Sunday, October 30, 2011

New Blog Design + Info You Can Use

Welcome to my new blog design!  Thanks to Fran at Small Bird Studios for her time and energy.  Did you know she offers a 20% discount to bloggers who focus on adoption, infertility, and child loss?

Here are some interesting links I've come across this week:

1:   Did you know Adoptive Families magazine is having a Halloween photo contest

2:   Notice how often a black person is the sidekick but rarely the main character in books, television shows, etc? 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Eye-Opening Reminder

A friend recently posted a link to this article on Facebook.    I wasn't to excited to read it, mostly because someone has commented that she needed tissues after reading.   I was just getting my day started and didn't want to feel sad from the get-go.  But I went ahead and read it.  

You should too.

I'm a busy mom of two "babies" (a toddler and an infant).   I work part-time at a university teaching writing (so you can imagine the preparation and the stacks of essays I have to grade).   I also write part-time for various publications, and I'm in the beginning stages of writing an adoption book.    I do most of the household chores, make homemade meals (because nutrition is very important to me), and run Miss E to and from preschool and tap/ballet class.  I prep grocery lists, coupon, and do the Christmas and birthday shopping.    I try to sneak in moments of personal joy and relaxation---reading a book, exercising, blogging.  This occurs while my husband works long, hard hours in the financial industry, providing for our family.    Then he comes home and we take care of the girls, eat dinner, put the girls to bed, try to spend a bit of time together, before starting over again the next day. 

Sound familiar?

We are busy.   Every day is a new adventure.

And in the midst of these activities and jobs and tasks, we so often forget to just stop and cuddle our babies, or start a tickle war, or head outdoors to play on the swing set.   

Some days, I stop in the middle of doing everything and think, "What am I doing?"  And more importantly, "What am I not doing?!?"  

As I get closer to the big 3-0, I look around at those whom I grew up with.  I think about their choices now---and so many of those choices, and the way they respond to hardship, and their mannerisms, and the way they raise their kids---so much of it is based on how their parents treated them.

And the weight, the monumental role of being called "mom,"  hits me, to be cliche, like a ton of bricks.  

Parents, we have a big job.   One that never gets a day off.   One that makes or breaks a child.   One that requires so much patience, self-control, sacrifice, understanding, love, and wisdom.

This article says all that is on my heart today.   I hope you will take time to read it, reflect, and think about what you can change to become the best parent you can be to your current and future blessings.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Christmas Letter

Do you write one?  

I never used to be a fan.  Mostly, my family received letters that went on and on about how great the kids were (how many baseball tournaments they were in...and blah blah blah).   However, I do remember this one couple who always sent a letter that was at least three pages long.  The letter was incredibly detailed and though it wasn't meant to be, it was funny.

While we were waiting to adopt, I wrote my first Christmas letter.   This helped us announce our plans to adopt to those who didn't already know (particularly older relatives who don't use the Internet).     After that year, I just kept writing Christmas letters. 

I now love receiving the letters as well.   December is an entire month where it's fun to open up the mailbox and see what treasures are inside.   

If you want to write a letter that gets some (planned) laughs and smiles, follow these tips:

1:  Reflect on the past year.  What made your family smile?  Cry?  Laugh?   Snap a million photos?   Make a list. 

2:  Draft the letter.  Then go back to it a few times, revising, before you print and send.   This gives you time to add details, delete lines that you realize make you sound like an idiot, and correct mistakes in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

3:  Details matter!   Give specifics about each family member.   Did he/she go on any special trips?  Did something hysterical happen?   Were any interesting milestones reached?  A new hobby?   Let personalities shine!   (If your kids are old enough, have them write their paragraph in first person, letting them say what they want).  

4:  What's going on in your adoption journey?    This is always a topic of interest to friends and family.   Your letter is an awesome opportunity to educate others on adoption.  Share a blog URL or an article or a story about visiting birth family. 

5:  Print your letter on some fabulous paper (preferably the paper you bought last year on major sale after Christmas) and send, along with a fun family photograph.    (Your Christmas photo doesn't have to be each of you in matching sweaters.   Think outside the box.   The more creative, the better!)

Can you tell I'm ready for Christmas?        

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"That's so retarded!"

I hear this phrase ALL the time.     It disturbs me greatly, because I have a few family members who are developmentally delayed.  I cringe to think that someone would ever say this phrase in their presence.

Here's a fabulous blog post on the topic.  Please take a moment to check it out.

This PSA, selected by my students as one of the three options they may choose from for a analysis assignment, further explore the issue of saying, "That's so ____" ("gay," "retarded," etc.). 

Our children are listening to us.   Whether we utter these phrases or whether or not we stand up to those who do...they are listening, learning, and will repeat.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Celeb Adoption News + New Adoption Blog

Hi, readers!

