February 28, 2011

I'm bigger than that

Are we friends on facebook?  If not, you may have missed this little conversation play out:

Yesterday's status update:  The perfect Sunday is in progress: krispy kreme donuts, laughing until I'm in tears, Justin Beiber movie with Sadie and a date to watch the Blair witch project tonight. Yippee!

To which the following comment was made, "Megan, I hate to tell you this but the Krispy Kreme donuts are showing! Now quit that stuff and get that beautiful figure back!"

Awwww...snap. I'm not going to lie.  I stopped breathing when I read it.(and my head spun around while I said, "oh no he di int!") Then I got sad and I cried and cried and cried.  I looked at myself in the mirror and judged and critiqued and gave my cellulite the evil eye.  I muttered curses under my breath like, "You try raising two special needs children and see how much damn time you have to exercise!"  Then I got pissed and *maybe* called my husband at work and dropped the f bomb a few times while he consoled me and told me how amazing I was.  Then I cried some more- but this time I cried because I was so mad at myself for letting one person's stupid @ss comments dictate how I thought about myself.

Am I heavier than I've ever been?  Yup.  Am I 30 (okay 40) pounds overweight?  Yup.  Am I happier than I've been in years?  Yes. Yes. Yes.  I feel more alive and more like I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to do with my life than ever before.  My marriage is happier and healthier than it has been since we had the boys over four years ago.  I feel like I am being and doing the best that I can for my children and the causes that I support. My husband thinks I'm sexy and tells me so on a regular basis. I am my most authetic self.  So why in the world did I get so bent out of shape at one stupid comment?  I wish I knew.  But I think at the root of it- I know my own shortcomings.  I'm harder on myself that anyone else could ever be.  So I don't really need anyone else to point out my flaws- especially about my weight. 

Not many people know this about me, but since I have no filter on this blog- I'll just put it out there.  I cycled in and out of anorexia/bulimia for years.  It started when I was 14.  As a freshman on the swim team, our coach was critical of us girls and our physique.  "Long and lean"- that's how swimmer's bodies are supposed to be.  I was a perfectly average weight and height for a 14 year old girl- but long and lean are words that will never describe me. It was drilled into me that average was not good enough.  As a kid my 5 foot tall tiny mother was 95 pounds soaking wet.  That was a ridiculous example for me to try to follow.  As a teenager, I didn't get that we just weren't built the same.  But that didn't stop me from trying to get to that ideal I had in my head of what a perfect body was supposed to look like.  If that meant that I pumped myself full of diet pills and didn't eat for days, then that's what I'd do. 

It was not a pretty time in my life.  I was unhappy with myself and my purpose in life.  I was lost and confused and insecure.  I did not feel valuable. I went to college and joined the rowing team.  Rowers are not meant to be rails- they are meant to be powerful. That is, until the tiny person that sits in the front of the boat and steers quits the team.  Then the coaches look for the shortest person on the team (me) and make that girl as skinny as possible so that she is the least amount of dead weight she can be to steer the boat.  The pressure was unbelievable.  At the time, I weighed 135 pounds and was 5 foot 4.  Right smack in the middle of a healthy weight.  In came the university nutritionists who were called in to make me "healthy" (aka- stupid skinny)  The pressure of that and my outside life gave me an ulcer that rendered me unable to eat for months and I got down to a weight that I will never see again- or ever even want to see again.  But despite how unhealthy I was, people told me how good I looked the thinner I got- even when I was too thin.  I was a miserable girl who had a rockin' body in a bikini. I was crowned the freaking prom queen at the height of my sickness and at my very lowest weight.  My sick brain said, "See, Meg.  People like you better when you are really skinny!"   

The cycle went on for years and I was in and out of unhealthy relationships that mirrored how unhealthy I was to my body.  Then I got married and got pregnant.  Pregnancy changed how I finally saw my body.  For years, I was forcing my body to go against everything it needed to do naturally.  And finally- FINALLY- I let go of the illusion that my body was something that needed to be manipulated through extreme measures.  I've yo-yo'd a lot over the last many years, but I finally learned that my WORTH is not tied to a pair of size 4 jeans.  But to say that I'm not still sensitive would be an injustice to my feelings.  I want to be healthy.  I want to look nice.  I don't want to have to suck it in and do the pants dance to get things to button.  But I will never again tie my life's happiness to the number on the scale EVER.

So while I threw myself a pity party for a couple of hours over the comment made about my weight, I will not let it change who I think I am.  It will not cause me to be insecure.  I will not do myself that disservice.  I will not do my daughter that disservice.  Instead, I will continue to show her that we do not judge others for their color, religion or waistline.  I will show her that a confident woman defines herself by who she is inside, not what she looks like.  I will teach her to measure her success by the good that she puts out into the world and by the happiness that she brings to her family and friends.  I will show her that we don't need to tear others down to make ourselves feel bigger.  I will show her, and remind myself, that I am worthy of happiness and love no matter what the world tells me I should look like and who I should be.  I'm bigger than that.  Amen.    

February 27, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

A few weekends ago, we celebrated Miles' Adoption Day with a weekend getaway at Great Wolf Lodge.  One of these days, I'll get around to writing about what an awesome time we had, but for now I'll just share some pics of my little cuties!  (Yes, Noah went with us.  He just didn't want to have his picture made and since it was his vacation too, I didn't push it!)

February 26, 2011

Ebb and Flow

The very nature of attachment orders just baffles me.  We were on an almost 2 1/2 week decline- the worst decline we've had since Miles started with a psychologist- and then BOOM!  He snapped out of it.  We went from having eating issues, physical delays (crawling, drooling), aggression, manipulation to the nth degree and screaming fits to having a delightful little boy.  The whole thing always comes in cycles.  Ebbs and flows. Confuses the hell out of all of us.

The completion of this cycle couldn't have come at a better time.  I had been stressed to the max with a million tasks that needed completing and was hurting for a break.  After a speaking engagement on Monday, I got in my car and just about collapsed under the weight of everything I'd had to do over the last few weeks.  Or maybe it was that my dogs were barking so loudly from wearing high heels.  Who knows?  My mom suggested that I use my Christmas gift cards to go and get a massage and facial on Friday.  She even offered to babysit.  Cue the singing angels.

So Thursday, the boy snapped out of his funk, and on Friday the mama went for some pampering.  I never ever do things like that for myself.  I went to a swanky spa and handed over my gift cards in exchange for two blissful hours of spa time.  I got a hot stone massage.  Oh my word.  Who knew that laying on hot rocks could be so amazing?  I tend to be a negative self talker.  I'm hard on myself.  But for that hour that I was being massaged, I made the choice to positive self talk myself (how's that for redundant?)  I layed there telling myself nice things and felt fantastic!  I'll have to talk to myself like that more often.  (You are not as fat as you think you are.  You have nice eyebrows.  You are a good mom.  You are the bomb party planner, and other things that are too embarrassing for print.)  Then I got a facial.  Y'all my face is crazy clean.

I picked up the boys after all that spoiling and both of them fell asleep in the car on the way home and actually stayed asleep when I carried them in and put them in their beds.  They both slept for almost two hours.  *cue the angels again*  The bus came around to drop Sadie off and I met her in the driveway and banished her and her friend to the friend's house while the boys finished their naps.  I caught up on some tv and some emails and soaked in the silence.  Then we went out for Mexican food for dinner (yay for not cooking!) I ate cheese sauce and guacamole on top of everything that I ordered and didn't even feel guilty.  Not one bit.  I deserve cheese.

