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Friday, October 10, 2014

Party of Three

It has been six months since I first told you about our family dynamic changing to one of a foster family. As often comes with fostering a child, our time has come to a close.

I have to be honest — when we were struggling through infertility, and then the adoption process, I thought to myself, “Surely, there is nothing more stressful.” And I was proven wrong. The last six months have been the most tumultuous months of my life…I would venture to also include this statement for Josh and Isaiah. Our world has been turned upside down, and even though we’re seeming to end up right back where we started, I know that our world will never be the same.


We’ve known for a few weeks now that our foster son (I hate calling him that, but for his privacy, and state law, I have to in public forums) is going to move out of our home. We’re waiting now for the official documentation before he moves, but it is coming. Since we found out, we’ve been pretty accepting of it. Really, what choice do we have? We knew this was a possibility going into it, and we really want to be so happy for him in his new situation, but the selfish part of us feels like part of our hearts is going out there without us. And it’s so painful because he’s just a baby.

I thought I was maneuvering through this fairly painlessly until I was out shopping with my mom, and we found Christmas stockings on sale. I don’t like buying decor of any kind because I don’t like having “things.” But these stockings were beautiful, and we don’t have any, so I decided to get them. I quickly made the decision that I would only buy three because he wouldn’t be with us for Christmas, so we made our purchases and left.

Then later, after the boys were in bed and I was enjoying the quiet of the house, the enormity of his leaving hit me. He doesn’t have one of our stockings. He won’t be here for Christmas.

He isn’t my child.

He is leaving.

And no matter how difficult this has all been, I love him as if he were my child. I hope that I’ve provided him with all I could have in the past six months, and I hope my love is something that he somehow knows will always be with him.

Because when he leaves, he’s taking part of me with him.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Deep Dish Cast Iron Cookie & Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

I was asked during a job interview once what my greatest accomplishment in life was (I was 23, come on man). At the time I didn't have an answer, so I gave a sarcastic one. But if I were asked now, I would probably say this cookie.


As soon as I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to make it.  

Deep Dish Cast Iron Cookie - Some changes made to original recipe.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Prepare pan. I used a 10", but you could use any size as long as it has high sides. You will have to adjust the cook time accordingly. If your pan isn't well seasoned, add a thin layer of butter. I oiled mine a few hours before I made this with olive oil and it didn't stick.
  • Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter with both sugars on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Scrape the side of the mixing bowl if needed.
  • Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix on medium speed for about one minute.
  • Add dry ingredients and mix on low until just mixed together.
  • Add chocolate chips and fold them into the dough by hand, scraping the bottom and side of the bowl to make sure all the ingredients are mixed.
  • Spread the batter into your pan, and bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until the edges of your giant cookie are golden-brown.
  • Don't burn yourself getting this out of the pan and into your mouth too quickly.

 I started making my own ice cream a few weeks ago. We got an ice cream maker as a wedding gift, but I never used it because it seemed like such a hassle. So here we are, five years later, and I haven't stopped using it since I made the first batch. I've only made vanilla, but I've made it so many times that I already have the recipe completely memorized. To be fair, it's only five ingredients.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream - Via Pinterest 

Ingredients:
  • 2c heavy whipping cream
  • 1c 4% milk
  • 3/4c sugar
  • 1T vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
Directions:
  • Mix all ingredients with a whisk until sugar is dissolved.
  • Follow ice cream maker instructions. There is no cooling or heating required of the batter.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Foster Parent Week

I had no idea there was such a week, but this week apparently is it. I would imagine that most foster parents overlook it because life is so hectic.

For example, this is my calendar. Anything red, gray, or purple is foster care related. Green is related to the four of us.


So you can see, we're busy. By the time the boys go to bed at night, it's all I can do to get the cork out of the bottle and drag myself outside to sit until the mosquitoes start to bite, and it's time to go to bed and do it all over again. The 836 emails in my inbox, and stacks of papers will just have to wait.

For this reason, we're not licensed yet. We went into this as a relative care situation, meaning that our foster child is related to one of us. Because of that, we were able to take him without being licensed in foster care, but we have the option to do so to receive financial assistance and to accept other children (in the future).

Getting licensed requires us to go through the same process we had to before we were approved to adopt Isaiah and then some. There would be three Saturday orientation classes plus the home inspection, background investigations, and psych testing. And I'm just not sure where to put all of that on the calendar. So our already tight budget, is gasping for air. Not only is there a financial aspect to this, but the interpersonal aspect is what is threatening to take me under.

But this isn't a post about my life (yes, it is); it's a post about all foster parents.

Having experienced this for just over two months now, I can tell you this: When Isaiah was born and I quit my job to stay home, I thought that was the hardest job I ever had. Then he left the newborn stage and then that was the hardest job ever, and I was so tired. Around a year I started to feel a little more confident in my abilities, but I was still so tired. Now, I don't even try. I know for certain that I don't have my stuff together, I know that the Honey Nut Cheerios are the reason we have ants, and I know that my teeth are turning purple from the wine, but I can't even care. I don't even try to count the ounces of milk they drink per day and I'm not sure either one ate a vegetable yesterday. I'm not even sure I ate a vegetable yesterday.

