Wednesday, July 31, 2013

WHW 7

A quick post from the car (I'm not driving people) en route to my brother- and sister-in-law's house to prepare for a garage sale this Thursday-Saturday. Yay, garage sales. You all know how fun those are to organize, right?

My head is about to explode with all that's going on in life right now. We are busy, but isn't everyone? 

In addition to the normal SS lesson prep and education coursework each week entails for Brad, he's been meeting with a lot of people from church this week. (I don't know how he does all of this without stressing!) Counseling, leading, fixing the world's problems, you know? So that's kept us busy, meaning that's kept him driving to and from Springfield multiple times a day and it's kept me chasing two kids around while trying to multitask, which puts me in a very pensive mood. You'd think I'd learn and not even try to master tasks while alone, but I just know there's a ton to get done before practice and school start back up and I want to try to get at least caught up before getting ridiculously behind again. (Because I hate getting behind, especially when I come home from practice an just want to hang with the boys.) Brad's heart is in the very right place in discipling people, so I need to get my heart there, too, and do my part to allow that to happen instead of stressing about what is or isn't getting done in our own house. As I type that now, I realize how very selfish that sounds. It is, and I'm working on it. (Honesty, people. I told you it was coming.)

This week, I've also been working with my friend to create an online flea market booth of sorts...Flea Fifty-Three...watch for it. 

Also...Working on fundraisers for this adoption. Lots of ideas with little time to get them planned, organized and executed. 

Also, a few more adoption fundraising shirts to deliver, and a few more to order. If you want one, let me know! There's still time. 

Also, we've been communicating with our agency about that last document for our home study. Someone in Georgia is going down. (Not really a threat, people. Relax.)

Also, working on plans for the upcoming vb season and filling out about 35 questionnaires for every journalist in SW Missouri. (Why can't there be a uniform questionnaire for all of them?!?)

Also, water flooded the crawl space in the house we are selling and we need to mow the lot, get rid of some dead bugs, and fix the back door handle. Sorry, realtor, we are way behind. But we are behind in everything so don't take it personally.

Also, had some friends over Monday night. It was fun but three trips to the grocery store and 24 burned Hawaiian Ham Sliders later I've learned a few things: 1--This is why we shouldn't entertain (but we still do); 2--This is why when we do entertain we order pizza; 3--I'm calling it: Oven broilers will be the death of me. 

Also, we've got a couple of sick kids to add to the madhouse, so we are wiping snot from virtually every surface and washing a lot of clothes and sheets. Not to mention the fact that when we entertained on Monday I did, in fact, have dried snot on my shirt from the hours before. Neat. 

At times like this I like to remind myself that this too shall pass, and I'll miss these times when they're gone. I won't really miss the snot, but I will miss the snuggles. This is all-too evident right now, as my summer time with the boys is quickly drawing to an end. I'm trying not to think about it. 

Also, I've solidified my tattoo idea. Sorry Dad. 

That's What's Happening Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

reality bites

This is not a fun post. This is a post about some things that are happening in the news, just in case you, like myself, tend to avoid real news in favor of light-hearted blogs or Facebook posts about how to preserve your child's fingerprints in Jello. (Whoa, cynicism alert. I'm reading a book, ok? Details later.)

This news bites, but sometimes reality bites. If you have kids you know that biting hurts, but it warrants attention, if nothing else. So here is the biting news that warrants your attention, even though you might have come my way for some fluff (which I generally give you, in all reality). I'm sure I'll get some more fluff in by the end of the week, but I want you to know that we don't live our life in a bubble of fluffy happy thoughts. We enjoy life and we are extremely thankful for what we've been given--yes--but we also recognize the hurts of others and sometimes wonder how best to help them or their situation.

I'm referring to this story from Fox news, which you probably didn't even hear about it because not many people seem to be talking about it. (And if you don't trust Fox you can find it here, here, or here.) It explains how the FBI rescued 105 children, the youngest of which was nine years old, from a child sex trafficking ring that included 76 US cities and 150 pimps. This is disgusting. And depressing. And heartbreaking. And truly hard to imagine in America.

