january photo-a-day challenge

At the beginning of January, I noticed several friends on instagram taking part in a little photo challenge.  It seemed like a fun thing to take part in , so I joined in.  Each day there was a different prompt for a photo, which really got me thinking outside of the box.  (The box being hundreds of snapshots of my children).   image I ended up really enjoying the challenge.  In this stage of life where I feel like I can get so little accomplished, it was really nice to feel like each day, I had this little thing I could tick off my list within a couple seconds.  It gave me a little push to be creative each day . . . without feeling overwhelmed.  I also loved seeing what other people posted – the things you learn looking in one another’s fridge!  Anyways, here are my photos from January.  If you want to join in on the fun, check out the #febphotoaday challenge that starts tomorrow.  You can find me on instagram as kristenhowerton! image image image image image image image image image image image image image image image image image   image image image image image image image image image image image image   image image

adventures in daytime tv

We got back from New York last night. It was a whirlwind, and I think it will forever be dubbed our Ultimate Date Night Weekend.  We got in around 10pm on Tuesday night, and The View had a driver to pick us up.  Having our own driver made us feel very self-important.  We tried to work the phrase “our driver” into as many sentences as possible over the weekend.  i.e. “Should we have our driver drop us at the restaurant?”   “Do you give the driver a call to tell him we’re heading down?”  . . . and so on.  I think it really gave people the impression that we were a big deal .  That, and the map and the camera hanging from my neck.

Even though we got in late, we hit the town.  We headed down to the Meatpacking District which, despite it’s nausea-inducing name, is quite the hipster neighborhood.  We sat on the patio at The Standard, had dinner at Olive + Fig, and then went to desert at Spice Market.  The whole time, I had two overwhelming thoughts: 1) I am having the time of my life, and 2) I should really go to bed so I don’t have bags under my eyes on tv.  But alas, it was a beautiful night and we were in the city that never sleeps, so we didn’t. We walked to Union Square, and then grabbed a cab to Times Square.  We finally got back to the hotel in the wee hours, and that wake-up call came early.

The next morning, we were picked up by our driver (see how that works?  impressive, right?) and went to the studio.  We had a quick briefing, where we found out that *surprise!* Mark would be on camera, too.  We talked very quickly with the producer and then went into hair and makeup, where an enthusiastic makeup artist applied the most heavy makeup I’ve seen on my face since Prom ’93.

I kept asking if it was maybe a bit much, but he explained that it was on account of the high-definition.  Which didn’t make sense to me, because it seems like more definition would require a more natural look.  But he assured me I would look natural on-camera.  Here’s a picture taken with a camera.  What do you think?

I know.  Totally natural.  Um, let’s hope it reads different on screen.  (By the way, the necklace?  Made of recycled paper by women in Uganda.  Check out 31 bits and the ways the are bringing financial independence to women in Africa.)

After makeup, things moved very fast.  We were taken to the greenroom, where I met Kyra Sedgewick, who is a tiny, tiny, miniature person.  They brought us out for our segment, and we were seated at a table with Bryant Gumble, Sheri Shephard, and Valerie Bertinelli.  Suddenly, we were rolling. A representative from the Evan B. Donaldson Institute was there, and he started with giving some great information on international adoption.  I liked what he had to say.  Then they asked us about our story, and I shared about adopting Jafta, and what lead us to adoption from Haiti.  I was feeling pretty comfortable.  I think I rambled a bit, but I at least wasn’t white-knuckling the sofa or feeling the need to pee myself.  Sheri Shepard asked what it was like to be white parents adopting black sons (which I knew would be a question, and one I really wanted to address).  I answered by saying that it has forced us to be more intentional in moving out of what feels “safe” by trying to be involved in the African-American community.  But as soon as it came out of my mouth, I realized it was a bad choice of words to describe our efforts to get beyond our insular white community.  I think I managed to backpedal a bit and say something like, “and by safe, I mean getting out of our comfort zone”, but all I could think about for the rest of the segment was OH MY GOSH I JUST CAME ON NATIONAL TELEVISION AND IMPLIED THAT INTERACTING WITH MINORITY COMMUNITIES FEELS UNSAFE.  Seriously, that is all I could think of until commercial break.  Words were still coming out of my mouth, but the only thing going on in my mind is that I just said something potentially racist.  Nice.

