Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best Things I Did in 2014

This list is in no particular order of importance…just as they came to me.

1.  The weekly money saving plan.  At the end of last year I saw this idea on Pinterest to save one dollar per the corresponding week of the year it was.  Week 1=$1, Week 25=$25….you get the idea.  By the end of the year you'd have somewhere over $1000 in your envelope.  To be honest, I never thought I'd last past a couple months because I was sure I'd just forget about it.  But it's kind of cool to see the cash start accumulating and after a couple months go by you don't want to throw the towel in just yet.  I kept at it through mid-November and had decided somewhere in July that this is what we were going to use for Christmas presents and any other miscellaneous purchases that always come up during December (food for parties, hostess gifts, Christmas cards and stamps, etc.).

As you know, mid-November rolled around and we got the call that Crosby was born.  So just like that I went on an unpaid leave from work and I had money socked away to spend on Christmas "stuff" without having to worry about my pay check not coming in and adoption expenses that were sure to begin.

I'd highly recommend doing this.  It's pretty satisfying and it feels fantastic to have Christmas money saved ahead of time and in a slow, methodical way!  I'll definitely repeat this for 2015.

2.   Salvation Mountain. Chris and I went to California for a week last spring and on our last night there cancelled our dinner reservations on a whim and took a drive into the desert to visit Salvation Mountain.  I'd heard about it from another blogger I follow, and Chris was aware of it because the artist had recently died and it came up in his IG feed one day.  It was an adventure and getting there was a little scary because you drive through some less than savory little towns and border patrol and a whole smattering of drug drop houses right along the border.  But when we saw Salvation Mountain rising out of the middle of nowhere it was instantly one of the coolest things we've seen.  The moral here--it's not about Salvation Mountain, it's about having an adventure, doing something off the beaten path, finding those weird tourist things anywhere you happen to be and seeing something that the majority of the world won't ever experience because they'll keep their dinner reservation.  My mom and dad taught me this lesson on every family vacation we ever went on and I'm so thankful for it.

3.  Joined a pool during the summer. This might sound like a huge luxury….and I get it….it's not free.  However, I know for sure we saved money this summer as a result of joining a pool.  And….summer was so relaxing because of it.  You could find us there at least four days out of the week and then even on the weekend sometimes.  There were almost no random trips to wander Target (read….drop $150) just for something to do on a hot day when no one was around, only a handful of trips to the gardens--which are nice--but pricey and not super entertaining more than a couple times a summer, only one trip to the far away beach that eats gas, very few lunches out since we'd grab something quick at home and then head to pool with snacks, and I could go on.  Plus--Georgia conquered her fear of swimming and is so confident in the water now.  We'll do it again for sure next summer and I can't wait to see Crosby splashing around in the kiddie pool.

4.  Dressember. I found out about this campaign in November and instantly signed up.  You can read more about it here.  I had a team of 12 fundraisers and I set a goal for ourselves of $500.  We ended up bringing in over $600.  I thought it was pretty cool to be part of something so large and international and see how other women all over the world were participating and raising money to aid The International Justice Mission in their rescue of human trafficking victims.

5.  New School for Georgia. I wrestled and wrestled with this decision all the way up until Georgia started kindergarten.  The school where she attended pre-school for two years was amazing.  Great teachers, staff, students, families…..I really liked it all.  Choosing for her to leave was really about helping her grow vs. any kind of dissatisfaction with the school itself.  Georgia was lacking the confidence to meet new kids, strike up conversations with peers, join a new group, and ultimately grow socially in a healthy way.  Her prior school was small and having attended a small school like that myself until I was in 8th grade I knew that it would pretty much stay that way and there would be very few new kids to meet as she progressed from grade to grade.  Not a bad thing necessarily--but for Georgia I thought it would only create a bigger problem for her in learning how to step out of her comfort zone and meet new people and realize her own strengths and abilities.

