Health, Love & Fire: April 2014

Finding Answers: My Adoption Journey Part 1

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

After my post last week, I got some questions and comments about my adoption story, so I thought I'd share some more. I'm going to break it up into a couple posts since the story can be sort of long. Here's part one:

My mom has always told me that she remembers me being 3 years old, stopping her in the middle of the hallway on her way to get dressed from a shower and telling her I wanted to meet my birth mom. I guess it's safe to say it's something I've always thought about. Growing up, thoughts of meeting them came and went, but never stuck with me till I was about 16. I'd always wondered what they were like, what they were doing, where they lived, if they had other kids. I just wondered. Secretly, I hoped that my birth mom had married someone famous so I could meet them. (the things you think of at 16) I was proud of being adopted, I loved my family more than anything, but for me I still longed for that closure and those answers.

Adoptions are different for everyone. Mine happened to be a closed adoption through the state of New York. So when I got serious about wanting to find my birth parents, I searched the state's website and filled out the form to receive more information and sent it in. In my mind, I imagined that in a few days, I'd have the answers I was looking for. Well months later, I still didn't have those answers. Did the paperwork get lost? Did I not send it to the right place? There was nowhere to call and check on the status, I just had to wait. It took nearly two years before I heard anything, and by that time I had all but forgotten about that paperwork. When I got the mail that day and saw a letter from New York state with my name on it, I was nervous. What would this say? How would I feel once I had these answers? This is what I had waited for and I was ready to finally have some answers. So I opened it.

And you know what it said? My parents were caucasian. That's it. Every other field was blank and I had just waited nearly two years to find out information that had been pretty clear to me all along. I was crushed. This had been the only avenue that seemed worthwhile or useful to go down to find them, and I thought this letter was going to have my answers, and it had nothing. After receiving that mail, I stopped looking for a while. I was in college and busy dating my later husband and I was busy. My questions still remained, and the longing to know more was there, but after that letdown, I was ready to take a break for a while.

About a year later, we had just gotten engaged and getting answers to my questions about my family history and my birth parents was something I decided was really important to me before we got married, so I started searching again. We spent an afternoon going through court documents and reading through all the information we had. Pages and pages of legal wording, searching for anything with a name, an address, or personal information. I was lucky in that those documents provided me both my birth parent's names (at least my mother's maiden name) and their addresses at the time of the adoption. From that, I started looking online. I tried every search engine and website I could think of. I looked in the online yellow pages, Facebook, Myspace (back when that was actually popular), and google. I typed an open letter on an adoption forum talking about my story in the hopes that one of them would see it and know it was me. I tried everything. And then I found something. I'm not sure why I looked there, but it was one of the websites that came up in my search, and I figured it was worth a try. I typed in her name, hit return and someone matching her came up. Was it her? It says she graduated around the time I thought she would have, from the area I would have guessed, and it's the maiden name I have. So I thought about it for a couple days and I sent her a letter. And then I checked back, every single day. But each time it said the same thing, unopened. Maybe she made the account and never signed back on, or maybe it wasn't her. This was the second time I thought I had some answers, and was left with nothing. I felt more discouraged that I had the first time. Was I ever going to find them?

After that, I continued to type their names in search engines every so often. I figured maybe she'd log back on one day to her classmates account and see my letter, or maybe one of them would make a Facebook account and I'd find them. And then, one day when I typed in his name on all the search engines I had tried before, a picture popped up on Facebook. Same name, same high school, and similarities to myself that were undeniable. I'd typed in his name so many times before and got nothing, and here he potentially was, just a click away. . . .

Come back on Friday for Part 2 and to find out if that was really him.