And then, suddenly, they were cutting to commercial, and I realized I had nervously chattered so much that Mark had no chance to talk (although, to be fair, he hadn’t been planning on it), and that I hadn’t gotten in so much of what I wanted to say.  I’m sure we totally look like that couple where the wife does all the talking for her wallflower husband, which is funny since Mark is the extrovert and he is the one usually chatting it up with the people in line at Target while I hide behind an Us Weekly.

After our segment, we sat in the audience for the next adoption segment.  Valerie Bertinelli and I had a little moment, where she was giving me a thumbs up and mouthing to me that I had done an amazing job.  She was really sweet.  After the commercial break they had another couple and a single woman who had adopted from Guatemala take the table, and they talked a bit more with the guy from the adoption institute.  That also flew by, and the single gal was only able to say a few words, too.  I’m glad they did a segment on adoption, but it was definitely too short to really get into all of the issues. 

After those two segments, we were escorted out and picked up by our driver (again, we’re a VERY BIG DEAL).  We had a couple hours to kill before our flight, and we were determined to pack in as much New York as possible, even though by this point I was so tired that I could have laid down on the street and taken a nap. 

We took a relaxing pedicab ride through Central Park. Then we went and had a late lunch at the Museum of Modern Art, with a beautiful view of the sculpture garden. 
We hustled through the museum, taking photos of ourselves with the artwork that is in one of our kid’s books.  It’s called Seen Art?, and it’s about looking for a friend named Art in the MoMA.  I think they will be more impressed with these photos than the fact that we were on TV.
After the museum, our driver (okay, I’ll stop now) picked us up and we headed for the airport.  Both Mark and I dozed for the whole ride.  We were exhausted, but we made the most of our weekend, and had an amazing time.  It was so great to get away just the two of us, and even better that it was in a city that holds so many fond memories for us. 
We will be on The View tomorrow.  I’m as curious as anyone to see what I actually said.  And a bit nervous.  Also, really hoping that makeup artist knew what he was talking about, and that I don’t come off as a heavily made-up prostitute with bloodshot eyes.

the pressure of social networking

              Alright, I’ve submitted to the Facebook peer pressure. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been tagged to do this. My list of 25 random things:

              1. Both of my parents are high-level black belts in Tae Kwon Do, and ran a karate studio while I was growing up. When kids started fighting about whose dad could beat up the other dads, I was always pretty sure mine would win.
              2. I would like to live in a hotel. It’s a dream of mine to be in vacation-mode 24/7 and have someone clean up and make my bed every day.
              3. I majored in piano for two years, and now I can barely play.
              4. If I haven’t been out of the USA for a few months, I start to slowly die inside. I love to travel and if I were wealthy it’s all I would do.
              5. I love Jon Stewart. In an inappropriate, stalker-ish way (at least that’s the wording in the restraining order).
              6. When I was in middle school, I went through a phase where I systematically rented every movie in the “B-movie” section at Blockbuster.
              7. I was a pastor’s kid, and then a pastor’s wife, until I was 33. I love not being in that role anymore. In in weird way, it has strengthened my relationship with God.
              8. I love my church SOOOO much, but the lack of racial diversity there really bothers me. It’s an issue I have no idea how to solve.
              9. I am way more introverted than anyone thinks
              10. I don’t follow the vaccination schedule for my kids but I gave them the flu shot this year. I surrendered my values to avoid cleaning up puke while pregnant. So far – no flu. 🙂
              11. I hate being pregnant. It seems harder for me, both physically and emotionally, than it does for other women.
              12. I once took my in-laws to see the movie Something About Mary, without knowing what it was about. It is the most awkward two hours I have every spent.
              13. I don’t wear pastels or bright colors. Ever. It makes doing laundry very convenient. I only have “darks”.
              14. I am in total denial about needing a minivan for four kids. I have spent countless hours googling other options in some futile attempt to find an alternative.
              15. I loved the show Six Feet Under so much that when it was over, I felt like I had lost a friend.
              16. I am very opinionated. I love a good debate, and I rarely get my feelings hurt from a difference of ideas. I realize this is not always a shared value, and I’m trying harder to keep my mouth shut.
              17. When Mark and I were first married, I worked as a can-can dancer in a touristy Orlando bar.
              18. I’m a lightweight when it comes to drinking, and I get a headache from even the smallest amount of alcohol. So even though I joke about being a lush, it’s really all talk. I rarely drink, and don’t really care for it.
              19. I want to like Rushdie. But I don’t.
              20. I always knew I wanted to be a therapist. But I never imagined I would be married to one.
              21. I stay up way too late. It’s a horrible, horrible habit that I cannot quit.
              22. Most of what I say on Facebook is a joke. I don’t really text while my clients are talking, or put mascara on my 2-year-old, or smoke pot, or stalk Jon Stewart. I sometimes wonder how many people might be taking me seriously.
              23. I hate being cold. I don’t know how anyone lives in cold weather. I had a great college experience in Cincinnati, but the winters were so bad that I graduated a semester early just to get outta the midwest freeze. Scraping snow off the windshield of a car is something I hope I never have to do again.
              24. I love the smell of sharpie markers.
              25. I am very content with my home, my husband, my kids, my church, and my friends. It is a good place to be.

