"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Busy Mama and Sweet Shari

 

Nick and Isla are at his parent’s house while he works on his truck and Isla gets some Boo and Grandpa time!

I am supposed to be cleaning my house.

I am supposed to be planning 12 weeks worth of meals.

I am supposed to be organizing our crazy closets.

I am supposed to be putting away Christmas decorations.

I am supposed to be blogging about our family’s Christmas.

Instead, here I am, totally glued to Reece’s Rainbow’s Angel Tree! I keep getting up from the my computer, only to come and sit down minutes later and refresh, refresh, refresh… Smile. I cannot write anyone or focus on anything else. Its quite addicting.

It has been quite the challenging season.

I signed up for two boys, and with God’s help and the help of all of my precious friends, we made it to goal and then some!

I don’t know who donated to them unless you forwarded your receipt to me, but THANK YOU, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

First of all, it is the BIGGEST Angel Tree yet with about 30 more kids than we usually have!

Since we no longer have the Russia babes, we just didn’t want to leave anyone behind.

And we have had many challenges.

First we had a challenge to get all of the kids to $100 and the Grand Prize on the All Angels Giveaway would be doubled! We did it!

Then we had another challenge… if we bumped half of the 110 kids up to $500 then an anonymous donor would bump the other half to $500! (I know who the anonymous donor is… I’ll totally tell you if you want to know!) We pulled off that one too! You can read about it HERE.

And here we have one final bump challenge!

We need to get the TOP NINETEEN Angel Tree babes over the $1000 wall, and an anonymous donor will bump the BOTTOM NINETEEN Angel Tree babes. That’s only $3600 to raise $10000!

The only catch… we have to start with precious Shari! She’s such a sweet little baby, I don’t mind at all Smile.

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From there on out, we can bump one Angel Tree child at a time over, starting at the top and the donor will help from the bottom up!

I am nervous. This has been a tough season, and everyone is feeling tapped out. I know I am. I don’t know how much more we can give… a part of me thinks its impossible!

And it is impossible for just me… but with God all things are possible. We cannot do it on our own, but perhaps with some help from a God who loves the orphans and who loves to come through, we can do it through him who gives us strength! The amount needed to get ALL of the kids to $1000 is NOTHING for him.

I love these challenges! I am sure all of my Facebook friends get tired of seeing of my Angel Tree posts… and I am sure that all of the Tweeters out there get tired of it too. But I love seeing each on of the kids faces come up. One at a time, their stories are shared! We do it for the love of these kids!

Stop on by the Angel Tree and help us bump the TOP NINETEEN kids over $1000, starting with Shari!

Don’t miss out on the fun!

Click HERE to access the Reece’s Rainbow Angel Tree and give to the child at the very top of the tree!

And then we still have tomorrow to get the rest of them to $1000!

Maybe then I can get some things done…Smile

UPDATE: SHARI IS OVER! We are half way there! We only need to bump EIGHT more!

UPDATE: Another anonymous donor has promised to bump an additional bottom THIRTY if we can get the other top THIRTY over!!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

(Almost) 10 Months of Gemma!

Its been a while since I did an update on our littlest, so I am going to do a quick one.

Over Thanksgiving, Isla and Gemma got really sick with some sort of virus. It lasted a long time, so about 5 days into it, I finally took them to the Doctor, and Gemma was measured as having a very low weight (3rd percentile). It was almost time for her 9 month well check appointment so I moved it up from her scheduled time a few days because I was worried.

These were her stats at her well check visit:

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That’s right! 4th percentile for weight and she hadn’t gained an ounce since her check at 7 months… and her head is still really big Smile. Her Nurse Practitioner had me put her on Pediasure once a day. No one is really worried since she is growing still, eating well and sleeping well, but still… she is so little. I have a lot of friends whose babies barely gained any weight or none at all after 6 months, although they stopped gaining weight after getting to above 20 pounds. We think that Gemma is just like that, only a tinier build. I also think being sick for a week before she was weighed had something to do with the low weight since she had had a very poor appetite.

Now that she is 9 months, we give her almost everything we eat. We have been stuffing her full of food and its so funny, she has the teeniest arms and legs and her little belly sticks out so far after eating. I admit that I am not very careful about introducing new foods. We don’t have a history of food allergies in the family, and after the initial basic food introduction (carrots, peas, sweet potato, etc.), I have just been giving her whatever I can that we eat as long as it is safe. That being said, she is still primarily on food purees that I make and I have been adding cereal to them in an effort to get more calories into her. We think that she has gained at least half a pound in the past three weeks Smile. I need to get her in and weigh her at the office.

