2014 in review

What an awesome feature!! Thank you to all of you who read and interact and pray and support!!!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here's an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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My Grown-Up Christmas List

It used to be that I REFUSED to put up my tree or ANY kind of Christmas decoration until the day after Thanksgiving.  Actually, it was ON Thanksgiving.

After I’d eaten (and then napped), on went the Christmas music, out came the decorations, and down went the Frothy Eggnog.  (Yes, I said Frothy.  It’s eggnog, rum and ice all mixed in a blender.)

I’d start with the Christmas village, and then moved forward with the rest of the decorations.  I’ve ALWAYS had an obsession with Christmas villages.  I LOVE them!

I love to sit and look down at them and imagine all the goings-on that are happening in the tiny little town.

Children giggling in bed until all hours.  Peeking down the stairs when they hear the floors creak.  Waking up before the sun to beg mom and dad to let them check out their stockings and open presents.

About 10 years ago or so, I found little ceramic houses.  I bought one thinking it would be good to help pass the time and little did I know that 10 years later I would still be collecting them and painting them one-by-one.

One painstaking, detail-oriented, OCD-in-full-effect house at a time.  Here’s a sneak-peek at a few of them!

They all start out like this!

They all start out like this!

IMG_4052 IMG_4051 IMG_4050

And then I add the details!

And then I add the details!

And then I add glitter for snooooow!

And then I add glitter for snooooow!

I think of those little houses like us.  Blank as can be, and then God fills in all the tiny little details – right down to the number of hairs on our head.

I found that when I got out on my own, my traditions changed.

My husband and I started our own traditions 7 years ago – it all started with a tree.  And it hasn’t changed since.  (It almost ended with a tree too, but that’s a WHOLE other story!)

The holidays have been kind of rough the last couple years.  I’ve always looked forward to the holidays with children.  While it’s not at all impossible for adults to enjoy Christmas without kids (side note: people who think it is are on my list of people I don’t want to hear comments from.  ever.)  I had just always dreamed about wrapping presents and filling stockings for our kids.  I had even hoped I would be able to do a creative, fun pregnancy announcement for the holidays!  But the last couple years, I haven’t much wanted to participate.

This year…  this year is different.  There’s a new sense of cautious optimism.  A tentative joy.  A watchful hope.

J and I have been ensconced in the process of adoption…  mountains of paperwork and doctor’s appointments and reference letters and background checks.  It’s seriously a LOT of work!

Part of all the paperwork are a LARGE list of questions that J and I have to answer separately.  Questions about the other.  Questions about ourselves.

Me being COMPLETELY OCD couldn’t just leave the answers in our own handwriting – noooooooo.  I had to type them up and then highlight my name in pink and his in blue for our respective answers.  (DON’T JUDGE.)

I answered my questions on my own and had J do the same.  As I was reading through his answers and typing them out – through tears – I realized something.

INFERTILITY SUCKS.  But if it weren’t for this trial, and for the amazing blessing we are preparing to receive, we would probably have never asked each other a lot of the questions.

  • Describe your personality
  • Describe your spouse’s personality
  • What’s your biggest strength/weakness?
  • What’s your spouse’s biggest strength/weakness?
  • What makes your marriage strong?
  • Describe your happiest/worst childhood memory

How many of you can tell me what your spouse’s favorite childhood memory is?

It sure does wake something up inside of you when you hear your biggest strength and weakness in someone else’s voice.  And it certainly does something to your self-esteem when you see yourself through someone else’s eyes.

I try SO HARD to be grateful for every situation we face.  Some days I fail.  Other days I fail MISERABLY.  Other days, I can almost feel the silver lining.  But I am SO GRATEFUL that I was able to learn those things!!

This year, as I was decorating our tree, the song “My Grown-Up Christmas List” sang by Michael Bublé came on.  And as he sang about wishing for no more lives torn apart, no war, time healing all hearts, everyone having a friend and love never ending, I wanted to write my own lyrics to the song, but my rhyming skills are SERIOUSLY lacking.

As I’ve grown older, my list has gotten smaller.  I’d like to say that the things I want can’t be bought, but as we all in the infertility world know, unfortunately they really CAN put a price on a child.

But they can’t put a price on happiness.

And after I finish my Grown-Up Christmas List, I won’t be sitting on any laps to tell what it is…  No, I’ll be reading it on my knees. 

