Friday, October 28, 2011

Brace Face.

Tinsel Teeth.
Metal Mouth.
Metallic Mama.

SAINT HELPING A DENTAL STUDENT FULFILL HIS REQUIREMENT:
Don't be a hater.
I'll get straighter teeth in this sweet deal, too.
In the meantime I'll be drinking milkshakes, because I can't figure out how to chew. Or how to get my lips to look normal on top of the braces. Drooling is a bit of a problem, too.
Stop laughing.
Now I have wrinkles, zits, age spots, AND braces.
you're just jealous.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Soccer!

Despite Zach's concussion, he was feeling well enough to coach on the field for our last soccer game. I'm usually more present during the games and coaching from the sidelines, but this game I wanted to take pictures. The kids pretty much know what to do anyway at this point! We had an amazing season with fun kids and families. Zach and I loved coaching! Next semester is killer for Zach, so we probably won't be able to do it again, but we considered this opportunity a way to serve kids and their families, and we enjoyed every second of it! I highly encourage coaching... it's a great way to connect with kids and provide a happy spot in their week!!!


Pete and "ocho"... wanted to publicly document that we coached him first... this kid is INCREDIBLE and other coaches would audibly gasp at is footwork and speed. UNbelievable! and completely adorable. 



 I wish I could post a team picture... need to figure out how to put little hearts on the kids' faces before I post it here :). Soccer is definitely a great sport for our family! Lots of action, teamwork, fun. Pete is quite the little player... he's really good and it's been fun to watch his skills develop. Can't wait for another season!

Leah wants to play too, but this semester she's focusing on Ballet. Her teacher just named her the "October Star" for her hard work. I was a ballet dancer about 15 pounds ago, so it's fun to watch her skill develop as well. She has great feet and just a little work to do on her turnout especially to the back, but she's a great little dancer.

Sammy might want to play soccer next season. He's my little engineer and totally brilliant at building things... that's more his MO. He also loves to dance in his goofy little way, and delights over hiking and driving his tractor.

My kids are awesome :). They are always free to try things as they wish, and stop as they wish. I won't label them in one way or another... these are all "extremely current" labels, subject to change according to their own dreams :).

Happy Thursday, and thanks so much for your prayers and support regarding Zach. He's still really sore with a big muscular hematoma on his back and residual pain from his concussion, but improving every day. We continue to be thankful for his healing and our kids emotional healing. What a crazy accident... but all is well.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

wash over me.

I'm going to talk about my faith for just a minute. Let it wash over me.
But you know? this is so personal, and it's really to remind myself.
I don't believe in Jesus in order to judge others... on the contrary, my love of that dude makes me love you more. Whoever you are. I'm taught to humble myself, to elevate you, to cherish you, to serve you, to love you.
Loving Christ makes me a better person.
I don't mind what you believe, especially if the church has hurt you, which it has, I'm sure of it. Or just pissed you off. but the Jesus I know wouldn't do what's been done to you. He wouldn't.
I trust him, I live my life according to how he lived his. He was a socialist you know, and a crazy liberal who brought freedom to women and slaves.
he was all about love, and balance, and compassion. not so much about the rules people attach him to. he's not threatened by my love of exploring other religions and the beauty they possess. he loves those things too.

That's my little theology lesson for this sunday evening, you're excused :).
actually, this week and weekend rocked me and the love of jesus washed over me once again.

first, i was surrounded by conflict in the adoption community and it was hard, and required patience and work and deep breaths. but many hard emails and conversations led to the softening of hearts and renewed compassion for people often seen as enemies. I truly hope that this compassion within the adoption community can continue and that we all can stand for truth and justice.

then, zach had an accident, a very scary accident that required an ambulance ride and tests and scary waiting. the kids were traumatized. he's okay, just very sore, and a concussion. but still. scary.

