Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Benerspaniels Make Me Laugh Til I Cry

Yesterday was a normal day. Except it wasn't at all. I mean, it should have been normal. But, well, everything was different.

I want to talk about the rest of yesterday. I do. But for now, I want to focus on last night: ladies night.

Actual ladies. And one man: Ben Flajnik, the Bachelor. Or the man I have grown to call Ben the Cocker Spaniel. Or Benerspaniel.

Because let's be honest: that hair. It looks like a cute little Cocker Spaniel puppy.

Except it is about 300% less cute on a grown man. And yes, I get there is no such thing as 300%. I took statistics. But I don't think 100% is enough to convey how much worse his hair has gotten as the season progressed.

We don't watch for Ben. Or Courtney. Or Linzi with a "z." Or Nicki. Which is good because **spoiler alert** Nicki was too good for Ben so he gave her the boot. Or something like that.

So here's the thing about last night--while the women were running around Switzerland accepting fantasy suite cards, we were COMPLETELY ignoring them and giggling our heads off. Tis true. The Bachelor is OK and all but we've really gotten to the point where we use it as an excuse to get together and drink champagne and eat anything with sugar.

(If you are a champagne fan, you should know that my new favorite thing is to add a tablespoon of almond syrup. I am not kidding. It will CHANGE YOUR LIFE. OK that may be too strong. But maybe it isn't. You will only find out if you add almond. And in related news, I want to try it with almond extract next.)

So, back to our laugh fest. Five women. One bottle of champagne. Some cookies. And a TV without DVR.

Yes, you read that right. Without DVR!!

EQUALS a delight. We talked about nothing. At least three times I cried from laughing. Stories from work, roommates' dates (not mine--Eric is not allowed to date. Then again, I am the only married one), and making fun of Ben's hair. It was all game.

And I was even lucky enough to not laugh until I wet my pants.

Which is lucky for me. I am not always that lucky. No really.

I guess, I write this all to say the older I get, the happier I am to hang out with ladies. Between my Sunday ladies (you know who you are!), my Monday ladies, and those ladies sprinkled in between, my life is just filled with wonderful women. 

The Bachelor will soon end but the most dramatic watch party ever will live on forever in our memory.

E and I are sharing a night on the couch because we are about to spend our week supporting documentary film and not sleeping. I'll have to give an update. For now, though, I am going to stop neglecting my husband and start enjoying the Cupcake Wars episode he DVR'ed just for me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Addiction at its Finest

Alternately titled Why I am Choosing to Give Up Facebook and Twitter for Lent.

I woke up this morning thinking of what my twitter status would be. "One night down with no social media. I can totes do this."

And then I realized, um, I agreed not to get on twitter.   That's ok. I will just message a friend and she what she's up to...I heard she had cute new pics of her kid on Facebook.


I gave that up too. 

The fact that I literally think about what I am going to write, see, comment, think, or take a photograph of to post on Facebook or twitter is an issue, ya'all.  It's too much.


Because I don't think of God like that. What do I need to tell him, see of him, what is he trying to tell me today?


That's not how my life works. But it should be.

Call it addiction.

Call it an idol.

Call it a waste of time.

Or try to cover it up like I do and say it's just a part of how life is today and it's totally normal. After all, I sit in front of a computer all day every day. It's just normal, right? Any way you do it, it's getting in the way of my real life. I am checking twitter when I have the REAL LIFE TWEETERS in my presence.

Messed up. Yup.

So, I am not giving it up for good. But my life needs some IRL perspective. And, as always, it needs more Jesus.  So, for lent (as yes, I grew up Methodist so we did practice some lenten traditions though we didn't always 'give something up') I am taking a step away from my virtual life and a step into my real life. And my spiritual  life. I will not be on Facebook or twitter until after Easter services. Yes, I already circled it on my calendar.

But seriously, I have got to re-prioritize. I'm looking forward to less time in front of a screen, more time in prayer and celebrating the gifts right in front of my face that the Lord is showing me.

I need less stimuli. I need to be less self-centered. I need to recognize my  need for my savior.  So I am dreading this time but I'm also really excited about it.

No turning back...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Little Man Monday

Hi Little Guy,

Today I want to tell you a story of why you are going to love your dad so much.  He is the best husband I could ever imagine, which makes me sure he will be the best dad for you too. He just proved to me once again how deeply he loves. Today, I had a tough day. Son, we know you'll have some of those too. So, on my tough day, your dad surprised me at work and brought me my favorite coffee and caramels. The coffee was great. The caramels were delicious. But the best part was your dad showing up when I needed support most. He loves me so well.  He's going to be the exact same for you. It may not be coffee.  It may be a good snuggle on a day that you are being grumpy. It may be searching high and low for your favorite toy you've lost.  Whatever it is, I know for sure your dad will take care of you in ways big and small.  Just like he takes care of me.

