Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hoop Art Exchange: An Adoption Fundraiser

I am so excited to be launching this next fundraiser for our adoption. As I said the other day, one of the reasons we felt that God was calling us to adopt again was because my husband's bonus was significantly larger than we were expecting this year.  So we have a good chunk of the expense taken care of.  But I'm just going to put it out there: our adoption will cost about $35,000.  That's a lot of money.  We need to raise close to $15,000.  In a couple of months.

To some of you that might seem overwhelming and impossible, but when we adopted Penelope we needed to come up with $24,000 in one week and God provided a way.  $15,000 in a couple of months does not scare me.  I already know that my God is way bigger than that.

So I'm getting creative and raising the $15,000... a few dollars at a time.

And that's why I am launching the Blakely Adoption Fundraiser Hoop Art Exchange.  Too bad that doesn't make a good acronym. BAFHAE just doesn't help.

You don't need to be super crafty to participate.  If you can use washi tape, or a glue gun, scissors, or spray adhesive... you're in!

So here are the specifics:
  • In order to participate you must sign up by September 1st by filling in the form below.
  • The cost to participate is $5 plus the cost of your materials {inexpensive embroidery hoops can be purchased at your local craft store for under $2}. 
  • I will invoice you through PayPal for the $5, all of which will go directly to our adoption expenses. The invoice will come from Much Ado About You.
  • All invoices must be paid by September 2nd, no exceptions.
  • You will receive the info about your partner by September 5th.
  • You will create an 8" hoop for your partner, which can be shipped in a padded envelope First Class Mail for just a couple of dollars.
  • All hoops must be shipped by September 15th.

Here are some fun examples of Hoop Art:

found via Pinterest, unfortunately without a source

source: Knitty Bitties

source: Little Bits of Joy

source: Catshy Crafts

source: My Simple Home Life

Anyone can do this.  Making hoop art is fun and easy!  I'm not kidding that if you can cut and paste, you can make a cute hoop.  For even more inspiration, visit my Hoop Art Inspiration Pinterest board.

**Remember that you must sign up by September 1st and pay the $5 invoice by September 2nd or you will be automatically dropped from the exchange.**

Please only sign up if you pinky-promise to create and ship your partner a hoop by September 15th!  Or else people might start crying.  And then I will cry.  And it will be a big mess. 


All invoices have now been sent.  Please pay your invoice by tomorrow night {Sept 2nd} or you will not receive a partner assignment.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

For Her Birthmom

I am NOT a scrapbooker.  If I was I would be locked in my office around the clock, occasionally emerging for bathroom breaks and Doritos, spending all of Nathan's paychecks on paper and glue tape, completely neglecting the family I was trying to capture.

But for Penelope's second birthday {which was now almost five months ago} I really wanted to send her birthmom a little record of her second year. 

I ordered a bunch of supplies from Simple Stories' SN@P line, got my Instagram pics from, and carried it all over the country this summer, working on the book while Penelope napped her way through our vacations. 

So here it is:
{Disclaimer: my main reason for this post is to have a record of the book, since I only made one, so get ready to see LOTS of pictures.}

These are the pictures that are in that pocket on the left:

More pocket pictures:

I decided that these pockets were a brilliant way to dump a lot of pictures:

More pocket pics:

The last thing I have left to do is fill out this page with my Top 10 Favorite Things about Penelope, but I thought I would leave that as special treasures for her birthmom.

So there it is!  A summer's worth of paper crafting, and case-in-point as to why I am NOT a scrapbooker.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Guest Post: A Letter from Your Wife

I have a friend that is hilarious.  I mean, she should write a book and it would make us pee in our pants.  People have been telling her to get a blog for a long time, but she's a Pastor's Wife, she has four kids, and she runs a children's choir in our community.  In other words, she barely has time to pee.

But she's a champion Facebook poster, and the other day she posted a note on Facebook that was so perfectly perfect that I immediately texted her and asked if I could share it on my blog.