One other thing to note – Gemma has a much darker complexion than Isla, who is very fair skinned. Both of the Ped NPs that checked her out said that she looked orange and asked me if she liked orange foods. I hadn’t noticed because I just thought it was her slightly more olive complexion. I realized that I had been giving her a lot of orange food – carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash. She loves all three of them, but she doesn’t like any green foods like peas or broccoli so I had been mixing everything with orange food. Whoops! I have been working hard to mix food she doesn’t like with other things and her skin is looking much more normal.

General info:

- She got her first teeth (the bottom two) in the middle of October! She is not showing any signs of getting other teeth.

- She started pulling up just before she turned 9 months and cruising around furniture over Thanksgiving week.

- She is FINALLY trying to crawl. She is so good at her little army crawl that I thought she wouldn’t have any motivation, but she has started pushing up and crawling regularly. I am relieved.

- She’s such a little talker! We love it. She is so funny and delightful. She is saying “mama” and “dada” about us when she sees us. She has been saying “mama” for a while, but for a little bit in there, she seemed to forget it and that it applied to me.

- She is showing some stranger anxiety. She has always just wanted me when she could see me, but now she gets upset if I leave her. She only gets left at the church and so she’s a little high maintenance there, but they don’t mind Smile. I think she is starting to form an attachment to her pink blanket that we put her to sleep with at night.

- She is becoming much more attached to Nick. I love watching the two of them bond. He is seriously the best, most involved Daddy.

- She started clapping a few weeks ago.

- She is putting everything in her mouth and exploring everywhere and everything.

She is still sleeping about the same. She is a very light sleeper so she wakes a lot more than Isla did at night. She wakes up about once a week at night. Other than that she is sleeping through the night and napping middling to good during the day.

Isla still loves Gemma and always wants to hold her. She has started picking up Gemma whenever she gets the chance. I discourage it, but I probably don’t discourage it as much as I should! They aren’t alone really that I need to worry about it and Gemma is pretty sturdy. Gemma is not as crazy about Isla as Isla is about her, but at least she doesn’t cry when Isla comes near her anymore, ha ha. I really hope that they love each other when they grow up (and while growing up)! Isla does seem to be getting annoyed now that Gemma can get into her things and mess up her games, but I am really proud of how Isla handles it.

Here are some picture of cutie pie! We love this little treasure so much… I don’t know what I did to deserve this little sweetheart.

This is Gemma at the airport when we traveled for my Aunt’s funeral… traveling with a baby this cute is like the parting of the Red Seas, everyone makes way so you can get through first and wants to help you out.

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I need to do this with her more often. She is really cute in front of mirrors!

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Gemma was so good at opening presents, kids really get the hang of that young.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Download & A Do Over

I don’t know if there are any Office fans out there, but does anyone remember how Pam used to let Michael practice answering the phone once before she would transfer him to his clients??? That’s what I love about social media… yes sometimes people take a screen shot of what you post, but sometimes we get it wrong, we can delete things and then we can have a do over. Everyone deserves that… and to be forgiven 70 times 7.

Anyway, I have been as nervous as a cat with Angel Tree. Literally I am on edge, I can’t concentrate, every 10 seconds I go and refresh it to see if Asher and Prince have moved at all… if any of the kids have moved at all! At this point we need over $100k to get all of the kids to goal and around $400ish to get Asher and Prince to goal so I don’t know if it will happen, but I’m hopeful. At this point I think that I have done almost all that I can do besides a few more blog posts, so I am hopeful that I have planted seeds and they will take root. Ugh, if I can’t even get my two boys to goal, how will I get the rest of them to goal? Stress-o-rama people.

I was going to try to do an Angel Tree advocating blog post and post it to Facebook today, but instead I decided that I just needed to do a good old fashioned blog brain dump to clear my head and destress myself. I do have more to say, hopefully I will get it out Monday!

