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My Mom has to travel to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on a pretty regular basis for doctor appointments and treatments, so it was inevitable that one of those visits would fall on a major holiday at some point. Last year, it was over Christmas, so my sisters and our families travelled out to spend the holiday with my parents in a hotel. It was definitely an unique experience, kids running between the Presidential suite and the Concierge-level food supply, a surprise visit from “Santa” (aka – my husband), Christmas caroling to the twangs of my brother-in-law’s ukelele, lots of Carcassonne playing, and way too many Christmas cookies.

It was a Christmas to remember, and at the end of our visit, my sisters and I huddled up to figure out the age-old question…

“How do we share our pictures?”

All three of us had been snapping pictures throughout the week, but being able to share them…easily? That’s a problem. We came up with a solution, but not the best solution. I wanted something simple that would let me pull pictures from vacations, events and celebrations AND allow other people to easily contribute pictures and videos no matter where they are accessing it.

Enter Seahorse. It’s my wish turned into reality…seriously.

I’m envisioning field trips where all the parents chip in a few pictures from the day. I’m picturing a girl’s night out where everyone shares their pictures and you might even get a picture of yourself in there. I’m dreaming of holidays where I don’t have to send 10 emails to share my pictures, just upload them to a Scene.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

First, I had to sync my pictures. This pulled in everything from all my devices, but you can also import pictures from other sources, such as Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, Flickr, and Google/Picasa.

Then, I was ready to create a “Scene”, which is what Seahorse calls an event, celebration or any special day where you want to share pictures. I decided to make a Scene about our trip to Chicago this summer to visit my sister. I knew my other sister had visited as well, so I added both of them to the Scene.

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I tapped Timeline, which showed me all my pictures, and then I selected the little check-inside-a-circle at the top of the screen, which allowed me to pick as many pictures as I wanted.

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I added them to my Chicago Scene, and POP – they were there – along with some pictures my sister had already added. Once you are in a scene, you can do several different things. You can add friends, upload more pictures with the camera icon, select pictures to move to another scene, or sort by date/friend.

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What’s great about it is that shared pictures are all private, co-owned, and saved in the original resolution. No more screen shots of Instagram pictures…no more multiple e-mails to send pictures…and you can start to build a library that is easily sorted and organized, which in my world is HUGE! Plus, they have some fun features like Map showing where your pictures were taken, Flashback to jump back in time, and even a little phone shake to give you a Magic memory from the past.

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Want to check it out? For iPhone, download here and for Android, download here. It’s free, with options to buy an annual premium subscription or additional storage space. However, through October 31, 2014, you can snag an extra FREE 5 GB of space.

It’s a no-brainer, right? Here’s how to redeem the extra space:

  • Tap the icon on the top left corner to access your account settings
  • Tap “Redeem”
  • Tap “Write code” and enter CLEVERHORSE
  • Tap “Go” on your keyboard

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Next month, we are hitting up Disney World with my parents, and I am so excited to try this out on the fly. Definitely check it out….it’s worth giving it a try!

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

They Want Answers.

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in Adoption, Be Informed | 0 comments

We’ve got a great guest post today from Susan Tebos…author and adoptive mom who has a heart for adoption and doing it the right way.  Today she shares with us one of the most important conversations you can have with your adopted kiddos….or more like a series of conversations. 

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I’ve got a gut feeling that I need to share with you. It’s a feeling that winds me up like a top and makes me spin like a crazy woman. I get this feeling that adoptive parents aren’t absorbing the truth of how important it is to tell their adoptive child their story. Sure, many tell their child that he or she is adopted and loved, and now in his or her forever family… that “God wants you right where you are”. I hear this a lot from well meaning parents as I travel around and love this approach especially for little kids. It soothes our hearts and theirs. But what if this approach is not enough to help our kids heal?

The reality is our kids age into wanting more. They want answers that we’re not giving!

What if your child needs more information so he doesn’t point a finger at God and blame him for separating him from his first love?

And with lack of information…

what if your child silently wonders if he is good enough because his first love let him go and he doesn’t know why?

