Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Old McDonald had a Farm, Pale-E-I-E-I-O

Our fam has been eating paleo on and off for about three years. The last year, I mean for ALL of 2013, I've been off paleo. Like I haven't cared one bit about what or how much I was eating. I think I was struggling with depression last winter and that led to a lot of sedentary days and emotional eating. I've been feeling much better since the summer, but the eating habits and lack of consistent exercise were hard to overcome. I *think* I've turned the corner with that too. I'm so grateful, because it gets really heavy (literally) to feel so unmotivated to take care of your health. I gained TWENTY POUNDS this past year y'all. Twenty. I'm up two pants sizes from my "normal" (which I've maintained for years). The reason is very complicated: I've been eating too much and exercising too little. ;)

So the week after Christmas, I started eating paleo again for the first time in a long time. Paleo isn't a magic diet and I don't feel like it's the only way to be healthy. But for me, being a Type 1 diabetic, it's easy for me to prove by my blood sugar readings, cholesterol, and blood pressure that it works for me. I feel SO GOOD when I maintain a paleo lifestyle at least 80% of the time.

This holiday break, I've been experimenting with some new recipes so I won't get bored with eating paleo. In the past, I've been guilty of eating the same thing over and over just because I'm lazy and don't want to cook. This time, I feel like that will just set me up for failure (because I like the taste of food). I especially LOVE comfort food. So meatloaf is something I wanted to make but with a paleo twist. Here's what I came up with. If I do say so myself, it's pretty tasty! Your kids will probably even love it! Mine do.

Paleo Meat Loaf

1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground beef
3/4 c. almond flour
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 egg
1 tsp paprika
1tsp thyme
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
Sauce: 1 1/2 c reduced sugar ketchup
2 Tbs Sriracha
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar 

Whisk ketchup, sriracha, and apple cider vinegar together to make sauce. Divide and set half aside for topping. Mix all the rest of the ingredients together very well. Press into a 9x5 loaf pan. Top with the sauce you set aside. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour. Let sit for ten minutes. Tip pan to one corner and drain grease. Remove from pan, slice, and serve!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Not Impressed

Rescue those unjustly sentenced to die. Don't hesitate to step in and help. If you say, "Hey, that's none of my business." Will that get you off the hook? God knows what you know. He's not impressed with weak excuses. -Proverbs 24:11-12, NLT & The Message mash-up

Since God first wrecked our lives in a most excellent (and most difficult) way through adoption, I've gone back and forth, to and from extremes. At first I was all "full throttle ahead, everyone should adopt, and why aren't they" with my approach. 

Then I felt The Lord pressing me to be a little more graceful. I felt him nudging me to be quiet for a while, to listen, offer support, and to let him change hearts. I started learning more about adoption. I visited other countries and saw first-hand how family preservation is so much better IF it's feasible. I got in touch with Kirill's birth mom, learned his birth story from her perspective, and realized that family of origin is always the best option. But it isn't always an available option. 

For Kirill, and most orphaned children with intensive special needs, adoption is probably the only solution. This is where my passion has been re-ignited over the past few months. I've felt God telling me it's time to speak up again. Maybe a little more boldly than ever on behalf of orphaned children with special needs. 

Orphaned children with special needs. Let's talk about that. Let's allow the reality of their situations to sink in for a moment. A child with special needs with a loving, nurturing family will have some obstacles to overcome. A child with special needs without a family...well, their obstacles are almost insurmountable. Depending on the country, they are turned out onto the streets, placed in mental institutions, or turned over to nursing homes...obstacles that are impossible to overcome because they don't have a voice or a family to advocate for them.

Now, think about this for a moment. God tells us repeatedly that the least of these are our responsibility as Jesus-followers. WE are the ones sentencing them to an unfair death by doing nothing. 

It is our business. 

God is not impressed with weak excuses. 

Now, let's all together say our excuses for not doing something out loud. I will start. 

Our plate is full with Kirill. (Feel free to insert your own plate-filling child's name).

Well, it is pretty full. I work. Greg works. We have two kids and one of them has intensive special needs. But the reality is I work primarily from home so I have 6 hours a day alone while my children are at school. We have an extra bedroom. We have food to spare. Honestly, there is room for more from us. Imagine telling Jesus your weak excuse. Would he be impressed? For us, it has become clear that cannot check "special needs adoption" off a list and rest on our laurels for the rest of our lives. 

Frankly speaking, it's not about us. When we shift our focus to the children who need families, and we make it about their needs, everything changes. Our excuses are LAME-O. 

