Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pink fire truck cakes and other birthday business

We celebrated Kenson's 4th birthday a bit early so that we could celebrate with our extended family. I am really not a big gift giver. I take that back...I love giving gifts. I hate "having" to give a gift. I would much rather prefer to give someone something they really want or a non tangible thing they will enjoy. And I'd much rather do it just because I want to not because it's their birthday, Christmas, etc.. And I really don't want my kids to become gift junkies who only anticipate holidays because of the gifts.

That said, D and I decided we would borrow a tradition from a family we know. They let their kids have 3 wishes on their birthdays, not necessarily 3 gifts. I really like the idea because it encourages kids to share what they'd really like and often times, it doesn't even make them think about gifts. With Kenson, if we would have let him, his 3 wishes would have been a pink fire truck cake, eating at Grandma and Grandpa's and candles. We figured the candles kind of went with the cake so we asked him to pick something else which became the wish of a guitar.

So pink fire truck cake it was...don't ask me where that came from! And we ate supper at Grandma and Grandpa's with Uncle Jared, Uncle Tim, Aunt Sheree, Brenna, Quinn, Alissa and Grandma 2. D and I got him a guitar and he got a few other goodies too. (Coloring books, sidewalk chalk, a bowling game, Toy Story dominoes, a farm set, a slip and slide and some money to use on buying some outside play equipment. We have played with every thing now and love the farm set, dominoes, and slip and slide. The other gifts we like, but we really do LOVE the ones I just mentioned.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Great series on adoption

A few weeks ago, the Livesay family posted a series of posts on adoption. It was just a nice section of thoughts on adoption from a variety of places. I had intended to link to their "truths about adoption" series but forgot. And then someone asked me some adoption related questions tonight and jogged my memory. So here's a group of great posts for anyone thinking about adoption, who has adopted, or who is just trying to get a better handle on what adoption really feels like on a lot of levels.

Adoptee's view

Adoption and Race

Real life in the adoption world

To adopt or not

Adoption as loss

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rodeos, Tortillas, and Some Minor Butt Scratching

We've had a whirlwind last few days...
Rodeoing at Mason City with Uncle Jared as the announcer

Celebrating Kenson's birthday a few days early

Going to Uncle Jared's house and checking out the horses

I decided to work really hard to remember the best phrases from moments throughout our trip.
The ones to make the cut are:

Don't rub your tortilla on your shirt.

Take your braid out of your nose.


Get your hands out of your pants. If you have an itch, scratch it from the outside.
(And yes my brain is not really sure that I should have said those words.)

While you're contemplating which family member that last one was about, enjoy a few photos of our experience with Jared's horses.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

If cleanliness is next to Godliness..

then, man, am I in trouble!

I have struggled this summer with keeping upon housework. I'm just not a great housekeeper and for some reason, it seems worse this summer.

I don't know whether it's the addition of a certain three year old or the addition of a certain husband but the laundry and dishes are always heaped up.

I usually am really good about the "handle papers only once rule" but again, I just seem to find paperwork piles laying around. (I try hard to immediately file, through, etc. any papers that enter the door, if you're wondering what rule I'm talking about.)

The dog hair just seems to have a mind of its own and right now, I think it's laughing at me. Vacuuming seems to be a futile effort.

I used to think "at least there isn't a funky smell" but after seeing a current commercial that asserts "80% of people can't smell the odors in their own homes" I'm feeling a little concerned.

I suppose it's mostly the clutter that is really the issue. I've got crafty stuff out. And a couple piles of books that I've been wanting to read. D's still got some left over soccer items that haven't quite found their homes. Plus the usual stuff like a bucket full of underwear and socks that I managed to turn a dingy gray after washing them with a rag rug. So now I'm trying to bleach them back to white. The kids? Well, on any given day, who knows what they have out? For some reason today we had to get all of our winter clothing out. At least the clothing they could find. I think it all started because Kenson uncovered a pair of cowboy boots and to borrow a line from a story, if you give a child a pair of cowboy boots it will remind the other child that she has no cowboy boots but she does have snow boots, which she'll want to drag out. And if she drags out her snow boots, she's going to need a fur lined bomber hat to keep her head warm. If you let her wear the hat, her arms will get awfully cold in the 90 degree weather so she'll start digging through the baskets, looking for her coat. And chances are, if she finds her coat...

