"Every child deserves a home." --Harry Holt

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gratitude: Day 23-30

I fell off the thankful bandwagon pretty hard there... So, I'm combining the last 8 into 1. I'm efficient like that.

23- We have a little 14 month old walker in our house. Her little legs were low on muscle-tone (and her itty bitty feet don't help either. We thought it could be another couple of months before she took-off, but Cupcake doesn't let much get in her way when she is focused on it. So, for about 1.5 weeks, she has been walking all over the house. If I turn around for .5 seconds she is already on the 6th stair... My hair is going grey, but I'm so thankful for every little things Cupcake learns. Now, if she would just say, "mom."

24- I'm thankful for my family. It was incredible to have my cousin and her husband-to-be (in 18 days) come to play for Thanksgiving. We ate TOO MUCH FOOD. So, I'm grateful for food, and not worrying about how we will get our next meal.

25- When we put the nursery together, we gave up our 'office.' So, all of the 'office' stuff got junked in a room in the basement. That room has been a catchall, and it just needed some serious organizing. I needed some baskets/bins to really get started on the project. The husband found what I was looking for in a Black Friday add, and they were buy one, get one free. Cupcake was up at 5am, so he decided to take her shopping. The store he went to was out of carts, so he carried Cupcake (nevermind that he could have grabbed the stroller in the trunk...men), and he grabbed a garbage can with wheels and put his purchases in that. While waiting in line, he put the lid on the garbage can and let Cupcake sit on it. I was at home, blissfully asleep. I'm thankful for sleeping in and that I didn't have to hear about this crazy story until he was home, and it was all over. First world problems, I know...

26- I'm grateful for weekends, and extended breaks. I did tease the husband for taking some work calls and checking e-mail, but he tries to be engaged and present with us when he is home. It was so nice to have 4 days with him.

27- I'm grateful for Jesus's birthday celebration. Decorating the house soothes my soul. I'm only putting up 2 trees this year (because I was especially worried a newly walking Cupcake would tear them all down and drive me insane, but she is actually leaving them alone). The outside lights are up, there are FOUR stockings on my mantle (the handicapable dog gets one). I hadn't purchased a stocking for Cupcake, even though I was certain I had. So, we ventured out, and I was slightly annoyed that I couldn't find out to match the ones I already had, and it seemed a little ridiculous to purchase 4 new ones just because they would match. Cupcake ended up yanking a couple off of the shelves in the store and became completely enamored with one because it had jingle bells all over it. She would giggle and smile every time we shook it, so we bought that one. It just felt complete to hang that baby up there. 

28- I'm thankful for climbing white blood cell counts even if it is slower than we would all like for my beloved aunt, and I'm thankful for ER Dr.'s who 'pulled my uncle out of the tunnel." Yeah, there is a lot of junk going on, but I'm thankful to a God that hears our prayers.

29- I'm thankful that our beloved pooch, the handicapable Dog (Diogee), is cone and bandage free for the first time in 6 weeks. He 'broke his back' memorial weekend, and recovery took most of the summer, and then he needed a minor surgery in the middle of October, which led to infections and sores that wouldn't heal. He is so happy, happy, happy without the cone, and while it was a nice break from him trying to chew Cupcake's stuffed animals, I'm so thankful for the joy and companionship he brings to our family.

30- I'm thankful to be looking forward to a holiday season of friends and family. I bought lots of "gifts with a purpose" and I made some pretty fantastic DIY gifts. I'm just excited to celebrate the birth of Jesus and all that means, with the ones I love most in this world. I try not to wish my days away, but I was pretty excited to say good-bye to 2010 this year, and while 2011 brought one of the greatest joys of our adult lives (Cupcake), it has been a year of trials for our loved ones. I'm looking forward to a fresh start. I have a feeling 2012 has some pretty amazing things in store, and I don't think the Mayans were right... Thanks for reading along! I'll have to get a post up of Cupcake's recent pics, because let's be honest...that's why my 3 family members look at this blog... Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gratitude: Day 22

I'm thankful for laughter. All I can say is, the husband wants nothing more than to dress like 'cousin Eddie' for Christmas, and I intend to try to make that happen. I'm so thankful that he makes me laugh every day. 

