Thursday, December 5, 2013

Five Years Ago Today

Can it really be five years that we started out on our travels to Viet Nam to be united with our daughter? Holy cow. I feel so damn old now! Just look at those photos below! Not a grey hair on my head. Packed bags full of goodies and clothes for a little girl that we only knew through pictures, but loved her with all of our hearts since the second we saw her referral picture in June of 2008. Four planes, 27 hours of air travel and we had landed in beautiful Viet Nam. Jet-lagged, nervous, scared. Every emotion in the book, I can tell you that for sure. As a family formed by adoption, we have many cherished memories that we hold dear to our hearts. Lucky, we feel that it is something were able to experience. Two weeks went by like a day. I am glad though that we took so many pictures and videos of our trip. Looking back at them brings back some of the happiest moments of our lives. I wish that we could turn the clock back and do this again, the same way, with the same people, Thomas and Cathy, you would be there too :-) ! Sadly, we can’t but we look forward to the day that we return to Sophie’s homeland and experience a totally different reunion, with her foster family and visiting her caretakers at the Holt Child Wellness Center in Binh Duong. They are part of our family too and we always talk about these ‘angels’ with Sophie. She knows she is adopted. She knows that she has a ‘birth mother’. She understands as much as a kid who is about to turn seven can, but she gets it that SHE is special and that God had a plan for her as well as Tricia and myself. We look forward to our celebration of becoming a family on the 9th, or as many adoptive families call it, Gotcha’ Day.
Bags at the front door ready for Libby to take us to the hotel the night before we left!

Dinner at the hotel. A celebration for sure!

Getting ready to leave St. Louis 12/5/08

After landing in Denver. One Down!

After landing in San Francisco.  Two down! The smiling lady in red, also was on her way to China to adopt their daughter. We still chat with her on FB.

One of my favorite videos of Tricia. She almost lost it :-) on the SFO-ICN leg.

After the long 14 hour Trans-Pac haul we arrive in Seoul. 3 flights down!

Finally. 12:01 am on 12/7/08 the final leg, number 4 is complete. We arrive in Saigon.

Our Saigon home for a few days before Hanoi.

We will be adding some updates throughout the week including our Gotcha' Day celebration. Happy travel-versary to us!

Friday, January 11, 2013

9 years ago today-CHEERS!

Nine years ago today my life changed. At that time I thought it was a death sentence, but I now know it was for a greater purpose. Jan. 5th I went to the hospital with severe abdominal pain. I knew exactly, before any doctor could tell me, what it was. I sat in the hospital for days and finally I had the 5 pound mass removed from my body. Wow! Five pounds, I knew for sure I was in trouble! Jan. 7th, I had the surgery, by the looks of it all was good, just a fibroid tumor nothing to worry about. But on Jan. 9th I was told the most horrific news, I had cancer. I had a rare cancer. I had a cancer the would kill me in 5 years. I sat listening to the news. I looked at my brand new husband, my sister in law and my Mom in hopes for some reassurance, but none came. I was told I would have to have a hysterectomy. A what? What is that, I thought. Never mind what it was I wanted it and I wanted the cancer out of me. Scared, very scared as it sunk into my mind, I had cancer. What was I going to do? What about my family? My friends? I couldn't think of leaving them. As days, weeks and months went by I finished treatment. What a relief, but an emptiness. Now what do I do? Will it come back and when? Will I be a Mom? Wait a second... will I? I didn't know what to think of this. I always thought I would be, but how now? What would I do? Give up? Years went by and after a lot, I mean a lot of tear, I would soon face the fact I would never carry a child. I had no ovaries and no uterus, it was out of the question. Soon we began the adoption process and it was not easy. More and more days went by with more and more tears. This stupid disease caused me to let go of the hope of being a Mom. Flash forward years to 2008, June 13th, a daughter would be ours. She was born on Jan. 15,2007 and she was going to be ours. In a few days we will celebrate her 6th birthday. My dream of being a Mom has came true . I now know why this happened to me. I do not feel sorry for myself and for what happened 9 years ago, I celebrate it! If it wasn't for January 11, 2004 I wouldn't have my best friend. I wouldn't have Sophie. God gives us things to overcome and at that time we see it as punishment, but if we wait we see that the greatest outcome will come from our sadness. So today, I thank you God for what happened all those years ago. I thank you for giving Sophie to me. I couldn't imagine life without her. I often wonder if this cancer will come back, but with the faith and support of my friends and family I am able to fight off those fears. So today I toast a cheers to my daughter, Sophie you are my hero. Thank you Lord for my life! PS : CANCER SUCKS

Saturday, December 29, 2012

We are still here..promise! Year in review!