  • So in the midst of all of Angel Tree stuff, there is this Duck Dynasty stuffy. I won’t even bother to say my stance, but let me just say that I am sick of it all. I don’t want to hear either side. And I don’t just mean that its people who I don’t agree with that I don’t want to hear… NO, even people who I know have the exact same opinion as me… I don’t want to hear it. Just stop. I can’t even take another thing on my Facebook newsfeed without wanting to snap about my orphans wasting away to people who think that that this sort of thing is worth their time. Everyone’s posting Jen Hatmaker and Matt Walsh and Ann Voskamp (not you too dear Ann) or Clay Aiken or whoever… and I wish I could block them every single time. I am just done with it.
  • In lighter news… we are now cloth diapering! I actually really like it. It’s something that I have wanted to try for a while now. Gemma is so cute in them! I think that I picked the worst possible time to try it since we are in a region where water is a very precious resource, but I am reading a book called “The Zero Waste Home” and that has me very motivated to reduce our landfill waste. When Isla was born, my super crunchy left wing friend gave me two Fuzzibunz diapers and a ton of prefolds, but I was always too intimidated to try it. First off, I was intimidated by poop and pee, but two kids into the parenting ordeal, and I have been covered in almost every bodily fluid imaginable so a little bit of baby poo… not such a big deal! Secondly, Gemma is not a sensitive baby to being wet or dry so it doesn’t affect her sleep. Even with all of the supplies that I already had, I still spent about $130 to get snappies, diaper covers, doublers and a few Bum Genius diapers for night time and special occasions where its hard to deal with regular prefolds. Here she in all her reusable diaper glory!photo (10)
  • I just love the girls’ special Christmas dresses that I got them! They aren’t super Christmassy so they can wear them for Nick’s families New Year party and well into the New Year. I love, love, love dressing my girls alike! Two little princesses… dressed alike… in smocking, what on earth made me think I wanted Gemma to be a boy? Or anything other than just our Gemma Smile.086
  • Also, speaking of dressing the girls alike and things I am done with… here they are in their “Christmas Jammies”… I know you’ve seen the video, and now I am unable to say “Let’s get into our Christmas jammies” without thinking (or singing) “#christmasjammies” or “Look at my Christmas jammies…” I thought the video was cute when I watched it, but it was also masterfully plotted out and its stuck in my head! Maybe it will be out of there by next Christmas!?! Probably just in time for the family to release their next card to to the “Getting’ Jiggy With It” tune (which I will not watch!)… Anyway, well done Christmas jammies family, well done. You should get a lot of business from it.075
  • We are going to our local drive in on Monday! Its only $14 for the whole family to go to two movies! It’s the deal of the century.
  • We are finally going to get the guest bedroom bathroom nook together over the Christmas break… that was only one of our summer goals, but if we can get it out and over before the New Year, I will count myself lucky. Nick is home the whole time so that is great. We will hopefully get the last few things done we wanted to do on the house and I will post some pictures finally, six months later! I do think I’ll post some pictures of our Christmas decorations over the next few days.
  • Isla’s current favorite game is to play Mary, Joseph and Herod. She is Mary, I am Joseph, Nick is Herod and there is a baby doll who plays Jesus. She and I run and flee into Egypt and hide while Herod tries to find us… she has so much fun.
  • We decided that we would not travel anywhere during December, which of course hasn’t happened. I attended my Aunt’s funeral with Gemma (of course) and then we are going to the Wann family get together between Christmas and New Year… but still, we were gone every single weekend in November and aren’t traveling until after Christmas so we reduced our travel somewhat. That does so much for our stress levels! The girls and I have just been enjoying our Christmas season. Making hot chocolate, baking cookies, playing and having fun. This is the way to do it! I think we may make this a rule from here on out. “No Traveling in December!”
  • Nick’s mom and dad came last weekend to exchange gifts! We had a blast… I like this angle… making people come to you! Anyway, they loved their gifs, which made me so happy. Almost all of the gifts that I bought people this Christmas were through adoption related fundraisers Smile. We love Nick’s parents and as usual everyone of us was spoiled! I got a Chi professional blow dryer and I absolutely love it. Isla got a little mechanical kitty cat (huge hit) and Gemma received some Neo Tobbles and a super cute walker, among other things. 057060015052050022011
  • Oh oh oh! I am finally reading “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens and I can’t believe that I have never read it before! It is so good. Put it on your must read list. I bought a kiddie version to read with Isla and I want to make reading the regular one a Christmas tradition once she gets older.
  • I think we have found a church! Midland Bible Church… we will look into joining it in the New Year Smile.
  • I think that’s it for random stuff.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Little Preschooler

Isla is now done with her first official semester of preschool.

And the verdict is… we LOVE it!

I am really glad that we decided to do preschool and having such a sweet teacher and teacher’s helper makes it wonderful. I don’t know how I would feel about putting her in preschool if we didn’t have such great people looking after our girl, but we do.

