Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snow Days

I'm a homebody.  Through and through.  I could go days without leaving the house or seeing anyone else and I'd be okay.  Not that I don't love my friends, my job, going out to eat, going to Target, heading to church, even grocery shopping I don't mind…..but I really crave being home.  And when we have days here in Michigan like we had today; beautiful soft snow falling ALL day long…..I'm thrilled to be home.

I picked Georgia up from school, we came home and had mac and cheese, watched a movie (which is code for I took a nap), made Christmas ornaments, painted toenails, baked cookies, played in the snow, and just loved being right here.  At home.  I'm storing these days away. They are good to draw on in the midst of crazy, frustrating, too much going on, and hard stuff.

First, a little DIY Christmas ornament.  I take zero credit for this idea.  Zero.  One of my favorite bloggers DIY'd it last year (I couldn't find the actual post) and I took a screen shot of it and stored it away in my DIY folder for another day.  That day was today.  And remember--this is straight from Ms. (creative) Hampton.  Visit her inspirational blog if you haven't already!

Water color paints (you must use Prang paints--best watercolors for kids around), random glitter, empty Christmas ornaments that are made to fill (mine are from Michael's ), tacky glue, paintbrushes, and other fun stuff that will fit into the ornaments to create a scene.

Have your little artist draw something; we stuck with animals and girls. I drew a box on white paper for her and told her to keep the drawing inside the box so I could be sure it'd fit inside the ornaments.  Then….she painted.  Which is her favorite thing to do on the face of the planet (besides eat mac and cheese).

Cut them out after they've dried, marvel at them (I mean--the girl with the blue hair?  LOVE.), and be sure to flip them over and date them so you'll always know when they were made.

Then, paint the back with the tacky glue (it will dry clear).  Next, carefully roll the little picture up, glue side in, and gently slide it into the ornament. 

Once it's inside, maneuver it around with a finger or the end of a paintbrush until it's in the right spot.  You'll want it a ways away from the bottom so you can fill it with some fake snow or glitter and still see the bottom of the picture.  Press the picture firmly against the back of the ornament with the end of something flat until it's secure.  My ornaments aren't round--they're the smashed looking ones so they have a flat back.  

Create a funnel and dump in some fake snow, blue glitter for water (we made a mermaid too), white glitter for a different take on snow, or whatever you want really.

I also put some wintery sticks in our snow scene ornaments and some little shells in our mermaid ornaments.

Use a sparkly pipe cleaner as the "ribbon" to hang your ornament with.

Hang 'em on your tree and admire the cuteness.

And a few shots from playing in the snow today.  It was so beautiful and we stayed out a long time.  It got dark, I knew dinner was way over-baking, and I didn't care.  We've got a nice start on a snow fort for tomorrow and sometimes that's more important than perfectly baked spaghetti.

And P.S…..to keep it real…..there were plenty of little fits, talks about following directions, a time out, and some counts to ten to get it together today.  Even "perfect" days are "typical."  Right?

If you're up north my way……stay warm tonight.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Adoption Blog Carnival

I'm part of this incredibly supportive group on Facebook--all bloggers who are adoptive parents and/or waiting adoptive parents.  The network of support that has been created through this group is invaluable.  If I have a question….."how did you handle this?………"am I thinking about this the right way?……….."what did you do when?………..I can post it to this group and get idea after idea from people who've been there, done that, are living it, and letting it change who they are.  

This week I'm hosting our groups weekly adoption blog carnival.  Those who want to, submit articles that they've written in the last two weeks about adoption, giving us all the chance to read them from one place.  If you're new to the adoption blog carnival take a minute to check out some adoption bloggers that you might not know about……..

The first one comes from The Cork Board. In "2013, A Day in the Life of Us," Melissa writes about a day in the life with six home-schooled kids…..four from hard places.

The second one comes from Made in China, With Love.   Updated Stats…and the Truth  gives baby updates and details about their special needs.

And finally, Susan writes about her favorite role as an adoptive mom--their #1 fan with a backstage pass to their hearts.

So take a look around and throw these great ladies some blog love.  If you'd like to share one of their posts (or this post) on Facebook or Twitter make sure to use the tag #adoptiveblogcarnival.

And if you're interested in submitting your own post for our next adoption blog carnival please do so by following this link!  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving in Pictures

We're appropriately wrapping up a crazy holiday weekend with naps in front of football games, turkey and rice soup simmering on the stove, and one very tired little girl upstairs having a quiet time.  Hope your weekend was as satisfying as ours was.  A few pictures…………

You really shouldn't judge unless you try it.  Nothing, nothing, nothing gets your turkey perfectly browned and crispy in all the right spots like a blow torch.  I promise.  And while you're at it--you could spot treat a stain.  

