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Winter Wonderland

Thursday, December 29, 2011




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merry christmas

Sunday, December 25, 2011

From our family to yours...



MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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While the Giant is Sleeping - Review & Giveaway

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I'm going to try something a little different today. As many of you know, shortly after leaving my job as a newspaper reporter, I started CrossRiver Media Group - a small, Christian publishing company. So far, we've published a handful of great books...one of them is 'While the Giant is Sleeping,' a story about a mountain in Montana that sleeps while the rest of the world goes on around him. It really is CUTE!

We're conducting a blog tour right now for the book, and I can't very well have a blog tour and not include my own blog, now can I?! :)

So...I've done a Q&A interview with the author, Alycia Holston and the illustrator, Suzi Stranahan to give you a little insight into the creative process. AND...I have a BONUS for you. If you head over to Alycia's website, CalmCreations.com  and leave them a comment letting them know which winter image in the book is your favorite (you can find them on her site), you will be entered into a drawing for a FREE book.

And honestly, who doesn't like FREE?! :) Enjoy!

P.S. - If any of you would like to take part in this blog tour, let me know. We have some spots left and would love to have you join in the fun.
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WHILE THE GIANT IS SLEEPING




AUTHOR: Alycia Holston
ILLUSTRATOR: Suzi Stranahan
PUBLISHER: CrossRiver Media Group
WEB ADDRESS: calmcreations.com
EMAIL: calmcreations@live.com
FACEBOOK:
facebook.com/whilethegiantissleeping
AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE AT: CrossRiverMedia.com; Amazon


QUESTIONS FOR ALYCIA

Tell us a little about your background and how you became interested in writing children’s books.

My background is quite varied, actually. I began college with the intention of becoming a teacher. I finished with a degree in geography. Before graduating, my husband and I got married, so upon graduation, the job that was offered to me with the benefit of medical was too good to pass up. I worked my way up through a retail chain to a training manager…I was finally teaching. This is also where my writing career began—training manuals, that is. During this time, we began attending church and I became a Christian. When the Lord blessed us later in our marriage with a pregnancy, I was called to be a stay-at-home Mother. This began my career of reading books. There is such joy in reading a child a book, seeing the light bulb turn on when they understand part of it or see their smile as they enjoy the story. I began to desire to be a part of that and hopefully have something that my children could read someday.
Alycia Holston

Tell us about getting your mind in a creative mode? How do you begin your writing process?

I think the creative part of my brain is always working. I make notes all over the place. I find little slips of paper tucked in pockets, purses, drawers and notebooks. I am fairly new to the actual process of writing. I sit down, say a little prayer, take some deep breathes and attempt to focus. I usually have to read what was written before and then add to it as much as I can.

What was your inspiration for ‘While the Giant is Sleeping’?

I spent 38 years as a mid-westerner, so moving to the mountains was a real switch for me and the family. We had a fairly traumatic move…the house we were renting sold soon after we arrived and we had to stay in a shoebox duplex while we waited for our current home to be built. This meant three moves in less than six months but the one constant was always the Sleeping Giant. I would make up stories each day about what was happening to him and around him. I encourage my children to always look at the world around them, the world that the Lord created for them and appreciate the beauty in all of it. There’s so much to learn from simply looking out our windows.

Many writers utilize a writing group. Where do you get constructive critiques and feedback?

I have been blessed with very smart friends! My husband gets the first look at everything I do and is always constructive and encouraging. I have two people that are proofreaders and that help me develop my ideas. I also attend an online group through CrossRiver Media Group. The most important thing is to be open to criticism and not be married to your original train of thought.

What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Getting my idea from my head to the paper. Once I found a publisher that understood my vision for the book, there was more editing, collaboration and compromising. I would say the absolute hardest part, though, was the waiting. I was not able to make a list and know when it would be done. There is so much out of your control, even to the point of our release date. It was the most incredible exercise in patience I’ve been faced with—and I have three children!!

Now that ‘While the Giant is Sleeping’ is out in bookstores, do you have any projects that you're currently working on?

I have several but nothing that’s actually developed well yet. The main thing that I’ve been working on since the end of May is marketing. I really like getting out, reading the book and selling it. It’s so fun to see it in the stores and it is doing very well. My goal is to focus more on writing after the first of the year and pick the marketing back up in the spring.