And once the wondering starts…

what if your child wonders if anyone cares about how he feels about being relinquished or that he thinks ill of himself for reasons he can’t articulate?

Feelings are tricky. They can stir up all sorts of commotion, lies that kids will believe. If we don’t help our kids sort out their feelings the lies will win.

I know. My three kids think and wonder and have trouble managing the lies that seep into their vulnerable hearts. All kids do to some degree. Adoptive kids even more.

What if God is counting on us to help our kids heal? What if He’s counting on us to be truthful and authentic and compassionate truth tellers? What if he is asking us to enter into the painful places of our child’s heart to encourage understanding, acceptance and forgiveness? What if we are missing the very thing we are supposed to be doing for our kids, being agents of hope and truth and healing and teaching them what forgiveness means and how to forgive?

All adopted kids need to know the truth. They need time, sometimes years, to wrap their heads around what happened and decide what they are going to do about it. If left alone…

they may let lies fester and mess with who they are.

they may fight, suppress, and ache inside not knowing why.

But with help…

they may one day accept the truth and ultimately forgive?

Kids can’t navigate this stuff on their own. Their thinking skills are not sophisticated enough, yet. That’s why I am standing on my soap box trying get your attention.

Our kids can’t put it together in a healthy way. It’s our job to put it together for them.

Will you join me today…whether your child is eight or eighteen and gently invest in his heart? Choose a time when he’s approachable and not stressing over homework or tired, for example. (Cookies help) Casually invite him to talk about first mom…then offer him something new he needs to know like that she loved but was young or that she feared, or that she was unable. Help him see first mom was fallible like you and me are fallible. Ask him what he wants to know about her, what he misses. Keep it casual. Sometimes just quietly sitting with a child can be enough to say, “I know and I care”.

Let me know how it goes.

From one adoptive parent to another…Do this, okay?

Warm hugs,

Susan

I remember as a kid that one of the most intimidating part of the school day was…recess. Unstructured time where you had to make your own way on the playground and find a friend. It was kind of tough for my introverted tendencies, particularly in elementary school, which has made me extra sensitive about it now with my own kids.

So I always like when I come across great books that address the topic of making friends in an memorable way. Peanut Butter & Cupcake by Terry Border is one of those books.

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Peanut Butter has just moved to town, and is looking for someone to play with his new ball. He searches high and low for the perfect friend, but Cupcake is too busy making sprinkle castles, Hamburger is walking “the dogs” (hot dogs, that is) and French Fries is trying to “catch up” to Hamburger. He almost gives up, but the perfect friend finally comes along. They start to laugh and play, which attracts the rest of the gang, and they realize that they ALL go together like Peanut Butter and…well, you can fill in the blank.

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The pictures are hilarious, the puns are groan-worthy, and the message is solid. Sometimes it takes a while to find that special “Peanut Butter and Jelly” friend, and that’s okay. But it’s also important to realize that everyone can have fun and “chuckle deep down in their bellies” together.

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Over the last couple of days, my Facebook and Instagram feeds have been jammed with pictures of kids with their “First Day of School” smiles. I love it, seeing their excitement for a new year, new teachers, new experiences, and of course, new lunch boxes. My kids caught the fever too, hopping out of bed even before their alarm clocks went off, jumping into their favorite outfits, and humoring me with their very own first day of school picture on the front porch.

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First days are extraordinary days.

But so quickly, the first day is over, and we are onto the second day.

Second days are not always so extraordinary, at least at my house. The snooze button gets hit a few extra times, everyone’s eyes are little sleepy, and leaving the house feels more like a fire drill than a casual trip to school. Reality starts to set in, as we look ahead to day after day of…normal.

We like to celebrate those special days; we seek them out, over-document them, and lament them when they are gone. Sometimes I think I build up the extraordinary while looking down on the ordinary. But I have been trying to work through the truth that we are not always called to be extraordinary, but to be simply faithful. In our work, in our marriages, in our friendships…we just need to show up and do the work…on the second day…and the third…and the twenty-third…and eight hundredth…

It is something I need to teach my kids. It is something I need to learn for myself. To be faithful…to be consistent…to live for the second day.

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