Saturday, June 30, 2012

Open Adoption, Open Heart book review

It happens every once in a while that seemingly random events line up and I'm in awe all over again at the awesomeness of our God.

In order to explain this special book, I need to explain each little event.

Two years ago, Jack and I started this blog as a way to try to open the hearts of some of his family members who were adamantly against us adopting. (Read our first entry here.) We wanted to openly share our testimony about why we were choosing adoption to grow our family and how God was leading us through our decisions. What we didn't plan was that the very family members that we began to write the blog for, to my knowledge, to this day, now two years later, still don't read this blog. And, we also didn't plan that God would lead us elsewhere almost immediately after we thought He was leading us towards adoption.(Read our post immediately after our first adoption seminar.)

Two years ago, while we still had adoption at the front of our minds, and again one year ago (this month!) we were planning on adoption when we discovered that I was pregnant. (Read that blog post about finding out I was pregnant here.) We had started to make plans on what to sell to raise money to pay for it and I started scouring the Internet and reading books.

I came upon several adoption forums and then, later, YouTube channels. One adoptive mom, Candace, really stood out to me and once I found her channel, I went back and watched every video she had posted.

Now, a year later, I'm still writing in my blog and adoption is always at the back of my mind. I still follow Candace's YouTube channel and I waited with baited breath as they went through their most recent adoption and I cried as I watched the video of them bringing home their son.

Obviously, I also was pregnant and have given birth to my own (miracle) baby in that time.

On one of Candace's recent videos, she posted a link to a Facebook page. I started following it, and the other day, they asked for followers to post their blog links, so I posted mine.

This morning, I received an email from a man who was in one of Candace's last videos. He said he went to my blog from their Facebook page and that he would like to know if I would like to read his book and do a review on my blog.

I was super excited because I had tried contacting publishing houses in the past to do reviews on their books, but I had no luck.

Russell sent me a copy of his book, Open Adoption, Open Heart on Amazon and I read it today through Arie's naps. I wasn't paid or compensated in any way for this review, it is entirely my opinion.

I LOVED his book. I have a heart for adoption and infertility since those struggles are so close to my heart, but this personal story of their adoption journey will touch anyone's heart.

Open Adoption, Open Heart gives a much needed and honest view into the world of open adoptions. He explains very well the roller coaster of emotions that couples go through before ultimately choosing to pursue adoption, the rigorous hoops needed to jump through before finally being able to officially wait to be chosen by birth parents.

His story moved me in so many ways. I not only saw so many similarities to Jack and I with Russell and his wife, Jammie; but, I also could feel my heart breaking and rejoicing with them through their journey.

I am a big supporter of adoption and of birth mothers and birth parents choosing life for their children, and I think Open Adoption, Open Heart is an excellent book that will help expectant parents see that with open adoption, you are never saying goodbye to that child forever.

Every adult could benefit from reading Open Adoption, Open Heart. With infertility affecting one in six couples, everyone will know someone who at one point or another, has considered or pursued adoption. This book gives a perspective that is honest and heartfelt of walking in the shoes of an adoptive parent through the process of an open adoption. Open Adoption, Open Heart is something that I would recommend to friends and family members of someone who is starting the adoption process whether as an adoptive parent or a birth parent.

Russell writes, "Everybody knows about adoption, but not everybody understands the concept of an open adoption. If they did, how many people would make a different choice? If they knew that they wouldn't have to say good-bye forever to the child growing inside of them, would they choose something different?"  Reading Open Adoption, Open Heart is a good first step in knowing and understanding how amazing an open adoption can be.

One more strange "coincidence" is that Russell and Jammie name their son after Russell's Grandfather. If you read my blog post, "What's in a name?" you will see that Jack and I named our son after Jack's Grandfather. Even crazier, Russell and Jammie named their son Ira. In my post about how we came up with Arie's name, you will read that Jack's Grandpa also goes by Ira.

I wish that I would have had Russell send me a paper copy of his book so that I could lend it to others!

Check out Open Adoption, Open Heart by Russell Elkins.  Click here for Amazon link! And Like them on Facebook: Open Adoption, Open Heart.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Really productive day... Thank God for my mom!!

