Thursday, June 11, 2009

PLEA for Adoption Grant Info

PLEA for adoption grant information! I fell in love with a sweet 10 year old boy while I was in Ethiopia with Kelly. He's been at the orphange for over a year and still does not have a family to call his own. Curly and I would LOVE to be his parents but it is not financially possible at this time. PLEASE let us know about any legit grant resources. We are a very spiritual family but have no specific religious affliation.....we are commited to being a family of the World.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thoughts of a Mom -- For My Friends with Children with Special Needs

Thoughts of a Mom
By Maureen K. Higgins

Many of you I have never even met face to face, but I've searched you out every day. I've looked for you on the Internet, on playgrounds and in grocery stores. I've become an expert at identifying you. You are well worn. You are stronger than you ever wanted to be. Your words ring experience, experience you culled with your very heart and soul. You are compassionate beyond the expectations of this world. You are my "sisters." Yes, you and I, my friend, are sisters in a sorority. A very elite sorority.

We are special. Just like any other sorority, we were chosen to be members. Some of us were invited to join immediately, some not for months or even years. Some of us even tried to refuse membership, but to no avail. We were initiated in neurologist's offices and NICU units, in obstetrician's offices, in emergency rooms, and during ultrasounds. We were initiated with somber telephone calls, consultations, evaluations, blood tests, x-rays, MRI films, and heart surgeries. All of us have one thing in common. One day things were fine. We were pregnant, or we had just given birth, or we were nursing our newborn, or we were playing with our toddler. Yes, one minute everything was fine. Then, whether it happened in an instant, as it often does, or over the course of a few weeks or months, our entire lives changed. Something wasn't quite right. Then we found ourselves mothers of children with special needs. We are united, we sisters, regardless of the diversity of our children's special needs. Some of our children undergo chemotherapy. Some need respirators and ventilators. Some are unable to talk, some are unable to walk.

Some eat through feeding tubes. Some live in a different world. We do not discriminate against those mothers whose children's needs are not as "special" as our child's. We have mutual respect and empathy for all the women who walk in our shoes. We are knowledgeable. We have educated ourselves with whatever materials we could find. We know "the" specialists in the field. We know "the" neurologists, "the" hospitals, "the" wonder drugs, "the" treatments. We know "the" tests that need to be done, we know "the" degenerative and progressive diseases and we hold our breath while our children are tested for them. Without formal education, we could become board certified in neurology, endocrinology, and psychiatry.

We have taken on our insurance companies and school boards to get what our children need to survive, and to flourish. We have prevailed upon the State to include augmentative communication devices in special education classes and mainstream schools for our children with cerebral palsy. We have labored to prove to insurance companies the medical necessity of gait trainers and other adaptive equipment for our children with spinal cord defects. We have sued municipalities to have our children properly classified so they could receive education and evaluation commensurate with their diagnosis.

We have learned to deal with the rest of the world, even if that means walking away from it. We have tolerated scorn in supermarkets during "tantrums" and gritted our teeth while discipline was advocated by the person behind us on line. We have tolerated inane suggestions and home remedies from well-meaning strangers. We have tolerated mothers of children without special needs complaining about chicken pox and ear infections

We have learned that many of our closest friends can't understand what it's like to be in our sorority, and don't even want to try. We have our own personal copies of Emily Perl Kingsley's "A Trip To Holland" and Erma Bombeck's "The Special Mother." We keep them by our bedside and read and reread them during our toughest hours. We have coped with holidays

We have found ways to get our physically handicapped children to the neighbors' front doors on Halloween, and we have found ways to help our deaf children form the words, "trick or treat." We have accepted that our children with sensory dysfunction will never wear velvet or lace on Christmas. We have painted a canvas of lights and a blazing Yule log with our words for our blind children. We have pureed turkey on Thanksgiving. We have bought white chocolate bunnies for Easter. And all the while, we have tried to create a festive atmosphere for the rest of our family. We've gotten up every morning since our journey began wondering how we'd make it through another day, and gone to bed every evening not sure how we did it. We've mourned the fact that we never got to relax and sip red wine in Italy.