Tonight I had my regular girls' night. This time it was my turn to host. I imagine in years to come Daddy will take you out on the town and wear you out when it's time for the ladies to come over. Then he'll bring you back and put you to bed on his own--bath time, great books, the whole thing. I look forward to the regular routine we'll have. All three of us spending our evenings together-the same way each time. I can't wait for the years to come.

Love you, little man. I'm holding you in my heart til I can hold you in my arms.



Saturday, February 18, 2012

DTE 3 Months

Yes friends! As of today, our dossier has officially been in Ethiopia for three months. That means we've officially been a waiting family for three months. Our agency lengthened its wait times this month to 14-18 months. That means those families receiving referrals for their little guys right now have been waiting approximately 14-18 months.

That's not how long we will wait.

No, we still expect a wait much, much longer than that. Of course God could surprise us and we could see a picture of our little man sooner. But it definitely looks like it will be later rather than sooner.

Which for the girl who is struggling tao hard to learn to wait on the Lord and not have anxiety about anything is so so tough.

And that is exactly why I think God has called us to this exact thing. At this exact time.

It's also why our chain for our little man is full of scripture: to remind us that HE is at the center of all of this. It is HIS timing, not ours.

This month's scripture: Psalm 138:8 "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever--do not abandon the works of your hands."

Our chain is already getting some length and some color to it. We'll see how it goes but we rest in the Lord!

And yes, I say it over and over again to remind myself as much as it is to remind you all.

Three months down!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Crock Pot Soup and Apes

Alternately titled: Why My Valentine's Day Rocked

So, to understand this post you might need to know my distaste for Valentine's Day. No, I was never jilted. I never felt bad for being single or had terrible Valentine's Days of the past. I just, well, never got into it. We used to have anti-Valentine's parties in high school (even when I was in relationships). I guess my take on it has been that true love doesn't need a day. And chocolates won't cut it. It just simply lives itself out in everyday life.  And anything you do on that one day won't make up for a year's worth of letting the romance take a back seat.

Which is why I am pretty lucky to have a man who loves romance. The way I love romance. One case in point: when I left the house this is what my table looked like:

And, magically, my romantic husband made all this laundry disappear.


Into drawers.

See? So romantic.  
So yeah. We had decided we wouldn't spend money but we would just spend a lovely night together.  At our house.  No steak. No expensive treats.  Just time together. So I made some crock pot soup (buffalo chicken and it was DELIGHTFUL!) and we had sparkling red wine from Trader Joe's.  

(Please take note of the dishes on the counter. This is real life, people.)

We could have bought chocolate covered strawberries. 

Oh we could have. But instead, the darling man-o-mine made me a whole batch.

And cheesecake swirl brownies (no photo, sorry).  We ate til we were stuffed.  We ate romantically under candlelight.

Total lie, people. We ate on the couch while catching up on Thursday night TV from the week before. Ro.  Mance.  In the real world.

Don't think Eric was the only one living out his romance. I took one for the team and watched a movie that I would NEVER in a million years watch.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Yes, friends, we watched apes to celebrate our love.

Because, really, love is nothing if you can't compromise and watch apes for your best friend.

We laughed and snuggled and had the most low-key, low-pressure, highly-adorable-in-the-most-nerdy-way evening.  

So I guess you could say, I am a fan of Valentine's Day.

Done our way.

Hope you all had a lovely Valentine's Day.  I'm off to catch up on this week's Thursday's night TV and hang out with my man, our two pups and new foster pup.

If that doesn't say romance in the real world, I don't know what does.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Little Man Monday

Hi Little Man,

I feel like there is so much to tell you--not about anything big but just about daily stuff you are missing. And how much we miss you.

First, let me just say it snowed and snowed today. I cannot WAIT to see you catch big snowflakes on your eyelashes and feel them in  your fingertips. Luckily the roads weren't too slick and we still made it to work just fine. Now, there's about two inches or so on the ground. On days where we get more snow, little ones like you like to go out and build snow creatures (they call them snowmen but they bear little resemblance to your dad or any man I know) and go sledding and make snow angels. Oh I can't wait til your first snow!! Will you think it's fun and whimsical or will you just find it cold and jarring? Only time will tell. I have a feeling your dad will be out with the camera, taking pictures the whole time. Gabby and Rigo will be there too. Gabby loves pouncing in the snow. Rigo wears little booties to keep his feet warm. You'll have to wear special shoes too. Snow is just different when there are little ones to enjoy it and I can't wait until that little one is YOU!

