Think Before You…

There is a graphic floating around facebook right now encouraging people to “THINK BEFORE YOU DONATE.”  It list several charities and why you should not donate to them and then lists several charities that are worthy of your contributions.

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I have so many thoughts about this.  Here are just a few.

First, get your facts rights.  Snopes calls the information “mostly outdated and inaccurate.”

Second, I support some of the “bad” charities on this list.  Example?  March of Dimes.  When I was pregnant with Eleanor, I went into pre-term labor at 27 weeks.  I was in and out of the hospital on several different medication to stop my labor and prevent contractions.  Know who is responsible for the development of many of those treatments?  That’s right…the March of Dimes.  I will continue to support their mission, as I know of many, many children (including my own) who are here today because of their work.  I also give to Goodwill.  Not so much because I believe in their mission, but because sometimes I have junk that I don’t want, but someone else will.  For me, it’s more about avoiding the landfill.

Last, giving is and should be a personal choice.  Saving babies is important to me.  Maybe something different is important to you.  Whatever it is, find someone who supports it and give to them.  Now, I don’t advocate giving your money away to TV evangelists, but if that’s your thing…good luck.  If you want to make sure that the organization that you are giving to is reputable, check out some legitimate sources.   Charity Navigator is great for researching where your money is going, and although it is a little outdated, you can check out Forbes Magazine‘s list of 200 charities.   Both of these will let you decide what’s important to you and find a way to support it.  As for me, I am more concerned about outcomes than CEO salaries, as I believe sometimes you have to pay someone a lot to get positive results.  But that’s just me.  Decide on your cause, do your research and find a place that you feel good about giving.  But don’t let an inaccurate graphic on Facebook determine where your money goes.

 

 

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Monster Fun

Andrew and I have always loved helping our kids enjoy the things they are naturally drawn to.  When Sam was little, he went through a typical dinosaur phase, and we got him dinosaur books, pajamas, toys, and more books.  Eleanor likes the ballet, so Andrew takes her to see several each year.  And, of course, Sam has developed our love for baseball, so we catch as many games as we can (for him, of course).

This brings us to Ayub.  Ayub is into trucks and anything loud.  So this weekend, I became Mother of the Year by taking him to Monster Jam.

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For those who have never been (a category to which I belonged until Friday night), this is an actual sport.  Monster trucks drive over regular cars and smash them down, then judges give them points based on I-don’t-know-what, and there is a winner.  To add some drama, they throw in some conflict where one driver threatens another (think professional wrestling…with acting that’s just as bad).

Ayub loved every minute of it.  Of course, he couldn’t really figure out what was going on sometimes, barraging me with a series of unanswerable “why” questions.  Why they drive on top of those cars?  Why he mad?  Why he win?  After answering “I don’t know” or making up my own fun answers for the first half, after intermission I told him to just watch because I couldn’t hear him with my earplugs in.

Then, on Saturday, my reign as MOTY continued with a trip to Lowe’s.  They have a kids’ clinic every Saturday where the kids get to make something.  Guess what the project was this week?  Monster trucks.  No kidding.  It was the theme for the weekend.  Ayub had a great time.  I mean, really, how often do we tell him to hit something with a hammer?  And then tell him to hit it harder?  He was in heaven!

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And in other news for the Mother Of The Year Selection Committee, Sam got to see two and a half baseball games, Eleanor had a night out with a friend and a playdate at our house, and Sam attended a sleepover birthday party.  If kids could be any happier, I’m not sure how.

And, in case I don’t win MOTY, but you still want me to do well at something, please click the link below to vote for my blog.  All you have to do is click once, then you can come right back here.  Or wherever it is you go when you’re not reading my blog.

 Visit Top Mommy Blogs To Vote For Me!

Valentines

When I thought about what life would be like as a stay at home mom, I had some misperceptions. I thought I’d be the mom who sent in special treats for holidays at schools.  We’d do arts and crafts after school.  We’d give homemade presents to our family for Christmas – you know, the stuff we found on Pinterest.

In reality, I’m the same mom I always was.  I still buy store-bought goodies for holiday parties at school, usually purchased on the way to school the morning of the event because I forgot to buy them ahead of time.  I spend the bulk of my days driving kids around, not planning our next craft.  And most of our Christmas gifts came from Amazon.

But for Valentine’s Day, I finally knocked it out of the park.  No other kids will have Valentines this cool.  Seriously.

Here’s what I did:

Step 1: Bribed, cajoled, begged, pleaded and finally yelled at my kids until they would stand still for a photo.  It took Eleanor about 20 shots to get this right.  Ayub did it on his second try.  He isn’t one for wasting time.

Step 2:  Have enough pictures printed for each child.

Step 3: Using a craft knife (see, this is getting kind of crafty, don’t you think?), cut two slits in the photo.

DSC_0504Step 4: Insert heart-shaped sucker and tape to the back so it won’t be jostled out by anxious kids digging to the bottom of their Valentine bag looking for “the good candy.”

Step 5: Deliver to school with a beaming child.

DSC_0499 DSC_0498Honestly, these are so cute it kills me.  (Would have been even better if I could have talked Eleanor into combing her hair, but after I already made her change into a red shirt, there was no room left for bargaining.)  So here it is…my first big success as a stay at home mom.

You will not that we only did these for two of my kids.  Lucy is not incredibly cooperative in posing for photos – you have to catch her in her natural habitat.  As for Sam…sniff, sniff…he’s too old to give out Valentines to his friends.

