Monday, April 24, 2017

We're Adopting!

It's no secret that I love children. In high school, I worked at a daycare where I would rock babies to sleep after school and play with four-year-olds out on the playground. In the summer I would pick up baby sitting jobs and spend all day at the pool playing diving games. I decided to become a teacher, so I could spend all day with kids. When my friends started having babies, I would spend more time with the kids than the adults. So it probably comes at no surprise that David and I are excited to bring children into our family.

We've spent the last ten months working through the home study process, which is the first step in adoption.  On July 20, 2016, we got an envelope that was about two inches thick with all of the paperwork we needed to complete. I optimistically thought I would be able to complete it fairly easily, but starting a new job, finishing my dissertation proposal, and just settling into a new home in a new state got in the way. We got it done at the end of January, and then we had a few interviews, a home inspection, a physical, and background checks. We are now literally licensed to parent! (I have a sinking suspicion that isn't going to make the whole parenting gig much easier.) In other words, the home study portion of the adoption journey is over.

Our next step is to file with agencies - which means more paperwork. The agency will show our profile to expectant parents who are considering adoption, and if an expectant mom chooses us to parent her baby, we will be "matched". At that point, we will have a better idea of when a child could be entering our home. Right now, we are just praying that God will guide us and the birth parents to each other.

We've decided to pursue domestic adoption. Ideally, we will be matched with a healthy infant, but we are open to many possibilities including sibling groups or various health concerns. We are following God's prompting, and we trust that He has the perfect story planned for us. I'm not going to lie. It stresses me out to not know the timeline.  I'm really worried about the finances. I fret about the many unknowns that come with adoption, but we know we can trust in God's plan.

It's like that hymn says, "Tis so sweet to Trust in Jesus, How I've proved Him o'er and o'er." Now we just pray for grace to trust Him more. That's our anthem right now. Trust in Jesus. He called us here, and He will lead us where we need to go.

Feel free to check out our adoption website if you would like to know a little bit more about our story.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

2016 Photo Book

When I was in high school, one of my extra-curricular activities was the yearbook. I loved photographing moments, writing about different activities, and putting it all together in a keepsake. I've always wanted to make yearbooks for my actual life, but I've never figured out a system that works. Having all of my photos and memories in one place was a far off goal achieved only by people who could lock themselves into a room for hours on end to complete the task, but in 2016 I found a secret weapon that allowed me to catalog my memories without dedicating my entire life to the process.

Over the years, I've tried several things to keep track of my photos. For a while, I used Chatbooks,  but that wasn't a great solution for me since I don't post most of my photos on social media. I also tried to make digital scrapbooks for special occasions, printing my favorite photos, and just reminiscing via TimeHop, but none of those systems satisfied my desire to have everything contained in one book. It stressed me out to think I was taking dozens of photos a week, and they were just sitting on my phone. I set out to find a way to organize my photos and get them all together in one album.

This led me to the website Modern Photo Solutions, which introduced me to a cell phone app called Project Life, a simple digital scrapbook system. This was a game changer for me because it allowed me to make my a photo book using my phone. I could pull photos from my phone gallery or Google Photos (which is what I use to backup all of my photos, including those from my "real" camera. It is another photo game changer, but I'll leave that for a different post!) Additionally, I found myself using pictures that told the story, rather than ones that would look good on Instagram. The Project Life app let me combine my photos with color and journaling cards to give my book a scrapbook feel that truly captured the event and describe what was going on if I wanted.

I started using Project Life to bring my photos together into layouts that would eventually become pages for my end-of-the-year photo book. I worked on it while waiting for a doctor's appointment, standing in line at Wal-mart, or sitting on the couch watching TV. It is so easy to use - each layout took me about 3 minutes once I got used to the app. Sometimes I would make the pages for a group of photos within 24 hours of the event, and sometimes it was months afterward. Once the page was done, I exported it and saved it in a folder until I was ready to put all the layouts together into one book.

When the year ended, I went back through my photos to make sure I hadn't missed anything, and I uploaded all of the layouts I had been saving to Mixbook to create my 10x10 photo book. Three days later, a beautiful book with all of our memories was at my door.

All of this to say, the Project Life app is the only reason I was able to pull a photo book together this year. My memories are no longer jumbled in a plastic shoebox shoved in our guest closet. Instead they are organized, display worthy, and archived. In fact, my 2017 photo book already has a few pages made.

Monday, August 24, 2015


For the past month, I've been making a weekly to-do list, cleaning schedule and menu plan. I have pinned several on various Pinterest boards, but I could never find one that was exactly what I wanted, so I made one.

I wanted a place where I could put our weekly calendar items, menu plan, and a cleaning schedule of some sort. I also wanted a to-do list that wasn't locked into certain days of the week. That's how this one was created. I print a new one every Sunday and write/type in what I need.

Menu Plan. When creating the menu, I usually think about what we have in the freezer and go from there. If I need to go grocery shopping, I put that on the chore list, and plan my menu accordingly. I would say we stick to the menu about 85% of the time, which is much better than when we don't have a menu.

Weekly Cleaning Schedule. To start a weekly cleaning plan, I wrote down the chores I felt needed to happen weekly, and then thought about our evenings. For instance, dusting takes the longest for me, so I did put that on Monday night because it's most likely to get done. I chose to put bathrooms on Thursday since they are usually fairly messy from hurriedly getting ready all week. I've seen a lot of different weekly cleaning lists, but so far the only one I've stuck to is the one I created for myself....and even then, I would say I stick to it 70% of the time. I did my best to leave a couple of empty days, so I would have a day when I could catch up or make-up. Additionally, I change it from week to week depending on what needs to be done.

Everyday Things. I also included a section of everyday things. For me this includes Dishes, Laundry, Make Bed, Picking up the House, and Swiffering (the joys of a shedding dog and hardwood floors). I've seen some people include exercise, water intake, emails, and things along those lines in this area.

Calendar. This portion is fairly basic. I simply write down what we've got going on for the week. I used to keep a monthly calendar on the fridge, but my husband never looked at it. Now that we've got the week-at-a-glance on the fridge, he will at least acknowledge that we have activities throughout the week.

Weekly To Do List. I try hard to keep this list to a minimum. My goal is to put things on there that will get crossed off, so I stick to 5-7 things each week (1 per day). If anything needs deep cleaning and it isn't in the weekly cleaning schedule, it goes here.

The week-at-a-glance printable has provided a much needed plan for the week. I don't stick to it perfectly, but it definitely keeps me organized. I also love the feeling I get from just filling it out on Sundays. It makes me feel so put together and with it. If you want to try this layout for yourself, you can get a blank PDF version HERE.