Sunday, July 31, 2011


A couple of months ago we got a flier in the mail about a marriage retreat geared towards adoptive families. I guess you could say I normally wouldn't get excited about a marriage retreat -- having to get in touch with feely-feelings, sharing TMI with people we don't even know, etc. -- but I cannot lie, the idea of two days (and a night) away from my wild-albeit-lovely children at a very nice retreat center, all meals and lodging paid, even the CHILDCARE paid -- well, it was kinda impossible to pass up. Being that we are adopting through the Great State of Oklahoma, this is a program offered up to families like us that is funded by state and federal grants. So, heck yes, I signed us up. My poor husband didn't really have much of a choice, haha.

Fast forward to yesterday morning when we showed up for the retreat: like I said, we didn't know anyone else attending, and if I'm being honest, we were wondering if it might be the same "caliber" *coughcough* of individuals that we met through other parts of this process. (Not to say that there aren't plenty of awesome people with hearts of gold that sign up to be adoptive parents, because there are, but there are also plenty of folk you could swear walked in from the State Fair. You know the type.) Regardless, those two phrases -- "no children" and "all-expenses paid" dangled temptingly in front of my weary eyes. No matter what, it was going to be more-than-likely a nice air-conditioned, quiet experience at the very least. So we marched confidently in.

Thank goodness we sat down at a table with another couple with whom we hit it off immediately. I just cannot tell you how refreshing it felt to sit down and automatically find kindred spirits who understand what dealing with the state can be like, what getting children through the state can be like, what being adoptive parents through the state can be like. We automatically just got each other. Throw in sarcastic wit and we were friends from minute one. We knew this would be two days we could sit through for sure.

Funny thing -- remember the brutal honesty in my motivations for signing us up, the "no children" and "all-expenses paid" phrases? -- well, just like everything else in this process that we have very much been blindly sailing through, we had no idea that you could earn credit hours for taking this course. Ha. So as an unexpected bonus, we received enough credits of annual required training to float us at least another year with the state should we decide to take on any more kids in the future. (Someone might be wanting a girl, just sayin'....)

Most of the classes were geared towards the marriage relationship as it applies to adoptive families because yes, being married as an adoptive parent puts a new spin on things. Did you know that while the divorce rate these days is pretty darn high, it's even higher with adoptive parents? I didn't know it either, but it's not too hard to believe. Adoption is hard, ya'll. It's awesome and amazing and rewarding, but it is downright HARD at times, too. Topics from our classes included ways to deal with conflict and resolution, making marriage fun (again), intimacy, and communication. For us especially it was a very good reminder that we need to establish regular date nights, something we keep saying we will do but just haven't made a priority. Now that there are three kiddos in our family portrait, it is more important than ever for us to remember who we are as a couple and not just as parents. Because let's admit it -- more often than not, I wear the hat of "exhausted FUN-SUCKER mama" and not the hat I used to wear as "fun-loving wife".

But there was also an afternoon session about parenting kids who've been through trauma. At first I was skeptical and didn't really see how it would apply to our situation being that the level of trauma our kids have experienced seems pretty minimal compared to some stories we heard from others, but it really ended up being something I needed to hear. There were a couple of lightbulb moments for me -- one of validation for me as the adoptive mother and taking a lot more flak from the kids than my husband does -- and another for dealing with my boys and some of the behaviors they've exhibited that might be stemming from trauma in their past. Honestly, these two lightbulb moments made the entire weekend worth it for me, especially because before leaving for the retreat Friday afternoon, I had pretty much hit my limit of stress for the week. It was a doozie of a week with dealing with the kids and various behaviors, and I really felt at my wits' end, with the bonus of high-blood pressure to boot. I honestly just wanted to get away from them for a couple of days, but by the time it was over today, I was ready and felt more empowered to come home and be a better parent to them.

I guess that's the thing -- while this experience these last four months has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, there have also been more than a handful of times that it has been one of the hardest things I've ever done. I've been pushed to what I thought was my limit as a parent, and I've been going through this pretty blindly. (Ha, that really doesn't sound much different than regular ol 'parenthood, now does it, but adoptive parenting is still a whole other ballgame.) Not that any kid comes with an instruction manual, but especially getting two older children that have their own history they come with, well, an instruction manual would be really nice. And while I use the word "I" in describing this, I don't mean like I'm a single parent. I've got the most supportive husband in the world (I really do), but since I am mostly a stay-at-home mom in between my part-time gigs, there are lots of time it's just them and me, and I'll be the first to admit, I don't always know what to do, how to react, etc. in a lot of situations that are new to me.

All that to say, it took me by surprise in how much I really enjoyed and also needed this weekend. We made some great friends that understand this whole crazy process, learned some valuable tools for marriage, received validation as parents of adopted kids, enjoyed some great laughs (there was a "Newlyweds Game" at the dinner banquet that was downright hilarious), learned more about our kids and how to best help them on their journey to become good citizens of the world, and a mostly importantly, we got a good night's sleep, baby.

