Friday, December 17, 2010

I Hear Things

Some things I've overheard recently:

Daredevil (while playing a James Bond video game): "Dude, look at that guy!"

Starshine (looks): "Nice mirdle."

Daredevil: "I was talking about his gun."

Starshine: "It's kind of hard to notice his gun when all I see is a man in a mirdle."



Starshine (while taking a bath with Princess J): "Hey! There's something floating in the water! I think it's cookie dough!"

Hubby: "Cookie dough?"

Starshine (leans closer to inspect the object of his attention and then glares at Princess J): "Never mind. That's not cookie dough."

Hubby: "Nope. That's justice."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Heads Up

I want to clear something up. It will only take a minute. I keep getting the following comment from people when they hear that I have three biological boys and then adopted a girl: "Oh, how nice. You finally got your girl."

They don't mean "Oh, you finally brought home the girl you were waiting for the last five years." They mean "Oh, you really always wanted a baby girl but kept having boys and finally took matters into your own hands so you could get the girl you always wanted in the first place."

So, I want to clear this up. When I gave birth to Starshine, my youngest boy, I was put-a-fork-in-me done with having kids. Done. And I didn't feel the slightest bit of disappointment that I had all boys. I was on an incredible adventure with my boys, and it felt just right. Every single pregnancy, all I wished for was a healthy baby. Boy or girl, it didn't matter.

Years later, we felt called to adopt a girl. Not because we somehow missed out all those years with only having boys, but because we felt called to adopt a girl. Period. My boys have never been a source of disappointment to me. I didn't adopt because I needed to have a girl in the house. I adopted because Johanna is ours.

While I'm clearing things up, please don't ever refer to my boys as "my own" children while Johanna is something else. They are all my own children. When people say things like "Wow, you adopted even though you have "your own" children?" or "I want to adopt, but I want to have my own children first," I want to punch them. Johanna is our child as completely as any of my boys. If you want to refer to "my own" children, make sure you mean all four of them, please. I punch like a man.

=)

Yes, Please



Opening night? I'll be there. Possibly dressed as a wench. Argh! Who's with me, maties?

The Power of Hope

You know that feeling? The one that says you're on the brink of something important. Life-changing. Sort of terrifying in that dizzying, stomach in your throat, hands-shaking way? The one that creeps through your veins on stealthy feet, scorching your blood with the one thing you crave like air?

Hope.

Hope that what you want is finally within your grasp. That tomorrow really will be better than today. That your dreams aren't so far out of reach anymore.

Hope.

We burn with it. Breathe with it. Secretly hold it with white-knuckled fingers because without it, we're lost.

I've hoped for many things in my life. Safety. Sanity. A first kiss. Healing. The feeling that I could hold my head high, despite myself. A marriage built to last. Children who know they are loved and cherished.

One child in particular who filled my heart for five long years before I finally looked into her gorgeous dark eyes.

I hoped for her. Longed for her. Ached so much my arms felt empty, my house felt too quiet, my family felt incomplete without her.

And in China I realized the hope I sheltered for this one little girl is a drop in the bucket for the hope needed to turn the tide for so many.

So many.

An estimated 930,000 girls currently live in orphanages across China. Many of them are classified special needs which usually means something easily fixed with surgery but which means they are the outcasts. The lepers of Chinese society. The ones who even as babies are shunned. Mocked in public. Refused love.

It's incomprehensible, but I saw it. Adults crowding around a toddler with a cleft palate, making horrible faces at her, pointing and laughing, saying she deserved her fate. Where's her hope? Where's her chance to unlock everything she was created to be?

It isn't in China.

It isn't just those classified as special needs. As I held Johanna tight and listened to one Chinese person after another tell me she would have a beautiful life, I stared across the alley from our hotel at a whorehouse whose girls all looked fourteen, if that. Those are the girls without family. Without protection. Without a dowry.

Without a future, they must buy their own with the only currency they have: their bodies.

That was Johanna's future without the hope that lit love inside of us for a child we'd never met. I cry when I think of her growing up with no one to notice how much she loves music. How she growls at her brothers and makes them laugh. How she buries her face in my shoulder and rubs against me when she's tired. How she burns with hope of her own now.

I look back at the contradictions in China. The fierce sense of family for all those privileged enough to not be left at bus stops, public parks, or orphanage steps. The blind eye turned toward the plight of those deemed pariahs for medical conditions we'd fix in a blink of an eye. The honor given to marriage. The complete acceptance of babies left in an orphanage until they're old enough to pay their way on their backs. I look, and I know I can't look away.

Hope.

I can't look away from 930,000 orphaned girls who need hope. I want to see more girls light up when their forever families walk into the room. More girls whose love of music brings joy to others. More girls who don't have to hide their faces from a room full of mocking adults, but who see nothing but awe at their beauty reflected in the eyes of those who truly love them.

Bringing Johanna home has done more than change the complexion of our family. She's changed my heart by breaking it in all the right places. She's done the same for her brothers. Her grandparents. Our friends. My co-workers. Those who read my blog. One small beacon of hope, flaring to life in May of 2005, has spread into a blaze from one beautiful little girl's story.

I pray that blaze brings a home to more little girls waiting for someone to fall so in love with them, sight unseen, they'd fight any battle, overcome any obstacle, just to hold them in their arms.

Hope.

It's contagious. Can you feel it?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Randomy Randomness


Today, I thought I'd give you a peek at a totally random collection of stuff I'm working on (or planning to work on). Why? Because I promised I'd do better at blogging. Take what you can get. :)

1. The above pic represents a new story idea that won't leave me alone. Not sure I'm going to leave my current WIP to write it yet, but I'm fleshing it out to see where it goes.

2. Speaking of my current WIP, I haven't touched it since before I left for China, but am diving back in this weekend. I'm writing it in first person present tense, a new technique for me. It's a fun challenge, and I love the results so far.

3. Here's a new favorite song of mine. One that made it onto three playlists for WIPs or story ideas I'm building:




4. I'm tackling the job of revamping my web presence over the next month. I'll start by moving my workshop site to Wordpress where I can have a page for each workshop offered. I think it will provide better user interface for my clients. I'm talking to a web designer about doing the same thing with this blog. If I can export this blog into Wordpress and create the rest of my web site around it, I think that will work best for me. This stuff always makes me a bit nervous since I generally suck at anything requiring the slightest technological prowess, but it's time to expand and organize my presence a bit better.

5. I've started accepting more invitations to do workshops at conferences (both online and in person), so I've decided I should order some professional business cards. Turns out, people come up and ask you for them and they look at you strangely when you pull out a pad of stiletto-shaped sticky notes and scrawl your email across the front. Those aren't the sort of things I think about, generally, but I'm going to be better prepared this year.

6. I'm going to work on getting the cupcake interviews going again. I have a few people already ready to jump into the ring with the Were-llama or Captain Jack. I just need to find time to hunt down other victims guests and then I need to convince my hubby he loves me enough to take an hour a week to turn a simple cupcake into a work of art.

7. I've just realized that in all my Christmas planning, I totally neglected to send my agent a gift. I guess that means I'll be trolling Etsy or Ebay this weekend to find something for her. She'll read this, give me her patented Kitten of Doom glare, and tell me she doesn't need anything from me. But she'll just have to suck it up. I can give doomy glares too.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winner!


And the winner of the Oh Nuts! $25 gift certificate is Heather (Book-Savvy)! Congratulations, Heather! Please give me your email in the comment trail or send me an email (my contact info is on the sidebar) so I can get you your prize.

She Lives!


1. In the wonderful craziness that has been my life for the last month (we've had her for a month now!), blogging has slipped down the list of my priorities. It's become that thing that I THINK about doing often, but rarely actually find the time to do.

2. I'm going to get better at it.

3. Really.

4. Johanna is doing very well. She sleeps well (usually), eats well, and adores playing with her brothers.

5. I've adjusted fairly quickly to adding a baby to my routine, though I still need to perform a few miracles on my schedule so I can wedge in some uninterrupted writing time.

6. The last time I juggled a baby with the rest of my life was ten years ago. The good news is, I'm better equipped emotionally and mentally to do it this time around. The bad news is, every time I have to get up off the floor while holding a twenty-one pound baby, I'm forced to give my knees a pep talk.

7. Something along the lines of "You can do it! Just hold out a little bit longer. NO! No cracking. Especially not in that direction. Hold...hold... what's that? Help? Oh, yes. Here's a wall. I'll just dig my nails into it and haul myself up, shall I? There. That only took three minutes. Nothing to it."

8. Besides the toll on my knees and lower back (Who needs a gym when you can cart around a baby?), I've had to remember SO MUCH STUFF before I can leave the house. Gone are the days when I could just holler at the kids to make sure they weren't naked and then to get their (please God) clothed patoots into the car while I slid into the driver's seat and simply asked if everyone had their seat belts on.

9. Now, I have to make sure Princess J is fully and warmly dressed, has a clean diaper on, has a toy and a blanket for the car, is strapped into her car seat, is then seat belted in, and has a fully stocked diaper bag.

10. The fully stocked diaper bag didn't happen right away.

11. Ten years since I've done this, remember?

12. The first time I took her out on errands, I left the diaper bag at home. I didn't judge myself too harshly. At that point, I was averaging 3 hours of sleep a night. I was lucky I remembered the baby, much less the diaper bag.

13. The second time I took her out, I remembered to bring the diaper bag, but I seriously underestimated the amount of STUFF I should've packed inside. I had a spoon, a bib, a burp cloth, a few wipes, and one diaper. I figured since we were just heading to my restaurant to eat and then heading back home, what more could I need?

