GuatemalaGuatemala, or “Land of Trees” as some call it, is a country filled with people just as breathtaking as its landscape, a country where the Mayan civilization flourished, and the ruins remain to whisper their secrets. And like many countries rich in culture and tradition, Guate’s history is also a bloody one. Fewer than 20 years ago Guatemaltecans saw the end of violent civil war lasting 36 long years, leaving in its path 200,000 dead or missing, and a bleak future for those left behind.

Tomorrow, I have the incredible honor of traveling to Guatemala with a team of 12 other Noonday Ambassadors from around the U.S. to be a small part of a story of recovery for many families whose lives were both directly and indirectly affected the devastating violence of the war’s oppressive regimes. Having been dispossessed of lands and forced to work for unfair wages, sustainable employment seemed an unattainable dream. Now with over 3 years of consistent income, our Guatemalan artisans have been able to rise out of poverty and share with you their talents in beadwork, weaving, and leatherworking, while bringing hope and a future to their families and communities.

I hope that you will follow us on our journey filled with hugs, laughter, and happy tears as we glean from the wisdom of the beautiful Guatemalan people and share in their successes, and their victory over history, as sisters without borders.

I would love for you to follow along on our trip, to see through our eyes the impact Noonday has made and continues to make as we share our journey via social media! You can find me on Instagram here, but you may also want to search the hashtag #noondayguatemala to see all of the posts from our entire team.

And when you see a picture of a smiling artisan, remember: purchasing with purpose made that happen!

Ana

{via}

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t offer the opportunity to you to join in the work Noonday is doing, to partner with an ambassador local to you, to open your home and advocate for these very artisans, to share a night of styling and storytelling with your friends. It’s a wonderfully noble way to spend an evening…and happens to be super trendy and fun, too.

Happy week to you all,
Katie

P.S. – An extra- special thanks to my #noondayguatemala teammate, Shelley, for allowing me to borrow many of her beautiful words to share with you here!

Noonday Collection

Dear Readers,

I’ve spent the weekend shelling out Noonday pieces to my customers that are sold out/discontinued to make way for the Fall Line…and because I’m GOING WITH NOONDAY TO GUATEMALA IN AUGUST.  Yes, big news!!  Totally the type of thing I’d have posted about if I wasn’t, you know, still figuring out the new mama-to-twins thing.

ANYWAY.  I wanted to make the sale available to YOU!  You can find the link and directions HERE!

Happy Shopping!!

Love,

Katie

 

P.S. — You can also read a post about Noonday here.  And also here.

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I’m back to blogging our journey to the babes.  In {often very short} snippets.  Because this.

Here’s the second one.

And the third.

This motherhood thing requires efficient efficiency some days.

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hit the ground running

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If I could redo anything in our adoption, maybe I should have added the hash tag #htgr to my instagram posts.

Ok, that’s probably overdoing it.

Actually, I’ve been thinking lots lately that someone out there needs to write a little book on the ins and outs of hashtags.  Because. I sorta think there’s an art to it and…does anyone else feel that hashtag usage has gone from a no-rules Picasso to something like anything-goes macaroni art?  Only me?

Oh wait.  You’re here for the next moment of our adoption story!  Sorry.  This is the sort of thing that occupies my brain sometimes.  {But truly, let me know if you hear of a good summary on pound sign rules-of-thumb.  I will share it on Facebook.  Followed by a really great hashtag, #ofcourse.}

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We knew our profile was being presented Wednesday.  It was Thursday night at about 9:30 and I had somehow talked my legs and brain into a trek on the elliptical.  I don’t actually really remember that conversation in my brain, but since it was 9:30 on a school night, that’s the only scenario that really makes sense.

Also, it was 7:30 where the birthmother was, long past office hours, so no call from the agency would be made that day.

And I was reading Jen Hatmaker’s Interrupted {the chapter where Brandon chimes in, if you want to get technical}.  On a normal day, my workouts were relegated to mornings and were a kill-two-birds deal with grad school readings, but I was supposed to be reading Nicomachean Ethics that week and with my brain in such a preoccupied state, Aristotle just wasn’t going to occupy much of anything at 9:30pm. Hatmaker it was.  {In retrospect, quite fitting, I might add.}

{This was also — as it happens — the last time I exercised OR read anything unless you count double carriers into the church nursery as exercise or the occasional email/FB post as reading.}

And I heard Mike on the phone.  And he was getting louder.  As in, he was walking toward me and on the phone. At 9:30.  Have I mentioned that it was late?

