Friday, May 31, 2013

PG said it best

There's this guy you might have heard of...goes by the name of Pat Green. If you haven't heard of him I don't even know why we're friends except for the fact that you know I have good musical taste and you're trying to learn. PG sings a lot of truly great songs, and even if you don't like country music you have to admire him just for his ability to tell a story. However, before meeting Brad all I ever knew about PG was that he sang Wave on Wave, which is just about the only song of his that gets played on the radio--and that's a darn shame.

Anyway, Brad introduced me to the greatness that is PG very early in our dating relationship, and I can't be sure but I might have fallen in love with both BL and PG at the same time. That was probably the way Brad charmed all the girls, so I'm not thinking I was special in the PG love pyramid or anything; however, it's hard to deny his genius.

Early on in our relationship, I asked Brad what song best described him, and he grabbed his iPod from my hand--which, incidentally, made me all stupid-girl giddy when his hand brushed mine--then played PG's Crazy. It was a pretty perfect description of him if you ask me. And it was a pretty perfect description of the guy I wanted to marry.

And if I am truly crazy
Don't you know I like my life that way
And if I'm really going on out of my mind
Won't you hop on board and make your getaway. 

So yeah, Pat Green knows how to make a girl fall in love with a crazy person. Props to this guy.

Fast forward to today: We were cleaning, painting and sweating all over a house that we have to sell now that a renter moved out (part of the crazy life, let me tell you [As a side note, if you'd like to pray that we sell it for profit instead of loss I wouldn't be mad at all.]). My broken-screened iPhone was playing on shuffle to distract us from our heat- and paint-induced misery when this PG song came on:

I have stumbled on the plains
Staggered in the wind
Stood at a crossroad or two
Cried to a river
Swept to the sea
All just to get to you

I have flagged a yellow cab
Hopped a rusty freight
Sang till my lips turned blue
Flown a silver bird
On the tops of the clouds
All just to get to you

I ran too hard
I played too Rough
I gave my Love
Not near Enough
I bled too red
I cried too blue
I beat my fist
Against the moon
All just to get to you

I have run from St. Paul
To Wichita Falls
Call'd you from sunny Baton Rouge
Hocked everything
From my watch to my ring
All just to get to you

I ran too hard
I played too Rough
I gave you Love
Not near Enough
I bled too red
I cried too blue
I beat my fist
Against the moon
All just to get to you

From the California Shore
Where the mighty ocean roars
To the lands of the Hopi and the Sioux
I walked the desert sands
Crossed the Rio Grande
All just to get to you

I have stumbled on the plains
Staggered in the wind
Stood at a crossroad or two
Cried to a river
Swept to the sea
All just to get to you.

Little Congo babe, we might be crazy but we will do everything 30 times over--all just to get to you.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Channeling T. Swift

If you are friends with Brad on Facebook you might already know that we have suffered a bad breakup. There were broken promises, angry phone calls, unmet name it, we had it. The fallout began in early 2013, when we just couldn't see eye to eye, and it can best be summarized in a few lines from a song by T. Swift:

"Baby, I miss you and I swear I'm gonna change, trust me."

"Remember how that lasted for a day?"

Seriously, you've now experienced the full ups and downs of our relationship (minus the 6 hours spent on the phone discussing what went wrong).

So, DIRECTV, "We (eee) are never ever ever getting back together."

(Rush delivery of Bubble Guppies DVDs in progress.)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Costly, exhausting, expensive and outrageous

I guess you could say I was a little ticked yesterday. Well, really, I was more than a little ticked. I think I could have spit on a stranger (although I don't really ever see myself doing that, unless that stranger messed with my kids, then I'd probably do more than spit on him). Anyway, I was mad. I was frustrated and discouraged and everything else that is unbecoming to a woman. I'm going to explain what happened, but before I tell you the story, let me start by sharing what I re-posted to Facebook first thing yesterday morning.

I read that quote and said to myself, "Oh, that's a cute little quote about adoption so all of my Facebook friends can get a better picture of adoption and see that God paid a high price for us." Then I reposted and felt pretty good about it. However, I should have read it over and over again, then taken the hint from God that something big was going I happen yesterday. Specifically, I should have read this part more carefully: " costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous." Yes, what a great moment of foreshadowing from the Author. 

