Archive for January, 2009

We went to the hockey game the other night to see Brad Richards. He hooked up 2 suites and I think an entire section in the club level. We had a great time watching the game with our friends in the suite. Conner was there with his twin brothers and mom and her fiancée. Demetri was also there with his family. Please pray for both these families as both boys have relapsed and are going through a difficult battle.

Brad Richards suite January 19, 2009

Brad had a good game scoring a goal and getting a big assist. Vinny Lecavalier spoiled it in the end though with a rocket of a shot over the goalie’s, Marty Turco, shoulder that then dipped into the top corner for the go ahead with 5 minutes left.

Brad Richards covering Vinny Lecavalier

Some people were torn as to who to cheer for, Brad “Con Smythe” Richards or the home team Tampa Bay Lightning. Our suite had it right cheering whenever Brad was on the ice. The loss is tough to swallow as vengeance would have been sweet, but Brad had nice production against his former team.
At the start of the first period they had a video tribute for Brad set to the tune, “Mama I’m Coming Home”. Yes I am inspired to make my own…

Brad Richards Back Home

After the game we went to a room behind the restaurant Shots inside the St Pete Times Forum. There were at least 50 people in there waiting to say “Way to go Richey!” He rolled in with a grey suit and a purple tie and everyone cheered.

Brad Richards Mason Angela

Everyone got to meet Anika and she had a great time. Adelaine and Peyton had not seen each other in a couple months and they ran around the room for about an hour. Catching up with friends from our cancer groups was fun.

Adelaine telling Brad Richards about getting her port out 1.19.09

I talked to Doug Vessel and Peter Mayhew for quite a while. Cancer dads have a special bond and it feels great to hang out with guys that have had to shoulder the burdens that you have had in your past. Especially the ones that were going through it at the same time you did.

Kasey Dowd, Brad’s wonderful assistant is recently engaged and was bubbly as always. Brad made his way around the room spending time with each and every family taking tons of pictures and signing hundreds fo autographs. I can not imagine doing this after playing such a physical game just a short time before. He was cool and relaxed as always.

He told me he had dinner the night before with Marty and Vinny at Berns Steakhouse , their traditional hang out hot spot before and after games. The 3 amigos together again in Tampa. That maybe the last time during the season that happens while they still are all playing as Vinny is the hottest trade talk of the season.

Rumor is that he will be going to his hometown team Montreal Canadiens before too long. Boy the new face of the ownership team of the Lightning has destroyed the lighting that we all knew and loved. Vinny and Marty are the only members left of the Stanley Cup winning team and soon it will probably be just Martin St Louis.

The crowd was very small for such a huge homecoming, much of which I guess goes to the ownership slashing players and coaches like they do in his horror movies. Brad got loud roars despite the small size of the crowd. I can only imagine how quiet the forum would have been on a Monday night had it not been the return of Hero.

Yes. He is a Hero. He goes way above and beyond in reaching out to pediatric cancer patients and their families here and in Dallas as well as military members and their families. Brad focuses his time energy and money on children and families that really need a respite from their lives.

Fact is, Brad Richards does a better job of spending time with the actual children than any other Celebrity that was related to the various pediatric cancer groups that we are and have been part of over the past 2 ½ years. Yes, others do dedicate much time, energy and money, Brad is number 1.
Anika should be back in a couple days. We are all missing her. Angela is missing her very much as they formed a tight bond right off the bat.

Mason got a report from his PE teacher that he is too skinny. According to all the charts he is average. According to the Wii Fit he is average. I guess the teacher is used to seeing all the overweight kids in class and a healthy fit kid is not normal anymore.

Bowen is shooting up right now as he goes through a growth spurt. He will sit and eat any kind of fruit all day long. Getting him to eat other things is a challenge as he often will decide before trying something that he does not like that food. Even though last time he ate more of that food than anyone else at the table. His, “I don’t like it”, statement often carries over to Adelaine as she adores Bowen. I guess wanting to eat only fruit is not all that bad.

Adelaine is the beautiful princess. It is hard to imagine that this time 2 years ago she was shiny bald and couldn’t get out of bed. Now she has beautiful golden blonde hair that comes down past her shoulders. Angela is starting to talk about a haircut for her. The last hair cut Adelaine got was Angela wielding the clippers to remove the remaining clumps being knocked out by chemo over 2 years ago.

