All posts by amy adele

Emily is HOME!

After nearly a year… my daughter, Emily, is FINALLY home!!!

During the Spring of 2017, Emily was a typical high school graduate as she made her plans to attend a college in our great state of South Carolina. But as the college deadlines approached, she was wasn’t feeling peace about the whole college thing. So she looked up an organization she had worked with when she was 12 years old…. only to find that they offered a 9 month gap-year program (IncaLink.org). She came to me with tempered excitement with the idea and I knew that my plans to keep her near were fleeting. She quickly shifted gears, raised financial support (miraculously), and packed herself up!

So in August 2017 I hugged my sweet girl goodbye. I was so sad to see her go but I knew she was exactly where God wanted her to be, so there was great comfort in that. The holidays were hard without her but her good reports and smiling face on the other end of the screen kept us going. In December she surprised us with her decision to extend her trip to over the summer. By then I had made it almost half way so I knew I’d make a it a few extra weeks longer. But it’s a good thing I didn’t know that on the front end! So in total, she has spent the last 11 months bouncing around many small villages, big cities, coastal towns, and jungle camps in the countries of Peru, Ecuador and Colombia with 7 girls her age and 2 leaders.

22538934_10210246615512882_4906042353902594890_o
Emily with her teammates in Peru. She is pictured in the middle with her hands on her knees.

She spent the majority of her time with orphans and youth in established local day cares and schools. However every day looked different. She had to learn how to be super flexible… some days she didn’t know where they were going or what they’d be asked to do until they got there! She also cleaned, painted, taught English, lead Bible studies, cooked, lead short term mission teams, worked on construction projects, organized school projects and more… basically whatever anyone needed, her team did it.

She learned a lot about working with a team and with various leaders, which was at times, super challenging. However, she developed deep friendships that I’m sure, will last a lifetime.

Communication this last year has been spotty at best between us due to her ever changing locations and internet connections, so I too learned patience, flexibility and how to love from afar. 

Emma-home
She’s home!

But for now, she’s eating home cooked meals, taking long hot showers and giving lots of hugs to old friends and family. She leaves for college in the city of Chicago in one month but I will enjoy her while I have her! 

Save the Rhinos! Run for the Rhinos in Atlanta

I recently received an usual custom artwork request from a loyal customer of mine, Jennifer C. from Atlanta, GA. I get custom artwork requests from all kinds of people and for all kinds of events. But Jennifer needed a unique design created for a special event her young daughter had put together. She wanted a t-shirt design for a community race to save the rhinos and of course, wanted a rhino on the front! IMG_4598When I asked for more details, she told me this:

“My daughter, Elizabeth, has been trying to save the rhinos for almost 5 years now. She has done bake sales, lemonade stands and other fundraisers, but she wanted to do something bigger! So the idea for the Run for the Rhinos was born! She partners with Save the Rhino International in London, and she is very involved in their fundraisers and awareness campaigns.IMG_4611 Her school, The Children’s School, said that, as part of a service learning day, we could put on the Run for the Rhinos starting on campus and running through Piedmont Park. It was a one-mile fun run for kids. We had a blast!! Also, as part of the event we painted handprints on a huge plywood rhino named Prince. Prince will be displayed at Zoo Atlanta to show everyone that ‘You have to be hands on to save the rhinos!’”

IMG_4666I had so much fun creating a super stylish rhino with sneakers and headband. 🙂 But clearly Elizabeth and her friends had a bunch more fun running in this fantastic event. IMG_3046All proceeds from the race and the bake sale were donated to Save the Rhino International. She has her own webpage and maintains it herself! Please check out Elizabeth’s webpage to view more photos of Run for the Rhinos.

