Saturday, May 29, 2010

PPA Cover Contest...

Every year Professional Photographer Magazine (my FAVORITE magazine!) has a cover contest.  Thousands of entries from all over are submitted.  I always have these great ambitions of entering the competition, but never seem to get around to it.  Often it is due to lack of faith in myself.  I'm not an insecure person usually, but like most photographers, I am very critical of my own work, and I am well aware of the fact that there are hundreds and thousands of fantastic photographers out there, all submitting their work to contests like this one.  Well, this year I am taking the plunge.  A couple of weeks ago, Wes and I hung out with some new friends who adopted a baby girl from Ethiopia about a year ago.  Her name is Natalie, and she is absolutely precious.  Being a photographer combined with the fact that I am overly excited about our upcoming adoption from Ethiopia, I had my camera in tow, and caught just a few fabulous pictures of Natalie and her friend Jordan (also adopted from Ethiopia).  You can see more of their pictures here.   So, at the very least, I have made an effort this year.  I have submitted a picture of Natalie and her beautiful smile.  Of course, I may be a little biased, given the fact that we are going to be bringing home our own precious son or daughter (or both!) soon from Ethiopia.  It may or may not be a contest winner (let's hope so, though!), but it's beautiful none-the-less. (Vote for my entry in the 2010 Professional Photographer Magazine Cover Contest)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dossiers, Bagels, and John Calipari...

Okay, so today has just been CRAZY awesome!!!  First, I woke up this morning to find that our dossier (the packet of paperwork that contains our whole lives in it) has made it to Ethiopia!  I couldn't believe it!  That's SIX days earlier than expected!  How awesome is that?!

So as I'm laying in my bed, reading the delivery confirmation on my iPhone, I start thinking about the money we need to raise to bring home Baby Mullins.  We still have about $12,000 to go, and we've got a bunch of stuff we need to sell, including 8 basketballs signed by the entire University of Kentucky Basket Ball Team.  So I'm thinking about these basketballs, and I'm trying to figure out how in the world we can add one more signature to each basketball, that signature being Coach John Calipari's.  In the past couple of months I have contemplated all kind of ways to do this, since it is not an easy task because he is probably the most sought after and popular college basketball coach in the world right now.  I have thought about sending him a letter directly to his home on Richmond Rd., telling him our adoption story, and asking if he would consider signing some of these basketballs so we can sell them to raise money for our adoption.  I've thought about dropping by the Joe Craft Center to see if they would let me talk to him about it (this was low on the list...I highly doubt they just let people come in to his office and ask him to sign stuff).    Honestly, though, I just didn't know how to go about doing it.
Last week we hung out with a few of our new adoption buddies.  Chad & Karen adopted their beautiful Natalie from Ethiopia a year ago (and if you want to see how beautiful she really is, you should stop by our photography blog and see her and her little boyfriend, Jordan!).  Chad had mentioned that Coach Calipari frequented a certain restaurant downtown.  I tucked that knowledge away, but didn't really know what to do with it, because what was I going to do???  Was I going to drop by this one restaurant, at some random time, on some random day and hope that I randomly ran into Calipari, and then hope that I might get to speak with him, and then hope that he might sign some basketballs for me?  Yeah, didn't think that would work...
Well, this morning, when I saw that our dossier had arrived in Ethiopia, my mind started racing with fundraising ideas again.  Then I thought of our signed basketballs.  Then I started getting nervous, because that certain restaurant floated into my train of thought.  In a moment of spontaneity, I got up and thought, "Maybe I'll run into Calipari today."  I started praying, and I had a good conversation with God.  "Lord, if you want this to happen, let me run into Calipari at this restaurant, or somewhere along the way.  You created an entire world in just a few days.  You can arrange a run-in with a world famous basketball coach in a few minutes." 
Well, I stepped out in faith.  I did my hair quickly, put my Simply Love shirt on, put the basketballs in the car, and drove off to my predetermined destination.  As I walked into the cafe, I looked around, and there was no Calipari.  Actually, there was hardly anyone there.  I walked up to the counter, ordered a cream cheese bagel, and sat down at the bar facing the window and street.  I called my mom, and had one of my usual conversations with my her about our adoption, and as usual she told me how excited she was, and how she couldn't wait to meet her new grandchild.  I hung up, and continued eating my delicious bagel.  And then it happened...
Coach John Calipari drove up right in front of the window I was sitting at, got out, and walked right on in and made his order.  At this point my heart was racing, because I knew that this was a special moment that God had prompted me to enter into earlier this morning.  As he walked away from the counter, and was about to leave, I knew I had to grab hold of this divine appointment from God, and I said, "Excuse me, Mr. Calipari (I had no idea whether to say, 'Mister, John, or Coach')...."  And from there I went on to explain to him that I had just prayed that I would run into him this morning, and I told him that we were raising money for our adoption, and that I didn't have a pen with me, but I wondered if he wouldn't mind signing some basketballs for us.  He said, "Sure, if you get a pen, I'll sit here for a couple of minutes and sign them for you."  Holy Guacamole!!!  (yes, I DID just say that)  I couldn't believe it!  I ran over to Kinkos (which was miraculously right next door!) and bought some Sharpies, told them the whole story as I was paying for them, ran back over to the cafe, and he had already gotten into his car.  He rolled down the window and told me to just come by his office and he would sign them for me.  I could tell he was busy (I don't think he's ever NOT busy....I mean, he's the coach for UK Men's Basketball!), but he was taking time for me anyways.
As I drove over to the Joe Craft Center, I called Wes and told him the amazing news.  He couldn't believe it either.  We were SO excited!!

