Friday, June 29, 2012

Getting Crafty

Overall, I don't think I'm that much of a creative person. However, I do have fleeting moments of creativity. And when they strike, I make the most of them!

I've been wanting to recover our dining room chairs for some time. After almost three years, I think we finally have gotten rid of extra furniture and only have what we want to keep (for now). Our dining room set was a given to us by my sister-in-law in exchange for our couch and coffee tables. A pretty sweet trade if you ask me.

The seat covers were a bit worn and in need of a makeover:

Plus, we just painted our living room a soft green and the red and green didn't jive. :)

I have an awesomely creative friend (who also painted a beautiful mural in our nursery) who I recruited to help me. We found a great fabric place and bought the fabric I had in mind...and on sale!

30 bucks + staple gun + 1-2 hours of work =


I'm so pleased with the way they turned out and it was way easier than I thought it would be. Now, if only painting the dining room was this simple. But that's for another day when my next creative moment strikes.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Furry Birthday Girl

After Chloe died in September, I was devestated. The hole in my heart so big and I was convinced no dog would ever fill it with as much love as I had for her.

 My furbaby, Chloe

So we became a one-dog household with Princess.
 Sweet Princess

And that was fine....for a while. Our house just seemed, lonely. Like something was missing, even off balance. But I couldn't bear the thought of getting another dog. Five months went by and one Sunday morning I got a text from a friend. Her boss had adopted a dog and was not able to keep her. He was going to have to take her back to the shelter. My friend asked if we were interested. The dogs name was Luna and she was a Husky/German Shepherd mix. She texted me a picture of Luna and what followed was a blur of events.  I went from sitting on my couch in my pjs to arranging to meet my friend's boss and Luna at a local park within the hour.

Driving there, my husband and I talked about it. "Was I crazy? Were we ready for this? What were we going to say when we met him? What were we going to do?" We decided to just wait and answer these and a million other questions when we get there.

I can count on one hand the number of moments in my life that were truly "love at first sight". This was one of them:

Luna and Randy-my two loves

We talked with Luna's owner, we walked her, he asked what we wanted to do. I remeber saying "I kind of want to take her home today." He agreed, so we did. And just like that, she was ours.

First car ride home

On June 24th, Luna celebrated her first birthday. And thanks to Groupon, I got an awesome cake from Pupcakes!

For me? What is it??

 Mmmmm, cake.

Sweetly sharing...

 But not for long! It's all mine!

I love that crazy, fence jumping (that's a story for another post) funny, smart little dog. She made my sad heart smile again. Happy birthday, Luna, and here's to many more!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Head Full of Doubt & Road Full of Promises

I love the line in the Avett Brothers song "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promises" that says "decide what to be and go be it" because that’s exactly how I became a runner.
A little over a year ago, I told my husband: "I'd like to start running." I have no idea where it came from. I never thought of myself as a runner. "But I'm not built like a runner" I told myself. “My body was not meant to wear those short shorts” and “my allergies and asthma will make me miserable” were among my long list of reasons for doubting my abilities. I've always enjoyed being active but years at the same gym doing the same activities was becoming cumbersome, annoying, and frankly, just boring.

Desperately seeking something else fun to do to keep me in shape, I signed up for my first 5k. I can't tell you my finishing time but I remember the feeling: "Wow-this is hard but this is SO cool!" People of all shapes and sizes running side by side, cheering for each other, most of us competing with our own goals (and not each other) to finish. Total strangers from the sidelines were cheering us on! Nearing the finish line, a woman who'd been running near me the whole course said: "Come on, let's finish this together!" We crossed the finish smiling ear to ear with such a sense of achievement, never to see each other again.

The satisfaction, the exhilaration, the camaraderie…I was hooked. Before I knew it, I'd signed up for another 5k, then a 10-K, then a trail run, and then a half marathon. Long gone were those doubts, I was constantly seeking the next big challenge and thrill. There were times during those 8 months from my first 5k to the time I completed my first half that I had serious doubts. Not "does my butt look ok in these shorts?" kind of doubts that I had in the beginning but "is my body going to physically let me keep doing this?" kind of doubts. To ease those doubts, I started reading Runner’s World and began educating myself on running. Most of it is just getting out there and doing it, but I also learned there was a finesse and  tricks of the trade that could make it better, easier, and more enjoyable. Along the way I’ve learned the importance of good shoes, the right clothes and found a new love for Bio-Freeze and BodyGlide.

Currently training for my second half marathon in the fall, I’ve come a long way in 13 months. Running is emotional, it’s empowering, and I love it because it unites people in a world where few things do.  I’ve found what works for me, I’ve hit my stride and now I run on a road full of promises with a head free of doubts.

Help me run to end pediatric cancer by supporting the Rally Foundation. I've paid for all my travel and expenses for the Disneyland half in September. Your donation goes straight to supporting the mission of the Rally Foundation.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Paper Pregnant

Yes, we are adopting! And let me tell the last 2 years (since we really being thinking seriously and planning to adopt) I have learned so much. And I am STILL learning!

For me, there are 6 important things everyone should know about adoption:

1. Every family decides to  adopt for different reasons. We chose to adopt instead of trying to have a biological child together. Early in our marriage we found ourselves at a fork in the road. We knew once we started down one, there was no going back. We felt that, for us, adoption was the right answer. It's important to understand that everyone comes to adoption in different ways with very different emotions. Some women may feel hurt because their bodies "let them down" by not allowing them to carry a baby for 9 months. While a completed adoption is usually a wonderful and positive experience, many people arrived there through much hurt and frustration.

