Friday, May 28, 2010

Hi Everyone

Like the change? 


Thanks! I am having a REALLY fun time reformatting all the pictures on ALL the posts I have ever written. 

Because, guess what? 


So. Much. Fun.

So. Glad. I. Changed. My. Blog.

Goodbye 'til my blood pressure normalizes,

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Clean Everything

 How many of you out there ENJOY cleaning? 

Love it so much you can't wait for another opportunity to launder? 

If you do, we probably aren't friends. 

If you do and we ARE friends? Well, you should probably keep your secret? A secret.

Because I? HATE it. All of it. I don't like vacuuming. I don't like dusting. I REALLY don't like dishes. And laundry. And really? the list goes on. and on.

But I do it. Pretty often. Why? Because it makes my house pleasing. Pleasing to others. And pleasing to myself. Even when we manage to KEEP the house clean (yah right!) there are still things that will NEED to be cleaned! Dusting. Vacuuming. Those are just things that will need to be done EVEN IF YOUR HOUSE looks clean.

And with this home-visit coming up?? *shudders*. I really REALLY want my house to be pleasing to our social worker. I want it to look like it's safe and clean for children. And I really want it to meet the requirements of the study! So I clean. And I keep cleaning. Until I am sure no windowsill is left un-dusted, no towel left un-laundered.

Today? I got to thinking...

Our hearts are much like our houses. Cleaning isn't any fun. It's no fun to check the deep crevices of our lives for dirt and grime. Unforgiveness. Bitterness. Rejection. Anger.  BUT? When we do it. Our "house" becomes pleasing to God. It becomes a safe and acceptable place for his presence to dwell. A place that "meets the requirements". A place that can be peaceful and MUCH MORE EASILY MAINTAINED!
I know that when my house AND my heart are clean. I am so much more peaceful. content. trusting. loving. and open. All things I wish I had more of in my life...

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me." 
Psalm 51:10

And I mean it, God! I really mean it!!

So while I am taking this time to clean my house, I encourage you to use this as an opportunity to check your hearts. Because the only way God can live there? Is if it's a clean. 

And I know? I want a clean heart AND a clean house!

'Til everything's clean,

The light at the end of the tunnel...

Have you ever heard the saying "There's a light at the end of the tunnel"? 

I have. Especially lately. Graduate School, International Adoption....people are so happy (and sincere) when they say "You're halfway there? Must be so nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel!" or "Home-study? That's awesome, guess you can see the light at the end of the tunnel now?" 

But truthfully, I have struggled with that.

Because from right in the middle of the tunnel? 

You can't see anything.

And because sometimes? It doesn't seem like a tunnel at all--- It seems like a forest.

I still have a year left of graduate school and at least a year left waiting for our child (Ha! You thought nine months was hard!!) and as a sometimes-pessimist, all I can see is how much tunnel, forest, mountain I have left to traverse. Sometimes? That alone gives me, actually it does!

But, for those of you full of encouragement and kind words? It's NOT your fault. This is my problem. And one I need to hand over.

Because MY GOD? says that he will be a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105). So even in the middle of tunnel. Even when I can no longer see the beginning and I certainly can't see the ending. Even when the brush and thorns are all that surround me, all that I know? 
 I can see my next step. Because God? Won't let me stumble through the darkness without hope, without strength, without grace. 

Sometimes we have forests to walk through in life. And if we are lucky? All we have to get through is a man-made tunnel--with no thorns and brush and scary shadows. But it's in those times that we have to trust God to light our next step. Because even when the END? seems so far away? 

God is walking with us.He never has. And he never will. Make you walk them out alone.

'Til I see the end of the tunnel.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

There is nothing to fear but fear itself...and wasps.