So I walked into the administrative offices, with this giant box filled with basketballs (which I could barely hold by myself), and I told the girl at the front desk that Coach Calipari was expecting me and that he was going to sign all these basketballs for me.  She looked at me with a slight look of confusion on her face, but being very polite in the process.  I'm sure she wondered if I was for real, because I'm sure Coach Cal doesn't just invite strangers to come in off the street so he can sign stuff for them.  Sure enough, though, he walked out and signed all of them.  And then I had the girl at the desk take a picture with my iPhone, where you can see by the look on my face that I am bursting with nerves and excitement!  He is obviously much more relaxed, as you can tell by the look on his face.

So there is another amazing story of how God continues to show that He is all over this adoption.  From day one we felt that He was saying that He would make a way for us to raise the $25,000 or so to bring our baby home.  That number seemed so daunting in so many ways, but He has proved over and over again, that money is no obstacle.  He loves the orphans, and so do WE!!!
So now we not only have the basketballs signed by the entire team AND coach, but we have the signed Maker's Mark bottle too.  All of these items should help bring a pretty penny for our adoption.

I know that for Coach Calipari, it is probably just another fan, and another signature, but for Wes and I, it is so much more.  We know that these basketballs will help bring our little one home, the baby we have been longing to bring home for so long, the baby that will be an orphan no more.  One in six children in Ethiopia die before they even turn 5 years old.  There are 5 million orphans in Ethiopia alone.  This number is so staggering to me....unfathomable.  But today, Calipari and the rest of the Kentucky Wildcats team helped to make that number minus one.  Thank you God for always making a way to do the seemingly impossible!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dance & Sing Your Heart Out!!!

Today is a great day! Not only is our dossier on the way to Ethiopia, but this is another day of life that God has given us on this earth. Don't you ever want to break out of your every day routine? Don't you ever want to be crazy and have fun?!!! Have you ever tried dancing your heart out in the middle of your house, singing at the top of your lungs? Turn the music up and GO FOR IT!!! There doesn't have to be anyone around. It can just be you with the cat & dog staring at you while you bounce off the walls and laugh at yourself in the midst of it all. Have your kids join you! Pull in your spouse! Girls, let your hair down and bounce around. Guys, take your tie off, unbutton that top button, turn your cap around, and do the "white man's overbite"! Enjoy life today! And here is a little song to get your juices flowin'! Have FUN!!!

*oh, and once you've completed your crazy, care-free dance-a-thon, leave a comment.  I want to hear all about it!

*and off goes our paperwork to find our baby.

DOSSIER on its way to ETHIOPIA!!!!! Woohoo!!!

"Hi Josef and Nina,
Congratulations! Your dossier is being sent to Ethiopia via Fed Ex today. We will be sending you out more information about your next steps shortly.
Take care,


Sorry about all the capital letters, but oh my goodness, I am excited.  I actually wrote back the person who wrote us that email and told her I might just pee my pants from excitement.  She doesn't even know me, so she probably thinks I'm a weirdo, but that's okay!  So what does this mean?  What's next?  Ummmm....not too sure.  As you can see in the quoted email above, she said she would be sending more info "shortly".  So hopefully tomorrow we'll know more!  :)  At the very least, this means it's for real.  If it wasn't real before, it's real now.  I guess that technically, we could get a call any day now, but realistically, it probably won't be for a while.  Who knows?!!  But the next time you see a post with this amount of capitals & exclamation points, it will probably be when we have a referral.