After reposting this, Brad, the Littles and I spent most of our morning trying to figure out where to get a physical done for our adoption. The physical is hardly more than a sports physical; the only difference is that you have to have some blood tests, a urinalysis and a TB test, then the documents have to be notarized. Not really a big deal, unless you don't have a family doctor. And we don't, mostly because we really don't care for prescribed medications unless they are absolutely necessary, and it seems that all doctors want to do is shell out meds (don't be offended if you're a doctor...thats just our experience).

But I digress...I spent much of last Thursday afternoon calling different clinics in our insurance plan to try to get set up for an appointment. I must have called at least 10 different places (every clinic under our insurance plan in our main city, for the record), and none of them would work for us, either because they weren't able to add us as new patients or they couldn't get us in until August or later. I found one place who could get us in but they didn't have a notary and it wouldn't be until after this Friday. Well, I'm impatient and just wanted to cross this thing off my list, so those answers didn't work for us either. Walmart's walk-in clinics did our physical for Brody's adoption, but they no longer do adoption physicals, and a few other places I called said they don't do them either. So, after asking my school nurse about it without positive results, we were down to a walk-in clinic and a another local clinic suggested by a friend. We went to the suggested clinic first: You have to already be a patient in order to be seen. Ok, on to the walk-in clinic, which advertised $40 sports physicals without insurance needed. This would be fine, we thought. $80, and we would be done with it. We get there, and they tell us our insurance won't cover the physicals. Ok, that's fine. How much will it cost? "$149 each," they say. Our thought process: "YUCK. But we have to get this done, and this seems to be the only option unless we want to wait even longer, so we will just suck it up." 

Fast forward an hour (with two kids ages two and under in tow, mind you, we weren't exactly feeling fresh and relaxed), I get to the counter to pay. Brad went ahead to the car to get the kids settled.

"That'll be "$670.88," says the clerk.

Me: WHAT?!? She told us it would be $300" (And let's be honest, $300 was already ridiculous considering the fact that they just check our height, weight and blood pressure!)

Her: "I'm sorry she told you that, but that didn't include the lab work."

Me (in my head): She looked at the physical form and KNEW we would have to have blood work. How could she not tell us? Why would you not tell us??!! This is truly ridiculous and I will spit in your face and walk outta here without a second thought.

Me (what really happened): "If I would have known that I would not have done this physical here. That hurts, but I can't do anything now." I said it very calmly. I should have caused a scene, then gone back to talk to the doctor (who, by the way, had adopted from Guatemala). 

Then I proceeded to go to the car and let one little tiny tear escape from my eye because I should have asked more questions; I should have called a few doctors we knew to ask for a favor (I HATE asking for favors! --Hurts my pride.); I should have been patient; I should have gone back in that building and demanded a refund because the receptionist didn't give us the whole truth. Coulda shoulda woulda.

Brad was just as ticked as I was, but all he said was it's over. Can't do anything about it now, so it's best to move on. (I love it and hate it that he doesn't stress.)

It happened.
It was expensive.
It has been and will be worth it.

Later that day I was thinking about that stupid expense, and I realized that I haven't really batted an eye at the fact that this adoption is slated to cost about $35,000-$38,000, but I got ticked because of a few hundred dollars. If I trust God to provide $30,000, shouldn't I trust him to erase the sting of a $670.88 physical? I think it hurt most because it was so unexpected, yet the task should have been so easy. If I know something is coming, I deal with it much more effectively and with a much more sober mind than if it's just dropped in my lap like a hot coal. I just didn't know this expense was coming.

Or did I? I don't think it was any coincidence I posted the quote earlier that day. I should have paid more attention to this part: "It's costly, exhausting, expensive and outrageous."

Because it is, and we know it. It has cost us some extra days and nights of relaxation and maybe a better kitchen or updated bathroom. The paperwork, planning, and money management can be exhausting. It's definitely expensive, and some things about adoption are definitely outrageous. But somewhere in the Congo there is (or will soon be) a small child who will be redeemed from a life as an orphan to a life as a son or daughter. And we will get to call that child our child. And it's worth it.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Why siblings?

As a follow-up to yesterday's Why the Congo, today's question is "Why siblings?"