What I'm trying to say is, if you know a foster parent, let them know that this is their week to be appreciated, because I would bet they don't even know. And give them a hug and a bottle of wine because they earned it.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mom to Two

We went out with some friends for our birthdays in early February this year. Around 10pm I was fading fast, and that became the topic of conversation. I was so tired because I had a nearly one year old, and I had been tired for a whole year.

Then shortly after that conversation, I became responsible for two. I quickly realized that I didn't know what tired was.

These two are close in age, just 2.5 months apart, and lucky for me, started mirroring each other and seeing who could scream louder. Of course, it doesn't stop there. The crying became louder, the unhappiness became unhappier, and the hunger somehow became a near-death experience every single time. One day I had one sweet little baby, and the next I was elbow deep in two toddlers.

I had a long conversation with my friend Mettie, mom to twins, about the struggle of trying to be everything to everyone. She gave me some really great advice, and I knew that I needed to be better about taking care of myself.

Here is how I cope:

1. I made myself start exercising again. I started with a Couch to 5k app on my phone, and then started to realize how much I missed lifting weights. I finally (after a year) made getting in to the gym a priority to myself once again, and realized that I hadn't lost as much strength as I feared.


2. I made myself start reading again. I love to read, but that suffered when my responsibilities doubled. I picked out a few books from the library and took the boys with me to pick them up. They love getting to see the fish, and we all love getting out of the house.

3. I made time for visiting with friends. I have a block of time during the week where I drop one child off for a visit with family, and the other stays with my husband, and I meet up with friends for coffee. I cannot tell you how this has made me feel like myself again. Occasionally, I'll run an errand during this time, but I'm pretty good about reserving it just for me.

4. I have grandmas on standby. My mom and my mother in law are great at helping me when I need a break. One night a week after the boys are in bed, one is usually available to let me go get done what I need to do, or just go do something I want to do.

5. Wine Friday. And sometimes Saturday, and Sunday.

These might sound selfish, and you know what, they are. I've found though that I need to be a little selfish to be the type of mom I want to be, and to keep my sanity.

Do you have any additional tips to help handle two at once? (I know, I know, ask my mom.)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Backyard Chickens: The Basics

This is part one of a series I'm putting together about raising your own chickens.

From what I'm reading, getting chickens is the cool thing to do now. With the eat local movements and growing your own food, chickens are really the perfect way to get on board. You can eat their eggs, they can eat your scraps, and well, if you're not too tenderhearted, you can eat them.

Before you decide to go to the feed store and pick up half a dozen, here are a few things to consider.



1. Check your local ordinances and home owner's association bylaws. Chickens aren't allowed everywhere and it would be a huge bummer to get into it and then find yourself in a bind.

2. Start small and decide what you want. We have egg layers and meat birds, but started out with just egg layers. One word to the wise though -- if you're going to have meat birds, don't name them. It's probably a good idea to not name any, but with names like "Hennifer Lopez" who can resist?

3. Figure out where you will keep them. If you're getting chicks, you'll need somewhere to keep them until they're old enough to go into a coop. Chicks poop a lot, and it smells. While they're in the brooder(a crib for a chick), you'll need a heating element, chick food, and a waterer. Then, when they outgrow the brooder, they'll need a place outside with shelter. The nice thing is that it doesn't have to be a store bought coop. If you (or someone you know) is pretty handy, you can build a simple coop yourself. If you're not, farm stores, Sam's Club, and Amazon all sell coops. You'll need to keep in mind that there are predators outside that you don't see during the day. We've had an issue with opossums, but they're not the only critters that like to have a winner winner, chicken dinner.

4. Your time. Chickens take less time to care for than a puppy, but there is still time to consider. You'll have to feed and water them every day, and collect eggs. If you're like me, you'll also spend time just watching them because they're pretty cool to observe. My husband has spent quite a bit of time building runs (outdoor pen) and things for the chickens, so it isn't just a set it and forget it kind of thing.

5. Decide if you want a rooster. Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to have a rooster. However, if you want to hatch your own chicks from eggs, you do. If you have all hens, you'll still get eggs from them and they'll still be delicious. The only way a chick can come from an egg is if you have a rooster and fertilized eggs. I know that sounds super common sense, but I've been asked so many times if I've ever cracked open an egg and found a chick. If you collect eggs every day, this will not happen to you. Roosters are helpful in protecting the hens from predators. They are noisy though, and can get...well...cocky. They watch me when the hens all have their backs turned to get water. A downside though is that they can be a little aggressive with the hens when they fertilize their eggs. That is a conversation for another time, but they aren't very gentle then.

An ISA Brown hen and ten week old Buff Orpington (yellow) and Rhode Island Red pullets.

