Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Paintings....and more

Well after having a busy week leading up to Christmas, then having my beloved laptop die on me (being fixed currently...still under warranty thankfully!) only to be followed up with an even busier Christmas Eve, Day and week following I am actually getting a post on here and am quite proud of myself :)  

I wanted to post my 2 new paintings I did for the winner of Lara's Giveaway, Makenzie and I was so excited to do them.  She pretty mcuh gave me leeway to do whatever which is almost harder for me because I second guess anything I want to do but wanted to start basic and will see if she wants I can add more to it, so here are the 2 medium sized canvas paintings that may or may not be quite done yet :)

On Christmas Day we got to help out with the most amazing event in our little town, Davo's Diner.  You can read about it if you click on the link but in short we not only served a wonderful meal to hundreds of families in need but also were able to distribute coats, hats, gloves, toys and bags of groceries as well as provide family pictures to be taken, a visit from Santa and meals to be taken to those unable to get out.  My parents came along too and helped out and honestly it was a bit overwhelming to see how many volunteers there were, maybe more than people we were serving...and it all started because of one sweet little boy's heart for those in need!
And now here is a family picture we got just before heading out to the Christmas Eve service with my parents.  We had so mcuh fun and miss them very mcuh already!
As for our adoption process we will be submitting our USCIS application any day...still just waiting on our finalized and notarized home study. 

In the mean-time we have been quite busy with our new non-profit organization we have started with 3 other families in our church.  It's A Child's Life will be meeting on
Jan 8th, 2011 at 5pm at H2O Chruch in Ada, OK and we are SO excited about it.  We hope to see you all there.  As of now you can see a general idea on our blog about it but we have already bought the websites .org, .net and .com and soon will have them up and running too with a lot more to offer. 

Lastly I want to say a HUGE congratulations to our friends Rachel and Scott Miller who will be leaving in 3 DAYS to go bring their precious daughter Aamina home from Ethiopia.  This has been a long haul for them after receiveing the referral for her at the end of July 2010 at only weeks old!  Please keep this family in your prayers for safe travels and an amazing Gotcha Day!!!! 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Adoption Family Christmas Party & Some Favorites

This season I have a few recent Christmas decor additions that I just love and want to share.  The first is an ornament I ordered in support of one of my best friend's adoptions through Ordinary Hero and just love it!  If I had the money I would love a whole tree filled with these! 

My next favorite is my new Christmas card display.  I usually put them into a wreath shape but then I never get to see the whole cards so I thought I would try to hang them from little clips on ribbon...something I saw someone do with pictures and wire before.  I was looking for the wire and little metal clips and then came across these cheap little wooden ones and I think I just might like it better.
 Here is our Christmas card I hung up too...they will be going out this week once I make sure I have my address book updated.  I decided to save money this year by doing them on a 4x6 photo (SO much cheaper, I may have to start doing this every year)
My next item to share is my new ornament from a new friend Kathleen.  She is SO talented and has an Etsy shop to keep her busy, check it out at
 This is a picture from last night at our Christmas party, books from Jennifer that I cannot wait to read to Jalen as well as to our future little Ethiopian baby!
 And here's our group picture (L>R):  Jennifer and John, Matt and Sarah, Jason and I, and Clint and Kathleen.  All of us are adopting from Ethiopia, from 3 different agencies but are all at about the same timeline, give or take a few weeks.  We had so much fun, good food and drink and such good conversations.  We are so blessed to have people near us that we can go through this journey together!    We are so excited for the next get together already.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Recent Events and Our Non-Profit is Coming Soon!!!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!!
Our holidays have been so packed full and are packed until New Years as well but we are so excited about everything that is going on and can't wait to share it all with you.  First of all, where are we in our adoption process???
Our Home Study has been completed and written up, reviewed by us for corrections and returned to our social worker today for final touches.  We have our list of all that is included in our Dossier (aka Paper Chase).  Most we have already done for application part 2 and a lot of it is just transferring info over and getting it re-notarized and some stuff state certified but our goal is to get this done this week!  This may be a lofty goal as we have a lot going on this week with our church and work but we'll do it.

