Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy Girl Hair Drawing

Want the chance to win a free silk sleep cap from Pretty AnntoiNet's?  Then visit Happy Girl Hair and enter for your chance to win.  You have until October 7th to enter.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lili's First Field Trip

Lili has been going to pre-school for about a month now and today they went on their first field trip to Rader Family Farms.

This farm is visible from an Interstate that I've traveled many, many times and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I've never ever noticed it was there before today.  If you look at the website, you'll see a picture of a silo with a huge orange pumpkin on top and still, I've never noticed this farm until today. 

Lili wanted me to go with her on the field trip, so Naomi and I tagged along.  After being there today, I can honestly say that we'll be going back.  It was fun and is only about 15 miles from our house.  That's a big bonus. 

I enjoyed being at the farm today, but Lili also had a great time. She got to ride a school bus; went on a hay rack ride out to the pumpkin patch and picked her own pumpkin to bring home; got to feed the goats, pet a donkey and some baby pigs; chase chickens around the farm; take a ride the ladybug train; jump on the inflatable hill; and have lunch with her friends.
Just arriving at Rader Family Farms

Finding the perfect pumpkin

Having fun on the inflatable hill

Taking a ride on the ladybug train.
A very nice first field trip indeed.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Two Posts in One Day for Good Reason

I received a newsletter from Mayan Families today and wanted to share the information with you in hopes that those who read this will please donate something to help those who are in desperate need. Thanks.


Dear Amigos of Mayan Families,

As many of you may be aware, Guatemala has been devastated by natural disasters this year. The President of Guatemala has declared a national state of emergency.

First a volcano eruption, and then, the first storm of the year, Tropical Storm Agatha, ravaged the highlands of Guatemala. Many families had loved ones buried alive as they evacuated their homes in the night. Fragile infrastructure was destroyed: bridges washed away, water pipelines burst, electric lines toppled, water treatment systems undermined, roads devoured by crumbling mountains. In following months, torrential rains, have slowly eaten away at the mountain sides, with one landslide after another. People dependent entirely on agriculture have had their livelihood and their crops washed away. Additionally, a cyanobacteria bloom in Lake Atitlan has further undermined the already crumbling tourism sector of the economy.

Daily, we at Mayan Families work with families, to invest in their children's education and see people pull themselves out of poverty - with a long-term perspective. This year, we have had to devote a lot of resources, time and energy to another, distinct type of development work-- emergency disaster relief. Because of our relationship with the poorest of the poor in these communities, we are in a unique position to provide this help. Our staff which are over 80% indigenous, from the local communities, are especially well-prepared to deliver this aid quickly and fairly. In these times, we desperately need your help to meet these needs and to sustain our on-going programs.

Being here for these people who we love and care for at the time when they most need us is the reason Mayan Families exists.

These storms have had a chain of consequences impacting the lives of the people we serve. The poor in the community, the most vulnerable, bear the brunt of the devastation. The medical needs we are facing now have tripled from 2009 to 2010. Families who were struggling to feed themselves in health, have had one or more family members bed ridden with weakening infections. People without access to clean water, are the first to get hepatitis or cholera, when they have no alternative. Viruses have rampantly spread through standing water and mosquitoes affecting the weakest, the young, the old, the malnourished. People who could only afford to rent a room on the most undesirable land have been evacuated from rising water, and mudslides. People who had only a few possessions, lost everything. People with only one or two sets of clothes, and one pair of shoes, have worn them out or lost them in the mud.

Through your help, Mayan Families currently feeds over 170 children every day at our four pre-schools. These are children that have been identified as under-nourished or are in danger of becoming malnourished. We have seen these children recover their health and blossom with regular food. We have added people to our milk program, elderly feeding program, and family aid programs in these months in the hope and faith that we will eventually find sponsors to sustain them.

This is a crisis situation and while we believe in long term solutions...right now ...people who are hungry or sick, cannot wait for crops that will grow during severe weather conditions. They need help today.

Children who suffer from chronic malnutrition are not in immediate danger of starvation, but they will face stunted growth and a diminished mental capacity.

