Oh the Places You’ll Go, Monkey

Oh the places you’ll go

As a child’s stuffed monkey

One can only imagine

Sights grand, and smells funky.

The baby store shelf

Was only the start.

Then into our hands

And touring on cart.

Aisles of snot suckers, baby wipes,

diaper genies,

Your destiny, Monkey,

Was not meant for weenies.

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It wasn’t too long,

Before this became clear

As you soon became tissues

For a baby girl’s tears.

Pacifier, comforter,

Playmate, and friend,

No one can offer

The same perks that you lend.

A nice tail to suck on

Soft body to squeeze

Long arms for helping

Pick-up books, shoes, or cheese.

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But the places you’ll go,

We don’t even know!

Wherever she takes you,

Our love for you grows.

Car rides and meal times,

Shopping and napping.

To Grandma’s and Grandpa’s

Or when we go camping.

Then washing and scrubbing

But always real sneaky

Or your best friend will miss you

And start to get weepy.

In summary, friend,

Our apologies please

For the drool and the dirt,

The occasional sneeze.

But the places you’ll go,

We don’t even know!

Wherever she takes you,

Our love for you grows.

And when you retire

To a shelf once again,

Know you’ll always be cherished,

As our girl’s childhood friend.

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For when she goes off to college

Or moves for a job,

You’ll come out of retirement

To muffle my sobs.

Thank You, Good Night

Long week: 50 work hours, 5 hours of sleep each night, sick (again), preparing for a garage sale. Apologies for any discontinuity in the following recap.

Check out the bags under those eyes! Eesh.

Check out the bags under those eyes! Eesh.

 

Friday night, 10:30 pm – Finally finished baking 12 dozen cookies for the Indoor Community Garage Sale, our first fundraising event.

Saturday morning, 5:00 am – Alarm goes off on my phone.

Try to turn my alarm off by frantically squeezing the side buttons and sliding my keyboard out.

Remember I no longer have a flip phone.

Frantically slide my fingers all over the screen. Somehow manage to silence the alarm.

Crawl out of bed.

5:03 am – Get Rylie up.

5:05 am – Make a list of everything I need for the Indoor Garage Sale today.

5:06 am – Search for my Chalkboard Marker.

5:10 am – Remember I was supposed to order the rest of my Profile Books from Shutterfly with the $20 off coupon I got from Buy Buy Baby yesterday.

Search my bag.

Search the kitchen.

Search the living room.

Search my car.

5:15 am – Quietly sneak into the dark bedroom to search the laundry pockets.

A voice breaks through the darkness, “You got Rylie up already??”

Indignantly, I verify that I did in fact get Rylie up.

Then I look at the clock.

4:15 am

Wait, what?

WHAT?

*sigh*

4:20 am – Search my car again. Found the coupon.

4:21 am – Search for the chalkboard marker. Ay-yi-yi

4:25 am – Give up on my search and order my Profile books.

5:00 am (again, but for real this time) – Lay down on the couch to nap until I actually have to get up.

5:00:01 – tick

5:00:02 – tock

5:00:03 – tick

5:00:04 – tock

5:00:05 – Consider how to demolish the clock from my place on the couch.

Spend an hour thinking. In the dark. On the couch. With the ticking clock.

6:00 am – Get up and nearly run into Tyler.

Almost wet my pants.

Apologize for my alarm going off so early.

“That was my alarm.” he tells me

Cry a little.

6:03 am – Find my chalkboard marker on the coffee table I had already checked 6 times.

Thankfully, the rest of the day went much better. I met Nick and Jamie (our friends from college who are also adopting) at the venue for the Indoor Community Garage Sale and we got everything set up just fine. In fact:

9:00 am – Doors open.

9:20 am – Run out of Dog Biscuits my friend made for us to sell.

I couldn’t believe the amount of people who came out to support us. People who I worked with, people I used to work with, people who only kind-of know us, people who have known us since college… It meant so much to have so many people come support our adoption.

I can’t even explain how much every word, blog-hit, and gift has meant to us. I probably make ya’ll feel super-awkward, because I feel like I’m fighting back tears each time someone donates or says how much they enjoy reading the blog or shows up at our garage sale. I’m blown away to see names I don’t recognize as “Supporters” on our youcaring.com site. I’m moved by the interest and the support throughout our Adoption Process. And then there’s the random checks in the mail that appear right when I’m feeling discouraged… I’m in constant awe of God’s reminders to us of His faithfulness.

