Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thrift Thursday.....Say CHEESE!

I'm sure my mom's loyal followers were disappointed to see a Thursday go by without a Thrift Thursday post, and that is entirely my fault as we were travelling. Sad thing is, I received one of the best posts from my mom with her weekly installment. So, two weeks later here it is. This gives smile for the camera a whole different meaning.
Well here we are, it's Thursday and I'm sure you're wondering what this week in thrift has to offer.  Not to worry, I won't disappoint,  or shall I say those that donate won't disappoint!  I have found that my heady interest in "how the brain works" has been peaked since navigating the isles of random stuff that people all over the globe have put good money to!!!!  This is what I often refer to as "good money gone bad"!  Is there any chance that 90% of what's in these stores were once actually purchased as prank gifts or what some might call white elephant gifts?  If that were the case, then we have what I would consider a global crisis.  One aspect of the crisis, is for us to consider the individuals/companies who are producing these "things", the other side is to consider those who bought them!  What we do know is that only a fraction of people take the time to donate their "goods", the rest bag them and put them on the curb.  So ... Al Gore, stop spending so much time worrying about eliminating plastic water bottles ...take a closer look at what that trash really is at the landfills!  You might just spot some of your own Al Gore bobble heads from your movie promo in there!  Moving on, so for the 10% of items that are worthy , I refuse to bore you with those.  Instead, the item I am featuring this week clearly proves that some people clearly don't understand why a donated item is donated.  Just to be clear ... a donated item is to be passed on so that someone can reuse, repurpose, regift or for that matter reshove into their closet for redonating in the future.   Got it?????  There are some things that obviously should not be donated ... NO ONE would want to buy it!!!!  I am stunned for two reasons on this one.  I won't even bother with the first reason, but the second reason is what was the crew in the store thinking when they unboxed this and priced it????????   Just in case you're not sure what your looking at .... it's someones dental impressions ... I was left Speechless!!!!   

Monday, October 28, 2013

Ethiopia Adoption: Paperwork Updates

Happy October! Pumpkin time :) Of course we didn't pick the traditional orange pumpkins but we found this little creature and we painted it:

So, the paperwork is pretty intense but surprisingly not as bad as I imagined at this point. I'm sure it will get worse ;) We've sent back about 80% of the paperwork they need for our home-study. Then there are various things we have to wait for like background checks, driving records, child abuse registries, etc. But we were fingerprinted and sent all of the requests in. So that is probably where we will see a big wait as we have to wait for records to be checked and then sent back. Going through this I have so much empathy for military families who decide to adopt as you need all sorts of background info etc. from every state you've lived in!

We also started our first online class that we need to complete, it's called "Because They Waited" and it is through Heart of the Matters Seminars. We just finished it this weekend after watching a module every few nights around midnight when we finally had a minute to slow down. They've talked about the consequences on brain development for children that spend time in less-than-optimal care and what can be done for these kiddos when they come home. There are so many really simple things you'd normally never pay attention to, or that traditional parenting books would tell you never to do, that you have to consider and do when you have an adoptive child. I can't decide if it's harder as first-time parents or an added benefit because we're starting with a clean slate and don't really have our previous experiences we'll have to either change or adapt. Probably both.

One of the saddest things they were talking about is how some children came come home and can be extremely quiet, "out-of-it," or seemingly complacent.  One woman gave an example of how everyone told her how great her baby was because she was so quiet and didn't make a peep, however now when she looks back she realizes that that was how her baby was panicking by disassociating and just being "quiet." To think of a little teeny one internalizing all of their fear and knowing that crying is useless since they aren't used to having their needs met is really heartbreaking! At our orientation (more about this later) we were told a story about walking into an orphanage that was completely quiet and what a terrible experience this was. If you think about how unnatural that would be, and what that really means, it makes my stomach hurt. :( 

We're about to start another seminar which is actually free through the month of November for anyone to take, and if any family members or friends want to take it, you should think about it. They are offering it for free for November which is National Orphan Awareness Month. You can find it here. After our online seminars are finished, we  have to read a book and answer a few questions about it: The Connected Child. 