We came home and played the wii together until our thumbs hurt.  We put the kids to bed and I had a little one on one time with the hot man that lives in my house. Hubba hubba.  I filled the jacuzzi tub up to the top and put a few squirts of shampoo in for bubbles and made foam up to my eyeballs.  Then today?  Ahhhh... today.  The big kids got up and occupied themselves.  Miles played in his bed and we slept in til 8am.  Heaven!  And tonight?  I'm putting on makeup and my $8 dress and my control top panty hose and I'm having dinner with grown ups at a charity event.  I may even try to not make inappropriate jokes.  Then after that, we are retaining the sitter and I'm going with some of my best gals out to hear my hubbins' band play. 

I'm not sure what shifted in the cosmic world.  Or perhaps the big guy saw that I was about to crack and threw me a bone.  Whatever it is- you won't hear me complaining.  I hope this lasts forevah.

February 24, 2011

Megan 201

About a year ago, I did a Megan 101 post.  Consider this your 201 course.  Or 102.  I was never sure how that goes...

1.The control freak in me always hated group projects, but I met my BFF while working on a group project in college.  We were doing a project on divorce and kinda fell in love with each other and the rest is best friend history.  In that same group, we had a girl who at the age of 19 carried her vibrator around in her purse "just in case".  To say that college expands your horizons is an understatement!

2.I read the news out of Africa every single morning.  But only read the US news a couple of times a week.  I always feel like if there is something I really need to know- I will see it on Facebook.

3.I don't really like to talk on the phone.  I prefer texting.  I'm funnier in print- and awkward in person.  Perhaps that's why I like to text.

4.I like breakfast food for dinner.  Except eggs.  I like eggs, but if I know that the little, white, squiggly chicken backbone hasn't been picked out, I get grossed out.  At actual breakfast time, I like to eat cookies.

5.I am notorious for screwing up song lyrics.  In our first year of marriage, I busted out a spirited rendition of a Van Halen song I thought was called "Animal" only to have Kamron tell me it was actually "Panama". 

6.I really want another daughter in our house.  Right between Sadie and Noah.  I think a five year old would fit in just perfectly around here.

7.I find myself listening to kids bop in the car even when the kids aren't with me.  Same goes with iCarly on TV long after the kids have left the room.

8.I like to watch train wreck celebrity profiles on E!  Okay- I love everything on E!  My husband will be mortified that I just shared that.

9.Fish (or any kind of seafood) makes me want to puke.

10.I'm sleeping on the same bed that my parents had when they got married circa 1980.  I get grossed out every time I think about it.

11.I'm on the downhill slide to thirty, which does not bother me in the least except that I find that I need to buy both anti aging eye cream and acne medication on the same shopping trip. 

12.In the fourth grade, I had a hard time identifying as a girl, since all the other girls seemed to be into practicing cheerleading moves on the playground.  That was sooooo not me.  Another non-girly girl in my class and I started the tomboy line.  Boys, girls, tomboys.  All seemed right with the world.

13.There are a few books I read every year: Gone With The Wind, To Kill A Mockingbird, A Million Little Pieces and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

14.My husband is working his way through watching the AFI top 100 movies.  I can't stay awake past the first 20 minutes of any of them.  Turn on the tv at night and I am a goner.

15.When I was in college, despite the fact that in the dorms I could stay out all night, my parents still made me come home at 11pm when I was home for the weekends.  Boo.

16.I'm pretty sure that it's not true, but I've always had in my head that I was conceived in the backseat of my dad's jeep.  Perhaps I'll have to do some fact checking with my mother on that one so I can get that image out of my head.

17.If I were to go to my dream vacation destinations, they would be: Tahiti, an African safari and Rome to see all the cathedrals.

18.When I was in college, I was walking down the sidewalk in broad day light when a man grabbed me by the shoulders spun me around and screamed, "FUUUUUUDGE" in my face at the top of his lungs.  Only he didn't say fudge.  Then he let me go.  I suppose he just needed to scream an expletive at someone.  I get it- sometimes I'd like to do that, too.  But I always walked around with my keys sticking out between my fingers like weapons after that.

19. I like to go and eat lunch with my daughter at her elementary school.  Not only does she get so excited, but I really love school lunches.  The odd combinations of pizza and corn somehow thrill my soul.

20. I have a crescent shaped scar on my right hand where my cousin bit me when we were kids.  Little did we know that we were setting the trend for Twihards.

21. My toes are double jointed and I can make them click and go side to side like a metronome.  It really grosses out my husband.

22.I've mentioned before that I can't burp.  On our honeymoon we went on a glass bottom boat tour.  Kamron says they had water, but I will swear that they only had rum punch on this little excursion.  It was really hot and I was really thirsty, so I partook of a wee bit too much.  Rum punch is the only know substance that can make me burp and I did three of the most enormous burps (near puking kind of burps) known to man when we got back to our room.  We call that night, "the night of the three big burps" and we still laugh about it all the time.  My new husband was probably sorry he married me after that little uncontrollable issue.

23.My mom and dad got divorced when I was 20.  And no- it did not screw me up for life.  They get along swimmingly now and are poster children when it comes to pulling together for their kids and grandkids.

24.My favorite vegetable is lima beans.

25.My current celebrity crush is Anderson Cooper.  He could tell me the news any day.

26.We keep all of our family photo albums in a closet right next to our front door, so hopefully if there was ever a fire, we could grab them on our way out.

27.I have a collection of postcards that took me about ten years to build during my teen years.  Unfortunatly, though, 15 year old girls tend to send postcards of hot guys instead of postcards related to where they are.  So my postcard collection is really a hodgepodge of muscley men pictures with slogans like, "I've got a package for you.  No wait- it's only a postcard."

28.I have no decorating sense. 

29.My favorite age of kids is age 4.  Old enough to be a little independent but still young enough to be sweet and innocent. 

30.I bawled my eyes out when Captain Phil on the Deadliest Catch died.  I think it's because Phil reminds me so much of my dad.

31.When we only had one kid, I didn't want anyone else to hold her, much less keep her.  Now that we have three, I would probably leave them with a prostitute or war criminal if they offered to babysit.

32.The first two birthdays I had after we got married, we were so broke that my husband had to buy me things that we really needed.  That first birthday, I got a new mop.  The second one, I got a dust buster.  They were some of my most prized possessions even though it just about killed my husband to give me a mop for my birthday.

33. I saved all my old love letters from my teenage days.  I don't ever read them, but I just like knowing that they are there. 

34. I was once in a local theatre production of Steel Magnolias.  After the show, a man in the audience came up to me and told me that my version of a southern accent was spot on.  He seemed really proud of me.  I just smiled and did a little nod.  I didn't have the heart to tell him that that was my real life voice.

35.  I went on a mission trip to the Appalachain mountains my senior year of high school.  We did repair work on people's trailers who had no running water in their homes.  They were still using outhouses.  The children didn't have shoes.  I met a little 5 year old boy named Cody that week and I still think about him to this day. That week inspired something in me and changed my life for years to come.

36. I think the toilet paper roll should go over instead of under.  I get this from my mother who will actually change people's toilet paper when she goes to their houses.

37. My favorite board game is Taboo.  Kamron and I make a killer team at this one.

38.  I made it until I was 28 before I ever had a cavity.  I came home and cried because I was disappointed in my tooth brushing ability.  To be so spacey, I kind of have some perfectionistic tendancies.  Same thing happened when I got my first "B" in fourth grade math.  Damn fractions.

