"" Life A Bit Sweeter: June 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dear Mom

This morning  I was cleaning out MJ's room....transitioning his Fall/Winter clothes for Summer clothes and getting rid of school papers from the past school year.  It's the one task I've been dreading....well that and getting to these never-ending piles of laundry.  Well, anyway, in the midst of this frustrating job that I've been putting off for a few weeks now...okay months now, I stumbled across something that just melted my heart and made this cleaning job so worth it...

In his school supply closet, I found this - a note/letter he wrote to me after school back in February but forgot to give to me...

He's got my heart doing somersaults.  Since he made my heart skip a beat, I thought I'd tuck a note under his pillow for tonight to put a smile on his face and deposit more love in his heart.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Meet the Whittakers: The Family Who 'BROKE' My Heart

Before you get ready to fight because of the title of my blog post which may allude to the fact that this is the family that broke my heart or hurt me....read on...because it's quite the contrary.  Their story was my first exposure to international adoption.  It broke my hardened heart and helped me to exchange it for a heart that was more flexible to be shaped for God's will.....so here we go....
The Whittakers...what can you possibly say about this family?  They are two of the coolest people I know (well in the blog world that is) who are giving their children the adventures of their lives!  Heather and Carlos are the epitome of FUN!!!  Carlos is an incredible musician that you can find on iTunes and here on his blog.  Heather is an amazing, stay-at-home mom, who is passionate about mission work, Christ, her family, and much more.  (...and if you ever want cool ideas on creating memorable family nights, visit this part of Heather's blog.  You'll be inspired in a way that will change your family quality time together...trust me!)

It's so crazy because I stumbled upon them only because our church staff visited North Point a couple of years ago for an extensive period of time.  Since that time, we've watched how they 'do' church and are always inspired by their creativity and thinking out-of-the box.  During that time, Carlos was on staff at one of their campuses and I stalked his blog looking at some of the incredible ways that he could get people thinking in creative ways about ministry.  He's thinks out of the box and refuses to live in a safe, Christian shell that excludes the rest of the world....love it!

Well, one thing led to another and I found his wife's amazing blog.  Between the two of them, I somehow stumbled upon their YouTube videos of their adoption journey to their son, Losiah in Korea.  When I first saw it, I just thought how nice.  NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS did I think that their video would plant the initial seed -- literally break the ground and begin to transition my hardened heart of Michelle's Will to more fertile ground in my heart of God's Will.  What happened to my heart over the course of a couple weeks or so is difficult to put into words.  My heart began to soften as God did an unexplainable work in it.  I cried for days as I was led to Ethiopia and the rest is HIStory.  So with all of my 'stumbling upon' with the Whittakers (which I don't think is coincidence at all), I thought I'd share with you their travel story and literal journey to Losiah.  What's so unique about their videos in comparison to many other 'Meetcha' & 'Gotcha' Day videos is that you will see over a course of 14 video updates the detailed rising emotions of their video diary from the time that they left their home in the US to their arrival in Korea to the day that they have Losiah in their arms forever.

So grab your popcorn, a beverage of choice, and lots of kleenex...here's a story that will have you in belly laughs one moment because they really are a comedic couple and in the next you'll be in tears as you see the rawness of when they realize they have Losiah forever.  I hope their videos change you as they did me.

Instead of posting the videos here, it will be much simpler for you to jump to Carlos' YouTube page so that you can view the videos on autoplay (Once the first video comes to an end, the next one will be automatically loaded.)  Enjoy!


Friday, June 18, 2010

An Awesome Surprise by an Anonymous Angel!

In any marathon or race, it's important for a runner or driver to take a break in the pit or water station to get recharged, tuned up, or refocused.  This adoption marathon is ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENT!  I've been running with paperwork, chasing down medical reports, and saving money to pay fees along the way.  All the while, I have to be honest that in the last couple of weeks, I am just plain ol' tired.  I am on 'E' so to speak...EMPTY.  There is paperwork that has to be redone and resubmitted and I have to really get focused on the balance that is due for the dossier that will be submitted to Ethiopia.  All the while, I have really been unmotivated.  I now really believe it's because I haven't taken a rest from it all.  In the mindset of Franklin Covey, everybody needs to take a break and sharpen their saw.  Well, don't you know that God knows what you need and when you need it!