Plus, he is wearing some pretty sweet, white loafers... oh yeah...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gratitude: Day 21

I'm thankful for CaringBridge. My #1 "wish" would be to move closer to family, especially when there is a medical 'issue' happening with a family member. I have a hard time 'sitting on my laurels" when I want to be delivering meals or doling out hugs to my loved ones in need. It seems like it has been 14 months of a 'family member in need,' with tiny (very tiny) breaks in between. Since I still live so far away from pretty much every.single.family.member, I'm grateful to CaringBridge. It really does bridge the gap. I can check-in on my loved ones and get the message of what is going on with them. It helps me to know how to specifically pray for that person. It is an easy way to leave  a loving, supportive message. I'll be thankful for the day when I am not waiting for an update on any family members, but until then, I'm thankful to CB for helping spread the word. 

Now, if you could, I'm just asking for prayers for my godmother/aunt who is battle APL Leukemia. It has been a tough road for her and her family the last couple of weeks, but she is not a quitter. She oozes love and positivity. We love that about her! We have faith that a complete recovery is in her not too distant future, but it is the 'getting there' part that is hard...

Gratitude: Day 20 (Late)

Whoops. I thought that I had posted and scheduled a few days longer than I had. Guess not! Yesterday, I was so thankful for the gorgeous fall day. It isn't out of the question that we could have a foot of snow in our yard before Thanksgiving, but this year, we definitely don't! Yipppeeee! It has snowed once for a couple of hours, but it was warm enough that it didn't stick around even an entire day. That's my kind of snowfall! With the nice weather, we were able to motivate and finally get out to rake up all of the leaves, put away the garden hose, trim down the hedges...that kind of thing. I'm just grateful to look out in my yard and not see a complete mess anymore. I love checking things off the to-do list!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gratitude: Day 19

Even though I've taken this year off from work, I still get just as excited for the weekends. So, I'm thankful it is Saturday! This Saturday, the husband and I don't have any plans (because my original plan was rescheduled), so it will be nice to just hang out as a family and see where the day takes us. Happy weekend to you and yours!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gratitude: Day 18

I'm thankful for Pinterest. No, seriously. I have stolen so many ideas from Pinterest! I've already made 2 Christmas presents from an idea that I 'borrowed.' I'm in the process of making 4 more. My family may not be as grateful for Pinterest after Christmas when they get my DIY presents. I would post pictures, but then they would know what they are getting! I've also purchased some 'gifts with a purpose,' which is gifts that help someone else. The husband should be grateful, because I'm staying WAAAAAAAAY under budget on Christmas presents. Everyone wins!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gratitude: Day 17

I am thankful for my 6 nieces. 5 of them were born prematurely and, this brings me back to being so thankful for healthcare in the United States. Today, is Prematurity Awareness Day, and I'm stealing this from my sister-in-law on the CaringBridge page for one of my adorable nieces. Auntie loves you all!

Every year, 1 in 8 babies is born too early.  That is more than half a million babies in the United States alone. Our country’s premature birth rate has risen by 36 percent over the last 25 years. Premature births cost more than $26 billion a year and takes such a toll on families that I can't even put it into words. Babies born just a few weeks early are at risk of severe health problems and lifelong disabilities.  Premature birth is the number 1 killer of newborns. Sadly, many families know this pain all too well.

Today is National Prematurity Awareness day.  Please say a prayer for families you may know or may not know that are struggling to fight for their premature baby.  

When Kailey and Breley were born at 24 weeks, they were just barely viable outside the womb.  They were both 1 lb 6 oz and were 12 inches long.  Because of their weight and gestational age they were labled "MICROPREEMIES."  Just think of that name for a minute.....MICRO  PREEMIE.  It kind of makes your heart ache to think that so many babies are born so early that there is actually a name for them.  

