Thursday, January 24, 2008

Shannon ...and Crazy 8's

So a few posts back I mentioned that I wanted to tell the story of my friend, Shannon. I got her permission and then I completely freaked out thinking how does one tell the story of Shannon? How on earth am I going to go about telling the entire story of such an incredible person who has lived 30+ incredible years on this earth?

It's a big undertaking, bigger than me, I realized. You can't sum a person like Shannon up in a nutshell, it's just not possible.

When I originally said I wanted to tell her story, I was thinking of telling the story of how she got cancer a few years ago, and many months of uncertainty and 11 (yes, 11!) surgeries later, she stands stronger than she ever was. And I was also thinking about how after being there for her through it all, her fiance (now husband) married her in a gorgeous Kentucky wedding surrounded by all their family and friends, and then she was blessed with a pregnancy on her honeymoon! And we all thought, wow, finally a great gift for this girl, after all that madness. Then she miscarried, twins, at 13 weeks. And even after that, she kept her faith and her dreams alive, and if you met her today, you would see and feel only pure joy.

So the story isn't entirely about Shannon, because that story is much more involved than I can undertake in my little ole blog. But it is a tribute to her strength - that amazing, almost superhuman strength that certain people possess, that just fascinates and inspires me. It's a strength I'm blown away by in Shannon. As she can attest to, pretty much everywhere we go, if there is ever a second of a lull in conversation, I will blurt out with no warning, "Shannon had cancer!"...which I know may seem a little strange, but I just feel so proud of her and I can't help but let people know that she is not just a survivor, she's a champ and my hero.

Also, Shan got mad at me in the comment section of my last post for not 'tagging' her with the Crazy 8's. What Shan doesn't know is she was first on my list, til I realized she doesn't have a blog and so where would she Crazy 8 anyway? Huh, Shannon? That's why I tagged a bunch of blogger pals (sorry guys, I know I don't know all of you all that well and sometimes these things can be a pain, but you're still tagged and I'm waiting for your 8's!) (Thanks, Rebecca!)

Well, tonight, on this day that has marked the 8th week of our waiting, I not only tag Shannon with the Crazy 8's and proclaim her strength to the masses! I also (because I must!) challenge her to start a BLOG! So there.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Tagged by Julie!

My girl, Julie, tagged me with the Crazy 8's...I'm not even sure what that means but I know it's communicable and I think now that I have it, I'm required to answer the following:

8 Things I’m Passionate About...

1. My husband
2. My Dog
3. My Family
4. My friends
5. Adoption
6. Helping people
7. Watching Football & Playing Softball

8 Things I Want To Do Before I Die...

1. Make the world a better place
2. Watch my kid(s) grow
3. Own a house with a pool
4. See my dad win the lottery
5. See my sister get married
5 1/2. See my brother get married
6. Make my business successful
7. Watch all my friends dreams come true
8. Live life to the FULLEST

8 Things I Say Often...

1. Word.
2. Keep it real.
3. Wowzers.
4. Georgie Monkey!
5. I love you, boo.
6. Awe man.
7. Dude.
8. Seriously.

8 TV Shows I’ve Recently Watched...

1. Amazing Race
2. Big Brother 8
3. Deal or No Deal
4. Little People, Big World
5. Survivor
6. Property Ladder
7. Project Runway
8. The Dog Whisperer

8 Songs I Could Listen to Over and Over...

1. Twenty Toes in the Sand by Forest Sun
2. Waiting on an Angel by Ben Harper
3. Steal My Kisses by Ben Harper
4. May the Wind Take Your Troubles Away by Son Volt
5. Jesus Walks by Kanye West
6. Not Ready to Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks
7. There Will Be Two by the Indigo Girls
8. Drinkin' in LA by Bran Van 3000

8 Things That Attract Me To My Best Friends...

1. Their Truth
2. Their Courage
3. Their Kindness
4. Their Ability to make me feel good about myself
5. Their Support
6. Their Coolness
7. Their Humility
8. Their Passion for life

