Friday, May 31, 2013

Last Day of School

It was with no small bit of sadness that Dayna said goodbye to Second Grade. She had a wonderful class this year, and once again was blessed with an amazing teacher. It's not by mistake that God landed our family in this little town. The school system here continues to impress me as we watch our Dayna blossom into an independent learner.

I'm trying to get Dayna in the habit of expressing to her teachers what they mean to her. The following is the text (spelling and grammar intact) of the note she wrote to her teacher (printed with her permission):

Dear Mrs. Nichelson,

Im really sad that we have to leave 2nd Grade butI’m sure 3rd Grade will be nice. I want to tell you how much I loveyou and why. I love you because your, understanding, loveing, kind. I love youbecause your, nice, forgiving, patient, work with us, and you love us and LoveGod. Mrs. Nichelson. I love you. You’re a star! I luv you. I’ll miss you.

P.S. one of my favorite thing about 2nd Grade isCandy.

Second Grade is Super!

Love Dayna

With the fabulous Mrs. Nichelson

Mrs. Bray, principal extraordinaire

Walking home from school

Zoo Day

As fun as the end of second grade has been, it wasn't without some tears when Dayna and her best friend discovered they'll be in different classes next year. Both moms have reassured the girls that there are many ways they can stay best friends, even in different classes. One thing we arranged right away was a "girl's day" to the local zoo. It was the perfect day (we missed the buckets of rain day by about 24 hours!) and we were able to spend more of our time enjoying the outdoor exhibits. In Nebraska, it's often too hot or too cold to stay outdoors.

All the girls

I've never seen the lion this awake and alert

I just wanted to rub her belly!

Somehow "The Tiger Sleeps Tonight" just doesn't have the same ring

Big girls having fun

While the little ones sleep

Who Can Resist this Face?

Dayna's had an awful lot of fun events this month, and we don't want to leave out our Anne Girl. Here are some random shots of our little one as she's continuing to adjust.

Teaching her to help with shopping. Note her pet flamingo "Posey" in the cart. Those who know my family can probably guess where she came from.

Stylin' in sister's glasses

First Pedicure

Track and Field Day

Due to a rare May Day snowstorm, Dayna's track and field day was delayed. The new date promised to be warm and sunny, and Dayna's efforts paid off well. We're particularly proud of her anchoring the tug-of-war against a team of bigger boys and winning! Even the boy's dads were pretty impressed.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dayna's Birthday Outing

Dayna was given the choice this year to have a party or choose a fun destination with a friend. Just like last year, she chose the Lincoln Children's Museum. Her bestest friend in the whole wide world came along with us. We really  like Miss M. She's been a great friend for Dayna the last two years and has truly been iron sharpening iron for our daughter.

Checking groceries

Little Shopper

With Johnny...a school mate of Great-Grandma Luebcke

Phew...she left off the pork!

Beautiful bank tellers

Prairie dog tunnels

Pretty, pretty princesses with sparkly face paint

Honey, I shrunk the kids

Heeerrrre's Hammy!

Dayna indeed got a hamster for her birthday. It was a joyous day, topped off with dinner at Chick-fil-A. (Have I mentioned yet how utterly thrilled we are to FINALLY have one in Nebraska?)

Hammy the hamster settled in pretty well the first week or so. We had a bit of a scare after that, and he got a bit aggressive. We prayed over whether or not to return him, and gave him the 3 days left on our warranty to see if he would calm down after his scare. Fortunately, he did. He's back to his playful, cute self, and we all seem to enjoy watching his antics.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

An Impromptu Shower

Most Fridays, my dear friend Mary Ann has her local children and grandchildren over for "Grama Day." They are so sweet and kind, often letting my girls and I join in the fun. (One of her grandsons asked a few months ago when he could see his "cousin" Dayna again...these kids really do love each other!)

Recently, Annie and I were able to go to Grama Day, where two of Mary Ann's daughters were able to meet our girl. Little did I know that they were planning a little shower for us all along. (Ironic, as Mary Ann hosted Dayna's baby shower!) Mae had saved her tea and scone mix from our fundraiser last February for this occasion.

It was a sweet day, and Annie and I are truly blessed.

Forgive the incredibly bad hair day I was having!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

"I Look Just Like My Mom!"

While spending time thinking about Mother's Day. (You might want to read my thoughts in my previous post.) I was a more than a little irritated to read about a Mother's Day photo contest in our local paper. People would vote for the picture that had the mother and child who most closely resembled each other. I COULD they come up with such an insensitive contest!?!?!

Which led to a hastily posted status on Facebook. Oh my...did that open up some great conversation! There were those who agreed with me, and those who raised some really interesting thoughts. I mean, does EVERY contest have to include EVERYONE? And the more I read, the more I calmed down. I mean, the newspaper didn't mean any harm...while maybe a short-sighted contest idea, it wasn't meant to be anything but fun. (I also thought it was interesting that my friend, heart-sister and Mom-Blogger tackled this issue on her blog: A Musing Maralee, and while I don't necessarily agree with all of her thoughts, she addresses them as usual in a loving, thought-provoking way.)

