"" Life A Bit Sweeter: March 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Women Around The World Amaze Me!

No matter if you're in the United States, Africa, India, China, or wherever.....women simply amaze me!  No matter what our conditions, we have a way about being resilient.  Although this video was recorded in 2005, I'm not sure that much has changed.  Whether you are an adopting mama or have birthed children, there's just this God-given thing we have to be nurturing, compassionate, strong, and adaptable to our conditions.  Yes, we have a long way to go to ensure that every woman and every child counts in receiving adequate healthcare.  Today, I celebrate you because you're YOU -- PHENOMENAL!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Did You Know I Had A Twin?

Yep, a twin!  Well, at least according to the lady in the grocery store, the one in the doctor's office, the man on the street, my hubby, and.....you get my drift!  My twin is many years younger than me....and at least a foot shorter than me.  My twin.....well.....he's none other than my 10 year old son, MJ.

Today was MJ's bday and we had a ball!  This year, I took a queue from my Pastor and his sweet wife who use Christmas as a time to celebrate Christ and serving others instead of slathering their kids with gifts.  Instead, they make their kids' birthdays a really big deal.  We honestly had done just the opposite in years past.  Christmas was 'their' big deal day more so in terms of gifts, not necessarily in making memories.  Birthdays were cool but just not really thoughtful.  By making this switch, in the words of both boys (the other's bday was last week), "This was the best birthday ever!"

Early this morning....about 5:30am, we decorated the outside of MJ's bedroom door with red and black streamers serving as curtains as you enter the room.  We got things shaking by waking him up singing Happy Birthday, followed by 3 surprise cans of silly string and 3 of those large punching balloon balls!  Fun!!!!  He received his bday gift which he went WILD over and then it was off to school.  The boy was all smiles.

I picked him right up after school....no aftercare!  He got some 1-1 time with Mom at McDonald's while big brother remained at the aftercare facility.  We had so much fun talking and posing for the camera!  Afterwards, we came back home and then picked up his brother and other friends around 4pm and the impromptu party with a few school friends was on from there....yep, on a weekday!  I would have NEVER done this before.  They played ball in the backyard, ate pizza, cupcakes, ice cream cake, and drank root beer and tea.  Fun times!

I so enjoyed planning their birthdays this year.  They were a lot less stressful but jam-packed with memories that will last a lifetime.  I savor these moments because I really believe Trace Adkins gave the best advice in his song below..."You're gonna miss this.  You're gonna want this back. You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast.  These are some good times so take a good look around.  You may not know it now but you're gonna miss this." 

As bad as I want baby girl here right now, I can't rush these present days with "C" and "MJ" because each day they're growing into amazing young men.  I'm such a blessed mama!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Have you had the "ADOPTION" conversation with your spouse yet?

I dare you to pray and ask God if He'd like you to open your home up to a child.  Do you have room for one more?  If not a physical room, what about just a spot for another bed?  Whether you consider adopting domestically or internationally, there are over 147 million reasons why you should pray and be open to perhaps what God might say to you.  I triple dog dare you.  (smile)

I remember how afraid I was to have the 'talk' with Tony about adoption, especially, when I felt God was leading towards international adoption.  We were getting older and into our middle-class 'rhythim'.  Ha! Are you serious?!

What's interesting is more and more, I end up finding wives who are the first to feel the initial prompting. Some husbands end up being on-board right away or over a shorter period of time and others need some time to digest it and allow God to lead them to that place.  Each couple's story is a little different.  Regardless of the difference, someone needs to initiate the conversation to see if this is where God is leading your family.

Perhaps if you're concerned about your current age, you'll decide to adopt an older child.  Maybe you don't feel called to adopt but you can pray about whether you should be a foster parent on some level. 

What's your hold-up?  What has you shaking in your knees?  Who/what has you fearful?  Trust me, I understand the questions.  We've had hundreds ourselves.  Maybe after seeking God, you'll get a 'No'.   BUT what IF, a 'YES' is waiting on the other side of your prayer?

Let's talk about it....you just may be missing out on one of the greatest opportunities of your life.

Much love!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We Were Featured On Mama's Got Moxie!!!

