Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Exchange is On

Thank you so much to everyone that signed up for the Garland Exchange!  We had 551 people in total from all over the United States and from Canada, Australia, the UK, and even Brazil!!!  It is so exciting to know that people all over the world are crafting for baby #3. 

This morning I will be sending out the assignments for the kids and then ALL EMAILS WILL BE SENT.  So if you have not received your assignments by this afternoon {PST}, please let me know.  I do not get notified if the email bounces. 

A few little reminders for those of you that are participating:
  • The garland should be about 6 feet {including the ties} when finished, but this is just a general guideline.
  • Remember that the person that you are sending a garland to is NOT the same person that you will be receiving one from, so keep the surprise going!
  • PLEASE, please be sure to have your garlands in the mail by October 9th at the LATEST!  That gives you more than two weeks to get them finished.  If, due to some EXTENUATING circumstances you are not able to get them in the mail on time, PLEASE BE SURE TO CONTACT ME so that I can let your partner know that it is on its way or make other arrangements.
Also, a friend of mine suggested that while everyone has their supplies out to create a garland for their partner, why not create two and send one to me?  Then I can sell the extra garlands in a big old garland instasale and raise even MORE adoption funds!  So, if you are interested in donating one or more garlands for this purpose, please send them to me at:

Emmy Blakely
PO Box 3146
Mission Viejo, CA 92690

Feel free to donate garlands even if you are not participating in the swap!

Now... GET CRAFTING!  Here are a few more ideas to inspire you:

source: Blissfully Blessed
source: Homeroad
source: My Fabuless Life
source: Visual Vocabulary
source: Infarrantly Creative

Monday, September 16, 2013

Garland Exchange: Another Adoption Fundraiser

Well, the Hoop Exchange was a huge success!  We raised over $1400 towards our adoption, and I can't even begin to tell you how much fun it was to watch everyone stitching and hooping, all in the name of baby #3!  It was amazing.

As I said last week, we had a little set back with our fundraising when we found out that our agency's fees have gone up pretty significantly since we adopted Penelope.  We need about $10,000 more than we thought we did.  So I have decided to host another exchange!!!

Let's be honest... the people are clamoring for it.  And I like to give the people what they want.

It's a GARLAND EXCHANGE!

Now, before you panic and think "I can't sew!" have no fear... I can sew, but I don't!  And I have made dozens of garlands.  I like to use hole punches, and staplers, and ribbon.  No sewing!  So truly ANYONE can do this.  Check out my Garland Inspiration Board on Pinterest to get an idea of just how broad this category is.

Also, this exchange is open to anyone, children and young adults included {I will match you with someone in your same age range}.  If you are outside the US you must be willing to ship internationally, but I will do my best to match you with someone from your home country.  

So here are the specifics:
  • In order to participate you must sign up by September 20th by filling in the form below.
  • The cost to participate is $5 plus the cost of your materials {it is completely possible to use supplies you have on hand and not spend any money on your garland}. 
  • Please pay the $5 fee by clicking on the "Donate" button at the top of my right sidebar. When you are processing your donation there is a link that says, "Add special instructions to the seller".  Please click on that link and enter the same name that you use on the form below so that I can match up your entry with your payment.  If you are signing up your child(ren) you may make one payment, but please enter each name in the instructions box.
  • If you would like to exchange more than one garland, please submit a new form for each one that you would like to do, and then pay the appropriate fee {$5 per garland}.  That way I will know that your multiple entries were intentional. 
  • Please pay as soon as you sign up.
  • You will receive the info about your partner by September 25th.
  • You will create a 6 foot garland for your partner, which should only cost  a couple of dollars at the most to ship First Class Mail.
  • All garlands must be shipped by October 9th, which gives you two weeks to create.
There are so many possibilities for creating fun garlands.  Here are a few fun examples:

source: Pearls & Pasteries Shop

source: DIY Confessions

source: Flamingo Toes

source: Aidie's Hideaway

source: Hostess with the Mostest

Have I convinced you???  I hope so.  This one is going to be so fun... you won't want to miss it!


*REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED*

Thank you so much for supporting our family once again!  Happy crafting!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dining Room Makeover

The good thing about having a Home Study is that it forces you to spruce things up around the home.  Last week we decided {and by we I mean I decided and Nathan begrudgingly complied} to re-do the dining room wall.  I didn't take a before, but we had a big painting and wrought iron sconces with turquoise candles.

It was lovely.

In 2005.

It was a little dated now. 

But, as you know, we are in the middle of an adoption and therefore saving pennies, so I didn't want to spend money on this makeover.

