Halloween…for all

“With Halloween upon us, please keep in mind that a lot of little people will be visiting your home. Be accepting. The child who is grabbing more than one piece of candy may have poor fine motor skills. The child who takes forever to pick out one piece of candy may have motor planning issues. The child who does not say “Trick or Treat” or thank you may be non-verbal. The child who looks disappointed when they see your bowl might have an allergy. The child who isn’t wearing a costume at all might have a sensory issue or Autism. Be nice. Be patient. It’s everyone’s Halloween!” ~author unknown

 

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The Journey that Changed Everything

It was an incredibly hot and humid day in August.  Little Man and I were resting at the top of a formation in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.  We had only known each other for a few days.  The boat we were staying on in the bay had no air conditioning.  The heat was over 100 degrees Farenheit and the humidty was unrelenting.

We found ourselves on quite a journey.  We had traveled 36+ hours to Vietnam, stepped off the plane and literally sped straight to the orphanage to hold our Little Man for the first time.

There was a lot of trauma and post-institutionalized behaviors that became evident as our first night together unfolded.  We felt lost and overwhelmed, but still full of joy and grateful for our new blessing.

We became parents for the first time as we traveled across Vietnam, soaking in as much of the people and culture as we could.

I love this photo–a quiet, happy moment shared between a new mother and her son during a time of complete chaos and unknowns.  If only I had known the many destinations that would manifest from this single journey.

Our journey to parenthood opened a lot of new doors for us.  One door was the opportunity to become an advocate and a voice for the voiceless. I was recently asked what was the first time that I realized I could use my voice for good, and this story crept into the forefront of my mind.

So here I am, on what was seemingly an innocent journey to parenthood that has turned into so much more.

Stay with me, I have some exciting new things to share in the near future!

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

 

The Gift

He had a traumatic and tragic birth history. He spent his first four years of life in two different orphanages.  He was diagnosed as being severely mentally delayed.  He was nonverbal and faced a life of institutionalization.

Flash forward 1 year and 10 months, a new home, a new family….

He is diagnosed with autism. It is found that he possesses a gift.

The gift is numbers–math.  He counts everything.  He can count a collection of hundreds with a single glance.  He can add, subtract, multiply and divide in his head and does so all day long with great joy.  His entire world is a puzzle of numbers.

He is five years old.

He is now being placed in a 4th grade level math class at school.  His verbal skills are at a 3-year-old level and his self-care skills are about the same level or below.

But his gift is amazing.

His story is still unfolding, and how lucky I am to be a part of it. He has taught me a lesson that I very well might have missed out on otherwise.

What would this world be like if we could all see past each others weaknesses and instead only focus on the many gifts around us?

 

 

Make Your Halloween Even Sweeter by Trick or Treating for UNICEF

I have a secret, a confession really, that I need to share with all of you.  On Halloween night, after the kids crash from their sugar highs and all is quiet throughout the house, I rummage through the mounds of candy and devour some of my favorite pieces.

I can’t be the only one, please tell me I’m not the only one……

It’s a sinfully delicious guilt that I carry around all year long.  But hey, a mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do.  Besides, the kids won’t miss those few pieces of candy.

Now that you all know my little secret, here’s something else that  definitely needs to be shared.  You can make Halloween even sweeter this year by joining UNICEF’s Trick or Treat fundraising program.

For 62 years, UNICEF has been motivating children to become global citizens through this festive fundraising program.  It’s a great way to provide the entire family with an easy and fun way to help others.

  • Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF encourages kids of all ages to help raise funds for their peers in developing countries by going door-to-door on Halloween night or participating in other festive fundraising activities.
  • Through Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, more than $167 million has been raised, providing children in 190 countries and territories with much-needed health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more.

Ready to get started??  It’s easy! You can order your free collection boxes today!  Click on the image below to find out how….

You can get creative with your fundraising efforts and you can even enter the Create a Character contest for a chance to design your very own collection box for next year.

Make Halloween a little bit sweeter this year with UNICEF, and let’s keep the candy stealing just between us, mkay?

 

I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.

Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

World Changers: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Vietnam (empowering single mothers and their children)

Did you know that in Vietnam, the birth country of Little Man, 50% of the population lives on less than $2/day?

We fell in love with this amazing country and its people when we had the honor of adopting Little Man in 2008.  After a month stay in Vietnam, we knew our hearts would be forever tied to this beautiful land.

Once back in the United States, I sought out organizations that were fighting to empower women, children and families in Vietnam.  One such organization is called Children of Vietnam.

Please take a few moments to watch this video and see how they are breaking the cycle of poverty in Vietnam.  One of their efforts involves empowering single mothers to obtain economic stability so that they can provide for their families and so that their children can receive an education.  Please watch and please consider how you can make a difference.

World Changers–those who change the world for one person at a time.  Pass it on….

My First Half Marathon

This morning I ran the Haunted Half Marathon on the lovely Cumberland Plateau located in Eastern Tennessee.  It was a beautiful day for a run!  The air was crisp and cool and the leaves were covered in the shades of autumn.  I was very pleased with my pace and run time as well.

And the best part of the entire race was that I got to cross the finish line with my boys!  I couldn’t wait to get to the end to see their smiling faces.

Today I ran on a team that benefitted Rising Above Ministries, an organization that supports families with special needs children.  I dedicated each mile to a child with a special needs today and it was the greatest motivation to keep me running strong when the hills got high.  What an awesome experience!

Almost Wordless Wednesday

It’s been a rough week….just all around tough for the whole family.  Autism stuff, school stuff, health stuff and a bunch of other stuff thrown in.  BUT, we’ve had some good moments to add to the mix.  It’s those small moments that get you through the tough times and remind you how blessed you are.

Little Man’s big catch (and he was safely released!)

Field trip with the boys

The newest member of the family, a sweet little kitten that took up residence under our front porch.  Little Man is thrilled….the hubby and the dog?  Not so much.

So we meet again….

“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.” ― William Cullen Bryant

Finally, Autumn has graced us with her presence down here in the Southeast. I love the way the leaves glisten in the morning sun. Hello, Fall!

The Power of We

Today is Blog Action Day, a time for bloggers from around the globe to unite and join a global discussion about one important topic.

“The purpose of Blog Action Day is to create a positive discussion that enables social good about an important topic. We ask bloggers to take a single day out of their schedule and focus it on an important issue.

By blogging about the same issue, on the same day, from their own perspectives, the blogging community focuses discussion and give their audiences the opportunities to take part in a global conversation, raise awareness or even funds for not-for-profits.”

The topic for today is The Power of We.  I love this topic so much and was really excited to write about it.

the reason I started blogging in the first place…..Little Man and I meeting at the orphanage in Vietnam for the first time

I started blogging in 2007 as a way to chronicle our adoption journey.  At the time, it was just a way for us to keep family and friends updated on the long, complicated journey.  Over time, my blog changed a lot.  I wasn’t sure what to write about or how to use my online presence.  But then slowly, after the adoption of our second child (a special needs, older child adoption) I knew what purpose I wanted my blog to serve.

My blog, you see, became my voice.  A voice to raise awareness on the issues that had affected my life personally: autism, special needs adoption, older child adoption, HIV adoption and the HIV/AIDS orphan crisis and non-profits providing aid to orphanages and children around the world.  I  even found my voice in encouraging others that adventure and the outdooors are for everyone–especially for children and those with special needs.

In 2009, through the power of blogging, I was able to team up with some other adoptive mama’s to start a series of campaigns to raise funds for children and families in Vietnam.  We had never even met in real life, but we had forged a connection through our sons’ shared heritages and our online voices.  We took a small idea and using he Power of We, were able to give life-saving surgeries, meals and other resources to people in need.

In 2012, again through blogging, I was able to connect and meet with the moms involved in the World Moms Blog and was able to spread my voice even further by becoming a contributor to their social good column.

And again in 2012, I was able to join a coalition of moms called the Global Team of 200 in an effort to spread my message of social good far and wide.

I am just beginning to harness the Power of We.  I don’t know where I’m heading, but I know it’s right where I’m supposed to be.  Blogging has not only let me find my voice, but has let me truly discover the amazing Power of We. I am so excited to see where this journey takes me.

Together, our voices united, we can bring about the changes we seek.  I have seen it happen before and I am honored to be a part of the Power of We.

Won’t you join me?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ~Margaret Mead 

My First Trail Race

Today I ran my first ever trail race–8.2 steep, muddy miles through the forest.  The temps rose into the 80’s but luckily there was a nice breeze and enough cloud cover to keep things comfortable. All I can say is that those hills kicked my rear end!  This run was all about celebrating the beauty of our local state parks.  I enjoyed every moment of my time on the trail today, even those darn hills.  I really wished I could have taken some pictures of the gorgeous scenery, but you know, I was running and stuff.

Everyone thought it was hysterical that I was crossing the finish line with a huge smile on my face, but I was just happy to finally reach the end and not be dead last!

Don’t ask what this pose was about, I think I was a bit delirious and ready for a drink of water.  Even photo shop couldn’t make me look good after this run 😉

It wasn’t my best time, but at least I got out there and did it, right?  That’s got to count for something.  Now let’s hope I can shake these jello legs by tomorrow.  Right now I’m on the couch while the kids are running around  like crazy wondering why mama’s actually resting.    I think the laundry can wait until tomorrow, too.

Hope you all are enjoying your Saturday as well!