Last week, a friend of mine from church, Brian, posted on his Facebook page that Frankie Beverly and Maze were going to be playing at the National Harbor in Maryland....oh my goodness...say what....shut your mouth!  Frankie Beverly is my all-time favorite group.  I mean I've loved Frankie Beverly since I was in high school.  His show was my very first big girl concert that I had ever attended.  In fact, my husband swears up and down that he was at that same show.  Well, anyway, when Brian posted that Facebook message, I was all on it trying to buy tickets which were selling for $78 a pop!  At the time, I was thinking...who cares about the price..THIS IS FRANKIE BEVERLY!!!  By the time I jumped to the link, it wouldn't work.  I kept re-trying it and it wouldn't allow me to process the two tickets.  By that time, I came to my senses and posted this on my Facebook wall:

So I moved on and just thought in the back of my mind about how amazing it will be for those who will be rockin' with Frankie Beverly on Saturday night.  Well today, out of the CLEAR BLUE, I received a 'tip' that an anonymous person had sent an envelope to my job for me and inside the envelope were 2 SEATS TO THE FRANKIE BEVERLY SHOW!!!  Say what?!?!  Yes, two tickets plus a parking pass!  I paced outside my yard screaming in absolute disbelief....sorry caller for my loudness but I was in shock!

What's even more awesome about this is that Monday is Tony's birthday (and of course Sunday is Father's Day) so I've been trying to figure out how to make his weekend special...(okay I'm tearing up now)....but God had it all worked out through one of his secret angels....wow!!!

What's even more beautiful is that as I begin to take this all in, I remember that for Tony's 40th birthday dinner party, I created a cd for all of his guests that had a Frankie Beverly tribute on it.  (Yes, I paid the royalty for each song that each person received on their cd...smile) 

Here's what I wrote on the inside of the cover.  (Everything in green italics represents the actual title of a Frankie Beverly song from the CD/Album Frankie Beverly & Maze: Greatest Slow Jams.  The order of the songs was just mixed up so that my paragraph would make sense.  You can click to hear the actual music.)  

I Wanna Thank You for coming this evening to celebrate Tony's 40th Birthday.  As you may already know Tony has A Place In My Heart that no other man could ever try to fill.  When You Love Someone the way that i love him, it's a comforting feeling to know that he loves me right back in the same way.  We've had some ups and down; some Happiness and some sadness but through it all when it seemed that we were going to give up on our marriage, I started Reachin' Down Inside myself and realized that I had to tell him I Love You Too Much to give up and I Will Never let You Down.  Even through the hard times, we now know that we are together for a Reason.  The Happy Feelin's of having a Family, home, and sharing our faith binds us -- We Are One.  So if you're already in a relationship or if love comes knocking at your door in Your Own Kind of Way, be open to the possibilities and in all of this I Wish you Well.  I pray that our love has been a Lovely Inspiration to you.  ~Michelle

That was for his 40th Birthday...a Frankie Beverly tribute gift and now for his 45th Birthday....we have been gifted with tickets to actually SEE Frankie Beverly and believe me when I say our angels purchased GREAT SEATS for us.  Thank you angel for giving us what we needed when we needed it.  We're looking forward to an amazing date night!

...and if you're from the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia) area, you know I'll get it movin' for you when Frankie hits the song, Before I Let Go.  For those who aren't familiar with Frankie Beverly, there is ONE SONG no matter whose party you are at that when this song comes on....all you hear is "That's my song" and EVERYBODY hits the dance floor....so just for the heck of it, here's the party anthem.  If you don't have this in your playlist at an African-American party/cookout/family reunion, you're not a real DJ!  (smile)....sorry but it's true!  lol

(Note:  This one is a bit faster than what happens at a party but the crowd rockin' will give you an idea of its popularity.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Meet the B Family....I absolutely adore this family!