14. We sat at a table, ate our lunches, introduced Princess J to the staff on hand (I've been taking her into the restaurant here and there to slowly meet the staff in small doses so she doesn't get overwhelmed with the 125 people dying to meet her and hold her), and had a perfectly lovely time until the end when J's full stomach demanded her body do SOMETHING to make more space for the food she'd just consumed.

15. Her body complied.

16. The diaper could not contain the results.

17. It was Clint's turn to change her. I pulled her from her high chair and handed her over. He instantly refused, saying, and I quote, "There isn't a changing table in the men's restroom."

18. To which Daredevil immediately replied, "Yes, there is. It's in the handicap restroom."

19. Clint called him seven kinds of a traitor, but the damage was done, and he left, gingerly holding Princess J in front of him.

20. The problem, of course, was that while I had a spare diaper, I didn't have any spare clothes. And it's winter. Poor baby couldn't go around in just her diaper.

21. Thankfully, I work at Cracker Barrel, which has a retail store attached to the restaurant.

22. And that's how Princess J came to own a Tennessee Volunteers cheerleader's outfit.

23. Which, for those of you unfamiliar with the Vols, is day-glo orange.

24. I'll apologize to her once she's old enough to realize who's to blame.

25. My general lack of sleep, combined with my general lack of depth perception, is cause for daily entertainment at my job.

26. Just yesterday, I was walking and talking over my shoulder to someone (I KNOW how foolish that is for a girl like me, but I do it anyway), and I turned around and smacked face-first into a metal dessert cabinet.

27. Which isn't as bad as the time I face-planted into the cardboard box outside my office or the time I went to sit on the office chair and found it inexplicably gone, but THIS time I had an audience.

28. I know where each of them lives.

29. *plots evil scheme full of evil to repay them for their insults*

30. And finally, I'd like to share a story with you that is all about numbers. The day I took my parents to the airport, I planned to stop by Clint's studio so his co-workers could meet Princess J. This time, I made sure I had two diapers and two changes of clothes. No way was I going to be unprepared again.

Naturally, J filled her diaper on the way to the airport. Since Clint's studio is just minutes from the airport, I drove there and changed her as soon as we arrived. We hung out while Clint finished his radio show, met a ton of co-workers, and then I left her with him so I could get to work.

When I came home that evening, he glared at me and said, "I have an answer for you. What's the question? The answer is: Two."

I shrugged.

He said, "Two is the number of poopy diapers she had while we were still at the radio station. Next answer: Three."

I said, "Um ... people who noticed?"

"No! Three is the number of wipes I had on hand to deal with the situation."

As a side note, I can change a regular poopy diaper with one wipe. Wipe, fold, wipe, fold, wipe and it's done. A five alarm poopy diaper requires two wipes using my system. My husband feels that somehow the poop's molecular structure might eat through one wipe and come in contact with his fingers. He requires multiple wipes to deal with any sort of bodily function.

I started laughing. "Three was plenty."

"No, three was not plenty. And here's the last answer: One."

But I was way ahead of him and was nearly doubled over laughing, even as I tried to appear properly contrite. "One diaper. That's all you had. I'm sorry!"

It's hard to seem sorry when you're laughing at someone, but I gave it my best shot.

His glare could've peeled the paint off my van. "One. That's right. One."

And so I've learned another lesson. Take one diaper more than you think you could possibly need. Pack extra wipes if there's the remotest chance your hubby might be the lucky diaper-changer. And keep a straight face while apologizing if you expect to be taken seriously.

Off to double-check the diaper bag and dive into my day!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Oh Nuts Contest!



A few years ago, a representative of the Oh Nuts! company contacted me to see if I'd be willing to review a few of their products. My job basically consisted of eating some YUMMY free stuff and discussing it on my blog. Easiest job I ever had.

Now, they've offered me another opportunity, only this time, YOU might get to try some of their YUMMY stuff for free too!

It's simple! Enter the contest (steps to enter are listed below), and you could win a $25 gift certificate to Oh Nuts! just in time to get yourself or someone on your list a delicious holiday gift! (Here's my fave!)

There are three ways to enter: (You get one entry for each!)

1.  Go to the Oh Nuts Christmas gift baskets page or Hanukkah Gift page and leave a comment here with the name and url of your favorite. 

2. Go to the Oh Nuts facebook page and post on the wall the url and name of your favorite Hanukkah Gift OR Christmas Gift. You should also write "I am here via C.J. Redwine's blog" and come back to tell me you did so.

3. Follow @ohnuts on Twitter and tweet:

Win a free Hanukkah Gift from http://bit.ly/6nIsCi Follow @ohnuts & Retweet to enter.

OR

Win a free Christmas Gift from http://bit.ly/dUpizt Follow @ohnuts & Retweet to enter.

Make sure to tell me you tweeted in the comment trail here!

This contest is open until Thursday, December 9th at 8 a.m. Central Time. I will then use random.org to choose a winner. Good luck!

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