When you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

I really enjoy cooking. I know it sounds like work but it relaxes me to read magazines and cookbooks in search of a new recipe for my family. I also like to shop antique and thrift stores. It’s my own personal form of treasure hunting.

Where can readers find your book?

‘While the Giant is Sleeping’ is available online through our website calmcreations.com, my publisher’s website crossrivermedia.com or through Amazon. Several stores in the Helena, Mont., area also carry it.


QUESTIONS FOR SUZI

Suzi Stranahan
Tell us a little about your background and how you became interested in illustrating children’s books.

As long as I can remember, I have loved art! My art teacher in high school inspired me to pursue my creative passion in college. I finished with a fine art degree in graphic design and textile design. During college I learned about different illustration styles and I have always thought I would enjoy illustrating. Following college I worked for a catalog company for 5 years which strengthened my knowledge of the print industry. That enabled me to pursue my illustrating dreams.

How do you go about finding the inspiration for your drawings?

I spent a lot of time driving around the Sleeping Giant and take pictures of the surrounding landscape. I fell in love with the beautiful colors! Inspiration was easy to come by. I captured as many as 1000 photos during the whole process. I learned what angle the sun had to be in for the mountain to look the most beautiful. I got the best pictures during sunrises and sunsets.

What materials did you use for your drawings, what was the process and how long did it take you to do everything from start to finish?

I used chalk pastels because I wanted to capture rich, vibrant colors. I started each illustration with photography research then sketched out the image on artist paper. Each illustration is roughly 27 in. x 12 in. After I finished the hand drawing with the chalk pastels, I had them professional photographed. Then I did an extensive amount of Photoshop work cleaning up the images and adjusting the colors. I spent approximately 60 to 80 hours per image, with a total of 16 images. I ended up redrawing six of the images. The whole process took about nine months.

Now that ‘While the Giant is Sleeping’ is out in bookstores, do you have any projects that you're currently working on?

I am taking a break from illustrating, but I am working on some new design projects. My current focus now is learning more about web design.

When you're not drawing, what do you enjoy doing?

I have so many interests and passions. I love spending time with my wonderful family, being outdoors, camping, running, cooking, gardening, to name a few. I am a lover of life and enjoy learning and growing.
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*Want to keep up to date with my ministry? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. That way you can keep up with what the fam and I are up to...cute pictures, captivating blogs, pithy twitter feeds...you, my friend, can have it all. ;)

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40 days and counting

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I've never been good at waiting. During every adoption process I complained about waiting. We waited for homestudies, federal government approvals, tax refunds, apostilles, dossier translations, doctor's appointments, SDA meetings, late trains, even later taxis...

Ellie's adoption was no different, but I've recently discovered it was nothing compared to waiting for 2012 to arrive. I've been waiting for it FOR. EVER.

Finally, in a few weeks, the waiting will be over. As the last sounds of Auld Lang Syne fade away, I will honestly be able to say I've been Ellie's mom most of her life. On Jan. 5, 2012, she will have been a part of our family longer than she was not.

WOOOHOOO! I can't wait.

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anyone need a chauffer...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

...or a taxi driver...or perhaps a shuttle driver?

I'm thinking about hiring myself out. Really. At least that way I could make a buck or two.

It should come as no surprise that life in the Cowboy State requires driving...lots and lots of driving. I am not exaggerating when I tell you a Jr. High basketball game could easily run 100 miles round trip. Twice that isn't uncommon.

But I haven't driven to any ballgames in awhile and I'm still racking up the miles in no time.

Don't believe me? Well consider this! Yesterday I logged 102.1 miles on Blue Mama. That was one day, ladies! And I. DIDN'T. EVEN. LEAVE. THE. CITY. LIMITS.

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a shot in the dark

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crisis averted! I finally figured out what happened to Ellie's shot record.

First a little bit of history...

When we moved to Wyoming, the school district didn't get her shot record. It simply wasn't there. I transferred all of her medical records to her new doctor and they couldn't find it either.

For the life of me I couldn't figure out what happened to it. All of our kids have always been up-to-date on their shots. Ellie was no different. I had made sure the doctor's office all of the necessary information about her background and all the medical stuff we had brought back with us from Ukraine. We had even run titers - which we had NEVER done with the other three kids...and the doctor was convinced we were all caught up.

