True Love: The feeling when you first look in your child's eyes, the tiny little hand gripping your finger, and you can't imagine your life without him or her.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bowling Fun

X&C 4-30-11

Xandra & her best buddy C. I think they hugged at least 5 times during the party :) Too cute!!!

X bowling 4-30-11

Xandra sent that ball flying down the ramp & got a spare!! Go Baby!!

X Party 4-30-11
All the girls tried to get as close to Xandra as humanly possible while she opened presents. You'll notice the only 2 boys that came (in the background) could not have cared less! :)

So, during the craziness of getting ready for Xandra's birthday party, and dealing with my illness, I forgot my camera!! AHHHH!! What kind of mom am I??? I got a few kind of crappy pics on my phone (the lighting in there sucked!). The party was an overall success, though. We even had a couple kids tell us it was the "most awesome-ist party ever!!!" I'm happy to oblige! And boy oh boy, did Xandra make out like a bandit!!! WOW! Her friends are sooo generous!! Granted, we're now buried in Barbies, but at least Xandra's happy! :) 

Friday, April 29, 2011


Why does the illness always come on just before a HUGE event?? Everything was perfectly fine last night... then I woke up this morning with a migraine & a nasty sore throat! UGH! I'm off to the doctor in just a little bit.

I had to go to Xandra's doctor twice earlier this week, and there is apparently a strep throat epidemic going around. I'm really frustrated that I had to expose myself to that twice in a week. I begged them to just let me schedule a call with a doctor, but I was told they don't do that at her pediatrician's. Why? No idea. Seriously, I only wanted to talk to the doctor about the best way to get Xandra on the plane & make sure we weren't kicked off. She, unfortunately, has a bit of an over-reaction to small things (not like small spaces- more along the lines of circumstances that shouldn't really warrant a meltdown). It's actually becoming quite a problem. So much so, that I'm going to look into it further when we get home from China. Until then, we've been advised to try our best to get her onto the plane sans medication, but if need be, we have the "ok" to sedate her a bit (Benadryl). I hate to do that (I really hate medication when it's not necessary), but I refuse to be that far away from my girl for that long. She's never spent a night away from us, and I won't have her first experience be for an entire 2 weeks while we're in a foreign country. Plus, I honestly believe she will be an asset to our bonding with Milo.

I got my throat swabbed for strep... I don't know the results officially, but I'm pretty sure I have it. The dr thankfully took pity on me, and went ahead & prescribed antibiotics. I sooo do not have time to be sick! My house is a disaster zone & I'm supposed to be getting ready for Xandra's birthday party tomorrow. Oh yeah.. & packing for China!! Grrrr!! All I really feel like doing is crawling back in bed & sleeping the day away. :(

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rain Rain Go Away

I guess there is a "slight" up side to this monsoon weather. The sunsets are insanely gorgeous! I just wish the daytime was this pretty.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

So Loved!

so loved

Yes, I've posted this before. But I can't stress enough how very important it is to please bring these babies home!!! Please look into your heart and see if you can find even a few dollars to send to this family. Everything helps!

My Schedule Runneth Over

**Before I begin this post - please forgive me for using only stock photos. It's been crazy busy around here & the nasty weather has not allowed for many photo-ops.**

Today will be my last exam of the semester. Hallelujah!! I managed to pull a B out of my Anatomy class, even after my disaster of last week. That's a HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders... and another one has replaced it. Now I really need to decide if Sonography really is the way I want to go. I like the idea of it, but it's a crazy-competitive program. I spoke to three of my instructors yesterday to determine if I should switch my program to Radiology. It's a shorter program initially, though I could add other specialties (making myself more marketable), and it's a lot less competitive to get into. Hmmm... And I need to decide by Friday.

This, of course, is our next task. Matt asked me to write up a "To-Do" list so he could help me out (awwww!!). As much as I love the idea of this, I just don't know if I can really sit down & get out (legibly & rationally) all of the *need to do* thoughts sprinting through my head!

My incredible friends at our local FCC have been more than helpful! If I had enough time to stop & think about all of their generosity, I'm sure I'd break down in tears. We got 2 huge (I'm talking those massively large leaf bags) full of boys' clothing. These bags were so stuffed-full, we couldn't even close them! And HEAVY!! We also got an incredible baby carrier (all the bells & whistles on this thing!), space bags, money belts, and a airline child seatbelt. Wow! These families are so generous!!

One of Matt's friends also gave us a huge box full of boy's clothing! Our friends are so amazing!! I can't even put into words how grateful we are. It's amazing how many people are supporting us through this journey!