Preschool suits Adelaine extremely well. She does not like days off as she misses her little friends. She told me yesterday that Dillon is her boyfriend now. I told her she has to love me more than any other boy until the day she gets married. She said, “Daddy, I will always love you more than any other boy EVER!” I think Angela has taught her how to win discussions with me.

Anika has been fairly quiet and is very sweet. She is also very smart, fitting in very well with the other miniature geniuses living here. She is a welcome addition to our family.

Angela is as beautiful as always. She helps her friend Angie out at the Saturday Morning Market on Saturdays. She brings home bags and bags of fresh organic fruits and vegetables in exchange for her time.

I have been riding my bicycle 10-15 miles 3-4 times per week for a while. I also hit the weights a coupld days a week. I have kept my weight off that I have lost and am now hovering around 219. I peeked out around 260 this summer so, I have done pretty well if I do say so myself.

I do plan on getting to 199. It will be cool to be out of the “Terrible 2’s” as I am now calling my goal. I always do a caffeine / soda cleanse after the Superbowl. I anticipate making a big stride towards my goal once that starts.

We looked at increasing our Life insurance earlier this year. I was too heavy to rate well. They told me that I needed to be under 233 for my height to get the best rates. Well I am there know so I went out and started the process for getting more insurance today. Once again, I tried an online comparison site to get the best possible rates. Yes, I was able to save quite a bit and will also add to Angela’s insurance through this same site. You should check it out yourself and see if for no other reason that the insurance you already have is the best. If you don’t have life insurance, or enough life insurance, things happen protect your loved ones. Click Here fill in the information, and compare. It takes less than 5 minutes to get piece of mind.

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“Little Mama”!

Out of the blue Anika started calling me “little Mama”! Isn’t that a hoot. Picture her yelling across the house, “Wittle Mama, come here”! Too cute, how could you not fall in love?! We had a blast last night at the Lightning v/s Stars Hockey game! Mason, Bowen, Adelaine and Anika really enjoyed the suite, thanks Pediatric Cancer Foundation! We even got to meet Brad Richards afterwords. It was a very special way to end our visit with Anika.

More updates soon.
Feeling a little blue for now!
Angela

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PART 1
At age 18 a strong desire began to grow in my heart. I was always a bit different in a way because I loved children so much. Being the town babysitter which began at around age 10, there were many children that were dear to my heart. During lunch at the private high school where I attended, while all the guys and girls were hanging around flirting with each other I was volunteering in the Kindergarten class. When I started dating, if I got a call to baby sit for one of my families even if it was last minute, my date would get dumped for a MUNCH younger guy (or girl)!!! I guess you can say that children have always been a very special part of my life.

While attending college in Atlanta, I began working for a nanny service. It was the perfect job! I worked evening and weekends, and during the summers I would travel with families to exotic places and get paid to go! After graduating college, it was finally my time… moving into a one bedroom penthouse apartment in Atlanta was like a dream come true. (I still keep in touch with my roommates in fact I love them like sisters, but ahhhh dreaming about a place all to myself, it’s what got me through college)! I lived in that apartment for one year and then started a daycare in a house that I rented.

I will never forget that first year after graduating college…

I had been dreaming of adopting a baby girl from China since I was a teenager and now it was finally possible for that dream to come true! After several months of research, talking with families who’d adopted from China, reading books on the subject, and praying about it, I selected an adoption agency in Atlanta that specialized in foreign adoption. Then I had to go and tell my parents that I was going to adopt as a single parent. It was difficult for then to understand my desire, but they could see how passionate I was about it.