So today, on Orphan Sunday, let's all do better. Let's start examining excuses. Pray your excuses to God and see how he answers. Adoption is one answer...and for many it is the only answer. But there are eleventy billion other answers he may give you. The 90-year old home bound grandmother may be moved to pray for adopting families and their children. The tween aged crowd may organize a fundraiser for sponsoring a family preservation program. The young married couple may offer respite care for tired adoptive parents. He may tell you to mentor teen moms. We can probably all think of a family in our own community who needs help staying together. Why don't we come alongside those families and support them instead of judging them? There is plenty we can all do together. Let's just do something and stop with the excuses. God isn't impressed. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Noonday Blog Train

CHOO-CHOO! Welcome to the Noonday Blog Train, September 12th Edition! If you're just jumping on the train, you can read more about it HERE. You can also see yesterday's post HERE and tomorrow's post HERE.

So Noonday...what can I say about Noonday? There's too much for one blog post. I guess the thing that I love most that it isn't so much about "selling" as it is giving oppressed people a platform from which to tell their stories. I love speaking out on behalf of our artisans and advocating for their families.

All of our pieces have a story behind them. There are literally hundreds of stories of redemption that I could tell because we have hundreds of gorgeous accessories in our collection. But the one piece that hooked me on Noonday was this sparkling beauty:

This bag is crazy awesome. It's made from recycled VHS and casette tapes (I know, can you believe it?). It's super luxe and has room inside for all your essentials for a night out. I love the clutch design and the rosettes. It goes with everything from a cocktail dress to jeans and a jacket. All that is fab, right? But here's the best part: the artisans that make this bag are from India and they all have special needs! Noonday partners with a group of Indian artisans who are from the lowest caste system because of their special needs. Noonday provides them with a dignified job, money to take care of their needs, and life skills training to help them live independently or semi-independently.

So now that you've heard the story behind the Rewind Clutch, I know you want one of your very own! I'm giving away a Rewind Clutch to one lucky winner! All you have to do is complete these TWO simple, easy-peasy, goof-proof steps:

1. Click the raffle entry below to enter your name and info.
2. Go to the Noonday Artisan Story page and read about our wonderful artisans. Then, leave a comment below with the story that speaks to you most. (I have comment moderation enabled on my blog, so comments will not appear immediately...unless you get an error message, your comment has been received and will be published after I approve them). :)

You must enter the raffle AND comment to win, as stated above. The giveaway ends on Sunday (9-15-13) at midnight CST, so be sure to share with all of your friends and family until then! I will announce the winner on Monday (9-14-13) morning.

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you will make Noonday your stop for buying all of your accessories and gifts. Purchasing Noonday means you're giving twice and that, my friends, is using your purchasing power wisely!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

There's No Handbook, but Here's a Cheat Sheet!

Image via www.transportationissuesdaily.com

After my last post, I got some comments that made me terribly uncomfortable. I don't want people to feel sorry for us. Admitting that life with a child like Kirill is hard doesn't mean we don't love our life. We wouldn't trade it for another life...ever. So that being said, thank you so much for the support and please understand that we have a joy-filled life even if it is HARD sometimes. I mainly just wanted to open up dialogue among other adoptive parents of children with intensive special needs in a real, honest way. I hope that we will all begin to be more honest with ourselves and with each other so that we can help each other navigate through the hard times.

So how do you have joy when you're simultaneously being challenged to your breaking point at times? I can tell you what we do and I hope it will help. After writing the "There's No Handbook" post, I did some of these things myself. I was having a challenging day when I wrote that and I needed to feel some joy. So here's what we do...I hope these will also help you.

1. Focus on the Small Stuff. Last Thursday I took Kirill to the opthamologist. These annual appointments are always a good time to think back because there's a whole year between them and I can really contrast and compare Kirill's progress. Last year, I had to take Greg with me to handle both boys in the waiting room, with eye drops, etc. Two years ago it took me, Greg, and the assistant to get eye drops in Kirill's eyes and keep Kirill contained. This year, because Kirill has learned to use an iPad with some independence, I took them alone. Kirill sat in a chair for almost the entire wait, quietly listening to books on the iPad. When it came time for drops, I didn't even hold him. He sat in the chair and I helped hold his eyes open for the nurse. That was it! It was so much easier than the past two years.

2. Hire a babysitter. We have a tight budget. But one thing we do not sacrifice is paying for a babysitter. Once a month, we try to go out alone. We also try to take individual girl trips and guy trips with our friends just to give ourselves small breaks. This doesn't happen often enough and we need to do better about making sure we do our date nights. So note to self: schedule date night for September.

3. Ask for help. Ok, I'm HORRIBLE at this. But, I am getting better. I have started just asking people for a little help when I need it. Can't carry everything across the football field at Clayton's practice AND get Kirill to walk to the sidelines? I ask random people headed in the same direction to help me carry stuff. Can't push the grocery store shopping cart to the car and get Kirill to walk out of the store and to the car? I get a store employee to help. Laundry taking over your house? Ask the babysitter to stick around and help you fold clothes. Even though it's nothing big...just asking for a little assistance sometimes makes a HUGE difference in the situation. I've never had anyone who wasn't glad to do those little things. We don't live in a world with a eleventy gabillion other people for nothing. Of course, always pay it forward too! Look for opportunities to make life a little easier for other people when you can!