Of course, we're not content to do one thing at a time. That's so not our style! Nope- in the middle of this mad packing, we're having a birthday party for Xandra! She'll be celebrating her real birthday while we're in China (how exciting!), but we wanted to make sure she got her special time before we left. So, she will get to have her first "friend" party this weekend. She's so excited! We're going bowling. I have to admit, I'm excited too :)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Conflicted & Tangled

So, who has seen the new(ish) Disney movie Tangled? Xandra loves it. And I think it's kind of cute, too. But every time I watch it, I can't help but have conflicted feelings about it. It doesn't help that Xandra's going through a seemingly non-ending phase of asking a million and one questions about everything. If you haven't seen it (*SPOILER ALERT* -stop reading now if you haven't seen it yet & don't want the plot ruined!), this version is about Rapunzel being kidnapped by an old woman who uses R's magic hair to keep herself young.

Every single time we watch this movie (which is a LOT), she asks toward the end (when Rapunzel is reunited with her birth parents) why R wasn't with them from the beginning of the movie. Of course, that's the gist of the movie itself- if she'd been with her birth parents from the get-go, there wouldn't be a story.

In trying to explain this to Xandra, I find myself questioning how Milo will someday react to this movie (or the millions of other similar story-lines out there). This woman  has kidnapped a child. Will Milo one day feel that way about us (that we seemingly kidnapped him)? And what a wonderful, happy ending when R gets reunited with her *real* parents.

My dad adopted me when I was 7. I knew all about adoption & how it worked, and I was happy he adopted me. But I also know how I had fantasies, especially as a teen, of my *real* dad coming back for me. *He* wouldn't ground me the way my dad did... *He* would understand me so much better... If only *he* would have been there, I'd be so much happier... Oh the fantasies! (I did meet my bio-father later in life, and thank God my mom made the decision she did!!)

So what does this movie tell a little kid who has been adopted?? That life is so much better if only his or her *real* parents were around?? I know I can't change the way the media portrays adoption, but it's really upsetting me! I'm not sure yet if I'll ban this movie once Milo comes home. It seems a bit too late at this point- Xandra already loves it. And like I already said, it is kind of a cute cartoon. It does have some other messages that I like- you're stronger than you think you are, you can overcome obstacles, you are you own person, etc. But it's really hard to reconcile the other very obvious message stuck in there.

Don't even get me started on Despicable Me....

Friday, April 22, 2011

Calm After the Storm

It's been raining here for days. We had a brief reprieve yesterday, but the weather man is calling for rain every single day for the next week. There have been numerous flood warnings & watches, but thankfully we live at the top of a pretty big hill.

This is the first I've seen the sun all day. The funny thing is, even as I was taking this picture, I could hear the thunder rolling in.

It's been a crazy, stressful week. I had a few final exams Wednesday & Thursday. I had today off of school (gotta love going to a Seventh Day Adventist school!) & so did Xandra. We went to lunch with my best friend whom I don't get to see nearly enough! I missed her so much! It was so good to see her.

Now, I have to study for next week's final exams (4 left!). After that, I can get down to business getting ready to go to China!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Texting & Driving

I do NOT condone this behavior!! :D
**No one was in danger - there isn't a battery in the car!**

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


We received the most wonderful gift today!! After much questioning & begging of our agency (who turned us down repeatedly), and 2 care packages sent through one service (with no results), we tried another service. We let them know that all we really wanted were Milo's updated sizes so we could bring some clothing with us. Anything above and beyond that would be just icing on the cake. 

**We got our icing!!**

If I'm not mistaken, that almost appears to be the beginnings of a little smile coming across his mouth!! 

I'm beyond excited over this!! According to the Shanghai CWI:

"I just got the gifts for Nan Gan. We wish his forever family come to adopt him soon. Please send the update to his parents:
Height  81 (@ 2'7")
Weight 10 (@ 22.7 lbs = wearing @ 12 mth clothing!)
Feet 13 (@ size 4, I think...)
Teeth 6 (OMG!!)
He is a happy and active child. He loves to smile. He will feel nervous when he sees strangers. He loves snacks and toys."

We also got an updated daily schedule for him- so as not to bore you, I'll just suffice it to say: he gets up at 5 am (!) for a bottle, up at 6:30 for the day (same as Xandra!), naps from 11:00-3:30 (4 1/2 hours!?), and is off to bed at 7:30.

He will fit into our family so very perfectly!! I can't wait to meet him!!!  =D

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Snapshot!

