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2011…not what I expected.

11 Jul

I realize its been a good minute since I’ve posted regularly. Shame on me. Life has been it’s usual unpredictable self and has thrown us many unexpected challenges. So far, I feel like we’ve managed to overcome them or at least most of them. 2011 just hasn’t been what I expected. We are over halfway through the year and it seems that the twists and turns are yet to be over.

A re-cap on the old news, and new news…at least to you.

Back in January, We had our homestudy interviews completed. We received a nice refund check from Toyota for all the car issues we had. I worried about possibly losing my job due to lack of government funding, but overall it looked like 2011 would be good to us.

February: We had our zumabthon and raised a nice chunk of cash to put towards our adoption.

And I lost my job. Yup, the program I worked for had to lay off close to 60 employees (out of about 80-ish) due to lack of funding.

March: My husband also lost his job. So now we’re both unemployed. And on top of that we find out that we didn’t meet one qualification to adopt from the Philippines. So, we switched to the Korea program, but was worried about how we were going to finance everything.

April: I got a temporary position working in the DC/VA area (a good 3 hours from where we live), filling in for a gal who is on maternity leave. This is the main reason to why I haven’t posted, I’ve just been busy and unavailable. While it has been great to *try to* save some money, pay off some bills and be off of unemployment, it also has been hard trying to drive back and forth from VA to PA (in madd traffic), be away from my hubbers and have a house that is mine. I have been renting a room out a soldier’s house while he’s deployed; there is another tenant also renting from this house, so it has been interesting living with a roomie (that is NOT my hubbers) and a dog with separation anxiety.

We were then told that from our agency that we might have difficulties adoption from Korea, due to their over-sight. I will get into this later, because I feel like that should be a post all on its own.

May: I am getting used to working and commuting in the VA/DC area and have met some great people to talk to and hang out with. Still missing my hubbers, but I drive home just about EVERY weekend (even though most of that weekend is spent running errands or working at the guard unit). Hubbers still has no luck finding employment though. 😦

June: Still in VA/DC. I am finally able to save some $$. Which is great since this temporary stint is almost over and soon I’ll be back on unemployment. We haven’t been able to save much money, because hubbers is still unemployed; we’ve had to manage paying EVERYTHING (ie. mortgage, car payment, utilities, groceries, my rent in VA and metro/parking there, AND hubber’s child support) on my measly paycheck. ::sigh::

July: My stint in DC/VA is almost over. I will be officially home in PA mid-July. And while I’ll be back on unemployment, I’m super excited to be back in my own space (where I can walk around the house naked if I want to), sleep in my own bed and cuddles with hubbers. We’re still very unsure about our immediate future since hubbers is still looking for work. I am entertaining the idea of possibly going back to school…full-time, with use of the GI Bill. Since my school will be paid for, we just need to make sure we can afford to pay our bills without me bringing in a pay check. This is all pending that hubbers finds work…SOON.

THAT is my update. Please feel free to send good juju my way.
More updates to come…

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Please vote for my hubbers!

13 May

My hubbers is a finalist for “Best Producer” for the 2011 Central Pa Hip Hop Awards!! Yay!

I know I’ve mentioned this once or twice before, but if you didn’t know, my hubbers is very much into the hip hop scene. He eats and sleeps hip hop. What does that mean exactly? Well, besides being completely immersed with it, he produces beats, which he creates by sampling songs from vinyl (you can catch a snippet of what I mean from his blog, he has a segment called “sample vs. flip”, where you can hear the original song and then the beat he produced using the song) and he dabbles as an emcee.

Here’s my hubbers at an open mic in D.C., the venue provided the band, he provided the lyrics.

Sooo…this is where I need your help! My hubbers is a finalist for “Best Producer” for the 2011 Central Pa Hip Hop Awards!!
Of course we want him to win! So puuuulease go and vote for him! And spread the word!