They say pregnant women are emotional, but I think Expectant Motherhood through adoption induces a state of emotional instability of its own.

That or I am tired. Check out the bags under those eyes! Eesh.

Like really, really tired. Can I go to bed now?

*Happy sigh*  Thank you for reading and caring so much about us and our family. You are a blessing beyond what my loopy, tired brain can formulate into words right now. {Thank you!}

P.S. If you want to, you can search “Cheyenne and Tyler’s Adoption Page” on facebook to get blog updates and find out about upcoming events.

Our Story: In Vitro

In honor of Infertility Awareness Week, I thought I would share a little bit more about our story. I’ve already mentioned that Elise came to us through In vitro Fertilization, but haven’t spoken much on what the journey was like leading up to our triumphant pregnancy. Here is an excerpt from my private infertility blog:

It was quite the journey to get to this place: over a year trying to conceive on our own and two years doing various fertility testing, treatments, and even a surgery. I think I counted that I had over 100 injections in 2013. It was expensive and painful and a true challenge in our relationship too. We had to make decisions about spending and saving and what kind of treatments we were willing to try and when – while also being violently jerked around on an emotional roller coaster that crested in hope just before plummeting into disappointment. Each successive month brought growing desperation for two pink lines, only to come crashing down with every glaring-white test window.

not pregnant

They knew me by name at the Fertility Center. Not the place you ever want to be recognized. Like, ever.

Finally, we decided we would give In Vitro one chance and if we didn’t get pregnant, we would move to adoption.

We decided we would do one “fresh” IVF cycle in which I would take injections that would help body to produce multiple eggs, that would be “retrieved” once they were big enough to be fertilized.

“Retrieved”…  It makes it sound like an alien spaceship mystically abducts your eggs. Let’s just say if you think you’re afraid of needles now, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Anyway, after the retrieval, they would try to fertilize the eggs, with the hope of having two embryos to “transfer fresh” and two to four more to freeze for the future.

To be honest, the only real memory I have of the retrieval is this: After receiving the general anesthesia, they wheeled me into the procedure room. My anxiety started to ease as the medicine worked its magic. I strained to find Tyler who was sitting behind me to give him a quick hand-squeeze.

But when I looked over, I was startled to see Santa sitting there watching over me instead! Was I in the wrong room? What was going on here?!!?! Something about his funny blue beard made me think, Wait… something isn’t right here...

That’s when I realized it wasn’t Santa, but Tyler all “scrubbed-up” and wearing a sterile chin and hair net.

And thank goodness for that. Anesthesia is a powerful thing, lemme tell ya. How creepy would it be to have a Santa sitting in your operating room? I think the image has scarred me for life.

Two days after the retrieval, we returned to the Fertility Center, full of excitement and hope. The hardest part was over.

Well, except for the 8 weeks of progesterone shots in your booty. But even that didn’t bother me. I was too eager for the transfer.

Upon the doctor’s entrance, he handed me an ultrasound picture. It was of two embryos. He told us solemnly that of the 18 eggs they had retrieved, these were the only ones that had fertilized. My heart sunk and my throat tightened. Transfers only have a 40% success rate.

The doctor recommended transferring both embryos. Following the transfer, I laid in a recovery room to rest. My arms hugged the precious photographs to my body.

So this was it. No frozen cycles if it didn’t work. No more treatments of any kind. Our journey of trying to conceive was ending. I prayed, thanking God that no matter the outcome, this journey had brought Tyler and I closer to each other. At the thought of those two tiny embryos, warm tears that left cool trails down my face. When a single finger gently poked my forehead, I opened my eyes to see my playful, thoughtful husband staring down at me, waiting for me to tell him what was on my mind. It was a gesture one of my favorite children’s’ book characters did, and I laughed at his goofy way of acknowledging my emotional leakage.

When I finally got my first positive pregnancy test, I cried and laughed and stared. I couldn’t put it down. I had bought pregnancy tests in bulk from Amazon and had never seen this before. Who knew a dollar store pee-stick would be such a powerful symbol of triumph.

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563513_10151672421742399_540762728_nElise has changed our world. Just this weekend, Tyler went in to wake her from a nap and motioned for me to come. Our silly toddler was sleeping on her back with her hands behind her head, like she was bathing in the sun. So simple, but priceless to us. She entertains us daily, and I can’t begin to describe the joy I feel when she shoves her way to the front of the crowd of children hovering around the church nursery door, all the time giggling and exclaiming “Maaaa-maaaaa!!!!”

