On my Kindle this Month

Prior to law school and becoming Mom, one of my favorite past times was reading.  There was nothing I loved more than cuddling up with a good book.  Three years in law school, followed by two years as a new Mom, and let’s just say, I haven’t finished  very many books in the past five years.  As we are waiting for Baby #2 or Babies #2 & #3 to join our family, I’ve decided to use more of my free time to enjoy reading.  Hopefully, as an added bonus, I will learn and grow in the process!

47559_590313465006_4690788_n

I’m already loving the first books on my reading list.  They fall into three categories:

1) Spiritual Growth: Believing God, by Beth Moore.  As an added bonus, this book is free for your kindle until January 10!

2) Parenting: Loving the Little Years, by Rachel Jankovic.  I love that this book is about your attitude as a parent.  As a bonus, the chapters are super short and easy to read for those of us who are busy Mom’s!

3) Adoption: Chosen With Purpose: A Story of Adoption & Identity, by Mark Molzen.  This book, written by an adoptee does an amazing job of giving the adoptee and their parent’s perspective, namely that adoption is part of God’s plan!

I have many more on my list for the year to come.  Some I am really looking forward to include, To Live is Christ by Beth Moore, The Open Hearted Way to Open Adoption by Lori Holden, and Shepherding A Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp.  The one type of book I’m missing from my lists is a good fiction book.  Any recommendations?

What are you reading this winter?  I’m always looking for new books to add to my list!

They aren’t ours, they are His

As Abby-girl approaches her second birthday, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about those days before her birth and in the hospital, as well as the events that have transpired in the last two years. Mainly, I think about what open adoption has meant for our lives.

Christmas 13-1

As most of you know, we have a VERY open adoption.  In fact, we recently spent Christmas day with  Abby’s birth mom and her family and they will be joining us for our Abby’s second birthday party this weekend.  They have become like a second family to us and I thank God for them every day.

One of the most common questions or comments that I receive when people hear about our open adoption is, “how do you share Abby that much – don’t you get insecure or jealous?”  I would be lying if I said that I have never once felt insecure, but through adoption, God has taught me an amazing lesson that I think every parent needs to learn – our kids aren’t ours, they are His!  This means that I need to turn to Him with every situation in their lives.  It’s not about how I feel, it is about what He says is best for their lives and is about the plan that He has for them!

Early on in this journey, we knew God was calling us to open adoption and we committed to open adoption, as long as it was healthy for Abby.  We agreed to turn to God with how open the adoption should be and quickly had an open door policy with Natasha (Abby’s birth mom).  There were times when I had small twinges of jealousy seeing Abby’s relationship with Natasha, but I knew that was my fleshly reaction and was quickly reminded that it is a good thing for them to have a special bond!  Now, I praise God that they can know each other and that Abby will always have Natasha in her life.  It is such a blessing that she can know and love her birth mom, that her questions can be answered, and that she has more people loving her and pointing her to Christ.  I also praise God that I can delight in their relationship and that He has made me secure in my role as Abby’s mom, so that I am not insecure when she has a relationship with someone else.

There were also situations early on where people were not supportive of the adoption plan, but later wanted to see and know Abby.  I was incredibly protective of Natasha and Abby and in my flesh, I didn’t want to share them or our story with people who hadn’t initially been supportive.  I was afraid of what would be said and how that could impact those I love.  I continued to turn to God and ask Him what His will was and He told me that I needed to open up and not withhold relationships because of things done in the past.  He reminded me that our adoption story is His to share, not ours.  It was hard for me and stretched me, but again, I thank God that He is all-knowing, because every one of those relationships has ended up being such a blessing in our lives and Abby’s.

I am sure in years to come I will have many opportunities to live this out in other areas of life and will be challenged again and again to trust God with our kids.  You see, our kiddos aren’t ours – they have just been entrusted to us for a season by our all-knowing God, a God who is and does immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.  Eph 3:20  Seek him for your children and I bet you’ll be blessed in the process!  IF nothing else, He’ll grow you and stretch you to be more like Him!

Kohl’s Deal Alert!

It’s that time of year – the time when kids summer clothes start to go on amazing sales!

Our family lives on one income and we are raising money for baby #2’s adoption, so I am constantly looking for amazing deals on gifts, clothing, groceries and household products.  I especially love to get great deals on gifts, so I can give quality gifts and put the extra that I would have normally spent (or had budgeted) towards our adoption!  Shopping the sales and couponing also allows me to give more than I would be able to if I was shopping regularly priced items!

Today’s deal at Kohl’s was on kid’s clothes.  I used it to buy outfits to give as gifts for new babies and bought a couple outfits for Abby for next summer.  I got all of this for $31 (including tax):

photo-26

Without tax, it would have originally been $236.76 (granted, Kohl’s almost always has sales, so it probably never would have sold for that much, but it is still pretty amazing to see the difference)!

So how can you do it?

First, you need to print out these coupons or save them on your Retail Me Not app:

$10 off of $25 in Kid’s Apparel

15% off of everything

Then, go to Kohl’s before August 18 (the earlier the better in my opinion) and shop the kids’ sale racks.  I only bought things that were 80% off.  Shop all of the racks (even one’s that say 60% or 70% off, because things are often put in the wrong place).

Make sure you have $25 worth of clothes and check out.  They will take the $10 off first, then the 15% off of what’s left.  This makes for a great deal!  Many of the items I got were originally $22 and I got them for about $2.40 each.  Others were $30 originally and I bought them for $3.20!  That is just over 10% of the original cost!  I’ll take it 🙂

Note, the $10 off of $25 coupon can only be used once and is one coupon per customer.  I lucked out and had a friend shopping with me who wasn’t buying anything, so I split my purchases into two and she made one purchase for me, so I was able to get the $10 off twice, giving me the above deal!

Happy Shopping!  I’d love to hear the great deals you get!

Staying in Shape with Little Ones Under Foot

I know I normally post about adoption, but since a large part of adoption is what happens after the papers are signed (ie. parenting), you’ll see occasional posts about parenting and taking care of yourself.  Today I am blogging about staying in shape!

Before I had kids, whenever I wanted to get in shape, I would start going for runs and would make the gym part of my daily routine.  Now that I am staying home with our little one and not earning a significant income, I can’t justify the cost of a gym membership.  Sure I could still get up early and go for a run before the little one wakes up, but I’m not much of a morning person and I’m not that motivated 😉  Plus, as I’m sure many of you can attest, every minute of sleep is a treasure.  Little kids are exhausting!

Don’t get me wrong, taking care of a toddler keeps you in decent shape – you are “lifting” regularly, chasing them around, and cleaning way more than you normally would.  However, I personally want to be in better shape, so I have started finding little things to do throughout the day, with my little girl, that will help me be in better shape!  I can’t promise you’ll lose weight, but I can promise that you’ll feel better about yourself, you won’t get quite as winded when you take the stairs (Oh, is that just me?  I blame the altitude ;)), and your little one(s) will be happier.

Here are some of the ways I am getting in shape:

1) Take the stairs – often!  I normally pile stuff at the bottom of the stairs waiting to load my arms for that one trip of the stairs.  Yes, this may have been slightly more time efficient, but I have been challenging myself to climb those stairs, even if only one thing needs to go upstairs.  Added bonus workout?  Carry a little one with you or run the stairs!  Taking the stairs only takes 30 seconds each time, but throughout the day it can sure add up!

2) Go for walks, even if they are short, throughout the day:  Getting stir crazy in the house?  Put the little one in the stroller or grab a little hand and go for short walks – they’ll love seeing new sites or exploring the neighborhood and you get moving!  We’ve been doing this lately and it’s gotten to the point where my daughter will grab my hand and drag me to the door to go for a walk when she’s bored  (she’s only 18 months).  Talk about motivation – she’s my own personal trainer! 😉

3) Play with your kiddos!  Chase them around the yard, swim with them in the pool, play super(wo)man (running around the house or yard with capes on), swing with them, or have dance parties.  Not only will you get some exercise in, your kids will love it and the whining will turn to giggling!

Playing "superwoman" in our unfinished basement (the only cool spot in our house)

Playing “superwoman” in our unfinished basement (the only cool spot in our house).  Sorry for the poor photo quality – it was the best we could get in the moment 😉

4) Watch a workout video: Okay, a workout video may not be your thing.  To tell you the truth it isn’t mind, but one day we were inside going stir crazy and I decided to find one online.  Abby and I had a blast.  She kept trying to repeat everything the people on the video were doing and it was hilarious to see her interpretations! Trust me, workout videos with kiddos around are a completely different experience!

5) Look for Opportunities (this could go along with “playing with your kiddos): I’ll give an example –  My daughter loves playing in the kiddie pool.  She always wants me to play with her, so the other day, I thought, “this could be an opportunity to play with her and get a workout.”  I started jumping in and out of the kiddie pool.  Then when my legs got tired, I would lift her up and then bring her down for her feet to gently splash.  She thought both were hilarious and kept saying “pease” (her version of please) and making the jumping motion with her arms.  The continued “pease, pease,” kept me motivated to keep going.  Warning: you could get exhausted, but you will have fun!

These ideas won’t get you in marathon shape, but they will help you feel better about yourself and your kiddos will have a blast and may even push you to get more exercise, like my little “personal trainer” does.

Meant to Be

15 months-6

As I think about my little girl, the phrase that continues to come to mind is “meant to be.”

She was:

  • meant to be born
  • meant to be adopted
  • meant to be part of our family
  • meant to bring joy everywhere she goes
  • meant to be an encouragement to others
  • meant to grow and learn and experience life – the joys and sorrows

As I think of her, I think of what God said to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:5 ~ “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”  God knew Abby (and your children) before they were formed in the womb.  He had a plan for them before they were even conceived.  Before they were born, He set them apart for their specific life.  How incredible is that?!

So often in this culture, we hear kids described as “accidents,” “mistakes,” or “surprises.”  We hear pregnancies described as “unwanted” or “unplanned.”  While these words may be true as far as the humans’ mindset, this verse tells me that NO child is an accident, mistake, or surprise to God.  Each and every one of them were planned by God to be conceived when they were conceived.  That doesn’t mean they are all conceived in perfect situations, some are downright awful, but God always has a plan and that child is part of His perfect plan, even if conceived in an imperfect world.  That child could be God’s way of working all things together for good in the life of one who loves him  (Romans 8:28) or His way of showing them what truly matters in life or giving them added motivation to better their life.  He or she will have (or has) unique gifts and talents and a perspective that only they could bring to the world.  They could change one life or they could change many, but either way they will change lives.

Abigail wasn’t planned by this world’s standards.  She was one of the 50% of pregnancies that was “unplanned” by her biological parents.  However, she was planned by God!  He knew that her life and the pregnancy bringing her into the world would be the wake-up call that one woman needed.  He knew that she would be the daughter a couple onged for and would bring joy everywhere (well, almost everywhere ;)) she went.

Her birthmother could have taken the “easy” road (note: I don’t think it is easy, but this is how it is touted), had an abortion, never let people know she was pregnant and moved on with her life.  Praise God, she walked out of that abortion clinic and chose adoption.  She realized that neither option was easy and that Abigail was meant to be!  She turned Abigail over to God and trusted Him with her own life and the life of Abby.  I tear up thinking that my little girl, the sweet little girl who calls “Mama” from the crib, could have been aborted.  If her birthmom had been selfish and not trusted God with her life, our little girl would not be here today.  I can’t imagine our life without her!  All of us, her birthmother, her birth grandparents, her grandparents, her aunts and uncles, her cousin, her parents, and many more would be missing out on so much joy and on so many life lessons!

15 months-7   15 months-3

She was meant to be and so is every child!

This song from Steven Curtis Chapman, meant to be sums it up, perfectly!

You Were Meant To Be Touching
The Lives That You Touch
And Meant To Be Here
Making This World So Much More
Than It Would Be Without You In It”

I am NOT a morning person…but I want to become one!

My ideal day would start at 9:30am, with some time with God, a nice cup of coffee, and a tasty breakfast.

cup_of_coffee_198136
Unfortunately, my morning usually begins a little less peacefully and usually a bit earlier than my ideal. More often than not, I wake up to my sweet little girl, saying “Mama” or crying screaming if I was sleeping too hard. I pick her up from the crib, try to make myself as alert as possible, so I don’t tumble down the stairs carrying precious cargo (thankfully, this hasn’t happened yet), get her milk and breakfast and try, try, try to wake-up. I finally realize I haven’t had my coffee and stumble over to the coffee pot, knowing I have a set amount of time while little miss is entertained with breakfast and won’t want to “help” with every part of the coffee making. Don’t get me wrong, I love her help and I love that she is curious, but in my half awake state, I just want the coffee. While it brews, I head over to the couch with the little one, as she finishes her milk, because it is one of the few times of day when she will cuddle! Oh, if only I had gotten up before she did, so that I could have been ready for the day, so I could just soak in those cuddles!
I’ve been told time and time again how important it is to spend time with God in the MORNING. From experience, I know the days that I start with God are so much better, because my priorities are right.  I also know that I am a better Mom on days where I get up early, because I am ready for the day, have had time with God and time for myself, before I dive into a day of serving and loving on my family.

I have the best of intentions, but I always seem to fail.  I’ll get up early for a few days in a row, and then slowly the snooze button (or the off switch) become more appealing as I look at the short term (my love of sleep) and forget about the long term and the day ahead.

My husband and I lived on a college campus for years and used that as our excuse for our weird hours (up until 12:30 or 1am most nights) and starting our day later than most.  😉  However, we no longer live on campus, the excuse is no longer valid, yet we still keep odd hours.

I am constantly trying to be a better mom – less selfish, more “in the moment,” teaching while playing and exploring, and just devoting myself to my precious little girl, but I also have this longing for “me time” – time to blog, time to read, time to think or eat without cleaning up spills, wiping faces, or responding to the tug on my leg.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being a mother to my core, but sometimes it is nice to have me time.  This inner battle wages between wanting to be Mom of the year and wanting sometime for myself.  I remind myself: be present, not selfish, you can have “you time” while she sleeps!  Then, the nap doesn’t come when expected or only lasts for 20 minutes and I find myself burning out and it is only 2pm.  I’m burning out, because my priorities aren’t right – I’m not starting my day with Him, the author of my life.  I’m working in my own strength and haven’t gotten charged up at the beginning of the day…

My body screams, “I’m NOT a morning person,” but my brain knows I need to become one, even if my “morning” starts at 7:30,instead of the normal person’s 6am!

I came across a blog today, entitled 10 Ways to be a better mom everyday and, boy was I convicted!

These lines and the preceding list of 10 things hit to the core:

But the truth is that I want to be a better Mom. My children deserve the very best.
 
It starts with me…not my children. Sure, I can teach my boys to express themselves, and help my daughter to become a confident woman, but at the end of the day, if I do not keep myself happy, I am no good to them. They need me.

Our kids need a Mom who has plugged into her source and is happy and thrilled to be their Mom.

Number 1 on this bloggers list of ways to be a better Mom:  “Rise and Shine.” Arrow to my heart!  I know it’s true, but how?!  Moments after reading this blog, I came across this great resource on pinterest (pinned by someone different and just on the pinterest equivalent of a “news feed”):

I don’t know if this list will be my cure all and it left off one important thing – go to be earlier – but I think it is a great place to start.  I know with time, I could become a morning person, or at least a person who has time with God in the morning, before my baby doll wakes up!

Let’s say I try it!  Here’s to being a better mom and to not burning out by 2pm!!

Adorable Kids’ Clothes for a Great Price!

I am a sucker for a bargain, especially when that bargain involves adorable little kid clothes!

I heard about ThredUp (a consignment website for kids and women’s clothes) about a year ago, but was busy and didn’t see much I liked.  Two weeks ago, I decided to hop on the site again.  I had my $10 first time buyer credit, so I figured I had nothing to lose!  I found an adorable special occasion dress (with tags) that Abby will be able to wear to a friend’s wedding for $5, a denim jumper for $2.50 and a black jumper for $3.  Thanks to my $10 credit, that meant that with shipping, my grand total was just over $6.  The clothes arrived on Friday and they are in perfect condition!!  I couldn’t be happier!

1044888_934180333046_2038900417_n

Abby in her new (used) cute denim jumper!

When I find a good deal, I love to share it!

http://www.thredup.com/r/8TNBUR

Bonus: if you use this link, you, too, get $10 off of your first order and (full disclosure) I get another $10 to spend on their site!  I’d say it is a win-win!