Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The short list

Drew says all he wants for Christmas is his Africans.

Me, too, Drewbie.

Me, too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

'Tis the season...

So........God and a friend who wrote today have really gotten me thinking about the complete craziness of this Christmas season.

I have spent a TON of time selecting and sending Christmas cards, decorating the house, browsing for presents online and shopping for gifts in stores....I've been to concerts and parties, cookie exchanges, ornament name it. I've baked like crazy for teachers and neighbors...for the mailman, the paper guy...the sweet lady who runs our drycleaners. I've wrapped and trimmed and decked and wassail-ed....

But what have I done to prepare my heart for the celebration of Christ's birth?

Dear God, don't let me miss it! Don't let me miss your gift---THE gift you've given me. The one that encourages me, that comforts me, that keeps me going....the gift that will save me. God, help me see the cross when I see the manger. Help me see---and know---your most indescribable gift. Amen.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Will is 13!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Always the comedian

I have really tried to protect Brant, Will and Jay from all my worries and anxieties about the adoption and the crazy-long process we've been in for a year. Generally.....mostly......I think I'm able to keep them from recognizing the stress that I'm feeling, but....sometimes my less-rational, less-sane side emerges.

Like on a recent lazy Saturday. I let my guard down a little bit while it was just me and Will. I was worrying (ok, ruminating) out loud, saying things like:

"What if the new boys get here and don't like us?
"What if the new boys don't really even WANT to be adopted?"
"What if they're happy right where they are?"
"What if they don't want to live with us in a white family?"

Without missing a beat, Will said...

"Better save your receipt."

Love that child. Even when he's irreverent.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dateline: Monrovia

Jana, another mom adopting through our agency, is in Monrovia this week picking up her new little girl, Jamesetta. While there, Jana's taking lots of pictures, making notes and observing every thing she can about the kids that remain in the orphanage as they wait for their turn to go home.

Here's what she says about our new boys:

Amos sometimes plays soccer together with a boy named Jubah. Amos is like a comedian---he likes to make people laugh.

Kalee is very sensitive. He doesn't like to be touched a lot. He always has slippers (flip flops) on and will even sleep with them on. Kalee doesn't like to be hit or bumped into or anything. He spends alot of time around me. He keeps his things around himself so no one else can get them.

Oh, how I want to introduce Amos to Brant, Will and Jay---knowing that he will probably, immediately and completely fit right in with those three yahoos!!

And oh, how I long to hold and comfort Kalee and to tell him that he'll never have to hide his things or sleep with his shoes on again.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Adoption news.....

The director of our adoption agency emailed today to say that our adoption cases were being presented to the Liberian Minister of Health for his approval. This is one of the last, BIG steps in the process and his approval is absolutely necessary for our adoptions to proceed.

The MOH's staff members will review our (phonebook-like) dossier paperwork and will also bring in Amos's and Kalee's father for an interview so that a more thorough case history can be completed. All of this is done to make sure that the adoption was done to certain standards and to assure that the boys' biological father understands the process completely and was not coerced into giving up the boys in any way. After the case history is written up by the MOH's office, our agency will receive a copy. This will give me and Drew more details about the boys' background, their father's reasons for relinquishment, how their mother died and hopefully, more details about how and when they were split up.

As I have come to know God better over the last years, I have learned more and more about His power. I know that He is in control of every thing and is capable of doing absolutely ANYTHING. follows that had God wanted our adoption to proceed any more quickly, He would have simply deemed it so. I am a fool to think that any thing I have done or any thing I could still do....any call that I could make, any email I could send..... any string I could pull....could affect God and His plan for this adoption.

Am I praying that God will allow the adoption to move forward? Absolutely. Am I telling every one I know to pray that the Minister of Health's heart will be softened toward our boys' adoption and that he'll provide his necessary approval? You bet. But really, when it comes down to it, God has got it all figured out.

He is in control. And I am not.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Today was one of the best days on recent record! I got to spend the morning with my sweet friend, Jena, and to meet her two new kids recently adopted from Uganda. Kaia and Kendric have been in the US just three weeks, but I'm pretty sure they've been in Jena's heart for a long, long time.

