Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to All!

Wishing all our friends and family a very Merry Christmas and a blessed 2013!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

BIG NEWS!!!!!!

"Hello Denise? This is Angie from CHI. I have your husband on the line and great news for you!"

Heart racing. Sweaty palms. This is THE phone call adoptive parents wait for. And then the BIG NEWS....

WE'RE GETTING AN 18mo LITTLE BOY!!!!!!!! What an adrenaline rush! Its so hard to be calm and listen to the details the agency is giving you over the phone. Then a mad rush to check your email and there they are... pictures of a beautiful little boy with enormous dark eyes and big smile staring back at you. 

We are over the top excited! In about 6 months, Nate will have a little brother!!!!

I would LOVE to post pix but we cannot do that until the adoption is approved in Ethiopian court (about 4 months from now).

I also know we have a huge adjustment coming... attachment/bonding issues, language barriers to overcome, sibling rivalry & jealousy...along with normal crazy 2 yr old behavior. I may have to dye my gray hairs more often! haha. 

For now, I will look at those photos and thank God for a great blessing this Thanksgiving. 

TWO sons!! I'm so excited!!!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lucky Ladybug Necklace

In the adoption world, ladybugs are a symbol of luck and there's a widespread belief that a ladybug sighting is the sign of an upcoming referral (or match to your child)! I am not a huge jewelry person but I have become a fan of Premier Jewelry lately. They are a Christian based company with integrity and good values. I came across a really cool Lucky Ladybug necklace and earrings in their recent catalog. Perfect gift for a friend or relative waiting to adopt or who have adopted...or for yourself if you're an adoptive parent! Only $29 for the 13" necklace (w/3" extender lobster enclosure) and $21 for the earrings.

If you're in Tucson, my friend, Tamara is a Premier consultant and if you're in Phoenix, my friend Eileen is a consultant. Contact them and they can hook you up with a great gift!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dinner for a Great Cause!

Hey Tucsonans!!! Click on this image, print it, 
enjoy your dinner tonight!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


During Nate's Fall Break (yes Tucson schools get fall break because they start the first week in Aug), we met up with my family in Orlando for a fun, crazy vacation...Disney World, the beach, Disney's Animal Kingdom and lots of pool time! It was great to see my family again, especially since it had been 3 years since I'd seen my brother's family. Nate had a fun time with the cousins and the grandparents!

Clearwater Beach (on the gulf side)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Prayers for a Friend...

I just wanted to share this email I received from my friend and art agent, Karen. Karen has already lost her sister and mom to cancer and now facing another blow with her brother and father. This is her only family and yet I'm amazed and inspired by Karen's faith and her family's faith in Christ and courage through these battles. I honestly don't know how they would get through this without such a strong faith! Please remember them in prayer today. Thanks! -Denise

Dear family and friends,

I just wanted to give you an update on Terry since it has been a couple months since his last surgery…

Since his brain surgery at the end of August, Terry has had some complications due to pneumonia. He has been in the hospital for the past two weeks and has been having a very difficult time. After consultations with doctors, Terry and Erika have decided he should go home under Hospice care. 

His three wishes right now are:
  • To be in his home with Erika
  • To swallow
  • To be comfortable
I have been in Northern California for the past week and compared to when I arrived, Terry is breathing much more comfortably and the plan is that he will be going home tomorrow afternoon… so at least a couple of his wishes are coming true.   The swallowing issue is a big one…there is a large tumor pressing against his esophagus, which is not allowing him to swallow.  His cancer has spread throughout his body and at this point there are no more treatment options. 

He has fought this battle for two years now…He has been so strong, positive and brave throughout all the surgeries, PT and “come backs”…he has lived up to his title of “miracle man” after beating so many odds…he truly is an inspiration!!! All the things we typically take for granted like eating, walking, breathing, etc. are things he can no longer do or are slowly being taken away.  Unfortunately it seems that this horrible disease has the upper hand and he doesn’t have much more “fight”  or time left.  When he was told he could no longer eat, he told me he felt like this was just one more thing that was slowly being taken away from him. He has been through so much and it just breaks my heart that he has to go through this!! He has fought so very hard and I truly believe he has been hanging on for his beautiful wife, Erika. She is the love of his life and I don’t think he would have hung on nearly as long had it not been for her.   Please continue to pray for both of them as they go through these next few weeks together. Beside an incredible miracle of healing, please pray for their peace, comfort, and revelation to faith.  It is my hope and prayer that they would look to God for the peace and comfort that only He can provide.  