Kai and Bre arrived 16 weeks early and as you all know, they had some major and life threatening health issues.  The amazing staff at Sanford did everything they could for our little girls and they had some great technology and life saving tools at their fingertips.  It is because of the awareness that more and more people donate to things like March of Dimes or Children's Miracle Network and it is because of your donations that doctors and nurses are able to save more and more babies that are born too early.   

Please take some time today to pray and to share the word about National Prematurity Day.  THANK YOU!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gratitude: Day 16

I'm thankful for Jesus and what He did for me (and you). Without that, the previous 15 thankfuls would be empty and pointless and unfulfilling. That is all, that is it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gratitude: Day 15

I honestly thought about writing how I'm grateful to be half way through with the 30 days of gratitude/thankfulness, because it is hard for me to remember to jot something down. Obviously, that would defeat the purpose of the whole exercise, because it is important to devote some time thinking about all of the blessings in my life. 

Family is definitely a theme here, but there is a specific group I need to point out. I have been blessed with 6 nieces. Whoa! They are all so smart and funny. They are all very different. Becoming an aunt was one of the great joys of my life, and I hope to have many more nieces, and I wouldn't mind a nephew or two, lol! 

Most importantly, I'm grateful for what each niece has taught me. They have each held a special lesson for me in their short lives, and for that I'm grateful. I'm grateful for the 'footprints' they have left on my heart. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gratitude: Day 14

It is no secret that I don't really LOVE living where I live. We have been here almost 6 years. For the first year, I spent the time outwardly resenting that I lived here. I found every excuse in the book to head 'home.' Many times, I cried when I had to head back here. I decided that I couldn't continue to make myself miserable to live here, because we just weren't going anywhere. I am and have always been thankful for my husband's job. It is what brought us here, and it is afforded us many, many opportunities. We have 2 vehicles, I went to graduate school, we own a house, we have no credit card debt, we were able to afford adoption expenses, we have been on a couple of vacations, our fridge is stocked, I could go on and on and on. 

There is nothing 'wrong' with where we live, but I would prefer to be closer to family and some of my dear friends. However, I'm incredibly grateful for my husband's job and all of the incredible friends we have made here. It has even come to the point where I would TERRIBLY miss some of the people here (if we ever moved, and it doesn't look like that will be happening to clarify), because they have taken me in and become my second family. You know who you are, and I'm grateful for you!!!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gratitude: Day 13

I'm grateful for prayer. I've grown much more thankful for prayer over the last year and a half than I ever had been before. I got me through some tough times, where everything was completely out of my control. I HATE that feeling. I like cause and effect situations much, much better. They are my comfort zone. For example, if I study hard for this test, I am likely to get a good grade. If I work, I get a paycheck. If I shower, I will feel clean. You get the picture. I like situations where I have some 'say' in how things turn out. 

There have been an incredible number of situations in the last year and a half, where no action I could take would influence the outcome. Enter, prayer. Admittedly, this is often the last thing on my mental checklist...bad, me. Now that I've opened that dialogue in a more meaningful and consistent manner, it eases those difficult situations. I'm thankful for those that have prayed for me, and for those people that gently remind me that prayer is something I can turn to. I don't so much like being 'told,' but I do appreciate the gentle reminder. Kinda like when my mom says, "I'll pray over that for you," and I'm like, "Hey, why didn't I think of that????" 

So, if you are struggling with something, or you know someone who is struggling with something and you aren't sure how you can help them, I encourage you to pray. There is no 'special formula' and it can feel awkward the first few times, but I have found that when I make it consistent, it becomes easier and more natural, and it changes me for the better from the inside out. It is amazing how it changes things around me as well. 

