3 Months a Mom

On January 12th, 2015, Ryan and I sat in a drafty room in Guangzhou, China alongside 5 other families who were all awaiting the arrival of their babies. Mind you, these babies ranged from age 2 to 13 and had been more loved, prayed for, worked for, and cried over then they will ever, ever know. The first family was called to the center of the room and a beautiful 13 year old girl in a wheelchair was brought out to them. My heart broke! Until that moment, I had remained uncharacteristically calm, but seeing that little girl united with her family just did something to me that I could never put into words on a blog post.

My heart began racing a mile a minute when I heard them call out “Chen family”. We were up next! Out waddled the sweetest little man you could ever pray to lay eyes on. There he was, in the flesh, our Kai! This was the moment I romanticized and dreamt of for nearly 17 months. We had our son! As we walked, with Kai, back to our little corner of the room, I was struck with the reality that we were FINALLY a family! That little Mandarin/Cantonese-speaking boy was OURS. No one was going to take him from us, no one was going to parent him for us. For better or worse, this was 100% on our shoulders now. It was a very beautiful and scary thought.

If you follow me on Instagram (@leftylex), then you know that life has not been an endless unicorn ride since bringing Kai home. Nor did we expect it to be. Kai spent the first 22 months of his life in an orphanage and over 2 years with the same foster family. We would be naive to think that his life experiences before us would not affect him. Of course they had! Some times its easier to pretend that Kai has always been ours and that he has always known the love and warmth of a family. But that’s not true and it’s not fair to Kai to create such a story. There are emotional and physical scars from Kai’s life before us. Every time I lay Kai down, put a hat on him, or wash his hair, I am reminded that he was not held as an infant. The back of his head is flat from laying in a crib all day. Stop and think of your son, daughter, niece, nephew or any other little one who is near to your heart. Can you imagine them crying as an infant and not immediately running to them to tend to their needs? Kai had no one to tend to him immediately; he shared a nanny with dozens of other kids in the same room. There simply was not enough (wo)manpower to hold all of those infants as much as they should have been held. But, the Lord protected our baby and made him a survivor.

It has taken an insane amount of coddling, kisses, tickling, and wrestling to slowly break down Kai’s walls so that he can truly trust and love us as his parents. Over the past three months, we have learned to love and trust together, as a family. There have been moments of complete emotional exhaustion and moments of ridiculous bliss. I have been hit, punched, bitten, hugged, kissed, and cried on more than I ever dreamed. It is not all sunshine here, nor do I want it to be. I want Kai to know that he is allowed to be angry and grieve for the people and things that he has lost in his short life. Most of us will never know that amount of loss. But there is such beauty in seeing him laugh, and smile, and learn to truly love. Ryan and I are in constant amazement at how much Kai has changed since that cold “Gotcha Day” in Guangzhou. It’s beautiful to witness the healing that has taken place in our son’s life.

Three months with Kai, three months a mom. They’ve been the most challenging and beautiful months that I’ve ever known.

Left: Kai's referral photo (2012) Right: Kai enjoying his first Easter egg hunt (2015)
Left: Kai’s referral photo (2012) Right: Kai enjoying his first Easter egg hunt (2015)
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The Ride has Begun

The process of adoption has often been compared to a roller coaster. And if we stay with this analogy, then Husband and I have just experienced out first dip.

After months (between 7 and 8) of adoption agency research, waiting children profile browsing, and loads of praying, we finally settled on adopting through Lifeline Children’s Services. Our application was submitted and received on Monday, with much excitement. (Excitement might be a slight understatement). The following day we received an email response to our inquiry on a 3 year old boy who I fell in love with a few weeks ago. I was over the moon to find out that he was still available for adoption! We were even more excited to read through his entire medical file and learn all about his life story. And then we were told that we could place a “hold” on him if we were truly interested and met China’s qualifications for adoption.

Wow! Yes we were extremely interested (if you could only see our smiles!) but I was a bit worried that my being only 29 3/4 (not China’s required 30) might be a factor. I immediately emailed back that we would LOVE to “hold” the little guy bit wondered if my age would prevent us from doing so. I prayed that it wouldn’t, dove even further into his file, and fell even further in love with him.

