Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Gift of Hope

2011 is winding down and it has been a life altering year. We changed the course of where we were going.  For some time, we had been stuck in a rut and feeling exhausted about life not turning out exactly as planned.  You probably would never know that about me from looking at me; I would keep my heavy heart under wraps. At the end of last year, we set in motion the steps for us to have a child.  We told our family and close friends that we had decided to adopt.  We left our little Village apartment after 15 years and moved into a space and neighborhood that would be better suited to begin our family.  We put in place a financial plan to save enough to start the adoption process.  In May, we began the home study process with Bethany Christian Services.  It has been a year of examining who we are, what we want out of life and our faith in God.  If someone told me a year ago this would be my life, I probably would not have believed them.  We've made new friends and reconnected with old ones.  People that I would never expected have reached out to support us, encourage us and pray for us.  Words cannot express the gratitude that I feel for each and every one of you.  It feels like I have been swimming against the tide but I made it.  And I could not have done it without you.

As 2012 quickly approaches, I am filled with hope. Hope that I will start swimming with the tide instead of against it.  Hope that the waiting for a baby will not daunt me. Hope that we will be able to save enough for when the time comes to bring our baby home. Hope that we will continue with good health, good jobs and good family and friends.

I received a wonderful gift and gesture from a friend this year. A really cool bracelet in a hope bag. But it wasn't just a really cool bracelet in a hope bag, it was a message to me that she wishes for me to have hope in the new year. That she understand what I want in my life and supports me 100%. That gesture is priceless and I thank her for that.

The really cool bracelet is from Noonday Collection. Noonday is a company that was born from the desire to adopt a child from Rwanda. The company now provides jobs for women to sell fair-trade locally made goods to create a pathway out of poverty. They also provide adoptive families a way to raise funds with trunk shows, something that I will be looking into.  A company that supports artisans from all over the world, advocates for women and children and helps families raise funds for adoption is pretty awesome in my book.


So my wish for you in 2012 is hope.  Hope for a good life.  Hope for a Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
Jenn, Marlon, Twiggy and Edie

Behind the scenes of the 2011 holiday card:

Our good friend announced she got Edie and Twiggy Christmas presents which included reindeer antlers. We hadn't decided what our annual Christmas post card would be and so I thought let's run with the antlers. I found our antlers at 99¢ Jacks. And of course we definitely needed ugly Christmas sweaters to complete the look. I went to Cheap Jacks vintage store, they wanted $100 for an ugly holiday sweater. A $100 people!!! I know ugly Christmas sweaters are all the rage, but come on. Another friend suggested I try Kmart and voila! a great selection of holiday sweaters at reasonable prices. Now we are ready! I told my friend that she must come over and see the kitties enjoy their presents and while she is here can she take our photo. She was enthusiastically on board. She came over, we had wine and dinner and wine. We dumped out the kitties stocking and the went crazy over the sparkly balls and the catnip reindeer. Marlon and I changed into our festive attire. The cats were having a great time with their new toys and now was the time to pounce and put those antlers on them. Antlers are on! Quick! Take the picture, take the picture! She was able to take three before the cats could not take it anymore. They promptly jumped off our laps and started shaking their heads, convulsing and twisting their bodies trying to get those antlers off. Once off, they pawed at them to make sure they were dead. It was hysterical. Thanks to our wonderful friend for the gifts to our kitties, the inspiration for our card and for a fun night. This will now be one of my favorite Christmas stories.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Traditions

This holiday season I have been thinking a lot about family traditions and what my child will experience at Christmas (hopefully next year).  Christmas is still pretty magical with my family.

Christmas Eve evening is always spent with my mom's family.  My sister and I host dinner now and it's not exactly the same as when we were kids but the spirit is still there. I know Granny and Pop are smiling down on us.

After Christmas Eve dinner, my sister and I plus the hubbies and now my baby nephew head to my Dad's house to spend the night. Yes, we are well into our thirties and still spend the night with my Dad on Christmas Eve so we can wake up together on Christmas morning.  We eat cookies in our new Christmas pajamas and wait for Santa.  At 6 am Christmas morning, we are awaken by loud Christmas music and are greeted by my Dad and Linda wearing Santa hats. We are promptly given coffee (a new tradition).  We sit around the Christmas tree, open presents and smile for photos.  Between you and me, I secretly get up a little earlier and brush my teeth and hair so that I will look somewhat presentable during these photos.  Then we empty our stocking and I'll eat a Reese's peanut butter Christmas tree or whatever candy is in my stocking to hold me over to the next event which is Christmas brunch at Grandma's.



