Monday, April 28, 2014

Donations needed for "Birthday Bags"

One of the benefits of social media is seeing all of the cool charity projects people are doing all over the country. I recently heard of "birthday bags" and reached out to Combined Community Services in Warsaw, IN.

It turns out, they often get requests for party supplies, cake mix, etc, so I'm working hard to ensure that they have plenty of these things! I would love to have others help me create these bags. Please feel a bag with any of the suggested items below. (If you'd like to make these thematic, feel free!) Please tag your bag letting us know if the party bag is more for a boy, girl, or if it is gender neutral.

I'd like to drop these off on Monday, May 12th, so please contact me if you're interested!

Suggested Items for Birthday Bags: Cake Mix, Icing, Candles, Paper Plates, Paper or plastic cups, Disposable cutlery, Party Favors,Party Hats, Party decorations, Balloons, Wrapping paper, and small toys.

Thanks in advance for your participation. If you're not local and still would like to participate in some way, consider creating birthday bags to donate to food pantries and other community resources near you!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Best Adoption Books


“Meeting your adoptive baby is like being set up on a blind date with someone you will have to spend the next eighteen years with. You care about looks, because you desperately want to fall in love with the stranger who will be your child.” ~Jana Wolff

My husband and I are in the "waiting" stage of the adoption process. When we understood that we would be building our family through adoption, I went through the crazy "read all the books" phase. There are a lot of books available on the subject, but what I found was that most of them were "how to" books. Many were outdated, and some didn't pertain to my state or my agency. The problem with those books was that none of them dealt with my feelings, concerns, or even giving me hope.

One of my favorite books is Instant Mom by screenwriter, director, producer, and actress, Nia Vardalos. This book was realistic, but funny. There is a lot of sadness and grief in the adoption process and this highlights that there is also humor, hope, and a light at the end of the tunnel. This book further goes into Vardalos' struggles when bringing home her daughter, but illustrates that it takes a village to go through the adoption process. Read my review of this awesome book here.

Two eye opening books are Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother by Jana Wolff and The Eye of Adoption: The True Story of my Turbulent Wait for a Baby by Jody Cantrell Dyer.

Wolff's book is incredibly honest and deals with not only transracial adoption, but relationships between adoptive parents and birth mothers. My favorite chapter is "Expecting Without Pregnancy," which best describes some of the feelings I've struggled with. Adoptive parents know they are eventually going to get a baby and may still have the desire to "nest," but it becomes a bit more difficult when there is no official due date, the possibility that birth parents may opt to parent their baby, and when you're around people who are prepping for their own babies. This is a short and highly effective read that I even suggested to family members who were unsure what we were going through.

Jody Cantrell Dyer utilizes old emails and her adoption journal (which is a great thing to have!) to chronicle her own journey to adopt her son. From the moment she realizes adoption is the only choice to add to her family, to the very end, this is a great read for anyone going through this process. Filled with uplifting quotes while discussing her own feelings with grief, this was a book that I have referenced daily as any feeling I have during this journey is explained. Refer especially to the chapter "The Question," which has helped me in explaining the adoption process to friends and family!

The Mothers by Jennifer Gilmore is the first fiction book that I've identified with which adequately captures the adoption process, the strain it can cause on other relationships, and the home study/paperwork process. This is a great book to pass on to family and friends who may not understand the process and aren't interested in non fiction.

If you are adopting or know someone who is or has, I highly suggest you pick up one of these books!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Helping Out for the Holidays

The holiday season is barreling towards us.

If you're like me, you get excited about time with family, good food, and presents. Sure, it can be stressful, but overall, it's a fun time of year.

Sometimes, we forget that for people that have less, this isn't a fun time of year.

I've been encouraging my students to think outside of themselves and realize the value of helping others, so I've helped them organize a healthy food drive for a local food kitchen. It has been fun for me to share my love of helping others by teaching them valuable research skills.

I've gone a step further when I realized how many local teens and adults don't have warm weather wear and am collecting hand knit and crocheted hats, scarves and mittens to gift to the community this holiday season.

I encourage all of you to think outside of yourselves this holiday season and to encourage your family to do so as well. There are so many organizations that need your help.

It's a great time to reflect on what you're grateful for and to help others have a holiday they too can be thankful for.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ignorance is Bliss: The plight of the adjunct

The death of Margaret Vojtko, who died penniless after 25 years of being an adjunct opened up a lot of debate, and left a lot of people stunned.

I know a lot about adjunct teaching as I, myself, am an adjunct professor.

A lot of people assume that because I am a "professor," I must make a pretty hefty income.

That is not the case.

When I was working full time for another company, I was an adjunct on the side, something which was  once typical in the "adjunct world". Now that I'm going back to school to obtain a PhD, I'm only an adjunct.

However, unbeknownst to many, there are a lot of folks with Master's Degrees who aren't actually able to do much else if they are in a community that assumes they are "overqualified" for other positions.

The sad part is how ignorant others are about adjuncts.

"It can't be that hard, right?" is something I hear. A lot.

It's not hard doing something you love, or getting to talk about a subject you enjoy every day. The tough part? Administrative work, grading, lesson planning, making sure students are understanding what you put out there and if they don't, finding a way to make it sink in, office hours, etc.

Though some states pay more, the average for an adjunct is about $2,000 per course. Someone who is available to teach during the day may have more opportunity to teach more courses, but like with other positions in academia, people that have been there longer, most likely get to choose their courses first.

The other issue? Adjuncts aren't as respected as full time professors, despite the fact that some of them have us much education and experience.

This is shocking because, according to diverseeducation.com, adjunct professors make up about half of the faculty in colleges across the country.

Will anything be done about this? Maybe not right away, but hopefully as more people begin to learn about this issue, we will see changes. But, until higher education institutions can work with budgets, and work around other issues like attrition rates of students and other issues that plaque colleges, this is something that will likely take a back burner.

Like all educators, we aren't in it for the money. However, we do work hard for others and because of that, deserve a little respect.


Monday, October 28, 2013

What YOU can do to Celebrate National Adoption Month

November is known for a lot of things.

"No Shave November," the last days of Fall, and gathering around a table to give thanks with family and friends.

In the United States, about a million families are thankful for their adopted children.*

If you didn't know, November is also National Adoption Month and a time to spread awareness about adoption in the United States.

After trying to get pregnant by using fertility drugs, Co-Founders of Helpusadopt.org, Becky and Kipp Fawcett turned to adoption.

If you don't know, adoption can be quite costly. Depending on the path families choose, (international, domestic, agency, private) an adoption can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 dollars.

If a couple finds out they can't conceive, they probably are already emotionally distraught, and may have already spent quite a bit of money trying to get pregnant. Sometimes, the cost of adoption seems out of a couple's reach.

Here's where Becky and Kipp come in! Helpusadopt.org awards grants of up to $15,000 to help with the costs associated with adoption.

Instead of grabbing your coffee and lunch out, consider brown bagging it just one day (or more!) in November and donating to this worthy cause! (Or, consider purchasing some of their gorgeous jewelry which not only helps out, but also considers to spread awareness!)

And of course, if you ever have questions about adoption, I'm always up to explaining our own journey!



*http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/FactOverview.html




Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My Erin Condren Obsession


I'm a busy girl.

I'm an adjunct professor, a Phd student, and I dabble in fiber arts, both helping out at a local yarn shop and selling my own handmade items on Etsy.

I'm also a wife, a frequent traveler, an advocate, a volunteer, and I also take pride in staying in touch with my friends and family, no matter what part of the world they are in.

I heard about Erin Condren randomly a few years ago when I saw a woman's life planner on her desk during a work meeting.

I'm OBSESSED with staying organized and staying in touch.

I know that technology is all the rage and having your calendar in the palm of your hand is ideal to some folks, but I remember more if I write things down, highlight, make lists, and process what I need to do. With so much on my plate, it's easy to be overwhelmed, but the Life Planner makes it easy for me to plan my day, my week, and my month. I can also have just one planner for all walks of life whether it by my professional, academic, or personal endeavors.

Though Erin Condren hooked me with her saavy organizational tools, I'm now a loyal consumer due to her high quality product. I love the stationary to keep in touch, which I do a lot. I know how happy I am when I receive a letter or a card in the mail, so I like to do that for others. And, we all know, there's nothing more important than a handwritten thank you card. (If you need a gift idea for me, I'm totally out of flat notecards!)

I also am a huge fan of the Holiday Cards, which are unique, fun, and a great way to spread holiday cheer. (Yep, thanks to my organization skills, I've already ordered mine for the year--and saved 50%!)

A lot of you have asked, and now you know...ErinCondren=aweseome.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

No Regrets...

I haven't blogged in awhile.

If you know me personally, you know I've been crazy busy.

If you also know me personally, you know that my husband and I started the "official" adoption process last Spring. I had been hesitant to talk about it "publicly" before because it was so emotional, personal, and because I had come across a lot of people who didn't get what we were going through and I didn't need their negative attention.

However, I've recently had a lot of friends reach out to me and they're in the same boat and I want to be able to support them the way that other folks adopting have supported me!

As many of you, part of the adoption process is filling out a lot of paperwork. A. LOT. of paperwork. Call me weird, but I love writing and filling out forms, so it wasn't nearly as awful as I was prepared for. Until I came to the question, "What is your biggest regret?"

I am a person that has done everything in my life I wanted to do with the purpose of not having regrets. I moved to New York City when I was 22 because I had always wanted to live there. I taught in an urban high school because believe it or not, that was my dream. I have traveled to places I have always dreamed of seeing. I got married on the beach because that seemed fun and we had never been to a beach wedding. But, unfortunately, this Spring, I did have a regret: I had not gone to school to get a PhD like I had planned.

Again, if you know me, you know that I am a bit goofy, nerdy, and though I know a lot about some things, in other areas, like math, I'm big idiot. I was never encouraged academically by teachers in high school and though I did very well in college and graduate school, that stigma of not being "smart enough" has always stuck with me.

Yet, when I filled in the words "My biggest regret is not getting my Phd," I knew that starting the journey of being a parent with a regret hanging over my head was no way to do things.

So, even though I thought I wouldn't get in, with the support of my husband, family, and close friends, I applied to a program April and after a few months and a few interviews, I found out that I was accepted.

There have been those naysayers who believe that going to school is the biggest mistake I could make because it will take away from my child.

I am doing this because of my future child.

I will be the best person I can be...a person with fewer regrets.