Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Here We Go Again!

Update: The fundraiser will end on July 22nd.

CALM DOWN, it's not what you think! As I was typing this blog title I realized that many of you would immediatlely think of something else, like bringing two home again. Sorry to disappoint, but not gonna happen. With all the bumps we have encountered this time around, we are just going to be happy to get Keliah home.

We are once again launching a fundraiser to help bring our daughter home. We recently found out that because of the exchange rate, alot of our in China fees and expenses have increased. For example, the orphanage donation has increased from $5000 to $5400. Now $400 may not seem like alot, but when you are looking at the big picture, it is HUGE!

We are fortunate enough to live in the same city as the corporate offices of Vera Bradley. Once a year they hold a sale at the colisiem and it is a big deal. People come from all over to go to this sale. It starts on Wednsday and goes until Sunday. Each day they do markdowns and by Sunday most things are pretty inexpensive. People started lining up Saturday night for the doors to open Sunday morning.

So, because of the sale I was able to score some pretty cool bags, purses, and accessories. I have been holding on to them knowing that I would use them as a fundraise and wanted to wait until the right time.

We found out on Monday that we have a LID of 6/13 (this means that China has received our dossier and has logged it in to their system) which was much faster than our agency expected. Since we are reusing our dossier there has been some talk that things may move faster, but nothing definite. So just in case things do move faster than expected, which would be awesome, we want to make sure we are ready to go when China says we can go.

This is gonna be a pretty big giveaway. Unfortunately we can't do a big ticket item like before, but the good thing is that not one, not two, not even three, but 11 people will have a chance to win one of the follwing gift bags below.

vera bradley

#1. This is the Buttercup pattern. This set includes the Honor Roll duffel bag, Tootsie purse, Please Hold wallet and the Make Me Up makeup bag. This would make a great set for a little girl or even a tween.

#2. This is the Purple Punch pattern. You will get the Saddle Up purse, Double Eye eye glass case, and the Compact Wallet.

#3. This is the Puccini pattern. You will get the Double Eye eye glass case, and the Taxi Wallet.

#4. This is the Bali Gold pattern. This set includes the Stephanie purse, Double Eye eye glass case, and the Compact Wallet.

#5. This is the Carnably pattern. This is the Stephanie purse, the Double Eye eye glass case, and the Euro Wallet.

#6. Make Me Blush pattern. This is the Reversible Tote purse, and the matching Taxi Wallet.

#7. This is the Call Me Coral pattern. This is for the Cha Cha Hadbag, and the matching Best Bud wallet.

#8. This is the Patchwork pattern. This is for the Medley Tote.

#9. Palm Beach Gardens Pattern. This is for the Pretty Tote purse.

#10. This is the Day and Night pattern. This is the Comin Up Roses Handbag and the matchin Best Buds Wallet.

#11. This is the Loves Me pattern. This is for the Comin Up Roses Handbag and the matching Best Buds wallet.

I know pretty cool, uh? These are some great bags for both big girls and little girls. Emma has one of the Tootise purse and Best Buds wallet and LOVES them. In fact, she was begging me to let her keep the Buttercup set, but backed off when she realized it was to bring Keliah home.

So, here's the deal. All you have to do is follow the instructions below and you will be entered to win one of these awesome prizes.

1. For every $25.00 donated, you will receive 5 entries!
2. For every $50.00 donated, you will receive 10 entries plus a free bracelet (pictured below) in your choice of color.
3. Post about the fundraiser on your blog, receive 3 entires!
4. Post about it on facebook, receive 3 entries!
5. Become a follower, receive 3 entries!

Please use the Chip In button to the right. I know there are some people who do not like or don't have a paypal account so if you would rather donate another way, please contact me at mmyag@comcast.net


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Never Say Never

There are so many things I said I would NEVER do. There are so many things I said I would NEVER have. I am sure there were even more "nerve's" before I got married and had kids, but that seems like forever ago.

Shortly (5 days) after Matt and I got married he left for basic training. A few months into it he called with information about where his first duty station would be. I was thinking somewhere South, but was completely unprepared for the words that came out of his mouth. "I am going to be stationed in South Korea." My response was "I am NOT going to live in S. Korea. Matt's response to that, "well, that's good because it is an unaccompanied tour which means you can't go." A month after he let Korea, I was on a plane to Korea. Never say Never.