Do you know where most of the children who were preyed upon were from? They were from foster homes or they were runaways. That's a fact shared in the first article. In my very humble opinion, it boils down to this: they lacked family. I'm not talking about a foster family. They lacked a true, loving family to which they belong forever. Can you imagine what it's like to exist in a family without knowing what your future holds regarding a family? Imagine just staying there but not being able to call anyone who cares for you "Mom" or "Dad." Such an uncertain life. Or imagine knowing you're just in a foster family for a while because your biological parents couldn't or wouldn't make you a priority. This puts you either in a foster family or out on the streets because your own parents wouldn't provide the basic necessities, a category in which I include love and affection. Imagine living in a family without affection or with abuse and neglect, so much so that you'd rather live alone. It's enough to make kids go searching for their own forms of affection, and they'll usually find it, although it might be a counterfeit kind of "love" or "affection" that only lasts a little while.

So these slimey low-lifes see a hole in a kid's life, a need for a sense of belonging and affection, and they prey on them, coercing them into a lifestyle that they'll never get out of unless there is some sort of huge 76-city intervention. Thank God for that.

Foster care parents, this obviously isn't your fault, so don't misinterpret me. This sort of thing doesn't happen because you don't do your job as foster parents or because you don't care enough about the welfare of children, or even because you aren't planning to adopt the kids you've cared for. You are doing what you can to help, and you are OBVIOUSLY doing amazing things in the lives of children. We--not to mention the kids you're caring for--are absolutely thankful for the care you give those who cannot repay you. This sort of thing just happens when families do not function in the way they were intended and when slimeballs get their grimey hands on kids.

Don't let the fancy American houses and manicured lawns fool you, our nation is sick. And the worst part, to me, is that I don't know what to do about this problem. We--my husband and I--are adopting from Africa because we know the likelihood of an orphan being forced into sex slavery or dying from some easily treatable disease is high. But what about America's children? I, obviously naive to a lot of American problems because I avoid the depressing news, had no idea that so many children in our own nation were being coerced to become sex slaves.

But we can only do what we can do. So, really, foster parents, I applaud you like never before. You are doing what you can do, and that might just mean you are changing a life by providing a home. You might be changing five lives, or 25 lives, even hundreds of lives over the course of history. Through adoption, we believe we have changed the course of Brody's life, we are doing what we can for one child or more in Africa, and I can continue to make a stink about what's happening in America and abroad so the people who might read my fluff from time to time can also read about the kind of reality that bites.

I don't write so that you will adopt or become a foster parent or FBI investigator. I don't even write so you'll comment or repost. I write because this is reality, it bites, and writing is the one thing I feel like  I can do to help the cause. Because when you can't do it all, you do what you can.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Happy Birthday Baby Brekkie!

After we bought "mango baby brekkie" snacks a few months ago, Brecken soon had a new nickname, which has officially stuck past his first birthday. I'm not sure how long it will last; hopefully somewhere close to his 18th birthday.

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We celebrated Baby Brekkie's first birthday last Friday night with our family at my parents' house. It also happened to be my parents' 45th wedding anniversary. Something tells me they were completely ok with having all of their kids and grandkids at their house to help them celebrate their 45 years of marital awesomeness. (I am telling you, my parents are THE BEST.)

You know how some super-cool moms put together a themed first birthday party, complete with blown-up photos of the child's first year and personalized treats for every guest? I am not that mom. I attempted a relatively themed birthday party for Brody on his first birthday, but after a car accident and a kind of "sick" that I'd never experienced before, I realized that people seemed to have a good time even without the cracker jack boxes and baseball banner that I'd planned to incorporate. So this time, with a lake trip with friends and then a vb camp right before the party, I decided not to stress and just picked out a Sam's cake with fruits, veggies and little homemade Hawaiian Ham Roll Sliders.


(Can I just tell you that this Sam's cake was delicious!?)



Now let's cut to the chase. Here's the cake-eating sequence:


Clean Brekkie.

