It’s Time To Slow Down

In 2006 my husband (who was then my boyfriend) got the opportunity to travel to Switzerland for work and he asked me to go with him. It was my first trip to Europe. After we arrived, we took a little nap and woke up around 7 or 8 pm. I was hungry and searched for a vending machine. I found nothing and then went to the front desk. The concierge laughed when I asked about the vending machines. “You Americans.” He said. “We don’t have machines with old food in them.” I asked if there was a convenience store nearby and he laughed again. “No. We aren’t like you. We don’t have everything 24/7. We end our day at 5 o’clock. We do not go, go, go all of the time. What is it you were looking to find in a vending machine?” I told him I was hoping to find some chocolate, and he said, “Well, you are in Switzerland.” And with a smile produced two handfuls of chocolates for me from under the desk. His tone wasn’t one of condensation, but one almost of pity. And now I understand why.

The ten days I spent in Switzerland are still some of the best days of my life. He wasn’t kidding. Everything closed at 5. With the exception of some bars and a few restaurants, the city essentially shut down. And the people stayed home and relaxed with their families. Or they took to the streets. I remember one wonderful evening where we sat on the steps of a museum with many other people who had brought picnics, or were just talking or playing games. It was so relaxing and fun.

One night we found a little restaurant with only about 8 tables. We were expected to dine with the other people there. We were the highlight of their evening. No one spoke English, only German, and so the woman sitting at our table did charades to help us understand what was on the menu. That meal lasted 5 hours. We simply sat and relaxed and ate. The restaurant was in the downstairs of the owner’s home. We were served course after course while we smoked cigarettes and sipped wine and found ways to communicate with the other patrons.

Another thing I noticed is that they took their dogs everywhere. If they owned a shop, the dog was there all day. Dogs were in stores, on public transport and in bars, relaxing under the tables. And the news was so different there as well. While we were there, a man here in the U.S. went into an Amish schoolhouse and shot 8 girls, killing 5, and then shot himself. It was briefly on the news there, and then they were on to reporting other things. I kid you not, the big stories on their news channel were a debate about which is better, black tea or green tea, and a great story on composting, where they interviewed a family about how they compost. I’m serious.

Imagine living in a place like that. Where the news is informative and helpful, and not focused 24/7 on scaring the ever-loving shit out of you. We get moment-to-moment updates on every horror don’t we? Even when the news stations are only speculating or reporting what they think is going on, only to change the story later once they have actual information. They want to be first, and they don’t care if they are right.

We have a failing mental health system. A society in which we are led to believe that we are broken if we aren’t perfect. We live in constant competition. Feeling the need to be as beautiful, as intelligent, as successful as everyone else. We’re in a constant race. And we’re never winning because there’s always more to obtain. We work long hours. We work different shifts. Our children are bringing home tons of homework. They are in several extra-curricular activities at one time. Each day is a struggle to get through. The stress, the pressure, the frustration…never stops. There’s never a break.

I haven’t been shy about sharing the fact that I am on an anti-anxiety medication. What might shock you is to know that I have 6 best friends and 4 of them also take anti-anxiety medication. And a 5th is asking her doctor about getting on something. We have so much stress we don’t know how to manage it, and even if we did, we don’t have time to.

Society needs to change. The acts of horror being committed, the number of suicides, the divorce statistics, the number of children in foster care, the mentally ill without access to help…it’s all a syndrome of a society that has lost some core values: self care, relaxation, enjoyment. The list can go on.

So what do we do? Well, it’s hard to control the outside world. So all we can do is try to control our own.  The first thing I do is set limits. My anxiety recently spiraled out of control and my doctor made me realize that I never take a break from my kids, or for myself. So now, once the kids are in bed, I do whatever I want to. I used to clean, but now I watch TV, do my nails, read, or take a bubble bath. I practice self care. I also ensure that my husband and I go out at least twice a month without our children. That time is just for us to relax and enjoy one another. I also limit my kids’ extra curricular activities. They are allowed only one thing at a time. And if they overlap, it’s a no. I have family members who never attend family functions because their kids have games/practices/recitals all the time. They are so entrenched in that world that they don’t even make exception for family events. To me, that is an issue because it’s another example of moving us away from our roots, our core.

