Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Making Adoption Day a Special Day

One year ago today, we adopted Emily. Hard to believe it's been a year! It certainly seems like a lifetime ago that I sat in court with a three month old in my arms, raised my right hand and promised I would take care of her forever.

Adoption day is a very special day and families find lots of ways to celebrate those moments. I think adoption day should be celebrated, however you choose. I've been thinking about how I want to celebrate this day today and forever. I want to make it special. I know parts of it will be bittersweet. We can't celebrate her life in this family without acknowledging the lives of the people in her other family. I want Emily to know and understand that adoption is a special thing. It's not obvious to anyone that she is not biologically my child. We look remarkably alike. But I find myself wanting to tell people sometimes that we adopted her. (And not that she is adopted because the word "adoption" should be used to define or describe her. But that we adopted her. As an action, a verb. Something that took place at a point in the past. It's very important for me to make that distinction as well.)

I somehow have to tie up all of those feelings and hopes and package them into one day. Not an easy task, huh? I realize I'm putting too much pressure on myself and emphasis on this one day. It's not like we don't have 364 other days to celebrate or talk about adoption. So I acknowledge I need to take a step (or 15) back. Today is not about all my mixed up emotions. Today will be special because it's about Emily and Emily is special.

Today on this one year anniversary, we will read "Happy Adoption Day" and we will tell her the story of Emily. I will buy her a present and we will eat cake or chocolate pudding (a new favorite). In the years to come, we will find other ways to celebrate. As Emily gets older, I'd like for her to decide what she'd like to do on her special day. Maybe she will want ice cream for breakfast. Or maybe she will want to stay home from school and take a family adventure somewhere fun. Maybe she will want to read the letter her birthmom wrote her the day we left the hospital. Maybe she won't want to do anything.

Whatever this day is or isn't, it will always be Emily's day. So, here's to you Emily! Amazing, sweet, and wonderful Emily. Happy Adoption Day! 


Sunday, October 20, 2013

15 Months

We have a toddler living in our house. A real walking, talking, funny, kinda sassy, a little opinionated 15 month old.

It's so clique but I'm going to say it anyways: "I cannot believe she's gotten so big! Where has the time gone?!" I just dropped $50+ bucks on baby proofing stuff at Wal-Mart and all her clothes have an "18 months" tag in them. Wha?!?

Gone are the baby days of eating, crying, sleeping, and repeat. Oh no, my friends. We are on a whole other level now.

 We pick apples and pose for pictures.

 We "help" with chores.

 We love to play with playdoh and color.

 We act silly and try to be like Daddy.

Having a toddler is kind of like being on a nonstop roller coaster ride. We are cruising along having a good 'ole time and WHAM! 90 foot drop at 60 mph. We go from giggles to collapsing in tears within 30 seconds. And don't' get me started on Emily....

But seriously, I get it. I. get. it. It's tough being a toddler! I mean, seriously. Think about it from their perspective: Every moment of your day (basically life) depends on someone else. Someone else that you can't communicate with. It starts from the moment you wake up. You have to wait for someone to come get you out of your crib, feed you, change your diaper and clothes....and so on until the end of the day when they finally decide to take you back to your crib to sleep. 

You'd be a little on edge too, right? So, yeah I'm learning to manage the ups and downs. I'm learning the name of the game is distraction, distraction, distraction. Food, music, toys, dogs, other kids, tv (don't judge)....whatever. You just gotta switch it up to dry up the tears and keep the giggles coming. 

It's clear I'm a professional, top-notch, got-it-all-figured-out parent. Right? That is clear, correct?  Ok, maybe not so much. But what I think is clear is that I'm a grinning-from-ear-to-ear, light-up-my-life, 100% proud mama. This kid says words like "dog, bye, baby, hey, no (I learned that from her day care teacher!), and Mickey Mouse." She loves to climb and explore. She loves to color and put stickers on everything. She waves at everyone she meets (seriously, everyone). She "talks on the phone" with pretty much any toy she puts up to her ear. She walks all over the place and loves it when we "chase" her. She eats everything like a champ. She squeals when I pick her up from daycare and runs from across the room to give me a hug. She gives the best hugs. She still wants me to rock her to sleep even though she's a good at going to sleep on her own. She's basically the most beautiful, all around awesome baby there ever was.

Yeah..... I'd say that's pretty crystal clear.

Here's to fun and fearless 15 months!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

On Pain and Suffering

It wasn't but a moment after I published my last post that I stumbled upon a post from one of my all time favorite people that I don't know in real life (but wish I did because we would be such BFFs), Jen Hatmaker. Not only is she a Southern Christian woman, she is a rock star wife and mom to some pretty awesome sounding kids (two of which were adopted). See? Total BFFs.

When I saw she had written a post a little over a month ago entitled, "Why Does God Allow Pain and Suffering?" I knew it was meant to be seen by me.

In a nutshell, she acknowledges suffering happens to everyone for a variety of reasons. We can't control it but we can control how we respond to it: how we support others who are suffering and how we rely on God to carry us through it.

Her whole post is just amazing and I promise, you cannot finish it with a dry eye. Go read it right this very moment.

