Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My Guide to Traveling Halfway Around the World - Part 2: The PLANE

In 37 days. . . wow 37! . . . I will be traveling halfway around the world to arguably one of my favorite countries. (If you would like to know more why I'm going and how you can help, check out this post here.)

This will be my fourth trip to India and after logging all of those hours on the plane, I thought it might be fun to share my tried and true tips for traveling to the other side of the world. In the previous post I shared my tips for the prep for the trip; this post will be all about the Plane.

1. Pre-hydrate/hydrate/rehydrate: One summer, at camp, we had a catch-phrase, "HYDRATE OR DIE". We would often follow it up by explaining to our teenage campers that if they didn't drink enough water their blood would thicken up and they would feel drowsy and fuzzy-headed. Not the most technical of descriptions, but it seemed to do the job. When you fly, dehydration happens very quickly, so at least a day before you board the plane, start drinking more water than normal, but don't stop once you board the plane or when you land in country.

Sidenote: when you drink a lot of water on the plane, you have to get up and go the bathroom often. This is good for keeping your blood flowing and preventing blood clots and dizziness later. 

2. Sleep on the plane as much as possible: The truth is when you are traveling to India, you are flipping your sleep patterns on their head (an 11 or 12 hour time change), so don't try and figure that out and sleep accordingly. Sleep while you can. Sleep while you are still. Sleep because you may not rest well the rest of your trip. Sleep so that be awake and experience the incredible country you are traveling to. 

Don't watch movies unless movies help you sleep (I happen to have the gift of falling asleep within the first 15 minutes of any movie I watch, so I will almost always have a movie on and almost always be sleeping through it.)

If you need a sleep aid to turn your brain off, test it before you go! I am unusually sensitive to sleep aids. One Tylenol PM can make me feel like a zombie for at least 24 hours, so Dramamine and Benadryl are my go-tos to help me fall asleep. Once I am asleep, I'm out. 

3. Heavy Cream: Because the air in the plane and in the airport can be terribly dry, I always wear a heavy night-cream on my face and Eucerin or other strong lotion on my hands and arms. It simply makes the hours in the plane more comfortable.

4. Compression Socks: Compression socks are not just for the older population and pregnant ladies anymore, they are a key tool to travel without growing "kankles". I have flown with them and I have flown without and the truth is, I would way rather wear them. 

5. Bedtime/Wake-up routine: Whatever you do to get ready for bed and what ever you do to wake up in the morning, bring supplies so that you can mimic that. You will go through a couple of sleep cycles flying there and back and if you can put your body through regular bedtime and wake up rhythms, it will help.

For me, this means carrying a small "diddy" bag with me all of the time that has the following in it: 
- Colgate Wisp toothbrushes (they are disposable and they do the job!)
- Facial cleansing wipes (again, disposable and don't mess with my skin too much)
- Travel deodorant (obvious freshening up reasons)
- Chapstick 
- Lotion (see reason 3)
- Medications (a few doses of each just in case)
   - Tylenol/Ibuprofen
   - Dramamine
   - Pepcid/Tums
   - Benadryl
   - Malarone (an anti-maleria med that works great, but always gives me a touch of vertigo)
   - Cipro (an antibiotic that is good for any stomach issues that may be caused by bacteria)
And that's it. Simple, packable, reproducible, disposable. 

6. Take a Hike: Finally, during your layover, be sure to walk. Walking and moving during a layover will help you sleep better on the plane and help your body realize you aren't going to make it sit still in a huge metal flying tube forever. 

Did I mention I really hate to fly? No? That's good. I really, really hate flying, but I do it and it is worth it to travel and be a part of what God is doing all over the world. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My Guide to Traveling Halfway around the World - Part 1: the Prep

In 42 days - 6 weeks exactly - I will traveling back to India! This fourth trip halfway around the world will focused on the counter-human-trafficking efforts in Northern India. Data shows India to the be the hub of human trafficking in Asia, but there are people fighting back against this epidemic and we are going to do what we can to join in that fight.

We will be bringing training and hopefully some respite to the men and women who work directly with survivors of trafficking everyday. 

The three previous trips have all had very different purposes, but as I am gearing up for this trip next month, I am noticing 3 big shifts in my life when it comes to how I prepare myself to travel halfway around the world. 

1. I am more thoughtful about what I put into my brain: My media input shifts to focus on India and my response to what God is doing there as the days count down to leaving. Studying the history and culture of the place I am traveling to helps put the places we see and the people we meet into the context of a larger story. 

I also will begin changing the music I listen to. I am inspired by music that tells a story or puts a captivating picture in my mind. One of my favorite albums to listen to is:
 It not only captures the sounds and rhythms of India, it gives an honest perspective on being an American traveling there. 

2. Prep physically: It takes a toll on the body to travel that many hours in a plane and sleep in strange beds eating unfamiliar food along with trying to flip your internal clock (India is about 11 1/2 hours time difference from where I live). Being in shape, staying healthy, drinking water and even acclimating yourself to the some of the local foods before you go is a great way to prep. . . Chai tea anyone?