  1. Go to this link: http://fs19.formsite.com/hhawards/form41/index.html
  2. Must fill out name, number and leave a comment (at the bottom) to submit form. Leave a fake number for all I care.
  3. Fill out form. You don’t have to vote for every section; just make sure you vote for “JaeDiamonds” in the Best Producer section, which is midway through the form.
    Other cool peeps to vote for: DJ SMITTY, DJ KRISTYLES,  J.BAIR, PAPI RAZZI, MR. BLACKSTON, NOVA, MUSIC MAN, PHENE, and NIAGRA.

Thank you!!

Voting goes on ’til Saturday, May 14th @ 12pm…sooo please vote now!
The awards show is Sunday, May 15th…so I’ll be sure to let you know the results! Fingers crossed!!

More info about the Central Pa Hip Hop awards: http://cphiphopawards.com/

*UPDATE*  Hubbers did not win in his category, but we had such a blast hanging out with friends and watching the performances. Jeremy made some great contacts for collaborations and such. Thanks for all those who voted!

Snapshot Sunday! Mother’s Day Edition

8 May

This Snapshot Sunday is in honor of Mother’s Day.
My mother and I don’t always get along. Sometimes I think we’re too much alike and that is why we occasionally bump heads. No matter what, I couldn’t ask for a better mom. I ❤ you, mommers. Mwah!


Ni Hao Y'all

Snapshot Sunday!

6 Mar

This week, the Snapshot Sunday is Jeremy and I. Since we just made 3 years of marriage yesterday, I found it only fitting that we should be rockin’ our shirts this week for Snapshot Sunday. ;o)

Do you have an Adoption Rocks t-shirt?! I would love to see a photo of you in it!

Ni Hao Y'all

The obligatory New Year post.

13 Jan

Ohhh neglected blog. How I strive to do better in 2011. ;o)

Late as usual, 2010 has come and gone and 2011 is here. Isn’t it funny how time seems to be at a stand still when you’re a kid, but flies by as an adult?!

My highlights of 2010…

I officially went into business. Mariko Photo (although still part-time) had it’s first year as a legit business.

Attending the HUGE Weddingbee meet-up in Vegas (and the WPPI)! Soooo much fun!

Lil’ B turned 6!!

AND started kindergarten!

Jeremy, Lil’ B and I went camping. Had an awesome time! Sorry no photos of that one.

We spent the weekend in Philly and hit up the Please Touch Museum. Blake luuuurve it!

Jeremy had a plethora of shows this  year. If you didn’t know, he produces hip  hop beats and also enjoys performing for fun.

We decided to add to our family through adoption! And thus leading to our massive paperwork and journey.

Worst of 2010:

  • Having to buy a new car after my Rav4 totally took a dump on me….and that was after I already threw in THOUSANDS for a new transmission. We weren’t planning on having to buy a new car for a few more years.
  • Jeremy was unemployed for about 2 months. And while he did eventually find work, it was rough financially for a short while. I know the economy took a dump, but who would have thought that 20+ job applications and resumes would be soooo daunting.

2011 has already been eventful!

  • We *finally* had our homestudy interviews!! Eeeep!
  • Toyota FINALLY (after 6 months) paid me $$ for an extended warrenty they put out for the exact same issues I was having with my Rav4. They paid me in FULL for all my transmission problems!

And the worst of 2011 already…

  • The program I work for is still fighting to get its yearly funding. :o(
    Which means that unless we get our funding approved, I might be unemployed. Here’s the news clip!

What was your best and worst of 2010?

Giving Thanks

2 Dec

Yes, yes, I know. I’m a week late; Thanksgiving was last week. But I feel like any time is a good time to give thanks. So better late than never, right?!

This has been a good year for the Jeremy & Riko family.

  • Most of our family and friends are in good health and the ones who have had some health issues are fighting hard (and kicking ass)!!
  • We’ve had a tough year financially (thanks to my car breaking down repeatedly), but still managed to stay up on the bills.
  • There have been a couple engagements in our family this year. It really is a year of love.
  • Lil’ B started kindergarten this year and is doing awesome (he got 100% on his unit test). Yay!
  • We announced our plan to expand our family and later..our plan to expand through adoption…

We have had GREAT support from family and friends and that is specifically who I want to give thanks to in this post.
Many Mahalos to….

