Friday, December 31, 2010

With a Purpose

Goodbye 2010, hello 2011! Reflecting yesterday, I am happy about the year, but I can always reach for so much more! I love setting resolutions and goals...and usually I fail miserably, but I always start out with high hopes. This year is no different. I think overall, I want to live each day with a purpose and act with intent. Clint and I recently went through a study with our church called 'Merge' that discussed how we are to be the spiritual leaders for our children and to help them grow and know Christ. We can't just depend on others to do it. It made Clint and I realize that we have so much to improve on. It's easy to say, well, we'll start doing XYZ when baby(ies) come along. We need to start doing these things NOW and not simply 'for the kids', but for us, for those around us. They need to become habit, a natural part of us! So, I want to live each day with a purpose and act intentionally, not just let things happen. And I think a BIG key to all of this is going to be time management! Here are some specifics I've come up with:

  • Devoted quiet time every day. And in this quiet time I want to read through the entire Bible this year, maintain a study, despite whether our small group is in one or not. Small group is nice in getting things started, but I can't rely on it alone to study the word.
  • Healthy Eating (or eating healthier more often). Following Dave Ramsey and setting up a budget, we have become better about this, but we still put a substantial amount of money in the 'eating out' fund each week. I want eating out to become much more of a treat rather than the 'necessity' we act that it is. Really, it boils down to laziness and lack of time management; we don't plan ahead and then we're too tired to want to cook. Of course, just eating at home doesn't mean it's healthy, I want to start eating better meals at home too. Cut out the junk and fake stuff!
  • An established training/workout plan with race goals! Over the years I have backed myself into a corner. I worked my way up to bigger and bigger races. So big, that if I want to do anything bigger, I just about have to leave the country to do so. So, why not go back to some shorter races? I'm scared I'll be slower or worse than I was before. Stupid really, but that's how my mind works. I'm scared of failure in the short stuff and don't have the time/money to do the long stuff, so I do nothing. That changes in 2011! I was going to do a marathon in February, but I realized that I was hiding in it again because it was a trail marathon so I was able to tell myself 'times aren't comparable, so my time, if slow, doesn't matter (meaning, no one will look down on me).' Well, due to the PRIDE classes, I can't do it anymore anyway, which is good! I am setting out to do the local half marathon in March, and then the three local sprint triathlon races this year (and we'll see about other stuff along the way). It's time to face my fears, if I'm slow, so be it, work harder to get faster. I've gotten myself so worked up about what others think and worrying about being a failure that I no longer enjoy the sport I used to love. I'm coming back, no matter how ugly my results may be, I'm going to have fun. :)
  • Lose weight. Yep, isn't that the standard for everyone? If I'm doing my two previous points, this will fall into place.
  • Ditch the TV! Okay, so perhaps I don't want to totally get rid of it. I'm thinking I'll watch the news, sports (we love us some football, but really, even then, we don't see too many games), and then if I'm on the trainer I can watch it. Really, I just don't want to come home in the evenings and automatically flip on the TV. Too many times I plop down in front of it and then nothing gets accomplished. It's not that I'm addicted to the shows, so much garbage these days, but I think it's just a way of checking out from the day. There are much more useful ways to check out from the daily grind.
  • Read LOTS! Without the TV, I'll have much more free time to read. I have books written down all over the place that I want to read that people have told me about, I've heard about, etc. Books on adoption, raising kids, addiction, books for fun, educational books such as photography. I could live in Books A Million and still desperately need to get a library card because I can't afford to buy every book I see!
  • Take more photos! We have a wish list of things we want and one of the items I want is a nice DSLR camera. I've already picked it out! If/when I do get it, I want to take LOTS of pictures. Stay tuned, perhaps this blog will get a little more colorful :) So see, I need to do my reading so that I know HOW to take said pictures.
  • Volunteer more. Being in Leadership Longview has been great; I've learned about so many organizations in our community that need help. I want to volunteer at our church more and continue to mentor 'my' girls. I'll also be helping our Leadership group install the new gardens at the ARC. Still, there is so so so much more I could do.
  • Be more active in my tri club. I'm the club president again this year. Last year, I'll admit to just going through the motions, doing the bare minimum. I'd like to really reach out to the beginners and establish some group workouts that help the beginners feel comfortable in getting started. Triathlon can definitely be an intimidating sport. I may even go to the level 1 coaching clinic so that I can be a certified coach. Might be a way to bring in some money on the side when I am a SAHM in 2012.
  • Follow through with my projects. I have a handful of projects such as organizing my photos and creating photo albums; putting together a recipe book of all the recipes that I've found over the past few years; and home improvement stuff. It's time to stop saying I'll do them, and actually do them!

And those are just the major ones. I don't think people care to hear about my minor resolutions like wearing my mouth guard every night (I'm a teeth grinder) and not sleeping with my contacts in, yada yada. Oh, and while these are some of my daily goals, Clint and I have some life goals for this year too, 1) Foster/Adopt (well, at least get the licensing, we'll see when the state is ready for us), 2) Take a real vacation (still undecided where, but it will require a plane!), and 3) a fully funded emergency fund.

Hmm, does 2011 come with 30 hour days? Looks like I've got a full schedule for the new year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Setting the Foundation

Last night I destroyed Christmas in our house. Took a few hours, but I almost enjoyed it because I bought some great bins to store my ornaments in and I'm all about organization. Clint laughs at my obsession with it. The house is so empty looking now, we really need some decorating help! But I am happy that everything is now back in its rightful place.

With Christmas down and put away, the year is running out, which makes almost everyone reflect on the year. For so many people, evident on facebook, it was a bad year. If you talk to just about any of our family members, it was a horrible year. For us, however, I would say it was a great year! Nothing really earth-shattering, especially in others eyes; we didn't go on any great trips or do any big races. It wasn't a year of birthday milestones or really any other milestones so to speak. In fact, most of our friends and family think we are crazy because well, we didn't do a whole lot of anything because we were 'paying off debt.' Man, do I know they got sick and tired of hearing that from us! Wanna go out to eat? Nope, were out of money in that envelope. When are you going to get another car? Why, when our cars run just fine. You have such a little TV and, gasp! You don't have sat. or cable! The TV works, and we're not paying for junk.

I'm calling 2010: The year we Set the Foundation. We may not have accomplished anything major in 2010, but we layed the groundwork to have successful, God-driven lives ahead. We tackled a lot of financial goals that will allow us to foster/adopt and provide for our needs without stress and worry. We joined a new church where we feel much more connected and pushed to learn more. We made so many Christian friendships which will also help us in our spiritual journey. Expanded our volunteer work and hope to dig even deeper in the years to come. So, I'm proud of our 'boring' year and can't wait to see what the future holds!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Awkward Day

Christmas is finally over and things are slowly starting to return to a normal schedule...with the exception of Clint having the entire week off and not returning to work until Jan. 3rd (I'm not jealous or anything, ha!). We had a good time in Abilene and it was nice to sit back and relax. Abilene kind of forces that on you and we needed it. And while I was excited about seeing my mom and my sister's family, I was apprehensive about visiting three people and somehow it worked out that I would be visiting them all on the same day. Poor Clint was a trooper and things actually went about as good as they could go.

First up, my grandmother (My Dad's mother): Now, I truly LOVE this woman, so what could be so bad about seeing your grandmother, right? Well, it has been a long time since I've seen her and her health has greatly deteriorated. She is now in a nursing home, is in a wheelchair, and has an inoperable brain tumor. Her memory has good days and bad days and so my hesitation was, what if she doesn't know who I am? How awkward will it be? Will I scare her? Fortunately, my mom, sister, and niece all came along for the visit. It was hard seeing her in a place like that, but she looked good and was still as sweet as ever, just quiet. I'm not sure if she knew who any of us were, but I think she may have recognized my sister. But she was happy with the company, no matter who she thought we were. So, I would call our visit a success. I definitely need to get up there to see her more often.

Next up, Mr. Aneff: So, a little background. I dated a guy in high school and into early college. We eventually broke up (he broke up with me, and yes, my little teenage heart thought it was the end of the world, oh young naive love, ha ha. To know then what I know now! We were going in two totally opposite directions in life {and really came from two totally different backgrounds} and boy would our worlds collide if we had stayed together; I can't imagine two more different people). Anyway, even though we were no more, I was still close to his family, the Aneffs, his mom and older sister in particular. When my family and I were going through rough times, they were always there for me and they did SO much for me, I will be eternally grateful to them. Sadly, Mrs. Aneff passed away in August of '02, which was extremely hard on me...I think because I had no idea how bad she had gotten (died of the big C), they really kept that from me, I'm sure trying to protect me, but in the end, I wish I had known! I felt robbed of being able to say goodbye, I don't even remember what my last words to her were. Anyway, as usual, I am getting sidetracked. Even though, I wasn't as close to Mr. Aneff, I've always tried to keep in contact with him and visit him when I can. I know, having his wife pass away and having all of his kids grown and moved away must be hard. Normally, visiting him goes fine, but over the years, he's turned into what I call 'the cranky old man'. I won't go into the details of their family issues, but every family has them, even the wealthy ones like theirs. When I speak to him now, I get to hear him complain about all that is wrong, and then he usually pauses just long enough to ask how my job is...apparently that's my only defining worth in my life to him. So, I was dreading having to hear the same complaints again. Well, that's just what we got, but with a bonus!

I broke the news to Mr. Aneff about our plans to adopt. We then received a 20 min. lecture on why it is so important to check into their medical histories because he knows this person, that person, so and so, and on and on that have adopted and the kids have no mental capacity. I kept my cool while there, but Clint could tell I was mad and I am! Furious in fact! 1) For him to treat us to be so stupid to think we would not look into the files and gather as much information as we can so that we can pass it on to the child. We want them to have as much background and history possible. But, we know, there is only so much information that we will be able to obtain. 2) For him to infer that children that aren't scholars aren't worth adoption is infuriating. 3) I cannot stand when people want to rattle off every bad case they've heard. YES, we get it, some adoptions go goes bad from time to time, but I just don't understand people's need to do this. It's like telling a pregnant woman your horror stories on childbirth. And 4) I can't stand when people want to 'teach' me about adoption when they haven't been through it and don't really know. We were telling him about the process and he had no idea how it works. Heck, we haven't even begun, so we don't even know it all, but don't start to 'educate' me on something you know nothing about. But this last one is something that you would really have to know him, to understand (I love him, but he definitely has that 'I know everything' attitude). I know, I know, Mama Lion coming out again (and when we are still SO far away from even being licensed to get a child), but to say our visit was frustrating would be an understatement. Deep down, I know he wants what is best for me and doesn't want to see me struggle, but he has a crazy way of going about it!

I tried to cool off from that visit on our way to see, number three, my dad: As previously mentioned, we had a huge falling out after my wedding. My dad has struggled with drugs and alcohol addiction all his life and then there are other skeletons in the closet that don't need to be discussed here that make the situation even worse. We'll just leave it at this 'his actions leading up to my wedding and then the wedding itself were the straws that broke the camels back.' My husband and I came back from our honeymoon and I turned on my phone and was already receiving nasty text mesages from him. I didn't respond...for a year and a half. I was done. Done with the guilt trips, the twisting of reality into things being 'my' fault, the lies, etc. He had hurt me SO many times, yet I always came back, but after my wedding, I had enough, enough of the abuse. Last Christmas, I finally decided that I had to turn it all over to God, all my anger, disappointment, my want to change my dad, all of it. It was for God to handle, not me. Whew! Letting go of control is hard! So, I called my dad last year and opened up the communication. It was nice. We didn't talk again, with the exception of a 'happy birthday' text from him on my birthday. So, my sister and I decided to get together for Christmas with him, just to spend some time together, perhaps play a game. We decided on her place, so that we would not have to go to his house, which is a toxic place for so many reasons, I don't think I can go back there.

Clint and I pulled up at the same time that my dad was pulling up...well, being dropped off. I was instantly nervous! Great! He's already so tanked up that he needed a ride! Clint and I went in first and we and my sister's family all braced for him to come in. We were a little nervous when he came in. There are some definite cues that my sister and I have picked up on over the years that alert us when he's 'not himself' and our radars were up. But things stayed calm and pleasant even and seemed to get better as the night went on. We were even able to play one of our favorite card games. It was such a relief. I'm so happy I got to see him because honestly, I worry about him. I worry about what he may do to himself and how much longer he may be around. I hate what addiction and the other skeletons have done to him. He's such a brilliant man, a creative man. I pray that he will some day want to seek help for his addiction, to clean up the other things in his life, and that we can all hang out and enjoy each others company like we did Sunday night. I miss him and Clint says he can tell that he misses us because he kept talking about things from when we were little kids, which was before things started to unravel. I think he does miss us, but I think his addiction brain thinks that we turned against him (he's told us so before). His sense of reality is so warped, who knows if he will ever see the truth. I do love him though, he's my dad.

The awkward day ended up not being so awkward after all and I am glad that I did in fact go see them when I would have much rather been somewhere else. These people are important pieces of my life; they have all helped shape who I am today. Their ways aren't the 'easy' ways, but God has a purpose for everything and everyone.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Will my hands ever recover?

Whew! What a weekend! I started on Friday baking/cooking fast and furious and it continued all the way up until everyone arrived on Sunday evening. I don't know how women do it! My hands were so sore because they became so dry from washing them so much inbetwen cooking different things and keeping dishes washed (I don't have a lot of mixing bowls, etc., so most I had to reuse over and over). And my feet! Oh my feet! I'm weird in the sense that I don't stand well. Those that know me probably think that sounds crazy since I have done so many races where I have been on my feet and going for 24-36-45 hours. But the difference was that I was mmoving. If I'm moving, it's all good, but if I am forced to stand, I want to sit down in a matter of minutes.

I am certainly not complaining though, I really enjoyed it and I almost felt domestic in the end. Although, I must confess that I did have to call my mom twice for foolish questions...such as, how to broil something. Embarassing, I know! And I want to bring children in my home?? The poor kids! But I think everything turned out great, with the exception of a candy cane cake that fell apart, but that's okay because the sopapilla cheesecake MORE than made up for it! I almost wish I had never discovered that recipe because I am IN love. I am a cheesecake fanatic as it is, throw a yummy flaky crust and cinnamon and sugar on top? Ahhh, slice of heaven!

All of Clint's family seemed to really enjoy the food too. I hope they did and weren't just trying to be nice. We had a fairly nice time together. But it is hard to see one of Clint's brothers struggle with addictions. He was pretty much a zombie and not really 'there' so to speak. He says he will be going to rehab soon and I pray that happens. Unfortunately, my side of the family is not immune to substance abuse either. We will be seeing my dad for the first time in 2.5 years (since our wedding) over Christmas when we go to Abilene. My sister has been keeping me in the loop and I have to be honest that I am nervous about our visit with him. Substance abuse and addictions like these are so hard for me to grasp and understand. Why would people do it? Why do they hurt the ones they love? How can they put these addictions before everything else and risk their own lives even? Sadly, I know that the reason so many of the kids that are taken out of their homes by CPS is due to the root cause of addiction and substance abuse which leads to neglect and abuse of the ones you love. While I hate that Clint and I have to see this in both of our families, perhaps we will have an understanding and deeper perspective for the kids that do come into our home and become part of our family.

I really didn't intend to get sidetracked like that, but Clint's brother and my dad have really been weighing heavy on my heart lately. Anyway, our calendar is clearing up and now to just make it to Friday, Christmas Eve for some much needed time off and getting to spend time with my family.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Let's get this ball rolling!

Clint and I have been talking about adoption, reading about adoption, and talking to others about adoption for what seems like forever now (I know it's not and I'm sure that many will probably think that we aren't thinking things through all the way and 'jumping the gun'). We are so anxious to get things in motion, but we also have a timeline with me wanting to work another year so there is no reason to get ahead of ourselves either. I finally called Buckner (yes, we are going to work through Buckner) on Wednesday to get an understanding of what the timeline is for the process.

We will have to take a PRIDE training course that is offered in February (on Saturdays) or in August (Mon/Thurs evenings). They might add in a third/fourth class series, but are unsure of when. The process to become licensed will take 4-6 months. The PRIDE classes are good for one year. We were concerned about starting those too early, having the certification lapse and then having to take it all over again. However, we were told that if we stay in contact with Buckner, etc., that we wouldn't have to repeat the entire class, but perhaps take a one day class on something such as 'attachment issues'. So, knowing all of that, we have decided to take the February class! We worry that if we wait until August, we wouldn't be licensed until well into the following year. I'm sure my employer will want to replace me at the calendar year so I don't want to be sitting at home while we wait for licensing. We were also reminded that we could put our child in day care if need be. So, if we get licensed before the end of next year, and a child needs a placement, while daycare is not ideal to me, it would be a short term situation.

So, like I said, February it is! We are so excited! Of course, this is all based on our pre-application being approved (filled out today). In addition to PRIDE, we'll have lots of other documents/things to take care of such as the main applicaiton, CPR, criminal background check, and the 'scary' home study! I'm just so ready to be 'in' the process rather than saying we 'will' do the process.

Currently, this weekend is going to be a busy one! Lots of cooking/cleaning to do to get ready to host Clint's family for Christmas on Sunday evening. Making of the Christmas 'goodies' is new territory for me. Pray for me that it turns out...or perhaps, pray for Clint's family since they will be eating it, ha ha! After this weekend though, life begins to slow down a bit and then we will be headed to Abilene for Christmas. I can't wait!

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's that time of year

I love the Christmas season! I love it so much I put up two Christmas trees! Of course, I know I'll be kicking myself come January when it's time to take them down, but how awesome would it be to have them year round? I love a room lit by simply the glow of a Christmas tree. And I have to avoid the stores because I want every sparkling decoration out there. Totally not necessary I know, and definitely not a part of the Dave Ramsey plan.

However, the part I don't like, is the busy-ness. Well, I do and I don't. I love getting together with friends over a good meal and laughing over a white elephant gift exchange. But, sometimes I feel like we put too much stress on ourselves this time of year and do too many things because 'it's Christmas and that's what you do at Christmas." I wonder if we are truly enjoying the season with all that we have going on. We keep a white board calendar in the kitchen to keep track of activities and it is so scribbled on this month. It's exhausting just looking at it!

Clint and I picked out an 'angel tree' child to buy presents for and then he had one through work as well. I enjoy shopping for these kids, especially since we don't have kids of our own and don't get to buy the 'fun' stuff. However, it also makes me so incredibly sad, wondeirng what these kids may be dealing with in their lives. Are mom and dad really just hard on their luck this year, or were drugs and alcohol higher on the priority list than proper clothing? Is dad even around? Do they have a warm place to sleep? I read in the paper about how there were still 500 angels that hadn't been picked so we went and grabbed two more. I know it's a drop in the bucket, but I hope we bring a smile to at least a handful of kids faces on Christmas morning.

Speaking of smiling kids, I met with my little fourth graders today. They did awesome on their journals! I was really blown away. I expected them to only have perhaps a couple days filled out and the rest blank. And then I expected a couple of one-liners for their journal entries. They filled out every day and wrote lots! One of my girls, Miss M, even took hers home and wrote on the weekend she liked it so much. I thoroughly enjoyed reading them and I think they liked reading mine as well. I did notice one common theme through all three, they said something to the effect that they are nice girls but when someone crosses them the wrong way, they get mean. I hope we can work on this issue. I'm somewhat amazed that they volunteered that piece of information out. I wonder if it is something that people tell them often, or if they truly understand that what they are doing is mean.

They were extremely excited about my reward system: 2 stickers for green and 1 for yellow. Earn 7 stickers for a small treat/prize and 35 stickers gets them a lunch of their choice. Two of the three earned at least 7 stickers this week. Miss A however only earned 4. I hated not being able to give her the 'treat' for the week and she was sad. However, I need to stick to my guns and set up guidelines/boundaries. They were already dreaming about what their special lunch would be. Miss N asked, 'Could it be anything? Even McDonalds?!' Ha ha, yes, even McDonalds, even though it will greatly pain me to have to go to that place. Perhaps I should show them Supersize Me in advance to see if that changes their minds, lol.

Again, I am so happy I decided to mentor because they certainly bring a smile to my face. With all of the hussle and bussle this time of year, I'm thankful that I get to slow things down and see the world through the eyes of a child.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Stepping outside of my comfort zone

As I mentioned awhile back when I began the Leadership Longview program, I am very much an introvert. I enjoy meeting new people and making new friends, but it's not something that comes easy or naturally to me. Well, I was asked to do something (indirectly through the Leadership Longview program) that I felt was WAY outside my comfort zone...being a mentor for an elementary school. I didn't have to say yes, I wasn't asked directly, just a general question to the group for volunteers. Now, while it may be out of my comfort zone, it's something that I WANTED to do. So, I threw myself in the ring.

I was matched with a fourth grade teacher at a nearby school. I met with her last week and she asked me to take three little girls under my wing. She said they are quite smart, but have terrible attitudes. In just the time I was there, two of them were already in trouble. Yikes bikes! How am I to handle this? I had brief introductions with the girls and promised to be back this week.

All last week I agonized and toiled over what to do with them, what to say, etc. Who knew fourth graders could be so scary, ha ha! I decided on getting the girls journals (and one for me as well). They are to write their color of the day, something they did that day, and then something about a specified topic I give them. Their color is in reference to their behavior color system in class. Green being the best, red the worst. Their topic this week was to tell me something about themselves. I don't want/expect anything long or too private/personal, but it will be a way for me to learn about their days/them and for them to be able to do the same with me. And, I hope it will also lead to some talking points, such as, why they earned a 'bad' color and what are some ways we can do things differently in the future so that we can stay on a 'good' color. Or, what their goals are in life and what are some steps they can take to achieve those things.

Anyway, today was my first real day with them and I wasn't sure how they would respond to the journal idea. Well, they LOVED it! Whew! They were really excited and wanted to fill them out right then and there. One of the girls actually wants to be an author (and chef) when she grows up so being able to write was right up her alley.

I've definitely got my work cut out for me with these three, but I already love them. I'm glad our initial day is over so that now I can relax. I'm trying to put some things together that we can do as a group such as short games, activities, etc. Meeting during lunch time doesn't give me a whole lot of time with them so I've got to make the best of it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A smashing good time and a breakthrough

So my best friend and her family came up for a visit this past weekend. Did I mention she has twin 22 month old boys?! Wowzers!! This was the first time she has come up to visit me (I usually go to visit her) since our wedding. I knew that we would probably have to move a few things out of the boys reach once they got here...decorative, breakable fall pumpkins, etc. However, I had NO idea the things they would think to get into! To be honest, it scared the living daylights out of me! Here I want to take in young children when I'm living in a war zone for toddlers. Their radars were set on 'seek and destroy' from morning to night. They claimed a few casualties, but never fear, Aunt Gina came back with a counter attack...

We decided to let the boys burn off some energy at the park so I took them to the awesome Kidsview park here in town. Being as I don't have kids, I didn't know if there would be anything age appropriate or not, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. The boys were having a ball climbing up and sliding down. We were good about always having someone go up with them and then having someone wait at the bottom of a slide for them. Well, so they had mostly been going down the tube slides and all was well until Jacob found another slide...a wavy slide. Sure, great, so I line him up and send him off...he launched off the first 'wave' and went airborne, only to come crashing down and hit his head on the next 'wave'. Oops! Did I do that?! Fortunately, after a few second melt down, his body of steel was good to go. Whew!

Despite my plots against them, the boys survived their weekend visiting Aunt Gina. In all seriousness though, I was so happy they came up to visit because I just don't get to see them often enough. And I love those little adorable boys, despite what onlookers may think. It was a good learning weekend too. Once Clint and I start readying our house for foster/adopt children, I shall have to invite them back up and let the kids loose so that I can discover any hazard I may have missed!

Now on to a change of subject...well, still about kids really. Yesterday, I think I witnessed a breakthrough! The woman I work with that made so many horrible comments about adoption a couple of weeks ago came into my office. She is a Christian and listens to KLOVE. Of course, this being national adoption month, there is a lot of talk about it. On the station, they were interviewing a couple who had adopted. They were discussing about how it took awhile for them to get on the same page because the husband was hesitant. He said, "As soon as I said the words, 'why don't we have our own kids' I realized how foolish a statement that was." My coworker told me about hearing this story and I could see the gears turning. She had said those very words to me. I think she realized that her statement wasn't good, but she couldn't come out and say it either, but I've got her thinking!

However, she told me this adoption story a few days after stating this, "I just want to give you a tip. If you take in a black baby and they are really light-skinned, don't think they will stay that way. That's how they start out, but they get darker." Wow! Clearly need some work on her heart in that area. Can you just imagine? Like I would honestly freak out at the sight of a darker child? I wish I could speak eloquently, but I was honestly left stunned over the remark and simply stammered out that I didn't care about the color of the skin. In fact, my mom tells me the story about when my younger sister was born and going to the nursery to see her. They pointed my sister out to me, but I kept insisting that another baby, a black baby, was my sister.

Last night, a couple in our church invited us over for dinner. They are about our age and told us they plan to go through the foster/adopt process as well. They too have been faced with animosity over adopting a child of a different race...from family members. It's nice to know that we are not alone and that we will potentially have a couple going through the same trials and tribulations. Although, with them being a youth minister and an elementary school teacher, I'm sure they will make it through much more gracefully than we will so therefore, it will be nice to have a GOOD example to follow. :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Calming down...

Well, I really hate that my last post left a sense of negativity in the blog. I've had time to calm down and think through things. Overall, I know that the person I spoke of in my last post means well for me. She does want the best for me. However, she wants what SHE thinks is best, which isn't necessarily what God or I think is best. And I know she doesn't want to see me in pain or struggle. Adoption, especially from CPS IS going to be hard and I know their will be tears and lots of difficult times, but I'm willing to face that. So, in all, I understand her position. But so much of her statements were of ignorance and that makes me sad.

I still have not told my boss, just never seems like the right time. For my boss, I know the 'adoption' part he will be indifferent on. I think he will actually be happy about us starting a family. My concern with him is the work part. My boss is kind of like a dad to me and someone I HATE to dissapoint. He is a work-aholic, loves his job and would do it 24/7 if he could have his way. He will not be happy about me quitting my job. In his eyes, I will throwing away my education. I'll fully admit that quitting my job IS scary. I never envisioned my life going this way, but I think it's a good thing. Deep down, I know I'm not 'throwing away' my education because college was so much more than just a Masters in Engineering, but I do still wrestle with that thought.

So, I have yet to jump that hurdle, but I DID tell his wife! Baby steps. :) And of course, she was happy about it like I knew she would be. So, perhaps she can work on softening his heart on thinking I'm a failure for quitting my job, well, for now anyway. I don't plan on being retired from the working world for life, but at least while the kid(s) are younger. However, I doubt I will go back to engineering as I won't be able to maintain my license. But my future job prospects are concerns for another day.

I'm looking forward to the weekend as a couple of my best friends from college are coming for a visit. See, I told you college was more than just the education! Their worth alone is immeasurable!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


You know that mobile phone commercial out right now where people are so into their phones that they are oblivious to the world around them and onlookers exclaim, "REALLY?!" as it is all just so ridiculous? Well, that's about how I feel with some of the remarks and reactions I've received from people on our plans to adopt. It's sad that so many have a negative view on adoption because they 'heard' this and 'heard' that, yet they don't 'know' for themselves.

First, let me take a step back as it will have a point later on, trust me. And this isn't a nice subject, but it is a part of me and the older I get, the less I want to hide it because if I speak out and give someone else the confidence to speak out against it, then I've done a good thing. I was sexually abused by my paternal grandfather when I was a child. Yep, horrible. I'm thankful that I had a sister who was brave enough to tell a friend, who was strong enough to tell an after school program teacher, who didn't blow it off and told my mom. And I am so blessed to have a mom who believed us, advocated for us, and took us away from that situation. How people can say a child can make up such horrific acts, is beyond me. Anyway, we went through counseling, and I am a strong person. He can't hurt me anymore and it's not something that I dwell on. It's turned over to God and what a weight off my shoulders! However, I am marked so to speak. I wanted to work in the church nursery/preschool to start interacting with younger kids, anything to help with raising our own. However, going through the screening/application process I immediately knew I would be banned. Why? The glaring question, "Have you ever been sexually abused?" Sadly, there is some statistic out there that states that those who were abused are more likely to do it to someone else. It's something I cannot even fathom doing, but I knew I had to withdraw. While it's frustrating, I get it and there is no sense in getting angered by it, there are other ways I can help the church and help myself help kids.

So, now, back to adoption. I have been absolutely floored with the responses I have received when telling others about our plans. And yes, many have been positive, but it's the negative ones that keep you from sleeping at night. The negative responses go something like this, "Why don't you have your 'own' kids." As if adopted wouldn't be my own child. Number 2 is, "You do know those kids from the state are troubled/messed up/bad (insert your own negative word here)."

My most recent outrage, and this person truly takes the cake, occured yesterday. I decided it was time to tell those I work with since we have told so many people and I didn't want them to hear it second hand. I knew I would be approached with negativity from a certain someone as this is her nature. However, I suppose I wasn't fully prepared to take the blow.

It went a little something like this after I told her we were adopting: "What?! Why?! I mean, that's great but why don't you have your own kids first?" These will be my kids! "I know, but you need to feel that life growing inside of you." Alright, so I broke down and shared that I didn't think we'd be able to have our own without medical help, but really, that has nothing to do with it. I am fine without 'carrying a child.' Perhaps there is something wrong with me, but I just don't have that emotional need. And yes, I get that it is a beautiful thing and if I ever experience it, I would be grateful. But I have heard this several times, 'why don't you just have your own kids.' It's sad that adoption is viewed as second best. I hate hate hate that stigma. We are all God's creatures and we are all to be loved and to receive His grace.

She then returned to my office to say something that almost had me fly off the handle: "You are an intelligent person, and Clint is an intelligent person, which means you would probably have an intelligent child. These kids (those in foster care) are troubled and messed up." REALLY?? Seriously?! A) Who knows what our child would be like. We are all individuals, all unique. What if we had a special needs child? Or, back to the, what if we can't have a biological child? B) Yes, these kids are troubled, wouldn't you be if you had to endure abuse and neglect? So, somehow they are worth less? Aren't worth loving? Can't overcome and be intelligent people? And who says intelligence has anything to do with measures of self worth? And here is where my point in the beginning ties back in: I was sexually abused, lived with an alcoholic and drug addicted father, am I troubled and messed up (perhaps, one should not answer that, lol) and not worth loving? It's interesting because she was telling me that I shouldn't 'just give up' on the nursery issue that it wasn't fair to me. Well then, what about all these children? And no, I don't have my head in the sand thinking that all will be peachy and I am somehow 'saving' these children and that I will make them angels. I know it will be tough, parenthood is tough, but having children isn't about just 'helping the kids'. We need them as much as they need us. It's a two-way street.

The final straw, race. It makes me want to cry just thinking about it. I told her I was fine with adopting any race, however that I did have reservations about adopting an African American child. The reason, I don't want them to miss out on their heritage. Yet, if I can provide them a loving home and prevent them from bouncing around 'the system' then perhaps I would be doing the right thing. It's something I struggle with, I just don't want them to feel like they are missing out on a huge part of who they are, but I would do my best to integrate their heritage into our lives. Anyway, this person got this look of...disgust at the thought of having to touch an African American child. Oh my! My heart is in a million pieces. Now, this was in discussion of trying to do the simple act of doing their hair. I was talking about how I would have to learn how to do intricate hair stylings, but I am up for the challenge, I've seen others master it! And you should have seen the braids I could whip out on my My Little Ponies as a child!

Anyway, yesterday really broke me down, but only made me more determined. I pray God will use me as a voice to the world that adoption is not 'second best' or that anyone is unworthy in his sight.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Catching up

How has it already been three weeks since my last post? Time sure does fly! Speaking of flying, that's just what we got to do a couple of weeks ago! Clint's boss owns his own plane and took us up for a ride during the Reklaw fly-in. I hope to discuss that more when I download the pictures. It was such a neat experience and I am so glad I overcame my fear to get in the plane!

Since my last post I also celebraed another birthday. I'm well into my thirties now, no turning back! That's alright though, doesn't bother me. I had a nice low-key birthday and Clint got me an awesome spa package that I thoroughly enjoyed.

We also got to watch the Rangers in the World Series! First time I've ever been engaged in baseball, but what fun! Even if they didn't win it all, they're still winners in my book. Sadly, the Dallas Cowboys are not. Football has been hard for us this year as our teams are not so hot, but that's the way it goes, you can't always be on top.

Hannah's House - They finally found a place to lease! And then they hope to purchase the land/house once their property in Glen Rose sells. Also, I have been asked to teach the finance classes to the girls. I'm excited, yet nervous at the same time. Not sure when I will start as we were supposed to have a volunteer retreat this past weekend, but too many people backed out so now it is not scheduled until February.

Leadership Longview - We have selected the ARC of Gregg County as our project. We will be designing some gardens for them. We took measurements today and will get rolling on a budget soon so that we can begin the fundraising.

So, that's the last three weeks in a nutshell. Clint and I were able to attend some adoption breakout sessions this past weekend which were really great. I think we have both come to terms that we will need to be willing to foster. It's not that we are against it, but we know letting go will be SO hard to do, but at least we can have comfort in knowing that we provided a safe and loving home no matter how temporary.

I have a lot to discuss about adoption, but will wait until tomorrow. To say that I am frustrated would be an understatement. I knew we would be met with criticism on our decision, but I am really blown away at some of the reactions I have received, especially from one particular person. My ranting will be long, so I will discuss more later. I got so mad today that it's hard to even put my thoughts into words.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Marathon Makeover!

My marathon training started yesterday! I'm excited! I'm following an 18 week plan for the Cross Timbers Trail Run at Lake Texoma in February. I'm so ready to get back to 'me.' I'm not happy with 'me' currently. My weight is at an all time high...where it was when I graduated college, which was ugly and I never wanted to go back there, but here I am. Why must weight be such a battle?? For me, it comes down to food because I have no issues with working out, I love it, although I've really put it on the back burner for too long. But food, oh how I love thee! While I only have myself to blame for my poor food choices, our culture certainly doesn't help the situation. We are completely surrounded with commercials, billboards, restaurants, etc. promoting unhealthy food. Our culture is so centered around for rewards, food for celebration, food for bad days, food, food, food. It attacks our willpower, because you can only say no for so long before you cave.

Things are changing in the Bolton household though. Time for Paleo eating! Essentially, cutting out the processed junk and dairy (that's the short version of it). I did this for a few weeks last year (before the holidays pulled the rug out from under me) and felt great! Whole foods were tasting great! Cravings for sugar and processed stuff were going away. Weight was dropping off. Anyway, I was too weak and crumbled. I hope to be stronger this time. Clint is much more onboard this time which will help. I'm so ready for this healthy lifestyle makeover as I like to call it. Once this eating becomes a lifestyle, we'll be less vulnerable to all the NOISE out there.

And I know those evil holidays are looming, but I'm prepared this time. I know I won't be perfect through them, but I will be cautious and sparing in my indulgences. Plus, I plan to learn how to make some new foods, healthy foods, that can become holiday traditions. Like I said, once you get away from processed foods, it's amazing how alive your sense of taste becomes, everything 'healthy' that once had a dull flavor is now full of life!

I'll keep everyone up to date on our progress. We bought some paleo cook books and already on our first day yesterday we made a yummy dinner AND a good chocolate-banana cake. We were skeptical about the cake, but couldn't believe how well it turned out. So, see, we can have our cake and eat it too! :)

In other news, Clint and I officially joined Mobberly Baptist Church this weekend. We had ben visiting for awhile. I'm glad to feel settled in a new church home rather than in limbo all the time. We are loving the energy that is in this church and can't wait to get involved!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Super Size Me

Clint and I finally watched this documentary this past weekend. Yes, I realize we are a little late to the party since it came out back in 2004. And while I have read and heard reviews about how the guy took things to extreme, it's not comparable to real life eating, yada yada, it was still so alarming. Some of the stats are just so sad. What are we doing to ourselves?? Surely people KNOW fast food, etc. is bad for them, right? Clint and I do know it's bad for us, but still find ourselves eating it. Not as much as the 'average' consumer, but still WAY more than we should.

I think one of the saddest parts of the documentary was when they were showing a young girl and her mom talking to Jared the 'Subway' guy. Jared had come to a local school to give a speech on eating right/weightloss. The girl/mom duo got the chance to talk to him afterwards. The mom was concerned for her daughter because she was obese and her daughter couldn't lose weight. Well, mom was obese too...and mom is the one who feeds daughter. I will boldly say that I think obesity in children is a form of child abuse. Yes, I know there are the RARE medical cases that obesity is a side effect of the condition/medication, so I'm not talking about those situations.

I worked at the McDonald's PlayPlace in high school, doing birthday parties and monitoring the children/cleaning up the area. I would see so many of the same families week after week. The place reeked of ketchup. I saw kids get refills on soda time, after time, after time...many being 'forced' to stick to the orange soda or sprite since those didn't have caffeine. Umm yeah, that's a better solution. And yes, I know even McD's can be eaten in moderation, but I don't think that people know what moderation is anymore!

Anyway, the documentary told us mainly what we already knew. Processed food is bad and it expands outside of just McD's, which by the way I was never a fan anyway. I may have worked there, but I didn't eat there. Now, Clint and I like to think that we are doing good, but we're not. It's time for us to buck up and change that! Last year I went Paleo eating for a few weeks. It's amazing how great I felt! Sadly, I let it all crash and burn during the holidays and it went by the wayside. Well, Clint and I are both ready to take it on. I hope I can make it a lasting lifestyle. I'll let everyone know of our progress. We have a book with many Paleo recipes and I am getitng some more. Really, it's not hard to eat Paleo, the food is good, it's simply a matter of taking some planning time until it becomes more natural. I wish we had better grocery store options such as a Whole Foods, but we'll just have to work with what we've got. I think changing our habits to the healthier now will be so beneficial to when we add a new addition to our family so that we can teach our child how to eat well through example as well. I know we can't cut out all the bad 100%, and I'm not trying to, but we can certainly get away from the American lifestyle.

In other news, Clint and I went out to the Hamby Trails this past weekend with some of the bike club members to clean up the trails to get them ready for this season of mountain biking and trail running. The trails really weren't in too bad of's been so dry this year so I don't think things have grown as much. I'm excited! Just in time for me to start my training for my trail run in February. My plan officially starts on the 18th!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Things are Looking Up!

So, after my downer of a post on Friday morning, things really didn't improve. After work, I checked the mail and discovered that Clint got a red light traffic ticket. I hate feeling like we are just throwing money away. Then, a little later we got a call that Clint's mom had fallen in the bleachers at a football game and was being transported by ambulance to the hospital. She's fine. Well, she did scrape up her knees pretty good and they were already swelling, but nothing broken or requiring stitches. The frustrating thing with the situation was the lack of communication; therefore, not knowing what was going on.

However, this week, we are back on track! It's been a nice week so far and the cooler temperatures are so refreshing. I am loving running right now. I start my marathon plan in 2 weeks! I'm a little nervous about it because I picked a pretty aggressive plan with 6 days/week running. We'll see how my body holds up, I may end up backing off to five days/week.

Clint and I are also approaching the end of our 4 week budget (right now we rotate on 4 weeks rather than monthly, but plan to go to monthly next year). Doesn't mean much to most, but to us, it means we get to make a big payment to Clint's student loans! I know I was just complaining in my last post about paying towards debt, but while we hate it, we love seeing the huge drop each month. Freedom from debt is within our reach and each time we get to make the 'big' payment, it gives us a boost.

So, while October started off in a slump, it's back to being its usual greatness. October is by far my favorite month of all!

Friday, October 1, 2010

In a Slump

Clint and I have been feeling a lot like the picture on the left lately. To say we are in a slump would be an understatement. We're doing good things and headed in the right direction, but I tell ya' the getting there can be such a drag! So, allow me to rant, or let it all out if you will...
We started the Dave Ramsey plan about a year ago now. It was/IS awesome and has totally turned our lives around. Not that we thought life was bad, but man, our outlook sure did get much brighter. However, we've been paying off debt, paying off debt, paying off debt. Seems like we watch the rest of the world go by. We know we're doing the right thing, but the right thing certainly isn't always the easy thing. We hardly race because that costs money, no vacation, and the list goes on. And while I know we aren't exactly living on beans and rice and cutting off the power to pay things off, we are in such a rut right now: go to work, workout, sleep, repeat. And then on weekends, try to get caught up on the house because we were too tired during the week to do anything.
Work is slow and uneventful. No exciting projects right now. I get frustrated at times with my co-workers/boss for this and that. Meaningless stuff really, but this slump/rut has me on edge.
I hate that I've let myself get so out of shape and put on so much weight. I need that spark again, but with the slump, I just want to come home and space out.
I have a to-do list a mile long and a reading list that's even longer.
My Leadership class met for a lunch meeting yesterday and I was going to go...all the way up until Wednesday afternoon when my boss said we had to go out of town for work. :( This meeting they basically assigned responsibility/tasks to everyone...except for those 5 of us that weren't there. I'm scared that now I'll just merely be 'present' rather than active and I hate that. Of course, the e-mail said that we could nominate ourselves for a position (we officially vote in a couple of weeks). But how do you nominate yourself for something when you weren't even there and attempt to take it from someone who was there??
To sum it up, I'm tired, bored, cranky, mad at myself, ready for a change.
However, I am not going to let myself go down this spiral any further. It's easy to get caught up in this 'woe is me' outlook. I have so many things to be thankful for and really, my life is pretty darn sweet! I need to remind myself of that daily! I've picked a race, found a plan (starts in two weeks), and am ready to take things one step at a time. We are headed in the right, beautiful direction.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Dying Breed

Last night Clint and I attended the monthly bike club meeting. I am the current president and Clint is the ride director. However, we look forward to turning these positions over to other people, and luckily the club was able to scrounge up enough people to fill the next slate of officers for next year. Sadly, this club is dying.

When I first started riding with the Longview Bicycle Club way back in '02 it was a very active group! Monday night rides would average over 60 people, they had time trials and a 12 hour ride, get togethers for cookouts, prizes at the meetings, etc. etc. It was great! However, as the years have passed, less people come to events...then we stopped having events at all, no more time trials, no more 12 hour ride. We average about 15 at our meetings. Hardly anyone comes to the Christmas parties. While the group naturally divides into slower and faster groups, a riff of some sort has developed and Saturday rides now start in two different places.

All of this is really heartbreaking really. I love the bike, I love the people who bike. But the fact is, the older people have done their share and the newer (my) generation don't want to step up to the plate. I don't know how to change that. Our generation has kids etc., which the old people claim is no excuse because they still did it back in their younger years with kids. However, I was reminded by a fellow Leadership Longview classmate that todays world is so fast paced and we have much more commitments. Heck, we're over committed! People can't go without their cell phones; carrying work, etc. around with them at all times. All so true! It's hard to remember life before this technological age, but I do remember it...and I sometimes miss it. I miss how people used to actually TALK to each other, connect with each other. Seems like today is just thousands of short texted phrases to one another while dashing to the next commitment.

So, I understand people struggling to be active participants in things they care about. However, I don't see the bike club lasting much longer. The club has already divided into it's cliques anyway that send out texts of when, where, and who is showing up to ride. Eventually, I see it dissolving into a few just getting together to ride. I'm thankful of the people I have met though and I know I'll always have riding partners.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sharing the news

I have already spilled the beans to my mom and sister and of course they are super excited about our adoption decision. Clint felt it was time to share with his Dad. So, yesterday we went over to his house to eat and tell him about our plans.