Excitement, Changes, and Crossing My Fingers!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Happy Tuesday! Sorry I have been MIA for a few days. We've had some exciting stuff happening that's keeping us crazy busy and my mind totally preoccupied! I was hoping that I would get good news yesterday so that I could share that with you today, but it's just going to have to wait a little bit longer. (trust me, I wish I knew so I could share with you today!)  I'm not someone that's really superstitious but I don't want to jinx myself and shout to the world this potentially exciting news before it's official. Plus then I just look dumb, and have to explain myself, and have to feel super embarrassed for telling all of you and getting even more excited than I already am. So for now, just think happy thoughts and cross your fingers that I find out today so I can share it with you tomorrow! Sorry that whole paragraph was vague :)

Anyways, since I can't share my excitement, I'll share OUR excitement. I've teamed up with some awesome ladies to give you some cash, some ad space, gift cards  and a cute accessory! What's better than that?!? So hurry up and enter to win, and make sure you check out some of these awesome ladies too!

 Hello Frances (plus two months ad space) // Elizabeth Simon 
A Fresh Start On A Budget (use code YELLOW for 30% off ad space) 

 Deloom // Use Code LIY For Free Shipping 

 Sequins And Scissors // Use Promo Code Sequins for 10% off 

Hello Holiday // Use Promo Code HELLOYELLOW for 15% off 

Was he more expensive than you - And other ridiculous adoption questions

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Adoption is something that makes up who I am and everything my family is about. If you haven't been around here long, you may not know that both my brother and I are adopted. We aren't biological siblings and we aren't from the same country, be he is my brother through and through. Growing up, our family got lots of questions, some appropriate, and some not so much around adoption. My mom shared this video with me yesterday made by an adoptive family and some of the questions and comments people have made to them. It got me thinking about some of the questions we've received over the years and what I really think about them.

Is that your real mom?
Are you asking if that's my birth mom or if that's my adoptive mom? Because those are two different people and I'm not sure what you mean by "real" mom. They are both my mom in different ways so I need you to clarify a bit. 

Is he speaking Chinese?
No he's speaking english, he just has a speech impediment and anyways he's from Korea, not China. And he only lived in Korea for 5 and a half months, so he didn't really pick up the language in that timeframe. 

Was your brother more expensive than you?
Really?!? Actually, no. 

Now that you've met your birth parents, do you get more presents?
Yes, I went through the overwhelming emotional roller coaster of meeting 9 new people to get a couple more gifts each Christmas. 

Is your birth father rich?
Nope, with the five other children he has, he's no Richie Rich and won't be writing me million dollar checks anytime soon, nor do I expect him to. 

So when is your real mom coming to visit?
I don't understand what you're asking. Again, do you mean when is my birth mom coming to visit? 

What was wrong with your birth parents that they couldn't keep you?
Nothing was wrong with them, they are perfectly healthy smart individuals. They made a decision that another family could better take care of me at that time in their lives. 

So when did you find out you were adopted?
I don't remember ever finding out I was adopted. My parents didn't just sit me down one day when I was 15 and tell me, I just knew. When did you find out you weren't adopted? 

Did your birth mom like show up at your front door one day and surprise you?
This isn't some lifetime movie, it's my real life. No she didn't show up at my doorstep one day, I actually found her online and we emailed back and fourth for several months before meeting. 

I get that you're adopted, but why don't you know your medical history?
I didn't come with a list of vaccinations or total family tree diagram. I haven't met my birthparents and was given zero medical history with all of my adoption paperwork. Sorry, Charlie. 

Questions my Mom got: 
Where did you get him?
We used to like to tell people we got him in isle 12 or that we stole him from an unsuspecting family. 

Which one is yours?
This big Asian one standing on 1st base. 

So is your husband asian?
Nope :) 

I have no problem talking about adoption, and actually I really enjoy it, but it never ceases to amaze me that lack of knowledge people have about adoption. In the past couple years, my parents and I have thrown around the idea of writing down our story and making a book. A compilation of each of our experiences from each of our view points including my parents, my brother, myself, my husband, and my birth parents. I've been fortunate enough to not only have amazing parents and an amazing brother, but I also have very positive relationships with my birth parents and their families. But every story, every person, and every adoption is different. And I would love to tell our story, from each of our perspectives. We are all part of the same story, but we all have experienced and felt things in very different ways.

