Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tickling the Ivories.

So, I know I said I was out for the rest of the week......but then my friend Lisa sent me these pictures last night that she asked Georgia and I to come down to her studio to take at the beginning of October....and I couldn't not share them.

Lisa had a wedding in her studio at the end of September and she had this amazing wall of sheet music and an old upright piano that had been part of the was begging for more use.  Enter us. I think pictures, family pictures, are pretty important, and Lisa doesn't know how to take bad when she asked us I said, "What time do you want us there?"

And the results?  I'm in love with them.

I'd love to hang these over a future piano one day in our house.  I took piano lessons for ten years and hope to start Georgia soon.  She's like a moth to a flame when it comes to the piano at my parents house and her preschool progress report said her favorite thing to do at school was play instruments and sing.  I could have told you that from the time she was two weeks old.  She responds to music almost more than anything else.  It's in her veins.

Georgia asked Lisa if there was any Wizard of Oz music on the wall.  The two of us laughed and humored Georgia for a few seconds while we "looked" for Wizard of Oz sheet music.  And guess what?  Lisa found some....right at the bottom where Georgia was sitting.  We can't escape Oz.  I guess that's in her veins too.

If you need amazing photography for any reason, check out Lisa's website.  She'll travel anywhere and I consider her work to be some of the best photography I've seen.  And in general, family pictures--the kind you take, and the kind you have taken--are an irreplaceable investment.  Don't overlook them.

Alright--I'm really done for the week now........check ya'later.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hello. Good-bye. See you soon.

Hello there! Just popping in to say......I'm heading out for a bit and will be back to my regular blogging middle of next week!  We've got some crazy stuff going on (good stuff) between now and then and I need the extra 'space' to get it all done!  Hope you have a great Halloween! And if you're a friend on the East Coast--stay safe and warm.  None of that sounds fun.  At all.  


Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Family Launch

I'm over at Mom Colored Glasses today.......well......a lot of days.  I try not to duplicate content however......but today's idea is one of my favorites and too good (in my opinion) not to share.  So head on over and check out my idea for a family launch!

Have a great Thursday!  See you again back here soon!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Faking it.

I was sick this weekend.  Sicker than I've been in a while.  Like wake up in the middle of the night Friday with a throat that's on fire, lay on the couch all day Saturday while my awesome husband took Georgia to get donuts, to Lowes, let her play outside in the garage with him all afternoon, and all around just let me lay and do nothing sick.  Like cancel plans with girlfriends to the Melting Pot and watch the "Nanny's Revenge" on Lifetime while in a feverish haze sick.

Just sick.

I rallied for a bit to teach three year olds at church this morning and to take Georgia out to lunch at Noodles & Co. but I still pretty much felt like garbage.  But I decided when we got home that I needed to do something with my girl since I'd missed a whole Saturday with her and bit her head off for really no good reason during bath-time on Saturday night because I was feeling so crummy.

I was hoping she'd think laying very still on the couch sounded like fun.  She didn't; since she hasn't laid still besides her REM cycles........ever.  So, I decided we'd take a walk in the woods behind our house to collect leaves to make leaf glitter (thank-you Family Fun magazine--see the latest issue for the deets--and yes....I just used the word deets).

We're moving in about a month and while I'm very excited about it, I will miss the woods behind our house.  They seem to go on forever and G and I have taken numerous walks through them in all seasons and they always deliver a good time; an amazing time.  So we set off.  Me feeling like garbage, Georgia excited and oblivious to adult ailments.  I was faking it with the best of them.

And I kept faking it because it was a beautiful day here in Grand Rapids, Michigan and next weekend it's supposed to snow and who knows if we'll get the chance to take a walk through these woods again.  That stings a little bit to type.

I knew I needed to fake it.  And I'm so glad I did.

I love this picture. I love it because Georgia's boots are on the wrong feet and it is the hallmark of an independent three year old who "can do it myself."

We found some great leaves, we laughed, we chased each other down some hills, and the most exciting to Georgia.....we found lots of deer poop to which she responded, "I always thought they did that in private."

I feel like so much about being a mom is faking it.  Sure, I know how to get her to stop crying, I can definitely get that sliver out quickly, I bet this consequence will totally work, my kid can for sure endure a five hour shopping trip to the mall, and on and on it goes.  And it's okay, because so many times when we're faking it, it turns out right.....and good.......and perfect.  Like our walk in the woods today.

Georgia got to spend time with me......outdoors........exploring........enjoying possibly one of our last beautiful fall days.  And I did to.

Because you know what they say......."Fake it till you make it."