The Priceless Cost

Have you ever thought about the word ‘just’?  I think people use it too flippantly these days.  It’s used as an answer to almost every solution.  Here is a list of my favorite ‘just’ solutions for infertility:

  • ‘Just relax’ (been there)
  • ‘Just let go/don’t stress/don’t think about it’ (done that)
  • ‘Just drink a bottle of wine’ (drank LOTS of that)
  • ‘Just try artificial insemination/IVF’ (yup, done some of that, too)
  • ‘Just adopt’

Here’s my little nugget of wisdom.  Get a pen and a piece of paper and take notes…  Go ahead, I’ll wait.   Ready?

There is no ‘just’ about anything that has to do with any painful situation.

Any situation where a decision needs to be made that could significantly alter the outcome of an original perception requires intense discussion, pondering and most importantly, prayer.

As most of the people in our lives know (and heck, any stranger who will listen), J and I are in the process of adoption.  After our unsuccessful battle with infertility, we did some soul-searching and praying and decided that it wasn’t as important for us to be pregnant as it was for us to be parents.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month.  In 1976 in Massachusetts, Governor Mike Dukakis proclaimed National Adoption Week.  President Gerald Ford made the first National Adoption Week proclamation and in 1990, the week was extended to a month due to the excitement and participation by so many people and states.  There’s even one day of the month that is proclaimed as National Adoption Day and many adoptions are finalized all at the same time!  I just think that’s neat!

I have been criticized VERY harshly in the last couple days about the way I see adoption (as an amazing blessing), even to the point where I was told that I don’t deserve to have children and that me not being able to get pregnant must have been God’s way of telling us that we shouldn’t be parents and that there is no way that I could ever love an adopted child unconditionally because we HAVE to adopt and not WANT to adopt due to infertility.

The “conversation” – a term I use VERY loosely as it was more just overly assertive, opinionated people trying to get everyone else to believe exactly the way that they do rather than hear what anyone else has to say – escalated very quickly and left me feeling ashamed, embarrassed, scared, naïve and unprepared, to say the very least.

But as I remove myself from the “support group” – HA – that I got the criticism from, I realize that my opinion is just that.  MINE.

Every parent is frightened before they have their first child.  Ever parent wonders if they’ve screwed up monumentally along the way.  But every parent loves their child in an unconditional way that can’t be judged, deemed unworthy, viewed incorrectly or questioned by anyone else.

I say again:  Biology is the LEAST of what makes someone a parent!

I am beyond excited to meet the child that we will give a forever home to and love with every single nook and cranny of our hearts.  My heart pines and my arms ache for our child to come home.

To be woken repeatedly through the night to take care of someone who needs me.  To hear the pitter-patter of little feet.  To see daddy holding on to the bicycle seat while running alongside.  To wipe away tears after a broken heart.  To celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Day from the inside.

And to the parents who love their child enough to make the painful, selfless decision to entrust them to us to love them enough for all of us, my heart will be eternally grateful.

We all have learning to do, growth to be made, challenges to be met, disappointments to face, joy to share…  And in this month of awareness, I know that I am learning and growing.  I’m facing challenges and disappointment.  But the joy that I will be able to share will be so worth it.

Home Study:  $1,500
Background Checks:  $250
Legal Fees:  Cost undetermined
Having a child to call our own:  Priceless

Strength from Our Struggles

When you first think about that statement, it seems crazy.  But when you really think about it, it makes perfect sense.

Weightlifters have to struggle through resistance to gain strength.  Kids have to struggle through falling off their bikes to gain the strength to get back on and try again.

Sometimes, facing our fears and weaknesses can become not only our biggest strength but a great testimony.

I’ve been through a LOT in my life.  A LOT.  A lot of struggles.  A lot of pain.  A lot of junk that I remember thinking “WHY ME?!”  And in the midst of those struggles, I used to hear from people “Someday, you will be able to use this to help someone else.”  **Cue the eye roll and whiny voice**  ” But whyyyyyy do I have to go through it at ALLLL?!”

temper tantrum

It’s a great sentiment to tell people that their struggles will be someone else’s strength some day.  I guess I just didn’t really stop to think about how it could actually be MY strength too.

I’ve been able to speak with young women who are in abusive relationships.  I’ve been able to talk to young women who struggle with being let down by someone who they’d placed on a pedestal.  I’ve been able to talk to women who are battling with the emotions that come with empty arms.