So here's a little video of us talking about the sending of our dossier to Ethiopia.  I am a complete weirdo in it, but Wes is pretty funny as usual....

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sometimes you just have to not think about it....

Okay, granted, it is nigh impossible to NOT think about this adoption. We got back from Haiti over two weeks ago, and the day after we got back, I was SO discouraged. I had no emails about any movement with our paperwork. Nothing. And anyone one who is adopting, or has adopted, knows that a week in adoption land is forEVER. Especially when you're just waiting to get your paperwork to Ethiopia. That day I told Wes that I just needed him to love on me, because I was feeling so crappy. He did just that. Over the next couple of days, as I got back to work, I slowly started to feel better again. And then I found out our paperwork was headed to Washington D.C., which means that we are VERY close to having our dossier sent to Ethiopia. This also boosted my spirits. Of course, once our paperwork is off to Ethiopia, there really is not much else we can do.

I am constantly wondering who our little boy or girl will be. We have our age range set at 0-18 months for either gender, and we have said we are open to twins. And while we are eager for a baby as young as possible, the agency told us it is wise to keep our options a little more open. What have we been hoping for? Well, we both have said we want a baby who is just a few months old. Just ONE. :) Wes has wanted a boy from the beginning. I have wanted a girl. I think Wes will get his wish, and I think I will be VERY happy about that too. Right now, it's all a guessing game. I kind of think we will either get a little boy that is around a year old, or get very young twins. I am guessing that we will get a referral in September, but I hope it is next week. :) Those are my guesses. Probably totally off, but's fun to guess and imagine. That's pretty much all we can do now.

In the mean time, we get to rejoice as other families out there receive their referrals and go to pick up their babies. I get SO excited when someone posts "Referral" in their blog post title. I don't even know most of these people, but we are woven together in this adoption journey.

On Mother's Day, Wes and I went to Olive Garden for lunch. It was CRAZY busy, filled with families celebrating their mothers. They sat us at a nice little table by the window, close to the bar. As we ate our delicious lunch, I recalled a blog post someone had written about my mother and myself. Laurie is an adoptive mother who I've met only through her blog. We've never met in person, but she is one of those that I have been able to connect with on this journey. She and her husband adopted their first child from Nepal, and were close to adopting a little girl from there this year. Unfortunately, with all the craziness in the government of Nepal, many countries have closed down adoptions from Nepal, Sweden being one of them (Laurie's husband is from Sweden, and they live there together with their little boy). Anyways, my mother has really taken to Laurie and her blog, and felt led to knit her two hats: one for her son, and one for her daughter-to-be. These hats arrived in Sweden just a week before they found out they would no longer be able to adopt from Nepal. This act of kindness really touched Laurie's heart, and she wrote about it on her blog. I read the blog out loud to Wes there in Olive Garden. After I read one sentence, I stopped. Wes asked me what was wrong, and I said that I was already crying and I would start up again in a second. I started reading again, and the tears started pouring out. I stopped and looked over at Wes, and he was looking out the window. He turned to me, and his eyes were red and tears were streaming out. In a blubbering chuckle he said, "You need to read this when we get in the car!" But I just kept going. Once I finished reading it, we were both sitting there crying like babies, with the people around us probably wondering what kind of conversation we were having that was causing so much sorrow. Of course, we weren't sad. We were just moved. Some may read it, and wonder why the heck it made us cry so much. But this adoption process....the way your heart is changed....the way God stirs things up inside of you that you didn't even know existed within you....the reality of what adoption really changes moves you deeply. Once you take the dive into adoption, you will get MESSED UP!!! And I mean that in a GOOD way! So come on over to the MESSY side! You won't regret it!

I can't wait to meet our little baby/babies. I can't even imagine what that day will be like. I have watched a million referral and gotcha day videos. I have cried through them all. But the fact that one day it will be us....that blows my mind. So for now, I am trying to calm my heart and mind. I am trying to tame the eager and crazy impatient Nina within, so I can survive the waiting that is to come. I am trying NOT to think about it, but that's pretty much impossible, so I am settling with keeping busy and praying for our growing family.

But, I thought I would post a referral video today. I have seen many of these many times over, but this is one I really enjoy.
Happy Wednesday.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Special Shout Out to my Amazing Mother from Kari, the "Crazy Adoption Lady"...

Nearly 8 months ago, Wes and I made the decision to adopt internationally. One of the videos that truly spurred my heart on to adoption was Kari's.