Don’t misunderstand, I see the value in extra curricular activities.  The life lessons our children learn are invaluable. But I believe that those lessons can be learned without being in 6 things at a time. It’s important for our children to have down time as well, and not only on breaks. They are developing and need time to be creative without structure. To be with friends. To relax and figure out what they like and who they are.

The last, and perhaps most important thing that I do, is turn off the news. It’s not helpful. It’s a horror show filled with scare tactics and misinformation. That doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s going on or keep up on current events, but I find ways to keep up that don’t involve mass hysteria. And I think it’s important that we continue to stress these ideals. To slow down and not contribute to the mess. To show that we want a new way, a different world to raise our children in, where we aren’t terrified to let them walk outside and where we aren’t pulled in so many directions that we lose focus on what is truly important: being happy, enjoying life, and making the world a better place for all of us.

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The people of the city on the museum stairs.
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Exploring!
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The owner of that little restaurant.
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The beauty of Basel
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Le Rhine et moi

 

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Let’s Decorate For Halloween!

Yay October! My favorite month of the year is finally here! I LOVE October because it’s officially fall! And it’s also the month of Halloween, which we decorate for immediately. We decorate inside and out. Click the video below to spend some time with us, and look through the pictures to see the finished product!

 

 

 

Loose Leaf Tea!

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This blog is in no way sponsored. This is my first visit to the shop and I paid full price for all the items I purchased and wasn’t given anything by them.

We visited the Ohio Tea Company last week and learned so much about tea. There are more kinds of tea than I ever could have imagined! The people who own the company are so incredibly sweet. They allowed my to film inside for my blog and they couldn’t have been more helpful!

The video below will show you inside the shop, as well as Max and me trying different types of tea. I purchased several different flavors while there, and they were all delicious. I had no idea that different types of teas should be brewed at different temperatures and for different periods of time! That was another interesting thing I learned while there! And the cool thing about their packaging is that it tells you right on the front of the tea the ideal time, temperature and measurement for your tea!

While I was there I bought this adorable tea timer!

The prices are great as well. Beginning at 4 oz. you get a 20% discount, so I purchased 4 oz. of several flavors to save money. If you want to try their teas, you can order from the website. If you order only tea (no accouterments) then shipping is free! You can order here: https://www.ohioteaco.com

Ordering through them will support a small, local business, and some genuine, kind and wonderful people!

Here are my tea choices for my first visit, and I love them all!

And here is my vlog of my visit! Again, if you’d like to order, just go to https://www.ohioteaco.com

 

It’s Fall Ya’ll!

It’s still 90 freaking degrees out, but that won’t stop this pumpkin party! It’s September, and for me, that’s go time! I don’t go crazy overboard with my decorations, but I do get excited and I do put them out as soon as September begins. When I originally fell in love with our home, one of the things I wanted was this big front porch. I could envision decorating it each season and spending time on it, talking and laughing with those I love. It’s truly a joy for me!

Some of the things that are in the pictures that I didn’t talk about in the video are the mums you see in the picture – they are fake. I LOVE mums, but for the life of me I cannot remember to water flowers. So I bought fake ones. It works out though, because then I can keep them completely out of the sun and they don’t care! If you want to make a similar project, get a flower pot and then go to the craft store. Buy styrofoam that will fit your pot and insert it (it’s best if it’s a few inches thick – too thin and it won’t be as sturdy). Then choose your flowers and push them into the styrofoam! The only thing I’ve purchased recently is the “Gather” pillow on the rocking chair (rocking chair from Cracker Barrel). I bought that pillow a couple of days ago at JoAnn Fabrics, Etc.

Here’s my video where I discuss my decorations, and below that you will find my pictures! Click on them to enlarge. Happy Fall!!!

 

 

 

 

The Miracle of Friendship

My father has always given me the best advice. I remember once, when I was in high school, and I had begun a relationship with my first boyfriend. I was on the phone with one of my friends and I was breaking plans with her so that I could be with my boyfriend. My dad overheard my conversation and when I hung up, he said something to me that I’ll never forget. He said, “Don’t ever put your boyfriend before your friends. They’ve been your friends for a long time and they’ll always be there. If you keep blowing them off you’ll ruin your friendships. Then you two will break up, and you’ll be alone. You’ll have no one. Your boyfriends will come and go. Your friends are forever.” He was basically the first Chicks Before Dicks mantra. You’re welcome, world. But seriously, that struck me. And I realized that he was right. And over the years, as my relationships, my first marriage, my jobs, my illnesses, have crumbled, come, and eventually gone, the people still standing there, holding me up, are my friends.