39.  I'd like to one day do something really radical to improve the world.  I just haven't yet decided what that something is.  When I figure it out- look out!

40.  I wish that I knew how to dance.  I love to dance, but I am so bad at it and look so awkward doing it. 

41.  I bruise like a peach.  I also like peaches.  And peach tea.  And Georgia.  But not Georgia sports teams.

42.  Sadie's baby book is 25% blank.  Noah's baby book is 50% blank.  Miles does not even have a baby book.  I became that mom.  Ugh.

43. I'm not a fan of popcorn.  When I go to the movies I prefer Junior Mints.

44. I sometimes go through stages where I will cut out coupons but I never remember to take them to the store with me.

45. We all fight over who gets to cuddle up in this one blanket that we have in our house.  Ironically, that blanket was a gift to me from an ex-boyfriend over 15 years ago.  Crazy boyfriend- fantastic blanket. 

46. I have a hard time relaxing.  I can only watch TV for a few minutes at a time before I get up to do some sort of chore or walk around.  I don't remember my mom ever sitting down when I was kid.  Maybe that's where I get it.  However, my childhood house was always spotless as a result of her busy bodyness.  That is SO not the case in my home!

47. I ignore the emails from the PTO.  I wish I didn't have to but I don't think they want me bringing these wild and crazy boys to volunteer in the library.

48. I think that I am allegic to the stuff that goes in hot tubs to keep them clean.  But that doesn't stop me from wanting one on my back deck. 

49. I like to take pictures but I never do anything with them. They just sit on my computer and rot.
50. After almost 10 years of marriage, I still can't make a certain bodily noise in front of my husband.  Unless I do it in my sleep and that doesn't count- even if it does wake both of us up.

February 21, 2011

RAFFLE WINNERS!!!!

My lovely children just drew the winners of the vacation raffle.  We tried to figure out how to do a live broadcast, but we are just not that cool.  They chose... (drum roll, please...)

GRAND PRIZE:  Jessica Hanson - from Idaho, gets to choose vacation
RUNNER UP:  Kelley Ferrand - from Florida, gets the unchosen vacation

I just emailed both of you- check your inboxes!

I just can't thank each and every one of you enough.  Because of you, our little ol' vacation raffle raised over $9000.  Holy moly!  You all shared the link to the raffle in countless emails, posted it all over facebook, your blogs, and to the far corners of the Internet.  Truly- you made this such a success.  I saw people give because they believed in what we were doing and in the charities receiving your donations.  I saw single moms give. I saw people saving for their own adoptions give. I saw a whole community of people come together to help pregnant teens and women in Haiti and orphans in Congo. It is a beautiful thing. Your generosity has touched me so deeply.  From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!

Thanks also to the donors of our fabulous trips- condo owners Veronica Caldwell and Caroline Neale and to all of our entertainment package donors.  Without you all- this never would have been possible! 

We taped the raffle drawing so that we could be all on the up and up.  If you want to take a peek at it, you can click on the video.  As always- Miles steals the show!






Now forgive me- but this girl is a little tired and will be taking a few days off.  My kids need me and I'm excited to devote myself to them entirely for a few days.  We have many games of Super Mario Brothers that need to be played.  Thanks again to everyone for all that you did to make this raffle a huge victory for the kids in DRC and Haiti!  Let's do it again next year!  Much love!

February 20, 2011

Fried Chicken Brains

I find myself wanting to start every single blog post with the word "y'all".  I must fight. the. urge.  I sometimes forget that "y'all" aren't just sitting here in my kitchen with me.
  • The raffle ends in about 2.5 hours.  Deep breath.  I'm going to pull a Tony Hayward after the oil spill and say, "I just want my life back!"  It's been super fun to watch the money roll in and watch that thermometer climb- but I am Beat with a capital B.
  • I am speaking to a group of social work graduate students tomorrow about reactive attachment disorder from a parent's perspective.  In order to help me prepare for my talk, my attachment challenged son has just about lost his chit these last 10 days.  You know- lest I forget how bad it can be in the trench.  We've even added selective mutism to his repertoire.  That's been real fun.  Just when you think you get one frick frack paddy whack behavior figured out- another takes its place.        
  • God bless my husband who has taken care of the kids most of the weekend to keep me from needing to check myself in somewhere.  And thanks to my mom who made me an adult beverage and spent hours (and hours) helping me write out raffle tickets.
  • And thanks to Noah for always providing the comic relief around here.  It's not uncommon with his auditory issues for him to add letters and extra syllables to words.  Tonight at dinner he asked me to look in his mouth because he had a "penis of food" stuck in between his teeth. 
  • My calm and peaceful daughter decided that she wanted to take karate classes.  She's been at it for about a month.  She is clumsy and awkward but so insanely cute as she spars with the boys in her class (she's the only girl in there)  She's trying so hard and is enjoying it so much- I'm just crazy proud of her! 
  •  I only own 2 winter dresses that I alternate in high rotation.  But since I've gained eleventeen pounds in the last 4 weeks, they are both hooker tight.  We have a charity auction to go to on Saturday and I need to be presentable (aka: non-hooker) in front of some of my hubby's clients- so today I went dress shopping.  I hit the jackpot- I found a $40 dress, marked down to $14.99.  I jumped all over it.  And for some crazy reason when I checked out with it, that steal of a dress rang up for $8.96.  I invested in some ultra control top pantyhose with my savings.
  • In case there needs to be further evidence that I am getting older and less cool, I found myself being attracted to a line of clothing designed by Valerie Bertinelli.  Then I hopped in my minivan and slathered on wrinkle cream.  I die. 
  • Everyone I know is pregnant.  All the more reason I should only drink diet Pepsi instead of the water around here.  Although that would explain the eleventeen pounds I've gained... (my mom just keeled over at that thought, I guarantee it)
  • This is list is so random.  I've just decided that my brain is fried like chicken.  I'll announce the winner of the raffle on Monday night.  Then starting on Tuesday, I'm going to sleep for 4 straight days. Or at least 8 straight hours.  Or until Teen Mom 2 comes on- whichever happens first.

February 19, 2011

Last Call!

I can't believe it is about to come to a close- but the vacation raffle ends tomorrow (Sunday) night!  We had to change the original goal of raising $8000 because you all are so awesome that you defeated that challenge. (I knew you would!)  The new fundraising thermometer now has a goal of $10,000.  Now- I know that is lofty and we only have about 36 hours left to do it in.  But hey- I say go big or go home for the people of Congo and Haiti, right!? 

I can't wait to see who wins the vacations.  I'm hoping that whoever does, takes me with you!  On both of them.  I think I'll ski first, then chill at the beach!   So here's your last chance- if you've been putting off buying your tickets, you are nearly out of time!  Hurry!  And if you've already bought some tickets but you love Haiti and Congo so much and you are feeling lucky- then by all means buy some more!

I'm floored at the generosity that has been shown over these last few weeks as we raise money for people who are in need.  Let's bring this raffle to a close on a positive note!  Keep sharing about it, keep buying tickets, and by all means- dream about winning those vacations!!!!

These little cuties want you to load up on raffle tickets. 
Seriously- how can you say no to those faces?

February 18, 2011

Here comes the sun

Is there anything better than a sunny 67 degree day in February?  I think not!