I made it. And I had the best forty five minutes of my weekend.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Learning how to Christmas shop.

It's that time of the year.  American Girl catalogs, Mini Boden, J.Crew, Hanna Anderson, Land of Nod (oh....I love you Land of Nod), West Elm, CB2, and these..............

are showing up in my mailbox.  Getting the mail is a highlight of our day.  Georgia and I spread it all out on the floor and look at the magazines together and make up stories about the people in them, she cuts out her favorite pictures, I dog-ear my favorite ideas, she asks me to buy her something crazy like everything that comes with the American Girl doll Kaya, and I say the typical mom line, "We'll see.  Christmas is coming."

But we probably won't see about that.

However, last year, we got the Samaritan's Purse and Heifer International catalogs in the mail for the first time and they mesmerized Georgia.  She poured over the pages of both magazines, asking what mosquito nets were, why kids were holding goats, why the houses looked different, why did that baby look sad, what's a well, what are they eating, what's wrong with that boys leg, and what are we supposed to do with this magazine? When I told her we could pick something out of it to buy for little kids in another country who didn't have as much as we did she immediately found the page that listed building a bush hospital for $35,000 and asked if we could buy that.

I told her that was a lot more money than we had to spend, but asked her if she'd like to pick something else out.  She said yes.  And then she took the magazines into her room and flipped through the pages for about twenty minutes--longer than she'd ever spent looking through an American Girl catalog with me. I asked her what she was doing and she told me, "This is a hard choice.  I'll come out when I'm done."  She was two and a half.

She eventually settled on some baby chicks that would provide eggs for needy families in other countries.

Yesterday, our catalogs came again.  And we sat down to look at them.

She didn't exactly remember looking at them last year, but she was just as interested this year.  It's a serious job.  A job that is serious all on its own.  I don't really push it.  I just answer her questions in an age appropriate way when she asks them regarding the pictures she's seeing.  She's older this year so she immediately knew that the pictures were of kids in other countries....she's very intrigued with other countries all of a sudden.   She is also well aware that we won't be getting an actual goat at our house if we choose to buy one; that it's for someone else.

She took some time this afternoon to decide what she wanted to get.

I had to steer her away from training a doctor, for $2200, but was surprised when she picked medicine. "Really?," I said.  I thought for sure she'd go for a bunny, or some fish, or some chicks again--definitely the most appealing to little ones, right?

She was sure.  I asked her why.

"I've had to take a lot of medicine.....for my bottom.....and if I didn't have it, my bottom would still hurt. I don't want a little kid not to have medicine.  That would be terrible."

I agreed with her and told her medicine was a great choice.  A really great choice.

I think the most touching thing to me about this tradition that we're building is that Georgia drives it, and it gives me a glimpse into her heart.  A heart that is there, even though she's only three and a half.  A heart that is developing and learning to care about people and making connections--one that is capable of more thought than I give it credit for.  She likes thinking about other people, and of course herself too, but she's learning that it's a good thing to give away what we have if we have more than we need......and even if we don't.

I think it's easy to underestimate the empathy and generosity that our kiddos might have.  And maybe we're not even under-estimating, we're just not giving them the opportunity to grow that muscle.

Never fear, she went right back to asking for toys within fifteen minutes of making her choice....but for a moment....she was given the opportunity to think bigger than her.  I think it's crucial that we give our kids those chances while they're young, while they're developing their sense of global responsibility.  And if we can....let them see it in action.

It's just a little thing.  A blip, maybe, on her Christmas shopping radar......but it's something.  We're also going to head to Target tomorrow to buy supplies for an operation Christmas child shoe-box.....check out what that's all about here.  

What else do you do with your little, little ones to build a charitable heart in them?  We can all use the  ideas like crazy!


I found this picture buried in my camera.  I think it sums up how I feel about the weekend being here!  Have a good one.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Adoption Stuff.

I have another installment of my "stuff" stuff.  This time, it's a little more meaningful than my first round, which was just Pink Stuff.  Adoption "stuff" is hard to find--at least good adoption stuff.  I'm not into the "Mommy Saved Me" shirts (and that's a whole different blog entry for another day) or anything in that vein and unfortunately it's just so.........prevalent.  So when I find adoption items that are positive and simple and poignant, I don't forget about them.  November is coming up and it's national adoption month--if you know someone who has adopted, who is adopted, or who is waiting to adopt some of these things might make a great gift!  Happy Monday to you!

1. This is truly beautiful.  And while it could be applied to any family, I think the meaning it would hold for adoptive families is especially important.

