A is for Adoption #AtoZChallenge

Well, I did it.  I signed up THIS MORNING to participate in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 2014.

Yes, I’m crazy.

Oh well…I loved participating in 2012 for the first time.  I missed it last year when I didn’t do it.  So I’m jumping in with both feet, hoping to jump start my words again, and hoping that 26 days is enough to lock in the writing habit again.  I’ve missed it.  I’ve felt blocked and unable to write for months & months.  I’m inspired by the challenge.

And…I’m inspired by the challenge to tackle a theme.  So many of the bloggers in this challenge choose various themes, and while on the one hand it has the potential to create an added layer of difficulty, I think this is the year.  Here’s why…

We just spent the past 18 months…well, it’s really been off and on for five years…but in the past 18 months my family (husband, son, and me) went through a successful home study, two unsuccessful matches, one successful match, and on March 6, 2014 finalized the ADOPTION of our second child…another son…a beautiful, perfect little boy who just passed his 6-month birthday.

So ADOPTION it is…at least, in brief…26 entries over the next 30 days.

What I will say today is that ADOPTION is wonderful, heart-wrenching, beautiful, difficult, fulfilling, frustrating, and so full of blessings it is impossible to count them all.  I am beyond grateful for the gift of adoption, without which we would only have one child…a child who desperately and fervently desired a sibling, and who prayed faithfully for one until he arrived.  We are so grateful for him, and truly, we are grateful for the experience that brought him to us.  I will write our complete story one day, but suffice it to say for now that…

ADOPTION is not for the faint of heart, because it will fill it to overflowing and rip it apart.  Staying the course is not easy when things get bumpy, matches fall through, money is lost, or any of a million unexpected details arise…many of which will complicate things.

But ADOPTION is an amazing, fulfilling blessing…more so than anyone who has been through it can explain, and more than you can even anticipate.  I wouldn’t change any part of our experience, because it resulted in this wonderful child we have been privileged to add to our family.

So come back over the course of this month and read about our story.  I promise, it has a GREAT ending!

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Red Ink is Mean, and Other Random Thoughts

red inkYes, you read the title right.  Apparently, red ink is too mean, and teachers can no longer use it to grade students’ work.  Well, so says the administration at Mounts Bay Academy near Penzance, Cornwall, England.  Here is the news article.  If you think this is an isolated case, think again.  I’ve heard these stories for years, and this is just another step in the utter wussification of the current generation.  But no worries, it’s just a first world problem.  Carry on…

Feeding the political junkie that is me requires a lot of reading.  It’s fortunate I love both…politics & reading.  The thing is, there comes a point where personal sanity is at stake.  Seriously, there are days when I have to laugh at the absurdity of our current political situation, otherwise I would cry.

In the interest of seeing the absurdity in action, watch this:

I feel the same way about the increasing hostility toward all things Christian.  It’s not all things religious, because the vitriol does not spew toward Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Druidism, Wiccan, Agnosticism, Atheism, and any number of others the way it spews towardwar on christianity anything Christian.  I do not get it.  In the United States, the only country in the world that has religious freedom codified into its Constitution, Christianity is becoming the unpopular, ugly stepchild that is fun to pick on because those of us who believe in Christ are not as “enlightened” or “cool” as those who don’t.  If I didn’t laugh (somewhat bitterly), I would cry.

Lest you think the above is exaggeration, I direct you to this blog post outline the lawsuit filed by Mike S. Adams against University of North Carolina – Wilmingtion, accusing them of violating his First Amendment rights by denying him promotion to full professor because of his religious and political beliefs.  Next, read this column by Mike S. Adams himself.  Finally, note here, herehere, and here that he won his trial, and UNC-W was found to have violated his First Amendment rights by denying him this promotion.  A judgment for damages is still pending, and yes <sigh>, UNC-W is considering an appeal.

Oh, and then there’s Bill Maher, and this “giraffe crap.”  To his credit, he did the obligatory jab at the world’s religions, but his ugliest words were for Christians.