So here it is.  The best post ever by my friend, Deanna Ramsay:

I often hear young moms complaining about their needs not being met. About things they wish they had, wish they received, wished their husbands did… and I realized… not all husbands “get it.” Some take longer to learn their wives than others. And some wives don’t help the situation at all. We play games. We expect much but express little. Today, I felt compelled to write a letter. On behalf of stay at home moms. If you've never said it or he's never "gotten it." I hope this helps.

To: My Husband.

From: Your Stay at Home Wife/Mom.

I used to think it would be so romantic if you just knew me so well, that you knew exactly what I needed. I would never have to verbally share with you my needs because if you really loved me, you would know what they were, even before I did. You, my love, were to be nothing less than a mind reader. It sounded fabulous and romantic. However, we’ve been married a while now. And reality has set in. You are an amazing man. An incredible husband. But I must tell you: You are horrible at mind reading. And it’s not your fault. I now get it. It’s physically impossible. There’s nothing you can do to acquire this superpower that I wish you possessed. So today, I am declaring that I am letting you off the hook. No more guessing. No more expectations unmet. Today, I lay it out. I’m giving you a peek into me. But once you know, you are responsible for that knowledge. No more playing dumb. No more acting clueless. You can choose to stop reading here if you enjoy the guessing game. Ah, you’re still reading? Awesome. I love that about you. You’re IN. I knew it.

Ok wait. Before I express my needs, let me explain something that might be difficult to understand:

I love our kids. I love my role as a mom. But honestly? It’s tough. And here’s the tricky part – those 2 things DO co-exist. One doesn’t trump the other or cancel it out. I love it - and I’m tired. It’s an honor – but it’s exhaustingly hard work. I’m fulfilled - and I’m drained. Get it? Me either. It’s tricky and complex. But it’s called Motherhood and I’m in the thick of it. OK, so in light of that, here’s what I need. Or want. TomAto….TomAHto. Here’s the reality in no particular order….

1) I need to refuel. And it’s not by grocery shopping with only 1 kid instead of all 3. I need to get out of the house. Alone. I need to ride in my car and listen to adult music. I want to use the public restroom in the small stall. The one without the changing station. Alone. I don’t need extravagance. [I mean, I won’t turn down extravagance, of course. But I don’t need it.] ;) You know what I’d love? To wander the aisles of Target for an hour. Or to sit at Starbucks alone for 30 minutes. Or to walk in a shopping mall without pushing a stroller. It really is that easy. Will I come back completely changed and ready to conquer the world? Honestly? Sometimes yes. But mostly, no. But what I WILL come back with, is a little more life in me. I will have a spring in my step. It’s a little shot in the arm. I reeeeallly need this. When you ask if I want it, and I say, “I’m OK.” I need you to tell me to go anyway.

2) Please don’t call and ask what’s for dinner. If anything, call and ask, “Do we have dinner plans? If not, can I stop by the store and pick anything up?” I love you. And I love providing nourishment for our family. But when I have spit up running down into my bra and a toddler who just learned to take off his own dirty diaper, The Call adds that little extra pressure in my day that just makes me want to accidentally change the locks on the front door.

3) When I take the kids to the pool, please know that I didn’t spend the day poolside with a cocktail. Sometimes I feel like that’s how you view the life of a stay at home mom. In reality, every 2 minutes, I’m doing roll call to make sure everyone is above water. “1..2..3..…1…2…3…” over and over and over and over. I’m changing poopy swim diapers on hot concrete and peeling wet swimsuits off tiny bodies because they have to go potty AGAIN. I’m schlepping towels and sunblock and swimming goggles and dive toys and flippers and water shoes and cover ups and diapers and wipes and snacks and drinks. I have one child who has no fear of water and is jumping into areas he’s not allowed to, and another child who’s deathly afraid of the water and is leaving claw marks in my arm. Blood has been drawn. A walk in the park is not a walk in the park. It’s chasing, and counting, and disciplining and refereeing. A day at the pool is all of that, in a big hole of water. Attempting to avoid death. For real.

4) I’ve been nursing a baby all day long. My “nursers” are over stimulated. The last thing I desire when you get home from work, is to have one more person perusing the “food court.” Those are not yours right now. They are on loan to the person they were actually created for. Your time will come. It’s just not today. If you will understand this and not let it become a point of tension, I’m certain you’ll get extra rewards in heaven.

