Sunday, June 26, 2011

Is This Real?

I fluctuate between two different feelings when I'm with Kal...

Sometimes I feel like he's been in our lives forever! I am totally settled into this whole mom thing now and this is just how we've always been: Zay, Kal, & me...

Then other times, especially when I go back and read past journal entries leading up to Kal's adoption, I am amazed that this all came to be! Holy frigging craziness! It all sort of feels like a dream. One I sure hope I don't wake up from!

Making Time For Myself

Mother's Day 2011

Now that I'm a mom (...*just saying that makes me want to squeal with happiness!!*...), I have more responsibility and more things to worry about than ever before. As hard as BYU's business school was, it's got nothing on the fatigue that parenthood dumps on you. I don't know what it is, but just a normal day can be so tiring now if I let it. I've always been good at taking ME TIME, but it's more important than ever now. We all need that time to unwind and reflect and re-connect with our inner selves or else we'll go crazy in this busy, busy world.

Things I like to do during "ME TIME":
* Write in my personal journal. I write whatever I feel like writing... just put the pen to the paper and go. I absolutely love my journal. It's my therapy and my release.
* Read Scriptures and write my thoughts about them in a scripture journal. When I really get into studying the Scriptures, I have all kinds of thoughts and impressions that I know I'll forget if I don't write them down in the moment and read them back often later.
* Blog. I seriously just love writing, I'm realizing. Blogging helps me take things that I would normally write about in my journal in a stream-of-consciousness sort of way and turn them into a focused topic.
* Research adoption topics and read everything in sight. Foster care is my new interest, but I'll read anything I get my hands on - especially people's personal experiences with adoption, good and bad.
* Facebook, email, write letters. I like keeping up with my friends and family and letting people know I'm thinking about them.
* Meditate and pray. I like doing this outside with the trees and the birds and the clouds... and weird neighbors I can spy on. Most of my ME TIME I like doing alone, but I could do this one in silence with Kal too. We have lots of quiet, peaceful, out-in-nature moments where we just chill and he lets mommy think.
* Do yoga... and streeeetch out all my anxiety. I love trying new yoga poses and seeing what I can make my body do. Makes me feel strong and in control.

I'm kind of going off on a tangent, but I started this entry because of something I read... I get a daily email from ACTS International (A Christian Teaching Service). I love the daily Christian thoughts and they always get me thinking! Seriously, everyone should sign up for it even if it's not from your denomination, because sometimes the messages can be really powerful. It's called The Daily Encounter. Anyways, one of the messages I read awhile back was about living in denial, distorting truths, and justifying unhealthy/unrighteous actions.

I liked this quote: "...the more dishonest I am with my inner self (my true feelings and motives), the more I will distort all other truth—including God's truth—to make it match my perception of reality, and use it to justify my behavior. Ultimately I end up unhappily believing my own lies."

Besides needing the rest, I think ME TIME is important to help us really think about why we do the things we do, why we make the choices we do, where we really want to be in the future, etc. When people keep themselves busy, busy, busy and don't take the time to stop and pray and think, sometimes we can fall into bad habits and start justifying our actions and letting selfishness and negative emotions like anger, frustration, etc. rule our lives and tell us what to do. That's how hypocrites are born. We can manipulate ourselves into thinking we're doing the right thing when we're not, because our motivations aren't what we think they are. Sometimes we've got to take a good hard critical look at ourselves, be humble, and give ourselves enough time to really think about our relationship with God and what it actually looks like rather than fooling ourselves on a daily basis.

Did any of that make sense? Lol. I'm taking some ME TIME today and I'm just trying to sort through all my thoughts... and that's what came out. Let's just all slow down a little bit and reflect! Get to know God and ourselves and face truth and make real changes. I think that's what I'm trying to say. :)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How Do YOU Spell Marriage?

Inspired by THIS POST... I think Zay and I have learned quite a few things during our (almost) 7 year marriage and (almost) 10 year relationship. But seeing as we got together super young and didn't have a clue what we were getting ourselves into, a lot of the lessons learned were from serious trial and error (a lot of our expertise is in what not to do). But that's okay. Sometimes the choices we make lead us down harder roads than others, but sometimes learning by example just doesn't cut it (for stubborn souls like ours) and we just had to jump in and learn the hard way.

Every relationship is unique... and each takes a certain set of rules and definitions to work. If I spelled our marriage out, it would look something like this:

M is for "make it work." If giving up, getting a divorce, throwing your relationship away after one bad argument (or ten bad arguments) is an option for you... if you allow it to be an option... then there's not much motivation to stick around and make it work when things get difficult. You can just quit anytime. But if you eliminate that as an option, you're forced to find the true source of the problem, work together, find a solution, be humble and forgiving, grow in compassion and patience, and make it work (and work well).

