Sunday, November 30, 2008

a little sparkle

I love decorating for the holidays. I love it. I like taking my normally sedate and dare I say, elegant house, and turning it into a home that sparkles. I like glitter and I have to restrain myself from covering my house in it, but I indulge myself when buying ornaments for my tree. I worked at Michael's during one holiday season and I bought so many half price ornaments that I deemed special and unique.

I found this set of Bethlehem ornaments and loved them. They aren't scream-in-your-face religious ornaments, but subtle and lovely. They are usually one of the first ornaments I hang and I like to find them the right place on the tree. Yes, I take decorating my tree very seriously and I tend to rearrange the ornaments until I find the right balance of sparkle and color. I took this picture laying under my tree.

Then I had to figure out how to make a centerpiece for my dining table, and my dining table is huge. Last year I took my spare tree branches and made an arrangement, and I did this year too, but I decided to put that arrangement in my foyer. So I wondered what to use instead. I looked around and decided to take the Nester's advice and "shop my house." I looked around and collected all the glass and metal candlesticks, candleholders, and thingies I had. I found red, white and cream candles. I found a green velvet table runner, some cranberry garland and some leafy garland, and Voila, a centerpiece.

I was pleasantly surprised with the way it turned out. I lit all the candles and then took a step back admired the warmth and coziness that I created with things I found collecting dust in my house.

Have you started your holiday decorating yet? What is your favorite part?

Friday, November 28, 2008

adoption blog

In order not to bombard you with all things adoption, I have created a separate blog that will deal with our adoption process. I know that many of our family and friends may only want to read about what's going on with that journey, not all the other random things I might blog about. Of course, this now gives me two blogs to update and I don't know how great I'm going to be at that, so cross your fingers. You might see posts over here that just link you to what's going on over there, if I have written something so awesome you shouldn't miss it, or if there is big news.

So, go check it out. Click here to be introduced to Two Plus One Equals Three.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

scary, night-time photos

Well, Twilight wasn't that wonderful. I'm sorry. I didn't love it. I'm really sorry for Stephenie Meyer, really, because the movie doesn't do her characters justice. I could go on and on and on about the bad casting and acting, but I won't.

I'll tell you about the good parts. The good part was that Emily and Caroline and I met up for dinner before the movie and talked. It was fun meeting someone that I only know through blogging, only met on the computer. It's also really strange when you meet someone who you only know through print. You have this idea of what their voice sounds like, but when you hear it out loud, it sounds different than what you imagine. I'm not sure what I sound like to you, in your head, but I've heard myself in recordings and it's not bad.

The best part was in the car afterwards. It was about 11pm and the movie had ended and we realized we had no photos to capture this special moment. So we used the old trusty automatic timer and took some while sitting in Emily's car in the empty parking lot of the restaurant.

We pretended to be moody vampires, like Edward. We pretended to be stuttering teenager girls, like Bella. And we laughed. And laughed. Oh my, it was one of those times when it's late, and you're punchy, and things that aren't normally funny are hilarious. And you're with friends, so it's ok.

So, even though the movie wasn't that great, it was a great night with some really amazing women.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

happy birthday to me

I wish I liked cake. I really do. Well, I wish I liked it more than I do. I think it's ok, but there are better desserts out there. I like white cake with some frosting, not spread on thick, but an appropriate amount. I like mocha frosting, which tastes so good.

I guess you could say I am picky about cake.

I wasn't even that excited about my wedding cake. It was pretty, but it didn't taste that good. I didn't go to a bakery and taste all these flavors and fillings and look at pictures. I just found someone I knew who could make a pretty cake and that was it.

When I turned thirty I had a fancy cake: chocolate with mocha filling and it too was beautiful. But I don't really like chocolate cake that much...but the hostess knew that and she went to a local Italian eatery and had them make a bowl of tiramisu for my birthday. It was the best thing I ever tasted...creamy and a little chocolatey with some coffee flavor in the background. Lovely. MMMMM.

But today I turn 32 and I have no idea what kind of dessert I am going to have. I like cheesecake, too, so sometimes we get that and I blow out my candles on that. Some years I don't even have candles. When did grownups stop having candles? I really liked that as a kid. Candles are fun and I get to make a wish.

This year I wished for a new faucet and a new purse, and I am pretty sure I am getting both. In fact, I know so, since I was asked to pick out both of them. I will show them off later, once the faucet is installed and I actually have said purse. It is red and shiny and you know how I like that!