Years went by and then we moved.

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tick...tock

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I wanted to share Vova's story today. It's a story of a boy who's been looking for a family for a long time...and he's running out of time.

My friend, Rachel has been instrumental in helping bring some much needed exposure to the needs of older orphans. I first met her online just after they brought their youngest daughter, Katya, home from Russia. We were just getting started on Ellie's adoption and I was intrigued by this woman who was willing to open her heart to a child I considered 'older'. (Katya was six at the time and I THOUGHT we were adopting a toddler. ;)

Last year, Rachel was asked to help with a hosting program. She was part of a team that went to Ukraine to visit orphans, interview them and then make the heart-wrenching decision on who to recommend for hosting. While she was there she fell in love with the kids and has become an incredible advocate for them...especially the older boys. Her family ended up hosting and falling in love with their host son, Sergei. They are now in the process of adopting him and hope to travel sometime in the next month or so.

The kids who were hosted during the summer are eligible for a Christmas hosting trip and Rachel's heart is breaking for a boy named Vova. Her parents hosted him this summer and while they adore the boy, they just aren't in a position to host him again.

Unfortunately, no one has stepped up to host Vova for Christmas.

This where we come in. TODAY is the hosting deadline. Because of his age, this will be Vova's last opportunity to be hosted...and undoubtedly his last opportunity to find a family.

PLEASE read Rachel's post below and then consider this question...What can I do to help?


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LAST CHANCE

There are less than 48 hours left. The hosting deadline is looming, and Vova remains unchosen. I just don't get it: why some kids are chosen and others passed over. He is a GREAT kid AND he has a $1250 scholarship! (Will be $1325 in the a.m.) I have spent time with him - he is FUN and easy to be around. I KNOW that any family that chose to share their holidays with him would be BLESSED by the experience (as much as he would be). At 15 1/2, this is his LAST CHANCE to participate in the host program, and I know that he wants to return to spend Christmas in America. I hope that this will not be just another in a series of disappointments for him. PLEASE*, if you are considering hosting, would you consider Vova?

In a last ditch effort to advocate for this kid before hosting closes, I am asking if any of you reading who are able might consider chipping in to bolster his scholarship. Any amount, large or small, is so greatly appreciated! Even $5...it all adds up, and hopefully could tip the scales in his favor and make the difference.

You can use this link below to make a tax-deductible donation. Please write "Vova, U-10" in the comment line when donating.

If you are wondering about the state of our adoption...well, the next 48 hours are big for us as well. As evidenced by the lack of posts, Nov. 1 came and went with no news from Ukraine. I had just about resigned myself to rehosting at Christmas when we got an email on Friday that our facilitators feel very confident that appointment dates for a few families (including ours) will be given out this coming week. If it turns out to be true, we will likely be traveling to Ukraine in early December. (And would break it into two trips, returning to bring him home in January.) However, having promised Sergiy that if everything was still in limbo, we would rehost him at Christmas, and the rehost deadline looming on Tuesday, the 15th, this is all cutting it a little too close for my comfort. We probably will not hear anything tomorrow (Monday), but Tuesday is hopeful.

Although Monday is my birthday. Hearing news would be the best gift I could hope for. Wouldn't that be awesome?!

Sergiy broke the charger to his cell phone last week. I had just put more money on his phone, only to receive a text from him that I decoded to read "Mama, my charger is broken. Will have to buy a new one. Battery almost dead." My reply back, "Do you have money to buy a new one?" went unanswered. My friend is going to help me call him at the school tomorrow so we can figure out how to remedy the charger situation. Otherwise, when I DO get news, I will have no way to share it with him. And, he is getting anxious for news too, as the days go by, which makes it hard.

Don't worry, I will let YOU know too. You will probably hear me scream for joy, wherever you are. But I will post too. ;)

*Apologies for the ALL-CAPS...makes me feel like I am shouting. But this is seriously important, people! =)

P.S. My parents truly enjoyed their time with Vova. However, they have grandkids older than he is! They are just not in a life stage where they feel called to adopt. They would love to rehost him, but initally stepped back to give him a chance to find a forever family situation. Now, they are not able to rehost him because of the timing of our adoption, and needing to be available to help me with our kids. I just wanted to throw that out there in case anyone is wondering why they have chosen not to rehost him. It has nothing to do with him!!!