2. Adoption is tough. No matter what brings people to adoption or how they go about it-international or domestic, infant or older child, DSS or private adoption-it's rough. Lots and lots of paperwork. Our kitchen table is a mountain of paperwork. We've outlined our financials ("wow, we really should save more money!"), figured out where and how to get finger printed without committing a crime (warning- if you are adopting it may seem at times easier to go that route than try to get figure printed as an outstanding member of the community-but DO not do it!), to destroying our nicely cleaned pre-home study visit house trying to locate my original birth certificate (seriously, where is that thing?!?!).

3. The questions are never ending. We get questions all the time about where we are in the process.  Usually it's "Have you heard anything?" or "Do you know yet?" or as our little niece said "When you gonna get that girl?!".  People who are adopting will be questioned by a social work or child health worker on their relationships, their parenting style (hello-I don't have a kid yet how would I know?!?!), their health history...and the list goes on. Although frustrating at times, I know these questions are necessary to ensure we are providing our little one with a safe and happy home. And it reminds me that we are surrounded by people that care and are thinking about us.

4. Be understanding. I often feel like I'm living day by day. Hey, I may wake up tomorrow and have a baby! Being pregnant on paper is exciting but brings about many mixed emotions and at times, comfort eating (I can gain weight even if I'm not carrying the baby, right?). It's scary to not have a day care lined up or know what you are going to do about taking time off work. I feel (and probably look) frazzled at times trying to juggle all of this. So be gentle with us!

5. Birth moms are not bad (or scary).  No, they are not all drug addicts or teenagers. They are women. Women who got pregnant and decided they could not or did not want to raise their child. So they made a conscious decision to carry their baby to term and then give this baby's life over to someone who could take care for and raise them. Birth moms are human. And they deserve to be applauded and not condemned or judged. And by the way-both of us are moms. One of us is a birth mom and one of us is an adoptive mom. The phrase "real mom" is hurtful so just don't use it, ok?

6. Adoption is love. Despite the ups and downs, I'm not going to be thinking about all the paperwork or tears of frustration when I'm holding that bundle of joy in my arms. When it's all said and done, we will be a family with all the love to give and receive just like every other family ever created.

Maybe you know nothing about adoption and this has helped you learn more about it.  Or may be you have adopted and have your own list of things you'd like to share. Either way, please leave your comments below. I have met so many wonderful people through this process and they've really encouraged and inspired. Perhaps this blog can connect a few more people in this way.

If you are thinking about adopting, I would encourage you to read these two books:
Called to Adoption and Baby We Were Meant for Each Other
Both are quick reads but incredibly powerful and touching!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I'm back!

I originally started this blog in 2009: a newlywed with lots of ideas on things to blog about as I started my new life as Mrs. Branham. For a while, it was going well. I was blogging about vacations, the dogs, getting settled in to married life. But then things got a little crazy (and like many projects I start) I didn't have the time to devote to writing on a regular basis. A part of me also though blogging had to look or be a certain way and I didn't know if I had "it" (whatever "it" was). I've come to realize that there is no particular method to the madness. So what if your grammar is all out of whack (and I promise you, mine will be)? So what if your punctuation isn't correct (this isn't an English assignment!)? This is PERSONAL. Blogging is about YOU. It's about the way you think, feel, react, observe and share. No one is going to judge you (or at least they shouldn't). If you want to judge or critique, this is not the place for you. This is about me and my life, plain and simple, for better or for worse.

I really should fill you in on what's happen in the last (almost) 3 years. There was a lot of sad: We lost our 10 year old niece Lauren after a tough and horrible 9 month battle with leukemia. To this day, I tear up every time I think about her or say her name. It's impossible to describe the hurt, the sadness, the confusion. Despite those feelings, my faith has grown in leaps and bounds because of Lauren's life. She brought me closer to God and to our family, and for that I'm forever grateful. But it will always just be incredibly unfair.

I lost my sweet fur baby Chloe after 11 years together. She was very sick in the last few months and I did everything in my power to be the best mommy I could to her-weekly vet visits and countless meds every day. The day after I made the toughest decision of my life (so far) to put her to sleep, she died at home with me by her side. We had an amazing decade together with lots of adventures and she will forever live in my heart.

Ok-tissue break!

There was also a lot of happy! Randy and I will celebrate 3 years together in October. I say every day just how lucky I am to have such a wonderful man to call my husband. We started the adoption process and are getting closer every day to growing our family. We sold my house (thank you for rebounding a bit, housing market!) and were even able to buy new cars for the first time in 10 years. We've taken great vacations, spent lots of time with friends and family (got to see oldest stepson graduate from college and my baby sister graduate with her MBA this spring), and we starting running half marathons! We have been beyond blessed with a wonderful church family and feel so lucky to be where we are in our lives right now.

There is a lot going on now -as you can tell-so it felt like a good time to revive the ‘ol blog. I'm looking forward to sharing our lives- all the good, bad, happy and sad-with you. My hope is that you will enjoy. But more than that I hope it will inspire you, encourage you, maybe make you stop and think, or at least make you laugh as we all continue on the rollercoaster that is this life.