The Good Lie… {A Giveaway}

 

 

You guys, this holiday season needs a HEFTY dose of hope, and I happen to have a little of that to share!

I have this AMAZING Blu-Ray DVD combo pack to give away of The Good Lie. Have you seen it? If not, let me just say, it is WORTH the watch. It’s a lovely movie… Reese1

Reese2

And it can be yours!

It officially comes out on the 23rd, but I have (possibly) YOUR copy sitting right here, on my desk! All you have to do to win, is to leave a comment (with either your email address or a link back address) naming your FAVORITE movie that inspires hope… Do you have one?
unnamed (5)The winner will be chosen at 12:01 A.M. Monday morning (Sunday Midnight) and WATCH your email so that I can get your mailing address ASAP! I want to mail it out priority mail Monday so that you can get it, as a nice little Christmas gift to yourself, just in time! :)

(If you happen to tweet this giveaway just link back with a time stamp for an extra entry)

 

hours & minutes…

mtNrf7oxS4uSxTzMBWfQ_DSC_0043
On Tuesday I spent two beautiful hours in the place I feel the most of everything. I walked city blocks, took in the tree at Rockafeller Center, rode the subway downtown to grab a bite to eat and found I was more me than I have been in a really long time.

For those two hours there were no mortgage nightmares unfolding at a snail’s pace, while questions of where we would live and other adult style crises hung overhead. For those hours there was only the city, and thousands of others sharing in those same holiday sounds and the alive energy that is New York City. To be honest, before we navigated my car into the Lincoln tunnel I questioned if I even wanted to attempt a few city hours. It seemed so pitiful and teasing, but the way in which they filled me left me realized these moments matter and to seize them…

Yes, everyone else realized this long, long ago.

On the other side of that tunnel, (the very reason we were in Jersey to begin with) there was an ICU room at Rutgers, where we’d left our hearts. This perhaps made our New York jaunt a little lighter as well. Visiting hours gave us a free afternoon and sitting in a hotel room sounded like too much time to think, too much time to worry, too much… So, we adventured. If you’ve ever been to Newark then you know, adventuring there was NOT a wise idea, so the City was the obvious choice. (But, of course…)

I drove through Pennsylvania mountains yesterday, heading home to Michigan. As the miles spread between us and that hospital room, between me and that city, I was overcome with all of the things that matter and all of the things that do not. I italicize “home” because it isn’t for me. Even, aside from the fact that we technically, right now, do not have a real home. For Christmas I need to find a way to make peace with this idea of the two coexisting. For my husband, I do. He belongs here, and that means I must too. While I’ve tried in countless ways to make it home, I have to keep trying and finding new ways. This matters. My marriage, my family, my beautiful daughters, my son- whereever he is- my relationships, my writing… These things matter.

Why, at Christmas, do we get so caught up focussing on those things which often do not?

For Christmas I gave myself the gift of seeing that RC Christmas tree, something I have always wanted to do. Standing there, with every other smiling, selfie taking person, I realized there wasn’t a gift in the world I could unwrap that would mean more to me than that did. Even if it took $62 in parking fees and a $14 bridge toll to do it. Life is about the journey, the moments… We fill up, on the inside, with the moments. A cup of tea and a hearty laugh with a good friend can do more for the soul than a new sweater ever could, so why is the second one so more easily attainable it seems? This is a sad, sad part of today’s reality.

Yesterday, driving through those mountains, I soaked them in. No, they were not my Pacific Northwest mountains of Home, but they were mountains none the less. They were refreshing to my spirit and I allowed myself to fill up on them like I filled on the city. 2014 has been filled to the brim with some of the ugliest and hardest minutes and hours I have ever known, the worst being within the last few weeks. It took seeing someone we love become a living-breathing miracle to realize that I have to choose to not let my 2015 continue in such a fashion. Even if the trend sets similarly, I will take notice, adventure and savor.

Finally…

photo-1416424312427-baefa7707d85

I know a very beautiful woman who, while she is a mother to two, has also opened up her life to be a surrogate for someone else. As someone whose womb tragically failed me, the very idea of this is foreign, magical and exotically lovely. I know many would balk at a wife and mother doing this for another, even a stranger, but I have to question: could there be any greater ministry?