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ever wonder?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

When people think of international adoption, they think of the cute little kids. The babies lying in orphanage cribs, the toddlers playing on the playground and maybe even the elementary age kids who tug on their heart.

But no one thinks of the teenagers, who are stuck in the orphanage and only because of their age have little hope of ever finding a family to love and care for them.

A blog friend, Karen, works with the orphanage children in Ukriane. She met Illya a few years ago and never forgot the hope he had for a family of his own. I thought I would share the post she shared about how, at the age of 16 and against all odds, this fall Illya's dream finally came true.

Enjoy!



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Coming full circle

I've known Illya for a couple years through various ministry we have done in Kherson (Illya grew up in the main Kherson orphanage). However I didn't get to know him better until this past summer at camp, when he was in my English group. I always make kids sing silly songs in English and it seems to make us connect!  He went along with it anyway-- good sport that he is.  We had a lot of good laughs in the process.


Illya is just the sweetest most polite kid! He was one of my 'best' students and I quickly learned it was because he had spent the Christmas holidays in the US, with an American family. I also soon learned that this family was amidst the paperwork process and would soon be traveling to adopt him! I was so excited when I found this out!  A 16-year-old boy-- on the verge of aging out, would be given a family-- just in time.


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what's your part?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It's Orphan Sunday - a day for Christians world-wide to consider what God would have them do for orphans, no matter where they live. Will they help others raise money, will they pray for these children or perhaps, will they provide themselves - as mothers and fathers to these children who have nothing..

I want to encourage you to watch this video, produced by an international church in Kiev, Ukraine. It not only talks about the plight of orphans...it share how Christians can truly make a difference in the lives of these children.

I have no doubt that as you watch this, your heart will be moved...and that you will seriously consider - 'What is MY part?'

I'd love to hear what your answer to that question will be! :)

Blessings,




*Want to keep up to date with my ministry? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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a punky kind of birthday

Friday, November 4, 2011

My not-so-baby girl turns 11 tomorrow.

Wow...eleven. How did that happen?

It seems like just yesterday we met a shy, tiny toddler in a babyhouse in Russia. She was sitting across the room on a worn, wooden bench, picking dolls, horses and blocks out of a white fabric bag. Her face scrunched in concentration as she listened to what her speech teacher was saying.

Every so often she would glance our way, and then quickly go back to what she was doing...too frightened to come anywhere near us.

We slowly worked our way across the room...taking our time. Trying not to scare her...hoping she'd let us into her world. Slowly, she opened up to us. Letting us talk to her, play with her and eventually hold her.

Right then, we knew she was the one.

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leaps and bounds

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I don't know that it's so much that I've dreaded this day. I just knew when it arrived I would find myself torn between embracing the joy and mourning the loss of a childhood gone too quickly.

Quinn is now taller than me.

I know, I know...you're thinking 'Seriously? All this drama for that?!" And I agree.

Who doesn't want their son to grow up to be a tall, strong, handsome man? Seriously?! And he is quickly doing that.

But at the same time I feel like we just brought him home from Russia yesterday...how am I supposed to even begin thinking about releasing him out in to the big, bad world?

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finding maddie

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ellie - AKA Maddie and originally named Nastya
plays Hide and Seek on the orphanage playground. :)
Let's start off National Adoption Month with a look back at our youngest daughter's adoption journey.

The journey was a long and difficult one to say the least. We had so many hurdles and roadblocks, but God was faithful...even when we weren't. He eventually and miraculously lead us to our little girl...in HIS time. This video is full of images of our journey to Ukraine to find Ellie and bring her home.

If you would like to read Ellie's story I suggest you visit our adoption blog, 'Finding Maddie' and start with this post. I called the blog 'Finding Maddie' because while we hadn't met her yet, I just knew she would be a 'Maddie.' Shad wasn't convinced and when it came to naming her we eventually agreed on Ellie. I still find myself calling her Maddie sometimes when I've had a long day. She just laughs and looks at me like I've lost my mind. ;)

Enjoy! ;)



*Want to keep up to date with my ministry? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. That way you can keep up with what the fam and I are up to...cute pictures, captivating blogs, pithy twitter feeds...you, my friend, can have it all. ;)


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many, many reasons

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My four very handsome, beautiful, smart,
funny, generous, kind-hearted, amazing reasons
 for celebrating National Adoption Month
.
Is it really November? Really?!