Luckily, our district school is fantastic and from the minute we went to kindergarten orientation I knew it was the right choice.  She loves it.  I have seen her grow in confidence, discernment, academics, and friendships in the last four months more than I ever have.  I will never make grand sweeping decisions about school that span years.  I will make year to year decisions based on what I believe she needs.  For now--this is it--and I'm so happy we did it.

6.  My Job. Two weeks a month I work two days and two weeks a month I work three days….I have an incredible job share partner and I'm so thankful to have the opportunity to work with kids and teachers every week as a school administrator.  I've worked in education for 15 years this coming February (what?!) and while it's definitely challenging and makes me want to gouge my eyes out sometimes it's still worth it…..and I would say I feel like that almost every day.

7. Read these books amongst others…..

You can read the description of each of these books on Amazon….I'm kind of a stream of consciousness, every chapter is a different life lesson kind of reader these days so that's what you'll find in this list:

Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider
Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist (this was a re-read from last because it's just that good)
Speak by Nish Weiseth
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (this is fictional and will actually be a movie next year--but a thought provoking read as an adoptive mom)

8.  Celebrated 14 years of marriage to this guy: Not a lot needs to be said about this one.  Our anniversary got lost in the shuffle of bringing Crosby home and passing in the night between newborn feedings but I am so thankful everyday that he's mine.  Marriage is the best thing I've ever done and I'm so happy it was to him.
9. Continued traditions & started new ones…..I'm a stickler for traditions and believe they're pretty important for kids.  They build a solid, predictable, memorable, and special childhood for our hoods that I hope they'll want to emulate with their own kids one day.

Valentine's Day Tea Party:  A new one for us that is sure to be repeated this year. I love Valentine's Day and think it begs to be celebrated in all it's red candy heartness, glittery paperness, chocolatey goodness.

Michigan Adventure with the Hammonds: Four years running with this one and I know Georgia looks forward to it every summer at this point.  Can't wait for year five.

4th of July at Greenfield Village:  See my posts here, here, and here about this awesome tradition.

The Cottage:  Georgia has gone ever since she was born and I can't wait for Crosby to join her for a week of Pure Michigan.

Adoption Day Dinner: To celebrate Georgia's adoption day we let her pick her favorite place to eat and buy her a Christmas ornament that represents something she's really loved throughout the past year.  She counts down the days to this date in December and tries to guess all month long what her ornament will be.  This year we got her a donut…..Chris and G get donuts almost every Saturday morning and I think it's the best tradition….they do too.

10.  I mean…..Crosby…..right? November delivered a whoosh of a surprise and we were beyond thrilled to bring this little guy home.  He's squishy and cuddly and loves to smile at G and daddy and has stolen our hearts.  He finishes off our family perfectly!

2014--you've been a good year.  I mean….really so good.  It feels like it was just New Year's Eve 2013.  So I know we'll be back here in a flash next year at this time.  It's a good reminder for me to take things slower, really savor the moments--even the ones that feel hard (like getting a newborn on a sleep schedule), and chock the year full of memories that my kiddos will keep in their hearts for a lifetime.

Monday, December 29, 2014

A little of this…a little of that.

Coming to you live from the dark floor of Crosby's nursery as we try to transition him into his crib for the first time after a couple months in a pack and play outside our bedroom door…….

It's hard to believe that Crosby will be two months old next week (mostly because he still sleeps like a two week old when it comes to night time--but we won't hold that against him….yet).  It's been a blur and I'm sure having Thanksgiving and Christmas in there only made it seem faster.

Here's a mish mash of pictures that I took with my 'real' camera over the past few weeks….some from the earliest of Crosby days….some from the past few days.

Hospital.  Our first night together……and I daresay that looking at this picture it's clear to me that Crosby has since lost most of his hair.  It's also crazy to note that at this point we'd known about Crosby for less than 24 hours.  

Heading home from the hospital.  It was freezing….freezing this night.  It was right before the November blizzard that hit Michigan and I'm sure it was the rudest introduction to the world most babies leaving the hospital have.  

