Thursday, December 22, 2011

Oh, wow!!

I was just checking in on Lilianna after lunch and her Angel Tree goal has more than DOUBLED!!!  Over $2,000 in her grant!! Woohooo!!!  I can't thank everyone enough for their donations!!  I have no idea who contributed, so don't know who to thank, but THANK YOU to those who  have, and those who have prayed on her behalf, and advocated for her, too.  Now if we can just find her a family.  :-)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Piano Concerto ala Darya

I know I've mentioned it before, but Darya LOVES the piano.  She loves listening to and "helping" her brothers when they practice.  Hopefully when she's a bit older she'll take lessons, too.   Without further ado, here's my little budding piano prodigy in action for you all to enjoy! :-)




Edited to add the boys playing the piano (they had just come inside after playing football with Joel, so they're a bit red in the face):

Nate playing "Chimes":

Ben playing "Salsa Blues":

Sam playing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" (check out Darya dancing in the background):

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New picture of Lilianna

I just noticed a new picture of Lilianna on Reece's Rainbow:



Isn't she just precious?? She has such beautiful eyes and I love that fuzzy hair (though it would look much better longer and with a bow in it).  I am so thankful that her grant is continuing to grow - now we just need to find her a family!

I've been MIA for a while on this blog. I guess it's just that busy season of the year, though honestly I just started my Christmas shopping yesterday (online, of course).  But, we are wrapping up our homeschooling lessons and preparing to take a two week break that coincides with Darya's school break.  There are so many random things I want to post about (family stuff, Down syndrome, adoption, etc.), so hopefully I'll get to it soon.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Angel Tree Goal is Reached!!

I just checked Lilianna's page on Reece's Rainbow and her Angel Tree grant is now up to $1,317.38!!  Thank you to whomever donated to bring it past her goal!!  I am just speechless and so excited!!  Wow!! And many thanks again to all of you who have donated and shared!  Lilianna has no idea how many people across the world are praying for her and helping to bridge that gap between her and a family.

Here's another picture to share with you of sweet Lilianna:


Though her Angel Tree goal has been met and exceeded (praise God!), I don't want to stop advocating for her.  She desperately needs a family NOW because of her heart condition and I don't want her to end up on this page before it's too late.  Her grant certainly does help bridge that gap between her and a family ( it's about $25k when all is said and done for an adoption from her country).  Her current grant would cover her airfare home, her passport, her US Embassy and medical appointments which is a huge help! I know there are families who would adopt her in a heartbeat.  What's that old saying? It is something like "many hands make light work".  I think that could apply here, too.  All the donations do add up thanks to the many who have contributed.   Please, please, continue to share Lilianna's profile and if you are able, make a small contribution.  

Thank you!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Beans!

Darya loves beans.  Black beans.  Refried beans. Baked beans. Chili beans.  If you give them to her she will eat 'em up. She will probably ask for seconds. And thirds.  Her affinity to legumes has earned her the nickname "Beans" by our family.  It just so happens that shortly after Darya earned her new nickname, a mom across the pond in the UK (Jane over at Flight Platform Living) has offered to help fundraise for Lilianna by offering to have a bucket of Darya's favorite delicacy dumped on her head.  She is just asking for 100 people to commit to saving spare change before she gives her daughters the pleasure of doing this task! It doesn't matter if you are able to save 25 cents or 25 dollars to donate.....I would just love to get a picture of that!  Here's a link to her blog post.  If you are willing to commit to saving your spare change, leave a comment here or on her blog.  I'm almost tempted to commit to a bucket of beans on my head....almost....maybe....yes???  (I think my three boys, and husband, would love to do that to me, too!)

Here is what Jane says:


"If I get 100 people committing to collecting a jar of change for Lilianna over the festive period and then donating it into her Christmas Angel Tree adoption fund i will personally take a bucket of beans over the head!  You heard right...beans! Sticky, disgusting, cold beans! Will you?  Part of me fears you actually will!
If you are going to collect change then again leave a comment on this post!

Beans, pie and varied yuk for 2 sweet girls, my kids would love you forever if you gave them this pleasure!"