8 Things I’ve Learned (or been reminded of) This Past Year...

1. Adopting a baby is what I am meant to do
2. My husband is the most incredible man on the planet
3. Life is more important than work/career
4. Some people can be very opinionated and stubborn
5. Many people have open hearts and minds
6. I'm happy to count myself among those in #5
7. You have to work hard to get what you want
8. Life rocks

8 People I Think Should Do “8”...

1. Danni
2. Heather
3. Irene
4. Rebecca
5. Jana
6. Lori
7. Amy
8. Lindsey


Anil is a huge Giants fan...and in turn, so am I and so is George. We are beside ourselves knowing that Eli Manning and the Giants will be playing in the biggest football game of the year - the SUPER BOWL! I think we are still in shock - how this happened, we're not quite sure but it has and we are super excited!!

And if this incredible occurrence is any indication of what 2008 holds, WOW, we must be in for some great surprises!!

These photos of my boys, the biggest G-men fans out there, were taken just pre-game yesterday - George definitely had his game face on!

Go Giants!!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

7 weeks today and HI Shannon!

Today marks 7 weeks of waiting! So by my calculations based on those that have been receiving referrals lately, we may be getting close to the halfway mark toward seeing our baby for the very first time (in photos of course!)...that's so amazing!!!

I also want to shout out a big HI to my cool & beautiful friend, Shannon, who I think might be visiting my blog to catch up today. Shannon is one of my best friends, and a true inspiration to me. I want to tell her story on my blog, but I have to ask her permission first. Shannon, can I tell your story?

Happy MLK Day Weekend, everyone!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Awesome Article

My sister called yesterday to tell me about an article in PARADE magazine, a mag that comes with their Sunday paper in St Louis. I think my Aunt Ruth had seen it and told them about it. What a great article. This is written by the Author of THERE IS NO ME WITHOUT YOU, and she is fantastic.

If you haven't read this, take a second to...

Finding My Daughter's Roots
By Melissa Fay Greene
Published: January 13, 2008 - With thousands of foreign adoptions taking place in the U.S. each year, many parents want to give their children a connection to their pasts. Writer Melissa Fay Greene recently took her daughter Helen, 10, to visit her native Ethiopia.

It's been five years since my daughter left an orphanage in Addis Ababa and joined our family in Atlanta. Today Helen is a top soccer player, a flutist and the student president of her school. She has gained much, but much is in danger of being lost: her fluency in Amharic, her Ethiopian manners, her sense of her own history and culture.

As we pack for our 10-day trip to Ethiopia, I realize that I have no idea what my daughter is expecting to find there.

“I want to do lots of shopping!” Helen says.

“Addis Ababa is not exactly a shopping mecca,” I warn. “There’s no Target.” I want to ask if she remembers the orphanage or the beggars who line the streets. “I’m packing my iPod!” Helen calls.

Arriving at the airport in Ethiopia’s capital a few days later, we descend by creaky rental van into the city, where cars compete for right-of-way with herds of livestock. Unemployed, sick and handicapped people limp or lie on the sidewalks and median strips. Homeless children dash alongside the heavy traffic.

“This scares me,” Helen murmurs. “I don’t feel like I came from here.” Suddenly, a tall boy leans close to the window and moans in English, “Stomach zero.”

“Give! Mommy, give!” Helen cries.

She ransacks her backpack and finds a bag of bite-size Milky Ways. At the next stoplight, she serves a gold-wrapped candy to another barefoot boy who approaches. He examines it, smiles and requests another “for brother.” The van begins to accelerate. “He needs a candy for his brother!” Helen yells. “Please stop! Let me out!” But there is no stopping. My daughter falls against me, weeping.

UNICEF estimates that 4.6 million Ethiopian children have lost one or both parents, many to HIV/AIDS. Tens of thousands of street children forage in the capital; hundreds more live underground in sewers and tunnels. Some find shelter at orphanages like the one we visit on Helen’s first day back in Ethiopia.

When we arrive, the orphan girls surround Helen. They want to examine her watch and purse, peer through her camera and try her headphones. Then they all sit down for a chat despite Helen’s protests that she can’t really understand what the girls are saying. She does discern that they all need shoes: pink Crocs just like hers. With my permission, she leads an expedition beyond the orphanage gates to a kiosk, where she purchases 30 pairs of fake Crocs for 11 birr (about $1.50) each.