Mariska Hargitay and Viola Davis both have new additions to their families via adoption!

Parents magazine has a new blogger.  The subject of her blog:  adoption.  

Even though I don't always agree with certain viewpoints, I am happy that adoption is becoming a more and more talked (and written about) topic.   I am also thankful that celebs, who are, whether we like it or not, role models, are sharing adoption photos and talking about their adoption experienes.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Family Christmas Project

Yes, Christmas is still over two months away, but being the planner I am, m formulating a plan to do a Christmas project as a family.  

I used to love to do volunteer work.   In high school and college I went on several week-long mission trips to American Indian reservations and other areas of the US that were poverty-stricken.   Meeting the people, playing with their kids, and breaking a sweat (we repaired homes) was personally rewarding because we were doing something for others.  

A crazy grad school schedule, followed by my diabetes diagnosis, followed by having two babies in three years...well, volunteering took a back burner.

I did, last summer, work at a hospital in the Diabetes Management Center.   It was rewarding, but juggling childcare was a challenge.  

So, I'm figuring out other ways to "give back" or "make a difference" (or whatever cliche phrase fancies you) without sacrificing the well-being of my family.

Readers, what can you do, particularly during the upcoming season of abundance (for some) to give to someone else?  

A friend of mine told me about a private school in East St. Louis, an area well known for crime and poverty, that does wonderful things for the community's children.    They are in need of certain supplies.     I immediately felt as if collecting and purchasing (with my new found couponing skills) items for this school would be an awesome family project.  

How to pick a family project:
1:   What is your family passionate about?  Hungry families?   Orphans?   Education?   People with disabilities?   The list of needs is endless.
2:  What can you reasonably do for your selected organization or person?    Compare this to what is needed.  (E-mail the necessary people to figure this out).  Then ask:  Is this project a good fit for your family AND the organization or person?
3:    Contribute with joy!    Recently, our church asked for school supplies for low-income school districts.    This was a fantastic project for our almost-three-year-old who was giddy over picking out Lightening McQueen folders.     
4:  Deliver.  Take your family with you when you deliver your contribution.    Let them meet some of those who are being blessed.  

Another option, particularly if you really don't have time to shop or volunteer for a cause, is to give a monetary gift in the name of a relative who you would normally buy a gift for.      Then give your relative a small token to remind them of the donation.  For example, last year we gave money to a maternity home, and then gave a baby ornament to the relative to symbolize the donation in her name.   This is particularly beneficial if you have a hard-to-buy-for or has-everything-needs-nothing relative.  

'Tis the season to share, give, bless, and be blessed!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tidbits for You

Check out this article on talking to your child's preschool teacher about adoption----or not?   :)    What do you think?

Good nutrition for adopted kids is an important and often overlooked topic.   There's a website dedicated to supporting parents and adoption professionals.   Check it out!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Change is Good."

My father, a salesperson for most of his life, would often tell my siblings and me:  "Change is good."     During his motivational talks, he would take an air conditioner thermostat, showing his audience the area marked "comfort zone."  He proceeded to talk about how so many of us refuse to step out of our comfort zones; therefore, our lives are mundane and predictable.   

Maybe I'm having something like a mid-mid-life reflection of sorts.  I'm turning 30 in January, and all the sudden I'm rearing at the bit to create some change in my life.   This is really difficult for me, because between raising two babies who are dependent upon me for almost everything and having a forever-and-ever disease (type I diabetes) that requires 24/7 management, change is frightening.   But it's also exhilarating.

So, in the works are several projects and changes.   Some of you are probably thinking, "That's dramatic for you?"    Yes.    I thrive on security, predictability, and control.  Part of it is my type A personality, and the other is my disease which teaches me that in order to feel well, I have to be in total control, all the time.     I'm forever battling myself.   Sigh! 

First, my blog is getting a makeover by Fran at  Small Bird Studios.    Because I'm publishing more and more, my blog is getting more hits.   I want my blog to not only inform and inspire, but I want it to look great and reflect how much I am thankful for my readers.   

Second, I'm saying no to non-paying writing projects.    I have finally built up enough publications on my writing resume to feel worthy of saying no to those who can't pay me for my time and talent.

Third, I'm working on two books.   One of which is open to contributors.    The other is in the hands of an agent.   I'm praying that if God wants me to write a book, He makes it abundantly clear to me.    I tend to put the cart before the horse, so I'm trying to be patient and accept if this is the right time in my life or not to write a book.    I'm battling myself----deciding to accept that I am talented enough, smart enough, and experienced enough to attempt a book.   (This didn't come easily to me, but a dear friend told me that I was good enough and to not pass this opportunity by.  I love awesome friends like this!).

