stepping back from social media


stepping back from social media


No, not quitting. Just stepping back.

On a few separate occasions, I’ve taken a several-day total break from social media. And I really enjoyed it. I took a break on our recent trip to Maine, and I’m so glad I did. I found myself using free time to read, and I felt more engaged with Dan during meals or while walking around.

Really, I’ve been stepping back from social media in different ways for about a year.

It started with removing notifications from my phone’s home screen. I noticed myself constantly looking at it for my likes on Instagram and my replies on Twitter and my tagged photos on Facebook. It was a huge waste of time. And reinforced the tether I had to my phone throughout the day.

I removed each app’s home screen notifications one by one over a period of a few months. Now, the only thing I see on there are tweets from Safe Families about their placement needs. I’ve enjoyed it.

I’m entertaining the idea of limiting Facebook time to once in the morning and once in the evening. Just not sold on it yet.

What I am sold on is this — more time writing (on this blog and in my journal), more time reading (devoured three books in the last month), more time creating (have the inspiration and supplies for many projects), and more time with people about whom I care.

So, hey, want to hang out? Recommend a good book? Do a project together?

Have you recently stepped back from social media in some way? What did you find about your experience?

listen and pray



Prism Diamond by Paper Monkey Press




Prism Diamond by Paper Monkey Press

Ebola, Africa, disease, Robin Williams, depression, suicide, Mike Brown, race, police. 

I’ve gotten lost in the online conversations and debate. Have you?

I care deeply about these issues. I have strong opinions about these issues. My opinions are informed by my faith and my life experiences.

I have to tell you my opinions have not been formed by personal manifestos shared on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. My opinions have not been formed by that blog post that well-known blogger wrote and my Facebook friends then shared. (You may say my life experiences have included the things I’ve read on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. You might be right.)

Currently, though, with all the busy going on in the media, I’d prefer to listen and pray. I’d prefer to not spit out my thoughts, or worse, blindly post an article with a load of opinions I’m promoting as my very own.

I’d prefer to talk face-to-face with people about whom I care. I’d prefer to privately share my experiences with depression and race and the load of worries I have related to those. I’d prefer to influence people through relationships and a mutual interest and respect. 

I’d prefer to have conversations with my black male friends about their personal experiences than read about what white females think about the experiences of black males. 

It’s almost enough to make me want to quit the internet to throw myself into over-coffee-conversations and intense discussions after community group and social media fasts. But that’s not what I’m doing.

I’m just choosing to listen and pray and maybe not share all my opinions in this space at this time. 

how we save money on trips: transportation

We road trip a lot. We have two cars and usually take the more gas efficient one. We also sometimes fly.


how to save money on trips: planes + cars


+ Airline credit cards: Though you may be opposed to multiple credit cards, this one is really worth looking into, even if just for a season of life. When Dan was interviewing for residency programs, he flew a lot.

Southwest Airlines was doing an additional offer at the time, so we got a Southwest credit card. He raked in enough miles that we are now about to take our second to-the-coast trip for free using miles. Try using a site like Slickdeals to search for airlines offering additional perks.

In terms of transportation once we get there, we have two favorites. In general, they are equal or less expensive to taxis.

+ Uber: A taxi-like ride sharing service. Regular people go through an application and background check process to be drivers. Use an app to choose your pick-up location, and the nearest available driver is automatically dispatched to you.

Uber allows you to choose the class of vehicle that will pick you up. We had a boatload of credit recently, so we went for the Denali.

Use this code for a first free ride (up to $30): lx0hs. 

+ Lyft: Lyft works the exact same way. The prices are comparable from what I understand. In our experience, some cities just have more Lyft cars than Uber cars and vice versa. Right now, within approximately 10 minutes of our home, there are six Lyft cars.

We’ve had better experiences with Uber, but we have accounts for both. I find the Uber app to be easier to use, but Lyft has more availability in our city, it seems.

Use your account to invite your friend, boyfriend, spouse, parent, or other person with whom you’ll be traveling. You’ll have double the referral credit!

