Cute Things Lexi Does

  • Along with sucking her thumb, putting her hand on her stomach is one of her new comfort measures. It’s come to the point that she doesn’t like wearing clothes that restrict access to her tummy. This has led to wearing footie pajamas to bed that are zipped up only halfway–to retain tummy access. The other night Abby struck a compromise and put Lexi in a T-shirt and half-zipped footie pajamas–allowing unfettered tummy access but also keeping her warm.
  • She recognizes the way to church and starts saying the names of her teacher and all her friends in Sunday School–whether we’re actually going to church or just happen to be going in the same general direction.
  • In Sunday School she’s apparently the official greeter, welcoming each kid into the class by name. The teacher has commented that this has proved helpful with some of the more shy kids.
  • One week at church her friend Zack showed up and both Lexi and Zach ran to each other with open arms. Then Zach and his older sister Hope held Lexi’s hands while the three walked down the stairs to Sunday School.
  • After receiving a blessing during communion Lexi always gives an enthusiastic, “Yeah!”
  • Says ‘Ethiopia’ at random. A few weeks ago I came down stairs to get her up from a nap and she was jumping up and down in her crib saying “Ethiopia!”
  • She anticipates when she’s in trouble and says what you’re going to tell her to do before you do it. Like when she’s supposed to be napping and is instead jumping up and down, as soon as you open the door she says, “Lay down?” When she starts twisting in her high chair and trying to stand up she says, “Turn around sit down.”

Wait, that last one isn’t very cute.

And just so you don’t think she’s an angel, she’s also perfected a nice, high-pitched scream for when she doesn’t get her way. Like the other night at Noodles when I took her leftover macaroni & cheese (“mac-cheese”( away so we could go and she just screamed. Until we were safely out of the restaurant and into the car when she promptly stopped.

Adoption Interviews: Frank Johnson

Frank Johnson (not his real name) is a manager at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (where I used to work). Frank and his wife Sarah have eight children–Bill, 30, Leslie, 27, Curt, 24, Jenny, 22, Kristin, 9, Mary, 7, Tara, 6, and Sam, 5 (whew). Kristin and Sam were adopted domestically through Christian agencies when they were each one day old, one in Texas and one in Florida. Tara and Mary were adopted from a home for abandoned babies Uganda when they were 3 and 4 respectively. Frank is 57 years old and lives in Huntersville, N.C., and notes that if you’re married to a saint like he is, adoption is a lot easier.

1. What motivated you to adopt?

Jesus said we were to take care of them. Plus, we had a desire to expand our family and have more children.

2. What differences have you noticed between adopting domestically
and adopting internationally?

The main difference is that the older children from an institution have definite attachment issues, as well as other baggage, while the domestic children were able to attach to us comparatively quickly. Process-wise, the domestic system is fairly cut and dried, and the international scene is pretty rough and tumble. Expect a lot of changes and surprises along the way.

Continue reading Adoption Interviews: Frank Johnson

Monkey Outta Nowhere Launches Local Art Site

About a week ago Monkey Outta Nowhere launched its first independent project, a local art site called Start Seeing Art. The site is all about finding and identifying public art in the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, so it can be enjoyed and appreciated.

Too often I’ve either not known a work of art existed in my neighborhood and missed out on it entirely, or I’ve known about the work but I can’t find any information about the artist or the name of the work. So the site is an attempt to find that local artwork, identify it and chart it using a Google Maps mashup so others can more easily find and enjoy it. You can look at the map and see all the works of art across the Twin Cities.

So far Start Seeing Art is in the very early phases (only 11 pieces of art so far) and isn’t much to look at. I’m focusing on content and the technical side before I worry too much about design. In general, I’m trying to follow 37Signal’s Getting Real approach and building Start Seeing Art quickly and cheaply. I’d rather get the content out there and get it working now, even if it doesn’t look so hot, rather than wait six months for a beautiful backend system that costs thousands of dollars (which I don’t have).

We’ll see where it goes and if it turns into a self-supporting media empire. If you know of anyone interested in advertising or sponsorship, please contact me.

Adoption Continues

Wow, one month of blogging about adoption. It seems like a long time ago when we first promised to blog for the month of November about adoption. I wanted to thank everybody who answered interview questions, who shared links, who commented in some way, who spread the word, who agreed to support us in some way. I know I’ve learned a lot about adoption this month and I hope you have too. And I hope you’re not tired of it.

Adoption isn’t something that should get focus once a year and then be forgotten. And we certainly won’t be forgetting about it. And we hope you won’t either.

Our adoption process continues. We probably won’t stop blogging about adoption just because November is over (I have a few more interviews hopefully coming in soon). We’ll have updates and eventually, hopefully, some good news to share.

We hope you’ll stick around.

Adoption Interview Stories

Yesterday I shared an adoption interview with Sheila Cina about her family’s experience adopting their daughter, Irina, from Russia. After answering my e-mail questions she shared this story:

Irina just came down and asked what I was doing on the computer. I explained what an interview is and told her it was about adoption which gave her a big smile.

I asked Irina what she would like to say about adoption:

Irina: “It’s fun not to be an orphan cuz’ you don’t get to pick your clothes cuz’ that’s very boring to have to wear them.”

Mom: “Anything else you want to say?”

Irina: “No.”

We talked after that for a while, reminiscing about the adoption process and wondering who and where she would be and trusting that God knew exactly who and where she was and that he would bring us together somehow. She wanted to hear some of her favorite stories about meeting each other and flying back to Minnesota.

Thanks for the opportunity to think through this all again.

Adoption Interviews: Sheila Cina

Sheila and Matt Cina live in Minneapolis and run an electric business. They have three children–Jack, 14, Kate, 10, and Irina, 7. Sheila and Matt adopted Irina from Russia when she was 5 years old.

1. What’s your adoption experience been like?

It’s been a great experience. It’s like getting married. You put so much thought into that special day when you will be united. It is so hard to know what life will be like after that big day that most of the thought ahead of time is trying to get yourselves to that day. And, like marriage, after the big event there were surprise difficulties that we couldn’t have imagined but so many more wonderful experiences and a new way of life that we enjoy more than ever.

2. What made you decide to adopt?

We wanted another child and had several miscarriages (9 in all). We also saw that there were so many kids out there without loving homes that we felt it would be best to provide that place for a child who wanted it.

Continue reading Adoption Interviews: Sheila Cina

Pick Your Words Honestly

I have a client that needed to cancel an event this week. But that’s not how they’re phrasing it. Instead of canceled the event was withdrawn.

What does that even mean?

I understand what they’re up against. They don’t want the negative connotation that goes along with an event being canceled. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do about that. The next best thing you can do is to reschedule an event. But if you have to cancel an event, just say that. The clarity and straight-forward approach will mean something to people. They’ll see you’re an organization that can admit its mistakes.

But if you have to withdraw an event, well, that’s another story. First people will pause and try to figure out what that means. Who withdraws an event? They’ll sort it out, eventually, and then they’ll wonder why you phrased it so oddly. They’ll quickly see that you’re trying to put a positive spin on the cancellation, and they’ll realize you’re trying to be a PR huckster. You just lost a notch of respect.

If you have potentially negative news to break, don’t be a spin artist. Play it straight. You’ll communicate more clearly and your audience will respect you for it.

Adoption Interviews: Erin Pratt

Just as Abby and I were getting into the adoption process a couple who used to attend our church showed up again. Andy and Erin Pratt had moved to Duluth but were now back in the Twin Cities–and they had a baby. About a year ago they adopted Henry from Guatemala when he was 5-months-old. They’ve since moved back to the Twin Cities, and just in time to share their adoption experience with us.

Andy is 29 and Erin is 32 and they’ve been married for almost five years. They’re both attorneys, though Erin is currently a full time mom. They adopted through Children’s Home Society and Family Services and the process took a little over a year (you can read about the process on their adoption blog–they don’t update it anymore, but it gives you a good insight into their journey).

1. What motivated you to adopt?

I wanted to be a parent long before Andy. And, practically, we needed to wait until he finished law school. We started trying to get pregnant soon after Andy’s graduation. Nothing happened for about seven months. Neither of us wanted to pursue fertility treatments. We knew God had planned for us to be parents and after prayer and discussion, we quickly learned that we were meant to build our family through adoption. I wish that I could write that I had always wanted to adopt ever since I was a little girl. I just never thought about it. However, once we started considering and researching adoption, we never looked back.

Continue reading Adoption Interviews: Erin Pratt