I remember thinking, “…surely not.” {Even the ellipses were included in my thought.}

He stood in front of the elliptical and evidently had some sort of conversation with someone because I think it lasted approximately 23 minutes, but I don’t remember a word of his side of the conversation, only that I desperately needed to know what was being said.

He hung up.  He looked at me.

Mike: Conference call.

Katie: WHAT?  There is NO WAY that “conference call” are the only words you just exchanged in that eternity of a phone call.

Mike: The birth mom wants a conference call. {He is really good and getting to the important parts, by the way.  His version of our adoption story would probably have been written and done with in March.}

Katie: {stepping off of the elliptical, harboring no guilt whatsoever that there was 25 minutes left in my 30 minute workout} Ok.  What time tomorrow? I can be flexible! {It was going to be a snow day…and I hate to add this, but…I don’t remember if I knew that yet or not.  So I was promising to compromise my work time, no holds barred.}

Mike: No.  She’s calling right now.

I remember very little at this point.  An adoption conference call is something like the highest-stakes job interview EVER.  Times a MILLION.

I panic-texted my family that we were going to be part of a conference call and to please pray if you don’t mind.

The case-worked quickly coached us on what to say/not to say, to let the birthmom lead.

We talked with the birthmom for an hour.  Speakerphone between Mike and me, sitting on the couch, looking at each other as we spoke.  That awkward extra-loud-in-case-you-can’t-hear-me kind of conversation.  Job interview.  Times a million.

The first thing she asked was how long I’d been teaching.  We talked about mountains and fried chicken.  She told us she liked where we lived, that we’d been married for so long, and that we didn’t have children yet, “because two is going to be a handful.”  She wanted to know if we’d ever leave NC.  Evidently, we talked about some other stuff.  Oh, and Mike asked her how she’d been feeling.

And right there at the end, “Well, I chose y’all!  Are you excited??”

Stunned silence.

We looked at each other.

Was she allowed to say that?  Were we allowed to react??

I think we fumbled through one of those, “well, should you choose us-es”  We hung up. The caseworker called back immediately and told us she was so excited that “Nicole” told us she’d chosen us.  That she knew we’d been chosen, but that it was up to the birthmom to decide if she wanted to tell us herself or if she wanted the caseworker to tell us later on her behalf.

Around 11pm, we got the email from the Agency: Congratulations!  You’ve been matched!  And all of the many documents with it like packing lists, hospital expectations, financial agreements, and {ha!} sightseeing options for “while you’re here.”

We now had approximately four weeks to — evidently — prepare for twins.

We didn’t sleep. #stillhavent

P.S. – After rereading, it is clear to me that I myself might also benefit from a nice summary on how to minimize the overuse of brackets.  {So sorry.}

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Hi, I’m Katie! This is Cardigan Way where I used to blog and once-upon-a-time posted regularly throughout the week.  {I also wore different, non-pajama clothing every day, worked a full time job, attended grad school, kept up with social media, worked out six days a week, crafted decor for the house, cooked meals slightly more substantial than cereal, and edited a few papers on the side…}

Friends, thank you for your great grace and patience as I sllooowwwlyyy post our adoption story in pieces, living moment to moment and finding my new normal in the midst of the wonder and beauty that exploded in our lives in February.

I left off with a post in…April…with thoughts on our birthmother.  We knew she would be viewing our profile on Wednesday of that week.  Naturally, with our agency in Mountain Standard Time, I casually noted that we were likely to hear of her decision between 11 and 7 our time.  You know, probability of office hours and all that.  And I went about my week like any other… {Riiight.}

In the waiting meantime, I thought of a few twin-ish moments from the years, months, and weeks before that one.

//July 1998//

This throwback gem from the early days with my high school sweetheart.

//May 2004//

Ok, this wasn’t really foreshadowing, because despite my devotion to this show, I forgot about Monica & Chandler! Until last week when I watched this and bawled like a pair of babies.

//October 2013//

I sent the following email to our consultant:

“Hi Tracie!

Mike & I are wondering…we would LOVE to adopt twins or siblings.  If we waited until an opportunity with multiples arose, do you know how much longer it might take?  On average?  We don’t think we could say ‘no’ to any situation, but what if we waited until there was a sibling situation?”

She told me that she couldn’t tell me what to do. Ha! But she also said that one never really knows.  “Twins and siblings come up every now and then…”

//November 2013//

This. {I was taking notes in class.}

11.4

Yeah…

And also, the following Saturday, at a Noonday trunk show, when I confided in three ladies that I would love to adopt twins or siblings.  It was one of the first times I ever said it to anyone other than my hubby.  As I mentioned to them that I didn’t know how likely it would be to come across twins or siblings, the hostess’s mother said, “well, I’m adopted and I’m a twin.”

Just like that.

//January 2014//

I couldn’t say the “t word” out loud while we waited for the birth mom to make her decision.  {I think I was trying desperately to protect hope.}  We were simply told to expect the birthmother to take 2 hours, 2 weeks, or beyond to make her decision.

So we waited…

PS – One FAQ: Where are the pictures/names of the babies?  We are maintaining a private FB page for now where we are posting pictures and updates as we await finalization.  Want to join the fun?  Shoot me an email and I’ll add you to the group!

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Accidental three-week hiatus.  Oops!  But I’m back today with another adoption moment.  In case you missed the first one, you are welcome to read it here!

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The next morning {clearly a Monday}, I “woke up” at about 5 am.  And by waking, I mean I just physically got out of bed.  My head was swimming most of the night after the quick response from the agency that they would be sending us more information about the birthmother of expected twins.

I was supposed to be getting up extra-early to order Noonday spring samples.  It was sample day!!  A day to celebrate!  And I was pretty stoked that I would finally get my hands on the long-anticipated tushabe necklace.  {If you just clicked that link, well….now you know why.}  But that’s another story.

As I did my pre-everything-else email-check {this is just one more tactic I use for delaying actually getting ready}, the agency had — overnight — sent me the whole scoop on the twins’ birth mom.  Now, at this point, we were just one family wanting to have our profile shown.  But I was feeling just slightly excited when the caseworker said she’d go ahead and send the info to me because she needed to type it out anyway.  I sorta felt like we were the first ones in line.  We probably weren’t.

I read the two-page summary…it was literally just something quickly typed out.  I read about her, “Nicole”…and I immediately felt utter admiration.

Immediately.

And I wondered what she was doing, how she was feeling right then.  I wondered what it must be like to make an adoption plan for two babies.  I wondered about her personality and about her journey to placing.

It is the immediacy of my connection to her that still captures my memory.  Certainly, in other situations, I felt great admiration for birthmothers…but this time…it was just different.

Later that day, the case worker and I spoke and she agreed to present our profile to Nicole.  Because it was going to be twins, she felt the need to quickly make a match.  They babies were scheduled to arrive at the end of February, but as the case worker said {and I thought}, “twins often come early.”

Our profile was given to her on Wednesday along with the profiles of any other families that wished to be presented.  When it came up, we mentioned to a few friends and family that we were presenting again and that we were really interested in the situation, but we never said aloud that it was twins.

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On that note, I can’t pass up the opportunity to tell you what we thought about our birth mom way back when it was just a dream and “future birth mom” was still our reality.  Having met Nicole, I feel this ever, ever more strongly.

Birthmothers are heroes.  Nicole is our model, our ultimate example of love for a child.  By her most selfless act, we are challenged to live and parent in a way that shows our two that nothing is more important than what’s best for them.  Nothing.  Our dreams for ourselves are second.  Our hopes for our future “before kids” pales in light of finding the wisdom and courage to love them with the same selflessness.

Since we brought the twins home, I’ve learned that this symbol represents the creation of a family through the miracle of adoption.  Three sides — one for us, one for birth mom, and one for the child.  {Which means that in our case, perhaps it should be a square?  I digress.}

adoption symbol

{via}

And while the fullness of what has transpired in the last three months has hardly settled into my heart, this one reality DOES: that despite the children Mike and I carried that went from the womb straight to heaven, here we are…our two earthly babes created by God and then entrusted to us by another human being.

Beyond understanding, friends.

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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

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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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20140331-000918.jpg

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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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