For those of you reading who are not familiar with the process, this is what we will be doing to get our dossier complete to be sent to ETHIOPIA!!!
1.  Notarized power of attorney letter
2.  Notarized Letter of intent
3.  Certified copy of Jason and my birth certificates
4.  Certified copy of our marriage license
5.  Notarized letter of criminal clearances
6.  Notarized medical letters for Jason, myself and Jalen
7.  Notarized financial statement
8.  Notarized letters of employment
9.  Notarized letter from bank
10.  Notarized proof of life and health insurance
11.  3 Notarized letters of reference
12.  2 passport sized photographs for both Jason and myself
13.  Notarized copies of each of our passports
14.  Notarized USCIS I-171h approval
15.  Notarized Home Study
16.  Notarized agency license
17.  4 copies of our picture book (pictures of our immediate family, home, and extended family)
...and That's ALL!  Whoa, I'm actually exhausted just from writing that!  So if we are not as available as usual over the next week or two, you understand why :)                                                                       
Now for other things going on this week that I want to share.  Above is a picture of some of the stuff we have bought so far for the 4 kids we have "adopted" this year to buy Christmas gifts for.  We do this every year and get "our" kids from a friend's friend who is a social worker in a very small and poor community here in OK.  I went out at 4am on Black Friday to get as much as I could for them and still find myself buying things every time I go to the store because I keep thinking of how this may be the only time they get nice clothes, toys or anything for a while and it just breaks my heart!  I really recommend finding someone in your area that knows of some families and children in need and doing this.  It is such a nice thing to do and you can really get a lot for your money this time of year.  Our Church is also doing something similar and this Tuesday and Thursday evening we are going shopping at Walmart, at Walmart's cost and without taxes for about 35 families and over 100 children to fill boxes with clothes and toys and such for each child in need.
Lastly and very IMPORTANTLY!!!  Our non-profit organization has begun and we are so excited that we will soon be registered and have our website up and running.  Jason and I have wanted to do this once we got started in our own adoption process and knew we would do this after the adoption was over but because of our amazing friends and supportive church family we, along with 3 other families from our church are starting this up NOW!  We are a diverse group that all has a heart to help those that don't have a voice, in some way or another.  Whether through adoption, foster care, or orphan care (sponsorship, mentoring, etc), we want to be the "go-to" people to help out in our community and hopefully expand further out as well.  Our pastor is meeting with other local church pastors this week and will be announcing our group and after the holidays we will have our first official meeting .  We are still working on all the details but I will reveal our name.  After lots of creative thinking from everyone included and looking up what names already exists we have decided to name our organization.... It's A Child's Life.  Whenever we are asked questions about why we do what we do and how we are able to be comfortable stepping out of the comfort zone, really it just all comes down to the fact that it's a child's life!  Stay tuned for our website, facebook page, etc.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Win an iPod Touch

With a BIG shopping weekend coming up and Christmas just 1 month away, I came across a great fundraiser for you to check out where you could win an iPod Touch and for such a GREAT cause!  This is another family adopting from Ethiopia and to enter to win is so easy.  Just check it out and  Enter The Raffle HERE!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Home Study Done-Bring on the Next Step!

This weekend was once again a BIG weekend....seems like we haven't had a normal weekend in quite a while!  We had our home study visit and it went just GREAT, well at least I think it did, we'll see :)   Kimberly, our social worker is so sweet and is adopted herself, as well as has 2 adopted children from Korea and one on the way, still in Korea so as she is doing home studies for other families like us, she is working on her own child's adoption as well.  The one room I couldn't get back to normal shape was the spare room because it was filled with the t-shirts that you all bought but it turned out to be good because she got to see our fundraiser at work and ended up taking a shirt home herself. 