I’ve been lucky. I’ve been blessed with several incredible women who have been by my side for most of my life. My friendships with them have lasted 10, 20, 30 years. Some of these friendships ebb and flow like the tide. They come in and out of my life depending on circumstances. Where we live. What’s happening in our lives. Sometimes we go awhile without seeing one another or talking. We are kept abreast, of course, through Facebook. But even before Facebook, (yes, I am of the age where I existed before the internet), we had an unbreakable bond.

It doesn’t seem to matter how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other. When we are together, it’s as if no time has passed. Our bonds are so strong that it’s more akin to family than friendship. We can read one another’s expression, voice, body language. We say the same things at the same time. I even once had a friend go on a type of birth control that stopped her periods. It also stopped MY period. I was miserable, so she went off of that version for me.

These are the people I know I can call – anytime, any hour, and they will be there. It won’t matter how long it’s been, or what they are doing. They will drop it and be there for me. Just as I will drop everything and be there for them. These friendships are gifts. They are miracles. Finding people who love you, who will put up with you, who will forgive you, who won’t judge you – it’s an incredible thing. And the fact that I’ve found so many women like that? It really does make me feel like I have been given a most precious gift.

These are the type of friendships that even outlast my dad’s advice. Because we know that a new relationship can be all consuming. And we allow one another that time. We know that children are all-consuming, and we allow one another that time. Even my friends who have chosen not to have children are still welcoming of mine and call themselves Auntie and love them as their own. They know I can’t go anywhere or do anything right now, and so, they come to me.

This isn’t to say that your partner or spouse isn’t important or isn’t all of these things as well. They are. Or, at least, they should be. It just means that you can have more than one person to count on.

Recognize when these people enter your life. You will know. You will meet them and somehow just “click.” You will feel as though you’ve always known them. You may feel as though you’ve met them before. And your bond might be instant. It might come in time. But when it happens, acknowledge it. Then grab onto it and nurture it and cherish it. Because those are your people. They are the loves of your life. They will be there to laugh and celebrate with you, to pick you up when you fall, to forgive your mistakes, and to hold your hand when you’re afraid. They will be one of the most incredible gifts of your life.

 

 

 

Being A Mom is Hard

I had my oldest child when I was 22. I always thought I’d have 6 kids. Three girls and three boys. Growing up, that was my perfect family. Then, after giving birth the first time, I changed it to 4 kids. I didn’t want to do that six times.

My first marriage wasn’t good. I didn’t want to have any more children during that time. Then, after my divorce, I met my husband. We did want to have kids, and by the time we decided to, we were in our early thirties. We tried for several years before getting help from a reproductive specialist. Our babies didn’t come easy. We had to do all sorts of things and spend a lot of money. But that’s a story for another day. After they were born, my body couldn’t handle another pregnancy, so we adopted our daughter.

I feel that we are at the perfect number of kids. My oldest is 19 right now, and the others are 4, 2 and 1. They are the little lights of my life and I love each of them more than anything. More than you think is possible. Sometimes it feels like I might explode because my love for them is so intense.

But that doesn’t mean that being their mother is easy. And it doesn’t mean that our life is one of fluff, rainbows and sunshine all of the time. I finally have everything I wanted, but it’s not exactly how I pictured it to be. And that’s OK. I think it’s time that we talk about how hard it is sometimes being a mom. Especially in today’s world, where we see the Instagram and Facebook photos and posts and see everyone else looking picture perfect.

Being a mom is hard. There are days that I have only had 4 hours of sleep, and that time was not all at once. Having 3 kids under 5, with the older two being boys, means that my house is generally a disaster. It’s three against one, so as I am cleaning up one mess they’ve made, they are making THREE MORE. It’s literally impossible to keep up with. The rooms we spend time in average a 12-hour clean time. Meaning that once I finally do get them clean, it will be 12 hours before they are trashed again. And it’s ridiculous stuff too. Not just toys and clothes. But marker on the wall. Juice all over the floor, the carpet, the baby, the pets. My 2-year-old son Bennett is in the throes of his terrible twos, and he ROCKS at it. He’s a little tornado of possibility and improbability. He figured out how to push the nipple of his sister’s bottle in, so that the milk sprays 2 feet out. He sprays EVERYTHING. It’s an unbelievable mess. And it’s EVERYWHERE. Yesterday he got the sugar bowl down and dumped sugar all over my kitchen. He ruins makeup, spills EVERYTHING he gets his hands on, and he is lightening fast. They all are. My friend stayed here to watch them for me for a couple of hours so I could go to a doctor appointment and when I came back she said, “How do you do this? They are so fast. I’m so sorry but they (fill in all the messes they made) and I swear they did it in two minutes.” Yep. Story of my life.

