Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Only 2 days left!

Today, we are celebrating!  We are celebrating with our friends Aaron and Heather who are, as I type, on a plane to Ethiopia to pick up their son, Arthur!  After months of hiccups and unknowns and delays and stress and anxiety, they received an email yesterday morning that told them they had received clearance from the Embassy and they could come get Arthur!  They booked a flight for today and will be picking him up on his first birthday! Can you believe it!?  (If you remember, Arthur's birthday has been a significant and meaningful part of their story.) I talked with Heather last night and she was surprisingly calm.  Keep them in your prayers these next few days as they travel and transition home with Arthur.  There's an awesome post here about how to care for families who have just brought their adoptive children home. (You better believe I'll be linking to that post again when we're getting ready to bring our babe home!)  Praise the Lord for his PERFECT timing.

We are also celebrating some movement in our own adoption process!  Our American Girl Doll raffle has been a success and we have sold 95 tickets as of this very minute.  We initially said that we would add a second doll to the giveaway if we sold 150 tickets, but we've decided that if we sell five more tickets to get us to an even hundred we will add a second doll!

We want to do this in celebration of God's faithfulness in providing for us to meet our most recent goal - and then some!  A majority of the $2000 we needed when we launched our raffle came from generous friends who chose to support our general adoption fund, rather than contribute to the raffle.  So even though we didn't sell the amount of tickets I was hoping for, the Lord provided in other ways.  I'll admit, adding a second doll is a little selfish on my part because I love giving gifts so the thought of making two little girls (and their mommies!) so happy was a big motivator here!  Plus as I saw each donation come in, I would think, "Oh I love them!  I hope they win!"  This way I'll get my wish for two of you, at least!

Here's what's so exciting to us about surpassing our $4100 goal: all donations now go to fund our REFERRAL FEE.  The fact that we're starting to fund our referral fee is huge to us for two reasons:

  1. The referral fee is the biggest fee yet - somewhere in the neighborhood of $8,000 to $9,000.  We'll have nearly a year (in theory) to raise/save this money, but it's still a daunting number!  Which is why it feels so good to already be adding drops in that bucket.
  2. The fact that we're now saving for our referral fee means that the next step of the process is our REFERRAL!  And our referral means that we will know who our son or daughter is!  I can't believe we are ready for that step!  It makes me positively giddy! (Thus, all the exclamation marks!!!)

I promise that another post is coming with details explaining our next steps and what a "referral" even means, but I didn't want to bog down this post with that stuff.

So, five more tickets to go!  The raffle closes at midnight (CST) on Wednesday November 30.  We will use Random.org to choose the winner(s) and announce the winner(s) here on December 1st!  Just click that little "Donate" button underneath the picture of the American Girl Doll. Here----------------->>

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Not cool, Zeus. Not cool.

I've had the hiccups for the last hour.  I'm not exaggerating.  I blame Lila because she had hiccups earlier today I think I caught them from her.  Hiccups are contagious, right?  No?  Well then aren't we cute that we both had hiccups today?

For real, though my stomach kinda hurts now from all the hiccuping.  I've tried holding my breath, drinking water upside down, concentrating on hiccuping, concentrating on not hiccuping, holding my breath some more, drinking water right-side up.  No good.  So as a last resort I just said out loud, "Not cool, Hiccups.  Not cool.  Now I'm going to blog about you."  Eric's response was, "That'll show 'em."  We'll just have to see, won't we?  If my hiccups are gone by the time this post is done, then I am a genius.

I just have a few random things to share with you tonight.

Firstly, we have a week left of our American Girl Raffle and we have only sold 47 tickets.  Which means several things:

1. We are still about $700 away from our next goal Update, 11/25: since I originally posted this, we have surpassed our goal thanks to some very generous friends!  Hooray! All additional donations will help fund our referral fee! (I'll explain what that is in a later post)  Thank you, friends! We are overwhelmed!
2. I don't have enough friends with 5-10 year old girls
3. Your odds of winning if you bought a ticket are VERY good - 1 in 47 in fact!  And if you bought three tickets, your odds are even better (except that math is harder to do, so you figure it out).