I will never forget that year in the apartment, not only because I could open the french doors and watch the most beautiful sunrise while lying in bed, but because something happened there that would change my life forever. A promise was made to me one night in that special place. A promise that took 13 years to come true!…

After doing so much research, I know I wanted to adopt but I was also really scared. I would lie in bed at night and think about that little girl. In China, it is illegal to place a child up for adoption. The mother must abandon her child, usually in a public place where she or he will hopefully be found. (Families are only allowed one child in China and they typically want that child to be a boy). Then the child is usually placed in an orphanage. Depending on the orphanage, some children are left in cribs bound tightly in heavy blankets; only a bottle is placed into their mouths every so often, with no cuddling, no lullabies, no comforting, just being surrounded by other crying babies. This lack of human contact can cause a child to die. An environment such as this can cause serious, life long problems including the ability to bond and form healthy attachments and relationships. This really worried me. Not to mention the responsibility. I would be solely responsible for making ever decision for her. No help, no support it would just be me. Even still, the desire in my heart greatly outweighed any of my concerns.

I would think about staring into those dark brown eyes and how I would get lost in them, my beautiful little China doll with dark silky hair! I prayed for that little girl every day. It sounds so strange to pray for someone that not only have you never met, but really a person that might not even exist, but I prayed anyway. I prayed that whoever was watching over her would show her favor until I could get her. That they would bond and love her and comfort her when she cried, that they would feel compassion and mercy for her.

Don’t get me wrong, I did one day want to meet that special someone and have beautiful children and look into their eyes and see myself, and have people tell me, “Your children look just like you”. But that brown-eyed girl, there was a special place in my heart for her. Even if I never got her, I would never forget about her or stop praying for her.

One particular night, I woke up from a deep sleep. It felt like someone was pulling me out of bed as if to say, “Start praying, start praying for your little girl!”, so I did. I was a little scared, I felt like someone was in the room with me. I turned on a night light, (which happened to have a porcelain plate with an angle on it that my father had given to me). I got down on my knees. I began praying about this baby that I wanted so much. I prayed to God about all my thoughts, feelings, and concerns. I wanted her so much but for some reason I felt like the dream of having her was so out of reach. It felt like it was just a dream that it was never really going to come true. As badly as I wanted to go to China and get my baby girl, I couldn’t help but feel that it would never really happen. That night God spoke to my heart, He made me a promise. He promised that I would get that little brown- eyed, dark haired baby that I was so longing for.

Boom, the peace I was looking for I had found and Project Adopt a Baby officially started! After months of paperwork, red tape, social work, Home studies and praying, the documents were finally mailed to INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services). Once INS stamped their approval, all the documents would be sent to China and I would begin the (then 9 months) waiting period!

The entire process from start to finish was challenging and difficult to say the least. Almost every time I went out to get a paper signed or turn in a document, something would go wrong with my car. Often I wondered why it was such hard work. Did I have to work so hard to make it happen so that I would appreciate it more, or did I have to work so hard because it wasn’t really meant to be? I pondered over that question many, many times. But one thing was for sure, God made me a promise and I held on to it.

During the time of collecting documents and going through the process of a foreign adoption, something wonderful happened, I met my future husband. We hit it off and before long we were officially dating. Doug knew of my plans to adopt early on and was all for it. One of his best friends was adopted from Thailand, so he thought it was cool that I was going to adopt form China. During that time we also got engaged! Doug had said that after I adopted her, he could adopt her as well and we could be a family. But soon after, China changed their laws and I did not meet their new age requirements. Our Adoption Agency introduced some other countries to us, but my hearts desire was to adopt a baby from China…

I was very devastated, but Doug and I set a date to wed! When one door closes another one opens, right? I was very excited to become, “Mrs. Doug Powell”. We could have waited three more years until I reached the new requirement, but I didn’t want to do that to our relationship. We didn’t want to wait three more years to start our lives together. Doug promised that one day we would adopt a little girl. The next summer we got married, and 10 months later we had Mason, 2 years later came Bowen and 2 years after that, Adelaine was born! I was ecstatic each time a child was born to us! Each one was a dream come true, but I never forgot that other dream or that promise.

Many years had come and gone since that time in Atlanta, but I’d never forgotten the promise that God had made to me, nor had I ever stopped praying for that little girl which had grown in my heart so long ago. I never questioned if the night in my apartment was real or not. I have thought about that promise and what it may have meant. Maybe the little girl that I loved so much but had never met, maybe she died that year. Maybe I would meet her once I got in Heaven. Maybe God would say, “I spared our little girl so much of the heart-ache and grief that life can bring and I brought her here to protect her. Here she is, this is your girl”. Maybe she some how is with another family. I just felt that I should continue to pray for her and so I did. I have prayed for her all these years.