I know it's cliche, but honestly I have no idea where this year went to. It seems like just yesterday we were cuddled up on the couch watching the snow fall and wondering if the kids would have school the next day...

Oh wait! That WAS yesterday. ;)

Winter has come a bit early to the Cowboy State. We've had four storms already...at this rate it is going to be a long winter indeed.

But enough of the weather. That's not why I'm writing. Today marks the beginning of National Adoption Month and anyone who has read this blog, heard me speak or known us for any length of time at all knows our family has been blessed by adoption.

Throughout the month of November I will share what God has put on my heart about adoption. I'll be giving much-needed updates, sharing our story, taking a look at the Bible's perspective of adoption and hopefully moving a few of you to take a closer look at what you can do to help these children find their forever families.

Happy National Adoption Month! :)




*Want to keep up to date with my ministry? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. That way you can keep up with what the fam and I are up to...cute pictures, captivating blogs, pithy twitter feeds...you, my friend, can have it all. ;)

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a changed heart

Thursday, October 6, 2011


A quick shout-out this morning to our youngest daughter, Ellie.
Last week, while I was in Missouri, my baby girl earned an award that none of her big brothers or sister has ever brought home.
She was named a Super Student for the month of September...for the character of 'Respect.'
While it may sound like your run of the mill award for most elementary kids...for us it is a HUGE deal. Especially when you realize less than four years ago, this little munchkin was living life in an orphanage in eastern Europe.

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laundry, cleaning, cooking, packing...oh my!

Monday, September 26, 2011

I'm up to my elbows in laundry...and my eyeballs in housework. I've got to get it all done tonight before saddling up and riding out of Wyoming tomorrow.
You see...I have a speaking engagement.
Aaaaah! I'm so excited! :)
I leave tomorrow for Kansas City. The event is at the Christian Woman's Soul event - it's free and I'd love to have you join me. Just head on over to their Facebook page and leave them a note. They'll save you a seat. And they'll feed you! ;)
I'm also coordinating a women's expo in a town just north of there...so the next few days will be insane, but I'm bound and determined I'm going to blog through it.
So stay tuned...pictures and commentary to come! :)

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howdy partner!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Welcome to Grab Your Lasso! Population - 30,000...more or less. We actually pulled into town more than two months ago, but as you can imagine, life has been nuts. Unloading the truck, getting settled, the kids starting school...there was so much to tell.

Unfortunately, the move also took its toll on our electronic equipment. Not even a week after we unpacked and starting  getting settled, my trusty little laptop died a terrible death.

Perhaps its the higher elevation, cooler, drier weather or divine intervention. Whatever it was, I blew through two computers in two months...first the laptop and a-brand-spanking-new-replacement a fancy desktop.

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i heart beth moore...and my husband

Monday, September 12, 2011

I am a big Beth Moore fan.
I read her blog…take her Bible studies…I’ve even seen her in person a time or two. I kinda like her stuff. She digs deep into Bible study, scratching more than just the surface, giving her readers serious meat in their study.
So when I found out a local church was hosting one of Beth's simulcasts, I jumped at the chance. I could just imagine having a day to myself, making a bunch of new friends, singing with Travis Cottrell and finding the renewal my dry soul needed.
There was just one problem…our budget.

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while they're camping...

Sunday, September 4, 2011


I have, perhaps, the perfect husband. If not perfect...nearly so.
Guess what he did for me this afternoon? He took the kids camping...by HIMSELF.
See? I told you he was awesome.
I mentioned it on Facebook this afternoon, expecting oohs and aaahs...but I didn't expect the phone calls.
'Seriously,' one of them said. 'What did you have to promise this man?'
Nothing. Not a thing. I promise. He just decided he wanted to go camping and asked if I wanted to go along. Since I'm months behind on work, thanks to the computer debacle from the last two weeks, I hesitated. That's when he said he offered to take the kids by himself.
You could have blown me over with a feather. It has to be the best belated birthday present EVER.