This morning, while sitting in an all-day training, the dreaded email came in: Unfortunately, we are unable to place XXX on hold until you are 30 years old. Dagger to the heart. Our first roller coaster dip.

Our agency rep was quick to say that if XXX is still available come 1/10/14 AND if his file is still with LL, then we can place a hold on him and submit an LOI (letter of intent… to adopt). For now, as much as I wish I had some control here, this little boy, his file, and his future are in God’s hands. Soli deo Gloria!

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Important & Personal News

Hello! Remember me? I know, I know, I’ve been the world’s worst blogger as of late. It’s not that I do not love sharing with you; it’s just that I have been so insanely busy in my little corner of the planet.

Now, time to get personal. Okay, the entire vision/purpose of Lefty Lex Creations shifted a few months ago from something that I enjoyed doing/a goal that I had set for myself to its current mission: Operation Adoption Fundraiser! I share this because yesterday was my 29 ½ birthday. (Yah, happy halfie to me!). Now normally people over the age of 9 do not give a hoot and holler over half birthdays, right? And it is certainly every woman’s lifelong goal to never reveal her age; especially if she’s hitting a milestone year. However, I am broadcasting my 29 1/2th because it means that I have exactly six months until Husband and I can officially submit our application to adopt from China! Hoorray!!!

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Now, there is still MUCH to be done in between now and January 10th. One of the largest being fundraising. Husband and I are very smart with our money and are not lavish people; so we have saved a healthy amount towards our adoption over the past year or so. However you would be amazed at how much an adoption costs!

The “average” Chinese adoption costs between $27,000-$35,000. Um, yikes? Why so much? (This is the question that usually follows when I astonish people with those numbers). Well, a bunch of little adoption fees add up to one giant expense overall. Application fee: $500. Homestudy: $4,000. Dossier fee: $800. Orphanage donation: $7,000. Child’s Visa: $380. Closing an adoption and brining your child home: priceless. (Sorry, I couldn’t refuse; the list was beginning to sound like a bad credit card commercial!). Obviously, the fees I listed are not the only one associated with adoption, but you get the gist.

I share this all to explain why I’ve been blog MIA. I have been working my little butt off on custom orders and preparing for craft fair after craft fair after craft fair. All of this because I want to be a mom and we need funds in order to make that a reality. If that means that I have to continue waking up at 5AM and put 3 hours of Lefty Lex work in before going to the office and then picking up the stitching again as soon as I’m home and put in a few more hours, then so be it. I’m not looking for pity here, I’m just sharing. And if you have a rich uncle who wants to donate to our adoption, by all means, send him our way!

In the meanwhile, I encourage you to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and (best of all) Instagram and if you see something that you like, I’d be more than happy to sell it to you. I also do custom orders (which I absolutely love) so if you don’t see what you’re looking for, then just ask. I will be starting bi-weekly Insta-sales, so I’d encourage those of you on Instagram to follow @leftylex.

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Geez, I can be wordy! Well, hopefully I didn’t bore you all to death, and if you’ve made it this far I applaud you. And I’ll reward you with this tidbit. When shopping at my Etsy shop (http://www.etsy.com/shop/LeftyLexCreations), use coupon code: ADOPT to receive 15% off all purchase of $18+. And please, pass the word along! Thanks for listening to me ramble, I’ll see you all soon.

 

 

SDICM Vendor: Lefty Lex Creations

Yup, I am now going to highlight myself! Those of you who are regulars to the blog already know about me, but those of you who are are new-comers around here are not yet so familiar. So allow me to introduce myself.20130618-063352.jpg

Who I am and why I do! I’m Alexcis and I’m the owner of Lefty Lex Creations. I became interested in handmade items about five years ago and began putting my 8th grade Home Ec sewing skills to use making baby quilts for friends. I loved the creative process and being able to give something that I had personally made, not store-bought, but had to put that creativity on hold for a few years while I completed grad school. Once graduation was over my poor brain was dying for a creative release and I became consumed with sewing, knitting, and (most recently and fervently) hand embroidery! Since then I have not been seen without some form of craft in my hand. I stitch whenever and wherever I possibly can; I’m obsessed!