Irrational:  ir·ra·tion·al   adj.
a. Not endowed with reason.
b. Affected by loss of usual or normal mental clarity; incoherent, as from shock.
c. Marked by a lack of accord with reason or sound judgment:

I hate wasps. And there isn't a rational analysis in the world that can change that, so don't even try. I have found no useful contribution that is worth having these "winged assassins" flying around disrupting my peaceful world. Case in point? This morning. This morning was a beautiful, sunny, happy morning. Until a wasp CAME IN UNINVITED and began reeking havoc on my home as I was trying to leave for work. I might have just left, but I was too afraid that the consequence would be coming home to an extremely angry yellow jacket and two dead cats. So I got out my can of poison and I cowered behind walls, spraying him every time he passed by me. Which angered him, and caused him to chase me. Which caused me to run into the bathroom and hide. Once I was confident that he was no longer prowling for me outside the bathroom door, I got myself together and attempted to rid my home of this winged beast once and for all. After a few more attempts, I finally was able to spray him with enough poison to bring him down. I breathed a sigh of relief, took an advil, and headed off for work.

But on the way, all I could think is "You have dominion over all the land and beasts of the land, and yet you can't keep it together around a little wasp?" and with this upcoming home-study visit and all the books I have been inhaling over the past few months...I suddenly became very concerned about whether or not I could/would pass this very irrational behavior of mine (attached to my incredibly rational fear of wasps) to my kids? My mom wasn't afraid of wasps, that I recall. In fact? my fears came from my own personal experiences with wasps and not anything I picked up on from ANYONE else...BUT, that said, if a child had been around to see my complete loss of reason and mental clarity this morning?? Well. that might be a different story.

So, I'm curious today. What fear causes you to act completely irrational? And what, if anything, have you done about it? And, have you seen similar behaviors in your kiddos? And, stalkers out there who don't publicly "follow" this blog? Yeah, you. I would love to hear your fears too. You can comment under anonymous and put your name at the end of your comment!

P.S. Because I love you, and because I had a rough morning, and because ALL wasps are bad, I leave you with this:

Even comics couldn't find a way to make wasps the "good guy"

1980's Rock Band "W.A.S.P" And while that qualifies as "enough said"
They also were originially called "The Winged Assassins".

I can feel it. He's coming for me. *Shudders*

Til all the wasps are gone,

Monday, May 24, 2010

Answered Prayers

We are so excited! This morning was our first Home Study interview (and our social worker was just the greatest thing ever) and our second individual interviews/ home visit is scheduled for June 1st. She was so apologetic about the delay in getting started (and had a pretty good reason, I might add) and mentioned that she would try to make up for it on this end of things! All I could think was "Give me something to do and I am happy!"

It was overall a great visit and we are looking forward to getting the dreaded home visit out of the way. This week will certainly be full of paper-writing, laundry-finishing, room-cleaning, redecorating madness! Hope I survive it all!

In other news, I won't have time to repaint/re-decorate the office before the visit so I am simply waiting to start. So, those of you jumping at the bits to help me paint a few rooms, will just have to hold your horses a little longer... Unless you just want to do it FOR me, in which case, I will leave a key out for you =)

'Til the cows come home,

Oh. My. Weekend.

We had such a good time in Kansas City this past weekend! We went with lots of things on the "maybe" list and just played the rest by ear.

One of the obvious  things on the "certain" list was the James Taylor/ Carole King Troubadour Reunion concert. I don't care who you are. That music will make you smile. I grew up with that era of music (For real ya'll, until I was about 13 I let a pretty sheltered music life--filled with the Beatles, Doobie Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, Van Morrison. Bob Dylan, and James Taylor--just to name a few), so getting to see them live was kind-of like? A dream come true! We were probably some of the youngest people in the room..but even so, I still teared up when they walked on the stage holding hands...They just seem? like such sweet people! I thought I might delight your senses with some blurry pictures of this. once-in-a-lifetime. I mean once-in-MY-lifetime event!


Pre-show. We had a little trouble keeping our eyes open during the flash.

Yep. There you are. (so exciting!)

Original band. Grey hair and all. (Totally awesome).

Is it too soon to say "I Love You"? I mean, I've only known you my whole life!

Not an empty seat in the house. A lot of grandparents, but no empty seats.

Intermission. They even had a wardrobe change (haha)!

So, there you have it. James Taylor and Carole King live in concert. Just like you were there...okay, not really but it was. Amazing. And so, because I love you. And because posting these pics brought back warm, fuzzy feelings, and because I am done with my paper.  I leave you with my favorite Carole King tune (Which I ALSO plan to use as my morning anthem for the kiddos someday). 
So Enjoy, rest up, and sing happy songs tomorrow!

Til the sun rises again,

Sunday, May 23, 2010

To Eat? Or Not To Eat?

We just returned home from our awesome weekend in KC---which I will post more about later (Right now, I have a paper on the ethics of bankruptcy to finish... work on... start). But I wanted to delight you with my recent delectably bad decisions. As I lay here, pouting about my tummy-ache (and my paper to write), I realized that my current pain is simply the result of a day of over-indulgence, which I loved. And now hate.

My day began with THIS delightful Asian concoction, at the KC City Market (mine had a little less cream on top but was JUST as amazing as this one looks to be!)

Followed by a piece of this awesome, gooey, goodness. In my defense, the fudge-bearing vendor who lured me over with a free sample, put this fudge goodness into a mini ice-cream cone, making it an unstoppable force. "Don't look into the light, Ashley!"

Then, my snack-genius husband picked me up these so that I wouldn't grow faint from lack of nourishment at the prayer room... or, something like that...

And then, if that weren't enough nonsense in my digestive system for ONE DAY...On the ride home, I had this:

And this:

And a few of these: 

And a half a bag of these:

And now I feel like this:

Lesson to all, when at an awesomely stocked farmer's market? Grab an apple.

'Til I feel better again,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Recent Lessons

Today, I learned a few things about God....I learned that:

He always hears my cries--even the irrational ones.

He loves me unconditionally.

He isn't going make me learn everything there is to know about patience, all at once.(Dear Lord, please let it be gradual!)

So..what does all this mean?

Well---It means we have our first Home Study interview Monday at 10am!! Praise the Lord (not sure my indigestional issues could have taken much longer...)

Thank you, Jesus.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Letter of Patience

Dear Adoption Agency,
       Please call me today to schedule the homestudy that I paid for almost a month ago. I have no more nails to chew on, and my brain is slowly turning to mush.

   Crazy Woman/PAP.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Anniversary Weekend Plans

Folks, I know you're just dying to hear all about our anniversary plans, so...since my week is going to be crazy busy..and since I am deliriously tired. and since I love it true picture book fashion. Enjoy.

We start our Anniversary Weekend here:

James Taylor/ Carole King Troubadour Reunion Tour: 
As if they needed an introduction.
I know..You're already So. So. Jealous.

Then we will (weather permitting) hit this place up:

Schlitterbahn: Every water-part connoisseur's dream

And if the weather DOESN'T permit (by obviously not getting the memo that this was anniversary)...
We will end up here: 
*and might anyways just 'cause it's super-cool*

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. 
They had me at "Giant Badminton Shuttlecock"

Then probably here:

Harrah's Buffet: Steak and Shrimp. Need I say more?

Yummy. Steak AND Shrimp... Every carnivore girl's dream!

Then, the plan is to soak for a while here:

The International House of Prayer 24/7 Prayer Room

Then head back to the hotel for some rest before going here on Sunday A.M. before we head back to the casa:

The International House of Prayer (duh) in Kansas City

So there you have it. Our amazing weekend plans... So now the only question is? 
Is it Friday yet??

Oh yah, and here's the hotel I really. REALLY. wanted to stay in..but apparently, even after 5 years, I am still not worth $200/night =(

Chateau Avalon: Pirate's Cove

It's a pirate's ship. And It's Amazing. And actually, the hubs didn't say we *couldn't* stay there, he just said IF we did, we couldn't eat. Or go to the museum. Or go to the waterpark. But he had me at *eat*...I mean, did you SEE that buffet??!?!?!

Goodbye 'til breakfast,

May 21, 2010 = 5 Years

I have NO IDEA why I feel the urge to post this. I am definitely NOT a romantic, nor am I an accomplished poet... Maybe because I am so proud of the fact that we are hitting that 5 year mark, basically unscathed... Or maybe it's been the thrush of poetry that I have been inspired by... But whatever the reason, I feel the need to post this poem that I wrote The Husband not long after we were engaged...(mind you, this is only the second poem I have ever written--the first being for my BFF in high school for our senior yearbook page). Anyways, here it is...For my love (don't gag, ya'll.... you'll be alright)...