2. Ahh.  I love this print. Give it as a gift, buy it for yourself, hang it in your babies bedroom, or right smack in the middle of your living room because it makes you so happy.  Ashley Ann Campbell, one of my favorite bloggers inspired this print last year when her family was waiting to bring their daughter home from China.

3. These are one of those, "Why didn't I think of that?" ideas!!  These little cards tell the story of adoption and how amazing it is to everyone who asks you.

4. Yes!  This is awesome. Don't you think?

5. I wear this everyday.  I had the Etsy shop owner punch a hole in it for me, put it on a jump ring, and I wear it as a necklace.  Georgia knows what it says, she asks me to read it to her a lot and I think she's starting to understand what it means; that she grew in my heart and not under it.  I've given it as a gift to other adoptive moms as well.  It's one of my favorite adoption "things" that I have.

6. Ordinary Hero Cardigan.  If you don't know about Ordinary Hero--read up on them when you visit their online store!  A fabulous organization that exists to change the world for children in need.

7. Also from Ordinary Hero.  I have a lot of friends with amazing babies from all over Africa and I think this shirt is pretty cool.

8. This is just so beautiful I think.  And again......such a great gift idea if you know someone who's adopted from Africa. And the rest of this shop-owners stuff is amazing too!

9. I'm falling in love with this woman's adoption art.  It is sweet, and powerful, and gentle all at the same time.  She has an incredible talent of translating the feelings of adoption into visual representations.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Discussions that make me thankful for open adoption.

Georgia is three and a half.  When she was born, I don't know.....yesterday?, we couldn't think of our adoption looking any other way than open (mind you I said, when she was born--it took a bit to get there).  And we still feel that way.  And if you've been reading here for awhile you know my thoughts inside and out on the topic.

Sometimes I fear that I'll run out of words to write on open adoption.  And I don't want to run out of words because I feel a great burden to talk about it and talk about it and share how great it can be and keep on sharing because there are too many people who don't see it as an option--adults who want a family but can't do it naturally and kids.....who find themselves pregnant and don't know what to do.  This country is just starting to talk about it regularly; really talk about it.  But we've no where near exhausted the topic. And even so......I start to worry that maybe I sound like a broken record.

But then I realize......I've never really concerned myself with that; it's not a family trait and at the same time I have a conversation with Georgia, who is three and half mind you, about where babies come from, how babies get out of a mommy's tummy, and why some babies, like her, have a birth-mommy and a regular mommy, and some babies don't.  I'm a firm believer in being age-appropriate with your kids about this stuff when they ask on their own.  And lying, making stuff up, pretending to drop a pan on your foot, or deferring the conversation to someone else or another time is never age appropriate.

Your kids are seeking you out.  They're demonstrating trust in you and showing you that they want your opinion first, before someone else's.  Indulge that.  You have no idea when they'll decide that they've been put off by you long enough and look to someone else for the answer.  And don't think that deferring them once won't be deemed "long enough." Plus, by the time they've figured out the words to use to ask you the question, they've been thinking about it awhile. You may never have the chance to tell them the truth again.  So embrace being age-appropriate with them even if it's uncomfortable.  Even if you are hit with questions about babies and where they come from, or whatever it may be, way earlier than you think it will come.

And three and a half was earlier than I was expecting.  But there we were last night eating dinner, just the two of us, of fish sticks and french fries, and Georgia puts out there, "You know how Tarah is my birth mommy?"

"How did I get out of her tummy?"

A little pause.  I'm not about to scare the snot out of her.  She's three and half and that whole age appropriate thing right?

"The doctor's helped take you out honey.  Remember, we told you that Tarah had a really nice doctor who took those pictures of you inside her tummy and then that same doctor also helped take you out of her tummy."

"Did I come out through her belly button?"

"Um.  No."

"Then how?"

"Well.  When a lady is ready to have a baby, the doctor's help her to pull the baby out."  Please let that be good for now. Don't ask where they pull it out of.  Please just be kind of baffled by the process that you don't even know to ask those questions.  You're three. Remember?  

"Oh.  I'm glad Tarah is my birth-mommy."

"Me too honey."

"Do you think Tarah swam in her pool when I was still in her tummy?"

"Probably--you know how much fun her pool is."

And just like that we moved on to swimming and why we don't have a pool like Tarah's.  A conversation we've had many times and one I'm sure we'll have for years to come.  And really--who can blame her?  They have a sweet pool.