Here's what it looks like now:


So here's what I did.

First of all, I had this frame that I bought at Ikea for $19 about five years ago:


I think they still sell it.  Way back then I had the mats custom made for the frame at Aaron Brothers.  If I'm remembering correctly, the mats were more expensive than the frame, but it's a great way to fancy up a cheap frame.

I used to have one of our wedding pictures in this frame, but let's just say I'm not a huge fan of the way I looked on our wedding day.  I loved everything about my wedding... except my dress.  I hated my dress.  That's a long story for another day.  I just mention it to say that I wasn't sad to get rid of that picture. 

We recently had a family photo shoot with our favorite photographer {and Nathan's cousin} Adriana of Adriana Laura Photography + Design, and I was so excited that we got some shots of just the two of us.  They are my favorite pictures of us that I have ever had in the eighteen years that we have been together.  {Maybe that's because I love him more now that I ever did before.  And I say that because it's truth, not to be sappy.}  So I ordered a 12 x 18 print of my very favorite one for $2.99.  {Side note: Always be sure to order your prints in lustre finish.  Lustre means matte, and it will keep you from getting fingerprints all over your pictures and just looks way more professional.}  Then I added this adorable little felted ball garland that I purchased at The Queen Bee Market a couple of years ago.  I wish I could remember who I got it from.  If anyone knows, tell me and I'll add the link.

These two pieces we purchased a while ago at Home Goods:



I love the painting.  The colors are so me, and it reminds me of a painting that my parents have in their home that my Grandmother painted.  Plus I love the gold leafed edge on the frame.  I think we paid about $50 for this piece about four years ago.

The train schematic... when I saw it, I had to have it.  I don't know why.  I don't have any special attraction to trains.  It was just cool.  When I was hanging it up I noticed something brilliant!  While it looks like it is several pieces of wood put together, it's actually just a piece of plywood that they cut groves into with a circular saw.  Brilliant!  I wanna try it now.  Maybe that'll be another post another day.

This wreath is just a simple straw wreath that I bought last winter at Hobby Lobby and covered with strips of fabric:


Finally, my favorite part of the wall!  The part that represents my friends:


The painting on the left is by my friend Tiffany of Grace for Grace.  This verse holds special meaning for me, and is a big part of my testimony.  When I realized that "delighting yourself in the Lord" was the key part of this verse, not the "He will give you the desires of your heart" part, I started to learn to love God's plan for my life, even when it wasn't going the way I planned.  When you delight yourself in the Lord, wanting His plan becomes the desire of your heart.

The print in the middle is by Katie Daisy.  I have been wanting one of her pieces for a long time, and one day I saw on Instagram that she was having a sale and jumped on it.  I love this print. 

The hoops on the right are from Stephanie of Fancy That Design House.  I purchased them several weeks ago from her adoption fundraiser instasale.  I love that they represent adoption, and that I can look at them and remember to pray for Stephanie's adoption. 

So that's it.  My freebie {well, I guess it cost $2.99... and I guess if you count what I originally spent on these pieces it's about $300, but let's not do that} wall makeover. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Keeping it Real with Adoption

One of my very favorite things to do is promote adoption.  I love adoption. 

But the fact of the matter is that adoption is hard.  There are all kinds of crazy emotions that you go through on this journey, and many of them are hard. 

Today has been hard.  And because I find encouragement from knowing that I am not the only one that experiences hard, I decided that it's just as important to share the hard with you as it is to share the good.

Last night we got an email with a potential match for our adoption.  When we adopted Penelope we had only one potential match {that didn't choose us} before being matched with Penelope's birthmom, so even if this birthmom was not our birthmom it made everything suddenly seem real and imminent. 

I read the email, then looked through the birthmom's application, then I saw it.  The fees for this adoption are $35,000.  Every circumstance is a little different depending on things like health insurance, traveling and housing expenses, and the time that the birthmom has left in her pregnancy, so the fee varies.  But when we adopted Penelope the fee was $24,000.  $35,000 is a lot more.

I assumed this was an atypical case, so my thought was that we would probably just pass on this opportunity and wait for one with less expensive fees.  But this morning I was told by our agency that fees have gone up.  Right now their typical fees are $32,000 to $35,000.  That means that we need at least $45,000 to fully fund this adoption.

It was a punch in the gut.

We thought we had a good handle on the fundraising.  We actually thought we were nearly done.

It turns out that we still need about $10,000. 

It was the icing on the top of a really rotten cake that has been stinking up my house this week.

It makes me question our decisions.  It makes me wonder if this is a door that God is closing, or if its a roadblock set up by the enemy who would like nothing more than to destroy God's plan.  It makes me feel tired, and sad, and frustrated. 

I am trying hard to push on.  It is taking every ounce of my faith. 

I know that God's specialty is hard... so I will cling to that hope that His faithfulness is perfect. 

If you are in the middle of a storm or an assault, please know that you are not alone.  I don't mean because you are not the only one experiencing hard times, although that is certainly true.  I mean that God is with you.  He is in control.  He is bigger and more powerful than ANYTHING that comes at you.  He is for you.  And He wins. 

I am typing these words for you and for me. 

If you would like to make a donation to our adoption fund, please click on the Donate link in the sidebar. 

Monday, September 09, 2013

Raising this Generation

Being a parent is hard.

When they're infants, you're tired.

When they're toddlers, you want to tear your hair out.  And you're tired.

When they get into school you start to relax.  And then the first time they get in trouble, or they get into a fight with a friend, or you hear them say a word that they shouldn't but you also know that they heard from you... you realize that parenting just became the hardest.  Because now you aren't just trying to keep them alive.  Now you have to mold their character.  And you're still tired.  

And it's not just your own child's character that you're responsible for... you are part of parenting a generation that is eventually going to be in charge.  

I have to be honest... I SERIOUSLY worry about the generation that we are currently raising.

A generation that demands instant gratification.  

A generation that thinks that they should be rewarded just for participating, and that there is no such thing as healthy competition.

A generation that thinks they are the best at everything because they get a trophy even when their team hasn't won a single game that season.

A generation that doesn't know how to spell because they think everything will be autocorrected.

A generation whose parents come running to their rescue, believing them over the adult that is saying otherwise.

A generation whose schedules completely dictate family life.

A generation that doesn't know how to entertain themselves because they are constantly being entertained.

Last year Beau had an amazing teacher that made it clear to the parents that her number one goal was that at the end of the year the students would be kind, considerate children.  Book skills were secondary to life skills.  And I so appreciated it.  

We had an incident this year.  My son has a cell phone ONLY because he rides his bike to school and I make him call me when he gets there so that I know he made it.  He has the cheapest cell phone we could get him.  Most of the kids at his school have iPhones.  First graders have iPhones.  It's ridiculous.  

Long story short, he woke up on the wrong side of the bed one morning and he took it out on a friend, sending him a nasty text that was neither kind nor considerate.  The mom of the friend called me that afternoon to talk to me about it.  I could tell she was super nervous to bring it up, and probably expected me to get defensive.  But, while my son is generally a very sweet kid, I know that we all have bad days, and I knew that he had been super grumpy that morning.

So I apologized, thanked her for calling me, asked her to forward me the text, and told her that Beau would have consequences.

I think I surprised her a little bit. I think she expected me to get defensive.  But how do you defend bad behavior, even when it comes from your normally sweet child?

Beau was playing at a friend's house when I got this call, so I called him and told him that I knew about the text and I was on my way to get him.  He knew he was in trouble.

When he got in my car he burst into tears.  Not because he was in trouble, but because he knew that he had hurt his friend.  And there was my sweet boy.

We ended up having a wonderful conversation about mistakes, forgiveness, and consequences.  It was an opportunity that I could have missed had I chose to jump to his defense.  We all make mistakes.  It's important for our children to learn how to fix them and move forward.

Beau ended up writing his friend one of the kindest letters I have ever seen.  It was way better than what I would have come up with.  He called his friend and read him the letter, and his sweet friend gave him grace and accepted his apology. 

And then the best thing happened.  The thing that started to restore my faith in the parents of this generation.  The friend's mom sent me a text saying how much the letter meant to her son, and how much he valued his and Beau's friendship, and it was clear to me that not only had his friend forgiven him, but the friend's mom had also extended grace to my son.  I find it easier to forgive people when they hurt me, and harder to forgive when they wrong a loved one, so I really appreciated her willingness to recognize that my son had had a bad day.

I will keep on fighting for us to bring this generation into reality.

I will keep telling Beau to count his jog-a-thon laps even when the school says they can't {I don't think they understand the point of a jog-a-thon... they miss the a-thon part}.

I will not let my kids beat me at games {although Beau usually does anyway}.

I will teach my children that when they commit to something they will do it, even if they don't really feel like it anymore. 

But I will screw up sometimes too.  Because like I told my son, we all make mistakes.  And then I will use those mistakes to teach my children more lessons.  

And I will be the most embarrassing mom ever.  

And my job will be done.