6. The breed of chicken(s) you want. Check what is good in your area, and for the purpose you want and go from there. We live in Indiana and have Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, ISA Browns, Welsummers, and Cornish Plymouth Rock Crosses. All of our chickens lay large to extra large brown eggs, but the Welsummers will lay chocolate colored eggs when they start laying. You can expect about an egg a day per chicken once they start. Keep in mind that hens are usually six months or older before they start to lay (our first ones were closer to 9 months) so this isn't a quick replacement for putting eggs on your shopping list. A female chicken who has not started to lay eggs yet is called a pullet. Some breeds lay bluish/green eggs which are pretty, and I'd imagine kids would get a kick out of green eggs.

7. Keep in mind that they are birds, and some do die. It is just kind of one of those things that sometimes happens. We had 10 Welsummer chicks and 8 died, but we haven't lost any of our Buff Orpingtons. If you order online (yes, live birds can be shipped to you) the hatchery will often refund you if there is an issue with your batch. Make sure to check into that before you order though.

8. Ask yourself if you're only doing it because they look cool on Instagram. Don't do it if that's your reason. I know, that sounds silly, but people do it, and it's bad. But if you're interested in seeing some, look up #backyardchickens.

So, anyone still interested?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Our Ever Changing Family

Shortly after we adopted Isaiah, word got out that we're good people who love kids, and we were approached by other birth moms who wanted to secure a safe and loving home to place their child in. We decided early on that we would never say no to a baby who needed a home, so we told the birth moms that we were interested. Ultimately they all decided to not place their child with us, and instead made the decision to parent.

Lately, we've gotten a lot of questions about when Isaiah will get to be a big brother. The answer is always the same. We aren't pursuing another adoption right now, but our file is always current, and we will welcome any child who needs us. So in keeping with our word, we recently accepted a foster care placement of an infant boy.

You know how I love to share photos of Isaiah, so I hope you can understand this. I won't be sharing photos of the newest member of our family. While he's in our home, he is our family, but the fact remains that legally he isn't, so I won't be posting about him specifically.

This does not mean that he means any less to us than Isaiah. This means that we're protecting him, and respecting him and the court system by not discussing his case outside of the legal system. While he is in our home, he will be treated the same as Isaiah.We aren't treating his case as anything other than what it is. He is welcome in our home as long as he is placed here, no matter the length of time.


Fostering isn't something we were planning to do, or actively pursuing. We have discussed it previously as something we might do in the future, but hadn't had a plan or even an idea of when we would. When we were made aware of the situation, we knew we had to do something. My brothers came to my parents originally through the foster care system, so we knew what to expect, and had a general idea of what we would encounter.


It isn't easy, it isn't always fun, but it is always worth it.

So that's where we are now. We're currently a family of four, and he is a very happy little boy.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Simply One

Before my baby was even a few months old, I was overwhelmed by the amount of attention the first birthday gets. When we have birthdays, family comes to our house, I cook, and we eat. We keep things simple because we're not party people. So I knew there wouldn't be invitations, decorations, and guests watching us open baby gifts. We did have fun at Isaiah's first birthday though! Our families came over, I cooked, we ate. Isaiah wasn't in a great mood, but we went with it.

I gave him his own cupcake, which he took one bite of.



I used the only decorating trick I know for the cake for everyone else. And he opened gifts and played with balloons.


By the end we were all exhausted and went to bed early. Entertaining is not a joke, and I can't imagine how tired I would have been if we had invited more people. Having it this way kept the cost down from the comfort of our living room.

So far his favorite gift is this motorcycle his aunt got him.


Since his actual birthday landed on Wednesday this year, we opted to celebrate Saturday, and have pizza on his actual birthday.

We had a late lunch at his party which consisted of:
  • Hawaiian Ham Sliders
  • Sweet & Sour Meatballs
  • Mixed Fruit
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • Cake
Ham Sliders:
12 Hawaiian rolls
Ham
Sliced Cheese
1t yellow mustard
1t poppy seeds
1t Worcestershire sauce
1t minced onion
1/2 stick butter

Instructions:
Mix the last five ingredients in a bowl - this goes on top of the bun. Split Hawaiian rolls, add a slice of cheese and piece of ham. Close bun. Repeat until all rolls are filled. Brush mixture on top of all the rolls. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs: 
Frozen meatballs
1 bottle Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ
1/2 jar grape jelly

Instructions:
Mix all together in a slow cooker on high for 3-4 hours or low 7-8.

Mixed Fruit:
Mix Grapes, Cantaloupe, Strawberries, Blackberries

Sweet Potato Fries:
I found these in the freezer section of the grocery store. I followed the instructions on the bag and added cinnamon and brown sugar when they came out of the oven.

Monday, March 3, 2014

One Year Old

Well, we made it. What a crazy/amazing year it has been.

Before Isaiah was born we weren't sure we'd even get the chance to adopt him, and here we are a year later with a full blown, almost walking, almost talking one year old.

Eating: He is eating solids like a pro and he is down to 12oz of formula per day. I'll keep him on that until it runs out. He loves yogurt, apple sauce, and anything in a pouch. Pizza is hands down his favorite though.