May we notice when our children are passionate about something particular, be it art, swimming, writing, drama, design, caring for younger kids, nature, or even rhinos! Let us encourage them to learn, explore and run with it to see where it goes! I love how Elizabeth’s parents have joined in the excitement to place value and love on her and her ideas. IMG_4613What do your kids love and talk about all the time? How can you encourage them, in even a small way, with a specific interest of theirs? This season could be a great opportunity to pick something and enjoy it right along with them!

To see my original rhino design, click here! If you need any custom artwork, please let me know. I’d love to help! Just email me.

Artist Genes? My Daughter’s Surprise!

IMG_4362My beautiful and lovely 17 year old daughter, Emily, has recently discovered something about herself…. she’s a talented artist! I know you’re probably thinking that I’m biased (yes, of course I am) or that I expected or directed her to be an artist (I didn’t, promise!). Other than the genes that are in the family, this story is completely her own. Yes, my great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, and sister were/are all artists in their own special way. But I don’t think any of us ever expected to be artists as young girls… it just kind of happened. And now it seems Emily’s journey as an artist is beginning as well.IMG_0471.JPG

Growing up, Emily colored, drew, and painted just like all little girls do. But when it came time to pick her elective as a high school freshmen she picked whatever her friends were doing, and in her case it was Chorus. She hated it. Ok, cross that one off the list.

For her sophomore year, she choose Yearbook. As much as I think she could have really done well and enjoyed the experience, let’s just say it was a nightmare for various reasons in her particular circumstance. So that’s off the list too.

Emily was told to pick a freshman elective and stick with it so she could announce on her college application how great and proficient she was in that particular “field.” After the first two years of not-so-great elective experiences, my sweet girl faced her Junior year with uncertainty. So my husband and I said, “Don’t worry about all that college stuff, just pick something you like. This is your chance to try stuff out and have fun… this is why they have electives!”

So she came downstairs a few days later and said, “I think I want to try Art.” So as a Junior, she swallowed her pride and plopped her humble self down at the table in Art 1. Not only was the class packed full of freshmen who wanted an easy A, but the class was LAST period – the period where everyone is DONE thinking and teaching for the day. Let’s just say there was a severe lack of enthusiasm in the classroom. So she laid low and avoided the drama as best she could each day. By the middle of the year I began to see a few of her pieces and was impressed by how creative she was. I thought her ideas and execution were fantastic but maybe my bias is kicking in? Regardless, what really mattered to me was that she really seemed to enjoy the work.

One of the Art 1 assignments was to create a self-portrait. She brought it home and she kept saying it was no big deal but what I saw was amazing! A few weeks later she came home and told me that her art teachers and peers at her school looked over all the Art 1, 2 and 3 pieces and chose to send two of her pieces to a county wide art exhibit! By the way, the school can only submit 6 pieces and hardly ever choose something from Art 1. (Shameless Mom plug). We were shocked to find out they chose 2 of Emily’s pieces!

On the evening of April 14th, we piled in the car and headed to a local college where the art exhibit was held. Over 100 pieces of art from students of various high schools all over the county were on display. The event included two high schools specializing in art, The South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities and The Fine Arts Center. As we waited for the event to begin, we slowly walked through the exhibit and were amazed by all the imagination, skill and creativity of these students! There were all kinds of mediums including drawing, painting, etching, sculpture, etc.

After all the parents and guests had time to peruse the artwork display, the host began to give out awards. For each category, they gave honorable mentions, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place awards, and even cash prizes. (Cash? Who knew?) When the drawing category came up (her two pieces where both drawings), the host said the judge had a hard time judging because it was the most competitive category. So the host gave out a bunch of honorable mention awards. Emily’s name was not called so we thought that was the end of that. All of a sudden her big beautiful face flashed on the screen above (her self portrait) and she was awarded 3rd place!! We were speechless! We thought it was good but we knew we were a little biased! Wowee! It ended up that another girl from her school won the Best in Show award. It was great night for her and for her school! And she won $25! (I need to ask her what she spent that on!) 🙂IMG_7093

