Tuesday, August 26, 2014

FAMILY VACATION

Even though through the majority of this year we've been focusing on saving for our adoption, we did want to make a family vacation a priority for us.  So how do we get the best vacation experience on a dime?  We go visit family, of course!  This year, we had a whirlwind week visiting two of my aunts and our best friends.  It always felt like we didn't have enough time in any place, but the time we did have was so much fun.  It was just what we needed!

First stop was South Bend, to visit my Aunt Nanny and Uncle John.  Our first stop was the zoo.  It was a beautiful day!





We also toured a chocolate factory, which I thought would be a highlight of the trip.  However, our boy was tired, and not at all interested in following instructions, so it ended up being kind of a flop.  Not to mention the chocolate factory we toured doesn't even make its own chocolate.  (Spoiler alert - it's shipped in from Chicago.)  Needless to say, we were very thankful we opted for the free tour.

We stopped at some playgrounds, took some walks around the neighborhood, and played with cool toys only an art teacher would have.  Mostly, we just chilled out and visited.  And at ice cream.  Lots of ice cream.  John even took us on a driving tour of the Notre Dame campus, which was so cool, especially to Byron.  It was an impromptu tour, and it was around sunset, so by the time we got to the cool buildings, it was pretty dark so I don't have many pictures.  Here's the one that I captured of the candle Byron lit in the grotto.


The next stop was to Troy to visit my other Aunt and her family.  The next few days were full of swimming in the pool, jumping on the trampoline, visiting parks, cooking fresh vegetables, and plenty of relaxing time.





The last night of the trip was spent visiting our best friends.  Ice cream, toys, and good conversation filled the few hours we had together.  The most hilarious thing happened though.  At our house, we don't really have any costumes for Mason to dress up in.  However, in the short time we were visiting, Mason LIVED in their Spiderman costume.  It actually caused several meltdowns when it wasn't his turn to wear it.  Who knew?  Guess somebody better get this kid a Spidey costume of his own.


We wish our vacation was much longer, of course, but in reality we cut it short a day and headed home early.  It was so nice to have a day to catch up on laundry, get groceries, and do any other last minute home things before rushing into another week back at work.  The memories made on this vacation (even the ones involving meltdowns) were great, and it just makes us eager to plan the next one.  Right now we're hoping to explore South Dakota next year, but you never know where the wind will take us by the time vacation is here again!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

THREE

My baby is three.
He crossed into three year old territory about a month ago, and I've been wanting to reflect on what that means - for us and for him.

For us so far, three has been greeted with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  Mason is hilarious.  He says funny things and he does funny things, and I love to watch him learn new things and make new connections in his mind.  But three also comes with his need to be uncooperative (control?), not listen, and even hit, kick, etc., just to get a reaction.  And that part of parenting has me feeling like I've got an overwhelming task ahead of me to train this wild and free little person into the kind, sweet person I know he can be.  (Side note, tips are appreciated.)

But without dwelling on the hard part of things, which I remind myself is only a part of things, here are some of the things about Mason I don't want to forget.
1.  He uses the potty successfully, but he almost always insists on stripping down completely in order to use it.  I think he just likes to get completely comfortable?

2.  He loves animals (usually ammimals).  More specifically, tiny animal figurines.  He has quite a few by now, and often will want to carry them in his toolbox to the park, where, recently one of his tigers decided to hibernate for good.  It always amazes me how he can look at a pile of those little guys (which are scattered throughout our house) and say to me, "Mama, I'm missing a giraffe."  How he maintains his mental inventory, I'll never know.

3.  He believes that imagined situations could be real.  We have a book where a bad guy steals a piggy from a little boy and leads him on a wild chase to get it back, which includes running through a chocolate factory.  At one point they fall into the chocolate as well as the freezer, and (this is a prequel to our vacation recap I'll write) when we decided to go on a tour of a chocolate factory he was very concerned with falling into the chocolate and the freezer.  Good thing Mama can protect him!  (This also works to my advantage, as I may have told him if he doesn't go to sleep he will turn into a Beast.  Nap time and bed time has gone easier ever since.)

4.  He picks up on our words and phrases.  Over the Fourth of July, we were watching fireworks and at one point Mason said, "Oh, that scared me half to death!"  Ha!  At first I thought he picked that up from me, but having heard Byron say it several times in the past few weeks, I think it actually came from him.
5.  Mason's best friend is STILL his papa.

6.  He can't pronounce all sounds.  K and G and combos with R stick out to me the most.  And even the letters he can say, he sometimes substitutes.  He says tat instead of cat.  Lately he even says things like twease instead of please.  He can even say the P sound, so this leads me to make him say "Puh, Puh, Please."  He always replies with "Puh, Puh, Twease..."

7.  He still has the biggest feet.  They are bricks (cute bricks).  He may never learn to put his own shoes on because putting on shoes for him is literally like stuffing sausages into casing.

8.  He is legitimately fearful that his monkeys (from Barrel O Monkeys) that he plays with in the bathtub might get sucked down the drain.  Maybe our attempts to get him to pick up his bath toys were a little strong?

9.  He is the cutest little guy I know.
I am his number one fan, and I always will be.  He has changed our lives, and though it is hard sometimes, it is always worth it.  We love that little guy with all our hearts and can't wait for what the years ahead hold for us!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

GETTING BACK TO CRAFTY

The house is currently silent.  This morning we hosted Mason's birthday party, and I can't believe so much time has passed that he is already turning three.  He partied and ate too much sugar all morning with friends and relatives and we were successfully able to get him to take a nap this afternoon, so I thought I would take a minute to show you a project I did a few days ago - one that gets back to my Craftnight roots.

This project is a direct result of me being a hoarder.  It starts like this.  I moved into this house just over four years ago. Prior to that, Byron and I lived in the townhouse I lived in when I was single.  It was just after we got married (over 6 years ago) that we got our dog Minnie.  And sometime when she was a puppy, she chewed up some throw pillows.  Those pillows, until recently, were in my basement.  WHO KEEPS CHEWED UP PILLOWS IN THEIR BASEMENT FOR SIX YEARS?  Oh right, me, Katie, the hoarder.

So anyway, I came across these pillows recently, and thank the Lord I convinced myself to throw away the chewed up pillow covers.  But the inserts...well I surely could find something to do with them, right?  Spoiler alert:  I did (see above).

I spent the first year of Mason's life taking photos of him weekly, each time on a different background.  This left me with a lot of fabric left over, just waiting for the right project to come along.  Enter this fabric:

I cut that sucker up, sewed it into some new pillow covers, and voila!  Enter style and softness to my front porch.  Next time we want to take a sit on the porch (yes, another slightly inappropriate inside joke within my family) we'll be nice and comfy.


Monday, July 7, 2014

FIREWORKS

This isn't really a Fourth of July recap, but rather too many pictures of my adorable baby.  On the third of July, we got together with our neighbors who have a little boy just a little bit older than Mason.  They are best buddies.  We just did a few little snakes and sparklers, because apparently those are the only type of legal "fireworks" there are.  But either way, I knew the little boys would have a ball, so I grabbed my camera and tried to catch the magic.  I just love experiencing new things with our boy.
These boys.  Here they are looking at the first snakes to emerge.  What is going to happen?!?!?!

 This is the one where I told them to scream.  Ha!  Oh, and Byron is totally faking.
Mason's first sparkler.
And this is the one where I told the boys to give each other a hug.  Kellen went in for it, and Mason, well, he wanted no part.




Oh, that kid!  Now right about here, something hilarious happened.  I was looking through the 200+ pictures I took (in 15 minutes, I KNOW!) and in pictures like the two right above this, I turn to whoever is next to me and say "Look at that face!"  Not long after that, I was looking at them with Mason and with the exact same tone and inflection he turned to Byron and I and said "Look at that face!"  I'm sure parents everywhere experience this, but it was one of the first times that he repeated me and it totally caught me off guard.  (To be fair, probably the first thing he repeated that I say was "Oh, crap!"  Whoops.)  But anyway, I just can't help it.  LOOK AT THAT FACE, PEOPLE!  Have you ever seen anything cuter?  I have not.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

PAPERWORK

This is us, moments after putting our form in the mail!
It's called the I-600A, the application for advance processing of orphan petition.  And as of last Friday, ours is officially in the mail.  Gathering the information for this filing wasn't too intense - not like gathering the past 7 years of financial records and notarizing multiple copies of every official document ever - but one of the requirements for filing this petition was our completed home study.  And after waiting several months and finally getting those last signatures, it came in the mail last week.

It feels awesome to cross yet another step in this process off our list, but I won't lie - this one feels a bit insignificant.  I do understand its importance, but here is our current reality.  This paperwork will get processed, and they will make an appointment for us to get fingerprinted.  The bummer here is that we've already been fingerprinted once, and I'm not quite sure why all the fingerprinting people can't just share.  But that aside, we'll get fingerprinted.  Let's say it takes a couple of weeks for them to process our application and make our appointment.  Then it will take another few weeks for them to analyze our results, at which point they will send us our approval.  Best case scenario this will be completed in a month, but more realistically, I'm expecting two.  And then, only then, will we get to file yet another paperwork that will finally finally put us on the waiting list.

The other stressful thing about this all is making sure we are filling out these documents correctly.  We double (triple) checked everything, but I still get that same feeling when submitting important documentation - did I fill everything out correctly?  It's definitely a source of anxiety for me.

So keep us in your prayers.  We knew when we signed up for this that we'd be running a marathon, not a sprint.  We are anxiously awaiting our next, slightly bigger goal, which is to get on that waiting list to get our chance to meet our little one!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

HIS BOAT

I hear him say "Come pull my boat, Mama" and I look over to see this.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

THE ADOPTION GARAGE SALE RESULTS

This post has been floating around in my head for awhile now.  I know many of you are curious how our garage sale went, and I want to share it with you...it has just been hard to find the right words.  So I'm going to attempt to walk you through it - the whole thing.  But just know, the only thing I know for sure is that God showed up.

When we first decided to adopt, even before we had told anyone, I started having the idea that we should do a garage sale. I began saving a few things of ours, and my parents were in the process of moving so they conveniently dropped things off to us over the winter, but starting out I knew I didn't exactly have much inventory to do a whole garage sale.  So a few months ahead of time, I began to ask people for donations.  This can be a little uncomfortable, asking people for help, but I kept telling myself that I don't expect anything from people but I want to open myself up to their generosity.  Little by little the word spread, and I would receive a box here and there.  Here and there became more frequently, and by the time the garage sale started I literally (I mean literally...not exaggerating here) had filled up SIX GARAGE STALLS worth of items.  That happened a few ways:

  • Twice I thought I was going to pick up just a few items and my generous friends had almost an entire garage stall full with things for us.
  • I received a text with a donation from someone I had never met before.
  • People showed up to shop with donations at the same time.
I attempted to keep track of how many donations I received, but I lost track.  I think it was 35+.  My friends came over multiple times to help me price and organize items.  Mostly I think they were there just to calm my nerves.  Neighbors just happened to have additional tables that I borrowed at the eleventh hour.  Inventory-wise, it was crazy, but somehow we were prepared.  Still I thought...would people come?

In preparation, I had organized my neighbors to all have garage sales together, so there were about six other stops in my neighborhood.  There was a Craigslist ad for that.  I created my own Craigslist ad.  My neighborhood had a Facebook event. I had my own Facebook event.  We put an ad in at the radio station, and I posted signs in our neighborhood.  I regularly posted teasers to my Facebook event to showcase the inventory we had (which also resulted in a few presales which I was not anticipating, but was awesome).  And still I thought...would people come?

People definitely came.  My sale was to run from 7 AM to 4 PM both Friday and Saturday.  And in the freezing cold temperatures at 6:30 AM on Friday morning, I had my first official customer.  The Friday shoppers were steady the whole day long.  You Friday garage salers are an amazing group of people, truly fascinating.  I am usually blind to this culture, since I'm always at work on Fridays, but watching people garage sale is a bonus.  Dare I say I love you?  Let's just try to move on from this.  So the people came, and the people bought.  We sold furniture.  Baby items.  Books.  DVDs.  Clothes.  Toys. Electronics.  EVERYTHING!  It was incredible.

Saturday was definitely more relaxed.  I think our first customer came around 8 AM, and though the customers were pretty steady until about 2:30, there were definitely fewer.  But you know what?  These customers bought things, too.  In fact, one customer who had come twice on Friday to buy and then haul away a dresser, returned on Saturday just to give Byron a gift card to take me out to dinner.  Some people were so compassionate with us when they learned our story.

I'm sure I am leaving out many details, but I think that covers most.  So this is where I'm going to tell you the actual amount we made at the garage sale.  I will say that we did receive a few very generous donations, but when all was said and done, we made in the neighborhood of $5100.  FIVE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS.  Can you believe it?  I hardly could.  And here's why.

Initially I had set my goal at $2000.  Quite honestly, I would have been happy if we had made $200, but I set this goal with God and I wanted him to know I was dreaming big (see the irony now?).  The crazy thing is that when we were doing the garage sale, we knew we had two payments that would be due very soon - one for $4300 and one for $890, or $5190 total. So you see what God did there?  He not only blew our minds but he provided EXACTLY what we needed.  At the exact time we needed it.  He is so amazing.

And really, he didn't stop there.  The best analogy I feel explains this is the feeding of the 5000.  Because after God totally showed up, there were 12 baskets of food left over.  In our case, there were two garage stalls worth of inventory left over. Which gets handed over to my girlfriend to do the exact same thing next weekend.

So thank you to any of you who donated your items to us, your time, prayed for us, shopped with us, or just thought about us. I feel like I owe a huge debt of gratitude to so many people that I may never be able to repay.  No, I will never be able to repay.  And the truth is, I don't think people expect me to.  This is God's blessing and God's grace at work.  Right here.  Right now.  In our lives.

I hope that I am able to post another adoption update soon.  We are in the midst of a ridiculously long process, and even though we've completed training and paid money and sent in vast amounts of paperwork, we are still 1-2 months away from being placed at the bottom of the waiting list.  So if you could pray with us that things would go smoothly and that all the right things would happen, we would appreciate it.  We are on God's timing, so we are not anxious, but we still just love to experience more little wins than little setbacks.