Most people think we are absolutely nuts for saying we will adopt more than one child at a time, but we always reiterate that the chances of that happening are slim, considering the fact that not many adoptions out of the Congo are sibling groups. That said, here are reasons we are open to a sibling group:

First of all, not many couples are open to adopting multiple children at one time. That's not to say that it's never done, but there are definitely more people who want to adopt just one child at a time, and that's why we are open to more than one if need be. We might only get one child, but we don't want immediately say no when there is a sibling group that shouldn't have to be separated. Those kids have already been through enough, so we'd hate to see families separated when we could do something to keep them together. Now, as a disclaimer, this could go nuts in several ways, leaving us with an overwhelmingly expensive adoption and multiple new mouths to feed, but we are open to learning about sibling groups even if we ultimately decide it's not what's best for our family. We will take into account Brody's age, as we have read a little bit about birth order and the effects of adding a child to your family who is older than your oldest child. It can, for some children, be a huge adjustment and cause added stress to an already stressful situation, so we will have to look at things on a case-by-case basis. since Brody just turned two, the odds are slim that we'll get a referral for a sibling group with all siblings under his age, but it does seem to be the year of multiple births, so we aren't throwing that option out. (As a side note, the Pregnancy Care Center, at its annual banquet, reported several multiple births--one set of triplets was SAVED in China due to their efforts there--and my friend, Kelley--one of the funniest people I've ever met--is pregnant with twins! BTW, she will be a hilarious and amazing mother! I can't wait to read her future status updates...)

Secondly, we really think it would be good to adopt at least two children from the same place so they will be with someone familiar to them through the adoption process and later in life as they learn about their home country. I touched on this in my last post, but when a child is adopted it's not all smooth sailing ahead. There are some serious adjustment and attachment "issues" which must be dealt with, and I am of the opinion that it might be better for the children if they have a sibling/friend alongside them who can relate. I haven't really done much research in that area, so I probably will do that in the future. However, as of right now, we have told our agency we are open to siblings, and if the time comes and we have a referral for siblings we will do some intense investigating and Truth-seeking to determine what's best.

As I have said, the chances are pretty slim that we will get a referral for siblings, but crazier things have happened, and we seem to be the asterisk in most situations, so we shall see.

I leave you with one of Brody's favorite words (which he uses when he has a cup of juice in his hand): Cheers!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why the Congo?

As more and more people learn about our quest to adopt from the Congo we are often asked this question (in addition to several others about foreign adoption in general): Why the Congo?

I don't have any overly spiritual answers to that question, nor do I have a full explanation of our desire to parent a Congolese child or children, but I can give you a tiny glimpse into my heart (My husband might have to speak for himself in a guest post, but I believe we are pretty similar in this.).

So, why do I want to adopt from the Congo?

First of all, I want to parent another child. Make no mistake about that, I am excited to be a mommy again.

Secondly, my gut is telling me to do it. My gut, which I believe is truly the Holy Spirit, makes my heart hurt for all motherless and fatherless children, but ever since I laid eyes on a child who was adopted from the Congo (back when Brad and I were still struggling to complete our first adoption), I have been somewhat obsessed with adopting from there myself. My mom told me about the couple who had adopted her....the man worked at my parents' office and my mom had just been sent a picture of the little girl with her new dad. My mom then sent me the picture, and when I saw it my heart did a little back flip for joy that the beautiful little girl had a family. She had sparkling eyes and a rosebud mouth that seemed to pout a bit as she looked at the camera. I was deeply sad that she had spent any amount of time without a mom or dad, but more than anything I was thrilled that she now had a forever family. I hoped that her apprehensive pout would be replaced with a big grin in the next picture because she would realize how great life could be with her family. (Can you imagine being pulled from what you've always known by people you've never met? It is baffling to think about that small window of transition for a small child who doesn't understand that this exchange will change her life for the better forever.) I can tell you that I have seen that little girl recently, and she is definitely smiling! I want to make someone smile like that.

Third, I have always had a "thing" for Africa. I feel like that is a total cliche, but I have always said I would go there on mission and I fully intend to do so (hopefully through the mission of adoption). In fact, Brad and I signed up for a mission trip with our church to go to Senegal over Christmas in 2009, but after finding out we were pregnant then having a miscarriage a few weeks before the trip we felt the need to back out, leaving our downpayment and excitement behind. It would have been a very difficult trip given the circumstances. That experience has always left me feeling like I missed out, and I believe it was God's way of telling me that great things would come (beauty from ashes), but not yet. Patience, Jenny.

Fourth, have you done any investigating into the crisis in Congo? Google around and you'll find some startling statistics. There are 5 million orphans, and 1 in 5 children do not make it past 5 years old...War and conflict...Child militias...Deaths from treatable and preventable disease. It hurts to see the hurt. But it helps to help.