A is for "agree to disagree." We all view the world differently. There's no one right way to do anything. And no two people are perfectly compatible and agree on everything. In a marriage, you're faced with the HUGE challenge of living with someone, sharing the same bed with someone, making financial decisions with someone, raising children with someone, etc. when they could quite possibly have completely different views on how any or all of those things should be done. Bumping heads and fighting to the death about every single disagreement is silly and stubborn and will get you nowhere fast. It can't always be your way or the highway... and picking your battles wisely can usually eliminate 99% of them. The rest are more than likely nit-picky and unnecessary. It's okay to agree to disagree.

R is for "respect." Joking around and having fun together can be a huge part of a marriage and a friendship. But it's not always okay to make fun of each other or EVER okay to put each other down, even in jest. It's not fun to call each other names, treat your spouse as if they're an idiot, or not value them as a person. Think of a person outside of your marriage that you respect the most - someone you would never, ever dare disrespect. You should treat your spouse better than the way you would treat that person.

R is for "romance." Not everyone is into being cheesy and overly sweet or displaying affection in public. But that's not what romance means to me... it just means to remember why I fell in love in the first place and to recreate moments that make me feel that way again. Remembering is important, because we can easily forget the good when the bad sets in. Continue to date and to try to impress each other. Be mysterious. Be spontaneous. Be cute and silly. Compliment each other. Try new and exciting things. Reminisce about great memories you've had together... then go out and create new ones. Your spouse should be your best friend, your partner in crime!

I is for "intimacy." Be intimate. *wink, wink* Regularly and often. Never use sex as a tool to be manipulative. It shouldn't be withheld out of spite or to hurt the other person emotionally or as a ransom for something else that you want. It's to bring a husband and wife together and draw them closer, not one more thing to argue about. So... let's get it on!!

A is for "apologize." In most cases it takes two to argue, fight, hurt, deceive, manipulate, or damage a relationship. Apologize for your part in it. Apologize quickly and sincerely. Sometimes that's all it takes. And pride has no place in a marriage. Communicate your feelings and explain why you're feeling the way you do, but always own up to how you contributed to the situation and how you may have hurt your spouse in the process.

G is for "gratitude." Show appreciation and gratitude for what your spouse contributes to the relationship. I'm sure one of the most common complaints people have when they are unhappy in their marriage is that they feel unappreciated. People like to feel validated, that their efforts don't go unnoticed, that they are special and important to the other person. If you don't show appreciation to your spouse, they can harbor feelings of resentment, hold grudges longer, and start to compare what they contribute vs. what they perceive their spouse contributes. But it's not a competition! It's a team effort. We're both working towards the same goal here.

E is for "expectations." When you have a lot of ideas stuck in your head of how your spouse is "supposed" to be/act or how they are "supposed" to do things or what they are "supposed" to say in a particular situation... you're often going to be severely disappointed. ("You're supposed to have dinner ready on the table when I get home from work!" Ha ha.... YEAH RIGHT). Frustration and anger stem from expectations not matching up with reality. Instead of forcing your expectations on your spouse, you have to learn to adjust, adapt, and accept. Sometimes the problem isn't what they are doing "wrong" in your eyes, but your own unrealistic expectations. I blame Hollywood and every chick flick I've ever watched!! Ha ha.

So, how do YOU spell marriage?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

So I had a dream about Britney Spears...


Last night, I dreamed I won a contest that US Weekly was having. I was flipping through the newest edition and randomly saw my name, "Congratulations to Alice Anne of Utah! She won a bowling night with Britney Spears!" OMG, I was so thrilled! Who wouldn't want to go bowling with Britney??? I mean, I already know I want to be at whatever party she's throwing at the end of the world... but for right now, a bowling night sounds awwwwesome!


I don't know how my obsession with Britney first occurred, but I'm pretty sure it was instantaneous. I saw the video for "...Baby, One More Time" when I was 14 years old... and I thought she was amazing and I so wanted to be her. Lol.

Anyways, there's no point to this post other than me rambling about my irrational Britney love. My dream brought back a hilarious memory of my 14- or 15-year old self (those were the days...sigh...) that had me cracking up at how silly I used to be....

So, there was this one time when I thought it was a brilliant idea to pierce my own belly button. Yeah, I know. What an idiot. All I had was a sewing needle and some rubbing alcohol. Didn't even think to numb it with ice first. It took me almost an hour to get it to poke through the skin because I was going soooo slow - it hurt so bad! My brother was watching, apparently intrigued at my antics. It made a *horrible* popping noise when it broke the skin and went all the way through. I stuck an earring in it and thought to myself that I totally looked like Britney Spears. Ha ha. I would tie my shirt up in a knot and sing and dance around in my room in front of my mirror. The piercing only lasted for about 2 weeks, though. The skin died and fell off because I hadn't pierced it deep enough. That was a sad day. But I never tried any more self-piercings after that!

That memory pretty much defines my entire teenaged years. Gotta love it. :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Adoption: The "Race" Issue


One of the saddest things about adoption that hits me in the heart... is that different values are placed on a child of one race vs. another. With domestic adoption, the highest value is placed on a healthy Caucasian newborn. This contributes to a disproportionate number of children of other races left without a permanent family (not to mention the huge problem with older kids or kids with special needs not getting adopted... that's a whole different story).

