Thursday, July 11, 2013


My blog hit 60,000 views today.  That is incomprehensible to me.  Here are some random facts about those 60,000 views.

Most viewed posts:
International Adoption Grants 991 Views  (I'm glad people are using this post!  That's why I wrote it.)
Item 1 - Half a Pig from Grandpa 893 Views (Best fund raising idea ever.  I have no idea why people still look at it.)
Before and After 788 Views
Bonding and Attachment and Stuff  435 Views (People ask for this link every so often.  Sara followed none of the rules.)
Skirts for Sara 427 Views (I'm still making these to help other families/children!)  
Life At Home 419 Views

Here are the search terms that people used to get to my blog.  Some make sense; some are interesting.
Traverse City, MI
31 Party
Natalie Keller blog
how to make scarves with yarn
life's amazing journey natalie keller
turning 35
happy birthday letter to my daughter
love Bible verse on canvas
making scarves with yarn

49,000 of the views came from the US.  Here are where the other readers came from:
New Zealand
United Kingdom
I know people in Canada, Germany, Mexico, Sweden and Colombia.  Russia, New Zealand, Germany, the UK, and Australia are mysteries to me.

My readership has dropped off greatly since the adoption finished.  This totally makes sense to me.  Most of the hits came from Reece's Rainbow and my profile on there.  I think fewer people check the Already Home page than the in process pages.  

I will continue to try and write posts that update you all on Sara's progress as well as posts that can be used as a resource for others in process.  

If you ever have an idea for a blog post, or a burning question, leave me a comment!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Facebook Statuses

For those of you who are not in my Facebook world, here are a few status updates from the last week that give you a glimpse into our daily lives.  Believe it or not, there is a lot that I don't share on Facebook and even more that I don't share on the blog.  I love using Sara's story to encourage and educate others but I also think that privacy is very important for a child.  I will occasionally allude to the struggles we have day-to-day but I don't outline them.  It's not necessary.  Any way, off my soap box.  Here are some statuses:

There is a groupon for dance classes in Orland. I think it's a sign.

I heard footsteps up stairs and then they stopped. Apparently she got tired while looking for me. This is the kitchen floor.

Sara has some amazing sleep avoidance tactics. The problem is that I've never employed any of these tactics so I don't know how to counter them. I've never avoided bed in my life. Ask my mom or anyone I've ever lived with!

A glimpse into my morning.

Me: Sara, are you going to be crabby like this for your teachers?
Sara: Nope. 
Well I guess that's good.

Sara has been up every day before 7 since she's been off school. (Except the day after the wedding.). Today she goes back to school and she's sound asleep. Ugh.

And now she's calling me Natalie.

First Sunday in a month we haven't been traveling. Sara gave me a very weird look when I told her we were going to church. She wants to go to school instead.

Sara has been watching her Gotcha Day video for the last few days. I wonder what she's thinking.

Working on a blog post about the wedding with tears running down my face. (It could be partly because I "slept" with the Thrasher last night. I'm exhausted.) I can't get over how loved and accepted my little girl is. Everywhere we go people tell me how wonderful she is. I definitely won the "Adoption Lottery." Thank you to every one of you who love her for exactly who she is.

Travel much?

Sara's officially tired. She's dancing but making everyone hold her while she does it.

Will you all please join me in praying that Sara takes a nap on the way to the wedding today? It's really the only way we are both going to survive this experience.

A year ago, I was convinced she was never coming home. Today she's the flower girl in a friend's wedding. 

Today's word of the day is pool. Sorry to disappoint you again, hon, but no swimming today. You do get to put on a beautiful dress and dance until you're exhausted.

Twice today Sara saw swimming pools and stripped her dress off in record time. 
1. That dress comes off way too easily. 
2. We might need to have a chat about modesty. 
On a side note---when we pulled up in front of Jeana's house today, she instantly said agua. We've only been there once and she couldn't see the pool from the front of the house. This girl's memory amazes me!

Miss Independent doesn't need help anymore.

Sara is running around the house saying Cool. 
Sorry, Chica. No school today. 
She only has one more week of summer school. August could be long.

Happy 4th of July from our family to yours. (Means just a little more to me this year!)

It's not a wedding rehearsal unless the flower girl and ring bearer both cry---at the same time.

Sara has been puking randomly every few days for the last two weeks or so. This can't be normal.

So, there you have it.  A little glimpse into our daily lives.  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  

And, just for fun.  A couple more pictures from the wedding!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Wedding PARTY!

