Category Archives: Seriously important stuff.

The Sacred Work of Motherhood

Just the other day, as I was opening up a stack of Christmas cards (which I will confess, we are the worst friends because we never send any), I tore open a card that felt like a postcard and a little deck of cards stacked on top of it.  I sort of laughed as I was pulling out the cards because the shape reminded me of the senior photos that we all used to exchange, back in high school.  They were like baseball trading cards.  But of ourselves.  Right?

This was not a trading card.  Instead I pulled out this message from my sweet friend Katie, who I have known since our summers at day camp in the Girl Scouts.  We pole vaulted together in high school (poorly!) and were sorority sisters from the same pledge class in college.  We have shared life together.


I texted her immediately.  I told her that I was so excited for her and Nathan and that I was praying for that little baby of theirs, who we do not even know yet.

I’m blogging about her and Nathan today because as much as this is a place where I write about saving money or cooking dinner or what leggings I’m wearing or The Cabin, every once in a while I get the chance to help maybe possibly do some Good.

Just as Katie wrote in her note above, most adoptions are made through word of mouth and this is one big bulletin board.  When I told her I would absolutely spread the word, I asked her if she would be able to share some things about her and her husband and their lives together from their adoption profile.  I told her I knew it was such a personal question to ask, but also, I don’t know who will see this or where this post might possibly end up.

As I read Katie’s words for the first time, I thought These Are Sacred.  They are Sacred because they are the words of a mother and a father who are waiting, hopefully and patiently for their little one.  They are the words of a mother and a father who are reaching into the unknown for the people who will change their lives forever.  They are words of a mother and father to someone whose life has changed forever.  This Is Sacred Work.  Katie says:

We both grew up in Minnesota and actually went to the University of MN though at slightly different times. We met while watching a MN Vikings game and have been together ever since. We got married in September of 2015 surrounded by many family and friends. We actually had a friend perform our ceremony and designed the whole thing ourselves. We bought a house and moved in just a month before our wedding. Our house is in NE Minneapolis, which is a GREAT part of the city. We absolutely LOVE living in Minnesota and feel that it is the best place to raise a family. The cultural activities and community involvement opportunities are unmatched to anywhere else in the country.

bean

Nathan works at AT&T as a customer service/IT representative. He has been with the company for 10 years. Katie works as a director of therapy at a long-term care and transitional care facility. She got her master’s degree in Occupational Therapy.

133

Things that we love to do include watching sporting events both on TV and live, traveling, spending time with friends and our pets. Our typical week days include work (of course) then home to walk our two dogs. If we don’t have any plans that night we will make dinner and perhaps watch a movie or one of our favorite shows. If there is a sporting event, we may watch that with friends. During certain times of the year we are in a weekly bowling or broomball league. We may also have dinner with Katie’s parents and brother who live in town. Nathan’s parents and sister live about an hour away. Weekends usually consist of seeing our friends and family, spending time with our pets, getting some housework done and relaxing.

gator

And finally, Katie felt it important to share their letter to the birthmother:

Dear Birthmother:

Thank you for considering us for your adoption choice. We are Nathan and Katie and we are very excited to start a journey with someone that will last a lifetime. Though we do not know you yet and cannot know your specific circumstances, we know that you are already a very caring and brave person by making this choice. We understand that the choice you are making has not been made without a lot of thought. From what we have learned so far, adoption has changed so much over the years. We both feel it is important to have a great relationship with birth mom, if she wants one. We have struggled with infertility and want very much be able to raise a child. We believe that we will be excellent parents who will be able to give a child a very loving, active, and educational life. We would love to speak to you about what you are looking for in adoptive parents and if we can create a lifetime relationship. 

Thank you again!

Nathan and Katie

If you can share this or know who to share this with, or if maybe you are someone who wants to know more about Nathan and Katie, please contact them at kateandnateadopt@gmail.com.  I know they would love to hear from you.  If you don’t know who to share this with, there are of course some people we can lift up in prayer (or positive thinking) during this season of their lives: Nathan, Katie, the birthmother, and this precious son or daughter they hope to meet someday soon.  All of it is Sacred Work.

 

Advertisements

Be The Change You Want To See

If we’re going to be totally honest, I am still in shock over last week’s election results.  I haven’t yet listened to Hillary’s concession speech, I am trying to moderate the amount of news I consume.  Of the news I do consume, I am frightened by the stories I have read about the increase in hate crimes since the elections ended.  I worry for my own family, I worry for the families of people I do not know.  This is not the America I recognize.

As I scroll through my Facebook news feed, there are so so so many friends who agree that now and over the next four years, we need to come together and we need to start doing the hard work.  The place that starts for all of us is right in the communities we call home.

