Why My Car Smells Like Hobby Lobby

When we first were considering doing a garage sale I thought, “My father-in-law lives right in town, maybe he will get more traffic than we would out here in the country. On a dirt road.”

I thought, “Last year I sold almost $200 in 2 days at my friend’s subdivision garage sale… every little bit helps.”

I thought, “We have so much we don’t really need” as I started a pile of clothing, DVD’s, books, 2 of the 3 necklaces I own, and home decor that haven’t been used in ages, but was met with protests of, “It’s perfectly good _____ and we might want it someday,” by my husband.

I did NOT think people would start bringing us totes and car-fulls of donated items.

I did NOT think my father-in-law would buy the contents of an abandoned storage unit from an auction.

I did NOT think my parents would have 3 trailers-full of donations for our sale.

I did NOT think a friend would actually.donate. her CAR!!!

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I did NOT think our aunt would donate a gorgeous 7-piece bedroom set.

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I did NOT think people would bake us 15 different types of cookies; an assortment of pies, breads, and cupcakes; and 60 jars of barbecue sauce.

I did NOT think joining the “Lake Odessa Garage Sale” group would result in 3,000 people wanting to buy our stuff.

Ok, that last one was an exaggeration, but only slightly!

 

So here we go! My car smells like Hobby Lobby because it’s full of silk flowers and vases that my coworker brought to me yesterday. And when I say  full, I truly mean FULL. She had even more, but I didn’t have room for it all. She seemed so disappointed…

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wpid-img_20150602_052131932.jpgWell, we have $15,000 left to raise and I think with everything that everyone has donated, we should be able cut that down by more than $200.

Holey Moley, people. Our baby is so very loved already. Thank you… 

I think I’ll just not bother wearing eye make-up for the next few days.

Beuller?

Did you hear about our Rafffle

Beuller?

Beuller?

Beuller?

Haha. The funniest thing is that up until a year ago, I didn’t get that reference. And to be completely honest, I ended up hating the movie, but I kept it on whilst doing projects just so I could see the “Beuller” part and feel like one of the cool kids. I’ve been waiting for a chance to fit in like this. Too bad I didn’t think to just look the clip up on Youtube.

Life’s tough lessons ya know.

(My apologies if you are a Ferris Beuller fan.)

wpid-img_20150527_203634726.jpgAnyeeway… the odds are very much in your favor for the Raffle! I’ll just say that we’ve had many very generous donations, but no one wants to put their names in for the Raffle prizes!!! For goodness-sake, people! I wanted to make this rewarding so that WE can give to YOU too!!! And actually, they were mostly all donated-prizes, so it’s really more like we’re re-gifting.

As of right now, there are 5 tickets that have been put in for the ipad… and your chances are about the same for everything else. Just sayin’ – those are some pretty good chances.

1 month until the drawing! The drawing will be held at the end of the benefit dinner we are having on June 27 at Peace Church (6950 Cherry Valley Road, Middleville, MI 49333) from 5:00-6:30 pm. 

Also, if you are big into garage sale-ing or baked goods, we (ok, I) will be at 754 Washington Blvd, Lake Odessa, MI 48849 from 9:00-4:00 on June 4-6.

(I guess Tyler has to be at school for the final days of the school year – something about having a sub on your last day of school just wouldn’t seem right.)

And speaking of Tyler, I should tell you a short little story:

I made 3 different types of cookies this weekend and froze the dough to bake up for the sale. One of the cookies that everyone always seems to love is cinnamon-chip snickerdoodles. The only problem is that finding the cinnamon chips is like searching for truffles (the mushroom, just to be clear).

When I came home empty-handed from my truffle-hunt this weekend, I went on Amazon and discovered that I could order 6 bags for $16 including shipping. Not bad at all.

They came today.

cinnamon chips

 

Only… there were 12 bags, not 6.