So, happy birthday to me. Happy birthday, dear Sissy. Happy birthday to me!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

red, white and blue

Sometimes I think the best lessons happen when we can take what is happening "out there" and relate it to what's happening "in here." You know, connect what is happening in the news with our own small lives.

As a teacher, when learning is authentic, the students really grasp the concept a whole lot better. It takes a lot more planning and the vision to be able to see things from the students point of view; to wrap your head around the way they perceive it. It can be frustrating to try to see something from the point of view of a seven year old, but if I ask a lot of questions, I can usually do it.

Well, the biggest thing that in the news lately was the election, and I wanted to cover the election with the fifth graders without really getting into the differences between Obama and McCain. Kids that age don't have much of a view point of their own on elections; they normally just channel what they hear at home. So I decided to have the students nominate people from their own classes to run for president and have the other students act as the electors from the states.

Each fifth grade class nominated two students (and they were all girls, I must tell you) and they had a week to run a campaign. They had to make campaign promises, advertise, and give a brief speech.

I built a voting booth and found a ballot box, and we voted. I counted the ballots and announced the winners. I took pictures of each candidate and I made a bulletin board with their pictures. They loved seeing themselves on the board and the pictures turned out great.

It made for an interesting lesson, and I think the kids really enjoyed learning about the electoral college (which can be complex) and elections. I think it really hit home for them that people they nominated needed to be people that were good leaders. I expected the kids to nominate a few of the popular kids, but in each case I was so proud that the classes nominated good students who were nice to everyone. It was a great moment for fifth graders that they could separate who was a good leader from who was their friend. I was proud.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

show and tell

Wouldn't you love to adopt this baby? I mean, who wouldn't love to pick out their new family member? I would ask for a child that might look like me, or have my husband's eyes, or my sense of humor? Maybe I would ask for two girls and one boy.

With adoption, I keep getting asked what race of baby I am looking for. With some agencies, Caucasian babies cost more, which I find slightly distasteful. One lady told me it was supply and demand (um, we will not be using you.) With others, they charge a flat fee. I can specify sex with some agencies, with others, I have to be more open to whatever comes along.

I keep coming back to the fact that if this were my flesh and blood child, I wouldn't get to pick that stuff. Well, I guess I could determine the race from looking at my white husband and my own pale reflection, but I wouldn't be able to choose anything else about my child. I would have to surrender that to God. He would choose whose nose was mimicked. He would choose the eye color, the hair color, and the sex.

And it might really be better that way. For me to surrender all that to God and let Him worry about finding a birthmother, a good match, and my child. I need to put all those worries in His basket and then let them go. I need to trust that God gave me PCOS so that another woman out there with an unplanned pregnancy would have a good home for her child to go to. I need to trust in His plan.

For now I am talking to lots of agencies and eliminating the ones that charge ridiculous amounts for Caucasian babies and will give me African American ones at half price. That leaves such a bad taste in my mouth. Yuck.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

more questions

Just want to give you an update that our appointment went well and it certainly answered a ton of our questions, but it also gave me more questions to deal with myself.

I'm not sure what I expected. I think I expected them to tell me that they were always looking for people "just like us" and that a nice birthmother would just want to give me the baby tomorrow. And I know it isn't like that. I know that. But maybe I was hoping that the meeting would be encouraging and she would calm all my fears. She didn't. She was real about the entire process...that it can take two years, that many times the birthmother changes her mind, and that it is expensive.

My husband came away feeling like we were on our way. I came out a little deflated. It just shows how different we are. He was ready to talk, and I was ready to sit and think and process.

I think I have a difficult time getting my head wrapped around the waiting. I guess I didn't think it would take so long. Don't know why. I'm impatient. And not conveying all this very well, either. We came home last night and went to bed. I didn't watch any TV or get on the computer...we just crashed. It was a day full of heady emotions and we were exhausted.

Today I am doing more research. If any of you out there have adopted and would recommend your agency, comment and let me know what the name is. Right now we are searching blind and it's hard to know if anyone is reputable or not.

Monday, November 10, 2008

three meanings

Veteran's Day brings with it lots of memories. Each year for the past eleven years I have paused to remember. And for the past five years I have paused to smile. This day is a day filled with love, laughter and tears. And tomorrow brings a new emotion into the mix: the excitement of a beginning.

Eleven years ago my dad died on Veteran's Day. He went home to be with Jesus right after the Veteran's Day parade passed our house. My dad was, in fact, a Veteran and is now buried in a National Cemetary that looks like Arlington, but is in Florida. It's somewhat strange and coincidental that he died on that day, and that each year I get a day off to honor his memory. And I pause to let myself remember and mourn, then I move on with my life.

Five years ago I decided to spend that day with Charlie. At this point we were still friends and I asked if he would spend the day with me. I had such a crush on him and on this Veteran's Day he chose to tell me that he liked me. It was such a sweet thing to have happen on that day, a day which had been previously filled with sadness. From that day onward, Charlie has been by my side, loving me through this day.

Tomorrow we are going to visit an adoption agency. And while I don't know if this is the one we will ultimately use, it feels like the beginning of something special. We have been reading and researching and talking with several friends that have adopted and now we have questions. Questions that need to be discussed and addressed before we can move forward. But we are moving forward.

And it feels right to begin adding to our family on the day my family fell apart. Yes, that is dramatic, but when you are 20 and you are daddy's little girl and that daddy is gone, it feels that bad. I think he would've loved being a grandpa to my children and doing all that grandpa stuff. He was a great dad and would have enjoyed watching my family blossom whichever way it happened. I'm not writing this very well, about how special he was, and how much I miss him, but I'm sure you can understand.

Say prayers that we will find the agency that God wants us to work with. Say prayers for birthmoms out there that are considering adoption. Say prayers that I can now tame the butterflies in my stomach and not stumble my way through the appointment.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

decisions made

This week has brought quite a bit of change. And I am not someone who normally likes change, but this time I have welcomed and accepted the changes.

Now, I'm not talking about the election, although this one certainly was historic and Obama's whole campaign was based on a nation that was ready for change. What I'm talking about is a lot closer to home. It is certainly more personal.

Here I am with my nephew Payden.

My husband and I have decided to persue an adoption.

I explained a couple of months ago that the Lord had not led us to the point where we were ready to stop trying to get pregnant, and persue a child another way. But it seems this last couple months of disappointment and a heartfelt discussion with my husband, we have made a prayerful decision.

I know it won't be easy. This much I know. But there is a certain amount of relief that comes with making a decision and progressing toward that goal. And we are blessed to be surrounded by people that have adopted both internationally and domestically who can offer support and advice.

And I know I have you all, who will offer up prayers and whatever advice you have. I know some of you have adopted, and I have read your stories online. Feel free to email and refer your adoption agency or counselor. At this point we're researching all our options, so any help anyone can provide would be welcomed.

Thank you for sharing these past couple of months with me. While I was looking forward to sharing a pregnancy with you, now I can share my "paper pregnancy." Keep us in your prayers.

Monday, November 3, 2008

whisper the words

Yesterday our head pastor was out of town and our youth pastor delivered the sermon. He doesn't get to speak that much in front of the whole church and so hearing him is a change of pace. And while his speaking style is very different from that of our pastor, I was really touched by his words.

See, he was talking about faith vs. fear. And I deal with fear. In a major way. In a way that impacts my health to a certain extent. Fear grips me and takes over sometimes and exerts control over my life. Fear is a very real thing to me, and the thing is that Jesus did not give us fear. It was not a perfect gift that He bestowed upon us. Not at all, yet it sits on my doorstep and attacks me daily.

And I let it.

I give in. I deal with it and take medicine for it, but I don't often pray about it anymore. I guess I've given up the idea that God will still want to heal me and take away the fear. Like He has a statute of limitations on how long is too long to pray for something. Like I passed the expiration date so long ago that it's too late.

It isn't too late. I just have little faith.

Why is it easier to believe for other people? Why is it easier to pray for miracles and healings and finances and horrible relationships when it's other people? Why can't I dedicate time to praying for the things in my life that need searching out and attention? Why can't I trust that God can take away the fear and restore me to wholeness? Cause it's easier to deal with the fear than the fact that God might say no.

So yesterday I cried and prayed and tried to take in the lesson that God is there to calm the storms. That He doesn't want me to be paralyzed by the worry and the stress comes my way. He wants to whisper the words that smooth out the waves and clear the skies. And He can. I'm just not in control of WHEN He will.