              and scene.

              In the last 72 hours, I have:

              • unpacked our family from our trip
              • finished sending off (late) Christmas cards
              • cleaned the house from top to bottom
              • threw a birthday party for Jafta with 16 of his friends
              • photographed, catalogued, and listed 20 purses from Haiti
              • opened an Etsy shop (more on that, soon)
              • frantically tried to finish a book for book club
              • halfway through, realized I was reading the was reading the wrong book, and frantically read half of the correct book for book club
              • written a cirriculum
              • led an intensive called Motherhood Inspired, despite feeling completely uninspired
              • baked 24 cupcakes for Jafta’s school birthday celebration
              • participated in a lively discussion about our book club pick

              This has been one of those crazy, way-too-many-things-going-on weekends. I can’t remember being this tired, and I’ve barely had time to sit down since we got back from Florida.

              I am done. I am so done.

              8 Things

              My new friend Debra tagged me with this fun list today. Debra is adopting from Haiti, too. I cannot even tell you how many cool women I have met in the blog world who are adopting from Haiti. It’s a fun community to be a part of. Debra is adopting Ronel and has some really cute t-shirts to fundraise. Check them out!

              Okay, the tagging part:

              8 TV Shows that I watch

              1. The Office

              2. 30 Rock

              3. The Daily Show

              4. The Colbert Report

              5. Anderson Cooper 360

              6. Project Runway

              7. Celebrity Rehab

              8. Arrested Development re-runs (RIP)

              8 Favorite Restaraunts

              1. Habana (cuban)

              2. Memphis (soul food)

              3. 118 Degrees (raw)

              4. Native Foods (vegan)

              5. Gypsy Den (yummy)

              6. Felix’s (cuban)

              7. Wahoo’s (mexican/asian)

              8. Chipotle (best fast food ever)

              8 Things that happened to me today

              1. woke up still illin’ with a cold

              2. went to church

              3. leftovers for lunch

              4. wrapped Christmas gifts

              5. did laundry

              6. packed the kid’s clothes for Florida

              7. attempted nap: unsuccessful

              8. dinner with Sarah for her birthday

              8 Things I look forward to

              1. getting Keanan home

              2. meeting my new daughter

              3. having a date night

              4. summer (warm weather + daylight savings)

              5. going to Africa again

              6. backpacking Europe as a family

              7. India being potty-trained

              8. getting my piano tuned and having time to play

              8 Things I wish for

              1. more diversity at my church

              2. a bigger backyard

              3. a correspondence spot on The Daily Show

              4. a small, eco-friendly car that seats 6

              5. food, education, healthcare, and a fair wage for ALL

              6. contentment

              7. happiness for my children

              8. a decent public school in my neighborhood

              8 People I tag

              1. Jodie
              2. Sarah
              3. Nancy
              4, Ali
              5. Andrea
              6. Anne
              7. Kristi
              8. Julie