  • Penga (my weddingbee bud) for creating my *awesome* blog header. She is amazing!
  • Audrey, Alex, Bear & Ashley for volunteering to be references for our adoption. Even if they were volun-told. 😉
  • Our family and friends who pre-ordered t-shirts (our first fundraiser)! We appreciate ALL the support. I will post more about this later!!
  • Special thanks to Todd, Parisa, Nicole Y., Sarah M., Angela R. 😉 You guys are awesome!
  • All our family and friends in general. You have been an amazing source of support and I love you for it!

It’s kind of sad that it takes a holiday to remind us of what we are really thankful for. Maybe we should all take a day every month to reflect what and whom we are thankful for.
What are you thankful for this month?

Celebrating National Adoption Day!

22 Nov

Did you know that November is National Adoption Awareness  Month?! Welp, it is!!
Adoption.com offers a fantastic amount of information, complete with suggestions for ways your family can celebrate each of the thirty days in November.
National Adoption Awareness Month leads up to November 20th, the 11th anniversary of National Adoption Day, which is defined as a national day of celebration of adoptive families and an opportunity for courts to open their doors and finalize the adoptions of children from foster care.

To “celebrate”, our family has decided to take part of Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child (OCC) is run by the Salvation’s Purse. Last year they gave 8 million children shoe boxes filled with basic essentials and gifts for the each kid. Some of these kids have to share toothbrushes with their whole entire orphanage and have never owned a thing of their own. This is a great cause. One that really can change the morale of a child.

Watch this short video, it shows the impact much better than I could ever explain!

I orginally heard about Operation Christmas Child from Debi, The Jenkins’ Journey to Ethiopia Adoption. She wrote this great post about Oksana, a young woman adopted from Russia who’s life changed and she had sooo much hope, just from a lil’ shoe box filled with “goodies”. Basically, what you do is get a shoe box (making it “purty” is optional) and fill it will basic essentials (like soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.) and some extra treats, like toys, school supplies, etc.

I think that this organization is doing amazing things and wanted to contribute. Originally I had plans for me and Lil’ B (my step-son) to put together a couple boxes, but he had the gotten the flu, so he ended up staying at his mom’s house this weekend. Instead, Jeremy and I took the time out this weekend to put together two boxes to donate to this great cause.

It really was a lot of fun to go through the toy aisle and pick out some great stuff for the kids. Jeremy had a blast! We definitely spent a lot of time playing with the toys, ourselves. ;o)

Jeremy and I ended up each doing a box. He did a box for a boy and I did a box for a girl.

The cool thing that OCC does is they can provide you a tracking number to put on your box and you can follow your box. How cool is it that you actually get to find out what country your box goes to.

We found a local drop off spot for the boxes at a church right in our town. They collect shoe boxes from all the local churches. They said they usually get over 3000 boxes each year! Amazing!

It really was a lot of fun and knowing that it might brighten up someone’s day makes it even better. Jeremy and I decided that we’re going to start a family tradition of participating with the awesome event every year.

A sticker for my efforts!

The evil step-mom.

9 Nov

Step-son and I rockin’ the matching PJs.

I’m gonna start this post by saying that our homestudy class was great. It was a wealth of information. We met some awesome people who are also in the adoption process and we got some of questions answered that we had about our upcoming paperwork. That being said, there was one itty bitty thing that kinda bothered me during the course…

This class was very heavy on stating that our “adoptive children” are not our adoptive children but our children. Period. They are not our kids that were adoptive and brought into our family. They are 100% our kids. And I totally could not agree more. There is no difference in love that I will have for my kids, adoptive or not. So while they repeated this throughout the 8 hour class (well, we were only there for 5.5 hours, due to car issues), at one point they sorda made me feel like less of a parent because I am a step-mother and not a biological mother.