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Wagons Ho! (almost)

Friday, July 8, 2011

T-minus eight days until we pack up the Conestoga and head west and we've barely begun to pack.
I'm not a mover. It's not so much the physical act of putting stuff in boxes and loading it on a truck - although its not my most favorite thing to do.
It's the absolute mayhem for the month before and after. Stuff gets lost...the house is trashed...the kids run wild.
BUT...

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just like you

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Today I had one of the most difficult moments of my 12-year mommy career.
This afternoon Maddie told me she doesn't want to wear her hearing aid anymore...she wants real ears, 'just like you.'
Sigh.
Later, when I told Shad about our talk, he said it so simply, 'We knew this day would come sooner or later. I just didn't think it would be this soon.'
Yeah. Me either.
The simple fact is, I wasn't prepared. Oh, I've thought about what I would say to Maddie about her ears when the time came - about how God made her special...that he had something amazing planned for her life and how not everyone gets to be as special as she is.
But when I started to say those words, it just didn't seem like enough.

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whaaaaaaat's up?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Forgive me bloggers, for I have sinned...
It's been 60 days since my last post and I've really been holding out on you. (I had typed 43, but then I waited another 17 days to post this...boy, this is bad!)
Forgiven?
Good. Let's get started. Before you lose all hope in my spiritual well-being, let's just say that's one of the things that has kept me busy over the last few months.
My business is off and running...at break neck speed. The only problem is keeping up with it. ;) That's a good thing, really. I just can't seem to find the time to do the other things I enjoy in life. But...good news! :) One of my goals for the coming days, weeks and months is to do a better job of keeping up with this blog. I need the therapy. You need the reading material. It's a win-win. ;)
I'm so serious about this, that I'm actually going to purchase my own URL. I haven't decided what to name it yet, but when I do I'll make sure to post it here so you can update your links. ;)
One of the reasons I want to get this blog back up and running relates to my newest venture.


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you asked for it...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Some of you asked where I got such a great deal on Maddie's adoption book, so I thought I would let you in on my little secret.
((I get emails sent to my inbox - said in loud whisper))
Actually, there's no trick to it at all. I just signed up for their service and they send out AMAZING deals, like the one I received in my inbox this morning.

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real people...real stories

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My friend, Rachel just returned from a trip to Ukraine where she registered kids for a hosting program. While there she found herself drawn to the older kids, the ones who will soon be released from the orphanage at the age of 16 and left on their own. She would love to help them find their forever families. I encourage you to read her post...let the kids speak to you. Then consider what you can do to help these children realize their dreams.
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I think the thing that surprised me most about this trip was that the kids that tugged my heart the most were teenagers, and so many of them boys! Their kind and tender hearts, somehow miraculously preserved through their lives' hardships, shone through in our interviews and interaction time. Their hugs and their smiles and their eagerness for affection and interaction were so genuine. I never saw that coming in a million years - I thought it was the little ones I'd gravitate to. But, my heart ached for these teens to have the chance to stay kids for just a few years longer.

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feet warmers

Friday, February 11, 2011


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in print...finally

Tuesday, February 8, 2011



After three years of half-ditch efforts, commitment phobia and downright procrastination, today I finally did it.
I finally finished Maddie's adoption book. ;)
It's a book that has been 1460 days in the making, but it is finally complete. Whew.
It's not a book so much as a narrated picture album. I took the blog posts from Finding Maddie and combined it with the photos we took of our journey and came up with a 100 page masterpiece - or at least you would think it was a work of art with as much work as went into it.  ;)
I have to admit, I'm relieved. I wanted to get this done much sooner, but I hemmed and I hawed about which company was best to use and which one would give me the best deal. These things are EXPENSIVE! And I knew to have it the way I really wanted it, it needed to be all or nothing. 
So I waited. And my patience (gasp) paid off. A few days ago I stumbled on coupon code that allowed me to get a 100 page book from My Publisher for only $35. I saved more than 80% of the cost.
Awesome. I knew this couponing thing would come in handy some day. 
The book is being printed right now and should be delivered sometime next week. I'll be sure to take a pic of it when it comes in and give you Maddie's full review. ;)

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the phone call and puppy management 101

