The Calm before the Storm

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I am literally minutes away from getting a delivery. Of a baby. Someone is coming my house to deliver a baby. To live with us. This is in addition to the baby I already have and the baby growing inside me right now.

I wanted to take a minute, really just for myself, to compose myself before possibly the craziest time *ever* begins. I don’t know what to expect, what to do, or how to be. All I know is that God has been setting me up for a while to trust Him with everything in me. He’s done that by turning my life upside down lately. Multiple hospital visits,a surgery, a surprise pregnancy, becoming the mother of a teenager I didn’t know before, scary moments, and lots of change. I have been an emotional wreck. And now He’s asking me to trust Him again.

I tried to enjoy my last night of regular sleep, but I really couldn’t. Dreams of chaos crowded my mind. As soon as the new baby starts figuring out sleep is probably when the even newer baby will make her grand entrance, then the cycle will start over. These last few moments are so weird. I feel like they should be sacred or something, but really they are just full of anxiety. I know I should be better, but I’m not. I feel like a crazy person. I have no idea what to expect and that scares the crap out of me. I am not a go-with-the-flow person. I need plans and structures and routine. We’ve been over this before, it’s nothing new. I am not easy-going, but apparently God would like for me to be.

So alright God, here goes.

Love, Alex

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Breaking the Silence

Oh hey.

So, It’s been a while. Liiiiiike 4ish months? Something like that. It’s time for that to end. I never intended on taking that much time off from this space, but I think I needed it. And not in a whimsical “I just needed some space” or some crap. No. Like in an “I am dropping the ball in every area of life and I need to figure myself out for a sec.”

“From what?” you ask. Or maybe you don’t, but just humor me for a sec. There are quite a few things that have been pulling me away from writing all of the many thoughts and feelings and all the things here. For starters, I’m pregnant again. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, then you probably saw our annual announcement photo. Just in case though…

#Lil2Fitt

This is a pretty accurate depiction of our chaos actually. Who is the other person in the photo? Well that’s the second main component of the growing list from the whole me-dropping-the-ball-on-life thing. THAT is the child we are adopting. Yep, at the same time as we are having another baby. He was living with us for exactly 1.5 weeks when we found out I was pregnant. Try to tell me that God doesn’t have a sense of humor and I will fight you.

This has by far been the hardest thing I have ever been through, which might be sad, yes, but still difficult none the less. I really look forward to writing more in detail about the triumphs and battles and emotions (Which OMG there are so many of) and wins on this blog. I’m sorry that I have not done so in the past few months. I needed to write. I needed to pour my feelings out. I needed to be snarky and honest and vent and everything else, but I just haven’t been able to even wrap my mind around taking that time. I am running on empty, and I am so hoping that my corner of the interwebs will help fill me up again.

That, and Jesus. And sweet tea, as it turns out. And my people. You guys mean more than you know and I’m sorry I suck at friendship and daughterhood and sisterhood and personhood lately. I love you.

Love, Alex

Broken

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They told me that this would be hard. That adoption comes from brokenness and that it is never as joyful and sunny as it seems like it should be. In our minds, adoption should be happy. A child has been rescued, right? It’s difficult to wrap our brains around the fact that “rescued” is a terrible way to describe it.

Yes, a child was without a forever home, and now s/he isn’t, and that’s so great, but they often don’t feel rescued, and what happens before, in between, and after the courtroom is still broken. (I’ll be using that word a lot in this post, broken, so buckle up and prepare yourself for some redundancy.) I haven’t even had a taste of the heartbreak that some adoptive and foster homes experience, and I am already exhausted. Exhausted from things not going my way, exhausted from the system, exhausted from waiting, exhausted from everything being out of my control.

Some of you are familiar with our adoption process. If not, you can find previous posts here, here, and here. As for a further update, we are still waiting. Sorry. I know some of you want precious, and I just don’t have any of it for you yet.

We have been selected as the pending adoptive family for a boy, but he has not been placed in our home yet. I’m finding it difficult to write about all of this without betraying anyone’s confidence or integrity and I’m sorry for that. I will share more as I feel more comfortable with the situation. That’s the hard part about being known as a writer who is brutally honest. I want to be, but sometimes even I have to have a little more tact.

