Tell me what it is you want to do with your one wild and precious life? -mary oliver

Thursday, March 31, 2011


I've been in super-speed mode, checking off things on my list once completed.  Only thing is there are way too many things to get accomplished between now and next Friday.  I'm winding down my school lists.  Tomorrow, I'm sharing with my class about our adoption and reading the book, We'll Paint the Octopus Red.  Another mama gave me the title to read with my own children.  It's wonderful for all ages alike.  Next week,  I'm the mystery reader at the kids' school, so I'll read it there.
I want my children to know there is good all around us, to recognize it, to notice it, and to celebrate. Yesterday, as I was sharing our story with two special ed teachers, they were asking questions about gift etiquette in Eastern Europe.  Today, a bag of Bath and Body lotions and soaps was brought to my room to pack away.  Another teacher is doing something for Addy and Austin while we are gone.  Every step of the way, Andy and I received one affirmation after another to know this journey was meant to be.

I had a few moments today where the ball of panic in my stomach was creeping up.  Not "What the heck have I done?"  but more "How the heck will everything GET done!"  I know it will, but I have my moments of freak outs!  A celebration for me...I didn't let it get full-blown and once a big computer concern was resolved, all's well in Shelly's world.

Our house is filled with boxes all over.  As we gather items off our list, we throw them in boxes.  Andy's gathering routers, cords, camera filters, batteries...the tech stuff.  I'm gathering the essentials, like travel TP, anti-bacteria soap, wipes.  I have a few outfits, toys, and essentials for Sarah.  She'll be coming home with Eastern Europe shoes.  No way I can guestimate her size until we see her.

And so, I close with a few shots of innocent beauty, love, and livin in the moment.

Gotta love the chipped finger polish on 3 fingers:)

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Piano music is playing melodiously throughout our home, and I've got time now.  Time to sit and pour over what has been written for Sarah and to Sarah.  Reading and rereading over the carefully, crafted words that touched our family's heart.  For the women who saw Sarah, as a life in need, as a child worthy of love,  who wrote about her, prayed for her, and advocated for her... this family, Sarah's family is forever grateful.  

Her story began three years ago, without anyone to celebrate her birth.  Her parents were told she is not worthy, give her up, there is no quality of life for her.  And so she was placed in an orphanage, among the many other children without someone to love them.  As her picture was placed on orphan websites and databases,  she is smiling, cheek to cheek.  Her eyes sparkling, giggling with mischief.  Proud of herself for sitting up.  When you look at the snapshot, you see a precious life.  Someone in need of love, to take notice of her spirit. "Look at me.  Notice me."
Addy's journal from school
Fast forward a couple years later, the smile is gone. The sparkle has left her piercing, chestnut eyes.  Her gaze is distant.  Her hair has grown so that her wispy, bangs are sweeping across her forehead. The pink dress with the too-long sleeves is shared with others in her orphanage.  I've seen it on other little girls in their profile pictures.    She has nothing to call her own.  Nothing.
This picture is what we saw.  This photo of her, tugged at our heartstrings.  This little girl, of whom no one had inquired about her or for her, was the girl meant for our family.  We made a  choice, our choice to bring her home.

The carefully, well-thought out story of her adoption is almost completed.  The final chapter will be written shortly.  There is no crystal ball of how that chapter will unfold, nor what the plot twists and turns the Author will write.  But the recurring theme will override every ups and downs the supporting characters encounter:
This main character is loved.  Sarah is loved.  Sarah has a family.

Little Sarah, whose story began in our hearts seven months ago, has already made a difference.  When I read the comments on our blog and Facebook, the amazement at how perfect her story has  been played out, this little girl is changing lives.  They are seeing who she is, not what she has.  Seeing what we see.  The little girl who was once lost, now found.  Alone, but now has a family coming for her.  

We are not amazing nor selflesss.  We saw a need.   A regular family, trying to make a small difference in the world.    As Robert Frost's poem goes, "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference."   Before she is even home, she has made a difference on the road less traveled. 

 Now is the time to focus on our goal, the finish line, the end zone, the final hoop.   
Bringing her home. 

And so, this family begins finalizing the last details in this country before we leave for her country.  Spending time together, relaxing on a mini-vacation, and preparing for her arrival.  Loving my eldest, with her wild, curly hair, giggling with her innocent, crazy clothing combos she puts on.

Laughing with the youngest, almost the middle, as he whoops, hollers, and claps his hands in celebration for every small thing he can.  Together, spending more time over the silliest things.  These are the moments.

“One day at a time--this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


We've all witnessed them in our time.  Seen the beauty of what was, now is.  In the midst of tragedy, lies a story waiting to be told.  Changing a life for that one soul who listens to the story, reacts to the story, choosing to pave their own path by making a difference for one.

Carrington's Courage is one little girl's story, rocking the international adoption community to its core.  Carrington arrived in the U.S. late last week.  Her family visited her in the orphanage, and saw her bundled up in multiple layers, as is custom in Eastern Europe.  When Carrington left the orphanage the very last time, it was only then her family saw the desperate state she was in.  Carrington is 3 years old, weighing in at 11 pounds.  Upon arrival to the U.S, the Burman family wasn't reunited.  Instead, Carrington immediately went to the hospital and brought grown men to their knees in tears. To see a precious, life wasting away...

In all tragedy, there is hope and celebration.  Carrington is touching lives and no one but God can write this story.  She is holding steady.  She's not gaining weight, and not losing weight.  Carrington is being lifted up in prayer around the world and a network of mamas are working to provide help in their city.  I've linked a button on my sidebar so you can visit the updates on the blog, my friend Sarah is writing for her family.

Please pray for Carrington.  Read her blog updates.  Think about her daily and love on your own children.  Live in the moment.  Love...

Carrington's Courage...

Cook Children's Hospital
801 Seventh Ave.
Fort Worth, TX 76104
C/O Carrington Burman Room 5418

Monday, March 21, 2011


When the mind is backed by will, miracles happen.  Yogi Tea

Time to up my "A" game.  Our appointment date arrived via email this morning.  We will be flying out April 8th, hopefully.  Our travel arrangements aren't set yet, but it's our tentative plan.  Why this time frame is PERFECT, is a story itself.

Of course, I would have wanted to have everything ready and be traveling by now.  Who wouldn't?  Because of the later date, Andy and I will be able to attend Addy's musical, of which she volunteered for a small part.  It's fairy tales with a twist, and she is all geeked out about wearing the Snow White costume in her closet.  Austin has a reader's theater that week at school, the day we hope to leave.  He's been giggling this past week, saying his lines.  While they wanted us to meet Sarah, sooner, they are excited we'll be able to watch their performances.

Next,  another family has their appointment an hour later than us.  What a great time to meet up with another family traveling a similar journey to meet their newest member.

The last,  PERFECT piece is that two of our friends will be arriving in the capital city of Sarah's country, that Sunday.  Since our appointment is Monday, we'll hopefully be able to meet up with them that day.  Friends, living in our city, flying half-way around the world, meeting together in the same city for a brief moment in time.  Different journeys, but paths crossing on two different continents at that one, precious moment.

Our appointment came on the day that we have come to celebrate:  World Down Syndrome Day, recognized every year on 3-21.  3/21 stands for the 3 strands of the 21st chromosome, unique to individuals with Down syndrome.

Eleven months ago, I noticed two little girls outside my classroom door.  I saw their beauty, their smiles, and their love.

Bridget and Alina, because you were outside my classroom that last day of school,  another little girl with an extra chromosome will be coming home to her family.
Its Spring Break week and our normal trip is to travel to Florida, to visit my parents.  We're always their last hurrah before trekking their way back north.  Our travel plans were uncertain, so we weren't able to make it.  The next time we see my family, we'll be a family of five.   Three beautiful, special little gifts that make every day worth celebrating life, laughter, and love.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Living in the Moment

Celebratin the Sun, St. Patrick's Day, and each other.  As soon as we came home, they ate a quick snack, changed into short sleeves, capris, and the best of all...FLIP FLOPS!!  I LOVE the day when it begins flip flop weather.  It was high 60's in Ohio today, and that my friends, is a Celebration.  So, we walked, played outside, and some leprechauns kissed our pancakes and drinks for dinner.

 Top of the mornin to ya.
It doesn't taste any different.  How did it get green?
I'm not too sure about this green stuff...
Still not sure...
Some new blooms poppin up from the glorious sunshine, brilliantly shining on our home.

Happy St. Patrick's Day and Celebrate the Sun, my friends.
P.S.  Still patiently waiting on the travel date:)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Encouraging Winks

When you least expect it, life sends you encouragement in the most unique places.  
Notice, listen, and celebrate those small moments.

A watched pot never boils, nor does a watched phone ring.

Since Sarah's country is seven hours ahead, our submission emails and our future travel date emails would appear in the early morning hours.  By noon, if we had not received any word, we'd need to wait until the following morning.  Monday and Tuesday am, I was checking my phone for messages at every available break I had.  Like counting down the days until Christmas morn.  No ring nor message came.  I wasn't discouraged, but filled with anticipation, waiting to kick my game up to the next level as we prepare to leave.

As I went about teaching, I wanted to try a website we had been given access to use in our district.  When I entered my initials and last name, another teacher in Oklahoma came up, with the same initials:   

How about that little God Wink for encouragement!  Our travel date is coming, soon. 
For now, patiently we wait. 

If what I say resonates with you, it is merely because we are both branches of the same tree.  W.B. Yeats

Monday, March 14, 2011

From My Heart

   As the spring sun begins to peak out of the clouds, our family is anxiously awaiting the arrival of a new blossom, a new flower for our family garden.  A garden does not happen overnight, nor do flowers magically appear.  A master gardener has a vision, writes a plan, and then plants the seeds according to the plan.  But, the work does not stop.  The garden must be tended, toiled over, watered, weeded daily, taking great care so that soil is perfect for the flower to grow and blossom.
      Our family garden is ready.  The Master Gardener watered, tended, and toiled over the soil in our family these last 7 months  to make it perfect for Sarah to grow, blossom, and bloom.  Each step of the way, we grew in our individual ways, and as a family.  We see things we did not see.  We notice.  We celebrate.  We live in the moment more.    Andy and I saw miracles happen right before our eyes, through the paperwork process.  Some papers were easy.  Others were more challenging.  No matter how difficult, we received enough grace to help us onto the next challenge.  Our children saw their prayers answered in the time they were meant to happen.  They saw us celebrate and their mustard seed faith grew.

    Our latest miracle happened last Friday.  Andy was looking at his sales numbers for the year, and they were not adding up.  He "felt" the nudge to keep digging and went back all the way to July(when we first began talking about adoption!!).  In July, his company did not pay him his commission check. (a complicated formula, and not easy to track!).  When he shared with me the amount they will be paying us on his next check, my jaw dropped!!!  It is the exact amount, almost to the dollar, what was quoted for a month's rent at a hotel in Sarah's city!!!  Grace for today, no more and no less. 
    It is difficult to express in words what it is like to have the deepest love for a precious child of whom you only have seen a picture and know the day of her birth.  The spark that begins in your heart begins shining brighter and brighter on your journey.  Soon, you are championing for your child, carrying the torch like an Olympian, never wavering in your desire to bring this child that was deemed unfit for society, HOME. To your home, to your family, to cherish, celebrate, and blossom. 

    I'm drawn to tears daily, thinking about the moment we will meet face-to-face.  What will she be like?  Will she know we love her?  I imagine holding her, in her bright sunshine outfit, walking her out the door of the orphanage for the last time. I envision the moment Addy and Austin meet their sister, giving her the bear they made for her.  I picture her arms around Andy, snuggling together.  I can see these images as if they are real.  I see her smile, laugh, and giggle.  I see.
                                           Instructions for Living a Life:
1.  Pay Attention!!!                      Check
2.  Be Astonished!!!                    Check
3.  Tell About it!!!                      Check
Mary Oliver

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Race

Whenever I entered 5k runs, I always started off like a jackrabbit, weaving in and out of people until I got my rhythm as the first mile marker passed.  Then, I began to pick up the pace once I saw Mile 2, knowing the end was near.  Mile marker 3, I kicked it into a full sprint, attempting to meet my goal, finish the endurance and accomplishment set before me.

Yesterday, at lunch I was sharing this metaphor with my friends.  The dossier, the paper chasing, the completion of that part was mile marker 1.  The day we were submitted, I've picked up the pace.  Gathering necessary travel essentials, buying lunch supplies and snacks for the kids, organizing the end-of-year lesson plans, putting Sarah's room together.  Andy and I feel like we are running a half-marathon everyday, burning the candle at both ends.  He has one more big business trip before we leave, trying to have everything in order for Sarah's country and our kids.  We aren't in panic mode yet.  We're calm.  The day we receive our travel date, we'll up the ante into a full-on sprint.
  Andy moved this dresser from our room up a switchback staircase, to Addy's room all by himself!!!!

Pudge and Zippy's amazing mom sent us a file with these picture cards that I'm laminating tomorrow and making into a book to take with us.  I'm working on some photo books of our family for her.

I met Lisa and her daughter, Sara,from Living in the Light,  for coffee today, gathering last minute tips for traveling, and practicing phrases in Sarah's native language.

We're making the most of our time before we leave, celebrating the small moments, having the time to live, laugh, and love.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


It seems everything is so full of possibilities one can hardly take it all in.  Kenneth Koch

    After an invigorating few days once we learned we were submitted to Sarah's country, I finally have time to sit and write, reflect, and enjoy the celebration.  Thursday, I was flying high at school, sharing the good news with my friends, all who were celebrating the occasion with us.  They've traveled this journey alongside us, each step of the way.  Throughout the past two days, I've been overwhelmed thinking about planning the last two months of school, but I'm taking it one day at a time.  One small step, an inch closer...

    At home, we are on track.  Last weekend, her bed was set up with new bedding and we're working on a dresser.  It seemed so real once her bedroom was up, knowing she'll be sleeping in a bed, a room to herself.  I need to begin organizing the kids' schedules for Andy's parents, who are graciously watching and loving our children while we are in country.  Once again, it will all get accomplished in time.  I'm learning some Russian phrases and words.  Still working on the "Pizza, no mayo, please!!"  Ya ha-CHOO pitsa BAYZ may-oh-nayz, pa-ZHA-loo-sta!

    For those who've traveled, how did you travel with your child once you took her from the orphanage?  We will not know whether we will do one or two trips until we are over there to see the time frames between court dates.  Sarah is three, and looks tiny.  Would a sling or baby carrier work for the time she is with us before we go home?
    Last night, we went to a student talent show at the kids' school.  Time stood still for me when a little girl in a wheelchair rolled onto the stage, in her motorized chair.  Her back was turned to the audience until the music began, and then she whipped that chair around rockin' to the music of "DJ Got Us Falling In Love Again."  She danced, waved her hands in the air, sassying the shades she was wearing, and the crowd was with her.  We clapped, celebrated, and danced with her.  I've seen her at the pool, swimming, and then rolling alongside the pool with her friends.  It doesn't matter what her different ability is, what matters is she is accepted. She is celebrated.  Our community accepts individuals with different abilities. 

   As the girl danced  last night, I thought about Sarah, knowing this school where she will attend, will accept my child.  Will celebrate her, and give her possibilities to achieve.  I was envisioning Sarah, singing, dancing, and loving with her friends. 


It seems everything is so full of possibilities one can hardly take it all in.  Kenneth Koch

Thursday, March 3, 2011

We did it!!

It's official!!  We were submitted in court today.  AMAZING, PERFECT. 

For our families and friends, this means we will receive a travel date in 1-2 weeks, and then travel 1-2 weeks after that.  We are over the moon excited. 

Last night before the kids went to bed, I told them to pray that our paperwork would be accepted in Sarah's country.  This morning, it was thrilling to watch their eyes light up, smiles surround their face, and Hip Hip Hoorays ringing through our household when I told them after they woke up.

I have so many emotions going through and will write a more eloquent post later.  But for now...

we've been SUBMITTED!!!!