Meet the "B" Family!

I simply adore their blog.  If I had to pick someone to chat it up about Ethiopia, adoption, faith over some good ol' Paula Deen southern comfort food while enjoying the Florida weather, it would be Mrs. B.  She's one of those women that you want to be in your small group - a lover of Christ, wise, and all about family.

With all that said, check out Ms. B's Gotcha Day and beyond video of their precious daughter from Ethiopia. When you get a chance, take a look at their blog. They are a family with miles of style: http://www.thebfamilyblog.com/

...now for a moment of confession...when I'm working, I often go to their blog and scroll down to the bottom just to hear her music playlist because it's so awesome!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

T-Shirt Reconstruct: Making a Difference One Child at a Time!

I absolutely love casual attire but the skinny girl in me hates the way I look in certain t-shirt cuts.  Call it ridiculous if you'd like but EVERYBODY has a complex about something even when others think it's just your imagination.  Okay...so let me OUT myself.  Because I'm so thin, there are certain brands that I absolutely avoid...brands like Old Navy, some Gap, and some Banana Republic.  Most of these brands have a sort-of 'boxy' or 'square' cut to their clothes.  Because I need a little help in the area of 'curves', I try to avoid these brands and opt for pieces that have let's call them 'built-in curves'....now if I really could afford it, I'd just hire a tailor...until then...the clothes with the 'built-in curves' will have to do!  The built-in curves are you know, the fitted t-shirt styles that are wider at the top and get slimmer at the waistline...or jeans with a back pocket...I need as much 'illusion' in that area as I can get. LOL.  Okay...so how in the heck does all of this tie into the adoption????  I'm so glad you asked that question.  Well, many of my adoption buddies sell t-shirts to benefit their adoption.  While I absolutely love the designs and also love to support the other families, this skinny chick often gets swallowed in the boxiness of the t-shirt cuts...so I've been buying t-shirts but they've been hanging in my closet, that is, UNTIL my cousin Shelly introduced me to how easy it is to do a t-shirt reconstruction.  A t-shirt reconWHATtion?  A t-shirt reconstruction....ya know when you take a t-shirt, a pair of scissors, and a creative brain and go to town.

So that's what I did.  I went to town with my friend Leigh Ann's adorable t-shirt and cut it up to a design that fit my wacky personality.  Now there are some things I'd tweak slightly with the sleeves but for my first go-around, I am quite satisfied.

 Okay...so that was my little modeling debut....tada!!!  LOL....but really, I promised my cousin Shelly that I would post some pics of the shirt so I armed Tony with my camera and here's what we got!  But seriously, if  you like the shirt as is or would like to reconstruct one like this, please head on over to the Thomas family blog and pick one up.  The message is awesome.  It says "Making a Difference One Child at a Time".  By purchasing that t-shirt, that's exactly what you'll be doing in helping them to bring their child home from Ethiopia.  I'm sure they'd appreciate you supporting their adoption.  To find out more about t-shirt reconstructions, just head on over to YouTube and search the keywords "t-shirt reconstruct".  If you still can't find it, leave me a comment, I'll lead you to some of them.  Here's to happy cutting!  Thanks Leigh Ann for letting me personalize my shirt!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lessons Learned & an End to a GREAT School Year!!!

This morning we received the GREATEST surprise at C's graduation from elementary school.  During the awards ceremony for all of the 5th grade classes, C really blew us away.  When his teacher Ms. G went up to the podium she shared during her awards presentation segment that "C" won the Citizenship Award for her class!!!  Wow!  Well if that wasn't enough, after he went to take his seat, he had to go right back up to the front because we found out that he was one of the students who received the Principal's Honor Roll for STRAIGHT A's.  That's right.....my baby earned Straight A's for the fourth quarter.  Needless to say, mommy and daddy are so proud.