A few weeks later, they too had an event at her high school for just their pieces. Emily and I dressed up and headed out to see her friends and view all the art. She didn’t think there was much more to it that night and had a headache and wanted to go. I asked her, “Are you sure you want to go? I think I heard an announcement about something later.” She was sure. So we headed out to get some cake. While we were sitting on the back patio she got a call from her friend. “Emily, you won! Your self-portrait won Best in Show!” I screamed, “What?! We missed it?” I was so proud and mad at her at the same time!! We were there but we left and missed the award! I couldn’t believe it. Let me just add that the piece that won Best in Show at the county exhibit was also at her high school exhibit but she placed FIRST this time (another proud Mom statement for you there). She also won a unique award at the Junior/Senior Awards night at her school for her excellence in artwork this year.IMG_7106

I remember one night a few months ago we were talking in her room about college. This was before all these crazy awards happened and she asked me where she would put all her paints, brushes, paper and such at college. I said there’s no room for that in a little college dorm room! I could see her shock, disappointment and true love for it all in one look that she flashed back at me. Plus, we had been talking a lot about college majors and she really didn’t know what she thought about it all. At the time I was thinking Art would make a great hobby/outlet for her to enjoy when it was time to relax – something I believe is critical in this life of intense busyness. IMG_7196But needless to say, she’s taking another look at Art when it comes to college. And we’re excited that this summer she’ll be attending a pre-college art program which should help clarify even further what direction she should head, since this all so fresh after all.

We are THRILLED for her! No matter what she chooses to study or chooses as a career in the future, I think her art genes have finally kicked in. 🙂

21 Years Ago

wedding2
September 17, 1994

On a warm September day, 21 years ago, I vowed to love my young husband, Joey, as long as I live. I was only 19, but when you know, you know.

I can’t remember the day we met because we were only babies. You see, our mothers met one day in middle school as they stood in line waiting for their names to be called, when they quickly realized they had the same name, Michele (with one “l”). They were friends for life. By the time I was in kindergarten, I had a huge crush on him. He and his family moved away when I was 9 years old but I continued to try and stay in touch by writing him letters. I later found out that my dorky and awkward demeanor put me way out of his league of coolness. I reluctantly moved on with my boy interests.

IMG_6088
I have proof. Here’s a worksheet I did in school about my favorite friend, Joey.

When I was a senior in high school, my older sister got married and Joey came to the wedding as a family friend. That’s when it all really began. I had outgrown my awkward stage, I suppose. 🙂 We stayed out past midnight that night just talking and walking around the city of Arlington, VA. It was magical; we were smitten with each other, no doubt. Along with the butterflies, excitement, ease and connection that a couple like us had at the time, I think what really got us (and what we realized quite quickly) was that we found someone who really loved Jesus Christ the same. A year or so later, we eventually got to the point where we didn’t want to just date. We only wanted to date someone who we could really see ourselves marrying someday. When we both individually realized that yes, I really do want to marry this person, then we thought, “Why wait?!” Of course, we had to convince my father of that first. 🙂 Since our parents were such good friends, we quickly got their blessing!!

I spent the first year of college dating and engaged and the next 3 years married! I didn’t exactly have a typical college experience, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. We lived in a little apartment on campus, had many of the same classes and graduated together!

IMG_5754We’ve since filled up the rest of our lives with three babies, business adventures, plenty of struggle, sacrifice, patience and lots of love. God’s love for us and our love for Him connected us from the beginning, as we grew up together as super young newly weds, and even now as we hit our 40s. I am so very thankful for these last 21 years and I know, with God’s help, He will continue to be our foundation in the years ahead.

 

 

 

That’s a Wrap!

Labor Day Weekend is approaching which means that we’ve got another summer to add to our memories. I hope it was a great one for you! I must say we had a really nice summer. We’ve had some rough summers in the past so it was a nice surprise, I’m thankful to say. It was filled with a pleasant mix of rest, recreation, vacation, activities, work, play, and a whole lot of nothing in between. Well, I guess that “whole lot of nothing” only really applied to my younger two kids. 🙂

Grace at camp!