I didn’t exactly tell Tyler I was ordering them, so I debated whether to stash them somewhere in the basement or let him find them and hope he didn’t mind my um… “preparedness.”

I decided to share my shopping-sins and piled them in one huge pile on the kitchen table.

His reaction surprised me. I thought  hoped he might be amused when he got home, but wasn’t prepared for him to think I was THAT funny for ordering 12 bags of cinnamon chips.

As it turned out, HE’s the one that ordered the exact same box of 6 from Amazon to surprise me!

I’m not exactly sure how to feel about this: amused, grateful, blessed, or a little creeped-out.

Or maybe just hungry.

 

First News of a Birthmom

It’s been a long two-and-a-half weeks since getting approved to adopt. On average, our agency has 3 birth-moms a month looking for a families for their babies. Probability was not high we would have received news of a birth-mom before now, but with adoption you never know.

So of course I’ve been as attached to my phone as a 6th grade girl.

I was counting this week out and getting ready to jump in the shower after digging in the dirt (aka assisting my father-in-law with converting the whole front of our house into lovely flower beds. And by “assisting”, I mean my father-in-law probably did 95% of the work.)

*hangs head in shame*

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And then my phone ding-ed.

It was an email from our adoption worker about a birth-mom due in September.

And guess what else?

Twins!

*faint*

 Twins… a lot to consider. When we were first asked about our openness to adopting twins we said, “Sure, bring it on.” But the reality is that twins AND a 2 year old AND working full-time just sounds a bit overwhelming. Elise still needs so much attention, and both of us being occupied with a baby may not be a very easy transition for her.

But on the other hand, who gets to choose what’s easy? 

Also weighing-in on our decision are the preferences this birth-mom is looking for: Monthly visits, more if possible; a stay-at-home-mom situation; and a family that doesn’t yet have a child. None of these “preferences” are set in stone; birth parents will read all about us and our preferences for openness and make an informed decision.

 

We have until June to give our official answer, but surprisingly we both haven’t felt any “nudge” like these could be our babies. It’s especially surprising to me, because I’m usually the idealistic, rescuer type who would be open to taking any baby. Without a doubt though, there is some couple ready and excited about these babies and we still pray for a beautiful future for them.

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Meanwhile, we are revving-up for our garage sale that’s happening June 4-6. We have TONS of stuff that has been donated to us:

Clothing in all sizes

Furniture

Lamps

A Car

Yes, seriously, A CAR. I posted on facebook asking if anyone wanted to donate their “yacht, car, or house” for our sale – totally in jest. And then one of our good friends texted me saying they just bought a new car and wanted to donate their old one anyway. I just can’t believe you people… ❤

We will also have baked goods – basically every-flavor-cookie imaginable as well as some pies, barbecue sauce, vegan energy balls… the list keeps growing!

I realized today that Lakewood’s last day is June 4, so I hope to draw some people to the bake sale since the sale is adjacent to the school parking lot. So if your kids go to West El, come stop by for some Last-Day-of-School Treats!

Hope to have more news soon of other birth-moms looking for families, but for now we’ll keep busy while we wait!

New Raffle Prize from Old Orchard!

What juice do you crave on humid days like today? For me, it’s ice-cold grape juice.

My amazing friend Dana from Old Orchard hooked us up with a new Raffle Prize! It includes:

FREE Juice for a Year

(in the form of 52 “VIP” free product coupons, each redeemable for a free 64oz bottle of Old Orchard juice, any variety, up to a $3.49 value)

2 Tervis Tumblers

2 Old Orchard Watermelon Lip Balm

1 Men’s Cutter & Buck Quarter Zip Sweater

1 Women’s Nike Golf Quarter Zip Long-sleeve Shirt

1 Reusable Shopping Tote


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Approximate Retail Value: $290! 