Posting links on Facebook and re-tweeting news stories is all right and good, but if we are going to change lives, we’re going to do that with our hands and feet.  I don’t often talk about my volunteer work on The Blog but it is something that has been such an important part of my life and one that has brought me great joy.  The non-profit I volunteer with works to bring food, housing and employment security to others in my community and truly there is nothing better that I could be doing with the time I am able to give them.

If you have been feeling called to action in the last week, but are not sure where to start, this is a chance to find your beginning.  Some of you might find that in volunteering with non-profits, others with mid-term campaigns.  You might be reviewing your existing charitable contribution budget, you might be deciding to start one.

I don’t know where we go from here, but I know that right now we all have to do the best that we can.  If you’re already giving your time and/or money, I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.  If you’ve started to make your own plan to get to work, I’d love to hear about that too.

p.s. If you live in Minnesota, the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits has a member list that includes organization websites and locations.

Enough Already.

In 2000, my little brother’s reading teacher was murdered by her husband.  He failed to kill their two children.

In the summer after eighth grade, my parents bought me a Nokia cell phone with a 75 minute a month plan. It was for calling for rides home and because Columbine had happened not so long ago.  Just in case a similar massacre took place at my very large high school and I needed to call for help or them.

In ninth grade, a boy in my physical sciences lab group told me he was going to kill me.  He drew a map to my house, explained how he was going to do it, mentioned that he might also like to build bombs in our school, started lighting bags of dog shit on fire on our front steps, and left skull candles behind as well.

My mother and I went straight to the principal’s office, and got an in-school restraining order against him.  We installed a surveillance camera on our front porch (we lived on a huge hill so it really did see everything) and you can understand how after that incident, I started looking for exits and escape routes everywhere I went.

In eleventh grade, we had a lockdown drill and since the sub didn’t know what to do, it was me who calmly explained that we would turn off the lights, lock the door, shut the blinds, barricade the door and sit in silence.  This was our new normal. I was 16 years old.

We have made it difficult to research gun violence.

We have made it difficult to file lawsuits against firearms manufacturers and dealers.

We allow suspected terrorists to purchase weapons.

In 2012 a man shot 154 bullets in five minutes into an elementary school full of children and teachers trying to save them and instead we got into arguments about how “criminals don’t follow laws” and “he was deranged” and nothing changed.

NOTHING CHANGED.

A TV anchor got murdered on live television and nothing changed.

NOTHING CHANGED.

People meeting in a prayer group got gunned down at their church and nothing changed.

NOTHING CHANGED.

It is insane.

I know that “criminals don’t follow laws” but as my mother (legit smartest woman in the world) says, PEOPLE RUN RED LIGHTS AND WE STILL HAVE LAWS ABOUT THAT.

We shout people down because they don’t actually know about what kind of guns should be banned or what kinds of bullets are used or how long it actually takes to buy a gun or what is or is not actually legal right now.

You don’t have to be a gun expert to be able to say that we have to do better.

I have no problem with people who conceal and carry. In fact, I am happy for them to do it. Having attended a gun safety class, I know it’s not for me and that’s okay! However, I am sure that you, dear reader, and they (the carriers) can understand that I would prefer not to rely upon them as some sort of personal security system.  That is because outside of my family and friends, I do not know who or where these other would-be good guys with guns are.  Even in the case of my family and friends, I cannot guarantee that they will be with me always.  If I am with someone I know who carries, and even if I am in the same area as such a stranger who would be ready to leap into action, there is no guarantee they will successfully be able to protect me.

We have to do better by knowing who does this or why.  We have to do better by knowing what we can do to prevent these things or at the very least, please God, slow them in their frequency.

Can we at the very least agree that this should not be happening all the time?  Can we agree that people should not be getting gunned down at school, at work, in movie theaters, at their places of worship?  Can we agree that this is not okay?

I should not have to worry or wonder about when it will be me, or my husband, or our baby son, or one of our parents or sisters or brothers or friends next.  If I will be using my body as a shield to protect someone I love or if they will be using theirs to protect me.

At 9:00 PM on the night of the Democratic filibuster, I called my senator to send my support.  Frankly, at this point I am just one voice among many and I don’t know what else to do.

Until things change, I guess I, along with the rest of our nation will continue to send my prayers to Newtown, Charleston, Orlando, Blacksburg, San Bernardino, Littleton, Red Lake, Colorado Springs, Minneapolis, and so many other places.

Get Your Skin Checked: An Annual PSA

For those members of the group who missed This Post, about a year and a half ago, I started going to the dermatologist.

I went to the dermatologist again today.  During my appointment last June, my doctor informed me that pregnancy hormones can do crazy things to your moles and so at 37 weeks, I scheduled a post-partum skin check.

Today, I got two moles removed which was just as awesome as the first time around.  They have been sent to pathology and I’ll get the results back in a week or two.  If you’re feeling like a prayer warrior, I’d love your prayers that they are benign.