My daughter Grace had quite a summer! She turned 12 years old in June and quickly transformed into a young lady after contacts (as a birthday gift) and braces changed that sweet face we look at every day! The highlight of her summer was probably when she went to her first week-long sleep away camp. She attended Camp Winshape for girls associated with Chick-Fil-A. It was a fantastic camp and I highly recommend it! She still talks about how great it was, months later. She also kept up with her first love, music, and had lot of laughs when her cousins came to visit.

IMG_5457
Corban’s first baseball game!

Corban kept busy having fun with me and attending a little summer preschool. We bounced around town going to the library, the zoo, our local children’s museum, and a gazillion trips to the grocery store. We even snuck in a quick trip downtown to take Corban to his very first baseball game! Soon after we arrived, they shot off some fireworks that scared him so bad that he spent the majority of the time with his hands over his ears but a little popcorn solved that!

Emily was crazy busy… and she liked it! First, she went on a week long mission trip to Eleuthera (which she loved, loved, loved). Then she spent the rest of her summer as an intern at our church. They kept her busy as she attended classes, meetings, assisted leaders on staff, worked part time for local businesses, and helped lead a local mission trip with middle schooler students. Plus she was an integral part of the leadership team for a big youth event downtown. Of course, she filled in all the extra time with friends and such. 🙂

IMG_5260
Emily is off to her first day of her internship!
IMG_5768
Vacationing with my little man.

My husband was busy with his new job and this new chapter in his life. And me? Well, I was busy with managing them all and keeping it all together! I was able to squeeze in some time to work while making sure everyone was either on task or having fun. Our summer family vacation was at the very end of the summer and it was so restful! We went to Charleston and the beach… it was beautiful. We had not taken a family vacation in years. I was so very thankful! Yes, this summer has been a good one. Now, there have definitely been some rough days in the mix, but as I look back, I can’t help but thank Jesus for the many blessings that have overflowed to me this summer.

Update on Corban- My busy 6 year old!

IMG_1160
Here is Corban, just a few days old, in the NICU.

Six years ago, my son, Corban, was born premature and weighed only 2 lbs. It has been quite an adventure for our family since then! Many of you have followed his journey along the way with many prayers and encouragement. (Thanks for that!) For those of you who are not familiar with his story, feel free to read my blogs about his birth back in 2009. In the meantime, here’s a little update on how he’s doing now!

He is a happy, adorable (if I do say so myself), and smart little kid who loves to ride his bike, giggle at himself when he says silly things, and ride in Daddy’s jeep with the top down. He just finished up his 2nd year of K4 and is looking forward to the big adventure called Kindergarten in the fall! Every week, he attends one session of occupational therapy (fine motor skills) with a specialist who comes to our home, and two sessions of speech and language therapy at a small office in town called Beacon (www.beaconslps.com). Jeannie Turley owns and operates Beacon and has discovered some challenges in him that we had never noticed before. He has a speech and language disorder that often causes him to get his words mixed up and he struggles with processing those things he sees or hears which will cause him to hesitate or zone out for a few seconds. He also has limb apraxia which causes him to be a little more uncoordinated compared to his friends, andIMG_4106 oral apraxia which means that he struggles moving his tongue. You and I can tell our brain to move our tongue up and down and side to side but Corban has spent months working on these skills. His tongue works fine, he just struggles with telling his brain to move his tongue in a different direction than his jaw. He is very proud that he has just about mastered moving his tongue side to side!