There aren't a ton of people I truly aspire to be more like....but I've decided I want to be Jena when I grow up.

Check out her blog when you have a second--

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

One by one...

.........the steps in our adoption process are slowly being checked off the list.

Today we got word that Amos's and Kalee's passports had been issued. This is great news and puts us one step closer to bringing them home.

Don't these passport pictures make them both look so serious?? I'm pretty sure they were told not to smile for the camera. I'm just glad to see that they look like they've gained some weight!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bum Knee Babe

I'm sad to report that Babe fractured his right knee cap during a travel ballgame on Sunday afternoon. The play looked routine enough...he made a nice hit up the middle and ran to first base. But when he stopped short, his knee buckled.

According to the orthopedist that checked Jay out (during his 7th ER appearance-aggh!), when athletes run and then stop quickly, the leg muscles slingshot back causing a lot of strain on the tendons that attach those muscles to the kneecap. In Babe's case, the tendons won and the knee cap lost--and almost tore in two. (ouch!)

Sooooo....fall ball is over for Jay and he'll be in a cast for about 4 weeks. He's hoping to be good to go for basketball season right around the corner. 'Til then, riding the elevator at school is pretty cool and the attention is not bad either!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Meet Kit: The prettiest girl I know

I know she looks like a weimaraner, but Kit is actually my year-old silver Lab.


I don't understand all that breeding and factoring, Punnet-square-mumbo jumbo that results in silver lab puppies, but when I first saw one I was in love.

Predictably, the AKC is kinda snooty and doesn't yet recognize silver and charcoal labs, so Kit is officially registered as chocolate, but...she's all.

Oh, if only I could stop traffic the way Kit does....

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Drum roll, please.......

Amos and Kalee are now officially Dixons!!!!

A scanned copy of our court decree arrived in my inbox today. It says, in part...

"IT IS HEREBY ORDERED AND DECREED: that from this date hereto and henceforth, said children shall for all intents and purposes be the adopted children of the Petitioners....

...and shall be called, known and regarded as AMOS LARMAH DIXON and KALEE LARMAH DIXON as if the children had been born out of the natural bodies of the Petitioners in the bonds of Holy Matrimony."

Drew and I have 5 sons. God is so very good.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Partying with a purpose

I'm all for birthday parties and I love to celebrate my kids' special days, but accepting all those gifts that roll in? Well...not so much...

This year, Jay and his BFF, Josh, partied with a purpose! They asked their friends to celebrate their 11th birthdays by bringing presents to the kids in Amos's and Kalee's orphanage instead. Check out the birthday boys above. They collected 12 books, 28 t-shirts and 106 pairs of underwear that will ship to Monrovia courtesy of Jay's and Josh's very generous friends. Thanks, y'all!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What's with that really looong blog name, you ask? goes way back.

I used to read a lot of parenting magazines when the boys were little. I thought they'd hold all the secrets to being a perfect mom and raising perfect kids. I finally gave up and canceled every subscription when I realized that they were actually just giving me a whole bunch of stuff to worry about. I decided I didn't need to borrow trouble.

I did get at least ONE great idea from reading an article about reducing sibling rivalry. The expert doing the writing suggested that families come up with a cheer or chant or pledge that the kids could do together....something easy to remember and something that they would do only with each other.

The expert postulated that in good times and bad, having your kids pledge their devotion to each other would go a long way to foster positive feelings. The idea was to get them to see that getting along with siblings wasn't easy, but no matter what, they were together as family for the long haul.

Now...if you were hanging out in our cul de sac yesterday, you'd realize that I am any thing but a perfect mom. During some crazy football/driveway game the boys had made up (but loosely modeled after "keep-away") the name-calling was unbelievable! And hurtful. And not at all Christ-like. You'd have wondered if those three yahoos even had a mother.

Brant thought Jay was being a baby; Jay thought Brant was manipulating the rules mid-way. Will thought they both needed to go to their rooms.

