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.