Raffle closes at midnight on November 30th so hurry your little self up and buy a ticket or three - we've got good odds! Just click that little 'ole button on the right there and Paypal it up for a good cause.

B of all, I have been praying for our family's immune systems this week because last year at Thanksgiving, a nasty and very contagious flu took out all but three or four people over the course of about 48 hours.  It was NOT pretty, my friends.  Eric and I took turns passing Lila back and forth as we alternately ran to the bathroom to throw up and held her over the toilet while she threw up.  I think it should be a law of nature that parents cannot get sick when children are sick.  So, get to work on that, Isaac Newton.

Third, we received news from Immigration that our paperwork is being processed and we have been given an appointment to have our fingerprints taken on December 9th.  It feels amazing to be checking the last few things off our lists!  Here's what we have left:

In case you can't read it (every time I tried to snap that picture, I hiccuped so it's kind of blurry), here's the list:
  • Collect remaining reference letters
  • Take a casual and "semi-formal" photo of ourselves (we may just have to get dressed up specifically for this photo as we don't really have a reason to get dressed up in real life)
  • Get passport photos taken
  • Wait for my birth certificate to be mailed to us
  • Fill out financial statement
  • Get fingerprints taken for Immigration
I can't believe the list is this short! Wahoo!

Finally, Lila would like to say a few words to end this post:

P.S. I still have the hiccups.  Boo.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I have an idea

I want to try to buy most of my Christmas gifts in a way that supports orphan care or another family's adoption.  So I'm on the hunt for some cool products with a cause.

I hate to say it, but there are a lot of really UNCOOL adoption things out there.  Just cheesy or overdone or not quality.

Okay, so I'm a snob.  

But, there is some really cool stuff out there.  Here are a few things I've already found (mostly via links on my friend Heather's blog - if you want cool, start with cool, right? Heather's cool.  And I'm not, because I say "cool" too much...)

Jambo shirts from Love is Waiting
Bear onesie from Twenty9Freckles

B is for Bear print from Dear Friend

Ugandan wildlife tee from Little Adventurer

Watercolor Ethiopia Map from Jodi Queenan
bird necklace from Love is Rising
Superman was Adopted tee from Team Parker 

Have you guys seen any other cool groovy awesome stuff for sale that supports an adoption or orphan care?  Tell me! Tell me!  Leave a comment with a link! Do it! Do it! Please?

(Sorry about all of the overly enthusiastic exclamation points.  I'm feeling silly.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's that time of year again!

Maybe for most of you it's the time of year when you bring out the holiday decorations, start shopping for Christmas gifts, rake your leaves on a daily basis because they just keep coming, or start making gratitude lists.  But for me (us) this time of year is punctuated by my obsession with planning Lila's birthday party.  (In one month, my baby will be TWO! What?! That can't be.  *sigh*)

As I mentioned last year, I am determined to not allow my daughter's close-to-Christmas birthday to be overshadowed by the holiday.  I LOVE birthdays.  Love them.  Especially my own.  But Lila's is almost more fun for me than my own.  And her first birthday party was awesome.  I joked that it was really more for me than for Lila.  And it was.  I mean, she won't remember it anyway.  First birthdays are really more about celebrating the fact that we, as parents, made it through year one.  And for that matter, second birthdays are kind of the same - just maybe the percentages eek a little more toward her side as far as for whom the party is thrown.  It's like 70/30, me/Lila this year.

Last year, we had a little birdie theme for her birthday party and I went a little bit crazy.  Evidently I was desperate for a creative outlet.  And I'm a sentimental fool who loves traditions so of course, I had to implement a few traditions for celebrating Lila's birthday.  Ornaments for party favors, little notes for people to write down favorite memories or things that characterize Lila for that year, etc.

