Saturday, March 31, 2012

Winner!

Well, we had eight families nominated to receive our student-loan-payment-turned-adoption-fund donation.  So I wrote their names down on pieces of paper...

...and then I folded them up and put them in a hat basket.

Then I let Lila choose one:

And the winner of our little drawing is the Moldrups!  The Moldrups are long-time family friends and they are adopting two kiddos from Haiti.  Read about their adoption journey here.  They are raising money through Helping Hands so if you would like to contribute to their adoption fund, click here and select "Adoption" in the Project Category menu:
and then "Moldrup Family" in the Project drop down menu:

Because they are doing their fundraising through Helping Hands, your donation will be tax deductible!

We made our donation this afternoon:
We wanted to do this for many reasons:
1. To celebrate our freshly paid off student loan (read more about that here)
2. To exercise generosity in our hearts.  Giving things away doesn't come easy, but we believe that if we make a habit of it, it will begin to become instinctual - and that's the kind of life we want to live!
3. Because so many adoptive families we don't know have supported our adoption through puzzle piece donations, t-shirt orders, our American Girl Doll giveaway, etc.  Those donations always meant so much to us because we knew they were giving us money that they were likely just as in need of!
4. To remind ourselves that our stuff - even our hard earned money - isn't ours.  The Lord provides for us and we want to hold our resources with open hands.
5. To spread the word about the needs and stories of other adoptive families.

Our hope is that you will click that little link (here it is again) to read about the Moldrups and their awesome family and perhaps feel compelled to share your prayers and maybe even your weekly Starbucks money with them to help them bring their sweet kids home.

And as for the other families who were nominated, we really wish we had the resources to give each family a special donation.  In fact, the Husband and I are already discussing how we could make something like this happen on a regular basis.  But in the meantime, I wanted to share their blogs (if they have them/I'm aware of them) with you so you can show them some love and support, too.

Here they are:
- The Woods adopting from Russia: Bringing Ella Home
- The Carters adopting domestically: Our Joyful Journey
- The Nagels adopting domestically: For the Love of Waverley
- The Butlers adopting domestically: Adoption Response

And those who don't have blogs that I know of:
- The Garbers adopting domestically
- The Hogues adopting Wilby from Haiti (you can see pictures of them and Wilby on the Moldrups blog here)
- The Philips adopting from India

Show them some love!  Let's bring some babies home!

Friday, March 30, 2012

She-nanny-gans Part 2

Just checking in one last time this week to remind you all that we will be making a donation to a lucky adoptive family's adoption fund in lieu of our student loan payment next month!  To nominate an adopting family (even if it's your family!), leave a comment with the family's name.  We'll be drawing a name out of a hat tonight!

And also, I needed to share this:


As you can see, Lila's hambone nature is in her blood.  And as you can guess by the end of that video, my mom is probably going to be mad at me for posting it.  But I say if you're going to perform, you have to be willing to accept that it might end up on your daughter's blog.  So there, Mama!

I will say, on her behalf, that she had just gotten done working out.  Even though I think she's totally cute, she'd want to give that disclaimer I think.

P.S. For She-nanny-gans Part 1, click here.




Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I spy with my little eye

Remember these books?  Well, now it's time to play the toddler version: Where's Lila?

There she is!

P.S. We're still accepting nominations of adopting families to receive our would-have-been student loan payment toward their adoption fund!  Leave a comment to nominate an adopting family - even if it's your family!  Read more about why we're doing this here.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

in the car

Daddy: Lila, don't put your toes in your mouth!
Lila: But I washing them!

Can't argue with that logic, I suppose.

P.S. In case you missed our post from Friday, we are donating our would-have-been student loan payment to the adoption fund of another family!  Leave a comment to nominate an adopting family you think could use the extra support (even if it's YOUR family!).  You have until this Friday, March 30th to nominate and I will announce the chosen family that evening.

Friday, March 23, 2012

paid in full!

I've been unsure whether or not I should write this post because money is kind of one of those taboo topics.  So I figured I'd just type it up and then decide later if I would post it.  I hope, if I do post this, that you will read this and be encouraged. Obvious Update: I posted it.