**I must mention here that we have spoken to people who have adopted from DRC (The Congo), even some who have adopted through our agency, and we feel confident that the ethics involved are solid, meaning children are not being "sold," ripped from relatives' hands, mistreated, or abused, and the people involved are truly trying to do what's best for kids (even if it means finding true relatives instead of determining a child to be adoptable...because that's GOOD for the child!). If you wonder why I even mentioned this, take a look at this blog from Jen Hatmaker. And thanks to Ashley for cluing me in on the greatness of Hatmaker's writing.

And there's something I hadn't thought about, but just so happens to be true: The official language of the Congo is French. Guess who "coincidientally" took four years of French in high school, but may or may not remember it? This girl. (And to think, I have always wondered why I chose French instead of Spanish, the more "useful" of the two languages. I should have known...)

Incidentally, I will always remember this phrase: Je t'aime. That means "I love you," and I will say it over and over and over to our current children and to the next little(s) we will add to our little Lotz home.

Congo dossier checklist

It's been a busy few weeks, but somewhere between our home visit and now we received our Congo dossier guide (Yahtzee!). The dossier (pronounced "doss-ee-ay") is, in short, a collection of legal documents. It is usually presented to the government of the country from which you are adopting at the time of your request to adopt.
Isn't the Congo's flag pretty? (And does anyone else notice
that the one on the right is lower than the one on the left? It came like that...Ah!

The dossier for the Congo is not nearly as extensive as one from most other foreign countries, but it will take us some time to complete. Below is the list of necessary documents:

The list may not seem that long (and it could definitely be worse!), but the content makes for a somewhat lengthy process. For example, we have to physically visit the Department of Health for certified birth certificates. (I suppose we could technically send a request by mail, but it seems faster to just go to the office and take care of it. I don't like to wait on the mail. Too out-of-my-control.) We also have to visit our county's Recorder of Deeds for a certified marriage certificate. You see the trend. 

We have to gather a few other legal documents and write a letter to the Congolese government, in which we describe our family, community, and home and then tell the government about our desire to adopt. We also have to take some pictures of our house, our family, etc. They request very specific pictures, in that we can't be wearing shorts/short skirts, shoulders should be covered, and we should be dressed up or in business casual attire. (This is a good excuse for us to take some pictures as a family...I don't have enough of those pics because we don't take the time to get them.)

After all documents have been gathered we have to get about 70% of the documents notarized in a very specific way. Our dossier guide spends a lot of time addressing notarization and the specific qualifications with which that the notary must comply. If the notary doesn't do it right, we have to gather documents again to redo it. 

To our notary, whomever you are, DON'T MESS IT UP! 

No pressure. 

As for the home study, we are pretty much done with it. We got our fingerprints done last Thursday and we will get our medicals this week. Zynga!! 

If you would like to follow along through our adoption process, check out this link. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Lotz to do

I know a lot of you have probably been losing sleep about the fact that I haven't posted in over a week. (Riiight....)

Whatever. :o) I know you all have lives, and if you're anything at all like me your life is moving at the speed of light. A quick post to let you know what we've been up to:

  • Completed our home visit from our adoption agency two weeks ago, and we've been working on finalizing paperwork ever since. (Did you know that pets have to be cleared by a bet for a home study? I had forgotten that, but it's just as silly now as it was the first time we had to do it.)
  • Got our paperwork notarized and our fingerprints done for our home study. Last thing to do is to have a physical, then our part of the home study will be done.
  • Received information about our dossier. I'll share more with you as I get stuff done. It's a decently long list of documents we have to gather and have notarized, so I'm waiting for a day off from work to get on that pretty intensely. 
  • Contacted a t-shirt company about creating t-shirts for an adoption fundraiser and for the volleyball team. I emailed the recommended company early last week and haven't heard back from the them yet, so I might be taking my business elsewhere. (Does that make me impatient or just task-oriented? Let's get things done, people.)
  • Been feeding chickens and scaring off midnight visits from owls. Score so far: Owl-2; Lotz's-0.
  • Been gearing up for the end of the school year, which really means the beginning of volleyball pre-season (starting in June).
  • Brecken's been pulling up every second. He thinks he's big stuff and tries to creep around on the furniture a bit. Pretty funny because he just grins and grins. However, he had ear infections in both ears when we took him in for his last checkup. We detest using meds when we don't have to, so we've been putting garlic oil in his ear to kill the bacteria. We thought we had it beat, but with his second tooth coming in he seems to be pulling on his ear more and more. I finally broke down on my "no-meds" standards and started the amoxicillin we were prescribed several weeks ago. I hate giving and taking unnecessary medicine, but I also think he's battled this thing long enough (and the nannies have battled his less-than-always-happy disposition with the ear pain long enough, too. Not that they ever complain...they are so great!).
    • Does anyone have any other treatment ideas besides garlic oil and hydrogen peroxide? I'd love to hear from you on this! We also give our kids multivitamins and probiotics, sometimes grapeseed extract and acidophilus as well. Celebrated Mother's Day, Cinco de Mayo and my nephews birthday all in one. (Multitasking at its finest.) I'm so happy to have an amazing mom and to be a mom to two amazing little Lotz's. Can't wait for the next little feet to enter our crazy Lotz life.
  • Packed up my parents' house and brought home all of my junk from my old bedroom. Trophies, notes from high school and college, class papers, etc. you name it, I probably had it stashed away in their basement. And now it's all in my garage. 
  • Bought a car. Yep, got a Toyota Avalon for a good price from people who turned out to be our neighbors down the road (so we can go bang on their door if the car doesn't treat us right...kidding, we don't plan to do that). We liked the truck, but we must sell it ASAP (so we can submit our dossier with $$$). Since we both travel a decent distant to work the gas prices were KILLING us. 

Need some visuals? More of what we do...
Watch some Pirate baseball games. (Branson Pirates = District Champs!)
Get muddy via the Warrior Dash. (I would play in mud
more often if it was even remotely acceptable for a grown woman.)
Note: Brad's shorts are shorter than mine.

It was FREEZING. Then we went to get sprayed off 
by that water truck behind me. Yowza. 
Take-your-breath-away frigid. 

 I admire his confidence while acknowledging the awkwardness.

Party with the family. 
Love/annoy Banjo (our indoor-turned-outdoor cat)
Clean the floors (since Banjo is now outside and doesn't do it anymore)

Play with goats and new friends
(That's Sveta, and she is awesome! She and her sister were adopted from
Ukraine a while back and her parents are now in the process of adopting her brother. Yay!)
I didn't really see this ending well, but it did. Two charmers, right there. 

The one-handed hold by Brecken. He thinks he's something. 

Oh...wait. What's that? That is our newly-cleaned BRASS faucet in the master bathroom. She's a beaut, I know. We will go ahead and tackle that bathroom to get rid of that brass (and its counterparts) someday when our adoption is complete. For now, we revel in the cleanliness of it. Thanks again to my friend for sending her cleaning lady to my house. She knew I was stressin'/overloaded for a bit there, and boy does a clean house make me happy happy happy!! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cloth diapers--What we do with poo

Secretly, I used to make fun of the modern cloth diaper movement with all of its new-mom idealists and tree-hugging, all-natural, hippie-types. (This was several years ago, mind you.) I obviously didn't understand why anyone would want to REUSE something that housed poo. 'Throw that thing directly out the window and never see or smell it again!' I thought.
Then my favorite blog at the time, Young House Love, posted something about using cloth diapers, and a few of my Facebook friends posted thoughts about cloth, so I gradually caught on to the fact that cloth diapering wasn't as far-fetched and idealistically ridiculous as I had originally thought. I decided, after we'd settled in a bit with Brody (since we didn't have much time to plan ahead with him) to look into this weird cloth revolution. I needed to at least look into it, and thus began the research and experimentation process. Sure, cloth diapers were a cute little idea and would save some space in a landfill and--more importantly to us--save bundles of cash in the long run, but could we really handle the extra work (and poo) associated with them?

The final answer: Yes! I am loving them, the boys look cute in them (priorities, people), and they really aren't all that much more work. They make for more laundry, but when I'm already doing 37 loads a week (might be a slight exaggeration, but might be completely accurate), a few more loads isn't going to kill me.

Here's what we do (but it is just based on personal preference). We use Kawaii Baby, FuzziBunz, and BumGenius All-In-One and pocket diapers. (Tried prefolds and still use them sometimes, but those aren't great for a squirmy little guy like Brekkie.) When they're wet or dirty we wash them together in the washer with hot water in two rinse cycles, then let then air dry.

