Thursday, July 29, 2010

We're Officially Foster Parents!

Yeah, I know...most of you know that already :) But what else do you title your first post after uh...what's it been now? 4 months? I think so.

So yes, we are definitely foster parents. Hence the absence. Plus a WHOLE LOT of other stuff that also happened that kept us on our toes. or at the very least away from the blog.

We received our license on March 19th or so. We also that day received our final notice that funds came through for the downpayment on our house, somewhat unexpectedly. Wonderfully, we already had planned that night to go out together to the Black Eyed Peas concert, which turned into a mini little celebration night for us. Fun times.

The next week we spent "paper pregnant". You experience all of these interesting terms when you enter the world of foster-adoption. Some people use them differently, this one is no different. The use here refers to the time when you are officially waiting for a baby and all the interesting pieces that go with it. What I'd say is it's very similar to that time frame between hearing the first heartbeat/that first doctor appointment where you're pregnancy is confirmed and the time when you learn of the sex of the baby (or, if you're not into that, I suppose the time you get to see your baby pretty clearly on an ultrasound with the face and a wave and all that...). You don't get to hold them yet but you know at least more than you ever have about the actual baby that's coming. If you can picture that time, I remember like it was when I was pregnant with Logan, the wait was hard. Everyday I tried to find out as much as I could about the baby inside of me, what he/she might be doing, might look like, all that stuff. Desperately waiting for that next appointment when you can learn just a little bit more. Is it one? Is it twins? Boy, girl? All of that anticipation, curiosity, and excitement.

In the case of fostering, you aren't waiting for a dr appointment but a phone call. Not just any phone call THE phone call. And as soon as you're officially licensed you're placed on "the list" of folks to call and therefore can get a call at any moment. So at any moment the phone can ring and it could be THE call. Instead of wondering what the heartbeat will sound like and what you'll be able to see in the ultrasound, you're wondering when THE call will happen, whether THAT ring will be THE call, and what you'll hear when it does happen. How many? Girls/boys? Ages? Race? Situation? So much anticipation.

By the time our first call came I actually had almost gotten over the idea that we'd get a call. We wondered if we'd actually get one. And, I'd stopped thinking every phone call woult be THAT phone call. So much so that when the phone call rang at 11:45pm on the 27th (sat), I was irritated that J was calling me again after I had just hung up with him! To my surprise we had our first placement call. A boy and a girl. Adding them to our home brought us to having 3 kids almost exactly 1 year apart, ages 1 1/2, 2 1/2, and 3 1/2. They arrived at our house about 1:30 in the morning.

Those kiddos were with us just for just over 2 months. Someday I'll type up our experience with that. But overall it was challenging, we learned A LOT about being foster parents and "the system", about how our son would be as a brother, how we would be as parents to a girl, and what it's like to send kiddos "home". Someday I'll type up more about that too.

Of greatest importance, we learned that we LOVE being foster parents. When we signed up for this journey we figured we'd get through the whole fostering thing until we found kiddos that could be ours forever. BUT, we found that we love the fostering part. At least for now. I'm sure I'll right more on that someday too. and I'm sure that will change overtime as we get burned out or see more stuff in "the system". But for now we're loving being foster parents.

We started getting calls for more placements (kiddos) the day after our first ones went home. The first call never materialized (which worked out well, we were worried about whether or not it would be a super good placement for our family but said yes and prayed about it). Then it went a few days without calls. Then we had 5 calls on the same day for about 15 kiddos (one of which was a newborn! and one call was for a known potential adoptive placement), but we couldn't take any of them because we were in California at the time. We were taken off the list until we got home, and then the next day we received a call for our current little guy, an 11 month old little boy (now 12 months). We never felt like he'd be a permanent placement and he probably won't be for too much longer. We'll see. But we have learned even more that we LOVE being foster parents.

This week we've started getting calls again, though none of them have worked out. We potentially have 2 openings, so we could potentially get 2 more kiddos at any time. And I still have that feeling about waiting for THAT call. It's still so exciting. And we're loving every minute of it. Really.

Maybe God had something up his sleeve with all this afterall.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Infertile and the Good Samaritan

Sometimes as Christians I think we struggle with knowing how to take care of our brothers and sisters who struggle. In my experience, we know how to rejoice with fellow believers who are in a good place. We know the 'correct' response is to say we'll pray for each other when we're aware there is something wrong. We know how to throw ourselves into ministering to the lost. But when a brother or sister is really struggling I think we get lost and have a few different reactions.

The fact that I can write this post is testament to Christ's ability to get me from the deep dark hole I was in just 8 months (or so) ago. It was almost a year ago when we learned we were infertile. And in our time we've certainly faced our share of reactions. One of my favorite chapters of one of my favorite books, Hannah's Hope, is titled "Put Yourself in My Shoes, before you put your foot in your mouth...". (I just love that!!!). Although I think that infertility, like few other topics like additction, are quite taboo or at least misunderstood, I think that it's not the only thorn that we don't know how to support. One of the biggest challenges in being a Christian going through such heavy trials is trying to get other Christians to understand the depths of the situation. There are a few typical reactions...avoidance and blame are pretty key, and yet when a Christian brings these up he/she often finds that other Christians will resopnd not with apologies or support but instead with more avoidance or blame. This of course is a shame as it leaves the one originally hurting with even more hurt.

But familiar. As I processed some of the reactions I've received and the reactions I've heard others have received I remembered the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37). And so I've taken the liberty to rewrite it here:

There once was a man and woman heading down the path of life. Although they had faults and fears they attempted daily to be like Christ. One day, they felt the nudging to unite in the attempt to conceive. After years and years of trying, for reasons unknown to them, the enemy was allowed to rob them of the natural ability to conceive. Their union was not allowed to be fruitful and multiply as commanded to forefathers before. Instead, the evil one was allowed to trample their bodies to prevent conception through the destruction of reproductive equipment. But this was not enough. The thief also came to steal, kill, and destroy the hearts and souls of these two, but finding he could not as they belonged to Christ, he chose instead to do all he could to break their spirits and crush their security, as he'd done to Job in years past, hoping to do as much damage as possible. They were left in tears, shambles, pain. Unbearable oppressive pain. They were left alive, and although their souls were still aware of the one true hope, their Earthly bodies, their emotions, everything they knew in Earthly life lay dying in the gutter.