I would also ask you to pray for my dad…his health has not been good…he has been in an out of the hospital the past few weeks and now with facing the loss of his son after losing his daughter and wife only a few years ago it is extremely hard on him… I worry about him and how much more he can take.  We just celebrated his 83rd birthday today, but I know his heart is heavy with what the next few weeks will hold.

Thank you all for your continued love, support, friendship and prayers for my family. It is hard to believe that I am losing another sibling to cancer…it is almost too much to bare at times, but thanks to faith, love and support from dear family and friends, we will get through this.

I am hanging on to the following verses which give me strength and comfort…

“For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.” Philippians 4:13

“After you have suffered, our God will give you His glory.  He will pick you up and set you firmly in place and make you stronger than ever.”  1 Peter 5:10,11

“He will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain.  All of that has gone forever.”  Revelation 21:4

 “God heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.” Psalms 147:3

My hope and prayer to you is that you would keep close to your love ones and appreciate the time you have with them…life is precious and so very short at times…

Love you all,


Thursday, October 4, 2012

The SlowDown on Adoption

Many of you have asked where we are in the adoption process. The answer...still waiting to be matched up with a child. Here's a recent email we received from our adoption agency regarding the slow down. Some of you have asked, "Why not foster adopt? It's cheaper and the kids are available." Money is not the reason we adopt. Kids are not cheap items to be purchased. We felt led to International adoption and that's where we "went". Others are led to foster adopt, and still others to domestic adoption. 

The decision to adopt is a GOOD choice..regardless of where it may be and we fully support families who choose to adopt foster, domestic or international. The best thing others can do is throw their support and encouragement to all parents who choose to adopt rather than criticize their choices. Adoptive families NEED and CRAVE the support of those of you who may not be able or feel led to adopt but your love and encouragement speaks VOLUMES! Big thanks to those of you who have & continue to do this kindness. 

FROM OUR ADOPTION AGENCY......We realize that many of you are still concerned about the slow rate at which we are matching children to waiting families. Please know that we have discussions here almost daily, sometimes several times a day, regarding referrals and looking at what can be done, if anything, to bring more children to the point of referral.  The truth is, even with our best efforts, we cannot supersede the Ethiopian government or the US government with regard to how they process children’s cases.  For those of you who have followed international adoption over the past several years, you know that international adoption overall has changed and fewer and fewer children around the world are finding their way into adoptive homes, and it doesn’t seem as though this trend will stop anytime soon. As well, Ethiopia has seen significant changes over the past couple of years and as a result fewer Ethiopian children are finding their way into American homes each year.  Even families adopting from China are now experiencing a 6 year wait for a healthy referral, which was a jump from10-12 months in just a short time.  