 I just love to think about all the people around this country wearing our shirts, seriously from Washington to Florida and from Minnesota to Mississippi I am shipping all over the place and it makes me so excited.  We had an awesome response to buy the leftover shirts we had and within hours, they were GONE!  So as we do not have any more left, we will be making them again and maybe even before Christmas so I will let you know when we do.  Next time around we will be making them ourselves and may change it up a bit...different color shirts and most likely will be long-sleeve for the colder months to come.  So, thank you again for everyone's support, it means so much to us and keeps us going!  So the shirts are packed up and ready to be should be getting yours soon and we hope you love them!

Another exciting thing about this weekend was today, we are in a study at church called "Chazown" and tonight found out what our spiritual gifts and core values are and then placed them along with our past experiences to develop our "Vision" or "Chazown" in life.  I can't say I was surprised in the least at what my past, core values and spiritual gifts led to...hospitality, compassion, selflessness, respect, serving/giving, and encouragement to name a few and all leading to where we are in our life/adoption journey as we speak.  Another couple in our Life Group is going alongside Jason and I in developing our adoption/orphan ministry at our church to bring attention to the need here in our little town with hopes to expand beyond and reach out wherever we can.  We are close to having a name, mission statement, schedule of events and date of our first meeting and within the next week we should have all the information ready to is SOOOO exciting we can't wait to share with you!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Great Giveaway for just $5.00

So as I am returning emails from other adoption moms I came across someone's blog that had another blog linked to it trying to spread the word about a fundraiser that is just awesome!  I just love how we all can help out in bringing children home to their forever families just by spreading the word and often contributing just a little bit.  

The Rooney Family is hosting a giveaway for an adorable custom made doll by one of their friends.  The winner of the doll gets to order the doll according to requested skin tone, hair, and initial.  I just love them and for a small $5.00 donation and a post to your blog (or Facebook I would assume would be okay too) you can be entered to win as well. 
You can check out the  Etsy Shop where these dolls come from and see how adorable they are and that they are valued at over $50.  I did my part, now go and do yours and you may win...I hope I do!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

4th Round of T-Shirts Are In!

 Thank You to everyone who ordered a shirt from our adoption fundraiser or spread the word for us!  We raised over $500 this round so Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!!  We did order a few extras if anyone is interested.  Just let me know.  We currently have in the women's tee (as seen below) 1- Medium, 
1- Large, and 2- XL's (they run 1 size small) for $25 each.  In the men's we have 2- Larges and 2- XLs (they run true to size) for $20 each.  First come, first serve :)

I will be getting everyone's sent out this weekend once I get them all wrapped up pretty and packaged so you should be getting them soon!  I would love it if you would take a picture of yourself wearing it when you get it because I am working on a project for our future child's room to incorporate everyone who has helped bring him or her home! 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Big Weekend!!!

We had such a wonderful weekend with our good friends The Helms coming in from TX to visit and celebrate our baby Jalen's 2nd birthday!
Jalen and Jude had such a fun time together, this was the first time they actually got to play as Jalen has always been too young to really "play".  Jalen is still talking about "Juuude!" all the time and misses him very much!  This is a picture of our boys and their beanies, such cute lil boys we have!
After a b-day party, dinner, good time visiting, church on Sun and lunch, the Helms drove home and we headed up to Norman, OK to meet with our social worker for our first visit.  She has 2 adopted children from Korea herself and one on the way, just waiting in Korea for her to travel to bring him home next year, makes me feel great to have her as she can 100% empathize with all we go through!  Our home study visit is going to be this coming Saturday!!!  we're coming along and hope to get our dossier sent in before the year ends!  We also were meeting up with another ET adoptive family, The Lincks that I had done some paintings for.  Here are 2 of the 3, I forgot to take a picture of the big one that went with them.  We are very excited to meet up again, it is always so nice to have other people to talk to that truly understand and get all of this!