And Isla loves it! On school mornings, I generally wake her up and as soon as I ask her if she wants to go to school, she pops up because she is so excited. That is so different from how I was, and it just blesses my heart. Even when I was at the top of my class, I hated leaving home.

Nick has never been pro homeschool like me, so he’s really happy with how it turned out too, and he loves that he can come and see her for various school functions as he is able.

One thing I don’t like is that she brings home so much work! I am sort of sentimental so its hard for me to throw things away… but I also don’t know where to put it, I know we probably won’t look at her projects again, but her school work just piles up because I can’t part with it. My friend Melissa shared this awesome app called Artkive on Facebook, and it has a been a lifesaver. We take pictures of all of her work, and then I can throw it away with a clear conscience.

Here are a few highlights -

First day of school!

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Her field trip to the fire station. Nick was able to attend this one Smile.

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The Pumpkin Patch field trip! Neither of us made it to this one… bad parents! Maybe if one of us had been there her hair wouldn’t have been sooo wild.

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The Pumpkin Party at school. I was the chairperson, only because it was the only thing left to sign up for by the time I was able to sign up. I was happy to help… I just didn’t want to organize. In the end I kept it really simple in spite of Pinterest, because they are 3 year olds, and it was a 45 minute pre school party. I read them a story, we did a craft, they ate some food and then at the end we did “Boo Bowling”. It was hard to come up with activites because we weren’t allowed to do scary things… which basically only leaves us with pumpkin things… and decorating pumpkins (sigh). Later I learned that spiders were ok and I saw the preschool’s Director wearing a ghost pin, and so I ran home and got the stuff for “Boo Bowling” ready after I dropped Isla off at school and before the party!

The kids were allowed to dress up in their costumes, but because Isla’s costume left an ocean of glitter wherever she walked, she wore her only other princess dress.

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Isla’s school did a really big Thanksgiving party with a lunch and all of the classes did a little concert. Nick missed it. He was sad, so were we. Isla was an “Indian”… I thought everyone used the term Native American… but apparently not. That being said, I had ordered her Minnetonka Fringe boots two months before and they just came in the day before the event. It was a happy accident because she wore them the day of concert really looked the part! You can see her in the front row, second from the right. My phone ran out of space so I didn’t get a good up close picture.

The little song she sang went like this “I’m a little Indian on the go! Here is my arrow, here is my bow. When I go out hunting, hear me should ‘THERE’S A BUFFALO, BETTER WATCH OUT!.” That is all we heard in the weeks leading up to the concert…

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Finally we get to Christmas! Isla met Santa at school. Very cute! She ran right up to him, but the teacher said she wouldn’t sit on his lap. Smart girl. Smile

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And then yesterday we had her Christmas party! I just had to show up. It was fun. Nick came and we went to Chick-Fil-A afterwards for lunch Smile. Gemma is already breaking mama’s heart and pulling off her bows.photo (5)photo (2)photo (3)photo (4)photo (1)

Its little things like that that make life here so good! I am so thankful for activities and things like this that let Isla blossom.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Changing Hearts

When I first started advocating for Reece’s Rainbow, I didn’t realize that I would need to bring the fight home.

I think most people in the Western World are horrified by the treatment that they see extended to children with disabilities elsewhere. I know I did and I felt so superior… Its easy for people to point fingers and think that the treatment is so barbaric and that we have much higher standards here in the US… we would never let something like that happen!

And I forget that just 30 odd years ago, our treatment of people with disabilities was no better than what we see today in the rest of the world.

Children abandoned to institutions at birth because they are less than the ideal child everyone so desperately wants.

Children denied life saving medical treatment because they are not considered worth the extra effort.

Children denied therapies because for all the effort, they will never be typical.

Children denied basic schooling because they have a less than average cognitive ability.

And of course I look at the United States 70-90% abortion rate for those with a prenatal diagnosis of down syndrome and I know that our hearts are just as hard. That number just hurts my heart.

I know that there are people who see the treatment of orphans with disabilities and instead of thinking that they deserve our love and energy and effort as the least of these, they think to themselves, it would be better for them if they had never been born. Surely, that it is more humane?

Arguments like that tell me all about a person’s heart more than anything else and how they treat people. People deserve to be treated with kindness and empathy no matter what their situation or ability not ignored or killed just because they require a little extra effort. I generally find the more effort I put into people, the more they surprise and delight me.

God give us a heart for justice. Forgive our hard, uncaring hearts. Help us to stand up for those who really are weak and voiceless. Give us hearts that love and that value people for what you made them to be.

