Monday, December 23, 2013

25 Days of Kindness: Week 3 and the Wrap Up


Wow, life is crazy! I had a positive flu test for the first time so I've been resting and drinking lots of liquids. It's never a good time to get the flu but Christmas prep time seems extra bad. To be honest, between Tamiflu and a sinus cocktail shot, I feel pretty darn good. Good enough that I'm having to make a concerted effort not to overdo but I am so not complaining. That one night of almost 104 degree temps was ENOUGH!

Anyway, we're wrapping up our 25 Days of Kindness. Of course, the week never turns out as expected so here's how it fell out this time:
12/15: Make cookies for papa's work.
12/16: Go to Dollar Tree/Walmart to get supplies for homeless care packages.
12/17: Make thank you cards for the recycle and waste management crews (we also gave them m&m filled candy canes and regular candy canes).
12/18: Assemble care packages for Urban Bicycle Food Ministry.
12/19: Make cookies for Aunt Penny (mama delivers care packages).
12/20:  Make more cookies for a couple of neighbors and deliver them. 

12/21: Make a letter for Johnny at moreloveletters.com.
12/22:  Finish Johnny's letter.
12/23: Help Papa take care of sick mama.


We have done some pretty awesome, thought provoking, and fun stuff this month. This has a been a great and, for the most part, minimally stressful advent celebration. I have to say, though, this brought the biggest smiles to all of our faces, probably because we mostly don't get to see the results of what we've been doing:


It was just so sweet of him to take the time to write Autumn a note when I know the waste management guys are so busy! This week was a bit of a mess because Autumn had another set of Nutcracker rehearsals and performances plus, on Saturday, I helped out taking tickets and had to be extra early. We didn't get to do the love letter for a boy named Johnny Saturday so we did it on Sunday. Yay for flexibility!

Tomorrow's Act of Kindness will be giving out candy canes when we run errands. And Christmas morning Jerry will leave Autumn a stuffed Elf on the Shelf so she can have a reminder of him throughout the year. His note is going to tell her to remember that kindness is one of the things God wants us to grow in our lives and to work with Mama and Papa to continue to do kind things throughout the year. 

As far as ongoing projects, I think we're going to keep up with the Memphis Interfaith Hospitality Network which is now Family Promise. I'd also like to do more care packages and maybe help prepare food for the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry. There are a few other things we didn't get a chance to do so I'm thinking we might do one assigned act of kindness every month. 

I asked Autumn what she thought about the acts of kindness. Autumn said sometimes it was easy and sometimes it was hard and she wants to do it again next year. Her favorite thing was making cookies and drawing things. The hardest was giving 5 compliments because it was hard to know what a compliment was and when to say it. I also asked her what she thought about Jerry bringing assignments, did she like the assignments or would she rather Jerry just be silly. She said, "Ummm...maybe both!"

I'm not sure Autumn gets it but I do hope that this is part of what helps us all continue to develop compassion and those fruits of the spirits that Christmas is really all about.

This will probably be our last post for a bit as we take a break and spend some time together. If there's any adoption news, though, I will absolutely update everyone! The baby hasn't been born yet so we're still waiting with, as always, cautious optimism. May your holiday be one of peace, joy, and hope. 



25 Days of Kindness 2013 Posts:
Introducing 25 Days of Kindness: Ideas Needed!
Free advent printable and more details
Acts of Kindness Cards and Links
25 Days of Kindness: The First 7 Days
25 Days of Kindness: Week Two - Recap of Week 1 and Week 2 Plans
25 Days of Kindness: Week 2 Recap, Week 3 Plans
25 Days of Kindness: Week 3 and the Wrap Up

Downloads:
Advent Calendar
Act of Kindness Card

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Adoption Update: Meeting 2

Contemplating.
First, can I just tell you that Autumn is really perceptive? People keep asking us if we have told Autumn about the potential adoption and want to know why we aren't keeping this a secret. For one, I'm terrible at keeping secrets. Just terrible. And, she kind of knows when things are up. She's Empathy Child. From what we can tell, we've handled the flow of information well. Enough to keep her in the loop but not so much that she's too excited or anxious.

We didn't find out until late last night that we were going to go ahead and meet up with J. We had tentatively planned to get together if the baby hadn't been born. So we didn't really say anything to Autumn about it but not because we were keeping a secret. Now, Mike usually leaves for work around the time Autumn wakes up so he was home since it wouldn't be worth driving to work and then driving to the meeting. It's not totally unusual for that to happen but I guess he hasn't hung out in the morning in a while because as I was loading Autumn up to go to school, she looks up and says, "Are you meeting with Miss J this morning?"

I laughed and asked her how she knew and she just shrugged and said, "Papa's home." So, there you go. That's why we tell her what's going on! I have another funny Autumn story. A few weeks ago, I was saying that I wanted to know if our friend Elyse was having a boy or a girl. Autumn matter of factly stated that Mrs. Elyse is having a boy. She was so certain that I asked how she knew. Did Elyse tell us and I missed it? Again, Autumn just shrugged and said, "It's going to be a boy." And she said it in a "duh" tone of voice.

Three weeks later, Elyse texts me to tell me that it's time to take Autumn to choose lottery numbers. Autumn was right!!

So, yeah. I have an odd kid. I remember when she was little, she'd stare at nothing and really freak out my mom. I told my mom I wasn't worried until she and the cat were looking at the same patch of nothing. Between her weird perceptiveness, guessing the baby gender right, and her dream that Garrett told her that her tooth would be loose Friday (it was Saturday--off by a day), maybe my mom was on to something...

See more on Know Your Meme.


Well. That post went nowhere I expected. I must be more tired than I thought...moving on.

The meeting went well! We ended up spending the first part of it in our car because the birth mother counselor was late. Funny stuff. We talked for about 30 minutes about expectations, potential names, how to introduce J's daughter to the new baby someday, what kind of food J likes. She wants to put the name we choose on the birth certificate so we need to make a decision soonish, I guess. How weird would it be to re-use Nolan Grant and calling him Grant?

We started an adoption process earlier this year and intended to name the baby Grant. The adoption fell through the day before the placement ceremony. That baby is still in interim care and, some time back, we started calling him Jaden, the name his interim care family gave him. We also changed all the blog tags related to that process to Jaden, partly because there was always a chance we'd use the name again. Most everyone likes the name. And I do, too! But it feels a little odd. We're still thinking about it. I can't think of a name I like better. J is pretty much in labor now (she was 3 cm last Wednesday and has been having contractions regularly) so we should decide soon.

A bit of good news, it sounds like the birth father is moving towards signing the papers. That's one of our biggest prayers. Actually, one of the fitness directors has a couple of phrases that she says have been on her mind and both apply here. One, cautious optimism. The other? Peaceful resolution. And, yup, that's what we want here. Peaceful resolution.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

25 Days of Kindness: Week 2 Recap, Week 3 Preview


Week two of 25 Days of Kindness went pretty well! I made some changes to the list since, of course, life happened. I switched the Sunday School teacher thing *again* because they were having some kind of reception between services that I found out about on Friday. We ended up having Autumn give five compliments on Saturday and that was absolutely fascinating. Autumn is a polite, sweet, soft hearted kid. I know I'm her mom, but seriously, she is. But even after I explained a compliment to her (one of those things she knows but doesn't know, if that makes sense), she had a little bit of a tough time finding the right time and place for it!

She only gave out 3 or 4 compliments. Autumn thought she gave out more but when she and Mike got back from the gym, I asked if she complimented anyone and she said, "I said thank you to someone." Ha! One of her real compliments was to me, saying that I did a great job when I fixed the frozen computer. She told Mike something I can't remember. And she told Elyse that she makes delicious cookies. There might have been one more in there. Jerry left a note the next day saying we'd do it again before Christmas now that she had practice. I think I might have all of us do that one and report on it later.

Here's how the week panned out:
12/8: Shop for/make teacher gift (and Mama delivers uniforms).
12/9: Gather items for adult daycare drive.
12/10: Deliver daycare items to school.
12/11: Gather/shop for art supplies for Grown Up Christmas List.
12/12: Make cards for Grown Up Christmas List
12/13:  Put thank you card and treats in mailbox for postal worker.
12/14: Give 5 compliments.

I've had fun with Jerry, too. We haven't gone crazy or anything but done some cute, little things. Autumn has loved all of it. I haven't taken pictures every night but here are a few. Some of the other places Jerry has been: on the Christmas tree star; in a red mercury glass pail covered in garland; on an ornament hanging on the light fixture over the table.
Clockwise: In the warm fuzzy chore jar, trying on jewelry, leading a parade, in the wreath, helping the other dolls get to some candy!

This week, our big project will be making care packages for the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry. Autumn and I are going to hit up Dollar Tree, Walmart, and the Salvation Army for portable food, hand sanitizers, other travel size hygiene products, lotion, first aid stuff like bandaids, travel sized wipes, socks, hats, and gloves--not necessarily all of that but it's what I have in mind. I already have lip balm, tissues, and plastic ponchos as well as some snacks from Mike's epic Costco runs. If you'd like to donate items or money towards the purchase of some of these items, let me know!

This is the, as always tentative, plan for week three:
12/15: Make cookies for papa's work.
12/16: Go to Dollar Tree to get supplies for homeless care packages.
12/17: Send a card to a special friend.
12/18: Assemble care packages.
12/18: Compliments Day 2 (mama delivers care packages).
12/20:  Buy and deliver cookies to the librarians.
12/21: Notes/treats for Sunday School teachers.


25 Days of Kindness 2013 Posts:
Introducing 25 Days of Kindness: Ideas Needed!
Free advent printable and more details
Acts of Kindness Cards and Links
25 Days of Kindness: The First 7 Days
25 Days of Kindness: Week Two - Recap of Week 1 and Week 2 Plans
25 Days of Kindness: Week 2 Recap, Week 3 Plans
25 Days of Kindness: Week 3 and the Wrap Up

Downloads:
Advent Calendar
Act of Kindness Card

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Our Twilight Star picture and some links


Back in September, CarlyMarie of Project Heal opened up her Seashore of Remembrance Twilight Star Names.
On very rare occasions when there is no wind at low tide and a clear sky at Christian's Beach there are the most beautiful colours at Twilight when the first sparkle in the sky appears. Twilight Star Names are only available a few days a year for ordering as I need the conditions at the beach to be completely perfect. These nights only occur a handful of times a year so please do not purchase this type of image if you need it in a hurry as the wait can be lengthy (up to 4 months). 

I don't think I've ordered any particular memorial art (I've made my own and I have a few things from friends) but something about this piece tugged at me and I was able to get on the wait list. 

Now that it's here, I don't know what to say except that it's lovely.

Since I don't have anything to say, I thought I'd share a few articles from Still Standing Magazine I've come across:
I resonated with a lot of what Carly says here. She especially articulates some of the difficulties of the changes in the grieving process. I'll probably write my own version sometime soon because I am still in the life after loss staging but I feel it changing to simply "life." This is becoming my new normal. And it breaks my heart a little at the same time I have hope for the future.

This article is a great start for friends and family who are interested in developing what Stephan calls mindfulness. Seriously. This is a pretty amazing list even for non-holidays.

This one is by a father also on the cusp of transitioning to a new phase of grief. Raw. That's really the best word I can think of.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

25 Days of Kindness: Week Two Preview



I think I started all this for Autumn and ended up needing it for myself. Other than a moment where I was watching a random show on Netflix and burst into tears (Leverage, of all shows!!), it hasn't been a bad holiday season. I mean, I really miss Garrett. A lot. All the time. But...maybe by focusing on other people, some of the edge is taken off? I don't know. But, whatever it is, I am thankful.

Kiri Kiwi has had a cold according to Autumn.
The first week went well. It wasn't stressful although we did have to make some changes because of the Ice Storm That Wasn't. They canceled schools and everyone closed early before a drop of sleet fell. I think a lot of places were hit hard but in the south part of the county there was a whole lot of nothing. Just in case the second round coming through tonight caused actual problems, I decided to postpone the Sunday School teacher treats and uniform delivery until next week and substitute other activities.

Here's what we completed:
12/1: Finish Angel Tree shopping, wrap gifts, and deliver them to Mrs. Dede who will take them to the drop off point.
12/2: Make/mail a card for friend's grandfather in rehab.
12/3: Give a thank you card to swim coaches.
12/4: Visit thrift stores and regular stores to purchase (and then wash) uniforms to donate to Memphis Interfaith Hospitality Network.
12/5: At the school book fair, buy a book to give to a friend.
12/6: Be a helper at home during snow day.
12/7: Make a card to send to Mrs. Mary.

Using Jerry for the kindness assignments has been great and Autumn seems to be enjoying herself. My favorite moment was when Autumn imitated her swim coach, showing me what the coach did when Autumn gave her the thank you note. Apparently her coach squeed and put her hands to her cheeks like an anime character. And, one cool thing, when I went to the Salvation Army in Bartlett--for anyone local, it's a great thrift store-- it happened to be half price clothes day! I managed to snag about 12 uniforms that are in great shape! 

Autumn was Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons for Book Character Day in honor of the book fair!

Here's what's coming:
12/8: Shop for/make teacher gift (and Mama delivers uniforms).
12/9: Gather items for adult daycare drive.
12/10: Deliver daycare items to school.
12/11: Gather/shop for art supplies for Grown Up Christmas List.
12/12: Make cards for Grown Up Christmas List
12/13:  Put thank you card and treats in mailbox for postal worker.
12/14: Make card/treat for Sunday School teacher.

I think there are still some grownups on the Christmas List if that is something you might be interested in! We claimed two. One lady needs a coat and we got one at Costco on Wednesday when we were doing our uniform shopping and other errands. Another needs art supplies. I bought a bunch on clearance at Target right after school started so I have most of that. Same with the adult daycare drive items. Well. Sort of. You might not know this, but Mike is a HUGE Costco fan. He tends to buy lots of stuff when it's on sale and has a coupon so we have a lot of the items that Autumn's school is collecting for the adult daycare down the street!

So far, so good! Things will get interesting as Autumn's Nutcracker practices and performances get in gear and my aikido classes have their Japanese Christmas Celebrations (the preschool showcase is another story--what a disaster, hahaha) but I have saved some of the easier activities for those days. If your family is volunteering anywhere, working with any groups, or working on a project of you own, I'd love to hear about it!! I'm still open to new ideas, too!

25 Days of Kindness 2013 Posts:
Introducing 25 Days of Kindness: Ideas Needed!
Free advent printable and more details
Acts of Kindness Cards and Links
25 Days of Kindness: The First 7 Days
25 Days of Kindness: Week Two - Recap of Week 1 and Week 2 Plans
25 Days of Kindness: Week 2 Recap, Week 3 Plans
25 Days of Kindness: Week 3 and the Wrap Up

Downloads:
Advent Calendar
Act of Kindness Card

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Adoption Update: Key chains and heartstrings

Years and years ago, Penny bought two Hello Kitty key chains. One she kept. One she gave to me. After some time, mine was ridiculously filthy and I decided to, as part of Penny's Christmas gift, get replacement key chains. I chose this one:

Today we met with J, the birth mother I mentioned last week. The meeting was great. We liked J and she seemed to like us. We talked a lot about our pasts, our lives now, and what we want to do in the future. We also talked about how nervous we all were to meet each other.

J has amazing determination and drive. She works full time, has an 18 month old, and is in school. The birth mother counselor asked her what caught her eye in our profile book and she said that it was how happy we looked. And, she also liked the pages about Mike's family and the photo of ALL THE COLLEYS.
Funny enough, this is the next set of pages I've been meaning to add to the profile book compilation.

Back to the key chain, as we were preparing to leave, J dropped her keys and Mike picked them up for her. He stopped and said, "Oh, wow," or something to that effect and asked me to get my keys out. J and I have the same key chain!! Not that it is some kind of strange custom made thing but I've never seen anyone else with the key chain and it was a fun thing and, perhaps, a good omen, although I'm not sure I really believe in those. She likes Hello Kitty. If the baby is not born before Christmas, we will probably meet with J again and I know exactly the kind of little gift I will bring for J and her daughter!

It's weird because there is simply a ton of time here. J's due date is December 27. Depending on when the baby is born, it could be 2 weeks or more before we would bring him home because of court dates and holiday closings and slowness. And, although it seems unlikely, J could always change her mind. The last uncertainty is the birth father. He is not interested in parenting the baby but we are taking steps to make that a formal declaration.
Page two of the Colley spread.

Some have asked and Autumn does know that adoption things are happening. She's ridiculously perceptive and we decided it would be better to give her a little information than to let her wonder and worry about what's going on--not to mention that P'd had to take her to school today so we could be on time for the meeting. The only time anyone else has taken her to school (that I can think of) was when I went to the hospital and I didn't want her to experience any flashbacks or fear. She's asked questions and doesn't seem to be dwelling or impatient or anything negative. Plus she'd think it was really weird if we were suddenly buying baby things and getting the nursery decluttered (it's where old projects and things I'm too lazy to take to the attic go to languish).

At this point we are, as Mike's dad put it, cautiously optimistic. We have a nursery full of boy clothes and diapers and everything we need so there's no mad dash to get anything done other than to start looking into a car seat and a stroller. We're checking our finances and finance options for the placement fee. I do have a fundraiser I'm considering but, frankly, I'm not going to do it until he comes home and the fundraiser will be for the lawyer fees. Like I said in the last post, it's not that we're gun shy or scared because of last time, it's just that there is a lot of time here and it seems prudent to proceed cautiously.

Anyway, here's our list of specific prayers for anyone who would like to pray alongside us:

1. That J and baby stay healthy and that the delivery goes smoothly for her.
2. For J's heart and mind as she goes through this process.
3. That the birth father would do this the easy way and sign the papers.
4. For the hearts of our family as we prepare for the baby who will hopefully be our son.

Thank you for walking this journey with us! We'll keep everyone updated. If you have any questions, you can always call, email, or comment and we'd be happy to answer.