It's official! We are debt free!  (Well, other than our house, of course.)  We decided to use our tax refund to pay off my remaining student loan debt and boy did it feel good to sign into my account and see this:


Account Balance: $0.00 and Status: Paid In Full.  What a beautiful sight.

We have been blessed to not have a significant amount of debt in our marriage.  We've been fortunate to avoid credit card debt (we make payments every few days as we spend the money so we don't get tricked into thinking we have more money than we do, but we still get to benefit from credit card rewards like cash back, etc) and we have been incredibly blessed with either being given cars or being able to buy our cars outright.  So the only debt we have had has been our home mortgage and our student loans - both of which (in theory) are "good debt" because the thing you are investing in should* appreciate in value.  But let's face it, any amount of debt is no fun because by definition you are paying more for something than it should cost.  

We paid Eric's loan off several years ago and we've been plodding along making our monthly payments (plus a bit more to pay down principal) on my remaining loan balance.  We had figured it would be paid off Spring of 2014.  But when we got our tax refund, I calculated what we needed to put in savings to cover my lack of teaching income in the summer, subtracted the cost of the home repair that falls under that should-know-by-now-that-as-soon-as-our-tax-refund-comes-something-will-break category (this year it wasn't so bad, just our disposal which required a plumber's help to unclog the drain plus the new disposal which my awesome and manly husband installed by himself) and realized there was enough leftover to cover our remaining debt.  Now, the planner/scaredy-cat in me wanted to just put all of it in savings and stick with our current repayment plan.  You know, "just in case."  

Just in case...
something in our house breaks
something on our cars breaks
we don't raise enough funds to cover our next adoption costs
we have unexpected medical bills
something...else...happens...

But then I realized that all those "what ifs" and "just in cases" were Fear talking and Jesus told me not to live my life out of fear.  And then I remembered how every time we have had a major financial liability (our old car's transmission blew up, our new (to us) car's engine blew up, our roof started leaking, our sewer line backed up and needed to be replaced, our 15-year-old hot water heater gave up, our rotting window in our bedroom needed to be replaced, NOT TO MENTION the nearly $10,000 in fees and expenses we've paid toward our adoption so far, etc, etc) we have always had the money to cover the expense via savings or tax refunds or the generosity of our family and friends.  And then my daughter walked in the room singing, "All I have need of, His hand will provide.  He's always been faithful to me."  And I thought, "Okay, okay, Lord, so You're saying I need to trust you to take care of me and not rely on my savings account to do so?  Student loans it is."

And you know what? Boy did I feel good entering in that final payment on my budget spreadsheet and typing zeros in the cells for the rest of the year.  And now I get to allocate that money somewhere else.  Probably to savings/adoption fund, but I've already had some fun contributing to some other family's adoptions as a sort of celebration.  Hooray! Huzzah! and Rah! Rah! Rah!

Now I do want to say one clarifying thing:
When I discuss our own financial situation and decisions we've made I am truly, truly, not judging anyone for their financial choices if they differ from ours.  Frankly, it's none of my business.  And also, I'm too preoccupied with the log in my own eye to busy myself with the speck in yours.  And besides, this post is not about money (okay, it is sort of).  It's really about trusting God to be who He says He is.  It's about listening to Him when He's trying to remind me of the things He's done for me and the things He promises to do.  And so, here's what I want you to know - my testimony, if you will (and I'm stealing this line from the Sara Groves song Lila was singing): God has been faithful.  He will be again.  His loving compassion knows no end.

The end.

Okay, not quite.  Inspired by this fellow adoptive mama's Give it Forward idea, we decided we want to contribute what would have been next month's student loan payment to the adoption fund of another family (or two).  So leave a comment and nominate a family you know who you would like to see receive a little extra support.  Then, I'll put all the names in a hat and pull one out.  I'll give you till next Friday (March 30th) to nominate and I'll announce the chosen family or families that evening.  Fun!  Okay, go!

*School loans are an investment in education and training which make you more marketable so you can get a good job, so they typically have a high return on investment.  And in a better economy, a home would appreciate in value and you would have an asset that is worth more than the cost you paid for it.  Unfortunately, we bought our home in 2006 and approximately 6 months later the housing market fell apart.  We're known for our awesome timing.  Good thing we love our little house!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Garage Sale!