Hey there!  Check this out.....we were featured yesterday on Mama's Got Moxie's blog.  In this blog, niki (yes, that's all lowercase baby) celebrates women she admire, creativity that inspires her, music that moves her and things that just tickle her fancy.  It's a cool spot so hop over to take a peak:  http://mamasgotmoxie.com/2011/02/14/about-niki-the-mama-with-moxie/

....and if you love her funky style and you're really in for a laugh, you have to visit the Dutch Files on her other blog "Bees & Things & Flowers".  It's truly a hilarious adventure of life with her son, Dutch....and I do mean HI-LAR-IOUS!  But be careful because in her words, "don’t dare call me a mommy blogger or i’ll cut ya."  Love her....she's really got moxie and I'm honored that she thinks I have it too!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Number 39!!!

A friend of mine, Katie Seevers, shared with me this weekend how to tell where we are in line for our daughter.  While I surely knew that we were some kind of huge number, Katie pointed out that we are NUMBER 39 in line for a girl in our age range!  39!  39!  39!  Can you tell I'm thrilled?!!!  (I'm still secretly hoping that she'll be home by this Christmas....guess it's not a secret anymore, huh?  smile)

Basically, this is an 'unofficial' list in that it is not put out by our adoption agency.  It's a group of parents that compile the list based on each of us disclosing our DTE (dossier to Ethiopia) dates.  There's always the chance that your number can increase because new parents may pop up on the scene who hadn't disclosed their adopting plans; however, as a really sweet adopting mama, Debb Marquez, pointed out, the upside of your number going up is that an additional family just means one less orphan in the world!  Love that perspective in the grand scheme of God's plan for the approximately 147 million orphans in this world.

....and I love lookin' at this sign on my desk.  I'll keep ya updated as it changes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Soundtrack of My Life....what's yours?

I love music! It helps me express my joy, sadness, excitement, and a myriad of other emotions.  I often like to think about what is the current 'soundtrack' of my life.  When I say my life 'soundtrack', I mean what's the theme in my life in that season.  I thought I'd share mine with you and I'd love to know.....what's yours?

Point of Grace.....How You Live (Turn Up the Music)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Getting My Sexy Back.....Zumba

If you missed out on my intro to this series on 'Getting My Sexy Back', check it out here.  As an adopting mommy, heck as a mom, I wanted to just share where I was in this season of my life.  Things can get so busy in our lives (from work, keeping the home, shuttling kids, etc.) that sometimes we forget to keep things...shall I say 'interesting' with our honeys.  In Getting My Sexy Back, I felt that one of the prime ways is not necessarily found by heading to  Victoria's Secret.  I think one of the most attractive things (perhaps sexiest) is a spouse oozing with self-confidence (not arrogance...there's clearly a difference). You know, someone that is confident in their own skin.

So.....what have I been up to as I look to boost my own confidence???  Now that we're in the waiting period of our referral and basketball season is ending for my kids, a little of my time is being freed up.  Tonight, on a whim, I decided to drop-in on a Zumba class in my neighborhood that I had been talking about.  Well, I'm excited because contrary to my belief and fear, I made it through the ENTIRE class!  If you've never been to a Zumba class, I highly recommend it.  It's an amazing atmosphere with the perfect mix of aerobics, dance, and at times, extremely sensual moves (yes, I said it....don't faint church ladies...it's really okay! you're married, right?  smile). 

Have you thought about trying it but feel like you're not the best coordinated person?  Trust me....no worries because I'm not either.  There were some women in the class who had the choreography nailed but there were also a large portion of women who kept up at their own speed and did what they could.  I was totally shocked that my non-exercising self made it through ONE HOUR of workout!  Woo hoo! I've never done that!  Just the boost of confidence that this chickadee needed!  I'm planning to go back next week and maybe after a few more weeks, I'll be ready to show my hubby some of my moves.  Pray I don't break anything y'all!  LOL.

BTW:  I can't wait to get one of those cute little hip scarves with all the jingly coins that some of the ladies in my class wore.  Go 'head girl!  Shake it!  Shake it!  LOL.

What have you all been up to?  What's your 'sexy' been lookin' like?  Have you been thinking about trying something new?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

He's 12 today!