Sleeping: Sleeping is, and has always been a blessing with Isaiah. He sleeps solidly at night, and has learned to calm himself without his pacifier. Naps are hit or miss, but I think we're getting to where he only needs one. Some days he takes two, some days it's one. We just go with the flow on naps.

New this month: Walking. He walks when he wants to, and crawls when he needs to get somewhere faster. He has also switched from only saying "dada" to only saying "mama." Dada's feelings are a little sore.

Likes/dislikes: He dislikes having his nose wiped, but other than that, he's pretty easy to please. We're going through a "mommy" phase where he wants to see me all the time. We had been pretty good up until now with that, so we'll just let it ride out.

As parents: We're in awe that it has been a year since the whirlwind of his birth. The anxiety isn't gone, because when I think about all that happened I still feel panicky in my stomach. We're enjoying the ride and all of his new developments so much. We love having meals with him and playing on the floor. He is a dream to parent, and we are still overjoyed that we have the opportunity to be his parents.







Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It Goes On

In three words I can summarize everything I have learned about life: it goes on. -Robert Frost

February 25, 2013


February 25, 2014

Yep. That.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Eleven Month Update

It's already that time again.


Eating:
Eating is going well. He loves turkey and rotisserie chicken. We're testing the waters with regular lactose dairy products. I'm not noticing anything different, so fingers crossed, we might be fine with regular stuff. He is doing better about pacing himself with finger foods, but shoved too many yogurt bites in the other day and choked and then threw up. It was gross and my brother went and hid.

Sleeping:
Night sleep is a dream, but naps aren't. I've accepted that he just might not be a good nap taker, and will always be rather inconsistent. Life goes on.


New This Month:
Standing unassisted. He is walking around furniture and getting into everything with his ten foot long arms. I babyproofed as much as I could, and so far we're getting along fine. His hair grew a lot this month, and he has started to growl. Yes, growl. He also likes to open mouth kiss the dog, so there is that. They're besties.

Likes/Dislikes:
He loves the dog so much. I noticed his independent side when my brothers were staying with us for a week. He loves them so much, but he just wanted to play alone. I noticed the look because I was feeling the same way. He had a good time with them though. He likes playing in his room and will crawl back there by himself.

As parents:
It has been nice to get back into post-holiday life. Things have settled down a bit and we've been going over the past year a lot. It's amazing how a year ago we weren't parents, and weren't sure if it was all going to work out or not. It's incredible how much has changed and how much we love it. Other than that it has been pretty quiet around these parts and we like it.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Things You Did

I've seen a lot of videos posted lately about pregnancy and motherhood. I watch them, and I cry with them even though I didn't experience pregnancy.

So to my son, I say:

You didn't give me stretch marks. You didn't grow in my belly for nine months.

Mom and Dad will never pull out our baby photos and try to decide who you look more like. We will probably always get second glances at the grocery store.

I'll never make a heartwarming video about how wonderful my pregnancy was and make millions of moms cry.

You didn't kick me or hear my voice from the womb.

In fact, you didn't even know me until you emerged into this big world. You never heard me talk to you. You never heard my heartbeat from the inside.


But you know what you did?

You won my heart. Instantly.

You reminded  me that love makes a family.

You made me excited about life again.

You gave me hope.


The road to motherhood wasn't easy. It was very complicated. Life is complicated. But know this, baby, every complicated and quirky little piece of our life led us to each other. I may not have been meant to be pregnant, but there is no mistaking that I was meant to be a mom. Your mom.

And you did that. You made me a mom.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Dinner

We decided to start a new tradition this year of staying home on Christmas Day. Previously, we always did the rounds on Christmas and by the end of the 25th, we were so exhausted and missed our couch.

This year we wanted to stay home and relax. Isaiah helped with that because it was easier to stay home for his nap times.

Josh's employer gives employees a turkey every Thanksgiving. We hadn't used it, so we decided to have it for Christmas dinner.

I always help my grandma make Thanksgiving dinner, so I've been around a raw turkey before, but she's an old pro and usually takes the lead on that. This was my first time making it on my own, and I quickly realized that I had no idea what to do.

I'm always a sucker for a recipe that says "easy" or "three ingredients" so I was immediately drawn to this recipe for a brown bag turkey.



Brown Bag Turkey
Ingredients:
1 (12 -16 lb) whole turkey
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 paper bag (like a paper grocery bag)
I added celery, carrot, onion, and parsley in the cavity. I didn't feel right leaving it empty.
Instructions:
  1. If you purchase a frozen turkey, follow the directions on the label regarding defrosting time.
  2. Take your paper bag and cut it so that you can open it to tent over the turkey.
  3. Generously butter complete surface of one side of the paper bag. Coat every inch of the side that will be closest to the turkey.
  4. Place turkey in roasting/baking pan and tent the paper bag over the turkey, butter-side down.
  5. Place turkey in cold oven (Do Not Preheat)
  6. Turn heat to 500 and roast for 1 hr.
  7. Turn down to 400 degrees and roast for 1 hr.
  8. Turn down to 300 degrees and roast for another 1 hr.
  9. Total cooking time: 3 hrs. Remove turkey from oven.
  10. Remove paper bag and let turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

I kid you not, this was the best turkey I've ever had. Ever. I don't even like turkey, but this was delicious. My husband even agreed and he likes turkey less than I do (don't ask why we wanted to have it in the first place).

