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Nesting

Disclaimer: I started drafting this post back in January.  I didn’t post it then because I needed to collect some pictures of the various projects.  I’ve been kind of busy with all other life stuff and forgot about this post.  But better late than never, I suppose!  Enjoy.

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So, it turns out the nesting instinct is just as strong when you’re adopting as it is when you’re actually pregnant.  And, you’re not too pregnant to actually do all of the stuff that looms over you, so that’s a plus.

Paul has been on break for the last two weeks and we have had the most productive two weeks we’ve had in a long, long time.  Two weeks ago doesn’t even feel like two weeks, that’s how much has happened!

The first big project that we completed is the office/guest room smoosh.  I wanted to clear out the guest room to convert it into a nursery, but to do that, we had to make space in the office.  So we had to completely reorganize the office, get rid of one of the desks, and make room for the bed.  In the process, we also baby proofed the office, covering all the outlets, organizing cords and making sure it meets all of the home study standards.  I still have a pair of scissors on the desk, lol, but I’ll be sure to put them in a locked cabinet before the home study.  I will also mention that when I redid the office a few years ago, I did not create enough storage space.  This turned out to be very problematic because as time passed, the office turned into a dumping ground for random stuff.  All that had to be dealt with before we could bring down the guest bed.

Office Make Over

 

One element of this project that I am particularly proud of is the new wall shelves.  There was an old cheap, falling apart bookshelf in the garage that wasn’t storing anything too important.  So, we moved things around and dismantled it.  We salvaged the shelves and Paul put some brackets on the wall above the desk.  And Boom!  We had more storage space for the office supplies that need to be readily accessible!

Once we got the office ready, we brought down the bed and it turned out it was too tight of a fit to leave the corner bookshelf where I had wanted it.  So, we got creative and tipped it on it’s side.  Paul built some stools for the other side of the bed and now there is a lot of storage space under the bed.  I’m also calling it a loft bed, now, because it’s just too high tobe a normal bed.  Haha!

Office Guest Bed

 

The next project we completed during this Christmas break is refinishing an old dresser I had bought from a local buy/sell group.  I sanded it down, and painted it a dark peacock blue green color and swapped out the ugly old handles for brushed nickel looking ones.  I also decided to paint an old end table we’d had tucked into a closet to match the dresser.  Paul was a little concerned about the color I picked, but once it was on the dresser, he loved it as much as I did from the beginning.

Dresser Update

Another project we worked on was getting the previously called guest room to qualify as a nursery.  So what does that mean??? It means a crib!  Yay!  My parents gave us the crib for Christmas, so Paul got it set up.  I also created some prints (inspired by Pinterest, of course), framed them and hung them on the walls.  I would still like to do a little more decorating, but I think that will come with time.

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The next project we worked on was building gates for the top and bottom of our stairs.  This is one of the requirements for the adoption process, so it was a high priority.  I had been thinking about a gate for the top of the stairs since we had Harry, but he’s never really been allowed to roam free upstairs.  And now, he knows how to do stairs by himself so I thought we sidestepped that phase.  But since we needed to get it done, I revisited the ideas I’d had floating around from way back.  I am not crazy about the pre-fabbed baby gates.  They tend to be cumbersome and expensive and not to mention major eye-soars.  Pinterest to the rescue yet again!  I’d seen a number of homemade, farm-door style gates and we decided to use that as inspiration.  Eventually, we used plywood covered in fabric and chalkboard with some pretty and chunky hardware.  I am very happy with the outcome!  And it’s a good thing I like it since we have two!

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Once the gates were completed, I moved on to the closet for the nursery.  A few years ago, I painted it green to match the green in the room.  That actually made a huge difference in making it so much more attractive.  There are no doors, so we’d hung a curtain up instead.  The problem was that there was only one shelf and one rod across the length of the closet.  It was a very inefficient use of space!

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I went back and forth in my mind about how much time and effort I wanted to invest in the closet.  I also didn’t want to spend a fortune on it.  So I scoured Pinterest yet again and took a field trip out to The Container Store in Pasadena with a couple friends to get ideas.  Eventually, I decided to add a column of shelves on one side and another rod with a shelf above it that only reaches half way across the closet.  I also wanted another high shelf that stretched the length of the closet.  But of course, I couldn’t do any of this until is was painted pretty to match the room!  I used the same paint I had used on the dresser and end table.  By using left over wood from other projects, our total cost for this closet makeover was only about $75, which makes us both happy!

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With a few final touches to the nursery, like a ribbon chandelier I made from a wire cupcake tower and some more art on the walls, I feel like the nursery is officially ready.  I know that once we actually start using it, it will start to fill up and looked lived in. I can’t wait to get to that point.  image-8

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I shared recently that we will probably bring home a baby by early spring. But, I want to share that having the baby in our care does not necessarily mean that baby will be ours forever.