And they DID....but not until they apologized to each other, put their hands in a pile together and did the Dixon Brothers' Cheer. They didn't necessary like doing it and they certainly didn't sing it or rap it this time, but they did say it. And yep, you know where this is going.....the words of the cheer are...

For always.
No matter what.

Simple words that do the trick.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Top 10 Most-Frequently-Asked Questions about our pending adoption---

Us Dixons love to talk about the new boys, how we came to choose Liberia and about the nuts and bolts of the adoption process—no matter how slow it’s going! It’s amazing how many of the same questions come up over and over, and while we’re never tired of talking about it all and are so grateful for your interest, I thought it might be helpful to put some things down for the record...

1. How did you pick Liberia? Or is it Siberia? I have felt the pull to adopt for a long time. Drew was a little less enthusiastic at first, but even before we had our bio sons, we’d had several conversations about the possibility. For years after the boys were born, it was clear Drew and I had absolutely all the kids we could possibly handle! But as time has gone on and our boys have become more and more independent, Drew and I began feeling that God was calling us to do more to serve Him. We investigated adopting through the North Carolina foster care system in the fall of 2007, but as we learned more, we felt it probably wasn’t the right thing for us. Around this same time, our friends, Bob and Elizabeth in Charlotte, sent pictures of the boys they were adopting from Monrovia, Liberia. We did the research and never really considered adopting from any where else from that point on. The needs of the Liberian people, and particularly the tens of thousands of orphans, are so very desperate, we couldn’t ignore God’s lead to adopt any longer.

2. Where IS Liberia? Liberia is located on the west coast of Africa bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast. Liberia was settled in the early 1800’s by free blacks from America, so their government and constitution are based on ours here in the US. It is slightly larger than the state of Tennessee...and was nearly decimated by a 15-year long civil ending finally in 2003.

3. You didn’t want a girl? Nope.

4. What are the boys’ names? Are you going to change them?? We don’t know yet. The oldest boy, Amos, is named after his biological father and he may feel strongly about hanging on to that important piece of his heritage. The younger boy is Kalee (pronounced kah-lee), perhaps a little too close to Kelly, but I’m not sure if it will create any confusion. IF they would like to choose a new “American” name, then Brant, Will and Jay have generated a long list from which to choose! (Sorry NBA fans, Drew and I have nixed LeBron & Kobe....and likewise, Isiah Thomas Dixon and Chris Paul Dixon.)

5. Are Amos and Kalee brothers? Yes, but they haven’t always lived together. Their mother died several years ago and their father is not able to support them. Amos lived with a neighbor for some time and Kalee lived with an aunt until they were both relinquished to the orphanage last fall. Drew and I hope to meet their father when we travel to pick up the boys.

6. How old are they? Our adoption agency believes that Amos is at least 6 and Kalee is about 4 years old. These ages are only a guess as most births in Liberia are not documented nor are birth certificates issued. We suspect that the boys are probably a little older...Amos might be as old as 8 or 9.

7. Do the boys speak English? Yes, or at least a version of it! English is the official language of Liberia so they already speak it and are learning to read and write a bit while they attend a half-day school program at their orphanage. There will be a language barrier, though, as we all get used to each other’s accents and differences in dialects. The new boys will probably understand us a lot better than we understand them at first!

8. Are Amos and Kalee going to attend school this year? Probably not immediately after their arrival, but it will all just depend on how the transition goes. Our agency director and some other adoptive parents have indicated that most Liberian kids that come to the states do well in school situations. Because our guys have lived in an orphanage, they are used to being around many other kids and will probably need the social contact with others. Our bio boys attend a wonderful Christian school here in Winston-Salem and the admissions office is holding spots for Amos and Kalee so that they will be available once the boys are here and settled.

9. When are they coming?? Oh, if only I knew...! What we thought was going to be a six-month wait is stretching on and on as the Liberian government re-evaluates its adoption policies and procedures. We’d love to have the new boys home by the end of 2008, but it’s hard to anticipate any sort of time frame at this point. I’ll keep you posted.