One of the reasons that I am so excited to be back in the United States is that I get to be more involved with Reece’s Rainbow on the ground level. I know that there is much more that I could be doing, but for a start – I was honored to be able to represent Reece’s Rainbow at our local Down Syndrome Buddy Walk at the end of October!

My confession is this… I thought that I was going to just show up, sit at a booth and answer questions about Reece’s Rainbow!  No. That is not all. It turned out that I needed to help with the planning and fundraising and also try to get people to show up. Not to mention help decorate a booth… decorating is not my strong point! I was new in town and I did as much as I could, but I still didn’t do much. Next year I hope to do more!

Anyway, it was such an honor to go and help out. Before I started advocating for Reece’s Rainbow, I didn’t know anyone with Down Syndrome, but I just knew that I had to do something. If people tried to get to know someone with DS... you learn that they are just like regular people. They are funny, they get sad, they get happy, they talk, they sing, they dance… and they love. They are human beings, and just as deserving of life and kindness as anyone else, maybe more so.

I was able to meet a fellow Angel Tree warrior, Elaina, who I had an online friendship with even before I found out we were moving to Midland… and it turns out she and her husband were also the secret matching donors from my Miracles post two years ago Smile. It was so cool to meet her. I also had my amazing family and my husband who is the best ever come along and help out! Our friends the McCollochs came, which was so sweet of them.

My favorite part was the Zumba at the beginning to get every one warmed up for the walk! Check out those moves Smile, there was one little girl with DS who just stole the show, and of course Isla had to get into the action. I tried to upload a video of it… but no dice. She still loves her Buddy Walk shirt and its her favorite thing to wear.

Kickin’ it to Zumba!

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Loved this shirt!

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Isla passing out Skittles with a Reece’s Rainbow sticker on it that said “Share the Rainbow!”

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Elaina trying to keep the awesome Angel Tree sign up poster she made from blowing over!

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People signing up to be Angel Tree warriors Smile.

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This little girl stole the show dancing to Gangnam Style! She was so cute!

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Anyway, it was so fun to see all of Midland’s Down Syndrome community come out and celebrate people with an extra chromosome. We raised over $18,000!!! The kids we saw were so loved by so many! They are going to lead wonderful, full lives because they have families who love them and support them…

I want the same thing for Asher and Prince!!!!

Please help me find them families. Donate to their grant accounts, share their pictures and stories! You never know, but you might be the one who introduces these blessings to their families!

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Prince

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Please donate to Prince HERE or Asher HERE or click on their pictures above or on the side of the blog!

If you donate $5, you will gain entry into our giveaway, with extra entries for each multiple of $5. See below for prizes and rules! ($5 = 1 entry, $25 = 5 entries, etc.)

If you donate $35, you get an ornament in honor of Prince, AND I will ship you a batch of either my REGIONALLY famous brownies or my INTERNATIONALLY famous chip-of-your choice (milk chocolate, semisweet, peanut butter, etc.) cookies… hint, hint my MOTHER taught me how to make them Smile.

THESE ARE OUR PRIZES!!!

$1000 to the Reece’s Rainbow Child or Family of YOUR CHOICE!

A Vitamix blender - a $450 value!

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A beautiful handmade scarf!!!

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Earrings - $20 value

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Glass Angel - $5 value

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BIBLIOPLAN E-Book Ancient History - $40 value

BIBLIOPLAN E-BOOK Medieval History - $40 value

BIBLIOPLAN E-BOOK Modern History - $40 value

BIBLIOPLAN Ancient History Craft Book - $12 value

BIBLIOPLAN Medieval History Craft Book - $12 value

BIBLIOPLAN Modern History Craft Book - $12 value

Swavorksi crystal necklace – $80 value

Silver earrings from Peru – $10 value

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Pink faux leather jewelry box - $20 value

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Lovely scarves – $25 each

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Ginger on a Mission tote – $25

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Lovely handmade scarf donated by Scarves and Skirts for Sara – $15 value

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Hobby Lobby gift card – $10, donated by Hannah Sophia Music

Target Gift Card – $25

Visa gift card – $25

A Poppies Blooming blog makeover, blogger or word press format - $75+ value

The Boy From Baby House 10 – $13 value

MORE PRIZES COMING!!!!

*Child of the day will be the lowest child on the Angel Tree as of that morning at 10 AM Central Time. Children will only be featured ONE TIME. If they are the lowest child on the tree more than once, then we will select the next lowest child on the Angel Tree.

Pure and Undefiled Religion

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