They managed to pull themselves up from the gutter to the sidewalk, hoping their brothers and sisters would be able to see them in their state and help them to their feet. They were able to grab hold of the heels of their closest family and friends hoping they'd know what to do to get them help. But because they were busy and because they were unable to cope with their closest friend/family in pain, they patted their friends heads, shook their heels free, and moved on with their lives. On the way home they crossed to the other side to avoid awkward conversations or interactions. The infertile couple could see their friends and famiily as they passed by in the distance, laughing and enjoying their normal lives, unable to get up from the gutter they were pushed into once again. It was all they could do to continue facing up knowing their rescue would come soon.

The night passed and to their relief they found in the morning that it was the day of the Lord. Surely today would bring relief of some of the pain as they joined with their friends and family to celebrate their Christ, the resurrected one. Surely someone would, in remembrance of what their Lord did for them, reach down to help them to their feet to walk with their brother and sister to the foot of the cross, literally helping them carry their burden before Christ even though their present state was not "Sunday best". Instead, wanting to protect their "full of joy" state and cleanliness presented in their clothes, they crossed the street and avoided the wreck in the middle of the sidewalk. Afterall, if their friends really were Christians they'd recognize that Christ deserved to be praised in the middle of their crisis and they would have been the first at church. Surely their faith must have been suffering due to their sin and, how, after knowing Christ could they have turned away and chosen to live in sin that led them into their current state. How selfish they were to try and make their brothers and sisters late, trying to get them to stop their normal daily lives that were already full to help them pick up their pieces. Some went as far as to yell condemnations at them as they stepped right over. "You're so selfish for wanting us to stop our lives to help you". "You're so inconsiderate to ask us to help carry your burden". "You've lost your faith". "I can see by your state you are no longer walking in the way of the Lord". The friends failed to notice that their legs were no longer working, at least temporarily, and they couldn't walk anywhere though they desperately sought the comfort of their King.

As their friends passed by they began to hear the worship songs from the sanctuary. They could hear the music just enough to be reminded that they were not there, where they were supposed to be, leaping with joy that they were clean. And yet they weren't at the moment. Their souls were still safe and God was still on the throne but they were in a horrible state...saved but still wretched at least for the moment. As their friends and family went on with their daily lives, worshipping together in the sanctuary, they were left wondering if they still belonged. They knew their Savior would save them, somehow, but in the meantime they were left dodging the Sunday morning drivers with everything they had. One more hit might be what it would take, or so it felt, to allow the thief what he came for. Then it started raining. It didn't seem it could be much worse.

And it was then, through their tears, together in the storm they held each other tight and renewed their strength. Surprisingly, or at least it surprised them, a few strangers came by and helped them out of the side of the street. They certainly weren't what the couple had expected to save their brothers and sisters and family and friends passed them by a few people, familiar with the street themselves, had stopped to lend a hand. A few minutes spent listening, a hug or two, a cup of coffee....this was all that was needed to give these two the strength needed to get them to the cross. And an amazing thing happened. These strangers who clearly were averse to the concept of attending themselves, not only helped carry these two into the service nearby but stayed with them by their sides until the couple had regained their strength. Then, they arranged for a group of caring folks to surround them 24-hours a day until the couple returned to ok. This obviously cost the strangers much and they didn't seem to have much to spare, but they gave all they had because they knew the couple needed help. And they cared. Then they went on with their business checking in from time to time to ensure the couple had not gone back to face what they'd faced before without significant support.

Please know that although I wrote this with obviously a little bit of flavor of what we went through, it is intended to be generic and not aimed at a certain person or group of people in their lives. If you find yourself wondering if I'm aiming this at you, please try to remove yourself from the situation and consider the story in itself because again, this is not something exclusive to us or even infertility. There are plenty of thorns we are allowed to carry in life that suck but eventually are intended to lead us more to Christ. As the story of the Good Samaritan reminds us, and hopefully my version above does the same, we are to love our God with all our heart and love each other as we would ourselves. The best example of this, as indicated in the Bible, is the Good Samaritan (or the strangers in my story above). This has certainly convicted me in knowing that I must take better care of my brothers and sisters. I also challenge you...if you know of someone that is struggling with infertility, or anything really, think about your reaction...who are/were you in the story? The closest friends and family who ignored the situation because you couldn't stand to see your loved ones in pain? The brothers & sisters in Christ who failed to "remove your own log" before condemning the couple? If so, I challenge you to seek Christ for forgiveness first and then encourage you to reach out to "the couple" in your life to see if you can help them now. Chances are they might still need it. Please know that not all "strangers" will lead the hurting Christian down the right path and will provide more comfort and safety that the "couple" will choose to abandon those who abandoned them in favor of something that in the end might lead to death. We cannot own the decisions of others but certainly have a responsibility in our daily walk to ensure we are doing everything in our power to love our brothers and sisters in an active way, picking them up and carrying them when they have fallen.

If you were the figurative stranger, may you be blessed and may your active love always be rewarded. May you not grow tired in your endeavors to love others as Christ loves us, which, by the way, meant he went as far as to lay down His life for us.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Quick and Easy "Apple Cobbler"

Tonight I was craving apple cobbler but it was 9:45 and didn't have any handy.

SO...I made up a recipe for the microwave. It was great so I thought I'd share for your enjoyment too.

Peel, core, and slice 1 apple (I used pink lady). Put it in a microwaveable steamer like this one. Add 1/8-1/4 cup water. Add a 1tbsp slice of butter on top of the apples. Sprinkle on 1tsp of cinnamon (over all apples). Sprinkle on 1tbsp of sugar (over all apples). Add the lid of the steamer.