All we knew while we were waiting is just how much we didn’t know we were missing out on.

We can’t wait to meet baby #2!

On Open Adoption

Common questions people seem to be asking are, “Is it going to be an open adoption?” and “How often do you have to let your child see their birth-mom?” and “Aren’t you afraid she will become their favorite parent?”

All questions that I have asked as well. Concerns that have troubled me, particularly when we officially submitted our application.

While Tyler and I both have cousins who were adopted, they all have closed adoptions. The “openness” thing is totally new to us. Having the birth-mom in the picture always seemed like it would be confusing to a child and create instability in the family. I imagined feeling competitive and possessive of this child that she had entrusted to us.

We automatically assume openness is for the benefit of the birth-parents, and in some ways it is. It’s reassuring to them to know that they made the right decision. That their child is doing well and loves his or her adoptive parents. They can still be a presence in the child’s life and not have to wonder if they are hated for choosing not to parent.

But more than anything, openness seems to benefit the child.

This weekend we attended a panel discussion at Bethany Christian Services. On the panel was a 28 year old guy who discovered he was adopted at the age of 4, but was not given any details about his birth-mom until he was 18. Several years ago, he finally got up the courage to reconnect with his birth-mom. The other panelist was a 15 year old girl. She has had an open adoption from the beginning. She sees her birth-mom every-so-often, and texts and emails her birth-mom now.

What kept coming up over and over from both of them was how important it was that they know their birth-mom. Neither had any insecurity with who their real parents were: the mother and father who had raised them and supported them their whole lives. But, having a connection to their beginnings meant so much to them and helped them feel secure in knowing they were wanted. 

0001-480It’s a little bit hard to relate to the deep connection they feel with their beginnings. For me, I’ve never really been too curious about my birth story. Perhaps because I’m afraid my parents will pop in the video tape and I’ll be scarred for life.

I also don’t feel like I look much like any of my family members, nor does that bother me at all. I don’t often think, “I got this trait from my dad” or “I have my mom’s _____.” I feel close to them, and I appreciate the interests that we share; but genetics – to me – are not foundational to my identity.

The panelists’ message was not new to us. We’ve been reading and taking other classes, and it seems that the more we hear from adoptive children, the more it is apparent that their beginnings are a crucial piece to their identity as an adopted child. They don’t care that they were adopted. They just want to know about this missing piece to their story.

I suppose — when I think about it — it’s a little like losing a parent. Those things that you normally never would have paid attention to become a precious connection to their memory. Maybe you’ve read the Harry Potter books. Peel back the many layers of that story and at its foundation is a narrative of a boy struggling to find his identity while avenging the death of his parents. No compliment is greater to him than hearing how much he is like his father or mother. The power of that connection to his parents is paramount, even though he lost them as an infant.

So what will an open adoption look like for us?

Hard to say for sure. Typical openness involves several meetings at the agency during the first year, and then once or twice a year after that, with pictures and letters in-between. It’s really just going to depend on what we believe to be most beneficial to our child.

But no matter what that relationship looks like, we want our child to think about their birth parents and to know that our home is a safe place to ask questions and explore their identity. And we are confident that when someday during that teenage-turmoil-phase they tell us, “You’re not my real parents,” their words will sting, but hold no truth.

And isn’t that what teenagers do anyway? Test to see how unconditional your love is? Sorry, kiddo… You’re stuck with us!

Our Profile Book {and also the arrival we’ve been waiting for}

Our Profile Book {and also the arrival we’ve been waiting for}

Look what {finally} came today:

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Also pictured are the cookies I caved and bought 2 days ago out of desperation. Apparently the Girl Scouts didn’t blacklist me after all. They really were just back-ordered. For 3 months.

And now that our approval date is so close, I finally finished the profile book I’ve been working on for 3 months. Oddly coincidental, no?

Maybe my need to keep my mind off the perfectly crunchy, caramely, coconut cookies that drove me to spend nearly 100 hours on this project.

Or maybe it was that cookie-deprival stalled my creativity all this time.

However these two events are related, today was certainly momentous.