3. Plan and prep your mission: Our first trip to India, we were tasked with planning a week of "camp" for a small village in southern India. As we were meeting as a team leading up to the trip, four of us who worked for a camp, did our best to give input to the process. (for more on that trip, check out the blog posts here, here, and here). 

Two weeks or so before we left, the entire week was handed over to us to plan the days. It was awesome, but a little nerve-wracking. The last minute planning had us scrambling for supplies and we even held several meetings huddled by the bathroom on the plane. The fellow passengers and flight attendants loved us. . . 

So plan for as much as you can if you are going with a specific mission in mind. 

For this trip, we have be getting trained by different experts in order to be the vehicles to bring some of that expertise to the Safe House Moms and other people who work with the survivors on a regular basis. From a Hands that Heal curriculum to Behavior Modification basics to Crisis Management, we have tried to listen to the needs and come prepared to respond.

So there are my three ways that I prepare to travel to India. 

If you want to be a part of what we are doing over there, check out this link for more information!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

I'll Go Back When You Call. . .

This August, I will be returning to India to work once again with a small group of survivors of human trafficking and the amazing people who serve them. 

Our plan is to go with training and tools that we can pass onto the "house moms" and the other people who work with the girls on an all-day daily basis. 

My initial excitement about returning to my favorite country has all too quickly changed to anxiety about going. 

I'm scared. Last year when we went, the heaviness and the dark reality of human-trafficking became a reality, as names and stories turned to faces and hugs. The more I have learned about the deep rooted (an understatement if there has ever been one) problem of human-trafficking, the more I feel entirely useless about the whole thing. 

As I have mentally debated with myself and God about whether or not I should go back this year, here is what I have felt God saying to me. 

I have created you be a person of action. I did not make you to sit on the sideline afraid. I made you to move for me when I ask. I have prepared you for this and I will do what you see as impossible. 

God rarely asks His people to do what is easy. 

So here is the honest answer if you asked me how I am feeling about returning:
I'm scared. 
I'm scared to step back to the front lines of this counter-human-trafficking war. 
I don't want to leave my sweet babies. 
I love India and my heart and prayers are constantly with the people I have met there. 
I get motivated to move with the idea that I could possible make a dent in the battle against human trafficking. 
I want to be an encouragement and support to the women and men who daily are pushing back the evils of slavery in this world.

So I am going. Lord willing. I am going. 

I ask you to join me in two ways.

1. I, along with the rest of our small team, need prayer. The spiritual battle has already begun and I would love any prayers on our behalf (for provision and protection specifically) as we step toward this trip.

2. If you are able, I could use your financial support. The trip will cost around $3,000. A small portion of that has already been covered through a fundraiser run through our church, but the rest is on me. In a fun twist, our final adoption payment is due about the same time that the final trip payment is due - this, admittedly, has me stressed a little. 

    If you can give, you can make a check our to Bay Pointe Community Church and send it directly to me. I will get it to the right place. Or you can give online through my fundraising site: gofund.me/wcukc48 

“If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.” 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Adoption and the Art of the Waiting Family

When we adopted our oldest son, we didn't have wait.

Before we were ever approved by the state, we were called, matched and the I-guy was born 24 hours later. It was a whirlwind, but there was no waiting.

This past February, we were called and accepted a match with a new birth mom. The original due date was only 3 weeks away, but an ultrasound pushed that date back 6 weeks.

So we waited.  WAITING IS HARD. 

And in the waiting, here are some things that we did.

We set up a crib.

We bought a double stroller.

We started requesting formula samples.

We bought one package of tiny diapers.

We started talking with the I-guy about "Baby Brother". (For the record, I-guy kept insisting it was a "baby sister").

We washed some newborn clothing and sanitized bottles..

We prayed for Birth Mom and new baby like crazy.


There were also some things we very consciously did not do.

We did not choose a name.

We did not take the tags off or wash the new "baby brother" onesie that we were given.

We (meaning I, Liz) had some trouble sleeping. 

We did not totally believe this baby we were matched with was ever going to come to live in our.

Don't take our disbelief as lack of faith. We knew God was going to add an amazing chapter to our story through this second adoption. We just didn't know exactly what it look like. 

When you enter the waiting period as a matched family, the words "cautious optimism" are pushed at you and truly that is how we lived for the 8 weeks or so, that we were waiting. 


It is a strange sort of edge to live on, knowing that any moment you could receive a phone call that could change your life. There are countless scenarios that run through your mind. 

They could tell you baby is born, healthy and you should come and get it. Baby could be born with severe medical or developmental needs. Birth mom could have changed her mind. Birth mom wants to meet you at the hospital. Birth mom does not want to meet you. Birth dad is putting up a fight about the adoption. Etc. . . Etc. . . Etc. . .


Waiting IS hard. . . 