This is, of course, on top of the usual stuff like laundry, dishes, cooking, scrubbing, sweeping and dusting. The dusting doesn’t happen too often, not gonna lie. And it’s usually while I’m doing something like the laundry that they get into everything and make the super huge messes. I’m going to be completely honest here. Some days I feel like I’m drowning.

But then I remind myself that this is only temporary. I’m not a superhero with superhuman powers. I can only do so much. The most important things are that my children are happy and healthy and loved. And they are all of these things. They are vibrant, curious, intelligent little beings. They are exploring and learning and playing. And while I don’t often like the result of that, I understand that it’s necessary for their development. And that’s OK.

Because all too soon, I know that these days will be over. They will go to school. They will go to college. They will leave me. Right now their little worlds revolve around me. They want to show me everything. They want my approval and my attention. They want me to join in their fun. And all too soon, they won’t. That’s the benefit of having done this before. I learned the lesson before it was too late. By having my kids so far apart, I know the course of action they will take. I know that while the days are long, the years will fly by. I know what them at 19 looks like. I know my days are numbered.

So keep all of that in mind when you are having a drowning day. These things are easy to say but hard to live. It’s normal to feel like you aren’t doing a good job when you live in a mess. But you ARE doing a good job. Children are made to explore. To make messes. To play and live and jump. And spill. And break things. And draw. On everything.

Know that these days are numbered and time is short. Too soon, we will look back at this time, looking through pictures and wispy memories. We will say things like, “You used to love….  That was your favorite…. You always…..” And they won’t remember most of it. They will be all grown up and focused on becoming the incredible people we are raising them to be. And in those moments, we will long for these days.

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My little scientists.

 

Can It Please Be Fall Already?

I know, I know. Some of you love summer. You have your bikini body on point. Your toes are polished a juicy hot pink. Your tan is on fleek (are we still saying on fleek?). You want your toes in the water and your ass in the sand. You love the ocean. You love the sun. You love laying out. You love driving with the music up and the windows down. I get it. You’re a summer girl. Or boy. I don’t know the basic rules for seasons when it comes to the fellas, so hopefully you can relate to what I have already listed here. But you see, here’s the thing. I don’t love summer. I actually hate it. And here’s why.

Summer brings about one thing that I like. Longer sunlight times. I’m totally down for that. Otherwise? I can’t stand it. I hate the heat. high temps just aren’t my happy place. I get sweaty, and bitchy, and tired. Here in Ohio we have humidity. So when it’s 90 and humid, I can barely breathe and I feel like I’m going to pass out at any moment. I’m uncomfortable – and I detest being hot. The second reason? Mosquitoes. Oh my God, the mosquitoes. They are relentless! So my options are to either be eaten alive (by the way, I’m allergic to their saliva, so when they bit me I get huge, itchy, almost painful welts), or coat myself in disgusting, smelly, oily repellents. No thank you. In addition, all of the other bugs are also out and about. And in my house. And on me. And flying in my face.

So yes. I’m ready for fall. Now, I do have all of my basic bitch reasons for loving fall. The sweater weather. Needing a light blanket when I’m reading. Hot drinks like cocoa, apple cider and chai. I love pumpkins and carving them. I love the changing leaves. I love the crisp smell in the air. Also, the plummeting of temperatures, the lack of humidity, the lack of mosquitoes and all other flying insects. I love the cool breezes and the need to wear one of my cozy scarfs, wraps or ponchos. I love my fall decor. Glass pumpkins, wreaths, dead stalks of corn (why do we like that so much?). I love the apple picking, the pumpkin picking, the pumpkin spice everything. And most of all…I love that Halloween is just around the corner.

For me, Halloween is a month-long affair. I almost love it as much as I love Christmas. Almost. Once October hits, our decorations go up. It’s horror, horror everywhere. I make my kids watch Halloween movies incessantly. I watch horror movies incessantly. We get our costumes and go trick or treating. We do Boo at the Zoo. We go to the pumpkin farm. We go to fall festivals. It is my happy time.