As long as I have lived
My heart belonged to you
With every starry night
And mornings bright and new

A love so pure and true
No other could compare
I thank God every morning
For an answer to my prayers

I could never put down in prose
How you make me come alive
An emotion so deep within me
That words could not describe

I can only try to express to you
The love that grows in me
Deeper and more passionate
Your love has set me free

My hero and my soul mate
My protector and my friend
I promise I will love you
Until the very end.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Most Danderous Place

Statistically speaking, the bathroom is the most dangerous place in a home. Most of  the statistics and articles show that this is especially true for the elderly. Every hour, an older person DIES because of a slip and fall in the bathroom.

You might be thinking "Why are you telling us this nonsense, Ashley?" right about now....

Here's why...
The scene of the accident.

 maybe this isn't EXACTLY "where" but I was in NO condition to get my camera and take a picture after my incident. This, however, is a close cousin to the scene of my crime.

Yes, folks...I slipped and fell this morning getting into the shower at the Holiday Inn Express. I misjudged--apparently---the slipperyness (I know folks, not a real word, but cut me some slack...I have a HEAD INJURY here!!) of the shower floor and while stepping INTO the shower, completely lost--and was UNABLE to regain--my footing.

It happened, no joke, in slow motion--folks, I could NOT make this up.

On my way down, all I could think was "I am naked. They are going to find me unconscious and NAKED" Now, mind you..I am the same person who ALWAYS matches her underwear because I have this strange fear of having to have my clothes cut off of me (I know--morbid) and having mismatched underwear. I blame that *issue* on having a paramedic as a mother growing up. 

So imagine how HORRID it would be to be found NAKED. Interestingly enough, I don't recall anything else about my 'life' flashing before my eyes...Just this one completely irrational phobia...

Anyways, back to the fall. I couldn't even so much as grab the down I went and completely WACKED my head on the side of the tub. OUCH.

In the moments following, I confirmed that all my appendages still worked. That I was able to move and see my surroundings clearly. And, finally that there was no blood.

After ensuring that I would not have to be found AWAKE, paralyzed..and did I mention..NAKED (which would be MUCH worse than being found unconscious and naked) I then began taking count of the various parts that..umm..*HURT* now

Below is my injury list:

  • Head... you know, the part that just came into very severe contact with the tub.
  • Teeth... Impact, maybe? I'm not a Dr really, so that's just an educated guess (Thank you WebMd.)
  • Neck and Shoulder-blades...Duh, you just threw your body in front of a semi-truck, Smith!
  • Left elbow... Strange since I went down on my R side, but okay?!
  • Left knee... Hmm, now that's interesting.
  • Right big toe... okay, so that might be an exaggeration but I am almost certain it ached a little....
  • Both earlobes.

 Word to the wise... Watch your step in the shower. In the Holiday Inn. When you're alone. And naked.

Goodbye Forever.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I caved

Well...I caved and called the agency know, just to confirm that our paperwork wasn't misplaced (I mean, I know the check certainly cleared fast enough), that it hadn't spontaneously combusted, been thrown in a lion's den, been martyred after diving on top of a grenade to save some poor puppy [What? It COULD happen], or fallen behind some mysteriously placed bookshelf who's only purpose is to delay homestudies...

I was, oh-so-kindly, informed that "Yes, the caseworker DOES have your information and will be getting in touch with you...shortly"

*foot tapping* Not exactly the precise and detailed answer I was hoping for...*foot tapping*.... But in the name of keeping up this "patient, understanding, easy-going, non-crazed PAP*" persona...I totally acted cool about the whole thing...

No big deal....It's only been 2 weeks, 6 days, 2 hours and 37 minutes since you cashed my check approving us for our home-study... not that I am counting or anything crazy like that...Because I'm not... because that would NOT be a very cool thing to do... and...

I'm totally cool... Breezy cool... I mean it  *wringing hands*....