Speaking of Christians, don’t you find it ironic that someone who is a staunch believer in Jesus Christ can also be a harsh and completely unforgiving person?  The acknowledging and receiving of the most profound and unselfish example of forgiveness simply does not translate into grace and mercy when dealing with other people, and there is no opportunity for redemption of the relationship once it has failed.  I find it the starkest – and saddest – illustration of irony I have ever seen, not to mention one of the things that continually tarnishes Christians.  Striving to follow Jesus while simultaneously rejecting anyone who has failed you.  Irony, thy name is <insert name here>.

a to z badgeI’m contemplating another go at the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  You can read about it here.  I participated in 2012, and it was great fun, but terribly time consuming.  In 2013 I was all set to do it again, but I got sick and life got b-u-s-y.  I missed it.  So here we are again…I haven’t planned ahead this year, and I haven’t signed up…and the start date is rapidly approaching.  I’m wondering if any of my blogging friends are considering it (again for some).  Woman Never Sleeps, have you thought about jumping in again?  What about you, Good Food: Savories, Sweets & Stories?  I know you did the challenge in 2013…how did you like it?  What about you, Joy in LifeLiving Loving Breathing BoysA Homemaker in Training?

Dexter

Dexter

For the first time in 21 years, my pets do not include cats.  I’m a little sad about that.  I love cats, and I’ve had several really great cats over my lifetime.  However, our family has entered the season of young boys and dogs, and after watching our sweet new pup Dexter follow our 8yo son around today, plus seeing the look of sheer delight on our 6mo son’s face when Dexter licks his face/hands/arms/feet/legs/whatever part he can reach, I can’t say I’m disappointed.  It’ll be a new experience for me, and I’m embracing it.

And with that, I’m tapped out for now.

Appreciating the Zealotry

Well it’s time for APPRECIATING THE ZEALOTRY. The purpose of this challenge is to re-post a favourite post you wrote in April that perhaps many people did not get to read due to the craziness of the month. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a romantic post – just go with your favourite, whatever that was – a story, a post about writing, a guest post…

Read full details here

How to do it? Re-post your post (s) onto your blog, then link up wherever you see the linky list…After you link, visit others on the list and have a great time reading and commenting on everyone’s favourite post for April.

Open to all, so link up…linky open until Sunday 20th.

Have fun!

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April 23 (T)…Thrifting (God’s Gift to My Continued Giddiness)

I have been a thrift store aficionado for many more years than I’d like to admit (and I say that only because I’m older than I’d like to admit, but that’s another subject…)  Thrift stores are, I’m convinced, God’s gifts to discount seekers such as myself, and I am in good company.  My shopping soulmate – the girlfriend who introduced me to some of the best thrift stores EVER – has an uncanny knack for ferreting out the most unbelievable deals.  She has the patience (and the eye) for searching out the quality items and deducing quickly whether or not they are worth the price that is marked.  We have had many…many…manythrifting excursions that have concluded with bags nearly bursting with “new to us” treasures.

And treasures they are!

I can not count the number of times I have found something brand new, tags still attached, selling at the thrift store for a fraction of the retail price.  Nice, quality merchandise…in my size or style…that is destined for my closet.  It makes me a little giddy to find a deal like that, even a little tingly all over.  I’ve come to believe it’s addictive in a way, if only that it completely changes my shopping (and especially buying) perspective.  Seriously, once you’ve picked up something that is a brand you love, that looks new (or nearly so), that is a color & style you love, and that is dirt cheap, it’s hard to go back to paying full price.  Really, really hard.

There is only one hard and fast rule for thrifting:  when you find that unbelievable deal, buy it immediately.  Do not think twice.  If you wait, it will be gone, and you will regret it.  Most thrift stores have some sort of return policy, and I’ve found it’s better to buy now and return later (if I change my mind) than second guess myself in the store. I truly speak from experience on this, thinking back to that pair of gently used Birkenstocks in a lovely, original print that I left in the store because why?? It doesn’t really matter, because they were g-o-n-e when I went back the next day.  D’oh!  Double d’oh!

If you will permit me, I’d like to offer a few suggestions on what not to buy at a thrift store.  There are a few obvious ones (for me) – underwear, bathing suits, bathroom soap dispensers, anything rusty or broken.  Yes, I’ll explain.

  • Underwear…just ewwwww.  Unless (and only unless) it is obviously brand new, and (not or) it is a gag gift for some unsuspecting friend.  I mean, that actually happened with one of my friends, who found a brand new (tags still attached) man’s thong and bought it for a gift.  But I digress…
  • Bathing suits…just like underwear.  If it has touched some unknown hoo-ha, it will not touch mine, except for the “brand new, tags (and crotch sticker) still attached” exception mentioned above.
  • Bathroom soap dispensers…this is just a personal “ewwwww.”  If it’s still gooey with soap / lotion / whatever, I just can’t.
  • Rusty or broken anything.  Because even at that price, if it requires a repair, I’m not investing in it.
  • Upholstered furniture…just no.  Germs.
  • Personal toiletry items….same “ewwwww” factor, unless they are obviously brand new, still in the package.
  • Toys that are broken, torn or missing parts / pieces.

With that, let me share a few of my fabulous finds over the years:

  • Two solid wood night stands, oak, not painted, drawers fully functional…$15 each.
  • Small wooden cd shelf, fully assembled…$5.
  • Metal clothes drying rack…$5.
  • Lane Bryant and Avenue pants…$4-9 per pair.
  • Carter’s, Gymboree, The Children’s Place, and Oshkosh B’Gosh clothing ranging from $0.50 to $5.
  • Steve Madden, 9 West and Chinese Laundry shoes, usually less than $10.
  • Le Creuset stoneware, $5 per piece.
  • Corning Ware cookware…usually $3-5 per piece (usually with lid included).
  • Crystal wine glasses…$o.99 a piece.
  • Large crystal wine glasses…$1.99 a piece.
  • Books, glorious books…trade paperbacks $2, buy 4 get 1 free.  Kid’s books $0.60, buy 4 get 1 free.

Couple these incredible prices with the often 25-50% discounts on select tag colors (or for club members…which means you have their nifty discount card), and you can really buy an insane amount for an insanely low price.  I have said for years that free is my favorite price.  However, nearly free is a close second, and I’ll take it for that.

So get out there and thrift, my friends.  The treasures are awaiting you…all you have to do is keep your eyes pealed for the deal.

April 5 (E)…Easter

How appropriate that today’s alphabetical entry…E…falls on Maundy Thursday, the day we commemorate the Last Supper, the day whose name is derived (aptly) from Jesus’s last mandate to his Disciples:  to love with humility by serving one another and to remember his sacrifice.

EASTER is the most exalted of Christian holy days, for it celebrates the miracle of Jesus’s resurrection, the fulfillment of the covenant of grace and God’s promise of eternal redemption.  I can think of nothing more fitting than to listen to this glorious rendition of an Easter standard.

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

He is Risen!

He is Risen Indeed!

April 4 (D)…Dumbass, Your Dumbassery is Showing!

I love, love, love the word dumbassery.  Yes, I know it’s not in the dictionary.  Well, not officially, anyway, but it absolutely should be.  There are several entries in the Urban Dictionary, which is a positively overflowing repository of American slang, much of which should be in the official English language lexicon.  Anyway, back to dumbassery, which is defined as…

  1. The actual actions of a dumbass
  2. when a dumbass engages in foolishery (foolishery…another word that should be real)
  3. A series of actions performed by one person that can be used to prove that that person is a dumbass
  4. multiple acts of being a dumbass; the act of being a dumbass
  5. The complete and total act of being a dumbass

Although I could probably come up with a positively brobdingnagian list of my own forays into dumbassery, I don’t actually have any pictures to prove that it actually happened, so instead I will leave you with some smashing examples:

While this may not, at first glance, appear to be dumbassery in progress, one only needs to glance at the man himself…with a derth of safety gear, crash pads, or anything that might prevent serious head injury…and we know without a doubt that the end of this stunt is not going to be pretty.  Nope, not at all.

About the only thing I can say about this next example is that, thankfully, we can easily identify this dumbass.  Nothing like tattooing yourself with the goal of having a cow’s anus front and center to pretty much seal the deal on your dumbass status.  Showing it off is just adding insult to my injured eyes.  Nevertheless, I am grateful that this level of dumbassery is so (painfully) obvious.

And then there’s decorating dumbassery.  I don’t know about you, but sticking my finger in a deer’s rectum to ring the door bell is not high on my list of things to do…ever.  This particular style of decorating is often called redneck, but frankly that is an insult to rednecks.  Being from a family that has our fair share of rednecks, I can say without hesitation that there has never been a deer butt doorbell on display.  Ever.  I’m calling it a decorating FAIL, and a fabulous illustration of (nearly) functional dumbassery.