To get in on this Raffle, just click here, donate $10 to our Adoption Fund, and when it lets you leave a note after you donate saying something like “Juice.” Or you can always donate in person too and let me know how many tickets you want. 40 days left till the drawing! Which probably sounds like a lot to you, but since we are doing it at our benefit dinner, I feel like we have sooo much to do before then! (And no, you do not have to be present at the dinner to win!)

New OOB Logo

Hope you win! I actually really wish you could ALL win, because ALL your support – whether $5 or $500 – means so much to us. All I can say is an overwhelming “thank you.” We promise to pay it forward whether by giving ourselves or by teaching our kids to be generous people like you!

(To see the rest of our Raffle Prizes, click here)

 

The Journey

Parenting has so many victories and so many failures. No matter your confidence in your creativity and effort, don’t celebrate your win before the game’s over.

Exhibit A:  Elise has been hitting and throwing toys at Daycare – typical toddler stuff they tell me, but I don’t like it. I don’t see her in the mornings before I go to work, so I started leaving her notes/illustrations to be a “nice bunny.”

Monday:

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It worked! Monday she had a good day!

Tuesday:

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Another great day. I’m so glad I’m such a good parent! This was a win for sure. 

Wednesday:

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Terrible day… “What happened?” I asked her when we got home. “Didn’t you see the note I left you? To be a nice bunny?” 

“Bunny hit!” she says as she slaps the stick-note.

Apparently Elise is not familiar with the side-hug.

*sigh*

Thursday:

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A better day, but still a bit of attitude.

Friday: 

“Elise, if you’re a nice bunny at Daycare, I will take you to the library.”

Books are her favorite thing.

Aaand… Success! She was a very nice bunny on Friday. So after Daycare, we quick grabbed some blueberries (her favorite snack) from the store before heading to the library.

As I pull in, I notice a small handful of cars. It looks like we will have most of the library to ourselves. The benefit to living in such a small town. We walk hand-in-hand up the sidewalk to the giant glass doors and hear a loud “Click” as soon as I reach for the handle.

“Boom!!!” Elise mimics with a bunny-hop for emphasis.

Hours: Friday 10-5

We were too late. My heart sinks. I try to rack my brain for where else one could find books in this little town. The Hallmark? I guess that will work.

We enter the Hallmark and immediately run into our next-door-neighbor who works there. She was on her way out, but we chat for a minute and she ooo’s and ahhh’s over how big Elise is getting.

Next we scan the stickers. Then the baby items. Then the greeting cards. As we go, Elise keeps snagging items and is not happy about having to put them back. This is too overwhelming… I just need a book!

We find some Frozen paraphernalia and I contemplate settling on a Frozen book, when I finally spot the kid’s corner. We neatly return the Frozen stuff to it’s shelves and I grab Elise’s hand to drag her over to the book selection. I’m getting antsy to leave this place.

She’s not keeping pace, and when I look back to encourage some hustle-in-her-bustle, I notice she is carrying a green ceramic vase that’s half her size. In one hand.

I try to squelch my shriek of shock. All my neighbor’s coworkers have been fussing over us from the moment we walked in. I pray no one is watching me return the vase to it’s proper place on the lower-shelf of the display.

(A lower shelf? Seriously, who puts a vase on a lower shelf???)

My ever-growing urgency calls me to settle on some Mickey Mouse stickers rather than flip through books. Rewards for good behavior. Excellent. 

And the moral of the story is that there are no wins in parenting. As soon as you think you’ve figured something out, you get complacent. Parenting isn’t a game at all. It’s a journey. And you can’t assume you’re leading your kid in the right direction just because you’re leading the way. If you’re so focused on your destination that you’re dragging them with you, or you think your past success means you don’t need to check on them, you may be shocked to discover what they’ve picked up along the way.

So despite our busy-ness and our agendas, we have to walk alongside our children.

And sometimes literally. Please, someone remind me of this the next time I am in a Hallmark store.

 

10 Things I Won’t Miss About Child-bearing

1. Hormones: Being so emotional about trying to get pregnant, and then then taking hormones. And then having pregnancy hormones. And then after-birth hormones. My poor husband.

