Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What. A. Day.

Bad Hair Day Cat -

Oh, my gosh. This day.

9am: Register for kindergarten. Autumn is weeping because TOO MANY PEOPLE, MAMA!

9:30am: I'm sorry, the birth certificate you have is not an original. We'll take the other paperwork but you can't sign her up officially until we have that.

9:45am: Go home, look in the safe again for the right certificate (how do I even have one that isn't embossed??).

10:00am: Call Mike from Lainey's phone because I LEFT MINE AT THE SCHOOL OMGGGGGG.

10:10am: Pick up the phone.

10:20am: Finally give Autummn the celebratory donut I promised her.

10:40am: Mike calls to tell me I can get a certificate at the health department downtown.

11:10am: Arrive, drive around to try to find a parking spot that isn't dangerous or 5 miles away. I find one only a block and a half away.

11:20am: Carry Autumn piggy back to find that EVERY PARENT IN THE WORLD has misplaced their birth certificate.

11:40am: Someone cuts in line. I stand ready with my umbrella just in case I need to defend me and Autumn in a riot. Fortunately, someone gets a security guard. Riot averted.

dueling it out

Noon: Realize I am lucky because the line is now snaking around the room and down a hall. Autumn is being wonderful.

1:00pm: I'm near the front. So many people are here that there are now guards (with guns!) at the door, in the middle of the line, and at the end.

1:10pm: WE FINISH and hike back to the car.

1:45pm: Yay, lunch!

2:00-3:30pm: rest/clean/catch up on email

4:00pm: I officially register Autumn.

4:30-6pm: We have a decent Aikido class--two new students trying it out!

6:30pm: Shopping for school uniform clothes (thank goodness because I find the last pink knit collared shirt in her size).

7:00pm: Come home, the neighbor we've never spoken to and who never waves comes over and she's spoiling for an argument over some dead branches on her property. I am extremely nice partly because I don't want a neighbor war and partly because she's right--we didn't realize the corner where we were composting some leaves was her property--everything but that one spot is ours because the property line is diagonal (what the heck, right?). Mike gets home at some point, we apologize, tell her we'll shove it over a few feet (still inside the hedge) on Saturday if she doesn't mind waiting that long and definitely tell us if there's anything else she needs. I think we even part friends because she said to let her know if we need help!

7:15pm: Mike pats me and quotes Proverbs 15 at me--the gentle answer turns away wrath thing. Not usually my forte so go me.

Dinner/Olympics/Autumn Bedtime

8:30pm: SHARAZE. I THINK A PULL UP WAS IN AUTUMN'S LAUNDRY WHAT DO I DO. Me: Dude. She hasn't even worn pull ups in months WHY WAS THERE ONE IN HER LAUNDRY?? We spend forever shaking out the laundry. Mike wipes out the washing machine and starts the load over again.

9pm: More Olympics, some time on the sofa chilling, and a donut. I think everything's going to be okay. Whew.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Plans Galore!

Check this out:

So cute! We have some fun stuff in store. I'm really enjoying working out at Collierville Arts Academy. One of the great things is that I'm able to trade aikido lessons for ballet lessons between Autumn and one of Julie and Tom's kids. Such a blessing and Autumn is having a great time.

Even better? They are excited about giving us some more classes on the roster! I think that in September I'll be adding at least one more adult class, most likely on a weekday morning. We'd also like to add an evening class but I don't think I want to do that until Stephan's schedule clears up. If we get enough kids signing up for my Tuesday class, I'll be able to split that one up. I really hope that works out because having the huge age spread is a little tough. I'd like to have ages 4-6 in one class and ages 7-13 in another. I wouldn't mind doing the same at Mullins but I'm not sure I can do 3 classes in a row there! The preschoolers seriously wipe me out, hahaha.

Also, last week I ordered the study materials for three different fitness certifications. I really appreciate our TBS teacher Melissa because she and I did a lot of emailing to help me decide what exactly to do. I never would have been able to make a decision with so little worry without her! The big one, group fitness, will be a local test and the other two are home studies since I couldn't find anyone doing a fitness kickboxing or children's fitness cert locally.

