Thursday, January 30, 2014

Infant Domestic Adoption Woes

Basically, I'm sick of trying to adopt in this way. The adoption system in America is so screwed up and dealing with it just exhausts me. Trying to adopt a baby ethically is a nightmare of emotion. It's been 5 years since we first started the paperwork to apply to adopt and I am just so done with it all.

Whenever I get ready to write my thoughts about this subject, I can always find someone who has written it better:

"The Dark, Sad Side of Domestic Adoption"
"Remaining a Family of Four"

Navigating the minefield of trying to adopt in this way is literally a nightmare... like, it has seeped into my dreams and affects me on a daily basis.

Here's the thing... if we had more money, we'd have another baby by now. Women/girls looking for an interracial couple to adopt a bi-racial baby... yeah, that happens all the time. But they all go to different agencies... some they don't realize are charging adoptive parents $30,000 for this "transaction." So, they never see our profile. Because we refuse to pay that much. (The legal work to finalize an adoption is not that expensive... but adoption agencies are a business.)

I am a very wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve kinda girl and I am overly empathetic to someone who is having a hard time. And I go out of my way for people... way too often. And I get lied to and taken advantage of sometimes.

So, enter the adoption world... where I'm trying to do a good thing, I'm trying to be an answer to someone's prayer, I'm trying to do what I can to better myself and create a stable/loving/supportive home & family so that I can provide that as an option for a child who may not otherwise have it.

There are so many women/girls who find themselves with an unexpected pregnancy - through rape, with an abusive partner, while they were addicted to alcohol or drugs, just being young and not fully understanding the consequences of their actions, through an affair, from a one-night-stand, while on birth control, while homeless, while jobless, while in jail, without any resources to provide for a child at all, whose family isn't supportive or loving, etc. There are times when these women/girls are in a crisis pregnancy and they are stressing about how they are going to raise a child given the circumstances, whatever they may be. Maybe they missed their opportunity to have an abortion or they morally oppose abortion for themselves.

A lot of times, adoption comes to their minds and they start dreaming of the life their child could have, but not with them and not under the circumstances they're being born into. Maybe they know without a doubt that they are not in a position to parent that child and out of love they want to find a family who wants to. Maybe the idea of the child not having an adequate father is enough to want to find an adoptive couple. Whatever the reason, when a mother is going to have a child... sometimes she knows in her heart that adoption is the right decision. That being a good mother in that situation would be to remove that child from the circumstances they didn't ask to be born into.

Adoption can be such a loving choice, a broken answer for a new life being brought into a fallen world.

But then again, there's that dark side to all of this... And trying to make that connection with the woman/girl who is in that situation and wants that for her child... And avoiding along the way the scammers and the manipulators and the liars... is tough. Finding someone who genuinely wants that for her child is hard enough. But then trying to keep in constant communication with her is hard. Phones disconnected. Moving suddenly. Never responding to emails. Then trying to make sure they have the adequate third-party counseling necessary to actually make an informed decision. What if they refuse the counseling? What if they really, really need it? How do I know she's making the right decision? Because let's be honest... pregnant women are hormonal and they don't always know what they want. How can we feel comfortable about a decision when we don't honestly know what's going through her head? How do I know if she has insecurities about it that she keeps to herself? What if none of her reasons for adoption are good enough once she has the baby? What then? We're just discarded. And there's no safety net. Just rejection.

How much rejection can someone take before their confidence in who they are and what they have to offer falters? Before they question whether they are really doing a good thing or not? Before they give up on the whole concept?

We adopted once before. Looking back, man I was naive and hopeful. But it worked out. How?? How in the world did we get so lucky once?






Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Well, That Was Quick

Those 10 weeks of waiting went mighty quickly!!! Lol. Only 2 weeks in and it's already over.

Miss H decided that she is going to parent Baby Girl. For reasons that I won't explain here. But let me just say that some people's lives are much, much, much more complicated than I could even imagine. And I'm not a sheltered individual. And I worry what Baby Girl's future will be, but Miss H seems dang determined to do whatever it takes and sacrifice whatever has to be sacrificed in order to be there for her daughter in the way that she thinks is best for her.

I totally get it. If I were in her shoes, I'd do the same. But I did hope she'd choose differently.

So here we are. Our own futures wide open. A blank slate of... well, what do we want to do now?