Cook for 5 minutes

Take the apples out of the steamer and into a bowl (without the cooking juice). Add ice cream (as much as you like)...then top with crushed graham crackers. Pour a little bit of the cooking juice/sauce on top and eat.

That simple. It turned out yummy!

Uh that I can make this pretty quick my figure (?) is in trouble!

(I also have frozen berries in the freezer...maybe I'll try berry cobbler next).

Or Not....for now...(related to last post)

I did end up talking to the people handling our application. (Application seems so, what's the word, understated). They told me we'd have a decision by Friday and hear back if we were licensed by then. And, then if we were licensed, we would hear from our FAD worker by the end of the next week.

Friday (5th) came and went. No word yet.

I think I will start a pool....whoever gets closest to the date we hear back will win something. And then whoever gets closest to the date we hear from our FAD worker will win something. And then whoever gets closest to the date of our gotcha day will win something too.

Might as well have a little fun in the wait.

Of course, I don't actually have any prizes lined up or anything, but the concept would be fun.

Someday I'll write two blogs. One on how adoption compares to pregnancy in its phases. The other, quite ironically (maybe), will compare infertility with death and my thoughts on why the Bible puts them in the same category.

Someday. But today I'm going to go get my awesome son some string cheese, finish some SEM homework (structural equation modeling...), and then finish watching sleeping beauty.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Adoption Progress - or...not...maybe soon?

Hello dear friends! I wanted to take a minute to sit down and capture my thoughts on the progress thus far on the adoption front before I proceed with today.

A little history...we started the adoption process in July 2009 by committing to each other that we were going to pursue adoption to increase our family after learning we were essentially sterile. (so funny...I started off reluctant to say we were infertile, now I usually use the word sterile...which is a slight exaggeration considering we do have one living biological son and theoretically have a 1 bombillionth of a chance of having more). Anyway...we officially started the process by attending an informational meeting in August followed by attending the first PRIDE class we could in October. That finished mid-November, as did most of our paperwork. Waiting for recommendation forms pushed our paperwork completion into December, which then pushed off our homestudy until January due to the holidays (and, lost paperwork as we found out later). So, January 16th, two days after my grandmother died and the day my son and I were set to travel back to LA for her funeral, we had our homestudy.

The homestudy itself was actually pretty innocuous. She showed up slightly late, which usually isn't a big deal to me (everyone knows I can't be on time to save my life...ok, maybe to save my life but not for much else), except when you've already been waiting for this day to come for 2 months it causes you a little bit of a concern when things aren't going as scheduled as it puts in the fear that it will be postponed. Indefinitely. Or that's how it feels. But no worries, I think she called right around the time she was supposed to be at our house to let us know she was running late. So, we relaxed (and maybe cleaned) for a few minutes more before she arrived and the process began. She asked us lots of questions, tried asking the little guy a bit but since she started out with "What is your name?" followed by "What is your birthday"...and couldn't get a good answer to that one, she decided she wouldn't be able to get much more out of him and moved onto questions from us. But, we insisted she ask him his address, since he's known that since he was 15-18 months or so, and so she did. And I don't remember if he played along or not.

The whole homestudy lasted about 3 PRIDE they prepared us for 6-16. They also prepared us to share EVERYTHING, from our past relationships, to our concerns about children with different types of challenges, race relations type information, and even how often we're intimate as a couple. But, really, I guess we were over prepared to share (I'm pretty open as it is) because we left feeling like we really didn't feel like we had gotten into that level of detail. She thanked us and wished us well as she left. We were left feeling like we did all we could do, we were honest and now it was in God's hands, but couldn't help shake the feeling...maybe it was so short because something we said or something she saw scared her off? I dunno...but she did say she'd turn in her report by the end of the month.

We knew that they had 30 days to make a decision after receiving the homstudy...I don't know why we knew that, but maybe it was something they told us in class or maybe something we made up. I don't know. In any case we made the decision early in the month to not worry about it and just go with the flow. If we didn't hear back from them by the end of February we'd call them in March. We didn't hear back. Today is March 1st. After a meeting in a few minutes I'll stop and call them and check in.

I'm super nervous to do that. There was a super sense of peace in February knowing that we were waiting for them to take the next step, at least in part because although waiting for movement is tough, revealing the unknown can be least the fear of revealing the unknown can be tougher! So, right now I'm nervous. I'm nervous that I'll call and they'll say that they lost our paperwork and we'd have to start the waiting again. I'm nervous I won't get a hold of someone. I'm nervous they'll tell us we're not approved for some reason. I'm nervous they'll tell us we're approved and the ball will start rolling fast again. Maybe it's excitement and not nerves. But we have a whole lot in the air right now and we've kind of gotten used to this holding pattern.

Maybe this is what they talk about in terms of waiting gracefully. I don't know. But I think we've come to enjoy just waiting to see what will happen...even if nothing has happened yet. We've certainly learned at least in part that our plans are wonderful, but they don't add up to a hill of beans when it comes to what God has in store. And so, we've waited but now believe it's time for us to make a move in obedience.

Help pray for us today and over time as we continue to move down this path.

Monday, February 15, 2010

An Ode to the Old Days...errr...before

Dear Celestial Seasonings

Who thought it would be a good idea to cut your box of tea from 20 bags to 18? Sure, this makes sense in your single variety boxes, but in your sampler pack it is ludacris. 20 bags divided perfectly into 5 different flavors, but I can most assuredly say that 18 does not divide evenly by 5.

I know I can look at the positive. It's a surprise in every pack to figure out which flavors come with 3 and which come with 4. And, really, it's only cut by 2 bags. BUT, I feel slighted oh heavenly flavoring tea company. I am not excited by this "innovation" at all. I would have rather seen you increase the price of the box than cut it by an uneven number.

I pay with coupons anyway.