Beacon also offers a unique program that Corban is in the middle of called the Sensory Learning Program. The first phase is a 12 day program that he attended 2 times a day for 30 minutes each time. Whew! That kept me busy running back and forth from their office like that, even on the weekend! He is now in the second phase in which he continues the program at home for 18 days. This makes it a little easier on Mommy. 🙂

He had a great year in K4 (again). He is just about the same size and developmIMG_4726ent as the kids in his class and he fit in nicely this year. You’d never know he was a year older or had any specific issues if you observed him for a short time! Kindergarten will be a big step up but I think he’ll do well. Academics are not a struggle for him in the classroom but he does struggle when he is required to focus on a task, follow detailed instructions, or articulate something complex. We take one school quarter at a time with him so we’ll see how he does! I am so thankful for how healthy and strong he is! He was a BIG surprise in many ways and has no doubt, continued to keep me young and on my toes! 🙂

DSC_0875

The Summer Jolt

concert
Here I am with Grace and Corban after Grace’s band concert last week. She played the marimba beautifully and as always, with her enthusiastic flare!

It’s the end of the school year and if you’re like my family, it’s gets busy… like Christmas busy. My days and nights have been filled with concerts, projects, recitals, field trips, teacher gifts, summer birthday parties (at school), graduation gifts, summer camp sign ups, exams, and award assemblies. I decided all that wasn’t exciting enough so I threw in an intensive 12 day sensory therapy program for my son and taught my 16 year old daughter how to drive stick shift. More on those on another blog, after I catch my breath. I can’t complain. They are all great, fun and good things and I am so very thankful for that!

IMG_4806
I have two nieces graduating from high school this year! Congratulations to two great girls, Molly and Maddie!

         

My son, Corban, who is in preschool will finish his last day of school this Friday. Grace, my middle schooler, will be done next Friday and Emily, my high schooler, will be done the Friday after that. It’s kinda funny how it worked out that way. Then what will we all do?? It’s always a jolt to my system when school ends and summer begins. It’s tricky juggling working from home and those big bored eyes staring at me (on the 2nd day of summer break). I’ve got some plans and activities for them to do but there will be a time of adjustment that I need to prepare myself for. This is a new season for me now that I’m carrying more responsibility with Amy Adele. So hopefully I can keep it together! I know many of you will face the same adjustment along with me. So, let’s do this summer well!

Big Changes at Amy Adele

Wow! It’s been quite a year for us here at Amy Adele and it’s only May!

Let me start with the bad news (because I just want to keep it real). Sales over the last two years have not exactly been great… and that is putting it mildly. My husband and I kept hoping things would improve but the sales continued to decline. So we did what any hard working business owners do… we hunkered down and talked to a lot of experts and advisors to analyze Amy Adele to get their opinions on what to improve and change. Owning a business is kinda like owning a house. There’s ALWAYS something to fix and improve and the list can be overwhelming. So we decided to focus in on what was possible and went after it. The first thing was the navigation. We added the sorting tool on the left of each page so our customers could easily check the boxes to fine tune their search and find the cards they wanted. Then we worked on the home page. We changed everything about it! The top, the navigation, a “Stationery Gift Finder” tool, and more. We also corrected details on the backend so new customers could find us easier and introduced Paperless Invitations.

However, despite our efforts, the sales just weren’t strong enough. We had to make a bigger change. You see, we had been printing and shipping all our orders out ourselves in a little office space a few miles from our home with a fabulous staff for 10 years. But the more we looked at the numbers, the more it made sense to close our shop. So at the end of January, with very heavy hearts, we said goodbye to our faithful staff, sold our equipment, packed up all the extra supplies, and closed our doors.

IMG_3494
This little bee greeted us by the front door every morning.
IMG_3726
My son, Corban, saying goodbye to Mr. Bumble Bee.

 

Now the good news! We are thrilled to report that we have partnered with a top notch printing company in California. They have a wonderful reputation in the printing industry and they are experts in printing personalized stationery, invitations, and all the other things we offer! With their help, our designs are now printed on even thicker paper than before. They are also able to print and ship our cards faster than we could in our little office. We love that! Over the last few months, I have truly enjoyed working with them. They are professional and quick to respond when I need to make a change on an order for a customer.