This is my first time adding a picture to the Sunday Snapshot. For whatever reason, I just never end up taking pictures on Sundays, except today! We're finally rain-free today... and it looks just beautiful outside, but it got so darn cold again!!! Grrrr!!

So Xandra & I decided to make a fort. I used to make them when I was a kid with my brothers. Unfortunately, years ago when we were purchasing our furniture, I neglected to take into account fort-building in later years. None of our couch or chair cushions come off!! What was I thinking??!!! So, we had to make a not-so-great one using a dining chair. Not to worry... this is only the first of many. I'm sure we'll get better with practice!!

Sunday Snapshot

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rainy Days

It's been raining here for days. I know it will make for some beautiful flowers (if we ever get a chance to plant them!), but in the mean time, it makes for boring days. I thought it might be fun to take Xandra to "Wally World" to get some things for our trip to China. I usually really hate that place... but I was able to get a lot of things we needed. We ran into one of Xandra's teachers while we there. Xandra thought that was great.

Afterward, we went to get Xandra's hair cut. I hate Xandra's hair cuts. It doesn't matter how much we "prepare" for the trip- explaining everything that will happen and what to expect- she always has a meltdown. Since I've done enough complaining on here about her antics lately, I'll just suffice it to say that this trip was no different than any other trip to the kiddie salon. I think she scared a few other kids today with her screaming. Once the cut hacking was done, someone flipped a switch, and she was my sweet princess once again. 
These aren't the best pictures- I just wanted to get a shot of her new haircut. I'll try to get a better shot later.

Friday, April 15, 2011

3 Weeks

Only 21 days until our lives change forever. 21 days until everything Milo has ever known changes forever. It's hard not to feel awed in some ways, and petrified in others. At the moment, my mind is filled with more of the small, day-to-day issues that I know will pop up: What issues will Xandra have on that long plane ride? How will she react to Milo coming into our lives? Will Xandra eat in China? 

I know these are pretty trivial things to think about, but I think I'm filling my head with them so I don't have to ponder the bigger questions. The ones about Milo and how his life, his whole being, will change. Are we being selfish in bringing him to a new world where he knows no one and can't communicate? 

I've had people tell me along the way (& I'm sure they will again & again through the years) that we're "such good, wonderful people for adopting a child." I don't want to be made out as some kind of "hero." I'm not. Our family's not. If anything, since the beginning of this journey, I've felt so selfish. Here we are, with the ability (both financially & emotionally) to actually choose a child to bring into our family. It is so hard to put into words how that makes me feel... almost guilty. Why did we choose one over another? Honestly, we looked at five different files before we found Milo. Out of them, one little boy in particular stole my heart. And I still think of him often. I cried for days when we came to the conclusion that it just wouldn't be fair to Xandra and our family to bring him to our home. He had an extensive, complex heart defect. The specialists said he would ultimately spend a lot of time in the hospital, and his chances of a long, healthy life weren't great. But you could see the spark in his eye that just screamed out that he was a fighter. I believe if given the opportunity, he would prove a lot of doctors wrong & I hope with everything that I am that he gets that opportunity. But, we had to think of Xandra first. Although we're adding to our family, our first priority is to her. Once Milo comes home of course, Xandra won't have top billing. But in that time of limbo, it was heartbreaking to see these children's files, and have to turn them down. I felt like a monster each & every time. I still have a lot of guilt over it. 

Matt and I have talked about maybe going back someday to do this again (albeit with a different agency!). I hope with all my heart that it's not just talk. I truly want to do this again. As much as I've complained along the way, I know this has been a magical journey. I suppose it's like childbirth (well, other people's childbirth stories at least- cause I totally remember each & every second of mine), the outcome takes the edge off of the process to get there. 

So, we have 21 days until we depart on this unforgettable journey half way around the world to change our lives. And we have 24 days until we can hold the newest member of our family in our arms. My heart is racing... :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tale of 2 Personalities

Take a good long look at this beautiful little girl with the gorgeous smile. This is not the child I've seen except for fleeting moments. Someone has replaced my giggly, happy girl with a moody pre-teen. Yes, I realize she's only 4. But someone's been teaching her how to drive her mommy crazy. She woke up yesterday in a bad mood. No apparent reason why. But it came to a head when I dared to suggest that she might need her hair brushed. Cue meltdown. And out the door she went to school. Without having brushed her hair. Yep. I'm the mom that sends her kid to school looking like she just rolled out of bed, cause she did. Never thought I'd be that mom. But here I am.