Months before Sara came home, she was asked to be a flower girl in a friend's wedding.  In all honesty, I've been nervous about it ever since.  Sara can be INCREDIBLY charming.  She can also be moody and crabby.  (Sounds pretty normal, huh?)  When she's not in a good mood, things can get ugly pretty quickly.  Sara also likes to do things the way SHE wants to do them.  She's not always a fan of doing what she's told.

I was worried.  Then, I got the 9 page itinerary for the wedding.  This couple is incredibly organized and had every detail planned out.  This wedding was going to go off without a hitch.....except that they had invited my daughter to be a part of it.  (Cringe.)

You also need to understand that I am hyper-aware of Sara's negative behaviors.  Much more aware than anyone else.  There have been several occasions where I've been mortified by her behavior only to have others comment on how good she was.  I think it comes from my job.  Teaching young adults with special needs, I've heard (and probably said) "Well, his parents created this mess" or "Did you see how she acted with her mother?" and other equally judgmental statements.  I really don't want to be the parent that staff are talking about in ten years.  And, I know that right now, Sara is young so the things she does are cute.  They won't be cute in 10 years.  Anyway, I was mortified to think that she might ruin the wedding.

The rehearsal on the 3rd went pretty well.  Sara was petrified of the ring bearer.  I have no idea why because he was the cutest little guy ever.  They were the only two kids at the rehearsal so he kept walking by trying to engage her.  She's cry and whine and climb into my arms every time.  She was not going to walk down the aisle with him but she was ok with doing it herself.

We had the 4th off from wedding festivities but had lots of other fun for Sara's first 4th of July.  All the fun left Sara very tired and a little crabby.  She took a nice nap on the way to the hotel on the day of the wedding.  (We actually ended up sitting in the parking lot at the hotel for half an hour so she could sleep longer.)  The problem with her long naps is that she has a really, really, REALLY hard time waking up from them.  

We checked into the hotel and headed off to the church.  She did NOT want to be there and she did not want anyone to bother her.  The bridesmaids were all excited to see her and she let them know it was not mutual.  Anna and I managed to get her dressed while dodging fists and fingernails.  Somehow, Anna got her hair up but there are not any pictures of little Miss Sara with the wedding party before the wedding.  She was not interested.

A little bit of attitude.  I can just hear the groan.  

We forced her to take this picture with us.  As you can tell, she was not happy about it (or anything at that point).  

I have learned that Sara loves people on her terms.  She prefers the people that are not in her face.  She likes the ones that don't act interested.  She also doesn't like anyone until she has woken up.  We found a quiet (and very hot place) to sit until it was time for the wedding to start.  After a few minutes of quiet time, she came over and apologized.  We found her spot on the stage and went out and joined the wedding party.

Practicing after pulling it together.  

She still didn't want anything to do with the ring bearer so she walked in with her Tia Anna who was the maid of honor.  I couldn't get any pictures of her from where I was sitting but the ceremony was beautiful.

Waiting for the bride.

The bride and her dad.  

Sara sat with me for most of the ceremony.  She did very well until I ran out of gummy Life Savers.  Fortunately, it was almost over at that point.  She walked back up on stage and excited with Tia and the best man.

After the ceremony, she was a little more willing to take pictures.  (The groom bribed her with some candy.  Smart man!)  
With Mommy!  (Quick!  Take our picture while she's in a good mood!) 

Tia Anna, Mommy, and Sara.  

This picture melts my heart.  6 months ago, she was living in an orphanage.  Now, she's a flower girl in a beautiful wedding.  She was a cast-off in a society that didn't see her potential.  She's now a beloved daughter, friend, niece, granddaughter in a position of honor.  

After a few more pictures, we did a quick dress change (all the fashionable girls have two dresses!) and jumped in the car to head to the reception.  It was so nice to crank up the AC.  The church was supposed to have AC but it definitely wasn't on!  If I was hot, you know it was miserable.  

Checking her "contact" in the mirror.  She pretends to pull it out of her eye, puts it in her mouth and puts it back.  

I knew that Sara would love the reception.  Food and dancing---her two favorite things!  

Making her entrance into the reception with the Bride's brother.  

She finally decided that Owen was ok.  

Waiting for the fun to start.  (Chapstick might be her third favorite thing.)  

I don't really have any pictures of her at the reception.  (The lighting wasn't great for pics.)  Let's just say that she danced EVERY SINGLE SONG until I took her to the hotel at 11:00PM!  She probably would have stayed for the last hour but I wanted to get her out before she got so tired that she lost all control.  She pretty much danced with everyone there.  She just went from person to person.  About 9:00, she started getting really tired.  She still danced but made everyone hold her while she did it.  She just arm surfed from one person to another.  She definitely enjoyed the reception.  
I do wish they hadn't paid for her food!  She had no time for such things.  The only thing she ate was bread---because it's portable!  