High fives to the Great State of Oklahoma for the refreshing weekend and to the grant-writers of these United States for picking up the tab because this is one grateful, refreshed mama.

How was your weekend?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Why YES...

...I AM going to be spending the evening with this lovely lady in T minus 24 hours!!!!!!!

And just for the record, I think I would just keel over if in the middle of the concert she said, come on out, my friend, and Kenny Rogers came out and joined her in a little "Islands in the Stream".

That would pretty much make my decade.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I {heart} etsy.

Because these three things are headed my way:

for Mercy...

Girlfriend is going to be stylin' in her Union Jacks! It's very Wills and Kate, you know...

also for Mercy...

because I couldn't decide between the two, but the price for both off of etsy was LESS than the price for one in the same grapevine pattern from my local doggie boutique. I'm all about supporting local business, but not when it is more than twice the price. This one is very Orla Kiely, don't you think?

And for Dolly (the Airstream)...

a 5x7 print from here. I'm just going to pick up a white frame and mat from WalMart or Hobby Lobby and hang it on the wall in the Airstream. We've kept it very simple in there, but a fun little etsy purchase will be perfect. I can't wait to show you pictures of Dolly as she is getting very close to being finished!

Are you an etsy shopper?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On my nightstand.

I'm what I'd like to call a voracious reader.

I enter my local library faithfully once a week. I use the online system of ordering books (and CDs and DVDs) and having them sent to my library for pickup. My librarians know my boys and I by name.

I love that.

And it never fails that I'll have at least 3 or 4 books come in at the same time. Books that are "high demand" and cannot be checked out for longer than two weeks, so I'm always cramming at night to get some good reading time in before I go to sleep. Most nights I don't even watch TV. I go upstairs around 8:30, climb into bed, and read until 10:30 or so.

Here's a sampling of what I've read lately:

Oh my, was this one laugh out loud funny. I picked this one up after getting one of the recommended reading emails from the library, so I had no idea what to expect. But I must tack on a warning -- it's got some language and occasionally there were some moments where it was a bit TMI for me from the author and his partner. I'm kind of a prude when it comes to most things, especially language and such, but I couldn't put it down because it was so dang funny.

Loved this one. Ate it up, finished it in one night's time. Great summer read.

This book made me constantly hungry, and hungry for good food. It's kind of like a cookbook and memoir all in one. I marked a few of the recipes that I would like to try.

Oh heavens. Forget BossyBants. Tina Fey is a PottyMouth. There were some funny moments, I'm not gonna lie, but I was squirming with all of the bad language. It would've been just as funny with a way less f-bombs. I mainly just skimmed through it because I got tired of all the bad language.

Just started this one last night -- another one from the "recommended reading" emails from my local library. Appears to be an easy summer read.

Technically this one is a young adult fiction read, but I loved it. Brought me back to my youth and the type of novels I enjoyed the most.

So, what's on your nightstand? Any recommendations for me?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday: Laundry Day

Monday is Laundry Day at my house.

*Beautiful image from here. Don't you just love this laundry room?

So far today, I've cranked out 4 loads (washed, folded, and put away, thankyouverymuch), and I think I've got 3 or 4 more to go.

I've learned a lot over the years (and over the last few months since we gained two family members), and here are some tips that work for me.

*I stand at the dryer and fold the clothes immediately as I pull each item out of the dryer. Otherwise, clean piles of laundry would inevitably sit around my house. I do not allow myself to take the whole pile of warm clothes out because I don't trust myself they will get folded in a timely manner and actually put away!

*I rip my dryer sheets in half. My clothes are just as soft and static-free and nice-smelling as they were when I used a whole sheet per load.

*The boys now sort their clothes for me into three piles: whites, mediums, and darks. They are expected to turn everything right-side out and empty all pockets, otherwise any money I find I keep (since I wouldn't be able to determine whose money it was). They also each have an embroidered towel with their name on it that they use all week. On Laundry Day, the towels go into the wash with the rest of their clothes. It has saved at least one load of towels for me a week. For now I still wash, fold and put away all of their clothes. When they've "helped" in that department, I've had to go back and re-do what they've done, so we might wait another few months before we attempt it again.

I've still got plenty of room for improvement though. I need to clean and spruce up my laundry room (maybe this week?), and I would like to start making my own "green" laundry detergent to use. And I'm sorry to admit this, but laundry does not include doing the ironing, which I am dreadful at. My great-grandmother, who ironed absolutely everything, would be sorely disappointed. But my confession is this: out of all the household chores, I actually love doing the laundry.

Is Monday Laundry Day for you? Got any tips you can throw my way?

Have Mercy.

We did it.

(Er, I did it, actually. It's all my fault.)

We went and got us another dog.