In other news, tomorrow is Valentine's Day. It's a special day we celebrate. Some people make it about romantic love but it can also just be a fun time to show family and friends how much they mean to you. I look forward to making valentines with you for your school friends. We can make them homemade or pick some out from a store--it's all up to you. I'm curious to see what you'll decide. Of course, as a young girl, I loved picking out special valentines. My brothers were not as keen on the whole thing. You may not care a bit but I still can't wait! I actually think I might make a valentine just for you this year. After all, you are your dad and my special valentine. As we celebrate tomorrow, we'll say a special prayer just for your safety and for you to know the love we have for you and the love Jesus has for you each and every day.

Other than that, things are running smoothly in our home. Your Aunt Annie went home this weekend and we hope to have her back again soon. She slept in your room like our other visitors have before her. I like to think we are just warming it up for you--making it nice and cozy and full of love and memories from your friends and relatives.  We are busy as always and look forward to the day you will interrupt all that busy with your hugs and your sweet little face. I'm off to bed, little one. I love you. Happy Valentine's Day, IC.



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Little Man Letter

Hi Sweet Boy!

I dreamed all day yesterday of writing you this letter but your Aunt Annie came into town and before I knew it, it was bedtime. Aunt Annie (technically your dad's second cousin but who's counting!) just got back from France and she had so much to share. She came to Mama's regular girl's night, too, and we had so much fun.  Someday I hope you get to meet her and enjoy Aunt Annie's company. She was the first of your dad's relatives to meet me and we hit it off splendidly. We joke that she's the younger sister I never had. So yes, I expect you two to get some good cuddle time when you both are here in the US. Whenever that is.

This weekend was a big one for sports (or at least the sports your dad and I like). Mizzou (the college team we root for) got a big football recruit to sign and wouldn't you know it--he was adopted! His story is very different from yours but we found it an extra special blessing when we found out he got his parents the same sort of way you will. And who knows...you may have siblings whose story is even more similar to his than yours is.  We also got to go to a big basketball game. It's hard to explain what a rivalry is but basically, it's a super-competitive relationship some teams have. Our team has one of these and we played them this weekend. Your dad and I were blessed to go and you know what? It's probably a good thing you weren't there--it was so very loud!! When the time is right, we'll introduce you to our teams. I can't wait to see you sing the words to the fight song and take pictures with Truman the Tiger. Maybe you'll even go to college at Mizzou. Of course, no pressure. OK, maybe a little bit of friendly pressure:). Just kidding, son. I know you will make great decisions.

OK Little Man! I really would love to talk to you all day. Instead, I have to get to work. There's lots to be done here today. Your dad and I can't WAIT to get that photo with your face on it. We love you so much.



Sunday, February 5, 2012

Winning the Big Game

If you're not from my part of the world, seeing this title on Sunday afternoon may have you thinking football. I do love me some football but The Big Game this weekend for those of us who cheer for Mizzou was last night. And it was a basketball game.  And we won.


But we won.

Today is a celebration. Giants, who? We are just pumped for the giant turnout for yesterday's affair.

Now, let me back up and start at the beginning. Mizzou and kU (we do not capitalize that university's title because it is neither a proper noun nor a proper place) have had a rivalry since the Civil War. The origins aren't something to be proud of but the fact that it is the oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi river is.  Yes, we have been rivals for as long as any of those of us wearing black and gold or red and blue can remember.

So this year, you might have heard a bit of news about Mizzou. Maybe you haven't. Either way, Mizzou is leaving the Big XII conference and are headed to bigger and better things in the SEC. When we go, we are leaving behind the good ol rivalry. Yes, the jayhawks have said they will no longer play us if we aren't a part of their conference. Now, while this may all change, we have to believe them at this point. So, each sport's contest this year is said to be the last of its kind. Who knows if that is actually true but it definitely ups the ante.

If you have made it through all that explanation, I applaud you.


Last night was the last home MU/kU basketball game for Mizzou fans. College Game day arrived. Students camped in the rain for more than 48 hours. And people came from far and wide to attend. Reports surfaced that fans were paying hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for tickets. Yeah, there was no chance in the world we were going. Not even a little.

So. I hedged my bets and wrote  the following on facebook:

I knew there was zero chance. Zero. But I also figured, what did I have to lose? People scoffed. And got quite the entertainment from my musing.

Until Saturday morning, that is. When a friend of mine texted and said she couldn't use her tickets after all. Would I take them off her hands? 

Um, seriously?

So yes. That is the longest version ever of how Eric and I got to go to watch the #4 ranked tigers whoop up on the #8 beakers.

