Holiday Struggles

I’ve struggled with whether or not I should chronicle the most intimate parts of our adoption journey. After lots of thought and prayer, I’ve decided that I need to write about it. Not only is it for my own benefit, but also I feel that part of my purpose is to write so that others can relate. These painful two and a half years of struggling with infertility and beginning the adoption process has left me feeling alone and looking for someone who I could relate to. It’s human nature to want to connect with someone who is in a similar life situation. So—every once in a while I will be writing about some of my inward thoughts about adoption and infertility in hopes that it will be of help to those experiencing something similar and to shed some light for those who aren’t familiar with the processes or emotions of adoption and infertility.

Some holidays are tough for me now. I love spending time with our families and friends and their children, but there are moments where it is a constant reminder that I don’t have children. At the most random of times I will be swept up in uncontrollable emotion. Today we helped my mother in-law set up her Christmas decorations. Our two nieces and one nephew dug into the boxes of their Christmas ornaments that contained a variety of ornaments displaying photos of them from over the years—a kind of time line of their lives. Their parents stood by with the video camera documenting the special moment—the girls, still pajama clad, weighed down one low branch with seven ornaments and sang fragmented Christmas carols and our one wobbly nephew held a musical ornament up to his ear savoring the sound of Deck the Halls. It was a beautiful moment until my eyes began to well up with tears. For the past year it had been my hope to be pregnant by Christmas time so I could give gifts that would reveal our pregnancy--coffee cups with cheesy phrases about being grandparents, picture frames that donned sayings about how important aunts and uncles are, and more importantly coining my husband with the title of dad. I quickly stood and ran upstairs so my tears would not ruin the beautiful moment my nieces and nephew were giving their parents and grandma. We quickly packed our car, said our awkward and rushed goodbyes, and hit the road towards home.

The minute I shut the car door I let the tears fall down my cheeks and squeezed my eyes shut thinking that if I didn’t open my eyes, maybe I would just fall asleep and let the emotions die down. But it didn’t work. I cried from my mother in-law’s house in Grand Island until we reached the interstate near Alda--nearly eight miles of tears. My husband didn’t have to ask what was wrong; he just held my hand as he drove.

I wonder if these sudden outbursts of emotion will ever go away. My fear is that even after our child is placed with us I will start crying during those important moments--birthdays, holidays, etc—because the pain of infertility will catch up with me. How would I even explain that to my child?

It’s amazing how emotions can take such a strong hold on a person. I guess I will just continue to take life one day at a time, trusting that God has ordained a specific child for us to love and raise in His ways and pray that my heart would slowly be healed.


Bringing Web 2.0 to Town: Using Technology to Enhance Student Learning in Rural Areas

This is the official title of the presentation I'm scheduled to give at this year's Rural Sites Conference affiliated with the National Writing Project in Little Rock, Arkansas! I will be collaborating with a professor from Michigan to create a 75 minute presentation on using technology to enhance education for rural students for rural teachers. I am so thrilled to have this opportunity and a little nervous as I'm a bit new in the business of presenting to teachers. More details to come!


Last week I had the chance to travel to Orlando, Florida to attend the National Writing Project conference and the National Council of Teachers of English conference. I attended sessions on digital literacies, Google Apps for Education, teaching in rural places, video gaming in the Language Arts classroom, content area literacy, social justice in the English education setting, and using Google Docs as a collaboration tool. I realize these may sound extremely dull to the average person, but they were incredible. I learned so much that I could take back to my classroom. Though I'm not a Disney World fan, it was a nice get away. Here are some photos from the trip:

Me with Cyndi and Erin Gruwell--the original Freedom Writers teacher

At Epcot--it sounds silly, but when I was a kid, I always imagined that the park was inside that big Epcot ball. For your information, the park is not inside the ball. I was a bit disappointed.

Cyndi and I enjoying a bit of sunshine before hitting the exhibits at NCTE

Cyndi with her loot---we each scored about 60 free young adult books @ the NCTE exhibits...
Last night at Disney= ranting about the commercialism of the whole experience. We were so outraged we decided to be rebellious and climb the "Mayan ruins." A few other swimsuit clad travelers decided to join us for the experience. We were promptly encouraged to climb down the ruins from a relatively kind Disney worker.

More fun with the Mayan ruins...


I don't know why I'm not in bed right now. It's late--but all I can do is listen to music and think. So, though it seems hokey, I thought I'd take advantage of being awake to compose a short and not so eloquent post about what I am thankful for (in no particular order):

  • Good music--I can't begin to express how important music is to me. The Swell Season, Iron and Wine, Bob Dylan, Yael Naim, Owen, Death Cab, Derek Webb, Wilco, and many, many others have brought so much peace to my life. Music balances me and makes me feel alive.
  • Literature--Reading takes me to new understandings and helps me grow into a well-rounded person and pushes me to be better in most aspects of my life.
  • Education--I am so blessed to have had so many educational opportunities. These have pushed me to become an effective teacher.
  • My career--What better job is there than to work with teenagers every day? Ha. Though it is sometimes an emotional roller coaster, I wouldn't trade it for any other career. I love to see them think and create. I enjoy working to make my classroom a community for my students. I love the fast-paced tempo of my job. Teaching is definitely my calling.
  • Family and friends--These people have stuck around through the ups and downs of my life, and for that, I am thankful.
  • Grace--I am an awful person who is consistently screwing up. It humbles me to think that God has offered His grace to me via His son. I take grace for granted a lot---but what a powerful concept that we could all practice in our everyday living.