I guess the housekeeping thing is one thing that kind of surprises me about women. For some reason, women are very reluctant to be real with each other regarding the state of their homes. In other words, we really don't like unexpected guests because of our laundry piled on the table or our floor that happens to have a couple Cheerios shoved into one corner. (I wish it were only a couple of Cheerios on my floor.) Why we are so sensitive about this, I just don't know. Generally speaking, there are a lot more women with imperfect homes with the level of cleanliness ranging from slightly messy to a lot more than slightly messy. Dishes, laundry, clutter-all houses have it and it's usually not tucked neatly away.

One thing I've come to appreciate are a few friends who have always welcomed me into their homes despite their home not being immaculate. Sometimes, their house wasn't anywhere even close to even sort of clean. I think having friends who were willing not pay attention to the flawless house myth has made it easier for me to authentically share my house with others who happen to pop in or even those whom I was expecting. I also read somewhere that when we hurry to clean our homes because of a guest, it usually creates high stress situations within our families. That those high stress situations really are sending an important message to our kids, that our life is not okay the way it is so we'd better hurry and get things straightened up before so-and-so sees it. It discourages authenticity and instead fosters a belief that we must present ourselves perfect or that we must show others at least in some semblence of what is acceptable in order for those people to like us.

So today as you consider your house and the never ending tasks that go with the blessing of having a house, remember that cleanliness is not next to Godliness despite your Aunt Mabel's adament stance. Instead count your home as a gift from God, something He has entrusted you with, not simply so you could keep up appearances but so you could love on others by inviting them and sharing your life with them.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Just to clarify

Regarding my wishes in a previous post for disposable underwear....

Yes, I now realize they do make them. (Thank you friends for reminding me.)

No, I did not think of what I was really wishing for while I was waxing away, wistfully dreaming of a a smaller laundry pile.

And no, we will not be making the change to adult diapers anytime in the near future.

Little Disciples

A good read to start your morning...get your mom mind headed in a positive, godly direction

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

The Good: When Conleigh came home, she flew to the U.S. with 2 other kiddos from Haiti Children's Home. One of those kids was a little girl, Julie, who is about 6 months younger than Conleigh. Julie and Conleigh have spent much of their lives together at the orphanage and Conleigh grieved Julie's friendship for months after coming home. Julie's family was headed through our neck of the woods on their way to visit relatives in Canada and they got to eat lunch at our house on their way by. The kids played great with no fighting. Even Julie's older siblings were generous and played well with the three much younger kiddos. We got a chance to visit with other adoptive parents. It was just such a blessing to have them stop.

The Bad: Since the Fourth of July, we've just been in kind of crazy mode. We spent the 4th-the 7th at my folks'. Then D and I came home while the kids stayed at Grandma and Grandpa's. We were actually only home one day and then we headed out to our marriage enrichment weekend. We got home on Sunday at 11 and then hosted soccer boys for lunch. We spent part of Monday picking up the kids and then every night that week doing VBS. My laundry situation is B-A-D. So is the dish situation. I've already decided that next summer we will be converting to disposable plates, cups, and silverware. I just can't keep up when we are all home all day and I cook two meals a day. (Well I could but that would mean hand washing....the horrors!) As far as laundry goes, too bad there's not disposable underwear...

The Ugly: Vacation Bible School...just that should explain a lot. Our church does an evening program from 6-8:15 every night for a week. It's fun but knowing now what I know, I probably wouldn't have had my kids do it. My kids had an amazing time but I found myself wondering why I making them go every night. While I don't doubt God uses all sorts of things, I just found myself feeling like I was making them go because I felt like they needed to go out of obligation. The reality is they're three and being out until 9 every night for a whole week with minimal benefit was something we could have lived with out. We're still dealing with some ugly cranky behaviors. (And the kids are having problems too.)


The Unusual: I got my hair cut today. It's short. Really short. No pictures, sorry. You'll just have to see me in person.

Friday, July 16, 2010

God and Me-If Onlys

Lately, I've been living with a lot of "if onlys."