As we close out the fast year of 2012 it is time to do a blog. I love reading through the blog posts over the years. It brings me back. Sometimes I laugh and sometimes I cry. It's hard to believe this blog was started over 4 years ago! Our little Sophie has changed so  much in the 4 years she has been home. She continues to do well. She is full of laughs, very energetic and still our little sweet cuddle bug. If you have some time (well a lot of time) read through and see what's be going on with Sophie. We have put a year of photos at the end. Merry Christmas and Happy New Years!!
I would like to take this time to reflect on our year. I can't complain, 2012 has been a pretty good year for us. We have some great families and friends, as most of you can tell we travel a lot to spend time with them. Life is just to short to stay in one place!

FEB. 2012
We took a trip to Costa Rica to see my best friend of 23 years marry the man of her dreams. It was such a beautiful trip. We call this a once and a lifetime trip. Costa Rica is such a beautiful place and it was even more special because we were with some really great people.
MARCH 2012
After an amazing trip we had to get back to normal life. Back to work and back to a cold St. Louis. And to the busy life of a 5 year old. Sophie enjoys gymnastics, dancing, birthday parties and being a princess. We went to Disney world in November 2011, since then we have our very own princess! I am quite positive that we have helped the Disney Corporation with their annual bonuses this year!  March 15 Hank and I celebrated our 9 year wedding anniversary. What a 9 years it has been too. We look forward to what the next 9 years has to bring us.. wait Sophie will be 14... I take that back!!!
We also had a great time at Disney on Ice this year.  Like I said earlier, the Belz functions consist of Disney and Disney alone!!
APRIL 2012
Happy 34th birthday to Mommy!! I remember when I was younger thinking 34 is so old! I remember my Mom being 34 and thinking "holy crap that is way  old and 34 year old are not cool". Well now I'm 34 and I try really hard to be a cool Mom!! Sophie is a lot like her Poppa. She is very organized, calm and loves the out doors. In a few April's from now she will be decked out in cameo (not ugly pick cameo)  waiting to shoot her big, first turkey. Sophie is a lot like me too. She loves cooking, music, dancing, make up, shopping, ya know all the girl stuff. This is what makes Sophie so much fun. She is always down for anything. Sometimes I feel bad that she is an only child because she sometimes has to play alone. I mean shoot laundry isn't going to do itself!! But being the creative, little girl she can always find ways to amuse herself.  She has became quite the little helper as well. It's great to see her grow into such an independent, but not to much, little lady.
We spent Easter in Mississippi with Belle and Bear. Sophie loves playing in their pool and making fun treats with Belle. They always make it so special when we make the trip down South.  She loves seeing her Noni too and really loves those slaw burgers!
MAY 2012
Sophie loves spending time with her Grandparents. She always looks forward to those "long" trips to Mississippi and Tulsa! She is such good girl when it comes to traveling. I guess she was made for it. I mean this is the little girl that traveled for 3 days straight without a tear!
May brings us the blooms of pretty flowers and green grass. May also brought us some tears as she said good by to the Goddard school. Since Sophie has been home she has been a part of the Goddard school. They took such good care of our little girl. She has some of the best teachers around! It was a bitter sweet day in late May, when our angel was graduating and starting a new chapter in her life.
We also celebrated Poppa's big 40!! Now that's old! Just kidding!! We had a big party for Poppa with all of his friends and some family at the house. We had his favorite yummies at the, vodka, bbq, vodka and loved ones. He had such a great time, made turning 40 a little easier.
JUNE 2012
It's HOT! Actually this June was very cool in comparison to other June's. Typically St. Louis has a very hot and humid summer, but this year we got to enjoy the spring like weather a little longer this year.
We took a trip to the East Coast to celebrate the graduation of our niece and Sophie's Godmother Caroline.  I just love the east coast. I would love to live on the Jersey Shore or someplace swanky in NYC. We had such a great time seeing Hank's sister, our nieces and nephews and even a quick visit with Jackie and Mya Ducker. We even made it to ground zero. What a humbling experience. We walked around quietly, as everyone, remembering that tragic day. I held Sophie in my arms holding back the tears. I was glad that I was able to do that and felt very blessed. It is a day we will never forget. We also made a long trip to times square, stayed out there way to late, but hey we only had 2 days! For once we reap the benefits of a cancelled flight! As we arrived at LGA we were praying and hoping for a few days in NYC! As I am sitting alone eating much lunch I heard a voice in the distance "MOMMMMMMMMMMMMM we are staying! Our flight was cancelled!" An hour later we arrived at our hotel in Manhattan. Needless to say I was very happy! I could pretend to be a New Yorker...well for 2 days!!
JULY 2012
OK! It's for real hot!! Which no one at this house minds. We are a family that loves to be outside, on a beach preferably, but our blow up pool does this trick too!
Summer fun!! July was a very busy month! We did our annual trip to Hank's grandmother's cottage. Our most favorite place in the world. Hank has been going there every year since he was a baby. We got engaged there, and made a lot of fun memories. This year we had to say good bye to Sail In. Our last night there we sat on the porch, looked at the beautiful moonlit lake and shared some great stories about this magical place. We had some great friends over to share in the laughs. We will miss Sail In, but look forward to making new memories with friends at Epworth. I personally feel lucky that I got to spend 10 summers there. Thank you Mimi!
Spending time with friends and family is what we do! The Kellers came up to visit! Emma and Sophie are such a riot together. We love our visits with the Kellers. We think it will be very cool when Sophie and Emma can tell everyone at Oklahoma State they have known each other before their parents knew them.  We also took a trip to Six Flags with Mema, Grandad and Uncle Bub. We had a great forth of July with them. Over the summer Mema and Grandad were a big help with keeping Sophie busy. She spent a week with them in Sand Springs. She came back with a suitcase full of goodies.   We are always on the go, but we can sleep when we die, right? Enjoy life to the fullest!
It's here!! It is here...oh man did it come fast! Kindergarten!!  Our sweet, little, couldn't speak a word of English, beautiful Sophie is going to Kindergarten.
First let me start off with the fun part of August. Sophie and I went on a couple of road trips. We spent a week with Mema and Grandad, then drove to spend a week with Belle and Bear. We had such a fun time together. I wish I had a recorder to record our conversations. She was such a great co-pilot. She never once slept, her job was to keep me entertained and she excelled at it.
So back to this Kindergarten thing... she is growing up!! The night before her first day I held her in my arms and sang her favorite bed time songs. I rocked her as I did the first night I held her in my arms. Tears came flowing down my face (no people she didn't see me cry). So many emotions were going through my little heart. I was so happy and sad at the same time. Your child is only little one time. You never get that day back.
The drop off to her first day was a whirl win. I'm not sure what I was thinking. There were over a million parents (ok it felt like it) milling around the school. The only thing on my mind was to make sure she was not late. And she wasn't! Good job Mommy and Poppa. And to your surprise .I did not even cry. I think I was to overwhelmed! So there it was a big Kindergarten. New school, teachers and friends. Ready or not here it comes!!
By the way the Belz Family made our television debut!!! Go Cards!!
Well it was about time we slowed down! Sophie started soccer and continues to do gymnastics  She really loves both, so we will see down the road what other activities she would like to be involved in.  She is liking Kindergarten. A little listening issues here and there, ok ok I'm not going to sugar coat it, more there then here. Kindergarten has been a big change for her. She loves to talk and play and has a hard time remembering when to talk and not to talk. I mean I did ok and I was a big talker too.. guess pay backs?
Poppa's favorite holiday!! Halloween! We enjoyed a few Oklahoma State football games in Stillwater and in Kansas. We love our Cowboys. Sophie has already made the decision to be a Cowboy and we couldn't be prouder!!  She wants to be a cheerleader or a pom girl (like her aunt Jenny) along with Emma. It's all planned... guess we will see....fingers crossed!
This year Sophie was Tangled Ever After. You know Rapunzel after she cuts her hair?! Get with it people! Hank was Toby Keith and carried around a red solo cup the entire time. Another fun night at our house. Hank does such a great job getting the house all decorated and spooky. We by far have the coolest Halloween decorations and yard (there's your plug Hank) in the hood!! Sophie has already picked out her costume for next year... Darth Vader.. uh!
Gooble Gooble!! Pokes lose to KSTATE!! What a heart breaker! We were lucky enough to spend the night watching the game out of the cold in the VZW suite with the Kellers.
We spent Thanksgiving in Mississippi. Belle cooked up a delicious meal. We had such a great time relaxing. Sophie is now spending her time making out her Christmas list! I wonder if Santa will bring her everything she wants. Sophie got to swim one last time this year at Belle and Bear's. She is really getting good at this swimming deal! She loves to do tricks in the pool. Its another one of those things that she has became more brave at doing. She continues to impress us daily.
Ho! Ho! Ho! Where did the year go??? We prepare for another Jingle Belz, and another visit from Purple.  Sophie has made her Christmas list. Here list: Brave doll, Brave bow and arrow, Leap Pad 2, ears pierced, Lion King movie, easy bake oven stuff, etc. She pretty much cleaned house. Her Uncle Bub hooked her up with Star Wars sqwinkes (spelling). Early this month Poppa took her to see some of the characters and she fell in love with Darth Vader and Star wars, so now we have new Disney toys to buy....
Sophie joined the Daisy's and has a lot of fun with them. They got to take a trip to see Nutcracker on ice. Sophie really enjoyed it. She likes to see the girls and do fun crafts with them. I super stoked to learn how to sew those patches onto her smock and selling those cookies. I was the top seller of candy in Blue Birds.. two years in a row!! In January we will hit the ground running!!!
Santa came to our house again this year during our annual Jingle Belz party. She enjoyed the visit as well as all of her friends. This party started out 8 years ago with just adults and it's an amazing feeling and sight to see all of the kids get into it. What a great tradition we plan to keep around for years!
Sophie cleaned house over Christmas! That's all I can say! She is a Dr. currently as I'm typing this blog.
To conclude, I'm sure I have left some things out. It's hard piece together a year by memory over a cup of coffee. But I thought a blog would be nice. I know it's a long one. And if you made it to the end of this.. thank you
We look forward to another year and more blogging (promise it's on my list of new year to do'). We wish everyone a happy new year! Love always- The Belz