 

Started by picking off sprinkles one at a time.
When we realized that strategy would have us watching for
45 minutes, we had Bro help Brekkie see how it was done.
Ok, a little more cake action...

Once he saw the cake underneath he dove right in.
 


"Guys, this is awesome! Can we do it again tomorrow?"

Annnddd, how about some ice cream on top? Only because he was mad others were eating it and he wasn't.

We knew he'd love the cake after he got going. I have NO IDEA where he got his love for frosting. Ignore the fact that I once created this, a frosting shot:


Anyway, we did what any good parents would do and just threw him (not literally) into the tub, clothes and all, to wash up. And he obviously loved the tub, too! I guess you could say he enjoyed his party and everything about it.


Friday, July 26, 2013

this story's true; no sheet

You might have noticed that in one of the pics I posted Wednesday there were no sheets on our bed. (BEFORE SCROLLING DOWN, please go here to see my ugly feet disclaimer.)


















Are you ready?










Let me just be frank here. This is pretty much how our bed exists, due to the sleeping habits of a two-year-old and a one-year-old. There's a lot of pee involved, folks.

For example, I got home late last night from a 4-day stay in Tulsa for some volleyball. (We are camp tourney champs, by the way....CHAMPS! Go girls!) Brecken was already asleep (sad!) and Brody was TIRED and a little sickly. He feel asleep in our bed, and since I missed the boys so much we let him stay there all night. Brecken woke up around 1 am, and again, since I'd missed him I brought him to our bed to finish out the night. A little later I noticed his diaper was soaked and his pants were wet so I changed him. However, he kept wiggling around as I changed him--in typical Brecken fashion--and I didn't get the diaper on very tight.

This morning I woke up in a bed of pee. Who was the culprit? It was Brody this time. We didn't make him go potty before bed because he wasn't feeling well, so that's our fault. Should have known better. We stripped him down and let him keep sleeping (sickly boy, remember?) and covered the pee with the sheet, which was already partially wet from Brecken's 1 am wet pants.

As we are covering/soaking up Brody's pee with the sheet, I look over to see that Brecken has just peed out the top of his still loose diaper. Neat.

If you're counting, that's Brecken two, Brody one. Three (THREE!!!) bed-wetting incidents in one night. Gross, I know. But it happens--more often than I'd like but less often than it might seem.

I'm sure you people without kids are absolutely DISGUSTED by the fact that we get peed on in our own bed. JUDGE US but know that your day is probably coming. (wa-hahahahha.) You people who have kids and never let them sleep in your bed because of the bad habits it creates (I know, I know...), JUDGE US if you'd like (I doubt many of you are doing that, right??), but admit that you would love to snuggle your kids in bed (and most of you do), because it is awesome.

Anyway, this explains the bed with no sheets. They are always being washed.

Hey, at least we wash 'em.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

WHW 6

What's Happening Wednesday #6

It's time for my weekly Wednesday post. I'm in Tulsa this week for a vb camp with my high school team, so it's been a bit hectic, but we're having a great time and really, REALLY improving. And we are getting in some great bonding/prank/scare time. :o)

Adoption news: Setback on the home study...After our agency called Georgia's office of family safety (whatever the technical term may be) every day last week, our social worker finally got a callback today from someone who said they didn't have the required paperwork to provide a clearance for the home study. This means our "nanny" will have to redo it and we'll wait again. Ho-hum. (I feel so bad for asking these girls to do all of this stuff for us, but I also know they understand it has to be done.) I had hoped we'd be approved this week, maybe even while I was away at camp. But the wait continues and we can be patient. 

In other news, we had a great weekend at the lake with our friends. Our boys had to go, even though none of our friends brought their own kids, but that was because EVERY OPTION we would normally use for overnight babysitting was unavailable this weekend. Our poor friends had to deal with our whole family...that's a little bit too much "Lotz" for most people, so we're thankful for our friends' grace in accepting all of us. 



