Home Sweet Home

I think I’m nesting.

It’s summer break and for the last few months I was so looking forward to being able to blog more, read a few good books, work on various other frivolous hobbies of mine, instead I’m in super-speed HGTV style project mode. I spent the better part of last week working on a planter bed in our backyard. Never having much of a green thumb, it had gotten away from me. I identified plants, weeded, edged, planted new plants in bare spots, laid landscape fabric, mulched, AND I’ve been watering it nightly. I’m NEVER this on top of things! Yesterday I was overcome with the desire to redo our powder room. With stark white walls and basic builder grade fixtures, it was nothing spectacular. Just a little over 24 hours later, with $100 spent at Home Depot, it is now a delicious shade of purple with an amazing glossy on flat paint design as a focal wall, new towel/toilet paper holders, and a new light fixture. No more backstage Broadway make-up table bare bulbs lined up like soliders across the top of the mirror. Nope, we have brushed nickel and creamy frosted glass, and best of all I installed it and IT WORKED! My father, lifetime electrician, would be so proud even if I did reach around the corner from the hallway the first time I turned it on because I thought it might burst into flames. (The thought of having the fire extinguisher in hand when I turned it on for the first time did cross my mind!) I’ve barely slowed down and every morning I wake up with new aches and pains from the random around the house projects I’ve tackled each day. We haven’t pursued anything other than reading some books and online information for the THP, is it too soon to be nesting?

So I just did a quick Google search for “nesting” clipart that I could include in this post and something in my mind made me think of Horton. He’s Dr. Seuss’s version of an adoptive parent now isn’t he? Maybe he’s more of a surrogate. Either way we have a neglectful birth parent involved. For the life of me I can’t remember how the story ends (don’t tell my principal, I’m ashamed to admit that and call myself an elementary school teacher!) I may need to seek out a little Horton Hatches the Egg sometime soon!

I have been doing a bit more serious reading lately. Mr. Something and I just finished Adoption: Choosing It, Living It, Loving It by Dr. Ray Guarendi. For simply wandering into the parenting section of our local bookstore and trying to find an adoption book that applied to foster care adoption, we did well by our choice! The whole book is set up as questions and answers so it was super easy to focus on the sections that applied to us and skip over the ones that did not. The topics covered range from choosing adoption, children labeled with “special needs”, open or closed adoption, where to begin, to parenting an adopted child into adulthood. I would highly recommend this book. It was a wonderful first read into the world of foster care adoption, not too heavy but very informative. Guarendi approaches these difficult questions with an easy going wit and down to earth sensibilities. More than once we found ourselves smiling and nodding along to his advice. There were days over the last few months when a new issue about pursing adoption would come to mind and sure enough we’d turn a few pages and Dr. Ray would be speaking on that very topic, quelling our fears. Moving forward, I know we will be sure to revisit Adoption: Choosing It, Living It, Loving It as our journey matures through the next steps. In the meantime I’ll be thinking about painting the living room and perhaps adding some shelves to the dinning room…

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Idea-versary

Yesterday marked the three month anniversary of our THP idea. It is so hard to believe that it has only been three months. I feel like I have learned so much about the process, these children, and the amazing families that take them in. However, tonight as I sit here there is a sour pit in my stomach. As I have blogged about before, Mr. Something and I are not living in the house that we planned on having children in. Because of the ever downward falling market, our 5-7 year plan is being stretched to it’s limits. As the reality of our investment loss settled in I began to see ways to make our home “work” with kids, but as the image of our future family shifted, so did my opinion of starting a family in this house. It’s not a bad house, not too small, but it currently sits an hour (or more) from my work. I knew what type of commute I was getting into when we bought it but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it hasn’t been wearing on me. I am currently teaching in a great district, at a school I love, comfortably secure in tenure. Changing jobs is not an option. So say we start a family here through foster care adoption. Suddenly, instead of starting a family naturally and having 5 or 6 years before our child starts school, we could very well have a school-aged child on day 1. We currently don’t live in the best of school districts, especially when looking at bringing in children that are going to need support whether it’s just social work and speech or as much as resource/special ed. So, Big Issue Number 1: I’m not comfortable with the school district we are in.