So anyway, when a birthmom chooses our agency for finding a family for her baby, we will get an email with non-identifying information about her: when she’s due, the baby’s gender, any health concerns for the baby, her interest in on-going contact. If we feel we would be a good match for her, we let the agency know that they can show her our profile book. She will narrow her choices down by looking through the books and reading our 15 page Home Study Report.

Take a look at a few pages here if you’d like (If you click the photos, you can read the text and see clearer pictures.)

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3

4

5

6

7

1

That’s all I really have for today! Less than 250 words! I think that’s a record. That is, if you don’t count the text on the pages.

 

Ready or Not

We got an email from our caseworker yesterday asking about moving our Official Approval up to May 5! Apparently our background checks, fingerprinting, and the rest of the paperwork is all completed and approved, so we are ready!

Wait… are we ready? Are we really ready for this??!!??

Let me just give you a sample of how stubborn our firstborn is.

I am trying to prepare our profile book for birthmoms to look through and realized that all of my pictures of the three of us are from a year ago. So my amazing mother-in-law came to take some family pictures. Let me just say these pictures really tell the story better than I could:

IMG_4542 IMG_4544 IMG_4545 IMG_4548 IMG_4551 IMG_4554 IMG_4556 IMG_4555

*sigh*

But I love her to pieces. Even because of her stubbornness and independence. I just pray God uses those qualities for good as she gets older!

Meanwhile our to-do list is almost done. Tyler has pretty much finished the table that is one of the prizes for the Raffle Drawing. On the left is the actual table and on the right is a similar 8 ft. table he made for our friend Sabina:

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Isn’t he amazing? Next I want him to build me a dining room table that can extend to fit 12 people, so you can all come over for dinner sometime!

Our Raffle is in full swing… sort of. We’ve raised $500 thanks to a handful of people, most of whom are family (thank you guys so, SO much!). But we now have $5000 due in 3 weeks – yikes!!! Originally at the informational meeting they had said it would be $2050. We had that and the initial $3000 set aside and had hoped to not have to worry about money until after our Garage Sale/Bake Sale and Dinner, as the final huge portion is not due until we are actually matched with a baby. So the payment schedule goes like this:

Application Process (completed) – $3000

Agency and Legal Approval (May 5th) – $5000

Placement – $13,500

Medical/Legal expenses for the birthmom (only requested in 50% of cases) – $3000

Anyway, God will provide in one way or another, but if it seems like I’ve been annoying on facebook with the fundraising stuff, it’s just because (1) I don’t know how to do a lot of stuff on facebook and have been experimenting with making pages and events and (2) I might. kinda. sorta. be getting a little nervous about having to pay that $5000 so soon.

Fundraising is not my thing. When I agreed to join Girl Scouts, I had no idea it meant we had to sell the cookies.

What do dogs eat? Dog biscuits.

What do cats eat? Catnip.

What should Girls Scouts eat? Girl Scout cookies, duh.

Needless to say, I didn’t last long. In part because of not getting to EAT Girl Scout cookies at every meeting and in part because I was not interested in selling anything. And then there was that Flag Ceremony incident in which they wanted me to do something-or-other with the American Flag. I’m someone who can’t picture things without you showing me first, so I was terrified when they told me how important this job was, then put the flag in my hands and asked me to march down this little aisle of girl scouts all staring at ME. I knew I was supposed to turn one way and do something else…. I never really knew. I’m not even joking, I very vividly remember fighting back tears whilst bearing our nation’s banner.

Oh and then there was that time I had to sew something.

Is that why our Girl Scout Cookies have been “Back-ordered” for 3 months? Good-golly, I caved and bought the Keebler version of Samoas out of desperation. Must be they did a background check and found my maiden name and recalled the national disgrace I bore down on my troop!

Alas, I digress… what was my point anyway?

Oh yeah, fund raising. Yeah yeah, yadda yadda, you’ve heard it already and I promise to stop posting a million things on facebook!

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IMG_4531But exciting things are happening here! Our little one could be out there right now growing in his or her Mama’s belly. So crazy to think about. Please keep them both in your prayers. And the three of us as well! May 5th is just around the corner!

Matters of Justice

You will be shocked at the story I have for you today. And I’m not being facetious. I was shocked. Just stay with me here. You’ll see.

Remember how I told the story of my “Adoption Physical?” Well Tyler had his also around the same time as mine mine.

When I asked him how it had gone he said, “Fine. The doctor was kind of weird.” He wasn’t thrilled that the only opening they had was with a female doctor. I wasn’t surprised at his summation.

