Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Da Big One!!

I have long loved birthdays!

And...as much as it's not "proper" to...I love MINE! :)

And this year folks, it's the BIG ONE.

Yes, somehow it happened and I'm turning:
and our little Toby is turning 2 on the very same day!

As I see it, I got to use this fabulous day for my birthday for forty wonderful years. Now it's time for me to give this wonderful birthday to someone else...a very special little boy in China.

You see, it was the sharing of our birthdays that God used to speak clearly to us that Toby is our son. He went from being another unwanted orphan on a waiting list to standing off the page as our child. And it was that AUGUST 13th that did it.

So, I got to thinking...what best way to celebrate this momentous occasion????

Although I have much excitement over turning 40, my heart is broken because on the other side of the planet, a little boy sits in a crib and needs to have immediate medical attention so his muscles and joints do not further contract with his condition. That little boy will spend a birthday with no fanfare, no cake, no funny little songs that our family sings. In short, he will turn 2 without any celebration at all.

This simply breaks my Momma's heart.

So, I propose to you we do a little something.

In place of my birthday, I choose to have 40+2 friends/family donate $40+2 to our Adopt Together account to help bring him home.

I want to be SURE that he is HOME for his next birthday, and every single one after that!!

Will you celebrate my 40th and Toby's 2nd by giving to our adoption account? If you have a big birthday celebratory heart, you might consider giving more than $42...say $420? Or $4,200! I don't want to stop the celebration by limiting anyone! ;) 

And you get an extra little giggle by reading all the way to the end...a genuine circa 1974 picture of ME at age 2...the same age as our little Toby!

Let's bring this little boy HOME!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Picture Yourself...Helping Toby Home!

So...this past weekend I had amazing fun with my all-time BFF!!

They are SO cute, aren't they?
She and her precious family came and visited us for 2 wonderful days...we laughed and talked and just had a great time together.

One thing we did was take a few family pictures for them. This took about 10 minutes...and then we were back to hanging out and laughing.

It was way cool.

I just emailed her the files to print.

And it started my wheels turning...

What if we offered to do little "mini sessions" like this for others in exchange for donations to help bring Toby home?

We tossed around some ideas...

...so if YOU are looking to have 
some high quality family portraits done 
mid to late August...

...then we invite you to contact us about taking a slot. (Comment here or on Facebook and we'll get details out as soon as possible.)

As a caveat, this will not be a "full session" like we used to do with our photography clients. The time allotment will be 10-15 minutes per family. It will not be for large groups. It will be light retouching only. You will do the printing. (One of the main reasons we stopped our photography was the enormous time commitment on our part. The goal of this project will be to provide you with a high quality image of your precious ones with minimal time on our end.)

Obviously, this will be limited to people who live nearby. Sorry friends in Singapore! How much we'd love to come and shoot on location!

If you would like to donate toward our efforts to bring Toby home you can always click on his picture in the side bar and give directly to our Adopt Together account. All gifts are tax deductible.

We hope that this will be a delightful way to raise funds to help meet our next agency payment to bring home our little man!

Just picture yourself...helping bring Toby home!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Playtime!

We love family days.


It's just got built-in family fun time.

So fun!

Run, Olly, run!

Scooters brought home from China are a staple of our park play! 

How fun is it to go down this ramp?

A LOT! :)

Indeed, we ALL think so! ;)

Any chance she looks like her Momma? Ha!


No matter where YOU are hanging out...

We hope you're having fun too!

Ni Hao Yall

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Decorate for an Orphan...our Toby!!

I am so excited to announce our FIRST FUNDRAISER to help bring Toby home!!!

drumroll please.......

We are so blessed to once again have an Uppercase Living fundraiser to bring home our little guy in China!!!

This company is TOP NOTCH and everything the do is with excellence! We have several vinyl creations in our home that you can see from this post here. We just love them!