Waiting for us when we got home from the hospital from our incredible friends.  We had friends setting up pack and plays for us, buying buckets of supplies for us, sitting with my mom at the ER with Georgia for us (she was so, so sick), bringing us food, and all around being incredible!

The first picture of the incredible big sister that Georgia is with her little brother.  She was sweating out a fever the night we arrived home with him and was mostly delirious….unaware for the most part that we were even home. She woke up the next morning and was ready to go.

My mom……made to be an incredible mama…..and Gaga. 

There's a baby behind those ornaments.

Aunt Enna….he was smiling at her just a little bit.  He started smiling for real during Christmas--an appropriate time don't you think?  And he's got these great little casual, lazy, boy-next-door smiles that are so, so,  great.

My sister is determined to make the nickname "Bing" stick. 
I'm not. 

My sister and my mom decorated little gingerbread hats in honor of Crosby and the first month of his life in which he wore a whole lot of hats to protect the little bump he had on his head.  

Christmas Eve. Crosby didn't get to have any appetizers this year--next year he's down for sure.

And finally--this little dude hates baths like you've never seen…..unless Elsa joins him.  Georgia, being the creative big sister that she is, popped this beauty in his sight line during his last bath and he was calm as can be--even smiled a little bit.  He's got a thing for the ice queen….

Back a little later this week with the ten best things I did in 2014.  I'm sure you can guess at least one of them.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

And we have a one month old!

Crosby is one month old today.  What?  A month has gone by?

It's surely not true.  Don't get me wrong,  I'm happy, for the most part, to hurry the newborn phase along, and get to that three or four month golden mark, but it's crazy to me how fast our life changed and in turn how fast it's become the new normal.

Some random thoughts a month in.
(Also--all of these pictures were taken by my friend Lisa in our home.  She's taken all of our family pictures--since Georgia was a week old.  If you're local make sure to follow her on FB.  She does some incredible mini sessions at her farm a few times a year that you'll want to get in on!)

1.  I was terrified of being a boy mom.  It just never felt like me--neither Chris or I really.  But it's weird how hard that is for me to really remember now because Crosby makes me feel like little boys are absolutely as great as little girls--of course they are!  And just like I felt with Georgia (as I'm sure all moms do) it's astounding to me how much you can fall in love with someone so fast that you didn't even know five minutes ago. Plus, I ordered my first pair of little boy leggings from Etsy which restored my faith in apparel for little boys.

2.  People are so weird when you have a boy--like you finally have a kid--even though you already had a kid--and a pretty incredible one at that.  "YOU HAVE A SON!" Yeah,  I have a super awesome daughter and son.  What is with that?  Let's all stop that.  Are there different fun things about having a girl vs. a boy and a boy vs. a girl? Of course--one does not negate the other.

3.  I vow to never use the phrase "Boys will be boys."  I could go on and on.  Let's also stop that.

4.  I appreciate Georgia's fascination with bugs so much more now than I ever did before.  She can show this little dude the bug ropes like no one else.

5.  I'm also so happy that her craft table in the kitchen is long and has two chairs at it.  The two of them can sit for hours together making creations out of every.piece.of.trash.georgia.resuces.

6.  I give Crosby about a year before Georgia pile drives him in the living room.  She can't wait for another wrestling partner--and waiting for daddy to get home at 6:00 is just too long.

7.  Being a mom the second time around helps you to understand why all the grandmas laugh at us first time moms quoting our baby books and writing down our feeding schedules.  Sheesh.  There are no rules anymore--just do whatever feels good.  (But that being said--you do learn a lot the first time around from those books that resurfaces in more organic ways the second time--so you should still read them!)

Major props to my mom for helping met get Crosby's room put together the first week he was home.  Thankfully, I'd painted those pictures above his bed back in July and had ordered a few decorative things that I knew would work for a boy or girls room.  Sometimes a burst of motivation pays off.  

8. I'm pretty pumped about doing round-ups of stuff I love that now include boy things; definitely a shortage of those out there.

