Monday, November 24, 2014

November is National Adoption Month.

Look at me! I'm such a cute baby!

I’m 31 years-old, relatively sane, semi-functional, contributing member of society. I have no massive hang-ups, have never been to jail and don’t seem to have any major debilitating personality flaws. And I’m adopted. I actually consider it to be a very minor part of who I am. First – sinner saved by grace, wife, mommy, daughter, friend, employee. Lover of chocolate. Iowa resident. And so on and so on. The list goes on. Somewhere near the bottom of the list I remember that I’m adopted, which isn’t a big deal. The bigger deal is that I was raised in a household by two parents who loved me and never treated me any differently except like their beloved daughter. 

I’ve known my entire life that I was adopted. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist; I’m quite Asian and I have two very Caucasian parents. I have one distinct memory of being 6 or 7 and having an older person whisper in front of me; to my parents “does Kara know she’s adopted?” I remember thinking “wow, you’re an idiot. Of course I know. And if I didn’t know, I would certainly know now!”
If I have to say anything about being adopted, it was growing up in a small town with relatively few Asians. It made me different, but it had less to do with being adopted than anything. I think, to some extent, this is less of a problem in today’s world than the world that I grew up in. Families come in all shapes and sizes. 

I acknowledge that my family’s adoption situation was one of the more “ideal” scenarios – I was adopted at the age of three months; it was a closed, international adoption; I didn’t have any health defects; and because I was an infant, I have no memories of being in an orphanage or my birth family. Not knowing my birth family has never really bothered me; I already have great parents. I know that there are adoptees that are more curious about their heritage in comparison to me. And that’s great, but my life is complete as it is. I have no additional desire for self-revelation or discovery. Maybe I’m mundane but I’m never had some soul searching quest for “more.”  

I have about a handful of friends who are going through the adoption process or have added to their families by way of adoption. I think it’s fantastic. But I also know of a few who are hesitant to mix up their family dynamics with a child who isn’t genetically “theirs” per say. This is absurd because we all know that when it comes to children, we get the child God intended for us, regardless of genetic disposition. I think one of the nicest things I ever had said to me was by my 8th grade science teacher. He and his wife (also one of my former teachers – 7th grade math –not one of my better subjects, even as a junior high student) had recently gotten married and were contemplating adoption. I know they were going back and forth and in passing my science teacher said to me “Kara, if I knew we could adopt and they would turn out as well as you, we would.” And when I was in high school, I got news that they had adopted a little girl from Russia. This has stuck with me for 18 years. I can’t say if I really had anything at all to do with their adopting, but I like to think that I helped them make a “yes” decision. 

So November is National Adoption month, this is my adoption story and me giving a big huge high five endorsement to adoption. I became a naturalized citizen June 3. My parents used to have a small celebratory party for me every year on June 3. On June 3, 2011 I had my first child. Make no mistake this is exactly what God had planned for me. If you are thinking about adopting, just go for it. Looky at how "normal" I am! :)

Friday, November 21, 2014

10 Things to Treat Yourself to in the Third Trimester

  1. Mani/pedi. Hello feet?! Haven’t seen you in a while … go treat yourself to a little pampering and get your toes and fingers in tip-top-shape.
  2. Flowers. At the end of October I hosted a “Favorite Things Party” and received a lovely bouquet of flowers. They’re not extravagant or huge, but they’re pretty and we all deserve a little more pretty!
  3. Take a nap. More than likely you’re tired from all that energy you’re expending on GROWING A LIFE.
  4. Read something unrelated to child rearing/baby development. It might be the last time you are able to sit in one spot without falling asleep or have someone interrupt you.
  5. Get a new pillow. All sleep related things are good things at this point.
  6. Have a “last hurrah” date night with hubby. Date nights become far fewer when you have to contend with finding a babysitter. Lance and I went to one of our favorite restaurants, The Flying Mango, when I was pregnant with Lucan. I have very vivid memories of having water offered to me several times while we were waiting for a table. I must have looked like I was going to have the baby at any moment. This time we went to Centro, one of other Des Moines favorites. But eat at someplace really nice and celebrate life.
  7. Give yourself permission not to fanatically clean or marathon cook. In fact, I bought a groupon earlier in the year for house cleaning with the sole intention of using it in my third trimester when I didn’t feel like cleaning the floor on my hands and knees. Update: this ended up being a complete bust. The cleaning company wouldn’t return any of my calls and I ended up getting a groupon refund and still had to clean the house myself. #fail My parents are coming to spend Thanksgiving at our house and my wise friend, Jessica, made me promise that I would not spend hours in front of the stove preparing a Thanksgiving meal. As a result, I’m buying 2/3 of my Thanksgiving meal from Hy-Vee. I’m not allowing myself to feel guilty about this.
  8. Attend a prenatal yoga class. All that stretching and “oommm-ing” will be soothing.
  9. Drink a mock-tail and pretend it’s the real thing. Even if that just means pouring your Shirley Temple into a cocktail glass and adding an umbrella to it.
  10. Take a bath. A long bath. Fill it with essential oils and Epsom salts and just sit. Enjoy the sitting. Then imagine that maybe the next time, the water will be able to cover your belly. I had a friend give me a fizzbanger bath bomb from LUSH and I loved it. Loved, loved, loved it. It made my bath water silky smooth and delicious smelling.