I've kicked around the idea of personal training or group fitness for a long time. Since after Autumn was born. Now that I've started the process I feel...relief. Some of it is because I can stay in the fitness industry and not just for martial arts. And I'm not simply relying on Aikido to get my certification to teach. Although I looooove martial arts, more than anything I love teaching, seeing people grow and do things that never thought they'd do. And there's less pressure on me to get to shodan--which is great because I don't think I am going to make it to the fall camp. We just can't afford it and although the seminar is reasonably priced, food, hotel, travel...they add up! That's going to push my testing even further away. But it'll be okay because I'll be able to do some kickboxing and kid's fitness classes (at Collierville Arts at first and later at other gyms) to earn some cash. Some of it will go towards the adoption, but some of it will go to my training.

Anyway, I'm sure I'm going to write more about that later. Mike, who is way excited for me, thought it might be fun to do the fitness photos and measurements while I go through the certification process. I think he's right! Plus it's kind of amazing that just over a year after I was so sick I didn't think I'd be able to do aikido again, I'm looking at all this!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Today I had to have that barium swallow test today to see if the thyroid swelling is affecting my esophagus. Blechhhh. It was incredibly gross and awkward to do so I'm combating the icky with some random, fun pictures!

First up is Autumn at the Farmer's Market. I loooove this photo.

I reminds me of a character in a manga Mike and I absolutely adore called Yotsuba&. The Yotsuba stories have always reminded us of Autumn so you can imagine how tickled I was to have the opportunity to hand Autumn a whole lot of sunflowers!

Last week, we went to this little park about 5 minutes from our house. A couple whose family has owned the site since the 1800s has collected a ton of memorabilia of our suburb. Around the items, they have planted lovely gardens and invited the public to go through the area either for free or for a small donation. I want to go back in the Fall when it's cooler and the mosquitoes aren't quite so blood thirsty! The colors are going to be incredible.

That's a caboose that they have next to an old train car. The caboose and car are right next to the still-active railroad tracks. Autumn and her friend Josh were thrilled when a train roared past while they were pretending to drive the caboose. Isn't the red beautiful? They also had old railroad signs, crossing, and lamps.

We were surprised to find a family gravesite right next to the train car and caboose. The carvings were pretty hard to read in person but you can see the dates here: 1789-1859!

I posted this one on the family blog...I really like it so I wanted to use it again!

We haven't just been going to parks. I need to take more photos of this, but I've been working on the playroom organization and decor. I don't really have a budget so I've been repurposing and painting a number of things we have around. My friend Matt, who has drawn Autumn before, had these pictures in his sketchbook and I asked him if he could scan them and send them to me. I decided to take a picture frame I already had, cover the mat with paper I printed, and put these drawings in it. How sweet is this?

You'll recognize the poses from Autumn's birthday! I believe this is one of the source photos.

I love it! Matt may have a side job of children's portraits if he keeps this up! I'm going to hang this on the wall where I have hung some old shelves I painted pink and yellow. I can't wait to finish it off so I can post it here!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

We're Official!

Oh my goodness, you guys!! We're official! You can click here to see our waiting families profile on the Bethany site!!

And now we wait. :) And pray.

You guys took care of the home study fee for us, thank you!! That freed up what we had saved for the adoption to go towards the $2500 networking fee. And once our copy of the home study arrives, I can start applying for grants to go towards the final fee at placement...which could be soon and could be a long time. But, so far, this waiting is better than waiting on paperwork!

I have been posting this at the bottom of most of our posts but we are nearing the end of the month-long supplementary Flip Flop 2 Adopt Fundraiser. If you wanted any of their adorable items and have 10% of the proceeds go towards our adoption fees, here are the details:
A percentage of sales will support our adoption!

1. Click here.
2. Shop.
3. In the shopping cart, choose the fundraising group Sh. Colley Adoption.
4. Checkout.
5. Enjoy your items!

Of course, my Etsy shop is always going and 100% of the profits go towards our adoption fees! I can do any of the items in the shop for you but I am also available to do custom items. I actually have a LOT of fun with that kind of thing!

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Love Letter to My Body

A year ago, I looked at you and swore to never be unhappy with you again.

Before, I looked in the mirror and I saw
a Face: unique, never beautiful
a Body: weak, too tiny for the warrior spirit within
a Child: for you were not the desired form of a woman

In Truth, you are
a Face: beautiful because of the love of Christ
a Body: torn, scarred by the ordeals of Life and perfect to house the warrior, although the war was not the one I trained you for
a Woman: for no child could endure the sorrows of losing her own child
a Soul: longing for what will be and reveling in the joys of the moment

Each and every master, regardless of the era or place, heard the call and attained harmony with heaven and earth. There are many paths leading to the top of Mount Fuji, but there is only one summit - love. ~Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido

{This post is my contribution to the SheLoves synchroblog. I would enjoy seeing your love letters.}

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Home Study? CHECK!

