21 Years Ago

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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.

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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.

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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. 🙂

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Emily is off to her first day of her internship!
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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!

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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! 🙂

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The Summer Jolt

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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!

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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.

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This little bee greeted us by the front door every morning.
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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!

Boys Stationery: Expressing Thanks With Style and Theme

At amyadele.com, we know how important it is to teach children to be thankful. Whether they have received a compliment or a gift it’s a nice idea to have your boys write a thank you letter.

Our boys stationery is made just for boys. We offer a variety of designs making it fun for boys to write thank you letters to their friends or family. Thank you cards are 5″ x 3.5″ and we offer both flat cards and folded notes.

Our boys thank you cards are available in several themes, from sailboats to robots and firetrucks. We carry animal themes and prints, sea life and school related designs. We even have camping, and train designs!

All of our boys stationary can be personalized. We can also take care of special requests. If there is a design or theme that you want but can’t find on our site feel free to contact us with your idea. We will be happy help.

If you are interested in changing the color theme of any of our available designs you can, for only $10.00. All thank you cards can be modified to meet your specific needs. Don’t hesitate to let us know exactly what you want. We will do our best to ensure your satisfaction.

We offer a hundred percent satisfaction guarantee. If for any reason you are not completely satisfied with your purchase you can get your money back. Simply send back the products within 30 days and we will give you a full refund. You can receive a credit towards future purchases after the thirty days is up. You may request the credit up to sixty days after your purchase has been made.

We take pride in our stationary, thank you cards, and other products. We also try to encourage thankfulness. Teaching boys to write thank you letters to friends and family has never been this much fun!

Rainy Day Activity – Create a Fruit Bouquet

Fruit bouquet crafts are rainy day activities that are good enough to eat. See how easy it is for you and your kids to have fun designing beautiful creations for your table or for gifts.

Materials: For containers, you can use just about anything with a wide mouth. That could mean a wicker basket, ceramic vase or plastic tub covered with pretty wrapping paper. For a tropical look, how about a hollowed out melon or coconut?

To keep your flowers standing upright you need a soft base where you can insert their stems. Buy some florist foam or make your own lining by chopping off a section of iceberg lettuce big enough to fit the bottom of your container. Speaking of stems, you can make them out of bamboo skewers available at any craft shop.

In addition to knives, cookie cutters are a nice touch. They’re very convenient for making all kinds of shapes.

Design Options: Encourage your kids to play around with shapes and colors. These are a few ideas to get started.

Use cookie cutters to slice a pineapple into a flower, give it a melon ball center and stick it on a skewer. Skewer a row of small fruits like berries or grapes and arrange them in a circle. Dip green apple wedges in lemon juice to prevent browning and cut them with a rippled potato cutter. Line them around the inner rim of the container for a pretty layer of leaves under your flowers.

You can also use colored marshmallows or gumdrops for extra pizazz and to hold your fruit in place on the skewer. For extra nutrition, try working in some vegetables like grape tomatoes and broccoli florets.

Fruit bouquets brighten up rainy days. Eat your creations on the spot or use them for gifts and party decorations.

Forging a Lasting Bond with Grandchildren Activities

Grandparents and grandchildren come in all different shapes, sizes, ages, and energy levels with different interests, hobbies, and personalities.  The special relationship  between grandparents and grandchildren has the potential to be one of  life’s most precious.  Oftentimes miles separate grandparents and grandchildren, making regular time together difficult.  When together, the time is usually packed with fun and exciting activities.  Sometimes just the opposite is true, with grandparents living in the same city, neighborhood, or even house as their grandchildren.  While this is usually a positive thing in most aspects, it may be harder to think of fun activities to nurture the bond and grow the relationship when it’s so routine and familiar.  Rest assured, there are many grandchildren activities to keep both young and old happy.

It is important to pair personalities, physical capabilities, and interests when thinking about activities.  Many activities can be good for a broad spectrum of ages.