So enjoy these next few weeks of summer, darlings. I understand your love for it. It’s just not my thing. I’ll just be sitting in my air conditioning, awaiting the coming of the next season. And you better believe that come September 1st, I’ll be busting out my fall decor. Hey man, if June 1st is the start of your summer, then September 1st can be the start of my fall. I’ll see you back here for a rundown of our fall adventures!

Why I Love FabFitFun So Damn Much (Updated in 2019)

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My Fall 2018 Box

I will continue to return to this blog to update every time I receive a new box!

FabFitFun is a quarterly subscription box service. They deliver a box to your home once every 3 months, for Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. The also have Editor Boxes. Those boxes are available if you join in between the seasonal boxes. The are comprised of the favorite items of, you guessed it, the Editors. Members are able to purchase these boxes in addition to the seasonal boxes if they wish. However, you aren’t required to.

Fabfitfun has a wide range of items in their boxes. You can get jewelry, wraps, scarves, socks, makeup, haircare, skincare, tech items, fitness items, and so much more. Every box I’ve received has been worth over $300. (Each box costs $49). Some of the items are a surprise, but some you are able to choose. If you are a select annual member (meaning you pay for the year upfront) you will get to choose more of what is in your box. You also get priority shipping. Contrary to what people think, this is NOT more expensive than paying quarterly. As a matter of fact, it’s a little cheaper as when my bill comes it’s $180, which means that each of my boxes are $45.

FabFitFun also has an Add-On sale at the beginning of each season, where they offer products at up to 70% off of their retail value. They also have Edit Sales that do the same thing. Again, you aren’t required to purchase anything at the sales, they are just available to you if you want to shop them.

I love FabFitFun’s boxes, of course, and I’ve found so many of my new favorite products this way. However, there’s a lot more to it than just the boxes. FFF has a community page on their website where members can go to talk. They talk about FFF, of course, but they also use the community to find support, talk about problems, trade items, and make friends. The discussions are so wonderful, and it makes me so happy to see strangers coming together the way they do in the community. There’s even a group who does a Christmas in July gift exchange. There’s so much to be found there, and it’s completely free when you join FabFitFun.

In addition, FabFitFun has a TON of workout videos available to its members, again, completely free with your membership. They also send out newsletters with helpful tips, healthy recipes, and fun information.

I actually love FabFitFun so much that I became an affiliate. We say #fabfitfunpartner. Which just means that I have a link to use to sign up (and I do earn a small commission on sales). I’ll post it below if you are interested in joining. I’ve taken several pictures of the actual boxes I’ve received as well, so I’ll post those here too. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, as I’m happy to help!

FabFitFun is more than a subscription box service to me. It’s inspired me to live a more happy and healthy life. It’s motivated me to connect with people all over, and it’s helped me find some incredible products that I’d probably never found otherwise.

Get yours here and receive 50% off your first box using the code FALL50 https://prf.hn/click/camref:1011l7UyZ
(This is my personal referral link.)

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Editor Box – Post Fall 2017
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Winter Box 2017
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Editor Box – Post Winter 2018
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Editor Box – Post Spring 2018
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Summer Box 2018
Editor Box – Post Summer 2018

Two different versions of the same box – Winter 2018

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The Post-Winter 2019 Box

Spring 2019 (two different versions I received, the one on the left was not customized, the  one on the right is the one I customized.)

Summer 2019
Fall 2019

Get yours here and receive 50% off your first box using the code FALL50 https://prf.hn/click/camref:1011l7UyZ
(This is my personal referral link.)

Our First Gotcha Day Anniversary: A Look Back At Our Adoption Story

Adoption is an incredible experience. When we found out we couldn’t have any more children, we turned to adoption to complete our family. I never could have imagined the ride we were about to embark on.

Newborn domestic adoption is a very lengthy, expensive, and emotional journey. Luckily, adopting a baby here in the United States can be compensated in tax refunds by the government (federally everywhere, and statewide if you stick to your state). So if you fear that you cannot afford it, look into your options. Grants and loans exist. And while carrying the loan payment is hard, it’s totally, of course, worth it.