The United Nations children's fund, UNICEF, reports that Guatemala has the worst malnutrition problem in Latin America, even higher than the 35.2 percent average in Africa!

How to help....

Please click on the link to visit our website and donate online at and put it in the General Donation area, "Where most needed".

Or some options are:

- Sponsor a child for the pre-school - after school feeding program in areas that are hardest hit, at $180 a year.
- To provide a meal for an elderly person in our Elderly Feeding program is $3 US per day.
- 100 lb bag of corn is $28US. This will supply a family of five with tortillas for two weeks.
- A 100lb bag of black beans is $95 US.
- A 100 lb bag of rice is $80 US.
- A carton of 30 eggs is $5 US.
- A basket of food with a cooked chicken is $35 US.
- A water filter providing a family clean drinking water costs $50.

To help a family get through these desperate times, please consider donating today.

Any donation of any size, to help feed a child and their family, deal with Medical issues and other emergencies would be greatly, greatly appreciated.
We don't want to turn people away that we know can be helped.
With your generous donation, we can help those who are in
terrible situations and give them hope.

If you would like to nominate your sponsored student to receive your gift,
we would be very happy to do that.

Please click on the link to visit our website and donate online at and put it in the General Donation area, "Where most needed".

You may also choose to send your donation in the form of a check. Please
make it payable to Mayan Families and send to:

Mayan Families
P.O. Box 52
Claremont, N.C. 28610

We are asking you to join in our efforts to help the Guatemalan people by
giving a tax-deductible donation.

We hope that you will be able to help us with a donation of $25, $50 or
more, this will feed, give medical attention and provide aid to a lot of children. However, any donation no matter how small is always welcomed and appreciated.

We make every dollar count!

We are asking that all contributions - personal, employee and corporate - be
made as soon as possible.

You can make a difference right now, today!

Thank you for your support.

Best wishes,

Sharon Smart-Poage
Tel: 619-550-2608

Mayan Families is a small non-profit group working in the Highlands of
Guatemala. We are a registered 501(c) (3) Non Profit Charity. Your donation
is tax deductible.
Please follow Mayan Families on
Mayan Families Connection Blog
If you would like to join a Yahoo support group that assists Mayan Families please go to:
To ensure receipt of our emails, please add to your Address Book."
To signup for our E-mail Newsletters please go to:
Thank you once again for supporting Mayan Families!

Are You Colorblind?

There was a time in my life that I thought being color blind was appropriate.  After all, why should the color of someone's skin matter that much?  The really important thing is what the person is like inside, right? 

As time went on I began to learn and as I learned I changed my way of thinking.  Why wouldn't I want to see the color of another person's skin?  The color of someone's skin is part of what makes that person who they are.  The unfortunate thing we still deal with in our society is the judgments that people make, solely based on skin color.  It's the racism that is still so alive and well in American culture that brings about so much more harm than good.

Are the changes I've made a result of becoming the mom of two little girls with brown skin?  Yes, the experience of becoming Lili and Naomi's mom has opened my eyes to many things.  How can I possibly raise my children to appreciate the differences in each of us if I'm not displaying that appreciation myself?  Adoption, especially international adoption, creates a lot of educational opportunities and that education creates the opportunity to make changes.  For me, those changes were necessary and right.  One of the biggest things I learned is that my ultimate desire was not just about setting a good example for my children, but it was about making a difference in this great big world.  I can make a difference by not being color blind and by setting a positive example for all of those I come into contact with. 

Because I'm still learning, changing and growing, I'm constantly on the look out for new books, articles, websites, etc.  Recently, I was introduced to an author by the name of Tim Wise.   Tim is an antiracist activist and has written four books on racism and white privilege.  I have not yet had the privilege of reading any of Tim's books, but plan to do so very soon.  What I have been doing is reading information on his website and watching some of his interviews via Facebook and it's lit a new fire in me.  I don't want to live in a color blind world and I hope you don't either.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

First Unscheduled Trip to the Doctor

Naomi has been cutting her molars and had two pop through this week. She started running a low fever on Tuesday and has been generally cranky all week. By Friday night she was definitely not feeling well and on Saturday morning she woke up with a fever of 104. This was not a case of molars coming through, but something more. I called the doctor's office and was able to get her in a couple hours later. Unfortunately, we left the office with no clear answers, but the doctor suspected it was either Roseola or a bladder infection. If it was Roseola, then her fever would most likely go down by today and she would begin breaking out in a rash. That is what we were hoping for because if that didn't happen we were going to have to take her into the hospital today and have her catheterized to get a clean urine sample to test for a bladder infection.