*PAP stands for prospective (or "pre" depending on who you ask) adoptive parent. Once you adopt, you are simply an AP... It's like it's own world =)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hurry Up & Wait

Since my analogy of equating the journey of international adoption to flying across the country appears to continue to be quite accurate...I will continue (Please no hate-mail...I am not saying ADOPTION is like a plane ride...simply the journey) *Geesh, you people are intense!*

First, I should probably mention why my mind would immediately correlate this process to flying (as opposed to more eloquent comparisons) but, truly, I love flying. I love the convenience and speed. I love not having to sit in a car for 24 hours to get somewhere. I can sleep and read on a plane--both things I can't do in a car without either a barf bag nearby or severe medication---Was that gross? Sometimes my filter is off =)  I am not such a big fan of listening to my husband complain about how small the seats are (I mean, I fit just fine) but usually my iPod drowns out the flailing arms, re-situating, and frustrated sighs. All in all, I have good experiences on a plane *content sigh*

Very soon after beginning this LONG journey..remember the gestational period of elephants?... I began to see similarities in the journey of this adoption and flying across country. So far we have:

Hurried up and turned in the initial application, determining if we met the criteria = We got to the airport and got through security!

Then we waited. and waited. and waited. to get the next packet = sitting, waiting, drinking overpriced coffee...Is the plane even HERE yet?!?!

Yay! Application part two came, we completed the first paperchase and on our way we go= The plane is here! Boarding has begun..."Let's hurry up and get on the plane so it can take-off quickly!!"

Everything is looking good so far! Oh yah, this trip is going to be easy-breezy...whew..we are ON the plane...*tapping foot*...Why aren't we leaving? Everything is ready..Everyone is on board. Flight attendants showed all the safety measures *tapping foot* Um...Hello? Mr. Pilot.....We are ready to go....*tapping foot*.....

Has anyone ever sat on the tarmac for what seemed like AGES!?!?! 1 1/2 weeks and not a word from our agency about setting up our first homestudy appointment. It might as well have been 100 years. JUST LIKE SITTING ON THE TARMAC. Will this plane EVER take-off!!!!! We have somewhere to be!

Patience. is. a. virtue. 

Or so I've been told. To me, it actually seems overrated =)

Til Next Time,

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Something New For You

I was hoping to start something really "Cool" like a  weekly link to a blog I stalk....I mean, LOVE. But as it turned out, on Sunday, my time was captured by an herb garden that needed to be planted, a new tea kettle that needed breaking in, and a new bed that needed to be slept in...for both afternoon naps and nightly sleep =) 

In other words...I. failed. you. miserably.  

But, thank God for redemption [Yes, even for my lack in blogging abilities--Sorry, Pioneer Woman] because as I stalk follow these blogs... I am compelled to share with you, yet again the beauty that can be found in tragedy. I don't ever again want to minimize the pain that these children feel...even through something as wonderful as adoption. Don't get me wrong, I know it's a God response to a human tragedy (or fall from grace), And that it's His "plan B" that EVERY.SINGLE.CHILD. have a family that will love, comfort, protect, and shelter them...BUT for those children?  who are losing everything they have ever known...every ounce of normalcy...and any HOPE they had that their mother would return for them? It truly is a tragedy, filled with grief, loss, and much confusion. 

I recently have begun stalking following a blog by an adoptive mother who adopted her daughter from China, now almost 5 years ago. Her wisdom and honesty have both touched my heart and challenged my understanding. She does a much better job conveying the true heart of what adoption is and should be, than I ever could.  I encourage you to read her blog... 

TODAY, however, specifically, I want to encourage you to read this post about 1 Corinthians 13 as it relates to international adoption.

As God begins to turn people's hearts to the true matters at hand and the need that is out there for loving parents AND the need to work to ending these tragedies, posts like this are not only important pieces of information, because they come from those who have made it through the trenches, they are truly irreplaceable.

So check out my new friend--ahem, I mean..I know we haven't actually met or anything...but I certainly WANT to be her friend--Tonggu Momma. And open your hearts. And enjoy.

Til Next Time,