Monday, February 7, 2011

At 8:15 this morning I got a phone call.
"Tami...this is Mrs. B," the hurried voice on the other end whispers. "Ummm...Maddie is really loud and rowdy this morning. Did she get her medicine?"
Ugh. I forgot. Again.
I am ALWAYS forgetting to give her and Nick their medicine. It happens at least once every couple of weeks. I don't know what it is about the routine that I haven't quite mastered...but I don't have it down. And I've tried everything. The thing is, truthfully, I'm not great at remembering to take medicine myself. Even if I'm at death's door, I forget. It's as simple as that. I've told Shad I don't know how many times that when we're older and I start having to take medicine on a regular basis - I'll be dead in six months.
It's just the way I'm wired.
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tiny dancer

Saturday, February 5, 2011

From the first day we brought Maddie home, we've known she loves to dance.
I just don't think we knew how much. ;)
Our local high school dance team held a dance clinic today and invited all the elementary girls to attend. Maddie and Anya begged...relentlessly...to let them go even though we had a weekend PACKED with activities. The last thing I wanted to do was to add another one to our schedule, but how could I say no to those little faces?
We trudged over to the gym this afternoon and within the first 10 minutes, I knew it was going to be so worth the inconvenience. This is just a warm-up dance, but as you can tell, she really enjoyed getting warmed up! :)

video

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they're back in schoooooool....

Friday, February 4, 2011

Looks cold, huh?
This morning at precisely 7:46 a.m., I dropped my precious, drowsy, slightly-grumpy children off at their respective schools, watched from the nice, warm Blue Mama as they trudged in the door and then raced home (as quickly as snow and ice would allow), ran in, slammed the door, dove for the couch and just drank in the quiet.
Aaaaaaah!
Silence is, indeed, golden.
Let's be honest here ladies (and gents - if there really are any of you out there)...
They were going batty...
They were at each others' throats...
They were driving me nuts...
THERE. IS. A. REASON. WHY. I. DON'T. HOMESCHOOL. here people!
Well, there's 'a reason' and there's 'the reason,' but that's for a whole different post. Let's just suffice it to say the children are better off at school where they have a teacher who has the patience to actually teach them stuff. 
I. DON'T.
I know that. I'm fine with that. God created me that way. I have other strengths. I'm confident in my role as their mother...
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Snowmaggedon...Day 4

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Maddie's frog slippers
'What are you doing,' I asked Maddie this morning.
'I code and circle sight word,' she replied in all seriousness. 
Big words for a little girl. Especially one just three years removed from a Ukrainian orphanage.
She loves to read her books. On cold, snowy mornings (like today) you can often find her sitting next to me, planted on top of the heater vent, circling word after word with her little green pencil. You're supposed to circle the words that you recoganize just by looking at them. For Maddie...there are A LOT of sight words. ;)
And most mornings she dons a lovely outfit to 'work' in. This morning it was her pink bunny pajamas and her lime green frog slippers. Add to that ensemble the purple, white, blue, green, orange and yellow headband that she made at a recent birthday party and you can make a mental image of my sweet chick-pea as we begin our FOURTH day of no school thanks to Snowmaggedon 2011. 
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password protected 6

I know I promised I wouldn't do this to you anymore after the private blogs about my job situation...and I meant it. I had no more plans to keep anything from you.
But honestly, I have a new situation (nothing horrible) that has popped up and I need feedback. Unfortunately, for those of you who know me in real life, I can't let you in on it yet - don't worry it won't be much longer.
But for those of you who are virtual strangers, I can spill the beans.
So...If you're interested - head over here. If you need the password, just ask. And be sure to leave me a comment. You KNOW how I LOVE comments. ;)

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three years and counting...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Can it really have been three years?
Really?
It seems like just yesterday I stepped off that plane in Kansas City with the Madster and ran into my family's arms - exhausted from spending three weeks by myself in Ukraine, but amazed at the bond Maddie and I were slowly building.
Over the last three years we've worked hard on that bond. We have spent a lot of time teaching her what family is...learning how to navigate through some post-orphanage stuff and helping her to adapt to the listening world.
Today, I can honestly say...I am Maddie's mom. She believes it...and I KNOW it. Sure, she still would walk away with a stranger...but now she would look back, she'd ask about me and she would be unsure of herself. I KNOW it...I've SEEN it.   ((MORE))

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