Then it's over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house, well that's what it feels like anyway.  We've had Christmas brunch at Grandma's probably all of my life.  Everyone is there by like 9:30 am. We have Christmas cheer (somebody has always brought a new cocktail that you have to try) and sausage balls and coffee cake. By 10 am, we are all feeling relaxed and laughing.  At Grandma's, we open presents first, then photos and then we eat.  We tear into the presents at lightening speed.  After presents, it is time for the annual cousins portrait on the couch.  The cousins are six girls, I am the oldest.  We have posed for the same picture for over thirty years, adding a new cousin along the way.  I really need to find a picture of us for each year, it would be pretty cool to see us grow up on the couch.  Or at least find the first one with all six of us. We take the traditional picture, but now we do another one with the husbands and the kids, etc.  Finally it's time to eat!  We have oyster fritters, breakfast casserole, angel biscuits with sausage gravy, homemade jam, bacon, ham, grits, potatoes and so many delicious things that I can't even think of.  Then you are so FULL that you want to fall into a Christmas coma.  But there is no time for that. Dishes are done and we are out the door to the next visit on our list.

We take a "pretty" one too, but this one is funnier.

This is the only old photo I have, not from the couch series
but we don't we look festive?

We spend the afternoon with Marlon's parents.  They are low-key and I am thankful for that. We sit and talk, maybe have a cocktail and exchange presents.  It's always a nice and relaxing visit.  We need it because we are not done with Christmas yet!  Christmas evening we go to my aunt and uncle's house for appetizers and cocktails.

By the time, we get back to wherever we are staying, we are EXHAUSTED.  Too tired to even check out our loot, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  Christmas is about spending time with those you love.  I can't wait for our kid to experience our family's Christmas magic and start some New York holiday traditions as well.

Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Madness!

I wanted to check in and tell you that I am in the midst of holiday madness.  Between holiday parties, last minute shopping, getting holiday cards out the door, stuffing my face with treats from the office and preparing to visit my family, I have had no time to blog.  I am booked, SOLID!  It's not such a bad thing, I am blessed to have such wonderful people in my life to celebrate the season with.

I love my reindeer antlers.
Edie did not like hers.

I hope your holidays are filled with merriment and good friends.  Thank you for continuing to read Two Cats and Cradle and sending me your love and support!  Happy Holidays!

xo

Special thanks to Auntie Laura from Edie and Twiggy, they may not have loved their antlers, but they sure did love their stocking full of toys!  Meow!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Dreaded Home Visit

I've told you a little bit about starting the adoption process and how every family goes through a home study.  Aside from the mountains of paperwork, thinking about under what situations you would accept a baby and analyzing who you are as a person and as a couple, you also have a social worker visit your home to assess your living environment.  Most people, including me, overreact to this visit.  I had adoptive parents who had been through "the visit" tell me to relax, it's fine.  Not a big deal.  But leading up to the visit you start to think about how your home represents you. Is it clean enough, safe enough, homey enough?  And the next thing you know you are doing all these crazy things to prove that you are going to provide the best home for a child.

Luckily, we had just moved in about six month before, so the actual cleaning part was not that bad.  We do what we call an "hour of power" each week, where we clean as hard as we can for an hour and that usually does the trick.  But "the visit" calls for a more thorough cleaning like I would do for a party or company.  Easy enough. We started on that the weekend before.

The real problem was that the apartment did not feel homey.  We had not put art on the walls yet or really decorated after the move.  The walls were blank and the place just didn't reflect our personality.  This is where we (I) really decided to pour it on.  Marlon is an artist, we had several paintings to choose from to hang on the walls. Done.  We decided we needed pictures of people and of us on the walls. So we bought tons of black picture frames from Target and when we still didn't have enough we asked our friend Jackie if we could have hers.  She had told me a few weeks before that she had a bag full.  Pictures up. Done.  Then I thought maybe we needed new fluffy white towels for the bathroom, a new shower curtain and those sticky things that go on the bottom of the tub. Purchased all. Done.  Oh and we definitely needed rugs.  Purchased three. Done.  Then I started to think we needed plants to show that we can take care of living things.  (Uh, we do have two cats and take care of them fine.) But yes, we need plants!  I know, I am going to make a terrarium in the midst of my mania.  Terrarium, done!  (RIP terrarium, it started to die a week later) The place is looking good now.  We are ready, right?