One unofficial thing I love doing now that the nursery is “done” is sit quietly in the rocker and pray and imagine life with this little one. Life, right now, is anything but quiet so the serene quality of the nursery is especially soothing on this anxious mama’s nerves!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What’s in your wallet (or work bag)?

Answer: you probably don’t want to know. 

  • 2 magazines (Christmas Real Simple and trashy Glamour – I have another year left on the subscription I somehow keep receiving. I don’t know how)
  • 1 notebook outlining meal plans, hospital bag packing lists, parenting class notes and other misc crap
  • My 2014 planner containing more meal plans, to-dos, lists of baby names and partially completed Christmas lists
  • 1 package of Halloween fruit snacks. From two Halloweens ago. They are alarmingly soft, which concerns me.
  • 1 flower delivery note from Lance for birthday flowers
  • 1 pair of dirty gray socks belonging to me. I don’t know why I have socks in my bag or why I would have taken them off at work.
  • 1 iphone charger. Sadly, I was looking for my ipod charger when this post started.
  • 2 pairs of earbuds
  • 1 cow print balloon left over from dressing up like cows for free food at Chik-Fil-A (back in July)
  • 1 unopened package of basil seeds. I have no earthly idea where they came from and why they are in my bag.
  • Easter M&Ms. Yep.
  • 1 baggie of candy corn, peanuts and M&Ms
  • 7 M&Ms in a snack container
  • 6 sour gummy worms leftover from Lucan’s 2 year-old birthday party (note: Lu is almost 3.5 years-old. These are not alarmingly soft. But Lu found 4 sour gummy worms last weekend in a drawer and happily ate them - "yummy mom! A little chewy ...")
  • 1 chocolate chip cookie and 9 cashews
  • 1 canning ring
  • 1 fun size Twix
  • 1 plastic yellow straw

I think the moral of the story is that I need to clean out work bag more often. And throw away more candy. I had a male co-worker tell me once how odd the amount of crap women tote into work with them because in his exact words “everything they need to do their jobs is already at their desk!” In my case, he may have a point …

Yes, my first post in almost a month. I'll work on doing more meaningful content soon-ish. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

6 Trends I’m Not Buying

  1.  Capsule wardrobe. I’m pregnant. My entire wardrobe is a capsule. I wear the same maternity dresses and jeans plus one pair of gray corduroy pants. Oh and leggings. So you better believe that once I’m done with this being pregnant foolishness, I’m going to wear all sorts of frivolous things that don’t involve elastic waists. (caveat: lots of people seem to really think the concept of a capsule wardrobe is great. And that's really good for them, just not my cup of tea.)
  2. Veganism. Lucan and I ate 7 pieces of bacon last night. Lance had 2. We don’t believe in veganism unless it involves bacon.
  3. Pumpkin everything. I bought one can of pumpkin. I might make a loaf of pumpkin bread and call it good. We went to the pumpkin patch last weekend and I thought it was entirely overrated and overpriced. It should be noted that Lance and Lucan thought it was a lot more fun than I did, so it could be pregnant crabby lady too …
  4. iPhone 6. Duh, I just got my first iPhone 5c over Labor Day, so I’m sure as not getting a new phone for a good long time. Besides Lance won’t let me.
  5. Decorating for Halloween. First off, spiders creep me out. As do scary witches and masks. Second off, who has time to do all that decorating? Or the space? I put out a few gourds, pumpkins and colored leaves for “autumn” and call it good. Lasts me September through November.
  6.  Mashed cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes. You can’t fool me. There’s no carby goodness hiding in those “faux-potatoes.” I have no issue with cauliflower. Just don’t try and trick me and say it’s a potato. Momma didn’t raise no fool.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Humor: Cloud Dough-Paste Sensory Activity

Lucan is having more and more fun doing “activities,” which is great. He wants to play and interact and use his imagination – all good things. I know that sometimes it’s easiest to just plop him in the living room and tell him to play with his toys, but activities that require a little planning and momma forethought have been really good for us. I’ve been really thankful for Angela at for ideas. Angela is one of those fantastic moms who always has something fun up their sleeves. Me, not so much. Angela and her family used to attend the same church as us before moving to a new town. She’s fantastic!