We are telling new families entering the Ethiopia program, as we have been telling them for some time now, to expect a 4 year wait to complete their adoption. We have always told families that the wait time for a referral can change at any time during the process; it can get shorter or longer. Of course we always hope for shorter, but this is not the trend that we have been seeing of late - but no one can actually predict what the actual wait time will be.  We give our best estimates based on what we are seeing currently. There are many ups and downs and so much can change at any time as it relates to international adoption.  Families entering the program of late are expressing a desire to adopt from Ethiopia regardless of how long it will take. Here are some of the reasons for the slowdown in referrals.1. Ethiopian government promoting domestic adoptions within their own country.
  • Though this is not likely to take place on a wide scale, Ethiopia is bringing awareness to their citizen’s, and considering homes for children in Ethiopia first before completing paperwork on children to be adopted internationally.
  • What paperwork is needed and how that paperwork is to be processed has been amended a few times over time, and more and more documentation is being required on each child’s case then previously required. Depending on the region, gathering this paperwork can take several months. The documents are not generated from one office, but from multiple offices, entities, locations and even regions.
  • Requirements and guidelines can vary from region to region on the gathering and processing of a child’s case, and clearing a child for adoption. Changes can take place at any time, even day to day.
  • Staff changes happen quite frequently in the different offices that process adoption paperwork.  Often new workers come in who are not familiar with adoption or processing the paperwork needed, etc., thus it takes a while before they are brought up to speed and perhaps by that time someone else new is in place. This is not referring to CHI staff changes but changes in the various offices/regions involved in preparing and clearing necessary paperwork on children’s cases. Several of the CHI adoption staff in our Addis Ababa office has been in place for quite some time.
  • Ethiopia is not the US and cannot be expected to operate like the US. Ethiopia’s system of operating cannot be compared to how we work and accomplish tasks in the US. Due to the  infrastructure of Ethiopia, it’s often very challenging to get things done.
  • Though we try to seek out the best orphanages to work with for the referral of children, unfortunately sometimes when we sign an agreement with an orphanage, the director may not honor the agreement as it was intended and we do not receive the referrals that we anticipate.
 2. More paperwork needed on children
 3. New guidelines.
 4.  We aim to have as much documentation that we can on a case before we refer a child to a family with the hope that the family can move forward in the process without delay after the child is referred. 5.  Frequent staff changes in  various offices in Ethiopia      .
 6. Ethiopia vs. US
 7.  Though we see and understand the urgency of matching a child with a family as quickly as possible, and though our incountry staff makes this a priority as well, it is not seen as a priority with various other entities in Ethiopia  - as Ethiopia is, and has been aiming to bring awareness to their citizen’s about adoption and  are looking at other ways to help their needy children first. So though there are still many orphans who need homes, the process does not happen as quickly as you or I prefer that it would. 8. Orphanage director’s do not always honor their agreements
 9.  Some regions/officials of Ethiopia still are not comfortable with, or are not pro international adoption, though they allow it; in those instances, the processes may take longer to complete than we would like to see. You may hear that some agencies are receiving referrals while other agencies are not. I am in contact with a few agencies who work in Ethiopia and they have reported that their referrals are also down from previous years and even this year, and that referrals are slow coming. Some agencies as well do not place infants, and some may have a very short list of families on their waiting list – which could account for a quicker referral time.  Keep in mind  also that information can vary from agency to agency depending on  how many orphanages an agency works with, how many agencies an orphanage is placing children with; what region the agency works in, etc. The region where we receive the majority of our referrals (Oromiya region)  has put new processes in place which  has unfortunately caused the processes to move a child forward for referral to take longer; but we have to respect Ethiopia’s system for clearing their children for international adoption, as it really is an honor to have them placing their children with all of us.    

We are certainly looking at what we can do in Ethiopia to bring more referrals through the process quicker but again even with our best efforts we cannot override the Ethiopian government or the US government’s processes. We have to follow what they have put in place. We do have referrals in the pipeline, but still all of the paperwork is not complete.  Some of the children’s cases are complicated, and we are aiming to get all of the information required, that we are aware of, before we offer the children for referral. I hope this will help to clarify some of the reasons behind the lack of frequent referrals. We’re trusting that more children’s paperwork will be completed before too long. Stay strong.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Big Nate... that's one of his favorite books and I guess I'll have to call him that, now that he's turned the Big 6! Happy Birthday Nate!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


My mom has always been very talented with floral arrangements. I, on the other hand, cannot even get store-bought flowers to look right in a vase! I have been whining at her to make me Christmas wreath because I don't like the ones in the store and I have a plain, basic one that's really too small for our door. So today I got a surprise birthday present from mom... a GORGEOUS Christmas wreath!! I really think she should sell these. She just has an eye for this kind of art. Below are more photos of wreaths that she's made in the past. 

Thanks Mom!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Yellow Belt

Congrats to our son, Nate for receiving his yellow belt in karate last week! He starts the new yellow belt class today and seems excited about it. Here's a photo of him with his instructor Mr. Hoffman.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Birthday to Us

Another year past and here we are in our mid-40's....still having fun!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why Did You Adopt??

Why did we adopt? This short video explains why....

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Milk Does a Body Good

So I've been experimenting with different "milks" lately. My guys never know what's going to end up in the fridge. haha! I started with Soy Milk but didn't care much for the taste. Then I tried Almond Milk which is tasty and healthy. But lately I've switched to Trader Joes unsweet coconut milk...good for keeping off the pounds! It's more watery than Almond Milk but I LOVE coconut and it has good flavor.