We've mourned the fact that our trip to Holland has required much more baggage than we ever imagined when we first visited the travel agent. And we've mourned because we left for the airport without most of the things we needed for the trip. But we, sisters, we keep the faith always. We never stop believing.

Our love for our special children and our belief in all that they will achieve in life knows no bounds. We dream of them scoring touchdowns and extra points and home runs. We visualize them running sprints and marathons.. We dream of them planting vegetable seeds, riding horses and chopping down trees. We hear their angelic voices singing Christmas carols. We see their palettes smeared with watercolors, and their fingers flying over ivory keys in a concert hall. We are amazed at the grace of their pirouettes. We never, never stop believing in all they will accomplish as they pass through this world.

But in the meantime, my sisters, the most important thing we do, is hold tight to their little hands as together, we special mothers and our special children, reach for the stars.

By Maureen K. Higgins

Monday, April 27, 2009

Back from Africa

Adoption is a beautiful and life changing event in and of itself. Having the opportunity to witness the love of uniting a family is something so special. Having the chance to see the world with a new set of eyes is something that I will never forget.

I had the privilege of traveling with my dear friend Kelly to pick up her beautiful son from Ethiopia. It was more than I could have ever imagined even though I've read, researched and heard from others.

We met up last Saturday morning in NYC. We were greeted by our friends Natalie and Sheri and spent the day enjoying NY (and its awesome food!) with our friends during our day long layover. Natalie drove us back to the airport around 8pm for our 11pm flight on Emirates Air bound for Ethiopia with a stop over in Dubai in the UAE.

The plane was beyond cool! It was a double decker with insane food! We had movies, video games and TV shows to watch during the 12 1/2 flight to Dubai. We landed in Dubai and spent the night at the airport hotel. Talk about futuristic and cool. The guy that processed my Visa looked like Ryan from The Office dressed in traditional UAE dress. We learned after the fact that it is improper to smile at men in Dubai because it is seen as flirting. You all know me, I'm a smiling machine. I bet that I had quite the rep!

We slept a few hours and showered (one of the few for the week!) and then boarded our plane to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We flew over the dessert and landed in the middle of gorgeous mountains. It was breathtaking! We got to Ethiopia on Monday morning (we left on Sat. am for those of you tracking time).

We were greeted by Kelly's facilitator and taken to the Addis Guest House. It was quite comfortable and set up like a one bedroom apartment. We had our own bathroom! Abebe, the agency rep, took us immediately to Behailu's orphanage called Hope so Kelly could get him. We were not in the director's office but a few minutes when a sweet little boy came into the room and hugged Kelly. Behailu is gorgeous! He had kept a photobook of his new family by his side since Christmas and knew immediately when he saw Kelly that she was Mom. Seeing him with his forever Mommy was so amazing. We met his friends and had our 1st of many delicious coffee ceremonies. We brought Behailu back with us to the Guest House and got to know him. He was excited by all of his new clothes (he loved folding them and trying them on), foods to try and the TV remote control. There were many 1st's for him. At 6 years old, it was something to see.

We spent our time in Ethiopia visiting several different orphanages and meeting the children. They were all so remarkable! In effort to protect their privacy, I cannot post any pictures of children waiting for their Forever Families.

The weather was warm and sunny during the day with a great breeze to keep you cool. Nights were chilly because our altitude. The people of Ethiopia were so kind and happy. They welcomed us everywhere with smiles. I can't even explain the level of poverty that we witnessed. It truly was like nothing I have ever seen. People were poor but they still had the strength to smile. I loved that. It taught me so much about what is REALLY important in life.

We enjoyed awesome food throughout the trip and had many laughs.

