October 19, 2020

Zion Part One!

It's been 2 1/2 years since my last blog post, so that means Zion must be pretty great if it's pulling me out of a VERY long blogging hiatus. Truth be told, I just have WAY too many pictures that I love from the trip to share via Instagram, so this is much easier. So, without further ado, here are some highlights from the first half of our trip to Zion (because I even have too many photos to do the whole trip in one part).
We stayed at Zion Ponderosa Ranch during our trip, which is just outside the East entrance of Zion. It was a super fun place to stay with all kinds of activities including miniature golf, a pool, a zipline and rock wall, a playground, tons of open space, and Jeep tours. The kids would have been happy just staying there the whole time and never even going into the park. The parents vetoed that idea, but we did spend more time than we expected to just hanging out there. The one downside of the place is that the East entrance is a bit of a drive from the main part of the park. I'd still stay there again in a heartbeat and recommend it to anyone with kids!

My sister's family and my parents joined us for this trip, so the kids ended up riding out most of the way in my sister's RV so they could be with their cousins. When we got there, we discovered that Junia had turned her face into a canvas while driving. After arriving, Silas quickly jumped on his bike and spotted deer everywhere.
We stayed in a glamping tent at the ranch and loved it! Here's a couple pictures to give show what they're like.
We obviously kept it super clean.

On our first full day, we headed down into Zion to take the shuttle up the scenic route to the Zion Lodge for lunch. There is a giant grassy area there that is perfect to rest and eat surrounded by the giant Zion cliffs.
After lunch, we went on our first of many hikes to the Emerald Pools. Now here is where the picture overload starts. You've been warned.
Nick's sister and her husband joined us for a day to hike with us! Here we had made it to the lower pool.
Now off to the Middle Pool!
We stopped for a quick rest here and then were off to our final destination, the Upper Pool!
There was not a lot of water, and it didn't look like so many of the pictures I'd seen of this hike. BUT, we were not disappointed! The views were amazing, and it's truly incredible to see it all in person. 

The hike back down...
Part two coming soon (if I don't lose steam....blogging takes longer than I remember 😝.)

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March 14, 2018

Thoughts on Infertility Seven Years Later

I've been thinking lately about how my journey through infertility has evolved over time. It's not something I have talked about much here on my blog (because that would require actually writing a blog post every now and then), and I feel like when I read back through posts I've written in the past, it doesn't do justice to where I am now.

Here's the reality. Infertility is still hard, but for very different reasons than it used to be. It is not hard because I still want to get pregnant. I can honestly say that I don't. The honest truth is that I am overwhelmed every single day with joy and amazement at the life I get to live and the family I get to have. Adoption was always part of our plan, but I have infertility to thank for the specific family I have now. Not getting pregnant was our miracle. In a world where it's hard not to get pregnant when you're having unprotected sex, we are among the small percentage who don't.
But the thing about infertility is that people never think not getting pregnant is the miracle. Everyone thinks the miracle in the middle of it is getting pregnant. That's the ideal. My story is the consolation prize.
Infertility isn't hard because I want something different or because I wish I wasn't infertile. I don't. It's hard because it's lonely. Even having reached a place where I am at peace with infertility and truly do not wish for "healing" from it, it is still isolating. There's a variety of reasons for this, including the myriad of pregnancy and birth stories exchanged regularly in female circles that I am on the outside of. Or the conversations about how much kids look like their parents, where people awkwardly try to come up with some random physical similarity between us and our kids, as if we feel like we're missing out on having children who look like us. Or the husbands who express how much more love and respect they have for their wives after seeing them carry and give birth to their children. All of these things can sting and leave me feeling awkward and isolated. But, the hardest part of it all is that the majority of people do not choose what we chose. They see us, they know us, they love our family and think adoption is great, but still they do not choose it. And sometimes, that sucks. Because my story is not the consolation prize. This life of adoption and being a transracial family is our passion. It's what I would choose over and over again any day over a "normal" family. And I am honored that God saw us worthy to live this story.
We want our kids to grow up in a church world where God's adoptive love isn't just a nice idea in theory. But, in the church world where 77% of Christians think Christians should adopt or foster, but only 5% actually do, that's pretty much all it is. So, when pregnancies are announced and simultaneously celebrated, it doesn't hurt because we want what they have. It hurts because sometimes it just feels like a confirmation that we live in a world that doesn't want what we have.  I've seen adoptions (including ours) announced without the same celebration, often times with people saying, "Can you not have your own kids?" or "Just watch. Now you'll get pregnant." Comments that just give further confirmation that adoption is seen as second best.