"If only our house would sell..."
Our house has now been on the market almost 14 months. We have not had even one vaguely interested party. We have not had anyone even view it in probably 3 months. It's not just our house. Our neighbor is trying to sell her house and is having the same problem. Our realtor actually advised us against dropping our price anymore because she honestly believes our price is not the issue. Open houses are just busts; not one person attends. We thought we maybe had something worked out with a guy who was flipping a house and had offered to buy ours. But then when we met and talked it turns out he was wanting to give us next to nothing for our house and sell the house he had for a pretty decent amount. Not going to work for us. Where we are at right now, while not "under water" on what we owe, we are definitely not going to get out of the house what we've invested into it. To add to my feelings on our house, since last fall, we have just been consistently hit with high dollar repairs for the house. Every repair means more money into the house and less money in our pocket if we sell it. There are also several updates we'd like to do to our house if we were staying but since we're moving, we've avoided those investments. Like a great backyard play space. And some kind of change that would make our kitchen more functional. Things that just leave me unhappy on kind of a surface level, even though I know they are not the end of the world. To add to all of that, because of the way we purchased our house and financed some improvements, we could definitely benefit from a refinancing. But again, that only makes sense if you are staying put.

"If only our budget wasn't quite so tight..."
Staying home is important to me. I chose to quit my job because I felt like I could always go back to work but I couldn't undo the choice of keeping my job quite as easily. But staying at home has meant living on a tight budget. One that I had hoped to supplement by subbing. But in the last 18 months since I've been home, I have had kids who have needed me to not sub as they transitioned to family life. 18 months as a stay at home mom but I've really only been able to work for 6 out of those 18 months. Again, moving would be one of those things that might help us out. Less gas money, perhaps a different mortage payment, maybe those things would help. And while I am hoping to get to sub this fall, I'm finding myself trying to arrange daycare for the kids and just not having things fall into place. Mainly because it's harder to find someone who is willing to watch kids for less than 20 hours a week. It's very tempting to just feel like things would be easier if I committed to working more, even though I know that's probably not best for me or my kids.

"If only the constant stream of unexpected bills would stop..."
Since last fall, we have found ourselves dealing with just a constant flow of bills. Derek's truck conked out. We chose to use our cash on hand to buy him a new truck as he has to have something to drive the 30 or so miles he drives every day. Because of the commute, we felt like we needed to buy something with fewer miles which of course translates to more expensive. We've had plumbing issues, furnace issues, and chimney issues. We had an unexpected week long trip to Florida. We now have adoption expenses as Conleigh's orphanage is requesting payment to off set their costs and we have to figure out a way to finish up Conleigh's adoption. We've just seen our "cash reserves" dwindle.

For some reason, I've just felt all of this just really deeply this week. Maybe our busy weeks and not enough sleep. Maybe the dashed hopes of having our house sold and a new house bought. Maybe just Satan and his ability to distract and deceive.

But today, I was reading The Power of a Positive Mom, the chapter I read was apparently just what I needed to read. The author very specifically talked about the "if onlys", the things we wish were different because if they were, we'd be happy. We all know that thinking like that just results in unhappiness because even if something does change, we quickly find a new source of discontentment and set our mind on it. The reality is "if onlys" are simply opportunities, opportunities to trust God. I found myself writing out my "if onlys" today and then taking those worries and rephrasing them as opportunities to trust God.

"A house that has not sold is an opportunity to trust God."

"A tight budget is an opportunity to trust God."

"Unexpected expenses are opportunities to trust God."

I don't know when or if our house will sell. I don't know if our budget will gain some income. I don't know if the unexpected bills will stop coming. All I can be concerned with is my attitude as I approach them. Praying that I will be reminded of God's viewpoint as I deal with life's "if onlys"...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Six Months Ago Yesterday....

literally millions of people saw their lives change forever. Some Haitian, some not. D and I had been outside doing something-I can't remember what- and came inside. For some reason, we'd left the tv on and as we walked by it, the news of the earthquake came on. I am not being overdramatic when I say that my heart sank in my chest, way down deep, to where you just kind of feel like you've had the wind knocked out of you on an emotionally level. If you've ever been to Haiti, you know why. All I could say was "Oh Lord Jesus!" I knew when the reports started coming in that it would not be thousands of people dead even thought the first reports were being very conservative in estimating how many were injured or killed. There was just no way that an earthquake of such magnitude would leave Haiti with such minimal loss. And in an ironic way, as those words of "Oh Lord Jesus" were really the only prayer I had for about a week after the quake, God pushed aside a dam of prayerlessness that had been acculumating in my life as we spent months, well actually over a year, waiting for some positive news regardin Conleigh's adoption.