Last year while Adelaine was still in treatment, something began to happen. I starting praying that if we were never going to China to adopt a baby that God would take that desire away. Eventually He did, it didn’t happen overnight, but eventually it did happen. One day I just woke up and realized that the desire was completely gone! I began to realize that maybe the dark-eyed, dark haired little girl that had grown in my heart so many years ago was not Chinese at all.

It wasn’t until I was healed from that desire that Doug and I began taking classes in Tampa to foster a child (with the intent of adopting). This past summer I was talking to someone about our plans to adopt and how I couldn’t wait to see those beautiful dark brown eyes. They asked, “How do you know she will have brown eyes?” All I could say was, “I just think she will!”

On January 11th, 2009, I met a very special little girl who needed a mother’s love, a family. On January 14th she came to stay for a visit with us in our home. The first night she was here, while I was checking on the girls, she woke up. The light shown just enough that I could see her face, when she looked up at me, I knew. I knew that this was the girl God had promised to me that night at my apartment. After 13 years of waiting, wondering, praying, God has brought her to us. He has delivered his promise in a way that I could never have dreamed of!

This is only part 1 of our story. I can’t wait to share part 2. When I think about the rest of the story it completely blows me away. For now all I can say is that Anika and Adelaine have laughed and giggled for 3 days straight. This special girl is like the missing piece that completes the puzzle. Instead of now having “the girls” here and “the boys” here like we thought it would be, she has managed to bridge the gap and bring all the children closer together. She plays equally as well with the boys (especially Bowen) and with Adelaine. The social worker has extended her stay until Tuesday. Thankfully, today we did not have to say goodbye as originally planned. It’s so hard not to share all the ways God is working in this.

Falling, falling, falling in love,

Angela

PS The name Anika means “Sweet faced”!

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We had our foster child placed yesterday. We are not allowed to give a whole lot of specifics out as foster parents, especially online, so please forgive a lack of specifics. She is _______ and has a beautiful ________ and the sweetest __________ . I am not really sure what we can or cannot say.

The Mysterious Anika

The Mysterious Anika

Let’s say we call her Anika for anonymity. Anika would work good with Mason, Bowen & Adelaine so let’s call her Anika. She comes from a loving family and has been placed with us. She behaves so well, that we may send Bowen for the overnight visit to Anika’s family. Just kidding Bowen.

Adelaine is so happy, she finally has a best friend living with her in bunk beds just like her guys. They get along swimmingly (what a strange word). Anika slept on the bottom bunk and Daisy spent the night snuggling with her.

Usually, Daisy sleeps on my head or on my feet or just generally wedged up against me, so the relief is nice. She is not a big dog, but I like to sleep unencumbered (today is big word day)

I was not always that way. Angela often gives me grief about my previous sleeping partner. I would wake up to spooning (or “Making Spoons” Pulp Fiction reference) before we started dating. Yes. I admit. I often awoke to spooning with my german shepherd Cosmic. That may be the reason he was never allowed in the house. Jealousy. Or maybe it was the hair. That dog shed while he walked, sat, ran, or just generally lived. He was like Pig Pen from The Peanut Gang. Only Cosmic had hair circling him rather than dirt.

Back to the quads. Yep. 4 kids. That is a lot. I want the surgery now and a bag of frozen peas for after.

Nice even number.
2 boys
2 girls
6 seats in the vehicle
3 bedrooms – wait that is not even. I guess we need a 4 or 6 bedroom house. 8 bedrooms is too many, but 8 is my average score per hole of golf. Par 5 that’s not so bad. Par 3 – ouch.

We are going to the hockey game Monday night. The Dallas Stars are in town and we are hoping to get to say hi to Brad Richards. I spoke to his assistant Kasey yesterday and Brad is not certain of his travel schedule as of yet. Brad leads the Stars players in Points.

The girls just finished lunch. I hear them giggling at the kitchen table. I wish I could share pictures and video with you today, but that will have to wait. It will be like a mystery to be revealed later. Kinda like Scooby Doo only no bad guys that say, “If it weren’t for those kids and that mangy mut…” then we will jump into the Mystery Machine and go get some Scooby snacks.