The day of the visit, our social worker was supposed to come at 2 pm.  I took the day off.  Marlon decided that it was best to stay out of my way and go to work a 1/2 day.  Smart man.  So the day of, I decided the apartment needed to be cleaned again, so I cleaned. Then I thought my kitchen floor looked a little dull, so I waxed it.  I had not put down my rugs yet because I didn't want them to be covered in cat hair. So I laid down all the rugs.   I also thought I needed to bake some cookies, so I baked.  Something in the bottom of my oven burned and the place smelled smoky instead of like chocolate chip cookies. So I opened all the windows, sprayed air freshener and lit candles to make the place smell better.  And then Marlon got home.  Honey bunny, you ok?   What did you burn? Nothing.  Did you wax the floor? Yes.  What do you need me to do? (Other than shoot me with a tranquilizer gun).  He put the finishing touches on everything while I showered and got ready.  The place looked spectacular! 


Our social worker called to say she would not be there until 3 pm.  Totally fine with me, I hadn't sat down since 6 am.  So I chilled out for a minute and then the buzzer buzzed and we were on!  She came to the door sopping wet, she got caught in the rain without an umbrella.  At that moment, I realized she is just a regular person doing her job and not there to critique our homeyness.  I instantly relaxed about the visit.  I gave her a towel to dry off with (a fluffy new white one), she ate a cookie and we gave her the tour of our apartment.  She didn't have white gloves on, she did have a checklist to make sure we had smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and a fire extinguisher. Check, Check, Check.  She admired Marlon's artwork and said she hoped we didn't go to too much trouble for the visit.  Oh no, of course not.  She read through our entire home study compiled from all the paperwork we filled out and the answers we provided during our interviews.  It was kind of strange to hear your life summed up in a few pages. She said everything looks great and her supervisor would review our file and then we would know in a few weeks whether we would be accepted into the program.  She didn't see any reason why we would not be accepted.  I gave her a spare umbrella to go home with and then she left. She was actually only there for about an hour.  I breathed a sigh of relief.

Twiggy was totally freaked with all cleaning and arranging.

We heard back the very next week that we were in, not in a few weeks.  Then it sunk in, we are adopting!!  It was definitely the umbrella.

♦ Check out our Fundraising page!

Monday, December 5, 2011

So long, Boathouse...

My honey bunny and I go way back, 20 years in fact.  During those teen years, we went to a lot of concerts at the Boathouse in Norfolk, VA.  We even had a missed encounter at the Nine Inch Nails concert in January 1991, we didn't actually meet until March 1991.  But we were both there.  My Dad emailed to say that the Boathouse was no more.  The Boathouse was heavily damaged during Hurricane Isabel and was condemned.  The place where I had so many awesome times has been torn down.  I am seriously sad about this.  I thought maybe I would slip back into my combat boots and pay homage to the Boathouse.

photo credit - L. Todd Spencer

First let me describe the place to you. It was a small venue on the water, standing room only.  It was dark and kinda of grimy.  The stage was elevated from the floor but you could get right up front and practically touch the performers.  The mosh pit usually formed up by the stage, I guess depending on the band. My bands usually had a mosh pit.  I loved the mosh pit.  I came home too many times with my t-shirt ripped and my boots scuffed, but that was the best.  Anyway, the floor was separated by a chain link fence, one side was over 21 and served beer and the other side was under 21, no beer just pizza and soda.  My Dad called the Boathouse to make sure under 21 wasn't allowed in the 21 section. I know my eyes probably rolled out of my head when he asked me to get him the Boathouse's phone number.  But I have to give him props for good parenting skills.  I get it now.

I saw shows from Nine Inch Nail to Primus to Violent Femmes to Letters to Cleo to Henry Rollins.  I might have also seen Lisa Loeb, but I am not admitting to that.

Me, Jennifer and Angi went to Nine Inch Nails.  Jennifer and I knew all the words and were totally into the music. Angi was a cheerleader and not as familiar. We dubbed her a tape the week of the concert and she learned all the songs.  We picked her up from her game in her cheering outfit and she changed into her black clothes in the car.  We sang Head Like a Hole at the top of our lungs!


I went to Primus the day after I got my wisdom teeth extracted. Hardcore, right?  I tried really hard to have fun, but the bass was vibrating my jaw so bad I could not stay on the floor.  The only way it was tolerable is if I stood outside.  Needless to say we exited that concert early.  Marlon took me to get ice cream and brought me home.


Waiting to get into Violet Femmes, a bird crapped on Marlon.  He was not happy at all. End of story.  Still kind of funny.