About 2:00 a.m., she ended up in bed with us and was still running a fever, but not as hot as she had been. She tossed and turned for a while, but eventually fell back to sleep and when she woke up this morning her temp had come down from the day before, but it was still 101.5. I was still hopeful that it would continue to fall and the rash would appear, so I put her down for her morning nap and when she woke up I immediately knew we were hospital bound. I quit taking her temp when it reached 101.6 and called the doctor's call center. Shortly after noon Naomi and I headed to the hospital.

This is not the first time I've had to take a child to the hospital for lab work, but I was pleasantly surprised at how quiet it was on a Sunday afternoon. It took us about 10 minutes to go through admitting and we waited about 2 minutes to get into the lab. Things got a tad more complicated at that point as the orders the doctor had verbally given me the day before didn't match the orders in the computer. I was telling the lab tech that the doctor specifically said I was to take her in for a catheterized urine test, but the orders were written for a simple urine test. There was part of me that just wanted them to do the simple test because I didn't want my baby to be catheterized. On the other hand, the doctor was very specific in explaining that they needed a 'clean' urine sample to get an accurate test completed. After a couple phone calls, the lab tech got everything straightened out and we were then waiting for someone from pediatrics to come down and complete the cath urine test.

Here is where I'm going to give big kudos to St. Francis Hospital lab and Children's Hospital. These people were awesome!!!! They were quick, friendly and compassionate. Naomi was certainly not a happy camper during the procedure, but one of the nurses completely won her over and Naomi very willingly gave her a kiss after the procedure was over :-) It wasn't the first time I've ever taken a child there for some type of test and they've always had great bedside manner. Today may have been even better and for that I'm grateful.

Naomi and I left the hospital knowing we would be waiting 1-2 hours for the test results. And now kudos to the call center nurse who was very obviously checking the computer on a regular basis for those test results. I'm quite certain we didn't wait an hour before she called to tell me that Naomi does in fact have a bladder infection. She had already called the doctor and had the prescription ready to phone in once I told her which pharmacy to call. She gave me some further information regarding the medication and we were done.

This is Naomi's first illness since coming home and it hasn't been pretty. Seriously, couldn't she do something simple like a cold? However, she has had her first dose of antibiotic and now we wait for the fever, whining and crankiness to disappear and for the old Naomi to return.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

6 Months Already

It's hard to believe, but 6 months ago today, we drove through the blue gates of Toukoul and about an hour later drove back through those same blue gates with Naomi snuggled up against me. She left Toukoul on March 16th and other than a brief trip back to sign paperwork, has not been back since.

How are we celebrating 6 months with Naomi? We went to the Sheriff's department so they could serve her re-adoption summons :-) Sometime within the next 30 days, her re-adoption will be complete and she will legally become Naomi Aster Weeks and soon thereafter we will have her U.S. Certificate of Foreign Birth. Then it's on to applying for her Certificate of Citizenship.

Happy 6 month anniversary baby girl!!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

FFF - Picture on Her Terms

While Lili was not willing to participate in a photo shoot on her first day of school, she was more than happy to let me take a couple pictures of her modeling one of her art projects from school.

The princess now has her crown :-)

She was also more than willing to let me take her picture vacuuming the family room.
She loves to help me clean. Wonder how long that will last?

Naomi, on the other hand, is always willing to let me snap some pictures of her.