We then headed back home to attend our Sun evening "Chazown" studies at church, we are learning each week how to find our vision and make it happen.  We're pretty set on what our vision is, not just to get through this adoption but to continue our lives with living purposefully and creating a voice for the millions of orphans out there.  We are heading up a group/ministry at our church and are involving other churches and I will talk more about that later but it is all very exciting  and when I look back on what my life was like 1 year ago compared to today, I can't even imagine it.  It's like trying to remember what life was like before having kids, just seems like it would have been so empty and filled with time that was spent doing nothing and now everything we do has a purpose and it feels so good.  I will never go back and promise to continue my life living with purpose the make this world maybe that more of a better place!

I would also like to plug my friend Lara's Giving Thanks Giveaway.  Go check it out and buy a slice of "pie" or a shirt and spread the word to win!  I have donated a custom canvas to her winner as well so if you like what you see above or what is posted on my Custom Canvas Website, then enter Lara's is for a GREAT cause!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Catching Up

Since last time I posted so much has been going on in the O'Neal house that I can hardly keep up.  So to make my mind feel a bit more at ease and get to cross something off my never ending list here is what has been going on over the past 2 weeks!
We sent in our $5,000 to Dillon for the first program fee and home study fee and now are just waiting on our social worker to contact us with a date for the home study which I am SO hoping to hear by tomorrow.

We finished our last round of t-shirt sales through Explosion Sportswear and should be receiving them soon so we can get them out to all of you who ordered.  To those of you who have asked about ordering after the link closed, we did order some extras so once we get them here and figured out I will announce what sizes we have and it will just be first come first serve.  This was our biggest order yet and we are so appreciative to everyone who ordered.  In the future we will be making our own t-shirts but probably won't start that task till after the holidays.  We also had a free T-shirt contest and my friend Kelly Jo won!

Today of course was Orphan Sunday but we are going to be hosting an event to celebrate it later this month.  We are meeting with one of our pastor's this week to get the plans set but are so excited as in the last couple months we have went from seemingly like an oddity in our small community for pursuing international adoption to feeling like we have become the "go-to" people to talk to about adoption or anything related to orphans and we couldn't be happier.  There is nothing more gratifying to me than to share education on something I am so passionate about.

My parents came down from Illinois last weekend and we got to take them to the OKC Zoo and then to the Queen of Sheba to experience wonderful Ethiopian cuisine.  They also got to meet Mimi, the owner and the most hospitable and friendly person around.  We also got to celebrate Jalen's birthday (part 1) and then take him trick-or-treating, it was a long busy weekend but we had so much fun!  Then last Monday we found out our house in Arizona finally (after 16 mths on the market for a short sale) sold and closed so we are now single home owners...YAY!!!!!!

 Now for our busy upcoming week.  Our angel Jalen will be turning 2 years old on Wednesday November 10th and next Sat, Nov 13th we are having his birthday party (part 2) and are so excited that The Helms Family will be joining us!  For those of you who don't know, Hilary and I have known each other since 5th grade (almost 20 years) and after 10 years of living across the country from one another and losing touch, we now live 2 hrs away and get to go through this crazy thing called adoption together.  It all started with a phone call back in March between us about the idea of adopting and now look it is really becoming a reality and has been a life-changing event for both of our families!  Can't wait to see ya Hil!

Friday, October 22, 2010

GREAT NEWS- we're moving forward

I found out today that our Application Part 2 has been approved and we can move forward with the Home Study!!!!   This is such huge news for us as we have been waiting patiently and found out we were pretty much approved with a few missing pieces from other people needed.    This is where I have to say how much I LOVE DILLON INTERNATIONAL!!!!  From the get-go they have just been a dream to work with and continue to be there when I need them every step of the way. Our program director has changed as our original one has accepted a supervisory position with a foster care organization but we were so happy to find out that the person taking her place was the program director we had met when we were in Tulsa a few weeks ago and loved that we would be working with her.    We also found out that our case worker would be the one other member of Dillon that we met that weekend, Rebecca, and we are also very excited about that as we loved her too and were really hoping for her! 