What a fun morning it's been!  Today is my son's 12th birthday! "C" looks maybe more like dad but has his mommy's mannerisms.  While his youngest brother "MJ" is a risk-taker, "C" and I like to color inside the lines a bit more.  Tell us what the law is and we'll do our best to follow it.  Now, don't get me wrong....we're no stick in the mud type of people (if I might say so myself--smile) but we appreciate order.  Now "MJ" and dad on the other hand, they love new adventures, being in the spotlight at a party, and are just loud! (LOL).  Regardless, it's a great mesh of all of us to keep things interesting to say the least.  (It will be so much fun to see how Selah shakes things up.....so stay tuned!)

So when I look at "C" and how he is shaping up to become such an amazing young man, it's so beautiful to see that God trusted this gift to me and Tony.  Yesterday, as we went for his annual check-up, he was so stoked when the nurse announced that he was 5 feet tall.  He was beside himself because this milestone meant that he is out of the 'kiddie' 4 feet range where he's been for a while.  While I'm thrilled for him, the mama in me is torn because I know he's in this in-between phase....no longer a kid but not an adult.  He's coming into his own...girls will follow.....and then the talks of going away to college will begin.

One other great thing that came out of his doctor's visit was a conversation I had with his pediatrician.  She has an older son....about 23 years old.  As we were wrapping up both boys' physicals, she reminisced with a huge smile on her face about when her son was my boys' ages.  I asked her, "If you could do anything differently, what would you have done?"  She quickly shared, "I would have spent more time having fun with him."  So....that's our goal today and the coming days ahead.....Have more F-U-N!  This morning, he woke up to cans of silly string and us singing Happy Birthday.  We'll see what the rest of the day holds!

What about you....how do you intentionally have fun with your kid(s) or what has been your best memory?


Monday, March 14, 2011

...and the Winner is......

Envelope please! ....and the friend who accurately guessed which TOMS shoes this mama purchased on Friday at Nordstroms is.....

Robyn Davidson guessed that I'd step out of my box with the silver glitter TOMS!  Great guessing my dear.  Shoot me an e-mail (michelle365@me.com) and I'll get your t-shirt right out to ya!

My friends you all were totally awesome!  See what these friends thought and go check out their blogs if their name is underlined:

Kelly Jo and Mandie --I have to tell you that I was sooooo close to getting the black glitters but my heart walked into the store knowing I really wanted to get the silver glitters on Friday.  In fact, the silver glitters have apparently been in such demand that after calling around to at least 10 stores, I settled on going into one of the stores to try them on and then placed an order to have them shipped to my house (Nordstrom offers free home shipping when the order is placed in the store...didn't know that! woot!  woot!)  Can't wait to sport these babies this week!

Melissa, you're right those red canvas are a hot little number and you know with trying to get my sexy back and everything (lol), I might have to consider those!

Allison - ooh!  ooh!  ooh!  I think those might be my very next pair!  Love the concept and the map!  (Did all y'all check them out --http://www.charitywater.org/TOMS/http://www.charitywater.org/TOMS/)

Angela - I can totally see me rockin' the Kenya Stripe wedges....seriously!  So many TOMS that can fill my closet.  I think my cousin is purchasing these babies very soon.

Erik - I have to say.....I never considered the botas until you mentioned them.  At first....I honestly thought no way but then I started explorin' to see how folks were wearing them....then I caught a quick vision in my head of how I could wear them with some shorts for the Spring.  Do you have the botas?

Alice - The Petals are indeed a perfect spring shoe.  You've gotta grab those.  There appears to be a little sheen to them too!

Erica -  Those olive classics would totally work with some pops of color in an outfit! Do you have any TOMS yet?

Maureen - I've been entertaining getting the pink glitters for Breast Cancer month....since I don't walk...just lazy/so sad I know....I figured perhaps I can hang out with these pink sparkly babies during the month!  :-)

Shelly - You were definitely full of lots of cool guesses!  Of all of them, I think my 'fav' right now is the Journey is the Destination! Lots of great pops of color!

Thanks everyone for taking this TOMS journey with me!  Hope to hear that many of you are doing One Day Without Shoes! Ta Ta for now!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Win A Shirt......Guess Which TOMS I'm Purchasing Today!

It's no secret that I am a TOMS fan!!!!  Remember when I got my first pair.....(see here) okay, I love the shoes and the business model so much I bought TWO PAIRS that day!  My first pairs were the funky brown burlap and the classic canvas black.  I honestly wore those puppies out! Seriously, that's how much I wore them.