What tips do you have for saving money on transportation when taking trips? 

how we save money on trips: hotels

be bold + a $100 Minted store credit giveaway

I think my greatest weakness may be art prints. Lately Minted has me transfixed by their options. I love browsing their art prints online and using them to accompany blog posts for which I have no photos.

A couple months ago, we bought Abstract Brights by Kelly Nasuta to sit in the empty space above our Eames chair knock-offs. I favorited about ten options, Dan narrowed it down to three, and we mutually picked this one. We’re still really happy with it.


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Recently, we chose this print — Be Bold by Kelly Nasuta* — for the boys’ room. Our preparations in their room have been stopped and started a few times, but I’m still really excited about the things we’ve slowly collected for them.


Be Bold by Kelly Nasuta


Though we originally chose this print as a reminder for them, it kicked me in the butt the second I pulled it out of the box. We’ve set it on a chair in our dining room, and I think it will stay there for the near future. It’s a reminder for me in all aspects of my life. I have a tendency to curl up in the corner when boldness is required. Working on that.


Be Bold by Kelly Nasuta


Minted has generously offered me the opportunity to give away $100 store credit to be used on whatever you wish — not just art. Use the widget below to enter (and click onto the actual post if it’s not showing up for you right now).


Be Bold by Kelly Nasuta



The giveaway will run from Monday, July 28, at 12a EST to Monday, August 11, at 12a EST. Entries will be verified, and I will contact the winner by email. Please respond within 48 hours, or a new winner will be chosen. Have fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Baxton Studio Fiorenza White Plastic Armchairs
Anthropologie Peach Dip-Dot Pillow
Paisley Sprouts pillow case
Riviera Green Ming Chair (ours was found at the outlet on final sale!)
Orange dot curtains from Urban Outfitters — no longer available 

*I didn’t realize until writing this post that our two prints are by the same artist. We love your work, Kelly!



Modern Patchwork by Kelly Nasuta



Modern Patchwork by Kelly Nasuta

Disclosure: I received a print complimentary from Minted, but the above opinions are all my own. Affiliate links used in this post. 

parenting concepts for me: grief


Sway by Naomi Ernest



Sway by Naomi Ernest

My views on grief have evolved since my teen years. I’ve learned a lot since becoming interested in adoption and pursuing a graduate degree in social work. I have some strong feelings about grief. Dan and I went to see a set of short films at our local film fest this week. The first one was simply yet abstractly about grief, and it’s still on my mind.

I used to think grief was reserved for the death of someone we love. So I was shocked to learn about the ways grief affects adopted children — even those who have not necessarily experienced the death of a birth parent or caregiver.

From the details we know of the boys’ story, we know that they’ve been uprooted from familiarity at least twice, and they will be again when we bring them into our home and culture. We fully expect they will grieve the loss of their foster family and culture. At their age, this grieving will probably be harder for them to understand and harder for us to communicate to them.

We expect their grief will show up in sleep, eating, and possibly attachment, as it does with many adopted children. We don’t know what they have been told about us, but no matter what they understand, they’re going to be very sad to lose the country they’ve had for 2.5 years and the foster family they’ve had for almost two years now. 

We also except this grief will resurface throughout their lives. Three-year-old T + E will grieve the loss of their birth family, foster family, and birth culture. Thirteen-year-old T + E will grieve the loss of their birth family, foster family, and birth culture. And 25-year-old T + E will, too. Whether they’re fully conscious of it or not, and despite how much they love us or they don’t, they’ll grieve what could have been and what they’ll never know. 

I, too, am feeling myself grieve what could have been and what I’ll never know. We (naively) set out to adopt with the belief that our child would be home before his or her first birthday. We were (and are) young, and we wanted to experience almost as many firsts as our friends get to with their babies. Instead, we’ve seen the boys walk, run, and reach developmental milestones through photos and videos.

A couple of months ago, I carefully packed up the 12- to 18-month and 18- to 24-month clothes we had for the boys. We had the foresight to buy cribs that transition nicely into toddler beds, but I’m starting to wonder if the boys will be past the weight limit for their car seats by the time they sit in them.

