Sunday, June 26, 2011


Many times, I have been asked why we are adopting internationally, why Ghana, why AAI?

I know I have explained my reasons for adopting internationally before in other posts (click here to read one), though I haven't shared more specifically about our agency.

After the post above made on our anniversary last year, we decided international and Africa, but truthfully that didn't narrow it that much. I started reading online about African adoptions, and different families that did it. I found a blog praising a coordinator named Anita who was highly recommended on one blog. I kept following linked blogs and tripped on Anita's personal blog about her family. I started reading it, and loved it, loved that she has adopted four herself, loved her attitude, loved her Christian beliefs, everything. That was really what did it for me. I followed up with due diligence researching the agency she works for and Ghana as an adoptive country (everything checked out), and we made our choice, and I haven't looked back.

For the last few weeks, she has been in Ghana, and posted this on her return. I think it really paints a beautiful picture of why international adoption is so near and dear to my heart, and the next time that I have a regret about not being pregnant I need to reread this post and be reminded why it is worth the wait, the paperwork, the trials and everything to help just one child from this country have a family and everything that comes with it.

Quoted from

Home, home, HOME!!! I am home from Ghana. The kids and hubby seem no worse for the wear. I thinking lucky number 13 in marriage years must be something special, because Eric has earned major hubby points since I got home! He has been so very sensitive to my needs. "What can I make you for dinner honey?" "Let me rub your swollen feet, sweetie." "Kids, let mommy rest." Our wireless router went ka-put and he's spent hours dealing with it today so that I could have the internet access I need for work (and to send pics to waiting parents who are waiting for them)! So very thankful for my Eric.

So....home. Back to the land of excess and access. Sometimes I come home and feel guilty for living in such luxury. Sometimes I feel my spirit fighting against our wasteful culture. In the interest of keeping it real, I'm telling you, it honestly feels good to be back where living is so EASY!

Thirsty? Step right over to the sink where you can get fresh cold drinking water 7 days a week--water that won't give you parasites and tastes good. Don't want water? Have a cold soda, or milk, or a juice, or vitamin enriched flavored water from the fridge.

Want a shower? Enjoy piped water 24/7, cold OR hot! No need to worry about using all the water in the tank. It never runs out! No need to worry about the water going into your mouth--you can drink it if you want to!

Dirty Laundry? Why, just throw your clothes in this washer with super-good smelling detergent and in half an hour it's more clean than you could ever accomplish with a bucket of water and a bar of soap. Need the clothes in an hour or two? Just throw them in this other machine and they will be dry in a jiffy!

Your child needs education? No problem! Free education, classes pre-K through 12th grade for every child! This includes books and learning materials, teachers, and good facilitiesm and even transportation. No money for food or school supplies? No worries. Those will be provided for free for your child if you are in need of those things.

Want to go online? Here ya go! Wireless internet instantly. Download/upload as much as you want. There's no limit to the amount of data you can use. You'll never run out of "units!" Don't have internet at your house? No problem. Go to one of thousands of public restaurants that give patrons free wireless internet.

Hot? Turn down the central a/c and enjoy the cool air--at either home or in the car!

Need to go somewhere? Enjoy mostly pot-hole-free roads, with organized traffic. Enjoy your dependable vehicle that still sports a/c (or heat), shocks, and a full tank of gas. Travel just a few minutes to a variety of stores that will give you more product choices than you could ever take advantage of.

Sick? Head right on over to one of the many hospitals or clinics in your area. Too sick to drive? Call 911 and an ambulance will transport you in good time to a hospital that has doctors on duty and medicine to give you!

Oh, America. Even our poor are rich by global standards. I don't feel guilty for enjoying all of the amenities we have here, but I will never take my life for granted. I don't ever want to lose sight of the fact that there are smarter, better, more deserving people than I who are living in much more difficult circumstances simply because of where they were born. I am NO BETTER than these people.