I highly, highly recommend this method. Just make sure you have tons of butter on the bag so it doesn't catch fire. And it never hurts to have an extinguisher on hand just in case. I was feeling pretty thankful that we had to get one for Isaiah's adoption home study. 


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ten Month Update

My baby is becoming a big boy. He's ten months old already.

I don't have any stats for him because we don't go to the doctor until his one year appointment. I'm still in disbelief that one year is a thing we're actually talking about.


Eating:
This guy had a rough month eating. His teeth made things rough because he was hungry, but didn't want to finish any of his bottles. He just didn't know what he wanted. He is still on the non-soy formula and doing well with it. I made Christmas dinner and he ate with us, until he had a tired meltdown and went to bed. Any food I give him goes down. I was giving him big pieces until he started shoving it all in at the same time. There have been a few choking incidents, so I've taken him back down to eating small pieces and only giving him one at a time. One of these days he'll get the hang of it, right?

Sleeping:
Nothing new to report about night sleep. He's very dependable in that. Naps got rough as some days he only needs one and most other days he needs two, but since he can stand he just cannot lay down to take one. He's a busy guys with lots to do.

New this month:
So much. He started pulling himself up to sit this month. As soon as he started sitting up on his own, he started crawling, pushing up to his hands and feet, and standing in bed. I simply couldn't keep up with him this month. He does it all now. Also, all of his teeth are through now. We get a break for a little bit, I hope.

Likes/Dislikes:
He likes everything. He was indifferent to the Christmas tree and never acted interested in ours or my mother in law's. He loves the heat vents on the floor. He likes going on trips with his dad. They run errands every once in a while. I sent them out for pizza and wine and found out they went to McDonald's and shared fries. He still loves the dog so much.

As parents:
I talked last month about my blogger burnout, and decided to take a week off of social media completely to relax. I hate how I go to bed at 9 and then realize I've been on my phone for two hours and get to sleep just as late as usual. It was harder than I thought it would be. Way harder.

All of the new milestones Zay is hitting is making us really stop and recognize how much he's changed. I saw pictures our cousin took when we were in the hospital with him for the first time the other day and was just in awe at how much different we are in such a relatively short period of time.

He is really just amazing and makes parenting something we love like we never thought we could.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Mama's First Christmas

Christmas has been hard for me since we first started trying for a baby. I always wanted to be one of those couples who could announce to our families at Christmas that we were having a baby. It was hard to go through each holiday season and not have a child to buy for, or to wake up Christmas morning with.

Now that we're wrapping up our fifth year of marriage, we're getting ready to have our first Christmas as parents.


Now that we're parents, the things we ask for for Christmas have changed. Our moms have been hounding me for ideas, and this is what I want.

  • Size 4 Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Large Sleep Sacks
  • A Back-Friendly Mattress 
  • New Yoga Pants
  • Leggings
  • Toothpaste
  • A Second Bathroom
  • B. Zany Zoo Activity Cube
Exciting, right?

But what I really want is for everyone to take a second to think about the future mama you know who doesn’t have a baby yet. The holidays might be difficult for her, and she might need a little hug. Reminders of infertility, at least for me, rears its ugly head in times of togetherness and celebration. It’s hard when Great Aunt Lucy wants to know when you’ll be having little ones of your own, or why you haven’t started yet.

Even though this is my first Christmas as a mom, I’m thinking of you. I’ll never forget what those years were like for me, and I wish I could say something to comfort you, but I can’t. All I can say is that infertility sucks, and also that someday you’ll be just fine.

Also, I would like world peace.

Thanks.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Missed Match

Any adoptive family can tell you, a cancelled match or changed mind is part of the game.
If you think about it, it is extremely heartbreaking, but understandable.

Can you imagine finding out that you're pregnant and making the decision that you cannot care for your unborn, then set out to find someone else to love your child in the way you approve of? Can you imagine spending nine months of your life with someone, and then one day, that person is gone?

I can't either.

We are no strangers to a cancelled match. Before we met Isaiah's birth mom, there was a different birth mom who decided against placing her child with us, and there have been two more cancelled matches since Isaiah was born.

When he was two months old, we heard of a birth mom who knew of us through Isaiah's birth mom. She decided she couldn't handle another child, but eventually changed her mind and kept the baby.

We found out in early November that there was another birth mom in our area who was pregnant with a little girl that she wanted to find a family for. She had already contacted a local agency, but then heard about us and felt more comfortable placing her child with someone a friend could personally vouch for. I understand that private adoptions outside of an agency are odd, but these birth moms know about our family by word of mouth. All of these birth moms are distantly connected somehow to us in a way that they've heard about Isaiah's adoption.  We aren't actively pursuing another adoption, but we agreed long before we knew about Isaiah that we would never turn a child away. Even if we aren't ready or prepared, if there is a child who needs us, the answer is always going to be yes.