Part of me feels defeated, disillusioned, exhausted, and frustrated. As if people are telling us No just to mess with us.


Part of me feels relieved, untethered to a heavy weight that was on my heart, free from this domestic infant adoption drama I've been living in for way too long. I've been a drama-avoider most of my life. So to invite this kind of craziness in my life on purpose has just been insane. And anxiety-inducing. And stressful beyond measure.

But it's over.




Baby Girl

I started writing this post earlier today... then got interrupted by an email from Miss H giving me her decision. But I'll post this first.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Mama and baby are doing just fine. Miss H expects Baby Girl to be in the NICU for "at least a month," recovering. She needs help to breathe right now. But, holy cow - she's the chunkiest premie! I got to see a couple of pictures over the weekend and learned that she was 5lbs 10oz when she was born. I don't have too many more details than that. But that was enough to make me think she did a lot of growing already!

We're in a weird place right now. Waiting. But for what? I'm not sure anymore.

There was a point in time during Miss H's pregnancy when I was like, "You know what? She seems super sure about this." And I posted THIS post. I felt hesitant at the time, but she was very adamant that this is what she wanted... so I started to get a little excited. Even though it was crazy early in her pregnancy. Even though I told myself that was a bad idea to get involved that early, we embraced it anyway.

There's no such thing as a "sure thing" when it comes to adoption. But at one point I could've sworn this would've been the case. But here we are, again being left out of the hospital experience. And I'm not sure why. I don't know what doubts Miss H is having. She's distant. But she wasn't ready for us to come. She didn't say it, but it felt like it was as if she didn't want us to come at all. I'm still waiting to know if that really is the case or not.

I wrote her the longest email ever on Sunday. I figured this may be the last time I'd have a chance to say anything to her before she disappeared. I said everything I'd been meaning to say, asked everything I've been meaning to ask. I told her to remember all the reasons she had for her adoption plan... and then honestly ask herself if any of those reasons matter now that Baby Girl is here. And to get back with us when she knows.

Being that Baby Girl is in the NICU and Miss H isn't faced with the decision to take her home yet, maybe she'll take this time as decision-making time. Now that the baby's here. Now that her support system will either surround her or leave her stranded. Now that she's really faced with what she'll lose if she places her for adoption.











Friday, January 24, 2014

Unexpected


I was in the middle of writing posts about New Year's Resolutions and about Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. But that will have to wait... because o...m...g.

Miss H is at the hospital getting induced... 8 weeks early!!! Enter panic mode. I was ready to hop on the next flight out of here yesterday when she told me, but she told me to wait. She needs time. She doesn't want a repeat of what happened to us last time. So she needs to make sure the adoption is the right decision first before we go anywhere.

So we're waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting to hear anything at all. Can't think about anything else.

I can't believe Baby Girl is making her appearance this early. Miss H kept saying she thought she was going to come early, but I kept dismissing the thought. I thought we'd make it to 38 weeks and we'd spend a leisurely 2 weeks helping her around the house and making sure she got to her appointments. That definitely didn't happen!

I'm worried about their health. About what caused this to happen (which I'm not entirely sure about, but I can guess). About how Baby Girl is going to handle being a not-quite-32-weeker in the NICU. I need more details!

So, we may be headed out to Mississippi soon or we may be sitting here trying to figure out our life again. Either way, I know patience is really important right now. Miss H needs time to figure things out. And it's our job to give her the space to do so.

I just hope they're okay. Please, please, please let them be okay.




Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I'm Surrounded By Pregnancies

Ha ha... can't remember where I found this pic. But this represents my *sad face*

I haven't felt that "sting" of infertility in quite awhile.

But recently I did get a nice little ole jolt to the heart when one of my closest friends told me she was pregnant with her first. I was kind of flustered and didn't know what to say. I was super excited for her - I mean WAY excited!!! We've known her and her husband for years and kinda sorta hooked them up... and then flew all the way across the country for their wedding a little over a year ago. I cannot wait to find out if it's a girl or a boy and see what their child will look like - they both have really mixed heritage. But I was confused when she called me and told me... and I totally stuttered a little bit trying to congratulate her. I thought, "That was weird." What an odd reaction to her happy news!