My mom came over around 11 this morning and by 12pm, Arie was up from his nap and I spent the next 4 hours cleaning my house! I kept popping in to check on my mom and Arie's play time, and sitting down to nurse or rock him to sleep for a nap... But I got so much done!!

I have diaper laundry sunning, I washed sheets and blankets off the bed that my sister slept in two nights ago while she was visiting, I vacuumed my whole house, cleaned the nursery, put away his clothes and several loads of laundry, scrubbed all of my hard floors (about 700 sq ft of floors), I scrubbed both bathroom floors upstairs, cleaned my laundry room, made lunch for my mom and I, baked a 2 layer chocolate cake from scratch and hamburger buns from scratch.

The 2 layers of cake are cooling right now and the hamburger buns are rising.

I'm thinking that I would like to write a cook book for moms with little ones with MSPI (milk soy protein intolerance) because it's pretty difficult to find good recipes! Especially since everything needs to be prepared from scratch to ensure there are no hidden dairy or soy ingredients.

I really enjoy the whole process of baking and cooking. Even cleaning up the kitchen is incredibly satisfying!

I think I'm going to get a notebook and start creating this cook book!

Jack has been in the garage all day welding a rack to carry his big metal box that was in the bed of his truck, but we are going to use it as a luggage/storage compartment since we will need the bed part of the Durango to house the dogs. This thing that Jack made goes into the trailer hitch so it goes right behind us but we won't have to pull a trailer.

Tomorrow we are having friends over for a play date. I have known Krista since we were in 6th grade and her and her husband and two kids are coming over. Her youngest is less than a week older than Arie. It will be so fun having a friend with a baby so close in age. Adora is also exclusively breastfed, so it will be a big party every time we get together just because our babies have so much in common. I'm hoping I can convert her to cloth diapering too muhahaha!

Right now, Jack went back to town for some more steel for his project and Arie is napping on my lap. I have a lot of cleaning that I would like to finish, but I'm enjoying the break.

I can just sit here and inhale deeply the smell of freshly baked chocolate cake from scratch and enjoy my nice clean house.

This is the life!

Friday, June 22, 2012


Last night was mostly a sleepless night. Arie has started to realize when things are out of the norm and he wants to stay awake to not miss anything. Last night, he went to sleep around 9 and was up by 10:15pm... Until about 1:15am when we finally went back to bed....

My sister is in town and visiting so he was very interested to stay awake to see her and hear us talking while we visited.

This morning, my mom came over to visit and see Liz. After breakfast, we hopped in the shower and headed to the mall. I wanted to buy a couple nicer fitted tees so I could make a couple more nursing tops. I ended up shopping the clearance racks for clothes for little Arie & I picked up a cute romper for Anne & Nick's new baby boy, Levi!

Jack has been put on some big project at work, so he will probably be working OT this weekend. Yay OT, boo to not having my husby around.

I think he's planning on making a luggage rack that attaches to my Durango in the trailer hitch this weekend. We have a big road trip planned and we would be able to keep all of our luggage on this rack behind the truck and the dogs in the back part inside and then us three humans in the front two rows of seats.

I totally plan to take my cloth diapers on vacation with us. I already asked our hosts if they minded me using their washer & dryer and they didn't mind at all! I think it will be pretty amusing to figure out a way to pack up my whole diaper stash and take it with us... Including my drying rack and laundry detergent!!

Arie is napping again, 3 1/2 hours now. He missed out on about 5 hours of sleep last night that he normally gets, so I'm not surprised at all.

I just need to figure out a way to gently get him off of my lap without waking him. I'm thinking I will just soak up the sweet babe while he's still small enough to ;)

Master Bedroom makeover!

we did buy lamps but I haven't taken any pictures with them yet.
The wall stencil was bought at Cutting Edge Stencils

Thursday, June 21, 2012

DIY nursing top tutorial

I was looking around online for nursing tops that are a little more discreet and don't leave the whole top of my boob hanging out (the way a nursing tank top that folds down does) and I found these shirts:
Nursing v-neck Before & After 
That is from and it's a $79 tshirt.  Yes, you read that correctly. Seventy nine dollars for a TSHIRT.  If you want to buy the shirt instead of making your own, head right on over to  I love their stuff, but it's a bit too rich for my blood.  If you want to learn how to make your own shirt... keep on reading.