UPDATE: We are moving our sale back a few weeks due to a scheduling conflict that just came up.  We're thinking first or second weekend in June.  Stay tuned!

It's been awhile since we've had an adoption post, so here I am to give you a quick update.  

As far as we know, we are still number 97 on the waiting list, and I have an email in to our adoption consultant to verify that. UPDATE: We are actually back to number 99.  Several families lost their referrals so they were put back on the list which bumped us back up to our original slot. Boooo! It doesn't seem like things are speeding up at all with referrals, although we did receive news from our agency that they are moving forward with one of the additional orphanages they had been pursuing - so that is good news!  

As far as fundraising, we are still working toward that big ole $8,000+ goal for our referral fee, but with the longer wait, the reality is we will probably have to use a chunk of that to pay for updates on nearly all of our paperwork as time goes by.  We will have to update our fingerprints, our home study and several documents in our dossier as many expire after a year - 18 months.  It seems like such a discouragement and a hassle, but we know it will all be worth it when our baby is home!

We took a little break from all things adoption after the mad rush to get our dossier completed at the end of January.  But now that it's mid-March and our fundraising thermometer hasn't been moving much we figured we'd better kick back into gear with our fundraising.  So....we've finally set the dates for our long-awaited garage sale!  And I had fun playing with Photoshop making the flyer (personal information removed from this version - this is the internet after all):


Our garage is already bursting at the seams thanks to all of our friends' generous donations so far, but we can still use more!  See the list above and start your Spring Cleaning with our little family in mind!  Contact me at makewayfortheawesomekid(at)gmail(dot)com and we can arrange to pick up or for you to drop off any donations you might have.

Also, if any of you have the spiritual gift of garage sales, I NEED YOU!  I'm already feeling a little overwhelmed by the massive pile in my garage and the grand plans I have for the garage sale weekend.  I'll be back soon with another post detailing specific jobs I need help with, but for now, if you love garage sales, have a good instinct about pricing, love to organize and delegate, I am looking to "hire" a Garage Sale Coordinator.  I'll even let you pick your title from the following list:

Garage Sale Captain
Princess Garage Sale
The Chief
Garage Sale Boss
The Garage Sale Godfather (mother)
Oh Wise One
Kelsey's Best Friend
The Favorite
Garage Sale Diva

If none of those suit your fancy, we can brainstorm some other possibilities.  But seriously folks, I need help!  We will need a team of volunteers to pull this off.  Please let me know if you are awesome available to help.  Even if you are busy that weekend, we will have lots to do beforehand to prep.

And please spread the word!  I have a PDF version of the flyer that I can send you if you would be willing to email it out to your circles.  Okay...I'm off to make my ever-growing to-do list!  Goodnight!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

There's still hope

There's this strange phenomenon that happens whenever Lila gets sick.  She turns into this naughty, disobeying, stinker of a child who hits, bites, kicks and scratches me for the smallest offenses.  The other aspect of the phenomenon is that I begin to believe that this urchin child is my real child.

But just when I think my child is doomed to forever be possessed by the Ear Infection Demons, she goes and does something like this:



It's a good reminder that my sweet girl is still in there somewhere.  There's still hope!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

what's the diagnosis?

"Double ear infection."  If I had a nickel...

Oh well, day two of antibiotics and we're feeling better already.  Lila's still a little unpredictable with her moods, though.  One minute she's her sweet, charming little self and the next she's yelling at me and throwing a fit for whatever reason.

Because I haven't really been out of the house in a week or so (I know, I picked the nicest week of the year to be sick), we decided to go visit Daddy for lunch.  Lila was cute and sat nicely in the booth while the Husband and I ate.  She entertained us with her new party trick, a quintessential little girl move - an over-the-top fake laugh combined with her hand cupped coyly over her mouth.  I don't know where she picked it up, but it's pretty hilarious and she knows it: 

Then, she and Daddy had some booth wrestling:

Lila plays dirty - she grabbed Daddy's beard and yanked...
...but Daddy's stronger so he put her in a tickle hold!
After their wrestling match, Lila squirmed her way out of the booth and took it upon herself to scrub the walls of the restaurant with the wipe I had given her to clean her hands.  Why she loves to clean, I'll never know.  She certainly didn't come by it naturally because this is what my dining room table usually looks like:

Or worse. *sigh*

When we got home, she was more than ready for her nap and had swung to that not-so-happy end of the spectrum.  When I came around the car to unbuckle her she said yelled, "NO! I stay IN HERE!"  You know, in that charming way that toddlers have when they raise their voice an octave for each word to make their point clear.  When she got to the word "HERE!" she was positively shrieking.  Obviously I stood my ground because I'm of the belief that an over-tired two-year-old with a double ear infection should not be calling the shots when it comes to whether or not it's nap time.  But, I didn't come out of that battle unscathed.  She took her revenge on me by swiping my neck like an angry cat:
battle wound
 It's all shiny because I put antibiotic ointment on it because who knows what's under those tiny little fingernails.

Despite all that she went down for her nap mostly peacefully, for which I was quite grateful.  Although, she's already begun her post-nap shenanigans after only an hour and half of silence.  That's not nearly a long enough nap for a sick Baby Girl and her Mommy (with whom she so generously shared her cold).  Unfortunately, the animated way she's narrating her Lambie's actions suggests that she's up for good.  *big, deep breath* Time to pony up - Mommy style.

I hope the rest of you are enjoying this beautiful weather cold, flu, fever, ear infection and cat-fight free!




Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sickies


Both Lila and I are sick.  The Peanut has a cold or something going on and I have the stomach flu and spent every minute of the last 72 hours either in the bathroom or in bed.  The Husband has been Super Daddy taking care of the Baby Girl and me.  Today is the first day since Thursday night that I have felt almost normal.  I keep praying that Lila doesn't get whatever I had because man, that was not pretty.  And I am also praying that the Husband isn't rewarded for his service with a double-whammy of cold and flu curtesy of his ladies.  That would just be unkind.

Also, Lila's sleep is completely out of whack thanks to her runny nose.  She woke up twice Thursday night/Friday morning crying that she had "a beard" because her snot had run all the way down to her chin.  It was the highlight of my otherwise miserable night - I think I actually laughed when I heard her wail, "I have a beeeaaaarrrrdddd!!!"  Daylight Savings Time did not do us any good either, so we have resolved to get her in bed by 6:30 every night this week to try to get back on track.  I miss my sweet, well-rested, happy, snotless Baby Girl and I want her back!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

In case you wondered

Have I mentioned how awesome my job is?  It's the perfect mommy job.  I only have to work one day a week, I get to bring Lila with me (we have a nursery for the teachers' kids), I have the best co-workers ever, and I get to teach a hilarious and rowdy group of first graders!

Okay, quick digression from the point of this post to tell a favorite story from this year.  One of my favorite things about teaching first grade is the hilarious conversations I get to eavesdrop on.  Around playoff time, I overheard the following conversation between three boys during snack time.  To protect their anonymity (although, if any of their moms read this blog, they'll know which one is their son because I told them this story) I'll call them Boys 1, 2 and 3:

Boy #1: Dude (yep, he said "dude") did you know the Broncos beat the Steelers?
Boy #2: Yeah! My dad was going craaaazzzzy!
Boy #1: Probably the Patriots are gonna beat the Broncos, but you never know...
Boy #2: (who was wearing a Favre Packers' jersey) I can't stand the Chiefs.
Boy #1: Why? Because they beat the Packers?
Boy #2: No, because I like the Broncos and the Broncos hate the chiefs.
Boy #3: (obviously completely clueless as to what his friends are talking about, but making a concerted effort to join the conversation, says loudly) I LOVE George Washington!

So close, Buddy.  So close.  George Washington is always a good guess, though.

Also, later in the conversation, one of the boys (can't remember which, but my guess is Boy #3) announced to the class at large, "And we have a bunk bed that almost costs a fortune!"

Ahhh, first graders.

Anyway!

I have mentioned Lila's "school" a few times and I bet you've wondered what I mean by that.  You haven't?  Oh well, I'm going to tell you anyway.  It's not so much school as extended play time with seven other kids aged 11 months to 4 years old.  Every Tuesday night, I tell Lila that when she wakes up we get to go to school and she responds by listing off all of her friends:

Me: Lila, we get to go to school tomorrow!
Lila: And play with Jude (Jude is always her first mention - they're betrothed) and Emri and Molly and Delainey and Cohen and Andrew and Baby Ellie and Miss Lavonne and Miss Kathy!