After the earthquake, I heard and read lots of comments that questioned the need to help Haiti when there are plenty of needs in our hometowns and in our country. While I do not disagree that it's important to help those who live in our country or our neighborhood, simply adopting a "look out for ours" mentality is not how Jesus would have us love.

Today as I helped my kids do their quiet time, the story was that of the good Samaritan. You know the one where three people are given an opportunity to help someone who was hurt and laying alongside the road. Two people walk by, paying no attention to the man's need, but the third attended to the man and helped nurse him back to health. The third person was not from the man's ethnic group but was a Samaritan who had every reason to be apathetic at best, hateful at worst towards the injured man. Jesus decided to tell the story in response to the question, "Who is your neighbor?" and used the story to show a real life application of the commandment, "love your neighbor as yourself." I couldn't help but see this story and be reminded of who my neighbor is, in this case not just Mr. Lyle who live in the big white house next door but also those in Haiti who are homeless, jobless, without quality medical care and access to a constant food and water source.

For more reading on the hard things and joys that are happening in Haiti right now, I'd urge you to check out this post by Heartline Ministries. They have actually kind of "reinvented" parts of their ministry to better serve the new needs in Haiti. We also just received an email from Kenson's orphanage which works directly in Port Au Prince. Again, it describes the difficulties of working in PAP right now.

Monday, July 12, 2010

God and Me-Marriage Enrichment

This weekend, D and I had the luxury of attending an event put on by Nebraska's Fellowship of Christian Athletes. We went last year too. The group believes that coaches have been put into positions of incredible influence as they work with literally hundreds of high school kids. They also believe that in order for coaches to effectively minister to the kids they work with, coaches need to be supported and encouraged and that this includes in their marriages.

To be honest, it is not easy to be a coach's spouse. Teaching in itself can mean long hours. School hours may be 8-3:30 but most teachers are there early and go home late. And coaches start another job at 3:30. Depending on the day, coaches stay until 6 or, if it's a game day, stay until 9 or 10. When your spouse's sport is in season, it's a lot of long days for them and a lot of time apart.

But on the flip side, being a coach's wife is a blessing. I could never ask my husband to give up coaching. It's just one of those things that is too special to him to ask that. He loves interacting with his boys. He loves getting to "hang on" to his youth by playing soccer. And it makes me incredibly proud to watch him work tirelessly and give of himself because he loves his boys. He does study halls in season and out of season for kids who need some motivation on the grade front. He organizes soccer events in the summer not just so the kids are keeping active in soccer but because he knows his kids come from varied backgrounds and are in need of shared experiences, shared jokes, shared moments in time that will help them become teammates and, in some ways, like a family. He gets that life is not just about soccer or having the world view you as successful and he tries to show his boys the big picture. I just love watching it unfold.

This weekend was just a good time to reflect on our family and our marriage, on what direction we are headed.

Some words I found especially true:

Your spouse is God's perfect provision for you. Not God's perfect person for you, but His perfect provision.

If a package arrives at your door, cash due on delivery, you might be thrown off by the unknown and tempted to discard it. But once you recognize the sender, if you trust the sender, you will receive the package. Spouses are packages that come with a lot of unknowns but once you recognize that they are a gift from God, it should be easy to receive them because you know Who the giver is.

Have you been reconciled to God, through Christ? If so, then you are called to the ministry. All who are reconciled are in the ministry. From 2 Cor. 5:19 "Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation..." So good to be reminded that because we are redeemed, we automatically have a ministry.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Whirlwind Weeks

Anybody getting the feeling that their summer is whooshing by? This last week was C-R-A-Z-Y! And I was missing kids for part of it! Here's the run down:

Sunday the 4th-head to my aunt and uncles, watch fireworks, play, laugh, play a little pitch, stay up way too late visiting with my family including my cousin and his family who were back from NY

Sunday night through Wednesday-visit Grandma and Grandpa's house ( my folks'), visit my best friend from high school, play and play and play, slip and slide good times

Wednesday-D and I leave, kids stay at Grandma and Grandpa's, we arrive back home and start thinking about our next departure, kids play and play and play