Last but not least, we talked earlier about how this adoption process is really a chance for us to share our faith in God and His hand in this process and that has been really awesome these past few weeks. Whether it be friends, family, colleagues, etsy-friends (yes they get their own category) or whatever, we've had some really great conversations with people when they ask us why we're adopting. We've had people say, "you know I didn't have the courage to do it, but I'm really going to pray about it now," or "even though we don't know eachother outside of a professional environment, could you email me and let me know your story and whatever you want to share - I really want to know more," or "I totally believe in God and his plan for you and I'm so glad I can talk with you about this now, never realized I could." Honestly, probably 2 out of 3 people have said something of the sort to us and that has been really awesome to experience.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thrifty Thursday.....Say Whaaaaat!!!!!!!! "Post Traumatic Concrete Drop Syndrome"

If you didn't catch the first installment last Thursday, welcome to our latest installment. Weird thrift store finds by mom super-thrifty mom: Thrifty Thursday........Say Whaaaaaaaaat!!!
Well itsThursday and another fabulous thrift store find to share.  This one not only caught me by surprise but had me backup in the isle to look a second time just in case I didn't get what it was the first time around.  I think this is a great physical example of how the thrift store process works, so bare with me as I fill you in.  

Lets get a quick once over of what most likely goes down behind the scenes.  First, someone carefully wraps and boxes their donation in hopes that someone else will appreciate their once loved treasure.  Second, it gets dropped off at their donation center of choice and placed in the hands of the crew that works there.  Here's where the rubber meets the road ... This is where I begin to unravel the mystery of what happens in the back room of my local thrift shops and most likely yours too.  As I wander the isles of the thrift listening to music piped into the store and humming to some of my old time favorites, behind the scenes the crew is opening those carefully packaged boxes filled with awesome treasures!!!!  Now it's time for these once loved treasures to be put to the 3 foot drop on the concrete floor test.  There's nothing quite like the sound of glass, china, pottery, etc. etc. hitting concrete!  As you can imagine or certainly as I do, how many amazing things never actually make it to the store shelves and for that matter I am in awe of the things that do!  

Back to the process ... Apparently, once it is determined that it is shelf worthy, an incredibly annoying super sticky sticker (which often takes the finish off of wood, metal, art and so on) is placed randomly on the item with a price that is determined by what most likely is osmosis.  

So here we are, this weeks find.  This bunny surely was once a happy and possibly funny bunny, with ears I might add, in someone's home!  However, now it appears to be suffering from what most likely is PTCDS (post traumatic concrete drop syndrome).  No, I didn't buy it and yes it remains on the shelf for someone to .... purchase it?????????  I remain confused on where things go from here!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Ethiopia Adoption: The Paper Chase Begins!

Wow! We met our family coordinator who will be our contact helping us through the adoption process, she seems great and emailed us a very long email of things we need to do now.

They say this paper chasing process takes anywhere from 4-6 months to complete, now I can see why! The paperwork that we compile over the next few months is called the "dossier" and includes all kinds of vital records, financial information, personal information and our homestudy. As soon as the paperwork is complete and approved we then begin our wait. It's estimated that it will take between 30-36 months to receive a referral for a child, and that is AFTER we submit the dossier to the Ethiopian government. So we could be at the 4 year mark! But that's ok :) I love the intro page and what it says: Welcome to the "Paper Pregnancy!"

For now we are both ordering our passports and new copies of our birth certificates and beginning to read over all of the forms. We also registered for our first online class that we're required to take.

We knew there would be a lot of paperwork, but with everything being online these days, you really just don't understand how much until you print it out. This gave us such awareness at how quickly things can be done now with the internet. Imagining a million face-to-face visits and picking up documents and bringing them back, etc. sounds crazy!

Our binder is already full with over 200 pages of documents to sign and go over...also yes, that is a bear-skin rug coaster for my pitcher of orange juice :)

In other news... we were talking about how we really didn't know anyone who has adopted a child and specifically from Ethiopia. Later that day a friend messaged me introducing us to a close friend of hers that adopted a child from Ethiopia and is in the process again now, so that was wonderful timing on God's part! We have to attend an orientation at our agency and we'll hopefully meet other families in our area adopting at that time also.

We also received such kind words and encouragement from close friends (and also those who we don't stay in touch with that often) at just the right moments when we needed it. Including a note that said this:

I just finished reading 1 Peter and chapter 5 verse 2a says, "Be shepherds of God's flock that is under
your care, watching over them not because you must, but because you are willing."


Next step: awesome self-pics when we turn in each and every single piece of paperwork. One "selfie" per form, get ready friends!! On a more serious note, we'll be posting what we are required to read and watch in case any family or friends want to read or watch along with us and know what we are learning and discussing. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thrifty Thursday ... Say Whaaaaaat!

Dear Readers - 

A new guest installment has been created, "Thrifty Thursday...Say Whaaaaaat!" penned by my one and only mom. For those of you that know my mom personally and are entertained by her Facebook updates from the thrift store, I know you'll be excited to read these. Be patient as I'm sure you'll recognize the first few. And without further ado: 

I have been asked by my daughter the artist and blogster to share with you some of my amazing thrift store finds.  I am relatively new to the whole "thrifting" world and I still have a lot to learn.  I have found that I am quite entertained by the idea of scavenging for treasures and often coming upon "things" that are truly one of a kind!  In fact, I believe my family and friends are living through my thrifting experiences and find themselves excitedly waiting for the next great find.  It seems whenever Jackie and I chat, she's quick to ask; "Did you find anything good at the thrift store today Mom?"  So in response to the great demand, I am accepting her invitation to post on her blog.  Don't worry, I won't bore you with the awesome beautiful treasures I find.  Nope, instead I will share the incredible, strange and often bizarre goodies I stumble upon as I'm digging for the good stuff.  It will be a weekly segment under the title "Thrifty Thursday ... Say Whaaaaaat!

Todays entry is a painting that left me speechless and quite frankly curious of the artist who painted it.  WHO IS THIS CHILD and what's up with the hair???  Do they really expect someone to buy this and if so, who?

Halloween and Fall Decor: Glitter & Gold

I don't really like Halloween or the colors orange and black, but I do love fall! I'm never inspired to decorate for fall but I think this year I might try to do a few things here or there.

I found this pin on pinterest and checked out her blog, I love her idea of decorating with gold, click the picture to go to her blog. I love the gold lanterns in the bottom right with small pumpkins.
Also, I'm really liking white pumpkins, who knew they existed:
piles of orange and white pumpkins
I think I want to try something I saw on Pinterest with gold glitter mason jars, but on white pumpkins, these are from Etsy - click to go to the shop: 
                                          3 Shining gold glitter mason jars vase centerpiece by JaxandJos
Now, I remember how the glitter from my 10th grade homecoming dress stayed in my car for approximately 8 years so I'm not 100% sure if I'm going to attempt this, but I think it could be really pretty so I might try! I just need to find where I can get one of these white pumpkins, or three. 
Of course, I'm acting like this is a novel idea - but then I remembered I already liked gold glitter last year when I spray painted the sticks and pinecones. By the way, I still love these and I actually have all of the gold glitter sticks in a large vase on our table right now. 
I'll post an update when it's done, I'm sure it will be completely different from my original ideas - but that's ok!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Craft Fair Nightmares, 30 Days & Counting

I think I have more nightmares about my first craft fair than anything else going on right now.

What if there are craft-fair bullies who tell me my stuff looks like a 5 year old made it?

What if people come to look at my table and then point and laugh at me?

What if I don't sell a single thing and instead just buy a bunch of things from other people and come back in debt?


This is my biggest question right now, which my craft-mentor mother and I disagree about: If you're walking around a craft show, do you want the different artists and vendors to engage you in small talk as you approach and browse, or just let you browse peacefully without any pressure. (You can tell my stance from the way I worded this.)

This coming from the girl who really hated trick or treating because I didn't want to ask for Candy and also the girl who would have an anxiety attack when the school fundraisers went around and I'd just hope that my mom would buy the minimum number of orders herself and it would all be over. ;)

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sick Day: Cook Out, Sasquatch, JFK & Ramen.

Because you didn't ask, here is a fieldtrip into my brian on a sick day, when I have lots of time to think:

Cook Out. It's a fast-food chain. It's awesome. But seriously. $4.69 for a jumbo sized sweet tea, a grilled chicken sandwhich BBQ style, a side of hushpuppies, and another side of a chicken wrap. Yes, a chicken wrap. Also yes, a chicken wrap could be an entire separate meal but they have ridiculous choices for sides like: a quesadilla, a chicken wrap, a corn dog, a hot dog. Also they have that really good crushed ice that tastes like a slushie. And John 3:16 is on all of their styrofoam cups. Check it out here: My venti soy vanilla latte is $4.69. Sheesh. What a deal.

Believe. Bigfoot Does Exist Large Giclee PrintFinding Bigfoot really bothers me. I really want to know if Sasquatch is real but they literally never find anything convincing. Why don't they just use all of the money they get from the show to put tracking cameras in every single forest instead of relying on their little cameras. Am I right? Seriously. I just want to know already. This thought made me search Etsy for Sasquatch related items, of course. I came across the neatest shop: ShopAmySullivan where you can find the print to the right. LOVE it.

Moving on, next thought - What's going to be the next popular color for weddings and baby showers? Blush and ivory or blush and grey are popular and my yellow and grey items are really popular right now, but I want to start making things for the next popular color idea what it will be.

My 11 year old sister-in-law showed me this music video and I'm so mad at her for doing so. I mean seriously? What on earth? In case you're wondering, I can make all of the sounds they make in this video.

I met a lady who works at the post-office who said she met JFK when he came to drop off mail when she worked in NYC. He was wearing a mask because he was riding his bike in between all of the taxis. She told him she couldn't process what he requested without ID and without him taking his mask off. Then she found out it was JFK. She told me this because my name is Jacqueline and her daughter's name is Jacqueline and she named her after Jackie O. Anyway, I'm just randomly thinking about that.

I really like Ramen noodles and I wanted some right now, but when you leave them alone for like 30 minutes to an hour they turn into this weird jello. Whenever I see that I hate the fact that I love them.

I think Adam is going to win The Voice this year. Well, maybe Cee-lo. Who knows.

You're welcome.

DIY Painted Lamp with Hot Glue

It has taken me a month or so to post this, but this is one of my favorite recent DIY projects. All you need is an old lamp, a paint sample and a hot glue gun. Admittedly, I was only about 10% sure this project would be successful, which made it even better when it was! 

I picked up a paint sample at Lowe's and it is more than enough paint to cover the lamp. 

I painted the lamp, two coats of this color.

Then, the tricky part, I used my hot glue gun to draw a design all over the lamp. I started pretty complicated here and it takes some practice. Something abstract without straight lines is best as it's practically impossible to get your glue gun to draw straight lines. This has lots of swirls and flowers.

Once you're done covering it with your hot glue, take time with tweezers to remove all of the small strings of glue that probably landed everywhere while you were designing the pattern. If you don't remove them, they get all tangled in your paintbrush and it looks like a mess. So, it's worth it take the time to pick all of them off and then re-paint over the hot glue. I used two coats here. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ethiopia Adoption: Telling Family & Friends

We've received such positive support in expected and unexpected ways from family and friends, and are feeling really confident in our decision to make this journey public. In all honesty though, and I wonder if this is the same for other adoptive parents, we've really received confirmation and strength in some of the negative responses we've received.

We knew we would receive negative reactions for a variety of reasons, having read a lot about others' experiences, and as people who always like to please others it's difficult for us not to quickly fight back with the intention of "winning people over." What negative reactions have helped us see is first, where our hearts truly lie. Where previously we may have sought to win the hearts of our friends and family, this isn't our priority. We won't feel fulfilled personally or spiritually, to know that we have logicially and philosophically settled all differences in regards to views on adoption. It's not what we set out to do, we aren't policy makers or negotiators here. We truly feel called by God to adopt our first child and we are 100% stepping out in our faith to do so. Attempting to rationalize and reason with others would be fruitless, even if we think we could "convince" or "win them over." When we stepped out in faith to do this, this meant (and still means) that we don't have all of the answers and we don't know the ultimate plan. For us to conquer every fear regarding finances and logistics, or draft a pros-and-cons list to provide confirmation, counters our original purpose. We would essentially be telling our friends, "we trust in the Lord to open and close doors and to guide us through this process, however we have back up plans in case He falls through." 

I can only hope that other adoptive families that read this, or really or anyone stepping out in faith in any aspect of their life, have the courage and strength to stand firm in their faith and not feel required to justify or calm others worries that they really aren't able to do. You won't look  "stupid" or "immature" if your answer to others' concerns is "we're stepping out in faith and trusting in the Lord to provide during this process." In fact, quite the contrary. 

We're supposed to be assigned our family coordinator this week which is exciting! 

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding" Proverbs 3:5
"Therefore, let us no longer criticize one another. Instead decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother's way." Romans 14:13

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ethiopia Adoption: Paper Flower Africa?!

September 8, 2013 was our one year wedding anniversary! Time has gone by so incredibly fast and when we stop and think about where we are now and what we're up to its amazing at how perfect God's plans are.

This blog, for instance, has been a random assortment of our activities -seeming to change focus every few months from wedding planning, to Sunday school crafts, to paper flowers and the start of my Etsy shop, and also our travel adventures. This time it's going to take a different turn and that's to tell the story of our journey to adopt from Africa.


Yup. How cool, right?! We think so. I know right, everyone is bummed to see the posts on paper flowers go, worry not my friends - they will continue to exist and with a vengence as we hope my Etsy store will be a great fundraising source for our mission.

Let's rewind back to our first wedding anniversary. I think the Lord has a funny thing with timing as I honestly think at the exact hour and minute of our anniversary I was utterly overwhelmed with the feeling that I wanted a baby. For those of you that know me, you know I love babies and children, but this time was different. This time it hurt. I can't exactly put into words how it "hurt" but it was so overwhelming that it made me step back and really take some time in prayer to figure out why I was so overcome with this, and in such an unfamiliar way. I started saying things to Andrew, when we were off galavanting in Colonial Williamsburg looking at sheep and horses, etc. you know, all the usual things, about how this would be such a fun place to raise a kid. He agreed, but noted that the timing really wasn't that optimal as he was only a few weeks into Law School - ok, yes, obviously not that optimal. So I tried to squish those feelings away by looking at all of my friends' kids on Facebook, kidding - no I'm not kidding, especially our two year old neice taking Ballerina lessons - I mean COME ON! However, again, for those of you that know me you'll know it's really hard for me to let something go and not get obsessed! I did an OK job, but even when I would bring up the idea of having a kid to Andrew something about it wouldn't feel quite right inside and he would point out, again, that he just spent the last 14 straight hours reading about torts, (whatever they are, some fancy dessert or something.) And I would always agree that the timing wasn't optimal - but I'd be so confused about why my heart really just said "do it" but my mind really said no to having a biological child.

A week later I talked to him again and asked why he thought this was so overwhelming for me, I'd get really emotional about it without warning. Again - for those of you that know me, I didn't even cry on my wedding day, no tears here. But all of the sudden, WHAM. All the time. I'd pray about "letting things go" and being patient. One morning, I honestly can't remember what morning or what caused it, but I woke up and I was 100% positive that I wanted to adopt a baby from Africa. And, I didn't feel that just I was called to do this, I felt called that Andrew and I as a team were specifically designed to do this. We've spent a lot of time loving on others' little ones through Sunday School and coaching and we've watched eachother and really gotten to know eachother in our first year of marriage through teaching and coaching the little ones.

I thought for sure over the next few weeks that I would start to question this decision, however I became more convicted as everything around us seemed to fall into place. To watch Andrew pray about this and consider this during the most stressful time in his life was awesome. He would take whatever few minutes of the day he had that wasn't consumed with highlighting to think and to pray. I didn't expect this to happen quickly. Trust me, I wanted this to happen quickly, but I did NOT expect this to happen quickly. I thought we honestly wouldn't submit any pre-application or info packet materials until after finals first semester, if we ever did. Well on 9/29/2013 we were in Target and I was doing my usual "Oh, you know I don't really need anything else just need to go check for, you know,...the CLEARANCE AISLES that always have amazing things for .98 cents or something." And he looked at me and was like "listen Jacqueline if you want to fill out an application for this baby you better get OUT of the clearance aisles." I just looked at him and pretended it wasn't a big deal. But my mind was like "woah, he just casually joked about this - he's IN!"

We got into the car after checking out and I starting eating my 10lb bucket of peanut-butter filled pretzels when Andrew all of the sudden said "I'm ready to fill out the application, we are supposed to do this, we are meant to do this." And I THREW all of my peanut butter pretzels in the air, yelled CONFETTI! and we were both so excited! This is actually not a joke, I did this. We went to vaccuum out my car the next day at the gas station. I asked "are you sure" about 1,000 times. But it's such a great thing to know that he prayed about it, found his answer and to know that we didn't make the decision to do this independently- we each made the decision to listen to the Lord, and pretty quickly I'd say.

So, now here we are and we've applied and were accepted to an Ethiopia Program. We've already received 9 forms to fill out, and since Andrew's a month into law school we totally understand the binding legal contracts ;). We also are very aware of the finances involved with adoption, but we recognize that the harder it is to let go of a worry the harder you lean on the Lord - and that's a fair tradeoff, right? ;) The Lord takes all of our worries and stress and also provide for us, how awesome. Something from last week's message at our service spoke to me, Luke 12:34 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." If someone looked at our credit card bill or our recent transactions in our checking account, would they be able to tell what we cared about? Netflix, clothes, eating fancy dinners? It put our finances into perspective. We know adoption is expensive, but we know that in stepping out in faith on this, things will proceed exactly as their supposed to.

We are normally really private people, so know that this is huge for us to put out there in the blog-o-sphere and more generally, the world, so early. This process will probably take about 36-40 months, which is a lifetime away (and hopefully after law school), but we feel that this is something worth sharing and updating as we go through the process. I've read so many amazing blogs that have really helped us understand the process and what to expect (if you can really even be prepared.) Also, Andrew and I feel that this is a really great way for people to witness God's role in this process. We aren't really vocal Christians who go out on missions, stand on the street corner, pass out Bibles or information to strangers - and sometimes not even to our friends when we really should, but our faith is a huge part of who we are and we feel that this adoption process is God's vehicle to help us share our faith with those we know, and those we don't know.

We're excited for what he has in store, and yes - even if that means this doesn't work out, because that's always a chance as well.  Adoption is a completely new thing for many of our friends and families so please be kind and realize we've already started this, no changing our minds now.

Thanks for your love and prayers we'll keep you updated!

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.  James 1:27