I love this project. Probably because I spend waaayyy too much time in my car, which also means that I eat in my car, which means I always have a car full of trash, which means I always need a plastic bag handy to toss it in. It's also great because I'm constantly battling the mountain of unruly plastic bags under my kitchen sink - and losing!
This is the tutorial I followed to make my grocery bag holder - mostly. I didn't use fabric (too tricky to adhere) and I didn't use spray adhesive (too messy). I just used plain old Mod Podge and scrapbook paper. Hooray for cheap 10 minute projects!


UA Student Tickets, anyone?

We quite possibly may have the best friends and family ever. Really there's no question - we just do :)

The process of adoption is so many things: exhausting, exciting, and also rather expensive.....  but our friends and family have been there the whole way. They lift us up when we're weary, celebrate with us when we're excited, encourage us when things get tough, and help us out when the cost is overwhelming. They've worked with us and for us and have given in every possible way. They've given their time, their money, and they've never stopped lifting us up with encouraging words and in prayer. Basically, they're just awesome.

And now we have a sweet friend who is giving what some would consider to be the greatest gift of all...

University of Alabama football tickets.

If you're from Alabama then you understand. If you're not.... well then I'm just sorry, because you probably don't understand and I cannot possibly come up with an equivalent example of any kind ;)
Because our friend is so fantastic, they've offered to sell their student ticket package and give the proceeds to help out with our adoption expenses! I would like to take this opportunity to point out that we are Auburn fans. Which puts us on opposite sides of the biggest rivalry in college football.

People, that is true love.

Back to the tickets. This sweet friend has a student ticket package for all of the home games, which this year happens to include Auburn and Texas A&M. So if you are (or know of) a student who didn't get tickets and wishes that they had - let me know! This would be a great way to get tickets - and you would be helping fund an adoption at the same time. What's not to love?
The tickets are on sale in the Facebook Marketplace.

Hooray for sweet friends and the beginning of football season!


We're Matched!

We waited 7 months for our CAN clearances.

3 more months for our home study to be written.

In total, it took a year and 5 days just to complete our home study. Which is basically absurd.

I have to be honest, after all that waiting I was REALLY hoping for a stork drop situation to just fall in our laps. I would've been quite happy with absolutely no time to prepare, just a call to hop a plane and come get a baby - no more waiting required! Fly by the seat of your pants is basically how I operate, so it seemed like a pretty good option. I was really hoping.... and rationalizing. I mean, we had already waited so long for our home study - surely we could catch a break on the waiting for a match thing.

Ha! When will I learn?

Our home study approval finally came through around 3:30 pm on May 1st, and we learned about a possible situation that same afternoon! Our profile (along with a bunch of others) was shown that very night to a birthmom whose baby was already born. If she chose us, we would need to leave immediately. It was exciting to say the least... I couldn't sleep, forgot to eat, and checked my phone every twelve seconds - I was about as jumpy as a kangaroo on crack. Then we found out that she had narrowed it down to us and 3 other families. Which didn't exactly help with the jumpy-ness. After two days of wandering in circles holding the phone, we found out that the birth-mom had decided not to place the baby for adoption after all. We were disappointed and relieved all at the same time. This was one day before a weekend of vacation, followed by moving back into our house, and then immediately leaving for my little brother's wedding. Have I mentioned it was crazy?

Once that was all over and we could actually breathe again, I started getting agency applications ready to mail. I sent the first few out, and we got an email two hours later asking if we wanted our profile to be shown for a certain situation. We talked about it briefly and said yes. I overnighted our profile, and then we pretty much just forgot about it. No nervousness this time. The baby wasn't due for 5 more months, and we were sure that our baby would be born way sooner than that. Obviously this birth-mom wasn't going to choose us.

Except she did.

And just like that, we're matched!

Which brings me back to why I was hoping for a stork drop.
I was minimally terrified of meeting/getting to know the birth-mom. Or perhaps I was just straight up terrified. Try and think of something more awkward than introducing yourself, over the phone, to a pregnant woman you know almost nothing about, who has chosen you as her baby's adoptive parents from a 12 page "family profile".  Good luck. Not gonna happen. I'm pretty sure that situation wins the ultimate awkward award - exactly why I was hoping to avoid it. I was also hoping to avoid it for more selfish reasons. I didn't want to have to watch this play out from her side - I really wanted the fun, sweet, happy parts without the painful, difficult, sorrowful parts. Which was foolish. Adoption is always difficult, joyful, sorrowful, sweet, painful, and amazing.
I should know that.

I'm adopted.

Just like every other follower of Christ.

And our adoption was far more difficult, sorrowful, amazing, and joyful than this. The Son of God had to die on a cross to make our adoption happen.
What if He had decided to avoid the pain and sorrow?
I'm thankful, every day, that He chose instead to endure it, for me.

