Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Say Cheese!

So, I told you all about the family reunion that we attended recently. While we were there, one of our cousins, Lisa is a photographer and had voluteered to photograph all the events at the reunion. Lisa had also offered family portrait sessions for a small fee. I jumped on that. We have been thinking about getting new photos done for our various adoption materials. The grounds of our hotel were beautiful, we brought nice clothes, so why not? Sign us up.

Lisa is based out of Iowa and her company is Lis Sto Photography. So if you live in the Greater Dubuque and Davenport areas of Iowa and need some gorgeous photos taken, please contact her. She does it all! Her photos are fun, fresh, full of energy and tell your story.

Here's the funny thing, we've never really had a professional photo session before. We were married when we were 20 and our awesome friend, Scott captured every moment beautifully. He was probably 18 at the time. Since then, friends have taken pictures of us, but we have never hired a photographer.

photo credit: Scott Nash

I admit that I was a bit nervous and hoping I wouldn't look too stiff.  So we went had a beer before our shoot. What?!! We needed to loosen up a little.  I tend to worry about the stupidest things. Lisa and her trusty "assistant", Mike were super cool, professional and put us a ease. Marlon had already geeked out with Mike about Star Wars and comics the day before, so we just had to stop them from talking long enough for us to take some photos. We told them they were for our adoption and how we would be using them, the only thing left was for us to smile!

The photos are awesome! We can't thank Lisa enough for our lovely photos and for sharing our story on her Facebook page. Who knows, maybe at the next reunion she can take our photos of a family of three.

If you or someone that you know is thinking about making an adoption plan. Please feel free to contact us or share our story. Thank you.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Exploring My Roots

Marlon and I recently attended a national family reunion in Richmond, VA and I was elected president of the organization. I am truly honored.

My grandma and I started going to these reunions together in 2008. Grandma used to go with granddaddy before he passed away. I told her I'd go with her. It's a national reunion so you meet cousins from all over the United States. The first one that we attended was in Savannah, GA. Grandma and I flew to Savannah, shared a room and signed up for all the events. We got dressed up and I curled her hair in the bathroom before we went out. We came back to the hotel room in the evening with her cousins that she hadn't seen in 50 years and I would listen to them laugh and tell stories about when they were growing up. It's a memory that I will treasure the rest of my life. When we came back from the reunion and told the rest of the family that we had such a grand time, they all wanted to go to the next one in Nashville, TN. Fast forward to this year's reunion in Richmond, VA.

Bus Tour in Savannah, GA July 2008

Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN July 2011
The current president of the association called me earlier this year asking me if I wanted to be nominated as president for the next term. I was surprised. I've enjoyed attending the reunions and I am interested in history, but me? I asked what it involved and told her I would have to think about it. One of my hesitations was our adoption. Would I have time to be involved in the organization if we were to become matched and parents.  Would adoption seem weird to the members because the organization is based on preserving genealogy? I thought about it and really wanted to do it for my grandma. The association is very important to her and I want to honor her heritage and mine. I accepted the nomination and was voted in as president at the reunion in July. Grandma wasn't able to make the trip, she's 90 now, but I know she is very proud of me.

The reunion was a lot of fun. I was a nervous wreck for about half of it knowing I had to do the invocation and a speech.  After full days of tours, dinners and mingling, I was up half night the tweaking my speeches.  I am an open book and happily write my blog, but to actually have to talk in front of a group of people, cousins or not, is not my strong suit. If I commit to something, I commit 100%. So, I made my speeches.

Boarding for the Colonials and Cannonballs tour!
Richmond, VA July 2014
An interesting little note, our ancestor that first came to America had lost both of his parents by the age of 10. Before she passed away, his mother had asked a group of Quakers to take care of him. Sounds kind of like an adoption. We don't have a lot of details of what happened after his mother passed and when he came to America at around the age of 20, but someone was looking out for him.

Hanging out with Richard Henry Lee
and Thomas Jefferson. "Tom" and I are
both third presidents.
All the cousins were so welcoming and enthusiastic about me becoming president. Everyone was also very supportive of our adoption and asking how they could help us. I am truly fortunate.  I want to do a good job for them and the association. The past president has done an excellent job for 12 years, so I am filling big shoes.  It's exciting! I am planning the next reunion in three years in Charleston, SC. The board has great ideas on how to increase membership and bring the organization to the next generation.  I hope I can lead them all the way! I've made so many new, wonderful friends in the last month. I am truly honored to be a part of this family.

Frances/Emma "Belmead" and
originally the land of our ancestor.

If you or someone that you know is thinking about making an adoption plan. Please feel free to contact us or share our story. Thank you.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Great Outdoors

To celebrate 4th of July weekend, we went camping! Honestly, I can't remember the last time we headed out into the great outdoors for a camping weekend. It's been at least a year, maybe two. We're "car campers" and I have a few requirements - 2 night maximum in a tent, a bathroom (port-a-potty is fine), an air mattress and of course, s'mores. A few months back, Marlon had found online an Icelandic Horse farm in Vermont, so I thought camping near the horse farm would be the perfect weekend! I booked a reservation at Allis State Park and we packed up the car and headed out early.

We made it to Vermont early enough to set up camp and make our 2 pm trail ride. I was so excited and nervous about riding a horse. I haven't rode a horse since I was about 12 at Triple R Ranch. Icelandic horses are a smaller breed and are known to be friendly and docile. On my release form, I marked novice as my experience and tried to act confident. It only took two tries to hop on the horse.  My horse was calm and patient with me. Marlon was a natural, of course. It was so much fun!

After the ride, we stopped at the grocery store for our campsite food. It was kind of late, so we ate dinner out instead of going back to camp to cook on the fire. We were pooped from the ride. Don't judge.

Before we left I posted on Facebook, "We're going camping, what I am forgetting?" I got a ton of great responses and brought everything that was suggested. You know what no one suggested? A jacket or sweatshirt. It was freezing that first night in the tent. Mountains in Vermont = chilly.  I had to resort to adding beach towels on top of my blanket to keep warm. The next morning, I said we have to go shopping. I'm too cold. We cooked breakfast over the fire, I sat with my blanket around me. We jumped in the car and went to TJ Maxx and Big Lots to buy a sweatshirt and a comforter. I know.... After our purchases, we went straight back to the campground to do camping things. We took a hike, climbed a fire tower, sat around our fire and ate everything.  It was nice to get away from the city and distractions and spend time together. I can't wait to go again! I think we have everything now.

If you or someone that you know is thinking about making an adoption plan. Please feel free to contact us or share our story. Thank you.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Patience, rabbit

Waiting... it's a part of adoption that tests you. We've been waiting almost 3 years to adopt and much longer to have a family. When you are in constant state of waiting, life passes you by. All of the adoption professionals that we have spoken with along the way have encouraged us go out and have fun while we wait. "It's only going to be the two of you for a little while longer." That's easier said than done. Marlon and I have been together 23 years, so we feel like we've done it all as couple. I'm sure we haven't, but we're ready for the next chapter. The longer we wait, our thoughts or (excuses) for not doing things are we don't want to spend extra money to go out, don't want to be away in case someone calls or just felt like avoiding some outings. If you are not careful, the waiting can consume you.

Recently, we've made a conscious effort to start living life again. Personally, I was letting the wait get to me. This year, we went on a real vacation, went camping, rode horses, attended a family reunion, and started hanging out with friends again. I even accepted a position to be the president of our national family association. It has made a big difference. Staring at the phone all day or checking email a 100 times a day hoping to hear from someone, anyone is not healthy. I know I was beginning to drive myself crazy. If someone calls while we're out, we'll answer it. Marlon said, I feel like we're our normal selves again.

Adoption is not easy. Waiting is not easy. But I am 100% sure it will be worth it. My mom would always tell me when I was a kid, "patience, rabbit." I am trying.

If you or someone that you know is thinking about making an adoption plan. Please feel free to contact us or share our story. Thank you.