In theory, race shouldn't matter. I've always believed that. Deep in my core I know that I am no better than anyone else because I'm white... and equally I believe my husband is no less of a human being (or deserving of any less in life) because he's black. That's been engrained in me for a long time and it amazes me when I think of the racism still rampant in the South and among older generations. And don't get me started on immigration laws and racism against Latinos either. (That's a hot topic for me. We're all equal and we all deserve to be here in America. You wouldn't say that black people need to go "back to Africa"... but SO often I hear how all Latinos should go "back to Mexico". How about we just make it easier to become a citizen?? Grrrrr!)

So, when it came to adopting a child... it should have been a piece of cake to simply check the box next to "willing to accept a child of any race," right? There are tons of "preferences" that you can fill out as part of the paperwork to adopt a child. You can get pretty specific regarding certain health issues or past drug use of the birthparents or whatever. A race checklist is included. You can mark exactly which races you are willing to accept, including mixed races (e.g., I'll accept a half-Asian, but not a full-Asian child, etc.).

When we were filling out this paperwork, Zay just kind of let me take over and mark whatever I wanted. He didn't have too many preferences other than specific health issues and special needs situations that he didn't think we could handle. Other than that, he let me get as specific as I wanted on all the checklists.

So I got picky. I specifically wanted a child of either gender who was full-African American or half-black mixed with any other race. I didn't question myself as to why I put that. I just marked it and moved on. I think I didn't anticipate full-white birthparents wanting to place their child with us (a black-white interracial couple) anyway, so I guess I didn't think it would matter.

Supposedly, these preferences are used to automatically match us with birthparents whose situation and child fit what we want. So if the system worked the way it was supposed to, we'd never get contacted by someone who didn't match with us. The problem is that this only works if the birthparents are registered with the agency's website. But if they sign in as a guest just to browse through the profiles, they can see every profile. And that's how (I'm assuming) we were contacted by the first girl who was considering adoption and wanted to meet us.

When I realized that there was an opportunity in front of us where we could quite possibly adopt a full-Caucasian child... I was disappointed. Only for a split second! But that split second haunted me and I was SO mad at myself for hesitating. Hello! Since when did I ever care about race? And would I honestly turn a child down because of the color of their skin?? Immediately after I found out the race of the baby and thought "this changes things," I was disgusted with myself. I had to have a heart-to-heart with myself about why I was racist (against my own race)!

I cried. I went out to eat with Zay and talked it over with him. He kind of chuckled at me for getting so upset about it. But this was serious! I was embarrassed and ashamed of myself. He just told me that of course I would be more drawn to a black child. When we were trying to have kids, we obviously imagined biracial babies. And for the majority of my life, I identified with black people and black Southern culture. That's who I married, that's who I went to school with, that's who my neighbors were, that's who my friends were... so, of course I'd envision my family and children in a certain way. On the other hand, he never had a problem with it and I was kind of surprised that I was the one that was thrown off by the child's race. I asked him, "How would it feel if a white girl was calling you 'daddy'?" He just joked and made a reference to me, "I kind of already do!" LOL! Oh my gosh, I couldn't stop laughing.

I called my mom. She told me the same sort of thing... that I've always liked black people and that's who I've attached myself to. And that there was nothing wrong with that. A friend told me that the problem wasn't that I marked certain preferences... but that the preferences were even there at all. Agencies shouldn't have little check boxes for things like that. None of these answers helped me completely. I was worried that if this was supposed to be my daughter, I didn't want anything holding me back from loving her and bonding with her. I didn't want to think less of her because she wasn't what I envisioned.

The moment that changed my heart and made me realize I really was over-worrying... was when I was helping my brother and sister-in-law move. I told my sister-in-law how I was feeling about the whole issue. She asked, "Well - were you not gonna tell her that she was adopted?" I laughed and was like, "No... of course I want my child to know about their adoption." I felt silly again because I didn't have a reason for my disappointed feeling. It wasn't like I wanted a mixed child so that they could "fit right in" and then not tell them they were adopted. Then my nephew was getting in the way and playing and being oh so cute and I thought, "I have never loved a child as much as I love that boy right there." And Evander is a little mini-me version of my brother. My white brother. Lol. How could I have forgotten? For whatever reason I was worrying and was ashamed and embarrassed of a split second feeling I had, it all changed when I looked at him and realized race really didn't matter. I started crying (again...ha ha) and tried to keep it together while I moved boxes around.

I'm such a mess! I knew when things didn't work out with this particular girl that there was a reason I needed to learn about myself and work through whatever issue I was having about race. If nothing else came of it, I learned a great deal about myself and my capacity for love... and how I really, really, really wanted to do adoption the right way. I gained a lot of insight into Zay's point of view on the matter. I learned to laugh at myself and realize I'm an idiot... and that's okay. I'm human.

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