Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Adoption

Before we found out we were pregnant with Max, Charlie and I had started down the path toward adoption. We had suffered 4 miscarriages, and we both decided that we wanted to move forward with it. We knew that it could take awhile to get through the process and that we didn't want to be 40 when we started a family. We figured that if we waited until we were really sure we weren't going to have any biological kids of our own, then by the time we would be able to adopt a few kids we would be pretty old. Not that people don't do it, or that you can't do that, we just didn't want to.

So we got our home study and paid a lot of money to the adoption agency to get started. Then I found out I was pregnant. We kept going with the process until I was safely out of my first trimester. Then I told the agency, and they were very understanding. They put our account on hold for a year after Max's due date. So in December 2015 we had to give them a decision. Did we want to continue as we were, or did we want to reactive our account? I was already pregnant with our baby #2, so we decided to put it on hold again. They gave us another 6 months.

So we had to tell them what we wanted to do by June 2016 (aka now). Our home study also expired in May, so we needed to re-do that if we needed to.

For a long time I felt like maybe the reason for all those miscarriages was to bring us to adoption. Like maybe we were supposed to adopt, and that was a way to get us there. Fairytale-esque, but made sense to me.

But we just weren't sure. I was hesitant to shut the door on it. Charlie was a little more willing. Our intention was to adopt an African American baby. But we both agreed that if we did that, it would be better to adopt 2. All of the research shows that they do better if they have a sibling who "looks" like them. But, realistically speaking, were we going to have 2 more kids? I don't know. Maybe one. But I'm already 33. Two more kids, even if they are super close together, is going to take another 3-4 years.

And then there is the craziness of having 4 children. Much of that burden falls on Charlie. And he does a huge amount of work at the office for me. Work that I wouldn't trust anyone else to do, and, let's be honest, in North Platte I could never find someone as good as him to keep an eye on the financials for me. We both agreed that if we had 4 kids under the age of 6 or so, he was going to have to stay at home full time. Tanya is not going to take care of 4 kids for us, in addition to her 3. They would have to go to daycare. Or Charlie would need to be home full time. Which means he's not at the office. Which means we'd have to hire someone. On top of paying for 4 kids to go to daycare.

And then the logistics at the office. Dr. Shreck is almost 70 now. He's been out of practice for 3 years. He may be willing to come back and help again with baby #3, but I don't know about #4. At some point he's going to want to let his license and malpractice lapse and just be retired. He has been more than generous with his time to help us for these last 2 pregnancies. I don't think he minds, and we obviously pay him, but without him we would probably have to shut down the office for a period of time. Instead of my maternity leave being unpaid (because we basically break even on costs and paying Dr. Shreck) it would cost us tens of thousands of dollars. I would have to go back to work way more quickly, and overall it would be a lot harder. So if we adopted a baby in a few years and Dr. Shreck was not willing to come back, then I'd be home for a week or two, then back at the office full time and Charlie would be home with 2 toddlers and a newborn, while no one was doing his job at the office. Kinda crazy.

It's not that we couldn't afford it. And it's not that whether or not to have more kids should be a totally financial decision, but it does weigh in. And staying at home with 4 kids is a huge task. It's hard enough to stay home with 1. I think as you get more kids it probably get easier to some degree because they entertain each other. And as they get older they get more independent. But neither of us were sure we really wanted 4 kids. Like I said, maybe 3. We'll see how it goes with 2.

But I didn't want to just waste that money. I mean, it's basically like a $10,000 donation to the agency, which I don't think is a nonprofit in the first place. Ideally I wanted to be able to gift that money to another couple who wanted to adopt but didn't have the means to adopt through an agency like we were. But, as you might expect, our deposit was non-transferrable. So I couldn't do that.

Ultimately, we decided to end our adoption journey. Every time we renew our home study it is another $1,000. We both really needed to be behind it. And I was only partly behind it, Charlie less so than me. So after talking about it ad nauseum for the last several weeks, we finally decided to throw in the towel.

It makes me kinda sad. So final. But I think it's the best for us in the long run.

Now nothing to do but wait for baby #2 to make his grand entrance. Any day now...

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Capsule is (almost) complete!