How do you think this color would look on Jane or me?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankfulness

It's 7:30am here on Friday morning.  Just the dog and I are awake, though I think I hear Darya playing in her room.  I have a tradition to not go to Black Friday shopping!  I just prefer sleeping in my warm bed to shopping in the cold at 3:30am no matter how good the sales  :-)

We had a very nice Thanksgiving yesterday.  We had a few people from church over to celebrate with us and we all ate way too much good food.  But before we ate, Joel read Psalm 9 aloud.  We have so much to be thankful for, and above all earthly blessings, we have a God who loves us and gives us all spiritual blessings.

Psalm 9:1-2 

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
     I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exalt in you;
     I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

I have so much to be thankful for and I don't ever want to take it for granted.  I love my family, my church, and my friends that God has blessed me with.  I don't deserve any of them but am so grateful for the people God has put in my life.  

The handsome chef

My little sweet potato

Sweet Sam

Ben ready to devour his meal
  Olive you, Nate

My four favorite "little" blessings!


And one more thing I am thankful for, is that Lilianna's grant keeps growing!  I don't know who has been donating, but it really is encouraging to see her grant continue to grow.  I woke up this morning and saw it's gone up $30 since yesterday (and yesterday it had gone up, too!).  I hope and pray that next year she'll be able to celebrate the holidays with a family of her own.  How great would that be?  Another verse from Psalm 9 that Joel read aloud yesterday:

Psalm 9:18  "For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Schnoodle

Lilianna's Angel Tree grant is just over the halfway mark to reach the $1,000 goal!  She's now "moved up" to join the group of kids whose grants have reached over the $500 mark.  Yay!  So what does that have to do with the title of my post?  Nothing. I just wanted to share that great news first.  On Saturday, we adopted a dog!  We got Luna from a local rescue organization who got her from an animal shelter. (10 points to the person who can tell me where we got the name Luna from). She's a "schnoodle" (poodle/schnauzer mix). She's the best dog ever!! She's so cute, sweet, smart, and well behaved. She fits right in with the rest of my kids ;-)  Here are a few pics of her with her new family:






Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday, Lilianna!

I just found out that today is Lilianna's 2nd birthday (thanks, Sarah!).  It's my hope and prayer that for her third birthday she'll be home with a family to celebrate, just like our sweet Darya did this year. Wouldn't it be great to see her Angel Tree grant hit the halfway mark by the end of this week in honor of her birthday?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Movin' On Up!

Yay, Lilianna's grant is almost to the halfway mark! She has $432.38 in her Angel Tree grant as I type this.  I am so excited!  It pays to be shamelessly pushy, especially on Facebook ;-) Thank you to everyone who has donated and shared so far! It means a lot to me, but more importantly to a little girl living in an orphanage halfway across the world, a little girl with no voice of her own.  It's my privilege to be a voice for her, no matter how small it is.  I am grateful for those of you who have donated, shared, and prayed for this one little girl.  Can you believe that since Reece's Rainbow was founded 5 years ago, over 500 orphans with special needs are now home with families?  These children truly are among "the least of these".  What a blessing it is to have a part in serving the Lord in this way!

Matthew 25:40 (ESV) "And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'"



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Benny McPhee

If you read my post below, I mentioned that our middle son, Ben, has a lot of missing teeth.  The joys of being 8.  When he does this smile (below), it reminds me of Emma Thompson's character, Nanny McPhee. It cracks me up every time!

Family Photo

Per my mother-in-law's request here is a family photo snapped by my dear friend, Heather (thank you!).  We really need to get some more family pics taken as all the ones on our walls are before Darya. I am horrible at updating photos!  Anyway, here we are in front of our house yesterday afternoon.  I can't believe Sam (10) is already up to my shoulders.  And like a good boy, he put on this clean shirt minutes before this pic was taken, but managed to get a spot on it.  Well done, son! :-)   Oh, and Ben (8) really is missing that many teeth!  He does a great snaggle-tooth smile with his lone front tooth, which resembles Nanny McPhee (I'll have to do a blog post on that).  Nate. What can I say?  He's a handsome little dude.  Heather took several pics, but I like this one because Joel's looking at Darya....so sweet :-)  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

$17.38!

With all four kids in tow, I went to the grocery store this evening to cash in our coins.  In addition to our tupperware container-full of change, we scoured the house and van for any stray coins (in Joel's office, the van ashtray, my wallet, etc.).  We grabbed the loot, loaded up in the minivan, and drove to Publix.  We dumped our change into the Coinstar machine and came out with $17.38!  It's not much, but it is something.  I always say that every little bit truly helps and it does! I'm going to send a check to RR for this (to avoid Paypal fees).