We've been doing "Bob Harper's Skinny Rules" for a couple of weeks and have dropped a few pounds already. I cannot give up my homemade mochas so it was nice to find this type of milk to use. It makes really tasty mochas...especially if you use a combo of Starbucks ground Verona mixed w/coconut flavored coffee! I've also found chocolate flavored coconut milk individual boxes so I'm going to try ordering a Dry Americano from Starbucks and adding that milk to it. Would be a healthier alternative to the regular Sbux mochas when I'm out on the road.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I have a recipe for popsicles that include a slice of kiwi in them. They looked really cool so I made up my own recipe for....

Kiwi Pops

1 Papaya-juiced
1/3 of a fresh pineapple, juiced
1 orange, juiced
1 kiwi sliced
A little unsweet coconut milk 
(I used Trader Joes in a carton, not canned)

Juice & mix. Layer in popsicle molds:
A little juice, a little fruit mash from the juicer, 1 Kiwi, more juice to the top.

This made approx 9 popsicles. Pretty tasty!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

10 Random Things About Me

A few years ago I did this and it was funny to read some things about me...how I've changed or haven't changed. Haha. So I'm doing it again with an update, but this time I'll limit it to the top 10. 


1. I cannot sit still and am ALWAYS fidgeting (even without the coffee!)

2. I have always wanted a treehouse for my office, with a sitting area where I can take my laptop & iced mocha. Unfortunately, cactus' don't make good treehouses.

3. I HATE wearing shoes and almost ALWAYS wear my flip flops.

4. I get homesick for the ocean (even though I've lived in the desert most of my life) and have to live within driving distance of it.

5. I started playing violin when I was 8. Taught myself bass when I was 11. Recently took up the ukulele and still want to learn to play mandolin.

6. I had 3 dates in high school. Yes, 3. Met my future hubby two weeks after high school graduation and he became my first and only boyfriend.

7. When I met Don I was 17 and told him I didn't want to get married till I was 30. He said "Me too" and then I got married when I was 21. Then I told him I didn't want to have kids. When we were newlyweds, apparently I told a friend that I'd always thought about adopting and if I ever had children, I hoped I would have a boy (I don't remember that conversation!) I never envisioned myself with a baby, always a toddler. FLASH FORWARD.... 17 years later, we had our first child, adopted a 10 month old boy. *Can you say premonition?

8. I LOATHE speaking in public and would rather sing in front of thousands of people than speak. People tell me I look confident and that's always boggled my mind because I sure don't feel it!

9. I am a horrible procrastinator.

10. I became a coffee drinker at 27. Started my current art career when I was 37. Became a mom at 39. Almost got down to my "married weight" (115 lb) at 43 (gained a few back, working my way down again. Thanks Bob Harper for your Skinny Rules.) My motto.... you're never too "old" to start doing SOMETHING and accomplish it!

**Bonus Thing:  I don't like candy except chocolate bars. But I LOVE baked goods. Not super sweet moussey ganache truffle frosting type of baked goods. Just give me a good chocolate cake and I'll be happy. Or a brownie. With no frosting. Even a snickerdoodle is perfect. I'm getting hungry.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Art on Fall Garden Flags!

Very excited that my Falling Leaves art will be featured on large & small garden flags this fall in Lowe's Home Improvement stores across the nation! Let me know if you spot them. Not sure when Lowes will be putting out their fall flags so keep an eye out. Yay!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cream Pie on a Stick

The past few days have been the hottest on record here in Tucson. Seriously, 112 degrees??! After I picked up my 1st grader, waiting with his class outside in the sweltering heat (I mean, really?!) we were SO ready for one of our newest popsicle creations when we got home. So here's the latest:

Banana Coconut Dream Pop

This one tastes like coconut banana cream pie!

