Wednesday, July 30, 2014

laugh it up

The other day I caught myself laughing out loud at a pair of brothers who got caught up in an impressive scuffle resembling that of an MMA fight.

You've seen this sort of fight before. The younger boy was holding a ball. The older boy took the ball. The ball went flying across the gym. The younger child went berserk, kicking and screaming as the older boy ran away laughing.

I didn't really mean to laugh out loud at the scuffle. It's just that it looked so familiar. My boys are becoming good friends, which also means that they are becoming quite a rough-and-tumble little duo, resulting in approximately 73 fights per hour. I've done the math. This figure is entirely accurate.

Take Saturday morning, for example. Brad was away for a meeting and the boys and I were getting things done around the house. (READ: I was getting ticked at my computer because I couldn't figure out the formatting on my document, and the boys were climbing all over me from one side to the other with feet flying into my ribs and toots flying entirely too close to my nose.)

I left the room for two seconds, and a little MMA ensued. Brody took something from Brecken. Or maybe it was Brecken who took something from Brody. Doesn't matter. I heard some screaming (it's almost always Brecken-screaming), and then I heard a slap. A Brody slap, specifically. I sent Brody to his room for the 7th time. I told him to stay there and not come out (while secretly trying to figure out my next move). To buy some more time to consider my tactics of communication with the boys, I made a trip to the garbage can with some trash. When I got back, the door entering my house from the garage was locked.

The culprit...Brecken. He is known for his door-locking abilities, but he apparently only knows how to use a lock in one direction. (Did I tell you about the time he quietly locked the doors on my car and I shut the passenger-side door while I went to get him from the driver's side? Both spare keys were inside and the sheriff who came to our house felt it was necessary to break our car window instead of using his handy little unlocking tool.)

Again, this was Saturday morning, which means I wasn't necessarily dressed for a trip to the neighbor's house for fun. We don't keep keys on the outside of our house, and my phone was inside.

So I yelled and banged on that door like a crazy person. Luckily, our neighbors live far enough away that they (hopefully) didn't hear all of the madness. I told Brecken to unlock it, and it appeared he was trying to turn the handle. I tried to tell him to get Brody while yelling through the door. Poor guy...he just didn't understand.

I went to the back door where Brecken could see me. It was locked, too, as was the front door, and I continued to yell at him to get Brody. He left the door for a minute or two, then came back without Brody. Who knows what he was doing...

I made some more noise at the back door, then went back to the garage door because it's easier for little hands to unlock. Finally Brody came to the door and I told him to unlock the door. About 10 minutes after the whole ordeal started, I was back in the house thinking of ways to avoid that situation in the future.

By that time I had forgotten about the fight that sent Brody to his room. I thanked him for helping me and we went along with our day.

And Monday, when I was cooking in the kitchen and hearing lots of giggles from the living room I thought, "We've made it. The boys are officially happy friends."

I went into the living room moments later. Nope. They were just having an animal cracker fight.


In short, if you ever see me laughing at your kids when they're doing something ornery or ridiculous, please know that I'm not laughing at you. I'm only laughing because the scenario is very familiar to me (and I'm glad that, for once, I don't have to come up with a way of dealing with it). 

Someone should have been around to laugh when I was locked out of the car or the house (three times total now). I sure wasn't laughing then, but it would have helped if someone else was.

Monday, July 28, 2014

inked

You guessed it. Last Friday, on Sweet C's first birthday, I got my first tattoo.

(I alluded to it and profusely apologized to my parents profusely here, and here, and here, and here...)

Let me cover the basics of my new ink...

It's didn't hurt.

It's small.

It's on my arm.

It's the Greek version of a word meaning "called."

C's middle name, Kaleo ("kal-ay-oh") is a derivative of the word.

It's not Brad's fault. (Wasn't even his idea.)

I love it, but sometimes I look at it and think it's too big. (I assume this is what people say about breast implants at first, so surely I'll think it's perfect in a little while.)

As a side note, I am learning more and more over the years that my body is JUST my body. Yes, it's the temple of the Holy Spirit and I will do what I can to keep it strong and healthy, but the actual outer physical appearance of my body is nothing to stress over. So I won't.

It looks way smaller in real life. It's about 1.5".  (Still healing so it looks a little crusty!)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Aching arms

It's our girl's first birthday, and we aren't there to celebrate. Worst than that, she's not here to celebrate. Worst than THAT, we haven't even met her. Ahh! I'm going a bit crazy over here.

Maybe that's why we made a special appointment today. (I alluded to it here.)

