Monday, November 21, 2011

Gobble, gobble, gobble!

Ok, I love sending people gifts and cutesy homemade gifts are the best! I mean, what mom doesn't love something made by their child? So with thanksgiving around the corner I jumped at the chance to make 2 handprint turkeys, one for me and one for Lovebugs birthmama!

It was really fun and Lovebug loved getting her hands all messy! It's also a great way to preserve a print of those ever growing hands. Never again will they be this small!

I pray that it blesses her birthfamily as much as it blessed us to make it!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's a bird! It's a Plane! Oh wait, it's my hubby!

Our day today consisted of a lot running around in a non child friendly environment, a few temper tantrums, lots of snacks, no nap and  a much longer wait time than expected due to some clouds and wind. But, in the end my sweet Hubby got to do something he's wanted to do for a long time. So in the end I can say it was well worth it!

Right after landing! Whew. Was I relieved at this point!
My ridiculously handsome husband and beautiful baby girl!! I love these two!

Friday, November 18, 2011

I'm back people!

Back form where you ask? Well, it's an expensive place with less food and more supermarket trips. It's call a couponing hiatus.

For probably a month now, I've been a major slacker when it comes to couponing... and by that I mean I haven't couponed at all. Honestly, I've been so frustrated at myself. Trips that used to cost $30 were costing me $70. Every time I shopped I would think "Hmm, I wonder how much money I COULD be saving with this trip?" leaving me with  a disappointing feeling and a lighter wallet.

The thing is, is couponing is hard work and takes lots of time and energy and anyone with a 15 month old, or child at all for that matter, knows sometimes there's not any extra time or energy to spare. So, I let myself slack. And on top of that, the deals hadn't really matched up with our needs so there was extra incentive to not do it.

So what sparked my couponing craze again? I'll tell you: It was the very well timed "X amount of dollars off your purchase" coupons in this weeks paper, coupled with my "X amount of dollar off of your purchase" coupons that I just got in the mail! Who could resist saving $15 per $50 transaction? Not me. So, it's lit the fire in me and I went for it!

In the past few days I've spent probably 3+ hours planning this one trip. From making my list, to printing online coupons, to clipping paper coupons, it's taken up a large chuck of relaxation, er, cleaning time while Lovebug sleeps. But, I can now say it was worth it! Check it out!
I got all of this for $52 and saved $121!! Now, some will say spending $52 does not equal a great couponing trip, but to me it does. Unless I make 2 trips to the store, one for couponing deals and one for our fresh items, I'll always spend above the Ex.treme C.ouponing's standard of free or nearly free. But, that's ok. I still saved $121 and spent $48 under my weekly budget!! Woohoo!

So what did I get? Well, I got 3 boxes of cereal, a box of Triscuts, a box of Wheat Thins, 3 boxes of pasta, 2 jars spaghetti sauce, 1 gallon organic milk, 1/2 gallon organic milk, 4 bags frozen veggies, frozen sweet patato tater tots, 2 boxes of Ritz, 4 dish sponges, whole wheat bread, 2 bottles of syrup, 4 cans Del Monte tomatoes, 2 cans beef broth, 2 cans evaporated milk, Nutella, 2 bags shredded cheese, 2 containers of gourmet (oh, lala!) spreadable cheese, 2 bottles of mouthwash, 2 bottles of Lysol, 2 containers of icecream, 2 12 packs of La.Croix, yellow rice, 1 lb organic ground beef, 1 lb organic chicken, 4 green bell peppers, 1 onion, 2 apples, 2 pears and 2 containers of sour cream! Whew!

Now most of the non fresh items were both BOGO and I had coupons for them (anywhere from .50 off to $1). But, the biggest money saver by far was the fact that I had both $5 off $30 Publix coupons and I had $10 off of $50 competitor coupons! So, I split my haul up into 2 transactions, both over $50 and I was able to save $15 on each transaction just from those coupons alone! All I can say is... score! :)

Couponing can really be a great thing. It can save loads of money and leave you with a sense of sticking it to the man accomplishment. But, it shouldn't become burdensome or interfere with family life. So my advice is, if it's a good week and your feeling it, go for it! If not, give yourself a break and and shop as wisely as you can. I've come to realize that deals come and go, but maintaining your sanity is a must!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Open Adoption Interview Project 2011!

I have to say, this Open Adoption Interview Project was a lot of fun! It was my first time participating and I'm already looking forward to the next one! To see a complete list of the interviews click here!