1 cup shredded unsweet coconut
1-2 mashed bananas
1 cup coconut milk (from carton, not a can)
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup - 1cup organic sugar (to taste)
**I combined the sugar & milk in a pot over med heat until the sugar dissolved, then mixed it all together.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Back to School

Bye summer, hello 1st Grade! I got kind of knot in my stomach when I realized my boy is no longer in Kindergarten. Now he starts the big boy grades and lots of homework. His school has an accelerated curriculum so although he's in 1st grade, they will be doing 2nd grade work. Pretty soon we won't be able to help him with homework anymore and he'll be teaching us. Yikes! Looking forward to another exciting school year!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Berry Good

And YUM...another fun popsicle creation...that almost wasn't to be. I had juiced the blueberries and put them in a cup to mix in some sugar. My 5 yr old son was taking the leaves off the strawberries but put a little too much muscle into one and...CRASH! Blueberry juice all down the front of the cabinet and all over the floor. Of course he immediately burst into tears knowing he just spilled part of the popsicle experiment. But no use crying over spilled blueberries so I threw him a towel and he cleaned up his mess (you make it, you clean it)...very well I might add! Luckily, I just took some of the blueberry fruit mash from the juicer, added a little sugar and it made a nice "slush" for the popsicle. So without further ado...presenting...

Berry Burst Popsicle

1 pint blueberries, juiced (save mash)
1 quart strawberries juiced
Organic sugar or Agave syrup to taste

Juice blueberries. Mix a little of the fruit mash with juice & sugar to taste. Pour into 1/3 of mold.
Juice strawberries & mix a little of the fruit mash with sugar to taste. Pour to top of mold & freeze.
*To loosen molds, run under warm water for 10-30 seconds.
*If you don't have a juicer, use a blender or food processor.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

End of Summer Recipes

Every summer I think, "Hey! Time to do fun summer stuff!" Then I procrastinate, and before you know it, here it is...the end of summer and school starts next week. Now I'm suddenly trying to make up for lost time and lost moments. Argh! 

I've become obsessed with popsicles lately. Not the cheap, buy at the dollar store kind, but the "how can I experiment and come up with funky flavors" kind. I think it started when I went to a local Food Truck Roundup and came across a vendor called Cyclopsicles. He makes weird popsicle combos like Papaya/Ginger/Chili/Avocado (or something like that). The flavors were a bit strong (and a bit weird) for my taste but it sparked my interest in making my own. So I went out and bought some popsicle molds and made my first creation. I think I'll call it....hmmm...how about...

Big Island Sunset Popsicle

Juice 1/3 of a ripe pineapple
Juice 1 mango
Juice 3 tangerines
Mix in unsweet shredded coconut & some of juiced fruit mash.
Pour into molds

Oh. My. Gosh. Sweet tropical heaven!

Gourmet popsicle accomplished. Now I don't know about you but while I do enjoy a good salad, I get tired of eating them every day during the summer. In fact, I eat a decent size breakfast so I'm rarely famished for lunch. So in my "lightbulb moment", I decided "I'll make my homemade salsa for lunch!"

What an epiphany. And it was delish! Especially paired with On the Border chips.

Denise's Homemade Salsa

8-10 Roma tomatoes diced (Roma's are sweeter & just plain prettier)
1 onion diced
4-5 green onions minced
1 Tbls minced garlic
1 bunch of cilantro chopped
2 cans green chilis
2-4 serrano peppers (depends on your heat pref. Serranos taste better IMO)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt & sugar (to taste)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

If you're in Tucson, we need many extra hands to help us stuff shoeboxes with items for children in need and would LOVE it if you stopped by. We'll have Christmas music, finger foods, coloring pages for the kids... good times! The shoeboxes are for Operation Christmas Child and are delivered to kids in India, China, the Philippines and other nearby countries. 

It's at PRCC, 440 W. Calle Concordia (West of Oracle & north of Magee in Oro Valley).

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

My hubby is one awesome DAD!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

So Long Kindergarten!

I am way behind on posts...facebook is faster. haha. We ended the school year with our little guy as a big Kinder grad! We are super proud. He worked hard and made Principal's List/Honor Roll every grading period, so at the end of the year, he received the Principal's Award (an Olympic style medal). It has been awesome to see how much he's learned over the year. With the charter schools' accelerated program, he's already doing 1st grade math and reading like crazy. (Seriously, I don't remember learning "greater than & less than", counting change and reading clock's in Kinder!) He loves it though and when he has the chance, he usually has a book in hand. Now I have to figure out what to do during summer!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why is Adoption So Expensive??