My arms are aching now, but I imagine it'll be even worst at 1 PM today. 

:o)

Happy birthday, Sweet C. We are on our knees for you every day and every night.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Brecken is two!!

Today is Brecken's second birthday, but since we already celebrated with cake and candles we are just hanging out and having fun all day. We haven't done this in a while so I think he'll enjoy it.


Brad built and painted a sandbox for the boys on Saturday, so they are enjoying some peace in the shade of a big maple tree in the front yard. 

This sandbox might be life-changing. Very few fights so far, and I can watch them from the living room if I want to get housework done--which I'm not doing yet today because it's too nice outside and I can blog on my phone in the shade.

PawPaw brought some Tonka trucks. Every boy's dream come true!

(Also, I made a mental note that Brad Is kind of a handy man. He has tried to fool me all along, but in the last two months he has single-handedly replaced the starter of my car, fixed our AC, and built a sandbox, among other things. I'm onto you, Handy Bradlee. Next up: Window boxes.)

We got Brecken a little water table for his birthday, and I'm thinking it's going to see a lot of action this summer, too, particularly now that it's actually beginning to feel like summer. 


This has been a quick update on life with the Lotz fam. Now I'm off for some more fun.

I'll leave you with this. It may just be my favorite Brecken picture of all time. He begged to have those goggles on, then gave us this level of excitement after he got them. A perfect depiction of his little personality.


 Happy birthday, little Brekkie. You sure know how to keep us laughing and on our toes!

(If you're bored, head over to some of my previous posts about DRC adoption. I've attracted a couple of haters who occasionally spew ignorance and hatred all over the place. It's entertaining. And don't let any of them get to you. They don't get to me because they are clueless. Props to Brandon for trying to set them straight, but ignorant people don't listen all that well so he has an uphill battle.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Care package #2

Apparently I like pink more than I would like to admit. This my first attempt at a care package:


I will say that I looked for other colors, but pink was EVERYWHERE.

However, we had to widdle it down a bit in order to make it fit into a gallon-size Ziploc bag. The pink-striped cat had to make the cut because the boys picked it out for her. (They love her so much already...Brody's little prayers melt my heart every night: "God...Please be with my baby sister and keep her healthy and bring her home soon."

In PJs and underwear. What a life. 
But we settled on this:
Toothbrush and paste
baby wash
two dresses, in which she will be adorable!! (I saved the biggest ones to take to her when I travel...still hoping I get over there soon)
the stuffed cat
a necklace and note of gratitude for C's foster mother (written in French...thank you Jeffrey!!)


Although the technical language spoken is Lingala, it is a
derivative of French, so I'm hoping C's foster mom can figure it out.

Monday, July 14, 2014

on being still

Welp, I dropped off another care package for Sweet C at our agency's office today. A volunteer coordinator from our agency is headed to DRC soon, and she'll be delivering our care packages.

Have I mentioned before that by now I'd hoped to be traveling to DRC to meet C personally? Ho-hum...this adoption journey is getting tiring, and we haven't even been waiting as long as hundreds of parents who have already finalized their adoptions and are now just waiting for Exit Letters. Because of the Exit Letter suspension, many of them have been waiting almost three years to bring children home.

Three years.

I'll be back later this week to share what we sent in our package, but for now, an update on DRC adoptions:

I simply can't keep up with all that's going on in DRC or the US regarding DRC adoptions. Both Ends Burning is leading a major campaign to encourage the US to be proactive about bringing children home, and there are almost daily tasks and plans that we are all working to achieve.

And it appeared that we were making progress. To our amazement, four children received Exit Letters recently. (See this blog for an example. So THRILLED for this family!) Dr. Biden visited DRC and discussed the situation with important people there. I even got a friendly call-back from a staff member of our representative, Billy Long, regarding getting his help. (No signature on a Presidential letter from him, but the House did unanimously pass a bill to further the cause of DRC families, so at least that's something from him.)

Then DOS shared this adoption alert. So so disappointing. So not what we were hoping for or expecting. No one even really knows what this announcement means. It--apparently--means medically fragile kids won't be considered for Exit Letters at all until new adoption laws are being put into place. How long will that be? How many sick children will suffer because they can't get care they need? What will those laws be? Will international adoptions continue in DRC? (I have refused to ask this question for a long time...) I don't know. It hurts to think about it all sometimes.

But when I got in my car after reading this announcement, I got a friendly reminder that God is completely in control. (It's a good things we have the Seeds Family Worship CD in our car at all times. It is so helpful in setting me straight.)

"Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth." --Psalm 46:10

We (BEB Campaigners, adoptive parents, adoption supporters, worriers, stressers, mamas, daddies) can make phone calls and contacts and plans and proclamations and angry statements as much as we want, but God is absolutely and completely in sovereign control, and He can turn this thing around any second He wants. He can shock us and move mountains and change hearts and even send locusts if He chooses to do so. I go to bed every night PLEADING for Him to shock us all by turning this around and bringing kids home earlier than any of us could imagine. He is in control, and I believe he is teaching me (the overactive busybody) to be still through this.

That said, I am in no way saying that we shouldn't fight for these children. WE SHOULD fight for every child, because life is important. That is why I call and email my senators and representatives whenever it's needed. I LONG for the day when I can tell Sweet C that we fought for her and others like her. Because they're worth it.

However, we fight while knowing that God is in control. And with that knowledge, we can be still.

(And we maybe cry a little bit, too. Because waiting is still hard.)

Monday, July 7, 2014

my two cents on five pounds

I've been slightly obsessed with the Schrute Farms t-shirt I saw on 5 Pound Apparel's Facebook timeline several weeks ago.


Despite my latest posts about Stitch Fix, I try not to obsess over clothes and such. It's just that this was a Schrute Farms shirt, and I have been disgruntled about the end of The Office (specifically, the absence of Michael Scott) for a long time now. It's almost like I need to take a piece of the show with me to savor forever.

So I secretly plotted a family visit to 5 Pound Apparel for a few weeks until the time was right.  (Shopping with two little crazies is a ludicrous idea in and of itself unless you have reinforcements to help watch/corral/chase/do damage control, and since I thought Brad might enjoy the store, too, we all had to go together.)

We finally got to go a few weekends ago, and while we didn't buy anything that day, I still experienced a bit of obsession even when I left because the whole conceptualization of the store was amazing.

Later that day, I was thinking about my reasons for loving the whole store so much, and it dawned on me: This store is everything a Christian should be. (Stick with me here...I aim to explain.)

I understand that it seems like a stretch to compare a trendy store to a type of person. But here's why:

1. It's relevant. You want to fit in? Buy ANYTHING from 5 Pound Apparel and you will do so beautifully. The products in this store reference all genres of popular artistry, such as literature, pop music, and modern TV shows, from a wide range of different generations, from classic to contemporary...The Great Gatsby, 1984, The Office, The Hungry Little Caterpillar...what a range!

Literature isn't your thing? How about local artistry, reclaimed wood, handmade jewelry, home decor, pretty pillows, a deer head on the wall, or grammar humor? (I can be a sucker for grammar humor. I mean, this shirt...LOVE):

All photos are from 5 Pound Apparel FB.
This store, theoretically, could start a conversation with anyone and carry its weight in relevant conversation. This is good for a store; even better for a Christian.

2. It features local and global flair. Clearly, this store loves Missouri.


And the rest of the US...


But it also loves Africa. And everywhere in between.

(Tank by Krochet Kids, similar to those in store.)

And shouldn't we, as Christians, also love locally and abroad? You don't have to travel far to live on mission; you can do that right where you are. However, I really think every Christian should do everything possible to get out of our country on mission, if only for one week. It's hard to appreciate what we have if we don't see that other lack it (Clean water and health? Safety? Food? A home?)

3. It's risky. This store pushes the envelope, but not in the Abercrombie and Fitch sort of way. You want bracelets with scripture written on them? You got it? You want a classy beer bottle opener? Got that, too. I don't even drink--I don't like the smell, and why force myself to acquire a taste for something that will make me spend more money?--but, I like that this store doesn't back away from the issue. In fact, it encourages conversation about God while also allowing for a bit of alcohol. Again, alcohol isn't the issue here. It's the fact that the two are fearlessly combined. And I bet more people are listening when the topic of the Gospel comes up. Are we, as Christians, fearlessly conversing with the world without firing arguments back and forth? Are we inviting nonbelievers into conversation?

4. It gives back. Every purchase gives back locally or globally, and people in over 15 countries benefit from donations. This company began as a screen printing company that gave five pounds of food to a malnourished child, and they aren't giving up their roots. (Read more about the company here.)

As you may have guessed, I'm a bit tired of the prosperity gospel: As in "I've been #blessed because I'm pretty good for God, so I'm going to tell you how #blessed I am and continue being absolutely oblivious to anyone who hurts or has troubles around me." This store, however, gives us a glimpse into real life by educating shoppers and allowing them to continue being #blessed while also blessing others. (After all, we are blessed to be a blessing. We are blessed with a home and a family, and we want to bless Sweet C and possibly some other sweet children with a home and a family that loves them like crazy.)