A couple of verses that have entered my life in a number of ways this week:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:26-28 
**Even in those times that we aren't sure what or how to pray, we can just meditate on it, or have 'wordless groans' as it says, and the spirit STILL intercedes on our behalf. Pretty amazing!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gratitude: Day 12

I'm sincerely grateful for nap time! I have been up for hours at night with this cold. Whether it is my head-pounding or the tickle in the my throat that causes me to cough every 7.6 seconds which doesn't allow me to sleep... just when I get all the 'kinks' figured out, and think I might be able to get back to sleep, Cupcake is awake and ready to play! The parenting hasn't been the most stellar, or interactive, unless you count me laying on the floor and Cupcake using me as a jungle gym. I have difficulty taking naps myself, but when Cupcake takes a decent nap, I can at least lay down and rest and pep-talk myself into making it through the rest of the day until K is home. I'm also thankful that he has made a sincere effort to come home early the last few days in order to allow me a break. Hopefully, once I kick this thing, everyone in this house will be healthy for once! Hooray!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gratitude: Day 11

This one goes out to an incredible friend of mine. She happens to be related to me (cousin). She knows everything about me, and she still likes me. Incredible! She is an amazing woman of faith. She is intelligent and hard-working. She has seen me fall, and we have fallen together. I adore her and appreciate that she is always quick with a kind and supportive word and action. I'm grateful to have her in my life and even more thankful that we are family. I'm immensely excited that she is getting married in just over 1 month, and that I get to stand up with her. Her fiance is amazing, and we are excited to call him family. Their wedding will give our entire family a reason to celebrate which is necessary in this season of chaos, illness and grief that we are currently stuck in. I LOVE YOU, CMW!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gratitude: Day 10

I'm STILL thankful for OTC cold medicine. Ugh! I can't wait to be grateful for a full night of sleep. Today, I'm thankful for friends. They have seen me through. I have left some of my closest friends since moving, but they still call or text or e-mail to check-in. They let me vent, and make me laugh. I've made some wonderful friends in our new 'home.' They are the only things keeping me sane 'round here. If I didn't have them to get out of the house with, I shudder to imagine what I would turn into! You know who you are, so thank you!!!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gratitude: Day 9

In all fairness, my extended family isn't the only one I love. Did you know when you get married you get another family? Yeah, you do. Crazy! The husband has this family, and it is a little smaller than mine, but those people KNOW how to have a good time. I begged his brother and sister-in-law when they were pregnant with their first daughter to call me "Auntie" even though we were not married or even engaged at the time. They relented, and that almost 8 year old makes me so freaking proud. Smartest almost 8 year old on the planet, and the best fashion sense too. The husband's parents have extended me grace and kindness. He has a cousin that shares my first name, and she sometimes lets me steal her Christmas presents because we never quite know which one of us they are addressed to. I quickly claimed the husband's grandparents as my own, and I don't plan on giving them back anytime soon. What I'm thankful for most is what I've learned from all of them. The days, they haven't always been easy ones for this family, but they show a tenacity. "Giving up" does not seem to be in the vocabulary for most of them. At any rate. I'm grateful for these people. They have taught me much over the last 11 years. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thankful: Day 8

I love, love, love my extended family. I recently wrote THIS post about how wonderful it was to grow up with my many aunts, uncles and cousins (and of course my parents, grandparents and siblings). My family is still fresh in the grief process over my wonderful Grandmother, but do you know what? They are the rallying type. They are the comeback kids. It is hard to keep them down. They are ready to stand behind each other and lift each other up. We must count ourselves blessed in this time of confusion and mourning, because another one of our own NEEDS us to. I love these people. Salt of the earth.

If this wasn't the month of thankfulness, this post would have been all about how stupid cancer is... 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Gratitude: Day 7

Today, I'm grateful for over-the-counter cold medicine. I used to blame the middle school students I worked with for my colds. Now, I wonder where this one came from???? Now, how do I call in sick for a day from this whole mommy thing? Can I prepare for a substitute? I'll make really great lesson plans! Oh, no subs... okay, there should be some rockstar parenting going on here...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thankful: Day 6

I'm thankful for my parents. Thankful isn't even the right word. More like, I'm forever indebted. It's probably hard to believe that I wasn't perfect growing up, not like I am now. :) I was sassy, and not in a good, cute way. I heartily tested my limits. They STILL tell a story about how I was sitting in the living room chatting with my family, and I was laughing one minute and the next minute I was upset about something, and I stomped off yelling to my bedroom. I REALLY appreciate that they still tell the story. I don't even remember the situation, but it sure is FUN to 're-live' it anyway! I won't get into the backstory(s), but I distinctly remember being grounded to the house, from the phone and television, and getting caught on the phone anyway. I made coming home late an art form. I could go on, and on, an on, but I won't. The internet doesn't have enough space. Let's just say, I was not exactly a model citizen. 