I’m still affected by all of those things.  Some days, it feels like the blind leading the blind.  But other days…  Oh, other days it feels like all the pain and tears and struggling were worth it just to feel that connection with someone who needed to not just hear the words “I know how you feel” but needed to actually FEEL that I know how they feel.

Tonight, I was sent a link to a sermon by an old friend of mine.  It’s from Elevation Church and a series called “How to be Brave”.  The one I listened to tonight was called “See It Through” and in it he says:

“What if God wants to show you your purpose, but He wants you to see it through your pain?”

Maybe I’m starting to see my purpose through my pain.

Do I still wish that I didn’t have to struggle?  Sure.  Do I still wish that God would lighten up with the trials already?  Of course.  Do I still wish that I didn’t have to feel the pain?  Absolutely.

But I am grateful for them.  My past has helped me create my present. 

If I’d not dealt with a LOT of the things I dealt with all those years ago, I wouldn’t be as strong as I am now.  If I’d not dealt with cowering from a raised hand, I wouldn’t have learned how to defend myself.  If I’d not dealt with constant comparisons, I wouldn’t have learned how to place more worth in my opinion of myself.  If I’d not dealt with the pain of knowing what empty arms feel like, I may never have appreciated how the crook of my elbow might be the perfect pillow.

We grow through our pain.  We gain strength in our struggles.  We gain faith through fear.  And God knew that we would before we even dipped our toes in the pool of uncertainty.

Even now, J and I are facing a situation that we may be able to use to help others further down the road.  Oh, how I wish we weren’t facing it.  How I wish we knew what the outcome would be.  How I wish it didn’t hurt so much.

But oh, how it’s making us stronger.  How it’s making us dig in, dig deep and hold tightly.  To each other and to our faith.

Oh, how we are gaining strength from our struggle.

Doing What We Say

I KNOW!  It’s been FOREVER since I’ve posted a blog!  I hope you all don’t hate me!!

There has been SO much going on!  I can’t share it all just yet, but it’s REALLY exciting!

(**Disclaimer**  I know every time an infertile uses the words “It’s REALLY exciting” people’s minds wander, so let me put that question to rest now – I’m NOT pregnant!)

Fair Warning:  This blog might make you uncomfortable, and that’s kinda the point.  It might seem like a total rant, and that’s okay.  My goal is to challenge you – to make you think twice or even three times before making some decisions or statements.

I’ve said it before – this journey is hard!

It’s difficult to try SO hard for something, to want something SO badly, to pray for something SO fervently, to fight for something SO passionately …  and not get it.

And when you find a way that you MIGHT get the chance to realize that dream but have no way of affording it,  it’s even harder to swallow our pride and ask for help.

I’ve had people be so much more incredibly supportive than I ever could have imagined.

I’ve also had people tell me that if I can’t afford to do IVF or adoption, I shouldn’t be a parent at all.

I’ve had people tell me that because I can’t get pregnant, it’s God’s way of telling me that I shouldn’t be a parent at all.

I’ve had people tell me that asking others for money to be a parent is a selfish thing to do and if I’m selfish maybe I shouldn’t be a parent at all.

 If it’s in an email or a message, I simply ignore it.  If it’s said to my face, I simply smile and nod.  (I may or may not say something equally inappropriate sometimes just to embarrass people and make them realize they are out of line making certain statements.)

I know I’ve shared a friend’s blog before that was SO important to me.  She talked about how doing something – even something small – can go such a long way.

We have people telling us all the time how much they support us.  And how they pray for us.  And how they hope we raise a lot of money.  We appreciate it ALL!

There are people who will pray with me in person and there are those that share our story or YouCaring link every single time I post it.  And that’s amazing!!

But I often wonder…  When people say they pray for us, do they pray for us by name?  Do they say they’re going to pray and then forget?  ( I’m guilty of that and even wrote about how I get caught in the “I’ll pray for you” web here )

Almost every day,  I see some of the same people – friends and family – who tell us they support us sharing link after link of crowdfunding accounts for people they may or may not know.  But I’ve yet to see our link shared.

I’m not saying that our story matters more.  Or that anybody else’s story matters less.  Everyone deserves the opportunity to receive the help that they’ve asked for!

I don’t mind that these people share those links one bit!  In fact, on most of them, I think it’s a great way to raise awareness, and I pray that they receive their miracle – whatever it may be!

What I DO mind is feeling that our story just isn’t important enough to share.  Or that declarations of support are simply lip service or “saying the right thing”.

