Nothing in It for Me

Death_to_stock_photography_Vibrant (9 of 10)

I’m a feely person. I am 100% an external processor, it is difficult for me to “let things go” (how does one even just “let something go?”), and hormones are sooooo not my friend. SO this whole raising a baby-turned-toddler/adoption/growing another baby/adoption again thing has really taken a toll on my emotional state.

People say a lot of things about me. Lately, most of those things have been positive. “You guys are just so awesome.” “I’m so thankful for your calling.” “I don’t know how you do it, but God is really blessing you guys.” “She is a super-mom.” This is all very flattering, but do you want to know how I feel? I feel like a piece of crap. I feel like a selfish, whiny, brat of a person and I wish I could feel a lot stronger. 

The truth is that I am not a strong person, and for the first time in my life I can say that I can’t do this alone. That’s not to say that I could before, but I think God has been stringing me along for my entire life letting me think that I had it so hard and that I was handling everything so nicely, only to teach me a lesson that I apparently badly needed to learn, and with nothing short of grandeur. This lesson has come in loud and clear from the Big Guy. Are you ready?

“This isn’t about you, Alex.”

Ugh. Ouch.

You see, I didn’t even know it, but all of this excitement and pushing forward and all of the things that kept me (and both of us) going through this process was all about how it made me feel. It made me feel like a baller who was just doing the Lord’s work with grace and ease. Then reality hit me like a ton of bricks and it hurt. Badly. Having a teenager is hard. Teenage boys are gross and bonding with one in a maternal way isn’t as natural as I thought it would be. It often feels like all I am getting out of this is more laundry and less food. This is real-talk, you guys. THIS CRAP IS HARD. I don’t really know how to eloquently put it. Throw in a new baby with his own set of health problems and who cries all of the time, and my eyes have only one setting now: crazy.

This reality set in on day one. I sat in my closet alone on move-in day and realized that this didn’t feel as good as I thought it would. I asked God what was wrong. How could something I was so excited about not feel all that exciting after all? Every time I have asked Him that question, which is all the time, His answer has come in loud and clear (which for me is a rare occasion. As you may remember, I am not a sweet whispers from God kind of person. I am a kick-in-the-pants kind of person for dang sure.):

“This is still My plan, even if there’s nothing in it for you.”

So this is not necessarily a sweet blog post in which the lesson or message can be wrapped up neatly with a bow. This crap is still hard. I am not nearly refined enough to take that message from God and allow peace to fall upon me or something. I am getting by a day at a time with the help of those closest to me (including God), and lots of crying and chocolate. I am a firm believer in the power of a good cry. My husband, on the other hand, wishes I would learn another coping mechanism that doesn’t stress him out quite as much. FAT CHANCE DUDE.

PS: Please don’t think I have gone off of the rails and am against foster-care and adoption now. That is the opposite of the truth. I am still 100% in and think that (most of) you should be too. Please still ask me questions about all of that, you can just trust that my answers will be raw and real and honest, which is really better, right?

Love, Alex

Why Bryan and I Deserve Royalty Status

My only sister, the youngest child of our family, my BABY SISTER turned 16 recently. Her birthday was on a Sunday, and because we dare not screw with people’s lives on a Razorback Football home game weekend (Amen), we had a big ol’ party for her the following Friday. So this is the story of why Bryan and I should be “sainted,” “knighted,” “damed,” what have you…ALL THE HONORS APPLY.

This is my cute, spunky, hilarious sister, Sierra. Holding a Ball Python. On my watch. Form a line for babysitting requests.

This is my cute, spunky, hilarious sister, Sierra. Holding a Ball Python. On my watch. Form a line for babysitting requests.

So I pride myself in party planning. I love it love it love it. I get to use my particular skill set of organization, visionary creativity, logic, delegating, and most importantly, the use of planners and office supplies.

I plan or am involved in the planning of most of the events for my family and many for my friends. Sierra and I started talking about this toward the beginning of the summer when I had the brilliant idea that she should have an 80’s “Sixteen Candles” themed party, ya know, since she was turning 16 and all. I soon learned that not only would that theme be lost on most of the attendees, IT WAS LOST ON MY SISTER. (Worry not, we’re in the planning stages of an intervention, you can come if you want.)

Even though you were before my time, I still love you. Be mine 80s angsty teen dramas.

Even though you were before my time, I still love you. Be mine 80s angsty teen dramas.

So she decided that she wanted a video scavenger hunt around Northwest Arkansas, similar to the one we threw for her 14th birthday, which was all the rage among her friends. (I obviously have a very humble opinion about my parties, so this did nothing to boost my ego, of course.)