Those parents of mine encouraged me, guided me, repeatedly helped me find a better path, celebrated me, taught me and prayed for me. I'm thankful to have some pretty great examples to emulate. Considering we went out to dinner on Friday and then grocery shopping, it is safe to say I just turned into them. Oy. 

So, there is no way that I did this post justice, but I have to save something for their Mother's Day and Father's Day cards. Thanks for EVERYTHING Mom and Dad!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thankful: Day 5

This is going to sound strange, but I'm thankful for the internet. It certainly has its time-sucking drawbacks, but we aren't focusing on that, right now (when I should be doing the dishes). The internet has allowed us to connect with other adoptive families, it allows us to remain in contact with friends and family members, it makes adoption research much, much easier, it is fun to shop when Cupcake is taking a nap, and it allows me to put this kind of crazy dribble out there for you to read. You.are.welcome. Maybe you are a little less sad for the internet now. Sorry 'bout that.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gratitude: Day 4

I am deeply grateful to have this year off from work. I was going to get 5 paid days of maternity leave and then would have ended up taking time unpaid. Instead, I took an entire year unpaid. Of course, the extra budgeting has been less than fun, but what a small price to pay. I'll admit, there are days when our routine at home feels monotonous, and I think about how nice it would be to be at work. Those moments don't last when I think about how work can be so stressful. Being at home has allowed Cupcake and I to create a pretty incredible bond. She has lived in 4 different places in her short life, and has had many caretakers. Each of her caretakers loved her, and I'm deeply grateful for that. Having me home has taught her that I am safe, I am trustworthy and I love her. She has also learned that I can be manipulated with silly farm animal noises, big smiles and tears. Darn, smarty pants... These last few months together are beginning to convince her that we are here to stay whether she likes it or not. 

I'm grateful to have been in the position to take a year leave, and to have it granted by my school district. I'm grateful to have a husband that encouraged me to do it. I'm just grateful...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankful: Day 3

First Mother...

Cupcake has 2 mothers. Her first mother is the most beautiful and courageous soul I have ever met. I wish circumstance didn't keep us from communicating daily about the hilarious things Cupcake does. She also makes these facial expressions that I'm CERTAIN came from her first mother, and I want to just tell her all about it. Most of all, I'll never stop owing her first mother for the privilege to parent Cupcake. I'll forever be grateful, and I'll never stop looking for ways to communicate that to her. Thank you will never be enough, but it is nearly all I have. If you are the praying type, I know that Cupcake's first mother would appreciate the prayers. Without breaking her confidentiality, just know that God knows what she needs, and we just ask that you lift those up to him. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gratitude: Day 2

Yesterday morning, the husband and I 'woke' up after a week of very little sleep. Cupcake seemed to be having nightmares in the first half of the night. She would wake up crying which is rare for her. She would then be difficult to calm down and get back to sleep (even more rare). We investigated if she was eating something that was bothering her tummy, or if there was an issue with too much stimulation throughout the day. She loves to dance, so I had been playing music, etc. throughout the day which she seemed to love, but I thought maybe it was making sleep difficult. Prior to this happening, she would maybe wake up during the night about once a week, and she wasn't usually crying, but just needed a quick snuggle to get back to sleep. She was averaging between 10 and 12 hours of sleep a night. It was bliss. After trying different things and nothing working out, I decided it was time to head to urgent care to make sure she didn't have something else going on. 