I made these:
And these:
little notes for the birthday girl
And these:
brownie bite toppers (did NOT make the brownie bites themselves. thank you, Costco)
 And these:
party favors: birdie ornaments
And this:

And this:
happy birthday banner

The ornaments were definitely the most time consuming and Eric had to endure finding bits of felt in our bed every night and the all-too-frequent out loud wondering, "Where did I put my needle?"  In fact,  despite our no-Christmas-presents-for-one-another rule, he splurged and bought me a pin cushion for my stocking.  Perhaps it was more of a gift for himself to avoid the whole needle in the haystack bedsheets dilemma.

So since the ornament party favors are simultaneously my favorite birthday tradition and the most time consuming project, I'm already getting started on this year's ornament.  Here's a peek:

pardon the poor quality iphone picture

Can you guess what this year's theme is?  One of Lila's favorite things these days: butterflies!  Oooh...I'm excited!  And Lila is, too.  Or at least she thinks she is.  I keep asking her if she wants a butterfly birthday party and she says, "Yes!" with great enthusiasm even though she has no idea what a birthday party is.  I think she just senses my excitement and wants to be on board.

Okay, back to work.  Those butterflies won't make themselves.  Now...where did I put my needle?

P.S. All photos (except for my crappy iphone pic) were taken by the awesome and sweet Jewel Anderson.  Check her out here.

* I made the invitations using a photo I found doing a google image search for bird drawing or something like that and then doctoring the picture a bit in photoshop.  I feel bad that I can't give the artist credit, but I tried to find it again and it got lost in cyberspace, I guess.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

five and five

Five things I'm happy about today:

1. Lila took a nap at school today! Lila took a nap at school today!  What? You're not jumping up and down and peeing your pants in excitement?  Well I was, because that girl is a stinker I tell you and she usually refuses to nap anywhere other than her own cozy bed with the perfect balance of white noise and light filtration.  I usually line someone up to take nap duty on Wednesdays - they pick LJ up from school and bring her home for her nap.  Well, the last few weeks I couldn't find anyone to do it so we had to give it a go at school.  I figured worst possibility was she'd be wiped out when we got home and she'd take a quickie nap around 3:30.  In fact, I bet Eric $1000 she wouldn't nap at school.  But what do you know, she went down without a peep!  And slept for nearly 2 hours!  Maybe it's because she kept me up all night coughing (the nerve).  Poor kiddo.  Yup, she's sick again with the mother of all snotty noses and an ear infection to boot.  Seriously, I've sucked puddles of green goop out of that kid's nose and she still manages to produce snot bubbles every ten minutes.  It's gross.  I'll try to snap a picture for ya.  I know you're dying to see it. But anyway, back to the celebrating - she took a nap at school! A-wahoo!

2. We are only $1000 away from our next fundraising goal!  That means if we sell 125ish more tickets to our raffle, we not only will have met our goal, but we'll also have sold enough tickets to add a second doll to the giveaway!  I'm almost more excited about the giveaway than I am about meeting our goal - I mean, I get to make someone (or maybe two someones) really happy who in turn gets to make their daughter or niece or granddaughter or next door neighbor really happy!  What fun!

3. A parent of one of my students left me a Chick-fil-a gift card as an anonymous gift last week!  AND I've had the willpower to not spend it frivolously.  I'm saving it for this weekend when the Husband goes on his annual Man Trip with his dad and brothers (aka, hunting, eating steak and punching each other).  Fried chicken sandwich, a big Dr. Pepper, and a play place for Lila, here I come!

4. The way Lila runs to me when I pick her up in the nursery after school: "Mommy!" with arms wide open and snot running down her lips.  We'll just ignore that last part and bask in the small bits of that idealistic dream every pregnant mama dreams about her future children.  You know, the dream about her children always being thrilled to see her and showering her with affectionate hugs and kisses.  Never in that dream do those kisses come with a desire to immediate wipe oneself down with Clorox wipes, but alas, I'll take what I can get.  Snot-drenched or not, it's still awesome to be greeted like that.