I don't believe that being a "good christian" helped to save zach's life. i know many "good christians" or good people who die every day. of starvation. of murder. of suffering.

but I do believe that we were held through the suffering. that we were comforted and given peace to go through the trial. no matter what the outcome. I believed peace would be granted to my heart, and it was.

there are a lot of crazy people out there who think religion or faith will make you better than others or offer extra protections and comforts. it won't. that's a bunch of lies.

but the loving God I know will sustain you, in whatever form you believe it. that peace is real, and it helps me to be a better person.

so tonight, I just want to thank God for this peace. And humbly thank the Universe for once again letting us live life. and play you my favorite song.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

pumpkin awesomeness

Last week I decided I wanted some sort of pumpkin cookie. I considered putting pumpkin and spices into my basic sugar cookie dough, but didn't know how the extra ingredients would affect the whole shebang (is that a word?). Then I thought about just making my regular sugar cookies... and this is where the stroke of genius came.... which is probably quite common for the rest of you, but rare for me... PUMPKIN ICING to go on TOP of the cookies!!!! YESSSSSS.

I had a block of cream cheese, so I made it cream cheese icing. I took the block, softened it a little, added about 2/3 a can of pumpkin, dumped some regular old sugar in the mix, added a few shakes of pumpkin pie spice, and blended it all together.

GENIUS!!! Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing. YUMMO!!!!

Behold:
Yes. They're that good. 

And Leah-Approved! 
Hope you're all having a great week! Mine has been a wee bit too crazy, but all for good :). Kids are doing great in school, I'm doing well managing this family and my part-time jobs (just did an awesome post-adoption visit- those are the best :), and Zach's kickin' it in school. Oh, and we've won (okay, Pete and the other 5-yr-olds) have won ALL of our soccer games. That's right. Snap. Not that we're keeping track. I think Zach and I should win "rookie coaches of the year." One game to go in the season! Also, I'm slightly shocked that we're nearing the end of October. Time flies when you're doing crazy amounts of stuff!!!! COFFEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

dear old Wake Forest

This weekend we were able to go to a little slice of our Homecoming at WFU. Zach and I both graduated from Wake, and it holds a part of our hearts. We love it there! And of course... North Carolina in the Fall is spectacular. Stunning. Gorgeous.

We had to head home after the Quad festivities, due to Zach's biochem exam today (he's taking it as I write this. Apparently it's hard, very hard). So we missed the tailgating and game, but were thankful for our fun time on the Quad!
Wait Chapel! And yes, Leah and Pete had their hairs dyed... Purple and Green. Sam looked at me and said "no way mom, that's weird." He's my most logical child :). 

sack races! 


man down... 

the prize: annoying thing that makes duck noises


More races with the Milner kids

watching the band and cheerleaders

Go Deacs! 
We're sad that we didn't get to see more friends in W-S... hopefully we'll be able to visit again soon! We had a great time visiting old friends from ABES during school pick-up (it was great for Leah to see her friends from her former school!) and to catch up with our dear friends the Milners. Sammy was pretty mad that we weren't moving back in with my parents... every time we're there he thinks it's time to move back in. Sorry bud, Papa Doc would probably have a heart attack if we did that :). Hope you all had a great Fall weekend... stay tuned, because soon I'll share a stroke of genius that happened to me last week. It involved pumpkin and cream cheese. You FB friends know what I mean. Pure Genius!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

by the light of the moon

So here I am, back to reality after the whirlwind known as last week.
I'm so glad to be back. And thank you for your support and kind words. I'm blessed to have such supportive friends and family, and blessed to have this wee little platform to (hopefully) change some things for the better. If we're given a voice, on any issue, to help uplift/protect the vulnerable in this world, then we need to use it. Even if it only reaches one set of ears. Use your voice for good.

My current reality is here, at home. I can go lobby for change for a day, but my real work, my pure joy, is here, home, with my family. Nothing is better. Lately we've been playing after dinner, by the light of the moon.
sun setting, pinkish sky


Moon rising


deeper pink



tantrum... smacked Pete with tennis racket... time out :(. Also, apparently you need window cleaner to actually clean windows. Who knew?

all better! dry those tears, buddy.

almost bedtime

cozy home awaits.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Becca goes to Washington.

Well friends, it's time to tell you about that award I mentioned.

Last night, I returned from Washington DC, where I was able to lobby on behalf of adoptive families.

The congressional award I received is called "Angel in Adoption" and it was from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). I got the award after being recommended by Senator Richard Burr for my work in the adoption field over the last 9 years professionally, but over the last 16 years personally.


Getting an award is always a huge, humbling honor. For me, however, this was about being given a voice. A voice to share concerns with some of the most powerful people in the world. On Wednesday, I was given the opportunity to speak with the staff of Representative Tim Walberg of Michigan, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, and Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma. I was able to speak in person with Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and Representative Jim Langevin of Rhode Island. I was escorted by Jeff Brooks, an attorney with Adams and Reese LLP (he does a ton of important things regarding governmental relations, representing clients legislatively on matters of transportation, appropriations, public works, education and the environment). Mr. Brooks was the chief counsel and director of special projects for Congressman Richard Baker.

I was able to sit in a legislative meeting concerning funding and laws for international adoption and the foster care system here in the US. I was honored to be in the meeting with many other adoption advocates and lobbyists, including Becky Shipp of the Senate Finance Committee, Diedra Henry Spires of the Senate Finance Committee, Barbara Pryor who works with Senator Rockefeller, Ryan Martin with the House Committee on Ways and Means/House Human Resources Subcommittee, and Paul Foldi, who works for Senator Lugar of Indiana and serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Where our Legislative meeting took place.

Chillin' with Jeff... needed caffeine to get through the day! 

I haven't even mentioned getting to speak with Kathleen Strottman, CCAI Executive Director, and probably the most well-connected woman in Washington when it comes to matters of children's rights. I'm pretty stoked to have her phone number now. Another resource I can use when someone needs help at any point in their adoption process.

Are you wondering why I'm telling you all this? I'm telling you this because adoption and children's rights are huge parts of my life. Not only am I an adoptive sister and mother, but I am an adoption professional. I represent my clients and my friends who are having complications with their adoption process abroad, or here within the US. You guys, the people I mentioned above are heroes. Regardless of political party or how their images are painted in the press, they work tirelessly on our behalf to provide funding for foster kids, to change outdated laws, to provide financial help and services to adoptive families, and to work with us on embassy issues. These people come together and literally fight for children's rights. And they are winning.
Our lobbying group outside of Rep. Walberg's office, with his staff member Joanna Brown

Our lobbying group and some dude on the right doing a weird thing with his legs

Preparing to speak, in Senator Burr's office! 

I really should be more mature in these moments. Peace, y'all. 

These were my favorite ladies! I got to spend the day with Senator Landrieu's sisters, one of whom is an adoptive mama (Russia). These ladies are CHAMPIONS for adoption reform and children's rights. I love them! Plus, they are hilarious! 


The Representatives listened intently to my stories, YOUR stories, about problems we're having at our Embassies abroad regarding international adoption. They were dismayed and concerned about how their own citizens, and subsequently their citizen's adopted children, are basically being treated like criminals at our own embassies. Our representatives want to see power hungry leaders within our Embassies stopped. They want investigations into possibly unethical adoptions started a long time before the child's country of origin gives Americans custody. If they have been given custody, they want the visa process to be expedited and for our own Embassies to stop the crazy, made-up requirements that they decide on without any outside authority. They want reform within the USCIS to stop preventing legitimately adopted children from coming home in a timely manner. They want to stop fraudulent adoptions.

They want to do all of this because I told them your stories. I told them what was going on "in the field." THEY NEED TO KNOW OUR STORIES. 


We can no longer just complain about what's going on. Friends, you have access to your congressional representatives. They WANT to hear from you. They NEED to know your stories or they won't know how to change the laws or challenge CIS to get rid of the policies that our hurting our children. I told THEM what YOU are dealing with. They have asked me to tell YOU to call THEM and set up meetings with their staff members. Either in person or on the phone. SHARE YOUR STORIES and ask for help! And please, BE RESPECTFUL! Regardless of party lines, and regardless of whether or not you hate them for certain opinions or issues or you didn't vote for them. Regardless of all that, they represent YOU. Be kind, be clear, and tell your stories. You will get much, much further with your concerns regarding adoption if you use your voice in a respectful but forceful manner.

After meeting with these incredible people and running from building to building to make our meetings on time, we caught the metro to get ready for the Angels in Adoption Gala, which took place in the Reagan building.


My new friend, an adoption advocate in a hospital in Colorado. She counsels adoptive families and birthmoms. Fellow award winner. She rocks! 

US Senate Chaplain Barry Black giving the blessing. 

the ceiling! so cool. 


National Angel in Adoption Winner Scott Fujita of the Cleveland Browns. He is a huge adoption advocate and was adopted as a white little boy by a Japanese dad and a white mom. It was so interesting hearing him speak about growing up white but in a Japanese family culture. He loved both his white and his Japanese cultures and got a kick out of teachers questioning his Japanese last name. He emphasized the love of his parents overcoming any racial identity issues he had, but also how they fostered a love for all the cultures he was blessed to be a part of. 

Laura Ingraham! I know, she's very Republican and very controversial. But all controversies aside,  this woman is a Champion for children's rights and has adopted three children... she has a transracial family :). That's my profile on the far left, and I'm standing with Kathleen Strottman (Director of CCAI) and one of Sen Landrieu's sisters. At this level of child advocacy, Republicans, Democrats, and everyone in between are good, good friends. It's awesome to see differences put aside! 

Me and Nia Vardalos ("My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and other big films)! She adopted her daughter at age 3 from foster care and is a huge advocate for adoption and children. She told me how much she loved her homestudy social worker, which made me happy, of course :). 

Me with Senator Mary Landrieu, who is, hands down, the most vocal and forceful member of Congress when it comes to adoption and foster care advocacy. She is simply the best!!!! I was beyond honored and humbled to be in her presence. 

The husband who made it all possible! 

The feet that suffered, all in the name of lobbying on YOUR behalf :). You're welcome! But seriously, my feet have never hurt this much. Even when I danced on point. I thought I'd picked good shoes... 
Well esteemed readers, I hope you enjoyed reading about one of the most exciting and powerful days of my life. I missed the "pinning" ceremony because Zach had a few tests to take on Tuesday when that took place, but once I receive that award in the mail I'll take a pic and show it to you... apparently it's pretty cool. I'm honored to be your newest adoption reform lobbyist, and I'll do my best to work for reform wherever it's needed. We're off to a good start, thanks to the amazing CCAI!

Monday, October 3, 2011

magical time

this weekend we ventured to the coast to snuggle our new little niece. My brother and his wife live only 2.5 hours away, right near the beach. The beach in Autumn might be the most spectacular time to visit. Crisp and clear, water emerald and shimmering, cool breeze. We live in a beautiful place!

Uncle Zach gets to snuggle his niece for the first time! 

my brother and my baby girl

I looove being an auntie... 

smoothies! 

Sammy needed his own snuggle time... he still wants to be the baby :)



my brother and his awesome wife and baby! see how gorgeous the sky is???

yep. It was 65 degrees and he has 0% body fat. 

My kids demonstrating their positions on the "nutso" scale, from most to least: Pete, Leah, Sam. 






this is what happens when you try to take a pic without sunglasses on. brrrriiiiiiight! 

sand dune jumping

awesome

cousin love! 
My other brother and his awesome wife had their baby in Alaska last week, so now I'm an auntie times 2! I need to photoshop my other niece into these photos :). Can't wait to meet my newest sweet baby!!!

Hope you all are enjoying this beautiful Fall... I'll post soon with some fun details on my travels this week... should be a crazy few days! I'll be chillin' with some Congressional representatives and urging ETHICS in adoption... I hope I get to make my points, and I hope they are loud and clear. Anyone out there NOT doing adoptions ethically and ignoring children's rights... watch out! Adoptive families are standing up for solid ethics!!! Stay tuned :).