Surviving or Flourishing

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

As I was driving to church on Easter morning, listening to some of my favorite worship songs, I realized this was the first time I would be back in that building since my father-in-law's funeral. At first thought, I was nervous and I started to feel a lump in my throat. But when I walked in the doors and saw familiar faces, I was instantly comforted and knew that he would have wanted us to be there to support his wife and to support this church family who became so important to him in the last few months.

Easter service was the first time that the church had not only a worship band, but also a choir. And in that choir, for the first time, stood my Mother-in-law and her sister. When she saw my father and I walk in the sanctuary, I could tell how important our presence was. Upon hearing that Dan was going to try his best to be here, even though he was working that day, her smile grew even more. It meant a lot to her that we gave her an hour of our day, and truthfully it meant more to me.

Listening to the sermon, it focused on whether you are surviving or flourishing. Is your goal to make it through the day, or is it to succeed and surpass your expectations? The pastor talked about going skiing, which he hadn't done in over 23 years. So on his first day out, it went well, he was alive, and he made it home. But was just making it home unharmed really experiencing what he wanted out of going skiing that day? His goal was to pick up this hobby he used to enjoy so that he could share those outings with his son and one day his grandkids. So on his second trip, he flourished, he picked it back up and really enjoyed his day.

When you loose someone in your life, you often times find yourself seeking answers and seeking closure. I know I've sought out both in the last five months. I found myself asking, what the purpose was for the timing or the grief we had to endure. Laying in bed at 3 in the morning, I relieve those 48 hours and the emotional highs and lows. Amazed by the support and love we have surrounding us, and overwhelmed by the sudden loss and difficult steps ahead. But through it all, I began to see the good out of the bad. I realized that this definitive part of my life not only brought forth love and support from amazing sources, but it brought our family closer together.

All families are different, this is something we can tell from an early age and frequently by just a brief observation. But it takes time and effort to learn the real differences immersed in each individual unit. My family is close. We like to laugh and joke around. My family is my rock and my support system. My family are huggers and criers. We are never go to bed mad, never leave the house without an I love you family. We are a game night, road trip, go for a hike together family. We are an express your feelings family. We are a be there to support each other family. A stick up for you, always have your back family. And the best family I could have ever picked family.

It wasn't until I got to know my new family in my husband's parents that I realized they weren't accustomed to the same level of feelings and emotions that I was raised with. And it wasn't until my father-in-law passed away that my mother-in-law and I really became closer. We got past the awkward place where our roles and purpose were undefined, and we got to a place where we were just able to be a support for each other. I look forward to the time ahead when our families become more unified. The last year, our holiday meals and celebrations started to merge and our relationships became stronger. And as we continue on with this new family dynamic, I hope that bond and those memories only continue to grow.

While I wouldn't want to relive the past few months or wish that any of it would happen again, I am thankful for the relationships it has helped build and the love and support it has fostered. I want to be successful and flourish, not only in my endeavors but also in my relationships.

Do you have relationships that are worth more time and effort? How could you change your day to day from surviving to flourishing?

26 Going On 12

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Last week I shared some pictures of me over the years, starting from when I was a baby until now. If you missed that post, you should check out how adorable I am here! The point I was trying to make was that my looks have changed very little over the years. But after all that, it reminded me of something that happened last year, and of course I had to share it with all of you.

About a year ago, my job had me working in different communities with volunteers nearly every day of the week. From stopping by businesses, presenting at local chamber events, to working with schools, I was meeting tons of new and diverse people. In one of my communities, I was spending a fair amount of time working with my lead volunteer on an event with a local middle school. On this day in particular we had set up a meeting with the Principal and Superintendent.

