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Updated: 2018-03-07T21:03:38.583-08:00

 



"I thought you wanted to adopt a girl?"

2015-02-19T12:23:39.694-08:00

The fact that I, as a 38 year old responsible adult, have not one, but two tutus would confirm this very thing. (One custom made by a designer in New York, I might add. Because that's how adults get their tutus.)(Hi Sal!)
We've had our adoption license open with the state for a year now and we've gotten several profiles of waiting children sent to our inbox. Some individuals, some sibling sets. Some boys, some girls.

As we've read through the profiles with girl(s) included, I've noticed a wave of "mom of a daughter" fantasies. That's a thing apparently. I find myself having to reread the paragraph I just read because all the sudden I'm braiding hair while we watch Anne of Green Gables with muffins in the oven and her nails are freshly painted. I can't remember what I just read about her medical history because we were just heading to a "Girls on the Run" practice after we left the house rolling our eyes at the silly frat house we just escaped. And by the end of the profile (that I'm not really reading) I'm meeting her for coffee on her college campus and you guys! You should see her outfit. Doctors aren't supposed to be that fashionable.

At one point Russ and I decided we would only put our names in for girls or sibling sets with girls. It was that important to me. But then I realized a few things.

First? I only have boys right now. And I'm completely fulfilled as a mom. Even if we never add to our family again, boys or girls, I'm over the moon for my kids. Borderline obsessed, actually.

Second, and most important, when did I make this adoption about me? That's not why we got into this. That's not why we busted through so much paper work and so many home visits. If we're really doing this to give a child a family, then that's it. No addendums. It's not "We love (adopting girls) because He first loved us." Not to mention how our priorities have shifted once we read these stories and saw these faces. All the sudden, things I valued don't matter so much anymore. Reading through the profiles became a question of "Can we meet their needs?" vs "Can they meet my needs?"

Don't hear what I'm not saying. Off the top of the head I can think of at least three families who had biological kids of all one gender who then adopted the opposite gender. People feel called to specific things all the time. But that's not what this is for me, for us. My "mom fantasies" are just that. My daydreams don't equal my "calling."

Yes, being a mom of a girl would be SO FUN! But that's also how I felt about that perm in 2002. I don't know if the team will choose our family for these two boys next month or if another family would meet their needs better, opening our home to other waiting children. But if they are God's next step for our family, then I'm guessing I'll have everything I need.



Mohr, party of 6?

2015-02-09T12:25:13.738-08:00

Russ texted me from Home Depot, "How many hooks should I buy for the boy's bike helmets?"

I froze. This felt weightier than it probably sounds.

Two? or Four?

Friends, about a month ago we submitted our home study for a sibling set of two boys.

Im'ma let that sink in.

2 + 2? =FOUR BOYS. Plus the tall one.

We've submitted our home study a few times over the past 9 months for different kiddos and it didn't work out for one reason or another. We've never made it to the "staffing*." But this time we have.

But so have two other families.

We can't give a whole lotta details, just pray vaguely for "next month" that "some kids" would be placed in the right home. (not necessarily ours, see below) Feel free to ask questions about the process and we'll answer them as best we can. Feel free to not ask questions about the kids, ha!


{*Staffing (from a blog post last January): The team (any where from 8-12 people) narrows it down to three families and hosts a "Staffing". A "staffing" is a meeting where they look at the specific child and his/her needs and decide as a team which family would best fit that child based on the interviews of those families, ranking them 1,2,3. Birth families are not involved at this point. We could be interviewed for staffings for months or even years and still not get picked. And that's okay.

Please understand this process through the state is child-centered, as it should be. If we don't get picked, it's not our opportunity to be offended. No matter how you view us, we may not be the right fit for a child, whereas another family may be. We want the team to be critical about these decisions, as it's in everyone's best interest, especially the child.}

So, yeah, four boys.










On Pregnancy, Infant and Child Loss Remembrance Day.

2014-10-15T21:25:49.775-07:00

When Russ and I found out we were pregnant in 2002 we told the world as best we could, before social media gave us a microphone. We've never been super shy about what's going on in our lives so our community knew we'd been struggling with infertility. I'd venture to say word of our pregnancy spread quicker than it would have since so many were praying for us.

And then we miscarried.

I remember where I was standing when a friend stopped and said, "I have some babies in heaven, too" and then walked away.

I remember getting a card in the mail from an acquaintance that only said, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28."

I remember these two instances because they caused more pain than comfort.

I wanted the first friend to stop and talk. To share with me what it was like to move forward, missing her babies and celebrating her other children. I didn't want to get over it. I wanted to wallow in it a bit, honoring what had been lost. I wanted the second person to offer a relationship, to help walk me through the fog while pointing to truth. Not just throw a verse on a card and send it. I needed support. I needed a rich meal and all that was offered was a saltine cracker.



In 2011 an acquaintance who decided to place her newborn for adoption asked us to consider it and we said yes. This time using our social media microphone, we told the world our great news.

And then that ended.

I remember dear friends letting me live at their house for days while I fell apart. (Russ was in China on business at the time)

I remember a dear friend writing a note with a lot of profanity attached to a bag of thin mints and leaving it on my door, calling later to chat.

I remember a friend taking me to lunch to talk through it.

I remember emails from dear friends full of scripture and their stories and their hearts.

I remember being carried through that deep grief.


In both losses, I remember specific moments of being carried and other moments of feeling alone; moments of knowing I couldn't get through that day without that person's help and days when I felt isolated in my pain.

It is because of this that I'm excited for the world to know about a new ministry I've been humbled to be apart of creating.
Over the last (at least) 6 months four of us have been praying, texting, google hanging, planning, laughing and crying over this ministry.

Need to be carried? Need to know how to carry another? This is the place for you.

Check out our website.

Check out our Facebook page here.

Check out our Instagram here.

Check out our Twitter.





A Few Steps Til Ya Nail It (DIY Stair Facing)

2014-09-30T06:20:34.691-07:00

^See what I did there? Kinda stole the joke from my friend A. Lester. She won't mind. You guys! Look what I did! I had an idea and it actually worked! Not like the easter bunny rolls of '14…HIDE THE CHILDREN! Months ago a friend gave us a bag of burlap coffee bags (after Russ asked him if he could save us a few from his work)(Cuz he loves me) One day while we ran by the rehab I was standing near the front door looking at the messy stair case and it hit me. COFFEE BAGS ON THE STAIR FACINGS! I consulted a few peeps (Shout out Sal, Selby, Amanda!) and got some solid advice. Putting it all together, here's what I did. 1. Hug your hubs for getting you coffee bags. Two hugs since some are from Guatemala! 2. Wash the bags. (Prepare yourself for the smell of wet burlap. It only competes with the smell of a finger that's been digging in a dirty belly button.) 3. Lay the bags out to dry and spray the ish out of them with Febreze. 4. Iron them. 5. Measure the stairs. (The rehab is over 100 years old so every stair was a different size. )6. This is the expensive part. I bought a slab of super thin wood for $12 from Home Depot. The guys at HD cut if for me to start and then once Dez measured the rest, our contractors cut the remainder for me. 7. I picked the sections of each bag I liked, cut them with a 1/4inch extra around the edge and hot glued my fingers while once in awhile gluing the burlap to the wood. (Each section of wood was numbered according to which stair since they're all different.) 8. Set up the boards, moving a couple similar sized ones around to break up patterns, take a pic and text it to your friends! (also, we're using finishing nails to secure them.) [...]



THIS!

2014-09-06T19:32:23.903-07:00

Not to, ya know, over dramatize anything but today I got a sample of a new product that CHANGES THE WORLD.

And I cried when I used it.

YOU GUYS.

Do you see this?
DID YOU SEE THAT?!

ITS A DARK BROWN BANDAID!!! Look again. I'll wait.

And then? And then! Look at this:
IT'S A LIGHT BROWN BANDAID! NEXT TO THE DARK BROWN ONE!

revolutionary.

Yes, we have ninja turtle bandages and batman ones too but now? Now we have a choice!

I'm not sure I've been this excited about something since at least Britney's last comeback!

This gives me hope. Hope that even the tiniest of details will be better for my boys as they grow up in this confusing world. Now, NOW, they have access to bandaids that match their skin.


I.am.obsessed.

They aren't purchasable yet but it's coming! You can bet your pumpkin spice latte, it'll happen soon. Spread the word, friends! The company is called Tru-Colour Bandages, making this world a better place, one boo-boo at a time. (Not sure why no one hires me for PR stuff.)

Follow them on The Facebook for updates and a chance to jump in on free sample season! Tell 'em Katie sent ya! (not really, they have no idea who I am…) But seriously, spread the word.



I'm a Fixer. Like Olivia Pope. Only not. (a Stitch Fix post)

2014-08-21T19:04:15.299-07:00

STITCH FIX! So fun! Let's talk about it!

Friends have been using this service for awhile and I didn't really see the value in it for me. It seemed to be for women who:
A. Didn't like to shop
B. Don't know how to shop
C. Didn't have time to shop.

None of those are true for me. I'm obsessed with clothes, for better or worse. There's a reason that my offerings of time and talent to the foster/adoptive community involve…clothes.

However…The one thing they *can* offer me is unique pieces. Delivered to my doorstep. Hello Convenience, don't you look saucy today!

Here's how it works:

You create an account and a style profile. A style profile includes not only your sizes but takes you through a series of styles, asking you to share your opinion.
(this part was my fav!)

You choose what type of clothing (casual vs business, etc) you want your fix to focus on and give an estimate of how much you'd like to spend on pieces. Finally, you choose how often you want the fixes delivered and it's all set. Each fix charges you $20 for a styling fee BUT! if you end up keeping any pieces, that $20 goes toward your purchase. You can get them delivered as often (I think as often as every two weeks?) or as little as you'd like.

You get 5 pieces in your box. With each piece you get suggestions on how to wear it, dressed down or up. Here's an example of my first fix:
(The fifth piece was a necklace)

My pieces ranged from $28-$78. I chose to keep just one this time around but asked for a different size on a second piece.

You try your pieces on and you get three days to return it in an already provided self-addressed stamped envelope. I literally folded up the pieces I was returning, put them in the bag/envelope provided, sealed it and stuck it in the mailbox. Done and done.

Here's the thing: I'm a bargain shopper. I can find the most amazing deals and have to stop myself from bragging about how little stuff costs when people compliment an item I'm wearing. Price was my biggest hesitation on this endeavor. However, I'm not using this service to find a whole new wardrobe. I'm not using it to stock up on basics. I have all that. I do have a hard time finding unique pieces. I don't get (nor do I need) to just stroll through boutique shops finding cute one-of-a-kinds. But when I do find something like that, it's usually more than what I'd spend on a V-neck from Target.

I'm really happy with my first fix and hear that as you provide feedback (hated this piece, this one was too long, etc) your stylist gets better and better. I have a feeling I'm going to become their biggest fan! Ha!

If you decide to try it, feel free to use this link to sign up and I'll get a one-time referral credit. Holla! Or if you have a friend that's already doing it, ask them for their referral link. Whatever. Just go get cute stuff!



Your white friend is telling you that white privilege is real.

2014-08-15T15:17:58.374-07:00

*Deep Breath*First of all, I have no business writing on this topic. It's way out of my league for one thing. Secondly, I'd venture to say we've globally heard enough from the "white mom of a black son." This isn't a blog post for the world though, I'm not trying to be the voice for this group or for this issue. It's mainly for MY peeps, MY community, the people I grew up with, the ones we used to attend church with, go to school with, work with, etc. I need you to hear this from me instead of an article by a person you don't know. St. Louis is a mess right now. It's disrupted my faux-utopia and I can't stop thinking about it. I can't even begin to touch on the realities of what's happened to Mike Brown and in Ferguson or what it all means going forward. And before 8 years ago I could have acknowledged it with a "this is awful" and moved onto something else. We're physically far enough away from Ferguson that I could get away from it all. But now I can't. I have two brown boys that I love more than anything. And they won't always be holding a white lady's hand or being carried on her hip.A trend I'm noticing as shrapnel of this whole event is the validity of white privilege. Not to distract you from the main issues of the main story, but I do want to address it. My fear in all of this on a personal level is that everyone has filled in the blanks of the story already, no matter what facts come out. My fear is that people stop listening to those who finally have our attention, writing them off because of bad behavior. My fear is that the behaviors of a few have somehow cemented your beliefs (via your grandparents beliefs) of the many. My fear is that you don't believe in white privilege because look what "they" are doing to themselves. I wrote an article about my process awhile back and never published it. Rather than rewrite my thoughts, I'll just post it here, even though it's a little dated. *********************************************************************“What color are you?” I asked my 6 year old latino son after he brought up an innocent story from school. “Brown.” “What color is Dez?” I pointed to his african american brother.“Dark brown.”“What about me? and Daddy?” I asked gesturing to his white parents.“You’re pink. And daddy’s hairy.” When we started the adoption process for Desmond, the social worker finishing our home study asked how comfortable we were creating an environment for success as a trans-racial family. Feeling confident we knew what we needed to, we nodded and went to the next question. We got this, no problem.How to Succeed as a Trans-racial Family in 4 Easy Steps (as we understood it):1. Don't dress Dez in anything with monkeys on it.2. Provide toys and books with matching race of each child in our family.3. Learn how to work with his hair/skin.4. Keep positive role models of his same race active in our life.For the first 18 months, that was all we needed. Then Trayvon Martin was shot. Media exploded with story after story of how racism still exists. I stopped reading about co-wash products for 3B/4A curl types and started reading about The Black Male Code. I couldn't process it. I couldn't wrap my mind around those realities, those conversations. And I couldn't put my finger on why I kept getting so overwhelmed until I read an article on White Privilege.It clicked.I was sitting in the dissonance of my white privilege and Dez's black male code.My boys will encounter struggles where I encountered favor.Like a lot of adoptive families, I'd never really looked at either issue. Now parenting couldn't move forward without wrestling them both. I don't think I even realized that white privilege was a real thing. (Another example of my white privilege.) And my childhood only addressed racism in history class.Our boys are growing up constantly hearing how amazing they are, how beautifu[...]



Bloglovin'

2014-08-13T06:37:52.471-07:00

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Given that it's, ya know, half way through 2014, I decided to add myself to Bloglovin'.

Miss you, Google Reader…It's taken me this long to grieve you.



This House.

2014-08-13T05:43:13.632-07:00

We rented this apartment thinking we'd only be here a year. That was SIX years ago. In the meantime...Eliot turned 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.Dez came home to this house. And then turned 1, 2, and 3.Russ was in a band for three years, a graphic designer for two, a free-lance designer for at least five and a worship leader at two churches for all six. I ended my successful Arbonne business, and worked in the electrical industry (??) for two years before Dez came along, making me a SAHM.ReSource was started here and after only a year+ we've served almost 200 families/children. (and given out 7 bikes already!) We struggled with 5 real Christmas trees in this house, getting into a fight every year. Russ and I celebrated our 10th and 15th anniversaries here. We packed and unpacked for/from 6 trips to Guatemala in this house.We helped plant a church.We've accumulated 8 tattoos while living here…I've trained for 4 half-marathons in and out of this house. Eliot learned how to ride a bike, tie his shoes and asked what a "crush" was here.There's been 6 teeth lost, 8 family photoshoots, 3 baseball seasons, 4 soccer seasons, 5 first days of school, 5 stitches in a forehead and a newly super-glued nose. We've lost a great grandmother and a grandfather during this time.There were date nights in and babysitters for nights out. Two boys were successfully potty trained here. We've completed 4 home-studies, fostered one kiddo and had one infant adoption fall through. The hardest two years of our marriage were in this house. I finished writing a memoir. It took almost all of those six years.We said goodbye to one sweet dog and hello to another. In this house we decided we were finished trying for biological kids.Traditions were started in this house. There was countless dinner table moments, dozens of cookies baked and burned, snowmen built, water guns fired, pancake breakfasts. Uncounted time-outs served, band practices, wrestling matches, baseballs hit, Friday family movie nights.Two boys born 1700 miles and 5 years apart became brothers. In this house. A man and his wife fought for their marriage. In this house. It's been great, 38XX Shaw. Thanks for hosting us. [...]



7 things you shouldn't say to people struggling with infertility. (as told by my memory) (and also my friends)

2014-08-07T16:06:21.241-07:00

See this cute couple snuggling on the Goonies beach? They were only 2 years into their 7+ years of infertility. They had quite the road ahead of them and couldn't have made it out to the other side without their community. But it also wasn't without the deflecting of hearing the wrong things on the regular. Here's a cheat sheet for those of you with friends on that same journey. Hope it helps. ******************************************************************************************1. "Oh my gosh, this pregnancy was a total surprise! Can you believe it? We totally weren't even trying!" (other variations include: "every time he looks at me we get pregnant!")This might be the worst one. I know that I know that I know that you're trying to say "I didn't do it on purpose, I didn't get your dream before you on purpose" but that's not what we hear. We hear "Why is this so hard for you? it's really not that hard." What to say instead: "Yep, we're pregnant! Due in ____. How are you guys doing?" Move along. Nothing to see here, folks. 2. "Please come to my baby shower?"For the majority of women I know who struggle with infertility, other people's baby showers are the worst. The worst. It's not that we're not happy for you, it's the extreme isolation that comes from those events. It's impossible to compartmentalize our trauma. Even though we're no longer in the thick of it, I still try to avoid them. That may seem harsh but it's one of the worst triggers. Even after we adopted Eliot, I thought "I'm a mom now, I can handle baby showers!" but no. So uncomfortable with all the conversations about birthing plans and breastfeeding and how pregnancy affects your body. I just kinda check out. What to say instead: "Ball is totally in your court on this one. If you want to come, please do, we'd love to have you but we understand if you wanna skip this one. If you don't come, let's go out to lunch this week instead." 3. "Sorry I didn't tell you earlier, I was scared you'd be mad." Finding out someone (that you're somewhat close to) is pregnant in a big group announcement is rough. We can't hide our reaction. There were times I was legitimately happy for a friend but that happened to be the day we found out we *weren't* pregnant. There's no way to hide that. I never wanted to take away from their joy of that moment. We're never mad at you for getting pregnant. We're suffering and struggling with our own pain. What to do instead: Opinions vary on this but I always told friends that an email was the best way to tell me. An email before the public announcement. That gives me space to receive the news and compose myself in private so I can join in the joy when the public moment happens. You rarely know where the friend is in their fertility steps and springing the news on them can often fall during a rough patch. 4. "It'll happen. Hang in there." Um…no. That's 100% not true. You don't know what you're talking about. You probably don't know what else to say so you're just trying to make it better. A bandaid to make the bleeding stop even though the wound calls for something so much stronger. What to say instead: "That sweater looks great on you!" Just kidding, but maybe don't worry about what to say as much as just listen. We're often nervous that people are weary of hearing our same ol' sob story. Especially after years of it. The wounds get deeper as the months pass and we just want to be listened to sometimes. A good ol' fashioned "That really sucks, I'm sorry you're going through this. What do you need right now? A night out for drinks? A hard run? A ridiculous chick flick? Say the word and I'm there."5. "Want my kids? Jeez, they're getting on my nerves." That's really not comforting. I know you're frustrated with your kids, that's the nature of them. Maybe vent to anothe[...]



Little House on the Prairie. And by "on the prairie" I mean in the City.

2014-07-29T13:02:23.707-07:00

For my records years from now I need to document what's going on. Cuz it's a lot. And details will slip through my memory. About a year ago we heard about an organization called Ribbon Cutters. I dismissed it, assuming it was some scheme. But then we met with them and saw their work. When we moved into this apartment, it was out of urgency because our house sold so fast. We were only going to stay a year. That was almost 6 years ago. We met with Ribbon Cutters early spring and started looking for houses. They were working with us to find a place that was structurally sound, within our budget, and was in our current neighborhood. (We're obsessed with our neighborhood but it's hard to find houses anymore…) We'd looked for weeks, finding nothing so I finally threw out a FB status asking if anyone knew of anything rehab-ish in our hood that wasn't on the market but should be. A friend commented that there was a vacant house across the street from them so I stalked it like Sherlock would, noting the snow had zero footprints up to the front or back door and it hadn't snowed in five days. Not even mailman footprints. I emailed RC and they researched but couldn't find the owner info. About 20 minutes after getting that text I got a message on FB from an acquaintance saying she and her hubs own a rehab property and were thinking of getting rid of it. I asked her the address and guess what she told me? THE EXACT ADDRESS I just heard we couldn't get info on, the EXACT ADDRESS I stalked in the snow. Lots of little steps later and our contractor approved THAT EXACT ADDRESS as something that could work! (insert dancing jig by Russ and Katie) Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our current landlords put our house on the market and weren't completely honest with us about it. We've had a "good faith" lease (which I don't recommend) for the last couple years. On our drive home from spring break we got a call from our new landlords (nice nice people that didn't know we didn't know) saying they needed to move in by May 1. Surprise! That gave us roughly 5 weeks to pack and find a new place to live. Our rehab wasn't set to be finished til end of summer. Two kids, a dog, a house full of stuff and about 120 tubs of clothing with foster families coming to and fro? For a four month lease? Should be easy to find, right? Not to mention convincing our social worker that we're not *really* homeless. Lots of little steps later we were able to move just downstairs in the same building. We had until Aug 1, which should have been plenty of time. The original time line had them finishing by the end of July but construction didn't actually start until July 15. The hold up had to do with permits and government hoopla. (insert PTSD symptoms, me rocking back and forth saying "This is not PGN in Guatemala" over and over.) Our new landlords gave us a two week extension but the new tenants need the place by mid-august. The Rehab is a total gut so there's no chance of living in it while it's being finished. So, we're putting most of our belongings in a pod and living on the simplest of basics in an apartment for (hopefully) only a couple weeks until the house is done. RC is flying through the renovations (not hastily, just efficiently) and the new estimated date is end of August. (Living room/kitchen/bathroom area when we bought it. The shine? It's rain water. Coming through the second story from the roof.)(Same area, after some demo.)(Again, same area but with beautiful progress!) The demo crew had a bit of some attitude…The flooring guy offered to work for marshmallows, so that helps. Back in early spring we packed our winter stuff knowing we wouldn't be here winter of 2014. In April and May we packed everything we wouldn't NEED until August, moving only the minimum [...]



The Triangle. (or Triad)

2014-07-29T14:08:31.074-07:00

For those of you peeking into the adoption world through the glasses of our life, you probably get an overall happy, fuzzy feeling about it. Our boys are cute and silly and we have endless adventures. I talk about adoption often but it's always from the side of the adoptive parent. I rarely talk about the hard stuff. But it's there. Always. It's as much a part of the story as anything else. 

At the base of every adoption story is a triangle. The adoptive parents, the adoptee and the birth parents. 

There is no other time when that triangle is more present to me than this week in May every year. Within days of each other we have Mothers Day, both boys' birthdays and Eliot's Family Day (Gotcha Day). All super fun celebrations if we're sitting on the point of the triangle of the adoptive parents. You were born! I became a mom! We became a family! Adoption is awesome! Let's get donuts! 

If we sit on the point of the triangle of the birth parents this week is the anniversary of the hardest decision we ever made, the day it happened, the day everyone celebrates motherhood, and the day the government made it all final. That's a heavy week. Beyond heavy. Adoption is heavy.

If we sit on the point of the triangle of the adoptee this week is confusing. It provides as many questions with no answers as it does answers to unasked questions. It is loss and gain. It is beautiful and broken. It is a tension unlike any other. Adoption is complex. 

We're not doing anything differently this year. We're still celebrating all week but as the adoptive parents we're not tied to the idea that this will always be a week of Nothing But Joy for our boys. We're taking each year as it comes, letting them guide us as they process all that it means. 

I met a birth mom this week (18 years after the fact) and she teared up when talking about Mother's Day. Just 12 hours before, I was excitedly filling out an adoptive family's recommendation form as they start the process. Joy and pain. It's not one without the other.
"He is mine in a way that he'll never be hers, yet he is hers in a way that he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood." -Desha Wood



Birthdays are good for the sole.

2014-04-14T13:05:15.952-07:00

Remember Eliot's birthday last year? Super fun party and all his friends brought Hot Wheels cars that he was able to take to Guatemala and pass out to children?
(image)

It was impactful enough that he still talks about it. More in a processing sense than anything. Still trying to wrap his mind around kids his age that don't have thousands of toys to fight over with their brother.

This year he's not having a party (we rotate every other year for the big parties) so don't be sad when you don't get an invite. BUT he still wants to collect stuff to take (after a little nudging, lets be honest). His other love language? Shoes.

Starting soon, we're collecting kids shoes. Practical and sturdy, not cheap flip flops, etc. Shoes that were made to last. Kids sizes. New or gently used.

Deadline is May 10.



Spring is the time for COLOR!

2014-04-10T15:19:50.885-07:00

(This is the shape of Guatemala, if you're not sure)

I got this today. Sorry for the gross pic but it's not going to look great for about another week and a half as it heals so you get the fresh pic.

I could have just gotten the outline of Guatemala but knowing all that came from that experience, both our adoption and every trip since then, I felt like it needed to be as impactful as the effect that country has had on me. On my family.

If you're unfamiliar with Guatemalan textiles, that's what this tattoo was based off of. I chose all my favorite patterns and my amazing tattoo artist combined them all.

My favorite part? Each region/town in Guatemala has their own pattern that are worn by the women on their huipil (traditional guatemalan tops). Like these below:
I researched which pattern came from Eliot's birth town and we strategically put that pattern over top of that town.

I love it. Each section reminds me of different amazing things that have come out of our experience. Our amazing first child, the love for the country, the friendships (!!!!), the growth in my character, the growth in my faith. I am a different person because of this country and all it gave me.






Just a guy on a ladder.

2014-03-11T13:17:40.905-07:00

We lead mission trips back to Guatemala. Russ leads music at the church. I run the foster/adopt clothing ministry. We volunteer with the orphan care group at church and at Eliot's school. We have adopted and are planning to again, an older child this time.

When any combination of these facts about us are told to a new person, we're met with a reaction of "You guys are amazing." Usually someone shaking their head. I cringe every time. And I never know what to say. We're not amazing, we're not extraordinary. We're regular people. Given what we've been given, seeing what we've seen, this is what we do. If you see a lightbulb out above your bathroom sink, you change it. If you see someone drop their stuff, you help them pick it up. It's quite simply us filling needs presented before us that we are able to. There's way more impressive things being done by way more impressive people.
Desmond is obsessed with firetrucks right now. Last week we were driving on a major road in St. Louis that runs through a college campus. On the edge of campus was a large red truck with a ladder/stairs attached extending to a huge sign welcoming you to campus, a guy at the very top, changing something on the sign.

Dez started shouting "Mom!! A fireman guy! A FIREMAN GUY!"

"Oh, no, Dez, that's just a guy on a ladder."

And that's it, friends. I don't know how our story will hit you, but we're not fireman guys, we're just a guy on a ladder. This isn't a false humility post, we really are just doing what we do. Everything sounds more impressive than it really is. And really, the minute we start thinking of ourselves as "fireman guys" we're all in a lot of trouble...



Giving good gifts.

2014-03-05T13:32:55.761-08:00

"Why is there a dog in our backyard?" Eliot looked at the dog, at me, at Russ, back at the dog. Maybe the huge foolish grins on our faces started his mental processing of what just happened. Maybe it was my unintelligible squeak saying "It's OUR dog!" *****************Because we know good people, we have several friends who foster dogs. Every time they posted pics of their latest foster over the last six months, Russ and I would have "the chat." Eliot has been asking for a dog for the last two years. We've read articles on how they promote healthy brain activity and teach basic life responsibility in children. (and by "we've read" I mean I post these articles generously to Russ' inbox…) Every time a pic would pop up on my newsfeed, I'd screenshot it with some emotional plea and text it to him. He was all...I could see that over months of this I was wearing him down. Every once in awhile he'd nibble. He'd ask a noncommittal question. I'd scurry to find out the answer. Then he'd say no. I'd casually mention that Dez and I went through the Humane Society after pre-school. He's say "Fun!" and change the topic. You may hear a "no" in that but me? Those were gateway to a "yes." Not to mention Eliot's sincere plea. Without knowing it, he was working Russ. Sharing memories, unprompted, of times he had with Daisy, talking about how Daisy was his best friend, etc. We could see there was a legitimate void in his life. Right around the start of November I could see Russ was on board. So much so that we were both checking almost daily to stray rescue sites and other dog shelters websites. We'd see a potential dog and both agree it wasn't the right one. I emailed back and forth with my fostering friends and before we could make a decision, their foster dog would be adopted by someone else. Then one day in early December a friend posted a link on her FB newsfeed of a neighbor who needed to find a new home for a couple of her pets. I texted Russ, "I found our dog." He had meetings all day so I didn't exactly get the reaction I was hoping for. Without his consent I called the owner and set up a meet-n-greet for Russ' day off. Sometimes ya just know.We met her. And she was perfect. Any doubt we had about taking on the extra responsibility was gone. She was perfect. The timing was perfect. It was just weeks before Christmas. We set up the date for the drop off at just a few days later. For days we knew what was coming. We snuck out to a pet store to stock up on stuff but got distracted by the cool dog toys. "Eliot would pick this one!" "Wait, he'd love this one!" We were giddy. For the next few days it took everything in me not to tell him what was about to happen. He was mad about having to do homework, he was frustrated with his brother for ruining something of his, he didn't feel good one day, etc. I'd just hug him hard as my non-verbal way of saying, "BUT YOU'RE GETTING A DOG! THE PERFECT DOG!" With every down he felt, my smile got bigger. He must have been a little confused. The drop off was set up for Friday afternoon so that when he came home from school, she'd be here. I was busting at the seams as I drove him to school. HE WAS FINALLY GETTING A DOG! Who cares about practicing your spelling words for the test that morning, you're getting a dog! THIS AFTERNOON! AND YOU HAVE NO IDEA! We came up with an elaborate scavenger hunt with clues and gifts, starting with a clue wrapped and under the tree. Russ hid the dog outside while I picked E up from school. "Hi El, how was school?" "Eh.""Well, what do you think of getting an early Christmas present?" "Really?" He took a sweet forever taking off his coat an[...]



Debt Free Adoption

2014-01-25T06:33:05.690-08:00

After presenting at our monthly local orphan care meeting, I had a few requests to post all the info I'd gathered online somewhere for easy access. And it just so happens I have a blog for any platform I want. Lucky you guys! Back in the olden days, before the internet was a legit thing, a hot young couple hastily jumped into an international adoption with an "Eh, we'll figure it out somehow" attitude and made dumb decisions. So this post is the opposite of what we did, kind of a "wish we would have known about that when we started all this biz years ago…" entry. This only applies to private and international adoptions as adoptions through foster care do not cost the adopters anything. This also won't address tax info. That's over my head, frankly, but I have a couple people you could contact if you have questions about that. I will tell you though to keep a folder where you have copies of receipts of EVERY PENNY you spend on your adoption because the tax credit will need to be proven to be awarded. Give future-you a present by keeping all of that in one handy place from the beginning. ****Important point**** Make sure your fundraisers aren't always asking for money from the same people. Think of ways your community can reach out to others beyond your circle. Think of goods or services or events you can sell that would interest more than just your direct family and friends. Before you look at my list and get super impressed, know that I gathered the majority of my info from juliegumm.com (Author of Adoption without Debt). Her blog and book are PACKED with ideas and organizations. Go there. Often. Grants/loans: *Direct Grants- you fill out an application and they award you money (going to your agency, not your pocket). There's always criteria and rules. It's a lot of work to fill out the applications but IT'S FREE MONEY, PEOPLE. And once you fill out one application, a lot of them require the same info that you've already gathered. Go to Resources4adoption.com to save yourself weeks of research. She's done all the hard work in finding and organizing all the grants out there. She keeps it up to date. She's your new best friend and probably has a pair of traveling pants with someone. (Check out Show Hope, A Child Waits, Affording Adoption, and Gift of Adoption to name a few)*Abba Fund- Check with your church to see if they have an Abba Fund account. It works like an interest free loan. There are guidelines, of course, so check details! (giving you a visual on what you're working so hard for)Partner Organizations*Pure Charity is a great online organization that you can channel funds through. Funds go to your agency, not you and as long as your agency is a 501c3, your donors get a tax deduction. Also, as long as you have an account, friends and family can go through your page to shop at Target, etc and you get credited a percentage of their purchases. *GoFundMe and Paypal work similarly, except with GoFundMe you create a page, have a goal, can add updates and pictures, etc. *Give 1, Save 1: Apply to this website to be their "Family of the week." They feature your family story for a week and run a campaign for a week. Lots of $1s add up! (another visual)Big Events (all eggs in one basket kinda stuff) (side note: if you know a friend with event planning skills, ask for help! You may be losing out on maximizing your event if you've never done something like this before!) (another side note: I don't believe you can sell alcohol at any of your events without the right permits. Look into that…)*Both Hands Foundation: This is by far the best organization to help with fund[...]



Those who constantly attempt to become legends rarely do. -Ancient Proverb I just made up.

2014-01-12T12:49:24.834-08:00

I just came inside from running a puking dog out to the front lawn. I'm on day three of these yoga pants and have accumulated enough fuzz on them to prove it. My youngest is crying at the door because I won't let him go outside. (It's winter and he's insisted on being naked all day.) I'm 11 days behind the "Read-the-bible-in-a-year-plan" and it's January 12th. My Christmas tree is sitting dead in the corner, it's needles slowly creeping their way around the house. The dog needs a bath. The kids need a bath. I could use one myself, actually. We're out of milk and I couldn't tell you the last time my kids ate a vegetable. I'm ignoring all the committee emails from my eldest's school. I'm not a natural home-maker so being a SAHM feels like prison a little bit and if I'm totally honest, I often get jealous that the hubs is in his dream job. I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up and I'm weeks away from turning 37, which in my head feels like turning 40 three years early. And this isn't even a bad day. I would hate for today to be the day I'm scrolling through my mom's Instagram feed from 25 years ago and see that all the pics of me have a #worldchanger hashtag. I'm noticing this trend among my parenting friends, specifically my christian ones. Posting a picture of your kid and adding the hashtag "World Changer."#dailydez #worldchanger #clothesoptional This morning as I took pause and looked at the reality of me right in this moment I was extremely thankful my parents never added that title onto my identity, at least not that I'm aware of. Holy pressure! Upon seeing that I think I'd start cataloging all my "good deeds." I could read fifty articles about how being a mom is one of the highest callings, I could look at our ReSource ministry and pat myself on the back, I could assign undue credit to the influence our adoption stories have had on our community, all these in attempt to build my own heavenly crown, hoping to prove to myself I'm being a good steward of my life, that these things add up to *kind of* changing the world? But you know what? These are not the things I should be finding my identity in, and neither are the fuzzy yoga pants and puking dog. I don't feel like I'm disappointing anyone because I'm living today as a child of God. That is my identity. No additional banners attached.Do I want my kids to be world changers? Duh. But to put that on them is unfair. (To put that on me is unfair, for that matter, I don't know how to grow world changers, although I'm sure there's a book out there that can teach me.) I don't know what my kids will do with their life but I want them to proceed just doing their best. Doing what they feel is their purpose, doing what glorifies God without the standard of pushing constantly to be a world changer. Adding that title changes the goal. I want them to be so secure in their love from both God and us that they feel the freedom to pursue even the most mundane life-style if it glorifies God and they love it. It's not that I have low expectations for my kids. It has more to do with me wanting them to figure out what they love, discover what they're good at, what God created them to do and work at it with all their heart, regardless of the outcome. I'm not trying to add to the mommy wars, not trying to say we're doing anything better than anyone else. We've just been talking lately about the weight of the common things we say to our kids and trying to think more critically about why and what and how that may impact them. There's nothing wrong with wanting to change the crap in our world. [...]



Adoption TMI update! Cuz who doesn't love TMI?!

2014-01-08T10:48:29.480-08:00

Here's what needs to happen in order for us to be ready:

OUR RESPONSIBILITY:
Get re-fingerprinted
Get physicals from the Doc
Finish the PILES of paperwork for our home study
Finish our adoption classes (just one left!)
Collect a couple missing documents for home study
Create a "life book" (pics/info) to show at "staffings".

OTHERS RESPONSIBILITY:
Process our fingerprints
Mail in our physicals
Mail in our recommendation letters and employment verification
Schedule our adoption class that was postponed
Put all of that together and update the home study (biggest responsibility)

Then we wait. You remember that part, right? Speaking of waiting, this was me waiting to meet our newest social worker last week. Just a normal Friday, ya know?

The next steps are ones we've not experienced yet. In our home study we've specified ages and disabilities we can/cannot accept so when a child becomes available through the state that fits in those categories, we'll receive an email asking if we'd like to be considered. At that point we can put our name in the hat or not. The team (any where from 8-12 people) narrows it down to three families and hosts a "Staffing". A "staffing" is a meeting where they look at the specific child and his/her needs and decide as a team which family would best fit that child, ranking them 1,2,3. (Somewhere before that is an interview from the team.) Birth families are not involved at this point.

We could be interviewed for staffings for months or even years and still not get picked. And that's okay.

Please understand this process through the state is child-centered, as it should be. If we don't get picked right away, it's not our opportunity to be offended. No matter how you view us, we may not be the right fit for a child, where another family may be. We want the team to be critical about these decisions, as it's in everyone's best interest especially the child.

We're not hoping for this to be quick, we're hoping for this to be right.

So, that's it. Now, off to my paperwork pile! Feel free to pray, feel free to ask questions, feel free to send Starbucks.



Snow Session: Fresh Art Photography

2014-01-07T08:11:18.001-08:00

A Saturday in mid-December surprised St. Louis with enough snow to cancel our adoption class so Jodie and I decided to do an impromptu family session instead! Click here for the full blog post of pics! (Here's a peek though...)




'Twas the Night Before The Home Study (re-post)

2014-01-02T12:23:53.740-08:00

...when all through the house,
not a dustball was stirring, and certainly not a mouse;
The family pics were hung on the wall with care
with hopes that the social worker would soon be there;

the child was nestled in front of a movie with care
while visions of a sibling danced in his head;
With Russ in his toolbelt, and me in my cleaning cap
we got swiftly to work, yelling "No time for a nap!"

Away to the window, I flew like a flash,
Windexing the panes and dusting the sash,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But boxes of stuff we don't need, it was clear,

To the dumpster Russ flew, so lively and quick,
I knew it was gone when I heard the lid click.
More rapid than eagles, with cleaner I came,
I whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, front stairs! now, banister! now, vanity and tub!
On, corners! on baseboards! on, trucks and stuffed cub!
To the top of the mantel! to the top of the wall!
Now scrub away! wipe away! dust away all!"

So into the trashcan the dust-mites they flew,
With my arms full of supplies, and Russell's arms, too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on my phone
The social worker appointment being postponed.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Into the room Russell came with a bound.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

"An extra week we have to prepare,
My gorgeous princess, you have no reason to despair."
And I heard him exclaim, ere he walked out of sight,
Happy home study to all, and to all a good night!


**Reposted from early 2010.

We are actually having a home study visit tomorrow (again). I should actually be cleaning but instead I'm reading old blogs. Seems like a good idea.




The Book.

2014-01-01T11:21:34.093-08:00

Not THE Book, like the Holy one, I just mean my book. My memoir of Eliot's adoption.

You'll be happy to hear I've not touched it since I finished it. That's what I call progress. I'd like to blame the holidays and about four other things but I just needed a little space from it. I needed to clear my head. I needed to lay down my premature dream of getting published and refocus.

I've spent that time reading this book and this book.

Essentially I need to edit. To chop. Like Locks of Love chop.

It's like buying the absolute perfect house but it was previously owned by hoarders who disappeared and left all their stuff there. You can see the sound structure and spacious rooms. You saw peeks of beautiful crown molding and intricate tile work. But it's all covered by crap. THE STUFF. The stuff is all consuming and you needed some space after the initial walk through before you went back at it.

If you can't picture that, think of it as a huge pile of mental vomit and now I just need to pull out all the good chunks.

I'm excited about it again. I'll keep ya posted once I make more actual progress. Thanks for always asking about it. You guys have been such a huge support.




Some-ary. (Read: summary)

2013-12-31T16:33:39.259-08:00


I know you've been dying to hear how my resolutions ended up. The last I updated was check #7 in September. Here's how they broke down in the 4th quarter:

Check #8: We are paying off one of our little reminders of infertility this month! Yay!

Check #9: Clean basement resource? Well, it's super functional but it's not totally awesome yet. We've made unbelievable progress and served over 60 kids in foster care/adoptive homes but it could use some more work. And some bug spray.

Check #10: Nope. No quilt was made. Not even a tiny bit. Although my MIL bought me one for Christmas. Does that count?

Check #11: While I tried getting my laptop fixed in January of last year, I was met with the judgemental snarls of the Apple world claiming what I was using was "vintage". And then it quit working all together. Our super awesome house-mate Allie lent me hers for most of the year so I could still write. And the happiest part? I got a new laptop for Christmas! I'm back. Like Britney, only more sober.

Check #12: Blurb book of 2012? Um...didn't happen. Although I made an Instagram calendar of 2013 pics. Does that kinda count?


2013 was one of our best years as a family and for me personally. I've started my goals for '14 and once they're critiqued by the lazier me instead of the "worlds-my-oyster" me, I'll post 'em.

Happy New Year, friends! Thanks for playing along...



Welcome to our frat house.

2013-12-09T11:57:56.228-08:00

****Not sure why this posted again! My posts have felt a little somber lately. The last few posts have been soap-boxy bulletin boards. Time for a quick scrapbook moment for my boys. Ya know, in case Facebook implodes one day and I lose all my documentation of their childhood. I should warn you, I'm a serial facebooker. And Instagrammer. But I'm most embarrassed to say my last kid-themed-status-update-update was July of '12. I'm not going to copy the last year and a half's here but I'll at least give ya the last few months...****EDITED TO ADD**** I started with just the last couple months but was having so much fun revisiting our crazy that I kept going. Whatever. It's my party and I'll blog if I want to, blog if I want to, blog if I want to. This post is more for Dez and Eliot to revisit in 20 years. All that to say, it's long but if you're bored, have at it. A few posts:JULY-DECEMBER '12 *E: Mom, I want strong muscles like Michael Phelps, do you? Me: Yep, that's why I was exercising yesterday.E: Uh, mom,...it didn't work.*Every time we get in the car Eliot yells, "My biscuits are burnin'!"*Nothing says " road trip with a six yr old" like Hey Mom, I bet I can count to 10, 000! 1, 2, 3...*Russ to E, getting in the car with half an ice cream cone: Eliot, are you really going to finish all of that?Eliot: Dude, I'm gonna kill it.*Me: El, for snack do you want a banana? El: Sure, what kind do you have?*It might just be easier to put all the kitchen cabinet contents into Dez's toy baskets and his toys into the cabinets.*Dear teachers, if Eliot's "how I spent my summer vacation" essay includes watching YouTube videos on "how to cornrow" that *might* be my fault.*Me: Eliot, you need to *blah blah blah*Eliot: Whatever you say, Mom Me: Um..what? Eliot: Whatever you say...is awesome?*Something I never imagined saying as a parent: "Stop running hot wheels through your brother's fro."*I know I shouldn't refer to my child as my antagonist but what else do you call someone who constantly follows you around undoing what you just did. And don't say "a toddler" because then I'm forced to reply, "touche!" and I hate saying that.*"Mom, booty is a noun" #firstgradeFTW*That moment when you mistakingly reprimand your son for calling you a "cougar" when he actually called you a "cool girl".*That moment when you find yourself cleaning up diarrhea from two children while listening to The Chipmunks sing Christmas songs in Spanish. Yeah, that moment.*Every time we ask Eliot to do something he says, "No comprendo." Well played, Guatemalan, well played.*Something I didn't anticipate with the multi- age classroom: Eliot's sudden interest in third grade girls.*20 (ish) teeth by 2 years old? It's going to be a long 6 months...#only4teethat18months*While letting a-very-excited-to-vote Eliot push the buttons on electronic ballot, the next guy in line interrupted us: Guy: excuse me, mam, can you stop letting your child help you? I'm in a hurry.Me: I'm sorry sir, what's the problem? Guy: I'm in a hurry and you're taking too long in letting your kid help you. Me: Sir, that's not my problem. If you aren't happy with the way I'm voting, there's other booths. This moment is important for my son and frankly, what's taking so long is this conversation.*Dez trying to throw a fit while also having the hiccups might be the best thing about my day.*Dez just did something he knew was wrong and immediately put his hand out fo[...]