Our journey home started on Friday night. We left Addis Ababa at 7:30pm. We were fortunate to get upgraded to business class on the flight to Dubai. WOW! Complete luxury! Filet and champagne and HUGE reclining leather chairs. We had a quick plane change in Dubai and we were back to real life and Economy class on the long ride back to NYC. Because of bad weather over the Atlantic, our flight increased to about 14 hours and we flew directly over Baghdad (!), Iceland and Greenland. We came in to NYC via Canada.

Behailu officially became an American on April 25th :)

He is a beautiful boy from a beautiful country with a beautiful family. I am thrilled for Kelly and eternally grateful for her for giving me the opportunity to share this experience with her! I will never forget what I learned on this trip and now consider myself a better world citizen thanks to the people of Ethiopia.

In New York with Sheri and Natalie
The video monitor on the plane showing our route to Dubai
Starbucks in Dubai -- I could still speak Venti :)
Downtown Dubai from the plane
Dubai to Ethiopia
Love at 1st site
Kelly and her son
Beautiful Behailu on the balcony at our guest house
Views from the guest house balcony
Traditional Coffee Ceremony Behailu fast asleep with the remote and jellybeans on the 1st night. This was the 1st time he wore jammies and undies and used a remote and flushed a toilet!Our friends at The Addis Guest House -- Awesome hospitality!

Pretty trees and flowers outside Sele Anat orphanage

Living large in Business Class :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ethiopia Bound!

A very dear friend of mine, Kelly, is adopting a beautiful 5 year old boy from Ethiopia. She has been waiting MONTHS upon MONTHS to bring him to her loving home. She finally got the call with her travel dates and asked me to be her travel companion. I am beyond thrilled to be there as they meet for the 1st time! Just thinking of that moment fills my eyes with tears of happiness. He is so loved already before making his way home to TN. This is just so amazing and my heart is so happy for her and their family.

My wonderful Curly is taking a week off from work to take care of my Mommy duties so I can travel with Kelly. He is so awesome. His friends, however, are wondering how they can ship their wives off to Right now we are working on travel arrangements but we plan to leave on 4/18. I will post pictures of sweet B as soon as I am able to :) He will melt your heart!

There is room in my suitcase (gasp! I have room in my suitcase?!?! LOL) so if anyone would like to make a donation to the orphanage, there is still time to get them to me. Leave me a comment and I will email you my address.

We will be spending time with the kids at the orphange and plan to take lots of photos for Mommies and Dadddies that are waiting on their children to come home. I remember how precious those photos were to me as we waited for Devon to make her way home.

*Good diaper rash cream
*cloth diapers
*plastic diaper covers, smaller sizes
*toys for kids of all ages
*twin sheets
*crib sheets

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Objects in the Box are not as Large as They Appear

So to say that I've gotten a little chubbier since losing my mom is an understatement. I've done my share of emotional eating since she was in the hospital and it's all caught up to me. I've decided to grab the big old bull by the horns and I started Weight Watchers online this week. So far, so good. I'm allowed to eat a certain amount of points per day so obviously I try to maximize those points. Yesterday at the grocery store, I stumbled upon these little gemstones that are only 1 point. After I opened the box and pulled one out, I darn near pee'd my pants laughing at the minute size. And get this, they aren't even filled with cream! LOL They literally are the size of my pinkie (see image #2). Total bait and switch!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I Love My Daddy!

Daddy came to my rescue and bought me a fabulous new laptop for my birthdy because my goofy Acer kicked the bucket. I now present to you the Gateway (and link to all of my friends and life!!!):

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Logan's 6th Birthday Party

We had sooooo much fun today! Logan turns 6 on Tuesday (how can he be 6 already???) and we had his birthday party at My Gym. We invited Logan's entire Kindergarten class and some friends and nearly everyone came. My goodness, there was a ton of 5 and 6 year old energy in that room! I think the kids all really enjoyed themselves and Logan had a BLAST! The played games, did freeze dance, played hide and seek and then did Space Flight on the zip line. We had Mario cake and the kids went home with Mario goodie bags. I bet they are all sleeping good tonight :)