Ya know, it's so funny because early on as a mom and even some years later, I often struggled with my esteem as a parent...often comparing myself to other moms who I thought 'had it altogether'.  I often felt that there were some moms who are just naturally-born mothers who just have great mothering instincts.  But then, there was me...I always just thought I was sliding by and had so much to learn in becoming a mother.  Perhaps some of that was because my birth mother died at an early age for me so maybe I struggled with my own identity as a mother...maybe.  Whatever the reason, I do know for sure that I have been blessed to have learned from so many women in my life the attributes of becoming a mother and allowing my children to come into their own.  I don't always get it right but I tell you, when my boys have big moments like this, I begin to think...I'm not half bad as a mom after all.  Thank you God for bringing me into this amazing season where I'm becoming comfortable in my own skin.

Congratulations "C"....no matter how old you'll get, you'll always be mama's baby!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

...and the Winner is....

Thank you sooooo much to everyone for entering the drawing! I'm sorry if you weren't picked. If I had enough dvds, I'd send each of you one. So that you wouldn't be too mad at me for not picking your name, I had this cutie pick it out for us....and boy was she eager to pick a name.

Paige: Please send your mailing address to me at michelle365@me.com

Thursday, June 10, 2010

a GIANT of a giveaway: Enter to Win Now!

If you are not in the adoption process or never have been in one, you may think that I'm a bit unstable with my emotions.  One day...I'm UP......and another day....I'm a bit discouraged.  Quite frankly, I think many families go through this so don't call the psyche ward on me just yet!  This week has been one of those weeks where I've really felt just heavy from doubt weighing in my heart.  In the past weeks, we've really had to re-evaluate our household budget.  Things have really been getting tight and I recently started trying to become more faithful in my offering to God.  Since we've also been aggressively giving to our adoption fund, we realize that something has to let up so that we can take care of some required household expenses.  My old nature has been to quickly pull back on my offering to God and scale back some of our other expenses.  This time around, I'm convicted beyond measure that that is not God's will.  I feel God more and more teaching me that if you'll be faithful over your offering, I'll take care of the adoption.  Trust me.  Do you believe that I am more than enough?  ...and then I feel...okay God, here we go again with that same question..."Do I feel that you are more than enough?"  Quite honestly, I have to keep answering that question because I don't think I've fully surrendered and said yes yet. 

Now that we have had to put a pause on the larger amount of giving towards the adoption fund, getting to our financial goals now feels nearly impossible.  This adoption financial goal...all remaining $24,000 now that we have to travel to Ethiopia twice seems unachievable (and some of these costs I have estimated on the higher range so hopefully it may be a bit less than this BUT STILL it's a HUGE number!)

This evening, as I was pondering through all of these thoughts, I remembered a scene from the movie Facing the Giants.  Please look at this clip in its entirety.  Just before watching the clip, think about what is the giant in your life that you're facing right now.  Now as you watch the clip, imagine that YOU are Brock.  The coach is God.  The boy on Brock's back to me represents everything that weighs you down that tells you that you can't make it to the end of the finish line.  Okay, now let's watch...

That spoke volumes to me.  It had me in tears (yeah, I know I'm always crying but...) because I could imagine God saying some of those same words of encouragement to me as the road is getting tougher and I want to give up.

As if that video weren't enough, I ran up on this part of the movie that just settled me in many regards...watch:

How many times have I thought that I didn't see God moving in my circumstance yet?  (shaking my head at myself with a smirk)  It seems whenever I am running empty on hope but full of doubt, things like this come in my path that give me the push that I need. All I can say is thank you God and as Mr. Bridges reminded in this clip, "Let me go prepare the field."  It won't mean that I won't experience doubt again, but I can visualize me as Brock in the earlier video clip and God right beside me coaching me along the way.

