9/30/2014

Real Life: Yeh. She Cries.

I tell people all the time our sweet lil' daughter is one of the happiest girls around.

[I think she knows she's EXTRA loved by her birth family and her forever family!]

I sometimes go a teensy bit overboard with plastering all kinds of Olivia cuteness on Facebook.

So much that some friends we ran into the other day joked, "Isn't she ever fussy?" 

Oh, people. 

People...

Allow me Lil' Miss Sassy Pants to share.

"I just got here! I'm exhausted!"
"I'm. Not. Tired." [aka "The bedtime protest."]
"But...what if I don't want to smile?"
"No. I do NOT want to sit and take a 6-month picture!"  




"DON'T feed me peas. Ever. Again."
"Aw naw. Hell naw. What do you think you're feeding me now?"
"What do you mean I have to jump to get this Jumperoo to bounce?"  

"I told you 3 months ago: I don't want peas!"
"What do you mean I can't put my fingers in the outlets?"
"But I wanted to put Maggie's toy in my mouth! And she took it from me!"
"What do you mean I have to eat veggies before dessert?" #NotFair
"I just want someone to hold me and read to me and play with me and feed me and change me every waking minute of the day. Is that so much to ask?"


So, friends. 

You see now.

Olivia's no different than other babies -- fussy moments and all.

OK. Mayyyyybe she's cuter ;)

9/29/2014

Playlist For The [Adoption] Ride

The adoption journey can be twisty and windy and sometimes really, really long.

Because I used to spend a whole 'lotta time on the road in my TV years, I came to really appreciate good music.

Certain songs really spoke to me during our family's journey to adopt.
So -- for music-lovers on a similar path -- here's my not-official-whatsoever playlist for the ride that is adoption:

When You Wanna Give Up:
He Said -- Group 1 Crew -->

When You're Exhausted:
Worn -- Tenth Avenue North -->

Waiting, Waiting, and More Waiting:
The Waiting -- Jamie Grace -->

Your Baby's Birthday:
A Thousand Years -- Christina Perri -->
 
Hope When Things Aren't Perfect:
Speak Life -- TobyMac -->
 
Trusting in the Midst of the Unknown
I will Follow -- Chris Tomlin -->
 
When You Bring Your Baby Home:
Home - Phillip Phillips -->
 
Post-Baby [When you can see God's writing on your family's story]:
Never Once -- Matt Redman -->
What about you?

What's your favorite song that helps you keep going?

9/28/2014

Freezer Friendly Beef Burritos

You guys.

I found this recipe over at Money Saving Mom, and it's ah-mazing.

We make these beef burritos at least once every few months.

Freeze 'em.

Then when you want 'em, pop 'em in the microwave for about 2-minutes and wah-lah!

They're perfect for a quick lunch!

Below is the recipe.

Enjoy!

-----

2 lbs Ground Beef
2 Cans Refried Beans
2 Cans Red Enchilada Sauce
1/2 Cup Water
1/3 Cup Diced Onion
1 Taco Seasoning Packet
1 Teaspoon Oregano
3 Cups Shredded Cheese
20 Burrito-sized Whole Wheat Tortillas

Brown ground beef with onions. Drain and add all remaining ingredients except tortillas and cheese.

Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Spoon 1/4-cup of the meat mixture onto a tortilla, sprinkle with cheese.

Fold sides in and roll up tightly.

To freeze: Wrap each burrito in foil. Put burritos in two airtight ziptop freezer bags and store in the freezer for 2-3 months.

To serve: Pull out desired number of burritos. Remove foil and heat a single burrito in the microwave for about a minute or leave the foil on and heat one or more burritos in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Taste great plain or served with lettuce, cheese, salsa, and/or rice.

Recipe adapted from Money Saving Mom.

Related content:
Easy Homemade Alfredo Sauce
5 Tips for Successful Freezer Meal Cooking
Top Freezer Meal Recipes

9/23/2014

How Adoption Changed Me

Lemme tell y'all a story.

It's a personal one about how adopting my daughter changed me and how I view the world.

In my opinion, making an adoption plan is -- in a lot of cases -- one of the truest, purest forms of love and selflessness.