All the other pregnancies I have to face head on have been little to no big deal at all. There was a wave of pregnant women all at once at Church. And I'm the Secretary in the women's organization, so I'm in the meetings when we talk about making sure that each new mother has support those first couple weeks - freezer meals so they don't have to cook, babysitting older kids when they need a break, visits and emotional support, etc. We're always talking about who's having a baby next (if we're not talking about church activities or funerals to plan for).

Zay comes home from work sometimes and says, "EVERYONE is pregnant. I mean, literally. Everyone is pregnant." And we laugh about it, because seriously - Utah is like a haven of pregnant women. It's just what Mormons do - procreate. We used to call the BYU married student housing "the rabbit hole." When we were learning one Sunday about some of the early pioneers of the Church who made the trek West and settled Utah, there are so many stories of women struggling and giving birth on the plains in covered wagons or out exposed to the elements... and what Zay got out of it was, "That just goes to show you that Mormons will always have sex. No matter the dire circumstances." It's true.

Anyway, another really good friend is pregnant with her 5th, but we didn't know her during the previous pregnancies... so it's kinda new to us for her to be pregnant... so it takes some adjusting. I'm excited, though - cuz Baby Girl is due almost the exact same day as her, so it would be awesome to have babies at the same time!

Our friends who tried for years to have a baby and had multiple failed IVFs were successful (triplets!) with the help of a surrogate, and about the time the triplets were 8 months old... they miraculously found out they're pregnant... they had no idea and used no fertility meds whatsoever and it just happened. I bawled when I found that out - in the best way possible. I couldn't believe the miracle. And it gave me so much hope to know that somehow Nature finds a way. It happens. Not on our timetable, but it does happen.

So, I guess wrapping our heads around these closer-to-home pregnancies has been interesting. I had to let my one friend know that she's going to have to be sensitive to me during her pregnancy, because complaining about every little discomfort is just not going to sit well with me. She's my business partner and I see her often. When she was talking about how uncomfortable she's been and how BIG she's gonna get, I started crying and said, "Try to remember that it's a huge sensitive subject for me. I would give anything to be pregnant." I surprised myself, really. Because I thought I was waaay past that (I mean, I purposely surrounded myself with pregnant women when I went to the Empowering Fearless Birth Conference and I was totally fine with that). But yep, there it was... that good ole sting to the heart. I told her, "Of course I'm happy for you, but it's conflicting." And I felt like a jerk.

More than anything, I'm happy for these friends. But that just goes to show what infertility can do to a person. When you're in a state that is seriously like the land of fertility.

Thankfully the feeling was just in passing and I haven't felt the same since. Life goes on. I'll get my turn! I'm absolutely certain of that.




Sunday, January 19, 2014

Home Study Update

Our caseworker contacted us and told us that it's been a year since we started our application with them, so it's time to update our adoption homestudy. She said, "You and Xavier have some decisions to make..."

I cannot believe it's been a year and we haven't had a baby placed with us. I mean, I know it takes awhile for a lot of couples. But for some reason I thought that wouldn't be us.

But here we are a year later. Lame.

Of course we updated the paperwork we needed to update, since we'll need it ready for the lawyers if we adopt Baby Girl. But this'll be the last time. Background checks and financial information. Our church leader's recommendation (LDS Family Services requirement). We paid the update fee. We had our caseworker come do a home visit and "inspect" us and our home (my home is never as clean as it is right before a homestudy visit!). And that just means we're "approved to adopt" again for another year.

But... we want to be done in March. No matter what happens with this pending adoption, we want to take our profile down after it's all said and done.

It's also possible that this adoption doesn't work out and then we could leave our profile up until it expires near the end of 2014 and see what happens...

But if we do that, our entire year will be consumed with adoption wondering and "what if's" and we can't do that to ourselves. Wait, but can we? No, no. Stop it. We can't.

And here's why.

If adoption was handled the way I think it should be handled, there would be no pre-birth matching with adoptive parents & expectant moms considering adoption. A woman would have 5 or 6 families in mind, she has her baby, decides for sure on adoption after having and holding her baby, signs relinquishment papers, and then her caseworker/lawyer calls up the first family to see if they are in a position to adopt that particular child. If not, the second family. Or third family. Someone will come to the hospital and adopt the baby and it'll be one of the expectant mother's top picks. And there wouldn't be any going back and forth about an adoption decision. And there wouldn't be any adoptive parents waiting in uncertainty about a specific situation/child that's going to be born. They'll just get a call about a baby and have to be there. If you want to adopt, you'll just have to be prepared to drop everything.