Over the past few weeks I've had the privilege to dig deep into a blog, that before this, I had never seen. There were a few things that immediately struck me: The first was familiarity. I'm always struck by the fact that even though many of us live completely different lives we all share so many emotions and experiences that are the same. It's part of what I really love about this community. Knowing that even if our circumstances IRL make us feel isolated or alone, our blogging buddies are always there to let us know we're not alone! Secondly, I noticed her deep love for her son. I just can't get enough of that. No matter how many times I read it, hearing about a dream come true and the making of a family is such a beautiful story to me! Thirdly was her ability to share her raw emotions. It's not always easy to say how your feeling, especially when what your feeling isn't rosy. But, she gets it out there and earned heaps of respect in my book for it.

So who's blog is it? Meet Lavonne from Eye's Wide Open: My Journey Into Motherhood. After years of infertility, Lavonne and her husband D set out to adopt with the same exuberant excitement that we all start out with. Little did they know then that the journey to adopt would prove to have it's own bumpy roads and giant road blocks including a failed placement and a long wait. Finally, the day came though. They were chosen to be parents to a sweet little boy they'd go on to name T. Her blog journals her life as a mom, as a mom through adoption and a mom through transracial adoption. Her newest posts also include an very unexpected surprise... after all those years of infertility, deciding that with the addition of T their family was complete and making plans to make sure it stayed that way, Lavonne just found out that she's expecting!

Head over and check out her blog and leave Lavonne some love! :)

Here's my interview with Lavonne! Enjoy!

1). There's no doubt that infertility and adoption are 2 very life changing experiences. How do you think each has changed you both for the good and bad?

There is definitely good, bad, and ugly in my story! For the worse, I think that the infertility and adoption experience has made me more cynical about life in general. Our hopes and dreams were crushed so many times during the process, it's been easier since then to be a "glass half empty" kind of person. For the better, I think the experiences have provided depth to who I am. I have sat with many others that are walking some of the same road and I have an ability to provide empathy and understanding that most of society doesn't. So while I can't really say that I would want to relive all the crap (of course we'd always want T in our family), I can say that all the crap added extra layers to who I am, that in the end I think is  good.

2)  In one of your posts "out and about with baby T" you talked about how it helped seeing others view you being a mom because it helped you feel more like a mom. In your experience did you find it hard to accept yourself in the "mom" role after pursuing it for so long? What helped to finally solidify your role as T's mom in your mind?

Because I became a mom to T in 3 days it was really difficult to accept and understand what that role meant initially. I also felt that J had earned her role as mother and signing some papers all of a sudden also made me a mom was weird to experience. Even though I had bonded and attached to T I felt like a long term babysitter for a long time. I even had trouble using the word "mom" to refer to myself! In the end, I think it was time that solidified my role as T's mom for me and seeing him respond to me in a way that was different than others. As T got older I saw him look for me across the room, reach up for me, and settle after picking him up....all of that helped me feel that mommy feeling!

3) On the same note, did you find bonding with T to be a more difficult process than expected or did it come very easy to you? What advice would you give new mothers through adoption about bonding with their baby?

While in the adoption process I wasn't sure how I would react to becoming a mom. From my work in maternal health I know that many women have difficulty bonding to baby after birth so I don't think I was expecting a "love at first sight" sort of experience. Plus since T entered our lives two months after an adoption that didn't work out my heart was guarded and I'm sure that impacted my bonding experience. My advice to new moms through adoption (and birth for that matter) would be to be honest with your feelings and not let anyone else tell you what you should/should not be feeling. To work through the feelings is so important.

4) What do you feel are your greatest struggles and greatest joys of being a transracial family?

My greatest struggle is that my heart hurts for T when I think about the difficulties he will encounter in life as a part of a transracial family. This is what drives me to be intentional about how I parent. To read and research. To talk with other transracial families. To build intentional relationships. Etc.! The greatest joys of being a transracial family is more difficult to answer. I feel intense joy just in the fact that we are a family! I do think another joy is the clear sense I have about celebrating differences no matter what they may be and simply the fact that I have experienced the truth that deep love knows no colour or boundary.

5) How do you plan to celebrate and teach T about his African American heritage?

