She wanted to see us drive away with him.
She wanted to see us drive away with him.
Life doesn’t get any better than this!
This is the “other side of the tracks”.
Thanks so much for letting me share my heart with you on this Simply Sunday,
Adding Insult to Injury
As the numbness wore off and the pain moved in and set up camp in my heart, I began to realize that God was offering me an opportunity for something which had less to do with babies, and more to do with my relationship with Him.
Because any parent will tell you that REAL love requires so much more than
2. During that time, did you ever feel that God was nudging you to learn more about yourself?
And for me, the only way to align MY desires with HIS desires was to deal with those issues that were keeping me from seeing just how incredible His plan might end up being.
Linking this post to:
Imparting Grace: Grace Imparted Party
Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling thru
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
the dream that you wish will come true
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
The dream that you wish will come true”
My first thought was, “What a Crock!”
*You can read the rest of the story here: A Labor of the Heart
We sat nervously in that little room with all of those big windows. Exposed.
Feeling somewhat like animals at the zoo as people walked by and peered in at us. We were surrounded by all of the equipment needed to welcome a new life into the world.
Two hours earlier we had been sitting at our kitchen table with my mom. She had flown in from out of state and asked if she could lead us in prayer. I don’t remember exactly what she said. I only know that there were lots of tears as her words washed over us and reminded us of WHO we were putting our trust in and how HE had brought us so far already. She then walked us to the door and handed us a sack lunch. The humor of that did not escape us.
My mommy packed me a lunch in a paper bag to go pick up my baby!
It is such an honor to be kicking off this fabulous new series, “In the Bloglight“, and we hope you enjoy learning more about what happens behind the scenes around these parts!
You’ll find a little bit of everything at our place…
Well, that and the fact that we are still just two half-brain gals coming together to form what we hope is one semi-lucid mind…most of the time!
Recently Kathy of a Delightsome Life asked us to share some on blogging and how we do it, we thought we’d share our post here with you today.
Believe it or not the number one question we get asked about our blog At The Picket Fence is not…”how do you come up with projects?” or “how did you get sponsors or advertisers?”
The concept of multiple blog authors is still relatively new in the blogging community. Blogs originally were a platform for people to share their personal lives, most likely with friends and family so therefore it was a natural extension to be a “one woman or man show.” But, there has slowly been an evolution to multiple author or contributor blogs. For us this was a fabulous concept!
Here are a few pluses about blogging together: two brains for the price of one. double the available content. a person to automatically get to vent to, collaborate with and bounce ideas off of. a division of the labor i.e. writing posts, responding to questions and emails, working with sponsors and advertisers and communicating through social media.
Here are the minuses: lack of spontaneity. having to compromise. sharing of the income generated from the blog.
As you can see in our eyes the pluses far out way the negatives! And the added and best bonus:
Getting to work everyday with your sister who lives across the country!
So HOW then do we make this work daily for us? Well, we thought it would be fun to share a day in the life of our blog!
so with a three hour difference we can cover a large portion of the day with regards to our blogging business!
Most days Heather will wake up, have coffee, have some more coffee…and fire up the computer. The first thing she does is either publish that mornings post (usually between 8-9 am) while Vanessa is still snuggled in bed with visions of posts dancing in her head… If there is a post up from the night before that will still be the featured post for that day, Heather will go into edit and update the date and time and update the post. This brings the post back up to the top of people’s blogging dashboards and readers.
Next, Heather will check emails and categorize them in our At The Picket Fence Gmail account. This is our main account for our blog, and we both have access to it online and on our phones. With a quick scan she deletes any spammy emails, categorizes emails into their respective folders: sponsors, giveaway requests, post questions, BlogHer emails etc. She makes sure to mark any for Vanessa specifically as “unread” and starts them so she’ll see them when she gets online.
After addressing any emails that need immediate responses. Heather switches over to our special email address where all of our comments are sent. We decided awhile back that having two email addresses one a general and one a comment only helped us from “losing” emails from sponsors, advertisers and business opportunities among the comments.Heather scans quickly the comments looking for questions to answer or comments that need a direct reply.
Now, it’s time to connect with our Facebook Friends.
We have been blessed to have so many wonderful Facebook friends (almost as many as blog followers) so we work hard to cultivate the community over there! In fact, it’s a great way to connect with us on a more personal level, so we encourage all of our blog friends to also join us over there. We try each morning to share an inspirational or funny quote, picture, etc. We also make sure to link up our blog post for the day. We check for any private messages or new likes who have left comments and respond to those directly.
We also make sure we are utilizing all of the great resources provided by social media platforms by having our Facebook updates all post on our Twitter account automatically. While we are in our Facebook Page account we take a quick moment to scan the pages we follow to make sure we leave comments, like status updates, etc. This not only creates a sense of community but also increases our edgerank (i.e. how Facebook sees our importance) because Facebook likes interaction.
At this point in the morning, Heather’s coffee has run out and it’s time to focus on “real life” for a few hours. Vanessa is now up and at ‘em with her family.
Vanessa usually jumps on the email first thing to check for new comments, and to address her emails. She is our “email cleaner” she is good about keeping us from being overwhelmed with emails in our in box! She also will often get on Facebook as well and post something from her. Usually something funny or cute her kiddos have done…and they are VERY funny and cute. (says their Aunt Heather…grin!)
Often Vanessa will send a quick text to Heather letting her know she’s up and to touch base on something while getting her family around for the morning. We do A LOT of texting!!
Texting saves our bacon when it comes to our blog. No matter where we are or what we’re doing we know we can communicate with each other.
Some of our text go like this: “Yikes! I forgot to put the linkytool link in the party! Can you fix that real quick I’m not at home!!” or “OMG you’re post today is so fabulous! I LOVE your photos!” maybe a “did YOU see the email we just got?!” or “Can you do a Facebook update I forgot?”
At some point in the day, we will have a phone conversation. This usually consists of working through our calendar and scheduling posts or discussing working with a new sponsor, etc.
When blogging together an online calendar is a lifesaver! We use our Google calendar because it is attached to our Gmail. It’s easy to click over and go over the calendar together and fill in our posts, giveaways, etc. We then schedule reminders to our Gmail to help keep us on track. On our calendar we schedule posts, sponsor shout-outs, giveaways, and keep track of our statistics.
Afternoons are reserved for both of us to work on projects, take photos and write posts. We also do lots of our post writing at night when our families are settled in for the evening. Afternoons are also when we will have a phone conversation to discuss sponsors, giveaways and advertisers. We often split responsibilities but we both are able to handle things like billing, tweaking the look of the blog and making sure we are visiting and making the blog rounds in our community.
Vanessa will get online in the late afternoon, while dinner is going on at Heather’s house, to refresh a post again. She will share features on Facebook, tweet some updates and answer emails. Evenings are always flexible at both our homes depending on what we have going on in our personal lives. Sometimes we are both online at the same time, emailing featuring, pinning, and tweeting. Sometimes only one of us is on. The nice thing is no matter what we can be PRESENT online connecting with our communities because there are TWO of us!
One fear we have had in this joint venture is a lack of personalization. We are one blog…but we are two sisters. We will often “sign” our Facebook updates, comments or tweets with our individual names so that others will know who they are talking to. We each have “blog friends” that we feel especially close to and have developed friendships with. We never want to lose who we uniquely are. We also each have special gifts, talents and subjects we feel strongly about and want our blog to reflect our individualism as well.
Vanessa has her amazing and very personal A Labor of the Heart Series…focusing on adoption and faith. Heather has written a Blogging 101 Series sharing her passion for blogging and helping new bloggers.
And then we have fun joint series we love working on together like our Behind the Blog Series. And of course our favorite part of the week…Inspiration Friday Party! Where we get to showcase other bloggers and bask in the fabulous talent out there in blogland!
As our day draws to a close, we often will spend a few moments pinning and repining on Pinterest, which is a fun way to end the evening or tweeting with our friends. We both have Pinterest and Twitter apps on our phones which makes this easy to do without having to be in front of a computer. Vanessa will often refresh a post one more time in the evening, or do a few more shout-outs on Facebook, making sure we are connecting with our friends in all time zones.
And then it’s time for bed…where often our most creative ideas and blog ideas come to us when our brains are resting…which might generate one more late night text…”Hey I just had the most amazing idea…remind me in the morning to tell you!!”
Besides are blog we also have several other collaborative projects. We are both monthly guest contributors to Houzz.com as well as recently brought aboard as HomeTalk Ambassadors. Needless to say we’ve developed an even closer relationship over our blog. It’s a business…but we are SISTERS and that always comes first!
Throughout the course of my life as a mom, an adoptive mom, I have had many people ask me how we talk to our children about their adoptions and how they came to be apart of our “forever family”. And, as I have shared our journey on this blog, I have received many comments and emails seeking advice about this very sensitive and complex issue.
My children are young and so this is still new to us too! I don’t claim to have all of the answers but this is how we have approached it in our family. We have many years ahead to add more layers to their story, but we firmly believe that it is our responsibility to lay the foundation for our children. And we pray that this foundation will provide them with security in knowing how very much loved they are, not only by us as their parents, but by their birthparents as well.