A relationship with this birth-mom is a blessing, an opportunity to follow my faith and walk beside her in love, whatever that may mean. It is a chance to serve, and hopefully to glorify Him in the process.
I can't believe I almost missed seeing that.

Yes, it's super awkward sometimes. Yes, it's WAY out of my comfort zone. Yes, she could still change her mind.
All of that is ok, because God's the one writing this story, not me.

Seriously, when will I learn?



We are officially home study approved. AHHHHH!
In other words, a whole bunch of people have collectively decided that we are responsible enough to adopt a child, and that we are capable of parenting said child. We have their signatures to prove it.

Excuse me while I pass out.

Since our agency operates with such amazing efficiency, we have only waited ONE YEAR (and 5 days, but who's counting?) for this. Impressive, right? We mailed our application on April 25th, 2011. Our completed home study arrived on May 1st, 2012. Whoa baby at the speed - it's almost blinding.

The fantastic news is that we are now to the part of the process where we could be matched at any time!
The terrifying news is that we are now to the part of the process where we could be matched at any time.

Oh dear.


Canebrake's HOA: Protecting the world from terrorist threats to yard uniformity&beautification

We received a delightful little note from our dear Canebrake HOA today. It went something like this:

Dear Canebrake Resident,
   It has been observed that you have a sign in your yard that is not Real Estate For Sale related.You are in violation of Article 569,198,651,739 Section ZXX, Paragraph (aaa) which clearly states that real estate signs are the only allowable type of yard signs. While we are truly sympathetic to the situation that the tornado damage has placed you in, we must all remember what is truly important - that you comply with the Canebrake Covenants, and remove the 2'x2' contractors sign in your yard.

Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

The Canebrake HOA

They're barrels of fun.
My response to the Canebrake Committee For The Prevention of Unapproved Yard Signs will be as follows:

Dearest Canebrake HOA,
  You have correctly observed that we have an unauthorized (*gasp*) sign in our yard. Our sincerest apologies for that flagrant violation of the sacred covenants of Canebrake.

While we're on the subject, we would like to bring to your attention the 20 ft. long, graffiti-covered dumpster in our driveway, the loose shingles, broken windows, plywood, roofing beams, and gutters that are currently piled in our front yard (and littering our entire street), the insulation, tar, and bits of other people's homes that are now embedded into the walls of our home, the destroyed patio furniture, grill, and fencing in our backyard, oh, and let's be sure not to forget the gaping hole in our neighbor's roof.
We see why you felt compelled to send the letter. The 2'x2' contractor's sign is quite clearly the biggest eyesore in the vicinity, and we wouldn't want it diminishing the beauty of our pristine street in the prestigious Canebrake Club.

We will happily remove the sign - in approximately two weeks when our contractor has finished replacing our roof, ceiling, garage door, drywall, flooring, and fence - the tornado "situation" you referred to and are so sympathetic toward.

Then again, we might just leave it.

We think it goes well with the unauthorized white vinyl privacy fence down the street, the unauthorized plastic playset one street over, and the unauthorized (yet undeniably classy) 8 foot inflatable snowman that another dear Canebrake neighbor brings out from November - January every year. Not to mention the blinking, blue, LED christmas lights that were strung on one of the largest houses in the neighborhood this past holiday season. Nothing makes me think of the miracle of Christ's birth more than those glorious, seizure-inducing, electric blue lights.

Thank you for dedicating yourselves to keeping our neighborhood safe from the terrifying threat of misplaced yard signs.

~Matt&Allison (two dear residents of Canebrake)


Two "To Do's" = Done!

Today I finished two tasks off of my "To Do" list. For informational purposes, that's two more than my daily average.

I'm feeling exceptionally productive right about now.

And because I know you're just dying to know what I did, here it is....

1. I finished staging faking gathering pictures and answering questions for our family profile, so now Tracie (our awesome adoption consultant) won't be stuck wondering if we've reconsidered adopting all together and disappeared off the face of the earth. Hip Hip Hooray! Progress!

2. I made these fun tile coasters to use at our tornado displacement temporary abode (apartment, for all of you fuddy duds) and they turned out to be rather cute, if I do say so myself. With my own furniture, I feel like water rings just add extra "character"... but I would prefer not to pay a fee if the apartment complex doesn't quite understand the charm and character water rings can add to a coffee table.