And so the next day, I called the supervising editor of the local paper. I asked some questions, like who thought of the contest? Who was the target audience? What was their goal? How would the contest play out? (I had visions of page after page in the local paper of moms and their mini-mes. I could picture Dayna looking through that and wondering why she couldn't be a winner. She's pretty sensitive about appearances right now, and the idea of this contest wasn't sitting well with her at all.) Well, it turns out it was an internet contest (not to be published.) The editor was very nice and admitted that they hadn't thought through the ramifications of adoptive families, foster families, biracial families, step-families....all those families who don't necessarily share DNA or physical similarities. She was grateful for the feedback and encouraged our family to find a way to enter the contest anyway.

So Dan got to work with his camera and took some great shots. This is the one we decided to enter:

Not to underestimate the power of the adoption community, I shared the contest link with some of my adoption networks on Facebook. The response was overwhelming. The comments were so positive (and there were SO MANY of them!) My goal was accomplished: to use a positive method to raise awareness of families and the things that really matter: the heart.

Little did I know when I submitted my very late entry (2 days before the contest closed) that it would garner so much attention. We actually WON!!!!! (see results) But really...the bigger win is that I have an awesome mom myself, and two pretty incredible daughters.

Thoughts on Motherhood

May is a month for mothers. For 39 years, I've been blessed with an amazing mom. I'd be surprised if there's someone who calls her more than I do. She always says I have a knack for knowing when she's walking in the door...because that's when I'll call. She's been a model of faith and forgiveness. She's struggled with a lot of the things I struggle with. She's my biggest cheerleader. And despite some rough adolescent years, we've come through it and I can honestly say with my whole heart, I love my Mom.

I've also been blessed with other women who have played a strong mothering role. My mother-in-law who raised two pretty wonderful boys (I'm kind of partial to the older one!) and encourages my hobbies. My late aunt who cried with me through the pain of infertility and was the only closer family member who really understood the road we walked leading to adoption. (And though she didn't live to see my girls, I know she's in heaven cheering us on!) My late grandmother who I had the privilege to spend thirteen years with and watch our relationship grow. And my dear Mary Ann, who despite 5 offspring of her own, has welcomed me and my family into her own.

And now I've walked my own road to motherhood. I'm in the trenches right now with sticky kisses and runny noses. Temper tantrums and bedtime snuggles. Sibling squabbles and sisterly hugs. Motherhood didn't come easily to me, and Mother's Day is a day I hold closely to my heart.

For years, I would beg Dan to take me camping so I wouldn't have to face the gushing and glowing over moms at church, or address the awkward, "um, I'm not a mom", when someone tried to give me a carnation. Mother's Day was just downright hard. I think it's made me more sensitive to those around me on Mother's Day. I make a point every year to put a prayer request on the church list for those who are hurting on Mother's Day...those without children, those who have lost a mother, those who have lost a child, those who are estranged from a mother or child...I never knew until I walked my own path just how painful this day could be.

I read a really great article about this before Mother's Day, and encourage you to read it as well.

An open letter to pastors (a non-mom speaks about Mother's Day)

And now, I add to the list of sensitivity those mothers who have chosen to place their children for adoption (and those who haven't.) We celebrate Birth Mother's Day in our home. We don't do much...we buy carnations for our girls' birth moms (two bouquets this year!) and spend time reflecting on the women they are, wondering what we would ask them if we could, and praying for them.

Motherhood is a beautiful thing. One I hope to never take for granted. And through my relationships with the women in my life, I'm learning that family is so much more than DNA. I'm grateful that adoption has given me the chance to be a mother, but I'm also very aware that my blessing began with another woman's loss.

Monday, May 20, 2013


In the past 24 hours, I've read some disheartening things by people claiming to be Christians.

Within 30 seconds of browsing at one Facebook page, known as the "Christian Left", I saw people threatening physical harm to the next person who used the word "Entitlement", calling a certain political figure a "moron", and saying any conservative Christian is just brainwashed.

Last night, on an adoption group, a man claiming to be a Christian (obviously far right-wing) was spouting off about some conspiracy theory between the Adoption Tax Credit audits a few years ago and the current IRS scandal involving conservative groups. When several people politely offered different views, he went off calling people all sorts of names, and ended up by telling the whole group to "go to h***".

While I make no apologies for my faith or political stance, sometimes I'm embarrassed by the people who claim to represent my faith and politics.

Romans 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile."

We had an interesting conversation with Dayna last week about politics. How it was good that there are two parties who keep each other in line. How one party is strong in some areas and weak in others, and how the other party balances. We discussed why we have chosen certain parties, and then mentioned close friends and family members who believe differently. People we respect immensely.

I'm not blind to the problems of my political party; and more often than not, I feel that my views are not necessarily being represented in government. But as one person said last night...what happened to just being American?

What has happened to our society when the Internet has become such a dumping ground for hatred. On both sides? Why the name calling? And what has happened to vigorous debate while still respecting the person you're talking with?

And Christians (myself included)...step carefully. The world is watching.