When Matt and I got married obviously one of the things we talked about repeatedly was the number of kids we wanted to have. I was good with two, one boy, one girl. After Emma came along I was excited that I had my one girl and one boy (I did still dream about my daughter in China). I remember seeing large families out and about and thinking why in the world would anyone want that many kids? How did they afford that many kids? There house must be huge with a family that size. Could they even afford to take their kids to Disney, because in my mind (at the time), every kid needed to go to Disney, they needed to wear name brand clothes, etc. Nope, not gonna have more than 2 kids.

When Emma was 2 I got pregnant with Gabe. Matt and I were really excited about adding ONE more to our family. We were certain that this was going to be it. We were done after this. Three was enough and probably more than we could really afford. We prayed for a healthy baby with 10 fingers and 10 toes, the sex didn't really matter since we already had one of each.

You all know the story from there. Mylee came home in May of 2008, Drew and Jaxon in May of 2010, and Keliah will hopefully join our family this coming fall. In three years we have gone from a family of 4, to a family of 7 (almost). Never say Never.


One of the other things I said I would NEVER do is drive a mini van, and there was absolutely NO WAY I was going to drive one of those big, humongous vans. We had an eight passenger conversion van when I was growing up and there was no way I was going to drive one of those things around. Nope, no gonna happen.

Last night we went from this...


to this...


It was definitely time. We knew it was coming and had been putting it off for some time, but now with Keliah only months from coming home, we needed to get a van that would fit all of us. So, we went from a mini van to this 12 passenger monstrosity. We have been looking for one in our price range for about 6 months, so when we learned about this one, we moved quickly because these vans are not easy to find (well, without paying $30,000). Once again, never say never.

The kids were so excited when they saw up pull in. We came home to get them and take them for ice cream because we knew they were going to want a ride. Drew came running out saying "whooohooo, yippeee, now we can all go to the lake." (We were driving two cars before) They have already staked out their seats. It is definitely going to take a bit of getting used to, but it is such a relief to finally have that decision making process over.

And as for the Never say Never, I would drive a bus if it meant that there would be no more children without homes, because NEVER is just a word, and families are forever.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

Whoooo! Summer just started around here and we are already super busy. The kids got out of school on June 7. They were supposed to get out on May 26th, but we had tons of snow days to make up therefore they had to go into June. Let me tell ya, they were definitely ready to be done.

Blake and Jaxon have already started football practice (that started the day after school) for their FRESHMAN year. I cannot believe I am going to have not one, but two freshmen. Holy Cow, I am not sure I am ready for this.



Blake made his Confirmation within the Catholic Church in May. We are so proud of him and the young man he is turning into.

He also did the Juvenile Diabetes walk this year. We were not only proud of him for giving up his time, but for his friends as well. Between all of them, they donated over $100 of their own money. He definitely has some great friends.

This past weekend we had an adoption fundraiser to raise money to bring Keliah home. Despite the rain and storms we still managed to make a little under $900.00. It was pouring rain when we opened on Friday and ended up clearing out our front room to set tables of clothes in it. By early afternoon the rain had cleared off so things started to pick up a bit. We still have a ton of stuff left (we had several people donate) so I am loading it all up and taking it to friend's this weekend for their association sale. Hopefully we can get rid of lots of stuff.


Emma also set up a table at the garage sale. She is making some pretty awesome bracelets to help raise money for Keliah's adoption. Each bracelet is $6.00 and between friends, family, and the garage sale, she has already managed to make over 200 bracelets. She can whip up a bracelet in about 5 minutes or less.


I can assure you there will be more talk about these very soon!

Emma also had her dance recital this past Sunday. She did an amazing job and we are so proud of her. This year she only took ballet and really seemed to enjoy it. She will be taking ballet again in the fall and is excited to have Keliah join her. (We have video of Keliah dancing and i her interview she says that she wants to be a dancer when she grows up. I have already talked with the dance teacher and they are willing to let her start when she gets home if she wants).

Emma ballet


Their song was "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

Mylee is so excited because this will be her first summer since she has been home that she will not be in casts. She can enjoy the lake, and will be taking a beginner Ballet class this summer. She still doesn't have 100% range in her knees and ankles, but she has been begging to dance like Emma since she came home. She is over the moon excited and asks daily when her classes will start. If all goes well, we will sign her up for a year long class as well. Oh, she will also be in Kindergarten in the fall and is extremely excited and proud to tell anyone who will listen.

She will probably spending alot of time in the water this summer.