I am a middle class American. My friend M is a middle class Ghanaian. She is a married mom, as am I. This trip, I found myself comparing our lives. I wasn't comparing for "better" or "worse," for I don't believe one life is "better" than the other. Our lives are different. Mostly, I spent my time thinking about what a stronger person she is than I am. As a middle class modern Ghanaian woman, she gets up at 5am to start caring for her family. She does the wash (by hand). She prepares breakfast (without the convenience of quick processed foods). She cleans house. She bathes the children. She takes the kids to school (bio and foster kids). THEN her work day starts. Without the use of a vehicle she pays good money each day to a taxi driver. No a/c. Horrible traffic. Horrible roads that she may or may not be able to pass through. When the vehicle can take her no further, she walks to her destination. At end of the work day she collects the children from school. She begins cooking an evening meal that may take hours to prepare. She deals with work correspondence on an internet network that may or may not be working well. She helps kids with homework. She washes the dishes. She bathes the children (again). She falls into bed sometime around 11pm. It starts again the next day. Oh, did I mention that she does it all herself while her husbands works hours away during the work week, only to come home on weekends?

SHE IS STRONG. I described one of her easy days. I didn't describe the day where her baby is sick and she spends 8 hours waiting at the hospital only to be told the lab is closed, the doctors have gone home, and she should come back in 2 days! I didn't describe the day where it's raining hard and she is soaked to the bone while riding in the taxi, or worse, can't do her work because the roads are simply too bad. I didn't describe how she has to air the mattresses each day for the kids who are incontinent at night (no pull ups in Ghana). I'm sure I didn't mention many of the things she does to keep her family thriving each day. And by Ghanaian standards, my friend has an "easy" life. She has money to take her baby to the doctor. She has money to hire a taxi and put the kids in school. She has food to cook. She is literate--can read and write and even knows how to use the computer.

It's interesting to think about, isn't it? Standards of living. I think my friend's life is hard. I also envy some aspects of her life. Ghanaians haven't forgotten how to survive on their own. They know how to grow food, and cook from fire, and make due with the water that is available. If ever the world is hit by some catastrophic event, I want to be in Ghana where people remember how to live without many luxuries!!! Quite frankly, I think most people in America wouldn't know what to do without everything being handed to us on a silver spoon. I digress....

I am home. I am thankful for my home. I am thankful for my country (as imperfect as it is). I am thankful that the Lord has given me the opportunity to learn from my Ghanaian friends and family."

Garden in the heart of summer

About a month and a half ago, I took these pictures of the raised bed area:



Check out these areas today:




First off, I know I should have taken the pictures in the same spot both times to get a true comparison. As it stands, the top picture from last month and the top picture from this month show basically the same area, but from opposite sides of the raised bed.

So, as a point of comparison, in the top photo, at the top left you see a small eggplant plant in a cage. In the first recent picture on the left there is the same cage with the growth of that eggplant easy to see. Another easily noted comparison is that in the first picture there is a small dill plant on the bottom left of the picture. In the top recent picture, at the back of the raised bed, you can see a very large dill plant with lots of yellow flowers on it. Yes, it has totally gone to seed now, but there is still some useable dill on there, and we are working on learning how to keep the herbs harvested enough so that they don't all keep bolting.

The better comparison is in the second raised bed. This is the second picture in the top set and the bottom two in the recent one. In this short time, the pumpkin and spaghetti squash have grown A LOT! We actually measured it one day and saw that it is growing about 6 inches a day. That mass of leaves and flowers that you see pretty much taking over that bed and spreading out on all sides is the same plants that you see so nice and tidy in the picture above! And, we didn't even keep all of them, we thinned them out some from the first shot, we only left three of each. We even have a baseball sized pumpkin now on one of them. Crazy.