Of course there are already born motherless children, and so many homeless and hungry… But every day I grow more and more in my absolution that not everyone is cut out for adoption. It’s the whole had I known perspective.

Several years ago a very amazing woman, (a different woman) offered to be a surrogate for us. She too was a wife and a mother. (I feel it is important to share those details because there is this stereotype with surrogates that displays a very different type of woman.) This surrogacy never came to fruition because we all lived in a state which didn’t allow surrogacy and there wasn’t really a way around that. It was a nice five minute dream, but one we realized quickly was very expensive and beyond anything we could ever really touch.

The path of infertility is a dark and isolating one. You never realize how many pregnant women there are, until you’ve had a miscarriage. You never realize how many babies are everywhere, until your arms and heart ache every second of the day for your own baby. When it becomes profoundly obvious to you that a woman’s body was designed to bear a child, and yours cannot, there is no worse feeling in the world. It is more painful than rejection and far more humiliating than any failure… And this is the heart to which so many women come to adoption. They come to adoption, full of hope and expectation. They allow that word to touch their dreams.

Finally

Adoption in and of itself is a word that builds hope. In the general population it stirs a positive emotion.

For so many, many, many children, it is a dream. There are so many children (just in America. I’m just talking our foster care system right now, though I know it goes far beyond that.) Who fall asleep dreaming of a family to Finally come and love them. The one thing the barren mother, broken by her inability to be a woman, and the abandoned child, simply broken, have in common is their dream of that same beautiful word…

In the mind, adoption makes so much sense. Pair the childless mother with the motherless child. Each desperately, achingly wants what they do not have and viola! Finally!

In truth though, life is messier than that. This isn’t some meet cute motion picture. Adoption is hard. It can be (but maybe not always, I hope) ugly. It can be worse than anything you imagine. The world full of babies and women who can be women, the way they were made to be, are always the first to judge when an adoption does not work out and the parents admit defeat and give up. They do not try to empathize with how completely hellish the interior of this journey can be for everyone. Sometimes that is the best course of action, and sometimes it isn’t. Before I was an adoptive mother, I certainly didn’t understand. Now I do. It’s hard to wrap one’s head around though… How can someone abandon a child who has already been so abandoned? But nothing is ever that simple.

My beautiful, bright adopted daughter hates me. She can get over it sometimes, for a day or two, and when that happens life is glorious. We really enjoy each others company and have a lot of fun. It’s beautiful and my husband and I will remark about how maybe we are actually sort of close… because, the truth is, I think she loves me too. The best she knows how, anyway. The hatred trumps love though. And as awful as it sounds, through so much work, and help we’ve learned (though she has trouble seeing this) it isn’t personal and it isn’t about me. It’s about her, though she directs it at me. I didn’t do anything to earn her vindictiveness or cruelty, but I’ve been receiving it for years. It’s a very isolating place to be, and I’m pretty empty anymore.

Some weeks ago, in a rare moment of candidness I asked her why she feels she hates me so consumingly and her answer shocked me to my core. I expected some “because you hold me responsible for my actions” nonsense (we get that thrown in our face a lot, because she’s a kid and that makes sense!) Defiantly she glared at me and with absolute disgust in her voice she spit out “Because you adopted me.”

Startled I questioned, “Me personally? You wish someone else had adopted you?”

And she scoffed like I was stupid. “No, I don’t want other parents. I just think adoption is an evil thing and no child should ever have to go through it.” She proceeded to rant about how some kids are products of horrible divorces, or have major disabilities. Despite having an early, pre-childhood of major abuses, she views adoption as her life’s affliction and the thing she’d one day over come.

Another Finally I guess. Finally, a reason, though it makes no sense and hurts my heart and makes me so confused… And feeling so isolated and alone here on my island.

