Saturday, January 28, 2012

Catching Up

It has been unexpectedly quiet around here lately.  And by that, I mean, the blog.  Our real life has been anything but quiet.  Let's recap:

First, we spent a week with my parents dogs.  Everyone, meet my parents dogs:

I stole these pictures from my sister, btw.  I can't take credit for the cuteness.
You know what that means right? Four big canine galoots running around this house for a week.  Abby is older, like Oliver, and mostly tried to scavenge the doggie toy box for old treats.  Gracie and Daisy played like maniacs, and Gracie tried to systematically move every sock in the house to the outdoors.  I even caught her hunting socks on the far side of our bed one afternoon.  She is a sock thief extraordinaire. 

The day after the dogs (we call them "the blondes") checked out, my dad and the family checked in.  We went through a bit of a sad spot when my grandpa passed away a week ago Thursday.  It wasn't unexpected, he'd been ill for a long time, but it was still a sad time.  It was great to see my dad and the family, but we wish it had been for a happier occasion.  We know my grandpa is in a better place now, reunited with my Grandma - and the funeral was really a celebration of his life which was touching and wonderful.

One bright spot was that we got a bunch of snow while they were here, so the kids were able to enjoy some time having snow fights.  It's a novelty to them , coming from Texas and even though they had some trouble adapting to the frigid temps, they were still overjoyed to run around in the snow.

Todd got this snowball maker for Christmas - my sister Tessa launched it's inaugural snowball.

 The day after my dad and family checked out, this guy checked in:

That's Jake.  He's my aunt and uncle's dog.  Daisy is highly suspicious of Jake and has spent most of her time since he got here making sure he knows that we are hers.  She keeps a close eye on him.  She's tried to play with him a few times, but he seems to like his mouth licked about as much as Oliver does which is not at all.  Jake is afraid of our water dispenser and, curiously, the kitchen floor.  On the plus side, he has displayed zero interest in any of our socks.

So, that's what we've been up to lately.  It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks. 

We ventured out for some retail therapy today and wound up making a pretty exciting purchase.  We are officially ready to bring a baby home:

It's perhaps not very exciting to look at, but it comes highly recommended by my sister, the expert.  We found a tremendous deal on it (which is almost as exciting as the purchase itself) but at first I wasn't sure it was the one we were looking for.  About halfway home I realized that it was exactly what we were looking for and it was half the price that we would ever find it anywhere else.  So Todd, because he's the best husband ever, turned the car around and we drove 15 minutes back to the store as I started panicking that someone else might have snatched it up.  I apparently thought there was going to be a mad rush on baby supplies.  In any case, we were safe.  We rushed back into the store, scooped it up and now -- we are officially and completely ready for a baby.  Well, mostly. 

Oh, we also got this:

so it seems like the plan is to start the Star Wars full immersion at a very young age. :)

Finally, we got this:

 Yes.  Now we have a dog who wears a coat.  Daisy has really thin fur and a lot of times when she comes in from outside she shivers and shivers.  She's like a 50 pound overgrown chihuahua.  We've been searching for a coat for a long time, and even tried a Snuggie that wound up being too small.  This coat fits her perfectly and, despite her expression in this picture, she seems to really be liking it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Adventures in Babysitting

OK, OK, I know this is a couple days late but I finally got my thoughts in order and felt the writing bug come on.....SO........Here we go.

So, last Monday I got a call from some close friends of ours asking if I would be able to babysit their 4 year old daughter named Amerette for the day because they had to get an out patient procedure taken care of. I said no problem since I tend to get along with kids pretty good.

I showed up to their house at 6:30am because they had to be on the road by 6:45 and had about an hour drive.  They went over the basics...Phone numbers, food, etc. They also told me she tends to sleep in so I was like " No problem with that!! "  So, then 6:45 rolled around and they took off and thus the babysitting BEGAN!!

Needless to say, the first 2 hours were pretty uneventful.  I did manage to take a few of my turns on Words with Friends, Watched Wall-E from start to finish, and then had started the first season of Duck Tales ( Yes, I was watching the cartoons without the kid ) before I heard a little voice at the top of the stairs say "Good Morning Todd".  Coming down the stairs was Amerette, with blanket in hand and her eyes barely open.  She came and plopped down beside me on the couch and snuggled up beside me and started watching Ducktales with me.  After about 15 mins, I heard a little voice beside me say " I'm hungry" so I said OK, lets go into the kitchen and get you some breakfast then. 