Big Issue Number 2: The idea of moving after we bring children into our home. One of the most motivating factors behind THP is being able to provide security and stability for a child or children that are coming from a background with a lack thereof. So, say we pursue THP in the house we are in but after another 5 years we are able to move to our “forever” home. Suddenly we are uprooting our kids from what could potentially be the most stable home they have had yet. Growing up, I saw friends struggle with moves in middle school and high school and they had a stable childhood and family structure. The idea of moving after we’ve settled in with adopted foster kids is not something that sits well with me.

So we wait. Mr. Something threw the idea of waiting ten years before pursuing this idea. (What if it’s that long before we can financially get away from our house?) All I knew was that I definitely did not like the idea of going the next ten years without a family. I don’t know how soon I’d like it to be yet, but I know that ten years was like a punch in the gut. So we reached our 3 month idea-versary on a blue note. Mr. Something still suggests that we start looking into finding an agency but I’m afraid that it will be even harder to put the breaks on the process once we’ve started. *sigh* Defeated and frustrated tonight.

Super-Size It

I’m sitting at the car dealer waiting for a body shop guy to buff out a minor scratch that my eagle-eyed Mr. Something spotted on the new car we bought two weeks ago. This new car was a big step for me. For the last six years I’ve been driving a car this big…

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Okay, so the size has been a bit exaggerated in this photo but you get the idea. My lease was up and it was time to get something more “practical” so two weeks ago we purchased this…

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It’s a *bit* bigger and of course anyone that knows me always remarks, “What a great FAMILY car for you!” I just smile and say, “Yeah, Mr. Something and I can’t wait to get a bigger dog!” I feel like everyone is on baby bump watch around me with my 30th birthday in less than a month, our 3rd anniversary in a month, and now the bigger car. We aren’t publicizing our THP idea yet so it just leads me to drink a lot more at family functions! Can’t be drinking if you’re “trying”! Gotta throw off the baby hounds somehow!

To add fuel to the fire, this past weekend we took a little camping trip (which the bigger car was fabulous for!) Mr. Something and I bought a tent about 10 years ago. it was a $50 Target tent and it had seen better days so we decided to invest in a new one. Amazon was having an amazing sale on Coleman tents so without intention we went from this tent…

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To this tent…

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Four person to eight person. Slightly ridiculous for just the two of us but camping is something we love to do and all weekend we were secretly high-fiving the future camping trips we’d take with our THPs. It was referred to as our camp condo, our bungalow, and a duplex throughout the course of the weekend. It’s excessive and we love it!

Little pieces of our lives are getting super-sized bit by bit. Mr. Something said he wanted to start looking for an agency over the weekend. It definitely made my stomach flip flop. That’s toeing the line between step 1: educate yourself and step 2: find an agency. There’s still a little more learning I want to do but given the fact that it’s only been three months since I threw the THP idea at Mr. Something over a margarita and a glass of sangria, things are moving along a lot faster than I originally thought. Mr. Something wanted to sit on the idea for a year, I wanted to sit for six months. The fact that we’re both inching forward already is giving me good feelings about the whole idea.

Well, my “family size” vehicle is ready. Time to hit the road and see what’s around the next bend.

Summertime and the Livin’s Easy

It’s been too long! As I should have expected, the end of the school year stole every spare moment I had within reach. But here I am now, comfortable on the couch with my feet up and that vast, vacant, “now what?” feeling that I always get on the last day of school.

Packed up for the summer.

Teaching is a profession that can easily consume every ounce of your creativity, focus, and drive. This is a blessing and a curse. I love having a job that I can pour myself into. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else and right now in my childless life, I am able to give 100% of myself to the kids with whom I spend my day. I know that someday when I have children of my own that amount of energy and focus will wane but for now I thrive on it.