I have tons of stories about going to Boathouse.  So many good times!  So long, Boathouse, thanks for the memories.


♦ Check out our Fundraising page!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are? Tim Green

This is the final entry in the series "Who Do You Think You Are?  It has been so interesting to find out about all these amazing adoptees.  You always hear about adoption horror stories on the news, it's nice to know there are just as many wonderful stories out there.  We all have issues, it's what you make out of life that counts.

So without further ado let me introduce you to star defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons and NY Times bestselling author, Tim Green.  Tim was raised in a loving and supportive adoptive family. Growing up, he was an honor student and stellar football player.  Adopted at birth, he always longed to find his biological mother, to let her know he was alright, successful and happy.  He wrote about his journey in the book A Man and His Mother: An Adopted Son's SearchIn an interview with Mark Bialczak, Green said even though he found his biological mother "that can never replace my parents. Nothing can replace who your parents are."


Tim Green currently writes a series of chapter books for tweens called Football Genuis and suspense novels published by HarperCollins!  Yay, Harper! He is also active in children’s charities like the Golisano Children’s Hospital where he serves on the Advisory Board, and the Boys and Girls Club.


So there you have it, adopted people turn out just fine and sometimes better than fine.


♦ Check out the Christmas ornament fundraising page. Only one ornament left - the snowflake!

Sources for content and images: http://timgreenbooks.com and http://www.amazon.com/

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cat Tales: A Greasy Situation

I have previously introduced my two feline friends, Edie and Twiggy.  These two are always in to something.

Twiggy

Edie

When we moved last winter, we took the kitties to the new apartment the night before to get them acclimated with the new surroundings and to have them out of the way of the movers the next morning.  We had already moved over the shredded chair that they had claimed as their own.  We took them on the subway with their food, litter box and favorite blanket. Twiggy cried in her box and Edie just looked around.  We also got quite a few comments from subway passengers.  So far, so good.

We arrived at the empty apartment.  It had a fresh coat of paint, the floors were clean, it was ready for us to move in.  We opened the boxes and the girls cautiously stepped out into the new place.  Twiggy belly-crawled around until she felt it was ok to walk.  They examined every corner, I don't think they had ever had so much space to explore. 

In the bathroom, we put their food and water and made a little bed for them on the floor. We set up their litter box in the bath tub. Cozy, right?  The vet said it is better for them to be in a small space while adjusting. We did leave the bathroom door open in case they wanted to investigate during the night. We said our goodbyes and left for the night.  They will be ok, right?

The next morning we showed up and the cats were NOWHERE to be found.  We called them, looked in every closet, inside the bathroom vanity, everywhere. Where could they have gone?  Was a window open and they got out?  There is nothing in the apartment except a ratty chair and their set-up in the bathroom.  We kept calling and calling them, I was getting more and more upset.  Marlon was looking in the kitchen cabinets and calling their names and out pops a grease covered head and then another from the top of the cabinets.  There was a little opening at the edge of the cabinets above the stove, maybe 5" x 12", that they both were squeezed in, probably scared to death.  Marlon pulled out two grease covered cats out of the hole.  My guess is that this hole collected kitchen grease and wasn't cleaned before we moved in.  I wish I had my camera.  They were hysterical looking with their fur slicked down.  Of all the places they could hide, they pick a tiny grease hole.  Silly cats.


The cats got a bath, the movers came and we lived happily ever after.


♦ Check out the Christmas ornament fundraising page. Only one ornament left - the snowflake! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are? - Faith Hill

For this week's notable adoptee, I'm going a little bit country.

Academy of Country Music award winner, Faith Hill was adopted when she was a few days old.  She was adopted into a loving and positive home.  Her parents had two sons and wanted a daughter. Faith had always know that she was adopted, but had a longing to connect with her birth parents.


Faith's birth parents were unmarried and were unable to care for a child at the time. Her birth parents eventually did marry and had a son.  Meeting her birth mother gave her the connection and closure that she needed.  "Having been adopted, I really have a strong sense - a necessity almost - for stability - a foundation where my family is concerned. Success would be meaningless without anyone to share it with."

Faith is married to country music superstar, Tim McGraw and has three daughters.  She has been has been honored by the Grammys, the Academy of Country Music, the Country Music Association, the American Music Awards and the People's Choice Awards.  The couple was honored in March 2011 for their charity work with the Country Radio Broadcasters’ Artist Humanitarian Award.

Now that Thanksgiving is here, you might be in the mood for a little Christmas music.  Check out Faith Hill's Christmas album Joy To The World.