9. Meals.  Thank you to everyone who has brought meals.  I want to marry you.

10.  If you're going to be a new mom……buy yourself a really great hat that you can wear everyday and get out of the house.  I'm a homebody through and through but being trapped in the house with a newborn for more than a few days in a row can make you climb the walls.

We're off to this little guys one month appointment where I hope to hear that he's packed on a few more  pounds.  Because we all know that more weight allegedly means more sleeping at night.  Right?  Just say yes--even if your baby weighs 80 pounds and doesn't sleep through the night just say yes.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, December 1, 2014


Breaking radio silence…….I feel like myself a little bit this morning which means I'm ready to write.  Life has been a whirlwind, for lack of a stronger term, the last three weeks.

This picture…..
was taken at 7:45 p.m. in the girls bathroom at Georgia's school on Monday, November 10th.  We were waiting for her parent teacher conference to start.  It's weird looking back at this picture knowing that this was the exact time my adoption social worker was leaving a message on our home answering machine "to please call her as soon as we got home." It's this surreal moment frozen in time for me--the last picture I'd take with G before life changed.

When we got home that night about 8:30 there was that message.  I know what messages like that mean; they mean your heart skips a beat, you start sweating, you get shaky, and you kind of have a hard time focusing on doing what you need to do first.  We put Georgia to bed and gave our social worker a call back.

And sure enough she told me what I was expecting her to say--there was a little boy born at 4:00 that afternoon and his parents wanted to meet us--they wanted to make an adoption plan.   Could we drive across the state to meet them in the morning?

"Give me 15 minutes to puke collect my thoughts and for Chris and I to have a conversation and I'll call you back," I told her.

And of course when I called her back we told her we'd be there by noon the next day.

We had nothing ready for a baby. Yes, we started the adoption process last year--but never guessed we'd be one of the 3-4 adoptions our agency did a year that were 100% last minute.  Stupid.  Thinking that definitely guaranteed that we would be.
We owned zero, ZERO, clothes for a boy.
We didn't really have a name picked out (I mean….I did….we just hadn't agreed).

And we'd had no idea that it was going to be our last night with G as just her.  And that…..that was hard for me….not because I wasn't excited about a baby….but because life was going to change so fast and we hadn't had time to savor those last few moments of what had been for the past five years; the three of us.  But I forced myself to push through those feelings knowing what we ultimately wanted and we started making phone calls and resurrecting car seats, and burp clothes, and the one little outfit that was sort of unisex from the basement.

I called my mom and dad and my sister and my friends Rachel and Karen and cried and freaked out and they all shrieked with excitement and laughed and were speechless and couldn't wait to hear more.


On Tuesday morning, the 11th, we drove across the state to meet this little guy and his parents and our incredible social worker who is so, so, so good at walking us through every stage of adoption and giving us the right words to say, ways to express our emotions, and an objective train of thought.  We spent a few hours talking with Crosby's parents; discussing names (that's always a tricky conversation), plans, life, what was next, and stressing to them how much we desired an open adoption.

They were discharged and we remained in the hospital for the night with Crosby (staying overnight in a hospital--seriously not on my top 10 of awesome things to do list).  On Wednesday evening the hospital pediatrician gave us the green light to head home and so we bundled up this adorable little guy and headed out into the cold night to drive back across the state as fast as was safe so we could introduce him to his new big sister.  Our amazing friends had gotten to our house first to set up our pack and play, drop off a tub full of diapers, wipes, formula, clothes, blankets, and bottles.  It made coming home so nice, so much calmer, and much less chaotic.

It felt good to get home (Georgia had been extremely sick while we were gone--welcome to the world of two kids, huh?), good to start settling into our new normal, good to come to the shocking realization that we're now a family of four, and so so so good to smell that new baby smell.  

I have so many thoughts…..they're all coming back up the surface after the fog of the last month… I'm excited for some more days at home where I can get them into this space.  

Be back soon!  

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