 First step is buy two shirts. (While I was making this, I realized that if you buy 3 shirts, you get two nursing tops out of it.) These two are a bit sheer, but a stretchy cotton tshirt that is fitted I think would work best.  But I suppose you could do this with any kind of top.  Boob Design even has hoodies like this!
 This looks really uneven, but I swear it's even.  Cut it across underneath where the boobs are in the shirt and up each of the sides.
 Then you are left with a shirt like the left and a piece like the right.
 Cut the next shirt with the piece all the way up to the arm pits.  This is where you can get two shirts, using the front and the back piece.
 On the bottom of the piece that you cut just below the boobs, cut it up 3/4" and roll it over and hem it.
 I just quickly ran it under my sewing machine.
 Then you are left with this.  Looks a bit rough.
 This has that large piece that we cut off the other shirt laid on top.
 Turn the tshirt inside out.
 Lay the large extra piece right sides together on top of the shirt with the short part underneath and the long part over lapping on the top. Pin up the sides making sure to line up the shirt at the bottom.
 Don't mind my lens shadow, but this is showing that there are three layers of shirt after the top part that goes over the boobs.

 I ran both sides through my serger.

 Making sure that I had all three layers of fabric in the machine, I sewed all the way down both sides taking the pins out as I got to them.

 This is what you're left with.
 Close up of the serged edges and the inside of the shirt.
 This is what that seam looks like on the outside where the flaps meet up and the side seam is re-sewn with the serger.

 I did figure out that the shirt was way too see through to use, and my sister discovered that you can even see my stretch marks through the tshirt haha.  Whoops.  But at least it's really obvious how the shirt works.  I have made this with a darker shirt that wasn't as sheer and it worked MUCH better.
 Peek a boo! This is how the boobie access panels work.

 This sheer shirt looks much better under a sweater.
 Sorry for the blurry picture but this is how it works.

 In action... discreet nursing!
 Works like a charm!

Sometimes the only place he sleeps is in my lap in the rocking chair.

It's times like this that I really wish I had a much more comfortable rocking chair. Like a super luxury Lay-Z-boy or something so that I could recline the chair and go to sleep myself.

But I don't have a fancy chair. Just an old hand me down glider that doesn't recline and clicks and creaks as I rock my sleeping babe.

I still can't believe how much time has passed. It's been a year since he was conceived and next month it will be a year since we found out about him. This miracle baby must have hit fast forward on the time because since that stick turned blue, I blinked and here we are, 11 months later.

It's almost 5:30 in the morning and I have been up about an hour and a half. Arie is sleeping pretty lightly and it's difficult to keep him asleep with Jack's alarms going off and him tossing and turning before he gets up for the day.

My sister is in town and is coming over today to visit. I'm looking forward to getting my house super cleaned while I have someone here to hold my babe and play with him!

I'm planning on doing a little bit of baking today too. I need some bread so that I can make myself some eggs and toast.

I'm still losing weight which is amazing. I also started an ab workout challenge. Day 3 was yesterday but I had to skip it because I was so sore I could barely lift my leg to get into bed or into my truck. I guess this is what my OB meant when he said not to jump into an exercise routine and take it slow. I'm pretty sure he said not to do fifty situps. Ha! Now I understand why he said that. My body is not the same and my muscles are still recovering. But, I have lost 60lbs since giving birth!

I had my kitty groomed yesterday. Since Arie was born, my kitty has been going outside all day, every day and he developed horrible mats on each side of his body. Two years ago I had him shaved because I thought he would look cool. He hated it. This time, I had to do it. The mats were just so bad. Now he looks awesome and no more matted fur!!

Oh yeah, the day before yesterday, I went to Target and bought a pair of matching tshirts and fashioned a nursing top that I'm pretty excited about. I plan to make quite a few more. I'm pretty sure my wardrobe will consist mainly of these awesome tops.