And before I ever watched the above video, I watched this "referral" video of theirs. I put referral in quotes, because there was no referral received during this video, and it's REALLY long, but for some reason, I JUST kept watching and watching....They are such a charming family! It wasn't until weeks later that I watched their gotcha day video and I said, "I feel like I've seen these guys before. I MUST know them." YEah, it was because I had watched their really long referral video. LOL!!!

Fast forward to present day, and Kari and I have become good "bloggy" friends, as she calls it. :) I truly love her, and I have never even met her. But MANY of YOU know her, because you have either met her or know her through her blog, one of the top mommy blogs on the net: My Crazy Adoption
 She is AWESOME!!!

Anyways, my own crazy mom may be just as excited as we are about our adoption, and she has taken to a couple of adoptive moms and their blogs out there, one of them being Kari.  And often when someone really captures her heart, she knits for them.  Yup, you heard right....she knits.  She knitted 5 hats for Kari and her family.  She is amazing with those needles and yarn!  So today, Kari featured my mom on her blog.

Thank you, Mamma, for being such a fantastic mom, and thank you Kari, for telling the world about her!  :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Fierceness of Peacocks...

So as most of you know, Wes and I went to Haiti in the end of April.  We had a wonderful 5 days there in which we were able to document some of the devastation that was left by the earthquake, but also the beauty that is the people of Haiti.  Of course, Wes loves the camera.  When he first started trying to pursue me, this was one of the first things he made very evident.  I was over at his apartment one night, and he starts showing me all these short movies he has made, starring none other than himself.  I mean, I'm no dating guru, but one of the last things I would have done to try to impress someone I liked, was show them self-made movies with me as the only star.  But, that's one of the things I love about my husband.  He doesn't care.  One short movie he made was made up of him simply talking to a girl on the phone.  My memory has gotten a little fuzzy since I saw it way back when, but in it he is having some kind of fight with her.  That's never hear her voice, or see her face.  All you are watching is Wes talking on the phone, having a pretend fight with some girl he likes.  And then fade to the last scene where, oh-no-he-di'n't!, he puts his hand on the front door and hangs his head down, as if she's just left his life forever.  It......Was......AWEsome!!!!  That little movie has left me laughing for years, much to the chagrin of my now husband.

So fast forward 7 years to the present day.  He still loves doing cheesy videos of himself, but now I am often included in the footage.  One day in Haiti, we kept hearing the weirdest animal noise (kind of sounded like a monkey), and finally realized there was a peacock on our hotel's property.  Of course, I always like a good photo op, just as much as Wes enjoys starring in his own films, so we set off to take a few pics.  Here is what soon unfolded.  Oh, and I should mention that I now indulge Wes, and join in on the fun....oh, and kudos to you if you can make it through the entire 3 minute video. You are a serious trooper if you can do that.

*Oh, and in case you're wanting any adoption news, there isn't much. BUT, our dossier is headed to D.C., which means in the next week or so it should be off to Ethiopia!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Giveaway Winnners!

And we HAVE a winner!  Two, actually!  I decided to pick two, since I had two different t-shirts listed.  The first name I drew, will get to pick first, and then the second name will get the next choice of shirt.  As for the beanie, as long as both of you want one, I'm going to go ahead and send you each one!  I have more than one!  :)

Okay, the first winner is Kimberly Smith!  I JUST met this lovely woman on a trip to Haiti two weeks ago.  She works with Rain Catchers in Haiti and you should definitely drop by their website.  Almost 100% of all donations go toward their work in Haiti!  I know many of us give to some bigger organizations and wonder if our money ever went anywhere.  Well, Rain Catchers is small, but they are making a BIG impact and your money WILL go to the people there!

The second winner is Cindy S. from Georgetown, KY!  She is actually a childhood friend of my husband. We've met one time, and in the two minutes I held her little girl, I got poo all over me!  LOL!!  It was hilarious!  Cindy loaned me one of her shirts to wear (which I still have, by the way!), and all was well.  :)

So Kim & Cindy, contact me at so I can get your addresses.  Also let me know which shirt and size you would like, and we will see if we can accommodate you (the sizes I have are on the last blog post).  And then let me know if you would like the little beanie!  :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Giveaway Continues! Be a walking billboard for adoption! Just leave a comment!