As for the rest of it, I’ll share our story with you now. We first spoke to our agency in February of 2017. By July we had completed all of the paperwork, home studies, inspections, and classes that were required and were ready to go! We went live (were posted on the agency’s website) and then……..we waited.

I can’t explain that wait to you. I think it’s something you really and truly have to go through to understand. Other couples were chosen, why not us? Was our biography bad? Were our pictures bad? What did they have that we didn’t? What if we never get chosen? What if we get chosen tomorrow? What will our baby look like? We tried to prepare. What if our daughter was born addicted? How would we handle that? What if she was a different race? How could we be sure that she would be able to embrace and experience her own culture in this area and with a white family? I spent hours. Days. Weeks. Months. Pondering every scenario my mind could possibly conceive. I researched, and researched and researched. I tortured myself with questions. It was hard. It was really, really hard.

The social workers at our agency told us not to prepare. Not to buy her clothes or toys. Not to prepare a room for her. Because it would be all the more devastating if we never brought her home. For the most part, I obeyed this command. I did allow myself a few little cheats, however. For one, we already had the boys. That meant that we had a lot of the big stuff like a bassinet, play yard, highchair, etc. And I distinctly remember buying her a dress once when I was out shopping. It was so adorable that I just couldn’t help myself. I confessed to my husband who was, as always, so supportive. He said it was good to have the dress. It represented hope and possibility of what could be. And we bought clothes. I am a very Type A, control-freak personality. Not knowing if or when we would get a baby was torture for me. I had to, in some way, prepare. So we went to garage sales and got some baby girl clothes. I filled a couple of totes, and then I put them in storage. I figured, that way, if it happened fast, we wouldn’t be bringing her home with nothing. And if it didn’t, we could just donate them and not be out a ton of money. The other thing we did was create a registry. I had spent hours researching baby formula (I nursed my boys so I was new to the scene) and finally chose one. So we registered for it, and other things like diapers, wipes and pacifiers. That way, again, if it happened fast, we could run there and not even have to think. It was already all planned out. I also, of course, added some adorable girly stuff to the registry as well. I mean, come on, I’m only human.

Months went by. We were presented with several opportunities to try for a baby, but none of them seemed like the perfect fit for us. The holidays came and went and still, no baby. I thought a lot during those moments of childless couples in the world. How much more difficult was this wait for them? I had my children to distract me. I already had little hands to hold and faces to kiss. How much more trying would this time have been if I was wondering if I’d ever be a mother at all? And I though about all of the birthparents who were choosing adoption. How difficult was this for them? How hard would it be to choose adoption for your baby? Thoughts constantly ran through my head if I didn’t keep myself extremely busy and preoccupied.

And then came Spring. We were presented with a couple of opportunities that seemed like they could be a good fit, and both times the birthparents chose other couples. Not us. And even though the agency prepared us for this rejection, explained that it wasn’t us that was an issue, that the families chosen were just a better fit, I couldn’t help but wonder if we had done something wrong. Maybe we didn’t seem friendly enough in our letter to them? Maybe our pictures weren’t good. All of the old worries flooded back each time. Thank God for my husband. He’s so laid back and relaxed – and everything that is the opposite of me that I needed so badly throughout this entire process. He kept me from freaking out and being overly anxious. I kept telling myself to be patient (NOT my strong suit).

As we rounded the end of July, we reflected on the fact that it was exactly a year since we had completed everything and gone “on the market” so to speak. We had one more year left, and then our homestudy would expire, and we’d have to decide whether or not we wanted to pay to reinstate it, or let our dream go. Every July, on the last Sunday of the month, we have a family reunion on my mother’s side. It’s a wonderful day, and I can remember last year, sitting at a table with my cousins and Aunts, and talking. I told them about our adoption journey and how we were doing so far. I remember thinking about it on the way home, wondering where we’d be the following year. Wondering if the waiting ever got easier. And then, when we got home, we got an email.

A healthy, beautiful baby girl had been born that morning. Her birthparents contacted the agency and let them know that they were interested in creating an adoption plan for her. Now, this email went out to probably 40 families. Just like all those which came before it. I was excited, but tried not to get my hopes up. We wrote our letter to them and submitted it, and then…we waited.

It typically took a week to hear in an email that a different family had been chosen. Those emails were hard to take. That rejection, while in no way personal, feels like a dagger through the heart. It’s hard to take. So this time, I was prepared for it. I didn’t expect to be chosen. As a matter of fact, I was pretty sure we wouldn’t be. I had it in my head that they wouldn’t want us. It’s like breaking up with someone before they can break up with you. It’s stupid and unhealthy, but it’s self preservation.

Sunday night I sent our letter. By Wednesday I hadn’t heard anything, and knew she wasn’t ours. I prepared for the email that I knew was coming. Instead, on Wednesday evening, I received a phone call from the agency. The birthparents had chosen us. They chose us. Out of all of the people who wanted that baby more than anything in the world, they picked us. I started sobbing. I remember vaguely having a conversation with her, but I can’t really remember what we said. I just remember crying and pacing while I talked to her. At the end of the conversation my best friend walked into the room. As soon as I hung up the phone she asked, “Did you get a baby?” I nodded, still crying, and she ran to me. We hugged, jumping up and down, and cry-laughing like children. I then showed her the text I got from the social worker, a picture of our daughter.

I immediately called my husband, took a screen shot of my text with the social worker, and sent him the picture of our baby. I was shaking. I remember that. And then, instead of being excited, I got really scared. What if they changed their minds?

The social worker had explained that they were going to wait until the following Monday to sign the paperwork. Which meant that they had until Monday to change their minds. It was Wednesday. And let me tell you, those were the longest, most emotionally exhausting 5 days of my life. We also had explicit instructions from the social worker. Buy newborn diapers, an outfit to bring her home in, formula, a few bottles, and nothing else. These were the bare necessities, and nothing was certain yet. We did as we were told. But come on. We also bought a few of the things on our registry. By then some of them were on clearance and I was afraid they’d be gone. So with the assurance that we could return them if we didn’t get our baby, I filled that cart up and we carted it all home. I left it in bags and put it in storage. And then we just….waited.

Monday finally came and the time that we were to go to the agency arrived. My husband and I packed up the diaper bag and made the (almost) hour drive to the agency. I wasn’t sure what to expect. We were told to be there at 1:00, even though the birthparents wouldn’t be there to sign until later that evening. When we arrived, she was there. Her foster mother had brought her to the agency so that we could meet her. We spent the next several hours holding her, feeding her, and talking to her. We were in love. And so, of course, the monster in my brain was stomping around, scaring me. Wondering what would happen if her birthparents didn’t show up. Or what if they did, but they changed their minds at the last minute. What if they wanted to meet us? What could I possibly say to them to thank them for choosing us? How can you ever find words for something like that?

The time finally came. The social worker said that they had arrived, and she and the attorney were going down the hall to meet them. I gave her something we had picked up for them. A card, thanking them, and 2 small tokens. The first was a ruby necklace for her (our daughter’s birthstone), and for him, a silver picture frame and a giftcard to shutterfly, so they could print out pictures of the baby if they wanted to. Let me tell you, in those moments, I could feel my heart beating all throughout my body. I went from elation to panic to nauseous about a thousand different times. Then I noticed that my husband was acting very out of character. He was cleaning the room. Lifting up cushions, checking under them to see if we’d dropped anything, packing the bag, throwing away trash, etc. It was the absolute first time in our 12 years together I’d actually seen him nervous.

Finally, finally, the social worker returned. The papers were signed. It was done. Once we signed, we would be taking her home. They didn’t want to meet us. They couldn’t see her. It was just all too hard for them. A little piece of my heart broke for them right then, and I don’t think it will ever be the same. I think about them every day, and especially today. I had wanted so badly to meet them. To thank them. To reassure them that they could always see her if they ever wanted to. To promise that we would always be there if they wanted us in their lives. But that moment wasn’t to be. And that’s OK. I did need to mourn a bit, in all honesty. It’s difficult to explain, but I really had wanted to know them, and for them to know us. But I understood, and I empathized, and I still had hope that, maybe someday, we would meet. So we signed the papers, and then, we brought our daughter home.

So it’s been a year to the day since we got her. We didn’t technically adopt her until March of this year, but this is the anniversary of the day that she became ours. A day I will never, ever forget. Her birthmother and I text from time to time. She’ll check in every once in awhile and see how things are going. It’s always nice to hear from her. We still have yet to meet. My hope is that we will, someday. That our daughter will grow up knowing her birthparents. That she’ll never question their love for her, or the sacrifice they made for her in choosing adoption. But even if they never want to meet us, I’ll still tell her the story of how she came to be ours. Of how God’s plan miraculously came to be, and of just how lucky she is to have two sets of parents who love her more than anything else in this world.

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Our daughter, wearing that dress I bought when she was still just a dream for us.

 

Cookbook Review! “True Roots” by Kristin Cavallari

If you’ve watched Laguna Beach or The Hills, you undoubtedly know who Kristin Cavallari is. If you haven’t, but you like football, you may know her as former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler’s wife. She recently re-upped her reality game in her new show, Very Cavallari, which chronicles her life now as a wife, mother, and entrepreneur as she opens her first store for her lifestyle and jewelry brand, Uncommon James. And somewhere in the midst of all of this, she wrote a cookbook.

To be completely honest, I never liked her. I thought she was kind of a bitch on her reality shows. Later we all learned that those shows were actually scripted, and she was playing a character, edited to seem even worse than she was. None of this has any bearing on why I bought this book though.

I was perusing for a cookbook that could get me eating more cleanly and more healthy. I wanted good, tasty, healthy food for my family. But I’m not a chef, and I’m just learning to cook. So I wanted something uncomplicated, easy to follow, and healthy. I stumbled upon this book (on Amazon) and it seemed like just the thing I was looking for. In the preview pages, Kristin listed the items she uses in the recipes and keeps in her pantry, refrigerator, etc. – which made it seem really streamlined and simple. So I ordered it, and here’s how I’m doing.

So far I’ve made several of the dishes and drinks in the book. I did have to do a little searching for some of the ingredients. I live in a very small town, and our little grocery store simply doesn’t carry things like oat flour and aloe juice. After some store hopping and a couple of Amazon pantry orders, I was ready to go. I started off with some recipes that seemed the easiest and went from there. I’d say I’ve made over 1/4 of the recipes so far (there are around 100 in the book). While I’m not a vegetarian, I do try to limit eating meat, and I have a rule. If I’ve never eaten it, I’m not going to start now. This only applies to animals. So several of the recipes for things like duck, veal and lamb, I will never make. Though someday I may decide to try the recipes on different meats.

In addition, there are several things in the book that I have substituted in lieu of creating my own for time and money purposes. For example, she has you creating Almond and Cashew milks from actual almonds and cashews. I cheated and bought the milks pre-made at the store. In addition, I bought minced garlic instead of mincing my own.

Of the recipes I’ve tried, my favorite is the Baked Oatmeal with Warm Berry Sauce. The sauce is incredible and can be used on anything you’d want a sweet berry sauce on, including ice cream, pancakes, spongecake, etc. Another favorite of mine is the Creamy Cinnamon Smoothie. She almost didn’t include it in the book, and I’m so very glad she did. My least favorite are the Chia Parfaits. The taste isn’t bad, but I just can’t get into the consistency. I’m a huge consistency person, and this is not something that works for me.

I read a few reviews on Amazon prior to purchasing, and one person stated that there are a lot of pictures of Kristen in this book. They would have preferred more pictures of the dishes being prepared. I agree that there are a lot of pictures of her. But to me, I would assume that the people inclined to buy the cookbook would be fans of hers, who would enjoy seeing pictures of her. I could take them or leave them personally, but they in no way bother me or ruin the cookbook. The book itself is pretty and nice to look at. It’s designed well and has a very french-country feel. Very farm-to-table, which I personally enjoy. In all, I’d give it a 10/10. The recipes are uncomplicated, delicious, and healthy. Kristen sprinkles cute little personal statements and pictures throughout the book, which makes it fun to read. I look forward to making more of the recipes from it, and have already found some favorites that I’ll use forever. Below I’ll share my favorites so far, and pictures I took of my creations!

Get the book here:

https://amzn.to/2LV5PLL

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Creamy Cinnamon Smoothie

Baked Oatmeal with Warm Berry Sauce
Baked Oatmeal with Warm Berry Sauce

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Lime Rice

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Summer Salad with Sweet Basil Vinaigrette

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Apple Cider Fighter

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Chocolate Crunch Smoothie Bowl

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Creamy Chickpeas and Spinach

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Artichoke Hummus

Here’s a video of me creating the Honey Turmeric Latte from the cookbook. Enjoy!

 

Get my blender here!

https://amzn.to/2Ajswbl

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Honey Turmeric Latte

The verdict is in – It’s AMAZING!!!