When anyone buys something from Uppercase Living through the end of July, 20% of the purchase will be donated to help bring Toby home!

They've even got fun jewelry! Something for everyone!
Just please make sure you associate your purchase with our party! 

Here's how to participate:

1. Go to Karrie's website…http://kstewart.uppercaseliving.net.  Click "Shop" so you can view all of their amazing categories of products or click "Customize" to create your very own!
2. Add items to your cart (you will be prompted to register).
3. When checking out, choose to "associate" your order with "Amy Shaw" so we receive the credit.
4. Your order will be shipped directly to you!

And in case you needed the motivation, here's Toby's picture in case you forgot how totally adorable he is!! ;)

Oh! Did you just melt again? Me too!! :)

We hope that you will shop to help bring our son home so he can get the medical attention, love and family that he so desperately needs!!

We are so excited! For YOU and your decorating ideas... 

               ...and for Toby who waits on the other side of the world!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Beachbody 21 Day Ultimate Reset--my experience


I successfully completed the Beachbody Ultimate Reset!!! That's TWENTY ONE days of amazing food!!

This program was incredibly thought out both by the chefs who created DELICIOUS recipes and by the scientists behind the detoxifying of the body.

It has been so successful and it is now in testing by University medical clinics!

Take a look at a few days of food on the Reset:

At first, I was wondering why I would want to do such a program. After all, I was daily exercising and eating clean.

Or so I thought ...liked to think.

I had some serious addictions.

To what, pray tell?

Butter. Oh yeah.

And icing.


Two things that I don't eat everyday, but when I would, I would lose control. It felt like if there was bread and butter on the table, I could kiss my resolve goodbye. I would have at LEAST two slices...and the bread was merely the vehicle to get the butter to my mouth. [Nobody wants a grown woman chewing off a hunk of butter from the stick...at the table, right?]

Got a food like that?

Yah, you get me.

Anyway, after watching the results of several fellow Beachbody coaches, I decided to jump into this myself.

I had no idea that I would break FREE of my addictions!!


I also lost weight (8 pounds!), lost inches (4 1/2) and my face and arms look leaner. My smallest-sized pants are now loose and my thighs measure smaller than ever as an adult. I did not lose muscle but rather lost the fat over hard earned muscle from all those awesome Beachbody programs I've been doing like Turbo Fire and P90X2!

Other changes I've been so pleased with include deeper sleep, natural strong steady energy and new tastebuds!  (Did you know they remake themselves in 2 weeks? Mine now do not want sugar and crave healthy, whole foods!)

So, you are curious, how does it work?

You order the package from Beachbody. It arrives. You watch the DVD's to familiarize yourself with what you'll be doing. You put on your bracelet to remind yourself, "I'm worth cleaning up and resetting to my optimal best!"

You learn the routines of your supplements and shop for the main staples of the reset: oils, vinegars, spices, miso paste...don't worry, if you can't find it locally there are places to order online.

You have your coach (me!) support you all the way through. I will email you a helpful plan that gives you day by day all your recipes and foods and gives you the heads up when you need to cook double for tomorrow's lunch. (Thank you, Erin, for creating this for me!!)

If you want to document your progress with your doctor, you go see him or her. Get some basic bloodwork done especially your cholesterol. Turns out I had just been in to see my doctor for an adoption clearance and I couldn't have another well visit two weeks later. Silly insurance!

Going to insert a personal tip here: wean yourself off caffeine before starting the Reset! Oh, and don't worry about not having enough fuel for your workouts. You take a 3 week break from them and merely take soothing walks and stretch your muscles.

Then you do it. You shop about every 4 days and cook. You cook and chop and cook and chop some more. Your family and friends wonder what happened to you because you never leave your kitchen and somedays you feel a bit grumpy. [Gotta be honest--when things are in "detox" mode...you can't help feeling a bit weepy, irritable and generally dazed. But one thing you are not is hungry. You are FULL of GOOOOOOOD food! But worry I only had 3 1/2 days like this out of 21!]