But to be honest, I don't think I fully understood the amount of love and bravery and courage a human being was capable of carrying until August 3rd, 2013.

The Phone Call...

I woke up on August 3rd, 2013, to get ready for work, and my cell phone rang at the same time my alarm was going off.

[Unknown number.]

"This is Shelley," I answered, assuming it was some source calling me back for a story hours after deadline.

"Shelley, I am bubbling with excitement..." said the caseworker from a Texas adoption agency.

"WHAT!?!??!?!?!" 

I screamed.

I cried.

I paced around the house in my PJs with my frazzled bed head and tried to find my glasses without tripping over the dog.

When we received the phone call that the mother of a beautiful, perfect, healthy little girl chose us to be her forever family, my heart stopped.

A woman loved her precious child so much that she wanted the very best for her which meant making the hardest decision of her life.

And out of everyone IN THE WORLD, there was something about my husband and me that told her, "They're the ones."



Meeting Our Daughter's Birth Mom...

Weaving in and out of 908347 lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic on empty stomachs and no sleep is not something I'd recommend to anyone.

Just sayin'...

[Unless you're gonna meet your child, of course! Then you do whatcha gotta do!]
How Adoption Changed Me
As the caseworker chauffeured us around big-city Texas style, she said our daughter's birth mom was very much at peace with her decision.

"She kissed her goodbye and didn't cry," she told us.

"She didn't shed a tear. She is very confident in choosing you," she reassured our nervous hearts.

My mind raced as we got closer to meeting this brave woman...

What will she look like? 
What will she say? 
Will it be awkward? 
Will she change her mind?
Will we say the wrong thing?

But the second we walked inside, a stunning woman walked toward us. She had tears streaming down her face.

She had been waiting for us.

She wrapped one arm around my neck, and one arm around Chris', and we wept.

"I'm not crying because I'm sad. I'm crying because I'm so happy that she has the perfect family," she said.

I'm grateful she chose us to be Olivia's family, but I'm also grateful for what she taught me about strength and selflessness:

That sometimes loving someone means loving them so much that you choose to let them go.

Related content:
Adoption Photos
Love At First Sight
Adoption Process

9/21/2014

Orange Poppy Seed Bread

Last year I stumbled upon one of my F-A-V-O-R-I-T-E recipes ever on the face of the planet.

This recipe for Orange Poppy Seed Bread is so easy.

And so dang good.

I make a few loaves and freeze 'em.

Then I'll pop one out the night before I want a sweet treat for breakfast on a cold morning!

Below is the recipe I've adapted from Myra at My Blessed Life.

Enjoy!

-----

Orange Poppy Seed Bread

3 c. whole wheat flour
2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. milk
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 tbsp. poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. orange zest

Glaze:

1/2 c. sugar
3 tbsp. orange juice
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Add milk, oil, eggs, poppy seeds, vanilla, eggs and orange zest.

Pour bread mixture into two greased loaf pans.

Bake at 325 degrees for about an hour (or until toothpick comes out clean).

While loaves cool in pan, combine ingredients for the orange glaze in a saucepan and heat on low until sugar is dissolved.

Poke each loaf of bread several times and pour glaze over top.

Leave bread in loaf pans for 30-minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool.

Recipe adapted from My Blessed Life.

9/16/2014

Kids or Not: Infertility is Never Fair

When I got married to my lovely hubby, I had an idea of what my future would hold.

You know, that whole three-kids-with-a-white-picket-fence idea...

The idea that doesn't. Even. Exist.

Yet [for some reason] so many of us yearn for it...

When we realized our marriage wasn't a fairy tale and that we'd likely never have biological kids, it was a tough pretty much impossible pill to swallow.

But gradually and slowly, our hearts shifted.

The image we had for our future changed into something even more beautiful.

And we met our daughter.

While I'm not grateful for the pain infertility brought with it, I am grateful for the lessons we learned because of it.

And I'm hopeful other couples are able to cling onto some sort of a silver lining, too.

-----

I have a friend who wants to be a mom so bad.

More than anything, she wants to be a mom.

But she can't get pregnant.

I have a friend who's already wonderful mom.

She gave birth to a beautiful baby a couple years ago.

And she wants her daughter to have a sibling so bad.