If you've been reading for a while, you know that we are big animal lovers. At one point we had five dogs for six years. Two years ago, our beloved Golden Retriever passed away. Our hearts were broken. And then a month or so ago, her companion passed away, and our hearts were broken again. That left us without a "house dog". We do have three Italian greyhounds whom we love dearly, but they spend their days in my husband's office with him (behind our garage, he works from home) and come in to the main house on occasion because they've never been fully potty-trained, if you catch my drift. So they are loved and spoiled, but not the main house dogs.

On Thursday I got on Craigslist.

{Note to self: stay offa there.}

With full-own guilt, I glanced through the pet listings, knowing I shouldn't be on there. There was one listing that jumped out at me. I knew, I just knew, this was it. I sent an email to my husband with the listing, and I even titled my email: "I should NOT get on Craigslist". My husband agreed -- I should NOT get on Craigslist, and although it was tempting we should avoid getting another dog. Hello, we still had three. It's not like we were wanting for canine companionship.

But I could not help feeling as if the house was too empty. Our kitties even have seemed a bit lonely since our Mazi girl passed away. So I cheated and sneaked in an reply email to the Craigslist post. I figured it couldn't hurt to ask, right?

Sure enough, they replied back with all sorts of wonderful things to say about this baby. Honestly, she was PERFECT for us, and I knew it. Thankfully, my husband forgave me, even confessed that he had been thinking about her since I sent him the email, and called them immediately.

Mercy came home to live with us Friday night.

She is the BEST dog:

*4 years old
*English Setter mix
*in great health
*fur that feels like mink
*SWEETEST disposition ever
*wants to cuddle and be loved 24/7
*quiet, but a great watchdog

Yes, she came with that awesome name, MERCY. The couple we got her from were actually fostering her for a few weeks. Her owner had to give her up as he just found out he has brain cancer and wasn't sure if he'd be able to care for her. Before that, she was apparently a rescue, so we don't know her full story, but the owner gave her that name because he's a Christian and thought it was fitting for such a sweet rescue dog. Don't you just love her name? And she was FREE. Zero dollars for this beauty. They just wanted to be sure she would go to a good home. After checking out our reference (veterinary clinic) and our assuring them that she would be pampered and the queen of the castle, she was ours.

*Here's Mercy, already settled in on the sofa with Minnie Pearl and Romeo. You can see Harry in the background, sleeping on the side table next to the lamp. Tex was nesting in the other room, otherwise there would have been four doggies on the sofa. And I'm happy to report that Sally, the female cat, has officially finished her "hissing period" and has come around to love Mercy as well. It's unanimous -- the other pets all love her.

I'm more than happy to report as well that I'm her person. Maybe she secretly knows that I'm the one that found her. Who knows. But she has latched on to me. And that makes me all kinds of happy to have a little shadow in the house every day.

She's perfection all wrapped up in canine packaging.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


This next quilt was made back in February for a darling baby girl. This baby girl has some ultra cool parents, so I was a little extra picky about the fabric for this one. Once I spotted the Hideaway line by Lauren + Jessi Jung, I was sold. Alpine chalets, tiny towns, little forests, and cuckoo clocks? Yes, please!

*click on each image for a closer look*

I basically made a strip quilt (easy peasy and a great way to showcase fabrics), but I added a little panache to this one. I got all fancy-pants and quilted the baby's name on there! I'm not gonna lie -- I was proud as a peacock that it turned out so well.

The two printed fabrics were from the Hideaway line, and the light brown printed fabric and the pink solid were both found at my local JoAnn's. The brown print is a sweet old-fashioned sort of print that I felt helped tone down the brightness of the Hideaway prints. The pink is not normally a choice I would purchase as it is kind of a "country pink", kind of mauve-ish, but it matched the Hideaway prints perfectly while also blending well with the light brown print.

And not to worry, I still have enough fabric to make another one to keep...;)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Quilting catch-up...

Because I haven't been able to download my pictures for several months, I'm having to play catch-up on quilts I've made since the beginning of the year. Here is the first of the posts:

This is a lap quilt I made in February. A friend of a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and having a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, so I made this quilt for my friend to give to her. I really didn't have a plan, but I decided to go with the pink idea that is usually attached to breast cancer support. I meant for these to really be modern crosses, and it kind of turned out a bit Red Cross themed, hmmm, but it also made me think of the idea of "thinking positive" with little plus signs. I really like how it turned out.

On the back I used flannel. I've never backed my quilts in flannel, but it certainly won't be the last time I do it because it turned out so nice and soft. I used a breast cancer ribbon printed flannel, mainly because it ended up being on sale and much cheaper than buying other cottons to back it in. I'm not usually one to buy "themey" fabrics like that, but in this case it worked out. For the stripes in the middle of the front and all of the binding, I used a print that had stripes in pink, magenta, and red, and I like how it ended up looking like I pieced it when I didn't.