2. Progesterone shots in the rump. Administered by my courageous husband. Laying on my stomach, I would hear a heavy, sick-to-his-stomach breath and hope it wouldn’t be too long for him to get up the nerve to stab me with the 17 gauge needle. I stab people with needles for a living, and I would be sick to my stomach if I had to jam a giant needle into their muscle. I’m not sure who hated it more, him or me.

3. Getting up in the middle of the night to pee. Every.45.minutes.

4. Having to be stabbed twice for the epidural. And six times for the IV. So many needles… ahh, karma.

5. Peeing in cups. Good grief, peeing on-demand is nearly impossible for me. Before my laparoscopy they told me not to drink water for 12 hours prior. Then right before the surgery they handed me – the woman who has Pee-Cup-Anxiety – a container for a sample. I took 45 minutes in the bathroom trying to relax and run the faucet and picture waterfalls, all to no avail. I think the nurse thought I was having other issues, because she was flabbergasted when I returned teary-eyed with an empty cup. Thank God she was able to order a blood test instead. Even when I was in labor (I know, right?!!) and we went to the hospital I had a Pee-Cup-Anxiety-attack that paralyzed my bladder. That proves it’s a real thing, folks.

6. Anxiety about my doctor – my FEMALE doctor – not being there for delivery. And having good reason to do so. No sooner did she say “Goodbye and Good Luck,” than a young, hunky resident walked in to deliver my baby in her place. While the supervising {male} doctor looked on. And his other {male} resident observed. With unnaturally wide eyes. That didn’t blink. I looked at Tyler and cried. (In all honesty though, the resident was amazingly-encouraging, and I couldn’t have asked for a better delivery-coach. I just had to imagine he was a motherly, middle-aged woman.)

7. Starting motherhood off with 3 hours of sleep in a matter of 48 hours. Plus crazy hormones that make you question if everything you are doing is wrong. Plus stitches that make it nearly impossible to get out of bed. Again: my poor husband.

8. Looking like a zombie for the first month of her newborn life.

9. Post-partum baby weight… And POST-post-partum baby weight.

10. Breast-feeding. Saying statements like that can start a Mommy brawl, but what I mean by it is this: Breastfeeding ain’t for sissies. Wish I could say I was one of those moms that loved breast-feeding, but we STRUGGLED. (Fair warning: if breast-feeding gives you the heebee-geebees, skip the next sentence). Let’s just say, “Ripped Nips” does not mean having well-defined pectoral muscles. But somehow, we made it through the first year via the Mammary-Torture Device breast pump. I am so glad I did it, and would recommend to anyone to try and to get as much help as they can from a Lactation Consultant. But I will.not.missit.

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Truth be told though, carrying Elise in my womb and delivering her was the most wonderful, life-changing experience. When we held her for the first time, Tyler looked at me with tears in his eyes and barely choked out the words, “3 years…”

I have no idea what to expect for Baby #2. There is no “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” chapter on Adoption. But I know it will be every bit as miraculous and meaningful as Elise’s entrance into this world. Just minus a few needle-sticks, hormones, and pee-cups. Thank goodness.

Now who wants to buy a breast pump?

The Other Mothers

Mother’s day can be such a hard day for so many. On such a day, remember to honor the women in your life who may not have children to recognize them on this day…

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The Mother that held her child as they passed from this life.

The Mother that lost her baby in her womb – well before she could even hold them in her arms.

The Mother who is scarred by a decision she made to end her pregnancy.

The Mother who chose another family to be her child’s parents.

The Mother that is still waiting to meet her child – whether separated by oceans or infertility.

The Mother who doesn’t know where her child is right now and is scared to think of it.

The Mother whose baby is in the NICU – wrapped in cords, instead of in her arms.

The Mother who has opened her heart to foster children, and endured the anguish of their indefinite return to a previously abusive home.