((What is a Jayhawk anyway?))

((and what does that have to do with rock and chalk?))

So, here are some photos of the loudest sporting event I've ever seen/heard:

Headed to get our tickets. This is the real definition of spirit fingers!

Isn't my man adorable? It doesn't hurt that I've turned him into such an avid tiger fan. He might have been cheering louder than me. But only because his voice is louder than mine naturally.

This little dude and his buddy were having a great time but the noise level was a bit much for him. Heck, it was a bit much for anyone. My ears were ringing when my head hit the pillow last night.

Side note, I was cheering so loud my voice would intermittently go out. The earmuff kid's friend looked back at me, grinned, and gave me a high five. Yeah, I'm cool enough for the 12 year old kid to high five. I'll take it!

Pre-game warmups. Don't worry. The stands became full quickly. This was an hour before the game. But look at that student section. Talk about the sixth man!!

See? I told you it got more full. Also, if it looks smoky that's because it was smoky! They had a giant fireworks display right after Truman rappelled from the ceiling. I don't know if they thought the fireworks thing through all the way, because it was smoky and hazy up until about half time. I heard it wasn't as bad on the floor. I hope for the players' sakes that's true.

It got rocky for a patch in the middle there. But as it turns out, taking charges can win you games. Just ask Kim English. And all our other players. So yes, we won. And do you see our students charging the court? That's right. The answer is no. Because we knew we would win, of course!!

Here we are, celebrating our victory. It's amazing that we aren't dripping with sweat. We were jumping and yelling for the majority of the game. I would say I didn't get a workout in yesterday but that all changed at tipoff.

On our way out, we got a photo with the Gameday bus. It was such a good game. Too bad we'll never play them at our house again.

Or will we, jayhawks?

The choice is yours.

Thank you to my ticket fairy for a wonderful date night with my man. We won't forget this any time soon!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Height, Love, and Tricerotails

This week was the kind of week where each day passed faster than the next and E and I had enough time each evening to gaze lovingly into each other's eyes, jump in a car, and head to the next event. We are romantics at heart, I tell ya. Despite the intensity of busy-ness, I've also thought it was a great week. Except for Wednesday when I had convinced myself it was Friday and had to realign my thoughts. Pretty much the worst thing that can happen on a Wednesday is when your mind convinces you it's Friday when it's actually only Wednesday.  Unless, of course, you go to work with your side zipper on your dress fully unzipped and don't notice for an hour that your entire body is hanging out. But that would never happen to anyone I know. *ahem*  Two more days of spreadsheets at work were not the awakening I had in mind on this Wednesday but they had to be done regardless. Lucky for me, the spreadsheets came home with me for the weekend too.


Wednesday we got back into the groove with our 4th grade friends and I mean it when I say I missed them. They are darling and their hearts just show me exactly why Jesus calls us to be like little children. But please don't tell them I called them little children. They will be, like, so offended. Gosh! We're back into the book of Mark and they really do listen and try to figure out this whole salvation thing. I feel really lucky to be a part of it because it's for sure the Holy Spirit working through everyday, normal, sinners. I know this because I am the everyday normal sinner trying to convey grace and the difficult concepts of salvation to nine and ten year old girls. Woah.

My favorite part of Wednesday, aside from the lesson when we spent half the time competing with the noise of the adults in classes (we need more space in our church and they moved my group THREE TIMES before we finally landed in the foyer--super loud and not conducive to actually studying the Bible), was the hang-out time we got. We put a beautiful puzzle together and they made me take a picture of them, shining and proud, next to the puzzle. I would show you this picture but I have a firm "no faces of others' children" on my blog. So you'll have to believe me when I say it was adorable how proud they were. They also got to talking about Valentine's Day. Here's how the conversation with me went.

Kids: "Jess, who is your valentine?"
Me: "Well, (glance at Eric lovingly), Mr. Eric is my valentine."
Kids: (look at each other, give weird expressions, and look back at me, a little disgusted) "He CAN'T be your valentine! He's too tall!!"

Now, I don't know when height became a requirement for valentines but I couldn't stop laughing. Best we can figure, they equate height to age and so they think E is much older than me?? Your guess is as good as mine.

Last night we had quite the surprise when dear friends invited us to dinner. They're adopting, too, and it was so lovely to share the worries and frustrations and fun that goes with this calling. And yes, crazy as it may sound, I think it's a calling. To put up with the roller coaster, I think you have to feel called to it.  Anyway, the dinner was lovely and after dinner, their preschoolers decided my pony tail just wasn't jazzy enough for the occasion. So, fully dressed in leotards and tututs, they styled my hair. With three pony tails and a headband. We decided this style needed an official name so after several drafts, we're going with "tricerotails."  Yes? What do you think?