Here’s some brutally honest for you, though. Seeing the intricacies of the system and how broken it is in and of itself makes me want to quit. It does. I’m so burnt out, worn down, and discouraged that it makes me feel like my small part in what is supposed to be the solution feels like it doesn’t matter. If all I get is pushback, what’s the point, right? This is the ugly side of adoption. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies like our unseasoned brains think it should be. Kids are broken. Homes are broken. The system is broken. WE, are broken.

The formula we make up where a kid is abandoned and then we come in on our white horses and “save” him/her and they are eternally grateful and happy and everything is beautiful just isn’t realistic. Not even a little bit. Yes, it can be beautiful in the end, but something had to break first. God never intends for those kids to be with adoptive parents. They were always supposed to be with their biological families, but through turmoil and heartbreak, we are second-best. We, who God commands to take care of the widows and the orphans. The members of society who are most desperate and in need of love and care. He doesn’t say “Take care of them if you feel ‘called’.” There’s your calling. Take care of them.

He paints a beautiful picture of adoption through the death of His Son. His intention was never for sin to enter the world, but it did, and it took brokenness in its worst form to fix it. The world was broken, so He became broken to come to our rescue. These kids come from situations that most of us can’t stand to imagine, and it’s our job to break and bend in order to take care of them. Not if it’s easy. Not until it’s not worth it anymore. Not to make us happy. But because those kids need to see God in us. Because if we aren’t patient while they figure this out, and walk through the process slower than we’d like, and are hesitant when we feel like they shouldn’t be, and when the system gets us down, who will?

Love, Alex

That Time at Mentor Camp

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This is April Seggebruch. She owns a company called Movista. She also played basketball for the Razorbacks. Soooo yeah, it was a pretty cool interview.

This is probably going to totally embarrass my husband, but let’s be honest, when has that ever stopped me? (That was a joke, it has actually stopped me a lot, believe it or not. Oh the stories I could tell…)

On Wednesday, I went with him to Mentor Camp, which is a thing that happens in different cities around the world (for reals) where people who are successful in business and entrepreneurship come together and meet with less seasoned companies and coach them. The founder, Permjot Valia, chose Northwest Arkansas as one of these cities. We’re officially the cool kids. Forbes thinks so too.

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Anyway, because my husband does cool things, namely, The Go Rogue Podcast, he and our friend Jason from Red Barn Studio  were able to set up a mock studio at the event and interview some really cool people from all over the world. I’m not gunna lie, you guys, seeing my husband talk shop with the big timers was pret-ty sexy. The sexiest part, however, is that he is super respected in this field. There were plenty of times where he was asked a difficult question or put on the spot in a way that made me nervous for him, but every single time, he handled himself so gracefully that I was impressed with him all over again.

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This is Bryan interviewing Joe Stump from Portland, Oregon. PORTLAND! Needless to say, Bryan had much to talk to him about his favorite city.

Uh, here's me "helping" with mic check. It was really just a lot of snarky answers to Bryan's test questions.

Uh, here’s me “helping” with mic check. It was really just a lot of snarky answers to Bryan’s test questions.

There have been lots of times recently where I have questioned how thinly Bryan spreads himself. He does a lot of stuff. And don’t get me wrong, I still hold to the fact that he needs to learn to manage his time with all of his side ventures in a better way, but it’s reminders like this that remind me to encourage him to keep going.

It’s only recently that I’ve been able to admit to myself that my husband is cooler than me. This is a pretty deep subject to delve into, but let’s explore it a little. There are two different reasons why this statement is not bad, but actually a good thing.

First, it helps me see the division of responsibilities that must exist between us. After working together on our businesses for almost 5 years now, we have finally started learning the importance if roles. I am not as outgoing or “Salesman-y” as Bryan, and that doesn’t make me less-than or a slacker. I’m good at the administrate stuff. And that has to be ok with me.