Well, it's time to get me another pair but I'm not tellin' yet! Can you guess which style I'm going for today?  Well, if you can guess correctly, you'll WIN one of our cool Mocha Club I Need Africa fundraiser t-shirts! 
(Inside of shirt features the explanation of the t-shirt....click the wording to check it out below):

So run over to the TOMS store and check out the styles.  Leave me a comment detailing the style and color that you think I'll be purchasing today.  You have to be specific.  Who knows....there may be more than one winner!  Offer ends this Sunday night and the winner will be announced on Monday.

Still clueless as to what in the heck this TOMS shoe thing is all about?  No worries....check out the story of TOMS Shoes here:

... and guess what?  I'm doing One Day Without Shoes on April 5th with some friends.  We're called Team Selah!  I'll be sharing more about this in a future post.  For now, check out the beauty of going One Day Without Shoes.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

If You Only Knew.....You Wouldn't Have Bothered Me!

With all of the news swirling, including the March 9th State Department confirmation that there could be a significant decrease in the number of adoptions processed through Ethiopia, Tony and I are standing firm.  We had an amazing talk the other night about all the 'what ifs'.  As we looked at the current 'facts' and weighed them against what we believe to be true of God, we've resolved that we are standing firm.  We believe God has led us to this place and there is so much that he wants us to put our hands and feet to in Ethiopia.  We are excited!

Ya know Tye Tribbett has this song that's called "I Want It All Back" and in it he says (talking about Satan) ...."If you only knew what I was gonna be after the storm you wouldn't have even bothered me."  Love that!  This storm has so deepened our faith and many others who are orphan advocates.  So even if there is a significant delay in the 'adoption' process, there is absolutely no delay in how God will use us in Ethiopia.  That may have just been sped up!  It may mean a missions trip will come sooner than we thought.  Who knows what's on the horizon for how God will extend us in Ethiopia but I'm excited to be on this ride!  Let's go!!!  Can't wait to see what God does on the other side of this!

*singing* Might not be what I would choose but this is the stuff you use.//So break me of impatience.  Conquer my frustrations.  I've got a new appreciation.  It's not the end of the world.//Might not be what I would choose but this is the stuff you use.//

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Two Months Expecting: Us vs. The Milk!!!

Yesterday was the 7th!  Yesterday was the 7th!  What's the big deal?!  The big deal is that we hit another milestone in preparing our family for the arrival of Selah! Our paperwork was officially sent to Ethiopia on January 7th so like any other expecting mama, each months represents a milestone for us.

We decided back then that instead of indulging in one of our southern comfort foods to celebrate, we'd try out something a little healthier.  Last month, it was Kashi cereal.  This month is was............MILK! ...but not from a cow! "Say what?" says the country girl in me. What other kind of milk is there????  LOL.  You see I don't get out much.  (smile)

So mama McKinney headed down to MOMS Organic and chose a couple varieties to host an in-home taste test.  Each of us received 3 glasses....each labeled "A", "B", and "C".  Option A was Almond Milk and option B was Coconut Milk.  Our good ol', fatty, creamy, faithful was Vitamin D as option C.  Then of course to get our tummies revved up, what decent mother holds a milk taste test without a plate of chocolate chip cookies?!!!  The kids sniffed, stared, and we finally tasted all three milk varieties.  They took the pre-printed ballots and cast their votes.
The verdict:  We unanimously chose our fatty Vitamin D milk but the Almond Milk came in as a close second.  (I had to initially tell them that it 'might' be chocolate milk since the brownish color is a dead giveaway that it's not our good ol' faithful.)  ....and option C, let's just say they spit it back into the cup!

So there you have it!  The McKinneys are stepping out of their box thanks to this adoption journey.  What do you think we should try next?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Stop the Fighting! The Children have to come FIRST!!!