Over the course of our visit, Helen falls in love. Each morning, 3-year-old Binyam runs to her, squats and makes a fierce smile. She lifts and carries him for hours.

“We have to adopt him,” Helen whispers one day as he naps. “He needs me.”

“I know, sweetheart,” I say, “but we can’t. Maybe when you’re a grown-up, you’ll come back to Ethiopia to adopt.”

She shakes her head. Tears start to roll. “Binyam will be too old then.”

In happier moments, Helen soaks up Ethiopia. She understands more Amharic every day. She claps at dance performances and races up the field in soccer games at the orphanage. She sits at attention beside the van window, holding birr in one hand, candy in the other. If beggars don’t approach the car when we stop, Helen taps on the glass to catch their attention.

Before our trip, Helen’s dreams of adult life included Olympic competition, a modeling career and the practice of medicine. Now she says, “I’m coming back when I’m older to build a beautiful shelter for the beggars, with teachers and doctors and pretty bedrooms.”

Helen did enjoy shopping in Addis Ababa, but not for herself. When she looks to the future, it’s with thoughts of how she will make life better for others. And when she sobs inconsolably on our last day, it is for the orphanage girls and for Binyam—sweet children with histories like her own, but with futures that look far less promising.

Some great photos of Helen on her mom's website HERE.

As for us, we're just past 6 weeks in waiting, not much to report on that front. Anil and I are doing a lot of planning, figuring out of 'things' and dreaming. (oh, and watching football! Go Giants!)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Bizarre Occurrence & Patience

I have 2 things to blog about today.

Bizarre Occurrence: The first is a little thing that happened yesterday when I went home for lunch. The back story is that my parents had sent us a very sweet gift for the baby - a giraffe rocker (photo on left is of my little cousin, Joey, jumping off of it a few weeks ago). Well, this rocker is supposed to play 4 songs when you press these colorful buttons on the back of its head. Since we received it a few weeks ago, we've only been able to get it to play 2 of the 4 songs, and that is with a lot of effort to push around those 'buttons' to get them to play. Even my dad who was in town for a night on Tuesday and can fix just about anything, had a hard time getting it to work.

So I'm sitting on the couch with George (dog) yesterday afternoon, looking at photos of a friend's baby that she had just sent, and admittedly longing for the day that we will have our baby to love. And all the sudden, from the OTHER room, for no rhyme or reason, one of the songs starts playing from the giraffe - the ABC song. It was just too strange and it kind of freaked me out. It played the song through once, and then stopped. I looked over to make sure George was there and he hadn't triggered it somehow, and sure enough he was right there next to me. Then I creeped (because I'm afraid of ghosts or strange people in my house) into the other room to find the giraffe sitting next to the Christmas tree, just like we'd left it, with nothing changed. No branches fallen from the tree, nothing tipped over, not a thing different. And all was quiet again.

Some, like my husband, will say it was just a random malfunction - not a sign or anything. I'm sure they (he) is right. But then again, what if it was? What if this was the moment that they matched us with our child, or our child was taken to the orphanage to spare his/her life, or in some cosmic sense, the connection was made? It's all such a mystery to me, and I'm not sure what to make of it, but I'll tell you - it sure felt weird.

Patience: Just a little note on patience. I've been thinking a lot on this lately for some reason. I have honestly been told often and by several different people that I'm one of the most impatient people ever, and on the flip side that I have the patience of a saint. It's a little strange, but the more I think about it, I think both are true. It just depends on the situation. I'm a chameleon that way.

I actually feel pretty patient about this all-important holding pattern that we are in right now. Of course, I long to see our baby and meet our baby and hold our baby and have our family, but at the same time, I know that there are people out there working very hard to make sure that we are matched with the right little one and that it will all happen in good time and when the time is right. And who knows - maybe that time was yesterday! :)

But seriously folks, we are not anxious or jittery at this present time. We know as the time inches along, we may become more impatient but we are hoping to hold on to our zen demeanors and just enjoy the ride. All we can do is hope and pray that our baby is safe and his/her family is not suffering and look forward to the excitement of that very special call and all the amazing moments that will follow. So that's where we are!