This might be why I am in love. This might also be why Christians should love others.

Let's be relevant. Let's love locally and abroad. Let's value conversation instead of being right. Let's give to others. If a secular store can do this, I think we, as individuals, can too.

Let's do this, Christians.

{In the end, I went back to the store and got a tank top featuring Africa. Because no matter how hard I try to distract myself, Sweet C is always on my mind. I might as well have a shirt to wear in her honor.}

Friday, July 4, 2014

happy 4th! {projects}

We are soon headed to the lake for some fun with friends (in 75-degree-high temps on July 4...what in the world?!), but here's a little crafty project I finished a few weeks ago in a rage of productivity.

I wouldn't call myself a super crafty person, but this project was super easy so I'm sharing the pic to prove that anyone can do it. I was completely done in about 45 minutes of work, and that includes mixing paint to get a navy color (let me save you some trouble...teal and black) and cleaning out my paintbrushes.

Why did I love this project? No forethought required. We had pallets. We had paint. We had brushes. Boom. I tend to overthink craft projects, which is why I never get them done. Not this puppy!

And I love the way it turned out!


I'm also working on a project that will fill the hole in my hanging door...


And putting together a Care Package for Sweet C! Too much pink?


I'm not really a girly-girl; I just have trouble saying no to the pink...and why is there not more purple in stores? Also, my friend made the "Lil Miss Lotz" onesie. LOVE IT! Can't decide if I should send it or take it with me when I travel. I'm afraid it might get lost if I send it now, and I want a picture of her in it.

We are also sending stuff for her beautiful foster mom along with some other little extras for C. And I'm going to make her a board book featuring our pictures and labels in Lingala. It all must fit into a gallon-sized ziplock bag, sooo....some of this will not actually be sent this time.

Plenty going on around here, but it's time for some fun today! Enjoy the holiday and be safe!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Stitch Fix {the final decision}

I got my first Stitch Fix a week ago today. (I blogged my awkward pics and thoughts here, in case you missed them.) I have a few extra comments to make regarding the experience, if you don't mind.

First of all, the decision was a difficult one but I ended up keeping the Pink Kassidy Open Lattice Tank and the Crista 3/4 Sleeve Lace Shirt.


These two were clear favorites among friends/commentators as well as my husband, so it was a pretty easy choice.

That meant the rest of my stuff went back. It was as easy as putting the stuff in the provided bag and sending with my husband to drop in our mailbox while he was mowing. Easy peasy, and there was no added expense involved to send the stuff back.

I then "checked out" back on the Stitch Fix site.

Also, I got a couple of very nice emails from someone at Stitch Fix who had read my blog and seen my pictures. She was extremely kind and grateful for the positive review, and she posted a few of my words at http://stitchfixreviews.com/. That was cool, but it was even more amazing that the company CARES enough to send a personal note. I'm not usually one to compliment companies on their customer service, but Stitch Fix is doing a great job in this area. This company is very customer-focused--as they should be--since they're employed as personal stylists, but also because they seem to truly care what people think of them and the service they provide. I'm a fan, and I'll probably be scheduling another fix soon. (I'm waiting a bit to be sure I don't get addicted.)

Also, another thought: I got such great (re: HONEST) feedback from friends and random people alike that it would be brilliant to start posting pics of myself in all of the clothes in my closet. I have way too many of them. (Ironic for someone who just admitted she was going to order more clothes...but you know how it is, right? I have things in my closet that I've had since HIGH SCHOOL. High school, people.)

I need to throw out at least one bag of clothes. However, the second I begin to throw something out I think of some "brilliant" new way to wear it or some extraordinary circumstance under which it would be normal to keep it.

What if I need to attend some fabulous event that requires me to wear red and I threw out the only fancy red dress I own? I would hate to have to go buy a new one after just getting rid of one...

What if we do a family photo-shoot in January and I must wear layers of blue and yellow clothes so that every layer matches and is color-coordinated?

Or, my favorite: This cardigan is getting old but I love it and it's the only one I have that I can wear with such-and-such in the summer. (I see the ridiculousness of keeping this type of stuff...but it happens.)

These are the questions that plague me and cause me to horde a bit more than I'd like.

And this is why I'm tempted to post pics of myself in every love-it-or-list-it piece of attire I own. But I won't. I love you all too much to make you do that. However, if you are my close friend, be aware that you might get random pictures of me in a red dress or a blue-and-yellow striped shirt with a question: Yay or nay?