What lovelies do I make? While I do occasionally sew and knit still, embroidery is my primary art form and embroidered hoop art is what I enjoy creating the most. Embroidered hoop art is an embroidered design, on a piece of fabric, that is affixed to a wooden embroidery hoop. Was that technical enough for you? Hoop art is basically decor; it can be wall decor or it can be placed in a plate holder to fancy up a shelf, desk, table, etc. I also like using the teeny tiny 3″ hoops as added flair when gift-wrapping presents!

Favorite tools of the trade? This is the thing that I love most about embroidery… the materials are so basic! My favorite embroidery supplies are small wooden hoops (never mind that plastic nonsense!), DMC embroidery floss, and quality solid, colored fabric. I have been drawn to muslin and lace lately but I typically love all the bright colors found in Robert Kauffman’s Quilter’s Tweed line. Love them!

What inspires me to create? Creating is first and foremost, an artistic release for me. There is nothing like picking up a needle and floss after being glued to a computer screen for 8 hours in the office! But my primary reason for selling my creations is to raise funds for my adoption! My husband and I are in the embarking upon an international adoption and it is going to cost around $32,000 to bring our little one home from China. So, I suppose, my true inspiration is create is parenthood; we are very anxious to become parents!

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1.) Talking heads: I adore these colorful silhouettes and have probably made many more than I will ever need (or sell)! I love their simplicity yet their boldness. 2.) Art Deco Randomness: I love the colors and whimsy of this piece. I just let the needle move where it wanted to and this was the final product! 3.) Bride & Groom hoops: I made my first set of these hoops for my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding but have sold quite a few pairs since then. They are fun little props to use at a bridal shower or on the big day itself. 4.) Happy Thoughts in Ombre: I used fly stitches and monochromatic color palettes to create lovely ombre effects in every color of the rainbow. If you’re looking for a certain color, it’ll be with me at the fair! 5.) Embroidered Lace Necklaces: I inherited yardage of vintage lace with stains throughout so the only logical solution was to cut it up into pieces and use them as necklaces! The designs are very simple but make a big impact.

And that’s me in a nutshell, folks! Feel free to follow me on social media at:

Blog: https://leftylex.com/
Vine: Lefty Lex
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LeftyLexCreations
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LeftyLexTweets
Instagram: @leftylex

You can also find my products on Etsy by clicking here:http://www.etsy.com/shop/LeftyLexCreations! And don’t forget to visit me this weekend at the San Diego Indie Craft Market. Just 5 short days! For more info click here: https://www.facebook.com/events/366212010146804/?fref=ts. I look forward to seeing you around!

Weekend Wrap-Up: Mother’s Day Edition

I’m not gonna lie, I do not feel like blogging today. That being said, blog I must so here we go! Nothing out of the ordinary happened on Saturday. All the usual tasks: teaching my aerobics class, shopping, cleaning house. Nothing fancy.

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For Mother’s Day my siblings and I decided to have a little family picnic at Balboa Park. Sisters Dee and Jeri were MIA for the day’s events, but Sisters Sam and Andi, Vince, Husband, Daddy Lex, Puppy Bosco, and yours truly were in attendance to celebrate Momma Lex. And. It. Was. Hot! Thank God, we were able to find some solace under a lovely tree while eating, but the heat was brutal in sunny San Diego this weekend! After chowing down, we spent about two hours walking around the park. 

Post lunch we hit the International Cottages. If you’ve never been to Balboa Park, the International Cottages are exactly that: international cottages. They are little houses that represent various countries from all corners of the globe. I was holding the puppy at this particular time of the day, so I didn’t tour each house, but I did venture into the following: Spain, France, England, Puerto Rico, USA (which was ridiculously lame), Iran, Ukraine, and (my favorite) China!

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China was especially awesome because there was a young girl inside who would write your name in Chinese characters for you. I briefly explained to her our plan to adopt a daughter (I tried to sneak that in without Husband rolling his eyes because he still wants to adopt a son) from China and that we want to name her Jia which means health and beauty. She was so genuinely happy to hear of our plan and quickly began writing but told me that she would translate Jia to mean “elegant” and “lucky”. Fabulous!