So I walked in to the school office like any other day with my volunteer and she told them we were here for our meeting. It's required for all visitors to sign in at the office so that they know who's in the school, so that's what I did. I got halfway through signing my name when the secretary stopped me. And here's what she said:

Rude Secretary: "Oh sweetie, you don't have to sign in, you can just got straight to class, that's only for visitors" 

My Volunteer: "No no Linda (I can't remember her name), she's not a student, she's our staff partner" 

Rude Secretary: "Sorry, you just look so young"

I couldn't even believe it. How do you respond to that? A woman, who works with 11-13 year olds on a daily basis thought I was in that age range. This isn't someone who never see's kids so she doesn't have anything to compare it to. She sees them EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It made me want to run out of the school right then and there, at 10am on a Tuesday morning, head straight to a bar and order a drink, just to prove a point. I was silent, and just fuming. I tried to laugh it off and calm myself down, but it took everything I had not to just slap her!

Maybe I need to wear more makeup or figure out different style techniques to make myself look older. How about I cake on the make up and apply it with a paint brush so it's so thick I look like I should be on stage, would that work? If anyone has any tips or tricks as to how I can look even a few years older, please pass them my way! I have this fear that I will get pregnant and people will stare at me thinking I'm too young to have a child, like I should be on a new show 13 and Pregnant. Seems pretty irrational, but that's a real fear that goes through my head!

So when I get frustrated because people think I'm younger than I am, or when I get carded every single time I order a drink, it's because I am constantly told I look way younger than I am. Everyone's response is always that, I'll love it when I'm older, but right now it's annoying, and honestly a little insulting. Since starting my new job, I get asked if I'm a college student pretty often, which is a huge step up from thinking I'm in middle school! Are you 25?, no actually I'm 26 - I'll totally take that guess!

Please tell me I'm not alone and that some of you out there get the same sort of reactions and feelings! What do you do to make yourself look older? How do you respond when people think you're 12 instead of 26? I'll take anything I can get at this point!

Motivating Myself . . . And Some Cash Always Helps!

Monday, April 21, 2014

With the changing of seasons and all the inspiration from other blogger's outfit posts, I can get a little bogged down with thinking about what I need that will motivate me to loose the weight I've wanted to loose, or what new items will brighten my mood and make me excited for the change in season. So instead of scouring pinterest all day looking at motivating pictures that I seem to forget as quickly as I find them, I've teamed up with some fabulous ladies to bring you some cash to boost your motivation! 

For me, when it comes to exercise, I am far more motivated if I feel good about how I look when I'm working out. If I feel like crap, my workout is going to be crap. I mean, everyone wants to match and feel cute when they workout, right?!? My husband always laughs at me because even when I workout I like everything to match, from my shoes to my socks, my shirt to my headband. I just want to feel put together, even when I'm going to get all sweaty! Please tell me I'm not alone! :) 

Even if that's just me, no one wants to turn down some cash! And that's just what we've got for you! If you win, you get $130 big ones to put towards whatever you want! New workout gear, a massage, some new spring wardrobe pieces . . . whatever your little heart desires! 

Look at some of the fabulous ideas we've come up with to spend your money on! If you're at all like me, when the sun starts shining, you feel much more guilty about not getting your butt in shape and spending some time outdoors. And what better way to motivate yourself than with some new workout gear, all of which i'm eyeballing…especially those leggings!
source | ipod // fuel band // leggings // water bottle // shoes
and when you've finished up drooling over these goodies have a looky-lou below because we've got some more eye-candy for you. 

the wonderful ladies who've brought you this glorious fitness-inspired giveaway. 

the good news is the giveaway is cash. so if getting motivated to sweat isn't your thing…buy yourself a starbucks and something from j.crew and call it a day. 

we're all winners here, people. 
ashlen | aimee | karli | amy
natalia | dollie | enjoy essential | libby
brooke | meagan | felicia | noelle
show some love and get busy on your entries. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Portland Date Night - Casa Del Matador

Friday, April 18, 2014

One of Dan & my favorite things to do on a Friday evening is grab happy hour in Portland. We live about 40 minutes from downtown, so we don't go in to the city too often, but when we do, we like to try someplace new. Lucky for us, there are lots of amazing restaurants to choose from! But if you asked us to pick our favorite, our answer would probably be Casa Del Matador! From the amazing food, great location, even better drinks, and reasonable prices, it's hard to beat!