Researching these notable adoptees has given me confidence that I will be able to raise a wonderful, well-rounded child.  Happy Thanksgiving my friends. I am so thankful that you are in my life.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ornament Fundraiser - Week 5

The final ornament for the fundraiser is the Christmas Pickle! There is only one pickle left!

Christmas Pickle Ornament


The Christmas Pickle is a tradition that no one has claimed as their own. The story goes... on Christmas Eve the pickle ornament is hidden deep in the branches of the family Christmas Tree. The parents hang the pickle last after all the other ornaments are in place. On Christmas morning, the child that finds the pickle would receive an extra gift from Santa Claus. The first adult who finds the pickle traditionally gets good luck for the whole year.  Supposedly this legend is German, but the German's seem to have no idea what we are talking about.

There are other origins from which the Christmas pickle story may have derived.  Mymerrychristmas.com says,  "there is a family story of a Bavarian-born ancestor who fought in the American Civil War. A prisoner in poor health and starving, he begged a guard for just one pickle before he died. The guard took pity on him and found a pickle for him. The pickle by the grace of God gave him the mental and physical strength to live on.  The other, perpetuated in Berrien Springs, MI, is a medieval tale of two Spanish boys traveling home from boarding school for the holidays. When they stopped at an inn for the night, the innkeeper, a mean and evil man, stuffed the boys into a pickle barrel. That evening, St. Nicholas stopped at the same inn, became aware of the boys' plight, tapped the pickle barrel with his staff, and the boys were magically freed."

We may never know where the legend came from, but it's a fun tradition.  It's the last ornament in the fundraiser and I only have ONE left.  I am thinking the donor should most definitely get good luck for the whole year!

If you are interesting in donating, please go to our Fundraising page.  There 1 pickle ornament and 1 snowflake ornament left.  For a $5 donation, I'll send you your ornament of choice.  We have absolutely been amazed at the generosity of our friends and family. We cannot thank you enough for your support.


Sources: mymerrychristmas.com

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are? Dave Thomas

Up next on my list of notable adoptees: Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's.

Thomas was born to a single mother and adopted at six weeks old to couple in Michigan. Unfortunately, his adoptive mother passed away when he was 5 years old and he was mostly raised by his grandmother.  He wasn't told he was adopted until the age of 13.  'Life with my new parents was not easy….Yet without a permanent family of my own, I know I would not be where I am today, " he said in Parade Magazine.  

His grandmother worked in an eatery and he spent a lot of time with her there.  He loved food and thought if I owned a restaurant, as he told People magazine, "I could eat all I wanted for free. What could be better than that?"  He started Wendy's hamburger chain in 1969.  The restaurant was named after his fourth child Melinda Lou Thomas who's nickname was "Wenda".

I do love Wendy's.  Marlon used to bring me a Wendy's happy meal and a frosty at lunch when I was in high school.  We'd sit in the school parking lot and have lunch together everyday in the car before I went to work.  I had quite a collection of happy meal toys on my desk at the school office.  Yep, I worked in the school office my senior year.  I went to classes a half a day and other half I worked and got paid.  I would hear all the gossip going on at school, who was in trouble and what the teachers were like outside of class.  It was awesome! 

In 1990, at request of President George H. W. Bush, Dave Thomas began speaking out about adoption to encourage people to consider foster care.  In 1992, he established the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption to spread the word about adoption.  He testified before Congress in support of adoption tax credits and adoption legislation.  The Dave Thomas Foundation educates and provides grants for adoption.  You can find more information about the foundation here - Dave Thomas Foundation.  That's another for nurture.  Well Done! Mr. Thomas.


♦ Check out the Christmas ornament fundraising page. There are still a couple of ornaments left!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ornament Fundraiser - Week 4

So many of you have donated that I only have ONE set of ornaments and some singles left.  I had no idea that the ornaments would go so quickly.  Thank you so much for your generosity.  Week 4's ornament is a Wishbone.


Wishbone

Thanksgiving is one our favorite holidays and definitely Marlon's favorite meal.  The glimmer in his eye when I pull the turkey out of oven makes cooking the meal totally worth it.  Thanksgiving is our snuggle holiday.  It's usually just the two of us, we spend the day in our pjs, we watch the parade and our favorite movies, call the family, eat turkey with all the fixings and pie (you have to have pie!), snuggle under a blanket  and are thankful for our wonderful life.  Breaking the wishbone has been our tradition since I can remember.  Marlon is a master at carving the turkey and getting the wishbone out perfectly.  Thanksgiving night we break the wishbone, sometimes I get the lucky break and make a wish, some years he gets the break and makes a wish.  We never tell each other what we wish for, but I have a feeling a lot of times we wish for the same thing.