But she can't get pregnant.

I have another girlfriend who has a son and a daughter.

She's nearing the end of those so-called "child-bearing years."

She's got her hands full.

But she wants more.

And she can't get pregnant.

-----

I'm stuck on the sidelines watching an oh-so familiar story unfold for my friends.

I'm watching their hearts crumble and break into a million little pieces.

A million.

And I'm watching as they pick up the pieces and try to keep going.

But it's hard.

Whether they've got kids or not, the sting of infertility and brokenness is painful.

It is always painful.

And it's never fair.

---

My prayer today is this:

If you know someone going through infertility treatments, reach out to them.

Right now.

Put your hand on their shoulder and say, "I'm sorry about what you're going through."

Give them a hug.

Write them a card.

Show them you care.

Sometimes, it's hard to know what to say.

But sometimes we don't need to say anything at all.

Often times -- for your friends stuck in the thickness of life's trials -- saying, "I'm here for you," is simply enough to carry them through.

9/12/2014

My "I'm-Not-On-TV-Anymore" Bucket List

It's official.

I'm leaving the glass fishbowl that is television news.

And because of that, I feel like I'm a free woman fish out of water.

I mean, seriously. 

What do people do with weekends off? 

Eight-hour days?

Holidays at home?

Walking out of a newsroom for the last time today is gonna be bittersweet.

I'm looking forward to my new position, and there's a few other things I'm excited about, too.

Here's my "I'm-Not-On-TV-Anymore" Bucket List:

1-Wear patterns. Polka dots. I really kinda wanna wear polka dots. But shoot. I don't even know if I look good in polka dots. The world is about to find out...

2-Grow my hair out long enough to donate it. 'Cause you know what? My lion's mane won't need to be tamed every day.

3-Speaking of lion's mane...I'm gonna go an entire week without straightening my hair.

4-Cut my make-up budget in half. Sorry Not sorry, Bare Minerals.

5-Empty out my "work bag." Yes, including the extra ear piece for live shots, notepads, granola bar crumbs, business cards, 807234 pens (I'm sure only half of them work), etc. Perhaps I'll even switch to a regular size purse? That might be pushing it though, folks...

6-Wear fancy jewelry. The kind that's "too distracting" for TV. Ain't nothin' too flashy for a PR gig, though! #winning

7-Schedule a lunch date at least once a month with a friend. Because Lord God Almighty, I'll have a lunch break! What?!?! Sorry Not Sorry, Hardees and Culvers drive-thrus.
8-Get rid of 80 percent of my winter apparel because GUESS WHO'S NOT COVERING WINTER SNOWSTORMS ANYMORE? Shelley "The Snow Reporter" Russell is signin' off, people! I'll watch the snowflakes fall from the comfort of my office while sipping a warm cup of coffee instead.

9-Color my hair from a box. No need to spend hours away at the salon when the hubby can do it for $10!
10-Get rid of these fashionable disgusting, uncomfortable flood boots. No more trudging through mud and floodwater with worms the size of snakes. Dear boots: We've been through 5 years of flooding with the Missouri River, Cedar River, Yellow River, Mississippi River and every creek between here and Western Nebraska. I'm sorry not sorry, but we have to say goodbye. And yes, you'll be replaced with CUTE footwear.

Related content:
Why I'm Walking Away From TV

9/10/2014

Why I'm Walking Away From TV

For most of my professional life, I've been living out of news vehicles and live trucks, hauling it to a fast food drive-thru lane to grab a bite to eat minutes before a live shot -- always hoping I don't have remnants of curly fries or Oreos stuck in my teeth.
I've converted just about everything -- my lunch table at Panera, a desk in a hotel, a table inside a gas station in the middle of nowhere, the front seat of a vehicle -- into an editing bay more times than I can count.
For more than five years, I've been cranking out story...

After story.

After story...

Sometimes it's good news.
Sometimes it's funny...[Seriously. I hate snakes.]

Other times, it's just plain bad news.

But all the time, I've given it 150 percent.
It's not easy to walk away from my dream.

The dream I had since I was a little girl.
I've experienced things I know I otherwise never would have.
And I'm grateful.