At one point in the class we were discussing parenting and it was then realized that Jeremy was the only one in the class that currently had a child. There was a joke made that because he is the only one in the class that is already a parent, that he was the expert of the class in parenting. This led to multiple questions about parenting and what he does to parent his son being asked of him. And only him. No one looked my way or asked me how it is to parent a step-son or what I do to love and/or discipline him. I just felt that was a bit hypocritical of them to emphasis that as adoptive parents, we are no less of parents than the ones who gave birth to them, but then later they made me feel like that because I am a step-mom.

My step-son is 6 years old. I have been in his life since he was 1. I have been active in his live for 5 of the 6 years he has been alive. As far as he can remember, I have always been around.

Photo by Redheaded Ninja

I love him as though he were my own biological child. I don’t treat him any different than I would if he were “100%” mine. I love him. I also am probably the main disciplinary parent out of his 3 (mom, dad and me) parents. Let me re-phrase that, I am the strictest out of his 3 parents. He listens to me (as much as a 6 year old will). He hugs, loves and cuddles with me. I kiss his boo boos. I tell him when he’s doing something wrong. I read to him and quiz him on spelling words. I try to make him eat foods that he doesn’t want to eat, because I know they are good for him. I take him to the park and the library. I bath, feed him and tuck him in at night. I love him.

Maybe I over-read into their lack of awareness. Maybe I’m being too sensitive about it.
I just want to state that I am no less of parent just because I am a step-mom.

The longest day of my life.

29 Oct

Wednesday was the looongest day of my life…to date.

On Wednesday, Jeremy and I were schedule to attend the homestudy course in Perkasie. The homestudy class is a one day, 8 hour class on parenting an adoptive child. They only hold the class one day a month and it’s mandatory to attend to continue forward with the homestudy process; i.e.. you can not meet with the social worker ’til you complete this course.

So I take a day off from work, Jeremy (who works 3rd shift) got out of work an hour early so we can hike the 2 hours to Perkasie. The class starts at 9am; we were on the road around 6am. Plenty of time in case we hit traffic or get lost.

We are trekkin. The GPS is telling me that we will arrive at 8:20am. Awesome.

With plenty of time to spare, I decide to stop at a rest stop while we’re still on the Northeast Extension of the Turnpike. I get back into the car….and the car won’t start. It’s like the battery is dead. It turns over a bit, but it just won’t start. I start to freak a little. Jeremy tells me to let the car sit for 5 minutes or so then try again. We do this and when we try to start the car again, it actually starts. Sigh of relief!

We’re trekkin’ again. We’re only 12 miles from our exit. Almost there…

My car starts to slow down. I mean, I have the gas peddle floored and my car won’t go faster than 65 miles an hour…and it’s slowing down. 58 miles an hour. 45 miles an hour. What is going on?!

Then all the lights come on…the battery light, the oil light, the engine light. What? My car starts smoking. Massive white smoke is coming from my hood. Eff! We are 2.7 miles away from our exit and my car is smoking. I totally freak out.

We call AAA, they have a tow truck coming. I call our adoption agency, of course they don’t open ’til 8:30 (it’s about 8:20 at this point), so I leave a message explaining that we’re supposed to attend their class at 9am, we’re about 15 miles away and stranded. I also call our social worker so she knows what’s going on. 

30 minutes later a tow truck comes. By the time he hooks up our car to the tow truck and we’re back on the road it’s 10 after 9am. Shit, we’re already late for our class. AND to top it off, the tow guy thinks I might have blown my motor. Awesome.

We and the car gets dropped off at Pep Boys in Quakertown. By this time the agency had called me back. They initially asked if we just wanted to reschedule the class. I think this is where I got a bit emotional. Reschedule? Are you kidding me? I took time off from work (as did Jeremy), we drove 2 hours and are only 12 miles away. My car is probably done for. I didn’t come this far only to have to do it again a month later. No way. We NEED to attend this class. They were nice enough to say that if we could make it, to still come.

Anxious to still make it to the class I asked Pep Boys if there is a cab service around, nope. And no one from Pep Boys or our agency is willing to drive us the 12 miles. Great. So, we rented a car. Of course that took another hour or so, to have someone from the car rental place pick us up from Pep Boys, take us back to their office and do the paperwork for a car rental. This was becoming a very expensive trip.