The "waiting along with the pregnancy" is just way, way too hard and potentially damaging to the expectant mother's decision-making capabilities. Who would want to disappoint a couple they'd gotten to know so well and mess up a friendship they've made? No one. If she has a change of heart but she goes through with it simply because "that's the plan," that's a terrible reason to place a baby for adoption. And she'll come to regret it. She needs to have the baby, see the baby, and know in her heart that adoption is the right choice first before she gets any adoptive parents involved.

It's possible to get a call about a baby that's already been born. It happens! All the time. But we have never received that kind of call. And we have a really, really hard time saying "no" to being matched to someone early in a pregnancy. Even when I told myself that it was best not to get involved early on. BIG SIGH.

If we don't have this deadline for ourselves, we are going to drive ourselves crazy. And keep "hanging in there" for other women's pregnancies, hoping we might be parents again some day, dealing with the ups and downs of their pregnancy hormones and life/family drama and whether or not they really want to place their baby for adoption. Nope, can't do it. There has to be an end to the madness and we've decided it's March. Unless something crazy happens soon (like one of those surprise "stork drop" calls - "There's a baby here for you, come and pick him/her up."), we will be adopting Miss H's daughter or we won't be adopting at all.

Whew.

P.S. - I just changed the blog design. It was feeling cluttered and sometimes the text was hard to read because of the funky background I had on there, so I tried to make it look more simple and organized. I think it's cute!! Almost five years into blogging and I still haven't made my blog a good resource for anything, so I'm working on that! I want my blog to have a point. So I made navigation buttons for "Adoption" and "TTC Journey," but they don't link to anything yet. I want people to be able to come to my blog and have a great resource for learning from our story, so I'm gonna do some brainstorming to make that happen.

Screen Shot for those reading this in an RSS feeder or getting email updates.




Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Final 10 Weeks of Our Trying-to-Adopt Journey


This week Miss H is 30 weeks along!

It's been 24 weeks of getting to know her through emails, texts, and phone calls. Only 10 more weeks to go in her pregnancy and I'm sooo nervous!

I'm nervous for her, mainly. I want her to be comfortable and the pregnancy is super UNcomfortable for her right now. And she's been depressed and I wish there was something I could do to alleviate that. Trying to get her into proper counseling has not gone over well. So, I don't know. Talking to her, I'm just confused as to why she doesn't accept help.

I was totally right when I said that the waiting is the hardest part and that adoptive parents and expectant moms considering adoption shouldn't be "matched" early on in the pregnancy. But, for some reason we both felt it was the right thing to do to proceed with this situation. So here we are, waiting and hoping.

But this time around, I know for a fact that we will survive if it doesn't work out. We've been there, done that...
  • We know more than ever before that an adoption decision is not an easy one for a mother to make.
  • We know our marriage is stronger than it's ever been at this point and we can weather anything that comes our way.
  • We know our life with Kal is amazing just as it is and all we could really ask for.
All we're worried about is Baby Girl and her mother, no matter what Miss H ultimately decides. It's hard to explain, but something about these stories - what brings someone to an adoption decision - brings out all the empathy in the world from me. And brings out the tenderness in Zay. We want the best for Miss H. I hope she can reach all the goals she has for herself after this pregnancy and adoption. I hope she can be strong and face head-on all the challenges that are still to come.

We decided we're done trying to adopt an infant domestically after this and that is SUCH a huge relief. To know that in 10 weeks time, this crazy emotional journey of adding to our family in this way will be over... WHEW. I'm ready to close this chapter. We still think international adoption and foster-to-adopt will both be a part of our future. And trying fertility treatment again. But for now, we need the break from "trying." This whole thing can be excruciating sometimes.

I started this blog back in 2009 when we were first trying to adopt. Man, it's been a long journey. If every woman who thought we ought to be the parents of her child had actually followed through with that, we'd have 5 kids already (plus this one on the way!)... so, it's been confusing and heartbreaking trying to figure out what paths to take and accepting when they weren't the right ones. Our failed adoption last year was certainly the hardest to get over and the only one I'd really classify as a "failed adoption," because it fell through at the last minute.