Second, it shows me the areas in my life where I could stand to be less afraid. Bryan is cooler than I am, he has less fear, I’ve written before about how much of a dreamer and eternal optimist he is, and that’s true in every facet of his life. He is doing such amazing things, and instead of thinking that he has worked hard to get to where he is and that he has earned it, he feels just so truly honored to get to be there with all of these successful people. It makes me want to be more like him. More brave. Less fearful. More carefree. Less cautious.

I strongly encourage all of you to support your significant other. Sure, we have to keep our dreamers grounded sometimes, but I never want to tether his soul too close to the earth. I needed this reminder, Mentor Camp. You keep doing you.

Love, Alex

P.S: Keep checking in at goroguepodcast.com to hear all of the interviews from Mentor Camp, including Stephanie McCratic (Who I LOVE), Permjot Valia, Joe Stump, April Seggebruch, Ross Webb, and Abby Kiefer.

Spicy


Don’t let this photo fool you. My child is everything they said babies wouldn’t be. He is never cold, and has always gotten too hot for me to put him in those adorable fuzzy pajamas. He is strong willed and opinionated. And he is the opposite of cuddly and sweet.

I tell him all the time that he is not sweet, he’s spicy…just like his mama. I’m telling y’all, this child may look a lot like his daddy, but he is 100% my personality. I’m both proud of this and terrified for my and his (and Bryan’s) future.

This photo was taken while trying to get him to wind down and get ready for bed. He had been fighting me and trying to buck out of my arms. I held him tightly and said calming things to him as he fought and fought and finally was still.

God uses adorable little scenarios like this to gently wave my behavior at me like “Oh hey, see that? That’s you.” He tries to help and teach and refine me and I just fight Him. Nonstop. No matter how many times I’ve “learned my lesson” Having a baby has taught me a lot about how God must see us. Babies are ridiculous and irrational and unwise and clumsy and everything seems so obvious to everyone except them. Hm… I mean really. Babies be crazy. Perfect baby logic: “What’s this? The edge of the bed? Seems smart to just crawl off of here.” God tells us to trust Him, that He knows the way and that it’s better than ours, but we would rather just roll off the bed and hope for the best.

I love this Spicy child with my whole entire heart, and I am beyond grateful that someone loves me that much and more through all of my shortcomings and stupid behavior.

Consumer Voice

Dat Cruelty-Free Life

So a few of you have become aware and had to endure my annoying new(ish) habit, trying to live cruelty-free. What do I mean by this? Well, that is a very complex question, but I will try to give an as-brief-as-possible overview:

The vast majority of beauty, hygiene, and cleaning products use real, alive with a brain and a will and thoughts and NERVES, and yes, feelings, animals to do testing on in their labs. Most of these animals are rabbits, but cats, dogs, etc are often used as well. Most of you probably knew this, but don’t think about it or feel badly about it because you don’t see it every day and it doesn’t directly affect your life, or you just don’t care, which sucks a ton (This is an area where yes, I totally and completely judge you). I’m of the camp that human life is worth more than animal life, which is why I eat meat and train my dogs that I am their master and stuff. I’m sure at one point in time animal testing may have been beneficial, like in the very beginning, when scientists were all, “Maybe this will keep people clean! Let’s make sure it won’t kill them and stuff though.” The truth of the matter is, though, that animal testing is RARELY a necessity anymore, all of the ingredients have been tested already, and it is absolutely stupid and ridiculous that it’s still a thing.

Some companies just do animal testing because they do, and this sucks. A lot. But the biggest reason companies still do animal testing is because their biggest client, China, requires it. That’s right. It is an actual law in China that every single product go through animal testing. Keep in mind that this is the same country that has extremely questionable ethics in their meat industry. Basically, they give zero effs about hurting animals. To pull all of this together, companies are essentially so greedy and money hungry that they will not do animal testing for their products that go state-side, but will submit to animal testing to sell to the largest consumer group in the world. So the money they get from that is more important to them than another living breathing thing that they have stripped of choices. You have to also be careful because some of these companies will boast that they are cruelty-free, when in actuality they are just cruelty-free for the stateside product that you are holding, but that exact same product is submitted to animal testing to ship to another country. “Does not conduct animal testing unless required by law” is the verbiage you want to look out for.