As I started to see what we had to work with, I asked her what she wanted......She told me " I want either Rainbows or Rainbows with marshmallows".  So I said OK and started searching for anything that looked like a rainbow.  She then told me which cupboard they were usually in and I told her that I didn't see any.  She then gave a sigh and said "I bet Tahvo and Elias (her brothers) ate them all.  I guess I will have Hay Bales then."  Thus began my search for "Hay Bales" which turn out to be Frosted Mini Wheat's.  I then went to get a bowl and got told " I use the octopus bowl and the flowers and butterfly cup"  OK, 10-4, will do.  Just as I was about to pour milk on the "hay bales", she let out a loud NOOOOO.  Come to find out, milk just goes in a cup and "hay bales" are better dry.  Lesson Learned.

Amerette Enjoying her "Hay Bales"

After breakfast was done and everything got all cleaned up, it was then time for me to learn the correct way to wrap up a baby in a blanket........the correct way being Amerette's way.  Then what was a lesson turned into a game of catch with the blanket.  After we played some catch, suddenly Amerette felt the need to cook some "food" so she went upstairs to her room and for the next 20 to 30 mins I heard some banging of pots and the occasional " mmmmm, that tastes good".  Then after all that time, she comes back down to the main floor with a couple plates full of plastic food and and assortment of other foods in a bowl.......The one creation I thought looked the best was the spaghetti with ice cream, pizza and egg in a bowl..........YUM!!!

After cooking got over, it was around noon and then she told me she was hungry for real food.  So off to the kitchen we went again.  For lunch, she had a cup of Mandarin oranges, some grapes, and some of her "special" crackers.  Then came the part when she asked for some milk to drink......well, we had used up the milk at breakfast so I told her she could either have juice or water since we were out of milk.......She then yelled "JUICE!!!"  So I went to the fridge to check out the juice situation and all I found was concentrated prune juice.  I may not have the complete parenting skills yet but I knew prune juice was a big NO.  I then made an executive decision and she got a 1/4 of a small cup of pop as a "Special Treat".

After lunch, we watched some shows that she picked out on the kids side of Netflix.  They shows were actually quite random everything from Super Why to old school Super Mario Brothers to something called Baby First.  The last show was more geared towards kids half her age but she was into it so to make the show a little more challenging, I told her that if she wanted to keep watching it, she had to do what they were doing on the TV.  So after a short time, she was calling out to the TV the correct answers, clapping when the show said to, and other various things.

We continued to watch these shows for quite awhile and I could tell she was a little tired because she then curled up beside me with her blanket and I could see her every so often have a case of the sleep twitches........the twitches you get as your falling asleep that suddenly wake you up.  As we watched TV, her parents then arrived back home and then it was like some had put new batteries in her because then she was up and ready to go again.......especially so after her brothers got home.

 After chatting with everyone for awhile, it was time to hit the road.  But before I could go, Amerette had to come up to me, give me a great big hug and a kiss and say  " Thank You Todd, I had lots of fun today"  That part there made my whole day worth while.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


This is a topic I have known that I wanted to write about for a long time.  It's also one that I've known I had to write about for a long time. It's also going to be one of the toughest ones to write because it's about a subject that's so sensitive and sometimes so very divisive.  In this outreach effort, we want to be all things to everybody.  But, of course, that's not actually who we are and in the end we have to stay true to who we are in order to get the best match possible.  Still, there are two things ingrained in my brain to never talk about in social settings:  politics and religion.

So, let's talk about religion.

Well, not religion necessarily, but God, and faith, and where we stand. 

I've made numerous entries in the past referring to God and prayer, etc.  So it's probably no secret by now that we are believers.  God is a part of this home.  Interestingly, the deeper we go into this adoption journey - and all the other journeys we're on at the same time - God becomes a bigger part of this house.  In so many ways, the fact that we're even here, that you're even reading this, that we're seeking to grow our family through adoption -- is because God made it so.  And so, as we continue to navigate this new territory in our lives, we're more aware than ever of His presence, and we're constantly seeking ways to make him a bigger part of our lives.