We (I) decided on a “Mystery/Detective” theme and a color scheme of black, white, and yellow. Little Diva decided she loved that color scheme, but wanted a purple and teal cake. Only moderate twitching occurred as I processed the idea of an out-of-theme cake. Nonetheless, invitations were sent, even if it did take daily texts reminding Sierra that “if her friends didn’t tell her whether or not they were coming, then they would be tied to the roof of the car for lack of room.”
Or something nicer probably.
Yeah, I’m sure it was nicer than that.

I'm soooo sorry that I didn't get more pictures of the party. You'll just have to trust me that it was awesome. I did get a picture of this awesome cake though! (Props to Cindy Kennedy at Kreative Kitchen in Fort Smith!)

I’m soooo sorry that I didn’t get more pictures of the party. You’ll just have to trust me that it was awesome. I did get a picture of this awesome cake though! (Props to Cindy Kennedy at Kreative Kitchen in Fort Smith!)

Here comes the explanation of why Bryan and I deserve royalty status.

We somehow got roped into having this shin-dig at OUR HOUSE. That’s upwards of twenty 14-16 year olds, folks.
In my house.
My rent house.
Running around my rent house and backyard.
What’s better, we fed them soda and cake. Fittins are smart people, y’all.

Somehow, BECAUSE WE HAVE THE BEST FRIENDS (or just really bored ones), we got another couple and my brother and his fiancé join us in the circus parade that is driving around a bunch of teenagers. Also, my parents not only paid for the party, they helped supervise. After 3 kids and one million birthday parties, they probably deserve royalty status too, but this is about me and I’m not great with sharing.

So after multiple nights of crafting (laughable because I am TERRIBLE at crafts) the “Confidential” and “Top Secret” folders for the Scavenger Hunt lists (Because I suck and have no pictures, you just have to use your imagination to fully grasp that my dad and I took manila folders and stenciled out the words on every.single.one.of.them.), the goody bags, the mason jars of yellow candy (harder to find than you think), and all the things, the day arrived. It was a windy day and we were attempting to decorate with balloons, caution tape, and paper lanterns, so it went exactly how you think it did.

The thing about scavenger hunts is that they are not drop-in events. Time is of the essence unless you want to cross approximately three things off the two-page list. Surprisingly enough, the 15-year-olds didn’t comprehend and plan for that. We also had a number of drop outs, most of them somehow managed to be boys.

So let me paint the picture for you: a lot of girls, two boys. On top of that, the male portion of our savior couple, Michael, lost the boy on his team. Michael was growing his beard out for a ZZ Top concert. The thought of a grown, fully bearded man driving around a bunch of High school girls was just a smidge concerning. After some quick re-teaming, I was explaining to rules (loudly) and yelling “GO!!!” as they pushed, ran, shoved, tripped, and leaped to get their supply bag and run to their team cars.

This is Michael and Bryan (my hubby) eating turkey legs at a RenFest. You can see why it might be alarming for a police officer to find this man driving teenage girls around town. Also, his beard was much longer than this by party-time. Yep. Hilariously enough, he is one of the nicest, most genuine guys I've ever met. Stereotyping is for real.

This is Michael and Bryan (my hubby) eating turkey legs at a RenFest. You can see why it might be alarming for a police officer to find this man driving teenage girls around town. Also, his beard was much longer than this by party-time. Yep. Hilariously enough, he is one of the nicest, most genuine guys I’ve ever met. Stereotyping is for real.

At one point during the night, I was eating a Chick-fil-a sandwich while trying to back out of a steep gravel driveway. As I was doing this one handed as to hold onto the sandwich at the same time (priorities, people), the boy on my team made a comment about it. I said “Whatever, I backed this car out LIKE A BOSS.” To which he replied “Um, that song went out in like 2011.”
“That’s just when the song came out, that phrase has been around for a while young one.”
“You only know that because you’re old!!!”
I really had nothing to say to that until he told the rest of the car jokingly that I probably wouldn’t speak to him the rest of the night. I calmly explained that I didn’t care because I knew that 23 was not old, however my husband….
”YOU HAVE A HUSBAND?!?! So wait, you’re like, out of college? Whoa.”
Hmm.

My team (also the birthday girl’s team) came in last place I’m pretty sure, and my exhaustion from the prep for this soiree overcame my compulsion to win for the first time ever.

This is a collage of random pictures that I'm stealing from my sister because I TOOK NO PICTURES. Note the super awesome teenage poses.

This is a collage of random pictures that I’m stealing from my sister because I TOOK NO PICTURES. Note the super awesome teenage poses.

After piling all the young whippersnappers (I can say that because I’m old.) into our living room to watch and laugh at all of their embarrassing videos, they left and I crashed. Bryan’s team won and I still didn’t care. Just so you’re aware of the level of my exhaustion.

And yes I’ll be holding this over Sierra’s head for years to come.

Oh, you don’t want to babysit my kids tonight? Remember that time I had 22 screaming teenagers at my house for you? That’s what I thought.

These look like the faces of teenagers having fun, right?

These look like the faces of teenagers having fun, right?