What do we do with the "poo?" We drop it off in the potty, sometimes use a cup of water to pour/drown it out of the diaper, then wad the diaper up and throw it in a waterproof bag with a drawstring. IT SOUNDS WAY WORSE THAN IT REALLY IS. Without sharing a lot of unnecessary information while still giving you the details you might want to know, the poo tends to stick together and comes off easily (truly!) when we shake it over the potty. Then we let the washer do the hardest part, which is rinsing the diaper completely clean.

Cloth diapers aren't for everyone, and you might have to search around before you find what you like, but they are a pretty good investment, particularly if you have more than one babe. We have both Littles in them until Brody can remember to tell us when he has to go...but that's a whole other post.

To sum it up, they are easier to use than I imagined, cute, and economical. (I am super pumped about never needing to spend another $50-70 out of the monthly grocery budget on disposables again.) I don't even think you need one of those fancy diaper sprayers many people add to their toilets, but that's personal preference, too.

If you have any questions about cloth diapers, I'd love to answer them for you.

Lastly, an update in the adoption front: The home visit portion of our home study went well on Monday, and we just need to get a few more documents gathered and filled out, including medical exams and a statement from a bet that Banjo, "the outdoor kitty formerly known as the indoor kitty," isn't nuts. Also received an amazing donation from an "anonymous" donor this morning. God is workin' it.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I can explain

It seems as though I have some explaining to do. My tweets in the last few weeks have included the following:

"Paid $700 for part of our adoption last week. Received 2 checks (1 was tax return) totaling $701 today. Coincidence? I don't think so. #trust"

"Just found out we owed $1,500+ for Brecken's Synagis shots...BUT, there's a program that pays up to $2,000. Coincidence? I don't think so."

"Did anyone else just find a decently large check from the government in their freezer? Cause I did. #adoptionprovision #again"

Allow me to explain.

We paid for our home study during our first home study visit with our social worker in mid-April. The cost was $700 (down from $1,500 because we already have one on file through the agency...just had to update it). The next week we got two checks in the mail: One was from our 2012 state tax return--$501--and the other--$200--was from my friend and her husband (I really only know through the www, but we have all sorts of connections...yet we have never hung out--shame!). If you're counting, we paid $700, got $701 back the next week.

The next week I got a voicemail on my phone from the pharmacy that provided us with Brecken's RSV shots (Synagis), which were VERY expensive, as you may remember from this post. When I heard the voicemail I knew why they were calling: I was pretty sure we owed them some money for expenses in 2013, as our insurance deductible and max out-of-pocket/co-pays started over in January; however, I hadn't yet received a bill. Ever since Brecken's 9-week-early arrival and 5-week stay in NICU, I have basically planned to pay at least $200 per month toward medical bills. Most months, particularly in the beginning, we paid five or six times that amount to different entities related to the hospital, birth, or prolonged health monitoring. (He is doing great, for the record.) ANYWAY, when I called back the lady at the pharmacy told me she'd called about my account.

I took a deep breath an waited for the blow. "Your balance is $1,500-something (that part got blurry as I listened and said "dang it" in my head), but I would like to offer you some assistance through the Synagis copay assistance program. That program will pay up to $2,000 of the expenses you're responsible for in order to assist you; I just have to have your permission to enroll you."

Me: "You need my permission? Hmmm, let me think about it...yep, that'd be amazing." And now we owe nothing (to them anyway).

Fast forward to yesterday. We had our home study visit, in which the social worker comes to the house to make sure it's safe for kids. I wrote a check for $750 to finalize our agreement to work with this particular agency for our adoption. Our social worker reminded me that she needed copies of Brody and Brecken's social security cards for the file, so after she left I went about trying to find them. One was in my official filing system, but the other was in the freezer, where some people store things to keep them safe, fireproof, etc. (Is that weird that we store some documents there?)

As I looked for the SS card, I found something that looked like an official government document, but it wasn't anything I usually saved. I looked closer: Those were numbers on the side and it was from the United States Treasury. OH YEAH! This was the first check the government had sent us after filing our 2011 taxes, which included a house sale, purchase, and a crazy adoption. They sent that check, which we knew wasn't anything near what we'd claimed (adoption tax credit alone is near $13,000), while we gathered proof of expenses for them to send the rest. We held onto the check in a safe place--hence the freezer--while they looked at all of our documents that proved we truly did spend a crazy amount on Brody's adoption. We tend to be skeptical, so we wanted to make sure they didn't penalize us for cashing the check before we got all of the expected amount from them. After gathering more documentation for them to review and waiting several months for their response, we finally received the full amount of our federal return. However, because it took so long we definitely FORGOT about the check in the freezer, which was almost twice as much as the check I had just written for our agency. Yahtzee!