I started thinking after that conversation.  If she didn't have Tarah to connect to the idea that she was inside someone else's tummy and not mommy's, I believe there would have been more questions--not necessarily easy ones.  We would have been talking in vague terms, about a woman neither of us really knew or had a relationship with.  It would have felt foreign--this concept of being in a tummy.  It may have led to questions about why we didn't know her birth mom, where she lived, who she was, what she was like, and on and on.

But for Georgia.  Some of those questions will never be questions.  She'll have known the answers forever.  To ask them, would be as odd a question as her asking what gender she was.  It's just part of who she is, so inherent that the questions don't really exist.

Will there be other questions as she gets older.  Yes.  Will they be hard and difficult.  I'm assuming so.  But open adoption has crossed off a handful of questions on the proverbial list of "Questions Adopted Kids Ask." And for that, I'm so thankful.

I'm thankful that when Georgia thinks about who she looks like, why her hair is as awesome as it is, where she was born, what happened right after she was born, and what her birth-mom and birth-grandma are like she'll know the answers right away.  They are not secrets, but things and people we talk about a lot and have pictures of, and create memories with, and weave into everyday conversation when it's appropriate.

I know that not all adopted kids have this luxury. If we were to adopt again, it might not look the same.

But I hope so.  Boy do I hope so.

Because just when I think I really know why I'm thankful for our open adoption, a conversation over fish sticks and french fries gives me yet another reason.

That little brown button at the bottom of my sidebar???  If you feel so inclined to help spread the word regarding what I have to say about adoption I'd think you were pretty fantastic if you clicked it!  Just a click counts as a vote for Pink Shoes as an adoption blog that you know and trust.  
Thank you, Thank you! 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall. Michigan at its best.

That's not really true.  Michigan is also pretty amazing in the summer.  It's December through mid-April  that are hard to stomach.  And that's not really true either because the first pretty snowfalls right before Christmas that hang around long enough to play in through early February rock as well.  It's even kind of fun to hunker down during the first blizzard of the year somewhere around mid-January.

So, just mid-February through mid-April are the months us Michiganders would like to erase.

But when fall rolls around it's like the trees are singing the Hallelujah chorus and you really just can't help but join in even if you don't sing soprano.

This weekend was a decidedly fall weekend.  Birthday parties, dinner out, mums & gourds on the front porch, and of course a trip to the apple orchard and pumpkin patch.  Two of them actually.

We hung out with my in-laws on Sunday at a cool little farm north of us where it's pretty much like a veritable birthday party for kids; face painting, tube slides, a petting farm complete with goats, llamas, kangaroos???, cows, sheep, bunnies, roosters, donkeys, and ponies, a clown that made balloon animals, bounce houses, puppet shows, donuts, cider, train rides, corn maze, really expensive pumpkins, and probably ten other things that I'm forgetting.  It was an awesome day.

And today?  Georgia had her first field trip ever.  To an apple orchard.  I mean......I'm assuming a school loses its accreditation if they don't take their kids to a pumpkin patch right?  I know, I keep going back and forth between apple orchard/pumpkin patch....but they're inter-changeable right?

Was it cold you ask?  A balmy 39 degrees.  I don't think I've ever had to dig out hats and mittens so early. But in true Michigan form, it will be in the sixties tomorrow.

Picking out the right pumpkin.  Such a hard job.  But she made me proud.

She picked out a bumpy green and orange crazy pumpkin all on her own.  I've trained her well in the art of spotting the cool ones.

I can't wait until these two are eighteen and can look back at pictures of each other from the time they were babies.  I love that every time Georgia is sitting at her table making a project, it's for Fiona.  And it makes me smile how whenever we're in a store Georgia doesn't want to pick out a toy for herself, but for Fiona (I do, however, see through that thinly veiled attempt at generosity). And even when they argue about toys or one of them hugs the other too hard, or Georgia is a little aggressive they always come back around.

Any other time of the year I'm a glazed donut girl, but when it's fall I can't get enough of these apple cider sugar donuts.

They were "listening" to a presentation about apple blossoms.  I think the apple blossom lady was losing them. I've seen that same look in my 8th graders when reviewing the Monroe Doctrine.  (Anyone know what that was?  Impress me.)

Such a great weekend!  What do you do to ring in fall?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pink Stuff & I'm Sorry.

Dude.  I'm an online shopping addict.  But, I need to reign it in.  When the UPS truck went zooming by our house the other day Georgia asked me why we "weren't going to buy anything from him today?" I suppose that's how unusual it is for him to bypass our house without stopping.  And it's just so fun when he stops.  We'll open those packages right in the driveway like someone is timing us.  I'll slice through that packing tape (and seriously packagers--you can lighten up on that stuff) with car keys, random sticks, wire grill brushes, and gardening rakes....never would I think to take an extra thirty seconds to run inside and get some actual scissors.  This stuff needs to be opened NOW. Even our neighbors joke about it.  