We mentally prepared to become parents again. We considered the logistics of what it would mean for us.

And we loved her.


We started clearing out our last spare room to make a little girl nursery. I started a hidden "little girl" board on Pinterest. I started to get sentimental that this would be Isaiah's first and only Christmas as an only child. I got scared of taking care of girl hair. We figured out how we would cover the fees. I even told my brothers about her.

And then her birth mom decided she couldn't let her go.

I admire her for loving her child so much that she couldn't let go. At the same time, I let go of a little piece of my heart every time. As soon as I hear of a child who may be meant for us, I give my heart away. I never knew how immediately I could love a child until we started pursuing adoption.
 
Adoption isn't easy. You don't have any control. But in our experience, everything works out exactly how it's supposed to, no matter how many times your heart breaks in the process.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nine Month Update

Nine months old. I can't even describe how fast time is going. It's unbelievable. 

Weight: 21lb 14oz
Length: 29"

This month I got lots and lots of pictures.

Eating:
I'm tired of making purees. It wasn't the making it that bothered me, because I love doing stuff in the kitchen, it was making something separate at meal time for him than we were eating. We rarely go out to eat, but I hated taking separate food for him. I started letting him eat off my plate when he started chewing food better. He loves to eat and perfected his pincer grab which makes it easier. I switched him to a non-soy formula that he is tolerating just fine.

Sleeping:
He's doing well with sleep. Teething has caused him to wake up between 4-5am a few times, but I've always been consistent with calming him without picking him up. There was one night where he was so upset that I did pick him up, but it's easier for me to calm him with him still in bed because I can't stand the crying that starts as soon as I would lay him back down. He likes to cuddle with a burp rag, but the mornings he wakes up too early I let him have the blanket he uses at naptimes. At first it made me sick to give him a blanket, but the one we use is a thin muslin blanket and I was able to breathe when I put it over my own face.


New this month:
Teeth. This month he had five teeth. They weren't all through the gums, but they were causing him pain. By the time he turned nine months he had four teeth through on the bottom, and I could see four working their way through on the top. We don't handle teeth well. He was able to pull up to stand while he was sitting on my lap, and he started to crawl backwards. He has started giving kisses without being prompted. He gave me a kiss goodnight and I almost cried. It was the sweetest thing.

Likes/Dislikes:
He likes playing on the floor with his toys. He isn't always interested in being in the exersaucer or jumper. He loves our dog. He doesn't care for green beans or peas. My brothers are still his favorites. He is still crying when I leave the room. I'm attributing it to teething, but we'll see. He has to stop at some point.
As parents:
I think I relaxed a little when he finally stopped throwing up all the time. I'm not saying he stopped spitting up, but he is now spitting up the most infrequently he has his entire life. It is really just about the greatest thing ever.

My blogging burnout from last month has dragged on to this month. I'm kind of "whats the point?" about things lately. I want to keep up with these monthly posts though so I can fill in his baby book whenever I get around to it. I'm so lazy. I'm not quitting blogging, I've gone through this before, usually this time of year. I'll be back in full force soon, I'm sure.

Josh's work schedule changed, so now we're getting more family time on the weekends. It has been great. We love getting to see Josh more often.



And one more for good measure.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I'm A Selfish Mom

And a good one.

I know that the word selfish makes you think I'm a bad mom, but I'm not.

I've seen so many things lately on Facebook about how we should run to our crying babies because they just want us. We should embrace them and comfort them so that they know everything is alright.

I saw a blog post written by a baby in the middle of sleep training that was essentially a long guilt trip to all mothers who want to sleep train. It portrayed a baby who was scared and cold all alone in their cold, institutional-like crib. It talked about the days and days the baby would cry and his mom wouldn't comfort him. And how scared he was.

Yeah. Alright.

I considered writing my own letter from a sleep trained baby that said: Shut up. I'm trying to sleep.

I'm off topic.

Isaiah is teething right now, and he is getting four at the same time, which is essentially four times worse than all the other teeth he's gotten. Early in the morning he wakes up between 4 and 5. A few days I've slept on and off through it because he lays in bed and whines. After the fourth day, I decided I simply couldn't get up that early. I went into his room, picked him up, and brought him to bed with me.

Co-sleeping. I said I would never do it.

And I honestly tried it.

As soon as he was calmed down though, I knew I couldn't keep him there.

Why?

Because it's my bed. I love my baby, but he has his own bed, and I want him in it.

I want to sleep without worrying that I'm hurting him. I'm selfish.

I got him up and put him in his crib. He immediately went back to sleep and the whole thing was over.

Related, I refused to induce lactation. There are many reasons for this, but the main reason is that I'm selfish.

I sleep and nap trained Isaiah.

And you know what? I wouldn't change a thing.