Never Before Seen Footage

We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of our arrival home with Ayub and Lucy, so I thought it was about time I finished up this video.  I posted a lot of photos during and after our trips, but I have never gotten around to posting any videos.  I’m really more of a still photo kind of gal and owe big thanks to Uncle Davey, who shot most of the video clips.

I made this video for my us, and I thought hard about whether to post it at all.  But then I remembered how when we were in the waiting stages, I would often scour the internet looking for videos of others’ Ethiopian adoptions.  I would watch their videos and dream about what our own video would look like.  Well, here it is.  But first, a disclaimer.  If you are a potential adoptive parent, this will all look like sunshine and roses to you.  It was not that way.  There were some very hard times mixed in here.  I don’t have video of the 1 hour and 20 minute tantrum at the top of the Horizon House steps.  I don’t have photos of the bite marks and bruises that we were given.  I don’t have the grief-filled sobs that echoed through our house early on.  Those are not the memories I want my family to keep.  I want to remember the things in this video: the early days, the smiles, the firsts, the hope.  But I want others to be aware that those things existed and they are a part of our journey as much as anything else.

Another disclaimer.  I really tried to cut this down to a manageable length.  But I couldn’t do it.  So, I don’t really expect anyone to watch this whole thing, other than maybe my mom.  If you have 25 minutes, go pop some popcorn and settle in for a viewing.  For those of you who would just like to see certain parts of the journey, here’s a guide to where you will find them.

  • Referral – :21
  • Meeting the Kids – 1:51
  • Addis Ababa – 6:30
  • Trip #2 & All 4 Together – 8:18
  • Horizon House – 13:59
  • Trip to Afar – 16:39
  • Trip Home & First Few Months – 22:49

Without further ado…Our Adoption Story

Our Adoption Story from Kristin W on Vimeo.

I’m Selfish. And I’m Not.

When we first started the adoption process, I had no thoughts about the “orphan crisis.” I just wanted some more kids. (Actually, at the time, I just want ANOTHER kid, but that’s another story.) I wanted a larger family. I liked being a mom, and I wanted the chance to do it some more. It was all about me and what I wanted. I wasn’t aware that there are 147 million orphans around the world or that 5 million of them are in Ethiopia. I just wanted more kids. So there you have it…I’m selfish.

Since then, though, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve opened my eyes to the world outside of the sheltered view of life that is presented to us by the media. I’ve learned that around the world there are children living in poverty. There are parents who desperately love their children, but are forced to give them up because they can’t feed them. There are children who die every day because they didn’t get a vaccination or medication that we buy on a drug-store shelf.
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So what am I going to do about it?

I don’t know.

Since we came back from Ethiopia, I have known that I need to do something. (No, this is not the part where I announce we’re adopting more kids. Adoption is not the solution to this problem.) I want to make a difference. I want to help those kids, those families. But I’m stuck. I don’t know how. The need is overwhelming, and frankly, there are too many choices. I have considered them all. Yes, we could sponsor a child. That would help one family. Yes, we could raise money to build a well. That would help one village. We could donate to a school, to a group supporting girls, to a hospital, to a medical mission, to a library, to an orphanage, to a group that rescues unwanted children. We could sell necklaces or buy a pair of TOMS. Those things would all help. But it doesn’t feel like enough. It doesn’t feel like I’m doing my part as a world citizen.

So maybe I’m not so selfish anymore. I’m looking for suggestions. What have you done since coming home with your kids to help support their birth country? What would you do if you could do anything? What organizations are REALLY making a difference? And, if you know of anyone who works for an NGO active in Ethiopia who needs a part-time, telecommuting worker, I’m open to going back to work.

Help Me Make Friends

Before I move on, let me share my thoughts about internet relationships.  I used to laugh.  Really, I did.  I just didn’t see how you could be friends with someone you’d never met in real life and didn’t ever see.  But adopting two kids, one of them an older child, has definitely taught me a thing or two.  You see, as great as “real friends” are, this is really one of those “you had to be there” kind of things.  If you haven’t completed the endless amounts of paperwork (in some cases twice) and then waited for a referral, then you just can’t understand the pressure and stress that causes.  Then, if you haven’t had your life turned upside down by little creatures that you are supposed to love from day one, then you just can’t fathom how hard that is.  Sometimes, you need to be able to reach out to friends who can understand.  Friends to whom you can share you deepest fears (I think my kid is a serial killer) and desperate thoughts (what if we’ve made a terrible mistake)*.  You also need someone you can bounce things off, like the fact that your five-year-old child refuses to tell you ANYTHING about his life before he joined your family.  Is that normal?  Does he need therapy?  Is it too soon?  Or has he split into multiple personalities to shield himself from the pain?  So, yes, I love my real friends.  I especially love the ones who I can sit down and have a drink with, because you know I DEFINITELY need that, but my blog friends have started to play an increasingly important role in my life, too.

In an effort to connect with a wider blog audience, I’ve joined Top Mommy Blogs.  It would help me immensely if you would click on the link below and “vote” for me.  It only takes a second.  You will be taken to the site, and then you can come right back.  That’s all there is to it.  This will help drive more visitors to my site and help me make more wonderful blog friends.  There is also a link on the right sidebar, so any time you drop by and want to vote, please take a second to help me out.  Thanks to all my “real” and “blog” friends.

Vote for me @ Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

*Upon consultation with my blog friends, I have decided that my son is not a serial killer and we have NOT made a huge mistake.  Just FYI.