Friday, October 29, 2010

Never Say Never

When Nate and I were dating, and talking about getting married, I was very clear with him on one MINOR little opinion I had about our future.

Nate grew up in a tiny town in eastern Iowa. Correction: Nate grew up in the COUNTRY, outside a tiny town in eastern Iowa. And by tiny, I mean population 500. I'm not exaggerating here.

I grew up primarily in the Des Moines area. My graduating class had more than 500 people.


So I very graciously and tactfully (or maybe abrasively and vehemently) said the following to him during one of our conversations.

"I will NEVER live in a small town. NEVER. So if we're going to get married, you have to promise that we won't ever have to move back to your hometown."

He assured me he had no plans to move home and take over his dad's businesses (sorry, Greg), so we were able to put that behind us and move forward with our plans for the future.

Fast forward about 8 years....

Nate got a job offer from his company that would be perfect for him. It's a promotion. It's a really unique opportunity. It's perfect for him.

It's in rural NW Iowa.

He's taking the job.

The Pritchard's are moving to small town Iowa, sometime in the not so distant future.


Yeah, me too.

I guess when I said I'd NEVER live in a small town, I wasn't specific enough :)

But this is a really great opportunity for Nate, and we're excited about a new beginning, however scary it may be.

I'm choosing to look at this as an adventure. Let the adventure begin...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hiking, Hairnets & A Whole Lot of Wildlife

Earlier this month, we took a last minute vacation to Colorado. We had said that if Baby B ended up going home, we were going on a vacation. And boy, did we need it! It was great to just get away as a family of three for a few days!

Yes, we pulled Macieo out of school. And while school is important, it was well worth it, because family is MORE important! We randomly chose the dates of our trip based on the our crazy schedule. It was, literally, the only week this fall that we felt like we could get away. And you know what, it was PERFECT. I was worried we might have missed the beauty of fall, but we timed it just right. I highly recommend Colorado in mid-October!

The aspen trees were incredible. That gorgeous gold color, against a clear blue sky, literally takes your breath away.

We spent a couple of days driving/hiking/experiencing Rocky Mountain National Park. If you've never been, I nighly recommend it. I grew up skiing, and have seen a lot of beautiful mountain views, but this was incredible!

We visited an area at the very top of the park where the landscape is considered "arctic tundra." It was beautiful, but it was COLD! We had a picnic at the bottom of the park, and it was 72 degrees. Then we drove up to the highest point of elevation, and faced freezing cold, hurrican force winds. It was bleak. We climbed to the top of these rocks, and had a 360 degree view of the Rockies.

We saw a TON of wildlife. While there are many signs telling you NOT to approach the wildlife, Macieo couldn't help making nice with one furry friend.

This type of bluejay was EVERYWHERE. Very cool.

There were elk everywhere we turned. We even got stuck in a half hour traffic jam caused by a herd of about 5o elk, trying to cross the road!

Even in Estes Park, where we stayed, the elk were everywhere.

About 100 feet from our condo, this was our view. Much to my delight, there was a Starbucks with a charming little patio right on this river. I spent all my mornings here, reading, gazing at this:

We kept busy riding horses,

hiking the trails,

and taking in the view.
We spent a day in the charming city of Boulder, where Macieo found a fun place to do some urban climbing.
We toured the Celestial Seasonings tea factory. Yes, we had to wear hairnets. Sadly, this is the only picture from the entire trip that includes all three of us!
All in all, it was a wonderful week. We are so thankful that we were able to carve out some time to spend together as a family. While we've taken a few weekend trips (Omaha Zoo, Minneapolis, Wisconsin Dells), this was Macieo's first "official" family vacation. And it won't be the last!

One Phone Call

This afternoon, as I was getting ready to go out the door to pick Macieo up from school, I got a phone call.

It was a woman from DHS that I had never met before. She just had a quick question for me.

Now, I get all sorts of phone calls where people have questions. A friend calls and asks, "Can you have lunch?" My mom calls and asks, "How are you doing?" My husband calls and asks, "What are we doing for dinner tonight?"

But this call was a little different. She said the following:

"I have a three-year-old little boy I am needing to place. He's currently in a temporary foster home. His parental right have been terminated, so he's needing to find a forever family. There's really nothing else that needs to be done, other than finding a permanant home for him. Would you and your husband be interested in adopting him?"

Just like that. All in a days work, right? There is a little boy who needs to be adopted. No warning, no long, drawn out history or process. Just a question.

I was saddened, because typically this situation would be ideal for Nate and I. We often talk about wanting to adopt an older child. While I adore babies and would love to raise one of my children from infancy, we are very aware of the fact that Macieo is already eight, and he will be significantly older than any other children we may have or adopt. So we would be very open to adopting an older child.

Unfortunately, there are some circumstances in our lives right now that led us to say no to this woman's question. It wouldn't be good right now for us, or for that little boy, if we adopted.