Speaking of Mystery Machine the car insurance was up for renewal today. Our provider wanted to raise the cost with no accidents or tickets, just to say Thank You for being a good client I guess. So I decided to check into a better rate.

I found this site which I entered the information into and bammo, I got 6 quotes from 6 different companies and went with the cheapest, which happened to be Progressive. This quote was $30 less than we were paying with Geico and $45 less than if we stayed with gieco. (gotta pay for the cavemen, the gecko and now the money with eyeballs commercials I guess.) Before I clicked to buy, I went straight to Progressive and they wanted SIGNIFICANTLY more than through this multi quote site. Like $200 more for 6 months! Click Here to go to the site.

If nothing else do it to make yourself feel good about the rate you’re getting today. I guess that when the insurance companies know they are competing they will give you a better rate.

Tonight is Tae Kwon Do / Chung Do Kwan. Their site is http://www.pctkdo.com It is located in the old transformed sanctuary of a growing church in our community. Yes, they pray for you before they break your bones. PCT actually won a big tournament in Florida. Master Mike Conaway is a nice guy that could tear me in half before I knew what was happening.

The Grand Opening of a new Publix across the street from the Church is tonight. This Publix is in an old Albertsons grocery store that closed last year. Albertsons and Jewel are related. My first job was bagging groceries at Jewel. Those brown plaid ties were horrible. I made $3.65 an hour at the age of 14. I was rollin.

It Was Cold getting Carts in the Winter

It Was Cold getting Carts in the Winter

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Oh Snap! A Baby?

Yes, Doug and I love that trailer trash show, “Earl”. We watch it faithfully every Thursday night. Joy really cracks me up!

Where have I been these days? Let’s see…

First let me say that we had the absolutely perfect Christmas! It was our first Christmas since Adelaine was in diapers, that she has been healthy. During those two weeks off for break the children all got pretty sick, but somehow we were all well for the Most Special Day of the Year (and the Eve of it too!). It was just our immediate family here and Doug cooked the entire Christmas dinner himself. Hands down, it was the most Heavenly meal I’ve ever tasted, ever! Doug puts his heart and soul into his kitchen masterpieces and on that day he really topped it! The children were so excited as the wonders of Christmas danced in their heads and they all lived out a very magical time. Celebrating Jesus’ birthday couldn’t have gone more perfectly. Doug and I didn’t take one minute of it for granted. It was an intimate family time that we will NEVER forget.

Adelaine has just gotten over walking pneumonia. Finally we figured out what she had and the third antibiotics were the charm! Although the doctor said she was very sick, she never acted like it. I guess in many ways she is like a little bird in the wild, she never really acts sick or even seems to feel bad. Maybe after all she’s been through, having pneumonia feels like one of the best days of her life! She never missed a beat, running jumping, asking to go places. The only way we knew she was sick was because it sounded like she was going to cough up her insides. Her cough was so bad that she was on a Nebulizer (breathing machine) ever 4 to 6 hours and she had to be on steroid inhalants. So yes, she was really sick, but it didn’t even put a dent in how she felt, amazing.

Now about that baby we’ve been waiting for…

It’s been an amazing journey and the hands of God are really working in all of this. It is truly an honor to share some of how…

We all know that after getting approved by the State, things are known to move really fast from that point. Most people have a child within in the next few days. For us, it’s been two months and here we are. Is that all about to change? Keep reading…

THIS IS WHAT I HAD TO WORK THROUGH AT FIRST…

Through all this I have been praying that God would show me things to help me understand His plan in all this. The very first thing He showed me was the sin I had in my life. Sin is a funny thing. It starts out with a pin hole in our armor and can turn into the size of a cannon ball if it isn’t taken care of. That’s how Satin works, he finds the smallest opening and worms his way in and starts eating us like a cancer. Anyway, God called me on something sinful in my life (no, I don’t really care to share!!!) God loves us too much to let us get away with merely a promise to change. No, it wasn’t easy I’m far too stubborn and strong-willed for it to be simple, but now that particular sin in my life is GONE! Hallelujah, if nothing else, that is something great that came out of our attempts to adopt a baby.