Sometimes (okay most times) I pop in and observe Lila's class while I'm on my break just because I miss her.  Today, they were in rare form so I decided to document it.  This resulting video is over five minutes, but I promise you, it's worth it (as long as you ignore my obnoxiously loud interjections and commentary throughout the video).  You'll get to see the cast of characters in all their glory:

- scene opens with three of the girls running laps around Baby Ellie who, in all her baby girl wisdom, crawls out of the path of the crazy girls
- Delainey exits the bathroom with an announcement that she has her own Hello Kitty clock (which makes me laugh really hard)
- Ellie wipes out and then nearly gets clobbered by Lila and Molly playing a rowdy game of Ring Around the Rosie
- Lila tackles Molly to the ground
- Emri taps my shoulder to show me her heart shirt
- pan back to Lila who is now strangling her friend Molly
- observe Jude (future son-in-law) dutifully honing his carpentry skills by building legos, closely supervised by bigger boys Cohen and Andrew
- Lila is distracted by the legos in the midst of a game of tag and picks them up and hurls them across the room (are we noticing a theme here?  Lila is the destructive force of the class)
- Emri, in the meantime, is organizing a new game called "Train" by lining up chairs in a row
- The girls sit patiently while Conductor Emri puts the train together
- There is a discussion about what a caboose is and whether they use cabooses anymore (Cohen informs me that he's "seen a train before - a whole thing of it!" and they use engineers instead of cabooses.  Clearly he's an expert.)
- Emri takes her position in the conductor's seat and turns to ask if everyone is buckled up and in response, the girls strap in their imaginary seat belts and announce, "I am!"  So cute.
- Lila gets up out of her seat and Ellie innocently uses the empty seat as a prop to help her stand up on her wobbly learning-to-walk baby legs
- Lila objects to Ellie touching her forfeited chair and the video ends with me having to intervene because Lila has just shoved Baby Ellie to the ground in defense of her chair

*Sigh* Is my child a bully or just a two year old?  Let's hope it's the latter and she grows out of it.

Anyway, here you go, enjoy:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Love Notes: a new series

In honor of our recently celebrated 6th anniversary and our recently begun Year of Jubilee,  I wanted to start a new series.  Or maybe I'm just on a roll after our 29 days of Lila...

I've recently been loving reading other bloggers' love stories (here's one I especially love) so I thought it would be fun to write ours out.  After all, our hope is that Lila (and our future Awesome Kids) will read this blog one day so it seems appropriate to have our love story written out for them to read.

I have no plans on how frequent or how many I'll post.  But knowing me, you can expect long gaps in between and a very detailed account.  I'm nothing if not a procrastinator and a laborious storyteller.  But it's our story so I'll tell it however I like.  So there.

The Husband and I started our dating relationship in 2003 whilst in two separate foreign countries studying abroad, but we had been friends for several years before that.  All you need to know about the years prior is that we met junior year in high school at church youth group, (I went home to my two best friends and said, "I think I like that Eric boy."  And they said, "He has a girlfriend."  And I said, "That doesn't have to last forever."  And guess what?  It didn't.) became close friends on a Mexico mission trip that summer, remained close our senior years, kept in touch our freshman years of college, (he was at K-State in Manhattan, KS and I was at Bethel University in St. Paul, MN) and Spring semester of sophomore year, we spent our last few days before heading out of the country together because all of our friends had already gone back to school.

Once I got to Guatemala, I sent an email to my friends and family telling everyone I had arrived safely.  I'll leave you with the response I received from Eric (by the way, Eric's email address below is now defunct, so no use trying to send anything to it):



...and the flirting begins.  Oh, who am I kidding, we had both been flirting with one another for over three years already.  This was just Official Flirting with Intent to Marry.

To be continued...

Monday, March 5, 2012

To My Husband on (the day after) our 6th Anniversary

I love you.  I love the little family and life we've created together.  I couldn't ask for a better version of what we have.  I am so proud and grateful to call you Husband.