We do not currently attend a church.  This is something we would like to change, but we haven't found anything that fits just right yet.  We have a tremendous amount of faith, but we struggle with religion. I was raised Catholic and Todd was raised Congregational.  We were married in a Catholic church because having God involved in our marriage was important to us, but Catholicism isn't necessarily where we're going to land when we do finally find a fit.  And we would like to find a fit.  We would like to raise our children with exposure to God and faith and religion, and to allow them to be a part of a community that religion often provides.  I hear wonderful stories from friends and co-workers of how their church has provided that sense of community and support to others.  This is church at it's very very best and something I would love to be a part of.  The challenge is in finding something that aligns with all of our personal beliefs and works for both of us.  But we are seeking it, now.  We are seeking God and a home for our faith.  One that we fully intend to share with our children someday - with the hope that they will see the best of what it has to offer, and then make their own decisions on faith and God and religion someday. 

In the meantime, God keeps popping up in the most unlikely places.  A constant reminder, I suppose, that He is near, and he is taking care of us.  I bought a calendar yesterday.  It wasn't a religious calendar, it was just a calendar full of pretty flowers and pretty words and it was generic enough to work in our calendar spot (with lots of writing space on the individual days, which is nice).  When I opened the calendar to transfer all our yearly calendar information into it, the cardboard insert came out.  And it looked like this:

I can't tell you how timely those words are to us, and how much we needed to hear them (or see them) at this time in our lives.  So this what we believe -- God is near.  He is watching us.  He is running this show.  We are works in progress, and our family - as it grows - will likely always be that way.  And that's okay.  Along the way we'll seek out ways to grow closer to God, to live a life of love and peace.  And for now?  We're trying to let go of anxiety and fear and believe in this:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ok, how does this thing work again?? :-)

Well, its been awhile since I have been on the end of this "Writing a blog" thing. Bear with me as I have to remember where all the bells and whistles went to. 

First and foremost, just a few mins ago, we were at 625 "Likes".........WOW!!!!!  Its always a surprise to see the numbers climb and its always such a good feeling to know how many people are behind us rooting us on and all the people who have taken a personal interest in our FB page and our blog.  I know I am a broken record but THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!

OK, time to get to the meat and taters.  So I have a couple things on my mind so its hard for me to sort out which one I wanted to go so I just ended up flipping a coin today and that's how we got to the topic.  The topic today is being unemployed.  I know your thinking " What does this have to do with adoption?", well, just stay with me and I will get ya there.

As you all may know by now, I grew up in a farm family so working has never been any sort of issue for me.  Did not matter what job it was or where it was, I showed up, put in my time, and went home.  Since the age of 15 I have had a job.  Well, after spending 6 years at IBM doing geeky stuff ( manufacturing, but it was with servers ), I was offered an "opportunity" that I could not refuse.  Well, after spending a year and a half at this  "opportunity", I found out that I was being played so I moved onto something that us farm kids do best, working outside.  So the next close to 3 years was spent being a utility locator for a couple different companies.  If you don't know what a locator is, we pretty much mark where buried stuff is.  I always said that I was the guy who loved to paint yards with my orange paint cans.  Well, after spending some time doing that, I had the opportunity to advance and get into telecom.  Well, once I got in........ LOVED IT!!!  The company.......not so much but in the beginning, it balanced out.  Doing telecom combines nerdy things like setting up computers and routers to making Ethernet cables ( did you know I am a nerd? )  So after spending 2 years doing that, I found out the company was not doing great.  I won't go into details but it helps when the owner reinvests money into the company and not his own home.  So, One day I get called into the GM's office and he tells me I'm laid off.  2 things went through my head at that moment.......#1 Heck Yeah!!!  #2  OK, now what??

After I got laid off, Shell and me both agreed it was for the best since I was coming home stressed and totally unhappy.  And she was nice enough to give me the first 2 weeks of my unemployment to play video games and just hang out.  Well, by day 4 I was bored out of my mind.  Again, farm kid coming out of me I guess.  So after the first month of unemployment, I started job hunting again.  Well, needless to say, this was right as the economy hit rock bottom.  Well, a short unemployment turned into 10 months of job hunting and honey do lists.  I also started doing online schooling (that's a story of its own) and am still in school in fact.  So finally after 10 months of job hunting, I managed to find work at Mother Mayo as a custodian.  It was only supposed to be a 90 day assignment but they must have liked me because they extended me twice on day shift and then they moved me to nights and went through 2 different mangers.  My 90 days actually turned into 9 months and so, here we are again.