10. What are you and Drew going to do with FIVE boys?? Ummm....I’m not sure I’ve got a real solid answer to that question yet. Love on ‘em? Take things one day at a time? Do the best we can? Invest in a cow?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Meant to be...

When we started talking seriously about adoption last fall, Drew and I browsed hundreds of pictures of waiting children in all parts of the world. We knew we wanted to adopt an older child and we learned quickly that the situation in Liberia was desperate for hundreds of thousands of orphans there. When we came across Amos and Kalee on the Addy's Hope Adoption Agency webpage, we kept going back for another look, then another. Eventually, we felt as though God had put these boys in front of us and that they were meant to be our sons. In December, we signed all the paperwork and committed to the boys. We hurriedly started work on our dossier, met with the social worker to complete our home study, sent off the INS documents and waited for a finger print appointment.

Our Christmas was completely different last year than in all others. I didn't bake a single cookie...I hardly wrapped gifts and didn't deliver sugar cakes to the neighbors for their Christmas breakfasts. Who had time for festivities?? We were doing every thing possible to get our dossier to Liberia to beat governmental changes that were rumored to go into effect after the first of the year.

One afternoon, right after Christmas and after we'd mailed off the last of the many adoption documents, Brant came downstairs from where he'd been reading. He'd already volunteered to give up his bedroom for the new boys, but I wasn't at all prepared for what he was about to tell me and Drew. While doing some research on Liberia, Brant discovered that the small quilt hanging on his bedroom door---one that I'd bought for his room while we were living in Dallas in the 90's---was not, in fact, a folksy version of the Texas or early American flags. It was actually the flag of Liberia...and it had been flying proudly from Brant's door for the last ten years. What are the chances of that?? How could that possibly be?

I'm not a big fan of that saying, "It's a God thing," not because I don't believe it, just because I don't like the saying. No matter, NO ONE can tell me that this wasn't a God thing. Only, only God could have planned and orchestrated the events that led us to Amos and Kalee. God knew before I could even find Liberia on the globe that we would someday commit to bringing these two Liberian boys into our family.

So, no matter how down I get about the adoption delays or how discouraged I am by the lack of progress in the Liberian court system, I am always comforted by looking at the quilt hanging on what is now Amos's and Kalee's bedroom door. That Liberian flag reminds me that God knows what's meant to be...and that He has always and will continue always to orchestrate the details of my life...and the lives of all my boys...big and small...on both sides of the Atlantic.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Just get me started....

Typically, my husband, Drew, and I fight on only one day of the year. That's the day in early December when we write our annual Christmas card letter...together. It started as a quaint holiday tradition between newlyweds sipping hot chocolate in their pjs. Now?'s....not.

I take full blame. I admit the problems arose when I began insisting each year that the letter open in just the right way.

"Just get me started, Drew" I say every December, "and I'll take it from there."

I guess I worry most about the tone. Our only communication all year with about a hundred people has to know...upbeat, but not annoying, newsy...but not boring. Plenty witty. Plenty funny. Year after year, I think the letter should convey just the right
...every thing.

It's important to note here, that psychoanalysis would probably indicate I have control issues and am some sort of a perfectionist. Our master shower would absolutely indicate otherwise. But at any rate, I
do want the Christmas letter at least to be perfect, even if our lives are not. Drew just wants the letter DONE.

We're different like that. Or "complimentary" as we like to tell ourselves. can imagine when I told Drew that I was going to start writing a blog to keep folks updated on our family happenings and the progress of our Liberian adoption, he was nervously less-than-enthused. Actually, I think he said something like, "You? You're kidding me, right?" in a very cranky tone of voice.

Undaunted, nevertheless, I sit here posting my first entry...I jumped right in with no hopes of perfectionism... am even writing it all by Drew necessary, today anyway. A year ago, I didn't know what a blog was....never mind that with that ignorance came a lot more sleep..I've come a long way!

Likewise, one year ago...I thought my family was complete. Life was good...had the shirt and every thing. I was happy and content. Little did I know that, an ocean away, there were two more boys whom God had deemed my sons.

Getting started....hmmmmm....could be a new theme for me, ya think? Maybe I can get the hang of it, yet.