So.....there is a single article circulating that has orphan advocates up in arms right now because it claims that Ethiopia adoption cases heard by the court will be drastically cut by about 90% per day.  You could imagine, to an adopting mama, like me, who believes her daughter is waiting in Ethiopia, that is almost a drastic blow to my heart.  Although some of the statements in the article don't add up, it does accurately share the sentiment that the system is trying to figure out how to get rid of the corruption that exists.  Don't get me wrong, I am a HUGE advocate for making sure that every child that is placed in a family is a true orphan.  How painful for the child, birth parent, and adoptive parents to later find out that their child was a part of a sham or kidnapping.  At the same time, my heart hurts for the children who get caught in this bottleneck of adults not working together to come up with the BEST solution for the child.

I remember as a child, when my mom died, there was a lot of confusion about where to place my brother and me.  My parents who were married didn't have a will and my dad couldn't take care of us.  I think my mother never thought that at the age of 30 (when she died), that she'd need to make plans for who would take care of her children.  As it often happens in many families when a person dies, there was a lot of confusion because there was no plan.  My mom's family wanted us and so did my dad's family.  Both families were hurting because of my mom's sudden death and both families had the best intentions and deeply loved my brother and me.  So what was the result?  Cut us right down the middle --so to speak.  My brother went to live with one side of the family and I went to live with the other.  Talk about trauma!!!!  Within a very short period of time, my brother (age 10) and me (just about to turn 5), suddenly loss our mom, our father, the life we knew, and each other.  Again, EVERYBODY really meant well.....I believe that with my whole heart; yet, in the midst of their quarreling with one another, I think they forgot what was most important......What will be best for the children?  What will be best for Michelle and Michael?  WOW.  The lack of focusing on just that question alone did major psychological damage to my brother and I as not just children, but human beings.

I'll always believe that God's #1 plan for children is for them to be with their birth parents; however, because I know we live in a fallen world, that's not always possible.  If you noticed in my first paragraph, I said that this potential news about Ethiopian adoption is ALMOST a drastic blow to my heart.  The reason it's not hitting me so hard is because I know God's love for the orphan.  Because he loves the orphan so much, He'll make sure that these little ones (over 4 million of them in Ethiopia) won't be forgotten.  You know why I know that for sure?  Because He didn't forget about me.  Sure, the emotional part of my situation wasn't ideal but I was well provided for and spent significant time with both sides of my family.  God promises in Romans 8:28 that ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD.  My situation worked out for good because here I am today, still standing and now an orphan advocate.  Although we grew up in separate homes, my brother and I remain very close.

So...be encouraged orphan advocates.....this is God's battle.  He knows that the children have to come FIRST.  So let them talk but let us pray, stand firm in love, be obedient to the word, and work together.  Let Him use us as the vessels for people to see a miracle and His love.  In the words of another adopting mommy....."He's got this!"

Friday, March 4, 2011

2 Families, 2 Ethiopian Daughters & One Beautifully Made Doll

I've said it time and time again.  God has truly blessed us with amazing friends along this adoption journey.  Some are adopting families and some are folks who just are compassionate about orphan care.  One of these such families is The Vermes.  I met them in the blog world and we also share the use of the same adoption agency --America World.

Jenn is an amazing photographer in Texas and her hubby Chris is a gifted landscaper.  They are the type of couple that you'd love to hang out with.  Ya know the type who would invite you into their home, tell you to take your shoes off, and then settle in for some good southern hospitality.

Chris and Jenn are also adopting a little girl from Ethiopia and her name will be Maya.  You can follow their adoption journey here:  http://www.pureandlasting.com/.Well, being the crafty person she is, I believe Jenn is totally finished with Maya's room already!  One of the final touches was a doll she was making for Maya.  Well, imagine my tears when I found out she was also making a doll for Selah too!!!

When the priority mail box arrived at the front door, the boys ran to the front door because they were excited to see the gift for their sister.  We were all floored.  Beyond the amazing craftsmanship of the doll (thanks to Jenn and her mom), she took it to another level of tears when she included a personalized note to our family and the photos above of her and Chris with Selah's doll and the little sign that said "The Vermes Love Selah".  Priceless.  Ya know, more and more, I realize that Selah is not just ours.  There are so many people like you and the Vermes who are loving on her extravagantly.  So blessed to be a part of this miracle.  Thank you Vermes for your support, love, and the gift of Selah's first doll!  We love you too!

BTW:  Did you check out that Chris has on our "I Need Africa" fundraiser tee they purchased to also support Selah's adoption.  That was too cute!!!!

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