Well, if you can believe it...our home study was officially approved on July 12 and they are mailing our copy on Monday!! It's so crazy that it's a new kind of waiting now. But, I think I prefer this waiting to the paperwork waiting. :) I say that today, though. Ask me again when this has gone on for months!

I just sent the agency our online profile information which will go into their waiting families list. I wanted to keep the text as short as possible but still informative so Mike and I just took the Expectant Parent letter from our profile book, edited it, and added a bit about our family. We kind of figure if anyone happens to be tooling around and finds us they can always Google "Sharaze" and find out anything they want to know! Aside from that, walls of text tweak my ocd so unless the social worker recommends I add more, this will be it.

We also get to choose three photos and one can be a video. Almost everyone who saw our video loved it so I sent it on to be approved last week and, along with the email saying our home study was complete, the social worker said that the video was great! And she underlined great. Yay! Anyway, here are the photos we chose, the video in case anyone missed it, and our letter:

Dear Expectant Parent,
Thank you so much for taking the time to get to know us. Please know that all three of us have prayed for you as we all walk this road together.

God laid adoption on our hearts early in our marriage and has continued to lead us as we joined a church with a strong mission for fostering, adoption, and family rehabilitation. We have found ourselves beginning this adoption process sooner than expected. After our son Garrett was stillborn in June 2011, we were told we couldn't have any more biological children. Although we long for what might have been, we look eagerly forward to what will be and lean heavily on the knowledge that there is a bigger Plan.

Our hearts ache for your decision...having had to say goodbye to our son until we meet again in Heaven, we know this cannot be an easy decision for you. But we three are so grateful for open adoption because this will not be a forever goodbye and we look forward to sharing a new, beautiful life with you.

Mike, Sharaze, and Autumn

A Little about Our Family:
Mike and I met around Christmas 2000 at a local bookstore. Everyone was shocked that Mike talked to a girl because he was usually quite shy! I am glad he did because from the moment I met Mike, I was sure he was someone special and, sure enough, almost two years later we got married.

Mike and I have had a lot of adventures, although we are happy doing just about anything together. We've been to the Philippines, hiked in the Appalachians, skied in the Rockies, and there are still a lot of things we want to do. Our best adventure to date, however, was definitely having our daughter Autumn who was born in 2007. We named her after our favorite time of year, even though she was born in the spring!

Mike is funny and witty and although he is a little shy, people love to be around him. He likes books and trees and good food. Mike loves technology in general which is good because he is in charge of all the mobile devices at his work, among other things. At any given moment you can find him drowning in phones and computer parts or helping someone who is hopelessly confused.

I am, in many ways, Mike's opposite and I think we complement each other well. I like to socialize and cook. I mostly stay at home and keep everyone on schedule but I do some work outside the home, too. I teach martial arts to both adults and children and I do some freelance graphic design which gives me a chance to be creative but not out of the house. It's given me a chance to focus on our little Autumn who is a funny mix of her mama and papa. She likes her alone time but is a sweet soul who brings smiles wherever she goes. Autumn starts kindergarten in the fall and we are not quite ready to let her go off to school but she's going to do great.

Thank you again for taking the time to learn a little more about us!

A percentage of sales will support our adoption!

1. Click here.
2. Shop.
3. In the shopping cart, choose the fundraising group Sh. Colley Adoption.
4. Checkout.
5. Enjoy your items!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Thyroid Saga Continues

I just realized that I never did a real update on my thyroid tests. I went back to the endocrine clinic for a follow up today. After the ultrasound in the spring, it turned out that my thyroid is only swollen. There aren't any masses or actual nodes although it's pretty gross to think that my thyroid is so swollen they thought I had a multinodal goiter. All the thyroid level tests came out fine, too, which is why they told me to come back in three months.

Which brings us to today. I still have some of the symptoms of thyroid disease or *something.* Like fatigue, inability to lose this last chunk of weight...stuff like that. So they took another blood sample and he's going to run some chemistry tests, whatever that means, as well as check for vitamin d deficiency (I do take vitamin d supplements) and pre-diabetes because I have such an strong family history of diabetes. I'm supposed to hear from the nurse by the end of the week to schedule a barium swallow test which sounds SO DELIGHTFUL but it'll tell them how much my thyroid is pressing on my esophagus.