Anyway during these past two months of waiting to get the “phone call that would change our lives”, something else amazing happened… we all continued to get our lives back after cancer. During the “Chemo days”, we were in the hospital constantly. When we weren’t in the hospital, we always had to be really to go in. A slight fever was life threatening and we always had to be ready. The only outside commitment our family could regularly make was to go to the Children’s Cancer Canter, when Adelaine was able. We did keep the boys in soccer, to have some normalcy in their lives, but other than that, our lives seemed consumed with cancer treatments and hospital stays.

Now, all three children take Tai Kwon Do twice a week. Adelaine started Ballet, Tap and Tumbling yesterday. (Buying her first pair of Tap shoes was a day that I will NEVER forget)! Adelaine loves school so much that she gets bummed about weekends. She has play dates with her little friends. We spend lots of time on the playground together. Now she even has extra curricular activities to enjoy. She truly has a life, and a great one at that! The boys also! Doug’s job is now 100% portable. He no longer has to commute to Tampa everyday and is able to work from home. (We were planning to move to Tampa, but that has now changed since we are no longer driving there so much). It is great having Doug here spending time together. It feels amazing to no longer pass the boys back and forth while one of us stays with Adelaine at the hospital. During the summer, I started bike riding, really bike riding. I go on two hour bike rides almost every day now. A baby is sure to mix this all up at least a little!

THIS IS WHAT I HAD TO WORK THROUGH THIS MONTH…

The big question I asked myself last month was, “Are we really ready to bring in a baby?” We finally have a life again and have so much living to do. This summer Kat and I are planning to travel the East Coast with the children, all 9 of them! How will that work? This spring our family is planning on taking surfing classes, how will that work? I love sleeping through the night again. When Adelaine was on steroids every three weeks, I was up all night with her. I don’t miss those days! We love to travel. To take a Foster child out of the state, we have to get special permission from the court, every time. My prayer…

“God, are you there, why did we go down this path of trying to get a baby and… nothing for so long”. (Yea, I know, it’s only been two months!!!) It would have been so easy to have gotten a baby right away. It has taken long enough that we got our lives back, completely back, and honestly we are loving it!

Its not that we don’t want a baby, it’s just that we’ve had so much time to think about it. I wondered how God was working through all this. It’s been an amazing journey, learning about God as we see Him work through all of this. He has revealed many answers to our questions. Our concerns and doubt have one again been replaced with joy and excitement. God has revealed things through dreams, documentaries and even movies. God is all around us, we just have to seek Him and we will find Him.

The other night I was watching 20/20 (or something like it) and it was a story about a 10 year old girl, Brittany, and her 3 year old little sister who were brutally stabbed and left for dead. Brittany lived through it and went to live with a Foster family after being removed from her home. Brittany’s story showed me so much,inspired me and quite possibly changed my life. That night, after watching her story, I had a dream. After the dream I wondered…

Brittany’s Story 20/20
(I’m not sure how long this link will be available by ABC News. To read her story or for more information, google Brittany Bergeron).

(If you’re looking for a hero, or maybe just need some on to inspire you today, this will do it! I can’t imagine anything worse, or a more remarkable outcome). What a remarkable, inspirational person.

Was God trying to show me that we were supposed to adopt a child with a special need? Doug and I talked about it and we decided that I should take the class. Did we really want a child with special needs? Special needs can be as mild as asthma, or a drug- exposed new born, (which can be mild or severe) or hearing loss, over being overweight (which could be life-threatening). Special needs can also be as extreme as cancer, or uncontrollable seizures causing brain damage, millions of other life-threatening diseases or conditions. If God calls us to do something, He also gives us the desire.

The very next day, we met a little girl who is coming to visit with us tomorrow through Friday. She will be turning 4 next week. I can’t wait to share how we met her and her situation, but for now I can’t reveal much because of Privacy laws. I can say that God is awesome and has worked everything out in ways that our immortal minds could never have ever dreamed of. The children have met her and at this time we feel that she could definitely be the one. We will know more after her visit. She is very sweet and we just fell in love with her. I can’t wait to share more!!!

Angela

PS, Adelaine learned to snap her finger this week!!!!!

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