I get this question from time to time and a friend of mine wrote a great blog post on this very subject. Check out her post here: http://thoughtsfrommichelleskitchen.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/where-does-all-that-money-go/

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


... for Interfaith Community Services! Who knew that diapers were such a huge need? Last year we collected 1,000 diapers for ICS. This year we want to double that! If you would love to participate, please see the drop off days/times below. If you're out of town & still want to participate, email me to send a gift card or PayPal & we'll make the purchase for you. Thanks!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Birthday and Happy Heart Day!

Today is Arizona's 100th birthday!

My grandparents moved to Phoenix back in 1953 and my great uncle Bill helped build the 1-17 freeway there. I was born and raised in Phoenix so the Centennial has special meaning for me.

Happy Birthday Arizona and Happy Valentines to everyone!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Vow

I had seen previews of this movie but didn't give it much thought....until I watched The Today show this morning. The movie is based on the real life story of Kim & Krickett Carpenter...Christ followers whose marriage was tested beyond belief when a brain injury, just 2 months after their wedding, left Krickett with amensia. She did not remember her husband...at all. Krickett is only 2 years younger than me and Don is only a year older than her hubby. Krickett was raised in Phoenix, like me and married not long after Don & I married. After coming off a weekend of a Love & Respect seminar and starting a new marriage series at church called "Angry Words", the timing of this kind of hit home.

Their story is one of faith, sacrifice, and real love. Now I am anxious to see the movie. But I think I better bring a pack of Kleenex!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chinese New Year Celebration

Ni hao!

Last Sat., we went to Tucson's Chinese cultural center for their New Year celebration. It was packed...way more crowded than last year. I turned the camera over to Don so I could take Nate to play carnival games and stand (for an hour) in the appetizer food line. Grrr! It was fun but next year we'll come earlier. I was little bummed to miss all the entertainment but my asian genes must be wearing off on Don because he took some great photos! Oh and by the way....yes, Nate's pants are supposed to be cropped. haha. This is the last outfit we got from China and it's bittersweet to know he's nearly outgrown it.

Nate seems to be embracing his chinese heritage a little more. At first he did not appear interested in learning the language or the customs. But I think it helps that he has 2 other asian boys in his class and I told him it's pretty awesome that he can now say "I love you" in 4 different languages....one for each of us (English, Filipino, Chinese, & Amharic). We bought the African Playground cd and he LOVES the songs. Asks to listen to them over & over. He can even sing one of the songs Jambo Bwhana, almost completely in Swahili.

I have always had an interest in different cultures. Even in America, it's fascinating to me how people do things differently or eat different foods. I grew up thinking everyone made the tacos the same way our family did and was shocked when I found out that a friend's family made them a different way. Earth shattering, I know. haha. Did you know that when you travel east, you have to ask for unsweetened tea? And if you travel west, you have to ask for it sweetened (and according to hubby, it's not the same "sweet" as in the south). Mexican food in Arizona is WAY different than Mexican food in the midwest. In Arizona we have Indian Fry Bread (Native American made) and back east, I had never heard of perogies until a friend introduced me to them. In Tucson kids get off school for Rodeo Days. I thought that was weird, because I had never heard of that in Phoenix, until a native born Tucsonan told me why. Back in the day, schools would participate in the rodeo parade and families, in the rodeo itself. There were so many kids absent, they made it an official local holiday.

I'm fortunate to have a hubby, who although he doesn't have an ear for learning other languages, he has a love for all cultures, travel and a genuine interest in people. Always look forward to another adventure!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Nate sparring with blue belt friend, Nina

Finally was able to snap a decent photo of Nate demonstrating a roundhouse kick to his karate class. Usually I get the shot before or after....the kids are so fast! He's been doing really well and we're hoping he gets another stripe soon. They are very slow to promote 4-5 yr olds because his teacher wants the foundational skills to be ingrained in them first. Very cool to watch them and I'm glad Nate is not shy about demonstrating in front of everyone (kids and parents watching!) I would've been terrified! haha.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cleaning out your closet?

My next door neighbor is an amazing woman. She's in her early-mid 30's, has a brain tumor, is going through chemo (for a previous stomach cancer before they discovered the tumor), had brain swelling from the tumor which caused her to have a mini stroke and left her with partial paralysis on her left leg! Through all this she still has a positive personality. Because she has to take it easy and is on heavy duty treatments, she has gained a little weight and asked me if I knew anyone who is willing to donate size M women's clothing.

Soo....if you have any size M clothes or know someone who does, please let me know so I can give them to her. Thanks!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Inspirational sport art up for bid!

Bid on my Inspirational Sports art for our friend's adoption fundraiser & help them bring their daughter home from Columbia! Click on the link below.... Let me know if you can't view it:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Help a Sista Out!

Hey everyone! Our friend Wendi & fam are having an Adoption Silent Auction to raise the fees & bring their daughter home from Columbia! One of the items up for bid is my custom made, 15in Laptop sleeve with adjustable strap. This bag is made from a burlap coffee bag that I got from a local coffee roaster. It will fit a laptop with a 15in display screen (see listing for exact measurements).

Only 4 days left & bidding is already up to $20... click on the link below and please pass this on!

Adoption Silent Auction

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A New Year

Nate and Lily

Hey we made it to another year!

2011 ended with a few road trips and major blessings. 2 weeks after our Hawaii trip, Nate & I jumped in the MINI and took off to St. Louis. I do NOT recommend taking a vacation 2 weeks before your Christmas trip. The week before, I was swamped with custom burlap bag orders and when I finally finished...no sooner had I got the decorations up and I was only able to enjoy them for a couple of days before we had to leave again. Crazy! However, we wanted to be with family for Christmas and Nate had not seen his Sullivan cousins in 3 years. Two of them are already in college and it won't be long until they may go in different directions, so we really wanted Nate to spend time there while the family is still in one location!

The day we left, a blizzard hit the exact route I had planned to take to St. Louis. Rather than risk it (considering my limited blizzard driving skills in the desert), I took the looooong southern route through El Paso & Abilene. And long it was. Day 1, Nate and I spent 12 hours on the road. Day 2...14 hours! Ugh! But, it turned out to be the wiser choice since they closed down the hwy on the fast route due to the snow and were fishing tons of people out of the ditches. I didn't see a single flake of snow the entire trip up.

Thankfully, Nate is a great traveler. He played by himself or watched his dvds the entire time. By the time I got close to St. Louis, I was beat. That hotel bed felt GREAT. Next day in St. Louis, Nate and I toured the Arch & the St. Louis Zoo (free and AWESOME!) That night, we met up with one of the families we went to China with and got to see their daughter, Lily, for the first time since we left China 4 years ago! It was interesting to see how similar but different the 2 kids are. Some of their facial expressions and personalities are the same, but Lily is definitely the more outgoing of the two. Seeing that family made the long trip worth it. The next day, before we headed to the grandparents house in Kansas City, we stopped by our adoption agency, Children's Hope International. It was nice to put faces with the people who helped make our adoption happen and they were thrilled to meet Nate.

Christmas was a ton of fun with Gma & Gpa Sullivan, Aunt Susan, Uncle Stuart and all the cousins. Even though they range in age from 12-20, Nate had a great time playing with all of them. We spent a week with them, visiting other relatives, eating Braums ice cream and exploring Kansas City (which has an amazing downtown... I'm a bit jealous because I love busy & interesting downtown areas).

It was a great trip and over too soon. You'd think I'd be wore out from all our travels but actually, it's just fuel to the fire. I love traveling! Maybe I get it from my parents. haha. I know you're reading this mom. hee hee. However, I think I'll stay put for awhile. At least until Africa! Still waiting to get a referral...hopefully within the next 3 months. Which reminds me... our first New Year blessing. Another Sullivan family in Pinetop (3-4 hrs north of us) saw our blog and contacted me. They had adopted a girl from Ethiopia and are in the process of adopting a child from China. AND they are going through the same adoption agency! How wild is that?! They were in Tucson during New Years, so we hooked up for lunch and had a great time.

Hope you all have a VERY BLESSED New Year!!!
Don & Denise

Looking down from the top of the St. Louis arch

Nate & 3 of his cousins (Kily was working)

Visiting family in Kansas

Sullivans meet the Sullivans