It's been EXHAUSTING. But, it's almost over! Only 10 weeks to go and we'll have an answer about whether or not we'll have a daughter. Only 10 weeks to go and we'll be back in the South again. Only 10 weeks to go and we'll be able to relax and move forward with our lives, either as new parents (again!!) or with the realization that it'll just be the 3 of us for a good long while. Either way will work for us - we just wanna know for sure! ... ONLY 10 WEEKS!




*Cornrows by Alice Anne* - Part XII






latino braids





She said she wanted "a spider and a crown" braids. She always gives me interesting requests. So here's the spider part...

And the crown part... headband braid. :)

protective hairstyles braids cornrows
Sometimes they want similar designs to what their friends have (see girl above in the green shirt, ha ha)

heart braid cornrows design
She wanted "heart braids," so this is what I came up with. :) Plus bead colors she picked out.








Saturday, January 11, 2014

2013 Recap: Remembering the Positive

When I tried to recall anything positive from 2013 from off the top of my head, I KNEW there had to be a lot of good things! It just didn't go the way I had imagined it, so I wanted to write 2013 off as a terrible year full of the bad and the ugly. But that's not really true. And as I scan back through pictures and videos and blogs and journal entries from the year... I know it was a pretty dang good year after all. And I am thankful for everything that happened. Everything I learned. Every moment I got to spend with my husband and son. It was a good one! :)



Annnd, I made a ridiculously long recap of the year JUST to show myself how much good came of it. :) Feel free to NOT read all of this, ha ha!

...

January 2013

Most Popular Blog Post: Interview with an Adoptee: Andrew
I wanted to interview some of my friends who were adopted at birth and this was the interview that got me going! We've been friends with Andrew (we call him Wyatt, I'm sure I've mentioned him here at some point) for quite a few years. His story is one of those classic adoption stories in which he does not know anyone from his birth family at all and has very little details about them. He personally thanks us for what we try to do with Kal's adoption because he didn't have that and the closed nature of his adoption is always something that will make him feel like something's missing.

Highlights:
* I made a semi-sorta resolution to be more consistent in my communication with Kal's birth mom. So I decided what that really meant... and then sent a package of pictures and/or a letter and/or some of Kal's "art" once a month. Every month. Except December when we visited.
* We finished up our adoption paperwork to start "trying" for Baby #2 and halfway through January we were approved!
* I was so, so happy with my life and the way things were. (This feeling sort of disintegrates halfway through the year with adoption stuff, so I'm glad I can go back and see why and learn from it. The adoption journey just wasn't good for me last year.)

Work party w/Zay.


February 2013

Most Popular Blog Post: "I Love to See the Temple"
I shared a little bit about my religion, which I don't do often enough. Zay and I are both devout Latter-day Saints and it is a HUGE part of our lives.

Highlights:
* Had an awesome Groundhog Day! Lol. It coincided with Date Night with the hubby. Date Nights are sacred. It would be so much easier to have Date Nights if we lived close to family and had that kind of support system to turn to for babysitters. But we make it happen anyway.
* We got a washer & dryer. No more laundromats for us. This was a big deal! Renting vs. owning has meant not buying large appliances, but we finally did.
* Celebrated Zay's 31st birthday with a party. And I made him a Superman birthday cake! And burned his birthday dinner. Lol.
* A lot of adoption waiting and wishing for winter to be over. I didn't write about it, but I went out and tried to really, really enjoy the weather despite it being the winter that just would not end ... and I took a bunch of really pretty winter photos outside. I wanted to find the beauty in Utah winter, and I definitely did. I love where I live and I'll miss it when we inevitably leave. Wish I could find those pictures now, but I also came across this video of a photographer taking pictures around here and it's soooo pretty.

Video of Timpanogos Photography:


March 2013

Most Popular Blog Post: Interview with an Adoptee: Dan
This interview was SO much fun and I was so proud of the job I did on it! I had a tape recorder and a huge jumble of notes on the back of an old envelope and somehow I turned it into a coherent interview on paper that Dan was really impressed with. His story was very interesting. He was a little older when he was adopted and had his biological younger brother with him as well. He was hilarious to talk to. So glad I got to do this!