And then go hug or hold a hand of someone who is struggling. Just be present, show love, and let God work the rest out.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

On Being Present and Forgiving

Imagine if you could schedule all stressful events ahead of time. Just think about it. You could mark time on your calendar for later in the week or even in several weeks. You would then have the chance to handle bad news or stressful situations with time to prepare. Nothing would ever catch you off guard and you could delay the worst of scenarios. Or in the words of Scarlett O'Hara: "I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow."

I know, I know. Only in some fantasy world. 

There is no good time for bad news. And it seems like there has been a lot of it in my life recently. Big, scary stuff that will change many things for a long time to come. Not to be cryptic, I just don't have the right words (or enough information) to truly understand and express what's happening.

As it would go, this is all taking place during my 21 Days of Happy quest. Some type of cruel joke or perhaps a hidden life lesson? Ever the optimist, I'm going to take it as a life lesson.

The lesson is this and it's really quite simple:

1) Stay present. Enjoy the moment. If that means deleting your Facebook/Candy Crush/Pinterest app because you are spending too much time on it, then do it. It means being in this moment, whatever that moment may be. Actually interacting (and listening more than talking) to people instead of trying to multitask by checking e-mails or responding to texts. Stop worrying about what's coming next and just focus on what's going on in front of you at this very moment.

2) Forgiveness. At any given second, we are all going through life with some sort of baggage or dark cloud over us. People are going to say and do some really shitty stuff to you without them knowing what you've got going on. In all honesty, part of me wants to scream at them and say "Shut the #($*%! up and act like a *$&@#(! decent human being! I'm going through some &$*@!# right now and I don't have time to deal with your #*$&@!" Whew.  But then I take a breath and a step back. And forgive. Because who the heck knows what they are carrying around. I was just the unfortunate bystander who got the brunt of their hurt and misguided anger. (And let's say-just hypothetically of course- that you did respond the way I really wanted to, then forgive yourself too. You are human and you are hurting.)

The 21 days "officially" ends on Monday. I know I'm not going to wake up Monday with some big "aha!" moment and uncover the secret to a life full of happiness. But, as my mom would say, "Lord willing" if I do wake up Monday morning, I will try to stay ever present and constantly forgive, regardless what unscheduled bad news comes by way.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Homemade Playdoh

Being sick sucks. Being sick while caring for a tiny human really sucks.  This weekend I came down with the worst cough/cold combo. I went from feeling fine Saturday morning to having to cancel dinner with family Saturday evening because I literally could not get out of bed.

I was hoping that I would feel better when I woke up Sunday morning but as it often goes, that was not the case. I managed to corral Emily to her room and laid on the floor while she played. Seriously. She eventually grew bored with the 1,000+ toys she has in her room. I made the mistake of "turning her loose" while I attempted to throw some food together in the crockpot to make chili. Next thing I knew, she was in the pantry and had a bag of chocolate chip morsels in her hand. The bag was also open and she had it upside down. Sigh. It was then I saw we had food coloring tucked away on one of the shelves. In my cold medicine induced hazed it suddenly dawned on me, homemade playdoh. She would love it AND she could play with it in her high chair. Contained chaos. GENIUS!

I did a quick Google search and finally came across a few recipes that did not include having to cook it or cream of tartar (whatever the heck that is).

Are you ready for the easiest recipe ever? Here goes...

In bowl, mix together 1 cup of regular flour, 1/2 cup salt, 1 tbsp oil, 1 cup boiling water and food coloring. Kneed it together on a cutting board (once cooled off a bit) to really blend the color together.


When I do it again I will probably mix it all together and then divide up into smaller bowls and then add different colors. This time I put a little bit of red which made it turn pink. I took half of the mixture out of the bowl and added blue which turned the rest into a nice purple.


Emily was a huge fan. She tried to eat a little bit but not a big deal because I knew what was in it and it clear didn't taste good because she spit it out. I have it saved in a plastic bag and will be pulling it out again when I need to keep her contained and busy.

Happy playdoh playing!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Update on 21 Days of Happy

The latest in not-so-surprising-news: I didn't start my 21 Days of Happy on time. Big shocker, I know. It got pushed wayyyyyy down the priority list until it fell off. I had a really crappy start to the day this morning and it hit me: I can't keep putting other things in front of creating happiness for me and others. This has to come first. Because most days I feel like I'm being stretched like a rubber band and I'm about to break. In the crazy  hectic world that is my life, I'm trying to do everything I have to do but feel like I'm doing it all wrong and in a very haphazard way (with mixed results, at best).

That means I'm officially starting it (seriously this time) TODAY! I mean what better time than October 1s. 

If you need a refresher of what this is all about, read my orginal post. But here's the gist of things you need to do every day:

1. Write down three new things you’re grateful for. Your brain learns to hone in on the positives in the world. 
2. Journal about one positive experience. It will feel like you’re reliving it. 
3. Exercise. You teach your brain that your behavior matters. 
4. Meditate. It reduces the noise in your brain and allows you to focus. 
5. Do random acts of kindness.

We can do this, people. We need to do this, for our own good and for others.

Here's to #21daysofhappy,