I’ve had one million and one reasons for not yet sharing our adoption story on Cardigan Way.  Here are a few:

No. 389: The enormity of it all.

No. 5,876: Where do I begin?  Do I begin when Mike and I began dating and talked about having a big family?

No. 9,987: Do I begin when we were ready for that family 7 years ago?

No. 19,553: Do I start with the adoption that failed a year ago last week?

No. 26,786: Do I begin when we decided to start over?

No. 108,765: Do I keep it simple and start with the first phone call?

No. 210,768: I’m too busy feeding/changing/cuddling/rocking/fill-in-the-blank our Little Man.

No. 210,767: I’m too busy feeding/changing/cuddling/rocking/fill-in-the-blank our Little Miss and where is my computer anyway?

No. 391,897: Our babies will read this some day.

No. 438,761: I haven’t slept in two months.  Surely I’m not ready to be responsible with words??

No. One million and one: there ARE no words.

So if you don’t mind, I’m attempting this in the only way that I can currently comprehend it…in pieces, images, moments.  In an effort not to miss anything {and practically speaking, because we have two newborns}, I’d like to share our story in pieces over the coming weeks as the memories come back to me.

That okay?

// January 26th //

adoption

On January 26, 2014, Mike and I participated in our church’s adoption Sunday service with this cardboard testimony.  It was a beautiful, significant morning and we shared the stage with other adoptive families, foster families, and foster children.

orphan Sunday 2

That night, around 8 or 9pm, I checked the agency’s website where they had just posted a new adoption situation regarding a birth mom expecting twins {I just interrupted typing that sentence to stick my son’s pacifier back into his mouth.  Just sayin’.}.

We’d been active with this particular agency for a whopping 2 days.  We hadn’t even made the get-to-know-you call to our caseworker before I found myself emailing her to let her know we would love to be presented to the birthmother.

I didn’t sleep much that night.

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{This was meant to be published yesterday.  I have this great, super-original idea for an occasional series on Wednesdays re: life with twins. Get it? Reality no. 1: What day is it?}

Oh, friends.  I interrupt this new-mom haze to talk for two shakes about minted’s awesome SALE…partly because they are the paper goodness brain break I’ve been indulging for a few days now.  When my mind drifts from the reality of 16 bottles a day {read: 16+ diapers a day} to the romantic notions of perfect birth announcements and art prints for their yet-to-exist nursery, I’m all about some minted.

After all, they did me right for stationery and journals, art prints, and Christmas cards…why not now, I ask you?

Minted is already beautiful, supports independent designers, and this week, it’s all. on. SALE.  They are celebrating a birthday and you and I get the benefit.  Hooray!!

Site-wide, get 15% off with the code 6YEARS.

Here’s a few pieces I’m eyeing…

// FOR THEIR NURSERY //

Because I want them, too, to remember to be brave.  {And courage is what I’m trying to sow during Lent this year.}

always have courage

{via}

Or this one, because it already took a village to get these babies into our arms…

it takes a village

{via}

Or something like this because my dream nursery theme is, what else?  Literary…and these are so bookish.

storybook initial

{via}

// ANNOUNCEMENTS //

Minted has some lovely adoption announcements, such as this one…

born in our hearts

{via}

Or, since we’re not sure we can choose a favorite photo, we thought about something more like this…

multi photo

{via}

// THANK YOU NOTES //

And finally, I need quite a chunk of thank you notes.  I admit I can’t sleep at night already and near the top of the list of reasons why {just below No. 1 and No. 2} is the fact that I haven’t written a single thank you note.

I know.

{If you’d like to babysit for a day, I think I’d take off to the library and start on these stat.}  For now, I’m choosing favorite cards.  And yes, I could have written a couple in the time I took to type up this post.  Gah!

So one choice, naturally, is arrow-ish…and generic enough to use post-baby thank yous.

thank you with arrows

{via}

Or of course, we could use the boy-girl-twin excuse for something more along these lines…because when else can we do that??

double cupcake

{via}

Fun, right?

Okay, back to laundry I go.  Any favorites here?

Whether you need nursery prints or just great stationery, reasonably-priced personalized journals, or your next beautiful thank you card, head over to minted this week and take advantage of their sale!

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It is my utter privilege to introduce you to my dear, real-life friend Season!  Season is a dear friend, writer, fabulous cook, and confidante of mine who blogs over at Seasoned. {See?  So clever.}  I am so grateful she would share words on Cardigan Way today!  Be blessed.

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When I was very young, I wanted to catch a robin.  Daddy said it could be done.  He went inside, returning with the red topped salt shaker.  Curious tool for the task at hand.  Daddy told me all I had to do was sneak up behind a bird and shake salt on her tail feathers.  While she was shaking the salt off, I’d have time to reach down and catch her.

Wow! That’s all it took?  If my daddy said so, then so it must be.

Thus I began my quest.  That first day I must have spent at least two hours quietly sneaking up on various birds with the salt shaker tightly grasped in my hand.  Daddy stood by watching, a knowing smile playing at the corners of his mouth.  I was unsuccessful that day, but undaunted.  Throughout the spring I would grab the salt shaker off the table and run outside with hopes of catching a bird.

I never accomplished my goal, no matter how quietly I walked.  But it wasn’t until summer brought along other interests that I deserted my ambition.

Ah, my daddy.  What a sense of humor he has.  He probably knew I wouldn’t catch a bird that way (though I came close a couple of times).  But he also knew that he wasn’t setting me up for totally devastating disappointment.

But there’s more to this story.  Patience was needed to chase those birds day after day.  But even more than that, if I had ever gotten close enough to shake salt on the bird’s tail, I would’ve caught the bird without shaking salt on her.  Perhaps I had the patience because I had back-up.  I had something that helped me have confidence as I pursued a seemingly impossible goal.

Sometimes I still feel I need a red topped salt shaker in my hand.  They’re around but in different forms these days.

A smile.

A hug.

An unexpected email, phone call, chocolate. . .

Will you be a red topped salt shaker for someone today?

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{Did you notice I’ve been away?  In case you missed it, a last minute adoption of two necessitated “blog leave by circumstance.”  The fog is beginning to lift, friends, and I will happily return soon…with the full story, I promise!  In the meantime, I couldn’t help but interrupt this nap time with a Noonday blog train giveaway!  Please visit Jennifer’s blog at Life, Simply if you missed her post yesterday and tomorrow, head over to visit Kelli at Peregrine Shine.  As for me, I’ll be back soon!}

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It is no secret that today, there are more slaves in the world than in any other time in history.  Let me say that again.  More than the conservative estimate of 20 million men, women, and children…children…are forced to work for little or no pay, subsisting at the mercy of their employers {data here}.  I can all too easily gloss over that fact until I do something like watch 12 Years a Slave and realize that pre-civil war slavery amounted to about 1/5 of what exists today.

Did you know that our spending habits — here, in the US — perpetuate the market for slavery abroad?  Cheap labor, working outside the scope and eye of of our ethical regulations in the US, encourages companies to manufacture goods for literally nothing.

Did you also know that we could see modern day slavery end in our lifetime?

You can do something and you can do something today.  By making one change, purchasing one thing fairly/ethically traded, you are using your voice via your purchasing power, essentially “taking a stand” for livable wages and ethical, dignified employment.  Plus. That one change, that one person affected by the fair market created by your purchase generates a multiplying effect of hope.  He can send his children to school.  She can buy her mother’s medicine.  They can afford healthcare for their family.

One purchase.

AND.  Your change can come from an array of options!  You can purchase fair trade chocolate {70% of the world’s chocolate is, unfortunately, sourced from western Africa where they are sadly known for exploitative practices}.  You can purchase fair trade coffee {you know which one I’m going to recommend…Just Love, ahem}…but there are tons of other fair trade coffees!  In your grocery store!  You can also choose to thrift, shop insta-sales {I adore Bow Ty Thrifter!}, look for ethically-produced clothing {I love the free2work website…and they even have an app.  Naturally.}…and of course, there’s Noonday.

Now, Noonday has been a huge part of our adoption story, but for me personally, shopping Noonday goes one step further.  With every piece, you can know the story of its makers.  You can read the story of the artisans both on the website and on the actual item’s tag when it arrives.

Do you have a gift to buy?  A special occasion?  Mother’s Day?  Shop Noonday or put it on your wish list next time someone shops for you!  Noonday is beautiful, on-trend, one-of-a-kind…but it’s also what we can do.

As just one “for instance,” one of my favorite surprise pieces of this new spring line is the Threaded Charm necklace.  {Backordered until early May.  Worth waiting for.}  It is handmade in India by one of the cooperatives Noonday partners with.

noonday collection{via}

Read about the cooperatives directly from Noonday’s website:

There are 20 to 65 million bonded laborers in India, despite substantive and clear laws prohibiting this. A person becomes a bonded laborer when their labor is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan. The person is then tricked or trapped into working for very little or no pay, often for seven days a week. The value of their work is invariably greater than the original sum of money borrowed. The forced labor system is present in many industries and those perpetrators who violate Indian laws to compel the labor of others infringe upon citizens’ most fundamental rights. Noonday Collection partners with many different jewelry-making groups in India whose goal is to build long term equitable trading relationships that ensure low-income artisans are truly being helped out of poverty and will not become a bonded laborer. Artisans are paid a livable wage and have safe working conditions, access to healthcare and childcare, and on-going training and education.

Sidhama has been working at one such cooperative for 27 years. Her husband abused her so badly that she ended up in the hospital. While there, a social worker there told her about the jewelry cooperative. The income from her new job enabled her to leave her abusive situation. When she joined the co-op she didn’t know how to speak Hindi since she is from Karnataka. Her language skills that she gained enabled her to take on more responsibility, and she now travels all over the city. Her five children are all married. “Before finding this cooperative, I used to struggle a lot. I have now learned how to take steps to make big changes in my life.”

So…the Threaded Charm is up for grabs {or any other $50 purchase} today.  I’m giving away a $50 gift voucher for you to shop!  Enter by visiting the Noonday site and then leave a comment.

What’s your favorite piece{s}?

And after you leave your comment…go make one change.

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Missing posting today because this was our weekend…

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But now…we are home!

I look forward to telling the whole, amazing story.

For now, I have two bottles to warm up before the 5 am shift!

Back next week…

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What fun we have had exchanging books!  For our inaugural exchange, we brought together over 70 book lovers from all over the US, Canada, and the UK!  We represented all types of readers, interests, and wish lists, and it was perfectly wonderful!!

If you participated, please link up here, with Kalyn, or with Emily!  If you’re a blogger, add your post.  If not, feel free to add a link to your instagram or Facebook picture!  Then, click around and meet the other participants.

{I need to add that my partner, Jen, faithfully sent me a copy of The Light Between Oceans. And I. Am. Stoked.  Our twins arrived early, so while I don’t actually have the book in my hands, per se, I did have a friend run over to our house and tell me what surprise was waiting for me!  That said, I’ll be a later linker as soon as we get back home…but thank you, Jen!}

Happy hopping!

we heart books

Dear readers, today is a precious day for us here at Cardigan Way.  One of my favorite people, a most brilliant writer…and a real-life friend, Lindsey {of Running in Circles}, has gifted this space today with words I have now reread dozens of times…and can’t seem to stop.  Read and be blessed by the beauty, truth, and grace of its message.  Be refreshed today.

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At church the other day we read aloud the story of the Tower of Babel:
“Let us build for ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
I’m a good church girl; I’ve read that story a hundred times, but in this particular reading that verse jumped off the page and prodded me uncomfortably.  Let’s not become scattered, weakened, insignificant, forgettable.  Let’s build this city and make a name for ourselves.  
As we talked through the passage, it became clear to me that I’ve swallowed a big lie: one that says work only matters if it can be seen and praised.  That my little acts of beauty and grace are just means to the end of enhancing my public image.  That what is public matters more than what is private.
This explains a lot of my frustration with my current status as a stay at home wife and mom of two small children.
I recently inherited a set of pillowcases, embroidered with attentive care by my husband’s grandmother.
The handiwork is lovely, but I’ll be honest: the first thing that came to mind when I saw them was, “Why in the world would anyone spend that much time on a pillowcase?”
Stephen’s Mawmaw certainly had plenty of other things to do with her time.  She couldn’t have snapped a picture of her finished product and uploaded it to all of her social media sites.  She didn’t sell the pillowcase on Etsy to make some extra spending money. But for some reason she put all that time, all those stitches, into making art on pillowcases.  And then she folded them up in the linen closet, or maybe used them to make up her own bed.
embroidered pillowcases
Maybe she knew what I’m just stumbling upon: Beauty, excellence, work, grace: these things are their own reward.  
This begins to answer the question I’ve been wrestling with: how does the homemaker, the pin-setter, the ice sculptor, the chef, the gardener keep at the daily grind without losing her mind?
It’s not about creating a finished product to make a name for myself.  It’s about the joy of bringing life, beauty, order to a little corner of the world that needs it.
It reminds me of God himself, who made all kinds of intricate creations and then hid them away in the depths of the ocean and in the far reaches of space where they will never be “discovered.”  He makes pearls and sticks them inside of oysters, for goodness’ sake!  If I could make pearls, I’d string them across the Grand Canyon or drop them out of the clouds like rain, just to make sure everyone got a good look at them.
I don’t want to be insignificant.  I want to make a name for myself,  I say, all those times I pick up my phone to frame and share a moment or when I insist that my husband notice and praise my clean floor.
Your Father sees what is done in secret, Jesus counters.  Your labor is not in vain.
A pillowcase, embroidered with leaves and flowers.  A kind word when silence would have sufficed.  A home-cooked dinner on the table, again.  Bible study homework completed, even if I won’t be in class to share my answers.  Undocumented hours wiping noses and bottoms and building towers for the baby to knock down.  Flowers planted in the back yard.  Wall art and a tidy counter in the bathroom the guests never use.
Tiny, fleeting acts of faithfulness, of obedience, of grace.
They add up and fill out my days, creating a life that is, well, monumental, even if nobody sees it.

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Thoughts?

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My amazing brother and mom are celebrating their birthdays today.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Mom and B!

They learned over the weekend that they have much to celebrate…

twins

I’ll let that sink in a minute…

{We’re adopting twins!!}

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january and december goodness

Sheesh.  I think I need to stretch a little…as I’m clearly out of shape for my monthly “goodness” post!  Granted, it was just one month.  Also granted, December is usually the month that precedes getting back into shape.  I know what that says about January.  But what does that say about December?  Anyway…the last two months have been chock-full of goodness indeed.

First of all, because I continue to milk it for all it’s worth, December brought about the amazing bus photo, in action above.  Yes, I’m biased.  But wouldn’t you milk that, too?  The photo shoot occurred a couple of days after a Christmas benefit that some dear friends organized on our behalf.  Sadly…I took very few pictures of that one.  But here’s the miracle of it {one of them, at least}:  we were awarded a matching grant about a week before the night of the event.  At the event, in one fail swoop, the grant was completely matched.  #overwhelmed

Later in the month of December, my BFF rallied the troops to photo themselves in their adoption t-shirts while on vacation around the world.  Loved ones and strangers near and far answered loudly and if you don’t believe me, go search instagram for the hashtag #hoperegiftednearandfar.  I’m sure you believe me, but still, it’s the most lovely sight to see, happy pictures of adoption tees from around the country and even overseas. #overwhelmedagain

There was much more goodness that made its way through December and January, but the last examples are currently at the forefront of my mind!

In other news, a few bits of truth, goodness, and beauty…and lagniappe.

truth

* For the sake of keeping with the theme, I was utterly honored to guest post on Be, Mama. Be. last week as installment two of her amazing series.  The post — quite fresh on my mind — was my perspective of being on the recipient side of the “small things.”

* I have an adoption song.  I don’t know that I’ve ever said that aloud.  Actually, as I’m typing this and not actually speaking it, I suppose I still haven’t.  Anyway, it is the track that plays in my head often.  Have a listen:

* The Sunday we were nearly matched, the same scripture made its way into Sunday School and my quiet time.  I heart when that happens.
beauty* Over the weekend, I was part of the most beautiful afternoon with some dear favorite people.  One of our good friends’ mothers was recently diagnosis with cancer…two years after her last chemo.  My friends held a “hat party” for her, showered her with hats, scarves, and words of encouragement.  It was a perfectly grace-filled afternoon and it was a tremendous blessing to me, and I only watched.  Prayers continue for Family “D.”

hat party

* The last few days have been an exciting time in the corner of my world labeled “Noonday”!  Following their conference {that I missed, but experienced vicariously}, I’m reminded of the reality of using our purchasing power as an avenue for justice.  Yesterday, our church celebrated Orphan Sunday and I sat directly behind two friends wearing Noonday scarves.  {They tell me they didn’t plan it.}  It dawned on me that the simple statement of wearing an item crafted by a Noonday artisan {or other ethically-made products} is a living picture of providing hope for the orphan.  In all of the ways that Noonday loves on adoptive families {including ours}, the company also works actively to prevent children from becoming orphans.  Today, I order spring samples.  If I could insert the entire contents of the spring line here, I would.  Soon enough.  #allin

* We were almost matched earlier this month.  {I wrote a little about it here.}  While it didn’t pan out, it did make us ready to tackle some things that need to be accomplished before a baby comes.  Including names.  And that, friends, is a huge, beautiful thing.

January Goodness* I just have to plug Cara one more time, in this exact category.  Having completed the awesome feat of reading Les Mis, Cara compiled two days’ worth of Hugo’s gift in the form of favorite quotes.  If you’ve ever enjoyed lovely lines around here, run — don’t walk — over to those posts.

Here’s a taste: “Nevertheless, there was something beyond that shadow; there was light; there was life in the midst of that death” (328).  {Talk about echoes of some favorite Tolkien and Lewis words…}

Gah.  One more because I can’t stop: “Let us never fear robbers or murderers.  Those are dangers from without, petty dangers.  Let us fear ourselves.  Prejudices are the real robbers; vices are the real murders.  The great dangers lie within ourselves.  What matters it what threatens our head or our purse!  Let us think only of that which threatens our soul” (34).

* I’m three weeks into my new graduate class: Imagining the Good Life.  Guess what it’s about?  Goodness.  I realize I may have been meant for this course.  Essentially, it follows the path of “good,” how goodness has been defined as well as its philosophical journey from Plato and Aristotle to Austen and Tolstoy.  P.S. — Goodness can’t really be defined.  At least, not in the sense of using language to do so.  Perhaps that’s one reason behind my crepe myrtle experience?  {And also, my brain hurts.}

* My family took this picture at Christmas.  It’s about 10 yards behind the crepe myrtle.  Just sayin’.

lagniappe* Yeah, so I had a stitch fix.  You know how I feel about clothes.  I decided to give myself one month for Christmas. {In case you’re unfamiliar: for $20, five articles of clothing come to your doorstep in a super cute box.  If you keep anything, the $20 “styling fee” applies to the purchase.  Anything you don’t want?  Back into the mail, postage paid.}  The bad news: I was disappointed in my box.  It wasn’t my style and it was essentially five of the same-ish type of shirt.  The GREAT news?  Stitch Fix is giving me a do-over in a couple of weeks and asked for specific feedback that, I suppose, what not clear enough in my profile.  I shall let you know how it goes!

* Downton Abbey is back on.  What more do I need to say?  Oh, right.  So is Sherlock.

* Our virtual book exchange launched!!  The we {HEART} books team is incredible.  We had over 70 guinea-pig participants sign up around the country, Canada, and the UK.  Look for our link-up in February!

How about you?  How was your January?  {Feel free to lump in December, too.  No judging here.}

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