Recently, my son came into the office where I was typing away at the computer and stood next to me. I absentmindedly wrapped one arm around him and we started having a little conversation. He was sharing this and that about his day (it was a rare occasion to have him spilling details!) and I don’t remember exactly how the conversation shifted but I will never forget how it ended.
You see, somewhere along the line we began talking about his adoption story.
We have had countless conversations about it before, but somehow I knew that this one would be different.
He wanted to know if his daddy and I had also been adopted.
Somehow this little detail was never one that we had discussed in all of our “you are adopted and that means you are so special and have so many people who love you” talks.
And when I told him that no, we had not been adopted by his grandparents, I saw something flash across his face which I had never seen before.
A new level of understanding.
It was a look of “oh, so that means I’m different from you guys.” That look made my heart just ache. But, I had to push aside my pain. Why?
Because, you see, he needed me to not reflect to him on the outside what I was feeling on the inside.
He needed to feel secure and safe to ask me these questions without worrying about my reaction. So, what did I do?
First, I fought back the tears that threatened to overflow.
Then, I pulled him into my arms and squeezed him for awhile. I squeezed him until he giggled and tried to pull away.
Which, of course, only made me squeeze harder!
Then, we had a talk about roots and heritage and family trees.
I grabbed a piece of paper and started drawing.
“This is Mommy and Daddy’s tree”, I said. “And, do you see these roots down here?
Well, they connect to Nonna and Poppa on Mommy’s side and Mimi and Papa on Daddy’s side. That is where we started, our roots. Now, Mommy and Daddy really wanted our tree to grow bigger but God had a special plan for how that would take place. Over here there was another tree growing. This is your birthmother’s tree. Do you see that branch coming out of that tree? That is you! You grew out of your birthmother’s tree and were grafted into our tree.
Those are YOUR roots.
And on the other side, the same happened for your sister. Once your branch and her branch joined our tree, you both became part of our Forever Family. We always know where we came from, our roots, but we stay together and grow as our own, very unique, Forever Family Tree.”
He looked at that paper for awhile and asked me a few more questions, mostly having to do with the specifics about adoption that are important to a 9 year old. “Did you know when I was going to be born?” “Did Nonna really pack you and daddy a sack lunch before you left to get me?” “What car did you drive to the hospital?” “Did I really like my first bottle?” “Did you cry when you held me for the first time?”
The interesting thing about his questions is that they all stemmed from the story he has heard many, many times about his adoption and how he and his sister were the answer to our prayers.
He just needed to hear it all from the beginning again.
We talked some more and I hugged and squeezed him again.
Then he tooted (which is what we call “passing gas” in our family!) and we laughed hysterically.
The moment was over.
But, in that moment, another layer was added to his story.
And, he knew that he could ask me anything and I would answer it with love and honesty.That night as I tucked him into bed I said, “you know, buddy, you can always ask us absolutely anything.”
He got very quiet and I could tell the wheels in his mind were spinning away.
He said, “Well, I really have been wondering what exactly the earth is made up of.”I had to laugh!Here I was thinking that he was going to have more questions about his adoption when in reality, he had already emotionally moved on.
I took my cues from him and we talked a bit about what the earth is made of and how mommy wasn’t very smart about things like that so he probably should have asked daddy that question!
You see, when you become a parent you immediately worry about everything related to raising your children. Will they make good choices? Will they be safe and healthy? Will other kids be mean to them? Will they make it through the teen years without catastrophe?
But, when you adopt your children, you add another level of worry to the mix.
Will they struggle with this part of their lives?
Will I be able to answer their questions?
And the deepest worries of all.
Will they reject me? Resent me?
And when your child begins to ask normal and healthy questions about their adoption story, those worries immediately come to mind.
But if you have prepared, prayed and practiced ahead of time, those questions don’t have to cause you anxiety and fear.
How do you prepare?
Well, ideally it would start from the very beginning. From the first day you bring them home. Whether they are newborns, toddlers or older children. But, what if you haven’t had those conversations yet?
Well, there is no time like the present to start!
Next week we will talk more about how to have the “Adoption Talk” with your children but until then, let me leave you with this. My father-in-law is a very talented artist and graphic designer. I gave him my crude “Forever Family Tree” drawing and he transformed it into this beautiful print.
I have blocked out the names of our children’s birthmothers for the sake of privacy.
Our children each have a copy of this framed in their room.
It serves as a reminder of how they were grafted into our family and yet are still connected to their roots.
If this could be a resource for you in talking with your own children about their adoptions, I would be absolutely thrilled to see if my father-in-law could design a “fill in the blank” version for you to use.
I hope you will come back next week for Part 2 when I will share with you more about how we have added the layers to our children’s adoption stories and some additional resources which might help you in your own conversations with your kids.
Thank you so much for joining me today at the Fence,