Hightlights:
* I made a basketball birthday cake (I cut so many corners with decorating that thing, ha ha) and we had a Chuck-E-Cheese birthday party for Kal's 2nd birthday. He was so overwhelmed and overstimulated, but didn't want to stop playing. It was so much fun. So many people came - it was a blast. 
* We had a fun Easter, including ditching Church halfway through to walk around the neighborhood and talk (don't think I wrote about that part, ha ha). Kal was so adorable Easter egg hunting. Small things like that make my heart melt.
* Lots of bday parties, lots of playdates. Busy, busy - the fun way!





April 2013

Most Popular Blog Post: The Best Adoption Scam Email I've Gotten Yet
There's always inevitably some fake adoption correspondence during the waiting-to-be-matched phase and this email totally took the cake. It cracked me up so hard that I literally started crying. I tried to read it to Zay with a straight face, but I couldn't. Lol. Sure hope Zahinah found what she was looking for...

Highlights:
* We started talking to and soon after were officially matched with an expectant mom who was 100% sure she wanted to place her baby for adoption and that she wanted us to be the parents. Happy, happy, joy, joy. Lol. I'm being sarcastic. But at the time, yes - it was very happy!


* Had lots of Date Nights!

Found this guy! Made Zay's day. Memories!

* More playdates! (They never end, really.)


* Had a "Georgia" reunion with some of my favorite girls from back home. :)

Kal's always flirtin'

* Kal figured out how to take selfies... his very first one! He he he...



May 2013

Most Popular Blog Post: Mother's Day Then & Now
I love being a mother. It is all-consuming in its exhaustion, but also in its LOVE. It has softened me in some ways and turned me into a bolder woman in other ways. I was always meant to be a mother. 

Highlights:
* I had an awesome Mother's Day weekend. I love my little family and all our friends who love us too. It was a very special day for me this year.
* We celebrated Baby #2 by trying out the new Popeye's that just opened out here - ABOUT TIME, Utah! Got some Louisiana cookin' in celebration of that Louisiana baby. :)
* My buddy Kayla and I officially started our Fat Squid business (I really need to update that blog!)



June 2013

Most Popular Blog Post: *Cornrows by Alice Anne* - Part IX
I have thrown myself into my work when it comes to braiding hair. And I do it constantly, day in and day out. I am grateful I have a talent that can support us while we're still in college mode. And hopeful for the day when I won't have to do it anymore. :) 

Highlights:
* Man of Steel Weekend - need I say more?? I can't even tell you how many times we've watched this movie. Too many to count. Seriously.


"Shoop man!" -- what Kal yells when he sees anything Superman related on a shelf

* Ate lots of good food! (all the time, really... but I love summertime and BBQ's/picnics)


Church activity.


* I finished up the very last days of my Hiking Challenge.
* We bought a minivan! Woot, woot! I love it.


* Went to a friend's mission farewell party. So proud of him!



July 2013

Most Popular Blog Post: Losing a Son, followed by Some Days I'm Not Okay

Highlights:
* I journaled through our adoption trip.
* Hiking Mt. Timpanogos! This was a seriously symbolic hike for me. I hiked to the top of a mountain that I have seen off in the distance for years. And I dominated that hike. That mountain was no match for me after a failed adoption.
* Ran a 5k, which was easy peasy after doing the Tough Mudder! This was super fun because all 3 of us got to do it as a fam.


* We started talking to another expectant mother (Miss H). I sort of hinted about that in THIS post. Thought it was weird that so soon after our failed adoption we were contacted again and we weren't really ready to commit to another adoption situation, but eventually we did. Baby #2 is gonna get here one way or another, dangit!

August 2013

Most Popular Blog Post: Cute Feet
This cracks me up, because I've gotten all kinds of traffic from people searching for "cute feet." I don't know how I feel about that, but it's pretty funny. Lol.

Highlights:
* I realized everything was going to be okay. And it is! It took time, but everything is MORE than okay. We are doing great. Suffering that loss really brought us closer. I know now more than ever before that Zay and I can get through anything. That we will stand stronger after trials. That our happiness is not dependent on external factors beyond our control. Happiness comes from within and we've found that. We've found a deeper compassion for each other's feelings. A stronger commitment to each other and our family. So much good came out of this experience.
* I made an awesome owl birthday cake for my buddy Kayla. I LOVE making cakes. I am a super beginner when it comes to cooking/baking ANYthing, but I love getting creative and making fun cakes, so hopefully I get enough practice and can really get good at it. It's so fun!