We are going the foster to adopt route. This means the little ones we take in will most likely be in a situation where there is potential for reunification with their first family, their biological family. While I know it will be very difficult for us to care for a baby and then give him or her back, there is a part of me that still hopes for that. Not because I will want to hand the little one over, but because I want for mothers and babies to be together. Because I believe that healing and reunification is better than staying broken. And because I’m not there yet and I haven’t experienced the deep feelings of wanting what’s best for a baby and wanting for the best to be me even though it might not be.

The more time I spend in prayer about this new journey we’re on, the more God seems to be sensitizing my heart to the mother and not just to the baby. I can’t stop thinking about and praying for the many mothers who don’t keep their babies. And the word that keeps floating around my mind is “brokennes.”

You see, it is easy to see a woman who has lost custody of her baby and say, “oh yeah, she’s so messed up.”   It’s easy to see her brokenness from the outside and judge her and think I’m better than her. And to think that I would never be as bad as her. It’s easy to feel smug and self-righteous when I hear the numerous situations that lead to a woman having her baby taken away. And it’s easy to feel like a hero because we are rescuing a baby in need.  But the truth is I’m broken, too, even if it’s not as visible from the outside.

My body is broken and that’s keeping me from having another baby. And my heart is broken because of the longing. And my faith is broken because I don’t understand why God will put a baby in the womb of a woman who can’t or won’t care for it while I ache for another baby and yet my womb remains empty. I hate that it hurts so much. I hate that my faith wavers because of this hurt. And I am ashamed that this journey has left me angry and cold and that it taints my view of the world around me. I am heart broken that infertility has burdened us for two thirds of our marriage and that I don’t seem to be the same person I was when I said “I do” because of it. My brokenness may not be as visible to the world around me, but it weighs me down in ways I never expected. Yes, I am so so very broken, too.

And God sees my brokenness as clearly as he sees the brokenness of the other mother. And as Paul and I are getting ready to welcome home a new baby, the Lord is revealing my brokenness to me. And He is showing me how much I have in common with the other mother. And He is gently reminding me just how much He loves us both. When I think about the woman who will give birth to the next baby that I call my own, I am growing to love her and ache for her.

I want her brokenness healed just as much as I want my own brokenness healed. I want to be a part of that healing. I want to be used by God to bless her and care for her. And I know that may entail caring for her baby as if it were my own simply to give him or her back after a time of healing has passed. I don’t WANT to bring home a baby that I don’t get to keep. But I do want healing and reunification to take place between the mothers and children who are broken. And I am willing to help even though it may hurt. And I know that God will use my willingness to help her in my own healing process.

Ever since we shared the news that we are planning to adopt, there have been a few questions that keep coming up. The first one that everyone seems to be asking is “when?” I think by that question, they’re really asking when we will bring home a baby. And the answer to that question is… soon. It could be as early as late February or it could and will probably be more like April. Either way, that feels really soon to me.

 

We had our initial screening meeting with the agency in early November and were given our application packet at that time. The packet includes a lot of homework. A LOT! And there’s no official due date for it, but we obviously can’t move forward without it.   Our classes will start in late January and are pretty well compacted into about three very intense weeks. Once we complete the classes and turn in our completed packet, we can move into the home study process. This process can be quick, or it can take a while. If there are issues that need to be addressed with our home, it will push back the completion of the home study. If there are a lot of families ahead of us in line, then that will push back our home study. Or, if there are any pieces of paperwork missing at all, then it will… you guessed it… push back the home study. There are a lot of factors outside of our control. And there will most likely be quite a bit of rushing to get to the next step, then waiting for it to be completed.

 

Of course we don’t want the process to take any longer than it needs to. And we don’t want to cause any delays by not completing something ahead of time that we could have gotten done. So right now, we are focusing on completing our application and getting our home up to “home study” standards. Our goal is to hand in our completed packet by the end of our classes so that it can go straight into the hands of the case worker who will do the home study. Our self-imposed due date is the end of January.

 

Assuming all goes well and smooth, the home study will be started and completed in February. But we want to mentally and emotionally prepare ourselves for the likelihood of some delays. When everything is done, we will sit by the phone and wait for a call. There are some situations where families get a call the same day or week. Or, some families have to wait a while.   We don’t know. But we know we want to do everything we can to get ready so that when the call comes, we are able to say yes. And then we will have a baby. Yay!

Disclaimer before you proceed:  I know that this blog has traditionally been pretty much focused on crafts and cakes and whatnot.  And that means it’s been pretty impersonal.  But brace yourself!  It’s gonna get personal up in here real quick!  Here we go!