But here’s the thing: I’m finding I can handle wondering what could have been and what I’ll never know. I know the end result will be greater. Our prayer as we set out parenting adopted children is that they’ll feel the same.

parenting concepts for me: the river of well-being
parenting concepts for me: sad looks like mad

what else is He saying?

It has once again become very clear that God is telling us to wait. For how long? I do not know.

But what else is He saying? What else should we be doing? Specifically, how should I as a (borrowing this from a friend) stay-at-home-non-mom use my days? 

I’m going a little bit crazy over here with what I would call my lack of contribution to society and God’s kingdom. But, I think I just came across the issue… I’ve fallen into the trap of believing there are only a few ways I can, as a mid-20s-female, contribute. Mothering or working. Or some combination of those.

I constantly find myself straddling these two. I’m frequently in circles of full-time employees. They talk about projects at work, quirky coworkers, and recent business trips. Or I’m in a circle of full-time moms. They talk about potty training, summer camps, and essential oils. (Ha! A joke. We own some oils.)

No, I don’t want this to be a woe-is-me. I have made choices that have left me straddling these two groups. I’m fully aware. Fully accepting it. It’s a challenge, and I accept it. But I want this to be is a “What is God telling me to do with my time right now?” 

Should I find a full-time job? Should we become foster parents? Should we take a long-term Safe Families placement? Should we pursue a concurrent adoption? Should we pursue biological children? Should I open an Etsy shop? Should I go back for another degree or certification?

You see how all those are either related to motherhood or work? What if He’s just telling me to use my time exercising and enjoying Dan and growing my marriage and writing a few foster and adoptive home studies?

Dan and I have this conversation of how I should use my days as frequently as the waves of doubt and sadness and impatience come. We talk about it in the car, in bed at night, and in the restaurant at Trader’s Point Creamery. (Seriously.)

I’m just honestly not sure. Today, I think God might be directing me toward a little more part-time work, but generally still the stay-at-home-non-mom gig I’ve been doing. Two days ago, I was certain it was something else. I’ve opened and promptly closed an Etsy shop, for goodness sakes.

Some aspects of my faith still make me feel a bit embarrassed and confused. I know He speaks in many ways. And I know I’ve heard Him speak many times. But I have sensed direction toward a certain end result and seen those doors completely shut before me. Or I have begged for Him to make it clear and give us wisdom and make the path straight and the path has been so not straight or easy. 

Or is He providing me with multiple options that are all true and noble and right and pure? That’s another questions, isn’t it?

What I do know and understand is the “wait” part. Better than ever.


wait on the hands of God


how we save money on trips: hotels

We take trips frequently. Sometimes short and cheap. Sometimes longer and a bit more expensive. If you look at our finances from a year, I’m pretty convinced a good chunk of our money would be spent on experiences and furniture (besides adoption). The stuff that lasts, in my opinion.

Our trip-taking has evolved over time. And with new apps and new wisdom, I think we’ve gotten even better at saving a few bucks. We are not experts, and I’m okay with it. My budget motto lately has been, “Save when you can, splurge when you must.” And we must splurge on Top Chef contestant and celebrity chef restaurants like the geeks we are.

As a series, I’ll be sharing the ways we save money on hotels, transportation, activities, and food.


how to save money on hotels


So, how we save money on hotels:

+ Priceline Express deals: Priceline Negotiator worked well for a while, but we prefer Priceline Express. You tell them where you’re going and the dates, and they provided discounted rates on hotels. You don’t know the hotel, but you get the rating, general location, and amenities. There are usually several price points, saving you as much as 45% in some cases.

If you want to put in the time, open another window and use the check boxes to narrow down — or sometimes totally figure out — the hotel you’re getting. We’ve had one oh-no-moment doing this, but that was a silly error on our part.

+ Hotel Tonight: If willing to wait to the day of travel, Hotel Tonight is awesome. Hotels with available rooms opt-in to be included in the app, most frequently at discounted prices. Right now, the Hilton in our city is on there for $99 as opposed to their usual $189 rate. A resort in Maine is on there for $169 as opposed to $399.