When I found it last night Brad and I might have done a happy dance. He says it MIGHT take all of the amount to fix his trick (which keeps stalling at stop lights!) or to re-carpet a rental house he owns with his dad and needs to sell (quickly and at the right price, please!) because the renter is moving out, BUT it's money we didn't know we had and we are thankful for the extra bit of cushion it will provide for stuff that sometimes goes wrong or--more excitingly--adoption costs.

Monday, May 6, 2013




1. A combination of hippie and hillbilly, associated originally with Charles Bradlee AKA "Brad" Lotz.
2. One who hates shaving and wishes to live outdoors in underwear and overalls only, and one who prefers that babies be dressed in either overalls with no shirt or solely diapers. This particular type of person is often happy with what he has and, most times of the year, has a long beard in  which food particles can be hidden. Hippbillies farm and hunt for food.
Notes: Hippbillies do not smoke weed, nor do they associate themselves with the political or religious beliefs of the hippie movement. Unlike the hillbilly (in its more negative description), hippbillies do not eat roadkill, and they do not believe that "all you need is love."

Friday, May 3, 2013


I don't know about you, but I need a break. In the past few weeks I have really felt pretty good about where I am mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally...not that I am perfect or anywhere near it, but I have felt content, ready for even more growth, and excited for the future.

Then, seemingly outta nowhere, the weight of the world jumped on my back. Dang it. It's heavy.

Seriously, life has been kicking my tail in the last few days. So far the only thing that has helped me relax is a surprise visit from Andy's, in the form of chocolate, fudgy, peanut butter and frozen custard deliciousness. But that's only a quick fix (and I had to eat it in melted form because there were kids to put in bed and dinner to store away and peed-in big boy undies--not Bradlee's--to toss in dirty piles) so I guess I need to either get over it or get a tube that directly injects Andy's into my bloodstream.

Let me explain this weight. It is not a 45 lb plate. It is a backpack full of 2- and 3-pound-dumbells full of worries and stupid stressors that seem to rest solely on the tensed right side of my trapezius muscle. As an introvert, my mind is always in motion, and the biggest conflicts in my life all happen within the synapses of my left and right hemispheres. It's not that anything life-changing has happened; it's just that I allow little things to add up. Work is always kind of tense in the last few weeks of school, and I definitely feel the tension in the air when I walk in every morning; in Spring I am always in volleyball pre-planning/stressing mode about getting summer schedules done and getting plenty of girls involved, then thinking about all the time I'll be away from my boys; life is busy with tons of extra activities dragging us all over; the house is a wreck with projects that I've started and never finished; laundry seems unmanageable; my feet and socks stick to the ground all over our house (stinkin' juice!); and the boys have been a bit sick and more cranky and needy than usual.

Quite frankly, right after posting about why Brad and I aren't Parents of the Year, I have felt overwhelmed with the "little stuff" and very inadequate in all areas of life. (As a side note, it turns out I actually lied in that earlier post. We did get Brody a Christmas present; it was a Tom Brady jersey, which Brad might have like more than Brody did. And for the record, our family spoils our kids, and we are thankful for them. Takes the pressure off of us!)

I have heard that extra stress seems to add up a lot when families decide to adopt, because the enemy doesn't like it and wants to destroy plans that will glorify God. That might or might not be happening here, but it is interesting to think about. After all, your marriage is really your greatest ministry. I believe the Enemy wants to destroy that ministry.

I'm not really sure why I've even written all of this for the world (or just 80 people or so) to read except that writing has always been my best form of therapy, and also because of this: Several people have mentioned to Bradlee or me that we are so selfless, faithful and whatnot. Not true. I can only speak for myself here, but I have to keep it real: I struggle. I am selfish and judgmental. I wonder why God has put me in certain situations and given me certain well-intentioned desires that might never get fulfilled, and I wonder what I'm really supposed to do in my life (moving to Africa to start an orphanage seems a bit far-fetched, but isn't there something I can do to use my God-given passions?) But I also recognize that these are just feelings, not truths. The truth is I am the child of a great God who still loves me, despite my feelings about the craziness.

**Do not call in a psychologist...I just need a vacation. Or a maid.