The bad mood seemingly went away by the time I picked her up in the afternoon. How wrong I was. The next meltdown came during dinner. We went out to Olive Garden to celebrate Matt's birthday (a few days late). I still haven't figured out why. And the next one came at bedtime.

The bedtime one is ongoing. It seems to come as a huge shock that every single night she has to get pj's on & go to bed. Why is this shocking? Why is this a surprise? Oh well. Another fun stage in raising my princess!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bringing home Esther & Poppy

so loved
I just wanted to get a quick post up about this amazing family! They have 9 kids- 5 adopted from China, and they're desperately trying to bring home 2 more beautiful little girls!! They're currently running a giveaway in hopes to raise the money these 2 adoptions will require. As we're going through this ourselves, we're familiar with these expenses. Bringing 2 kids home at once does not necessarily save money. The only savings really is that there's only 1 trip to China. Everything else is doubled. Plus, as I understand their story, they had to leave their original adoption agency (& all the fees they'd already paid) in order to facilitate the adoption of both girls. Needless to say, this is an incredible opportunity to help a very deserving family!!

Here's the really good news: all donations are tax deductible!! And you'll have the opportunity to win some amazing prizes!! It's an awesome deal!! Please consider donating!!! Click HERE to Donate!!

Monday, April 11, 2011


These are currently my favorite new pants of Xandra's. I bought them slightly too big (they thankfully have a drawstring, so I could 'cinch' her in them). But they just look sooo comfy! I wish I had a pair!!
She's munching on a piece of bread (not just any bread- a hot dog bun... don't ask). I know all kids go through stalling and Xandra is no exception. She's become a master in her own right. We've been battling her for months now on eating. She's to the point where she almost regularly skips breakfast and dinner, and only eats lunch at school (weekends are an absolute battle). It's not for lack of trying on our part, but I refuse to force-feed her. She's always been a "grazer" but I've put my foot down recently, refusing to let her snack so much & requiring her to try bites of our meal before she can opt for some other food.

Back to my stalling story - she once again refused dinner. Matt & I ate & cleaned up. I let Xandra know that I was saving her meal for when she got hungry, which happened about an hour later. She begged, whined, cried to please just have a bowl of cereal. I told her repeatedly that was fine... AFTER she tried a bite of dinner. She hated that idea, and decided to just not eat.. until I announced bedtime. All of a sudden, she decided at that moment that she was hungry enough to try dinner. Fine. Then she wanted that piece of bread. Ok. Then she wanted to give lots & lots of hugs to daddy & mommy while she was supposed to be getting her pj's on. When I started getting upset with her for stalling, she whined & wanted to talk about it.. stalling MORE!! Then she "couldn't" potty, and argued with me about brushing teeth. Then she couldn't find the perfect book to read. AAAAHHHHHHHH!!

We have started threatening to take away her bedtime story if she continues to stall. I absolutely hate the idea of that. I cherish reading to her. And she's started "reading" to us now, which I really want to encourage. But the stalling has got to get under control! At bedtime though, there really just isn't much I can threaten to take away. She also knows that I don't want to do time-out's at that late hour (it would just allow her to stay up later!), and she seems to take advantage of that. I'm just about out of ideas! Anyone out there in the blogosphere have any thoughts?? I'm almost at the end of my rope on this one!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Finally-Good Weather!

Yea!! I think warm weather is finally upon us!! But since this is Ohio, we know that mornings & evenings are still pretty chilly. The afternoons, though, are awesome!! I still don't think we're completely into full-on good weather. The gray skies still prevail (which I *hate*). But, here and there, the sun peeks through, and it brightens not just the day, but also my spirits. :)

It's been a long week. And it's looking like it will be a long couple of weeks to come. But today... today was good. :)

**BTW- is it just me, or does Xandra look insanely mature in that picture?! She is growing up way too fast!! I force her to let me hold her like a baby, and rock her at night. Sometimes she fights me (no time for mom's games!), but sometimes, like tonight, she lets me. She likes listening to how I would hold her when she was a baby & rock her to sleep. When she's really stalling at bedtime, she knows just how to do it - beg mommy to rock her for just a few more minutes. I give in every time. How do you say no to that face???

Inching Closer!

We received our e-tickets yesterday! So our tickets look more like full-size papers printed off the computer ;) but hey! they're tickets all the same!!

Everything is winding down here, but with that comes the chaos of finishing things up. That includes my college semester. Officially, my last day is scheduled April 27th, but I think I'll be done before that. Most of my teachers are also trying to get finished early- Thank Goodness!! I can't really focus all of my attention on preparing for China because I need to focus on the last few exams, so the quicker I can get done, the better!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mommy! It's a Plane!!

"We're Leeeaaaaavin' on a Jet Plane!! Don't know when we'll be back again!!"

The plane tickets are purchased... FINALLY!! And now we have 30 days left to pack! My mind is in a whirl! I have about 6 different "To Do" lists started, laying all over the house. That's the kind of person I am:  a list-maker! :) I'm sure there will be many more lists before we actually take off (& maybe some more while we're on the plane *hanging my head in shame*).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I've not had the best week (to put it mildly), and it's only Tuesday. :(  Since we got the go-ahead to get our tickets for China, we started checking flight prices. Not the greatest prices... but we weren't really surprised. But then a couple of questions came up: I saw 2 different airports in Shanghai- which one should we use? And how should we get home- directly from Guangzhou (where we'll be), or get a flight back to Shanghai, so we can catch a flight from there? 

Once again, our agency proved less than helpful. I'm so frustrated and mad. When I posed our questions to them, their essential answer was, "Yeah, that is tough. Good luck to you!" WHAT??!! Are we their first clients??? Because that's how I'm feeling! It seems every time we have something we need help with, we get "I'm not sure about that" or "Hmmm, that's a tough one. Good luck while you figure that out!" Essentially no help AT ALL!! 

As I'm prone to migraines anyway...
This is how I've felt for 2 days now. After all is said and done, we finally found a travel agency who was willing to help us, but at a price, of course. I realize other families have done this before. Heck, there's a large community of adoptive families out there!! You'd just never know it by dealing with our agency!

I've decided to let things go for now. But as soon as we're home & settled in with Milo, I have every intention of letting them know exactly how I feel about them & their lack of customer service!

I wrote this last night, during the thick of the emotions, plus I was studying for an upcoming Physics exam. While I'm still very upset at our agency & the way we're being treated (that letter will still be written!), I think we've figured out how to get to China & home. :) I don't want to say we're totally set yet, but we're getting there. I'm feeling a little bit better (most of the headache pain is gone). So, we'll see how things go today....

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wedding Bells...

The Ring

This past Friday (yes, April Fool's Day), one of Matt's very good friends & his fiancee tied the knot. They are such fun people, so loving, and gracious. Matt asked me to please take their wedding pictures for them. I am not going to lie - I was not thrilled at that prospect. I've posted before about finding it difficult to like my own pictures. My favorite pictures to take are landscapes because they can't come back and yell at me if I mess up their portraits! Knowing this about myself, I almost had a panic attack just thinking about being responsible for taking these once in a lifetime portraits.

I had a couple of classes Friday morning and wasn't sure how much time I would have to get ready after class. So, I got all dressed up, with *makeup* (I never wear makeup. Ever. Ever. Hate the stuff.), and left for school. One of my teachers stared at me for a minute when I walked in, and asked me in all seriousness, "Do you belong in this class?" Obviously, I looked different. :)

We left for the wedding at 5:00 (ceremony was at 6, so I had to get there early to take the prep pictures). By the time we left, I'd already panicked enough to give myself the start of a migraine headache. But I got through it - although I was cussing my camera for taking so long to write each picture to the memory card (since it took so long, there were a few picture opportunities I know I missed). We went on to the reception, but my job was far from over. There was so much to capture.

Mom & Daughter Hug

The Dress

By 9:00, I was absolutely wiped out. Seriously tired. Beyond exhausted. Matt was having such a good time, but I made him leave. I just couldn't hold my head up any more. And I felt awful about making him leave.

I'll never forget going to a co-worker's wedding a number of years back. It was when I worked at a photography studio. One of the photographers was getting married. The studio we both worked at specialized in high school senior and family portraits. The owner (L) absolutely never did weddings. Well, since this photographer was not only an employee, but a friend, L reluctantly agreed to take her wedding. Shortly after the reception began (after he'd taken the entrance pics & first dance), L disappeared. We found out later that he'd gone out to his van and fallen asleep. Now I know why! He was absolutely exhausted from the stress!! I can relate!

I ended up taking over 400 photos. I figured the more I took, the more chance there would be a few good ones!
1st Dance

DD & D 2

So I've spent the majority of the weekend recovering from that stress. And studying. And formatting pictures. And working on our paperwork for Milo. We will be getting our airline tickets tomorrow (well, Matt will be working on that). We're just over a month away from meeting Milo!! :)
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