I like to believe in the thousands of stories I've had the privilege of sharing, I've somehow -- in some way -- made a difference in someone's life.

It's been an honor coming into people's living rooms every day.
Yes.

Even all the #$%# snowstorms are memories I'll remember try to block from my [still-frozen] mind.


But I've come to the point in my career that when I look in my make-shift iPhone mirror, I realize I've missed out.
The [oh-so-common] 12-hour days...the time I spend on the road, hours I spend getting my hair done, or scouring through clothes racks shopping for a new suit coat that meets a consultant's criteria, finding the right color pallet of make-up to cake on my face that'll work in an HD studio and then spending 10-minutes scrubbing all that mascara off each night...

It's exhausting, you guys.
I didn't go into television news because of the glitz and glamor.
What's glamorous about this, anyway?

I went into the news business because I am a truth-seeker.
I'm a storyteller at my core.

And I've had the chance to share some incredible stories with so many of you.

Which is what makes my decision to leave so hard.
My changed heart...

God put a desire on my heart to be a Momma.

After years of infertility treatments, He chose me to be an adoptive momma.

And what a joy it has been.

When I look in the mirror, though, I realize I've missed out on a lot.

A lot.

I didn't get much time off with my daughter when we brought her home from Texas, and I was back at the full-time grind after a week at home with her.

A week.

I was a new mom deflecting hurtful [sometimes nasty] viewer emails about how thin I looked, how tired I looked...how unhealthy I looked.

And God forbid I wear this red lipstick...MY FAVORITE! (But apparently not an anonymous viewer's favorite...)

Trying to balance motherhood and a demanding, 24/7 job in what my colleague cleverly calls the "glass fishbowl" was proving to be impossible.
We spent our first Christmas together at my work.

And as months continued to fly by, I blinked my eyes and Olivia turned into a toddler.

While I was happy to see Olivia growing into a healthy, happy little girl, my heart broke.

It shattered every time I ran frantically out the door [usually 3-minutes late, trying not to spill my coffee] for work only to return home just in time to kiss her goodnight.

I've missed my daughter.

And my husband.

So much.

The meal-changer...

A few months ago, Chris and I were eating dinner per our standard mealtime of 9:00 p.m.

I walked in from work, threw my keys on the table and kissed Olivia goodnight before I sat down for dinner.

I looked down at my plate and tears started welling up in my eyes.

"I can't keep doing this," I said, staring at my plate.

By the time I mustered out those words I was a full-out blubbering mess.

"I never thought I'd ever walk away from this. I love this job," I said.

But I love my family more.

Opened doors...

Looking for full-time work with a better schedule that still utilizes your passions is tough.

Really tough.

Just the thought of finding a job while working full-time and treasuring the few moments I had with my daughter every day was daunting.

I signed on just about every job board you can find and scoured the internet for a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g.

Just as I was about ready to throw my hands up and say, "I give up!" a notification popped up in my inbox.

"Public Relations Coordinator" was the subject.

I opened it up, and it was a job lead from a local nonprofit.

I felt like God was giving me a nudge.

"Hang tight. I think I've got something for you..."

I'm excited to join an organization that values its employees, their families and their communities.

Sure, there will be days I miss the blaring police scanners, the yelling across the newsroom, the time cues, the mad clanking of the keyboard, the drive-thru dinners, the fax machine jams and the phones ringing off the hook because people wanna know why Wheel of Fortune isn't on...

But I won't miss out on time with my family.
I'm grateful for the years I've been able to dedicate to a career I love, and I'm so happy God provided so much clarity for me while opening a new door that will allow me more time with what's most important: my family.

Here's to new beginnings...

Related content:
My "I'm Not On TV Anymore" Bucket List
Motherhood

9/09/2014

A New Home

You guys, I can't tell you how excited I am to have you in this little chunk of cyberspace!

Lemme back up and tell you about how this new home came to be...

Through our adoption consultant, I met a fabulous graphic designer [Manda Julaine Designs].

Just a few weeks ago, she became a MOM through adoption.

And let me tell ya, her daughter is g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s!

Amanda with Manda Julaine Designs took a blank slate and created a space I LOVE.

I hope you do, too.

Cheers to many posts of encouragement and laughter as our family's journey continues...