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Monthly Archives

August 2014

Adoption

Houston, We Have A Baby!

August 13, 2014

Jonathan here with a quick update on the adoption front. For those of you hungry for the details, check out Amanda’s post.

We posted about our plan to adopt about a month and a half ago. It’s been a wild ride since then. A lot has happened, but the most exciting news is that Baby Teixeira has been found and is due…

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Now is when we need your help the most.

We need to raise the money to pay the adoption fees for our agency and the agency in California where Baby Tex is, as well as all the other related fees and costs.

yournameherepieceWe won’t know the final total until it’s all over, but we need at least $13,000 to move through the home study process and on to the next step. The agencies told us this $13,000 is due ASAP. It’s our goal to raise it by Friday, August 22 – The Feast of the Queenship of Mary.

Here’s where you come in.

We’re fundraising through PayPal by “selling” pieces to a puzzle we’ll hang in the baby’s room, and your name will be on the back of the pieces you buy, showing Baby Tex how much they’re loved. (More details on the puzzle here)

Please consider donating.

Please share this post.

Please let everyone you know who might be interested know about this.

Thank you for your support.

Adoption

The Best Secret We’ve Ever Had

August 13, 2014

Howdy friends!

Remember that thing called adoption we are pursuing?

Yup, that thing.

We’ve have an update for y’all since we officially announced we were moving towards adoption back in late June.

This update would have come much sooner had we not been moving, traveling, training a puppy, hosting out of town guests, and attempting to find lost puzzle pieces. Whoops!! 🙂

So, what’s the secret we’ve been keeping?

Pull up a seat and lend me your eyes.

Back in June we announced that after years of battling infertility, we were going down the path towards adoption to grow our family. The outpouring of kindness and enthusiasm from others simply overwhelmed us!

People started sharing the news in hopes of helping us find a birth mother. We were getting messages of support from dozens of people we didn’t even know.

Our blog had 10,000 views in one day alone due to you all sharing the news.

Within 48 hours we had four possible women to talk to about adoption for their baby. That’s like a MILLION considering there were zero to start with.

But, what do you know?

Three of those women never responded or got back to me after initially making contact.

However…

One woman did.

The connection was my faaabulous sister-in-law, Mrs. Cynthia Teixeira. She was in a pregnancy related Facebook group and happened to post our adoption plans asking for help from any women part of the group.

Well, what do you know? One woman in the group had been thinking about adoption for her current pregnancy…and there our blog was staring back at her on Facebook.

Can you say… Divine Providence?

My sister-in-law got us chatting via Facebook and we eventually set up a phone call for a few days later.

This is how we felt emotionally leading up to the call:

We were scared, nervous, and anxious since we had never done this before. I mean, how do you even prepare for a conversation like this? You can’t. So we said a prayer and dialed the phone, hoping we would be our real selves and not awkward versions of ourselves.

Within seconds we knew our qualms were for no good reason at all.

She was one of the sweetest people we have ever spoken to. Jonathan and I talked with her for a little over an hour and the conversation went really well, despite there being some nervous energy on both ends. 🙂

We said our goodbyes and that we would get a hold of our agency to ask a few questions about how to possibly move forward.

A few days later, our agency told us they couldn’t help this woman since she was out of state. We would have to call another agency in her state to work locally with her. I got on the phone for hours trying to find a good, reputable agency that would take superb care of this sweet woman and her family as they discern adoption.

I finally got a good one and put them in touch with her.

Whew.

To my great surprise, we got a Facebook message back saying not only was she now in touch with the local agency but that WE WERE THE FAMILY THEY WANTED TO CHOOSE!!!!!

After I picked myself up off the floor and scraped Jonathan down from the ceiling, we looked at one another in complete and utter shock.

Was this REALLY happening?

Yes. It. Was.

WAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

Over the past month, we’ve stayed in touch with this wonderful family as the adoption plans continue falling into place.

I’ve felt every emotion a human could possibly feel in the past month but the most prevailing feeling is one of wonder and awe.

I simply can’t believe this is happening after nothing happening for so very long.

We plan to share more details of how we’ve spent the past month preparing to adopt but wanted to at least share this VERY big secret sooner than later!

I see you looking awfully curious….

You must be wondering when the baby is due?

dandy.jpg

Thanksgiving dinner is going to taste better than ever this year 🙂

Annnnnd let’s be honest, I’ve sort of been judging my years of childlessness by how many Hunger Games movies have released so I have a feeling Mockingjay will be my favorite. (sorta joking)

We are very excited and want to share our joy with everyone who has supported us and given us encouragement along this journey.

We also wanted to update you all since WE NEED YOUR HELP  to bring home Baby Teixeira:

The Adoption Puzzle Fundraiser

We announced the puzzle fundraiser back in June as well but definitely let it take a back seat, since finding a baby to fundraise for was a bigger goal.

Obvi.

Now that we are matched and there is an adoption date in site, we are turning our gaze towards the fundraiser.

We can’t move forward past the Home Study process without having nearly $6,000 for our agency AND $7,000 for the agency in the birth family’s state. Yup, there will be more expenses later but we need to get more than half the puzzle sold soon so we can move forward and become officially approved for this placement ASAP.

Below is an updated image of what’s been sold to date:

DSC04050

Pieces Sold: 146

Money Raised: $3,650

yournameherepiecePlease consider joining our family in bringing home this baby and forever being part of their story in a unique way. This is a story God is directing and we’d love to have you be part of it.

Please share the puzzle fundraiser with friends, family, neighbors, and anyone you think would be interested in participating!

Thank you all so much for the generosity you’ve shown to us and for your enthusiasm for our growing family! We literally can’t do this without you!

Catholicism, Uncategorized

Little Happies: A Friend Entered Religious Life

August 11, 2014

Welcome to the twenty-third edition of the Little Happies link-up here at True Good and Beautiful.

Here is what’s been going on in our world.

{one}

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Brother Pio Mary!!!!!

Our dear friend Jeff entered the Dominicans a couple weeks back and just this past week he received his habit and religious name.

We are so happy for him! 🙂

{two}

www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy9nwe9_xzw

This song came out over a year ago and I’ve loved it since the first time I heard it.

Why it’s on the Little Happies list this week is because we sang it at Mass on Sunday. Between the Gospel reading (about Peter walking on water/doubting/Jesus saving him) and this song…my soul was resting in total peace. Thankfully that is more common these days. I won’t say my darkest days of infertility are gone forever but I think a majority of them are behind me and for that I am so grateful.

God’s is truly changing me through this. I cried during these lyrics of the song, since I know that through infertility God is answering this prayer of my heart:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

{three}

photo 1

I was afraid this would end up going down in history as a Pintrest-fail…and my first attempt was.

But then I found a great tutorial on YouTube on how to make burlap bows and everything was made right in the world.

{four}

photo 2

Can’t be a Little Happies without Wrigley making an appearance!

I really don’t know how he gets into half the sleeping positions he does.

He’s such a good pup and we just started Puppy Kindergarten Class for some basic training and socialization.  Seeing fifteen puppies all meeting one another in a class setting had to be the most adorable thing I saw all week.

{five}

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We saw Guardians of The Galaxy and it was awesome.

Best character ever?

Groot.

We saw it at an AMC in town that only has lounging recliner seats (awesome!) and brought along sushi and candy to complete our “dinner and a movie” night out.

I totally recommend the movie. And sushi. And candy. 🙂

That’s a wrap for this week. Catch ya later!

Infertility, Marriage

What Do Singleness and Infertility Have in Common?

August 6, 2014

I’ve had this conversation far more often than I would have liked to in the past few years but it’s a conversation that should be shared.

I think it should be shared so that women who can relate to one of these struggles feel validated. I also think it should be shared so that women who can’t relate to one of these struggles don’t forget that these are real struggles

I’ve found that when I am sharing about infertility or a friend is sharing about singleness, we end up being able to relate with identical emotions despite our circumstances being different.

Here in this post I want to explore why it is that us infertile and single gals are carrying very similar crosses.

1. Hope deferred

hope deferred

Proverbs 13:12 says:

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a wish fulfilled is a tree of life.”

While a woman is single or infertile, there are seasons where it feels like this “deferred hope” is the only constant in their life. That it defines everything. That  life is on hold while this hope of something more is seemingly “put off” by God.

This proverb says that when hopes are deferred, the heart is made sick. That is the overall emotion that can consume the interior of a woman waiting for a desire to be fulfilled. And the desire to find ones vocation or to be married and bearing children are particularly deep desires.

See that other half of the verse?

“A wish fulfilled is a tree of life.”

It’s tempting to look at other women who have found their vocations/had children and feel like they are eating from a tree of life while we wait in the distance…sick to the very core of our beings with nothing but a hope for what they have.

All the while these women, often unaware of the blessings they do have, flaunt their “tree of life” all over Facebook/Instagram making social media a source of pain. Or worse…they complain openly to those of us with deferred hopes instead of to those in similar situations.

2. Guarded Hearts

Heart

Let’s go back to the book of Proverbs.

“With all vigilance guard your heart, for in it are the sources of life.”

This verse applies to all of us, no matter what state of life we find ourselves in. However, in a particular way, it can feel like the mantra of a single or infertile woman.

It feels like we are constantly fighting to guard our hearts against what is not yet reality.

All those fun things women talk/read about – wedding board on Pinterest, mommy blogs, baby showers, summer date ideas on Huffpost, nursery themes, honeymoon ideas, etc. are off-limits for us while we are actively “guarding our hearts.” To engage in these conversations or activities would inevitably be a source of extreme pain for us since we are not free and available to act upon these interests.

3. Feeling Alone

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There wasn’t a Proverb for this one…but it reminds me of a certain Celine Dion chorus:

“All by myself…don’t wanna be….all by myself, anymore.”

Despite the knowledge that there are in fact several other women in very similar situations as us (single or infertile) there are moments on the journey where we feel completely and utterly alone.

We feel like we don’t “fit” anywhere. Our friends get married one by one…then start having kids ten seconds later and the relationship just changes. Since we don’t fit into the married with kids crowd, its easy to feel like we are on the outside.

4. Distrust

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I have yet to hear a woman say that she LOVES her infertility or singleness off the bat. If she is in a place of loving it, that often took years of abandoning to God’s grace. That’s a great place.

But long before ever reaching that state of peace and acceptance is usually a season of intense distrust in God’s will.

These thoughts creep in:

“Doesn’t God KNOW my desires? And that by willfully delaying them is causing my heart to be SICK?!?!? Why does everything I want seem to constantly be at odds with what God wants…while it looks like other people’s desires line up perfectly with God’s will. Could God actually be good since he’s allowing this much pain and suffering in my life?”

Insert distrust.

Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his Creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God’s command. This is what man’s first sin consisted of. All subsequent sin would be disobedience toward God and lack of trust in his goodness.” CCC 397

This is a dangerous place to be on the journey of singleness/infertility. It can breed further separation from God…since why would we keep following and loving a God who we lack trust in?

Battling through this emotion is one of the most arduous but crossing over to the “other side” is a huge milestone. Coming to a place of abandonment and surrender to God’s will and choosing to trust it, despite our ability to understand it, is where massive amounts of spiritual growth are found while facing singleness/infertility.

5. Hope/Despair Cycle

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Oh the old hope/despair cycle.

As a single woman it typically manifests itself with a potential love interest. The hope begins to creep in and grow….only to die when things fizzle out and it’s back to ground zero AKA despair. Then a little time passes and a new interest enters the picture…hope springs forth all over again.

As an infertile woman this cycle typically occurs more frequently. During the first two weeks of a woman’s cycle, hope enters in. This could be “the” cycle!!! The last two weeks are ones of anguish, battling hope and despair…hoping against hope that this is “the” cycle. Then that one day that friggin period arrives is like a death AKA despair. Then a couple days later, right back to hoping.

6. Waiting and waiting and waiting some more

patience

This about sums up how well waiting goes when you are single/infertile.

During a season of singleness or infertility, it seems like waiting is all you do. Always waiting to meet someone, go on a date, get engaged, etc. Or always waiting to take a pregnancy test, try a new treatment, adopt, etc.

There is a temptation to feel like “life” is passing by while we are simply stuck waiting for “life” to begin. The scary part of waiting is actually starting to live one’s life while still waiting. That takes courage, vulnerability, and perseverance. God can make one’s life very fruitful in these circumstances…though often not the fruitful ways we had imagined or wanted.

Waiting, waiting, and waiting again is what it feels like we do best as single/infertile ladies. We watch friends enter vocations (either marriage or religious life) and they start taking vows or having children straight away…like life is rapidly happening to them and they don’t have to wait around for anything. If anything, they are probably praying for God to slow down on them a bit since life is a whirlwind. In our eyes? It’s a fabulous whirlwind we’d give anything to get swept into.

That’s all the similarities I’ve got here today, friends. If you can think of more, please share below in the comments section! I would love to hear from you!

One last note – to all you ladies who do NOT battle with singleness and infertility:

I know that you experience suffering and hardship. I know that you have a lot to offer up. I know that you likely still feel the above emotions. In no way am I sitting here is disillusionment that your life is perfect, as tempting that may be to believe. This is simply a post from the angle of singleness/infertility and how it can feel on the journey. God-willing, one day, I will be able to write a blog post about how hard being a mommy is but that’s just not the reality so that is why I am not writing about that today. Please don’t take offense to this post.

However – I would like to hear about how you relate to the above emotions, if ever at all…as it’s always good to hear about how just because circumstances change, struggles don’t.

Infertility

Little Happies: BABY REGISTRY!!

August 4, 2014

Hello!

Welcome back to the littlest happy link-up on the planet! 🙂

Here are some of the happy things going on in our neck of the woods:

{one}

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We had a bottle of whipped cream in our fridge I had completely forgotten about!

Well last week I re-discovered it as I was pouring my morning cup o joe and had a moment of inspiration. Yes, it was delicious.

Double little happy since that is the mug I hand-painted with Jonathan for a Valentine’s Day date three years ago.

{two}

ustheduo.jpgHave you heard about Us The Duo yet???

They are a talented married couple who make and sing music together.

I am hooked for good and have been listening to them non-stop since the concert.

{three}

Capture

The most surreal part of our week…we started a Baby Registry! (Amazon, Babies R US, and Pottery Barn)

For most of you out there, that truly would be a Little Happy since it’s a relatively small task on the journey to parenthood.

If I am being honest though? It was a HUGE HAPPY!

I’ve guarded my heart something fierce through infertility – meaning that I have NEVER done/thought of/looked at anything relating to Baby Registries.

Doing this simple act with Jonathan was like a breath of fresh air. It was like the shackles of infertility that have held us stagnant for so long began to fall away. It felt like there is a baby out there for our family and we are looking at items for them. We had so much joy doing the registering because it meant that the next time we see these items, it means that Baby Teixeira is coming home too.

{four}

sale

I got invited to this by a friend of mine. She thought I might want to join her in attending this sale and even said that expecting moms can come arrive at 8 am for a pre-sale.

Then I cried a little happy tear.

For so long I have been afraid of moms.

I fear they won’t accept me or treat me like a “real” mom since I can’t talk about pregnancy, labor, cracked nipples, or the return of my cycle post pregnancy…as if those things are what make a mom or something.

I am sure some women will simply treat me as lesser and I am prepared for that.

But not this friend of mine. She treats me like I am expecting like any other momma out there. No, I don’t have all the details but that’s alright. She asks about the adoption regularly, like anyone would ask about how a pregnancy is going. She’s made me feel like a mother-to-be and I simply can’t express my gratitude for that.

That’s a Little Happy Wrap! Have a great week!

Money

How To Furnish A Home For One-Fifth The Cost

August 1, 2014

Folks, here it is.

The post many of you have wondered, prayed, and dreamed for.

Today I will share with you our thrifty tricks on how we managed to furnish our first home for one-fifth of the cost!

All the Dave Ramsey “nerds” out there are waiting on pins and needles…I saw you salivating as you read the word thrifty 🙂

I want to address a couple misconceptions first:

  1. Second hand does NOT always equal to dirty, nasty, or ugly. I hear people say things like, “Well we just haaaad to buy a brand new couch, since you know, all those used ones have lice or something.” That’s bologne. You can find some of THE BEST deals on lightly used items that are cute, trendy, clean, and easy on the wallet.
  2. Buying things used is NOT simply for “poor people”. Plenty of poor people only buy new things and plenty of billionaires buy things used. Buying things used and in good condition is SMART because you can take the savings and spend or invest it elsewhere.
  3. Buying and selling things used doesn’t take that much time. Yup, there is a learning curve to learning the art of wheeling and dealing but once you have a few transactions you will be amazed at how easy it can be.
  4. Buying things new is NOT a bad thing. I don’t want anyone to think I refuse to buy new things or am morally opposed to it. I definitely buy some things new, particularly if I can’t find a used item that is similar to what I was looking and hoping for. I simply prefer to minimize expenses on “stuff” so we can give, save, and spend doing things that have more value to us, such as experiences and adventures…oh and that thing called adoption 🙂

So, now that we have that covered, shall we dive right into the deets?

First let’s take a peek at our SOLD list and then we will tell you how we did it. I am a firm believer in turning unused items into cash so you can buy items you want/need. Look what we found laying around the house being unused:

BR Dress $76.00
Lucky Peach $99.99
Nike Shoes $36.49
Charm Bracelet $24.99
Women’s Clothing $17.25
Men’s Clothing $15.99
Pasta Machine $20.00
Leather Couch $50.00
Pub Table $150.00
books on amazon $46.97
Sage Couch $50.00
Vera Bradley Bag $52.99
Swimsuit $9.19
Kenneth Cole Bag $29.99
Skin Care Products $124.99
down comforter $25.00
Coach Bag $19.99
Sperry’s $24.99
green swimsuit top $19.99
Grey puffy vest $9.99
Gym Bag $34.99
Lunch Sack $15.99

Total: $955.78

Boo-ya!

Where did we sell these items???

ebay

Ahhh, my friend ebay.

For more than half of the items we sold, we used ebay since it has a wider network of individuals shopping.

For example – how many people in one city are looking for a Banana Republic dress in a particular size?

Maybe a few.

But on ebay I knew there would be several people probably looking for that type of dress…several people I could entice into a bidding war on my item to drive up the value. 🙂 So any item that would be relatively easy to ship and needed a wide audience got listed on ebay.

There are two types of ways to list an item – auction style or receiving a best offer with a “buy it now” price. We typically did the week long auction on common items, to drive up bidding wars.

On more specific items, like old patterns of Vera Bradley only a small handful of people want, I did the 30 day listing with “buy it now” or “best offer” options. With those items I always set my price at or slightly above competitors with similar items but was absolutely willing to take lesser offers to get the items sold. I always counter-offered to get as much as possible from the sale, aiming for at least 80% of asking price.

And for goodness sake people, the photos matter!!! I can’t tell you how many people take junky photos of a quality item and it makes the item seem lame or less valuable. Below is a collage of a few items we sold on ebay.

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Craigslist

My other dear friend, Craigslist.

After spending some time on Craigslist, you realize it’s best for heavier, bigger items that no one would ever think about shipping or items that have common local interest. If you list something on Craigslist and it doesn’t get any hits within one week, try relisting for one more week. If no bites, try ebay to widen the audience,

When listing items on Craigslist, always ask above what you’d be wiling to take, since negotiations are key in this type of sale. By asking higher, you will likely be able to end up getting what you wanted out of a particular item. I always do this, assuming the buyer will try to offer lower. Sometimes they do, and I typically take the offer to get the item sold. Bird in the hand…

Sometimes they don’t offer lower and I feel a little bad…but hey, I was willing to go lower, they just didn’t ask. Not my fault! 🙂

Other tips of the trade – don’t arrange buying or selling when you are alone. Have a second person with you OR if you have to be alone, meet somewhere public. 99.9% of people are amazing and I have not once had issues with Craigslist weirdos but it always pays off to be smart and prepared. Below are a few photos of items we sold on Craigslist.

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We didn’t ONLY score deals by turning unused items into cash. We also bought things for the house at a FRACTION of the cost.

Here’s our BUY list:

Couch, Chaise, Lamp $350.00 $760.00
Table + Chairs $300.00 $773.94
Ceiling Fan $64.95 $118.37
Bathroom Rug $5.95 $20.00
Euro Pillows $17.90 $40.00
Kitchen Lights $30.00 $43.03
Bathroom Shelf $0.00 $25.00
Vizio 5.1 $230.00 $290.00
Sectional Couch $340.00 $750.00
lamps, drapes, etc. $250.00 $400.00
mattress + box $100.00 $700.00
coffee table $0.00 $119.00

Total: $1,688.80

The price on the LEFT is what we paid for the item. The price on the RIGHT is what we should have paid, had we paid retail.

Where did we do all this bargain buying?

You guessed it…our friends ebay and Craigslist. For good measure we threw in a local thrift store and even snagged some deals with manufacturer’s rebates at Costco.

On the buying side, the tips I have for you are to always offer fair but under asking price. Don’t be that guy who low balls everything. Do your research on what the competitors are offering and then try just a bit under that. Use this tactic on Craigslist and ebay “best offer” items. In general, I try to snag snag 40%  off the asking price, which is already low since item is used.

For the ebay auction items? Click “watch item” and DO NOT BID until the last MINUTE it’s up for auction. This way, the bidding isn’t being driven upwards all week long. The person “winning” the item feels comfortable…like they are the only ones who want the item so will they be at the computer during that last minute? No. You will likely walk away with the item and the best possible price by waiting to bid until the end.

Below are some of the items we purchased second hand:

usedfurniture.jpg

Every item was brand name but just happened to be second hand. We bought the dinning room/living room matching Ikea sets from a girl moving to Seattle. The lights were all Hampton Bay. The lamps were from World Market.

All classy and clean, my friends, but very easy on the wallet! 🙂

For all you math nerds out there wondering how we came up with saying we paid only one-fifth of the price to furnish the home?

We took the amount we paid ($1,688.80) and subtracted what we sold ($955.78) for a net total of: $733.02

Then we took our net total ($733.02) and divided it by what retail price would have been ($4,039.34) for a total of 18% which is approximately one-fifth of retail cost.

If anyone has questions or stories about deals you’ve snagged – fire away in the comments section. I want to hear from you!

Have a great weekend! 🙂