I know this may be ignorant of me, but I try to avoid doing any research on this stuff that involves becoming aware of exactly what they do to these animals to a graphic extent. I’m just too big of a baby, y’all. I’ve seen enough though. Enough to make me sick time and time again. I know that regular testing involves blinding, burning, poisoning, and way too much more. Let’s think about this for a moment. Anything that says boasts being “tear-free”: how do you think they know? How many animals  have been blinded and hurt to ensure for the one billionth time that that is true?

I made the decision a couple of years ago that yes, my household will not make enough of a difference to make these companies change their processes. But at least I’m doing something. I’m not adding to the masses, and no animal’s blood will be on my hands. I can put on make-up, clean my house, take care of my baby, and more without feeling the guilt of giving my US dollars to greedy, heartless companies.

I have worked really hard to get my house completely cruelty-free, which is a process I am still working on, but since I have received lots of questions anytime I tell someone about my convictions, I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks on cultivating a cruelty-free environment for your home as well. You can go all-out on this stuff and spend lots and lots of money, but because of the increasing demand for natural or cruelty-free products, you can find most of what you need at Walmart or Target and for an extremely comparable price to your normal stuff. Also, I am sure there is stuff I will miss, so if you don’t see something on this list and have questions, PLEASE comment and ask, that way others can see as well. I will also be posting some resource links that I have used in this process for further help. Also #2, I am giving names of products that we use at home, but I am sure there are lots of other affordable options out there outside of these. Also #3 (Sorry.), I am going to try and list where you can tangibly buy these products, but keep in mind that all of them are available online and getting them from Amazon is probably cheaper. Prime baby!

Beauty and Hygiene

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  • Make-up: Milani is a company that sells their stuff in Walmart, Target, etc, like they have a little section beside Loreal (Not cruelty-free) and all of those other companies. It’s very affordable and its quality is comparable to all of the other drugstore make-up brands. Other good ones are Yes To, Bonne Bell, e.l.f., and Wet’n’WIld.
  • Teeth Care: Toms of Maine is another brand that can be found in Walmart, Target, etc and they have toothpaste, mouthwash, and whatever else you could need.
  • Bath/Body/Face Care: We have used an assortment, all of which are awesome and have different scent options. Burt’s Bees, Yes To, Shea Moisture, JĀSÖN (<– what I have in my shower right now. It smells so delicious I could die. $7 for a huge pump bottle.), Nourish, Seventh Generation, BWC (Beauty Without Cruelty!), the list could literally go on and on.
  • Hair Care: Lots of the above brands make haircare products, but my favorite find is definitely OGX (Organix). They have the products that I need and it smells good and works! I used to be a total Aussie girl, but this is has been an easy switch.
  • Deodorant: Sooo this has been one of the harder ones for me to find. I switched to Toms of Maine deodorant, and it works great, but finding antiperspirant has proven harder. The true blue natural people will tell you that our bodies don’t need it and that it’s actually bad for you, which is why I only use deodorant and not antiperspirant, but I get that some people would prefer the strong stuff. THANKFULLY, Toms just started putting out antiperspirant! There are other brands out there that are totally researchable as well.

Household

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  • Cleaning Products: These are a tough one because so many of us have our sworn favorites, but you can find cruelty-free versions for comparable price and at the same stores. A few are: Attitude (Target, Walgreens), Method (Target, Safeway, Kroger), Mrs. Meyers (Target, CVS, Whole Foods), Caldrea (Target, probably others), Nature Clean (IGA, Safeway, Whole Foods, Toys”R”Us), Biokleen (Locally, Cook’s Natural Food, but you can put in your zip code on their website and see who sells them near you. Also widely available online.). Another list that could go on and on.
  • Laundry: There are tons and tons you can buy online, I buy Molly’s Suds (on Amazon) because they are affordable and work really well. I started using them when I began washing Grady’s laundry and didn’t want to have to buy baby detergent. It’s safe enough for the whole family. Some honorable mentions are most of the above-mentioned cleaning brands as well as Seventh Generation, which you can purchase at Walmart and Target.