 

I hope you are recognized and honored today, dear Mothers – because it’s not a card or flowers or any other recognition that makes you a good Mother. It is your deep, deep love for your children. Love that likely seems invisible to most on a daily basis, but which weighs heavily in your heart and soul each and every day.  May it be their lives – and not their loss – that carries through the good days and the bad. ❤  After all, more than anything, what you really want is for your babies to be remembered and cherished – both the ones you are waiting to hold and the ones whom you’ve already had to let go.

Through our struggle with infertility, the scripture below is what carried me through. It is the outpouring of a man crushed with grief and doubting God’s goodness and faithfulness. Expressing how every day feels like a thick fog clouds his mind. How the pain is so deep, it feels like physical suffering. How hope seems impossible.

But hope is never impossible. God is keeping your babies in His arms, so that one day you will be united. Until then, seek the Lord. Go to Him with your grief. You still have a purpose for being here in this life and your children are counting on you to make your pain count for something.

Lamentations 2:16-26

16 {God} has broken my teeth with gravel;
he has trampled me in the dust.
17 I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,

the bitterness and the gall.

20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

Why Does Adoption Cost So Much?

Our approval yesterday went great. We signed some papers and handed over our profile book. The adoption workers discussed what to expect next, which basically was anything. Every birth-mom is entirely different, and every adoptive family is different. It’s impossible to predict how long it will take for us to be chosen, but now we are officially a choice.

So of course in the mail today I opened the box to find a letter from Bethany.

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So sweet of them – a bill for $5000. Thankfully, we have been very used to limiting our spending and have saved up enough so that with the $2200 you have given us, we don’t need to panic or take out a loan!

Which means only $14,000-17,000 more to go!

Which leads me to the common question we are asked:

“Why Does Adoption Cost So Much?”

A great question! I wondered the same thing and checked on other agencies and other options for adopting for less. I was surprised to find that Bethany actually had the lowest cost of all the agencies I looked into. The short answer is this:

  • Birth mother expenses (hospital, housing, food)
  • Government and legal fees
  • Counseling with potential birth mothers
  • Adoption agency overhead and expenses
  • Advertising on your behalf

The only real way to bypass such incredible expenses is to adopt from foster care, which is no cost. And while we may do this in the future, foster care means two significant things we don’t feel ready for: (1) Agreeing to support the goal of re-uniting the child with their parents and (2) most-likely adopting an older child. With Elise not yet two years old, we felt ready to grow our family, but not ready to disrupt her birth-order or expect her to handle having foster-siblings coming and going from our home.

I believe back in 2012 there was a $12,000 government refund for adoption. Now, they have made up to $12,000 tax deductible. Which to me, makes no sense. At a minimum, why isn’t the entire expense tax deductible? Just sayin, it should be.

In addition, my employer offers $5000 reimbursement – which was amazing until I realized that I will not be paid for any leave I take because I did not give birth. So I am thankful for that, but will be using it to cover my leave. And taking that time is extremely important in adoption because the adoptive parents are not who the baby has heard and smelled and felt since conception. So much of the research supports new parents taking as much time as possible to bond with and nurture an infant.

So while the cost was EXTREMELY overwhelming at first — and still is somewhat of course — I’ve been amazed at God’s faithfulness throughout. Every single gift has been… an indescribable blessing. Not just because of the towering cost, but because people care. God cares. I was so disappointed when I found out my work did not win a $1500/employee bonus that we were favored for. The timing and amount would have been perfect. But God – through even more meaningful means – provided exactly what we needed. Thank you for every gift, friends – not just financially, but in your “congratulationses” (?), encouragement, and excitement for our family. 

Approval-Eve

On this, the eve of our Adoption Approval, I pause to consider the threshold before us.