Fourth, I'm not going to let my appearance come nearly-last anymore.  You know, I used to poke fun at my mom who would put on makeup just to run to Wal-Mart, but now I'm starting to get it.   I'm purchasing some newer clothes that compliment my skin and hair, and I'm cleaned out my closet, donating all items that didn't fit, didn't look nice, or urged me to be sloppy.    With two little girls, it's easy to excuse being a thrown-together-mama because inevidtably, I will end up with spit up, snot, or food on my clothes.    But you know, clothes can be washed.      I workout every day, so why not show off that hard work?    I'm going to stop buying anything black (because it makes me look washed out), to wear my high heels more often (because I always feel a little more confident in heels), and to not let something that's not working continue (like my attempt to grow out my hair).          

Five, I'm changing my goals and being open to the possibilities life throws at me.    Steve and I are still considering adopting from foster care, specifically, an African American sibling group.  I have so many doubts including if my girls will handle the change in birth order well, if I can manage my disease and take care of a large family, if we can afford this change, what we are willing to give up in order to have a large family, and so much more.    But I know if it's the right decision, everything will work out.

Finally, Steve and I working toward spending more quality time together.   Shutting the TV off can be hard after we've both had long, stressful days, but I strongly believe that united parents/partners create phenominal families!  We're also using the questions from The Five Love Languages to guide us in some revealing discussions about ourselves.      

The coming months are filled with possibilities, which I'm excited to greet and embrace.     I hope that you are also accepting the possibility of change in your life---big or small---for the better. 


Monday, October 10, 2011

Etsy Gift Certificate Winner...


Congrats!  :)  Contact the Etsy seller to claim your prize.  :) 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Christmas in October: $10 Gift Certificate Giveaway!


I'm so happy to share some information with you about my friend Elizabeth, an Etsy seller whom I ADORE!  Her princess clips, featured above, are lovely; they are well made and support little girls of various races.      You have the opportunity to participate in a $10 gift card giveaway to Elizabeth's Etsy shop.   :)  

First, here's some information about Elizabeth:

My name is Elizabeth Irving. I'm from Hudsonville, Michigan, and I make hair accessories for girls. My Etsy shop is called My Little Pixies, and it is so named for my two daughters, whom we have always joked are our "pixie" children because they are so little and sweet. I wanted my business name to reflect my girls, so that's how we landed on My Little Pixies.

I really believe in offering creative accessories for all kinds of girls. I love to create and offer items that reflect the beauty within every little princess. One of the best things about what I do is connecting with the many "friends." I've made in this wonderful community- suppliers, other creators, and clients. I opened my shop as a creative outlet- a way to justify a hobby I've had for awhile, and God has blessed it and allowed it to be a way to help provide for some of the little "extras" it's so nice to have every now and then. :)

Every little girl can use more hair accessories! At my shop, you'll find something for everyone- from the little Christmas baby to her big sister, or even the mom who wants to look extra cute for the Christmas party. I have lots of cute Christmas items, plus fun stuff for all year round.


Giveaway Item:   $10 gift certificate to Elizabeth's Etsy shop.

Entry dates:   10/5-10/10 (at noon, CST)

Ways to enter (up to five ways per person):
1:   Become a follower of my blog, and leave me a comment telling me you did so.
2:  Go to My Little Pixies on Etsy; leave me a comment telling me what you plan to purchase should you win the $10 gift certificate.
3:   Become a follower of my blog's FB page, and leave me a comment stating you did so.
4:   Post a FB or Twitter message about this giveaway, and leave me a comment stating you did so.
5:   Leave a comment stating what your favorite holiday tradition is.  

Winner:  The winner's comment will be posted after 12:00 p.m. (CST) on Monday, 10/10.  The winner is responsible to contact Elizabeth and claim her prize.   

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


We bought Miss E a lovely bed from IKEA last year, which she is quite fond of.  It's low to the ground and beautiful.  However, IKEA beds require special bedding due to their unique size and set up.

So, I went online to The Company Store and found two full size sheets that I loved---both on sale and in addition, I used a coupon (of course!).  One is of multiracial fairies, the other flowers.    My mother-in-law made this custom, reversible quilt for my daughter's bed, and is making an identical one for Baby E when she's old enough to be in a "big girl" bed.    Benefit:   sheets are far less costly than pre-made comforters!    (Note:  For a standard size twin bed, you will need a larger sheet than a full to make two comforters). 

So, if you are frustrated, like me, with the lack of brown girls being represented, take matters into your own hands, pick your fabric, find a willing friend or family member (or pay someone if necessary), and create a one-of-a-kind creation that will comfort him or her night after night.