I spent hours over the last week making a video yearbook for my students. Pictures and video clips set to music, burned onto real DVDs, and encased in actual DVD boxes with beautiful covers adorned with a class picture on the front and personalized individual pictures of me with each student on the back. The moment that first copy popped out of my laptop I slipped it into our DVD player and there it was on our TV screen in our living room. A year of memories, laugher, learning, and growth. I hopped up and down like it was Christmas to see it finally in it’s published state. Mr. Something can attest to the fact that I am a very mellow person and not much makes me hop up and down like it’s Christmas, sometimes not even Christmas itself! I couldn’t wait to play it for my class and when I did it was exactly as I wanted it to be. They cheered and laughed and pointed out silly moments that I caught on camera. They next day, after they went home with their own copies I got incredible emails and phone calls from parents telling me what a wonderful job I did, that they watched it after the kids went to bed with a glass of wine and shed a few tears in reflection of years slipping by. I love my job. I love being able to leave a little piece of myself in the lives of the children that sit in my classroom each year.

The end of the year always consumes me. It consumes me in a wash of nostalgia, creativity, and my never-ending pursuit of making it “perfect” for my second (soon-to-be- third!) graders. I love it, I thrive on it, but as is evident from my lonely blog here, other passions tend to step aside to let the maniac end-of-the-year teacher lady take center stage. It’s a strange thing to be so ultimately consumed in something and then have it come to an abrupt end. There’s always a strange twist in my stomach as I tape my classroom key to the “check out” form and hand it to the secretary. Cold turkey. Can’t get into my classroom even if I wanted to. It’s always a bit too abrupt for my taste. The maniac end-of-the-year teacher lady has been pushed off the stage. She’s gone clattering down into the orchestra pit and the other passions are peeking out from the wings, wondering if it is safe to take the spotlight once again. Is she really gone?

Ah, yes, our Tiny Human Project, a relative newcomer on the bill. A few weeks ago, before the maniac lady pushed her way to the front, THP was getting restless. I asked Mr. Something what exactly are we doing to get ourselves closer to THP. A conversation ensued that resulted in a list of things to do before moving forward. Paying off a bit of car debt, finding a new job, selling our house, and moving to lessen our commutes were a few of the main items. (Oh, is that all?) I’m okay with this. I don’t want to get in over our heads but I was restless. I wanted to know what I could be doing to move ourselves forward. Mr. Something put it simply… start saving more money. To start saving more money I decided that a good place to start would be to make more money. A summer job was out of the questions. Who would hire me for two months? Not to mention that we have something going on every weekend until the end of July. Retail was out of the question. Tutoring? Music lessons? I feel like I have tried these veins before with no success.

One Saturday a few weeks ago, it finally hit me. I was sitting at a home jewelry party that a co-worker was hosting. Naturally the saleswoman gave her pitch about joining the company, making your own hours, making extra cash… The prospect of selling jewelry didn’t excite me but a few years ago I hosted a home party for 1154 Lill. It’s a Chicago based company that makes custom purses and bags. You pick your style, you pick the fabrics, and in a few weeks your bag arrives in the mail. So much more fun at a party than picking jewelry out of a catalogue! Suddenly I had my plan. Within a week of that jewelry party I looked into becoming a Lill on location stylist, filled out the online application, had a fabulous phone interview, and will be attending a day and a half of training in July to become a stylist. I can make my own hours, it’s creative, I get adult interaction for a change, and my 15% commission is going right into the THP fund. Well it’s more like the pay off the debt and save up for a down payment fund, but step 1 must come first. I’m excited to be moving forward with something. The restless planner inside me is appeased for now. I just wish I could be getting started sooner! There was a June training scheduled for this weekend but we are heading off for a weekend camping trip with my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew.

Summer break is in the air! Good things are on the horizon and I’m looking forward to frequenting my happy little blog more often and continuing with our careful steps forward.