Reading Material

I really do want to write. I can’t decide if I want people to read it or not. And I also have a hard time getting a coherent thought out without being interrupted by someone who needs to be hugged, fed or clothed. So, for now, I’ll share some of what I’ve been reading…

The Trouble with Dave Ramsey from Shannan at Flower Patch Farmgirl

We resisted what we believed in the pit of our stomachs to be true. We thought we could serve them both. We thought maybe we could be that one rich couple who has a lot of money so that they can give more away. We wanted a piece of the blessing of God’s promise, but we hoped it could be without sacrifice. We didn’t want the “living like no one else” to be for nothing.

Six things adoption has taught me by Shaun Groves at Simple Mom

In 2007, I visited an Ethiopian orphanage, trying not to make eye contact with any of the little ones around me in need of a father. I’ve always found avoidance to be the surest way to never feel bad about saying “no.” My brother-in-law, who was adopting from Ethiopia, was there with me. “Maybe we’ve made it too complicated,” he said. (I knew by “we” he meant “me.”) “What if God’s will for our life is found wherever someone’s need and our ability intersect?”

From By His Wounds You Are Healed: How the Message of Ephesians Transforms a Woman’s Identity by Wendy Horger Alsup

I was taken back a bit when I first read the definition of the Greek term translated humility. It means a deep sense of your littleness, especially your moral littleness. Unlike our culture’s watered down version of this term, humility does not mean that you are simply nice, polite, or diplomatic. It means that you have a correct understanding of your salvation as Paul outlined in Ephesians 2. You understand that you were dead in your sins, you were born a child deserving of God’s judgement, and God saved you by his grace and not by your own works. You understand your moral littleness. Then you respond to others in light of this understanding. A humble person does not stand in judgment against others from a point of righteous indignation. You and I have completely missed the entire message of Ephesian 1 and 2 if we think we have any moral high ground over anyone else. This is the core of the gospel.

And, lastly, this verse has shown up to me through various people and places over and over in the last month.

I have told you these things, so that in me you you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, NIV)

Chicken Soup with Kale & Sweet Potatoes

I was at a women’s event at our church and someone brought something similar to this soup. I went home and looked up a recipe on Pinterest and found this. But, oh, there were so many steps! I decided to make my version with a lot of short-cuts.

Chicken Soup with Kale & Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

  • Chopped up carrots, onions and celery (Trader Joe’s sells this & I used the whole container)
  • Chopped up garlic & scallions (Trader Joe’s also sells this & I used about half of the container)
  • Kale (bought a pre-washed & chopped package at Trader Joe’s, used about half the package)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 sweet potatoes, skin removed, cubed
  • Chicken (I had a rotisserie chicken from Costco. I shredded the meat and added about 3 cups to the soup)
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 package of bacon
  • Sale & pepper to taste

And, here is how I made it:

1. Pour 6 cups of broth into crock pot.

2. Sautéed the carrot, onion & celery mix in a pan in some butter. Added it to the crock pot.

3. Sautéed the garlic & scallions in some butter. Added it to the crock pot.

4. Went through the kale and pulled out any tough stems (I don’t like them). I wilted the kale in some water on the stove for a  minute or two. I have no idea if this was necessary or not. I just didn’t want it to be tough in the soup. When finished, I added it to the crock pot.

5. Cubed the sweet potatoes and threw them in the crock pot.

6. Shredded the chicken and added it to the crock pot.

7. Added the nutmeg and small about of salt & pepper to crock pot.

8. Set the crock pot on high. The potatoes were tender in about an hour or so. Then just set the crock pot to warm until dinner time.

Before dinner, I made a package of bacon. I crumbled mine and added it to the soup along with a little Parmesan cheese (suggested in the original recipe). The boys preferred their bacon on the side.  If I was making this for myself only, I would add a jalapeno to the mix for a little spice.

The miracle of the soup is that my kids ate it! DIB (who I am hopeful that I can turn into a little foodie) had two bowls. AIB was much more hesitant but didn’t argue too much.

My 3 Favorite Blogs (Right Now)

I know I haven’t written a post in a while. But I have been reading other blogs. Here are my three favorites reads right now (they are all over the map topic-wise).