In the last six years we have slowly shed our individual identities and become one.  I'm sure several decades from now on our anniversary we will look back at our 29-year-old selves and see mere babes parenting literal babes and sigh the sigh of those who have enough years to be called wise.  And I'm sure our individual selves will be even more blurry to our elderly selves than they are today.  But for today, I can only marvel at how much I am not that girl you married on March 4th, 2006 and how much I really don't mind.

I think I thought that I would hold tight to my individuality, my me-ness, my self-created persona and try to force you to acclimate to my preferences, moods, whims, and goals.  (Well I suppose I did try with varying success.)  But I can say that for all the ways I've changed, you have changed along with me and I think we are both the better for it.  And for all the ways we have changed, I have been most grateful to have had you with me for company.

What changes?  Well there's the obvious, the huge yet predictable changes of parenthood, home-ownership, big-kid jobs (well you, not me - mine has regressed to coloring and playing house).  But there's also the smaller, less outwardly noticeable, rather underground changes that have really made all the difference.  We've learned how to fight better, to communicate better and more honestly, to be intentional with our resources (relationships, time, money) and to value one another for the balance and compatibility we each bring to our family.  

I am proud of where we are as a family - an awesome daughter, a home we love, a dog I tolerate, and the hope of an Ethiopian son or daughter.  I am proud of where we give our time - discipleship, missional community, investing in the new marriages and families.

I am proud of you, my husband.  I am proud when I see relationships in which you have invested bear fruit and grow.  I am proud when I overhear you managing the guys in your department at work.  I am proud when I witness a conversation that you would have been too intimidated to have a few years ago.  I am proud when I point to you across the room and say, "That guy with the manly beard - he's mine."  

And I am grateful.  I am grateful that you tolerate my irrational, passionate outbursts (especially when they are directed at you).  I am grateful that you know me well enough to automatically redirect Lila after a day I worked, knowing that I need some "introvert time."  I am grateful to currently be smelling and hearing you cooking something for dinner while I enjoy said introvert time.  I am grateful to sleep in on the weekends when you get up with Lila for Daddy-Daughter dates.  I am grateful to call coloring and make-believe my job because of how hard you work.  I am grateful to put my cold feet under your warm body (and especially grateful that I have to stretch my whole leg out to reach you in our new king bed!).  I am grateful that you make me laugh.  I am grateful when you think I'm funny.  I am grateful each night when I go to bed and hear you snoring next to me and grateful each morning with foggy memories of the kiss you left on my forehead before you left for work and grateful each evening when you pull up to our house and Lila shouts gleefully, "Daddy's home!"

I am proud and grateful, Husband, to celebrate 6 years of being your wife. 

Year One was a shock to the system (newlyweds)
Year Two was an adjustment (new house)
Year Three was enlightening (trip to Ethiopia and our long-awaited honeymoon in Hawaii)
Year Four was full of anticipation (pregnant with Lila)
Year Five was hellish (let's just forget about the details...)
Year Six was the year of turning the corner (healing, restoration, hope for the future - including future children)
...and now we begin Year Seven: the year of Jubilee!  One day in, I am jubilant.  And I am hopeful for an entirely jubilant year!

I love you, Husband.  I'm so glad I married you.

Love, 
Your Wife


Friday, March 2, 2012

Wet feet.

Lila and I went for a walk after it rained the other day. She wanted to wear her hand-me-down Dora the Explorer aqua socks, despite the fact that they are a) a size and a half too large, b) generally utilized for swimming in a pool rather than walking on the sidewalk and c) officially licensed Dora the Explorer merchandise. She didn't appear to be concerned with any of my well-reasoned points, and I decided to preserve my efforts for future and greater battles. About three blocks down the street Lila froze, dropped her hand from mine, looked up at me with an air of mischief and jumped with both feet straight into a puddle. Neither Kelsey nor I have taught her the joy of jumping in puddles, so kid instinct must have kicked in. For a fleeting moment I debated being the responsible father that I strive to be and immediately running her home to put on dry socks before she caught a life-threatening cold or contracted one of many potential puddle-borne illnesses. But nostalgia won out and I gave her a minute to jump. And maybe so I could get it on camera.


You're welcome.