Since both D and I are unable to understand what it means to be African American or even a minority, we will surround ourselves with people that do. We've worked to build some intentional relationships with other black families that have kids around T's age. My hope is to one day when T is older some of the black men we have built relationships with will mentor him. I also hope that one day he'll be able to connect with his birth family and continue that process of learning/celebrating who he is as an African American man.

 6) Some of your newest posts talk about your recent discovery of being pregnant and the mixed emotions you've been facing. What has surprised you the most about finding out you were pregnant?

The fact that I was pregnant in the first place!
7) Some of the prominent emotions you've expressed about being pregnant is grief. Our cultures seem to be so focused on pregnancy and biology as a way of creating a *real* family.  Because of this are you finding it hard to be open about this grief IRL when so many expect that you *must* be soooo happy about it?

Actually in real life I've been pretty honest with those around me that I am having great difficulty accepting this pregnancy for a myriad of reasons. It is others that are having a really hard time with the fact that I'm not so happy about this and they don't know how/or what to do with that information. Since our culture views pregnancy/biology as a celebration it's difficult for others to change that focus and realize that not everyone feels the same way. This is somewhat interesting to me because while I get where people are coming from, ours is certainly not the last unplanned pregnancy to occur. I think about T's first mom and how she must have felt in the grocery store when random people gushed over her swelling belly while she was internally struggling with what to do about this baby.

8) What were your feelings after finding out that J had put a hold on her file, more or less closing your semi-open adoption? What are your hopes for the future in this regard and what would your ideal openness be?

I was very disappointed to discover that J had put a hold on her file. While there is a part of me that is understanding of this, there's also the mama bear part that wants only the best for my son and I feel that openness is the best. So my hope for the future is that we would one day be able to have a fully open relationship with J where we can communicate directly (no agency), visit, and together celebrate the remarkable little boy that T is.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Things I'll never get sick of...

1) Hearing "Mama" come out of my sweet girls mouth! Seriously, my heart melts every time!

2) Watching Lovebug discover something for the first time. Yesterday it was her shadow and boy was she pleased with it!

3) When she smiles at me with the "I love you" smile. Whew. Gets me every time.

4) Seeing Lovebug get so excited when Dada gets home. She's definitely a daddy's girl :)

5) Cuddle time. Even if right now it's quick cuddles.

6) Middle of the night cuddles. Especially now with teething, Lovebug has been waking up in the night off and on. I usually go get her and let her lay with us for a few minutes before putting her back in her bed. It's the sweetest time. She cuddles so close, lets out the softest giggles and rubs my face. Such special moments.

7) Knowing that I get to be her mom forever. I'm still amazed by this fact daily and I certainly will never get sick of it!

Oh and seeing this face everyday...even when it's covered in yogurt :)


Monday, November 14, 2011

New pictures added!

We recently had our family pictures done and I added a few to the blog! The biggest change is the header picture, but I also changed 2 on the sidebar as well :) Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Really Huffington post? Really?

Excuse me, Huff? You've just dropped your credible rating in my  book! How irresponsible to publish such an inflammatory and inaccurate article! Has anyone else seen it? If not, here it is: Can adoption lead to child abuse?

What about the MILLIONS of children who are abused by their biological parents? Whats their excuse? If anything I would imagine parents who adopt their children as less likely to abuse their kids due to the intense screening we all go through to even become a waiting family. To make a connection that adoption can lead to abuse is so ignorant.

How about the connection that each of the kids came from families with 6+ kids. Maybe we should say having more kids makes you more likely to beat them! Watch out Du.ggar child #20... things aren't looking up for you....

Moreover, the author links the 3 abused kids to RAD, which is not a fact but an assumption since that was never reported in any case.

I would encourage the author as well and the Huffington Post to do a little more research, provide more facts and not publish garbage in the future. Because after reading that, it muddies the waters for all the other stuff they publish.

So what do you think?

Monday, November 7, 2011

New addition!

Ok, it's not what you think... But, over the weekend we made some of the final steps in making our back porch into our new living room! Woohoo!

When we bought this house one of the main selling points was the extremely well built, trussed in 20x20 back porch. We we bought it, the porch was all wrapped in cedar. We knew we would either finish it and turn it into an amazing outdoor space or enclose it and expand the house. Over the past four years though, reality has sunk in that now matter how gorgeous you make it, outdoor spaces in Florida 200+ days out of the year are just too hot. So last year we set our sights on making it into out new living room! With the addition of Lovebug, our plans got pushed back slightly, but now we're well on our way to moving furniture in!