“Weird?” I asked.  I giggled a little inside as I asked, “Did you have to–”

“No.” he said. He knew what I was going to ask. We both were hopeful our physicals would be nice and simple: Blood pressure, pulse, lungs, done. None of that socks-off-foot-assessment or any other *ahem* uncomfortable examinations.

He said matter-of-factly, more amused than offended, “She did ask me ‘Why don’t you want to just have kids the normal way?'”

Why-don’t-you-want-to-just-have-kids-the-normal-way????

I was incited. How could a physician — a physician — ask such a question?

I try to be understanding of people who ask this question out of ignorance that 1 out of every 8 couples will struggle with infertility.

I try to pretend I can empathize with someone who says “I am so done having kids.” or “When he looks at me, I get pregnant.” or “I cried when I saw the positive pregnancy test.”

I know they love their kids and they don’t realize the sting I feel. I know that I am probably ignorant of their life circumstances, and how another child will add to the level of stress or chaos in their household.

But a physician? A physician likely will have had patients suffering from infertility in the 25+ years experience this lady had. Justice must be served!!!

Now before you think that was the shocker of the story and move on to the “Which Modern Rock Star Should I Date?” Buzzfeed Quiz, take a quick sip of  coffee and keep reading.

So when Tyler told me this, I made up my mind that when I went back in to get my TB test read I would see if there was anyway to give some anonymous feedback to this particular doctor. I knew Tyler wouldn’t do it and would probably try to talk me out of it, so I was just going to not make a big deal out of it.

I stopped by the front window on my way out and asked the receptionist, “Do you guys have comment cards?” She seemed a little surprised by my question. Oh boy, I thought, maybe I should just drop it. 

“We have these ‘Rockstar’ badges.” she said as she held out a star-shaped paper with lines to write words of affirmation.

“Does that go on a wall somewhere, like publicly? I asked.

“Yeah” she smiled.

“Oh…” I said. This was getting uncomfortable. Why can’t I just be chill like Tyler? (“Chill”? Can’t I think of a better, more age-appropriate word? Apparently not…)

“Well…. that’s not quite what I was thinking. I guess it’s not a big deal. I just wanted to give some anonymous constructive feedback to a specific individual.”

I could tell it clicked with her, so she offered me the office manager’s business card.

I accepted it and thanked her and went on my way. The card has been sitting on my coffee table for 2 weeks now. I should have just thrown it away and let it go (Please resist the urge to break into song.) It’s not like she is our regular doctor.

Then yesterday Tyler got a letter in the mail. “Dear Tyler: It is with great sadness that we are writing to inform you of the sudden death of Dr. M. N.”

Little did I know that the day after I took that business card to email her manager about being more sensitive, she passed away.

I was shocked. I felt awful. But was so glad I hadn’t passed along my feedback.

I guess what I learned from that is to have a little more grace with people. Before I go picking out the speck in someone else’s eye, I need to think about the log in my own (Matthew 7:3). Because I am sure not perfect and have said ignorant or offensive things myself that I truly didn’t mean. And I’m sure Dr. N did not ask her question for it to sound like “What’s wrong with you?” or “Why would you want to adopt?” Or maybe she didn’t realize what a great gift adoption is, both for us and for this baby that will be ours.

Regardless, all that really matters is that matters of true justice are given supreme priority. Like caring for orphans, feeding the hungry, supporting the shut-ins, and giving aid to victims of disaster.

And as for other matters, a humorous approach is probably the best:

 

 

No Matter What Our Differences

Whilst browsing the book aisle at Meijer during the busy Christmas season, I came across this book I Love You All the Same. I was happily surprised to find it was a children’s book about a trans-racial family. And probably the most adorably illustrated book, I’ve ever seen!

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What I love most is that this book celebrates the differences each cub has – both the obvious physical differences and the differences in their gifts and interests.

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In our society, we seem to be afraid to say that anything about someone is not “normal.” And I get that. As a Mama Bear, don’t you dare treat my cub like there is something wrong with them.

But the reality is that even if we don’t want to admit it, our society does view certain things as “normal” and treats people differently because of their differences. In part, it’s because we are taught from a young age to classify and make assumptions. It helps us understand our world better. Even someone who is blind learns to recognize patterns and to react and respond according to the information their senses are telling them. So we are drawn to people who are like us, because there is less risk, less guessing about whether they will be accepting of us or not.