On the side of our house, the tomato plants have made great progress too:


This particular section has grown a bunch, but no red tomatoes yet like the ones in pots. Though, this is probably due to the ones in the pots being stunted. For example, we have tomatoes that are the same variety, one is in the ground and one is in a pot. The ones in the pot are smaller, but turning red. The ones in the ground are significantly bigger, but still green. Either way, they are both growing and doing well. Still, I ended up buying some tomatoes last week for a recipe because we still have so few of them they aren't enough for a week. Maybe soon those as more are ripening daily.

Though I didn't take a picture of our sweet peppers today, we did have enough of a harvest to use them in a recipe this week. Paired with an onion from our CSA and some organic cage free chicken, we made delicious fajitas!

One last random picture that that had nothing at all to do with the garden but was really cute was this one with Argon:
This bag was randomly on the couch and I was cracking up watching him really burrow beneath it, and then just lay there... I have no idea why he wanted to be under the bag, but apparently that is where he wanted to be. I had Blake hand me the camera so that I could take the picture. Also, he has a strange habit of trying to go under the covers of our bed too and just stay there. If I throw something on him, like a bathrobe, he will just lay down underneath it, totally content. He apparently is a cat that loves to be under things. Just thought it was cute.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


With our three pets, we have hair collect everywhere, but especially on our bedspread because everyone sleeps on it with us. Normal lint rollers are laughable since just one swipe barely makes a dent, so we were using endless amounts of them while still seeing a layer of hair on the bed.

Today, with our various errands, we were planning on picking up 3 more rollers with the plan of finally getting our bed more or less clean. But Lowes did not have lint rollers, the only thing they had was this pledge fabric sweeper thing.

Oh my goodness... this thing is great! It totally worked, way better than the lint rollers. The only downside is that it is supposed to be a one use thing that gets tossed afterwards.

We will be attempting to rig it to use it multiple times, since it really just needs to be emptied to be used again. But the difference it made on our bedspread was incredible.

If you have pets, I really truly highly recommend it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I am one of those people who genuinely likes learning and spends vast quantities of time researching whatever is of interest to me at the time. Some past obsessions were about dogs/raising/training dogs before we got Roxie, kittens before we got the kittens, pregnancy as that time arose etc.

Currently, I am filling the time waiting for more exciting stuff to happen on the adoption front by researching and preparing to raise a child. Some books are just pure parenting books,some are adoption books, some are about medical issues our child might have, and the one I am currently reading is about a white person raising a black child.

It is a bit more technical and has more academic language than my regular books (I tend towards anecdotes as I learn) but it brings up some good points.

One thing that the author said was that the transracial adoptions that happened in the past could be mostly put into three categories- protege, pet and trophy. On the one hand, it seems really strange and off putting to think that for centuries the white people who were raising black children thought of them in one of these three ways.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that even among people raising biological children, their reasons for doing so might fall into these categories.

On the protege example, I know of many families who preach into their child's head from a young age what job they should have, because it is their job. Or even more innocently, how Blake hopes to teach skateboarding to our son, because he did it. How I was trained at a young age to enjoy musicals, which my dad loves (and I love now too). There is a huge part to parenting that is passing on what you love or what you do or what you believe to your child. They are your protege, in many ways expected to carry on as you have. While this is true today, it was even more true in the time that a son's job was more than expected to be his father's, it was more or less required that they would be an apprentice to their dad, learning his trade.

A child as a pet is similarly true as well, but this is partly because when I think about this particular statement I do so as a person who genuinely cares about the animals in my house, and worry about them, want them to be happy etc. I am not one of those people who consider them expendable, they are a part of my family.

With that in mind, why do we have pets? To bring amusement, to bring joy, to have a creature in the house that loves us unconditionally... Can't that be said about a few of the reasons that people choose to start a family? Kids bring with them a lot of fun, joy and love too. Yes, they require care, so does an animal.

The author's point about treating them as a pet was mostly a negative one, and included a story during the slave era that there was a child of a slave that was more or less adopted by the white family, given white clothes, schooling etc. up until the family had an aunt that got ill and needed someone to look after her and be her nurse, and then they sent the teen to care for this aunt, back to being treated as a slave. A pet that was amusing for a time, but then had a better purpose and was given away.