Gabe is probably the most excited about summer break. He does quite well in school, but is definitely not a big fan. He struggled in the beginning with reading, but once he got it, he got it. His teacher says he definitely has the mind of an engineer. She said he is very creative and that in all the years of teaching she has never seen a kindergartner come up with block creations like him. She said she thoroughly enjoys watching him build things out of blocks.

Once a month the school has a River Rally where they get the kids pumped up about learning, life skills, and award any outstanding students. They give the kids a special t-shirt if they are chosen and during the last River Rally, Gabe earned a t-shirt for having perseverance all year long. His teacher said that she was so proud of Gabe for not giving up when things got too hard. Instead, he would continue to work until he figured it out. He was very excited about this and we were extremely proud of him.


Gabe loves spending time at the lake.


Andrew will be going to pre-school in the fall three days a week and is so excited to finally be going to school like his big brothers and sisters. This little guy has so much energy and can be quite ornery at times. During Emma's dance recital there was a group of girls doing hip hop (they were about 5 or 6) and one little boy. Matt and I both looked at each other and said "Andrew." So, I think we are going to sign him up for a summer hip hop class which I am sure he will love. He loves performing in front on anyone who will watch.


Drew turned 5 in March and insisted on a Spider Man party!

So, as you can see we are kicking off the summer in full swing. I am sure there will very few dull moments in the house. We will be spending lots of weekends at the lake, which the kids love.

There's just enough room for Keliah to be in the picture next year.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Black and White Wednesday ~ Smiles

Jaxon has been home for just over a year now. This picture was taken the day we met him. I know for Matt and I were were so nervous. While we waited for Jaxon to arrive we were talking about whether or not to shake his hand, hug him, or just stand back and give a little wave. I remember at one point, I told Matt that I thought I was going to be sick because I was so nervous. This was a whole new journey we were about to embark on.

With all the emotions Matt and I were feeling, I can't even begin to imagine how Jaxon was feeling and thinking. When I look at this picture, I see a terrified, young man. I see bravery, and courage like no other. I see fear.


I used to love looking at this picture. This was taken while we were still in China, and I it was probably the first "real" smile we got from Jaxon. This was the picture I carried in my wallet, because of the smile. It took alot for him to feel comfortable enough to smile. We didn't get many smiles in the beginning and if we did, we had to beg for them.


This next picture was taken shortly after we got home. We didn't get a whole lot of smiles in the beginning. The ones we did see, were only because he didn't know we were looking. When Jaxon would be outside playing with the other kids, I would stand at the kitchen window and take pictures from the inside. I didn't want him to see me with the camera because I knew if he did, he would stop and come in.


In the fall we had our family pictures updated. We were planning on doing it anyway, but needed to for our updated dossier for Keliah. This smile was a little easier to come by. Jaxon definitely doesn't like to be the center of attention so having a photo shoot where he was the only one in the picture was a little awkward for him I am sure. But, I think it turned out okay, and he seemed pleased with it at the time.

jaxon bw

This picture is by far, my favorite picture of Jaxon. This was just taken over Memorial Day weekend at the lake, so a little over a year later from the first picture. I definitely don't see any fear or nerves in the picture. He truly looks happy, he looks comfortable, he looks like he belongs in our family. This is a genuine, uncoaxed smile, which is something we see more and more of each and every day.


This past year has been full of so many emotions for everyone involved. I will be the first to admit that Matt and I were terrified of adopting an older child, especially a boy. But there was just something about his picture that gave me a sense of peace. I would look at his referral picture over and over and "know" that everything was going to be okay. I know that most of our family and friends thought we were crazy, and completely out of our minds for adopting Jaxon. But I cannot imagine our family without him. He is an awesome, awesome, kid.

We have good times and bad, but more good than bad. In the beginning there were several times that we were all in tears. He would say he thought he made a mistake in coming here, and we would do everything to show him that he hadn't. In the beginning I don't think actually, I am certain he wasn't sure if this was his permanent home or not. We spent several months assuring him over and over that no matter what, he was here to stay.

A few months after being home Jaxon and I were out somewhere together one day and he began to share with me his story, his background. Obviously that is something I will not be sharing, but I can definitely tell you that the word "courage" has a new meaning to me.