This particular doctor specializes in diabetes so he gave me some information on diet. He's pretty certain I have a high genetic probability of developing diabetes which doesn't shock me. Literally ALL of my dad's aunts and uncles (all 14, for real, you guys) had diabetes and my dad was pre-diabetic when he died. But I will be a little surprised if I do find out I'm at that stage because I'm doing all the things that diet list suggests, like cutting out most white bread and pasta. I do need to add another workout day--he said if I'm already very active it means I need to go above and beyond my activity levels and did sympathize with me that it's pretty annoying. But I already knew that and had already planned out a new workout schedule for when Autumn starts school.

We shall see. I should get the lab results soon. If those and the barium swallow are clean, I go back in six months for another check in to see how the swelling is doing. Fun times!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I don't like being out of sorts

Autumn drew family signs: Happy Autumn, Happy Mama, Grumpy Papa. Haha. I'm grumpy today, though.

I'm having a weird week. It's been good in many ways. Autumn and I made ice cream on Tuesday, blueberry buckle on Saturday. We went to a birthday party Wednesday, saw Mike's dad a lot, swam a lot. Donnie and Liz were in town briefly and we got to hang out with them. I didn't have to teach the kids so I had a little vacation.

But Autumn starts school in, like, three weeks. I'm kind of not ready. I'm not overly sentimental about most things so I'm a little surprised at how strongly tempted I am to home school. We live in an amazing school district so I know the right thing (for now) is to let Autumn go on and at least give it a try. Fortunately, if public school isn't a good fit for her, we have other options. Many people don't have such a luxury.

I think some of the school starting melancholy is that last year, when I would lament that I felt time passing with Autumn like the horsemen of the apocalypse thundering towards me (yes, I am that dramatic about kindergarten--weird, huh?), Mike would reassure me that it'd be a good time for Garrett and me to have the kind of fun that Autumn and I had together when she was a little over a year old. Obviously, that is not to be.

Compounding all that, my mom is angry with me. She hasn't spoken to me in over a week. It's pretty convoluted so I won't even bother explaining but it's a difficult enough situation that even if she calls one day, I just don't know what I'll say. To add to everything, someone on Facebook was using my story to give an example of why abortion saves lives. Which, no. That threw all of us for a loop, for real. I haven't the slightest idea how anyone could lump Garrett in with that because he passed away long before he was born--and he was born the usual way. No assistance other than pitocin. Which I kind of thought everyone knew. But I guess not.

It's just been a weird week, you know?

A percentage of sales will support our adoption!

1. Click here.
2. Shop.
3. In the shopping cart, choose the fundraising group Sh. Colley Adoption.
4. Checkout.
5. Enjoy your items!

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Backyard Bash!

Whew! I made some fun party printables for a friend whose son is a July 4th baby but I told myself I couldn't post anything about it until I had the Sunshine and Lemonade printables listed in my Etsy Shop! And I finally did it. If you click here, you'll find the invitation only. If you click here, you can see the package that includes all the files for the banner, note cards, etc. Not only that, but I made a blog page with tips and supplies for diy printables! Let me know if you have any other suggestions and I'll add them to the page!

So! ::rubs hands together:: I get to show you my first invitation that isn't blatantly female!

I had so much fun doing this! My friend Elyse, who has showed up a number of times on this blog, wanted to have a backyard party for her now-four-year-old Micah. I offered to do a few printables for her as a gift because I've never done a party theme with a boy in mind. We didn't have time to mail the invitation but I made one anyway so I'd have something to base the printables off of and so I could sell the set eventually in my shop.

The first incarnation of the invitation started with this font.

But then I thought more about Elyse's description of the event: "a backyard party theme I'm calling the Backyard Birthday Bash! I'm imagining it being fair-like with games and food like corn-dogs and cotton candy and other food for adults, too." And I remembered the font I used for Mike's Father's Day gift. Add to it the Fourth of July and these palettes from ColourLovers and everything just fell into place.
Color by COLOURlovers
Color by COLOURlovers

I especially enjoyed putting together the banner and I love how it turned out! I'm not sure you can tell but the pennants alternate yellow striped and blue striped. The letters are red and in the carnival style font from the invitation.

Elyse planned some super fun games so I got to make game name cards to hang outside. By FAR the most popular game was Throw Marshmallows at Goliath. Seriously, I might have to make a cardboard giant and let my aikido kids throw bean bags at him!

