She's About to POP Baby Shower!

Before y'all fall off your chairs....
She's About to Pop Baby Shower Theme
This is not me. 

My twin sis is pregnant!

To say I'm excited about my sister becoming a mom -- and me becoming a doting Auntie -- well, that's a complete understatement.

I can't wait to feed Baby J. lots of sweets, buy him/her a drum set and spoil him/her r-o-t-t-e-n!
She's About to Pop Baby Shower Theme
This weekend, my mom and I hosted a baby shower with the theme, "She's About to POP!"
She's About to Pop Baby Shower Theme
From POPcorn in these cute little containers...
She's About to Pop Baby Shower Cake Pops
To serious amounts of sugary-sprinkled cake POPS...
She's About to Pop Baby Shower Cookies
And these perfect cookies from our favorite cookie decorator...
She's About to Pop Baby Shower

We had a great time with family and friends who are ready to welcome a new little one to the world.
She's About to Pop Baby Shower Diaper Raffle
We held a diaper raffle, too -- One package of diapers earned guests an entry to win a gift card to Texas Roadhouse (because what mom-to-be doesn't want to inhale those warm, fresh rolls and fresh cinnamon butter?!)!
She's About to Pop Baby Shower Diaper Messages
Then we wrote funny messages on some of those diapers that'll be changed in the wee hours of the night and early morning...just to keep the new parents smiling through the exhaustion that is parenthood!
Late Night Diaper Messages
And lemme tell ya....

Baby J. is loved. So loved. And so is Baby J.'s momma :)
She's About to Pop Baby Shower

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Baked Potato Soup [A Crock Pot Dinner]

Nothin's much better than spending the day with the littles and having dinner already made in the crock pot.

Here's the easiest Baked Potato Soup recipe ever.
Baked Potato Soup
32 oz. Frozen Diced Potatoes
1 Onion - diced
6 cups Chicken Broth
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 pkg. Cream Cheese
1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Bacon - cooked, crumbled

Cook frozen potatoes, onion, cream of chicken soup and chicken broth for 6-8 hours on low.

Add softened cream cheese using a whisk and allow to melt.

Add cooked, crumbled bacon and cheddar cheese shortly before serving.



Goodbye, Home.

To say things are a bit crazy 'round here is an understatement.

Not only am I leaving my job to become a stay-at-home momma, I'm packing boxes and making countless trips to Goodwill so we have less stuff to move.


We're moving.
Even before we were chosen to be Kendra's parents, we knew we'd eventually move our family to a more diverse community with culture and openness.

It broke our hearts to imagine Olivia as the only black girl in her school.

That -- and to be completely honest -- we don't want our girls to be known as the "colored girls" at the playground or gawked at because of their so-called "big hair."

Don't get me wrong, we love the comfort our hometown brings us [as white, middle class folks]. This is where our roots are. Where our parents live. Where our life as a family really began.

But as a transracial family, we don't quite fit the mold.

There's no hair salon in town we can swing by to get our girls' hair done. There are rarely any black dolls on the shelves of Walmart. The only skincare products or hair accessories we can find for either of our children are tucked away in a tiny little section at the end of an aisle called "the ethnic section." Publications mailed out from businesses in town rarely feature people of color. In fact, I can't tell you one time I've ever seen a black employee on Main Street. The list goes on...

I don't say any of this to bash my hometown or the people who live here because it really is difficult to leave the place we've called home and the wonderful friendships we've made.

But we feel strongly our daughters need to be around adults, other children, teachers, neighbors, church-goers who look like them.

While this decision hasn't been easy, we've had a lot of clarity as we've prayed about it.

And in typical fashion for our family, we're scrambling with big life changes at a super-fast pace.

Seriously, God must get a kick out of watching us spin around in circles.

It's character-building, right?!

That's what we keep reminding ourselves anyway...

We know He'll weave together the intricate details of this transition in His perfect timing and that His ways are always greater than our own.

But will all y'all please pray for us?

Will you pray for our family right now? 

Pray for our house -- our beautiful house we've built our family in -- that someone buys it and treasures it as much as we have...

Pray for Chris as he transitions to a new city with a new workload and new colleagues...

Pray for our future home in our future neighborhood -- that our new neighbors embrace and welcome our family.

Oh, and Des Moines: We're coming for you!


Jalapeno Cheese Soup

When I saw this recipe for Creamy Jalapeno Popper Soup, I knew we had to try it.

In our home, we l-o-v-e spicy food!

And in typical fashion, we made our own twist to the original recipe found at Busy-At-Home.com.

Here's our take on one of our NEW family favorites!

12 oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese - grated
8 oz. Monterey Jack Cheese - grated
8 oz. Cream Cheese - chopped into cubes
6 cups Chicken Broth
2 cups Whipping Cream
1 Red Pepper - finely diced
1/2 Red Onion - finely diced
4 Jalapeno Peppers - finely diced
2 cups Frozen Hash Brown Potatoes
4 Slices Bacon - cooked and crumbled

Cook bacon. Let cool and crumble for later.

Dice peppers and onion. Note: Remove seeds from jalapenos to your liking (we removed seeds from two of the four, and there was quite a kick!).

Boil chicken broth. Add diced peppers and onion to boiling broth. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add potatoes and cheeses; simmer until melted.

Add whipping cream to pot and cook over low heat until soup is warm.

Garnish with bacon and extra cheese.


Giving Adoption a Good 'Rap'

I came across this video on my Facebook news feed a few days ago, and I knew I had to get in touch with the Savage family.

Because seriously.

How fun is this?!

Check out the Savage Family Adoption Rap ft. Lil' G [and I dare you not to get Will Smith's "Miami" stuck in your head!]:


Guest Post on Infertility: What Not To Say

Today's post is brought to you by a dear friend and adoptive momma-to-be.

Amy and her husband are in the process of adopting with the same adoption consultant we hired when we adopted Olivia.

We have a LOT in common -- both Iowans, have a heart for adoption and we're infertility survivors warriors.

Amy and I got to know each other at a recent Created for Care retreat in Illinois, and lemme tell ya -- this gal and me -- we have similar hearts!

Here's Amy in her own words with 5 things not to say to someone going through infertility:

1. "I bet if you just relax, it'll happen..." or, "As soon as you adopt, you'll get pregnant!"

Don't say either.

2. "Have you tried...[fill in the blank with: IVF, surrogacy, tracking your body temp, ovulation kits, drugs...]?" 

Please do not try to be my doctor. My husband and I have discussed the options that are right for our family and what our doctor feels is the best approach. Please don't try to tell us how to grow our family and infer we aren't making the best choices.

3. "So, what's wrong?"

I already feel bad enough for not being able to carry a child. Please don't ask me that. I don't need you making me feel like there is 'something wrong' with me. Instead, try, 'What's the cause of your infertility?' Words matter.

4. "At least you don't have to go through pregnancy and labor!"

I would give anything to be pregnant. Sure, there are times where I'm like, 'Wow, that seems terrifying to go through labor,' but I would give anything to get the chance.

5. "Well, we had friends, and they were told they couldn't have kids, and then they did!"

Well, that's great for your friends. But you don't know if that could be something that could happen for us, so it's best to just not even share.

What about you? Anything you'd add to this list?

Special thanks to Amy for sharing her heart about infertility. If you're interested in contributing a guest post, please contact me!


Your Voice Matters

A few weeks ago, I wrote an open letter to lawmakers about proposed legislation that directly impacts families like mine.

In less than 24-hours, more than 12,000 of you read it.


I was shocked, too.

But I kept feeling a nudge: Do more.

And so we did.
A handful of us spent an entire day outside of our comfort zones and inside our beautiful state Capitol advocating for change.

I thought I knew politics, but I was wrong.

Neutrally covering politics for TV news is quite different than meeting legislators and having a vested interest in the work they're doing.
It was great to thank Sen. Jeff Danielson in person for supporting Iowa families like ours. He is committed to equality, and we're grateful to have him advocating for Iowa families.
I am humbled and honored that so many legislators took time out of their day to meet us and hear why equality for adoptive families is so important.
Sen. Matt McCoy has some young "fans" in our kiddos! He was one of the original sponsors of the proposed legislation that would impact families like ours. 
It was validating to hear from lawmakers who agree that adoptive parents should receive an equal amount of paid "maternity leave" as birth parents.
Our group got to meet Rep. Charlie McConkey who is a supporter of equality for adoptive families. He introduced our group to the entire House after they gaveled in at 1 p.m,. We're so grateful for his advocacy.
While it was great to meet and thank people who believe in what we're advocating for, the day also allowed us the opportunity to talk with legislators who were unfamiliar with the proposed legislation, and we got to explain why it's so important for Iowa families.
The bottom line is this:

When our families [built via adoption] are seen equally by employers, we're better employees. When we're better employees, our businesses are stronger. When our businesses are stronger, our communities thrive.

This proposed legislation is good for people, families, businesses and communities.

It's a win-win-win-win.
And you know what else I consider a 'win?'

That I can still feel my neck and shoulders after weaving our way through the Capitol with two kids and diaper bags in tow!

But seriously, friends.

Your voice matters.

Use it.


I Didn't Go to College For This

I didn't go to college to give baths, change diapers and make bottles in the wee hours of the night.

I didn't drive myself into $40,000+ in student loan debt from journalism school to take an unpaid, full-time, 24/7 job with no sick days or paid time off.

I didn't go to college to become a full-time chef, nap warden and dish-washer.

I didn't spend four years of my life studying and learning how to succeed in the new biz only to stay at home and chase around two littles and a dog.
My college graduation, May of 2008

But something happened, you guys.

Life happened.
I got married to the love of my life.

We had fun, but then it got hard.

We survived years of brokenness and bitterness with infertility.

And my heart changed.

My goals changed.
Instead of caking on make-up and chasing bad guys for a 5 o'clock deadline, being a [frazzled] mom became my priority.

Part of the reason I left TV was because I wanted to spend more time with my family.

And when I walked out of a newsroom six months ago, I had no idea what was in store for my family.

But God sure had a trick up His sleeve.
Now that another beautiful lil' gal has joined our family, I've made the decision to stay home.

This is so scary, you guys.
Financially, this is scary.

It's stressful.

But to be honest, my biggest worry is whether I'll be "good enough" for my sweet girls.

I worry about getting frustrated and overwhelmed.

I wonder if I'll be able to teach them enough so they can flourish and learn.

Or if I'll be too boring.

I worry about getting everything done.

Whether I'll have enough energy to make dinner every night.

And if I'll have enough stamina to wake up and do it all over again the next day.

But then I remember God has us covered.

He closes and opens doors with clarity in His perfect timing.

And because of this assurance, I feel like in this season -- in our family -- this is the right thing to do.

Sure, I might be reading, Brown Bear, Brown Bear 23904 times a day and dancing to Elmo's Countdown to Christmas in the middle of my living room; heck, I may not even shower until 4 p.m. [you've been warned...], but at the end of the day, my two little girls are only little once.

And I don't want to look back and feel like I missed out.

[That, and childcare for two kiddos is costly on the salaries of a social worker and nonprofit employee...]

While I'll be spending the next few weeks wrapping up my professional 8-5 gig in the PR world, I'll be scouring Pinterest and picking peoples' brains looking for ideas on how to keep my sanity and make this time rewarding and worth it for my family.

Stay-at-home-mommas: Teach me your ways! Tips, advice and encouragement all welcome here!

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You Can Adopt Without Debt

Adopt Without Debt
When I heard Author Julie Gumm had a new edition of Adopt Without Debt, I knew had to get my hands on it!

The first book was a helpful guide during our first round with the adoption process.

Gumm's new edition, You Can Adoption Without Debt: Creative Ways to Cover the Cost of Adoption, is a serious gold mine of information surrounding adoption grants, fundraising tips for garage sales and pancake breakfasts -- even karaoke nights [seriously, someone needs to do this and invite me].
Adopt Without Debt
Statistics show the average cost of a domestic infant adoption costs between $20,000 - $50,000 -- sometimes more.

For a lot of people, that's more than an entire year's salary!

Fees vary for different reasons: Attorney and agency fees, travel expenses, court costs, birth parent care and counseling, hospital stays, etc.

But you guys, I'm telling you:

Don't be discouraged.

There are creative ways to afford the adoption process.
And this book has a wealth of information.

I find it so valuable that I'm chomping at the bit to give a copy away!

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the adoption process, enter to win a FREE copy of this book.

In my opinion, it's a must-have for anyone looking to grow their family through adoption.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends March 15, 2015. Open to Residents of the US only. Prizes cannot be shipped to PO Boxes. Winner will be randomly selected through Rafflecopter.. Winner will be notified by email and have 48-hours to respond before a new winner is selected. The product provided in this post was free of charge from the publisher. The product offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest are in no way associated with this giveaway. By providing your information in this giveaway, you are providing your information to me and me alone. I do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.

If you missed this giveaway, BUY THIS BOOK! It's a must-have for families in the adoption process!

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