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So, you heard the news? Well, if you haven’t let me tell you. We have decided to adopt. We are so excited to be growing our family in this way and cannot wait to meet the little one that God will bring onto our family. I know that news like this may leave you wondering how we came to this decision, so let me share.

But where do I start! I first thought about foster care and adoption when I was in college working at a Salvation Army summer camp. Prior to that time, I didn’t really realize how great a need there was for good homes. I had known about adoption and foster care, but it wasn’t even on my radar. But working at that camp, we had many many campers who where living in group homes or foster homes. And the Lord used that time to plant the seed in my heart.

Fast forward to about five years ago, Paul and I decided we were ready to start growing our family. It wasn’t long before we realized that would not be an easy or natural task for us. And for about two and half years of trying for a baby, before Harry was conceived, we started thinking about alternative ways to become parents. While we eventually conceived our sweet little man, we had been thinking more about adoption during that season. But the truth is, we weren’t ready to go down this road yet.

As soon as Harry was born, pretty much, we started trying to get pregnant again. We knew it could take some time, so we didn’t want to waste any. And the whole journey in infertility, the heartbreak, the loss, the grief, the medical procedures and bills… those are all topics for another post. But I mention them here because through it all, we continued to think about adoption. I remember calling Paul in tears on the drive home from yet another difficult doctor’s visit a few months ago, and he gently suggested maybe we should revisit the topic of adoption. He was ready to head down this path before I was.

I need to clarify, though, it wasn’t so much that I wasn’t ready to head down this path. I just wasn’t ready to stop trying for another baby naturally. And I felt like I couldn’t do both at the same time. The idea of never being pregnant again, never giving birth, never nursing, never seeing a new face that is a combination of mine and my husband’s… that thought makes me sad. And for a long time, I felt like turning to adoption was giving up on that hope. But it’s not. I have not given up hope that I will one day experience those joys again.

But we don’t know when or if that will happen. And those specific experiences are such a small piece of motherhood in the grand scheme of things that I know we will love and bond with another baby even without them. And since we have been thinking about opening our home and our hearts to a child through the process of adoption anyway, we don’t want to put it off for something that MAY never happen.

So we’re not going to. We are not going to wait another moment longer than we have to.  We are adopting! This is real and I am so excited for what God has in store for us now.  And I look forward to sharing more as we move forward in this process.

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This cake was seriously so rich that I can’t do it true justice with words or pictures.  But I’ll try.  The cake was three layers.  The top and bottom layer were butter pecan.  That cake by itself is so good.  But I sandwiched between it a layer of butter yellow cake.  And the filling, oh it was unreal.  I made a caramel mousse that was so so good.  And the outside of this cake was chocolate buttercream.  I actually just followed the recipe on the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa box for the first time ever.  And I found myself wondering why I’d never made this recipe before.  If fact, I wondered why I had ever bothered to purchase chocolate frosting when this recipe was so good and so so easy.  I coated the outside of the cake with milk chocolate chips, because why not and because moarchocolate!  Yep, this cake was rich.  Moist, buttery, chocolatey, beautiful.  And oh so rich.

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Wedding Cupcakes

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A couple weeks ago I was hired to make cupcakes for a wedding.  The bride was open to what flavors she got, but she did request a batch of gluten free.  I had given her some of the cupcakes as a taste test from Harry’s Birthday party.  She loved the Almond Joy cupcakes and the Lemon Delight.  But wanted something different than the blue suede.

We settled on Lemon Delight which was lemon cake with homemade lemon curd filling and light whipped frosting (I love my Bettercream!).  I garnished them with white sugar crystals, yellow nonpareils and lemon gumdrops cut into wedges.

The next flavor was the Amond Joy I’d made before.  The cake was chocolate almond cake with coconut cream filling and topped with rich vanilla almond buttercream.  I garnished these with coconut shavings and raw almonds.

The next flavor was Raspberry white chocolate.  This was a white cake with raspberry filling and white chocolate mousse on top.  It is a very simple and classic wedding flavor.

Finally was the gluten-free.  I made a a gluten-free chocolate cake and filled it with a rich chocolate buttercream.  I topped it off with caramel mousse and light brown and dark brown sprinkles.  Long gone are the days of gluten-free being synonymous with tastes bad.  These ones were really rich and a huge hit.

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Happy 4th of July

Ha!  I just used the term “photo shoot” to describe what I’m about to post.  It really was a matter of hanging a flag on our fence, dressing Harry in a flag shirt, and snapping away.  I didn’t get too creative here, but I did get a good number of great shots.  This was a simple approach, but we got exactly what we were looking for.  Patriotic pics of our little man that show off her sweet personality.

 

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