February 17, 2011

Them Both Good

"Them Both Good" is something we say quite a bit around here.  It stems back many many Thanksgivings ago.  The whole family was gathered around, eating and talking.  My brother looked at the bread on his plate and contemplated for a while.  Then oddly enough, he stood up and reached into his pocket and pulled out two single serving packets of jelly- one strawberry and one blackberry.  The rest of us looked around at each other quizzically, trying to figure out why someone would carry emergency jelly in their pocket. (I mean, really. Who carries around their own jelly!?)  My brother looked back and forth between those jellies a few times and couldn't make up him mind about which one to put on his bread.  Finally, as the ever consummate country boy, he said, "Strawberry?  Blackberry?  I don't know.  Them both good!" (In case you need further evidence that we are totally from Kentucky- whoop, there it is.)

We all died laughing.  The situation and his verbage were so outlandishly comical, that the phrase, "Them both good" has stuck in our family for years.  Bacon or sausage?  Doesn't matter- them both good.  Do you wish we were having a boy or a girl?  Who cares- them both good!  Wanna go to on vacation to Florida or Mexico?  THEM BOTH GOOD!

But do you want to know what situation I think this saying applies to best?  The great debate of international verses domestic adoption.  I always see the two being pitted against one another like that- all celebrity death match like. Even in the adoption community (or maybe especially in the adoption community)  It seems that families find that wherever their child is from is the most "noble".  Drives me nuts.  I find that in adoption, there is often a hierarchy.  "Desirable" children on top (healthy white or Asian babies on top) and less desirable babies on the bottom (sick black babies or special needs from anywhere).  Or that hierarchy flips on it's head when people get elitist talking about need.  Their child was the most in "need" of adoption- therefore putting those sick black babies on the top and the babies that people stayed on a waiting list for years to get on the bottom.  But seriously- why do we do this?  As an adoption community, why can't we all support one another and recognize that each family needs to go where they feel is the best fit for THEM?

People outside the adoption world often don't understand why people adopting internationally don't adopt "our own" children (meaning American children).  I've heard families (and even heard myself say) that at least in America there is a system.  There is a foundation in place to make sure that children are fed, have access to schools, etc.  While it is argued that children in third world countries would often face death or starvation in an orphanage if they were not adopted.  I'm mad that I ever heard myself utter those words.  At the root of adoption- families are created.  It doesn't matter where the child is from.  It doesn't matter that the child had and opportunity to go to school or not.  It doesn't matter that the child had access to free and reduced lunch or not.  It simply doesn't matter.  Just because a child could go to school, doesn't mean that the fundamental need to be a part of a family goes away.  Essentially what I am trying to say is that this hierarchy is ridiculous.  All of these children deserve a FAMILY.

I've heard people say that they don't understand people waiting on a waiting list for sometimes 5 years for a domestic adoption or the adoption of a non special needs child from China.  But at the root of it all- does it matter how long you wait on a list as long as the end result of a child getting a family and a family getting a child to love is still the same.  Does that child that gets adopted as a result of a family waiting a long time for him deserve a family any less than one whose adoption was completed in a matter of months?  Absolutely not.

There are huge drawbacks and positives to both international and domestic adoption.  We chose international adoption because it was what was right for us at the time.  Not because we felt that some children are more deserving or less deserving or because the need was greater or lesser than xyz destination.   We made a personal choice to do what felt right for our family.  And that is not the same as the personal choice that another family will make.  But how about as an adoption community- we quit the judging about where your child came from, how much your adoption costs were, or how long you had to wait to get that child.  Ever child DESERVES a mom and a dad, or two moms or two dads or one mom or one dad or whatever to love them.  Period. No matter where they live or what opportunities they did or didn't have.

So let's just call a truce, okay?  In the great debate over international or domestic adoption, let's just agree that THEM BOTH GOOD.  Capiche?

February 15, 2011

Raffle Update

Since there is still a steady stream of tickets being purchased, I've decided to extend the raffle through this weekend.  The raffle will now end on Sunday, February 20th and the winner will be announced on Monday, February 21st.  I just have to say thanks to all of you who have bought tickets and helped us spread the word.  Your willingness to help the people in DRC and Haiti has floored me.  That being said- we are still a couple thousand short of reaching our goal.  Dig deep!  If you've already bought tickets- feel free to buy some more :-)  Every ticket purchased changes lives.  Let's help as many people as we can!  Thanks y'all!

P.S.  Special thanks to Lizzie Loo Photography whose fundraiser within a fundraiser (photography session auction) raised $510. Woop Woop!  It's been added to the totals on the sidebar.  Watching that thermometer climb is so much fun! 

February 14, 2011

Dear Miles- Happy Adoption Day!

My dearest Miles,

One year ago today, we met for the very first time.  There was so much anticipation as I stepped off the plane.  The anticipation quickly turned to chaos as I tried to navigate the Kinshasa airport and got into the taxi that broke down several times on the way to our guest house.  I sat in that taxi- just trying to breath in Africa and Congo and soak up memories like Frederick the mouse does when he soaks up colors for the winter.  I wanted to etch those images of your beautiful birth country onto my heart and mind so that I could tell you about how beautiful the people of your homeland are and how giving and resilient and loving they are.  I wanted to soak up the sounds and the smells so that I could share that piece of your history with you as you grew.  As I was basking in it, all of a sudden we pulled up to the guest house and there you were- in all your tiny, sad, scared glory.  You were just a precious little peanut!  I remember thinking that you were so much smaller than I ever could have imagined.  I wondered for a minute if they had the wrong baby.  But then I saw your sweet, sleepy eyes and I knew you were the same little boy whose picture I'd stared at for months.  The memory of you that sticks out the most in my mind from that first day we met is when I stripped you down naked to inspect you and you just stood there in the middle of the floor, scratching your butt like your life depended on it.  At the time, I couldn't stop laughing, but now that I know you- that move is soooo classic Miles!

Our week together in Congo was one of the most memorable times of my life.  It solidified for me the reason that we chose Congo for our adoption in the first place.  Yes, the need is great, but darling, Congo is amazing.  Miles, if ever you remember anything that I ever tell you about Congo, remember this: never ever will you meet stronger people than in DRC- especially the women. Their quiet strength is breathtaking.  I see that strength in you, dear.  You are a survivor.  

Then we landed in America after that never ending flight across the ocean and our adventure in becoming a family began.  You met your daddy and siblings and for several months we seemed to be on a smooth journey.  Our honeymoon came to an end about two months into this adventure.  Miles- you just did what you felt you had to do.  You weren't sure how to handle the permanence, or the love and the attention and you rebelled against it.  And it's okay.  I get it.  I understand it.  It wasn't easy on you or any of us, but we kept putting one foot in front of the other.  We kept trying, we kept loving.  And for the most part, you've fallen into it.  You are beginning to embrace it.  It is always two steps forward and one step back, but the progression is positive and I give you and A for effort :-)  The struggle makes you who you are.  It's made me who I am.  It's molded and changed and stretched our family in ways that we never thought possible, but also in ways that allowed for growth.  Growth is good even though sometimes growth hurts.