If you plan on joining the kids and me in this coin drive, please let me know.  I would love to know of others who plan to join us.  I've heard from a couple of you (Jenny M. and Summer S.), so thank you!  If you let me know how much spare change you were able to collect, that would be great!  I'd love to see how many copper Lincolns we can gather together for Lilianna! ;-)

Change for Lilianna

Every year, Reece's Rainbow has an Angel Tree fundraiser. It's the biggest fundraising event of the year. The goal is to raise at least $1,000 in each waiting child's grant (kids with Down syndrome, 0-5 years old).  Most of the people fundraising are regular people like you and me, who have hearts for the orphans but not necessarily tons of money burning holes in our pockets. But collectively, I have seen amazing things happen as lots of people contribute a couple of bucks here and there (of course, the fundraising effort very close to my heart is from two years ago when Lydia Hollis raised thousands of dollars in a matter of days for Darya!)

Meet Lilianna.  She will be two this month, but as with most children in Eastern European orphanages, her birthday will pass just like any other day.  She is a beautiful little girl who has Down syndrome.  She also is missing her left hand, and because of these two things, I can say with confidence that she will not be adopted or fostered in her own country. She will be sentenced to institutional life.  I know there are families who would adopt her, but from first hand experience, I know that money is the main obstacle between her and a family. Adoption is expensive, but if we can collectively help bridge that gap and help her get a family, it could literally change her life!


"What's that I hear?  Is it change for me?"


I don't have any snazzy fundraising ideas, but am asking if all of you reading this post would please collect any spare change to donate that would be wonderful!  Just get a jar and start dropping coins in there each day. After you have a few bucks in it, you can send it in to Reece's Rainbow for her grant. Maybe this is something you can do with your kids. Check your wallets, under the couch cushions, in the cup holders in your cars!  We've got a tupperware full of change that I plan to take to the Coinstar machine at the grocery store.  The kids and I will cash it in and send in to Reece's Rainbow however much it is.  We'll also be saving any other change that we collect over the next several weeks.  My 6 year old Nate has a knack for finding spare change in parking lots - he's collected 93 cents in the past month.....a penny saved is a penny earned!  And in Lilianna's case, a penny donated is a penny closer to a family!  Also, if you donate $35 or more to Lilianna's Angel Tree grant, you will get a keepsake ornament. We have done this for the past two years and will plan to get another one with Lilianna's picture on this year, too.  It is a wonderful way to "share" the holidays with an orphan. You can hang her ornament on your tree and remember to pray specifically for her, that she would get a family.  Also, if you save change with your kids, feel free to take a picture of it (be creative) and I'll post it on here.  Here is one Sam, our 10 year old, did:



Tax-deductible donations can be made through Paypal by going here and scrolling down to Lilianna's profile (then selecting the "DONATE" button under her photo), or by sending a check in the mail to Reece's Rainbow (be sure to designate it for Lilianna on the Angel Tree): 

Reece's Rainbow
PO Box 4024  
Gaithersburg, MD  20885

P.S. Just now as I was going to the Angel Tree page to see Lilianna's profile to share on here, I saw that she has $300 in her Angel Tree grant already! Wow!!  Praise God!  I have no idea who donated it, so a huge THANK YOU to whoever (or whomever?) did!!  I'll be putting up a thermometer on my sidebar so we can track her grant.  I'll be super excited to see it reach $1,000!  

Saturday, October 8, 2011

365 days ago

A year ago today, my sister, Darya, and I landed on American soil.  After 6 months of the paper chasing, and 5 weeks in country, we were finally HOME!  It's been quite a year!  Anyone who knows Darya will agree with me how far she's come in such a short time and how well she's adjusted to life with a family (especially with three older brothers who absolutely adore her and dote on her).  Our little Ukrainian flower has just blossomed and it is not possible to love her any more than we do!  Thank you everyone who joined us in our journey through your prayers, encouragement, and support.  It will always mean so much to me :-)

October 8, 2010 Jacksonville, FL

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ah, sweet vacation!