We did a little cliff-jumping and after a big head/jaw/neck-ache, I haven't heard anything out of my left ear ever since. No biggie. Now I just feel a little bit of fluid draining around in my ear. I had an athletic trainer here check my ear...my eardrum is ruptured, which isn't as big of a deal as one might think but still inconvenient. It will heal and I'll have my hearing back soon, which is the most important thing. 

Also got a little bug bite that swelled up so big I couldn't wear my slip-ons into the afternoon after church. (Don't judge me by my feet, by the way. I hate feet, but most of all I hate my own feet. Check that, I actually like my feet because they've enabled me to do some amazingly fun things; I just hate the look of 'em. I mean, feet are gross. And check out that big toe on my left foot. A little crooked, eh? I was a high jumper, and I think my toe finally gave in and just turned in to get out of the way of my jumping.)



I have been missing my boys, but I know they're having fun with their cousins so that makes it ok (and healthy, really) for me to be gone. I had some FaceTime with Brody last night, and he requested that I "hold you, Mommy," which melted my heart. I'll be happy to get home for some hugs tomorrow night. 

Friday we'll have a little party for Brecken's first birthday. He is such a silly, nerdy, little guy...all fast-twitch muscles and hates to be still for long. A little bit like his mom. 

WARNING: Loads of photos ahead....

This is him eating his birthday cupcake on his actual birthday. He loves sweets almost as much as he loves attention, so he was in heaven. (Note Brody in the background. He actually choked on his cupcake. Now that I think about it, cake is actually pretty easy to get choked up on, especially if you-- like Brody--stuff large bites into your mouth at one time.)





I gave a glimpse of this on Facebook the other day, but let me just point it out again...what a difference a year makes! (Brecken was born 9 weeks early, at 3 pounds, 13 ounces, and stayed in NICU for 5 weeks until doctors were sure he wouldn't "forget to breath" on his own. He went home on a monitor for another month, which we were actually thankful to have...reduced our anxiety about him not breathing.) He's a tough little guy, which is good because Brody loves to tackle him....and Brecken truly loves to be tackled. 

When I look back at some of the following pics, I am actually astounded at how little and frail he looks. I think I was so in love with him (and mentally and emotionally overwhelmed) that I didn't really realize how little he was then. I mean, I knew it intellectually, but I didn't truly realize it until several months later. Brecken was tiny and frail, and I probably should have been a bit more scared for his health and his future, logically speaking. However, I know that the Lord was there with all of us, providing comfort and security--and possibly even keeping me a bit oblivious to the fact that Brecken was so frail and helpless on his own. We were thrilled that doctors were optimistic throughout it all (while still providing us with the truth of the situation), and the nurses made us feel welcome and sure of their knowledge and love for the babies for which they cared. 

This was about an hour after he was born. What a stud he was! Breathing on his own and everything.  

'



This was a few days later...he "moved up" to an incubator. 


Him looking pretty frail, a little after he'd lost the few ounces of weight that all babies lose in the first few days. 



This is him being a doll! (Hello sweet cheeks!)


Hot dad alert....   ....   ...


And his first day HOME!! 


First few kisses from Big Brother Brody. 



Check back again for some birthday party pics, as well as some updates on upcoming fundraising events. We've

got 'em stirring around all over our brains right now, and we think you'll LOVE a few of them.

Friday, July 19, 2013

pretty products for a beautiful cause

A couple of great causes and pretty products for you to know about, even though I might be a little late on the bandwagon.

Sevenly.org sells cute apparel, accessories and home goods, with $7 from every purchase going to a cause. This week's cause is Action AGainst Hunger, which provides meals for severely malnourished children in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 42,000 people in Congo are literally starving to death, and Sevenly is doing something about it, but only with our help.  Learn more about the cause here.