Listen – I’m NOT saying that we expect you to donate a million dollars, a hundred dollars or even ten dollars, we understand that times are tough.  I’m NOT saying that we expect every person to drop everything to pray with us right that second.  I’m NOT saying that we expect people to go out of their way or over the top to show their support.

What I AM saying is,

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

If you tell someone you support them,  show it.  Send a card.  Offer to help where it’s needed.  Take them out for coffee.  Let them cry without offering advice.  Share a link.  Like their post.  Participate in their trials & joy!

Maybe there’s someone in your list of friends that is suffering with something silently, and seeing you share something that lets them know they’re not alone is just what they need.

When you tell someone you’re going to pray for them, say a little prayer silently in that moment.

It’s a hard thing to do, I know.  But it only takes doing something 28 times before it becomes a habit!  And having the opportunity to bless 28 people?  Wow.

If I made you uncomfortable, good.  If I made you think, good.  If I made you say to yourself ” I will say a prayer for someone right then when I tell them I will”, good!

I’m not just preaching here, I am working every day at doing what I say!

Will you practice doing what we say?!

 

Thirty One!

Hi all!!

I know it’s been a LONG time since I’ve written anything! SORRY! I’ll share all about what’s going on soon, I hope!

BUT!! We’ve got another fundraiser in progress!!

If you – or any women in your life – are fans of ThirtyOne purses, here’s a chance to get something cool AND help us out!!

Please visit www.mythirtyone.com/tatum. Select ‘My Scheduled Parties’ and then click ‘Shop Now’ beside the event name ‘Jon & Dacina {month} Fundraiser’!

Each month on the 1st, the event month will change, but the process of finding the event to shop under won’t! Orders can be placed online under the event each month until the 25th!

There’s LOTS of cool stuff on there, so GET SHOPPING!!!!

If you have any questions, you can email me at munchkinmcnabb@gmail.com!

FroYo, Pancakes & Puzzles! Oh My!

Wow.

It’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything.  Time sure does fly!

It’s been a combination of crazy busyness from the adoption process and all that’s going on with that and a lot of other things that are going on in our lives right now!

We are excited to be moving along pretty quickly in the process!  There is really SO MUCH to do!  But I wouldn’t change any of it, since it puts us one step closer to being parents!!!

We’ve done most of the required background checks.  Thank goodness they didn’t find that one thing from that one time!  (Totally just kidding.  You should know that by now.)  FBI fingerprinting, state background checks, home study.  Still LOTS more to do!!

Now, we are into the fun part…  FUNDRAISING!!

We had a fundraiser today at Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt here in our town and the response that we got from it was absolutely humbling.  Orange Leaf has a program in place that allows people who are raising money for causes to choose a certain day, create a flyer and then when friends and family and whoever else comes in and shows the flyer, 25% of all the sales will go to that cause!!  Which is seriously generous considering most of the other places that I’d contacted were only allowing 10%!

People at work rallied together to make sure that every one knew about it and had access to a flyer.  Friends and family shared it repeatedly on their Facebook pages.  People made multiple trips to get FroYo!

Seriously.  Humbled.  A SINCERE THANK YOU to those of you that went today!  Your support means the WORLD!

We have a few more fundraisers in the planning stages at this time (like Yard Sales, Pancake Breakfasts, etc), buuuuuuuut – here’s the next one!

I’ve seen all kinds of awesome ideas on the internet about ways to raise money for adoption, but one really caught my eye!

I’ve always felt like a piece of our family is missing…  SO!  In an attempt to raise money to FIND our missing piece, I have created a puzzle, had it printed and shipped and it’s just WAITING to be put together!!

The puzzle is 500 pieces and we are going to sell each piece for $5 – for you math whizzes like me, that’s $2,500.  When you purchase a piece, we will write your name on the back of the piece and then when all the pieces have been purchased, we will glue it together, frame it and hang it in the nursery!!  You can purchase just one piece, more than one piece or even just throw a little extra in for good measure!

You can either go to our YouCaring account and donate, or you can email me at munchkinmcnabb@gmail.com and I will give you an address to mail your payment to! (Just make sure if you do it through YouCaring, to mention ‘puzzle’ in the comments!)

Just like we don’t know yet what our child is going to look like, we are going to leave it a mystery as to what the finished puzzle will look like!!

Puzzle 1

Has your curiosity been peaked yet?  Are you excited to see what the end result is?!

SO ARE WE!!!!!!