So I work in what is called the CPG (Consumer product goods) industry, more specifically in the c-store (Convenience) channel. I rarely talk about work on this blog, but see, I do work and know at least a little about a lot. ;)

Therefore it stands that I know full well about these package changes as a way to maintain or increase unit sales without losing margin in an economy that won't support too many price changes, either way. If prices increase, customers won't pay and will find a cheaper decent alternative. If prices decrease (for an equal amount), the manufacturer/wholesaler/retailer won't be able to sustain their business and ultimately end up in a layoff, bankruptcy, or other aspects of financial distress which in many cases end up hurting the average Joe as much as increasing the price does.

Nevertheless, I don't like it. Not one bit. This Article on explains the situation in better detail than I could or care to at this moment. Most importantly (to me) is the lack of integrity these organizations are showing in changing package sizes without notifiying the customer. Usually, the size delta is so small that it really doesn't matter anyway and we could probably use less consumption in most households. Even still, the point is that they certainly don't advertise the package size changes, not even with a "new and improved packaging" indicator. Many times they do as much as possible to make the changes with the smallest noticeable sensory changes (visual, tactical, etc.) as possible so that customers won't notice the package change and won't feel slighted.

CPG are underestimating your customers. The consumer is smarter than that. I am smarter than that. I may not notice the change while I'm at the store with a 3 year old begging to walk, threatening to jump out of the cart, or begging to be spiderman climbing the shelves, but don't be fooled...I will notice. And when I do...the once strong loyalty I had to your brand will be damaged severely.

Just be honest. We all know that the economy is bad. In fact, the average Joe's pocket book is looking for ways to shop smart and be healthy. I'm not a marketing person by trade but even I can come up with several ways you could capitalize on this economy without attempting to deceive your customers. I usually wouldn't say that you OWE us anything...but in this case, honesty and integrity is definitely a good approach.

In case you are interested, here is a site I briefly encountered that had some information on consumer watchdog type information. I found it to be a good site to keep my eye on.

I recommend looking down the left navigation column under "Ad Categories" and choosing the category that you are most interested in.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Year of Patience

I'm not naive enough to believe that there will be a theme for my life for every year and that year will last exactly 365 days and that at the passing of each of those time periods I will perfectly pass from one phase of my life to the next. Nevertheless I've mentally compartmentalized last year into a particular theme and it seems to follow an appropriate metaphor to continue this year on the next stage in the process. So I will. And it's my metaphor so the fact that it's not a perfect one will be something you just have to get over.

Side note...I've recently learned that people don't think I'm as funny as I think I am. So, I guess it's possible that my humor doesn't come through in my blogs either. I've learned IRL to tell people when I'm being funny, which makes them crack up. Unfortunately I don't think they're cracking up because I actually am funny, but, instead because it's funny that I'm telling them I'm funny. Which makes me even more funny. Nevertheless the last statement in the last paragraph was meant to be funny. So there. (also meant to be funny...see...I'm funny!).

Back to the point of this blog. I've determined that the theme of last year was all about laying the foundation. And I was the dirt. ;) (that was funny!) No really though, think about the process of laying a foundation. The actual laying of the concrete may not seem to be very difficult. I mean, not to take away anything from those who do that on a regular basis because I certainly couldn't do the job for a long time, but in terms of the whole foundation laying process as I understand it this is really the capstone activity. It's the prep work for a foundation that is really the hardwork. It's the painstaking measurement and design work that can (I assume) be mentally exhaustive. Then, its the digging. The nonstop, back-breaking digging. And leveling. And digging some more. And leveling some more. And then eventually there you are....filthy and exhausted and tired and ready to give up for the night. And it's only then that you get to backup that concrete truck and direct the flow where it needs to go. Yes, there's some smoothing and filling work that needs to happen still, but in the grand scheme of things, that's much easier (and quicker, not necesarily by choice!) than the work done to prepare for the foundation to be laid.

That was my 2009. The foundation laying year. Spiritually, physically, mentally, was all digging and sorting through dirt to get to where I (and my family) need to be for whatever is coming in the future.

Now, usually when you lay a foundation there is a plan involved. You are laying it the way you are laying it for a reason. The right thickness, dimensions, etc. You have a vision for the future on what the end result will be. In fact if you are going through the homebuilding process and have laid a foundation without first drawing up plans I'd strongly suggest that you take a break and figure out the plans before moving forward. that was funny.

Actually though it's a good point...because sometimes before you can move forward with laying a foundation some of the arguably hardest work is demolition and tearing down what was previously planned as the ultimate home. It's easier to move forward when the new one can be built on the old foundation, but that's not always possible. Which means to lay a new foundation you need to remove everything old and only then you can move forward. Lots and lots of work.

We certainly had work that needed to be done to remove our old plans in replacement for the new ones.

So now, although I believe there probably is some more foundation work wrapping up and we'll always need to be inspecting that foundation going forward to make sure it's healthy, it's now time to move forward to the next step....which I'll call patience because I have nothing else to call it. And this is where the analogy kind of falls through. But not really...I think it will work.

Patience. Waiting for the foundation to dry. Waiting for inspections and approvals and funding and good weather. Waiting for supplies and laborers and the plans of others to fall together to make it possible for ours to proceed. Waiting for The Architect to give us the go ahead.

The Architect. If nothing else was learned last year it is that we, for sure, are not the architect of the future. We could be, if we wanted to take that role I guess, but we'd fail dramatically because we do not thave the certification to take on that role. Our plans would crash to the they did...and I'd much rather not go through that again. So, instead we wait for the supreme Architect to move. I have a feeling this is just the beginning of our 'year of patience' whether it lasts 365 days or not...we have a lot ahead of us.

Right now we're being patient in selling our home and/or buying a new one. We're being patient in waiting for the answer on whether or not we will continue to live here or somewhere else in the future. We're being patient to hear back from CPS on our license. We're being patient to figure out HOW we'll hear back about our license and then start the search for our forever family. We're being patient to figure out if we'll get calls right away with foster-to-adopt children or if we'll turn a corner and start looking at straight-adopt cases first. We're being patient to figure out how this will all affect our lives as we know it.