5) However, when we’re home and you walk by me in the kitchen and grab my butt, and I swat you away, I don’t mean it. I secretly love that you still want to be playful and frisky. The timing may not be right, or I just don’t know what to do with your playfulness because my brain is counting the number of loads of laundry waiting for me. But please don’t stop. I need to know you still like me. I understand this is confusing in light of the point above. I can’t explain everything. I’m just informing. I’m complex likethat.

6) I need a Girls Night Out every once in awhile. While we both know you rock, I need some time with girlfriends as well. Unless, of course, you would like to discuss bikini waxing, my period and the latest fashion trends with me. No? Cool. Girl’s Night Out it is.

7) I need non-sexual touch. I know you don’t quite understand what that is. Just pretend it’s valuable and possible. The grabbing mentioned above is fun and all, but sometimes I just want to feel your arm on my shoulder, without it slowly moving a few inches south. I need your physical affection without motive. I need to know that you like to just be with me.

8) When you walk in the door, let’s make a deal: You won’t walk straight to the family room and collapse on the couch with the remote… And I won’t greet you at the door with all 5 kids, dump them on you and clock out. When you come home from work, let’s do it together. Share the load. If you need to decompress from your day at work, please take the long way home. Drive around the block a few extra times if you need to. Just don’t walk in and disconnect. You are my Knight. I love knowing you’re coming home. I can’t feel like I have another child to care for when you walk in the door from work. I need my partner. My teammate.

9) That trip we took with the kids was awesome. We created family memories. We had fun. But that’s exactly what it was – a “trip.” I now need a “vacation.” A vacation is like a trip. Just without the diapers and wipes and baby food and high chairs and primary color toys. Oh, and without the tiny humans that come with those things. Don’t get me wrong, I love those tiny humans. But a break to refuel, refresh, clear my mind, invaluable. I have no way to explain what a true vacation will do to me. Other than to say hotel room sex is fabulous. The end.

10) When you come home to a clean house, be assured it didn’t look like that hours earlier. There were crackers smashed on the floor, toys everywhere, food smeared on walls, 8 outfit changes from our preschool daughter strewn around the house… If you come home to a clean house, please notice. Please say something. Acknowledge that it obviously took superhuman powers to get it to the state it is. It sounds silly and needy. Maybe I am. But you know that “atta boy” you got from your boss at work that made your day? Ya, I need that too.

11) When we go to a restaurant, sometimes I need you to offer to sit next to ‘the kid.’ You know, the one that needs extra assistance. The one that cries and grabs and throws and needs. When I say, “No, it’s OK. I’ll sit next to The Child” I need you to gift me with the break anyway. I’m not saying every time. But we both know that going to restaurants with The Child is difficult. I’d so appreciate sharing that load with you.

12) I need to go on a date. With you. I need to wear clothes that don’t smell like any type of child’s body fluid. I need to order food for just me. I need to eat it while it’s hot. I need to look into your eyes. I need to hold your hand. I need adult conversation. And while the topic of kids might creep into our conversation, let’s commit to keeping that to a minimum. We spent so much of our dating years getting to know each other. Asking questions. I was your student and you were mine. A lot has happened since then. You and I have changed and grown. Let’s learn about each other again. Re-discover who we are today. Let’s know and be known. Let’s date.

13) Let’s commit to not comparing. My friend might be prettier. Or a better homemaker. Or parent with ease. Her husband might be more romantic. Or more successful. Or a more engaged father. There’s always going to be someone who does what we do, but better. Or so it seems. Let’s commit to not comparing. Comparison will steal our joy. It will take the wind out of our sail. It will make us feel defeated. Or frustrated. Or angry. Or all of the above. Let’s be honest - everyone else is just as messed up as we are. We just see the beautiful, shiny outsides of them that they put on display, and tend to compare it to the dysfunctional, broken insides of ourselves that only we know. Let’s just be the best “us”we can be – keeping our eyes ONLY on OUR path. I love you. I chose you and you chose me. Let’s be in for US and US only.

Thank you for hearing me.

You may not understand it all. I don’t even know if I do.