We've done a lot of fun things over the last year.  We went on a couple of vacations.  You were built to travel!  We've been to several churches and lots of places to speak and you always put on a show!  You love to play outside (as long as the dog is not around and it's at least 75 degrees) and you can run around and keep up with the big kids just like you were twice your age.  You watched your brother start preschool and your sister start first grade.  You wait by the window for the bus to come around every afternoon.  You also wait by the door for daddy to come home from work. As soon as you see his car pull up you work yourself up into a frenzy just waiting for him to open the door.  You make sure that no one leaves this house without lots of hugs.  You bring so much action and life into this house (read- you are NEVER still!)  You love to eat, but you are starting to get picky about what you like and don't like.  You take after your mama wanting to eat sweet stuff for breakfast. Yummo-brownies before 7am! You enjoy music and television.  For a long time I thought your need to be the center of attention was attachment related.  But darling, I am learning that it is just your nature to be an entertainer!  Move over Bill Cosby and Will Farrel- Miles Terry is hot on your heels.

You are ridiculously smart.  You are a master at anything electronic.  You only need to be shown how to do something once and you've got it figured out.  You are fiercely independent like most toddlers your age.  There really isn't much you can't do.  Sometimes I wonder if you've got webs that shoot out of your hands because you have the ability to climb things that defy gravity.  Your tiny stature makes you endearing.  People are always smiling at you and saying, "He's so cute and little!"  You eat up compliments like a fat kid and cake.  And you get lots of compliments because you are just so darn magnetic!  There is just something about you that draws people in.

Miles, you are such a blessing to our family.  You've taught me more about being a mother than all the others combined.  Most importantly, you remind me that LOVE is a VERB.  You remind me that love must be shown over and over again- that it is something that takes work.  And oh baby- have you made me work for it!  But sweetheart, it has only made loving you and having that love returned that much sweeter.  Happy adoption day!  We are so lucky you are here!

I love you to the moon and back,
Mommy


February 10, 2011

Each One Help One

My dear friend Chelese returned this week from traveling to Congo.  I was on pins and needles hoping to see updates and photographs of the children I know there.  I was going through Chelese's pictures, smiling as I looked at all those darling little ones.  Yes, my heart was breaking from seeing the poverty and desperation, but at the same time, I was so happy to see that some of the children I remembered from the orphanages were still alive. (no small feat in a third world orphanage.)  The smiles quickly turned when I saw this one.


How can your heart not shatter into a million pieces when you see this?  My eyes want to look away because the hurt is just too big.  I want to look away because the injustice is just too much.  But these children can't turn away.  They are living it. 


This little one needed immediate medical attention.  For her safety, I won't share too much of her story except to say that her injuries were extensive.  In most orphanages, children with extensive needs are left to die because they are a drain on resources.  No one fights for them.  No one gets too close.  They are cast aside.  Chelese was able to take this tiny one to a hospital where she could have tests run and get the medical attention that she needs.  Donor money paid for her medical care, is paying for her foster care and is paying for the medical attention that she will continue to need in the future.  This girl will have a chance all because someone cared enough to write a check or toss in a few bucks to help a child they didn't even know.  Never before has the saying "each one help one" been felt so deeply in my soul. 

If you've ever looked at my pictures from the orphanages and felt an ache in your heart, I urge you to give.  We see the statistics.  We know how many children die every day.  But YOU have the power to make it one less..  For the cost of your $10 raffle ticket, lives are saved.  Each life matters.  Make an impact.  Be the change.

*For the safety of this child and for the people caring for her, if you know details of her story, please do not post names or identifiers in the comments. Thank you. 

You've gotta check this out!

After church on Sunday, our very own family photographer, Elizabeth Lauer of Lizzie Loo Photography (see her work in our header!) said she wanted to figure out a way to help our raffle causes.   I love it when people get creative because some really cool things happen!

Lizzie Loo has put together a silent auction that coincides with our Millions of Miles raffle!  She's giving you a chance to bid on a family photo session + DVD + prints. (A $1000 value!)  The winning bid will be donated to Heartline (Haiti) and OFA (Congo). Plus, she's giving the winner some entries into the vacation raffle!  All of the details are up on her blog- including how to bid and more info about the prizes.  She's even covering the travel if you are within 150 miles from us!  (We are outside of Louisville, KY)  So if you are in Frankfort, Cincinnati, Lexington, southern Indiana, southern Ohio or are planning on traveling this way in the next year and could get your photos done then, you must check out this awesomeness.  Heck- if you are traveling here on your way to somewhere, I'll even treat you to lunch after your photo session :-)

I'm going to treat you all to a sampling of some Lizzie Lou photos just to entice you to get the bidding going!  Don't you want some gorgeous professional photos of your family?  Of course you do!  So why not bid now while all the money is going to charity?!  Duh- it's a no brainer!




Thanks so much to Lizzie Lou for putting on this fundraiser within a fundraiser.  Go to Liz's blog to get your bid on!  You can follow the bidding on Lizzie Loo's Facebook page.  And while you are at it- you should just go ahead and like the Millions of Miles facebook page, too ;-)

February 09, 2011

Fun With One

I frequently whisper to all three of my kids "I love you the best.  Don't tell the rest."  To my knowledge, they haven't compared notes.  I've been telling them this for years.  I may be doing psychological damage, but they think it is super fun to be the "most" loved.  And I love seeing their tiny faces light up when they think they are the very center of my universe.

One of my favorite things about parenting many small children, is having one on one time with each of them.  Around here we call it "special time".  We rotate around whose turn it is to have mommy or daddy all to themselves for an outing.  Each of the kids have their "group" personality- who they are as a big sister, little brother, middle child, etc.  But when you get them alone and away from the group we see such neat aspects of their personalities that only come through when they are nurtured with uninterrupted attention.

Yesterday, our school system had a two hour delay so Noah's preschool was cancelled.  Sadie went on to school and Miles still had his group therapy, so Noah got two hours of special time.  I told him that we could do whatever he wanted on our date and he chose to have breakfast at McDonald's and then go to Target.  (He is sooooo my child!)  Over pancakes and sausage biscuits, we discussed some really important things.  Noah wanted to know if I'd ever pooped in the dark.  Then he wanted to know if I've ever pooped when someone was flicking the lights off and on.  (I'm going to coin the term "strobe pooping" here)  He wanted to know if I'd ever wished that I could have a tail with spikes on it.  He wanted to know if I'd ever fallen into a volcano.  He wanted to know if I'd ever heard anyone toot so loud that the house shook.  I wish I could just spend one day in his brain. 


Then we went on to Target.  It's rare that I go there with just one child.  We didn't need anything in particular, so we just went wherever Noah wanted to go.  When he started screaming that we were being chased by a dromeosaurus we ran away from it because well- why not?  Everyone needs to run away from a dinosaur every now and them to keep them young.  He told me all about how we could run as fast as we could but that eventually we'd get eaten because dromeosauruses can run 55 miles an hour and he could only run for 6 minutes on the wii.  Then we found an endcap with all of these singing Valentine's Day animals.  They sang "Who Let The Dogs Out" so we had to line them all up and let the dogs have a concert, of course.


All in all, it was such a fun morning together.  For me, these are the things that make motherhood worth while.  Well, that, and strobe pooping.  Which, if it wasn't a two man operation, would be tops on my list of things to accomplish today.