  • Gardening is a popular activity at any age.  The grandparent can share their knowledge and expertise while allowing the grandchildren to do most of the bending over and digging in dirt.  Then both can enjoy and share the fruits of their labor together.
  • Go for walks together.  This is an amazing opportunity for grandparents and grandchildren to get to know each other better.  Children often love to hear stories of their grandparents and parents childhood.  Depending on your location and energy level, this may mean a walk around the block, a stroll through a park, or a hike through the woods.  As a bonus, walking is great exercise for everyone!
  • Play games.  This can be as active or passive an activity as you desire.  For quieter indoor options, consider board games, card games, or puzzles.  You can head outdoors for games like croquet, bowling, or miniature golf.
  • Cook, bake, or craft together.  Different generations have different ideas and skills.  It can be a lot of fun to exchange ideas and teach each other different skills.  Often grandparents love to share their knowledge and expertise in various areas.  Grandchildren can be fortunate recipients of this if they take the time together.  Grandparents may even learn some new crafting and cooking skills themselves.  Grandchildren have much to offer as well.
  • Read together.  While this is a pleasant pastime for an individual, it can also be a great one for a pair.  Sitting and reading aloud can improve reading skills and pass the time.

Of course, this is by no means a comprehensive list.  There are so many fun activities for grandparents and grandchildren to do together.  Don’t limit yourselves. Look into things that make one or both parties feel passionate and excited and explore them together!

Gorgeous Green Glamping Activities to Play With Guests

Glamping is camping for glamorous types. It’s one of those activities to play with guests that lets you all enjoy the great outdoors without shivering in a leaky tent. Get ready to glamp out.

Choose your venue: There are plenty of upscale campsites all over the United States and around the world with a wide range of prices. Some have basic pre-pitched tents. Other have facilities so luxurious they’re more like rooms with a view. While rugged camping purists may scoff, most places make an effort to be eco friendly with solar panels and the like. Of course, you can also create a DIY experience in your own backyard.

Decide what to bring: Some venues will provide everything from the champagne flutes to the cashmere throws. Others may suggest that you bring your own towels and bed sheets. Whether you travel far or stay at home, a few amenities will enhance the experience. Loll around on deck chairs or fake fur rugs. Decorate with lanterns and tea lights. Hand out boot slippers to get comfortable in. Dine elegantly with silverware, cake stands and tea sets. Party with a cocktail shaker and martini glasses.

Coordinate the glamping activities: The priciest destinations may include butler service, but don’t expect Wi-Fi. Depending on your guests, you may lean towards sophisticated or outdoorsy fun. Throw a tea party or play bridge. Take a nature walk or watch birds. Enjoy traditional camping fun like roasting marshmallows and telling stories. Make up your own lyrics to make camp songs sound classier. How about a round of Row, Row, Row Your Yacht or Home on the Range Rover? Above all, take advantage of being offline and have a good old conversation face to face. And enjoy some alone time reading a book or catching up with far away friends with some stationery note writing.

Glamping is like Downton Abbey style meets National Geographic Channel adventure. Invite your friends over to share the fun.

Organizing Kids Toys in the Garage and Yard

Organizing kids toys may not sound so bad when you compare it to one of the toughest household challenges we all face. That’s the mess that builds up in our garages and yards. Try these 9 simple ideas that work just as well inside your home as they do outdoors.

Garbage cans: You can spend a fortune on a toy chest or buy an inexpensive garbage can to hold the big items. A variety of colorful plastic cans will look good and make sorting toys easier for small children.

Potter’s bench: These useful items are too good to be restricted to just the garden. Think of all the storage area and hanging space plus a convenient surface for work and play.

Hose: Yes, it would be messy to bring the hose into your child’s bedroom. Still, it comes in handy for tough cleaning jobs if you need to wash up before you can even think about organizing. A little dish washing liquid and a good hosing removes grime fast from many surfaces.

Hooks: Hooks aren’t just for garage walls and college dorm rooms. If you’ve got small closets take advantage of wall space for hanging lightweight toys. Stuff them into tote bags and hang them by the handles.

Small jars and containers: The same transparent containers filled with nails and screws can be used for tiny craft supplies, marbles and other small treasures. Drawer organizers work well too.

Platforms: If you love having room under your deck to keep things out of sight, how about a platform bed or other raised surface?

Categories and labels: If you keep your garage shelves labeled, why not create a similar system in your child’s room?

Ceiling storage net: If you don’t already have a net installed under your garage ceiling, buy two. You can use them like hammocks to store stuffed toys or anything lightweight.

Tarp: As a last resort, a big tarp or blanket can keep the mess under cover until you have time to organize. Sometimes that’s the best you can do.