The last reason that she found was to have as a trophy. I haven't read this section yet, but yet again I can't help but apply it to biological non-transracial families too! All you have to do is watch one of those pageant shows, or see these parents at kids sporting events, where there is a child who genuinely doesn't care about the activity at the time, but are doing it anyways because their parents have a strong drive to see their child succeed at that activity.

Looking at it from a less extreme angle, is it so wrong to take pride in your child's accomplishments? I think as long as a parent doesn't feel that they deserve all the credit it is okay to want to talk about the various feats that their child does. Both big and small- like my friend posting to facebook when her child was potty trained. Did she have her child for the purpose of posting about her feats? No, of course not! But I do think that it is good for a parent to share when their child is successful, or accomplishes something.

I will acknowledge that I do get the point of the author's chapters as well. Raising a child of another race was not done for the right reasons for most of history, and I completely see that, and know that the purpose of talking about these negatives is to make sure that as the reader embarks on this same quest that they aren't doing so just to raise a child to follow in their footsteps, be a fun amusement or show people look how great I am... but to really be a parent to that child, and to love them and care for them.

It's just that while I know history is full of these kind of examples in these kinds of families, it bugs me when it's presumed to just be in those transracial families. Non-adoptive, all white, all biological families can have all the same issues too...if indeed they are all issues.

As a matter of fact, the whole long home study training process frequently reminds me that while adoptive families have to be cleared to be a parent, there isn't (and obviously can't be) any mandated clearance or training to be a parent under normal circumstances. Consequently, there are many families that are blessed enough to get pregnant that would never get cleared if they were required to have an interview process first. Families who have never read books or prepared at all, and yet they are given all the parenting rights and responsibilities that we adoptive families have to work for, and do paperwork for etc.

As I finish this post, I feel like there should be some great concluding paragraph, summing up why I wrote it, and what to take away from it, but I think I more needed to digest and process what I was reading about more than anything.

Honestly, I am not really worried about my parenting ability, or being the parent of a black child, I research because that is what I do. I am sure that I will have some great stuff to take away from this book, or if not, at least I see some things to avoid people thinking of me.

I am reminded of one of my co-workers repeated statements- that when I am a parent, I will do anything for my child. It is usually said in the context of me ranting about some parent who is making my teaching life difficult, but as I think about parenting, I think that is as close to the definition of being a good parent as I can come.

A parent is simply the person who will do anything necessary for their child, and tries to always keep their best interests in mind.

Monday, June 20, 2011

5 years!!

On Friday, Blake and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary! It is really hard for me to believe, because I don't feel like it has been that long, and I really don't feel like I have been away from high school long enough to finish college and be married for 5 years after that! Wierd.

We had a nice dinner at our favorite restaurant, Old Vine Cafe, and then on Saturday we went to my aunt's beach house.

The house was just perfect for what we wanted. Way better than anything we would have been willing to spend on, since it was literally across the street from the beach, and from the main table (or anywhere in the main room) you could watch the waves and the beach. We spent most of Saturday actually on the sand, using her beach chairs and I even went boogie boarding (again using her boogie board). But the evening and Sunday morning was inside just watching the beach come alive with joggers, and walkers and volleyball players etc.

It was just one of those relaxing, enjoying your spouse's company weekend that reminds you why you married them in the first place. Probably way better than it would have been if we had gone to a hotel because it was just us the whole time. No pets to take care of either since Roxie was in a pet hotel and the cats were fine for the weekend with extra food and water before we left.

p.s. we did both get sunburned :/
p.p.s we are bad at taking pictures, and alas, there is nothing but memories to remind us of this great dinner and weekend at the beach.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Garden and last day treats

A few weeks ago, we were able to get a whole bunch of blueberries:
Today we picked our first tomato! I can't wait for more of our green tomatoes to turn red also.