Honestly, it has been heartbreaking for my husband (who worked full time on Amy Adele) and I to see the decline in sales. However, we remind ourselves each day that our hope is not in Amy Adele or the provision it used to provide us. Our hope is in Jesus. His ways are higher than our ways. Our prayer is that our hearts will be stronger through these trials, because that’s what really matters! The best part is that we have already seen traces of these blessings already!

So, it’s just little me running the show now! I work from home, personally approving every order that comes through, replying to customer emails, sending out emails announcing our sales, creating new artwork, posting on social media and more! I always worked from home with Amy Adele but I’ve never had this much involvement. I’m completely out of my comfort zone here… but so far so good!

My sweet little desk where all the magic happens! 😉

We are so very thankful for our faithful customers who have consistently ordered from us year after year; for each birthday party, for teacher gifts and family Christmas cards, to name a few. Our greatest joy that we get from Amy Adele is that we are able play a small role in helping your children say “thank you” to others. We are overwhelmed by your support. We hope our faithful customers and our new customers alike will enjoy the new changes!

Thank you again, dear friends!

Amy Adele Wike

P.S.

Would you like to help? For those of you who enjoy Amy Adele, you can help! If you haven’t already, “like” us on Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Most of all, please tell your friends about Amy Adele and invite them to our social media sites, as well. This will help us out a ton!

Blog Spotlight: Emily

FullSizeRender

Ok! Here’s one last update on my kiddos. I’ve saved the oldest for last! Emily is almost 16 years old now and she is a super mix of sweetness, fun, and down-to-earth-ness!

EmmaIt has been a busy fall for her! She’s a sophomore in high school and just finished up the cross country season with her fellow teammates. She is still figure skating multiple times a week before and after school and is now rehearsing for the big Christmas program! All this while taking super hard classes and staying active with her close friends and church events. The other day she asked if she could join the outdoor club at school… um… “No!” was my answer. That child would do everything if she could. 🙂

 FullSizeRenderShe has a generous heart for others and she can laugh at herself. She is a great big sister to both Grace and Corban; loving them just the way they need it. Emily also teaches a 4th grade girl’s class with me on Sunday mornings at church and those little girls just love her… and I must say… I do too!

Children’s Museum in the Upstate: Greenville, SC

 

museum

This past Saturday, both my husband and eldest daughter were out of town. So, Grace, Corban and I were eating breakfast and trying to figure out what adventure we too, could take!  I opened up a local children’s magazine to see if I spotted anything in there for us to do and found that it was Museum Day Live which includes free admission to participating museums through the Smithsonian. We have a fantastic children’s museum nearby that Grace and Corban are always asking to go to, but we only go once or twice a year because it is so expensive. So, I called our museum and sure enough… it was free! It was a beautiful autumn day outside but I couldn’t beat “free” and my kids were thrilled!

museum1 museum2

 

We got dressed and jumped in the car right away!  The Children’s Museum of the Upstate is located in the heart of downtown Greenville and filled with a variety of super creative exhibits. As soon as you walk in, there is a colorful two-story climbing structure, which is Grace’s favorite feature, I think. On the main floor, circling the structure are race cars, space ships, a kid-sized grocery store with a checkout counter and bank, and a hospital! The top floor has robots, construction, recycling, and a little farmhouse. The bottom floor has a water exhibit, music, tv production, and art rooms. We’ve been there a number of times and it never gets old! They keep a big space on the top floor for new exhibits that they change out every few months. The one that is running now is called Grossology (all things gross)… so we skipped that one. Yuck! Corban isn’t old enough to care, thank goodness! He loved the construction exhibit. He really wanted to wear the yellow construction hat even though it kept falling in his face. His very favorite was the race cars! He worked so hard changing the big tires out! We had a super time having our own adventure and still had the afternoon to enjoy the weather!

museum4 museum3