Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Countdown

The presents are organzied, the tree is packed away, and the ball is ready to drop.  You know what that means, right?  New Year's Reflection Time!! I'll be back before the end of the year to do an actual year in review kind of reflection.

In the meantime, my stats tell me that these are the top 10 posts written in 2011 that were the most visited.  I guess scientifically it's unfair to the posts that were written later in the year, but oh well.

Part 5 in the saga of Herb and Michelle; it was this time of year 8 years ago that we made it official. 
{If there were a soundtrack to the story, this song would be on it.}

The day my son almost didn't get named on the stand because I was crying too hard.

My secret weapon?  Amazon Mom!

The closer we become, the more real it is.

6. Birthday Pennant Banner
The first project in my Necessarily Creative gifts line - a birthday banner for Levi.

Cue the "Romeo and Juliet" theme, Chapter 1 of our story was about love at first sight.

Cupcakes, pool baths, and naked baby dancing...

Levi's birthmom, Jen, shares her side of the story.

In all fairness, the only reason this wreath got so many hits is because I linked up to Nester's wreath link party.  It has also been pinned by four people I don't know in real life.  This is the big time folks.  Ha ha!

I'm glad this is the number one read post this year.  If I learned anything this year, it is about how amazing open adoption can be, but how we really both have to work at the relationship.  When I wrote this post, Jen and I hadn't actually spent any time together yet, and had merely exchanged letters.  Looking back on the 2011, Jen's friendship is one of the things for which I am most thankful.

And if that doesn't accurately sum up my year of blogging, maybe this will...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

We are celebrating Griswold style and are having several days of relaxing, family loving, food munching, movie watching, nothingness.

It is awesome.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Cards, Vol 2: The Outtakes

My friends Joan and Jon are notorious for having amazingly awesome and hilarious Christmas cards.  Do yourself a favor and check them out...

After I blogged about my free Christmas cards from Tinyprints, Joan emailed me to volunteer her hubby/photographer extraordinaire to take our Christmas pictures.  Armed with a great photographer, magnificent assistant, and a camera that pretty much would cost a year's salary, where do you think we took the pictures?  Here of all places (I can't even bring myself to actually write the word.)

Joan, the brains behind the plan, suggested that Levi could eat a cookie (in focus), while Herb (dressed in a Santa hat) and I kissed by a tree (out of focus).  To set it up, Levi was standing in a cart, we kissed by the tree.  We couldn't stop gigglin (I guess PDA isn't our thing), and it was almost impossible to capture Levi eating a cookie while Herb and I were kissing, no customers were trying to get by, and all the stars were aligned.  

This was as close as we got.

In the meantime, Jon and Joan managed to capture several other adorable pictures of my kiddo!

Check back tomorrow to see the final product...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Necessarily Creative Christmas: The Fishy Purse

Last week, I began sharing my homemade Christmas gifts with you.  I'm calling it the Necessarily Creative Christmas line because my creativity comes out of financial necessity.  Well, and the fact that I just looooove a good craft.

One of my absolutely favorite new websites is called Make It Love It.  She does all kinds of amazing sewing projects which are usually way out of my league (I can hardly sew a straight line).  But when she posted a tutorial for a fabric fishy purse, somehow I mustered up the courage to give it a go.  And I'm so glad I did.  This project was incredibly fun, rewarding, and actually pretty cheap, too!

My nieces, Ellie and Cora, love animals, especially fish.  Some of my favorite memories with the girls have happened at the Baltimore Aquarium and Pittsburgh Zoo, not to mention all the beach trips we've taken together!  Their daddy (Herb's brother) is somewhat of a fish aficionado, too, and they have a 6 foot tank in their house.  And since they are little girls, I'm hoping they will appreciate having a cute purse.  I wanted their purses to be similar, but a little unique to each girl, too.  Cora LOVES anything yellow, and Ellie is more inclined to pink.

I'm not going to reinvent the wheel and write down the directions, because they are all right here.  All you need is a variety of fabrics (less than a yard, total, and you can probably use up a lot of scraps), 1/2 yard of fusible interfacing, 2 buttons, thread, a needle, a scissors, and a sewing machine.  Oh, and a lot of free time.  I am guessing I spent about 10 hours to make two purses.  But again, I have a toddler who sleeps a lot and a husband who works three jobs.

Oh, and did I mention how amazingly detailed the tutorial is?

Here's what the purses look like all stretched out.

And here they are ready to swim in the ocean.

Now, please excuse me, I need to go find all kinds of fish accessories (crackers, stickers, candy) to put in their purses so they are ready to go to the aquarium!!

Still Getting Chills

Today I had lunch with a friend from college, who unlike everyone else on the face of the plant, is not a facebook user.  We haven't seen each other in several years, but randomly ran into each other a few weeks ago at the farm show.  Now both stay at home moms and living in the same community, a play date was in order!

Other than missing out on hours of wasted time, Becca had also missed the entire fertility-adoption saga.  She knew we adopted Levi because for whatever reason, it was the FIRST thing I told her when we saw each other at the farm show.

"You have a baby!"
"Yeah, he's ADOPTED!"

Herb claims I actually shouted it.

Anyway, she wanted to hear the whole story, and believe me, I gave her the long version.  It was crazy awesome to get to tell the complete story to someone who had no idea what was going to come next.  And you know how much I love a captive audience!  From no nut-sack needle to incredibly specific answered prayers.  From finding out about Levi's birth on facebook to our awesome relationship with Levi's first family.  She was literally sitting on the edge of her seat the entire time.

Dang, I guess it is a pretty good story.

My son is 16 months old, and the story still gives me chills.  Just last month we spoke at a fundraiser for Bethany Christian Services, and I ugly cried through my speech during rehearsal (thankfully, I got it out then and held it together during the banquet).  And then last night when we were at a Christmas party for our adoption agency and I kept getting choked up just thinking about how important those people were to me.  Then they called up all the kids who had finalized adoptions in the past year to place an ornament on the Christmas tree.  Afterward, Herb thought I was taking Levi outside to run around after he hung his ornament, but I actually went out in the hall and cried.

God is so good.  I hope our story keeps me in awe for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Awkward Hugger

A little secret, if you don't know me in real life, is that I am an incredibly awkward hugger.  I usually love hugs from people, but you will almost NEVER find me initiating a hug.  It is way out of my comfort zone.
The reason I say I usually love hugs, is because of what happened in college.  It was the first time I realized I wasn't a "hugger."  Lauren  always greeted me with an 8:00am hug.  I tolerated the hugs for a while, but soon I found myself annoyed, Lauren got the drift, and I found the courage to say I didn't really want a hug first thing in the morning.  We compromised by creating "free hug" time after 11:00 am. 

About five years later, my hugging aversion surfaced again, but this time, the tables had kind of turned.  I found myself missing a hug.   Jess's husband, Isaac, passed away, and although we spent the whole evening together, never once did I hug her.  Maybe it was the fact that if we hugged we knew we would have both lost it, but I think it had more to do with the fact that neither one of us are inclined to hugging, so it just didn't happen.

Not hugging Jess on the day her husband died has stuck with me.  I know she's not holding it against me or anything, but I feel like it was a pretty pathetic move on my part.

But I'm turning over a new leaf.  I decided I want to be quicker with an embrace, but it's so out of my comfort zone! Since we changed churches and moved counties, I feel like I have a "fresh start" and I'm trying to reinvent myself as a hugger.  

It is definitely stretching me.  I'm doing pretty good with hello and goodbye hugs, especially when it comes to people I don't get to see as often anymore (like Jess, ironically).

But two weeks ago, I did something really really awkward.  More awkward than a non-hugger trying to initiate the embraces.

I met my friend D for coffee.  I knew she was pregnant, but when she arrived and I saw how round and adorable her belly was, I instinctively patted it (because all pregant women LOVE that, right?).  Unfortunately for D, next came a hug and somehow in the hug process, I forgot to move my hand away from her belly, and as we embraced, suddenly I realized my hand had gone from belly to lower back, and was in between her shirt and coat.

 And suddenly, instead of a "hey, good to see you" kind of hug, she got a "hey, this is way more inimate and personal than I meant it to be" kind of hug.

The worst part is, the next week, I ran into ANOTHER pregnant friend and did the exact.same.thing.

{{Hanging my head in embarrassment.}}

The moral of the story is, if you're pregant, don't let me hug you.  Lauren, you should be grateful there is an ocean separating your pregnant self from my awkward self.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Necessarily Creative Christmas: Framed Quote

This Christmas has definitely been a lesson in necessity inspiring creativity (how does that quote go?).  Money we have not, but time and abilities are a-plenty this year.  I have been crafting up a storm, but I can't reveal everything just yet, I wouldn't want to ruin any surprises!

Today I'll show you my first installment of The Necessarily Creative Christmas Line. (Nice title, huh?)

The quote comes from Proverbs 23:7, but it was also sentimental to the gift recipient.  Christina is a wonderful lady I met during college who just turned 30. In college, this verse was inscribed in the lobby of the building where music majors spent every second of every day for four years.

To make it, I used one of the black 6x8 floating frames I got for a song on Black Friday.  I cut the letters out using Sure Cuts a Lot and black vinyl (like I did for this wall quote).  I love the simplicity of the black on the see-through frame, and the way the letter cast a shadow on the wall.

(Sorry the pictures are awful - can't find my camera, so cell phone will do!)

In the comments, would you share with me your favorite gift ever received that was hand made?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Two Truths and a Lie

Did you ever play this game in high school as an ice breaker at peer mediation club?  No?  Just me?

Anyway, here's how it works.  I am going to tell you three statements about my evening - which ended up being pretty rough.  Two of them are completely true, one of them is only kind of true, therefore making it a lie.

In no particular order, here they are... can you find the lie?

When I was cleaning up Levi's explosive diaper and putting him in the bath, I accidently wet my own pants.

I bought tickets to see Dashboard Confessional, one of my favorite bands.  I bought the tickets two months ago and totally forgot about it until the show was already over tonight.

I ironically cut my big toe on my cricut (of all things).  It was so bad I had to go to the ER and get 10 stitches.

See, no matter which one the lie is, it was a bad night.

And no, I will never admit what the truths are.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I Know The Awesomest People

I love that the right people always seem to find themselves into my life at the right time.  When we were (miserably) waiting to adopt, I met so many other adoptive families who showered me with support.  When I decided to quit my job, cash out my retirement, and throw caution to the no-career-for-now-wind, I suddenly found several other women who did the same thing, making the transition not so scary.

This week, I have been having warm fuzzies about the other moms God has been sprinkling in my life.  They are a wealth of knowledge.  They are my real life version of Googling a baby question.  Several of them now live in the same county, so suddenly Levi has a play date social life that rivals my college years.  One of them lives on the freakin' other side of the world, but what she lacks for in physical distance, she makes up for in heart distance (sorry, so cheesy, but so true).  Another one is a superhero who I get to call friend and sister.  And then there are two or three whose babies somehow grew up to be my age, but can easily remember when they did "back then" and are so willing to share and encourage.

In case you aren't as blessed as I am to have really incredible friends and family, you're in luck.  Two of them BLOG!!

My friend Lauren touched me this week when she blogged about how we are the ones who often hold our children back.  She's only been a mom for 2 months longer than I have, but her wisdom rocks my world.
...I understand that the lesson is more important than the completion of the task at hand. I want to have patience and understand that teaching as we live life side-by-side is the most effective way of instruction...
Then there's my friend Melody, who is such a "new" friend that we don't even have any pictures of us together (let's change that, okay?).  Melody is actually the friend-who-lives-the-closest now at our new place, and she's been a mom for 4 1/2 years. Melody blogged this week about the ministry we have in motherhood.
...When my first impulse would be to scold or nag or even yell at my children, I want to worship instead. Worship by responding kindly, by speaking gently. Worship by dying to myself (and my carpet) and allowing them to enjoy being children. Worship by getting off of Facebook and playing with them...
If you have time today, check out Melody and Lauren's blogs.  Also, thanks, Melody and Lauren for being really good mommy friends, and writing about it so I can shamelessly quote you.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Last year, I was excited to buy Levi a new bib that said "My First Thanksgiving."

This year, I was excited to see Levi actually eat the once-a-year food, and he did not disappoint!

We spend the holiday with my mom's side of the family.  Almost everyone was there, and if you count all my cousins, their spouses, and their children, this crowd ads up to around 50!  (Would you be suprised if I told you that is my smaller family?  My dad's side numbers upwards of 80.)

My Aunt Janice hosts us all every year.  She's got an open finished basement with plenty of room for 5 tables which each seat 10 people.  It's an unspoken rule that going to this side of the family is a requirement - it's the only time we're all together.  Well, actually, I guess it's not so unspoken.  My grandma gave me a pretty good guilt trip about it a few years ago when we tried to visit Herb's family for a change.  But I don't mind - there are other holidays to visit other parts of the family.

After my aunts house, we headed to my dad's house.   We couldn't stay too long because Mary had to go to bed at the same time as Levi.  She is a manager at Sears and had to be at work by 2am for Black Friday! She read Levi a bed time story, and then we headed home.

A little while after we got home, my dad showed up (oh the joys of only living thirty minutes apart now), and slept on our couch while Herb and I braved the crowds.