And yet I can know one thing for sure....whatever comes next, I will need patience to continue. So, bring it on...and as we continue to wait on the Lord and act out our patience as we move forward in daily life we will slowly see the progress He's making. Then we know at some point we'll be able to see at least a glimpse of what the Architect's plans are for our lives.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Because There Are People out There Who Want to Be a Friend and Don't Know How

Here are a few links:

How To be A Good Friend To an Infertile

Infertility Etiquette

For Family and Friends

How Can I Help. The Dos and Don'ts of Support

The Empty Arms Video Link is good too.

Also, the Hannah's Hope book by Jennifer Saake is REALLY good.

Not a Movie Buff...and Can't Figure Out Why

I never thought I was deprived of much growing up but as I get older I learned I was sheltered from the movie world at large. There's this whole world out there that I've never been involved with! Crazy. Maybe it's because we never really went to the movies together. It wasn't our "scene". But, believe it or not I've never seen A LOT of the "classic" movies. Doesn't even matter which "classic" you're talking about! So, I think I'm going to make a list of movies that I've never seen that everyone says I "HAVE" to see :) and are shocked that I haven't already yet in these 28 years.

It's I think about them I wonder how much time must have been spent watching these movies, and, looking back when on Earth I would have been able to watch them all let alone catch up on them! Here's a partial list. I'm sure it will grow

Office Space
The Princess Bride
Young Frankenstein
City Slickers
Pretty in Pink
Sixteen Candles
Singing in the Rain
The King and I
Miracle on 34th Street (the original or remake!)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Monty Python (any of them...there are multiple right?)
American Grafitti
Animal House
Revenge of the Nerds
Bad News Bears
Any of the 80s horror films (Nightmare on Elm Street, etc.)
Star Wars, the original 3 (I've seen the newer versions)
Ben Hur
Blazing Saddles
Breakfast at Tiffany's
A Christmas Story
The Best Little XX in Texas
Born on the 4th of July
Top Gun
Can't Buy Me Love
The Color Purple
Dead Poet's Society
Driving Miss Daisy
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
The Mask
Any of the Rocky movies
Scarface, the Godfather, or any of those movies
Uncle Buck
Urban Cowboy
When Harry Met Sally
The Wizard

Bottom line...if I "should have" seen it...I probably haven't. Funny huh? I guess it's part of who I am.

So...what other movies should I add to my " haven't seenXX"?

The answer's probably no, but I'd like to know what you'd consider a classic that I should have seen.

The Disclaimer for 2010

I once wrote a disclaimer and vowed it would be my only one. I guess I'm writing another. It will be like the first one, but since that was about labor and pregnancy and all things women and this one is about, well, not that, I've made some changes. If you are interested in that, please find it here:

One and Only Disclaimer

Here's the thing. I'm still not too fond of disclaimers on blogs. Not on my blog anyway. I'm afraid that disclaimers make things less serious or like I'm excusing my behavior...maybe they water down the message. The problem is that with the topics on my blog and its place in my life as my journal, you get to see pieces of me that aren't pleasant. I'm not always happy. I'm not always cheerful. I'm not always excited about what is going on in my life or how things happen. Typically, those are the times that I need to get my feelings out. Coincidentally those are often the times I need someone behind me holding me up too. And, for those of you who are interested, you can follow along if you wish. This is not always pleasing to those who read.

Back in the day (when I wrote the original disclaimer) the problem was with my presenting my thoughts about natural childbirth and pregnancy. This offended people, not necesarily because it should, but because by me writing down my opinions, it automatically insinuated that I thought if others didn't do what I say then I thought you were less than me. Of course that's not true and I discussed that in my other post.

In the same way, this is my heart on my sleeve here people. I do not force my way into other people's lives with my thoughts and feelings. more on that here Instead, I use my blog as an outlet for my thoughts and feelings and if you are interested in listening you can choose to or not. For that reason you won't see me calling anyone very often to chat about the same stuff I put on my blogs. Why? Not because I don't want to confront things head on or because I don't care but because I assume other people are at least half as busy as I am, if not more busy, and therefore if they have a heart to reach out to me based on what is in my blog they can choose to, or not.

Nevertheless my blog is not my method of communicating with others. I don't use it like a lot of people do where its to update friends and family on their life. You don't see a lot of pictures of how my son is developing or how we are as a family. Yes, it serves that purpose sometimes, but only as a by-product of the real journal. I could keep this journal private. Some would question whether journaling publicly is helpful. I don't know whether it is or not. I guess it doesn't matter. For me it is. It's helpful for me to come to my blog and put down what I'm feeling. It's just where I keep the thoughts in my head. Because, again, I'm an extravert and if I don't want to push my way into someone's life to make them listen to me in an IRL conversation, I can "speak" here, even if I'm the only one listening. It's a way for me to capture where I am in life. I plan to be able to look back (as I have been able to over time) over my life and see the journey.

I know some of you have heard Anne Frank's sister's speach or at least heard about it where she did needlepoint the whole time and used that needlepoint as an illustrative point. The whole time, as she speaks, the only thing the audience could see was the big old mess she was creating on the back side of the art work. It's only at the end when you can see the true beauty of the end result.

That's what that is here, folks. My big ol' mess. I'm not perfect and I don't expect anyone else to be. In fact, there are two really fundamental things that you have to know about me.

1) I always play the devil's advocate role. I always make the assumption of goodwill about others...meaning that I believe they meant well even if the end result didn't turn out to be pleasant. Although I know this isn't theologically correct, or at least I think it isn't, I believe that people want to be good. I choose to believe that even though I know it's not true. So, when I feel I'm "wronged" by someone else, I always assume they didn't mean was an accident...they didn't know was an wasn't intentional.

That doesn't mean it didn't happen though and that it didn't hurt.