Here are a few of my favorite items from Sevenly:
3 disc necklace,                                                    family is forever,                                                       essentials bag


And then there's Noonday, a company that sells accessories, apparel and home goods. But so does every other retail company, right? The difference is that all of Noonday's products are handmade by men and women in 12 countries around the world, so each purchase helps support that family's livelihood. Even more awesome...Noonday is adoption-minded (the founder adopted from Rwanda after taking a trip there; read their story here) and the company does Trunk Shows to help people raise funds for different causes, including adoption. I'm going to look into it a bit more, but you might soon see an invitation to a Noonday Trunk Show. And obviously I love their stuff. Herer are some of my favs...I think they are beautiful:

Cascading Falls Necklace, Salmon (*backordered*)Evening Horizon NecklaceRuth Necklace, Turquoise and RedMediterranean Sea Necklace
cascading falls necklace,       evening horizon necklace,                 ruth necklace,        mediterranean sea necklace



Nahuala Rectangle Trays (Set of 3)Winking Ikat ScarfSseko Sandal BaseCrocheted Bracelet - Neon
rectangle trays,                       winking ikat scarf,                          sseko sandal strap,                          crocheted bracelet


Do any of you know more about Noonday's Trunk Shows? I first read about them here, but I'm not sure whether or not anyone in my area is a Noonday Ambassador.

Here's what I think you should do (because you care about my opinion, right?):
Buy the Sevenly stuff you want right now so $7 from your purchase can go to Congo.
Put the Noonday stuff you like on a list and wait until I host a trunk show (hopefully).




Wednesday, July 17, 2013

WHW 5

WHW 5 -- What's Happening Wednesday #5

Adoption Update: All documents are finally in for our home study. We have seen the draft of the home study, now just waiting on it to be finalized and approved. Annnddd....this is getting real. Time to get on more of those grant applications. Many of them won't let you apply until after the home study is approved, so we've been at a slight standstill. Time to get rolling.

Here's my list of adoption grants, along with the important info I felt I needed when I did the initial research. We won't apply for every single one, but it does help to see it all out there in an organized grid.



On to some other news: 

I haven't talked a whole lot about our vacation (well, except here and here), but I do feel the need to share a few tidbits about the trip because some of the info might be helpful.

1 -- Road trip with two littles=MUST bring plenty of snacks (i.e. distractions). Squeezie applesauce, goldfish, marshmallows, yogurt melts, suckers, Starburst, crackers, cheese, fruit snacks, juice, more juice, etc. We had it all, and we were glad we had it. My mom packed a bag of snacks with some of Brody's favorites (hence the marshmallows), and we were the most thankful for those snacks, as they were our go-to's after 5+ hours in the car. The boys did SO GREAT on this trip, though. We were in thankful shock. We also brought Brad's laptop so Brody could watch a movie or two. Ended up only needing it for half a movie on the way there and a full movie on the way home. Such good boys!


There was this incident, though, that we have to mention:


Silence is not always golden. (That's squeeze applesauce all over everything, folks.) 

And we did, of course, bring Mommy and Daddy snacks, for when things got a little crazy. (Yes, that is a triple double stuff Oreo. We're crazy like that.)



2 -- A jellyfish sting can be relieved with fancy mustard. Some research by Dr. Katie (Brad's cousin's wife) suggested that vinegar could relieve the sting. However, since we didn't have vinegar on our trip, we used this mustard because we knew vinegar was the main ingredient. (I believe the suggestion to pee on a sting was just some sick joke someone played on a friend and the suggestion went viral even though it doesn't work...we didn't try it, by the way.)



3 -- Bahama Bob's for our 5-year anniversary = A+. Get crab legs and the fish bake. You won't regret it. 

4 -- For swimming, Brody LOVED his new Spiderman floatie. Our friend told us about this new (to us, anyway) type of floatie that straps around the toddler's chest and has arm floaties attached. It allows kids to swim without having a life jacket shoving its way up the kids' jaw. It worked so well, Brody didn't really ever want to leave the pool. And Brecken? The water was bathwater-warm and shallow, so he obviously loved it, too. Splashed around, crawled around, flopped onto his bottom, and grinned. 



5 -- This is what happens when a two-year-old bites it in the sand. 


This is what happens when an almost-one-year old BITES THE SAND. (Brayden is the other little fella here...you might remember him from this post. He's a sweetie, and he and Brecken are tight.)



6 -- The beach makes a boy happy happy happy. And tired.


But mostly happy....