So many lessons to learn here and so much more that I can talk about but for now I want to be a blessing to someone else.  So here's the GIANT of a giveaway -  I have a brand new DVD of the movie, Facing the Giants that I'd love to send to someone.  The movie is awesome and is something that your entire family will enjoy.

So here's how to enter to WIN the DVD:
For each of the things that you do below, you'll receive one entry in the drawing.  Just remember to come back here and leave me a comment with a link to what you did.  A name will be picked at random on Sunday night (June 13th).   

Each of the following will get you one entry in the drawing:

  • Leave a comment here sharing what giant you're facing in your life right now and how we can all be collectively praying for you OR share with us a giant that you've recently overcome and what made the difference for you as you walked through that season of your life.
  • Place a link back to this post on your Facebook page.  Don't forget to leave a comment here telling me you did it and remember, I'll need to be a friend of yours to see it.
  • Place a link back to this post on your Twitter account and ask your friends.  Don't forget to  leave a comment here telling me you did it along with your twitter account user name.
  • Place our blog on your blogroll.  If we're already on your blog roll, that counts!  Just be sure to come back and comment here with your blog web address.
  • Put our blog badge on your blog  --you can grab our badge code from our home page on the left side margin.  Because right-click is disabled, you can just highlight the code with your cursor and then go to the top of your browser and choose 'Edit' and then 'Copy'.
Thanks for spreading the love!  I'll be back on Monday with the winner!

Monday, June 7, 2010

We've Got TWO New Dates....

Last week, you may recall that we waited around to hear from our social worker who didn't show up for our Friday evening home study. Well, we heard from her today and the adoption train is on the move again! It seems that I didn't run her away with stinky breath or talking too much! smile. Unfortunately, she got really sick and couldn't locate our phone numbers. We're thrilled that she's feeling better and we are now scheduled for two more visits:
Thursday, June 10th   (just tony) 
Saturday, June 12th    (both of us)

So please pray everything goes well. While I'm anxious about getting these two visits done, it also means that we need to really focus on raising funds for the next couple of steps after that....submitting the fees for our USCIS clearance and the dossier submission totaling.....



Okay, sorry, I'm back....I passed out on the floor for a while.  smile

Friday, June 4, 2010

It's 7pm, do you know where our social worker is???

Yep, so for the past hour I've been running to my bedroom window, looking out...nope, no one yet.  Oh wait, now I'm in the kitchen, let me go run to the front room window to look...nope, no one yet.  Alright, maybe if I don't think about it, maybe she'll pull up then...(tick, tock, tick, tock...a whole 5 minutes pass..pathetic, I know)...I run to the front door to look out...nope, no one yet.  The 'someone' I've been running to the door to look for is our social worker.  She and I met for my interview last Saturday morning and she was supposed to return for Tony's interview today at 6pm.  I made sure he rushed home after work so that we could get home study visit #3 out of 4 knocked out...but nothing!  Girls, if you've ever been stood up by a guy....okay, well, guys too, if you've ever been stood up by a girl...you know how much this sucks, right???

Was it me?  Did my breath stink the last time...did I forget my Tic Tac?  Did I talk her to death and scare her off?  LOL...perhaps I did do a lot of talking but I don't think I scared her off.  In the meantime, I just left a message with our adoption agency's home study coordinator and will wait to hear back on Monday....until then...I just wanted to hear from other families who have gone through/are going through the home study...were you ever forgotten by your social worker or did they arrive late to your appointment???  Let me hear ya?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gotta Sweet Tooth....boy, do I have the answer!

If you, your family, or friends have even a slight sweet tooth, boy do I have a special offer for you that will also benefit one of my adoption bloggin' buddies!  Melissa over at The Lemanski Diaries is doing her very first fundraiser and I'm totally excited for her family!  She asked if I could share their fundraiser with you and I thought....why not?  Kristi J over at We Love Our Lucy did it for me so of course, I should pay it forward, right? Exactly!

