Friday, May 31, 2013

Blogaholics Anonymous - Soccer Tryouts Edition

Crazy time of year around here. School ends, and soccer tryouts happen.

I think every family has to find their thing -- the thing they do to relax and spend time together. For us, it's soccer. Mike coaches. . . the girls and Wenxin play. . . Nathan and I watch their games and sit in the shade reading during practices.

The weather here is beautiful year around, and the fields attract tons of families with kids of all ages. We make friends and hang out together. It's our family's thing.

So here's this week's Blogaholics Anonymous. As you can see, I've been reading up on youth sports.

10 Types of Youth Sports Parents - Cracked us up! Mike and I laughed our heads off this morning as we read this blog by a sports dad. If you've ever had a kid in youth sports, you'll be able to relate.

10 (More) Types of Sports Parents - More of the same!

Should Women Play Sports?  Until recently, I had no idea that there were people who consider it unbiblical for Christian women to train as competitive athletes. I pretty much disagree with everything in this article, but considering my love for listening to all points of view, I thought I'd post it here. I find his choice of photos especially interesting. For the record, I believe a Christian woman can be a strong, competitive athlete and still be godly and feminine. That's where I stand.

Sharing at Ni Hao Ya'll and WFMW.

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Older Child Adoption from the Child's Point of View

"Wenxin, suppose you had a chance to talk with a Chinese boy who was about to be adopted. Suppose you had a translator to help you. What would you tell that boy about adoption? What would you want him to know?"

Quiet. . . He's thinking. . . carefully choosing his words.

Finally, the answer comes -- in a voice from the backseat that sounds innocent and small.

"I would tell him that the new parents might be mean, or they might be nice. There's really no way to know."

And that was that.

It's not exactly what I thought he would say.

Is it just me, or does this blow anyone else away?

Shared at Wild & Precious and at  Emily's blog.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Stitch Fix, I Want to Love You

I really want to love Stitch Fix. I love the concept. I love filling out the style profile. I love making a Pinterest board for inspiration. I love getting the pretty box in the mail, and I love the personal note from the stylist.

It's just that this time, I didn't love any of the clothes. For me, my second Stitch Fix was a total bust. I didn't keep a single thing.

Stitch Fix is an online personal stylist for real people like me. To get started, follow this link where you'll fill out a detailed style profile with your height, weight, and sizes. You'll look at photos and note what you like and what you don't. Filling out the style profile is fun.

Do you use Pinterest? Linking your Stitch Fix account to a Pinterest board  is another way to help your stylist get to know you.

When you are ready, schedule your first Fix. For a twenty dollar styling fee (that can be applied to anything you buy from your Fix), your stylist picks five items especially for you and ships them to your door. You have three days to try them on with other items from your own closet. Then, you simply go online to checkout. Purchase the things you like and send the rest back in the postage paid bag that comes with your Fix. Like it all? You get a whopping 25% discount when you buy all five items. Shipping is free both ways. Easy and fun!

So let's take a look at what came in my second Fix. Here's the item I liked the most from Fix #2. The Munro Tie-Waist Striped Cardigan. My stylist said she chose it because she saw I'd pinned it on Pinterest.

Even though I like this color for Spring/Summer, I would've passed this by in the store because I would've assumed the horizontal stripes would make me look fatter. And I would've been wrong. This was actually slimming, and that tie even made me look like I still have a waist. It also has pretty lace details that set it apart from your run of the mill cardigan.

Trying clothes you'd normally pass on is one of the advantages of Stitch Fix.

One nice little detail from Stitch Fix is that each item comes with a little style card that gives you ideas of how to create an outfit around the item using things from your own closet. 

Like I said, this was my favorite, but it came with a hefty $88 price tag making it the most expensive item I've received from Stitch Fix so far. I didn't love it anywhere near that much, so back it went into the postage paid return bag provided by Stitch Fix.

When I first saw this dress in my box, I was so excited. But. . . when I unfolded it, my dreams were smashed. Smashed, I tell you! I'd specifically asked for a MAXI dress in this Fix. Imagine my heartbreak when I realized the bottom half of my new dress was missing.

It should not have surprised anyone that I did not care for this style. Below is a screen shot of my Stitch Fix style profile. Anything look familiar? Check out my comment. I clearly said, "Don't like it much at all." This little number joined the striped cardigan in the return bag.

*Update 5/25: I checked the Stitch Fix blog today. Clearly, some people can rock this style -- just not me.

via Stitch Fix

Next up, a set of enamel bangles that would look nice with that dress, if I was keeping it. I felt that at $38 for the set, they were too expensive. I also already own nice jewelry -- things Mike has given me on special occasions, things we've picked up on overseas trips, and things that have been passed down through our families. I don't feel the need to buy costume jewelry. I think I should adjust my Stitch Fix profile to say "no accessories." I'd rather get one more piece of clothing.

This next shirt is straight out of the box and a little wrinkled, but to me, this shirt is just plain ugly. I tried it on to see if it looked better on my body than on the hanger. It did not. Into the bag, ugly shirt! (I've read some reviews where bloggers liked this shirt and kept it. So if you own this shirt, forgive me for calling it ugly. That's probably too harsh. It just didn't work for me.)

Finally, the flounder shirt! You know how worried I was when I saw that my stylist had picked a blouse with a flounder print. Flounder. . . as in the fish. It was much cuter -- in person -- than I expected. Now, I might (well, probably not) buy a cute, critter print shirt like this at Target, but I don't see paying $48, which is what this shirt cost. For me, a $50 blouse should be an investment, while this little shirt seems like more of a fad. Also, this was the only item in my Fix that didn't fit well. So this, the final item in my Fix, joined the others in the return bag.

I was disappointed in this Fix for several reasons.

First, I felt that none of my requests were honored. When you schedule a Fix, there's a section for a note to your stylist. I asked for a maxi dress/skirt, a blazer/jacket and flowy summer tops.

As I said earlier, I was the most disappointed about the dress. Not only was it not a maxi, it looked exactly like a dress I said I didn't like on my profile.

I  think the striped cardigan was my stylist's answer to the blazer/jacket request. In all fairness, I may have said blazer/jacket/cardigan in the note. I honestly can't remember. And this piece was in a photo I had pinned, so it makes total sense that she would choose it. Be careful what you pin!

Neither of the shirts in this Fix were what I had in mind when I said flowy summer tops. Not even close.
From My Pinterest
Then, there was the issue of color and style. I listed the colors I love on my profile and on my Pinterest board. And I pinned lots of examples of my style. This Fix was a total miss in both areas. There was altogether too much orange/navy (not a color scheme I love) and too many stripes. Overall, this Fix just didn't look like me.

I was so disappointed that I wrote a private message to Stitch Fix via their Facebook page.

And that's when things turned around.

The same day, I got a detailed personal message from a customer service rep at Stitch Fix. She explained that as a new company, they have limited inventory and can't always fill every personal request. She listened to my concerns. I give Stitch Fix an A+ for customer service.

And there are other things I really love about Stitch Fix. I love that they only send you a Fix when you request it. There's no contract or automatic monthly shipments (unless you request a Fix on a monthly basis). I love that you can choose a price range. My least expensive items have been around $38. I love the free shipping and the super easy returns.  And I love that I can try new styles without going to the mall.

Stitch Fix, I want to love you. *Let's give it one more try.

*And try again we did. Stitch Fix #3 was much better. Fix #4 was better still.

I was not paid by Stitch Fix for this review, and this review represents my honest opinion. I receive $25 referral credit whenever someone new signs up for Stitch Fix using my personal referral links in this post. Want to give Stitch Fix a try? Click here to get started

Because Stitch Fix is still in Beta, there's a short waiting list. Go ahead and sign up. Fill out your free Style Profile -- that's the fun part -- and get on the waiting list. Stitch Fix will let you know when you can schedule your first Fix.

Ni Hao Yall
works for me wednesday at we are that family

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Working My Mom Style!

One can only talk about serious adoption issues for so long. . . so today, let's take a break and discuss Mom style! Because I, for one, am committed to fighting frumpiness at every stage of the game.

via Putting Me Together
Realistic style. I love it when I find a fashion blog that works for me at my stage of life. Side note: I don't really know what to call my stage of life. Am I looking for mom style or over-fifty style? Yes. Both. Oh, and don't forget frugal style. My style needs are many!

Recently, I started following a blog called Putting Me Together by the adorable Audrey, pictured above. Audrey's blog features lots of affordable casual / dressy-casual looks that are perfect for busy moms. Nothing too fussy or complicated. I love how in the photo above she takes jeans and a plain tee, my normal everyday uniform, and just by throwing on a scarf and a jacket, creates a polished casual outfit that has style.

10-year-old Julia made an observation after looking at Audrey's blog with me. 

"It's not just the accessories that make the difference, Mom. She's also changing how she stands."

So with that thought in mind, Julia and I made a guide to styling with body language. I guess confidence makes a difference at any age.

We had fun doing this. Thanks for humoring us.

I'm still enjoying Pinterest as a tool to help me define my personal style. Thinking about what I really like in clothing and what works for me at this stage of life helps me avoid impulse purchases that are all wrong. Because remember, I don't need a lot of clothes, I just need the right clothes.

In closing, guess what's being delivered to my door this Thursday? Stitch Fix #2. With a little referral credit and some birthday money burning a hole in my pocket, I ordered another Fix. I'm going to photograph it all for you this time, so you can get an idea of what the Stitch Fix experience is really like.

I've already peeked in my account to see what they shipped to me this time, and I'm a little concerned. Three of the five pieces have stripes. I did say, about a million times, that my biggest priority in the fix was that it be slimming. So I'm not sure what's up with all the stripes. The other thing that concerns me is that they are sending me a blouse that has a flounder print -- as in THE FISH! I just cannot imagine any universe in which I'd feel pretty in a shirt covered in flounder. What's up Stitch Fix?!! Am I so out of it, that I'm the only one who doesn't know that flounder shirts are all the rage?

Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. Or maybe we'll all get a good laugh when I post my Stitch Fix review next week. Or maybe, I should buy the flounder shirt just for fun and give it away on this blog! You never know. . . it could be yours!

So what are your best Mom style tips? (Totally open to over-fifty tips, as well.) Are there any style blogs I should check out? Would love to hear from you!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Respectful Conversation about Adoption

Courtesy of Bangert & Dahlquist

Adoption assumptions and adoption myths can kill respectful conversation, and often, they're just plain hurtful.

Don't assume. Ask sincerely. Have respect. 

That's pretty good advice for discussing just about anything, but it's especially true for a topic as emotionally loaded as adoption.

Have you ever felt misunderstood or hurt by someone's assumptions about your adoption? Would love to hear from adopted adults, first moms, and adoptive parents on this one.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hot, Tired, Happy . . . Blogaholics Anonymous

It's been a hot one today - A day for sunscreen and a cooler full of Gatorade! Both Katherine and Wenxin played in soccer finals, and both teams brought home second place trophies. We are hot, tired, and happy.

Remember, I'm a blog addict, an information junkie. I read decorating blogs, home organization blogs, adoption blogs, political blogs -- anything that makes me learn or think or laugh or grow. Here are a few posts I've enjoyed lately.

Examining Adoption Ethics: Part One - Jen Hatmaker isn't one to dodge hard topics. Here, speaking as an adoptive parent, she tackles the issue of corruption in international adoption. A must read.

12 Things Your Daughter Needs You to Say - If you are raising daughters in a Christian home, you want to listen to what Emily Freeman has to say. She's becoming one of my go-to authors for insight on parenting my preteen girls.

The Lost Daughters Discuss The Child Catchers by Kathryn Joyce - Part One of a Series - If you've been around here long, you know that I value listening to adult adoptees. Here, a group of adult adoptees discusses the Christian adoption / orphan care movement. What makes this discussion especially lively is that one of the adult adoptees is a Christian pastor.

The Lost Daughters Discuss The Child Catchers by Kathryn Joyce - Part Two of a Series -  Here, the same group discusses domestic adoption ethics.

We've Got Spirit! Check out my blue nails!

Ni Hao Yall

Friday, May 3, 2013

Make Adoption Better: Build the Nest!

A couple of my recent posts have been about problems in the adoption world. Well, during the month of May, you can help make adoption better by shopping with a purpose. A bunch of online sellers have come together to support the work of The Sparrow Fund, and I've already started browsing.

Here are a few of my favorite finds so far. 

The cute note cards pictured above would make a great gift for a family preparing for a China adoption!

Whimsical art. Perfect for a child's room or a gallery wall.

These prints were designed by a foster mom to remind herself to be thankful for each day with her foster child. I could see these framed in a kitchen or a breakfast room.

The Sparrow Fund gives grants to families, not to pay for their adoptions, but to help them get the support they need to be successful as adoptive parents. For example, The Sparrow Fund gives grants to families for professional medical reviews of their child's referral information by international adoption specialists. These specialists can help families prepare for the realities of parenting the children they are considering adopting.

You can read more about The Sparrow Fund and the important work they do, here.

To join in the fun, just click the Building the Nest logo below to see all the participating shops. Each business featured is giving 10% of their total sales in the month of May to build the nest at The Sparrow Fund. Let's get shopping, ladies, and to quote one of The Sparrow Fund founders, "Let's make that 10% crazy big!"

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Blogaholics Anonymous

I'm a blog addict, an information junkie. I read decorating blogs, home organization blogs, adoption blogs, political blogs -- anything that makes me learn or think or laugh or grow.  This blog addiction serves me well as I learn to parent my child from the hard places. Most weeks I share my favorites with you here at Death by Great Wall, although this time, I think it's been a while. 

The Heart of Boston - A Christian perspective on the immigrants among us in light of Boston.

Significant Loss and Trauma Related to Adoption: Interview with Bonnie Martin, MEd, CACS, LCPC - a therapist discusses adoption related issues.

The disappearance of childhood and what we can do to get it back - I love this one! A great reminder to give a children the gift of childhood.

Parents: A Word about Instagram - Wisdom about social media and preteens.

what I want you to know about being a birthmom and backing out of the adoption plan - When a birthmom changes her mind, we usually hear about it from the perspective of the heartbroken would-be adoptive parents. This courageous mom shares her side of the story. If you have time, read the comments.

And finally, did you see my last two posts on Orphan Fever? If you missed them, be sure to check out Orphan Fever: Are Christians Naive? and Orphan Fever: Deception and Misunderstanding. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Orphan Fever: Deception and Misunderstanding

Wenxin's Arrival in America Back in 2010

Christians, orphans and international adoption. My post over the weekend about the evangelical orphan care movement generated some good discussion in the comments section.

Kathryn Joyce, author of the Mother Jones article, Orphan Fever: The Evangelical Movement's Adoption Obsession, recently did a radio interview for NPR. The radio interview is actually much kinder to evangelical Christians than the article in Mother Jones.

Ms. Joyce uses examples from Guatemala and Ethiopia to illustrate the deception and misunderstanding that can occur in international adoption, although these are not, by any means, the only countries where problems have been reported.

Most parents who want to give an orphaned child a home would be horrified to discover that their newly adopted child was not abandoned or orphaned, as they'd been told, but had actually been recruited by a child finder. 

Most parents would be shocked to find that their adopted 10-year-old was, in reality, a 14-year-old whose date of birth had been altered to make her more adoptable.

And after sacrificing and spending tens of thousands of dollars to give a child a forever family, who wouldn't be heart-broken to realize that their new child had living relatives in their home country and viewed this not as a permanent arrangement, but as a great opportunity to get an education in America?

Deception and misunderstanding. Although it's not talked about very often, it happens. Well meaning adoptive parents and needy children sometimes fall victim to greed, corruption, and the law of supply and demand in the adoption industry. Cultural misunderstandings abound. Many adoptive parents find out after the fact that the information in their referral paperwork isn't 100% accurate.

By way of contrast, Ms. Jones highlights the country of Rwanda as an example of adoption and orphan care done right. She even gives a shout out to Saddleback Church for their initiatives in Rwanda noting that for Saddleback, orphan care is broader than just international adoption. You can read the entire transcript of the interview here.

I'd love to know what you think. What can prospective adoptive parents do to guard against being deceived in an international adoption? What concerns do you have about international adoption as it stands today?

I have a few thoughts on this issue myself, but I think I'll stop for now and give you a chance to say what's on your mind.

Ni Hao Yall