Friday-D and I head to Lincoln for the FCA's Coaches Marriage Enrichment Weekend, Bob and Jan Horner who normally speak with Family Life's Weekend to Remember were the guest speakers, plus "huddle time" with other coaches and their families, kids build a sandbox with Grandpa and play and play and play

Friday night through Sunday morning-overnight at the Cornhusker Hotel for D and I, enjoying the speakers, two nights and two days worth of meals for $100 (seriously a great deal!), kids play in the pool and get to enjoy Uncle Jared's company (I'm just praying they haven't resorted to calling him Dr. Jared since that's his goal in life: to convice people he is a doctor simply by inserting falsehoods in conversation enough that it somehow becomes fact,)

Sunday noon-D and I leave conference, head home to host soccer boys as we watch the World Cup soccer final, feed a group of high school boys, D plays soccer with them, I get some groceries, kids are still playing I'm sure

Monday-sometime on Monday we'll be headed to GI to pick up the kids, then we kick off VBS for the week (evening VBS so that will give us some more "we're out of our routine" feeling)

Any wonder I'm feeling like we're in a whirlwind?

And looking ahead to the coming week, with VBS, isn't feeling any calmer. VBS, a few playdates on the schedule which we may just have to say no to, and perhaps the highlight of our week, Conleigh's Julie is coming for a visit. Julie is one of Conleigh's Haiti buds who has been friends with Conleigh for most of her time in Haiti and came on the same plane out of Haiti. Her family lives in Kansas and is going on a roadtrip that will take them close to us so they are stopping at our house for lunch this week. I don't know how she'll process it all but I'm excited for their visit.

Do you hear the winds starting to blow the week right past us? I do...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Movie Drama

Adoption has a way of changing things. Not just the big things like "wow! there's a completely new person in my family!" It changes little things too. A family who is currently working through major adoption trauma with several of their kiddos just wrote this about the movie, Toy Story 3. It's interesting because we just went to see it and the thoughts reflected in the post didn't enter my head. But I understand the mom's concern and see her thoughts as valid for any family who are parenting children affected by abandonment.

My kids have recently been a bit obsessed with the musicals, Annie and The Sound of Music. Two classic musicals, both much loved by many and ones that I really didn't think twice about until we sat down to watch them. As we watched them together the first time, I found myself questioning if I should have been letting my three year olds watch them. Annie sings "It's a hard knock life for me" complete with the line "when you're in an orphanage." Um, my kids have lived there and we use the word orphanage in our house. Annie's orphanage does not resemble the places they lived and thankfully, they did not have a drunk Ms. Hannigan forcing them to clean and deliberately trying to keep them from finding a family. And Annie has a girl leaving her orphanage for a mansion, possibly leaving one with the impressiont that my "first life" was pretty crummy while my "new life" is full of bright, shiny goodness. The Sound of Music also contains a somewhat mature topic in that the children gain a new mother, something both of my kids have experienced first hand. Of course, this mother is a delightful mother who truly loves her step children but nevertheless, I still found myself treading lightly as I explained the story line to my kids.

I don't expect Hollywood to change the way it makes movies. Good stories need drama and conflict and this may include conflict within families as well as themes of loss and redemption. It's just that I worry about my kids internalizing some of those subtle messages movies and tv communicate, especially that they might stick their thoughts down deep into some pocket of their brain and let those thoughts become truth in their hearts. I pray they will learn to see themselves in the light of Psalms 139, a psalm I have prayed often over each of them. And I pray they will choose to talk and share their feelings, that they will believe they can share their hearts' worries honestly with us as they work out the complexities of adoption.

Psalm 139 (New International Version)

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be

Monday, July 5, 2010

4th of July hair

We just wrapped up another month + of yarn braids. After a few days of free hair, I put in a block pattern veil style. It's actually holding up pretty good and is maybe one of my favorite styes that I've done on her head. The front and the back are done in twists. The first blocks have a pony that is split into four sections, two making up one twist and two making up another that then adjoins to a pony on the next level. Four puffs go across the middle and to transition from the veil to puffs, I put the last pony on each level in a two strand twist. Each puff has one section that is beaded with red and turquoise beads, enough beads to make the beaded strand stand ups, kind of like a mini fire cracker. Then I cut red tulle into strips and used it like ribbon on the puffs. It looks complicated but really it isn't that difficult.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Saturday, July 3, 2010

God and Me-Labels, Cubbies, and Clay Pots

About a week ago, my husband said something to me that kind of bugged me to the core. It was something about my personality, something about his perception of me. It bugged me because his perception of me didn't jive with my perception of me. And maybe it bugged me because months earlier, I had two friends say something similar to me. (Not close friends who know me to the core more like acquaintance friends so I initially discounted what they said.) But when my husband repeated it, I was perplexed.

The real issue was that apparently there are people who view me as a free spirit, a relaxed carefree person who approaches life in a bit of a haphazard way. I have never considered myself with any of those words. Ever. And for some reason, I didn't want to be perceived that way.

I am analytical to the core. Generally speaking, things do not just "happen" in my life. Planning, organizing, and bringing order out of chaos are key to me. Despite being outgoing and feeling the need to be around people, I am task oriented and have a hard time investing in the time it takes to really love on someone. But I am also a visionary type personality, a dreamer of sorts who, to quote my mother in a newspaper article on our adoption, has always been out to save the world. However, my need for plans, organization and order doesn't manifest itself in everything I do. I can let dirty dishes sit in my sink. (Yep, they're there as I write this.) I just went 4 months without balancing my checkbook. (My accounting program on my computer crashed and I was dreading starting over.) Maybe that's where the free spirit stuff came from.

Or maybe it's because I consider myself a recovering perfectionist. Even as a little girl, being in control was important to me. I was bossy and opinionated and driven. I refused to play softball in elementary school because I couldn't hit the ball. (Nevermind that hardly anyone else could.) In 4th grade, I cheated on a beginning of the school year test that was designed as a lesson in following directions because I couldn't bear the thought of failing it. (You know the kind, where the first direction is do not do anything on this paper but write your name, followed by a lengthy list of instructions designed to make you forget that first simple direction.) I wrote a ten page paper in 6th grade. I have never received anything lower than a B and honestly still don't know what I would do if I did. I had very strict ideas on what was right and wrong with little room for mistakes by anyone, both my friends, my enemies, and myself. But God has spent time over the last 15 years shaping me, encouraging me to take on a deeper understanding of grace and Sovereignty. And through that, I've come to see how grace means letting go of a lot of that. That control, anxiety and worry are really sins and that I have to stop those behaviors. I suppose hat has probably resulted in the perception that I am more of a free spirit.

So why did it bother me so much that someone's perception about me might be askew? Maybe because I don't like being put into a box. (And if you must put me in a box, at least put me in the right one!) Truth is, no one likes being put into a box. We are all complex and multi dimensional, with likes, dislikes, flaws and strengths that may or may not fit into nice neat pigeonholes.

I think it's one of those things that motherhood has made me more aware of. We, as women, like to carefully place people into cute little cubbies. We adoringly look at the labels we put on some of those cubbies, lovingly eyeing the special crafty script that labels those cubbies. Meanwhile we cringe at some of the cubbies, and slap a Sharpie emblazened piece of masking tape underneath, indicating our level of acceptance for those who fall under that label.

There are so many categories of women and I think the blogging world has made me keenly aware of that. Uber trendy moms who are thin and fit, who buy from Pottery Barn and the Gap, who send their kids to public or private school, while they fill their days with volunteering or with magically keeping up an impeccably decorated home, usually with an insane amount of white furniture that never has grubby black fingerprints . Homespun moms who homeschool, make their own bread from the flour they've ground themselves, whose elementary kids read classics like Wuthering Heights and whose family has never seen Dora the Explorer because they rarely watch tv. Organic moms who seem flexible and earthy, who take joy in creating or buying cute as a button homemade clothing, who know where to buy hormone free milk or free range chicken, who make green smoothies to drink after their family's ten mile bike ride. Working moms who would be grateful if they could get supper on the table from somewhere other than Pizza Hut, who would love to exercise but aren't sure if they should since it means leaving the kids at daycare for an extra 45 minutes, who treasure the weekends because they mean sleeping in and family activities like movie nights or baseball games or going to the park.