I must say though, I have seen many more openings now this time around and have also been applying like crazy to some.  I try to look at the positive as I am unemployed and some days are easier then others.  Again, so used to working then not working, its not as easy as everyone thinks it is.  All I do is plug through my homework for the week, do my honey do lists, and keep applying.  One thing I have thought about recently that Shelly and I have spoken about is that if we do get our child while I am still unemployed, I will be a stay at home dad.  So one way that I look at it is everyday I am getting my cooking, cleaning, and other skills in check for when a little one does show up.  I tend to keep going back to those positives when I am having a hard day and that tends to bring me out of my "Funk".

So pretty much everyday now is spent not only waiting for our child but also a call about a job.  Waiting........yup, I have learned to become very patient, that's for sure.  :-)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Birthday Boy and the Year Ahead

Birthday Boy modeling his new shirt!
In case you missed my announcement on Facebook – today is Todd’s birthday! We had a nice dinner this evening followed by some astronaut ice cream sandwich.  I guess you're never too old for...freeze dried ice cream.  We are planning to take a short little getaway this weekend to continue our celebration, but I will take this opportunity to wish him the happiest of birthdays and let him know I’m so glad he was born! I’m thinking we’ll have something for you from the birthday boy himself soon!

In other news, I have recently discovered a blog that many of you probably already know about (and have known about for months and months –and yet somehow never thought to tell me about it!): Single Dad Laughing

I love this blog. I think that guy has one of the biggest, best hearts on the internets. But – I’m not actually going to write all about my superfandom today. Instead, I’m simply going to take a page out of his book. His January 1, 2012 post was written futuristically as if he was a year in the future looking back over the year we still have ahead. It’s an exercise in positive thinking and, to quote him:

"I'm a big believer in positive thinking making great things happen.  I am a believer in thinking about the future as if it is already the past, and what that does for each of us."

Well, how can you go wrong with that kind of thinking?  So - I decided to give it a whirl.  I'm a few days late, but the year still stretches out before us, so here are the highlights of the year ahead (typed in purple because it's from the future):

I think it might be safe to say that 2012 was the best year ever.  First and foremost, our family went from a family of two to a family of three - finally!  We were chosen as adoptive parents and welcomed our newest addition with open arms and joyful hearts.  What a wild ride that has been , but we never could have imagined how much we'd love being parents.  In 2011, I couldn't imagine what life would be like once I was a mom.  Now I can't imagine what life was like before I was a mom.  Truly, this is one of the greatest gifts we have ever been given.

We continue to work on building our relationship with our child's birthparents.  We are committed to hammering out a relationship that fits us all comfortably, and I think we've made tremendous strides towards that goal.  We're so thankful for these relationships and the gift their existence provides our child.  We are so awed and grateful for the love our child's birthparents have for our child and know that this child is going to grow up knowing more love than he/she knows what to do with!  We know that like any other relationship in our lives, this one is going to take some work, but we could not have asked for better people to share this journey with.

In other great news, I finally (FINALLY) earned my bachelor's degree in 2012!  We had a huge celebration with all of our friends and family.  People are still talking about it.  That's because we really know how to throw a party. :)  I can't remember a time when I was so proud of myself and excited for my future.  I, obviously, took the long road to getting this degree, but I cannot imagine that I'd have been nearly as excited about this accomplishment at 22 as I am at 35.

2012 also marked the end of Todd's unemployment streak.  He was offered a job that he was excited about and has been happily employed ever since.  This has taken a tremendous weight off our shoulders and allowed us to breathe a little easier.  We know that without the job offer, Todd would have made an incredible stay-at-home dad, but his employment opens up more opportunities for us and puts us on the right track for our future.  We are most grateful that he actually enjoys this job and comes home happy at the end of the day, rather than worn out. 

On the heels of a year like this, I'm more excited than ever to see what 2013 brings!  It's launching from a solid foundation, so I know there are still plenty of good things ahead!