4. Talk to someone. Most people have at least one person they can talk to when the going gets tough. Even if you have to pay someone to talk to them (I'm talking professional help here...there's no shame in it...I used to be a therapist and I have been to a therapist). Taking an hour out of your week or month to just sit and process your emotions can really shift your perspective. Just getting all those thoughts and feelings outside of your head is 90% of the battle.

5. When all else fails, wine and chocolate. Do I need to elaborate on this one?

I have more, but I'm really wanting to hear from you. Plus Kirill just ran in here naked so I need to go. What do YOU do to make it through the tough days? Leave a comment and let's start writing that handbook! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

There's No Handbook

I read this post by Jen Hatmaker yesterday and it resonated loudly with me and about eleventy billion other adoptive moms judging from my FB newsfeed. I love it when people are real and honest. I love it when they don't just blog about what a joy every bless-ed little thing is and admit that life often kicks their butts. 

I've had all these thoughts rolling around in my head for a while but I didn't really want to let them come out because I didn't want to scare people away from adoption. But I think it's more important to be honest because I know there MUST be others out there in the same boat. I'm here today to tell you that over two years into our adoption of Kirill, we are still barely day-to-day surviving. Yep, you read that right. Life is not what it appears on my Instagram account. You heard it here...first-hand.

Wanna know what real life looks like in the Davis fam? Here's a precious story for you...

Saturday night we watched the Alabama game with friends. Going to friends' houses with Kirill is stressful. No matter how welcoming and gracious the environment, it's still impossible to relax because of every single thing Kirill does Kirill's water obsession. We never know when he's going to wander off to the bathroom, strip naked, run water, and (if we're really lucky) poop in their tub. Or he might decide to walk around the house and dump every beverage onto himself and the floor. Or my personal favorite, he might dump water all over someone else because he loves the way it feels, so why wouldn't everyone like that feeling? 

Anyway, I took Kirill outside at halftime in hopes that he might burn off some energy, come inside, & watch a movie, so we could actually watch the second half of the game. Of course as soon as we went outside, the sprinklers came on and he made a beeline for them because...duh...it's water. Before I could catch him he was sitting on top of a sprinkler head, completely soaked, laughing hysterically. This resulted in Greg and I getting into an argument and leaving early. There's a lot of stuff I'm leaving out here, but just know that we have pretty gracious friends who love us in spite of how we behave around them. 

After we got home, put the kids to bed, and talked things out, Greg said the most profound thing. THERE'S NO HANDBOOK. Now I realize there's the Bible...and it's the handbook for life...but you know what I mean. There's no Karen Purvis-authored handbook outlining how to parent a post-institutionalized child from another country with Down Syndrome. There's nothing like that out there for us folks. I can assure you, I've done my research. I'd love to put together something for us...but I don't have time or energy because I'm cleaning poop out of bathtubs and trying NOT to turn to crack cocaine to make it through the day (this is sarcasm...please don't call CPS). 

I can't believe there's an Idiot's Guide to Adoption y'all.
One of my dear friends just moved to Tuscaloosa. She's one of the few people in my life that I feel this unexplainable spiritual connection with...she totally "gets" me and all my crazy. So on Sunday, I went over to   help her unpack   escape the asylum   sit on her couch and drink iced coffee for three hours. During that time, we start talking about life since Kirill came home. She looked and me and said, "Is there anyone that has gone through what you've gone through with Kirill? I mean, is there anyone that has adopted a child like him that you can just call or talk to when you need it?" It hit me...no, there is not. 

If I'm being completely honest, these last two years have been lonely. I'd love to be able to call up a fellow adoptive mom and discuss how to parent my child. But I have no idea who I would call. It's not that other families haven't adopted children with complex special needs from hard places. I just don't hear a lot of them talking frankly about their struggles. Or if they do, they live in a land far, far away (like Kansas) and I can't just pop over to Starbucks and chat with them. Or maybe even if they lived right next door, we'd both be too busy cleaning poop to ever get away.

I know I'm not alone. So I want you to hear me right now. If you've adopted a child from a hard place with complex special needs...and you're wondering if it will EVER get better...YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I understand that it feels super duper lonely. It stinks that there's no Karen Purvis book for us. But, I still have hope. I still trust that God is sovereign in our lives and he's not left us alone. And we ARE surviving...even if it's barely surviving with thoughts of turning to crack cocaine (again, sarcasm...please do not call CPS). And maybe, someday, when our kids learn that poop belongs in the potty, we can write that handbook together.