There is obviously nothing wrong with having or wanting biological children, and I'm not criticizing that choice. God created the world and humans to function in this way, and it is a beautiful thing. But, creation as it should have been fell, and God chose to redeem it through adoption. He sent his son to be adopted by an earthly family, he adopted us, and he told his people to adopt as well. He wove adoption all through his gospel story. Adoption is at the heart of who God is, and that means it sure as hell is not a consolation prize. I just wish more people knew that.
My family is a miracle. My body didn't need to be healed for a miracle to take place. My body didn't even need to be healed for healing to take place. God's power is not displayed only through supernatural physical healing. How dare we limit God's power to that. It takes a far more creative and powerful God to bring beauty and healing to brokenness that doesn't get a quick fix. Not getting the miracle we think we want can sometimes lead to miracles that are immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. I've got two to prove it.  The last thing I want is for people to assume I want something different or feel sorry for me because I don't have what most of the world has. I've never really liked being part of the majority anyways. And for anyone thinking about joining me in the 5%, life's pretty damn good over here.
Jesus tells a story about a farmer who finds a treasure hidden in a field that's not his own.  It is "with joy" this man sells everything he owns to buy this field.  When it comes to our adoption story, we feel like this man.  To focus on the pain of infertility at this point in our story is like making the farmer's sacrifice and loss the point of the parable, when the actual point of the story is the farmer finding real treasure. 

Yes, there is loss and pain in our story, but like this parable, the point of our story isn't what's been lost or given up.  The point of the story is what's been found. To some, this man's investment probably seemed risky and foolish.  Some may have even pitied him for his "loss."  But to pity the farmer, or to pity us, is to miss the point of the story...the treasure.

March 12, 2018

Homeschool: Rainbow Week

I've started to get into a groove with this homeschooling thing (now that it's March and almost summer). So, I've decided to do a blog post at the end of each week to share what we've been working on. We had so much fun last week working through different activities, and I want to keep up with it! So, this blogging thing is mostly just to keep me accountable to actually stick with planning and then doing the things I plan. Because, as a scattered, over-committed, procrastinator, I tend to not do a good job sticking with things.

With that said, here's a taste of what we did last week.
I bought A Year of Playing Skillfully to use as a curriculum for this year. I love it so much and the philosophy behind it....play based learning! I also like to supplement. It's the curse of being a classroom teacher for 12 years. I know there are endless resources out there, and I feel the need to find it ALL. So, you'll see a mixture of all sorts of things in our weekly activities.

The theme for March in A Year of Playing Skillfully is Rhythm and Rainbows. I'm trying to choose a specific theme each week that falls into the different monthly themes the curriculum offers. So, this last week, we focused on the story of Noah's Ark and rainbows and worked on the letter N.
Making rainbows out of pipe cleaners and a colander.
Play-doh rainbow. Somehow we didn't have yellow, so we made 2 rows of orange instead.
So much rainbow finger painting this week!
Decorating the letter N with rainbow colored tissue paper and doing an N hunt (you can find these worksheets free here, and we use these markers).
I found a great Noah's Ark pack from 123 Homeschool 4 Me that we used for several of the activities above.

We had a rainbow day with our co-op full of rainbow activities and snacks.
These canvases are the perfect affordable way to have kids paint when you want to keep their artwork.
My favorite part of the week was our nature walk, where we collected nature items in all the colors of the rainbow.
Then we created the letter N with our findings!
I bought this Nature Alphabet Book from Little Pine Learners. Each week, we plan to make a letter out of what we find on our nature walks. She also has this free Search and Sketch worksheet, which we altered to be "search and glue" instead.
Junia hangs out with us and does what she can. If she can't do whatever we're working on, she colors or plays with blocks or a puzzle or eats or whatever we can find that distracts her long enough. She wants to be a big girl and is really good at hanging with the big kids, so it works well.
This week, she especially enjoyed playing with this and this, which went well with our rainbow theme.

Some of the books we read this week were The Rainbow Fish, Noah's Ark, A Rainbow of My Own, and Elmer and the Rainbow. We read the story of Noah's Ark from this Read Aloud Bible Stories. I love the illustrations in these books, and the stories are perfect for this age. We also read a little about rainbows in Nature Anatomy, one of my favorite books! 

We watched a couple videos this week that went with what we were learning. We love Jack Hartmann, so we watched his N video and his ROY G BIV video, which involved a little exercise. We also watched this Mother Goose Rainbow video, How a Rainbow is Formed, and this Noah's Ark story (God's voice in this one kind of cracked me up). Those brief moments when they are watching these videos are the heavenly moments I'm actually able to get something else done.

Hopefully I will have lots more weekly homeschool posts to come!