Look mom, I'm helping with the laundry.
Just hanging out looking cute.
Yep, still looking cute! Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Second Day of School

Don't worry, I'm not going to spend this entire school year writing posts about how Lili did in school. However, I did want to share that she had a great second day. If you read my First Day of School post, you know I had concerns about Lili wanting me to stay at school everyday. I talked to her again reminding her that mommy would not be able to stay again, but when we got to her classroom, she asked me to sit down. Actually, asked isn't really correct, she told me to sit down. I reminded her again that I couldn't stay and braced myself for tears, begging, or a complete meltdown. Instead, I got a kiss and she simply said, "Bye mom," then proceeded to wash her hands (which her teacher requires of each student when they come into the classroom each day). No tears, no begging mommy to stay. Yay!!!!

I got back to the school about 15 minutes early and they were outside playing so I peeked out the window to see if she was participating today or standing in the middle of the playground by herself like she did on Tuesday. I am happy to report that she was in the sandbox playing. Her teacher was there as well, so she obviously wants and needs that safety zone, but there were other kids playing in the sandbox and she was very appropriately playing in the sand. Another yay!!!

One thing I forgot to mention in my last post is the comment Lili's teacher made as we were leaving on Tuesday. She looked at me and said, "She is really smart. She knows ALL her colors." I said, "Yes, she does and she is very smart which can sometimes be scary." Her teacher than told Lili, "Don't get too far ahead of us." At least we now have confirmation that Lili is smart :-)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Day of School

It was a success!

Lili woke up very early and crawled in bed with mommy and daddy. Eventually, she fell back to sleep, but waking up later was not pretty. She was far from in a good mood and regularly stated that she didn't want to go to school. Uh oh!!! Fortunately, her mood took a turn in the right direction and she was back to being happy, willing and ready for her first day of pre-school.

Shortly before we were ready to leave I told her that I wanted to take her 'first day of school' picture. Her reply, "No picture." I tried to convince her that we really needed to take her picture, but she simply said, "Please, no picture." Fortunately, she agreed to a picture in her car seat before we left.

In my attempt to get a picture quickly before she changed her mind, I got more of the van than Lili.

So, I took another picture, but she looked away from the camera.
I attempted a third picture, but she was done. At least I got something even though she had her straw in her mouth both times. My attempt for a picture outside of the school was not successful either. She was just done with photos and wanted to get into the school.

After stopping at the front desk with her birth certificate and to pay the fees, she was on her way down the hall and soon in the classroom. She wasted no time checking things out.

Lili needs time to adjust to new situations and people. She is not content to find something to do and just sit and play or work on a project for any length of time until she has reached her comfort zone. As such, she would color for about 15 seconds, then move on to play with the farm animals for 30 seconds, trains for a minute, back to coloring for a few seconds, etc., etc. Then the teacher got her attention - she broke out the play dough. This was not just any play dough either. This was homemade, blueberry scented play dough, which cookie cutters, rolling pins and scissors. She now had her attention for the next 5 minutes, then she was done and back to exploring.

Before we went to school I explained to Lili that parents were allowed to stay in the classroom on the first day of school, but only on the first day. Initially she thought it would be okay for me to just drop her off, but once we were in the room with the other kids and parents, she changed her mind. My concern with staying is that she would expect me to stay every day for the rest of the year, so I wanted to stay as long as she needed me to, but not as long as she may have wanted me to stay. As she became more comfortable, I told her that I was going to go. She quickly responded, "No mommy, stay." Then my opportunity to leave finally came as another mother told her little girl that she was leaving. I told Lili that it was time to go and showed her how the other mommy was leaving. Apparently, if the other mommy was leaving, it really was time for me to go as well. She told me by, gave me a kiss and continued playing with blocks. I only had to stay for 1/2 an hour and felt that we had already made progress.

About 10 minutes before her first day of pre-school came to an end, I headed back into the classroom. All the kids were outside playing so I joined another mom at the window watching them play. My heart sank a bit when I saw Lili standing all by herself in the middle of the playground. She was just standing there watching all the other children, but not participating. I knew it was another case of her needing to scope everything out and find her comfort zone. Then her teacher started walking over to the swings followed by Lili. Ms. Casey was her comfort zone on Day 1 and that was okay. She'll eventually join in on the activities, but she needs time.