Does he look traumatized to you?



I don't care that I'm selfish. I don't see it as a bad thing. For some reason we think we have to completely lose ourselves in being moms. We have to abandon our former life and completely devote ourselves to every whim of our children. I can't get on board with that. I cannot allow a nine month old child to run my home.

Yes, I try to be home every night around the same time so I can get him in bed. Yes, I do the same routine with him to comfort him. When he doesn't feel well, I give him medicine to ease the pain.

But all of those things also benefit me. If he's in bed at his normal time, he's sleeping. If I do the same routine, we're both happy. If I give him medicine, we're not both crying.

Full disclosure here: I was raised as an only child, and so was Josh. So I come by my selfishness honestly, but it's working here.

And if I have to eat my words someday, I will.

That's all.

No it's not.

STOP CARING WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK OF YOU. 

Now, I'm done.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cora Carmack - Seeking Her

You. Guys.

I haven't posted much about reading here lately, but I have been hitting up the library like crazy since the weather has cooled down and Isaiah has gotten a bit more independent. He loves going to the library as much as I do (because they have amazing aquariums). I always make sure to check out the New Fiction section and saw Losing It and Faking It by Cora Carmack. I snagged them both and read them each in a day. No small feat for a new mom, I think.

Recently Finding It came out and I was the first on the hold list at the library. I loved it, so when I saw the request for bloggers to help with the cover reveal of Seeking Her, I knew I wanted in.

If you haven't heard of these books, you should definitely check them out. Literally. Use your library. You already pay for it in your taxes.

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ABOUT SEEKING HER by Cora Carmack A few months after being honorably discharged from the military, Jackson Hunt is still struggling to adjust back to the real world. He needs to get a job and find a sense of normalcy if he’s going to keep his own demons at bay. The job that falls into his lap, though, is anything but normal. Bodyguard (and baby-sitter) to spoiled-rich-girl Kelsey Summers isn’t exactly what he’d been looking for, but it’s a chance to travel, to get away from the home that has felt stifling ever since his return. It would be a pretty sweet gig if it weren’t for the fact that Kelsey’s father doesn’t want Kelsey to know she’s being followed. Hunt feels guilty (and a little bit creepy) as he watches her from afar. She’s vibrant and infuriating, exciting and reckless, mysterious and familiar. When he sees her falling into the same patterns that he suffered years ago, he decides it’s time to stop watching and help her instead. But getting to know her is more difficult than he thought, especially because the more he knows her,the more he wants her.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November - Catch the Moment

I'm participating in Nurse Loves Farmer's Catch the Moment post again this month.

These pictures are much easier to catch now that Isaiah is so busy that he doesn't want to look at the camera for me.

This guy doesn't have any forward motion yet, but he can crawl backwards. I love him so much.


Eating Mum Mums with shades on. Rockstar. Side note: I started #zayhairdontcare on Instagram. He gets so focused on whatever is going on that he doesn't notice or care when I put stuff on his head. I know, I know, hashtags are so 2010, but I think it's funny. And don't lie, you think it's funny too.


I love watching him play. It's so interesting to watch him explore (I'm sure my opinion will change when he is exploring things I don't want him to).


We've had a few Pajama Mondays in our house. It's cold, and he looks so cute in them.


Link up with us!
Catch The Moment

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Turnips for Dinner

Joshua and I have always had more than we needed. We were both blessed with parents who wanted us to have everything they were able to give us. Now that we're parents ourselves, life seems to have gotten real.

I knew things would be difficult once we had children, but I didn't know what it would look like. We both have degrees, and lots of debt (mostly mine) to go along with them. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I had understood what I was getting into before I signed on the dotted line.

I never thought we would choose between paying bills, or buying groceries. I never thought I would buy a 10lb bag of potatoes, forget trying to eat healthy, and just try to feed us. I never thought our student loan payments would take so much of our income. I never thought I would decline party invites because we couldn't afford to take a gift.

What I'm saying is this: losing income, paying for adoption, and being broke has made me a much more grateful person.

Just in case you're reading this thinking that I'm okay with it, I'm not. I feel extremely guilty about bringing my student debt to our family, and not bringing more money in. I hate that we count pennies, and I hate that I'm so embarrassed about our struggles that I don't talk to anyone about it. I hate that my husband has to work two jobs. I hate that we waited so long for Isaiah and can't give him all of the things we'd like.

But I'm grateful. This has taught us that we can survive. It has shown us that the way we lived before was excessive, and what we used to think were hard times, weren't so hard at all. I'm reminded that things can always get worse for us, so when I say my prayers, they're full of thankfulness. Every time I start to feel like things are going from bad to worse, or I need to have a pity party, I remind myself of the things I do have. I have a home. I have a family. I have taught myself to be resourceful (hello reusing aluminum foil). I have learned valuable lessons that go back to our grandparents' generation. While I haven't gone as far as making my own lye soap yet, my grandma is ready to help me when it's time.