Cupcake and I were up extra early due to her difficulty sleeping, and so we had the privilege of being at urgent care when it opened! Turns out, she has a pretty bad ear infection in her left ear. Poor thing! Now, I feel like an idiot for not checking that out days earlier. Cupcake just gives no indication that something is bothering her (other than lack of sleep). She is happy all day long, she doesn't tug at her ears, no other clues. 

It was just amazing to me that I went to the Dr. and the pharmacy and was home again with a little girl started on antibiotics in an hour and a half. I could make this post complaints about the healthcare system and insurance coverage in this country, but the fact is, my family is part of the 1% and I'm grateful. There are children around the world dying and suffering from PREVENTABLE diseases. Our trip to the Dr. and pharmacy didn't break the bank and I didn't have to walk miles with a 1 year old to have her looked at. AMAZING. I'm so grateful. 

Maybe, just maybe, I can post tomorrow about how I'm grateful for a full night of sleep! The hardest part for me about getting up in the middle of the night is that once Cupcake is back to sleep, I can't fall asleep myself. So, if Cupcake is up for an hour, I'm up for three. I remind myself in the middle of the night what a privilege it is to get up with her. I'm so blessed to be the one to rock her back to sleep when she doesn't feel well. (That is harder to grasp at 3am, but I keep trying).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

THIS momma has 7 of her babies living under her roof. Come Spring (hopefully before???) she will have all 12 of her babies living under her roof. Her family is in process to bring 5 more 'babies' (I use that term loosely), into the family from Ethiopia. Sometimes, I'm struggling with just the 1 baby, so I pretty perk up my ears/eyes when she has an idea. THIS was her idea, and I thought I'd give it a try.   
You didn't click the links, did you? Know how I know? I'm often too lazy to click them either. It's like I'm afraid I'll get lost on the internet and never find my way back. Okay, well, her idea is to post something you and I are thankful of for the next 30 days, seeing as how it is the month of Thanksgiving and all. I'm certainly not worried about coming up with something I'm thankful every day. I'm simply worried I may be mocked and laughed at for the idiocy that I come up with. OH WELL. Wouldn't be the first time! Won't you join in? You can blog/tweet/facebook your thankfulness. Maybe it will make someone smile? Maybe it will make you smile? I spew lots of unimportantness onto this blog/journal and facebook, I might as well make some of it positive!  

Ready? Set. Go!  

Day 1: I'm going to start out easy. I am thankful for my cute lil' family of 3. The husband took the daughter trick-or-treating last night, while I sat in a friend's front yard and chatted. Of course, he wouldn't let me eat any of the candy afterwards because I didn't do any of the work, but he happily pushed Cupcake dressed as a cupcake around our friend's neighborhood. One of my greatest joys the last 3 months has been watching a man so deserving of fatherhood, completely thrive in the role of 'daddy.' He is silly and playful with our daughter and then when I jokingly tell him that he looks, "so manly pushing a cute little girl in a bright pink stroller with flowers all over it," he responds with the utmost serious response, "That's why I flex the whole time I'm pushing her, so my arms look buff and manly." Oh.my.word.  

Part 2 of this would be that so grateful for our daughter. She is a giggly, wiggly, precious pearl. I am beyond grateful to have taken a year off from work to stay home with her. She has changed every.single.aspect of my life. Those of you out there who have been parents for longer than 3 minutes are thinking, "DUH!" Well, I knew that it would happen, but I didn't know how it would actually FEEL. It is both amazing and exhausting. I saw a little kid's shirt today that said, "What did they do before me?" The shirt struck me. Truthfully? I didn't do anything nearly as important as I do now! How did I get through my days without singing the ABC's and melting into utter-hysterics when a 1 year old did the "piggy noise?" So, this paragraph doesn't cut it, but Cupcake and the husband bring enormous joy to my days. I am thankful/grateful/contented/appreciative/obliged/satisfied.   

Another adoptive momma found this costume at Old Navy. Pretty perfect for a kiddo we call Cupcake! I resist the urge to have her wear this costume at least 2x/week. Sweetest Cupcake ever...


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