Happy Mother's Day to all my mamma friends out there! Hope you all had a good day. I know that I did. It was a much better Mother's Day than last year. Last year Max was still pretty fussy. We we were still pretty tired. So even though Charlie got me a beautiful Juki sewing machine which I love (and wish I had more time to use), it was all sort of a blur.

Today, Max chose to sleep in until 6:15, which is a HUGE win these days. I think he's sort of transitioning between needing 2 naps a day and 1. One if often not enough and 2 is too many and so he is often kind of tired and cranky and getting up early. But today he slept in!

We went to church and then to Perkins for breakfast. He was good as gold and went down for a nap. Then Charlie and I got to planting all the veggies we bought yesterday. Max didn't take a great nap, but we got the gardens planted. Which is a huge accomplishment for me at 8 months pregnant. We didn't go as crazy as we had in previous years, because we know that we may not have the time and/or energy to can as much this year. BUT, we've got several varieties of tomatoes, peppers, red cabbage, green cabbage, broccoli, romaine lettuce and red leaf lettuce. Green beans, carrots and cucumbers will hopefully go in in the next few weeks. Strawberries and asparagus are still going strong despite the snow last weekend.

I had asked for either a pair of black Tieks or a pair of black Birkenstocks for Mother's Day. I had been doing a lot of research into making ethical and lasting investments in clothes and shoes to complete my capsule wardrobe. Tieks are something I have been looking into for quite some time. I have read rave reviews on them from everyone from travel bloggers to moms to physicians. They fold up very small (which is why they are great for traveling) and everyone talks about how comfortable they are. My black flats had been looking pretty shabby, but at $175 I wasn't sure if I was ready to take the plunge for a pair of ballet flats. Well, Charlie came through and got me a pair for Mother's Day. I've worn them around the house all day and then out on a walk around the high school, and I have to say - so far they are living up to the hype. They are extremely comfortable, and offer better support then you would think from looking at them. Hopefully they last and stand the test of time, but we will see.

So, then this afternoon Charlie took Max to the grocery store while I stayed back to have a bit of quiet time. I decided to get online and finally make some decisions about how I'm going to finish out my capsule for July after baby #2 is born. I have a hard time making decisions sometimes and this has been no exception. I think I have literally spent hours thinking about the last few pieces and where I want to get them from and what colors would be best, etc...

So I bought the black Birkenstocks. Not the traditional Birkenstock style, but rather these which I think will be a bit more versatile. It's hard to say that any Birkenstock would be "fancy" but I think you could more easily wear these with a skirt or capris and get away with it. I perseverated for a LONG time on the color. Black or brown? Or maybe navy? I finally consulted with the folks at Cladwell and asked their opinion. They suggested that black would probably go better with the other colors I had chose for my capsule, so that is what I went with.

Next, I went to my new favorite travel clothing website Encircled and made some decisions. I've read a lot of reviews about their dressy sweatpantsevolve top and chrysalis cardi. While I love all of them, and if I like the other pieces, I totally plan on getting a chrysalis cardi in the future, I didn't really think I needed it to fill out my current capsule. So I got a slate gray pair of dressy sweatpants (which a few women online had said fit them well even when pregnant) and a black evolve top. Again, I've read about a million different reviews from all sorts of people, and they all seem to think it is the bees knees, so I hope so. Because the price point is pretty damn high if it isn't super versatile and phenomenally comfortable.

I still technically am short one top for my capsule. Hopefully I'll find that over time, but for right now I'm tired of looking. And if I don't find what I'm looking for, I'll bet I will survive.

So as it stands right now, my capsule for July - September has 38 items...

Tops: A white tank top (maternity), a salmon athletic shirt from Lulu Lemon, a gray sleeveless shirt I got from D.Diff a few years ago, a white lace top from D.Diff, a white sleeveless top with black polkadots from D.Diff, my gray C-Bus T shirt, a mint green sleeveless top from D.Diff, my navy blue short sleeved maternity top from my last Stitch Fix, the black evolve top and the yet-to-be found top that will either be mint, salmon, or turquoise.