February 08, 2011

A few words from Jilma

I don't ask a lot of people to guest post on my blog. (Maybe it's because I'm a word hog.) But I asked Jilma Meneses, founder and CEO of Our Family Adoptions (OFA), to guest blog and give everyone a look into the organization since they are the recipients of half of our raffle proceeds. OFA is not really like any other organization I've ever been a part of. OFA and Jilma (pronounced HEELma) hold a special place in my heart because they helped us bring our little Miles home. Jilma Meneses can best be classified as a machine- the woman is like the energizer bunny.  She lives a life dedicated to serving the children of Congo.  As a full time working attorney- she runs OFA out of the goodness of her heart, making sacrifice upon sacrifice (who needs sleep, right Jilma!?) to keep the organization running. Jilma will say in her post that OFA is not an adoption agency. In fact, I'll just throw it out there that they are no longer taking applications to complete adoptions so that she is not dealing with a deluge of emails today :-) OFA's focus is on serving the children in Congo who will never be able to have a family. In a country of 5 million orphans, we know that we can help more children by using our resources to help vulnerable children where they are- in this case, the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Another reason that I don't ask people to guest post? They rarely write what you hope they will write! I asked Jilma to talk all about the humanitarian aid that OFA is delivering, and while she did that, she also wrote a slew of things that downright make me blush. I considered not publishing the first half of her post because, quite honestly, it really embarrasses me. But when you ask a great woman like Jilma to write for you, it would be bad manners for me to edit her work. So even though it embarrasses me to no end, I present to you Jilma Meneses and the outstanding work of Our Family Adoptions...

From Jilma Meneses:

During preparation for her 2011 raffle, Megan asked if I could provide a guest post on her blog. She prompted me, “share about how the donations people give are helping: how many mattresses, schoolbooks, etc. have been delivered.”


Well, yeah. But first I want to talk about the Terry family, and about Megan in particular.


Adopting from DRC is not easy. I tell everybody this. And then I tell it to them over and over again. Very few listen. When families consider adoption, it is quite common for those families to be inward-looking. Many mean well, but are trying to fill some sort of void. They are focused on what their child will mean to them.


The critical difference is that Our Family Adoptions wants to cultivate families to do more. To be more. If you adopt from DRC, you make a difference in the life of that one child. But OFA wants you to adopt DRC. We want you to understand the country’s history, politics, language, food, music, culture, environment and people.

So I want to take a moment here to celebrate Megan Terry. This is not what she wants from me, I know. But it’s what I want for her, and a proper southern gal knows guests get what they want.

Megan traveled to DRC and saw what it means to be an orphan in that country. And when she truly realized it, she broke. If you read her blog post about that day you’ll know exactly what I am talking about. For a year and half, she researched DRC. She learned the unpleasant history and current situation of the country, and she was still unprepared for what it looked, smelled and sounded like when she got there.


But sometimes when you break, or you are torn, the scars heal stronger than before. And Megan is stronger now than she was before; the Terry family is stronger now than it was before.


The healing balm is love.


Miles is loved. And Miles loves. When you haven’t grown up with love always present, then you don’t know what love is. Love is dangerous, because love means trusting somebody else with your best interests.


If you grew up in an orphanage, nobody there has your back. It is every child for himself. You grab and punch and kick to get all you can. And if you are reprimanded for that, you simply learn to do it only when no one is watching; when you will not get caught.


But children are resilient, and they can learn to love. Because love feels better than fighting. Trust feels better than distrust. And now Miles knows what love feels like, and he knows how to love.


On her blog, Megan puts it all out there for us to see: Dirty laundry, therapy, unwashed dogs, and massive diaper blowouts. But she puts all the good stuff, too: Family dinners, date nights with Kamron, and the love and daily small successes of her three beautiful children.


In order to share all that, she trusts us. She puts her faith in us. And she asks the right question. That question, as I stated above, is not, “What will my children mean to me?” She asks, “What will I mean to my children?” And I love her for that.


So here’s what Megan means, not only to her children, but to all of us:


- Megan raises awareness: Her blog has had thousands of readers on important issues like attachment disorder, DRC, adoption, and chicken tagine and plantains (mmm, plantains).
- Megan organizes getaway weekends for 14 of her best friends, some of whom she had never met before.
- Megan posts up giveaways to raise funds for other families who are adopting.
- Megan speaks in public about Congo.
- Megan knows how to take good care of Miles’s hair.
- Megan’s 2010 raffle raised over $5,000 for Haiti and DRC.
- Megan helped OFA win $20,000 in the 2010 Chase Community Giving contest.
- Megan’s 2011 raffle is has already raised over $3,000.


And then there are about a thousand other little things that would make this a very long list.


All this, and more, from “jus’ a lil’ gal from Kentucky.” “Aw, shucks.” she says, “Weren’t nothing.”


Now, as Megan originally wanted, I am pleased to let everyone know that OFA is working with 5 orphanages in DRC: three in the Kinshasa area, one in Lubumbashi and one near Bukavu.


Though we cannot provide the same level of support at each, here is a quick list of some of the things our supporters have been able to provide through OFA in 2010:
- Hand-carried approximately 1500 lbs of infant formula to DRC

- Purchased basic foods for older kids: dried beans (nearly 5000 lbs in 2010), rice and dried fish

- Purchased and provided schoolbooks

- Purchased and provided mattresses

- Provided over 200 dresses for girls of all ages

- Purchased and provided medicine for malaria and other tropical diseases

- Paid for doctor’s visits for gravely ill children

- Provided monthly stipends for some of the orphanages

- Provided university fees for a student in Bukavu

- Painted the interior walls of an orphanage

- Provided toys, dolls and soccer balls


OFA families collected a mountian of baby formula to deliver to children in various orphanges

OFA families painting the walls of an orphanage

In many ways, 2010 has been a difficult year for OFA. More people than ever before want to adopt from DRC, but we stopped taking new applications. We needed to concentrate on completing adoptions for families who were already on our list and in our pipeline. I turn away three to four new email inquires every day, which is the hardest thing I do. It breaks my heart every time. Nonetheless, we completed 23 adoptions from DRC in 2010 as an all-volunteer organization. We turn people away because we wish to focus on the children in Congo who will never find families for one reason or another. They are the reason we do what we do. OFA is not an adoption agency and will not charge for our services. We use the resources that come in to us to give back to the children. We remain staffed, organized and implemented by a network of committed volunteers. Our principal work is to serve the children of DRC. We do this by empowering the members of OFA’s family network.


These members are OFA’s greatest blessing, greatest strength and most valued asset. I would be unable to accomplish my tasks without all the time and support that the OFA team freely gives. Each of them, like Megan, are saving lives and building community, and I am eternally grateful for every single act of kindness they do.


They ask the right question. They ask Megan’s question.


“What will I mean to my children?”


And so I challenge you. Ask that same question of yourself.


Jilma

February 07, 2011

A fan-freaking-tastic day

Y'all.  Something weird happened over here yesterday.  Our kids didn't want to drive us nuts.  They wanted to play BY THEMSELVES.  They did not yell, "Mom, Mom, Mom" every 2.8 seconds.  They made their own glasses of water, made their own snacks and changed the tv channels by themselves.  At one point in the day I looked over at hubby and asked him what he thought has gotten into the children to make them be so good.  He gave me his most serious look and said, "Don't ask questions!"

I don't care what it was- but I reveled in it!  Kamron and I had a speaking engagement about adoption and Jesus and Congo and all other matter of things that make me a blubbering mess.  And my dad came to hear me speak and that makes me all emotional cause my dad is a crier. (Sorry dad- but we all know you are!)  We came home from that and I decided that I just had to lay down for a few minutes and get myself together.  I walked in the bedroom and realized that hubby had beat me to the bed.  Now- we NEVER get to take a nap.  I think it's been about 3 years since we took a nap together.  I tossed Miles in his pack and play for a little down time and crawled in bed and oh.holy.night.  Our kids left us ALONE. (And no- we did not do that.) We laid there in silence and it was 17 kinds of blissful.  Until a neighborhood kid rang the door bell and the dog started barking and the phone rang.  But still- sometimes 30 minutes of quiet is enough to recharge the old batteries. 

I must have been in a good mood because I declared it picnic night on the living room floor in front of the tv.  I served a very nutritious meal of pigs in a blanket and cheese dip with tortilla chips.  My kids thought I was the bomb diggity.  In my defense, it was the Super Bowl.  Oh, who am I kidding.  I'd been looking forward to those pigs in a blanket all week.  I'm a sucker for junk meat wrapped in a crescent roll.  Somehow my "be kinder to my body" diet went all to hell somewhere around last Monday when I discovered how to make the homemade caramel corn.   I think I'm okay with it, though.  I'm consoling myself by saying that if I got really skinny my varicose veins would be more prominent.  Whatever.  I have no will power.

I did redeem myself by dancing around the living room during the halftime show.  (Well- I made it about 3 minutes until I was too huffy and puffy) Surely though, I burned off at least one little piggy in a blanket. But wow- my kiddos had a ball dancing around like hooligans and listening to the Black Eyes.  We heart them.  You know what else I heart?  People who buy raffle tickets.  Seriously.  Buy a whole whole bunch of them.  Pretty please with sugar on top.  I will be your BFF.  I will hug you and pet you and squeeze you and call you George. The end.

P.S  To top off the day, Kamron and I howled hysterically at this website that is a conglomerate of text autocorrection nightmares. (warning- some of these are a little raunchy)  If you need a good laugh, I recommend it.  A friend suggested it after I tried to send a tweet to a church with the word "hashtag" in it.  My phone autocorrected "hashtag" to "hashish".  So I sent a tweet about drugs to a church.  I'm keepin' it classy, America.

February 05, 2011

Writing as therapy

Sometimes I feel like I have no idea what I am doing as a parent.  When we thought about having kids, I never dreamed about having kids with special needs, or social anxiety, or all of the other labels that get put on our kids.  Some of those labels are great: smart, funny, loving, compassionate.  But the others sometimes throw me.

Our oldest is kinda a genius.  I mean- this girl at age 7 can do math problems in her head that make my head turn around backwards.  But she's a nervous and anxious kind of child.  She worries a lot.  She's often afraid to try new things.  She takes on other people's problems and that is a lot of pressure for a small child.  We took her to a counselor this summer who taught her lots of great coping skills for when she's feeling nervous or unsure or worried about something.  One of those coping skills was writing about her feelings.  Often times, her writings have been great starters for big conversations with her.  But last week she wrote something that nearly broke my heart in half.  She wrote about my grandfather's death.  He died over a year ago.  We loved him dearly and he was one of the most remarkable men I've ever had the privilege of knowing.  But I assumed that with the passing of time, that my daughter had "gotten over" losing our grandfather.  After seeing this, I realize that I was so wrong.



I was really proud of my daughter for finding the words to express how she felt.  We sat and talked about our favorite memories of him-how he was a jokester, how he had great nicknames for us (Meggie Lou and Sadie Lou), how he loved sweets and how he was always trying to pull one over on my grandmother. We talked about how he is having a wonderful time in heaven and that it is okay for us to miss him here on Earth.  I think she just needed a lead in to being able to talk about him. 

And if writing is a form of therapy, I suppose that I also just needed the space to write that I miss him, too.

February 04, 2011

I like big buts

I did a little pre-spring cleaning to my google reader today.  I chopped off a lot of blogs that I just don't want to read anymore.  Here's what got purged: all those wackadoo mom's who talk about how perfect their lives and kids are all the time, how they paid cash for their big mansions on the hill, and actually shower on a regular basis.  On the flip side, I also purged all the blogs I call the "Eeyore blogs".  You know the ones- every single little thing sucks all the time. (my MIL is a bitty, I got a hangnail, my husband is scum, my kids torture puppies, etc. day in and day out.) 

What I do like, is people that keep it real.  The ones who find balance.  The ones who say, "Hells yeah, life is hard, but you know what?  I keep walking, I keep putting something good out there and looking for small victories in the everyday."  Those are the people I like.  Are you going to have bad days?  Ummm hello?  Two special needs kids over here- I get bad days (a lot!).  But after copious amounts of alcohol, antidepressants, shopping reflection, I've decided that I need to surround myself with what's real and feel grateful for it. 

I like to look at it as a "bloom where you are planted" philosophy.  Can you get bogged down in the "why me's"?  Absolutely.  But if you do, you miss out of some pretty spectacular things and some pretty phenomenal people.  One of my dearest friends started out as one of my boy's therapists.  A huge chunk of my support system/group of friends are people that I met while muddling my way through attachment issues with our other son.  And while I did wallow about the fact that I needed those people in my life in the first place, I had to just get over it and be ever so thankful that they were there.

Essentially what I'm saying is that I like big buts (and I can not lie- you otha brothas can't deny...)  I like the story that says, I'm parenting xyz, married to xyz, or living with xzy and it is hard BUT I'm going to BLOOM today and figure out what my role is in making this life as good as it can be with the circumstances I've been dealt.  All that to say- after all my purging I need new blogs to read.  If you fit the "Big But" criteria, make sure you leave a comment with your blog address so we can all read your Big But blog.  (Also- can you tell I've been watching too much Live Your Best Life TV on the new OWN? Sheesh!)

I feel like this is the part where I'm supposed to say, go... be your best, most authentic self... blah, blah, blah.  However, if I was going to go be my most authentic self, I'd probably stop shaving, stop wearing undies, and live of off candy and caffeine.  Oh wait... I already do that (except the undies part, cause, well... gross.) 

Hope your weekend is spectacular.  And don't forget to buy your RAFFLE tickets! (And whatever you do- do NOT google image search "I like big butts"- there are some HUGE juicy doubles that come up that will probably catch your eyes on fire if you look at them.  Yowza!)

February 03, 2011

A few words from Tara

I've linked to the Livesay's blog on here many times.  Troy and Tara Livesay are missionaries living in Haiti and working with Heartline Ministries (one of the raffle proceeds recipients).  Tara writes about their experiences in Haiti in one of the most remarkable ways.  She sees the pain, the beauty, the redemption in each and every single life that walks through their doors for help.  She lives the kind of life that most all of us are scared to live.  She takes up the cross daily, and shows Christ to those who are suffering, those who are vulnerable, and those who are in need.  She and her family (seven children through birth and adoption!) are doing such important work- and you'll never hear her complain about the lack of modern conveniences or the long days or any of the other walls they are up against living in the third world.

One of my favorite things about the Livesays and all the people associated with Heartline is the amount of respect that they show to each of their clients.  Heartline doesn't do handouts.  They give a hand up.  Heartline was started by John and Beth McHoul over 20 years ago.  Their vision and passion for the people of Haiti is evident in everything the organization does.  They empower, they teach, they listen, they love.  I asked Tara to write a little something to tell you about what kinds of things Heartline does.  In an age where there are so many charities asking for your money, I want you to see first hand what your raffle donations are going toward so that you may believe in their work as much as I do.  So without further adieu, here's Tara...

By Tara Livesay


Heartline Ministries has been serving in Haiti for more than 20 years. Over the years the focus of our ministry has shifted. While we used to place children in families abroad via adoption, we've shifted our focus to empowering women to have more ability to choose to raise their children themselves.