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This is now one of my most treasured pieces of paper. I highly doubt that she will know how much I am going to study this. I absolutely love it! And best of all, she was left-handed too!

Can we pause for a moment to adore the cuteness of Husband? This is his cheesy smile and it is my favorite! Sister Sam got in on the action too. I think that even Bosco was trying his hand at Husband’s smile as well.

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We purposely stumbled upon a flower show. Momma Lex is a giant gardener, so we figured that she would quite enjoy the work of fellow gardeners. Aren’t these amazing? I want to stitch them all!

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Overall, I think that mom enjoyed her special day. And she deserves it. I know that even at the even though I am all grown and married, I can still count on my mom to be there whenever I need her. Love you, Mom… even though we all know that Bosco is your favorite child!

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STUCK

Okay, the day for soapboxing has finally arrived. There is a documentary currently on tour throughout the US called Stuck. To recap Stuck in the simplest way possible: it is a documentary about the need for reform of the current international adoption process. I use the word reform here loosely; it needs to be bulldozed and rebuilt from the ground up!

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According to the information presented, the average international adoption will cost $28,000.00 and take 3 years! THREE YEARS! Three years for waiting children! This isn’t waiting on a private domestic adoption list for 3 years as birth mother to carefully and methodically browse through thousands of potential adoptive parent profiles in a last effort to supply her unborn child with the best family possible. No, this is three years of waiting for a child who is already waiting! Does this make sense to any of you? Me neither!

I did not want to be the that girl how shares too much too soon in her blogging career, but I have no choice (and I’ve sort of already spilled the beans on my Etsy shop). Husband and I will build our family through adoption. We feel that this is God’s plan for us. (At this time I will not go into the details of why we can’t have biological kids). I share this only to explain why I was so impacted by the film.

We’ve known for about two and a half years that we would adopt. After doing extensive research, reviewing our finances, and discussing our desires in great length we decided that we would adopt through the the County of San Diego; basically adopt through the foster care system. We were interested in adopting an already waiting child or a sibling set. So, this past summer Husband and I spent 3 hours twice a week for 6 weeks taking the required parenting classes through the County. Isn’t it funny that any 15 year old on the street can become a parent without government involvement, but here we were a married couple of 6 years (at that time), home owners, college graduates, responsible citizens in our late 20s and early 30s; and there we were learning how to become parents. Oh, the ironies of life!

By the end of our 6 weeks I felt uneasy. I wasn’t against the idea, but something just didn’t set right with me. Over the next 3 months, that uneasy feeling kept growing. I finally told Husband that I wasn’t sure that I was cut out for the foster-to-adopt route and that I was beginning to lean towards a private adoption. This, of course, would mean increasing the cost of our adoption tremendously but some times you have to do what you have to do. We both have a strong desire to become parents and this looked like the route that we would go. And our baby would be born in the USA, I had no desire whatsoever to adopt internationally…. until I heard about Stuck! I don’t think that I have ever been as immediately impacted by anything in under 2 minutes as I was when I watched the Stuck trailer (below). Right then and there I had a change of heart and felt something stir in my soul.

I then became obsessed with researching as much information on international adoption as I possibly could. I knew that I would need to be well informed before presenting this radical change to Husband (and our families). I felt as though I was being drawn to China and after watching many, many documentaries on China’s one-child policy and the affects of heavy coal pollution (which causes many diseases and deformities) I was sure that China was the country for us. My web-browsing also led me to an organization called Love Without Boundaries (http://www.lwbcommunity.org/) where I fell even more in love with the orphans of China. I plan on engaging in an embroidery fundraiser for LWB in the very near future, so stay posted.

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The Stuck tour reaches San Diego today and I am proud to say that we will be attending the screening along with several of our family members and a few friends. This is an exciting time, a nervous time, and a time for us to seek exactly what God’s will is for us as we attempt to build our family. I encourage you to visit the Stuck website (https://bothendsburning.org/) and to PLEASE sign the petition; it literally takes 30 seconds to do so! And, if you’re able to, please attend the screening today in San Diego or download it from the website. Prayers for these children are greatly needed!