So now we get to cut a couple checks $3,500 and $1,500 which thankfully to saving, fund-raising and some generous friends helping out too, we do have and are so ready to start getting it where it needs to go!  We will need to send in about $10,800 total from now until we are placed on the wait-list and we are very close to achieving that, hoping this last t-shirt sales is a big hit!  

Speaking of t-shirts...don't forget to enter our contest (as many times as you would like) and let me know when you do.  You have until next Friday so tell all your friends and family too.  Also if you just want to contribute and get a t-shirt for yourself, friend or family member you can do so HERE

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Okay so this is the last time we are doing our t-shirts as we have in the past and want to have the last order be as successful as possible.  We are going to be making the shirts ourselves in the future and are hoping they will look great but want to make sure everyone that has wanted one of our current shirts, gets one before they're gone.  So, we are having a contest!!!!  Here's how it works, you can get your name entered in many ways and on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29th I will draw a name and announce it and you can choose the shirt and size you would like.  Just make sure you let me know when you do the following so I can keep track of your entries, so here is how you can enter and do so as often as you like!

1.  Post about our t-shirts or this contest on Facebook:  1 Entry each time you post

2.  Post about our t-shirts or this contest on your blog.  1 Entry

3.  Email 5 of your friends, family, co-workers, etc.  1 Entry for every 5 people

4.  Follow this blog and if you already do, just let me know.  1 Entry

The posts and emails can be whatever you want to say and as simple as:
Help support a family adopting from Ethiopia and buy a shirt at

Remember let me know as a message on here or by email each time you enter so I can get your name down.  Thanks for playing!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Celebrating Jenn's Life

On Saturday, October 16th, we lost a new friend and today we were able to celebrate her life with a beautiful service amongst her friends and family.  

“I may not be well with my circumstances, but it is well with my soul.”
- Jennifer Cunningham Kimbrell

We met Jenn just under 2 months ago but had been hearing all about her for some time before.  When Jason and I moved to Oklahoma we were church hopping for a little while to see where our best fit would be.  We kind of accidentally walked into H2O Church one day thinking it was a coffee house (as the side door has a sign with coffee beans that read HeBrewz (which FYI it is a great location to get lunch Tues-Thurs and does serve coffee during church hours, but is not a "coffeehouse" per say 
We then one day decided to see what it was like and we enjoyed the worship band, the message, the relaxed feeling and especially were personally welcomed and made to feel extra important by a man named John Kimbrell.  From the get-go, John tried to get us involved in a life group and invited us to the one he was in.  At the time Jason was working in OKC (90 miles away) and we had very little time for each other and our family and passed on the invite but said we would come someday when Jason got a job closer to home.  We started going to the Life Group John was in and started coming to H2O Church services and felt right at home and knew we belonged!  It was soon after that we learned of Jenn and that John had proposed and they were engaged! Jenn was living in TX and although we had heard a lot about her we did not meet her until Labor Day weekend when we were able to celebrate with them at their wedding reception in Ada (they were married on August 7th).  We then got to know Jenn better as we were welcomes into the Kimbrell's beautiful  home for our Life Group meetings.  Jenn was a wonderful hostess, she made us fabulous meals and provided the most warm, comforting, and welcoming home for us.  Jen's was so full of life and her spirit was so uplifting to be around in the short time we got to know her but we are so blessed that we did!  

Saturday evening we went grocery shopping and our shopping trip was filled with Jenn in mind.  First to buy all the ingredients to make the same taco chili she made us  a few weeks back that was awesome and second to buy stuff to make her and her family dinner for Sunday evening.  As soon as we got home, we found out the news, Jen had passed away not more than an hour ago!  We were so lucky to have known her for the time we did but I have to say I was very saddened partly selfishly because I was really looking forward to getting to know her more!  I encourage you to read her blog and share it with all who you know.  Jenn was very inspiring and will be greatly missed!  Please keep the The Kimbrells and the Cunningham's in your prayers.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

T-Shirts are Back and Ready to be Ordered...Who Wants One???