I had no idea that Clint was going to go into detail about us trying to have kids for several months, yada yada. In retrospect, I wish that we had talked beforehand about how he was going to present it to his dad. Because of course, the first thing his dad says, "Well, you'll get pregnant as soon as you try to adopt." I don't think he truely understood that pregnancy is NOT our hope or ambition and that adoption is somehow a 'backup' plan. It's THE plan, the one we want and have prayed over! Of course, not to say that we'll be sad in anyway if we do get pregnant. I just wanted him to understand that adoption is what we want and that we are so very happy. And he seemed perfectly fine with it, but again, I guess I'm already turning into Mama Bear and don't want anyone to even think that this child(ren) is somehow second best.

At this time we are going the route of not trying/not preventing, but it's something I will be discussing with my doctor. I was on medication for years to prevent/slow the process of endometriosis because both my mom and sister have had issues with it. So, I may be going back to it if it will help keep me healthy and pain free, therefore, back to preventing and Clint and I are A-okay with that!

Anyway, back to his dad...we were surprised to hear that Clint's parents had gone through the licensing process to foster kids because they tried for three years to have kids. They even fostered a couple of kids! Clint's dad had the same issues Clint does so the cycling, while surely wasn't helping the situation, by not doing it, chances are it wouldn't have changed anything. Clint was a little upset that his dad never shared any of this with him. The whole conversation was akward really. Clint's dad is one of the nicest guys, but Clint doesn't have a very close relationship with him. His dad worked as much as possible just to try to make ends meet for them growing up and so was not around much. Plus, Clint's dad didn't have much of a relationship with his own father so I think he really didn't know how to be a father to his own kids. We hope that we can break that cycle! Clint so much wants to be an ACTIVE participant in his child's life and I know he'll be a great dad. And I dont say any of this in a mean spirited way towards his dad, there is so much more to the situation and his dad is a good, hard-working person. I just simply wish that Clint and he were closer. However, Clint has to do his part as well. All in all, I think his dad and step-mom are happy for us and Clint feels lighter having shared the news.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sad Statistics

Last night was the informational meeting on Hannah House. Most of the information I had heard when they came to speak to the board of our Homeowner's Association and close neighbors. However, I didn't mind hearing it again. I still think this is such a great ministry.

Something that I heard that was new was that 750,000 teen girls get pregnant EVERY year in the Unites States!! 28,000 in Texas alone. That is mind boggling to me. The worst part, 40% of that number choose to get an abortion. Just breaks my heart. I am obviously pro life, but I can't even imagine for those that are pro choice having to make such a difficult decision. And sadly, 1.1 million couples apply annually to adopt. Which is kind of scary when we think of our own journey to adopt. With so many people wanting to adopt, why do we feel we need to? There's not enough to go around! Well, actually, the sad fact is, so many of these couples are wanting a newborn, while children sit in foster care and orphanages. So, I pray that we will be doing a helpful thing by giving a child(ren) a loving home and removing them from a bad situation. Everyone deserves a chance.

After meetings like this I am so pumped up and rah rah sis boom-bah! But I am still unsure of how I can help. But I am putting my information on the volunteer list because I still want to be involved. They are putting on a golf tournament to raise funds at the end of October so I plan to volunteer at that, the very least. I'm trying to get Clint to organize a 4 man team to compete. He likes golf and never gets to play. However, his brother kind of took his clubs and lost/destroyed them so he'll have to see if he can borrow some. It's just not worth it right now to buy new ones when they are so expensive and he just doesn't get the chance to play that often.

Right now, Hannah House has found a house they love on Sam Page (right around the corner from us, lovely area) and the best part, no HOA to deal with! The problem, they need $20,000 for a down payment. I'll definitely be talking it up!

Change of subject, but somewhat related to the whole baby/family thing: After my 100 mile run, I was ready for a break, took the rest of 2009 off. At the beginning of 2010, it was about paying off debt and not doing anything too strenuous in case I became pregnant and not wanting to sign up for case I got pregnant. Well, sadly, I didn't eat less to correspond with my working out less. So, I need a game plan, something to work towards. Another downfall and the reason for my ultra 'sickness' to begin with is that I am terrified to compete at a distance I have already done because I am afraid I will have a slower time. Ridiculous, no?! I mean, even the same race is different from year to year due to weather, sickness, stress, etc. And the truth is, I AM getting older, the times ARE going to get slower. I need to learn how to focus on doing the best I can given the circumstances. I know it, I just need to believe it :) With all of that said, I came home yesterday evening and sat down and picked out an event! I love trail running so I picked out a trail marathon! I was hoping for a 50k, but Clint and I weighed travel distance to the race site, cost, the amount of loops (I don't want to do multiple loops, been there, done that! I want to GO somewhere!) and this particular race just had the best of all of our criteria. It's the Cross Timbers Trail Marathon out by Lake Texoma. They claim it's the 'hardest' trail in Texas. Looking at the pictures, it does look like a challenge and I am excited! So, next up, a training plan to execute!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Scarlet Letter 'A'

Our conversations on adoption have been interesting. It's all so new and something no one in either of our families have done. Our minds are going a million miles a minute with all sorts of questions. However, I think I am slightly more familiar with it since I know of those who were adopted, even dated a couple of guys who were adopted.

I think one fear that Clint has is that while he will no doubt love this child(ren) unconditionally, he feels that there will be some stigma about the child being adopted. As if, they will be branded with the letter 'A' for adopted across their chest! I tell him that this simply won't be the case. Yes, people will know that we adopted, but that's not going to be the focus when we walk in a room unless we ourselves make it the issue.

I think he's slowly coming around though. As we talk to more people about adoption on our journey to learn all that we can, Clint is amazed at those we know who have adopted or are adopted. He/We had no idea! Hence the reason he shouldn't have this fear of his child being branded as adopted and therefore somehow indirectly supposed to be of less quality or 'different'. In my opinion, this child will be the opposite! He/She will be handpicked for US. Pretty awesome in my book.

I know he is still nervous about telling his parents. In the end, it doesn't matter how our families will feel (my family is already excited for us) because this is our decision. I keep stressing to Clint that the ONLY difference this child will have than one of our own is genetics. That's it! And not to be mean, but neither of us exactly come from quality. We're not royalty. We come from families of abuse in all of it's forms, divorced families, hate, etc. And the reality is, everyone has those issues in their families somewhere. No one is perfect. Besides, I'll be so glad that my child won't be dealing with my complexion or out of control curly hair! :)

Anyway, regardless of the worries of the unknown Clint and I are both still so very excited about adoption. I keep stressing to him that we are going to have to be patient, which can be difficult. However, we know that the time will come when God is ready for us to have a child. We are looking at the long wait time as a blessing because in this time, we can learn, prepare, and get our finances even more secure before we bring a child into our home.

And just because we both found this pretty interesting. Did you know that these famous people were adopted? Aristotle; Nancy Reagan, PRESIDENT General Ford, PRESIDENT William Clinton, Scott Hamilton, Tim McGraw, Edgar Allen Poe, John Hancock, and one of the most famous of them all: Moses. Of course, there are a ton more, I just picked out a few. So, who knows, we could be raising the future president of the United States! :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Leadership Longview Retreat

I made it into this year's Leadership Longview Class. I'll admit that I knew nothing of this program and was told about it by my boss at about 1:30 pm on a Friday afternoon when the application deadline was 5 pm that day. However, this is such a neat program! The mission of the program is to strengthen and transform the community of Longview through a program of leadership development, community study and involvement. Our class of 25 will meet once a month for 'classes' where we will learn about the different areas of community such as education, criminal justice, health care, etc. In April, we have to complete a class project that benefits the community. A past example is raise funds and construct a playground. However, looking at past projects, 90% of them are playgrounds of some sort. I hope our class can 'think outside the box' (something we heard over and over on our retreat) and do something else for the community. Not that playgrounds for underpriviledged children is not important, but I feel like we are tight-casting ourselves when we could reach others/more in the community. Regardless of the project, I hope that I can be vital participant in bringing it to completion.

So, enough side-tracking on the project. The program kicks off with a retreat at the Lakeview Methodist Conference Center down in Palestine, TX. It was a two day event where we had lots of team building exercises, activities on the ropes course, and getting to know one another. I was excited about going. I had never been to LMCC, but did do a ropes course in Buffalo Gap in college and had a good time. However, I admit to being apprehensive going in. I wouldn't classify myself as a leader. A good worker bee, yes! Tell me what to do and I'm on it and won't stop till I drop. However, I am an introvert, which is not exactly conducive to being a leader. I can sometimes struggle with being thrown into a new crowd and building connections. Especially, when so many times there are always those people who have very, ummm, strong personalities so to speak. However, I was pleasantly surprised with this group. I adored everyone there! True, I didn't get to know some of the people as well as others, but we all seemed to get along so well.

On Friday, we started the day with learning everyone's names. Our facilitator had a great game of going around a circle, saying your name, a descriptor word with the name, and an action to go along with it. I was Jumping Gina! It really did help to learn everyone's name so as silly as it was, I was so glad we did it. The remainder of the day was mainly spent in the classroom doing activities to learn about leadership skills, etc. We also did the DISC behavioral analysis. No news there on my behavior. I'm dependable, responsible, patient, slow to change, and kind, but hate conflict and will do anything to avoid it or tolerate it.

It was interesting going through all of the different exercises. We'd be give a set of guidelines to complete a task and then we had to complete it. I am so NOT an outside of the box thinker and it's amazing how I get in my head what the rules mean and when someone wants to do something differently than what 'I' think the rules mean, it was quite an inner struggle. I kept thinking, 'you can't do that! That's not allowed!' But in reality, the rules didn't say we couldn't do something a certain way, I just interpreted them that way. So while I struggled with many of the activities, it was so good for me. Although, in the end, I still wanted 'the answer.' What's the answer to do this task the best, quickest possible way. That's the engineer in me :) Overall, it was great to be reminded that my way is not the only way and that there is more than one way to accomplish something.

Friday evening, we got to go to the Texas Winery. This is a tiny little winery outside of Palestine owned by the Hernandez'. Such a cute, interesting couple who bought the land when they retired and have slowly built it up. We sat outside on a large 'porch' tasting wines, eating cheese and fruit, and chips and salsa and having a great time. It was really a nice evening, but boy was I happy to hit the sack at the hotel. I was out!

Saturday was ropes course day! We did low ropes in the morning in which many of the activities I had done before...but differently of course. Then, high ropes in the afternoon!! Ugh! I had been staring at those cables all morning. 28 feet IN. THE. AIR. Have I mentioned that I am NOT a heights person?! All of this was optional, we were not pushed into anything we didn't want to do. However, we were encouraged to step safely beyond our comfort levels and try something new. I put on my harness and helmet and thought that was a pretty good start! There were a couple different options to get to the top: rock wall or cargo net and then a series of tight rope walking across logs, wooden ladder, and cables. I opted for cargo net. I kept letting others go before me while I tried to pep talk myself. Once it was my turn, I started up the cargo net. Once about half way, things started feeling high and I began to tremble. I just kept telling myself, one step further, just make it to the top.

Once at the top, I had a BIG decision to make, come back down or go through the next three series of obstacles before making it to the tower. If I decided to go on, well then, you were commited since there was no more dynamic cables to get you down. I desperately didn't want to be a chicken so I somehow talked myself into it. The logs terrified me, the ladder I felt a little better, and by the last calbe, I felt fine. Funny how that worked! However, at the tower, I still chickened out at the zip line. Sigh. Maybe someday. I'm disappointed in myself for not following through all the way, but I did go further than I thought possible. Baby Steps!

All in all, it was a great weekend. Loved the activities, loved the people, loved the idea of this program altogether. It's refreshing to be a part of a group that wants to be involved and make a difference. The many other organizations I am a part of are dying because no one wants to step up and take responsibility. I'm anxious to see how the remainder of our year goes and what project we plan to take on. I definitely think we have the potential to be the best class yet!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Back on the Bike...

and time to revive the blog! Our poor pitiful blog has been neglected now for about a year and a half. I'm envious of those who can document their lives with almost daily posts. Anyway, so I've decided to delete the few posts I did have and start fresh and clean!

This fresh, clean slate will also have a new focus...well, I still want to document our lives, but we are entering a new stage in our lives: PARENTHOOD. However, this is not to share that I'll soon be sporting a baby bump. Not that I won't ever have one, but we've decided to adopt instead.

When we began 'trying' back in February of this year, we always said, we'll adopt if we can't have one naturally. For us, we were going to take it as God's way of saying we weren't meant to have our own. I in no way, look down on or judge those who do decide to go the IVF route, etc., but it just wasn't for me/us. So, saying that, everyone must think that we are infertile. Well, we don't know for 100% sure, but we have discovered some issues that would if nothing else, make it difficult to conceive on our own without some type of intervention.

Over the past several weeks, our small group had been praying for the ministry Hannah's House. This is a great ministry that takes in young, pregnant women that need shelter and support. They take these women in and provide medical, schooling, take them to church, everything! Their goal is to prepare these women to either give their child up for adoption or learn how to take care of the child/themselves if they choose to keep their baby. If you'd like to read more about the program, you can visit their website at The reason we were praying is because Hannah's House is looking to come to Longview and a couple in our small group is in the process of selling their house (two houses down from us!) and they thought it would be perfect.

To make a long, slightly ugly story short, it didn't work out. Hannah's House is still coming to Longview, just not our neighborhood. However, Clint and I never expected it to have an effect on us. Clint came to me one day saying that he couldn't stop thinking about adoption. It was like he was reading my mind because I had the exact same thoughts! Over the next few weeks, adoption just kept popping up, on TV, in conversations with friends, etc. The more we thought and prayed about it, the more we feel that is the direction we should go, regardless if we can have a biological child or not. We are both ecstatic and scared at the same time. We know nothing about adoption, or parenting for that matter! But, we plan to jump in and do our best!

So, back to the title of this post: Clint's back in the saddle on his bike since we are no longer worried about temperatures and pressures and all that other fun stuff. We went on the bike club's Wednesday night ride last night and it was nice to have my best friend back enjoying our favorite past time.

I hope to keep up with this blog on a somewhat regular basis (it will probably be greatly lacking in pictures since that seems to be my hang up in getting posts out) to document our journey through adoption. We know it's a long and often difficult road. We've got our seatbelts on! Through the end of this year, we plan to study, do our research, talk to as many people as possible, and do anything else necessary to become as knowledgeable as we can on adoption. Then, after the first of the year, we plan to start the application process and begin taking our classes and then go from there!