Monday, February 14, 2011

A Little Love

"Love Language"
If only all lover's quarrels were this simple. ;)
And yes - there was really a cupcake - it was Miss Maddie's birthday party - and yes Jet did try to eat hers after already DEVOURING his! More to come from this day... lol.

It's late on Love Day - and my stamina for staying up late on the computer is dwindling. There is so much to catch up on over the past weeks - but that will have to wait. I just couldn't let today go unrecognized. Not only have I been with my Valentine for 11 years today (no we didn't get married 11 years ago...we were only 15 years old then! Give us some credit!) but we spent our first of many Valentine's days together as an official couple - yep - he "asked me out" on Valentine's Day (cue collective "awww"). Romantic at 15 years old. (And did I ever tell you he proposed on the Eiffel Tower in Paris?! Now that's a good story.) But yes - together since we were 15 years old...starting Valentine's Day. I wish I had a picture handy. lol. Not really.
Who likes their 15 year old pictures? Yikes.
But here's one pretty close.
Okay crack up we were TOTALLY in college there! But we look 15!
And I promise we did begin dating at 15. ;) We just didn't age very quickly. Which is good I guess. But anyway. I digress. I really wanted to send a quick "love note" to all the loves in my life. I am so blessed to have my beautiful family, amazing extended family, and phenomenal friends who have supported and joined me in our mission to Give Love this Valentine's Day. Thank you to my sweet husband for remembering what I really wanted for Valentine's day. :)
Thank you to those of you out there who made it your Valentine's wish as well. It means more to me, and to Shea's family, than any amount of candy hearts, charming messages or blooming flowers. As a sweet friend stated - we are "so thankful that Love is not confined to one day."
Please keep sharing the love.
Today and any day you can.
Happy Valentine's Day!
From our family to yours.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Give Love

(I posted this to the Saving Shea but wanted to share it here too.)

Because it's February.
Because I just decorated my house in pink and red hearts.
Because Valentines are not just for couples...but friends, mommies, daddies, siblings, classmates and neighbors.
Because everybody needs love. And not the romantic comedy, butterflies in your stomach, plucking petals off daisies kind of love.

They need the "I'm yours forever" kind of love.
The "we can do this together" kind of love.
The "can't stop starring at you" kind of love.
The "I'm always there for you" kind of love.
The "I can't keep myself from smiling around you" kind of love.
The "I promise to make time to laugh with you" kind of love.
The "everything you say is so important to me" kind of love.
The " I couldn't be prouder of you in this moment" kind of love.
The love that lifts you up....
Squeezes you tight...
Makes even hard times feel alright..
The love that teaches you all that you need to know...
And gives you support you need to grow...
The undeniable you were made for me...
And together we make a family...
What's mine is yours...
I treasure each kiss...
And everyone deserves to feel like this...
Kind of Love.

Because real love is something that cannot be bought - only shared. We need it from the time we are born - and those of us who having loving families know that NOTHING could have replaced that. The love of family - the love I was given as a child - made me who I am today. It teaches us how to love the rest of our lives. It can never be truly expressed in the form of greeting cards, chocolates, flowers, or jewelry. Those sweet tokens and gestures give momentary happiness - it's the feeling love behind them that really means anything at all. So with that in mind, and in the spirit of this holiday of love - I would like to propose the perfect gift for your loved ones.
Give the gift of Love itself.
Give Love.
You can bring joy and love not only to those who hold your heart -
but to child who needs your help.
Give Love.
By helping one little boy come home to the family who is waiting to give him this kind of love. The kind of love every single one of these children pictured above are given every day.
The kind of love so many of us are blessed to have.
The kind of love he deserves.
Give Love.
Shea's story is a remarkable one - and it is only just beginning. He now has a family ready for him - and Shea is WAITING to come home. His family is actively completing the adoption process - eager to give Shea the love, support and care only a family can give. The only thing wecan do to help them bring Shea home as soon as possible is to GIVE.
Give what you have.
$5, $25, $50
It's not the size of the gift, but the size of the heart behind it.
It is so costly to adopt internationally - so much so that many people say "we can't afford that" or "it's just not possible for us". But this family has given everything they have not once, not twice, but 3 TIMES (read their blog - they are an amazing family)and is making that leap of faith to make Shea a part of their family - but they need help raising the last bits.
(And in adoption language, "bits" = $9,000!)
They need our HELP!

As a friend so honestly reminded me " Let's face it ... we all spend/waste $$$ on this every year. The chocolate is gone...the flowers die... and all you have is a distant memory of the token(s) you invested in."

How much more meaningful - how much more noble - how much more true to what love is all about - to give that money instead to this family - to this little boy -
to bring him home - to give him Love.
So help share the love...with Shea. :)

Isn't that the most adorable Valentine ever?!
It's message is simple - it's purpose sincere.
Make a donation (even just $5!) in the name of a friend or loved one - to Shea's Adoption Grant (through the chipin on the right hand margin of this page) or visit his family's blog and donate through their chipin (it all goes to his account.) Then print out these adorable Shea Valentines(see Donation Gift Cards for the printable link) and give them to your sweetie, your sister, your mother, your friend - and see their faces light up at the sweet face on the card.

I can't think of a sweeter, kinder, more beautiful way to Give Love.
Can you?

(visit to read about Shea's story
as well as view and print these Valentines)
Thank you. With Love ~ Joanna

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Every Joy

Last night was a rare night. I am blessed to call it rare as it is all to familiar to some of my friends. Last night I had a "monster-under the bed" moment. And it surprised me. And I can't stop thinking about it. Last night Jet woke up crying at 1:30am. Not completely unheard of, but this kid is a GOOD sleeper. He doesn't wake up very often. And if he does he puts himself back to sleep without much fuss. But I can always tell when he needs me to come in there - it's a different cry - and last night I heard it. So I went in to hold him and rock him for a few minutes (he never lets me rock him for long) then lay him back down with his blankets to settle back into sleep. However this time he didn't settle back down. He cried as soon as I put him down and cried when I tried to rock him again. He didn't want to be left alone. He didn't want to be held. He didn't want a drink. He didn't want his diaper changed (though I did it anyway). He didn't want his daddy to rock him. He didn't seem to want anything. Nothing was making him feel better and though it had only been 20min or so I was already feeling desperate. This just doesn't happen with Jet. He doesn't do this. I laid him down and rubbed his back and brushed the curls away from his forehead and he seemed to relax. But as soon as I left he was crying again. I went to back to our my room and held the monitor in my lap as he fussed on the other end - willing him to go back to sleep with every part of my mind and praying that it was nothing. He wasn't feverish - but I'd given him some motrin anyway in case it was those incisor teeth bothering him. He'd been constipated the last few days until today and everything was finally "moving" again so maybe his tummy was hurting him. Maybe he was just angry that he woke up. Maybe he was just disoriented.
But that voice in my head kept chanting....maybe....maybe....maybe it is our turn.

If you have a child with SB or any other chronic illness or disability you absolutely know what I'm talking about. You feel like your good luck is only going to last so long. You feel like when things are good it's only a matter of time before the other shoe falls. When you hear about other people facing trial after trial, surgery after surgery, illness after illness, you think "that could be me." At any could be my turn. You try not to panic. You try to stay positive. But the reality of it is - you have big monsters hiding under your bed. Bigger than an occasional cold or stomach flu. Monsters lurking in the dark - so illusive and impossible to predict - so hard to be sure of even if you think you see it a monster...or only the shadow of something not scary at all.

By the time I was brain-deep in contemplating it all - wide awake and stomach churning - I noticed the monitor had been silent for several minutes. Jet was asleep. I didn't dare breathe a deep sigh or relax just yet. But as the night went on, and I eventually drifted back off to sleep, I begin to thank God for granting us rest. I woke up eager for Jet to wake up so I could see how he was feeling. To my relief he woke up smiling and ready for breakfast. Totally happy. Totally normal. Nothing scary. It was just a shadow on the wall after all.

But as I sorted through some of the pictures I took yesterday at the park, I was still thinking about last night. And little by little all the pictures seemed to flow together to form a series of tiny lessons - all reminding me of what life is really all about.
And I loved how once again, God was using my little miracle boy, to help me, to teach me, to bring me closer to Him.
Life always changing.
It can take you by surprise.
Sometimes you're holding on tight.
Other times... you learn to let go.
And there are those times when life leaves you thinking "I don't get it."
But that's okay. We won't always understand. That's where faith comes in. Hold on to that.

In life, there will be things you love...
Things you cling to...
And search after...
And sometimes, you might get distracted and loose sight of those things you love the most...
But don't worry, you can always find them again...if you'll only look around.
Enjoy the freedoms you have been given.
But don't take advantage of them.
Stay away from darkness. It's never a good idea - the further you get away from the light, the harder it is to find your way back to it.
Life is messy. Don't be afraid of it - it is only in life's imperfections that we realize we are not in control.
And never be ashamed to ask for help. For His strength is made perfect in weakness.

We have been given so much. Sometimes more than we know what to do with. I am sitting here right now - knowing that the monster won't always stay tucked away under the bed. Does it scare me. Yes. But does it take away from the joy I have today? No.
I have a child. A little boy who was born with Spina Bifida.
And with this diagnosis comes certain "extras".
Yes there are many unknowns.
There are obstacles and burdens.
Yes we have certain fears and worries that maybe other parents do not have.
But do you know what?
Do you know what I realized as I watched my son play happily in the damp, chilly mulch at the park? I may have "extra" things in my life.
But I'm not missing anything.
Wow - that just sent little thrills to my heart. I have to say it again. :)
I am not missing anything.
What a wonderful reality.
I have so much - so many beautiful "extras" I never dreamed I would have. I know so many of you feel the same. Isn't that amazing? So while we may have a few "extras" to deal with. That's just the point - they are extras - not taking away from all the things we do have -
just adding to them.
So thank you little boy. Thank you rainy day at the park.
Thank you God for reminding me.
I have every hope.
I have every blessing.
I have every joy.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Conversations with my Cutie

The following conversation did not actually happen "word for word"...but this is what I took away from it.

Hi Jet - what are you eating?

Who me?

Of course you. What are you eating?

A powdered sugar donut from Nina's house.

Ohh. I should have known you got that from Nina's house. But why are you wiping all the crumbs in your hair?

Cause I want some more.

Well what do we do when we want more of something?

Hmm...I know this...what is it....

Stare sweetly at mommy?


Pitch a fit?

No. Think about your good manners.


Ohhh! I remember! We say...

Yes that's it! Good job Jet! And you annunciated it so perfectly. I would have been happy with "peas" but that was lovely. Thank you for using your good manners.

You're welcome, Mommy.

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