When I feel like our dinner is sad, I remember a story she told me once about picky eating. She was born and grew up on a farm in the middle of The Great Depression. I didn't taste a turnip until I was well into my twenties, and she was the person who made me try it. While we were discussing how it tasted similar to a potato, she told me that when she was younger there was no such thing as a picky eater. You either ate or you didn't. She said that some days they had turnips for dinner, because that is what there was. You ate what was available. And you were happy with it.

So while things aren't ideal, and here and there we may need to have turnips for dinner, we have each other.

We've survived every hard day before this one, so why should today be any different?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Eight Month Update

You know how hard it is to get a picture of an eight month old, right?

This is the best I could do this month.

Eating: 
He still loves to eat. When he starts teething though, he isn't as interested. We started puffs, last month, and while he won't pick them up yet himself, he has gotten much better at chewing when I give them to him. I gave him a wagon wheel looking thing and he was really interested in picking that up and eating it. He has used his pincer grasp a couple times, but it isn't mastered.

Sleeping:
I don't want to say anything because I'm afraid to mess it all up. Things are going well. We started using a sleep sack because it got a lot colder here this month. I didn't like it at first, but it keeps him warm, so whatever works. We're still between two and three naps a day. It just depends on what is going on with him.

New this month:
He isn't crawling yet, but he is very interested in moving. He got another tooth this month, bottom right, and the bottom left is coming in now. That is four teeth on the bottom, zero on top. We officially heard our first "dada" and "mama" this month. Of course, "dada" was first, followed about a week later by "mama". He often talks about us when he's in bed.

Likes/Dislikes:
He is beginning to dislike sitting in his Rock N Play. Instead, he would rather sit on the floor. He loves to sit or lay flat on the floor. He dislikes when I leave the room. I thought this would be a short phase, but he is hanging on to it. Teething might be a part of that though. He is absolutely in love with my brothers. He doesn't light up for anyone like he does for them. 

As Parents:
The doctor told us that we could expect his reflux to subside around six months, so being eight months and still consistently spitting up was getting frustrating. I finally gave in and called the doctor because I started getting concerned about the acid coming up all the time. The doctor told me he's fine and it will go away with time. Sigh. I did get the okay to take him off of soy formula, so as soon as we finish the container we have now we'll try something different. I don't think the two are related, but soy is more expensive. So yay for that.

This month I've just felt tired. I'm even a little tired of blogging. I worry that I'm taking too many pictures, or posting too much. I wonder if I'm really living in the moment with Isaiah, or if he'll look back and remember fond memories of me with my phone in his face. I feel like I have a good grasp on parenting right now, as I'm able to clean the house a little here and there while he's home. I'm also tired of the mommy wars that the internet seems to fuel. I truly don't know why so many women care what other women think of them. Being a mom is hard enough.

We're going to an adoption event next week that I'm really excited about because it's our first as a family. The local Christian radio station hosts it every year (November is National Adoption Month), and this is the first we'll be able to go as a family.

I've been somewhat emotional lately because it was a year ago now that we met Isaiah's birth mom. One year ago, if I had known I would have an eight month old today, I would have never believed it. Our life has changed so much in twelve short months. It's really incredible. 



Friday, October 11, 2013

What Is the Real Issue Here?

I shared this blog post on my Facebook page yesterday.

Today, I read a conversation in which there was a lot of "why can't we just all support each other" and "why was this post even popular?".

Yes, moms should support one another. Whether you work outside the home or stay at home with your kids, who cares?

Why is this an issue?

Why do we even care what other women do for a living? Regardless of where you do your work, we're all working. I do my work at home, you do your work in an office. As moms, we never get off work.

But that isn't my point. Stick with me here, because there is something far more important than this issue. I promise I'm not going to go all world peace on you.

The real issue here is that we don't know how to stick together. Many of us are so defensive about every action we make or take, that as soon as someone makes any comment at all, we're offended. And when we get offended, we get angry, and we just have to lash out at the opposing thought. But why? Why can't we accept that we have different opinions? Why are we certain that our stance is the right one? Why? Why? Why?

I don't have the answers here. All I can tell you is that it's hard to offend me. You can make your stand, and if I think it's dumb, I'll think it's dumb and move on. I don't need to tell you that you're dumb. Sometimes I will, but we have to be pretty close for me to put forth the effort.

I'm getting off topic.

I'm ready to get to the real issue here.

The real issue is that as women, we need to band together, toughen up, and realize that there are far more serious issues in the world for us to worry about than whether you think I sit on my butt all day and eat bonbons. (If I knew what a bonbon was, or where to get them, I would try this out and then let you know what it was like.)

The real, and far more serious issue here, is that there are still women in the world who are wearing Crocs.

We can sit around and cry and moan about being misunderstood all day long, but there are still women out there wearing Crocs and we are doing nothing about it.

Why have we allowed this to go on this long?

Let us stop thinking about ourselves, and think of the poor women out there who don't even understand what they're doing to themselves by wearing them. Yes, I am looking at you.

And world peace.

For your extra enjoyment, here is an upside down baby in a stroller.


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