One of the things that I have wanted more than anything was for Jaxon to call me "mom." He has called Matt "dad" a few times, but I usually get a tap on the shoulder or a "hey." He has always referred to us as mom and dad with the other kids, but never directly addresses me as mom. I knew it would come with time, and was actually preparing myself that he would never call me or really see me as his mom. But on Easter Sunday, as I was making breakfast for everyone, I over heard Matt tell Jaxon, Blake and Emma to tell me thank you for their Easter baskets. I had my back turned to them. Blake came in first with a "thanks mom." Then Emma with a peppy "thank you mom." And then Jaxon with a low, mumbled, "thanks mom." I absolutely could not believe it. I was definitely not expecting it and had to do everything I could not to break down in the middle of the kitchen in tears. I had waited almost a year to hear that on little word from him, and honestly didn't know how to react. I did know, not to make a big deal about it. I just said "you're welcome" and continued scrambling the eggs, but I can tell you my heart was bursting inside.

Matt and I talked to several other families that had adopted older children, especially boys before we brought Jaxon home. We heard many different stories. We heard the good, the bad, and unfortunately, the ugly. We had prepared ourselves for the worst, and even discussed our breaking point if we were getting in over our heads. We knew Jaxon was our son, and were prepared to do whatever it took to make him feel that as well.

This past year has been full of goods and bads, but I think we would all, including Jaxon agree, that he is our son, and fits perfectly into our family. He is such a good kid. I remember when we were in China and Blake was back talking Matt. Matt looked at Jaxon and told him (though the translator) that he couldn't wait until he was comfortable enough to talk back to him. Well, that day came not too long ago, and as mad as it made both of us, behind closed doors we were relieved. I know it sounds ridiculous that we would welcome our child to talk back, but for us, it is a sign that Jaxon is feeling like he is truly a part of the family.

As I look back on this past year in pictures, the transformation with Jaxon is tremendous. I can only imagine what the next year will bring.

A smile is the light in the window of your face that tells people you're at home. ~Author Unknown
jaxon bw

Friday, June 3, 2011

30 Days Ago

Before I get started, I should probably explain my Wordless Wednesday post. Yes, that was my foot, no I did not break my foot (although that may be less painful, and more fixable). For two years now I have been dealing with Plantar Fasciitis which has now turned into a bone spur. It is extremely painful and has really limited my walking. I will admit I am not one that likes to go to the doctor, so I did put it off for awhile. Once I finally went, we started the treatment with shots of cortizone in my heel. This was so not fun, and quite painful and in the end did not work. Our next step was to have custom orthotics put in my tennis shoes that were to be worn all the time (I actually can't walk far without my shoes on because the pain is awful). These worked for about 6 months, but again, I put off going to the doctor until about March. This time, I was given a night splint that is made to keep me food in a straight, stretched position while I sleep. We did this for over a month, and again, this didn't help. So, after talking with a few other women that have had or have this foot problem, I decided I was just going to bite the bullett and have the surgery. I went in to see the doctor two weeks ago fully intending to walk out with a surgical appt. Instead, I walked out with this lovely new "shoe." Supposedly, this will keep me from having surgery. I wear this all day long except when I am driving, and the night splint to sleep in. I go back at the end of the month and if my foot is not better, then we are just going to schedule the surgery. I have been wearing the boot now for 2 weeks and I can't really see any progress. I keep hoping it will get better, but I am just not feeling it yet. So, I will keep you posted on my foot issue. If anyone has ever had this, I would love to hear how you treated it.

Now for the real reason for my post.

30 days ago, I was on cloud nine.

After 7 very long months, our dossier was ready to leave for China. When we started this process back in September, our goal was to beDTC in January, February at the latest. But throughout those 7 months, we encountered roadblocks that needed pushed through, hurdles that needed knocked over, and a few mountains that needed climbing. We met each setback with frustration, but determined to get through it.

30 days ago, time stood still with one single phone call

May 3rd. That was the day that changed everything. I got a call from our agency and I could tell right away something wasn't right. I went outside to the front porch to see what was up. I was fully expecting for it to have something to do with our paperwork. Never in a million years could I have been prepared for what was being told to me. Honestly, I don't think anyone could have been prepared. As I was being told the accusations that had been made, my head was spinning and the voice at the other end was starting to sound like the teacher on Charlie Brown.