You learn to replace all your previous drinks with water. You learn to drink water before a meal. You learn to chew your bites 20 times...afterall, your tummy doesn't have teeth! ;)

And you learn, or maybe marvel, that you actually do not NEED MEAT or DAIRY or even GRAINS in your diet to survive this reset. In fact, for 21 days, you wean off these foods to focus exclusively on high amounts fruits and vegetables.

Each week is a phase. Phase one you wean off of whatever junk you've been eating and dairy and meat slowly fade out. Phase two your focus is ridding your body of toxins...you drink a supplement 3 times a day that gently clings to impurities and unwanted crud in your digestive system and flushes them out. This supplement was created carefully so no one is doubled over running for the bathroom all day long. It was very natural.

Phase three ushers you into a vegan diet. This was the most incredible phase for me. I'd read a lot about vegan diets and really wanted to try it...but wondered HOW IN THE WORLD would I give up things like butter and cheese and Greek yogurt?? Well, the Beachbody Ultimate Reset answered that for me! I effortlessly slid into phase three and was doing it! [You know, like when you suddenly realize your dad's hand wasn't on the bicycle seat and you'd been riding all this time?? LIKE THAT!!]

I was plenty happy when the 21 days were over. Not because I couldn't wait to dig into a fresh slice of bread and slather it with butter though. No, I was simply weary of having to cook from a list of dictated day plan of meals. My desire for butter and icing were BOTH tested. And truly, their power was broken.

Test number one came when I was cooking for my family something they longed for. It needed butter melted and I was nervous. But I pulled that stick of saturated fat out of the fridge and saw it for what it was: saturated fat that was a hinderance to my health. Didn't. Want. It. Fo reals!!!

Test number two came when we held another cupcake sale for Sixty Feet. Spending several hours around icing-topped sweets had zero affect on me. I even bumped into a cupcake with my finger and my first thought was to wash it off, not lick it. I was further reminded of how bad it was for me when it didn't wash off easily...that fat clings! Just exactly what it does inside a body.

And now, you want to know...did she keep the weight off? Did she go back to her former addictions? Did her family eat the Reset food???

Let me answer those great questions!

Not only have I kept the weight off, I have lost more! I love love love eating the recipes that came with the reset. They are SOOOO GOOD. SO SO SO GOOD!!! I continue to make them in real life and am shocked to find myself roasting up some beets for Sunday night dinner. (This really sounds so different after doing the Reset...I know to you it must sound like I live on a different planet!) Even tonight, while I make dinner for everyone else (Friday night is PIZZA NIGHT in our family) I will eat an acorn squash. And be very happy, mind you!! :)

I have not had any butter or icing or cheese or any sugar for that matter since I've finished the reset. I simply don't want it. Now I know that I could eat them...and that old temptations could take hold of me again, so I will probably steer clear of these things for a long while.

My family rocks. They eat whatever I feed them. I intentionally cooked ahead before I began the Reset so they would have food that I could pull from the freezer and focus on what I needed to cook for my reset. As it progressed though, they wanted what I was oohing and ahhhing over. And I fed it to them. And we still eat it.

So, in my personal critique, I would say the Ultimate Reset was worth it. It was labor intensive, took some work to swallow the different liquid supplements (the capsules were nothing!) and those grouchy days were not fun, but the benefits WAY OUTWEIGH the "pain." It changed how I look at food and how I feed my family. My tastebuds long for healthy food and my body is satisfied with foods I never thought I would even like.

There is no benefit like feeling FREE from addictions, thin, happy and energetic!! Way to go, Beachbody for this great product!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Small Town America

5 years in this small town...

of 7,000 people.

It's been a HARD adjustment from living in more populated areas.

WAAAAY more populated areas.

But you know what?

I've got some good things to tell about a small town life!

And I mean more than tractors driving down Main Street!