And, for the purpose of this blog that's important. This is my place to record my hurts as well as my super celebrations for good things. More often hurts...because I don't usually need to "journal" about the good things. I think that's true of most folks though with their journals. So, I record the things that hurt me and how it made me feel. That doesn't mean I assume that others are bad or that others intended to hurt me. I have little hurts in here and big hurts. And they will all stay here. Because that's how I roll. Just kidding...but because this is my journal. I don't know anyone (then again I've never asked) who goes back in their journal to tear out pages. Maybe that's healthy? I don't know. Maybe I should? I don't know. But at this point I don't think so.

2) I always think things can get better. Truth is...hope and faith is something so ingrained in me. It's why I keep on coming back for more regardless of the responses I get (in life, not just in blogging). I don't believe in letting things be...well sometimes, but not most of the time. What's that saying...when you are going through hell don't stop...and...then there's this analogy about how when others are going through hell you love them enough not to leave them there. Something like that. That's how I feel and believe with all of my soul. I am ALWAYS looking at myself to see how I can improve and how I can be more like Christ. Always. Always. To the point that I always think that no matter what other people are doing I can do something to change and therefore in most circumstances I can help change the situation. (which is partly why IF is so hard...can't do anything!)

So, I won't just let things be...I won't smile and pretend that everything is ok when its not. That doesn't mean I won't love, in the active sense. I'll still reach out. I'll still keep trying. I'll still be praying and loving and not hardening my heart. That's one thing that makes me different (in my eyes anyway)...many people hurt and put up a wall...I hurt and still reach out...sometimes facing more hurt because I don't want to let things be. And I don't believe in mediocrity. I don't believe we're called as Christians to just let things be. I believe we are specifically designed "for such a time as this" so that when we see something wrong we first pray, then reach out and do something. And so, to my dying breath I will be doing that. Yes, sometimes there is a place for stepping back and "just praying". And yes, the method you choose to "do something" is important...for example I don't see the value in attacking character but instead to shed light on what I believe to be an "unknown" situation (see #1), acknowledge how it made me felt, telling how I think it should be done...then move on. The ball is in the other court then, so to speak, as I keep praying and loving.

I'm not perfect. Don't think I am. Don't pretend to be. I'm a human just like anyone else and will stumble and fall. You'll see a lot of this on this blog. If it offends you or hurts you...I'm sorry and that will never be my intention...please feel free to call me on it. If you think I'm off-track or off-base and want to let me know...that's ok. I'd rather that than heading down the wrong-path...not for a minute or a day but for eternity. If it looks like I'm struggling and it's depressing to read, I understand. But please realize that I'm an open book and I prefer it that way...I don't hide things...never have never will as I don't think that helps #1 or #2 above...what you see is what you get, if you're interested in looking, and I process externally. Some people think "I'm so smart" and I should be able to think through everything I do and know exactly how it's going to effect others. That's just not the case. I throw ideas out there all the time and I expect people to say yay or nay accordingly. That's just how I am.

So, for all who have responded to say in the past or in the future that I'm not a Christian or that I don't love or that I'm selfish or not a leader or stuck up or that I'm wrong or that I'm not trying to be like Christ or that I'm dissapointing or that I'm offensive, way out of line, critical, judgmental, inconsiderate, attacking, thoughtless, cold-hearted, rude, envious, and a myriad of other things...

I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I've left you feeling that way. I really am. I hope that my blog gives you a little taste of who I am and what I'm going through, if you're interested to follow along this journey with me, and, hopefully, at the end I'll be more like Christ than when I started.

I'm human...that's all I can say.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The other side of the excitement

Editors note: This post is edited from it's original version to take out any information that could have been identifying as the purpose of this post was not to "share anyone's sin" but merely to show the negative ways I've reacted in this process. Also, it's an attempt to extend an olive branch and show that in all honesty I have no resentment toward any person and I believe that none of the things mentioned in this blog were intentional. I hope that you will all join me in this celebration of what God can do as our story continues to unfold and we see how He took me from what I was here in this blog to what I will be in the future. I'm hoping as well that the relationships I refer to are restored through God's grace and plan and beauty really is achieved from ashes.

I really hestitate to write this. But I have to.

Moving forward with the adoption process hasn't been easy. Actually, it has been easier than the whole infertility thing, but since adoption was the thing we chose to move forward with that's the thing that has the potential for not being easy as to move forward.

I'm so grateful for everyone who've supported us through this. I can't say this enough. I know that we have all of the support that we need for this journey ahead, and there is nothing that can replace that. I am forever grateful and excited to share the future with all of you.

I'm coming to understand that not everyone is a fan of adoption. I've already fully learned that not everyone is knowledgeable or cares to be knoweldgeable about infertility. So, the fact that we are going through some of that with people in our life is really, really, painful.

There are certain people who are totally excited and showing the right amount of interest in the process and what we've gone through. My mom, for example, bought me two new photo albums with family themes which, although I haven't asked her, I believe has full intention of showing just a bit more support for what we have in store. In fact, when I told her about our situation and, more specifically when I told her that we were going to be pursuing sibling adoption from CPS, she said "Great! Any way I can get more grandchildren I'll take it". So sweet. Others, on the other hand, not so much.

When we found out about our situation, we called some people that we have that type of relationship with (my family really, since I could talk about the most intimate details with them). I wasn't, however, as comfortable calling others to share the details of our situation, which of course is MFI...nothing like calling guys and telling them that info you know? So, instead we sent out an email that said the basics with directions to our blog if they were interested. At that point we said we were considering adoption but hadn't decided for sure. We asked for their prayers and support editors note...after re-reading the email...we didn't actually ask for this...we specifically said we weren't asking for anything but the intention was to put ourselves on the hearts of others. The only "caution" we offered was to please not tell us to have faith, because we didn't and don't believe this is a faith issue in that if we have more faith we will get pregnant or if we stay faithful we'll just magically get pregnant or worse, if we were faithful enough God would grant our wish and give us another pregnancy therefore we're currently infertile because we aren't faithful enough for us. We emphasized that we believe God can and would give us a pregnancy if he'd like but at this point we're just learning the reality of our physical situation...not that God couldn't change it if he wanted to...and that our "dream" of the way we'd have kids would not come true. Again, not that God wouldn't have something better for us, because he must/will, but nevertheless first we had to say goodbye to what we thought life would be. I said this in a sentence or two, because I felt it needed to be said.