Growing up, breaking the wishbone was a tradition not to be missed.  Since I boiled the turkey remains this year to make home-made stock (that's right….I did….and I'm pretty proud of myself) I found the wishbone and had Georgia break it with me.  Like I'm supposed to as her mom, I let her win.  She got the biggest half and is convinced her wish for a bunny will come true.  I spent way too many years with a rabbit in my classroom to grant that one.  Dirtiest animals ever.

On Saturday we celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas with Chris's family since his grand-parents leave for Florida for the winter this week.  There are a crazy amount of grand-kids and cousins.  But that kind of chaos has fun written all over it for little kids.  

And now……
We enter into the best month of the year.  I wish the Christmas season was two months long.  It would give you plenty of time to soak up all of the get-togethers, cozy nights at home, Christmas movies, cookie exchanges, school concerts, church events, dinners with friends, family game nights, and all the other good stuff without feeling too rushed.  But alas…..it's not.  And with only three weeks between Thanksgiving and the kick-off to Christmas week we have a lot of fantastic to pack in!  I'm up for the challenge.  I finally got a white Christmas tree this year.  I've been dreaming of one for a while! 

And we opened our first advent box this morning.  Something about advent calendars makes me nostalgic for growing up.  I'll always love them. 

Happy December 1st!  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Last Minute Kid DIY

If you're looking for a quick little DIY to do with the kids tonight or something to keep them busy tomorrow morning…..napkin rings could be it!  Georgia and I made up these little toilet paper tube napkin rings for the table tomorrow.  It was easy peasy, she could do them from start to finish, and she loves to have something she did represented at a holiday gathering.

One toilet paper tube will make about three napkin rings.  Grab some paint, a few feathers (make them out of paper if you don't have any), some craft clue, and a piece of paper to paint on.

That's it!
Have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Four Simple Goals

Do you read A Beautiful Mess? If not……you should.  It's a serene and inspiring little space on the internet.  Good ideas, recipes, and loveliness abound over there.  They've issued a challenge to their readers for the last couple of years right around this time of the year--before crazy commences.

Set four simple goals to fulfill before the new year.

Goals that are not result oriented but habit oriented.

So, not…….I'm going to repaint every room in my house before Christmas--because that's a lofty goal that surely will result in failure.  But more like……..I'm going to make small decorative changes in every room with things I already have.

Or, not………I'm going to lose five pounds. But……….I'm not eating any french fries until January 1st.

I like goals like this.  I think they're more attainable, doable, not as failable.  However, that french fry one could probably throw me for a loop.

I've thought about what my four could be and this is what I've come up with:

1. Read more.  In reality I read a lot; for work, with Georgia, other blogs, magazine articles, a chapter out of a book here and there, etc. etc.  But I don't read a lot "to the end" anymore.  I think it's a result of living in a technology world.  I'm not bashing technology when I say that--I think it's mostly great--I just think it's manifested some habits in people that are different.........like being able to do more things at once but possibly having less focused conentration on one specific thing.  The stack of books that are all started, but none finished, on my bedside table would be exhibit A.

So I want to finish a book or a two that's already started.  They're all great. They just need to be finished.

2.  Bring a meal or two to someone who could really use a break.  I don't think there's any explanation needed for this one.  Steal it if you want to.  Just make sure to use disposable aluminum pans when you deliver it.  You'll earn more points in their book.  At least you would in mine.

3. Donate/Throw Away some clothes.  I am a clothes hoarder.  I'm 36 and I still have some stuff in my closet from high school.  1995 folks.  And I can make a case for all of it.  Because so frequently something that hasn't been cool for six years--all of a sudden is again--because guess what?  I have clothes from at least six years ago.  It's just plain stupid.  And I need to rectify the situation.  (As a former middle school teacher it's hard to type that word without laughing.  If you don't know which word I mean--you're more mature than me--and you were probably never a middle school teacher.)

4. Learn a new song on the piano. We bought a piano in August and it was a great purchase.  I played for over eleven years growing up (I even went to a fine arts camp for piano one summer; which is another story for another day) and that much piano never really goes away.  I play a lot now that we have one, Georgia can be found tinkering away at it most days, and Chris has even toyed around with taking some lessons.  However, I haven't really pushed myself to really learn, to mastery, a brand new piece of music.

So that's it.  Four simple goals that have nothing to do with Christmas but have everything to do with taking some moments to focus on other things over the next couple months instead of shopping, baking, wanting, spending, running, over-sheduling, and being urgent just for urgency's sake.

What are your four simple goals?

Monday, November 11, 2013

A guest post. From my husband. {It's true!}

About a year ago I got an e-mail from a reader who said I should have Chris write a post.  She said she thought it'd be interesting to hear his perspective on adoption and what it's meant to him.  I thought, "This girl is so smart. I'm going to make this happen."