It's all a bit much, isn't it? I'm none of those labels. I find myself fitting the stay at home label by default as I'm a stay at home mom who loved her job but felt like her kids needed for her to be at home. So at times, I find myself dreaming about how I could get back to work. I am a planner by nature, someone who would love to have a carefully scheduled day full of colorful crafts for the kids, challenging academic type activities for their developing brains, limited tv time, nutritionally balanced, homemade meals, and God centered times and conversations. But I resist too much structure because I don't want my 3 year olds on a regimented schedule, because 3 year olds need fluidity and freedom. And even if I worked really hard to come up with such a schedule, actually following it would probably take an act of the Almighty. I'd love to be the health conscious mom who is somewhat close to a healthy weight, who takes her vitamins and calcium, and exercises every day. It just doesn't happen. And while I do like crafty stuff, I certainly don't find myself having the time I need to actually get any of that accomplished.

There is just this strong desire to fit into some cubbyhole, to be in one group or another, to be perceived in a certain way. But I don't fit. And I don't think most of us do. For some reason, Satan likes to convince us that we must identify with one group, that one group is better than the other, that it is very important how others perceive us. And women fall for this all the time.

The truth is God designed us not to fit into a stunning set of drawers, cubbies, or handmade, fabric covered boxes. Instead He has placed us in jars of clay, jars that while perhaps unique in some ways are still made of clay. Plain, old clay. It's nothing special on it's own. In fact, on it's own, it's simply dirt. (And not every good dirt at that. When wet, it's sticky and mucky. When dry, it's hard and crumbly.) No, clay is only good when held in the hands of the Potter. A Master Potter who crafts each vessel with a specific purpose in mind, a purpose that is not worthy of a label. Perceptions of ourselves, perceptions of others, that need to belong or be accepted-it's all secondary when you consider we're all the same old lumpy clay, shaped by a God for the purpose of making His name famous.

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 - But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show us that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

Adoption Stories

I have been celebrating on the inside a bit this week. Conleigh has twice taken a 2 hour nap and three times slept basically through the night, waking up at a little before 7 and going back to sleep until 7:30ish. Small stuff, I know but I have just gotten a sense that she is finally letting go of some stuff. What, I don't know but she just seems to be "looser." She is seems to be loving more freely, giving affection more freely, smiling more freely, and as those first sentences indicate, is sleeping more freely. Watching kids who are enveloped by traumatic early days slowly unfurl their hearts as they inch and wigggle and shoot out into their true selves is one of the biggest blessings of adoption.

It also leaves me thinking about the differences in my kids' pasts. To be honest, we talk about some aspect of Haiti probably almost every day. Sometimes it's something that I have said deliberately. For example, we had mangos for lunch today and Kenson wanted where they came from. I told him they grew on trees and he quickly looked outside, anxious to see a mango tree in Nebraska. I replied that they didn't grow in Nebraska but that they grew in Haiti. Sometimes, it's my kids bringing up some tidbit of their life in Haiti. And that is where things diverge. I have one child who remembers vividly her life in Haiti, who has felt the transition to our home very deeply in terms of letting go of her friends and caretakers. And I have one child who remembers very little about Haiti. While they came home at about the same age, their stories are just different. For Kenson, not remembering becomes a desperate search to remember. He often makes up stories about Haiti, trying to make sense of his forgotten past. The mango tree story from lunch continued with him telling me that he ate mangos at his orphanage in Haiti. Possible, but highly unlikely. He has told me that his Mama Juislene spanked him, that his orphanage had a slide (just like Conleigh's), and that his Mama Juislene and Papa Jameson were at the orphanage with him. Two of those are completely untrue, and the remainder, while possible, are again highly unliekly. For now, I usually let him imagine, knowing that imagined memories are one way for him to fill the holes. If there is something he says that is glaringly wrong, I will gently state the truth. Which can be hard, especially when you have to gently explain that his Papa Jameson never came to the orphanage or even saw him after he was born. In typical 3 year old fashion, his response to that was "why?" Wish I had a good answer for that...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Runza Time

Tonight we enjoyed a uniquely Nebraskan dish: runzas. It's kind of like paying homage the European roots that most Nebraskans claim. Essentially it's a meat pie with hamburger, cabbage, and onion filling. We even have a uniquely Nebraskan fast food chain that serves runzas as one of it's mainstay dishes. It's of course called Runza.

I think I've finally found a runza dough keeper. The recipe uses a mixer to beat the yeast dough which is kind of an oddity. But the dough came out light and didn't have the heaviness that sometimes you associate with doughs. I still haven't found the perfect filling recipe. I added cheese (Velveeta) to the one in this recipe but wasn't over the moon about it. It's good but I think there's probably a better one.