Thanksgiving 2010
This year we are taking Thanksgiving on the road and spending it with my dear friend, Jennifer and the Godkiddies.  I don't think it's going to be much different than our home Thanksgiving, just adding some good friends and maybe we'll throw in a Monopoly game.

Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

If your interested in donating, these are the ornaments I have left - ONE SET - 1 Shepherd Staff, 1 Snowflake, 1 Cow Bell, 1 Wishbone and 1 Christmas Pickle. SINGLES - 1 Snowflake, 1 dented Sheep Bell, 1 Wishbone and 1 Christmas Pickle.  Email me before you order to make sure I still have them before you donate. If you miss this fundraiser, don't worry there will be a different one very soon! Please see our Fundraising page. Again, we cannot thank you enough for the support that you have given us.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ornament Fundraiser - Week 3

Wow, it's already week 3 of the Ornament Fundraiser. Not really, this post is a little early because I only have ONE set left of ornaments and some singles. I had no idea that the ornaments would go so quickly. You know how the fundraiser goes, donate $5 and I'll send you an ornament, donate $25 and I'll send you the set. Thank you so much for your donations.

This is what I have left - SET - 1 Shepherd Staff, 1 Snowflake, 1 Cow Bell, 1 Wishbone and 1 Christmas Pickle.  SINGLES - 1 Snowflake, 1 dented Sheep Bell, 1 Wishbone and 1 Christmas Pickle.  Email me ASAP before you order to make sure I still have them before you donate.  If you miss this fundraiser, don't worry there will be a different one very soon!

Cow Bell
Sheep Bell
Wishbone ornament
Christmas Pickle ornament
This week you get to choose which of these cute farm animals that you want.  I guess they are all cow bell ornaments or is it cow bell and sheep bell?  I had a pig bell, but they are SOLD OUT.  My family is a little bit pig crazy!  No matter, they will make a fun addition to your tree.  I am also throwing in pictures of weeks 4 and 5's ornaments.  I might not get to write about how awesome Marlon is at finding the wishbone in a chicken or turkey or give you the full story of the Christmas pickle.  But follows are some stories about farm animals.

I am a city girl and don't have too much experience with farm animals.  My two kitty cats can get pretty wild sometimes.  I did have a brief love affair of all things cow in the early 90's.  I still use my cow coffee mug every weekend, but that about all that is left from my cow phase.

My Godkids have cows in their front yard and I am a looky-loo every time we drive up. The cows seem to be just as curious about us.


Oh, then there is that time my Granddaddy took me to a slaughter house because he thought it would be a good idea to see where our pork chops, bbq and sausage came from.  I was a vegetarian for about 3 years after that little visit.  But it is a good idea to know where your food comes from.

Mmmm, pork butts for NC BBQ!


I've already told you about sheep because I am a Sheppard. Baaaa!

If you are interested in an ornament, you can get them here - Fundraising.  For week 3's ornament, be sure to add a note of which bell you want in the "Instructions to Merchant" area. Thank you so much for your donation.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are? Debbie Harry

To continue my series on notable adoptees, up next is Debbie (Deborah) Harry iconic singer of the band Blondie. Deborah Ann was placed for adoption by a concert-pianist at the age of three months. Richard and Catherine Harry, gift shop proprietors from Hawthorne, New Jersey were her adoptive parents. From 10/3 Elle magazine, she says she dreamt Marilyn Monroe was her mother when she was a kid. Not the case, but clearly she got her musical talent from her birth mother. I have to give this one to nature.


I loved Blondie. I remember playing those RECORDS when I was a kid and singing "The Tide is High" at the top of my lungs in a hairbrush. I ♥ 80's music.  Me and my friends used to put on these shows for my family. It was hilarious.  One of these girls is still one of my very best friends.  

1987!
Ok, back on topic.  Harry never had children, though she has considered adopting.  She told the Globe recently, "I've thought of adoption, which I think I'd be really good at. Now that this terrible earthquake has happened in Japan, there will be lots of children needing homes."  She's very active in causes for diabetes research to the environment.  Pretty cool in my book.


♦ Check out the Christmas ornament fundraiser page. Stay tuned, a new ornament will be available next week! Fundraising

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ornament Fundraiser - Week 2

Ta Da!  Week two's ornament is unveiled.  A beautiful snowflake for your tree.