But totally worth it.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

3 Ways to Help Adoptive/Foster Families

As announced in the last post, we are ADOPTING again!

With another adoption comes another huge bill (or bills). To help offset the costs out of pocket, we have been running fundraisers: garage sales, euchre tournaments, and most recently, we have been selling these adorable magnets.
We have been saving our pennies, working extra jobs and extra hours. We have applied for several adoption grants and we have prayed for miracles.

We are fully aware that we can't do this adoption thing alone. More than that, all adoptive/foster families need support and help from their communities. 

Because not everyone can help adoptive/foster families with money, here is my short, and not at all complete, list of ways you could help out the adoptive/foster families in your life that don't cost you anything except a little time.

1. Formula Samples! There are a lot of formula samples available across the internet. For anyone who is adopting a baby, it is likely that they will need formula and formula is expensive. You can sign up to receive formula samples here and here that can help offset some of the formula costs.

2. Ask for clothing/supply donations from your circles. Even if you are close to the adoptive family that you want to help, chances are you know people who might have baby supplies they are looking to give away or lend. 

We saw this one in action big-time with the arrival of our Little Man. We basically had a  and only a car seat when we went to the hospital to pick him up (more on that story here and here), but when we returned two days later, we had all the supplies we needed and most had been donated or lent to us. 
The clothes and car seat that we used to bring Little Man home were all lent to us.

One of our friends simply put out a facebook plea with no details other than a family was in desperate need of baby boy clothes, and that plea alone brought in two garbage bags full of clothing and blankets. In fact we were given so many clothes, we didn't need to buy him any clothing until he was over a year old.

3. Offer physical help. Our Little Man was born in the fall and one thing we found we needed help with was clearing the leaves out of our yard (we had a huge, tree-filled yard at the time). If people asked us how they could help, we would often hand them a rake. 

Many hands make light work, and sometimes giving adoptive/foster families a little help around the house or yard while they are adjusting to new additions to their households, can be a huge help.

I hope these are helpful - now go and help the adoptive/foster families in your life!. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Long, Full Absence

Well, it has been 11 months since I have posted here. 


In typical Taylor fashion, we have filled those 11 months with . . . well . . .  ummm. . . . here is a quick overview. 

May 2014, Jay jumped on his motorcycle and drove the 8000 miles to Brazil with his dad to scatter his grandparents ashes. A simple sentence, but a crazy 5 weeks of adventures.

Little Man and I were on our own while they were gone, so we went on adventures of our own! Trips driving around the state and big trip to Nebraska to see family.

Once Jay made it back safely, we spent the summer enjoying where we live.

 A different beach every weekend. 

And a lot of visitors!

Fall meant a big birthday for Jay (30!!) and a big birthday for Little Man (2!!)

A new home, a new job for me, and a our first ER visit with Little Man (merry-go-rounds are dangerous and I hate concussions.)

Holidays meant travel and family.

And a long winter in northern Michigan spurred us to take a spontaneous trip to Florida. 

A while ago, Jay and I tried to come up with some numbers to calculate the past year. We came up with a list like this:
10,000 plane miles
8000 motorcycle miles
2000 driving miles
200 miles lakeshore running (1/2 marathon training)
100 boxes moved
20+ summer visitors
10 new beaches visited
2 new jobs
1 new house

And we are hoping to add another number to the list soon - One new kid!

We are adopting again and from all indications, it should happen soon. 

So welcome back to the land of the living, blog. Big changes are ahead, so we had better be ready to keep up.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

@%*! People have said concerning adoption

After a long blogging hiatus, I have been inspired by a couple of other posts (check out the videos here and here) to compile my own list of the ridiculous questions and comments We have received about Little Man and adoption.

1. From an older woman at the Farmer's Market: 

"We adopted one of those . . . aren't they so smart!"

She was old . . . I just walked away.


2. From a perfect stranger I met at a friend's house. (Note: she was talking directly to my 7 month old who looked like the picture above)

"Oh, why do you have to wear a helmet? Did someone neglect you in your crib when you were little?"


3. "Why did you adopt? Why don't you and your husband just get on it?"

We do, don't you worry about that.

4. "He is going to be the whitest black kid ever"

We have heard a version of this many times. I never know how to respond.

5. Any joke about calling CPS.

It is just wrong. Believe me, we have been screened, probed, examined, and interrogated and have been deemed worthy to be Little Man's parents.

For the record, it is also inappropriate to ask how much he cost, do we want to have "kids of our own", or to ask when we are going to tell him he is adopted.

But please, do ask about his adoption. We love to tell the story (blogged here and here) and share about our excitement and passion for adoption. We also are pretty open about our infertility struggles, so you can ask about that as well. We know God has given us our story and Little Man and we are praying for more Little Men or Women to join our family in the future.

We are figuring out this parenting thing one day at a time, just like ALL other first time parents, and, for the record, we wouldn't trade our Little Man for the world.