5. Lila says hilarious things.  The other day, I was standing up on our bed killing a spider and she scolded me, "Mommy!  Get back here! Sit down!"  Apparently she was appalled that I would break the rule that I so incessantly drill into her head: No standing on the furniture.  Today I asked her if she wanted to go play in her playroom and she said, "No dank you, Mommy.  Go ahead."  And finally, she has picked up on some language nuances of mine and it's so hysterical to hear her say them.  Whenever she coughs, I ask her, "Are you okay?" because she often sounds like she's choking.  So she started asking me if I was okay whenever I cough.  To which I usually respond, "Yeah, I'm okay.  Thank you, Baby."  So now, it goes like this:

Lila: cough, cough, hack, cough, cough
Me: Lila, are you okay?
Lila: (in the sweetest little voice you ever did hear) Yeah, I okay, dank you Mommy.

It's so adorable, it hurts me.

Five things I'm sad about today:

1. As I mentioned earlier, Lila has a cold and an ear infection.  Yes, she's sick AGAIN.  (If you're keeping count, that's four colds, two flus and an ear infection since September.)  And even though I know they're trying to be helpful, sometimes other moms make me feel like a bad mom when they start asking me whether I've tried this (hippie remedy) or whether I do that (random rain dance/good luck charm).  I should remember how this makes me feel the next time I try to give a fellow mom "helpful" advice.  Unless I ask you what ideas you have, I mostly just want you to say, "Man, that sucks.  I'm sure you're doing everything you can."

2. Someone in our house got a speeding ticket today.  And I really want to be mad at him, but he's so mad at himself that I just feel bad for him.  In fact, he voluntarily grounded himself from his hunting weekend as punishment (and because, frankly, we can't afford $140 ticket on top of luxuries like hunting licenses and giant steak dinners).  But still, $140!  It just feels like a punch in the gut.  P.S. Good news, though, Eric's dad is generously paying Eric's way this weekend because he wants time with ALL his boys. :)

3. Our house is a mess again.  That's what happens when your kid is sick all the time.  My time is divided between equal parts wiping a snotty nose, cleaning up puke, changing poopy diapers and chasing a weirdly-energetic-for-being-sick-all-the-time toddler around the house.  So our house is a mess and it makes me sad because it was once and very briefly so sparkly and shiny.  It looked like a holiday. (name that movie!*)

4. My favorite jeans ripped.  I mean RIPPED.  As in, my whole butt cheek was hanging out at church after I bent down to pick up a sippy cup and heard a loud RIIIIPPPP.  And by favorite jeans, I mean "the only pair of skinny jeans I own which I bought for $20 at Target because I am always so late picking up on the fashion trends that I didn't want to spend a ton of money on something that would surely be out of style in a year or two but then I wore them every day and thus wore out their $20-quality material" jeans.  It was a sad day.  And so I had to settle for Jeggings as a replacement because they were the cheapest option at Target and I really don't NEED another pair of jeans.  I have plenty of non-skinny jeans.  But it's not the same.  I need pockets and zipper.

5. It's cold.  Don't like.

Okay, and just so I don't end on a low note, here's a little trick or treat for ya.  Lila the Peacock:
As kids, all of our cousins and Little Sister and I would always end our trick-or-treating at our grandparents' house.
The tradition was to have us all lined up on the fireplace to take a picture of us in our Halloween getup, so of course, we had to do the same for Lila.

Here's a back view of the AWESOME peacock tutu that Holly made for Lila.  It's so darling!  I kind of want to make her be a peacock next year, too because it's so sweet!
Hope your Happy List is outweighing your Sad List these days!

* "Very sparkly, very shiny.  Looks like a holiday." - Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Goodness gracious alive and Heaven help us.

Did we just have a major terrible twos episode?  Or is my poor kid just so exhausted from a LONG day at school and a too-short nap?  Yes and yes.