Lest we think that dumbassery tends to be a guy thing, I present you with this next brilliant display…on television…to live on in perpetuity.  When asked the question “Which of the following is the largest?” and presented with the following choices:  a) a peanut, b) the moon, c) an elephant, and d) a kettle, I might have chosen elephant as well.  I mean, the moon does look awfully little way up there in the sky!  And elephants are really, really big.  Anyway…D’OH!

Finally, if you are aware that you have moments where your dumbassery is on full display for the world, the last thing you want to do is advertise.  A little discretion can go a long way.

I think my work here is done, and I wish you an evening free of dumbassery.  Until tomorrow…

April 3 (C)…Crapacious, Crapalicious, Crappity, Craposterous, Craptastic Craparoni

Not a reference to the literal brown stuff, but instead a compilation (another C word!) of a few concerns, contrivances, and circumstances that I find utterly…wait for it…are ya ready?…crappy.

CAMPING:  I am not a camping type of girl.  I like being outside…at NASCAR races, picnics (in parks…with bathrooms), at the beach, by the pool, at a ballgame.  Not camping…where there is no shower, no working toilet, no electricity, and where I have to sleep in a tent…on the ground.  No thank you.  Roughing it (for me) really is a hotel with bad pillows and no room service, so I’ll be skipping this particular style of communing with nature

COMMAS, IMPROPERLY PLACED:  I’m a grammarian…a grammar Nazi.  I’m the one that might correct your grammar on Facebook.  Yep, I’m that person.  Dwight K, are you reading this??

CLAUSTROPHOBIA:  Though not severely claustrophobic, I do not like to be squeezed into spaces where I can’t move, can’t get out, or feel like I might not be able to breathe normally.  In fact, I don’t even particularly like to watch that kind of stuff on tv, although I can read about it or see pictures of it without getting the shivers.  So suffice it to say, underwater cave diving is not for me.

CHATTY CATHIES:  I refer to the virtual variety, poised to chat me up the moment I appear online…anywhere.  Seriously, I don’t even particularly like talking on the phone, so I don’t understand what makes these chatty types think that because I am online, it can only be because I am eagerly awaiting our next chat?  Once in a while is great, don’t get me wrong, but there is a reason I turn off all my chat options.  I don’t want to be interrupted when I’m…gasp…blogging.  Or paying bills.  Or playing a game.  Or reading.  When I hit a break, I’ll pop it on, but otherwise, color me invisible.

COFFEE:  Oh no, I dint!  I freely and willingly confess that I  l-0-v-e coffee, but I will also (somewhat unwillingly) confess to being a coffee snob.  I do not like instant, wannabe, coffee-like slop.  Blech.  Scorched nearly beyond recognition, a la the average swill found at your average church on Sunday morning.  Double blech.  Microwaved, day-old coffee…only in an absolute pinch, and I’ll make negative comments while drinking it.  Most coffee sold at the service station…UNLESS they have a coffee kiosk filled with flavor varieties and additive choices…is n-a-s-t-y.  And when you’ve had Barnie’s Coffee, or Greyfriar’s Coffee, or Stone Cup coffee, or Ground Control coffee, even Starbucks seems a little bitter by comparison.  So drink the good stuff!  It’s worth it.

CONTRARIANS:  You know, the person who, regardless of what you say, seems to always have the opposite point of view?  Yes, I have a few of these joyful acquaintances.  Why do you think I keep my chat turned off?  No matter what the topic is, the are willing (compelled, even) to step onto the mat and oppose you.  Compulsive contradiction (how do you like them C words!!).  It is, in a word, craptastic.

CHUBBY CHASERS:  What a loathesome term.  Typically a description for men who are attracted to overweight women, but I suppose it can be applied in the reverse as well.  What I hate most is the need – by someone – to categorize this characteristic and attach a rather condescending descriptive to it.  I also hate the implied sexual nature, because really, why is it necessary to go there?  Who cares why people like or love those they do?  Just leave people alone.  Don’t try to psychoanalize every behavior that is perceived to be outside of the mainstream.  Because if the truth be told, everyone is out of the mainstream.  Everyone has eccentricities.  Everyone is bit neurotic about something, a bit odd about something else.  Everyone has an inner dork.  So shut it, you categorizers, you.  We don’t want to hear it…or hear about it…anymore.

Come back tomorrow for D-day. 🙂