In a matter of hours we will become “Paper Pregnant” — meaning we can now be chosen by a birth-mom. Any day, we could have another head to snuggle under our chin. Another cooing giggler, eyes lit up with wonder at our silly baby-entertaining antics. Another tiny hand wrapped tightly around our fingers.

The days have been rushed. I can hardly count how many lists I have going, much less how many to-do’s are on each list. I  run this way and that, forgetting my purpose for all my urgent steps. I snack here and there throughout the day, hoping mostly to motivate myself to keep going. Good-gracious, just this afternoon I did the potty-dance into the house, toddler on my hip, bag over my arm, shoes in my hands, and phone in my pocket.

Oooo, Elise, babe, I’ve GOT to put you down. Mama’s gotta GO! 

Yet I kept her in tow as I descended to the basement to free Rylie from her crate.

“Nooo!she protested. But I pulled out her new toy stroller (with the buckle she loves to play with. Of course.)

Finally entertained, I left her and polka-ed to the potty, only to hear a voice from my pocket, “Hello?”  

Mortified, I answered my phone.

Why did I answer???

“Do you feel better yet?” teased the voice. It was my friend Rachael. Giggles ensued as I requested a swift end to our conversation so I could pee in peace.

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Peace.

Funny how a baby can create the most anxiety-inducing, heart-breaking fits of crying, and yet moments later melt into the sweetest, warmest, softest bundle of peace laying limply on your chest. Who knew it could be so comforting to be-so-comforting? To pause and just be still, in awe of such indescribable love.

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I look out at the beautiful surroundings of our home. Never-mind the tree stumps and patchy grass. Tonight it’s the most peaceful place on earth. Home is waiting for you, sweet little one. We can’t wait for your giggles and snuggles and mischief to adorn our household with love.

Raffle Rebel

So apparently I have been getting “cease and desist” emails from youcaring.com for doing a raffle with our donations. Only, I set the site up with my “junkmail” email address, so I wasn’t getting them. Then yesterday, I noticed that our account was suddenly deactivated, and when I tried to make it active, it wouldn’t even let me.

It looked like it would let me… the box was white and empty, not ghosted out like there was a problem.

Frustrated, I tried refreshing the page.cease-and-desist-stamp

Nothing.

So I tried it again.

Nope.

And again.

And 7 more times.

All the while, muttering unintelligible sighs and groans of sadistic intentions for my computer.

Poor Tyler…

Tyler: What’s wrong?

Me: (squinting angrily at the computer and click-clicking away) Oh, our account is deactivated again and I… mmm arrrrghhhhh whaaa??? Ughhhh!!!!!

Tyler: Why is it deactivated?

Me: Um, I don’t… grrrrrr, REALLY???? C’mon…

And so on and so forth.

Finally, I thought maybe I need to use firefox. Except I wasn’t logged in on firefox and couldn’t seem to remember my password. So I clicked the “password reset” button and that’s when I noticed that the email associated with our account is my junk-mail account.

Oops.

That’s when I noticed youcaring had sent me 4 emails already. Very kind emails, I must say. But emails requiring me to edit out the “raffle” part of my Fundraising Information. Thankfully, as soon as I edited that and emailed them, they re-activated our account.

Anyway, all that is to say: you can still donate for the raffle. Just view the prizes on my “Enter the Raffle” page here on the blog, click the “Donate to Cheyenne and Tyler’s Adoption” button on the top Right sidebar or the very bottom if you are on a mobile device. Then you can still leave a comment with your donation or message me your prize choice on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CheyenneandTylersAdoption or through my personal facebook. Or if you know me, just let me know.

Sorry for making things so complicated. I had thought the raffle would be a fun way of showing our appreciation to people for donating, but it seems like we keep running into obstacles with it: people have been confused about how it works, we were asked not to post about it at work, and now this thing with youcaring…

Though my degree is for Non-profit work, let’s just say I’m not going to be any kind of Fundraising Manager anytime soon. Or, ya know… ever.

P.S.  4 more days to Approval!!!