1/25/2016

When Foster Care Works

It's no secret my husband and I have a heart for foster care.

In fact, we had just started the foster care process when Kendra joined our family last year.

And when we moved, we intended on starting the licensing process again; but then we found our we were pregnant!

Twice now, God has told us to wait.

While foster care isn't part of the plan for our family yet, I can't help but be encouraged when I hear stories like this one,

So often we hear about "the system" and how it fails people. How children slip through the cracks.

So often, "the system" of foster care gets a bad rap.
Foster Care Reunification
Photo: Lauren Love Photography
But this story about a foster mom and biological mom working together?
Foster Care Reunification
Photo: Lauren Love Photography
This is what it's all about.

What an honor it is to share this story with you [click below to read more]:
Foster Care Reunification

1/21/2016

To the Pregnancy Haters...

Maybe it's because it's 4:50 a.m. and I just nuked some egg muffins to choke down prior to swigging a 7:30 a.m. glucose drink.

Maybe it's because I haven't sipped my [decaf] morning coffee yet.

Or maybe it's because the house is eerily silent while everyone sleeps. Seriously, even the dog is sleeping.

As it turns out when you're the only one awake in your world, you have time to process your thoughts and form logical sentences that are more than just fragmentary toddler-speak.

So I felt like blogging.

A couple of days ago, an article -- I Hate Being Pregnant And I'm Not Apologizing For It -- popped up on my Facebook news feed. Quite a few friends of mine had liked it and shared it on their social media sites which unfortunately made it flare up on my own.

Even reading the headline makes me cringe.

The writer says she hates being pregnant; she sweats like a cow; she hates her "unsightly" stretch marks and curses her baby bump for making her sleep habits complicated.

Then, after a complaining rant, she goes on to explain how she has empathy toward women who have experienced infertility or trouble getting pregnant.

Ummm, not so much.

Here's the deal.

Even an ounce of empathy toward women who have had difficulty or can't get pregnant would've stopped this article from being written the satirical way it was.

Is pregnancy a glamorous and beautiful experience for all women?

Absolutely not.

I'll be the first to admit the miracle of carrying a baby can come with significant discomfort and anxiety that is, at times, beyond comprehension.

And, Hello? You're talking to the Queen of Morning Sickness All Day Sickness here.

But there's a stark difference between wanting to be candidly honest about your real experiences with being pregnant and just being blatantly inconsiderate of others on bumpier roads than your own.

This article opened up an invitation for other women -- some of my friends -- to chime in about how pregnancy downright sucks. How they can't wait until this "nightmare" is behind them.

Look.

As a momma who has experienced the emotional and physical strains of pregnancy for the past several months, I can -- and DO -- understand the place many of these comments are coming from.

Pregnancy is hard.

But did anyone ever say it was easy? Did anyone ever say it was perfect and inflict pressure to enjoy every second of it?

Thankfully, not in my world.

The bottom line is this: If you hate being pregnant and you're lucky enough to achieve it easily, do what you need to do to prevent it from happening. And if you hate being pregnant but love the end result of a baby, find a more appropriate venue to announce to the world how truly awful the experience is for you.

There are lots and lots of people in this world -- people who YOU KNOW at your work, in your church, your neighborhood, in your circle of friends and family members -- who would gratefully accept the "obnoxious weight gain" or "saucer sized nipples" if it meant their bodies could grow a life inside of them like they're supposed to.
Pregnant After Infertility
Now, if you'll excuse me...I've got a new variety of juice to drink this morning that I hear tastes great.

But I'm not complaining.

After all, I think it's pretty cool I get to chug it, even if it does make me gag... ;)

Cheers, y'all!

Related content:
Announcing Our Pregnancy
To the Woman Who Hates Being Pregnant
To My Infertile Friend
How to Survive Gestational Diabetes
5 Ways to Support Your Pregnant Friend
Top 10 Uses For Baby Bump
Wishes For My Third Daughter
To My [Adopted] Children Before I Give Birth
Our Journey to Addison

1/17/2016

Being Grateful in Times of Sickness

I'm convinced there's a special place in hell where people feel exactly how I've felt the past three days.

The joy of being pregnant comes at a hefty cost when you get run over by a freight train of severe sinus pressure, drainage and a sore throat.

The best part? No prescription. Just rest and Tylenol.
It's been frustrating to be stuck in bed with a box of Kleenex and container of Sucrets by my side (another pregnancy-approved medicine that tastes glorious, by the way [note the sarcasm]...).

But in the midst of my pouting and sniffling and salt-water gargling and wishing I wasn't missing out on time with my family, I've managed to smile.

I've managed to smile because I'm pretty sure my kids have the best daddy on the planet.

There is something to be said when you're forced to become a bystander and the only thing you can do is watch the way your kids interact with whomever they are with.

All I've seen for days is smiles.

Daddy took them to the library; they visited a train exhibit. After they got home, our oldest excitedly ran into our room to tell me all about seeing Thomas the Train; they got cheeseburgers for dinner; played with mega blocks scattered across the living room floor, sang songs, watched Daniel Tiger, checked in on me countless times...the list goes on.

So while I'm stuck trying to rest and just breathe comfortably, I'm reminded of how lucky I am to have married Super Dad.

You see, sometimes life gets so busy that we forget to stop and be genuinely appreciative of the people around us and the roles they play in our lives. And sometimes, in the moments where we're least comfortable, we're able to do a little reflecting on just how lucky we are. And for that, I'm grateful.

I'm also pretty grateful for Kleenex with Aloe, too...just sayin'!

1/12/2016

Red's Amazing M&Ms Cookies

Baking cookies equates to at least an hour or two of entertainment in our house. [If you have a toddler, I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about!]

My daughter says I can "help" her in the kitchen, and I usually oblige.

I found a recipe on the back of an M&M's bag for Red's Amazing M&M's Cookies, so we gave it a try.

And lemme tell ya, these are SO GOOD.

So. So. Good.

Plus, they're freezable!
1 Cup Butter
2/3 Cup Brown Sugar
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 Egg
1-1/2 tsp. Vanilla
2 Cups Flour
1-1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1-3/4 Cups M&M's Milk Chocolate Candies

In large bowl, combine butter and sugars until well-blended. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix to combine.

Slowly stir in flour, baking soda and salt to the butter mixture.

Fold in M&M's candies and chill dough for 1-hour or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drop dough into rounded tablespoons onto lightly greased cookie sheet about 2-inches apart.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, and ENJOY!

1/10/2016

Let Her Eat Cake - A Birthday Brunch

Birthday Brunch for 1-year Old
What a weekend celebrating our sweet baby girl 1-year old!
Birthday Brunch for 1-year Old
It's always nice to fill our home with family and friends.
Birthday Brunch for 1-year Old
And frankly, it feels like we don't do it enough.
Birthday Brunch for 1-year Old
But this lil' gal was the perfect reason to get together for a birthday brunch and cake -- lots of yummy strawberry + almond cake -- from a local favorite, Let Them Eat Cake!
Birthday Brunch for 1-year Old
Happy birthday, sweet girl!
Birthday Brunch for 1-year Old
We hope you know how special you are.
Birthday Brunch for 1-year Old
xo

1/06/2016

One Whole Year

One year ago, I was only a few months into a PR gig after leaving the TV biz.

My friend Stephanie messaged me on Facebook and told me to call her.

Stephanie has a beautiful family; her daughter is adopted and around the same age as our oldest. We've corresponded regularly about the challenges and joys of being mommas via adoption, so getting a message from her wasn't unusual.

But this was different.
How I Learned My Daughter Was Born
Years ago, she and her husband had been listed as hopeful adoptive parents with an attorney a few hours away. They had simply forgotten to update the attorney when they completed the adoption of their daughter to let her know their family was complete.

And on January 6, that attorney called her to see if they were still hoping to adopt.

"No, we're not. But I know the perfect family," she told her, not knowing our home study had expired, our adoption profile was outdated and we had just signed up to start the foster care process.

But through a string of quick work by our former adoption consultant, our social worker and the attorney herself, we found ourselves on a total whirlwind to meet our daughter 12-hours after finding out she even existed in this world.

To this day, I wholeheartedly believe God placed Stephanie and dear, wonderful people in our lives to encourage us and make sure Kendra found our family.

And now, as I sit here reflecting on all of the changes we've endured this past year -- the good, the hard, the beautiful -- I am in awe at how fast our precious daughter has grown.

Kendra is a joy. 
Daughter's First Birthday
She is likely the most chill child on the face of the planet (okay, maybe just in OUR world, but whatever), and it doesn't take much for her show off her contagious 5-toothed smile.
Daughter's First Birthday
I love the way she scrunches her nose, squints her eyes and tilts her head back when she belly laughs.
Daughter's First Birthday
She doesn't like to sit still, but I treasure the fleeting moments where she wants to be snuggled up next to her momma, and I know her daddy does, too.
Adoption Finalization - Tess Irene Photography
I smile every time I watch her keep up with her big sis as they run around the kitchen island together and then fall over from dizziness and giggles. Those gals are two peas in a pod, lemme tell ya.
Sisters via adoption
I see so much of her birth momma in her eyes and her personality -- a level of patience and kindness far beyond her years -- and it makes me so happy.
Daughter's First Birthday
I am incredibly honored I get to do life with this sweet girl as her momma.
Daughter's First Birthday
Today, I'm celebrating Kendra and the immense amount of joy she has filled our home and hearts with for one whole year.
Daughter's Adoption Finalization - Tess Irene Photography
We love you, sweetie.

xo

Related Content:
Stephanie, The Messenger
A 12-Hour Whirlwind
Dear Kendra