Monday, March 26, 2012

Celebrating 2010

Well, after some delays, we are proud to our 2010 year in review as a family.
2011 is in the works and hope to share it sooner rather than later! Enjoy a 30 minute break from your busy day!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Winter's End

As most have, our winter was very mild with little snow and limited cold temperatures. Spring has sprung early. We sit here in the middle of March with all the Redbud, Cherry Blossom, and Magnolias in full bloom. The days are longer and Sophie is ready to enjoy those extra hours of daylight outside in the backyard, roller skating or just being a five year old.

As she nears the end of the school year in May we are gearing up for Summer camp and the fast approaching first day of Kindergarten at St. Joseph in August. She is excited, and we as parents are just floored at how fast time passes. It seems like yesterday we met her for the first time in Viet Nam.  I hate to think about the day she heads off to college. She is already told us it will be Oklahoma State and her roommate will be Emma Keller! Ha! That should be interesting.

February was filled with birthday parties and trips. Trish and I went to Costa Rica for a week to attend a friend's wedding, while Sophie stayed with Mema and Granddad in Oklahoma. Modern technology like Skype and Facetime allowed us to see and talk to her each day. Remember when I was at camp as a kid and the only way to keep in touch was writing postcards and getting care packages. Those were sweet (especially the care packs) but nothing like seeing the smiling face of your kid on the screen of your phone or laptop. 

Art and music seem to engulf Sophie as her hobbies. She excels in school and has been attending a Kindergarten level reading and writing class since early January and her teachers say how well she has  adapted. 

Looking forward to posting more good family times as we move into April! 

Early buds

Hanging with friends at My Gym for a party 

 Zip line!

Enjoying a beautiful Sunday coloring on the patio.

Poppa and Mommy with a little R&R in Costa Rica

Camera level view sitting in the endless pool at the Villa Paraiso. Pool looks like it joins the Pacific at sunset. 

Our poor attempt at a heart. We love you Sophie!