Haiti is a difficult place. If you have read anything about this island, you probably already know this. What you may not know is that women here carry the vast majority of the responsibility. Women usually raise children alone. Women are not often supported financially or emotionally by the men with whom they have children. Women have far less power than men in this culture. For these reasons and more we believe that women need a hand-up. Women need to see and experience the love of Jesus in tangible ways. Women need training and education to improve their lives and the lives of their children.

See this post about Haiti's women: http://livesayhaiti.blogspot.com/2010/02/they-are-haiti.html


The Women's Program of Heartline Ministries includes the following branches:

Literacy Education - It is estimated that more than 50% of the adult population cannot read or write. It only becomes clear how serious that is when you see someone you care about struggling to get through life without this necessary skill. We believe that every woman needs to know how to read and write. We're grateful to be able to offer year round literacy classes at no cost to anyone willing to work hard. Most students will learn to read and write in approximately three months time. The classes are five days a week for two and a half hours. We currently offer a morning and afternoon class.

Sewing School - For those that are able to pass an entrance exam we offer a nine month sewing school. Those that graduate at the top of their class may be offered contracts to sew purses for the Haitian Creations (http://www.haitiancreations.com/) website. Others will go on to start their own small business sewing school uniforms out of their homes.

Jewelry Making - Recently we added a bead making class and those products will also be sold at Haitian Creations. This program is very popular. Not only are we building community and relationships with the women as they create beautiful art, we are also helping them earn an income and become more financially stable.

Prenatal Program - By word of mouth women come to the Heartline Prenatal Program. This program is so popular that we could double the current size and still have a wait list. To see what happens on Thursday's at Heartline please visit this post:

http://allthingshendrick.blogspot.com/2011/01/thursdays.html Written recently by a friend and partner of Heartline Ministries, Heather Hendrick

Once in the program the women are able to deliver their babies with our trained midwives. The options for labor and delivery in this country would absolutely stop you in your tracks. Most women give birth at home. If not at home they will often enter a large room where 20 or more women are laboring with one or two doctors running from woman to woman. The maternal death rate and infant mortality rate are the highest in this hemisphere here, the reasons are obvious. Women lack basic access to health care and a safe place to give birth. It is not uncommon to meet a woman who is pregnant for the 4th time but she has never had prenatal care of any sort. When women in our program deliver they are treated like royalty. They have two to four women tending to their needs and offering love and support as well as a safe and clean place to deliver.


Early Childhood Development Program - Once women give birth to their babies they switch to a Tuesday class. In this class we teach about bonding, parenting, nutrition, and early childhood development. The women stay with us for six months. At the six month mark they graduate. This does not end our relationship with them as they are welcome to return to us for Bible Study on Fridays or for Family Planning.
Harbor House - This house is a new program being started this year to meet the needs of very young mothers in our Prenatal program. Currently we have five girls living at Harbor House. To read more about it go here and here :

http://livesayhaiti.blogspot.com/2011/01/harbor-house.html

http://livesayhaiti.blogspot.com/2010/10/love-empowers-ii.html


More than anything we've come to believe that investing in women is investing in the future of Haiti. Building relationships through time spent with them is the best way to truly bring about teaching, trust, and lasting community. We're thankful God has given us this opportunity to serve and learn from the beautiful women of Haiti. We're grateful beyond words to those of you that encourage us with prayers, tears, and hard-earned dollars. Thanks especially for taking the time to spread the word about what is happening in Jesus name for the women of Haiti.

TARA LIVESAY
http://livesayhaiti.blogspot.com/

Please take a moment to watch this video about Heartline's women's program!







photos by: Tara Livesay, Beth McHoul and Jonna Howard

February 01, 2011

2nd ANNUAL VACATION RAFFLE BENEFITTING CONGO AND HAITI

The time is here for our second annual vacation giveaway to benefit orphans in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Heartline Ministries in Haiti!  In grand fashion- it is bigger and better than ever!  This year we are raffling off TWO VACATION PACKAGES (lodging PLUS lots of fun stuff to do while you are there!)   Here are the prizes:

Option 1: SNOW-Ski Extravaganza in COLORADO!

This awesome ski vacation package includes a week at a cozy 2 BR, 2BA condo in Silverhorne, Colorado. (20 minutes to Breckenridge, 30 minutes to Vail) Amenities include a fireplace, full kitchen, balcony and clubhouse that boasts a pool table, ping pong table, video games and common area.  The clubhouse also has a pool with 3 hot tubs, a workout room, and raquetball court.





ALSO INCLUDED IN THE SNOW PACKAGE:

Option 2:  SUN- Relax on the BEACH in Destin, FLORIDA!

Included in this package are a one week's stay at the fabulous Ciboney Resorts.  Accommodations include this beautiful 2BR (+bunk room), 2BA ocean view condo- with kitchen, private beach access, pool and tennis courts. ( if you are the winner,this condo can NOT be booked between May 28th-July 30th)




ALSO INCLUDED IN THE BEACH VACATION PACKAGE:
WHERE DO YOUR DONATIONS GO? All proceeds raised in this raffle will be divided 50%-50% between two fantastic charitable organizations- Our Family Adoptions (a humanitarian organization that cares for orphans in the Congo) and Heartline Ministries (touching the lives of vulnerable people in Haiti). Both of these organizations are well established in the areas where they work and are doing amazing things on the ground for the people they serve. Stay tuned for later posts by directors/volunteers from these organizations about the work they are doing and how your dollars will be used.  Last year, with your generosity, we were able to raise just over $5,000. This year, we'd love to beat that. We are setting a goal of raising $8,000!


HOW TO ENTERClick on the donation button over on the right sidebar below our vacation raffle button to make a donation. All donations are securely processed by authorize.net. Ticket prices are as follows:
1 ticket: $10
3 tickets: $25
7 tickets: $50
15 tickets: $100


IF YOU PURCHASE A TICKET AND SHARE ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY ( BLOG, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, ETC)  YOU WILL BE GIVEN ONE ADDITIONAL ENTRY. 
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT ON THIS POST LINKING TO WHERE YOU SHARED THE VACATION GIVEAWAY.  TO MAKE IT EASY- FEEL FREE TO USE OUR BUTTON OR POST IT IN YOUR SIDEBAR FOR THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS!



 

To all of our big time blogger friends and tweeps with a ton of twitter followers- PLEASE help us spread the word.  The more we get the word out, the more money we can raise for people in DRC and Haiti who are in desperate need
Additional Rules:
  • Contest will run from Feb. 1st- Feb. 18th.  Winner will be announced live via streaming video on this site on Feb. 19th at 9pm EST.
  • ONE grand prize winner will be chosen from all entries.  Grand prize winner will have the choice of which of the two vacation packages they would like.  A runner up winner will receive the unchosen prize (think Price Is Right!)
  • Beach Vacation can not be taken between May 28th-July 30th.  If you can only travel during the summer months, I suggest choosing the ski vacation.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SUPPORTING HEARTLINE AND OUR FAMILY ADOPTIONS.  IF YOU ARE NOT A REGULAR READER, PLEASE JOIN US VIA GOOGLE FRIEND CONNECT, FACEBOOK OR TWITTER SO THAT YOU CAN KEEP UP WITH OUR PROGRESS!  I will update the thermometer on the side several times a day.

For questions or additional information, please email me at meganterry01 @ aol.com.  Special thanks to Caroline Neale and Veronica Caldwell for the generous donations of their condos, and Denver Adventures, Shannon Linscott ,Southern Star Cruise Line and Kamron Terry for their entertainment donations.
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