Last week we went on a much needed family vacation to Daytona Beach.  It was probably the most relaxing and restful family vacation we've ever had.  We couldn't have asked for better weather!  We relaxed in the pools and on the beach.  I did more reading than I've done in who knows how long.  Our first day of vacation was Sam's 10th birthday.  I think that was one of his best birthdays ever!  The other boys had just as much fun, as did Darya. Here are some pics from our trip that I took before the camera battery died (and I forgot to bring the charger):


Friday, September 23, 2011

The Down Syndrome Advantage

A few months back, I took a psychology class (in my slow attempt to finish college before my kids).  One of our assignments was to read a scholarly article on anything related to psychology, summarize it, and present it to the class.  I chose an article about "The Down Syndrome Advantage" and how families cope with life differently if they have a relative (child or sibling) with Down syndrome.  I didn't only choose this topic because of Darya, but because I found it intriguing that many families who have a child with DS will often adopt another child (or more!) with DS, as well, realizing that the joy they bring far outweighs any burden.  Of course, I know of many families who have children with other disabilities and I know this can pertain to them, too, but I just found this study interesting.  Instead of grouping all disabilities together, they separated DS to see if there was a difference in the way families cope than those with a different disability.  It is a very general summary of the population they encountered in the studies and there is far more research to do. Anyway, here's my short summary of the what was in the article:

The article argues that among families where a disability is present, there is an advantage when that disability is Down syndrome (DS).  In support of this thesis, research suggests that there is a distinct advantage both for mothers and for siblings while the advantage for fathers is less conclusive.  For example, mothers of children DS tend to cope better than mothers of children with other disabilities (autism, fragile X syndrome, FAS, etc.), and siblings of children with DS tend to have increased levels of empathy for individuals who are different. While there are no reported negative impacts on the siblings of children with DS, the present evidence suggests that as adults these siblings often have a more positive relationship with their brother and/or sister.  It is not understood why this advantage exists, but one suggestion is that on average, people with Down syndrome tend to display upbeat and sociable personalities.  Another view is that babies with DS are often born to women of advanced maternal age, who are more mature and experienced as mothers.  Considering the wide array of demographics and cultural differences among families, there remains much to be learned, but the present research results are encouraging.  The conclusion of this study states, “families who have offspring with this syndrome cope better than do families of individuals with other disabilities. This Down syndrome advantage seems to cut across different disability control groups, measures, ages, and respondents.”

Monday, September 19, 2011

Remember Dasha?

A while back, I posted asking for any help to see if we can help a young woman in Ukraine by the name of Dasha find her siblings here in the States.  I know it's a long shot, but I'm asking for your help again.  Here is some updated information from Alla of Bible Orphan Ministries that might help my blogger detectives:


"I found little more information.Probably it will be helpful.

Her siblings live in state Carolina. The city has name on  letter "M". She can not say, it is heavy for her on foreign language.
Also they were adopted in 2000, not in dates she said before.Dasha was small and do not remember much.

Also her sister Yana, came to Ukraine in 2008, not 2006.

Please, can you help Dasha again?I know it is not easy."

We have found an orphanage №4 in Zhitomir, where Dasha`s siblings were adopted from.This orphanage is selling now.
So, we can not find information there.



I have also emailed all the Ukraine embassies in the States and heard back from one of them who was unable to obtain the information (but some of the information was wrong so I'll try again).  I have also posted to a Ukraine adoption board online.  I have sent other emails, but all to no avail.  Any other suggestions are welcome! 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Darya's First Haircut

Darya's hair was short when we came home from Ukraine last year and has slowly been growing out since.  It's been snipped a smidgen a few times before, but today I decided to take off a few inches.  It was getting so stringy looking that I couldn't stand it anymore. (In the post below, you can see her hair when we first met her, and what it looked like last week.) So, this morning as the boys were playing outside, I decided to cut her hair myself.  I put in an Elmo dvd, plopped her up in a high chair and snipped away.  I couldn't believe how still she sat, even when cutting around her face.  It looks so much healthier now!   Isn't she beautiful?



Friday, September 9, 2011

One Year Ago Today

At times it seems like time has flown by so quickly and that it can't really have been a year ago today that we first met Darya.  Other times it feels like she has always been with us.  But I am forever grateful that Darya is my daughter.  She is a lovely, sweet, beautiful girl and I am so thankful that God has blessed our family with her.  It is a privilege to be her mother!


9/9/10 introduction at the orphanage
9/9/11 in front of our home

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Buddy Walk



I will be hosting the Reece's Rainbow table at the Jacksonville, FL Buddy Walk on Saturday, November 5. I will be passing out information and sharing with people about adopting children with Down syndrome.  Last year, there were over 4,000 people in attendance!  I have never been to a Buddy Walk before, so if anyone would be willing to assist me, please let me know!  There is no cost to you and I'd greatly appreciate the company and help :-)  Please email me: marianne@reecesrainbow.org  Thanks!!
DSAJ Buddy Walk


p.s. It was one year ago today that we had our SDA referral appointment for Darya!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school.  I didn't sleep well last night because I was a bit nervous how Darya would do. She's such a peanut, and, well, it's just hard to let your baby go!  Instead of the usual meet-the-teacher with the rest of the school last week, they did a staggered start this week. So this morning Joel, the boys, and I took Darya to her first day of school. We got to meet the teacher (which I had done before) and the aides and see the classroom.  The teacher gave us a basic rundown of things.  Then we said goodbye!  We went home, and the boys had their first official day of school. When we were done, it was time to pick Darya up. The teacher said she did very well. What a relief!  Here's a couple of snapshots from today:

My sweet little peanut:

The boys concentrating on their first history lesson of the year:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My, how she's grown!

Here is Darya on our front lawn shortly after she came home last October (the coloring's horrible since it was taken on my phone):


And here she is almost 10 months later:

Monday, August 1, 2011

School

It seems like we just wrapped up our homeschooling year and now the books and curricula I've ordered are trickling in for the new year.  I'm almost done ordering everything which is a great feeling. This past school year wasn't the most stellar of homeschooling years for us (though the boys are all doing fine); I think it kind of had to do with the fact that we adopted a little someone special into our family last fall :-)  I love the flexibility that homeschooling provides and I'm looking forward to a good solid year.  You know, I always wanted to be a mom and a teacher (just like my mom), but never did I think that I would get to be my own children's teacher! I love it!  Sometimes when we're out and about town, people will ask the boys where they go to school. They are always happy to reply, "my kitchen!" :-)

We have decided for Darya to go to school.  I have heard great things about the local school where she will be attending the ESE pre-k class. She will get speech therapy twice a week and occupational therapy once a week.  If for some reason it doesn't work out for her (though I imagine she will love it), then I can look into other options.  I am certainly not opposed to homeschooling her, but for now this is what we decided would be the best choice for her. So, while she's at school in the mornings, I will homeschool the boys.

I can't believe the first official day of school is in a matter of weeks.  When I was a kid, it seems summers where much longer - we didn't start until AFTER Labor Day.

Anyway, three more wonderful weeks of summer break to enjoy!  I think I enjoy the break as much as the kids do :-)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Doxology

Every morning we have family worship/devotions and we always end with singing the doxology.  This is Darya's favorite part. She sings right along with us as you can see below (she was getting a little ahead of herself with the "amen" part - her absolute favorite part):

Monday, July 25, 2011

Classy Awards

Reece's Rainbow was nominated for the Classy Awards, "The Largest Philanthropic Awards Ceremony in the Country!"  Please take the time to vote for RR here (under the Most Innovative Use of Social Media by a Charity)

click here and cast your vote, please!:  http://classyawards.stayclassy.org/classy-awards/voting

Thank you!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Alive and well

Some cuteness for ya'll (okay, I'm not a true southerner so if it should be y'all let me know.....being a California native I should say "you guys"):



I was reminded by someone that I haven't blogged in a while (thanks for the reminder, Mims!).  I guess it has been almost a month! We are doing great and enjoying the summer.  Nothing new to report....well probably lots of stuff I can write about but I won't bore you with details. Here are some random tidbits:

Today is Joel's birthday. Happy birthday love-of-my-life! :-)

Darya had a cardiologist visit yesterday.  Everything still looks great with her heart (she had surgery in Ukraine for an ASD when she was 17 months).  He said if she goes on any medication (ex: thyroid) then he'll want to see her every 6 months, otherwise it's annually now. Last time she was checked, her thyroid levels were good.  She did great when they did the EKG (well, she didn't like it too much until Sam sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" a couple of times) and for the echocardiogram she lied still for 20 minutes (the cartoons on the t.v. helped)!  

Darya also had blood drawn last week (it took them three tries to get a good spot on her...poor thing!!).  They did an allergy panel and she is fine with dogs, wheat, dairy, egg whites, and whatever else they tested her for. They are still waiting for the celiac results, but she eats normal foods without any problems so I don't think there's any concern. 

Today she had to get another immunization shot.  She'll go back again next month for another one.  She is slowly getting up to date with her shots, but I don't want to give her too many at once so they are being spread out. 

Poor thing hates people in scrubs now.

My mom and nephew (my twin sis's son) came out from California a couple of weeks ago. We had so much fun! It was their first time visiting us in Florida since we moved here over 3 years ago.  Here are the boys all together (the boy giving thumbs up is my adorable and sweet nephew, Joey):

Okay, that's it for now.  I will update again soon! :-)


Saturday, June 18, 2011

One Smart Cookie

I'm sure many of you are familiar with Pavlov's dogs, and classical conditioning.  Well, Darya has been conditioned to sign "cookie" repeatedly when we pull into the Publix parking lot and as we go into the store.  (Publix is a grocery store chain and they give out free cookies to kids in their bakery.)  I have absolutely no doubt the next time I take her there, she will sign it all the more until she gets that cookie! :-)  Here she is, enjoying her reinforcement:


Oh, and on a side note, what do we do with her hair??  It is very fine and kind of scraggly.  We were going to let it grow out, but we are thinking of cutting bangs and cutting the length a smidgen, similar to a page boy cut like the drawing below, though her hair is still so fine so I don't think it will quite look like this. Any thoughts?

Father of the Fatherless

Tomorrow is Father's Day.  Though it is a Hallmark holiday, it has caused me to reflect upon the father of my children.  As I type this, Joel is in the other room reading to the boys.  He is such a wonderful father. He adores his children and takes pleasure in spending time with them.  He makes the time to play with them, read to them, and most importantly lead them spiritually.  He faithfully teaches the children about our Heavenly Father.  One thing I have been reflecting upon is how he absolutely loves Darya.  Though she is not biologically his daughter, it makes absolutely no difference.  Darya is his daughter and he is her father.  Such a godly example of how our Father looks upon us.  Though we were once children of darkness, God saw fit to sacrifice his son to make propitiation for our sins, so we may be called His children.  We are redeemed and adopted by God!  He loves us that much!!   Ephesians 1:4-7  "even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.  In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,"  You should read the whole chapter.  It is such a beautiful picture of our adoption as children of God.

Psalm 68:5 "Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation" 

This morning, I was reading one of my favorite blogs.  My heart ached at these boys who do not know the love of a father.  Every day, my boys pray that the orphans would find loving families.  Are you one of those families?  I know not everyone is in a position to adopt, but everyone can pray and advocate!

I love you Joel! Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A few pictures

Happy 3rd birthday, Darya! She devoured her piece of cake :-)  I should have gotten a picture of it! But she'll get another one in a few weeks when Grandma comes to visit us from California. We'll just say this was a practice one:

I guess Darya liked her spaghetti so much she wanted to share it with her bear:

Here we are posing near her new kitchen in our matching matroyshka (nesting doll) aprons I bought for us in her birth city.  They were made by a cute old babushka:


In other news, things are finally simmering down. I feel like this spring has been incredibly busy and I'm looking forward to relaxing a bit more this summer!  Hopefully that means I can blog a bit more.  Not that I have anything witty or profound to write about, but I do enjoy it. :-)  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Happy 3rd Birthday, Darya!

Darya loves to "help" me in the kitchen, so we decided to use her birthday money to get her her very own kitchen (thanks Grandpa and Grandma, and Papa and Lala!).  Here's a video of the big revealing moment.  Mind you, she just got back from a doctor appointment where she got some shots, so her reaction is a bit anticlimactic. But I know she'll love slamming those cupboard doors as much as the ones in "my" kitchen!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My little assistant

Here is Darya hard at work helping me answer RR emails:

And here she is after a long day's work in her big bed (with "baby" and "dog" of course):


Friday, May 20, 2011

Time flies!

Goodness, I haven't posted in a few weeks.  May has been just an incredibly busy month and I'm glad things are winding down for us.  By the end of June, we will hopefully have more time to relax since there is nothing scheduled on the calendar.  Just with baseball season, our home school co-op, the college class I'm taking (my goal is to finish college before the boys do!), other random stuff, and life with four kids has just been enough to wear me out by the end of each day!  Though with 4 kids does life ever wind down? :-)  Even with the busy-ness, my life is very blessed!

Darya will be 3 in just a few weeks, can you believe it?  Of course she's going to get a big ol' slice of birthday cake to make up for missing her first two birthdays with us!

We have her IEP meeting in a couple of weeks.  I'm new to this, so hope it will go well.  She also had another PT appointment where she was given inserts for her shoes. The PT said she seems to have pretty good muscle tone and was not concerned at all with her, but she did give me some tips to help strengthen her hips/legs a bit, and the shoe inserts are to help with her balance more (she still curls her toes when walking for support).

Darya is growing and learning so fast.  Remember when I said she switched from the pack-n-play to a toddler bed? Well, lately she's been climbing up into the daybed in her room and sleeping there!  I guess she didn't feel big enough in the toddler bed :-)  Next thing you know she's going to be asking for the keys so she can go to the mall *sigh*. She is also doing much better at feeding herself and is doing pretty well with a spoon. Of course, she still likes to play with her food and cleaning up oatmeal splatters has become part of my morning routine.  She has also learned many more signs.  She probably knows at least 20-30.  We are working on verbalizing the words, and at least getting her to try to say them.  After we have our family worship/devotions in the morning we sing the doxology. She looooves to say "aaaaaaaaaah" when we get to the "amen" at the end. It's adorable! I'll have to get a video of it one of these days.

Okay, a bit about the boys (since I know grandma and grandpa read this and would like an update). Sam is finishing up another baseball season.  We are very proud of him. Not only is he a very skilled player, but he is always encouraging his teammates. He is going to go into the next division in the fall after only playing in the minors for one season!  Ben is, of course, still really into science. I taught the elementary science class at our homeschool co-op and that kid can recall all sorts of animal facts.  He also can identify rocks, birds, and many plants outside. He loves to be outside.  Nate is learning to read, and has really taken to drawing.  We had a scare with a possible broken arm (he had x-rays today but they said he's fine) and he was so sad because it was his "most special arm - the one I write with, draw with, and throw with".

I am really enjoying being the New Family Liaison for Reece's Rainbow. I love interacting with new families. The best part is when one of those families commits to a child!  It is just a great way for me to give back a little to RR.

Well, that's about it. Not an exciting post, I know, but just an update. I'll hopefully post more regularly as things slow down a bit and I'll get some pictures on here, too.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

And the winners are.....

Erika Q.
Joanne W.
Julie Z.
Melissa M.

Thank you to everyone for helping Josephine's family!!  I used random.org to pick the numbers. I'll be in touch with each of you to get you your gift cards. I hope you enjoy them!  (And another thank you to Gilbert for generously donating them!)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Josephine giveaway, and other little updates

Thank you so much to those of you who have contributed and/or spread the word about Josephine!  I was so thrilled when she had a family step forward to adopt her so quickly! They still has a long way to go to raise the money needed for her adoption so I want to have one final push for the giveaway I'm having.  Tomorrow is the last day but there's still time for a chance to win one of 4 gift cards worth $50 each (2 for Starbucks and 2 for Subway).  NO minimum donation is asked, even if all you can afford is $1 that is perfectly OK!  Just seeing her grant grow is such a huge encouragement to the Cutler family.  I'll draw names tomorrow and then announce the winners of the gift cards :-) Then I'll contact you for your addresses so I can get them in the mail ASAP!

On another note, Darya went to be evaluated by a physical therapist yesterday.  She said that Darya's doing great, but wants her to wear inserts in her shoes for a while to strengthen her feet and ankles.  I also had my transition meeting with our local school district a week or so ago.  Darya will be 3 in June, then her services will transfer from the Early Steps program to the local schools.  Even though we home school the boys, we think it would be beneficial for Darya to attend school part time so she can continue to receive speech therapy. We'll see how that goes! I'm a bit nervous about sending my baby girl to school, but I know she'll be fine!