Baby

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Sorry guys, but the classic Johnson & Johnson is not cruelty free :(. But you know who is? Babyganics (Target), Honest (Target), California Baby (Target), Burt’s Bees (Walmart, Target), Shea Moisture (Walmart, Target), Yes To (Walmart, Target), plus lots more! I usually use either Babyganics or Honest and they work really well and are comparable in price to the classic baby brands.

You can google all of these brands to find their website and order online, or go through Amazon, or go to your local drugstore. There are loads more cruelty-free brands out there, but I tried to focus on the ones that are cheaper and easy to find in order to bust the myth that living cruelty-free is difficult and expensive. Bottom line though, even if it was, is it worth it? Food for thought :).

Here are some helpful links that I have used again and again in this area.

http://www.crueltyfreekitty.com/

http://www.mybeautybunny.com/

http://www.leapingbunny.org/

Do you have any other good websites? Share them in the comments!

Attention Shoppers: Stop It

I have a bone to pick with the youth of today. Particularly the ones attending music festivals.

First of all: Stop it. Simply put, you just must cease all fashion choices until you are responsible enough to handle them properly.

Secondly, please allow me to get a few things off of my chest.

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I don’t get it. This is 2015 for crying out loud. shouldn’t evolution and natural selection have weeded these terrible fashions out by now? Instead, you people have intentionally brought things back into style. It’s much like when Ross tried to bring back his self-inflicted nickname “Rossatron” and Joey cried “Is that back?” out of genuine concern. That’s me looking at you. It’s as if you guys took the worst styles from every era and were like “Mmm, let’s give this another go.”

Some recent offenses I have seen with my own two eyes:

Booty shorts that put Daisy Dukes to shame. Listen, I get it. You have a rocking bod or whatever, and I’m all for showing it off, but aren’t you uncomfortable? I take one look at your bare butt hanging out of denim shorts and instead of admiration, I just imagine how bad your wedgie must be. I mean, don’t sit on hot bleachers or anything. You’re really limiting your mobility with those bad boys.

Ridiculous legging patterns paired with TUCKED IN t-shirts complete with lines of all kinds showing. And this was on a dude I’m pretty sure. Sheesh.

Peter Pan hats. Feather and all.

Seizure-inducing pattern mixing. I just really want to know if you stood in front of the mirror in the morning, took a look at your red and yellow plaid mixed with pink and white polka-dots and…checkered vans? and said to yourself “Nailed it.” I just don’t understand.

Kilts. Aren’t we done with these? I mean, I get the tradition and all, but what part of you is like “Man, the ladies are going to DIG this look.” We don’t.

Overly baggy t-shirts. Like, skinny guys rocking 2X. You’re not at home watching Netflix. Aren’t you hot in that? As in temperature? There is really not even one plus side to an overly baggy t-shirt. I got nothing.

Fanny packs. You’re not a tourist abroad. Use your pockets. Or a shoulder bag. Or a Walmart sack. Anything really. It isn’t cute and unless you are wearing roller blades as well, it doesn’t count as an ironic throw-back.

Bucket hats. Who are you, Jamiroquai? At least this style serves some function I guess. I’ll just pretend that’s why you’re wearing them and not for irony’s sake.

Mesh clothing of all kinds. Are you trying to be in a biker gang? It just looks terrible. What even is the point? Just run around in the bikini and ditch the weird non-tights. Please.

…Velvet? That died with the 90s and lets pleasepleaseplease leave it that way.

Furry boots. What the actual crap? This is summer. I’m sure I don’t need to remind your sweating calves of that fact though.

What’s next? JNCO jeans? No wait, I’ve seen a few of those floating around too. You guys are truly shameless.

Look, there are cute retro styles. I can get on board with the flower crowns and the high-waisted mom jeans. You guys look super cute in those and your little crop-tops and truly, I wish I had the body to rock that look. Even though I’m not personally a fan, we will even accept the overalls. But please, take inventory of which styles are worthy of bringing back, and leave the rest in their extinction.

That is all :).

Love, Alex