I have had many requests for our t-shirts since the last ordering link closed so to all who have asked about them...they are back!  We have been using Explosion Sportswear to have them made but this will be the last time we are able to use them.  They have been just awesome in allowing all the proceeds to go to our adoption but I know they are getting very busy and the 4th time around will be the last with them :)

 Women's Burn-out Tee (fitted and very soft!)

Men's/Uni-Sex Tee (50/50 blend, also very soft!)

 You can order shirts until NOV. 1st at 10 AM (MST) and this time they are a bit different.  We decided to narrow the shirts down to one women's burn-out shirt in chocolate brown and one uni-sex/men's shirt in white.  We also removed the back from the uni-sex/men's shirt and on the women's shirt just kept a picture of Africa with a heart over Ethiopia.  This way if you do not want "Expecting from Ethiopia" on your shirt, it won't be there, since not everyone is adopting from ET or adopting at all that are buying our shirts :)

SIZING:  The shirts are the same sizes as before.  The burnout shirt runs small so order 1 size up and the uni-sex shirt comes in XS-XXL so women can order these too (for example an XS in the unisex shirt fits like the M in the burnout shirt)

COST:  Women's Burn-out Tees are $25.00 & the Men's/Unisex Tees are $20.00.

Thank You So Much for you continued support!!!  We just found out that we did "a great job" on application part 2 (aka: our dossier prep/HS prep/paperchase) and other than 2 items our agency is waiting on from other people we will be good to move forward...Home Study here we come!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Garage Sale Pictures and End Result

So our Garage Sale Extravaganza was a success!  We went from Friday 7am-4pm and Saturday 8am-4pm at our church while Ada Autumn days celebrations were going on and not only provided a large and over-whelming garage sale, but also had a bake sale, Ethiopian coffee sale and a HUGE hit lunch for $5.00 including wonderfully 12+ hour smoked brisket sandwiches that went so quick I almost didn't get any for myself!  We were sleep deprived, food deprived and later realized slightly dehydrated but all in all I would say it was well worth it.  Not only did we have a good time, met a lot of people and were able to share our story with them, we also made $3,500 to go towards our adoption!!!!  Here is the event in pictures below, not in order but they have captions
A dear friend, Mike, smoking up some brisket for us to sell

Inside of He Brewz, our church's weekday lunch stop that on this day served up the coffee, baked goods and lunch!

Just found this fact fascinating and thought I'd share
Standing out in front of the garage sale, taking a break to enjoy the sun and watch the parade

Our 1st customers and how sweet were they!

my shoe of the only tables I got to fully organize...if only all the tables were as easy to see

The book table and this wasn't it even at it's fullest!

A view of some of the tables and clothes racks...thanks to my friend Natalie for providing these racks!

The crazy clothes tables...just too many items to organize especially when the majority of the clothes came to us on Thurs night, so it really was a needle ina  haystack type of shopping here
baked goods table...chocolate chip cookies, puppy chow, Texas sheet cake and pumpkin spice cookies with cream cheese frosting

The wonderful hard workers behind the counter...Mike, Tiffany, Zac and Greg!!! We love you guys!!!!!

Jalen watching the parade with Daddy, Nana, and Boompa

So we had a great time and plan to do another garage sale in the Spring, but this time we'll have it at our house and it will be much smaller!  We did get rid of almost everything we had there and were able to help a  couple that had nothing, make their apt a little more like home as well as were able to hear a lot of great stories of how we were helping someone else that really needed something but couldn't afford one normally.  At 3:30pm it was pretty much take whatever you want for whatever you want to give and this included nice TVs, furniture, lots of clothes and more!