Finally. We’re on our way to the agency to attend the homestudy class. 12-ish miles. No problem. Well, our luck didn’t end there. We (along with about 20 other cars) got stuck behind a wideload vehicle going 10 miles an hour. During this time, I get a call back from Pep Boys saying that my car is shot. It needs a whole new engine. Yup, you heard me right. An engine. Apparently a tube under my hood had leaked or broke or whatever. This caused ALL the oil to leak out of my car, all over the engine. Ruining everything. Did I mention that my car is a 2002 Toyota RAV4? Not exactly brand new, but not exactly old either. ::sigh:: FML.

1130am we made it to our homestudy class. 2.5 hours late, 2 hours from home with no car. Yay. Poor Jeremy, on top of everything that happened, he was soooo tired. Working 3rd shift, this class was during his normal sleeping hours. I was emotionally exhausted, he was emotionally AND physically exhausted.

The homestudy class itself was good. There were 2 other couples there and a single woman also in the adoption process. One of the other couples is also adopting from the Philippines, so it was nice to meet another couple who was pretty much at the same spot we are in the process. Considering the circumstances of the day, Jeremy and I had stayed positive and made the best of the day.

5pm the class was over. Since we had already paid for a 24 hour car rental, we decided to drive the 2 hours home with it. Jeremy had to be at work at 10:30pm that night. With little sleep, he wasn’t looking forward to it.

Thursday morning, I had to take another day off of work and drive back to Quakertown with the rental car and my dad following me with his truck (so I would have a ride home). I had to turn in the rental, find a junk yard to pick my car up (only got $250 for my car…that just so happens to have a new transmission in it), drive the 2 hours back home and start looking for a new car. ::sigh:: And I was still emotionally drained from the day before. Jeremy and I looked at cars, but we really didn’t even know where to begin; we weren’t planning on having to buy a new/er car for another year or two. We definitely didn’t expect our finances to have a hit like this. ::sigh:: It definitely could have been worse, but someone isn’t making this easy for us.

I had brought along my camera, hoping to get photos of the beautiful Pearl S. Buck buildings, obviously that was the last thing on my mind. Nor did I think to take photos of my car smoking to share with all of you. 😛 I talked about signs in a previous post, hopefully this isn’t a sign for things to come.

Now the car search begins.

“Can’t you have your “own” kids?”

5 Oct

People seem to have one of two reactions when you tell them you’re adopting. They are either super ecstatic and excited for you or they look at you sideways with sympathy. The second reaction is usually followed by, “Can’t you have kids of your own?”. This gets a lil’ frustrating and, to be honest, a bit tiresome to explain. Since when is it okay to ask about a person’s sex life?

Well, to clear the air, I’m going to put it all out there. Yes, Jeremy and I did try the ol’ natural way to have kiddies. We tried for a year and a half. Somewhere within the year, I did have an abnormal pap and had the LEEP procedure done (if you don’t know what it is, google it). Although that really shouldn’t have too much of an effect on my fertility. Jeremy and I both got checked out. My tubes are clear and he has over 52 million swimmers. There is no obvious reason why we shouldn’t be able to have biological kids. Did we try long enough? Who determines what is long enough to create a baby? Could we have tried longer? For sure! But I didn’t want to, we WANTED to pursue adoption. Adoption is NOT a last resort for us. We had talked about adopting before we were even married, before we were even trying to have kids. We were either going to adopt now or later, so what difference does it make if we do it now, rather than 3 years from now?  We are young and have plenty of time to try for more kiddies later.

I feel like every time I come across someone who doesn’t understand why we didn’t try “harder” to have biological kids, I have to convince them that this is something we really want to do. Don’t get me wrong, I know people are curious and I welcome the questions, but please don’t give me pity looks when I tell you we are adopting. I get it, not everyone understands adoption or the want to adopt. Adoption is not for everyone, but just because you don’t understand why we want this, doesn’t mean you should feel sorry for us. This is something we are excited about, no pity needed!

::steppingoffmysoapbox::

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