1. House Tweaking: The Millers are fixing up a mid-century ranch after downsizing. They have two sons and just had a little girl (I might be a bit biased). I love Dana’s style and all the information they share. I love seeing their new house come together. 

2. Mama Pop: Snarky, sarcastic coverage of pop-culture written by parents. I have a little dream of writing for this blog someday. 

3. Practical Theology for Women: I’m honestly not adding this in just so you won’t judge me for loving the pop-culture blog so much. Wendy Horger Alsup writes this blog (titled the same as her book). She says the blog is a “lecture to herself” but I am so glad I get to listen in. When I see a new post in my reader, I know I have to save it for when I can really pay attention because there is so much to take in.

Birth Story

I’ve been wanting to write out our birth story but debating whether to put it here or not. I am fully aware that this may not be something everyone cares to read so feel free to skip this one. I won’t be offended.

Here it goes…

December 27: A Groupon appears in my inbox for a prenatal massage. It is serendipitous. I buy it and go that afternoon. Surely, this will induce labor.

December 28: I’m 40 weeks pregnant and my midwife says not much is going on. In fact, I’m in exactly the same place I have been for weeks. D asks her if there is anything we should do and she suggests acupuncture.

December 29, 30 & 31: Stick needles in my face? Sure. I’ll do anything. This baby needs to come out. I go three days in a row to a hippie community-acupuncture clinic. But, I’m a bad hippie because right after acupuncture, I go through the McDonald’s drive-thru for a Coke (and maybe some fries).

December 31: Our friends are so nice to come over for New Year’s Eve since our only plans are to wait for this baby. Late at night, I start feeling different but I blame it on the queso that we are all eating.

January 1 @ 1:00 am: Our friends leave and I tell D that I think I am having contractions but I’m not sure. I go to sleep for a few hours.

4:00 am: I’m definitely having contractions. Nothing crazy and totally manageable. I breathe through them and the come every seven minutes or so. I’m excited now…too excited to sleep, something I will regret later.

8:00 am: Contractions are the same. The boys wake up and we tell them that their sister is going to come today (what did we know?). AIB just stares at my belly, waiting for her to jump out. They proceed with the day as normal. We let our family know that I am in labor.

12:00 pm: My parents take the boys to lunch and we finish packing up our bags for the hospital. Contractions are still very manageable. I just move from the balance ball to the tub to walking around the house. We’ve let my midwife know that I am in labor.

3:00 pm: My contractions pick up and are now closer together, maybe three to five minutes apart (and they stay this way until she is born). We call the midwife again and she wants me to sleep (this was excellent advice). I try my best and maybe get a couple of hours of sleep, with contractions every five minutes. Our friend comes to pick up the boys and they are totally spoiled for the afternoon and evening.

7:00 pm: My contractions seem to be slightly stronger and are as close as three minutes apart. We decide to go to the birth center.

8:00 pm: As soon as we arrive at the hospital, my contractions slow down. I feel silly for being at the birth center and the midwife tells me, “You are not in active labor.” (If you really want to know, I’m only at 2 centimeters dilated). I’m really annoyed by this. They tell us to go home. I’m that lady – the one who went to the hospital too early. The midwife tells us, “Stop timing contractions and try to rest. First babies take three days to come.” I’m super, super annoyed with her. I tell D I don’t like her (about 12 hours after this, I am in love with her).  As soon as we get back in the car, my contractions pick up again and the ride home is awful. We get home and I labor more.

January 2 @ 1:30 am: I’ve gotten a little bit of sleep but not much because, well, contractions are uncomfortable. While leaning over the balance ball, my water breaks. I tell D to call our friend back who is watching the boys and she kindly comes back to stay the night. He also calls the birth center to tell them we are coming back. I tell him, “Tell them to turn on the tub.” All I want is to be in the giant tub they have at the birth center – pretty much my whole reason for deciding to have a baby there.

2:00 am: We arrive and I’m now 5 centimeters dilated. I hang out in the tub. The awesome-ness of the tub cannot be overstated. I am there for a while.

5:00 am: I keep looking at the clock and thinking, “For sure this baby will be here by 6:00 am.” The nurse checks me and I’m six centimeters. Seriously. I labor on the bed for a while and get back in the tub but I am obsessed with sleeping. Sleep is the only thing I can think about. I start to think getting an epidural would be a fantastic idea so that I can sleep. All I want to do is sleep. I tell D that I want something so that I can GO TO SLEEP. Things get unpleasant. I keep asking D to get me some drugs and he keeps saying encouraging things (D states: “At this point, I had no idea what I was doing”).

6:00 am: After moving to a few more positions, the nurse and D put me on the bed because I can’t even keep my head up. I have never been so tired in my entire life. My contractions are still three to five minutes apart and I’m starting to think I’m going to be doing this for a lot longer. I really want an epidural so that I can sleep but I am able to lay in bed with my head down and belly propped up with a bunch of pillows, getting small portions of sleep between contractions.

7:00 am: I’m so over this. I’m so, so tired and I tell D I want some drugs. The nurse gets the midwife and tells her I want to discuss getting some help. The midwife arrives and she is really calm. She says she wants to check me before we even discuss any medication. I’m about 8 centimeters dilated and, turns out, my water didn’t really break all the way. She asks me if it is okay if she breaks my water. Yes, it is okay. It would have been okay like five hours ago. She tells me that anything she gives me for pain would just slow things down and I know that she is right. In some genius move, she totally changes the subject and I’m talking about something completely unrelated to labor between contractions. I don’t feel so stuck now. By breaking my water and distracting me, she has helped me get over my frustration about not progressing as fast as I would have liked.

9:00 am: I am ready to push. I move to a few positions but squatting seems to be the most effective for me. (Sorry if that is TMI but it is the truth). I never really envisioned things going this way. It is a bit primitive but I don’t care because if it means the baby is going to come out, I am down with that. The midwife asks me if I can drink a Coke because an Amish midwife she used to work with always gave women Coke when they were pushing to help. I love Coke and she goes off to find one but the baby is coming and the nurse has to go get her before she can find any. I’m pushing on the bed at this point but it isn’t that effective. I hear the midwife say, “If she squats again, she’ll have the baby.” I say, “I’ll squat” and that is exactly what I do and, sure enough, Baby Girl is here just minutes later (at 10:09 am). It is crazy and awesome. She is big (8 lbs. 6 oz.) and has lots of dark hair. I go from being obsessed with sleep to wide awake and in awe of our little girl.

A few things…

  • My husband is a really awesome doula. He was encouraging and there the entire time. One of my books said to have people around who relax you. He truly is my “relaxing” person – in childbirth and in life, in general.
  • I’d say I was about 80% committed to a low-intervention birth when we were planning. I’m not even totally sure why this was important to me because I really have no issues with pain medication or epidurals. I had a lot of fear about having to be induced and having a c-section. From what I researched, planning for a birth with low-interventions would help me avoid those things and it did (but it did not make it fast).
  • The midwives and nurses at the birth center were so helpful before, during and after birth. I want to hug all of them…a lot.

Notes from Maternity Leave

Our little girl was born four weeks ago which means I have four weeks left of maternity leave. I very much appreciate and need the time off but not working is very strange for me. My job is only part-time and very flexible but it was part of my routine so everything feels a bit different.

In the fall, we signed up for a cable package so that we could watch college football. Well, college football is over and we still have cable. I told D to cancel it this week because the endless amount of home-buyers on House Hunters who claim they can’t live without stainless steel appliances, open concept and walk-in closets is making me cynical about the American public as a whole. It isn’t good when you start talking to the TV in a sarcastic and judge-y tone. You would think I would just turn off the TV but I don’t have the will power so cable must go.

DIB joined his first after-school activity last week and is now a proud member of the Running Club. They literally just run for an hour two-days per week after school. He really, really wanted to participate and I think any way he can get out that extra energy without damaging something is a great idea.

AIB lost two teeth this week. One was very loose and he let me pull it out for him. The one that was next to it was also loose and was kicked out by his brother while they were playing in a ball-pit. He was so happy about getting another $1 that he didn’t seem to care that his brother had kicked him in face.

MNB is growing and doing well. She is doing all the things that babies do. We’ve been enjoying all the cuddles and she is a great sleeper. Since I head back to work in a few weeks, I knew I needed to set up some type of routine so I’m doing the same thing we did with T (which is the EASY routine from The Baby Whisperer). We just started today and it is going pretty well but things are going to be very different this time around with two older brothers who have their own schedule.

Tomorrow, our foster licensing worker comes over to add our new family member to our file. All this means is that she needs to see her and see where she sleeps. We probably won’t be taking any respite or long-term placements for a while but our license still up-to-date since we don’t feel done with foster care yet. In the meantime, we are happily filling out reference forms and answering questions from a few friends who are either new foster parents or getting their license soon.

Little Sister

Our sweet girl was born on January 2, 2012. We’re settling in as a family of five (!). The boys have done so well in their big brother roles. I’m so proud of them and their ability to roll with the changes. The entire time I was pregnant I had a hard time picturing what she would look like and she has surprised us all with a head-full of dark hair, making her look more like her brothers than either of her parents.

Nine Months

That is how long it takes us to paint a kitchen (well, and a few other projects thrown in there too).

We primed in April and then I found out I was pregnant and things kind of came to a halt. Then we decided to have an over-the-stove microwave installed, tile removed and a bead-board backsplash put in. I still have more plans for the kitchen but I am loving the lightness of the new color (Sweet Spring by Benjamin Moore, color-matched with Behr Paint). The rest of the living area (family room and hallway) are the same color as well now. We need pictures on the walls and a rug in the family room still. And now that I look at those pictures, I see I need to replace that red floor run in the kitchen as well (goodbye to all red!)

It never would have happened without Heather, my mom and D. Thank you all!

Reading Material

I LOVE this post from Shaun Groves on God, poverty and the government. At one point in my life, I was very interested in politics and now I am very cynical and get all my political information from Comedy Central. Shaun’s post is so well-balanced and has lots and lots of links and resources.

Megan from Millions of Miles re-posted this from last year: Do you have room?

“Wait!” I’d like to think I would scream, “I have room! Come and let Jesus be born here!” But if Mary and Joseph had taken me up on that offer, would I have really done it? Or would I have said, “Well… actually, it’s kinda cramped in here. And we have our routine and you might get in the way of that a little. Oh, and by the way- we all snore. You know, come to think of it, we’re really pretty comfortable here just as we are. Are you sure you want to stay here? We don’t have a lot of money and our TV is very small. If you went down the street, they’d probably let you stay there and their house is way bigger and they have a lot of money. You might really be more comfortable somewhere else. I’ll tell you what- here. Here’s a few dollars. Good luck. I really do think someone else could accommodate you better. And if they can’t, well… I’m just sorry. It’s just not a good time for me. You understand, right?”

Meanwhile, Jesus gets born in a barn…

And meanwhile, millions of children all over the world go without families because we tell ourselves the very same excuses…

And, lastly, this one is just pretty. Our house is about 1,000 square feet (not including a full basement & garage). I am pretty content with this size of a house but it is a challenge to organize and figure out what goes where. I always love seeing examples of small, simple living done beautifully and this house tour from Apartment Therapy was a perfect example.

photos from apartment therapy

You can see more of this house at the family’s blog: {aka}|design

Mystery Box Memories

We are nine days away from when this little girl is supposed to arrive. Who knows when she will decide to grace us with her presence but, for now, we are packing in the fun and getting ready to celebrate Christmas.

My parents started a tradition when we were kids that I knew I wanted to do when we had kids as well (actually , I wanted to do it before we had kids but D would not cooperate). Each year, each member of the family picks a special person and together we put together a box of goodies for that person. One night before Christmas, we hop in the van when it is dark out, drive to that person’s house, ring the doorbell and then run to hide. Inside the box is a poem/song, with hints about our identity.

This started last week on Thursday since the friend that DIB picked was headed for vacation the next day. I gave his friend’s mom a little warning that they might have a surprise on their doorstep that evening. DIB was so excited to drop off his mystery box and loved hiding in bushes while he heard his friend open the door and find the surprise. Just a few minutes after we left, his friend called him (he has guessed it was DIB from the clues) and DIB was so excited to talk on the phone, he even introduced himself by stating his full name.

The next evening, the rest of us got to deliver our boxes. It was getting late and the boys were happy to find parents in a crunch for time so they got to each McDonald’s chicken nuggets in the car as we drove to our first destination. AIB’s friend wasn’t home but a few hours later we got a message from him and his mom. It was a recording of them opening the box and his friend guessing AIB as the “Secret Santa” who had left the box of goodies. D picked his mom as his special person and the boys’ were thrilled to get to ring Grandma Nan’s doorbell and run away. She guessed pretty quickly who is was from since D’s song included the line, “I’m sorry that I was born huge” (kind of a giveaway that the box was from her largest child – nine pounds a birth)! We stopped in for a quick visit with Papa and Grandma Nan before we headed out to our final spot. I picked my friend, Meredith, and wrote a little song to the tune of Breath of Heaven (much trickier than I had anticipated). It was fun to get her message later that night saying she had figured it out and enjoyed the surprise.

Last year, the boys had only been in our home for about four weeks at Christmas time and I couldn’t pull this off last year. We were still in “getting-to-know-you” mode. One year in, I can say we know these guys pretty well. We have good and bad days but we all love each other and are definitely a family.

Yesterday, the boys sang in church (with the rest of the kids). They did this last year as well but this year was different because instead of looking totally confused and a bit annoyed, AIB actually sang! Last year he cracked us up with his serious expression and lack of enthusiasm. This year, he chimed in with the rest of the group to sing Jesus Loves Me and Hallelujah (which he continued to sing the rest of the day).

Once we were home, the boys played nicely together and I couldn’t help but be thankful that they have each other. At night, we read a couple of books and when I tucked them into bed, AIB grabbed me around the neck with his little arm and said, “Stay here!” I said, “I can’t, buddy. I have to go do your laundry.” He then said, “Oh, sorry, mom!” I reassured him that I was very happy to take care of his laundry for him (at least for a few more years). We love these boys and can’t believe how far they have come in the past year.

A Sad Kiddo

If you saw us Sunday after church, you know that I had a very sad four-year-old on my hands. He was getting lots of sympathy because he just looked miserable. Why? I have no idea.

We’ve noticed that the way AIB wakes up can have an effect on his whole day and, Sunday, he woke up pretty happy. But not too long after he had gotten ready, he started talking in a whine exclusively. It was work to get him out the door to church since he suddenly forgot how to do things like put on shoes and his coat. He chose not to eat breakfast and right as we walked out the door he told me he was hungry. I suspect this had something to do with his attitude.

His Sunday school teacher said he was fine in class but as soon as I picked him up he went back to being solemn. Crazy kid wouldn’t even eat a chocolate covered donut without coaxing. We had two cars at church and DIB was doing just fine and enjoying the attention of the older kids who kindly play with him (the kids tried to play with AIB too but he was not having it). I told AIB that we could just go home since he was having a rough day and this sent him straight to tears saying that he didn’t want to go home. However, he was in no condition to be with people. He sobbed the whole way walking to the car and the twenty minute drive home. When I asked him what was upsetting him, he just said that he didn’t want to leave or that he wanted to be with his brother (which is his usual response whenever he gets upset). He was over-reacting so much to the situation (we told him that he wasn’t in trouble but that he might need more sleep) and could not pull himself together.

The whole way home, I was thinking, “What is going on with this kid?” He had gotten plenty of sleep and nothing major had happened that day. This was one of those times when I just wonder if there is a hurt so deep in his heart from his early life that neither he nor we can understand or know.

I did the only thing I knew to do when we got home. Pulled him up on the couch with me, cuddled and took a nap. I’ve got a thousand things to do and am not a napper myself (even at 9 months pregnant) but I couldn’t help but think, “This is probably the most important thing for me to do right now.”

There are many things that could have been going on. AIB might have just been overly-tired, he may have been having a bad day, he may have purposefully been acting that way to get attention. He might have been having a time of confusion and frustration at all the changes that have taken place in his life over the past year (and the impending change of becoming a big brother). He can’t articulate any of this to us yet. All he knows was that he was sad and he needed to cry, cuddle and sleep.

This was one of those times as a parent through adoption where I had no clue what was going on. He wasn’t being bad (although, his sadness was making him act rudely). He was just sad and he needed to be comforted, even if he didn’t know why.