Anywho, Angela is one of my go-to resources for things to do with Lucan on Saturday mornings. One of the preschool sensory activities that I’ve seen floating around was Cloud Dough. Two ingredients: flour and oil. Easy peasy. Angela recommended using baby oil as it smells better. No problem, baby oil comes cheap and isn’t hard to find (unlike liquid watercolors, another story for another day). There was a weekday I was home with a sick Lucan (day two of antibiotics so technically he wasn’t “contagious” so I didn’t feel awful about dragging him out in public ) so we decided to head out to Wal-Mart to purchase some art supplies to keep us occupied. Baby oil was an easy addition to our cart. Much easier than the contemplation that took place in the tempera paint aisle.  

But a batch of cloud dough is ½ cup oil and 4 cups of flour and then mixing it up with your hands. No problem. Easy. I got a couple of containers, measuring spoons and a set of silicon ice cube trays (which I bought over a year ago with the plan to make crayon shapes) for Lucan to use to play with the cloud dough. He enjoyed it well enough. It wasn’t exactly life changing, but it was fine. Messy, but fine. We played on the deck so the mess didn’t really overly concern me. 

Cloud dough while it was still "dough."

 However problems started later that day when Lucan went out (unsupervised) to the backyard/deck to play with his water table and water table toys. Generally speaking, no problem. I can see his water table from our kitchen window while I’m washing dishes. On this particular day, Lance and I were trying to finish up some salsa canning and had put our huge vat of canning water out on the deck as a measure to NOT heat up the house even more. Unbeknownst to me, Lucan started transporting copious amounts of water using his watering can into the plastic tub we had used earlier for cloud dough. We all know that flour + water = paste. 

Cloud dough as glue paste. Just add water!

Sticky icky paste. Paste that was everywhere. While I didn’t have the massive conniption that Lance did (because how much harm can come of flour paste that’s being played with outside?), I certainly wasn’t happy that we weren’t going to be able to have a second cloud dough playtime. Lance, on the other hand, saw the sticky paste that was getting all over our wood deck that was going to have to be sprayed off with a hose to get rid of the gunk. This is probably where Lance deemed the cloud dough as the WORSE IDEA EVER. Talk about drama queen. And people say I have a flair for the dramatic. 

So in the future if you want to play with cloud dough, go for it! Just don’t add water.