Also, I love being the New Family Liaison for Reece's Rainbow!  I get to "meet" so many wonderful families from around the country (and even world!).  The best part is when we get to move a waiting child to the "My Family Found Me" page :-)

Look out for my post tomorrow for the winners!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Splash Park

This morning after doing some home school work, we hit the local splash park with some friends from church.  Summer is just around the corner and we are enjoying the weather and spending as much time outside as we can before the humidity and bugs hit full force here in Florida. The kids all had a wonderful time!  This was Darya's first time there and she absolutely loved it.   Rather than posting the photos individually, I made a slideshow. Enjoy!


Monday, April 18, 2011

Luv

I just had to share this sweet picture my 6 year old, Nate, drew for me the other day.  It is of him and me blowing kisses to each other. Every day he tells me I'm lovely, beautiful, the best mom in the world.  I love being so loved by such a sweet boy!  I am savoring this time of being the woman in his life, but I know it will before I know it that he'll be a man and his affections will be for another woman.  *sigh*

Friday, April 15, 2011

Josephine has a family!!!

Introducing the Cutler family in Texas!! http://reecesrainbow.org/sponsorcutler

They still have a lot of fundraising to do and time is of the essence, so PLEASE consider helping this wonderful family who has stepped forward bring their daughter home!!  Please chip-in at the right (it will still go directly to Josephine's grant) or you can donate directly to their family sponsorship page through the link above.

Your chances of winning one of four gift cards is still VERY good!!!  I will draw names at the end of the month.  Please spread the word and help the Cutlers bring Josephine home!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

$309.50!

I just checked Josephine's grant and it's gone up!  I am adding a thermometer widget on my sidebar so we can see her grant grow.  I'd love for it to get up to at least $500. Wouldn't that be great!?  That amount could cover her plane ticket home for a family :-)  Please, let me know if you donated and spread the word so I can enter you into the drawing for a Starbucks or Subway gift card giveaway!! You can leave a message or email me at mefick *at* gmail *dot* com.  Thank you so much for everyone who has donated so far!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

6 Months Home

It was six months ago that I boarded the plane with Darya, saying goodbye to her previous life in Eastern Europe and hello to her new life with a family in America!  It's been a beautiful experience, certainly with its ups and downs, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!

GOODBYE ORPHANAGE!

HELLO FAMILY!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Coffee and Lunch Anyone?

Someone has generously donated some great gift cards for me to giveaway to my faithful blog readers!  But there's a catch.  I really, really, REALLY want to see Josephine's adoption grant grow. She is already 5 years old and hasn't had the "luxury" of being listed on Reece's Rainbow very long.  Her time is running out and she'll be transferred very soon.  You all know what that means.  She'll be 6 in December. Wouldn't it be absolutely wonderful if she could spend her next birthday and Christmas with a family and NOT in the walls of a mental institution?  As of right now, she has $100.50 in her grant. That's a great start, but sadly not enough! Let's see that grow!


I have 2 STARBUCKS and 2 SUBWAY gift cards to giveaway that have $50 on EACH of them!  4 Gift Cards to give away to 4 readers.    


Now the RULES:
1. Please make a donation to Josephine's adoption grant (remember, it's tax-deductible!).  You can donate through the Chip-in I set up on the top right which goes directly to her grant through Reece's Rainbow.  No minimum amount (and certainly no maximum!).  Or you can go HERE. Maybe you could skip one trip to Starbucks and donate the money to her grant instead, and who knows, maybe you'll win a gift card to with enough money to get 10 lattes!  You must leave me a comment on my blog so I know you donated.  Also, if you want to donate the "old fashioned" way, you can send a check to: Reece's Rainbow, P.O. Box 4024, Gaithersburg, MD, 20885. Be sure to put "Josephine" in the memo. 


Then, in order to get another entry you can do any of the following:

2. Share this blog on FaceBook, then leave me a comment to tell me.
3. Blog about Josephine and encourage your readers to make a donation. Leave me a comment with the link. 
4. Tweet about this blog entry to raise more awareness for Josephine and leave me a comment with the info.
5. "Follow" my blog and then leave me a comment to let me know.
6. Share this with any of your friends who might be interested in the gift cards and get them to visit my blog! 



I will keep this open until the end of the month, then I'll have a drawing. Remember, I have FOUR gift cards to give away, so you've got a good chance!  
Also, I have partnered up with Leigh over at www.adasperdown.blogspot.com to raise funds for Josephine. She is having a give away for a custom made toddler bedding with cow print set. Check it out!!


And let's end this post with some cute inspiration to get the ball rolling!