So we're up to today! I was sound asleep at 8:45 when I got two texts asking me if I wanted to go to The Big Game. Of the biggest rivalry west of the Mississippi. Um, how do you say no to that?? So, we are prepping and thanking God (and our friends) for this special blessing. Thanks, friend. You know who you are and you totally made our day:). For those of you who don't live around here, not only are these tickets hard to come by, they are re-selling for hundreds (and in some cases I've heard thousands! WHAT!?) of dollars. So to be offered a chance to go is just amazing. Seriously, ticket fairy, I am blessed.

So we are looking forward to a little bit of lazy and a lot of cheering. I've got my game day gold on. I'm off to clean my house so I won't feel guilty for our night out.

Have a great weekend. And Happy Big Game weekend. Tigers. Superbowl. There's a big game for everyone.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Other Mama

 **Warning, if you are looking for one of my banter-y, witty posts, this isn't it. I have something serious in my heart today. Thus, the outpouring is serious. Read with that warning.

Have you noticed the prevalence of adoption in TV shows lately? Maybe it’s just me. After all, my radar is up. I am pretty much thinking of adoption every moment so it makes sense for me to catch it. But some of my favorite shows lately have had adoptions in the storylines. No, I don’t mean the Glee adoption that had those of us who have ACTUALLY been through some of the process shake our heads. Really, Quinn? You just nodded your head and your baby was swaddled and sent to the adoptive mother? No paperwork? No home study? No court proceedings? Nothing? Now, I am not the super genius when it comes to this stuff but I for sure know that is not how it happens.

No, I am talking about the ones that make it a little more real. The ones that make my heart ache with the way it happens and I can see this being kinda sorta like my life. A little. For instance, let’s talk about Parenthood. If you aren’t watching Parenthood, I am sad for you. And I will admit, they did skim right over all that paperwork and moved right along to the pretty book of family pictures and the match process. It’s the sexier part, right? They also include some extra drama for flair.  But the way it’s worked out (spoiler alert) Julia’s coworker just so happened to get pregnant and agree to an adoption. I think on the surface that seems illogical but I am saying anecdotally I think that happens more than we realize.

Even more realistic, though, we viewers are watching the birth mom struggle with her decision. She knows she will struggle to raise this child. She’s young. She’s single. She finds a family who welcomes her and agrees to raise her child. Which should make her feel good. But clearly, it’s not that easy. And while those of us in the adoption world “get it” for the most part, seeing the portrayal of this has just gutted me.

Last episode, the young woman went to birthing classes with the adoptive mom. They have formed a special relationship and are going to do the birthing process together. It all makes sense on paper. But when the young woman hears how it will all be worth it when she looks into her child’s eyes and sees the love they will share, it’s too much.

For her.

For me.

She leaves the class. And I blubber into hysterics on the other side of my TV screen.  She’s doing the right thing, right? Giving her child an opportunity, a chance? But it doesn’t make it hurt less.

For her.

For me.

My mind has wandered a lot lately. And wondered.  Specifically, about birth mothers.  Our situation will not, at present, look like Parenthood. The IC* we have in our hearts is from Africa. We may meet his mother or family once. It will be hard. It will be painful.  It will also be a blessing to see the beautiful woman that is strong enough to let us parent her child. I hope and pray the Lord will prepare my heart for that moment, if it happens. International adoption brings its own set of challenges. One of which is the whole “we won’t have the kind of birth family relationship we would if we were adopting domestically” thing.

That being said, the Lord has been very present with us in the past few months and we feel stronger than ever that this will not be our last adoption. Chances are our next home study will be with a domestic emphasis. That whole process will bring with it the opportunity for more interaction with family. To experience the heartbreak and the hope over and over.

Either way, as my heart longs to hold my little boy, there is a woman on the other side of the world who will long for the same thing. Only, her longing won’t be fixed in two years. Or three. It’s a pain that I will only understand dimly. But it hurts me so much to know this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. That our creator made us to be in community and this whole separation and hurt thing isn’t meant to be. Makes you long for more, doesn’t it?

I don’t have a neat and tidy way to end this post because it’s not about a neat and tidy topic. Instead, I’d like to call you to prayer. Thank you for so many of you who pray for us. We can truly feel the outpouring of support from all angles. It’s astounding. Will you also pray for the birth moms? The dads? The grandmas and aunts who will only have their imagination to picture what that kiddo may look like as a teenager? The ones who will always feel the pain and the pull? Thank  you friends.

Jesus, come quickly.

*Imaginary Child