Friday, October 10, 2014

31 Thankful Things in August and 30 Things in September (and pictures to boot!)

  1. Celebrating the life of our friend, Ron. Witnessing the family’s strength and gratitude at a sad time.
  2. Not dying at the Iowa State Fair. My pregnant body cannot handle 10 hours of walking. Nope, not at all.
  3. Bauders Peppermint Ice Cream bar. Every year it’s the highlight of my State Fair experience.
  4. Finding fantastic furniture for Lucan’s big boy room off of Craigslist. Lance later confessed that he had some reservations about being able to reassemble it correctly as the woman had already started taking it apart when they picked it up and had thrown away the instructions. Lance always acts a little surprised when I tell him that I have zero doubts about his handy abilities.
  5. Regaining some energy that was lost in the first trimester (I’m sure it will be gone again next month as I’m rounding third base for trimester three)
  6. Saving $20 on an Aveda Institute haircut by finding an old, buried coupon.
  7. Holy garden goodness. We were blessed to pick out of one of our friend’s gardens and they had an abundance of raspberries and tomatoes. The raspberries became homemade raspberry muffins and the tomatoes were turned into salsa. Yum!
  8. Sweet ice cream deals ($1.99 for Breyers!!)
  9. Discovering that Lucan likes hardboiled eggs (when did that happen?)
  10. Having a friend and her son stop over for a super low key supper and playdate (that’s you Molls)
  11. Lucan named our baby GIRL “Paco.” No idea where he got that.
  12. Spending time with all of our immediate family (mom/dad; MIL/FIL; BIL/SIL +2 kiddos; BIL/SIL) in the timespan of 10 days. Lucan adores getting to visit all of our family members.
  13. Fun evening out with Jessie and Lincoln at Urbandale’s Night Out. Note to future self: go at the start of the event and don’t wait until the end to go down the bounce house slide. They shut down promptly at 7pm.
  14. Work freebies for Lance. Because my workplace doesn’t believe in freebies. Or fun.
  15. God’s provision for a job for me. The client I work for did not renew their contract for 2015 but I have been promised that I’ll still have a job on another account.
  16. The start of three year-old preschool. Yes, totally missed the memo that Lucan was officially starting preschool this fall. #momfail
  17. Two pintrest wins – toddler glitter bottle and frozen chocolate covered banana bites! (and one fail when Lucan decided to add a gallon of water to his cloud dough and basically make glue on the deck. Lance was super pissed about the mess.)
  18. Days off – one day off because Lucan had strep and two more days off just because.
  19. Fun baby/pregnancy conversations with my neighbor.
  20. Tons of food from Olive Garden for $25 (soup, salad, breadsticks, chicken alfredo and three baked zitis). Gotta love online specials and takeout!
  21. Art projects with Lucan at home. I totally get why pintrest is awesome. He’s so enthusiastic and loves them!
  22. Library books.
  23. Tomatoes +basil = Kara’s everlasting love and the reason I garden.
  24. Our yard looks fantastic. There’s never been a better August for our yard. Probably has something to do with the massive amount of rain we’ve had this month. Good golly pop lolly (taken from Skippy John Jones)
  25. Swimming at my parents’ house.
  26. Sweet toddler kisses.
  27. Lance had a chance to go see the Twins powerhouse hitter play in a local game. And I didn’t have to go and sit through a baseball game. I win.
  28. Lucan learned how to take a shower. That cuts a solid half hour out of bath routines!
  29. Hwy 141 garage sales and making my first pink purchases
  30. Last day in church nursery until baby girl makes her appearance (um, if you’ve been in our shoes, you know this is a huge thing!)
  31. JD Greear ‘s Bible study, Hebrews: Christ is Better.
    We attended Urbandale's "Night Out" and it was a little chaotic to say the least. Advice for next year, go early. We missed the opportunity to go down the bounce house slide and Lu was disappointed. But we had fun with Jessie and Lincoln. And climbing around on the firetruck and ambulance.

    We have a sudden interest in "art projects." It's actually been a really good thing. As long as I take proper precautions, painting keeps him occupied for a good half hour. And make sure he's properly smocked and not mixing black paint into everything (because he's a boy)

    This is the magic cloud dough that we played with out on the deck. Lu and I had fun scooping it and feeling the softness.

    Lucan the proceeded to have more fun later adding water and making soup. Lance deemed this "the worse project EVER." When you mix flour, baby oil and water you get paste. Everywhere. Apparently Lance and his two brothers never made any messes as little boys ...

    Little boy LOVES swimming in Gramper's "big pool." Lu was the only kiddo at the family reunion so he and Lance had the pool to themselves.
    This boy is fearless. And loves swimming.

    Sheer delight.

    There are times (okay more than "times") when I feel bad that Lu is in daycare. But he's learning SO much and has fun. This was the present his teacher "Miss Patricia" gave all of her students on the first day.

    Okay, so I didn't get an actual "first day of preschool" picture. One day after preschool I asked Lucan to sit on the stoop so I could take his preschool picture. This is what I got.