Weekend Wrap Up 3/16-3/17

This was the absolute epitome of a low-key weekend. With good cause, I suppose. Last week was pretty busy with anniversary ongoings , so a change of pace was welcomed. I knew that I had only two tasks this weekend: 1.) complete commissioned stitching, and 2.) find a dress for my brother-in-law’s wedding! My BIL is getting married this Friday and (despite several tries) I had yet to purchase a dress for the big event. Gasp; the pressure was on!

So, after teaching my aerobics class on Saturday, I made the weekly trek to Michael’s for some needed embroidery floss before heading home and gettin’ stitchy.

20130318-053346.jpg I truly thought that I would find a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, but no such luck! However, the floss colors that I needed were actually in stock; so I suppose that was treasure enough.

The next several hours were spent with me sitting on my caboose with a sketchpad, pens, needle and thread… and my iPad (that thing is never far from reach!). The outcome of this session was the completion of my first Mothers’ Day Collection piece (is that not the cutest?) and another hoop which I am not yet at liberty to reveal… but these were the colors used.

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There is this documentary about international adoptions and the current failed system called Stuck, which I have been highly anticipating. And while stitching Saturday, I decided that I could no longer wait for the Stuck tour to reach San Diego and I downloaded the documentary and watched it right then and there. This is not just a movie, not just a documentary. This is powerful. I can’t remember the last time that I was truly shaken to my core as quickly and as drastically as I was while watching that film. I will not pull my soap box out of the closet for today’s post, but know that this will be a very well highlighted topic in posts to come. In the event that you are now intrigued and want to know what exactly Stuck  is all about then visit https://bothendsburning.org/ or have a quick watch here:

I am using all of the willpower in my body to continue on with the planned Weekend Wrap Up and not to turn this post into a Stuck platform! Everything else that I am going to write about seems so disgustingly trivial in light of the information that I learned through Stuck, but proceed, I must.

Sunday was fabulously lazy. The day began with worship and an excellent sermon by guest preacher Dr. Dennis Johnson. I love my church, it isn’t the fanciest place in the world (clearly) but it is one of my favorite places.

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After church, I had a scheduled lunch and shopping date with sister Dee. Oh, and just in case that you haven’t yet met her yet, this is my only niece (dog niece), Ellie! She is an almost 4 year old Boston Terrier and she is an absolutely excellent pooch. I decided that we should play on our little grassy knoll to get some green shots for St. Paddy’s Day. You can’t tell by the photos, but I am holding a little green hoop featuring tiny little puppies, but this genius misplaced the hoop before photographing it up close. Sometimes I truly am brilliant!

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Dee and I headed to a little outdoors, Mexican lunch. You know, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and all.

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Then it was time for the dreaded shopping! Arg, I hate dress shopping under pressure and my sewing skills are not advanced enough to whip something up for myself. I have to take Dee shopping with me when an important event arises, because she has better fashion sense than I do and she’ll usually push me out of my cardigan, cotton dress, leggings bubble that I’m usually trapped in. After a few shops, I was quite sure that I would be attending the wedding naked. I tried on way too many dresses and I could tell that Dee was getting restless.

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And just then, the heavens parted, bird started singing, bells started ringing and a giant glow lead me to this dress. (Insert the sound of heavenly hosts singing Amen in unison).

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Dee turned to me and literally said: are you saying ‘yes’ to this dress? How could I argue against it! It was quite a bit more than I wanted to spend, but I do love it! And it’s a great dress for twirling around because it has a small layer of tulle near the bottom. Yes, a party dress has to have a good twirling rating in order for me to purchase it.

Post shopping, Husband and I spent the rest of the day lounging around in our Paddy’s Pub shirt. Yes, I am shockingly enough a fan of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It is crass and some of it does go a little far for my liking but the show is hilarious! And I picked these shirts up at Target after St. Patrick’s Day last year for only $2.90 each!

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20130318-053436.jpg And we had to bring Jack into the shots because he’s orange and white, so he complete our Irish look perfectly. Note: he does not like the camera. Not one bit.

And that’s it folks, I’m now well rested and fully prepared to tackle the upcoming week. Wedding in four days!