws, and I noticed her "to do" list for the week before Christmas sitting on the table in the breakfast room:

Make prailines, truffles, vacuum, KISS HUSBAND. Love it.

I am a Texas girl transplanted to a place where I often think the winter is personally trying to kill me (although this year I can hardly complain. This is Texas winter weather at it's finest!)

In addition to hot coffee, fuzzy socks are vital to my survival here. I've been collecting them since I moved here, but I've developed kind of a problem recently. It's called, "HELP, my kids are stealing my fuzzy socks!!" I have some light blue ones (that make my feet look like muppets), and several red pair. But those have been ruthlessly stolen by my two oldest boys.

Luke put socks on his Christmas list this year, and I mentioned to our family that the boys are sock thieves. Matt's dad & stepmom bought me REALLY GIRLY fuzzy socks (this pair came with similar ones in bright yellow and purple.) They also brought each of the boys fuzzy socks, they even found some non-girly ones for Luke. Hopefully the boys having their own socks means we can ALL be cozy. :)

The weather this week has been just GLORIOUS. I've been able to exercise outside, and took a walk with the boys (and dog) several days this week. We even took Micah for his first trip to the neighborhood park.

It does feel like we could use some actual winter weather - I do want to wear my scarves and boots. But I won't complain about a little flip flop weather in the middle of winter!!

 I have ISSUES with New Year's Eve. It makes me grouchy and funky.

Matt wasn't sure what to do with me. He knew I was in a funk, but didn't know how to help me get out of it. At one point, he actually made me do what I make the boys do when they're grouchy - tell him 5 things I'm thankful for. :)

After I was coming out of my funk and going ahead with my fun plan for the day, Matt & Tobin went to the store to grab a few things we needed. Tobin came in the door SO PROUD of himself, bringing me these:

I love Gerber Daisies. And I love getting flowers, something that doesn't happen nearly as often as I thought it did for married ladies. :) What I love the most about this particular bouquet is that Matt let Tobin be the one to bring it in to me, and Tobin loved being the hero. So cute.

I am SO thankful that I chose to come out of my funk and make a fun day for our family. It was so tempting to just crawl into bed, let the boys do whatever they wanted, and just be grouchy. But instead we made fun memories and had a lovely day together.

 Attitude really is a choice. I don't always make the right one, but I'm sure thankful that on this day I did. It was an awfully GOOD year to end it in a grouchy funk.

We spent today at my in-laws watching the Huskers stink up the joint in their bowl game. It was fun to introduce Micah Marvin to "GO BIG RED" and Husker games at Grammie & Papa's.
(And before all my Aggie friends freak out... No I don't have any Aggie clothes for MM yet. We'll get some when we're in TX later this year. Or you can send me some!)

I make due with my hot coffee and fuzzy socks (and more blankets than you can imagine - we use a LOT of blankets in the winter!) But what I'd really love on a cold winter day is a fireplace. Today was the first wintery day we've had in a while, and I'm so glad to be at my in-laws'. Sitting in front of their fireplace and drinking the Pioneer Woman's hot chocolate (DECADENT. As you'd expect from the PW!) has been just heavenly. LOVE.