This is absolutely not an original idea. I've seen about a dozen different versions online in the past, but of course I was too lazy to look anything up, so today I just winged it. Turned out significantly better than the vast majority of my experiments! They were actually so much fun to do that now I'm trying to figure out who I can make some for and I'm a little at a loss. I mean, who actually uses these things...?
If you do, and you want to make some, this is what I did:
Four square white 4x4 tiles 
Four pieces of scrapbook paper in coordinating colors (cut slightly smaller than your tiles),
4 squares of felt – also slightly smaller than your tiles 
Mod podge 
Sponge brush 
Glue (E-600 or another strong adhesive) and
Clear acrylic spray sealer.
Start by brushing a thin coat of mod podge on your tile and another on the back of your scrapbook paper. Place scrapbook paper in the center of the tile, carefully smooth out any air bubbles, and allow to dry for around 5 minutes. Brush another coat of mod podge on top of the paper. Allow to dry. Repeat 2-3 more times. Once the last coat of mod podge is dry, spray tiles with clear acrylic sealer. Allow the sealer to dry. Glue felt squares to the bottom middle of the tiles. Tie together with twine or ribbon and you have a cute handmade gift!

*In light of my impressive achievements today, I'll probably have to buy myself a cupcake tomorrow.


A little background: we were freezing. In the year devoid of winter weather, this was the one day of cold...  29 degrees was the high. In Alabama that is downright FRIGID. And don't be confused, those aren't smiles that you see - just violent teeth chattering. The cold not withstanding, we think the pictures turned out awesome and we are so happy to have them for our "family profile". We were both quite shocked to discover that we actually look like responsible adults who might even perhaps be capable of parenting a child.

And if that's not a testimony to Carla's photography genius, I don't know what is.

I'm sure we were both laughing at me.
I provide Matt with countless opportunities for amusement at my general ridiculousness.
We look convincingly adult-like here, right?
I've been waiting for it to just hit me (the whole being an adult thing) but if it doesn't, my general plan is to fake it whenever necessary - i.e. legal proceedings, in the presence of my children, and ladies bible class. 


If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there.

Story of my life. Except I generally think I do know where I'm going... and then just figure out later that I was impressively wrong :)

For example; I was pretty positive that we were adopting a little boy, between 9 - 18 months old, from Uganda. Nope.

As it turns out, we're adopting a baby/infant/newborn - a tiny, little, itty, bitty, not a chance they'll sleep for at least 3 or 4 months, baby. Also, we are just as likely to get a girl as a boy. Oh, and this sweet baby will be from right here in the US.
Shows what I know! Nothing, obviously.

For almost nine months we filled out paperwork, discussed names, talked about what it would be like to live in Africa for two months, worried about international travel with a baby/toddler... and then our clearances wouldn't come through. And then the Uganda program slowed almost to a halt. So we tried to be flexible. We looked at Ethiopia... and then the Congo... and then Russia..... and we found out that our wait time would probably be 18 months - 2 years. Or our child would be 2-4 years old when we brought them home. And the Congo sort of had a travel warning from the State Department. And Russia would send our costs up around $30,000+. All of which was definitely not the plan.
We briefly talked about the possibility of switching to a domestic (US) adoption, but our hearts weren't in it. We were positive that we were supposed to adopt internationally.

I was overwhelmed, and starting to get a tiny bit grouchy. Our prayer through this process has been for God to guide us to our child, in His way, with His timing, and for us to have the wisdom and courage to follow wherever He leads. So when it looked like we had walked into a giant brick wall, I have to admit, I was a little frustrated. How exactly do you follow a path that isn't there?
Ummm - you can't.
On the up side, a path into a brick wall doesn't necessarily mean your guide has abandoned you. It could just mean that he wants you to wait there for a while. Which is just what I was hoping for. Love waiting. Love. It.
But since we clearly had no idea where to go from there, we waited. For almost five weeks we didn't do anything adoption related at all. No paperwork, no fingerprints, no required reading, no training, no meetings, nothing. Truthfully it was a relief - and I'm pretty sure it kept my head from exploding.

Then Christmas was over, January had appeared out of nowhere, and all of a sudden, with absolutely no idea how or why, we were seriously considering a domestic adoption. Which wasn't ever in the plan.

God is funny like that.

We started carefully considering our options, checking out agencies....
And then - things just worked.

  • The "absurd" wait for DHR clearances - put us at the perfect stage to switch programs.
  • A domestic adoption seminar was required to finish our home study; it's only offered three times a year - we switched to the domestic program two weeks before the seminar, which saved us several months of waiting.
  • We didn't know anything about domestic adoption - our sweet friends told us about the adoption consultant they had worked with, and she was exactly what we needed.
  • Our fees for the adoption consultant were going to cost $2250 that we hadn't planned on - and then our home study agency let us know that we wouldn't owe our last $2100 payment :)
  • And this is just the short list :)
God is awesome like that.


A few words of advice:

Never mock your little brother for being a wimp - especially right before you have your wisdom teeth removed. It will backfire. Just trust me on this one.

If your dentist suggests that you should have your wisdom teeth out when you're, oh, say, 17ish..... LISTEN TO HIM. Full grown teeth do not appreciate being removed.

Also, your compliance with the doctor's recommendations does not guarantee a smooth/quick recovery. Annoying.

Lastly, it is indeed possible to live off of nothing but CFA milkshakes for weeks at a time.