Don't slide off the seat, cake. Please! Ha ha.

* Visited Zay's work a lot and let Kal get addicted to video games, whoops!


* Went camping in the backyard and this was the only picture I took:


* Squeezed out all the last summer fun we could have!





Caught this hilarious FAIL, ha ha ha


September 2013

Most Popular Blog Post: Grief-Triggered Post Traumatic Stress, Anxiety, & Thyroid Issues

Highlights:
* Dyed my hair:


* Attended the Empowering Fearless Birth event as a vendor with The Fat Squid. Wrote about it HERE & HERE. I love being surrounded by informed, empowered women who are confident enough to make bold choices regarding their birthing experience(s). I met some amazing people and it was a very educating/empowering experience!

Our Fat Squid set up. It was super cute. :)

* I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Which explains a lot! As soon as I got on the right dose of thyroid meds (and quit playing around with my dosage!!), I immediately felt better. I may have to take medication every day for the rest of my life, but I would gladly do it to keep feeling the way I do now. Plus, this is an important discovery for my baby-makin' journey if/when we choose to pursue fertility treatment again! Thyroid problems are a roadblock to fertility.
* Got to snuggle with our friends' new baby:


How precious is he??

* I turned 28! I'm getting old! Ha ha.
* Enjoyed probably the one day it rained all year, lol:


* Kal had fun with friends, as usual:


* We borrowed a bike trailer and rode Kal all around town for a few weeks.





October 2013

Most Popular Blog Post: Thyroid Doctor's Appointment

Highlights:
* I started homeschooling Kal to get him ready for pre-school. He's been having so much fun with crafts and learning about all kinds of different subjects. We're kind of random about what we're learning, but Kal loves it and we have so much fun. The structure is great for him and he's learning to sit still and focus for at least a few minutes. Yay!
* Started to be slightly skilled in the kitchen! Made some meals that Zay actually said were AMAZING. Woot! Woot!

Turkey Burritos from THIS recipe at Mix and Match Mama's blog

* Jaker's pumpkin patch plus Cornbelly's:





* After 12 weeks of keeping it a secret, we announced that we're matched for another adoption. And we found out that Miss H is having a baby GIRL!!!
* Playdates galore... 2013 was the year of playdates. This boy has more friends than me!


* Many Target trips:



* And library trips:



* I made Kal's Halloween costume and took him to a couple parties. Zay was impressed with my last minute hot-gluing skills. Lol.

November 2013

Most Popular Blog Post:  Sunshine in a Bottle: Open Adoption Interview
I got to "meet" a fellow blogger and a birthmama of two beautiful kids! She exudes positivity and optimism about life and I LOVE THAT! That's usually how I try to be. :)

Highlights:
* I did a massive de-cluttering project on my house and parted with many, many old school papers that I couldn't bring myself to throw away until now. I miss school sometimes. I love learning and challenging myself mentally. One day I might have to go back and get my Master's. We'll see.

I even held onto scrap math paper... but no longer. I tossed it all and got rid of a LOT of junk. I was so proud of myself. :)

* I cooked a big Thanksgiving meal and had a beautiful, restful day with my little family. Loved it!
* I taught Kal how to groom the kitties, so they've been getting lots of extra attention. Moo Moo is such a pretty cat to be so FAT:


* We enjoyed some abnormally beautiful weather!



December 2013

Most Popular Blog Post:  Thyroid Update

Highlights:
* I found some closure about baby Neo.
* I took my chances with traveling alone with a toddler and Kal & I took a trip to Georgia together! Ahhhh, HOME!
* We had a successful Fat Squid month - lots of Christmas orders! Exciting!




* Kal graduated from his speech therapy.
* Christmas we were sick, but we still squeezed every single drop of fun out of the few days Zay had off work. :)
* New Year's Eve we spent with friends and had an AWESOME time. Kal stayed up till 1:30 that next morning and was seriously wiped out by the time we got to bed. I couldn't have imagined a better way to end 2013. I got to smooch with my man and laugh hard and really celebrate. Love our friends and the memories we've made with them. :)



Video of some New Year's Eve shenanigans:



"The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future." -- Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Best Is Yet to Be"




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