She crashed as soon as we got back to the hotel and slept until 9 this morning.  This is UNHEARD of these days.  Now, if I only I could get her to stay on her side of the bed.  Dancing is exhausting!

Thank you so much to Drew and Lauren for letting us be a part of your special day.  Thank you for loving Sara!  

Megan--You're next!  3 more months!  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy First 4th of July!

Our Day In Pictures

Special Holiday Outfit  (Any excuse to wear a cute dress!)

Complete with hair bow.

All ready to go!

Waiting for the parade to start.

Not really sure what this whole parade thing is all about.


Little American!

After a little too much parade fun, a nap was in order.  

Miss Julie invited us to her house for swimming and dinner.  Sara loved the freezing pool.  (And I was very grateful that her daughter helped Sara swim so I didn't have to get in.)  

Sara got to meet Miss Julie's dog.

Crashed out in Mommy's bed.  The fireworks were too scary for her to sleep in her own bed.  (How do I make her stop growing?)  

I've always liked the 4th of July.  Parades, barbecues, swimming, fireworks.  What's not to like?  This year it was all just a little bit sweeter with my new little American.  Freedom has taken on a whole new meaning for me this year.  Yes.  Our country is messed up.  But---my daughter has a chance for a life here that she never had before.  Thank you to everyone who has fought to give her that chance and to everyone who helped her get here!  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Aschoff Family

Meet the Aschoff  family.  I "met" Jodi in an online adoption group.  She and her husband Ted have a beautiful little Colombian princess with Down syndrome. 
Every time one of us tells a story about our girl, the other ones laughs because our girls are so similar!  I'm convinced if we lived closer to the Aschoffs, we would all be good friends.  Someday we are going to get these too little sassy chicas together and see what trouble they can get into.   Or, we could just play music and see who gets tired of dancing first.   

I've watched as Jodi and Ted have searched for another little one from Colombia.  We forwarded pictures and info back and forth trying to find a child that would fit into their little family.  I remember the day that Jodi sent me a picture of little Leo.  While he isn't Colombian, he's adorable and perfect for them.  I am so excited to watch their process unfold.  
Here is what their Reece's Rainbow profile has to say about the Aschoffs:

Ted and Jodi met in 2001 and married in 2005. After many years of infertility they chose to pursue adoption as a way to grow their family. Initially they encountered some bumps in the road including a domestic reclaim (of a boy with DS) but in their hearts they knew that adoption was the right choice and in 2011 they completed the adoption of their daughter (with DS), Kayella, from Latin America. They knew that Kayella should have a sibling and decided to pursue international adoption again specifically hoping to add another child with Down Syndrome to their family. Once they were ready to begin the process, their search of options for another adoption led them to Leo’s profile and they fell instantly in love with him and knew he would be the perfect addition to their family.

Can we encourage this wonderful family?  Even if you can't make a donation, head over to their blog and leave an ENCOURAGING comment.  Adoption is hard.  It's exhausting.  Encouragement and support are crucial---even when they come from complete strangers.

If you love adoption blogs like I do, you can follow their journey  here.    

If you feel led to donate to this amazing family, you can make a tax-deductible donation here.   

If you want to follow their journey and future fund raisers, you can like their facebook page.

If you want to purchase a hand-knit item to help with adoption costs, you can do that on my Scarves and Skirts for Sara page.  (50% of the price of the item will go to the Aschoff family.)

Can you find a way to support and encourage this great family?  

She's pretty excited!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ruffle Scarves for Sara

UPDATED: July 1, 2013:  I will continue to knit scarves and other items in order to benefit both waiting children and adopting families.  Check the side bar on the blog to see what child and family are benefiting this month.  50% of the selling price of each item will go to either the child or the family.  (Buyer chooses which one.)   

Find Scarves and Skirts for Sara on Facebook!

Scarves are $15 each plus $5 shipping.  $7.50 of each purchase will go to the Family or Waiting child of the month.  

Here's how it's going to work:

*Leave me a comment and let me know what color you want. I will also need an email address.

*I will make a list of those who have ordered and the order in which you placed your order.

*When your scarf is ready, I will send you an invoice.

*When you pay the invoice, I will ship your scarf.

*I will then donate half of the selling price to the Waiting Child or Adopting Family.  I will forward the email receipt to you.  

Here are samples of the color choices!




Hip Hop


















The color choices can also be found here.

I can also use one of these colors for an additional $5. (These are more expensive and I have to go to a farther store to get them.)

I am also open to custom orders of things. If you find a pattern you like, let me know, we can negotiate a price.