We have been eating lots of salads lately because our CSA box has given us numerous huge heads of lettuce like this one:

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was spoiled by my class yet again, but the sweetest thing is that my room mom knew my love of coffee and got most of my kids to bring in a starbucks card, thus why I have such a stack of them!

Friday, June 10, 2011

No good, very bad etc. day

You know, the name of my blog was inspired by the book about Alexander and the day that he had, that is cute as an adult reading it thinking wow... he thought that was so bad, and it generally teaches the lesson that sometimes days are like that.

But really, some days are like that.

Wasn't too bad till I left for my classroom, and looked at the house, and decided that it wasn't just a getting used to it thing... in sunlight, it is way too bright blue. We are now THAT house on the street, the one that neighbors avert their eyes from. I called Blake... partially hoping it was just me... but it wasn't, its bad, really (the picture on the post before was taken at a time of day when it doesn't look too bad, and it actually looks pretty good at night, but in bright sunlight... bleh).
(edit- still not showing it in full brightness, but currently we are wondering if we change the white and not the blue it won't be so bad. Compare to our neighbors' houses though...)

Get to work... had a meeting that was rough. Nothing bad exactly, and nothing I want to post on such a public forum, but let's just say that it went differently than I had hoped, and I was left with a worse feeling of bleh. I worked at my classroom for a few hours, and then came home... to see the house again, and worry about what to do about it.

We have decided to fork out more money that we should be saving for the adoption and get it repainted... yes... it's that bad. Not sure how much it will set us back, but honestly, Blake doesn't even like being in public with our house at this moment. It's bad. So we went out, instead of making dinner, because we both were too bleh to cook (even though we have plenty of food) and then bummed it on the couch with a movie.

See... nothing so bad (like Alexander) but just one of those days that you are happy to see end, and hope tomorrow will be better.

On the bright side, we got our revised homestudy back, and I spotted no mistakes this time! Yay! I-600A goes out tomorrow (fingers crossed).

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New House color!

Well, the painting on the house finished today, and it looks so different, Blake and I are still trying to figure out if we love it... and worrying that the association might change its mind. It's bright, and its blue. We really like the color when we just look at our house, its just that at this point we are concerned that it might be too different for the neighbors etc. So... here are before and after pictures (not same angle, but its what I have for now), and if you read this... I would love to hear what you think of the color. :-)



In other news we had an interesting experience with our home study recently. We got our copies in the mail yesterday, and as soon as I could, I sat down and started reading it. It was interesting hearing an account of our lives, and reading that they believe that we would be good adoptive parents. However, it had numerous mistakes ranging from small typo kind of things (Davis instead of David for Blake's middle name, extra .00 at the end of a number, Chenille instead of Chenile), which is bad enough, but it also said that our secondary guardians for our child are Richard and Anita Schweppe, Blake's parents (!), and that we were only approved for 0-4 year olds (bad because if we accept a 4 year old, and they turn 5 during the process we have to deal with major problems because we wouldn't be approved to take them home anymore, and would have to get approved again). Worse with these two problems were that I already told them that they were my parents and that we wanted to be approved up to age 7 just in case.

So today, I called our adoption agency to confirm that these were indeed big issues, and was told that I did need to get it fixed, and would even if it was just the address being the problem. When I called our home study agency the phone just rang...and there was no answering machine. So by this point I was frustrated, and wrote an e-mail to them (which reading back later, was meaner than I meant to be) and then called one more time. The ending is good that their document person got on the phone and recorded all the errors I caught, said she would fix them, and send it back out today and was very nice about it, but it was a hard circumstance anyways.

Other news is that my summer has kind of begun! At least, my teaching is done, now I have to power through cleaning and organizing my classroom so I can be on summer for real. I'll probably post later on my class' sweet gifts (that show how well they know me :-) ) but for now, I am looking forward to more time to read.