30 Day ago we were betrayed.

Someone had "anonymously" called our agency earlier that day and had made some pretty strong accusations in regards to us adopting another child. This person made several accusations about us, our family, and our finances in an effort to sabotage our adoption process. Some of the accusations that were made were completely ridiculous, some exaggerated truths, and some were just complete lies. Some of the accusations that were being made were that we couldn't afford another child, we have a diabetic son (Blake) who we don't monitor,Mylee's ortho issues are too much for us to handle and therefore causing us to "neglect" our other kids. Jaxon is unhappy and causing problems. Our house is dirty and we never fix anything. Oh, and our plate is just too full. These are only a few of the accusations, there are more, many more.
As the list was of accusations was growing, it became quite apparent to me who the anonymous person was. There was no doubt in my mind who was doing this and way. This person is very controlling and because they didn't feel we should add another child into our home, they took it upon themselves to make sure that didn't happen. They have verbalized their opinion frequently, and were not happy with our decision to adoptKeliah. These accusations were not made out of concern for our family and definitely not Keliah. They were made with one malicious intent and that was to "control" the situation.

30 Days ago everything was put on hold.

Because of the accusations, everything was put on hold. We were told that until we were able to prove the accusations wrong, we could not proceed. We were already months behind our goal of being DTC by January, so you can only imagine how upsetting this was. Don't get me wrong, we completely understand and agree with our agency in needing to verify everything, but it doesn't mean we have to like it. There main concern was what is best for Keliah, which is exactly what it should be.

I am not one that likes to be told "no." In fact, if someone tells me no, I am going to everything I can to prove to them that I can do it. I am a mom, and NO ONE, I mean NO ONE is going to mess with my kids. Keliah may not physically be here, but she is just as much part of our family and loved just as much as the other kids.

30 Days ago we began to fight for our daughter.

Once we were able to calm down and fully comprehend the severity of everything, we no choice but to fight back. Luckily, our agency was not giving up on us, but instead was working with us to discredit everything that had been said. For the last 30 days we have been running around like crazy people. We have had to get reference letters from friends, family, teachers, neighbors, and doctors. We were asked to provide a recent credit report, current employment letters, and not one, not two, but three years worth of past tax information. We were asked to put into writing a dispute for each and every accusation that was made, which we did, and ended up being 11 pages long. Jaxon was asked to write a letter on his own about how he felt about living in our family. Our homestudy agency was called (they had just been here 2 weeks prior for our 1 yr post placement) and we told them they were more than welcome to come back anytime announced or not. Once our agency had everything they needed (and then some), we had to go back through immigration and wait for their take on all of this. Honestly, I think our agency knows more about our family than any other adoptive family.

30 days ago I was terrified.

I was so scared, mostly of the unknown. I was petrified that His plan was different than mine. We had no idea what was going to happen. All I knew was that from the moment I sawKeliah's picture I knew she was my daughter and I had to fight for her. I saw her pictures a few months before I even mentioned her to Matt. I knew he wasn't going to begung ho about adopting again. I kept telling myself that if she was still available in August, I would approach him about her. August came, she was still available, and by September we were submitting ourLOI.

For the last 30 days I have had this gut wrenching ache in the pit of my stomach. I am not a cryer, but I can assure you , tear, many, many tears have been shed these past few weeks. I just could not imagine having to tell the kids, especially Emma that we were not going to get Keliah. I think that was the hardest part, knowing that the worst case decision was not only going to break my heart, but theirs as well. And then I would start thinking about Keliah and what could happen to her. Would she get a second chance with a family, or would she eventually age out to a life on the streets?

7 days ago we got another call.

23 days had passed since we found out everything was on hold. 23 days of being on what seemed like an endless rollercoaster. After 23 days of ups and downs, and twists and turns, everything came to a screeching halt yet again. However, this phone call was much different than the first. This was the phone call that we had been praying for, the one that would determine our fate as well as Keliah's. After 23 days of complete stress, we were finally being told that the ride was over, and that our placing agency, homestudy agency, and immigration had decided to let us proceed with bringing Keliah home. Basically this means that we were able to discredit each and every accusation that had been made and Keliah will come home. Praise God!


We got an e-mail that we have waited a long time for. After 7 very long months, we were finally...


That's right, as I type this, our dossier is on it's way to China. We are hoping and praying for a speedy LOA and TA that will put us on a plane around September. We are beyond excited to be able to finally take a breath and relax. This has been one heck of a ride, one that was not only new to us, but to our agency as well. I cannot thank them enough for their support and understanding during this last month. I would also like to thank all of you who have kept us in your thought and prayers. I have received e-mails daily from friends, family, and fellow bloggers checking in on us. I have talked with, texted, and really leaned on a few of you, and for that, I truly thank you.

Once again it has been our faith that got us through this, and it will be our faith, that will see us through in bringing our daughter home, where she belongs.

january update 2

Wednesday, June 1, 2011