One funny story from her morning was before I left. She was standing at the train table playing and I noticed one of the little boys intently watching. I could tell that he really wanted to play, but was waiting for Lili to leave or to be invited, so I invited him to come over and play. He walked over and stood next to Lili, neither of them paying a bit of attention to the other so I suggested that Lili ask him what his name is. She turned to him and said, "What's your name?" He very quietly said his name (which I couldn't hear), but I did hear Lili respond, "Oh" and then turn and walk away. Got to love 3 year olds!!!

Yes, I'd have to say that day 1 was a success. There were no tears and based on Lili's response to all my questions about her morning at school, she very obviously had a great time. Let's hope day 2 is even better.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Lili starts pre-school tomorrow!!!! She is excited about going and mommy is excited about her going!!!!!!!! Can't even begin to tell you how much I love this little girl, but full-time mommy is a hard job and the age of 3 is a challenge in our house. A couple mornings a week of pre-school may be just what the doctor ordered :-)

Seriously, this is going to be a very good experience for her and she needs the social interaction. Let's hope her teacher is ready for Lili!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hey Mr. Chiropractor

Thanks for popping my back yesterday and returning some mobility to my body. While I'm not pain free and still have a fair amount of stiffness, I am definitely feeling better and look forward to my visit with you next Wednesday.

Your new patient,


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Down in the Back

A few years ago my husband purchased a power washer and proceeded to clean the driveway, siding, windows and deck. A couple days later he was taken by ambulance to the hospital because of such extreme low back pain, he couldn't lift himself out of the chair. He spent about 3 days in the hospital on pain meds with physical therapy coming in for regular visits to get his back muscles in good enough shape that he could return home.

I also have a very good friend who has had numerous back surgeries and is on permanent disability due to the pain she experiences.

All of this is to say that I've seen how disabling low back pain can be and now, for the first time in my life, I'm experiencing just that. And I have to say that it absolutely SUCKS!!!!!

I can't even begin to tell you how I hurt my back. All I know is that I was fine until about 1 1/2 weeks ago when I noticed my low back was hurting a bit. Primarily, it was stiff. As the week went on it got a little better and I thought I was on my way to a pain free back. Then Saturday morning I was sorting laundry, bent over to pick up an items of clothing when I felt a shooting pain in my back. My knees buckled and I quickly realized that I didn't know if I would be able to stand. Slowly I made my way to an upright position, but was still in pain. I walked into the next room and told Dave what had just happened, thinking that I would be able to work out the kinks and the pain would go away. It didn't! No, the pain continued on and on and on. I took a hot shower to try and relax the muscles, which seemed to help until the muscles cooled off again. At that point Dave convinced me to see a massage therapist to try and get the blood circulating and hopefully relieve the pain. He graciously called to make the appointment and about an hour later we were off.

Driving was painful. Getting out of the van was even more painful. Getting onto the massage table was painful. Everything I did seemed to cause pain.

I received an hour long massage. While I would like to say it was the best massage of my life, quite honestly, most of it hurt. In the end, I could tell that the muscles weren't as tight and it did relieve a small amount of pain, but I was still hurting.

Of course I wasn't going to let a little pain keep me from my plans for the day, so we grabbed a quick lunch for the road and headed to our friend's open house to meet their twins who had just come home from Ethiopia a couple weeks earlier. Then it was off to the Sweet Corn Festival to enjoy time with some other friends. During all of this I was trying to pick up Naomi, walking, sitting, standing - I'm sure I was doing all the things I shouldn't have done, but I had things to do, places to go, people to see.

Fast forward 4 days . . . .

I'm still in pain, but the pain has now situated itself to the left side of my spine and into my hip with tingling down into my left foot. It literally feels as if something in my back needs to just pop and then all the pain and tingling will just go away. However, no matter how many different ways I stretch, bend or move, I can't get anything to adjust and fall into the right position. So after 4 days of trying to take care of a 3 year old, 1 year old, two dogs and a house (my husband has had to fend for himself), I called a chiropractor and tomorrow I'm going in for my first visit. Oh please Mr. Chiropractor, take me out of this painful place!!!!!

To all of you who have dealt with or are dealing with back pain, I'm so very very very sorry. This truly does SUCK and I don't wish this on my worst enemy, whoever that may be.