Here's Autumn taking her turn. Not a bad looking follow-through, huh? That's Micah eating a marshmallow in the middle. :)

The last couple of things I made are in the same vein as the rest. The thank you stickers for the bags are basically small versions of the game signs. I love the stars Elyse added to the bag!

Actually, I like how the framing turned out on the game cards and the thank you stickers so much that I'll show you the close up. I'm always looking for good frame brushes so I broke down and bought one I've been eyeballing. It was only like $3 and I plan to use the heck out of it!

Oh--last but not least, note cards!

I have a few more things to make in order to sell this as a package, although I'll probably go ahead and list the invitation. I want to do return address labels, tent cards, patterned paper, basically the stuff that's in the Lemonade Package. I love this theme!! I can see it being used for all kinds of events from national holidays to carnival themed showers! I might make some other colorways available...any suggestions?

I hope you guys like this new party theme! I also hope you liked the tiny glimpse into my thought process. If anyone else is interested in custom party printables, definitely shoot me an email!

A percentage of sales will support our adoption!

1. Click here.
2. Shop.
3. In the shopping cart, choose the fundraising group Sh. Colley Adoption.
4. Checkout.
5. Enjoy your items!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Chocolate and a Girls' Night: Bad Day Cure-All!

Mike and I had a really rough and emotional Friday morning for a number of reasons but it's amazing how God uses friends and family to really bring us up! Mike's dad was so sweet. I talked to him on the phone around 10am and asked him if he could be my parent-who-can-give-good-advice. And he was. Not only that, but our doorbell rang while Autumn and I were eating lunch and there was P'd. He had a balloon and a bar of chocolate for me! HOW SWEET IS THAT?

And Tamara and I had been planning this girls' night out for like a month. I seriously think it was, like, divine timing or something because I needed it! It was the first time we got her friends and my friends together all at once and we had a blast. It was everything I needed! The week before, I spent a little time decorating. I decided to give Cheri a call and ask if she had a feather boa wreath I could borrow. I had seen one at Liz's wedding shower and thought it'd be perfect for the girls' night. And of course she did! That's the one Autumn is wearing above. This one is the one I saw at Liz's friend's house.

I hung it over the hearth. If I had time and little more creativity, I might have done something better along with the wreath. As it was, I just grabbed a couple of finials from the bookshelf in Mike's office and a CS Lewis collection and put them on the mantle. The candlesticks that were up there didn't look right PLUS I had something in mind for them. ^.^ One thing I would like to do with the fireplace area is get a big ornate frame, paint it, and make a chalkboard out of it. It'd be great for parties. Can't you see a big "congratulations!" for showers or "let it snow!" at Christmas? Plus, this wreath would have looked fantastic in front of an ornate chalk board.

Lainey let me raid her entertaining supplies. I ended up grabbing a gorgeous brown runner and some brown and yellow jeweled candle holders. I decided to run with the feather theme and picked up a hot pink boa at Hobby Lobby. I took two pieces of styrofoam from my flower supplies on the attic, cut the boa in half, and pinned the boas around the styrofoam. Then I set each one on a tall candlestick!

You just don't even know how proud of myself I was! I love these poofs so much I might hang them in Autumn's room until the next girls' night or other party and I can break them out again! Oh, and I elevated the middle container by filling a margarita glass with beads and then flipping it over. I also put costume necklaces from Autumn's supply inside the cake stands where I put the stuff to go in the Nutella fondue I made.

Speaking of fondue, this was great because except for the boas, we were able to decorate and feed everyone with stuff we had on hand or borrowed. Not too bad! I wish I had taken picture of the food but here's what we had:

Baked Brie with Costco Mango Peach Salsa and tortilla chips
Costco Spinach Dip with pita chips
Quesadilla bites
Nutella Fondue with pretzels, strawberries, marshmallows, and candy canes.
White Sangria from Cook's Illustrated. I will have to post that recipe here sometime!

Autumn wanted to get in on the decorating. We put out a little table and before everyone got there, Autumn decided to put out some of her own beautiful things. She also left this little princess music thing that came with a book so that we could have music. Such a little party planner!

And I will leave you on an Autumn note. How hilarious is this gif? I made it out of a video of Autumn hula hooping before aikido at the new location!

A percentage of sales will support our adoption!

1. Click here.
2. Shop.
3. In the shopping cart, choose the fundraising group Sh. Colley Adoption.
4. Checkout.
5. Enjoy your items!