Top Layers: white linen blazer from Banana Republic, black open front cardigan from  Banana Republic, gray sheer cardigan from D.Diff, and navy blue Patagonia sweatshirt

Bottoms: black athletic shorts (I have a few pair to choose from, we'll see what fits after baby is born), black and brown ankle length pants from D.Diff, gray capris from D.Diff, floral ankle length pants from D.Diff, jeans (again, we'll see which ones fit), khaki shorts from D.Diff, a pair of jean shorts (that fit), gray dressy sweatpants, and black yoga pants.

Dresses and skirts: my white floral maxi dress, and my turquoise strapless knit dress that I got years ago in college and have worn the crap out of, gray maxi skirt that can also be worn as a maxi dress from Athleta

Shoes: running shoes, my Chacos, black Toms booties, brown flats from D.Diff, black Tieks, floral Toms ballet flats, black Birkenstocks, black strappy Toms sandals, navy blue Toms, striped Toms wedge sandals

Outerwear: my brown rain jacket from Eddie Bauer and my blue NorthFace fleece

So, I'm pretty pleased. I'm interested to see what I learn about myself and my preferences doing this. I didn't really choose a capsule last time, and I also lost weight and then my clothes I chose didn't fit. Then I got pregnant and went the other way. My biggest hang up, honestly, is the seeming lack of color. I've always been someone that gravitates towards bright colors. And you can most certainly include as much color as you'd like in a capsule, but you also want to try to make sure that everything goes with everything else if possible. So you do sort of have to choose a palette. This does not include scarves or jewelry or anything like that, so I'm hoping that with those things thrown in, I don't feel too scarce on color. BUT, if I do, then I learn from it and take that forward when I develop a capsule for the fall.

Wish me luck :) 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Capsule Update

I'm beginning to realize that this capsule wardrobe is something that takes a fair amount of effort. I should have known that, really. But I've decided to start with postpartum, because that is taking me long enough to plan.

So far I am really liking the website. It walks you through all of the thought processes that you should be going through when mindfully putting together your wardrobe. I'm trying to use as many pieces that I already have as I can, but the truth of the matter is that there are probably a handful of pieces that I'm going to have to buy.

They help you figure out what your color palette should be. You answer some questions about your coloring, and they suggest colors for you based on that. To be honest, I was not a huge fan of the colors they chose. HOWEVER, it did give me good direction as far as what kinds of colors I should choose that would look best on me and would go with each other. One of the things that I think I struggled with before was getting enough pieces that were interchangeable. The best way to make a capsule is to make sure that almost everything in your capsule goes with almost everything else. And picking and sticking to a color palette can really help with that, I think. They divide colors up into neutrals (I have black, camel and slate), mains (navy, sky and white) and accents (mint, salmon and turquoise).

Once you choose colors, they you have better define your style for them. They give you several different ones to choose from. I think I chose "Girl Next Door". Basically meaning I like to be comfortable and I'm not the first to pick up on new trends. Which are both true.

Then they have you choose how many times per week/month you do certain activities like go to work, hang out at home, weekend, date night, worship, workout etc...

Based on all those things, they give you suggestions for how many different kinds of items you should have and suggestions as to which colors they should be (neutral/main/accent). Then you are supposed to clean out your closet (I already did that, and I'm not about to do it right now as my body is going to be changing sizes so much in the next few months). Next you go "shopping" in your own closet. You fill in what you can with what you already have. I added/deleted a few items depending on what I thought I'd use/wear during July through September. Then I ended up with about 6 items that I didn't have yet. One is a pair of black flats, but that is because the ones I have are shot and I need new ones, so if you discount that, then only 5 items.

They also give you ideas about where to shop for those items. They do a lot of homework on ethically produced clothing and where to find it. They have also answered questions for me on what colors to chose for sandals, what kind of pants to get that would be the most versatile, etc... I have also done a lot of research on my own.

I'm feeling pretty motivated to do this. And I'm looking at spending a few hundred dollars on the 5 or 6 items that I need, so I feel like that is a pretty big investment. I think that if I make that kind of investment, then I need to stick with it, you know? I also have seen myself carefully deliberating over exactly which shoes I want in exactly which color and things like that. I've been more mindful of my decisions, whereas I'm usually the person that makes more rash decisions and then goes from there.

We shall see. When I have the capsule finalized, which I'm hoping will be soon, I will post it (if I can).