And the thing is, Chris is an amazing writer.  Amazing.  When we were poor college students and couldn't afford to buy each other actual gifts, he'd write me these incredible letters that were so creative and thoughtful and funny and…….honestly unexpected.  I saved every single one of them and I read them from time to time because they are a great glimpse into the past; who we were, how our relationship started, and what made us work.  I still will beg him from time-to-time to write me a letter.  It's not the most organic way to get one--but sometimes he'll deliver.

When I mentioned this "you should write a post" idea to him right after I received this e-mail he kind of laughed and kept on walking out to the garage.  I stuck my head out the door and said, "No really--you should.  I think it'd be cool."

"Blogging is really more your thing than mine," he replied distractedly and we didn't really talk about it after that.

But last week he said nonchalantly (like he always does when delivering news I'll be way excited about), "I have that blog post finished for you."  I didn't believe him at first but then he slid his laptop across the couch and sure enough--it was there.

I'm so thankful for amazing readers who introduce themselves to me and give me great ideas like this. And while it's hard for me publish Chris's post because sometimes it's uncomfortable to hear affirmations about yourself--the bigger message of his post, the take-away that I want everyone to get is this: find a passion and work your hardest at doing it well.

Have you ever had the opportunity to meet someone who you were in awe of?  They can make you feel like you’re the most important person in the world by simply acknowledging that you're sharing the same air.

I felt this way once in college when I had three minutes to talk with President Ford while he waited for his car. Here was the extent of our exchange, "good morning son."  And in that moment he made me feel like I was ready to take a bullet for the former President should the situation call for action. However, in practice I was nearly paralyzed with respect for who was standing across from me; for the life he had led and what he had accomplished. This same humbling wave of emotion has kept me from writing this post for four years. This respect for a subject matter expert, respect from peers, an accomplished body of work, and tireless work ethic.....is for my wife Maggie.

Maggie talked with me some time ago about writing a post but I acted like this was her thing, that I wasn't interested, and I tried to blow her off. However that wasn't entirely the truth.. I've made a conscience decision not to step into these waters out of respect  for her and a lack of confidence in my ability to match the standard she has set. This standard of advocating for open adoption has been galvanized through a wildly committed passion.

Passion, I think this is one of the greatest differentiators of people in the entire world. There are countless knowledgeable, beautiful, witty, charismatic people in the world, but nearly all of them are forgettable. The people who've left a lasting mark on my life have been passionate about something. This passion Maggie has burning for normalizing open adoption has left its mark on my heart and my life. It has challenged me to be a better husband, father, and passionate ambassador for open adoption. How could it not?

I've watched Maggie labor for hours over getting just the right sentiment correct in a paragraph on an open adoption post.....she has opened our home to talk with near total strangers who have shown interest in learning more about adoption....she has spoken to prospective parents at our adoption agency about how we became "those people" that we thought strange five years ago. Together we had the pleasure, no honor, of watching our friends walk this adoption journey and bring home their little boy...and maybe most moving for me, I watched my wife pour herself into a friends turbulent adoption situation with as much passion as I have ever seen. It kept her awake at night, she talked about it around the clock, she shared her stress about the situation with friends, people at work, and strangers, and the note that showed up at our house from this friend when her adoption was finalized was one only reserved for people who are transparent and willing enough to share their passion with someone else.    

It’s my privilege to watch my wife and share this passion with her.

I write this to encourage others to find their passion. For our family, we have chosen to pursue this journey of breaking down misconceptions, encouraging those who need it, and educating the curious about this developing idea of open adoption.  Find your passion, embrace it, live it, and share it with someone.  If you need a starting point, Maggie and I have an amazing journey we’d love to share with you…it starts with a beautiful little girl named Georgia.

--Chris Terryn

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fall Stuff.

Squeaking in a third post for October.  A sad showing this month indeed. But, it's been filled with lots of great stuff--as October's are supposed to be.  Mainly boots, scarves, and sweaters.  And then other great things…….

Like school field trips.
And there's something so much more relaxing about them when I'm not the teacher in charge.  That is hard work people.  I promise.

And of course……Halloween.
This Wizard of Oz thing has staying power.  Georgia's third birthday party was a Wizard of Oz theme.  She'll turn five next spring and it's still going strong.  She wanted to be Dorothy this year and I was great with that because we've had everything you need to be Dorothy or Glinda or the Tin Man or the Wicked Witch or a Flying Monkey for years.  A cost-free Halloween!

Parker and Georgia.  These two.  She told our babysitter that she was probably going to marry him; Fiona wouldn't be allowed to because she's his sister.  She says that a lot.  I think she's relieved to be rid of whatever competition she can.  

Hope you had a great night.  November tomorrow!  Whoosh--Christmas is coming! 

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