From the approximately 10 people I sent the email to, one sent a wonderful supportive email. I received two other emails regarding the medical condition we faced and how to get medical records with one promise to talk to us about it later. NO OTHER RESPONSES. No "I'm praying for you". No "I'm thinking of you", no "sucks to be you", no "wow, sorry to hear that", no "hahahahah...that's what you get." I want to make it clear that I did not, in my mind, throw "pearls before swine" so to speak and unwisely provide this information to people who I'd expect to trample on our hearts. Rather, the people I chose were all people I know have a strong faith and have expressed their desire to have a good relationship with us and although I didn't expect anything in particular I did trust that they would take the information and be a part of our support system in the future. I also believed they had a desire to know what was going on in our life.


Perfect silence.

That was in June 2009.

When we finalized our plan to pursue sibling adoption from CPS in July, we decided that we'd probably not be extremely open with these folks while we went through the process. Not that we'd keep things from them intentionally, but that we wouldn't be providing the play-by-play as we went through the process. We'd tell them as we needed to. We'd update them at least by the time we finalized the adoption ;). No but seriously we just couldn't take a repeat of the infertility announcement time after time, over and over again, not at that point anyway. We were too sensitive at the time to risk sharing that information with anyone who we thought might not be able to support us as we needed, for whatever reason. And, as we didn't hear anything from the people who received the email we figured that they chose to keep out of the process because they were unable to participate for some reason...they didn't know what to say, they were too busy, they thought we were crazy, etc. To us the reason didn't matter, all we knew is that while we were in the most sensitive time of infertility those who were able to support us did and they had demonstrated their ability to be trustworthy with our fragile beings at the time. The adoption process is an emotional roller coaster as it is and we didn't need anything to add to it. Intentionally or not. It was an act of self-preservation.

At some point we did have to bring one of those people up to speed because we needed an additional person who had spent time in our home to be a reference, and one of those people matched that criteria. So, we did.

It took this person 10 weeks to provide the reference, and that only because the CPS worker made a personal phone call. We called, reminded, asked this person to fill out the form (there's debate over whether or not it was received and that may have held up the process) reminded this person more and more that there was a deadline and this was the only thing holding us up in the process. After all of what we felt like ages (and in total 5 months) of informing this person about our decision and plans, we heard "I didn't know you were that far in the process".

ARGH. As a result our process was put on hold for 2 months.

At the same time, maybe even the same week, another person talked with my husband after hearing the news. Now, granted, what I heard came from my husband, and I have no knoweldge of the connotation of the message, but the words were this "You need to tell people about these things so we can pray for wisdom for you as you go through this and these kinds of decisions".

Now, I'll give you this...true...absolutely, we appreciate your prayers. No harm in that.

Except...first, WE DID SAY SOMETHING....6 MONTHS AGO! WHEN WE NEEDED YOU!!! WHEN WE NEEDED YOUR SUPPORT. When we really needed your prayers. No one (from the email...) reached out to show they cared then. That was the darkest time in our life.

and seriously...who, when planning to try naturally, asks anyone to pray for them...I know it happens, but have you ever had someone say "Hey...we are thinking of starting to try to get pregnant...can you pray for us so that we can have wisdom to know if this is the right decision?" Most people don't even tell people they are trying. Why? Because it is a private issue that people usually contain within a marriage. And typically, that's acceptable. It's hard to understand, in the fragile state that infertility breaks you into, why you would need prayer for wisdom in that decision making process to become adoptive people who are undoubtedly "broken" because they can't conceive "normally" (or in our all naturally), there is a desperate desire to make things "normal" in the rest of the process as much as possible.

From our broken state, this question, no matter how it was intended cut right to the core to show us that we were not only inept in the ability to have a child of our own naturally (again) but that we were also inept in making the decision on how to grow our family...something that fertile people don't often (ever) think about. Not to mention the fact that we know people who can sometimes hurt their babies and THEY'RE allowed to have babies...why not us? Is there something wrong with us in the core that makes us not capable of making the decision to expand our family? Now, from what I know (I thought I was a fertile once too!) this seems ridiculous...that conclusion is absurd...but infertility robs you and leaves you in such a state that this is the type of things you have to work through to regain your understanding of who you are. And I feel bad for friends and family of infertiles...they have a tough job. Editor's note: there are several articles written more recently that give advice to friends and family on how to help and good things to say or not to say...but a basic thought is...if you wouldn't say it to someone who was just diagnosed with cancer or you wouldn't say it to someone who's spouse just probably should be cautious in saying it.

So, people ask me how our vacation in November went. My answer is "okay". Primarily because knowing all of the above I hoped that now that our "secret" (which never really was a secret) was out in the open (?) we'd have the opportunity to talk about it with them. Maybe? We were there for 10 days. Maybe we'd have the chance to sit down and talk about what's going on in our life? Maybe? With someone? At least once?

And so it never was... There were a couple times that appointments (yes, appts) were made for dinner and there were lots of "maybe we can get together...I'm so excited to see you guys"...but nothing came of it. And, in the few times we were together we might as well not have been. It was as if we didn't exist, or, at least that we weren't facing what we faced. I don't know how else to describe it. (By the way, I am overgeneralizing...very slightly). Nevertheless I was devastated after crushed me. I was really hoping I'd be able to find that all along people didn't know or that they didn't want to talk about it on the phone or email but would in person, or that although they didn't know what to say about infertility they'd be excited about the adoption (and they'd show some excitement, or even interest). I will say that I had one person who asked a couple questions and it was like drops of rain in parched soil...I soaked it up. But no more. I was SO excited to come home. I was so grateful for the people in my life that have reached out to show they care. And I was so happy to be here, at home, in Texas. Away from them. And I also hated that about myself...I swear.