Though limited in my experience as any kind of minority, as a teenager I felt very “different.” I moved across the country right before 6th grade. I was home-schooled. And I seemed to always be the tallest girl wherever I went. When you are a teen, these differences feel like a big bio-hazard sticker adhered to your forehead. It wasn’t even that most people were mean exactly. They just didn’t try to get to know me.

What helped was finding people who were like me. And as I got older and more comfortable in my skin, I realized that my differences were nothing to be ashamed about, but they also weren’t anything that made me superior. They just were. They were a part of me, and they had shaped me. But my self-worth was not contingent on any qualities of “normalcy” or “uniqueness”, even if others treated me as if it should be.

This all became an exercise in “practicing what you preach” when I realized just how deeply I cared for this amazing guy who happened to be 3 inches shorter than me. He loved me and didn’t care a lick about how “freakishly” tall I was. Now, 6 years into our marriage, I am so thankful my insecurities did not dictate my choice of whom to love.

We watched a movie on youtube last week called “Adopted.” It’s a documentary about a woman in her thirties who was adopted from Korea and desperately wants her parents to understand the trauma she felt from them always treating her as “white” and never acknowledging the fact that she was different – that she was born to another woman and was of a different ethnicity than most of her community. It was really heartbreaking and scary, to be honest. We are very open to adopting a child of a different race, and this movie showed us that ignoring differences can sometimes do as much damage as making them obvious.

It’s hard to know the right move to make. “Do I act the same towards everyone? Do I not?”

I think it comes down to this: We have to branch out and talk to someone who isn’t like us; not assume their difference equals their identity; look for common ground before stereotyping. Movies, family, food, the Lions losing – there’s a good chance we all have a common experience or interest in one of these areas.

Then show a polite interest in the differences as they naturally emerge. Try to ask questions without making assumptions. Acknowledge that we feel ignorant and want to know more about what it’s like to be home-schooled or adopted  or biracial or an immigrant or have a physical disability. Step into their world for a minute. Experience what it’s like for them to be the “normal” one. We would be amazed at the different people with whom we can connect.

But don’t make their differences the only topic either. True, their differences have shaped them, but their whole identity is much more than that.

And forgoodnesssake, pleeeease teach your children to do the same. This is the perfect time to expose them to differences and show them to appreciate people who aren’t necessarily just like they are. They are learning social cues from you! Your words as much as your actions.

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100_7490For Tyler and I, our children will without-a-doubt be “different.” Tall, adopted, maybe trans-racial, and who-knows-what-else. And we know they are bound to face teasing and insecurity and maybe even racism. But we won’t ask them to ignore it. We will comfort them and teach them to celebrate their differences and the differences of others as well. We will seek opportunities to help them explore who they are.

And I think it goes without saying, but no matter what their differences, we’ll love them all the same.

Home Study Completed. Raffle Now Open!

Today was Home Study Visit #3 and we reached what I would consider another huge milestone: The end of the application process!  We are now about 6 weeks away from becoming officially, legally eligible to adopt. And from there… it could happen anytime! We know a couple who were picked almost immediately, another couple who waited four months, and another couple that waited a year. It’s just one great, big surprise!

At least that’s what I tell myself when the anxiety starts to kick in. We really have everything we need, so if we absolutely have to boot Elise to the cabin-in-the-woods-wallpapered guest bedroom, then so be it.

And no, we did not choose that wallpaper. Just haven’t gotten around to making it our own yet. Taking down wallpaper is a daunting chore.

So next on our list: Finalizing our Photo Book, Writing our “Dear Birthmom” letter, making our profile page, and kicking off our fundraising. I certainly don’t want anyone to feel sorry for us, but adoption costs between $21,000-$24,000. Which leads me to the big announcement:

Our Raffle is officially open!

Check out the amazing prizes you can enter to win! (Most of which were donated – a huge thank-you to those who contributed: Sabina Williams, Vicki Goethals, Lacey Key, and our families.  And thanks also to my dear friend Michaellynn, who helped me set up the youcaring.com photo link over in my Sidebar! We were overwhelmed by the generosity of both our friends as well as people that barely know us. When I posted about doing a raffle, I really was planning on us buying the prizes ourselves. I had no idea people would be so excited to donate items!)