So, here's my solution. A new little category...."That Stuff." When I get the urge to hit 'Pay with Paypal' I'll just tempt all of you instead and throw said item into a collage to be admired.  It kind of satisfies my urge to do something with that cute ruffled shirt and feathered fedora (that costs $318--let's come to our senses Anthropologie).  This week.....Pink Stuff.  

1. ShopSosie  2. Pretty, Pretty from ModCloth.   3. Candy dot towels from delicious..... and they also have them at ModCloth.  4. From Nixon....My most favorite watches ever.  My black one just broke.  A sad day indeed. 5. yeah, the price is so crazy.....but it's just pretty to look at.... 6. ShopSosie again! Get yourself a shirt with horses on it this fall!  7. This dress from ModCloth makes me want to go to a homecoming dance.....tonight.  8. Anthropolgie....$29, almost makes me wish I decorated in pink! 9. Confetti ornament from West Elm.....Christmas is coming.

And the other thing.......

If you came to my blog this past week and got a malware warning, I'm so sorry.  I took down my instagram feed which apparently was the source of the problem.  And if you got a virus from Pink Shoes I feel horrible.  I have no idea how it started out of the blue!  I'm crossing my fingers it's fixed now!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What I've learned in 35 years.

I turned 35 yesterday.  That's right, 35.  I will be 27 in my head forever.  That's the age I'm determined to feel as long as I live.  I don't know why--but it is. 35 years I've learned......

1.  I'm not athletic.  I can downward dog it, I can warrior pose it.....I can't rebound it, bump it, or 9 minute mile it.  And I'm okay with  It was a real downer in middle school when I went to a small private school and there pretty much wasn't anybody who couldn't do a sweet lay-up (at least, that was the way I saw it).

2.  I'm not a partier.  I would rather go to a movie and the Melting Pot on a Friday night, hang out with a bunch of friends in a living room at a gathering where it's appropriate to sit on the floor, or watch House Hunters in my pajamas than just about anything else.  I don't like feeling tired, I don't like screaming in a crowded bar, I don't like trying sips of everyone's drink because they're sure "this is the one I'll like," and I can't stand trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do with my purse while I'm standing around and basically........standing on someone.  It's taken me a while to be okay with that (even though I've never liked it).....but I totally am.

3.  I'm impatient.  To a fault.

4.  I'm a worrier.  A huge one.  And it's ridiculous.

5.  I should never have quit taking piano lessons.  My mom was right.

6.  If I could change one thing about myself, physically, it'd be my skin.  I'm wondering when I'll stop breaking out.  Maybe 40?  Something to look forward to I suppose.

7.  I'm insecure and always think I'm not smart enough.  It's the lie I believe most about myself and the one that, rightly so, frustrates my husband more than any other insecurities I might express.

8.  It's okay to be dependent on someone else.  It's easy to believe (for a time) you can do it all alone and that you don't need a safety net.  That's simply not true and the sooner we realize that we absolutely and truly need other people and a strong community the more content we'll be.

9.  The only people that can't replace me are the ones in my family.  Work is great.  Being good at work is fantastic and important.  Career goals are necessary.  But if (and when) you have to change positions, make a hard life-transition, or just.......move one will really care after a week or so.  There will be someone else in line who can probably do just as good a job as you did.  I don't say that to be harsh--it's just.......the truth.  But the ones who can't replace me............and don't have someone in mind that can take my spot if need be..........

my family.  And I embrace that.  I don't think it's setting feminism back twenty years, I don't think it's wasting my degrees, and I will not regret it.

10.  When you admit you're really wrong about something, even when it's hard to admit,  a lot times you'll reap great rewards because of it.

Hanging out with Georgia's birth-mom, Tarah, last summer.

11.  Taking self-portraits is really addicting.  And so silly. But we all do it.

12.  I need to learn to relax.  No one has taught me this better than Georgia.

13.  I'm too materialistic.

14.  It's okay to be sensitive and to cry with friends.  Really cry.  And walk through horrible things with them that are uncomfortable and terrifying and heart-wrenching.  It helps you put life in perspective.  And realize how much you need the people God puts into your life.

15.  I'm thankful.  Thankful for my husband, my daughter, my parents, my sister, my church, my house, my struggles, my victories, that Jesus loves me, life.  In 35 years I've learned that I'm only just starting to learn things like I should and that I need to get better at learning things.  I just might be a genius by the time I'm 70.

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