Now, I will say there was a TON going on in for those folks in the last 6 months from several severe injuries, family member deaths, busy-ness at work, surgeries, you name it these folks experienced it and I imagine by the time November/December came around they were struggling to breathe as I was. There was work and stress on so many levels. And I tried to reach out and help as best as I could from here and send encouragement. And be patient and not bitter knowing what was going on in their lives. And, on top of that, I don't believe that they could possibly understand what we've faced over the past way. None of them have faced it and, even if they have none of them knew what we'd specifically gone through because we'd never talked about it. All to say that I don't have any hard feelings or bitterness toward anyone who hasn't supported us as we needed. I really don't have the desire to blame them at all. But I also struggled to see how much effort was being shown in their lives to lift up and support each other through that time while it felt we were left here alone to go through it on our own.

I will say that my flesh wanted to cut ties. well, not completely, but to stop trying to repair things. Accept them as they are and move on. But to me that would mean absolutely not trying to bring them along in this process. At all. Until things are stable and/or they have reached out to show that they want to be a part of it. Part of that would be for me and to protect and heal my heart, yes, no doubt. But in my mind although my husband and I can't take much more of that pain we feel when we put our hearts on the line with what feels like a disconnected call, the more important thing is introducing our new family into those relationships. No way. Our job will be to protect them to some degree from the kind of pain and rejection that we've experienced through this process. At least at first anyway. Once they are established in our family and us in theirs and once they know devoted love from those who show they care with actions, then of course we would want to teach them that to love others as they are. I'm not saying we shouldn't have a relationship with them, but that it should be really, really guarded.

I hate that though because I'm someone who wants to fix the problem. On one hand (one side of my flesh) wants to say "no more"...I can't take any more!, but on the other side of my flesh I believe that it can be fixed and that I/we/our future children deserve relationships in which active love is shown. In my spirit and through faith I know that it can be improved, that there is hope and that if I keep that hope alive and keep trying (no matter the response) that someday the relationships will be "perfect"...if not on Earth certainly in heaven. So I don't want to stop trying. I don't. I want to have a great relationship with them, with or without future children. But at the same time I just don't see that happening. And it's a struggle for me to put my flesh aside and keep trying.

Do they know that we are potentially oh...60 days or so from having our family? I know that's optimistic, but still...we could be that close to having our kids...and they haven't even acknowledged it at all. I mean...if I were pregnant (or, better yet, if one of them were pregnant as I fully expect in the next few months which would be PERFECT wouldn't it? Editors note: I left this in here because I really do mean that would be perfect...that we would be adding to our families at the same time and that would be totally awesome) surely 60 days from the due date they'd acknowledge what we'd be facing right? Surely there would be some excitement about the future children in our lives, our journey, my pregnancy, right? I mean, right?


THankfully, what I do know is that I can focus on those relationships that have been supportive and engaged and loving and encouraging. I'm not talking about "stupid encouragement"...I want to surround us with wise people...people who on one hand encourage and support and on the other hand making sure we're thinking through everything. We want that for sure. And we have that. Mostly with those of you who read this blog. And, although I spent a good deal of time thinking through a lot of this in late November/early December, I really don't think about it anymore. But I did want to get it out so its down on paper and I can move on.

SO thank you. I appreciate all of you for caring and loving us and sticking with us through this time. I hope, through my honest struggle, you can see a little glimpse into the hell of going through infertility and what a wretched mess it leaves you in...if you stop...but we didn't stop and haven't stopped...please see the two previous posts before this one to see where we are now.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Gettin' Excited

As the holidays came and especially started to come to a close I've started becoming REALLY excited about the new year and all I believe it will entail. We still have not sold our house but are still in a contract on the other with full belief (???) that we will sell ours and get into the other in a few months. So, that is super exciting. And, if not, the work we've been doing on our house has been fun (most of the time) and exciting and our house is 10X better for us than it was.

And, of course, there's the pregnancy. No, not that kind of pregnancy, but the one I feel in my heart. It's still hard to fully comprehend whether this will all turn out as we hope, but we're moving forward as if in the next few months we will either be praying over the decision on which children will be ours or, maybe even have them in our home. While we have not yet finished the homestudy and, actually haven't had them call us to schedule an appointment yet, we are moving forward as if that all will happen as soon as normalcy returns after the new year (i.e,. maybe this week) and then, 30 days after that we will be what they call "paper pregnant"...licensed and ready to accept children.

But for now, everything we do is tainted (that's not the right word...tainted in a good way) with our future children in mind. For example, we now have this bed:

I picked this up on the curb in EXCELLENT condition...I'm sure someone's little princess probably grew out of it. (Ours doesn't have the canopy...I'm going to have to look for that!). Anyway...I picked it up in the falling snow and ice, shoved it into my car, and brought it home...just in case one of our kids turns out to be an infant/toddler girl. I figure if we don't need it I know several people who have infant daughters, or, worse case scenario I'll stick it back out on the curb.

When I shopped at all the after Christmas sells I bought 4X the amount of things I would normally have bought for Logan. Lots of little presents, 4 things of play-doh, 4 books, and a few other things like that, plus extra wrapping paper, etc. On the other hand, we didn't buy new stocking holders (we've desperately needed for years) because we want to wait to get them matching for our whole family, if we can, next year.

See! So totally excited. I get a little discouraged because we still haven't had any movement on the house or we haven't moved at all with the agency since the beginning of December (as expected because of holiday schedules), but I know that we will be moving somewhere (figuratively, not literally) in 2010, and I can't WAIT!

and so I'm cleaning my house daily...trying to get into the habit of being a better homemaker both to sell my house and before the extra work from extra kids comes.