Over the weekend the contrustion guys were here and finished hanging the drywall as well as moved the french doors from what's now the inside of the house to their new home leaving the new room going out to the deck! We're so excited! This new room is adding over 400 sq ft to our house! It's much needed space, especially with our plans to expand our family too! :)

Here are two pics of the progress! Eh, em. Pay not attention to all the construction debris. Try to imagine it all finished and pretty! ;)

We can't wait for it to be finished so we can move in there! Lovebug is going to love having more room to roam and it's going to make becoming a family of four a little easier. Although, I'm not sure when we'll be doing that. Lately, we've been just enjoying our little girl so much that we're not sure we're quite ready to not shower her with our undivided attention. We've left it as we're praying about the timing and we'll reassess when January gets here. Don't get me wrong, I'm so excited to become a family of four, but when the time is right. In Gods timing. I know he'll let us know when that time is and it will be awesome!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Neat experience

Anyone who adopted transracially can probably vouch for me in saying that out in public you get the full gamut of stares and questions. In our case, people seems to stare more than ask direct questions. If Hubby and I are out together with Lovebug we usually will see people smiling at Lovebug and then looking at me and then looking at Hubby.. and then back to Lovebug...then back to me...back to Hubby and so on. The smile usually fades into a "How did that black hair happen?" look since Hubby and I are both blond with blue eyes. We just chuckle and move on leaving them to ponder the great unknown.

The other day Lovebug and I were at the grocery store together and while we were checking out this nice young bag girl was commenting at how beautiful Lovebug is. I started to see the wheels turning and soon the question came out:

"Um, so is your husband.. um, Chi. Um, Jap.. uhhhhhh. Well, I don't know what she is..."

I of course smiled and said she's half Filipino and in the 15 seconds it took for those words to come out I had the great debate in my head.

How much am I going to share with this stranger?

I've really gotten into the habit of just saying yes and moving on, but part of me really hates that and really how long can it continue? I mean eventually Lovebug is going to internalize that as me being ashamed of her coming to our family through adoption (Which I'm not) or she's going to blurt out in confusion "No, my Daddy has blonde hair! I got my black hair from my birthfather!" But, every time the question arises I stumble with what to say.

Anyways back to the original point. It seems that most people can't pin point what ethnicity Lovebug is. We've been asked if she's Hispanic, Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese among a few others.  Well the other day we were at the post office and a sweet lady was in front of us in line. I noticed off the bat the she had Filipino features. She saw Isla and smiled really big at her and then looked at me and smiled and then back to Lovebug again. After only a few seconds she said "She looks like she has Filipino in her." I then smiled really big back and said "Yes! She's half Filipino!" And her response was "Yeah, I can really tell! I'm Filipino too!". We talked a little more and as she paid for her postage, she made sure to look back at us and smile and wave before leaving.

You know, I don't know exactly why, but I left there feeling so good for Lovebug. The fact that someone from the same ethnic background could so easily see her Filipino characteristics just felt good. I want to keep that side of her alive and prevalent. I want her to be proud of where her ancestors came from and feel a part of that side of her and I guess just hearing someone else validate it was just a neat experience!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

She's a leopard ballerina...duh! ;)

Well, over the weekend I'm pretty sure I've gained 3+ pounds and given myself countless stomach aches by eating too much candy. What happened to me? I used to candy by the pillowcasefull at Halloween. Now the mixture or one Reeses and a Blowpop sends me into a sugar coma with a glucose hangover. Sad. My youth is but a memory friends.

But, luckily this sweet leopard ballerina is just beginning her road to sugar consumption!

We've had such a good time over the past week with her. We've gone to 2 dress up playgroups, 1 harvest festival and trick or treating(which had mixed reviews by Lovebug) and everytime she's was so excited to dressed up! The most amazing thing was she left the hood on the entire time! This coming from the sweet baby that pulls every clip, bow and rubberband out of her hair almost immediately. She must have known she just looked to darn cute to take it off!

Lovebug got her face painted at the harvest festival!

Lovebug and Daddy trick or treating!
Like I said before, Lovebug has mixed reviews about trick or treating. She LOVED being able to run down the street in her costume, she wasn't a fan of ringing other people's door bells! If we held her she was fine. If she had to walk up to the door she would start crying :( Luckily we just went to 3 neighbors houses and then called it a night.

All in all we had a great time and made some awesome memories! Now, it's time to look forward to the next two holidays of the year!