Hey guys!  Okay, so I'm feeling kind of unpopular right now.  I'm giving free stuff away and I've only got 4 comments (and one of those is my mom, one already has a t-shirt, one is a friend, and one is my OWN comment!)?  Wow.  I'm kind of feeling like the loser blog on the block.  Oh well.  I decided I would extend it through Saturday night.  I'm HOPING there might be a little more action.  And I'm making it really easy. Just leave any comment at all, and we'll throw your name into a drawing.  Okay!?  Again, we are giving away a T-shirt and a hand knit hat.  You can have your choice of the black Simply Love shirt (in Large Unisex or Medium Slim fit), or the green Man Up shirt (my favorite! in a Large, XL, or 2XL).  Happy commenting!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Our Very First Giveaway!!!

Okay, so we just sent out all the t-shirts from our first fundraiser. We made a grand total profit of $1289! Woohoo!!!! That filled up our first thermometer! That means that all agency and foreign fees are raised! Yeehaw! (yup, that's right. I said, "yeehaw"!) And we even have $9 in our travel expense thermometer. Hey, it's better than nothing! Anyways, once again I would like to thank Kari from My Crazy Adoption who provided the design and rights to sell these wonderful t-shirts.  She is AWEsome, and you should pretty much read her blog daily!

My version of organization.  This is how I had them laid out in order to package them in an "orderly" way.

The card we attached to the shirts.

Me sporting one of our shirts.  Although, part of me only wanted to post this because the distortion of the lens at this angle makes me look nice and skinny.  

So, in celebration of such a joyous occasion, and in celebration of the upcoming Mother's Day, I thought a giveaway was appropriate.  We ordered a few extras for giveaways and gifts, so here we go!  We are giving away a Large (unisex fit), Simply Love shirt, as seen below.  They are super soft, and simply beautiful!

And then, just because I can, I am throwing in a hand-knit Norwegian baby's hat.  Yeah, I know summer is almost upon us, but I know some of you adoptive parents are going to be new parents in the winter!  My mother born and raised in Norway, and therefore is a serious whiz with needles and yarn.  Isn't this hat adorable?!!!

So, what do I have to do to win these wonderful and luxurious prizes?
Well, since mother's day is coming up, I thought something related to motherhood would be nice.  So, with that said, just leave a comment on this post about your funniest mom moment.  It can be a moment you had with your own mother some time in your life, or a moment you've had with your own children.    Laughter is just so darn good for us, and that's why I love hearing funny stories.  So start commenting and story-telling away!  And if you can't think of a funny story, give me your best mom advice!  Men are also welcome to comment.  Even though the giveaway is a bit girly, you can always give them to your wife or daughter!   You have until the end of Thursday to post your comments!  And instead of picking our favorite, we're just going to put all your names into a little drawing!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Saw this on another blogger's site.  Yes.  Pretty awesome song, and I think it will speak to many of us who are waiting to bring our babies home.  The waiting and longing are overwhelming at times.  We go to lengths we never thought we would have to go to, in order to bring our children home.  I hope this song ministers to your heart today.  It is SO hard right now.  The waiting hurts.  Discouragement lurks by our doors every day, but they WILL be home some day soon.

The song is by Aaron Ivey.

Lyrics to Amos Story
Another photograph to wrestle in my head
Another sleepless night on concrete featherbed
These thoughts of you like bullets to my soul
We’ve got to find a way to get you home
I’ll find a way to get you here
If it takes my fleeting breath
Another sunrise hits the ground
And it’s a dark lonely sight
Lightyears away I hope you know
There is somebody searching
For the way to get you here

I will get you here
Throw the clocks away and run out to the street
We’ll fly to distant clouds where it’s just you and me
A day will come when all of this is gone
You’ve got to find a way to believe
I’ll find a way to get you here
If it takes my fleeting breath
Another sunrise hits the ground
And it’s a dark lonely sight
Lightyears away I hope you know
There is somebody searching
For the way to get you here
I will get you here
Close your eyes and dream of a better day with me
As angels hold you tight, may you sleep in peace tonight

So dream, dream, dream my child
Hear the whisperings of hope
It’s a song that you can sing, as you sleep in peace tonight

Back in the States, but remembering Haiti....

Well, we are back in the States and getting back into the swing of things.  I don't think we will get to rest until Christmas now!  Wedding season is upon us!  But I'm taking a few minutes to share a few more images from Haiti.  We had a fantastic time, and were treated SO well.  Here are a few pics from the last couple of days there.  



Tent cities are EVERYwhere in Haiti right now.

No, I didn't pose for this one.  They just crushed me when I kneeled down!  lol!  So beautiful!

They were straightening out the twisted rebar to use again.  

No school under concrete ceilings right now.  So school takes place under tents.

When Wes stuck his hand out for a high five, they just stared at him.  When he and I demonstrated it for them, they all wanted in on the action!