    After a little prompting, I got this picture. Not fantastic, but a definite improvement. Side note: it took a magic eraser to get off my chalk marker. Not impressed.
    Lu's big boy bed. After months of searching, I found a great deal on craigslist for Lu's new bed, headboard and dresser. We've actually decided to keep him with his current dresser and give little sister the other dresser as it's bigger. I also conducted a massive online search to find a more reasonably priced version of the PB Kids quilt I was in love with. $129 is a lot to spend on a kids quilt. I do still want to purchase adorable sheets, but somehow I think Lance will be ticked at the $80 I want to spend ... but I bought the quilt and pillow sham off of craigslist aka: my new bestie.
    30 September Blessings
    1. The birth of a friend’s twin baby girls AND the announcement of TWO other friends who are also expecting twins in the spring! Wowzers!
    2. The birthdays of my daddy-o, my aunt, my sis-in-law and a cousin.
    3. Apples, apples and more apples. Lance’s aunt gave us a ton and Lu had fun with his first apple picking experience. Now onto homemade applesauce and canning.
    4. Finding out that my placenta issue has cleared up – huge blessing and relief!
    5. Lots of family time. Baby shower, first birthday party, family meals together.
    6. A fantastic “Favorite Things” cooking club at my house. The frantic cleaning and staying up to close to midnight 3 nights running wasn’t one of my “favorite things” but it was such a fun party!
    7. 2nd birthday party of this kiddo.
    8. Fall weather.
    9. Rocking out my half birthday to the tune of ½ a gallon of root beer, ½ a gallon of vanilla bean ice cream (root beer floats yo!), ½ a pound of chocolate covered peanuts, ½ a pound of chocolate covered pretzels, ½ pound of Hot Tamales and ½ a pound of trail mix. My husband loves me.
    10. Getting iPhones! Hello 2014!
    11. A super fun Saturday at the Blank Park Zoo. Lucan was obsessed with wanting to ride the train (no big surprise there) while Lance wasn’t really down with wanting to spend the extra $$. But I kindly reminded Lance that these are the things in life that are really special to Lucan and won’t break the bank. But the weather was gorgeous and we ran into our friends, Nate, Molly and Isaac.
    12. The return of “Person of Interest.” Tuesday nights at 9 pm you will find me parked on my couch.
    13. Super sweet hugs from Lucan and super sweet hugs for baby Paco (Lucan’s doing, not mine)
    14. Story time at the library. Lu is at the age where he loves when Momma or Daddy spend the extra time with him there. I’m really trying to cherish our special one-on-one time with him.
    15. Our yard looks fantastic. This also means that it keeps raining. This means we have to mow. That’s a downer.
    16. An Iowa State victory over Iowa. It wasn’t a pretty game, but a W is still a W.
    17. Pregnancy leggings. They are, by far, the most comfortable maternity item I own.
    18. Fun co-workers. Work can be a drag sometimes, but fun co-workers help immensely.
    19. The end of baseball season. Baseball season is like a frickin’ triple marathon.
    20. Parenting class: Working through behavioral challenges God’s way. It’s been really enlightening and helpful. Lucan’s at a really good age for this class – old enough to realize there are things we can do better but young enough to still be moldable.
    21. Winning: a hobo bags wallet giveaway. $88 value! Score!
    22. Vintage Michael Jackson music randomly playing at work.
    23. Fruit infused water. Yum!
    24. Pintrest fails – they keep you humble.
    25. Successfully sewing a cute minky baby blanket for my SIL under tight turnaround time.
    26. Wedding invitations.
    27. Having a light bulb moment and figuring out that I can use my old tripod on my new camera.
    28. Apple cider (or Simply Apple juice that tastes like cider)
    29. Meeting a childhood friend’s son for the first time and having our similarly aged sons hit it off
    30. Air conditioning. Because I’m pregnant and hot, so I deserve air conditioning. 

    Swinging at the "school bus park" after story time.

    All decked out for the ISU versus Iowa football game.

    These two crazy kiddos would dance on tables if we let them. They're going to be wild children if we ever let them be college roommates.

    This was our last day in nursery for Lucan. I won't lie, I'm thankful.

    Sometimes Lance hits one out of the park. He's notorious for excellent half birthday presents. Not so much for Mother's Day. 

    This was my stack from the library one weekend. You can bet that I heard a lot of complaints from Lance about how heavy his bag was coming from the library.

    Evening walk around the block. It was some of the first truly "fall-like" weather.

    Such a cool cat. We're on our way to the DM zoo.

    Feeding the "hungry" goats. Lucan got upset when he couldn't feed the specific goat he wanted to. Mainly he wanted to feed the goats that were smaller because they were "hungry." Precious boy, none of the zoo goats are hungry!

    And at the same time, he wanted to feed specific goldfish and got sad when another fish ate the food.

    Lance was appalled by how gross the koi were.

    Lucan the kangaroo.

    Loving the train ride with daddy.

    Feed the birds. He wanted to feed the birds he thought were the hungriest. Of course these would be the ones farthest away.

    Family selfie.

    His favorite exhibit were the river otters. They would swoop down through the water and pop up. They were pretty funny!

    In true lance fashion, eyes shut.

    Surprise! I'm a joey!

    Lucan derives great joy in being "a big helper." That nights particular task was shucking corn. About 4 more ears than I had originally planned because "big helper" didn't want to stop.