So I politely said no, and we hung up the phone.

Just like that.

And after we ended the call, I just sat there in stunned silence over how simple the whole conversation had been.

But I was struck by the magnitude of what had just happened.

There is a healthy, loving, little boy out there who belongs to no one.

His parental rights have been terminated, so he currently has no parents.

He belongs to no one.

And this broke my heart more than I can express. This is not right. This SHOULD NOT BE. Every little child should belong to someone.

I think I was struck by this because in so many cases, when we think about or talk about adoption, we see things from in international perspective. The need across the world for adoptive parents is staggering. Often when we think of orphans, we think of malnourished, neglected children in exotic faraway places. And while those children are desperately in need of our help, too, we rarely hear the word "orphan" and think of a place like "Ankeny."

But there is a little boy, in Ankeny, at this very moment, who belongs to no one.

And that is just not right.

So I don't really know what I'm trying to get at with this post, other than I feel really overwhelmed by the fact that a woman is going down a list of names right now, making brief phone calls, trying to find a family for this little boy. It could be that easy.

While some families live through the agony of waiting years and doing mountains of paperwork and visiting third world countires to bring home their beloved children, there is a little boy somewhere in my own community who needs a family today. No paperwork. No travel. No waiting. He belongs to no one. He needs a mom and a dad.

It breaks my heart to think of the baggage that this little boy will carry around for the rest of his life. Because at three, he's old enough to be aware that he is without a family. And it breaks my heart that right now, we can't take him. We can't be the family he needs.

So I pray that before the day is over, this worker will find someone who can take him, and love him, and teach him that families are forever, and life doesn't have to be so scary and uncertain, and that there's a big God who created and cares for him, and that he's worth loving.

Calls like these break my heart, but they also kind of put things in perspective. We've got it so good. There is a crisis, world-wide, where literally over 140 million children are without homes. And this problem starts in our own backyard.

I hope and pray that more that more people will stand up and be willing to be part of the solution. I hope and pray that someday, if I receive another phone call like that, I'll be in a place where I can say yes.

I pray, that very soon, that little boy belongs to someone.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

This Is a Problem

I love to read.

Like, really, really, love to read.

As a kid, I was one who would sit inside on a beautiful sunny day to read a book, while all the other kids were playing kickball.

I’m kind of a nerd like that.

I started college thinking I wanted to be an English teacher. Problem was, I just wanted to read books and talk about them with people. When it dawned on me that I’d actually have to have a classroom full of naughty students, I decided teaching might not be for me. I got an English lit minor, just for fun. It hasn’t really done me a whole lotta good in my adult life.

While we had baby B, I kind of took a hiatus from reading. I took a hiatus from quite a few things while we had the baby (cleaning, cooking, exercising…) It’s funny how having a baby can do that to you.

But since Baby B went home, and school’s back in session, I’ve found I have a little “spare” time on my hands. And since I still don’t have any desire to clean, cook or exercise, I’m filling some of that extra time with reading.

The problem is, I’m kind of in that “feast after the famine” stage. It started out innocently enough, but I realized this morning I am currently attempting to read NINE different books. At the same time. Yes, you heard that right. NINE.

And I wonder why I can’t focus on anything for long.

All of a sudden, I’ve noticed all these books that look interesting. Or pertinent to my life. And I’ve borrowed them, checked them out at the library, even purchased one (I rarely purchase books). And I’ve brought them home and read the first chapter. And then found another book that looked interesting. And read the first chapter of that one. And now I’m stuck with NINE books.

This might be a problem.

I’m in a book club, and finally decided this morning that I should sit down and read our current selection. The problem is, we’re not quite sure when we’re meeting to talk about it. A book club is a great idea, but ours is pretty fluid. It’s a bunch of friends who figured that getting together to discuss a book once a month was a great excuse for a night out and a good glass of wine. Sometimes we talk about the book. Sometimes we don’t. Some months we meet. Some months we don’t. Just depends.

Our fluid approach to book club pretty much mirrors my fluid approach to reading.

What mood am I in today?

What do I want to learn about today?

Maybe I’d rather watch TV today?

And alas, I’m in the middle of NINE books, with no end on the horizon.

So I’m committing, in writing, today, to finish at least a few of these books. I bet some of them are really good. I bet I could learn something.

So I better quit writing this…I’ve got some reading to do.

In case you’re interested, here is the current list of books I’m attempting to read. Think I can get them all done by Christmas? We're driving to Colorado next week, so hopefully I can knock a few off the list!

The Explosive Child (Ross Greene)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Barbara Kingsolver)
Vintage Church (Mark Driscoll)
Shepherding a Child’s Heart (Tedd Tripp)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Steig Larsson)
It’s Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street (Emma Williams)
Faithful Place (Tana French)
Moonlight Becomes You (Mary Higgins Clark)
Radical (David Platt)

Anyone have any others to recommend?

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