I’m noticing a lot lately that the world is full of three types of people. One- the person who loves and is willing to give so much of themselves, even if it doesn’t make sense to their observers. Two- the people who judge the surrogates and givers of the world. These are the same ones likely condemning the broken, for being broken. There is a lack of empathy, replaced my their need for opinion. And Three- The ones who act the supportive and empathetic part, but are unavailable and their support empty.

Seeing this makes me know who I want to be, for sure. Even if I’m only half a woman…

My Favorite things 2014… {a little gift guide, of sorts.}

I love buying gifts for others. I would make a brilliant millionaire, in that way. (and the people I love would agree, I’m sure!) I’ve been told I am a good gift giver, which naturally makes me happy since I love it so much.

We made the decision, as a couple, a few years ago, to really take a step back from gift bingeing at Christmastime. It’s often vulgar and unnecessary. We reevaluated the gifts we bought our kids, and who we bought for in general. (and why)

As I wrap up the last of my very modest Christmas shopping, I thought I’d share with you a handful of things I love, in case you need a little help! Most of these are things that I fell head over heals with, just this year. (One of them though, has been on my wish list for years and years, and someday I’ll get it.)

Stocking Stuffer Wonderfulness…

coconut_milk_open_cap_left_side_front

 

EOS Coconut Milk lip balm is my FAVORITE “lip gloss” ever! I have a dozen of these little EOS eggs floating around in various flavors, but this and the new Vanilla Mint (blue swirl) are the BEST! (you can buy them at Target, drug stores & Kohls.)

5163359_orig

 

Marrying Mr. Darcy is a really great card game! For anyone who love Jane Austin or P & P, this would make a delightful gift! We were turned on to it by a friend and our family really loves it, though I’ll save him a bit: Chw will play it and have fun- it’s probably not his first choice on family game night… (You can buy the game Here. There is also an expansion back with Zombies, and an Emma expansion pack coming soon!)

bette-midler-its-the-girls-2014-album-billboard-650

 

It’s the Girls is a brilliant cover album, by the amazing Bette Midler. While I’m not the sort of girl to cry and watch Beaches regularly, or belt out Wind Beneath My Wings whenever it’s on the radio- (who am I kidding, I am the sort of girl to do BOTH of those things!) it wouldn’t matter, because this album is for every girl. It’s stunning!

chef-blu-ray-cover-84

Chef on Blu-Ray or DVD. This has been, by far, my favorite movie of the year. So entertaining and fun! So poignant! It was one that I had to drag my husband to, after I waited anxiously for it, and then he LOVED it so much he immediately wanted to see it again right away. It’s one of the few movies anymore that makes me sit back and feel this is why we have movies… (Target, Amazon)

crabtree evelyn hands care therapy scrub cream dry skincare blog 60 second fix manicure treatment soft beauty reviews ingredients how to use

 

Crabtree & Evelyn Citron Hand Therapy would win my Product of 2014 award, if I gave out Product of the year awards. This stuff is phenomenal. Your lady’s* hands deserve to be treated like precious treasures and this is the product to do it, whether it’s in Citron or any scent. Citron just happens to be my favorite. (*or your hands, if you are a guy and want great hands. I don’t judge. My hubby will not balk at a hand therapy treatment because it’s just “good hygiene” and because it feels pretty incredible.) (Crabtree & Evelyn hand Therapy kit)

A little something under the tree…

img-thing

Kate Spade Umbrella- Yes, it’s true, i love Kate Spade. Because of this, I will admit that maybe there are a hundred other brands of umbrellas that are equally as awesome. That being said, allow me to point out a few facts…

1.) I LOVE umbrellas and have many different kind/styles/sizes/varieties.