First, let me just say that the girl has been honing her pre-bedtime stall routine for the last few weeks.  An example might look like this:

Me: Lila are you all done with your milk?
Lila: Yeah.
Me: Okay, let's put it here on the shelf in case you want some more in a minute (read: let's put it here on the shelf because I KNOW you're going to THINK you want some more in a minute)
Lila: No, fridge.
Me: No, let's leave the milk here in case you want more later.
Me: Okay, are you sure you're done?
Lila: Yeah.
5 minutes later as I'm laying her in bed
Lila: Milk?
Me: Lila, we already put your milk in the fridge, remember?  You said you were all done.
Lila: Milk.
Me: No, you said you were all done.  We're all done with your milk.
Lila: Milk!
Me: Lila, Mommy asked you if you were done with your milk and you said yes.
Lila: MILK!
Me: thinking to myself, "she HAS been sick, maybe she really is thirsty." Okay, I'll get you're milk.
Lila: thinking, "My mom is such a sucker."
I get her milk back out of the fridge and bring it to her in bed.
Me: Here you go, Baby.
Lila: turning her head away No milk.
Me: grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

So the moral of this story is two-fold: I am a sucker.  And my kid is a master manipulator.
who me? really, mom, I can't help it if I'm charming.
That exchange may have influenced some poor parenting decisions tonight.  I was so intent on not being had again by my not-even-two-year-old that I refused to see things for what they were.  Lila was being stubborn (ironically, it started with milk again) and I was being stubborner.

The short version is that I asked Lila if she wanted to shut her bedroom door (which is part of her little wind-down routine) and she wanted to get her milk out of the fridge first.  I told her I had already brought her milk into her room and that she needed to close the door or Mommy was going to.   She still persisted, so finally I shut the door for her.  What seemed like a natural consequence of her stalling and manipulation attempts backfired into a full out meltdown.  Lila ended up in complete hysterics as I calmly told her that she was wrong and I was right.  Which was true. However, that should have been neither here nor there.  The reality that should have most influenced my parenting choices was that my 22-month-old was exhausted and therefore out of her mind with her NEED to "shut da dowa! shut da dowa!"

Unfortunately, I'm still a rookie.  Even though I've been in this whole mommyhood thing for almost two years, this is still my first go-round with a toddler.  Poor Lila will always have to be my guinea pig for the challenges of each age.  So while I was so adamantly clinging to my pride and my desire to not let my child play me like a fool, I completely missed the fact that she was running on empty.

Which is a mistake I should really know to avoid.  After all, some of my favorite parenting advice is to always ask yourself if your child's "tank" is full before you require something of them*.  Is she hungry? Is she sick? Is she overwhelmed? Is she out of her element?  Is she tired?  If the answer is "yes" to any of those questions, then the expectations need to be altered.  Not thrown out the window, just altered.

Which brings us back to tonight.  After about 15 minutes of absolute hysterics, I finally realized my grave error: I had entered into a power struggle with a child who had lost all control of what little emotional stability she had to begin with.  I realized I had two options:

1. Stick to my guns and fight this power struggle to the end - the end being a child who would surely wail/cry herself to sleep and potentially cause herself to vomit in the meantime.
2. Swallow my pride, admit that I entered into an unwise battle and give my kid what she wanted.

I chose option number 2.  Because a) we've already had our share of vomit recently and b) it seemed like the most loving thing to do.  You can judge me if you want.  I don't care.  I feel like I did the loving thing for my kid in the moment.  Sometimes the loving thing is a firm, authoritative voice to teach them that there are consequences to their behaviors.  But sometimes the loving thing is to get them in bed ASAP and not waste any more time on character building and good precedents.  There's plenty of time for that tomorrow.  After they've had a good night's sleep.

I remind myself over and over in this whole parenting thing: it's not about being right, it's about showing them you'll meet their needs.

Even if this particular need is to "shut da dowa" all by themselves.

(By the way, option number 2 worked like a charm.  She stopped crying immediately and I was left with a snuffling, gasping, exhausted and snuggly baby to rock to sleep.  So there.)

*It should also be noted, that it is important to ask yourself the same question in regards to your own tank.  Yet another reason I should have avoided the emotional battle was that this introverted mama was toast after a day of corralling rowdy 1st graders :)