Skyping With Polish Friends

Today we got a chance to Skype with our friends from Poland, Kris and Ola. We made a great connection with this couple while we were there, so it was great to hear their voices and see their faces. Kris and Ola are so faithful--their marriage and relationship with Christ is encouraging to me. I love hearing them talk about the small groups they are involved with and the outreach they're doing with the scout groups that they lead. Each time I talk with them I am invigorated. We are blessed to have them as friends!

Playing Dress Up with a 5 Year Old

A few weeks ago my niece, Alexis, was spending the weekend with her dad (my brother in-law) and we happened to be in town. So we had some quality time together to: practice her spelling words (she's in Kindergarten), watch movies, build a fort in the living room, and play dress-up. This little girl is so creative and full of energy--she's a blast to play with because her imagination runs wild. We were playing some form of house and our dog Sampson was "the baby"--so Alexis and I dressed up Sampson:

Sampson sporting his new I Love Kindergarten t-shirt and green tutu.

Playing with little kids is great. Not only does it make me excited to have my own children, but it reminds me to lose my inhibitions. To just go crazy and wear the silly, sparkly angel wings and make up dialogue for a half-naked Barbie doll. We can learn a lot from little kids about living in the moment...


More adoption musings

It's official---we have our first intake interview scheduled for Wednesday at 9:00 AM. I am so excited for this next step I can hardly contain myself. But...I'm also growing anxious. I've spent the last hour reading blogs of people who have adopted and though I love reading their stories, it makes me so anxious. I'm nervous about the littlest things---what if I freeze up on the stupidest question (during my interview for my current job, my principal asked me to tell him a little about me, and I blanked out!)? What do I even wear to something like this (seems so shallow, but I want to make a good impression)? What kinds of questions will they ask? I just am so unfamiliar with all of this. I scoured the racks at Hastings Books and Music this weekend (the only major book store in the area) searching for books on adoption and found one book that was over 10 years old....there were loads of books on pregnancy, but one on adoption. I know many, many people who have had their own children naturally, but only know a few people who have adopted. Who do I even turn to when I have questions? I can't turn to my mom or my best friends for answers because they've never experienced this. Sometimes I just feel so alone and frustrated because of our "out of the norm" situation. When I think about, it's a little funny because if you know me well, you know that I spent most of my life trying to break free of conformity and what was considered normal, so I guess our "out of the norm" situation is a bit fitting. Nonetheless, today I feel overwhelmed, overjoyed, and a bit sad. What a mix of emotions, eh?


Adoption update

It's been quite the weekend for us. On Thursday night we headed up to Grand Island to spend some time with Nate's brother Scott and his adorable little girl Alexis. While eating lunch on Friday with Scott, Alexis, Nate's mom (Linda), and my brother in-law (Pat), we got a phone call from the Adoption Intake Coordinator at Nebraska Children's Home wanting to schedule an interview with us. She listed off about 6-7 dates in November, one of them was this Wednesday. So, we checked our calendars and called the woman back to schedule the meeting. It looks like we will have our first intake interview tentatively scheduled for this Wednesday (we're waiting to hear back from the Intake Coordinator to confirm the date and time)!

Needless to say, we're excited...I'm a little nervous--I know God's hand is in all of this and that He is bigger than any of my fears and anxieties. It's just such a huge step---it doesn't even seem real. I mean, we've been waiting for, struggling with, and praying about starting a family for nearly three years. We've watched other couples close to us start families and have stood by, waiting for that same blessing...so, to actually take a step in the right direction seems...different. There are so many mixed feelings that I never thought would be present.

Nate and I woke up earlier than we wanted to this morning and as we carried on our usual Sunday morning routine of eating breakfast in bed while watching television shows on Hulu--Nate prayed and offered praise to God for bringing us this blessing of adoption...and at that moment my heart was filled with a joy and peace that I haven't experienced in a long time.

If you're a praying person--here are a few things to add to your prayer lists this week:
  • Praise---offer praise to God for this blessing of adoption!
  • Peace---Nate and I have missed and will be missing quite a lot of school this month. We took a personal day for Friday to spend some much needed time with Nate's brother, we'll take another personal day Wednesday for the adoption interview, and then the following week Nate will miss two days of school for All State and I will miss three days of school for a conference. The next week is Thanksgiving, so we'll only be in school for two and a half days---I'm stressed about preparing lesson plans for a sub, cramming in everything I need to get in during the remaning weeks of the first semester; Nate is equally stressed about missing so much school and still having his choirs be prepared for their Christmas concerts December 16th and 17th. Though family trumps school, we both love our students and our jobs, so being gone this much is difficult for us.
  • Safe travels---we'll be doing a lot of traveling this week, so pray for safety.
Thanks again for reading my thoughts. It encourages me so much when I see that people are reading my blog and leaving comments; it shows that people truly care about our situation. And I know we have lots of prayer support---words can't express how much we appreciate this. Prayer is powerful!


It's the little moments...

During the past few weeks our FBLA members have been selling Spook Suckers--a person can purchase a sucker for a quarter and send it to anyone within the school. There is also a place on the delivery tag to write a little note. I had seen this in the school announcements, but to be honest--I didn't even know our school had FBLA let alone know who was in FBLA! So, I skimmed over the announcement. Today during the last class period the Spook Suckers were delivered. My students started passing them out, and I continued teaching. The bell rang, and as the students filed out of my room, one student shouted, "Mrs. Helzer--those are yours" as he pointed to a pile of tissue wrapped suckers. I took them back to my desk and started reading the delivery tags. All but one were from former students and one was from another teacher...some of them contained thoughtful notes from the kids. Truth is, those dang suckers really made me felt appreciated. It seems really insignificant, but I realized then how something small can really have a huge impact on a person. So...my goal in the next few months is to spend more time thinking about the little things I can do in order to serve others or make people smile.