2.) When my hubby bought me this one, in Chicago this summer, I fell into Umbrella love and haven’t used another since. It is stylish, practical and just the best umbrella ever! (Kate Spade)

day-designer-well-lived-square-400-e1348458133949

 

Whitney English Day Designer- My husband bought this for me last Christmas and it was easily the best gift ever. In so many ways I did not utilize this planner for all it was capable of, but it really was the absolute best planner I’ve ever had. Some of us girls will forever be paper planner gals and if this describes you or someone you know, this planner is PERFECT! (though the 2015 line isn’t out yet, so gift wrapping it would be creative…)

compassion-a

 

Sponsoring a Child through Compassion International- Our family sponsors a little girl named Elisabeth, and we adore her. Her letters and pictures are the first things we open, when they arrive. Just the other day her social worker (she’s only 5) told us about how she bought a goat, a dress, a rake and cake with her birthday money. This was mind-boggling to me, in fact we talked about it for most of the evening. They had written before about how Elisabeth loved to play with the family goat, and we had to wonder what a difference a second goat could make to  a family…

What an amazing Christmas gift idea, to sponsor a child for someone else. It blesses the life of a child immeasurably, as well as the person whom you sponsored for as they get to see the joy and blessings spread through this life because of them. (Compassion International)

atlareader5_172003

 

Dean & Deluca metropolitan spice rack- this is, obviously, the item that’s been on my wish list for the better part of a decade. I have several D & D spices in my spice cupboard. They are my favorite spices, I hoard them like crazy because they are amazing. If I lived in NY, I would absolutely shop there, even if their market made Whole Foods prices seem comparable to the Dollar General. The reviewers complain about the tins stacking odd, or smudgy labels. I don’t care about any of that… If you have a cook on your list who A.) loves quality spices, B.) has a huge empty space in their kitchen to store a beautiful D & D spice rack, and C.) your Christmas shopping budget is infinite- then this is definitely the gift for you! (Dean & Deluca)

While we are on the subject of gifts, we’re also talking about gift giving over on the podcast this week. (Be sure to subscribe, and remember we love hearing from you!)

“Sick” days…

Sometimes being a parent means giving up things… This morning it means giving up my gym time because my tenth grader is (most likely) faking sick, to stay home from school and sleep in. Sure, from what could be your (the reader’s) perspective, this could seem like she may rule the roost around here. She may sound spoiled. I may sound like a horrible parent, allowing such undisciplined behavior…

I mean, what kind of mother allows their 15-year-old to wake up and say “I don’t feel good, can I stay home?” and follows it with a “sure, whatever you want, go back to bed.” It’s not like I wasn’t already awake at 5:12 in the morning and wouldn’t have loved to go back to bed myself. (unfortunately, I’m not wired that way.)

Sometimes being a parent means making the tough calls… In this house we believe in mental health days.

I’ve written a bit about it before, but my beautiful, amazing and very bright daughter has a lot of heavy burdens. She really carries some huge struggles and some seasons are a lot more difficult than others. Now that she’s getting older her struggles tend to come out in the form of defiance, rage, self-destruction and deception. There is always a storm raging beneath her surface, and being the human being who loves her maybe more than anyone else on the planet- this brings me great pain. In the seasons that are especially difficult for her though, (which are from Halloween to New Years and then again in the month of March.) these are typically the hardest and darkest times for our family. She is always the barometer at which our family functions because she is unpredictable and, well, we’ve just learned to cope the best we can. Those harder times though, those harder times are worse. They are worse because there is also this need to make them lovely. These are holiday times, and birthday times, which is psychologically why she sets out to ruin them (unintentionally.) The old instinctual reaction of hurt them, before they hurt you; or ruin it first so you are disappointed when someone else ruins it for you. Heartbreaking really…

Sometimes I reflect on the last decade plus, of this journey, and I think about how much better things have gotten. The truth is though, in the majority of ways they haven’t gotten better, Chw and I have just grown more honest with ourselves. We live our lives, and spend our holidays differently than you or I might. And it’s certainly not all bad. In fact, in this week’s episode of the podcast we touch on one of the sweeter, (and crucial) parts of the holiday season, for us. Adoption is a beautiful, but tricky thing.

So, if my fifteen year old is feeling overwhelmed and needs to take a break from everything- I’m ok with that. In fact, we taught her that it was ok to do that. It’s her third time in the semester and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. She has great grades, isn’t going to miss any major tests or important deadlines today.

Today, for me, being a parent means admitting that I’m so grateful she can acknowledge this need within herself, even if she isn’t fully able to be honest about just needing some time, and rest.