Well here's the cutest thing...they are selling Africa cookie cutters and they are simply awesome!  Take a sneak peak at their blog and learn more about this really cool family...there's Meliski, Mack Daddy, and ya can't forget the absolutely adorable Corbanator.  If you can pop on over to The Lemanski Diaries to order a cookie cutter or two, it moves them one step closer to paying for their adoption travel costs now that families must travel to Ethiopia twice.  So, here's the pricing (and it includes shipping):  1 for $10, 2 for $20, or feel free to go the EXTRA MILE and choose the $15 option which pays for 1 cookie cutter and also provides The Lemanski Family with an additional $5 donation

I can't wait for my cookie cutter to come in the mail.  Although The Lemanskis will send a cookie recipe with your cookie cutter, I wanted to know if you have any recipes you'd like to share that would be perfect for making cookies with these amazing Africa cookie cutters???   Share, share, share your recipes....I like to eat!

The Six...Life in the Fast Lane

I can't quite remember whose blog I first saw this whole idea of posting "The Six" but I do know that whomever I got it from, she borrowed it from another blogger.  So thanks for letting me borrow it now!  Basically, from what I understand, "The Six" is a summary of photo illustrations of what's been going on in your life.  (...and if I have The Six wrong, that's okay, here's how I'll use it...smile)  Since I've been crazy busy in these past 'six' days, I thought I'd just share a few photo highlights from each of these days...here goes...

So left to right, here's what's been up:

Friday:  'C' went to camp overnight with his class.  I was very nervous because I really don't even like for the boys to go on field trips without me....so far, I've only missed two for each of them in the years they've been in school so an overnight field trip, of course, had my mind boggled....BUT, I'm happy to report this mama survived.  I'm growin' up!

Saturday:  Home Study Day for me!  This is just a quick flick of the snacks that I put out for our social worker.  I thought it was cute but in the end she only opted for bottle water at the end of her visit....well, maybe next time!

Sunday:  I had to work but afterward, I went to a family cookout.  It had its high points (lots of great food and hanging out with family members and then one of our cousins went around and sold some of our fundraiser necklaces)....and then it had its low points (I was on more than one occasion pulled into some very harsh comments condemning our choice to adopt....it really had me down but I bounced back a couple of days later.)

Monday:   The day started with a trip to Six Flags but I was overcome by the heat and had to go home early.  I made it up to the boys by letting them make homemade funnel cakes which earned me some brownie points.

Tuesday:  Nope, these aren't TOMS on my feet, these are from my favorite store --Target.  Hopefully, I'll score a pair of TOMS soon, though.  TOMS or not, I put some miles on these babies on Tuesday.  Tuesday's supposed to be my day 'OFF' but when you're a mom and wife, a day OFF is an oxymoron.  So here's how it went down in chronological order:
  • drop everybody off at school and work
  • pick-up drycleaning
  • go to morning book club meeting
  • take care of alarm system paperwork renewal
  • go to bank
  • take tony's lunch back to his job because he forgot it at home (ugh!!!)
  • print out agendas for next day meeting at work
  • drop-off agendas at meeting location
  • mail check to order more adoption t-shirts
  • pick-up boys from school
  • take boys to eye exam appointment
  • swing by whole foods with the boys to grab some late lunch
  • drop-off boys for more funnel cake making with a relative (don't ask!!!)
  • pick-up tony from work
  • pick boys back at up
  • drop relative off at home
  • go home...whew!!!!
What a day!  Although, I put a lot of miles on my shoes, my knock-off TOMS are still holding up!  So...while the tasks ended there, you know the day wasn't over right.....mom's always have to do overtime!  I was up until around 12:30am finishing up bills and the budget and then sleeping beauty crashed in her bed.

Wednesday:  Attended the spelling bee for 'C' at his school and he came in SECOND PLACE!  Woo Wee!!!!  Dad was blown away and I was so proud of that boy that I was in tears.

Maybe I'll get a chance to take a breather today......who am I kiddin'?  LOL

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