There's nothing like waking up early after it snowed all night and the world is blanketed white.  Everything seems so peaceful and still.  This is just a fleeting moment until to realize you have to trudge to work in the stuff.  And then it snows again the next week and next week and you wish you owned a house in the Caribbean.

Blizzard of 2010, in case you forgot about last winter

After last week's freak snowstorm, I started to wonder if this is what we have to look forward to this winter.  Time to refer to the trusty Farmers' Almanac.  This year's Farmers' Almanac says a "very active storm track will bring much heavier-than-normal precipitation from the Southern Plains through Tennessee into Ohio, the Great Lakes, and the Northeast. Because of above normal temperatures, much of the precipitation will likely be rain or mixed precipitation, although, during February, some potent East Coast storms could leave heavy snow, albeit of a wet and slushy consistency."  So perhaps not too many snowflakes this winter.  Personally, I prefer my snowflakes on a Christmas tree.

Thank you so much for the donations last week!  I was absolutely blown away by how many of you ordered the entire set. Hugs to all of you for helping our dreams come true.  We are so blessed to have such wonderful people in our lives.

If you'd like to donate $5, I'll send you an ornament.  I still have a few week one ornaments left as well.  To donate, click on our fundraising page - Christmas Ornament Fundraiser.




Saturday, November 5, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are? Steve Jobs

A People magazine came across my desk recently with Steve Jobs on the cover. Being the Apple fan that I am, I was curious to see how People honored Steve Jobs after his death. I was surprised to read that Steve Job was ADOPTED! Wow, this extraordinary visionary that changed millions of people lives was adopted.

He was placed for adoption at birth by a young unwed mother, whose family would not accept an inter-racial child and feared scandal. Jobs was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs. Paul Jobs was a machinist for a company that manufactured lasers and Clara was an accountant. His father spent a lot of time with Steve teaching him how to build things, take them apart and put them back together again. Jobs always emphatically said that his adoptive parents were his parents a 1,000%.

His birth parents did eventually marry and had a daughter. He met his birth mother in the 80's and learned of his biological sister. Jobs described his biological sister as his best friend and remained close after meeting. He never met his birth father and was always somewhat dismissive of his biological parents. 

You can read more about his story in the People magazine article - Steve Jobs – the Private Man Few Knew.




This made me wonder what other notable people were adopted. Nature vs. Nurture is a big thing you think about when you are going to adopt a child. I am giving this one to nurture. It is interesting to me to see how people turn out and how adoption influenced their lives. This begins a series of posts about interesting people that are adopted.

♦ 
Check out the Christmas ornament fundraiser page. Stay tuned, a new ornament will be available next week!  Fundraising

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Christmas Fundraiser is here!

I am excited to announce the Christmas Ornament fundraiser had begun for our adoption.  Each week for the next 5 weeks, I will post a new ornament.   I'll send you an ornament for a $5 donation. For a $25 donation, I'll send you the whole set.  The ornaments will range from religious to whimsy.  All ornaments will be available while supplies last.  Supplies are limited.  Get yours here - Christmas Ornament Fundraiser

Week 1

I am starting with the shepherd's staff ornament.  Being a "Sheppard" myself, as this is my maiden name, I have always been drawn to the role shepherds have played throughout history.  I am waiting for a Tudor's episode with some kick-ass shepherds!  From House of Names, the Sheppard name is Anglo-Saxon and comes from when its first bearer worked as a shepherd, the guardian of sheep.  I did endure a few baaaas growing up, but I didn't mind.  From Wikipedia, Shepherding is one of the oldest occupations.  There are battle axes on the Sheppard coat of arms because ancient shepherds were employed to dig sod around the embattlements of a Saxon village as means of defense, hence the term "the shepherd's ring".  Now if you google shepherd's ring, you'll get information about The View's Sherri Shepherd's, engagement ring.  Anyway, other cool Shepherd tidbits are:  Shepherd Moons are moons which literally shepherd the contents of a planetary ring, giving it a crisper edge and more definition.  And you can't forget about Shepherd's pie.  Here's a good recipe from the Framed Cooks blog - Shepherd Pie.  Yum!

The shepherd Biblical references are probably the most common.  Many Biblical heroes were shepherds, among them the patriarchs Abraham and Jacob, the twelve tribes, the prophet Moses, and King David; and the Old Testament prophet Amos, who was a shepherd in the rugged area around Tekoa. As from the verse on the ornament, angels announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds.  The Good Shepherd is one of the thrusts of Biblical scripture. This illustration encompasses many ideas, including God's care for his people and his discipline to correct the wandering sheep. The tendency of humans to put themselves into danger's way and their inability to guide and take care of themselves apart from the direct power and leading of God is also reinforced with the metaphor of sheep in need of a shepherd.  
From  John 10:11-18:  
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who doesn't own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep, and flees. The wolf snatches the sheep, and scatters them. The hired hand flees because he is a hired hand, and doesn't care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I'm known by my own; even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice. They will become one flock with one shepherd. Therefore the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it away from me, but I lay it down by myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. I received this commandment from my Father. 
That's some pretty powerful stuff.

I am one of those types of people that like to figure things out for myself, which makes it hard for me to ask for a helping hand.  It also sometimes takes me down the long, less travelled road.  Adoption is one of those instances that you need support from your family, friends and maybe from people that you didn't even know. Our adoption will cost about $25,000.  Now that's a whole lotta sheep, but worth every penny.  So I ask you to consider donating $5 and I'll send you an ornament.

The Sheppard motto is Fide et virtute, by fidelity and valour.  It's still a good motto to live by.  Who knew a little printed verse on cardboard and a plastic staff could hold so much weight? That's worth 5 bucks, right?  



Sources:  houseofnames.com; wikipedia.org, and of course The Bible.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What to Expect When You're Not Expecting

Marlon and I like information.  Naturally, when we decided to consider adoption, we started researching everything and anything that we could get our hands on. What type of adoption did we want? Open, semi-open or closed and either domestic, international or from foster care.  Did we want a newborn, an older child or a child with disabilities?  What is the difference between an independent adoption and an agency adoption?  We read a lot of articles.  We reached out to friends who have adopted and a friend who was adopted.  I cannot tell you how much it helped us to be able to talk to these friends and get their perspective and support.  We also attended free informational meetings from different agencies. These meetings were a great opportunity to learn about each agency and to give us an overview of what services each provided, what you can expect during the process, and their fee structure.  We attended three meetings in person and two as webinars.  Also, The Adoption Guide website has some great straight-forward information.  The Adoption Guide.

Kevin, Kelley and Kate! One happy family!
Who knew I would be sharing this experience 
with my 9th grade friend almost 25 years later.
http://thebiglongwait.blogspot.com/
Me and Beth ~ Thank you for always answering all my questions.
I would be so lucky if my child turned out half as wonderful as you.

After much research, we decided that we wanted to adopt a domestic newborn through an agency.  If the birthparents want to, we will remain in contact with them.  It’s a personal decision, but we feel our child should know their adoption story from beginning and birthparents are a part of the story no matter how hard you try to ignore it.  For us, it is so much easier to accept this from the start.  Now, we aren't planning to go vacation with the birthparents.  We'll see how the relationship progresses naturally.

In an agency adoption, the agency guides you through each step of the process. Fees are typically set and cover the home study, counseling for potential birthparents and prospective adoptive parents and medical expensesAgencies set their own criteria on applicants they will accept.  You will meet with a social worker several times and create a profile.  Parent profiles are sent by the agency to the potential birthparents, which pick the one they are most comfortable with. Then, most of the time the birthparents and adopting parents meet and decide if the situation is a match.  Your social worker is with you every step of the way to guide you through the ups and downs.

We liked Bethany Christian Services the best. The social workers were warm and caring during the informational meetings. They seemed to genuinely want what was best for the child, the birthparents and the adoptive parents.  So the day after Mother’s Day 2011, we emailed our preliminary application to be reviewed.  We received a response pretty quickly and met with a social worker at the NYC Bethany office about two weeks after we submitted the application.  I was a nervous wreck.  Of course there was no reason to be, but it was a big step.  Our social worker was the same that we met at the informational meeting, so right there we felt at ease.  She sat with us for about an hour and reviewed their program, answered questions and gave us a ton of paperwork to fill out.  We were accepted in the program and our home study was about to begin!

Anyone that is adopting goes through a home study.  It consists of lots of paperwork to show you are qualified to adopt under the laws of your state.  They want to know EVERYTHING.  The home study process will be a post on its own.  All I have to say for now is that I am glad I like paperwork and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  You don’t have to be rich or perfect to adopt. Regular people, just like you and me, who want a child can adopt.  If you are considering adoption, don’t let things like money or issues stop you, we all have those things.  What’s most important is a loving home to welcome a child.

Check out my Fundraising tab where you can order coffee and find out about how you can help us achieve our dreams! Click here for Fundraising! Thank you!