I also got instructed to return in three months for another check because I am officially on The Watch.  I guess it’s a good thing I like my dermatologist.  And that we’ve already hit our deductible for the year.  Dermatology = The Most Expensive Hobby.

All of this is to say that if you have never gotten a skin check before you should do that.  It is an important adult thing to do.  For most of the group it should take 20 minutes of your day and maybe you won’t see that doctor again for years.  Melanoma is the number one cancer among women ages 27-29.  As for the rest of you who are not 27-29 year old women, I don’t know where it ranks, but I do know that if it is something they catch early the removal of the mole may be the extent of your treatment.

Once you’ve gotten that skin check?  Wear sunscreen.  Buy a swim shirt and be a cool cat at the lake this summer like me, my mom and Katie *.  For the love of God, if you are one of those people who still go to tanning beds, OMG IT IS LIKE SMOKING CIGARETTES STOP IT.  And get that skin check.

XO

We’re Expecting!

We're Expecting!

4th generation Gopher arriving January 25, 2016.

I know that a month ago, I declared this to be The Most Boring Summer Ever.

Secretly, it has been The Happiest.

BRK 2015: On Character

We are home from Omaha.  I have all sorts of things to distill and discuss over the coming days about our trip to see The Oracle, but I thought that this story would be the best way to start.

While most of the questions from the annual meeting revolved around subsidiary performance, taxes, and regulation,  there were two questions that elicited a response from Warren about character.

The first was a question about the investment tactics and strategy of Todd Combs.  Or maybe it was Ted Weschler?  I didn’t really take notes on that part and I routinely confuse the two because in my day-to-day life, it really does not matter who is who.  They are Berkshire’s investment managers and that is that.  Regardless, when Warren answered the question, he made a point to talk speak of Todd AND Ted and not one or the other.  Moreover, he didn’t really speak of their professional skills other than that they were hard workers.  What he did speak of was their character and who they are as people.

Shortly thereafter, an American 7th grader asked Warren and Charlie for tips on how to make friends and be well-liked. We have all been through the hell that is middle school, and so here is where the world of finance and 7th grade collide in a way that is so interesting.

Where Todd and Ted were concerned, Warren described them as being people who do more than their fair share of work.  He said they did not take credit for work they did not do.  He highlighted how important trustworthiness was and how he could never hire someone he did not trust.

To the 7th grader, he advised him to select the traits he admired and disliked in his peers, and from there, to cultivate the admirable qualities in himself.  As Warren illustrated an example of this in practice, the admirable traits he shared were: generous, takes things with good humor, does not take credit for work they did not do.

No one goes to the annual shareholders meeting for the sake of self-improvement, but I think it is so interesting that from a true values perspective, our takeaways are as follows:

  • Work hard – do more than your fair share of the work.
  • Be trustworthy.
  • Do not take credit for work you do not do.
  • Be generous.
  • Take things with good humor.

Personally and professionally, that’s a pretty good roadmap for life.

Edited to update: I just discovered in my notes that there was also a discussion of the importance of reputation.  I have no idea what question this stemmed from, but Charlie Munger said that your reputation is built slowly and that you have to get the best one you can with the years allotted.  He also said that nothing is more important than behaving well as you go through life.  Those are words to live by.

Just a Few Stitches

So the dermatology appointment that ended up with an abnormal mole being removed ended up in a repeat trip today for outpatient surgery because the thing grew back and we all know that’s creepy.

Did I mention that everyone should go get their skin checked because it’s a good thing to do?  Because you should.  Related/unrelated: dermatology is my new expensive hobby.

Anyway, I did not photo document the entire journey because that would be sort of gross, but I did have Mom take one snap of my back after the doctor had marked it up.  Mostly because I wanted to know what it looked like.

Back

Very dramatic, no?

The surgery took about 20 minutes with local anesthetic, and I now have a number of stitches placed squarely in the middle of my back.  How Nice, I Know.  I am told that the scar will be very discreet.  Since this is a place on my back that is impossible for me to see without the assistance of a hand mirror and some serious neck craning, I cannot say I was very concerned about that part.

From the department of first world problems, apparently these stitches (I have two layers) mean that I cannot do anything that will stretch them, and in order for them to keep everything together, I cannot raise my heart rate.  In case there is any confusion here, I was explicitly told that I cannot run, do yoga, or really anything outside of…power walking.  The upper body stuff is specifically an issue because of the location of the incision – it’s pretty much impossible for me to do anything that would not stretch it.  I am sure that you can understand then  that this is the worst part of the whole affair.

Since they had to re-remove the mole, it will be biopsied again.  It’s sort of like a spin cycle.  Check, remove, test, repeat.  With that in mind, I’m extremely glad that I have a good doctor and good insurance so that this is something we can do without worry.  That being said, this needs to be the last of it.