This season is glorious and difficult.

And in all the uncertainty, the only thing I do know is there is NO ONE I’d rather do this with, than you.

You are exactly the “who” I need.

The other stuff is just the “what” I’d love from you. I ask you to just try.

And if you’re willing, I’d love a list like this from you in return.  This is a tough season for us both. I know you have needs you rarely express as well and I’d love a peek into those if you’d be willing to share.

I love you and love that we’re living in what we’ll someday call “the good old days.”

You have my heart forever.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Four + One Equals a New Baby

Part of my motivation for kick starting this blog was the fact that we have decided to adopt another baby. Like I said in my last posting, I had never intended to be a personal blogger, but I am so grateful that God had different plans for my writing because I now have the most beautiful record of our journey through Penelope's adoption. 

The other day I was reading back through the postings and comments from that amazing week, and tears just flowed remembering the blessings that God poured over our family that week and in the months leading up to bringing Penelope home. 

Through our experience with Penelope we have become huge adoption advocates!  We definitely feel that adoption is a calling, and as a family we desire to support and encourage other families seeking to fulfill the words of James 1:27: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

I'm excited to be starting this journey again, and to be able to share it with all of you... and to have a record of it all to share with our son or daughter one day. 

So what made us decide that it was time to be outnumbered?  The short answer is God's calling, but for any of you who have never heard a specific calling from the Lord, {and don't feel bad if you haven't, I was 33 before I recognized a calling on my life but then looked back and realized that there had been several that I just hadn't recognized as callings} I will give you the longer answer. 

Shortly after we adopted Penelope Nathan was all gung-ho to adopt another child. He felt like Penelope needed a black brother or sister, and frankly the experience had been so fun he just wanted to do it again. But I was in typical mommy-of-a-newborn mode, and was not the least bit interested in listening to his ridiculous suggestions!  

Then last year, just before Penelope's first birthday, a friend's sister passed away during childbirth. Yes, that still happens in the twenty-first century... I didn't think so either, but it does and it did. It was heartbreaking to say the least. At her funeral I was struck by everyone's comments about the sisters' relationship, and my heart started to yearn for a sister for Penelope. 

I know she has Beau, and how grateful we are that with Penelope we were FINALLY able to provide a sibling for Beau. But they are 8 years apart, and while they have such a sweet relationship the truth it's that by the time Penelope is 10, Beau will be out of the house. I realized at that funeral that if we didn't have another child, I was going to go through all the same emotions I struggled with not having a playmate for Beau. 

I was so excited to tell Nathan I was on board for number three.

And then he informed me that he had decided that two was plenty!  If you have followed our journey with Penelope you know that she is challenging in many ways.  Parenting a tough toddler at 35 is WAY harder than parenting an easy toddler at 27, let me tell you!  

It felt like we would never be on the same page about baby number 3.

Then I went and put on a conference on Infertility and Adoption and had one of the most amazing days of my life. And I woke up the next morning with a renewed passion for adoption and a VERY strong desire to do it again. You know, one of those clearly-this-is-from-the-Lord desires. 

I also had a sense of urgency. Penelope is two and a half, and since we already have a huge gap between Beau and Penelope I really didn't want another gap. If we were going to do this, we were going to have to do this now. 

In the nearly thirteen years that Nathan and I have been married I have learned something... the Lord often speaks to me through my husband. I won't get into my views on submission today {and how most people don't really understand that concept... maybe that'll be a posting for another day}, but I strongly believe that Nathan is the spiritual leader of our family, and as such the Lord calls him to be the voice of our family. So I knew that if Nathan was really adamantly against adopting again, then that would have to mean that I was misunderstanding my calling, and I would have to pray for the Lord to change my heart. 

We both agreed that this decision needed to be made prayerfully, so we committed to praying about it together for 30 days. And I told Nathan that if at the end of the thirty days he still felt like adoption was out of the question, then we would close that door and I would find other ways to care for the orphans besides bringing them into our family. 

Every night for the next thirty days we asked God for guidance. We asked Him to make it clear... to open doors or close doors... to provide. 

And that's what He did. 

Friends, I strongly believe that God wants us to know His plans for us. He doesn't want His plan to be a big mystery that torments us. I believe in the promise of Matthew 7:7: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."  When we seek God's direction, we are given clear direction. 

At the end of our 30 days of prayer, it was clear that we were heading into a second adoption. 

I will keep all the details as precious treasures for our family, but I will tell you that the most significant, we-couldn't-deny-it way that the Lord answered our requests was by providing financially. Let's be honest, adoption is extremely expensive, and the unfortunate truth is that money has to be a consideration. My husband gets a bonus every summer. We generally know about how much money he will be getting, and we live most of the year anticipating that bonus. This year Nathan's bonus was significantly higher than we were expecting, and it came on day 30 of our 30 days of prayer, which happened to be much earlier than we usually get it. There was no question in our minds that God was saying, "I will provide."

We still have a financial hurdle to battle {because I wasn't joking when I said that adoption is extremely expensive}, but we are confident that as He always does when you are seeking His will, God will provide. 

So that's where we are. Walking confidently through another adoption because we are confident that this is God's plan for our family. 

If you have a decision to make can I suggest committing to pray about it?  And I don't just mean thinking-about-it-while-you're-in-the-shower kind of prayer. I mean getting-on-your-knees, holding-hands-around-the-table kind of praying. Focused, seeking prayer. God will make His will clear to you, I am confident of that, because He has done it for me many times. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Starting from Scratch

My name is Emmy. Five years ago I started a business that took me on a wild ride.

Three years ago I started blogging. In all honesty, I started blogging because I thought it would be good for my business. And it was. But it became much more.

I had no intention of making my blog personal... none whatsoever... but a few months after I started writing that changed in a big way.

After many years of struggling with secondary infertility my husband and I had decided to adopt a baby. We needed the funds to begin the process, so I came up with a plan. But the plan required me to take a dramatically personal turn on my blog, and become about as vulnerable as I could, sharing my heart about my life's most painful reality.

I shared my story.

I held a raffle.

People responded.

We raised over $6,000 in one week.

We adopted the most beautiful baby girl in March of 2011, and life got more complicated. {You can read all about our adoption by clicking on the link in my sidebar.}

I tried to keep up with blogging. I realized that people appreciated my openness. They appreciated when I shared real stories that they could relate to like the fact that my laundry rarely gets folded, or that I struggle with being judgmental, or that my kids sometimes make me want to drink lots of wine.

But then that wild ride of a business that I mentioned took me on an even wilder course. It took over my life. I had to hire a nanny, and was working more than full time {along with five part-time employees} desperately trying to keep up with the demand of the business. I no longer had time for anything else in my life. I didn't cook for my family. I didn't see friends. I didn't respond to emails. I didn't sleep much.

And I was over it.

In August of 2012 I made the decision to take a break from my business. It was such a hard decision for me... it was tough to walk away from a business because it was too successful... but I knew immediately that it was the right decision. When I finally mailed the last set of orders I felt like a cement boulder had been lifted from my shoulders.

I recently found a way to outsource the majority of the labor involved in my business, and have re-opened my shop with fingers crossed.  So far it's going well and I've been able to run it as the "side" business that I always wanted it to be.  And I still have a life.

One of the things I was looking forward to the most about having more time was having more time to blog.

So here I am. Starting fresh.

I'm starting this new blog because I wanted to start with a clean pallet. No business baggage. No expectations. Just a fresh start.

And that's where this URL came from. It's just me... no planners, no paper freaks. It's just Emmy.

When I told my BFF that I had chosen this name she said, "oh because people always ask you if your name is really Emily?" And it clicked why that name had flowed right off my tongue. Because I have used that phrase a million times in my life.

No my name is not Emily. It's just Emmy. Bam! Double meaning. Gotta love that.

There's lots to come. There will be some crafting. There will be some pictures of my cute black baby and my rapidly growing young man. There will be lessons learned, advice given, and help wanted. There will no doubt be new ventures on the horizon, because with me there always are.  I can't promise that the blog posts will come regularly, so I'll try to make them interesting when they do come.  

Will you join me? It'll be an adventure.