Let me tell you about a cashier at our local WalMart.

That's right. I said it.


I have hated going there and what's worse is realizing we go there nearly 3x a week or more to pick up the odds and ends we need to keep this family running.

But there is a cashier there who simply rocks.

Her name is Stella.

She's not just friendly, she's gone the extra mile.

She has learned my children's names.

And let's just review those now so you can see that this was NO EASY FEAT for her!


Anneli (AH na lee)



Darrah Kate (Darrah rhymes with Sarah)

So when we left the store yesterday, Oliver asked me, "Mommy, how do we know that nice lady?"

This is when it dawned on me: this is no ordinary place.

Fo reals.

Let's just see: please raise your hand if you have a cashier at Walmart memorize your 5 children's challenging names and then chime them out one by one as you leave her line, "Good-bye Darrah Kate! Good-bye Zeb! Good-bye Oliver! Good-bye Anneli! Good-bye Jensi!"

Mm-hmm. I didn't think so.

It's pretty special up here.

Let me give you another example of amazing life in a small town.

My children left a sticky note on our mailbox for our mailman.

A day later they had a HUGE package on our front porch addressed to them.

Inside were coloring books, stamp collecting catalogues, stamps, stickers, US Postal Service pencils and a THREE AND A HALF page HANDWRITTEN letter!!

Above and beyond the call of duty, I'd say!!

As today is the 4th of July, I also want to highlight something our little tiny town did.

After traveling around the world and seeing face to face poverty--the REAL poverty, it has been a major issue of mine that cities will drop a million dollars or more on a fireworks display. It makes me so angry to think what GOOD that money could have done for the city's homeless! Or feed the hungry... Okay, you get my drift.

But this little small town in the past years has CANCELLED their fireworks display because of lack of funding. And this year? It's back on. How? They fundraised for it!

I love that!

So while I miss date nights at Easton, dining at Brio and having our parents just a few minutes away, and it still freaks me out that I walk into the bank and they greet me by name, this small town life is really pretty special.

Pretty special indeed.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Just Because...

...because Darrah Kate is adorable.

...because evening light is beautiful.

...because we have a teddy bear for Toby that has a tag in his ear that actually says, "Toby."

...because we think about Toby so far away it hurts.

...because we ache to go get him and bring him home.

...and because I just want to share these moments with you.

Ni Hao Yall

Update on Josh Wilson

So deeply thankful to all of you who have joined us in praying and giving to help his family!!

Josh has Cerebral Palsy. When he fell out of the van a week ago and hit his head, it did some real damage.


Here is the latest report from Renee (Josh's amazing mom) as she balances her busy life between Josh's needs hours away in the hospital and those of her husband and other 5 boys back home:

Had a huge emotional roller coaster of a day. The Dr's came in this am & told us that "we were in for the long haul" & that it would be a long time before Josh wakes up. There is some new damage on his right side & more detrimental was the new damage they found in the middle (thalamus) of his brain. :(
So we settle in for the "long haul". I leave & make some phone calls. I walk back into the room & I notice that his left eye is slightly opened. So I talk to Josh & he SMILED!!!!!!!! I then yelled (very loudly) "PRAISE JESUS!" He smiled LOTS & LOTS!!!! He kept responding as the day went on! He has no control of his body except his eye & that beautiful smile!!! :)
No idea when we will be home. Will probably be coming home in a wheelchair & need LOTS of therapy. So grateful to Jesus that He allowed my little Joshua to wake up and smile at us!
Also, we are allowing people to come and see Josh next week. PLEASE let us know if you are wanting to come see him. We do not want a ton of people here at once.
God is so good to me!!!

Please keep on praying!!!

We will continue to collect funds for the Wilson family through this Wednesday, July 4th. Please just click on the sidebar "Chip In" if you would like to help off-set expenses that are mounting daily for this precious family.

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."  ~James 1:2-4

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