Crazy Week

In the Rocking ChairThis has been a pretty crazy week.

  • On Monday I announced that we’re planning to adopt again. This is still new and we’re figuring it out as we go, but it’s pretty exciting.
  • On Tuesday I announced my new book, Addition by Adoption: Kids, Causes & 140 Characters.
  • The marketing machine went to work to spread the word far and wide about the book. It’s exhausting. And thrilling. And kind of scary. I did my first interview about the book on Wednesday night. On Thursday the first review came out (wow, what a rave!). I spent Friday night doing an e-mail interview. I need to do another one today. All in preparation for the pre-order, which starts on Tuesday (meaning the craziness continues next week). Whew.
  • I also opted to redesign my entire web site this week in order to better accommodate the info about the book. I’m still working out the kinks.
  • Milo is being baptized on Sunday in what’s shaping up to be a multicultural Sunday. In addition to baptizing an Ethiopian, the archbishop of Rangoon, Burma is preaching the sermon at the 8:30 service, during the education hour a chaplain for Karen refugees in Thailand will be sharing as well as a missionary from Argentina, and later that afternoon there will be a baptism and confirmation of a number of Karen parishioners.
  • We’re hosting a little shindig for Milo which means we need to clean the house. Bigtime. Plus Milo’s God parents are coming in to town from the east coast and staying with us. We should maybe clear off the bed in the guest room for them.

I didn’t plan any of this to happen at the same time. I just is. And it’s kind of cool that it’s working out that way.

Addicted to Family Photos

I’m kind of addicted to family pictures. I’m approaching 20,000 pictures in my Flickr account. 7,000 of those feature Lexi and 2,000 feature Milo. Those ridiculous numbers are thanks to the digital photography era, but my addiction goes beyond merely snapping new digital pics.

In 2007 I brought my scanner to Thanksgiving with the intention of scanning some of my Grandma’s historic family photos. In addition I raided my parents’ collection of family photos and scanned more than 500 images. A couple weeks ago I finally finished cropping, sorting and uploading them (in order to speed up the scanning process I just slapped as many photos as would fit on the scanner and scanned them, opting to go back later to crop them and label them—who knew that process would take two and a half years?). I haven’t even started going through my Grandma’s family pictures.

Why do I like family photos so much? I don’t know. I do know that I love seeing the same picture with many years in between:

Like the first and last day of school photos, taken in the front hall of our house, separated by only 13 years of education, dorkiness and new linoleum (but the same wallpaper):
First Day of School: KindergartenHigh School Graduation 1997

Continue reading Addicted to Family Photos

Through Songs I Was First Undone

Through Songs I Was First Undone by Justin McRoberts
Through Songs I Was First Undone by Justin McRoberts

You know what’s embarrassing? Reviewing a cover album when you’re not familiar with any of the original songs. That’s where I find myself with the new release from Justin McRoberts, Through Songs I Was First Undone. I believe that makes me a musical dork.

Justin picks a wide range of songs from The Rolling Stones to Tom Waits to Nine Inch Nails (unfamiliar with the ‘Stones? Yep, musical dork.). He makes them his own, like any good cover project needs to, but you can still feel some of the original artist coming through (I could easily pick out the Nine Inch Nails and George Michael songs).

The best songs on the album are perhaps the most intimate ones, “Gerogia Lee” (by Tom Waits) and “Head Like a Hole” (by Nine Inch Nails). Both songs are honest explorations of truth, the kind of thing Justin is good at. It also might help that I’ve read Justin’s blog posts about both songs (Georgia Lee: Part 1, Part 2; Head Like a Hole: Part 1, Part 2).

Perhaps my favorite part of the album was the bonus tracks you get for buying the album, which included a cover of U2’s “First Time.” Now there’s an original I’m familiar with! A lot of people rightly think it’s sacrilege to cover U2, but when it’s done well I appreciate a good U2 cover. They’re perhaps never as good as the original, but when you start with such good material you end up with something pretty good. That’s the case with Justin’s cover.

Self-Publishing Ain’t Easy

Yesterday I announced my new book, Addition by Adoption, and started the promotional juggernaut to get the word out about it. I’m self-publishing it, so I’m on my own. And I’ve learned you can’t just sit back and wait for your book to sell. I need all the help I can get.

So I have all these plans and ideas to spread the word. It all went into motion yesterday (well, actually Monday with my e-mail newsletter). Today I individually e-mailed more than 130 people trying to line up reviews, interviews, blog posts, Twitter/Facebook mentions—basically anything people are willing to do (if you didn’t get an e-mail and think you should, hit me up—I could always use more promo help). I’ll be contacting a lot more people in the days and weeks ahead (that’s fair warning to anyone who has ever known me). I also sent out nearly 20 digital review copies of the book today. Last week I stayed up until midnight trying to plan all this out.

It’s all a bit overwhelming. And kind of scary.

I’ve been planning this book for almost a year now. Now as I’m sending out copies and getting ready to make this happen we’ll see if it’s any good. We’ll find out if I’ve been wasting my time or if I actually have something interesting on my hands.

Because books aren’t easy. If I can sell a mere 100 copies I’ll be in the top 21% of books sold.

So here we go.

On the plus side, it’s amazing hearing back from people who are ready and willing to help. I’m so grateful for that. Some folks have just said ‘tell me what to do and I’ll do it.’ One person said not to send them a copy, they’d buy their own plus a few more to give away to their friends. Wow.

That kind of response makes it a little less scary.

Addition by Adoption: My New Book

Addition by Adoption: Kids, Causes & 140 Characters by Kevin D. HendricksI’m happy to announce my new book, Addition by Adoption: Kids, Causes & 140 Characters. Allow me to quote myself from the backcover:

A work-at-home dad turns to Twitter to share updates about kids, causes and life. It’s a curated selection of bizarre quotes, funny stories and temper tantrums. Woven between potty-training woes and breakfast time songs is a family growing through adoption and learning how to change the world, one status update at a time.

You’ll find humor, parental commiseration and life-changing wonder mixed into a quick and compelling read.

Sounds awesome, right? I know. I’ve been kind of book happy this year, but this Twitter book has been in the works for a while. It’s full of the funny things Lexi and Milo do, the insanity of parenthood and the roller coaster of our adoption journey. The tweets are broken into chapters with their own introduction, making for a concise little 82-page book.

One of the best parts about the book is that a portion of the proceeds are going to go to charity: water. I’m hoping we can raise $5,000 and build a well in Ethiopia (not just raise the cost for a well in Ethiopia—actually fund a specific well in Ethiopia).

So when is it available? We’re going to do a limited pre-order starting next week—the pre-order will mean you can get the book cheaper and twice as much money goes to charity: water. Pre-order copies will also be signed by Lexi! The pre-order will last just one week though—April 13-20—so don’t forget to get in on that action. Then the book will officially launch on May 11.

We’ll have more details coming soon, but I wanted to get the initial information out there. My favorite part of this whole roll out is that it’s coinciding with the beginning of our next adoption. How cool is that? Not planned at all, but we’ll take it. [This roll out also coincides with this fancy new blog design, which is sort of planned and sort of not, as you can tell by stuff that isn’t quite right yet.]

We’re Adopting! (Again)

My wife already broke the news, but now it’s my turn: We’re adopting. Again. We’re not exactly sure what or where or how or when, but we’re starting the adoption process. At this point we’re actually leaning towards adopting older kids through the Minnesota Waiting Child program. We went to an informational meeting last week and we signed up for a required training class at the end of the month (which they describe as trying to scare you out of the program).

I don’t want to say we’ve decided anything for sure (the training may just scare us away), but we’re definitely leaning in that direction. We’ve been having lots of conversations about adopting older kids and what that means and what ages and how many and all of that. We’ve been talking to Lexi about it (Milo doesn’t seem to have an opinion on the subject) and she was initially very set on having a sister. Though this morning she told me we could have a baby in Milo’s crib because there’s room, we could have two kids in the basement bedroom, one kid could sleep on the bottom of Lexi’s bunk bed and another could sleep in the bed with Abby and I. Then Lexi told me I can just sleep in a sleeping bag to make room for more kids.

Despite Lexi’s plans I doubt we’ll be adopting five children.

It’s not easy and it’s never simple, but I love adoption. I love the hope it offers, the second chance it gives and the way it changes me. I like the idea of creating a family through adoption, taking multiple stories of brokenness and creating something new and full of grace. Not to discount the pain and loss involved on many sides, because that’s very real and has equally real consequences, but I’m kind of an insufferable optimist. I don’t like that adoption is necessary because that means hurt and brokenness has happened and nobody wants that. But if those are the chips we’re dealt, I guess I’m the kind of person who would rather pick them up and put them back together again. It’s not about rescuing children or saving them like some kind of hero. Adoption should be a last resort. It’s about giving these kids what they deserve.

Babies are great. But I don’t think we’re going back there again. At the same time our family isn’t complete. I don’t know what this looks like and how it all comes together, but I’m excited to find out.

Easter & MLK

I love church on Easter Sunday. It’s a party. The music rocks harder. People dance. Everybody comes in smiling. And after six weeks of a quiet, somber end to church,  we get to say Alleluia again.

Last year Milo banished us to the cry room and Lexi threw a fit when we went up for communion. This year Milo seemed to want to sing in the choir, even though we don’t have a choir. Lexi did fine at communion, pausing to lean Pinky against the kneeler before she stood at the communion rail. After church I didn’t have much time to talk to anyone because Milo made a beeline for the door and we spent a while playing in the grass.

This year the sermon closed with a reading of John Updike’s “Seven Stanzas at Easter.” I’d never heard it before and find Updike to be very hit or miss, but this was good. The poem focused on the importance of Christ’s bodily ressurrection—that Jesus literally came back from the dead. Updike focus more on the reality of it, but a few lines reminded me of the very Buffy the Vampire Slayer nature of the ressurrection. The grave was empty. The body was gone. And he was walking around. Not all putrified zombie corpse, but whole and restored. That’s crazy. And that’s the point. From Updike:

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door. …

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

Continue reading Easter & MLK

First Snowless March in 132 Years

Yesterday’s high of 75 nailed it: March 2010 is officially the first Minnesota March in 132 years with no measurable snowfall. It happened in 1878 and 1860, making 2010 only the third year since records were kept that Minnesota has seen a snowless March. Usually March is the second snowiest month of the year with an average of 10 inches in the Twin Cities. March 2010 is also among the top 5 warmest Marches on record.

Make of it what you will, but I think it’s just random and weird and fun.