2 Night Stay at the J.W. Marriott, Grand Rapids

$25/ticket

(non-holiday/Artprize)

exterior-02-th JW1 JW2 JW3

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Apple iPad Air 2 (16 GB)

$25/ticket

ipad

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Hand-crafted (by Tyler) Sofa Table (48 x 15 x 32)

$10/ticket

(Not yet built, but here is an example of another [8 ft] sofa table he built):

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$100 Target Gift Card

$10/ticket

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Custom Handmade Villa and Londyn Baby/Toddler Girl Vintage Romper

$5/ticket

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Crafty Momma’s Design Home Decor

(2 winners: 1 box and 1 sign)  –  $5/ticket

craftymomma1     craftymomma2

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Young Living Essential Oils or Healing Reign Office Consultation

 $5/ticket

Entering is easy! To enter the raffle, just click the link just below that says “Cheyenne and Tyler’s Baby#2 Adoption Fund” or the “Donate” button in the sidebar. After you have donated, it will let you write a note in which you can specify which prize or prize-combination that you would like to enter to win! (For example: “1 ticket for the Ipad.”) All donations are through paypal, so it’s safe too!

Cheyenne and Tyler’s Baby#2 Adoption Fund

The drawing will take place on Saturday, June 27 at a dinner at our church (at which time you can still enter the raffle if you would like). All winners who are not present will be contacted by June 28.

Good luck! And our sincerest, most grateful “thanks” for giving a gift that means so much to our family.

Stop And Smell the… Easter Eggs?

When I first spoke with our caseworker Sherri on the phone to set up our first Home Study visit, she gave me a nice long list of things to do: schedule physicals, get fingerprinted, have our well-water tested, get a vaccination record for our puppy, and contact our references.

“Oh, and can you have your Daycare provider write up a reference for Elise too?” she asked.

Immediately my mind went to the image of Elise chasing down one of her “friends” for a toy.

My response was delayed. “Well…” I said, “I’m sure she would. I just want you to know that Elise is going through the whole toddler-thing right now and it may not be the best time in her life for a shining reference.”

Sherri laughed and I pretended to laugh too.

“Uh, seriously though, I’m not sure-”

She didn’t let me finish my sentence (and for that I was grateful. How do you put it nicely that your kid tramples other kids for toys?).

“Just have her write a few sentences on her personality and her interests.”

She seemed to recognize the panic her initial request had created.

That’s the thing about adoption. It makes you kind of crazy:

“Oh no, I won’t be approved! My house is too dirty from our dusty gravel road!

or: “Oh no, I won’t be approved! I got a speeding ticket four years ago!”

or “Oh no, I won’t be approved! I have lint between my toes!”

I appreciated Sherri’s understanding, so I put it on my mental list to talk to our daycare lady Karla when I saw her next.

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“How’d Elise do today?” I asked. How could asking such a simple question invoke such polarizing feelings of joy and dread?

“Welllll…”

Oh no. I knew that wasn’t good.

“It was not a good day for Elise. We had a bit of trouble sharing and playing nicely with our friends.” I knew what that was code for.

*sigh*

I certainly won’t claim that we do everything right. But I promise you, friends, while we are affectionate and affirming, we also enforce the rules. It’s tricky business disciplining a little soul who can’t fully understand or empathize yet.

I tried to trick Elise into putting her coat on, “Elise, can you find your coat pockets?” It had worked before. Maybe it would work again.

She’s a smart cookie, that girl. She can smell bologna from a mile away.

Not literally. You know what I mean.

So distracted by her theatrics, I forgot to ask Karla to write the reference letter. Oops.

Maybe I should just ask her another day, I thought. But my urgent need to cross items off my list prevailed.

“Hello?” Karla answered the phone.

“Yeah, hey.” I said. “So… when I talked to the caseworker last week, she said she needed a reference letter from you.”

The irony was palpable. “Okayyyyy…” she laughed.

I repeated the instruction that Sherri had told me to give to her. I think she was as relieved as I had been. Thank goodness Karla loves Elise and knows that her worst behaviors are not the core of her character. In fact, I think Karla has been the greatest encouragement to me through the toils of toddler-hood. More than once she has reminded me that this is a phase – she will grow out of it. While stubborn and ornery, she is also sweet and funny and loves to be a helper.

Long story, short: despite her current outbreaks of possessiveness, someday, Elise will be a great big sister.

Because who wouldn’t want a big sister who teaches you how to stop and smell the… Easter eggs?: