Friday, March 16, 2018

Adoption - The Beginning

Over the last several years I've semi-regulary sent Jeremy profiles of kids from a website called Rainbow Kids who are waiting to be adopted. I know it drove him crazy and he didn't want to adopt but I have ALWAYS wanted to adopt and something would just pull me to these kids. I figured it was always worth a shot so I'd send him pictures and heart eye emojis. Jeremy, bless his heart, would respond with something nice about how cute they were and never told me to just quit sending them already...though I'm sure that's what he wanted to say.

In the fall of 2017 I was on a kick and sending Jeremy pictures of waiting children every few days. We would occasionally talk about adoption and he started asking more questions. He had practical concerns...paying for MORE daycare...paying for adoption...parenting three kids - two with special needs (basically ALL kids adopted from China now have special needs).

One evening we were sitting at soccer practice and talking about how we could make it work and it just clicked. Like, "Ok, I guess this is happening now." Jeremy will tell you there were actual rational reasons for this...maybe we'll go into that later.

We had our eye on a sweet little girl with cerebral palsy and we requested her file from Heartsent Adoptions, Inc. We also applied with them at the same time. It turned out that child had more complex needs than we were able to handle but we knew there would be a child that was right for us.

We had seen a little boy around the same time on Rainbow Kids and tried to get information on him but the agency listed didn't have his file any longer. Heartsent couldn't find him either. We were bummed but again, knew whatever was meant to happen would happen.

A few days later I spotted his picture on the Great Wall China Adoptions waiting children site. I emailed for more information and received a response super quick that they had his file! Another family was also reviewing it but they sent it to us as well. We instantly felt like he was "ours." We had a doctor who specializes in international adoption review his file to look for any issues or medical needs that might not be listed in his file. She determined he looked healthy and while he was listed as being premature his weight when he was found at one month of age was over 10 pounds indicating he likely wasn't premature (or his estimated age/birth date was wrong). Overall he was healthy with possible cerebral palsy and we decided he felt like he would fit perfectly in our family.

Our Letter of Intent to adopt him was sent to China on 11/13/17 and we were pre-approved on 11/20/17!

Next up...the paper chase.We gathered ALL the documents, had things notarized, had physicals and tried to stay organized. Once we had everything together we were assigned a case worker and scheduled our first home study visit. We had to wait on one more document before we could schedule our second visit and finally had that on 2/16/18. Holt sent our home study to our agency for review. It was ultimately approved on 2/22/18.

I wanted to keep track of this process for myself but decided to share it as well in case anyone wants to follow along on this journey!

More to come!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The 'V' Word

Recently I convinced Jeremy to watch Forks Over Knives. If you haven't heard of it, it's a documentary where researchers explore the possibility that people changing their diets from animal-based to plant-based can help eliminate or control diseases like cancer and diabetes.

I had already watched some of it and found it pretty intriguing so I asked Jeremy to watch it with me. Generally speaking my husband is not into my crazy doing Whole30. Or becoming vegan. However, before the movie was even over he was on his laptop doing more research. Something struck a chord with him and he was genuinely interested in exploring a whole food, plant-based diet.

Whole food, plant-based diet. That's what they call it in Forks Over Knives but essentially it means veganism. Vegan is easier to say but usually evokes thoughts of snarky hippie-types who get all over your case about have a string cheese. [This is obviously a complete stereotype]

Image result for vegan guy

So Jeremy gets on Pinterest and starts a SECRET board with vegan recipes. Except at this point he won't actually SAY the word "vegan." Apparently it's his perception that being vegan is demasculinizing. Let's put that to rest right now. This guy is a vegan:

Image result for brad pitt

 Moving on.

So we watched this documentary and we're both interested in trying this plant-based business.  Why? Well I'm going to speak only for myself here. Number one - health. Forks Over Knives present some pretty compelling information about how things that are abundant in the typical American diet - casein (milk protein) and meat - may be contributing to cancer and heart disease among other things. This is the statistic that got me: Out of a group of people who had a previous heart attack and then switched to a vegan diet, the people who stuck with the whole food, plant-based diet had a 0.6% chance of having a second heart attack. The people who switched back to the typical American diet had a 62% chance of having a second heart attack.*

Now let's pause for a second. I'm not going to get into causation versus correlation, sample size, or any other of a myriad of things to be considered when looking at research. I'm currently reading The China Study which dives into the science more. I also plan to take a closer look at some criticism of Forks Over Knives. All this is to say, do your own research. But I would highly recommend starting with the documentary. Because in my opinion, spending an hour and a half of your time to watch it is certainly worth the potential benefits such as decreased risk of heart disease and cancer.

Is anyone wondering why I'm telling you all this? Well first I kind of just want to share the information. I think there's great potential to make people I know healthier. I'm also considering doing some regular posts about recipes we try and what we eat. While I've found several vegan bloggers and YouTube channels, I'm finding mostly young people without kids. That's not our family. We both work full time, have two 5-year olds, and juggle activities. So I need easy and quick meals and I need my kids to actually eat them.

I'd love you all to join me on this soiree into a plant-based diet. If you're vegan - tell me about it! Tried it and didn't like it - tell me about it! Thought about trying it - tell  me about it!

Peace, Love, and Plant-Based Protein!
[sorry, that's so corny but I couldn't help it]

*It's been a hot minute since I watched FOK so these numbers might not be exact but they're close.  When I get a sec to pull up the movie and verify I'll update this if needed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Bathroom Makeover

We've been in our house over a year now and we may be nearing completion on updating the bathroom. Maybe.

Here's what she looked like when we moved in...

In all her oak-cabinet-linoleum-floor-glory.

And here she is now...

We may have painted it twice.  Ok, we did.  I should NEVER be allowed to choose blue paint because I NEVER like it. So we switched to a super dark charcoal gray.

We put in a new toilet, took out the mirror that was held up by plastic clips and added medicine cabinets (which was GREAT for more storage), added shelves above the toilet (some storage but mostly decorative...sorry, honey), We put in a new tile floor, a new window (we're hoping to slowly change out all the windows in the house to newer more energy efficient ones) and updated the trim. Obvi, we painted the vanity and changed out the hardware.

We also changed to a sliding barn door.  I LOVE barn doors BUT this was actually a practical matter.  The door opened in to the bathroom and honestly it took up valuable real estate.

Jeremy MADE the actual door itself because DANG those things are expensive to buy.  The hardware can be pretty pricey too but I found a decent priced set on Amazon.

So adding a barn door on the outside opened up the wall that was behind the door...where...we...put...SHIPLAP!

Ok, it's faux shiplap but whatevs. Joanna Gaines would still  be proud I just know it.

We put towel hooks up for everyone and the kids have little mirrors that are the perfect height for them. If you look closely you can also see their step stools hung up towards the bottom under their towels. Or you can see Ben's at least...

I'd love a marble counter top with undermount sinks and a tiled shower but those are pretty far down on my list right now.

Because I like Before And After pics...

Thanks for checking out my bathroom makeover!


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Repurposed Towel Bar --> TIE RACK!

Yesterday I talked about how I added a little more function and organization to our bathroom.  I forgot to mention that I reused that Ikea towel bar...

While Jeremy has a nice spinning tie rack that attaches to a closet rail, we don't have as much closet space in our new house so he couldn't use it.  All his ties were shoved in a dresser drawer (a dresser that we got rid of for the office makeover...more to come on that).  So this Ikea towel holder provided a super awesome way to store his ties so they stay neat and they are easy to see.  It fits right behind the door and beside his closet just perfect!

Do I get to say I created an "Ikea hack" now? ;)

Monday, May 2, 2016

DIY Bathroom Organization

I have a blog?  What??

Seriously I haven't blogged in so long I'm surprised it didn't expire or something. I am.  We've been doing a ton of DIY projects around the house lately and I wanted to share! Lucky you. ;)

Image result for diy project meme 

First up is this little DIY/organization project.  In our new house we have ONE bathroom upstairs that we ALL share.  There is no master bath.  I definitely underestimated the impact of this.  It's sort of a galley-style bathroom too.  Not a lot of room.

We did have this towel bar from Ikea right next to the shower.  I thought it was genius.  It has four bars - there are four of us.  Perfect.  Not so much. It stuck out way too far and we were always having to duck under it or nearly taking out an eye.  

The next problem was that when we moved in, one of the first things we did was take out the builder mirror with the ugly plastic clips and put in these mirrored medicine cabinets: 
HEMNES Mirror cabinet with 1 door IKEA 

THat added some more storage and looked a lot nicer in my opinion BUT...they're too high for the kids to see themselves in.  So I wanted to also figure out a place to put mirrors for them.  This is what we landed on:

We have small mirrors (from At Home) that are the perfect height for the kids and they love having their very own mirror.  I added hooks from Menards for each person with a cutesy letter identifying whose towel is whose.  I also had just picked them each up a step stool at HomeGoods so I hung those up with a Command hook so they would be off the floor.  

I had seen these towel hooks from Anthropologie but they're $18 each and I refused to pay $72 for towel hooks.  


So I DIY'd some rustic looking wood letters using letters from WalMart that were $1.57.  I "beat up" the wood first using a hammer, screws, a drill bit, and a screwdriver then put stain on them (that we already had) and put three coats of poly on top (also had on hand).  

The bathroom is far from done.  We did have tile put in a few months ago but still need to paint the vanity, change out the counter top and sinks, and tile the shower.  And I need to pick a new paint color...

SO many more projects to come!  I know you're excited!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Baby Book (Blog)

So a friend with a new baby asked me yesterday how much the twins ate when they were 2 months old...uhh...I have no idea!  It's possible I blocked the madness of the first six months with twins out of my head.  But wait!  I have a blog!  And let me say I'm SO thankful for it!  Guess what?!  They ate 100ml every 3 hours during the day and were sleeping about 6.5 hours at a time.  So after I looked up this tidbit really quick I browsed a few more posts.  And I came across this one.  Ben's seizures.  Wow.  That took me back.  Took my breath away.  Made me cry.  I found it so interesting how I said in that post multiple times, "I'm putting this in here so I'll remember when we come out of this on the other side."  And you know what?!  We did!  It's been 948 days since Ben's last seizure.  It's like a distant memory now.  Or a dream even.  We have an amazing, bright, rambunctious 3.5 year old who pretty much has the potty-training thing down pat, LOVES cars, and begs to play outside.  Seriously...PRAISE GOD!  He is good!

So I'm feeling inspired to blog more.  Not because our lives are exciting or even entertaining.  Not for money certainly - I've made $20.32 on my blog since I started it on October 9, 2009.  But because it's my baby book.  It's our family picture album.  It's how I remember our lives.  It holds my world. 

Peace, Love and Green M&Ms, y'all!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Day 15 - Our final day in Birmingham!

First off, what an amazing experience that our family has been provided.  While this is truly about Ben and his future successes, we'd be remiss if we didn't take pause and thank ALL of the people involved in this effort.  A number of contributions from countless people have made this trip a reality and not the pipe-dream that I thought it would be when we first contemplated starting this journey.  It's a lot of fun to be part of a success story and we hope that your contribution to the process, whether it has been monetarily, spiritually, emotionally (or something else that I've not placed here) gives you a sense of accomplishment.  Don't take our word for it, Ben's pictures are a testament to his own hard work.  Many of you know Ben, and some of you know him well.  You know where he has been; through this blog over the last three weeks, you've seen where he has come. It is our family's hope that you continue to follow him in the future.  Please, take a moment and appreciate your role in the process.  We deeply and sincerely thank you for this opportunity.

Today was an odd day, as a number of administrative items needed to be addressed during our session today.  Before we got down to the paperwork, however, Ben took a moment to thank Ms. Jane for all of her hard work.  Honestly, Ms. Jane is an extraordinary individual who truly has a passion for the work she does.  Her focus is intense, she has a phone, but we never see it.  She doesn't where a watch.  She doesn't step out to go to the bathroom.  It's really cool to recognize just how focused she is on the task at hand.  Here, Ben was saying thank you with a small token of appreciation.

From there, the business of the day was to work on bilateral movements.  To accomplish this, Ben did a number of activities that involved the use of two hands.  For instance, he "read" books, played with a few large toys, and snapped together some toy "things."  I'm not sure what to call them, but I've included an image below.  Assign these things any name you'd like! (Interactive blog, how about that!)  

The other cool part of today was that Ben got to show off for Grandma and Grandpa Yenger.  We took them to therapy with us and they spent a few hours watching the work that Ben has been going through on a daily basis for the last three weeks.  Best of all, Ben got Grandma on a swing in the gym and had some fun swinging with her!

Our gym time pretty well completed our therapy session.  From the gym, we went back to the room and did paperwork, signed off on materials... yada, yada, yada....

We hopped in the car around 11:30 and took off for the great white North.  During our drive, Ben and I did a bit of talking, and we talked about the importance of using our left hand.  He demonstrated that he understood by using it to manipulate an old iPod touch,

Perhaps the coolest part of the day however was supper time at B dubs.  In the face of a long car ride and a 45 minute nap, I asked Ben to work with his left hand at supper.  I brought along a fork commensurate to the task and after one brief melt down, he was doing this:

Look ma, pinching with my left hand!!!

So y'all know, the fork was intended for his left hand.  The idea here is that if you use something bigger, it will make it easier to grasp.  Ben decided to go big and actually maintain a grip on a Splenda packet for quite some time!  Just a little bit of pride talking in our boy!

Demonstrating fantastic range of motion!
(And still holding the Splenda.)

Video evidence that he was a total boss at supper tonight with his left hand.

Bedtime was fast approaching so we did a bit of casted homework, then put on our supination splint for the night.  Here Ben is in his splint...

It was time for bed around 9:30ish in preparation for our return home tomorrow!  Can't wait to see Reanna and Ainsley.

Again, we want to thank all of those involved in Ben's story.  Mom and Dad just have to manage and maintain the therapy, but it is all of you, in your collective capacity, that have ushered Ben into a new way of living.  A more productive way of living.  Thank you.  We love you and we thank you for loving our son.