There are two locations in Portland, one on the Eastside and one on the Westside. We decided to hit up the one on NW 23rd so we could wander around the Pearl District afterwards.

Their happy hour menu is awesome! Everything on that list is $5 and its all to die for! And I know this because we took my parents their one night and my Dad decided to order one of everything on that menu to try it all out, because I mean "it's only 5 dollars!" 

After a long week, what could be better than a tasty margarita & some Texas sized nachos?!? And if you go, be sure to try the Tamarind Margarita, which is an african fruit with a sweet and sour taste. The margarita comes with a cinnamon sugar rim and is absolutely delicious! If you're not as adventurous, they have all your regular margarita flavors and a huge list of tequilas to choose from. 

The restaurant is decorated with dark wood, deep black and reds, and adorned with tea light candles throughout. It's especially gorgeous at night when the tea lights throughout the bar really shine. And don't worry, they have a late night happy hour too, so you can get all the same great deals with the amazing ambiance!

Once you're done eating, be sure to wander around 23rd street (if you go to that location) and enjoy some of the fun local shops and picture taking opportunities. (because everyone needs their picture with 3 pigs, right?)

Do you have any favorite Portland restaurants I need to add to my "must visit" list? 

Timeline of Me

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I'm always amazed when I run in to people I haven't seen in a while and they don't recognize me or say I look different. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure that I haven't changed a bit since I was born, but I supposed I'm a little biased seeing as I see myself in the mirror every day. So since it's Throwback Thursday and all, I decided to put together a little timeline of photos so you can see just how little I've changed over the years.

Do you think I look the same? 

If someone you haven't seen in a while passed you on the street, do you think they would recognize you?

To me, I look exactly the same! I find it funny, and it makes me excited to see if my children will be the same way one day. One thing I don't love, is that I always get mistaken for being very young. And while I'm only 26, I've been asked if I'm in middle or high school. Someone just last week was shocked that I was married and asked if I got married when I was 12. Now I know she was exaggerating a bit, but it's still frustrating sometimes because I feel like I'm not taken seriously because of how young I look. I'm sure in 20 years I'll love the fact that I look younger than I am, but for now . . . well I guess I'll just continue to have my ID out before people even ask and assume that everyone will think I'm 10 years younger than I am!

It's All In The Details

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thanks to everyone for the sweet comments on yesterday's recap post of the gender reveal party I hosted for our friends. I have so much fun planning parties and honestly wish I could do that full time. I love all the details that bring so much life and color to each event. And it's so much fun to watch everyone enjoy something you've spent a lot of time on! So with all of that, I thought I would share a fun DIY project to help add some color and fun to your next party. 

When I was trying to think of fun decorations I could make for my friend's gender reveal party, I came across a lot of pictures on Pinterest for different tissue garland. I was a little nervous to attempt this project because tissue paper is so thin and I figured it would be difficult to work with, but it was actually a pretty simple project (and inexpensive, which Dan always appreciates)!

You can choose whatever colors you want. I went for pink, blue, brown and silver since we weren't sure whether the babies were boys or girls. I bought one package of tissue paper for each color at a local party store. Four packages of tissue yielded about 25 tassels, so you may need more depending on how many sheets come in a package and how long you want your garland to be.  Here's how I made mine:

Take one piece of tissue paper and fold it in half and then fold it in half the other direction

Take a rotary cutter and cut thin strips leaving about an inch uncut at the top. I tried using scissors and they worked fine if that's all you have, but I found the rotary cutter made the process much easier and it went much faster. 

This is what it will look like once all the stips are cut. Unfold the tissue and you will have a fairly long strand. I would then cut this in half to make two different sheets and in turn, two individuals tassels.

Then unfold the tissue paper, set one section aside and lay it flat. 

Start from one end and tightly roll the tissue paper (please excuse my awkward fingers) 

Once it is rolled, fold the tassel in half and wrap it on itself to create a hole. Once It was like this, I used some tape to keep the tassel from unraveling. (I didn't see this on other tutorials, but this really helped keep them all in place) 

Once I had all of my tassels complete, I strung each one on some string, tying each one in place so that they didn't bunch. 