The app is well-designed with photos, maps, ratings, amenities, and the ability to make a quick on-your-smart-phone transaction.

And as an additional perk, get $25 off your first stay with the promo code NSEITZ1!

+ Loyalty/rewards programs: Find a hotel chain or group you especially enjoy? Join their rewards program for eventual free nights and other benefits. Loyalty programs can’t usually be utilized when booking through third-party sites, but it’s worth it to try if free to join.

We like Kimpton hotels (hello, no pet fee!). By joining their loyalty program, we got free wifi, $10 in the mini bar, and access to discounted last-minute deals.

+ Rentals: Okay, not really hotels. But sometimes just as fun. We’ve only used Airbnb, but I’ve heard good things about HomeAway and VRBO, as well.

Airbnb has worked well for us in places without a lot of hotel options when we’d prefer a cabin, like the Smokey Mountains and rural Georgia. Some cities seem to have more cheaper-than-hotels options on Airbnb than others.

parenting concepts for me: sad looks like mad



Lights on the Lake by Lindsay Megahed



A concept I’ve heard more frequently lately — especially as it applies to adopted and foster children — is “when sad looks like mad.” (I think it originally comes from my buddy, Karyn Purvis.)

My little introvert self has always been quietly perceiving the roots of external actions and words of those around me. They’re saying this, but they really feel this kind-of-stuff. In kids from “hard places,” and surely many “normal” kids, sad frequently looks like mad. In me, too.

My biggest areas of sadness lately are related to the unpredictable delays and out-of-nowhere disappointments related to our adoption process. It lately seems that any bit of hope is soon met with some sort of discouraging news. (Lately? Maybe not lately. It’s just getting harder again as we get so close to the end.) Even getting an unexpected video of the boys turns quickly into the saddest reminder that they are very much out of our reach, and we have absolutely no control. This is nothing new, really.

But suddenly, I find myself inexplicably mad. Mad at Dan for… wait, I can’t remember now. I can’t remember, because my anger was precipitated by some other event that made me deeply sad. Those events usually happen during the day — emails from our agency, alerts posted by the Department of State, even rumors shared on message boards. I’m alone, I’m sad, and I keep it in.

The day passes, Dan comes home, and my sad about adoption has transformed into mad at Dan for who knows what. My sadness is being expressed by anger.

Our kids will likely do this, too. We’ve definitely seen it in our Safe Families kids. They will be sad that they have come home to a home that is not their parent’s. They don’t have the ability to put words to the sad. So they get mad at us for not letting them eat a popsicle for dinner.

I, on the other hand, do have the ability to put words to my sad. I just gotta do it. Painful as it is. Over and over again. It’s worth it to not feel this inexplicable mad. 

If this topic interests you, I recommend this video by the folks at Empowered to Connect.

Cincinnati city guide

Cincinnati, I came for your IKEA, and I stayed for your other offerings. You were lovely.


Cincinnati city guide, including Sharon Woods, Findlay Market, Hello Honey, Nada, Graeter's, 21C


Here’s what we did in a little Cincinnati city guide:

Eat

+ Hello Honey: Toasted homemade marshmallows on unique ice cream flavors. We kind of hit the desserts hard on this trip. This cute spot is in a nondescript storefront downtown. Their ice cream flavors and other homemade dessert offerings were most wonderful, though. Honey lavender ice cream, lemon meringue pie ice cream, green tea cake. You get the idea. Just go.

+ Buona Terra: Delicious gelato in a cute spot. They have crepes, too, though we did not try them. The gelato was expensive, but isn’t it always? The staff was friendly and happy to let us sample everything. The shop was cute and modern with a fair amount of seating.


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+ Graeter’s: A Cincinnati staple with a cult following. My husband’s former roommate’s parents would bring him coolers of Graeter’s when they came to visit. That was my first introduction, but I’ve continued to pick up on a sort of strange this-is-the-ultimate-ice-cream obsession from others I’ve met. There’s shops — unless brand new — are all over the area and all seem a bit dingy to me. But that’s not what you’re there for. Try the black raspberry chocolate chip!

+ Nada: Contemporary Mexican downtown. Mixed feelings on this one. It was pricy, but it was kind of classy in a restaurant chain-like way. (But it is not a chain!) Nada felt like a contemporary Mexican Cheesecake Factory. Can I say that? We sat outside in the shade of a tree with globe ball lights strung in it. I got barbacoa tacos — two tacos for $12. I’m a sucker for pickled red onions lately.

Do

+ Sharon Woods: A park with rolling paths around a small lake. It costs a few dollars to get in, but it feels good to support such a nice park. The bathroom was actually pretty nice, which I appreciate in a park. There was a splash pad and playground, boat rentals, fishing areas, picnic tables, and several miles of paved trails. There are several geocaches along the way, too!

+ Findlay Market: Historical public market. Like Soulard Market in St. Louis, there’s something charming about markets with physical buildings in addition to the little pop-up stands. Our favorites were the Taste of Belgium stand, where we got waffles, and Pet Wants, where we got a dog treat for Oscar waiting patiently at the hotel. It was crowded when we were there, but not overwhelming. The market is open every day of the week but Monday.

+ MiCA 12/v: Home decor, jewelry, and gifts in Over-the-Rhine. This shop is in the middle of the hip Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. The prices are what you would expect, but the items they carry are pleasantly unique. The gift options seem to hit all groups of recipients, too — men, women, and children. Though I only walked out with a perfume sample, I would come back to slowly browse again.

+ Loveland Castle: A hidden gem that may or may not be worth your money. We’ve been obsessed with castles since spotting one hidden on a hill on another trip. This one is strange but interesting. It’s volunteer run and operated solely on the admission price of $5 a person. If you like strange, unique spots, it’s worth it. There’s a small castle to walk around inside, gardens to view, and a river to picnic near. They didn’t mind our dog or our giggling about the strangeness of it all.


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See

+ Union Terminal: Art deco beauty at an old train station. It’s free to park for several minutes and fun to check out the fountain out front and ceilings inside. There’s a museum, but we didn’t go into that section. It was fun enough to see the architecture, though a little out of the way from the other places we were.


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+ 21C Museum Hotel: Art gallery inside a hotel. The art here is contemporary — or creepy, if you’re unfamiliar with most contemporary art. We’re fans of the 21C Hotels (in Louisville and Bentonville besides Cincinnati), because we like free art opportunities but aren’t quite ready to shovel out money for the nightly rate to stay. This was right near Nada and the Contemporary Art Museum, which I’m still sad we didn’t make time for.

Stay

We did the good ol’ Drury Inn for this one — hello Kickback and low pet fees! But other options:

+ 21C Museum Hotel: Do it if you’ve got the cash. It looks so fun.

+ Airbnb home five minutes from downtown

+ Airbnb studio in Over-the-Rhine

Disclosure: Affiliate links used

normal is not necessary



Pebble by 2birdstone



Pebble by 2birdstone

I think I’m starting to accept it. A little late to the game, aren’t I? I’m not afraid to admit I’m still growing up and giving up a lot of naive hopes.

My life will never be normal. And normal is not necessary. Not necessary for my faith or my happiness or my enjoyment or my contentment.

Some of this not normal I have chosen. Some of it I have not.

It is not normal to be unable to travel for a three-day holiday weekend because your husband is working the night before and the night after. It’s not normal to go to bed at 2 a.m. and sleep in until 10 a.m. because you can’t sleep without him.

It is not normal to have your brain scanned every six months to a year for the rest of your life.

It is not normal to pursue adoption before biological children. It is not normal to wait two years for something that was expected to take 11 months.

It seems trivial when I write it, but these have all been on my mind. Schedules, health, family. Not normal.

I have struggled to accept that I will now never have a clear health history and will have yearly reminders of those really scary few days in the hospital. I have struggled to accept that the family-building route we felt called to has not been as smooth as we hoped.

It’s all based on comparison, though. And I like this life and its uniqueness quite a bit. I’m accepting that normal is not necessary. So, here we go. I have to imagine the not normal will only increase.