I hope you try this simple decor project for your next party! It was easy and inexpensive to make and added a fun touch to the decorations! Doing all these projects and party planning has made me realize I could be pretty happy being a party planner - spending my days roaming the aisles at Michaels, sewing bunting, and browsing pinterest . . . that sounds like a pretty great set up!

Best Friend's Gender Reveal Party

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I was so excited to find out right before Christmas that our best friends were pregnant. And then, right after the new year we found out that they were not only pregnant with one sweet baby, but TWO! They have lots of family and friends close by that I knew would want to help throw them a baby shower so I offered to throw a gender reveal party for them. I had a blast scouring Pinterest for ideas and getting out my sewing machine and crafting hat to make some fun party decorations. If you ask me, I think the party was a huge success! Here are some fun pictures from the party and a video we shot to capture the fun day!

They decided that they wanted to reveal the gender with cake so they not only got to share it in a fun way, but so that people could also enjoy some tasty cake as well! 

I really wanted to make the food table fun and pretty to look at. When it came to what to serve, I wanted to keep it simple but also offer some substance since the party was at 4 in the afternoon. We made veggie cups, mac 'n cheese cups (for the dad to be who loves mac n cheese), a meat and cheese plate with crackers to go with, caprese skewers, mini quiches, and some stuffer jalapeƱos. All the food was a big hit, and it was nice to have everything done ahead of time so no one had to be stuck in the kitchen during the party. 

I also made mini chalkboards to label all the food and drinks. A fun addition and a nice way to let people know what they are eating! All I did was have Dan cut some scraps of wood he already had into smaller pieces and use chalkboard paint spray paint to finish them off! The perfect addition to the table. 

I also set up a different drink station so that we had enough room for everything. I used this space to set up water and strawberry lemonade and also included some fun snacks. I bought chocolate covered peanuts (nuts) and yogurt covered raisins (no nuts) for a fun gender joke/snack. We also bought pink and blue necklaces which you'll see in the video so people could make their guesses! 

Me and the Momma-To-Be :) 

Thankfully the weather was beautiful and we were able to have people inside and outside! Kids were able to play in the yard, people were able to sit in the sun, and I was able to decorate outside a bit too! I made a fun springy bunting to hang from the fence, planted flowers, and spruced up the yard! 

We invited family and close friends to be a part of this special announcement and ended up having about 25 people there to celebrate the new parents! Here's some of the guesses and the final reveal!

I'm so happy for both of them and so glad we got to be a part of this special announcement! 

Weekend Snapshots & April Showers

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! Since I was having so much fun and was so busy enjoying the beautiful Oregon weather we were blessed with, I will share a few snapshots of our busy weekend! Don't worry, I have several entire posts dedicated to the party I hosted on Saturday and a few DIY projects to share that made the party extra pretty! Here's what my weekend looked like . . . or just skip to the bottom if you just want to see the fabulous giveaway I've got for you today!

My weekend started off with some pretty flowers from my husband. I had several huge accomplishments at work last week and it made my day for him to do something sweet and to show me how proud he was! I got a keeper :)

Saturday we hosted a Gender Reveal party for two of our best friends who are expecting twins! Be sure to check back this week for more pictures, a full recap and some diy decor I made :)

 Sunday was a low key day with Dan. I've been fighting a cold for over a week now and just been running myself ragged, so a nice relaxing day together was just what I needed! We started the day with mini golf. . .

And ended the day with dinner with this goofball and my mom! :) Love living so close to my parents that we can meet up in town last minute for dinner!

I hope everyone else had a great weekend too! Now look what I have to brighten up your Monday morning . . . Spring is officially here so I joined together with some fabulous ladies to host a giveaway to help keep you dry during spring showers! We have 3 great prizes for 3 lucky winners so be sure to enter below & show your hosts some love!SHOWERS1
The Prizes
1 pair of Hunter Rain Boots
1 Monogrammed Rain Jacket
$30 Paypal Cash
Meet Your Hosts: