Friday, November 30, 2012

A few updates, and a cry for help...

It's been a rough week.

We hit a road block with our adoption of Peter.  To make a long story short, the government in his country needs to approve one aspect of our application.....and it somehow got lost in the whole process and needs to start at the beginning of the approval process.  We're looking at probably a 6-12 month delay, in the long run.   Prayers would be MUCH appreciated.   This also means that we'll have to update some of our other information (homestudy paperwork, basically) in the process, because it will expire while we wait.  

While this obviously isn't the news we wanted to hear, we have trust that this is all part of His plan.    The only scary part for us is that during this delay, Peter cannot be removed from the waiting child list.   There's a chance that, while we wait, another family could move forward to bring him home.   Again, we're obviously not excited about that remaining a possibility any longer.....if it does happen, we will continue to trust in Him and His plan for our family.    For now, though, we take comfort in knowing that Peter is being prayed for by people around the world, and is being loved so thoroughly by hundreds of people.  He's a lucky boy.

We also take great hope in the news we received today - our little boy is no longer living in a hospital!! He's been moved into a child home, which in his country is a wonderful thing.   His country provides wonderful, family-centered care for orphans, and so we are comforted by the fact that he is now in a home, with other children...with toys....with a bed of his own....This is a beautiful thing for his daily life and well-being.

This week was also difficult for another reason.  One of our own, a young Reece's Rainbow orphan-no-more passed away after a difficult battle with an infection.   He was only 2, and had  only been home for 14 short months.

However, in those 14 months, Henry changed the world.   His own world suddenly was filled with unconditional love, a family, happiness and smiles, and the love of a mother and father.......and it was through their witness to love that so many of us found Reece's Rainbow and our own forever child.    Henry and his mom, Carla, brought so many orphans many children were rescued through their witness and advocacy.

Today, our little family joins together in mourning, in remembrance of a life that ended too soon.

I ask you for two things, to help Henry's family:

1- if you're Catholic, please join in praying a rosary between the hours of 2 and 9 pm today.   This time period is Henry's visitation, and while we cannot be physically with his family....we can join our voices to theirs in prayer.   If you are not Catholic, please take some time to pray your own prayers, in solidarity with his adoptive family, and so many of us that Henry touched.

2 - Henry's medical bills and funeral expenses are large.  If you can help, with any size monetary donation, I ask that you do that.   I cannot begin to express how many lives Carla and Henry touched through their adoption journey and first year home.   So many of us considered Carla a "big sister" of sorts - she was always there to help us over the roadblocks, hold our hand, dry our tears, pray us through our discernments, and rejoice in homecomings and victories.  Please help us to return the favour by helping them overcome this immediate financial hurdle.  You can find a link to the family's Chip-In account at the top right column of our own blog.  

For more information about Henry, and tributes to the little guy, please check out these links:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Giving Thanks..

We decided to splurge a bit this year (well, not really - we only did cheap things, except for one thing), and spend our first ever Thanksgiving vacation in New York City.   All through med school and residency, Mike never had an entire Thanksgiving weekend off - he'd have bits and pieces of the weekend free, but never the whole thing.   This year.....he did!...and we decided to have a fun family weekend.   Our extended family was too far away from us to travel to without spending a couple of thousand dollars, so we started researching ways to do NYC (about 5 hrs away from us) on a budget.   

It worked!  We found a train station that we could drive to and park at for minimal fees and spent a whole $50 on round trip train tickets for the entire family.  Considering we drive a Prius, our transportation costs were less than $100!  :)   A friend told us about The Leo House  , a Catholic guesthouse in the city that was mere blocks from 5th Avenue, and about a mile walk from Central Park.    It was literally 1/5 of the cost of a hotel, and was an awesome "home base."  I really can't say enough great things about the Leo House - it was very bare bones lodging (do not expect fancy decorations or bathrooms or surroundings), but it had clean beds, and clean bathrooms, and an AMAZING hot breakfast buffet in the morning (seriously - one of the best breakfasts we've ever had a a hotel, including homemade bread for toast.  YUM.   It was very bed-and-breakfast-ish).  They'd make you boxed lunches to take with you on your day of exploring as well (yum, more homemade bread!), at a fraction of the cost of eating out.  The staff made it a point to get to know us and our boys, and by the end of the weekend, they felt like extended family members.    There was morning Mass every morning (except Sunday, unless there is a priest staying there) to start our day,  which you won't get anywhere else in NYC!  :)   We would HIGHLY recommend it.  

Between a fantastic breakfast and quick and easy lunches of bagels and/or sandwiches, we managed to do NYC on a tight budget without feeling like we were lacking anything at all.    There's so much to do and see that's free - especially at Christmas time.  Between the parade (SO MUCH FUN.  Definitely worth getting up at 5:30 for and standing in our spot from 6:30 - 9:30 am), window displays at stores, and all the beautiful churches to explore.......we never had time to get bored.   We did splurge on two purchases/adventures, but one of them I consider a school expense, and the other was our family Christmas gift.    We'd spent week before our trip learning about the Empire State Building (how it was built, why it was built, the structure itself, for example), and did pay the money to go up to the observatory.   The look on Rascal #1's face (he's our little architect-in-the-making) made it worth all of the expense.   He was thrilled to be able to see it and touch it in person.   So fun!

Our one big expense was a trip to see Disney's The Lion King on Broadway.  Merry Christmas to us!  Both Mike and I had seen the show in our pre-kids days and loved the music and spectacle.   The kids were finally all old enough to be able to sit through it and follow along, so we decided to spend the bulk of our Christmas budget on this one purchase.  It was worth it.   The boys were fascinated - and haven't stopped talking about it yet, three days later.   I'm so glad we went!

We'd challenged ourselves to find a way to enjoy our first family vacation ever (meaning:  first family trip taken purely for entertainment purposes, NOT involving visiting family at all) on a budget, and while many didn't think it was possible.....we proved them wrong.   It IS possible to go to New York City for holiday festivities without spending thousands of dollars!  Here's the proof:

Waiting, waiting, waiting....

Starting to get crowded along the parade route

Yay!  Here it comes!

In awe of the balloons...

So much to see!

Getting confetti...

Cutting through Central Park on our way back to the hotel

VERY excited boys!

St Therese shrine....

Absolutely beautiful:  St Patrick's Cathedral

lighting a candle and praying for a friend

Monday, November 12, 2012

Share Nico Day!

Sharing this for a dear friend, Kara.  


Kyle and Kara met in 2004 and quickly fell in love. They were blessed with 4 beautiful daughters soon after that and live a blissfully busy life.
When Kara discovered Reece’s Rainbow, it was like a dream come true. She has always been called to orphans and especially the work of Mother Teresa, but didn’t know how to help. So, having a tangible way to advocate for these children was amazing.
Then Kara saw Nico and everything changed. She fell head over heels in love, but because they were not able to adopt at that time, she vowed to advocate as hard as she could for him, in hopes that a family would find him. Things changed very quickly once that “yes” was on both Kyle and Kara’s hearts, and they have been blessed to walk through each door as it has opened. They are praying that they will be able to give Nico the home and family that he deserves soon.
They are thankful for this opportunity and hope you will pray for them as they go through this process.
Follow the family’s adoption journey on their blog at

Friday, November 9, 2012

Here we go! Quick Takes...Macbook version!

Guess what time it is, folks?

Time for quick takes, of course!  

Just a bit, um, enhanced.  

Here we go!

Don't forget to check out Jen's blog for more!


Guess what y'all?!  We had an amazing week for donations this past week....and I can officially say that we are FULLY FUNDED!!  WOOT!

Thank you all for helping spread the word, Peter's story, donating, and just all-around supporting us so far on this journey.   Now that we have our fund completely ready...all we're waiting for is official word from Peter's country and our little boy will be coming home!


You guys know what that means!   Time for some massive giveaways!  All of our puzzle pieces are spoken for, so I'll have an updated picture of the puzzle (gotta frame it first!) soon...but before that - we have FIVE hats and a computer to giveaway!  First up is this adorable La La Loopsie hat!

And the winner is......Liz Linnell!!

 Next up is an awesome Michigan State football hat....

and the winner is.....Kara McIntee!!

  Our next hat is an awesome zebra hat...with a matching infant/baby version...

And the winner is Brother Rex!  (haha...this kind of cracks me up! - you HAVE to wear it at Journey this year!!)

  Next up is a great Angry Birds hat (two views, so you can see its awesomeness)...

The winner is......Cathy Newman!!!

   Our last hat to giveaway is a maroon and white football hat...

and it's going to.....Leila Miller!


And the moment you've all been waiting of THESE gets to go home to one of you!!

The lucky recipient of a brand new  Macbook Air is....

....drumroll please.....

Alison Oertle!!

If you see your name on here anywhere, please message me here with your address, and I'll send your item out in tomorrow's mail!   

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Quick Takes - a day late

Thanks Jen for hosting!  Go check out her blog for some hilarious quick takes!  :)

1. I know, I know, I'm a day late.  I had a busy day yesterday that ended with.....going to see Dr. Ray speak!  Woot!  It was a fun date night - the kids loved their new babysitter, Dr. Ray was hilarious (and insightful), and we got to see some friends that we weren't expecting to run into there.   Overall, it was a great night!

2.  Guess what I have today?   Believe it or not, I have PETER NEWS!  Double woot!   Just before Hurricane Sandy took our power away for a few days, we ended up getting a fabulous message from his country.   We received more pictures (which you can see here), and this child has already totally and completely melted my heart.  Seriously.  He's adorable.   

3.  Better than the pictures, though, was......a short but sweet update on Peter himself.  We learned that he's happy, healthy, and WALKING!  For those of you with kiddos with DS, you know that this walking thing is a pretty big deal.   I'm very excited about it - most likely, it's a sign that he's been well cared for and receiving therapy.   It's a very, very good indication for his overall health status.  :)

4.  Let's see.  What else is going on?   I'd been keeping track of our donations that have come in since this post about our matching funds.  I sat down the other night (once our power was restored), and did a little math and discovered that.......we only need to raise $560 before Johnny and Alison chip in the rest and we end up being FULLY FUNDED.  (Technically, it was $580 then, if you saw the facebook post, but we had $20 come in that night, so I've already updated it).  $560.  That's all.   I'm amazed and so very grateful.  Thank you all!   I will have a puzzle update picture soon - we're almost halfway there, and then the matching funds will take care of the rest!!

5.  Remember Malcolm?   His parents just recently returned from visiting him for the first time, and the pictures and stories from their visit are just incredible.  Poor Malcolm didn't quite understand that he wasn't able to go home with them right then...and tried to pack up his things and go home with his Mommy and Daddy.   As a result, a friend of the family (who also runs a fantastic advocacy blog), is trying to put together a matching grant that will help them get fully funded.  Can you help?  Contact this friend through her blog here.

6. Love coffee?   Love Nico?   Can you help his forever family bring him home by purchasing some coffee through this link?   They'll be ever so grateful!!   

7.  Like Scentsy products?  Check out this link!   There are THREE adoptive families holding fundraisers at this moment, and you could order awesome Christmas presents while helping all or one of these families bring their child home.  

Alright, that wraps up our return to Quick Takes!  Have a great weekend, guys!

Thursday, October 25, 2012


We don't really have much in the way of news, but wanted to share some pictures we saw last week.  Our lobster giveaway winner received her taste of Maine last weekend, and it looks like it was very much enjoyed!   So happy to see the smiles in the pictures and again, so very grateful for your support on our adoption journey!  

Who's ready for some lobster?

I can't help it.   Seeing lobster be cooked will forever make me think of Sebastian from The Little Mermaid

Preparing the feast



A couple of non-Peter-related items of importance:

Remember Malcolm?   His parents are currently in-country AT.THIS.MOMENT meeting their little boy.  He's a gem - absolutely adorable and they are even more in love with him than before.  Please say a prayer for their safety and continued success of their trip.  Thanks!

And last, but definitely not least, please go visit our friend Kara's blog and check out her giveaway to bring Nico home.   I want to meet this rascal as soon as possible, so let's all rally around her and help to bring him home!   You could even win an iPad in the process - woot!  

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Great American Road Trip Scavenger Hunt, wrap up (in pictures!)

I can say, without a doubt, that this was the most fun road trip we've ever taken - and we've taken A LOT of road trips.  Getting into the car and hitting the road with picnic meals planned (ask about the time we grilled pork chops in a park-n-ride parking lot!) is honestly our favourite family activity.   We LOVE road trips.

But this one took the cake - the scavenger hunt was a BLAST!  While we didn't manage to find everything on the list, we did find quite a few.  Some of the items (that we saw from the road) we weren't able to snap a picture of, so you'll have to take our word that we found them!   The rest, however.....have photos to prove our accomplishments!

To refresh your memories, here is the final scavenger hunt list:

In no particular order, here are some of the items that we found:

Red Barn, somewhere in Oklahoma

Another red barn - also in Oklahoma, but it was easier to see the redness!

red leaves!!!

The Hudson River

First Maine license plate - in Connecticut at a rest area

welcome to Maine sign

Pine trees!

The Atlantic Ocean is out there - this is the Portland Harbor , so it leads out to the ocean

Frisbee stuck in a tree!  (Courtesy of some playtime at Nanny's house in PA)

The black markings are tiny waterfalls, along the cut rocks in PA

Portsmouth, NH, welcome center

A treehouse we spotted just down the road from our Maine house - and yes, I randomly pulled into their driveway to take a picture.  I'm part-stalker, apparently.  ;-)

Oklahoma City Memorial

Oklahoma City Memorial

Old Cathedral in St Louis, with the Gateway Arch behind it

Mommy and boys at the Arch

The Mississippi River, in St Louis

Finally, our house in Maine!

It was a lot of fun, and our completed scavenger hunt list looked like this:

Thankfully, it didn't snow, so we didn't get a picture of that.   We tried valiantly to get a honey bee hive, especially after finding out that Albuquerque is a "bee friendly" city, but we couldn't find any to go visit.   We talked to the Bee Keepers Association there, and it turns out that all the hives are on private property, and they couldn't find anyone who could give us a tour.  :-(   A little bummed, but I understood!

I totally meant to go out after the kiddos went to bed while we were visiting Nanny and Poppy (Heidi's parents) in Pennsylvania to find some Amish baked goods and a steak and cheese (yum!)......but I kind of fell asleep on the couch.   I guess I was tired out by then!!

Because we visited my parents on the way, it meant we didn't head down through NYC, so we weren't able to get those things on the list.  However, we have plans to go down for Thanksgiving, so we'll try to catch up then!!  haha

Overall, I'd say we did pretty well with the list, and it definitely made the trip fun.   We probably wouldn't have seen some of these things (specifically the Arch and the memorial) without you guys suggesting them, and I'm SO glad that we did - they were some of my favourite memories from the road trip!   Definitely some places we'd like to go back and visit a bit longer!!

So thanks for the fun, and THANK YOU for helping us build these memories!  You guys rock!

Home study update!

We had our home visit for the home study update yesterday.  It went well - we'd had help from a friend on Saturday with unpacking (Thanks, Mary!), and so our house was almost completely set up.  There were still a few boxes here and there, but we definitely were able to get everything that was important to the home study unpacked and put into place.

It went well - this was our first face-to-face meeting with the social worker for the agency in Maine (lots of phone calls so far, but first in-person meeting), and we really liked her.   Her goal is to have everything for the update completed by October 15th, which is amazing!   

Things are coming together!  :-)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Drumroll please......

We're finally all moved in, after a little bit of moving truck chaos (the truck couldn't make it down our new long, dirt driveway, so they ended up having to get a UHaul truck and shuttle it down said driveway.....all in the soaking rain!  Poor guys got a GOOD tip from us!).  

Now our house is starting to come back together, and we're trying to get things in order for our home study update visit, which is tomorrow morning.   It doesn't have to be perfect (the social worker knows we just moved), but it definitely has to give her an idea of our home, Peter's new environment, and our plans for once he comes home.   We've been working around the clock to make that happen!

In a bit of update news - we did finally receive our questions from Peter's country, and have answered them and they've been sent back already.   They were exactly what we expected, and were pretty easy to answer.  There wasn't anything that really surprised us in the list, which was good.

........and now the moment you've all been waiting for!

PICTURES!  (heehee, not really - that'll be another post.  I have our scavenger hunt pictures uploading now so we can let you all see how we did).

But in the real news......It's LOBSTER TIME!

All of the entries are in, and has popped out a number...

As a HUGE thank you for helping with the scavenger hunt and our move, a dinner of 4 fresh, Maine lobsters is getting sent to......

MAUREEN GRIFFIN!  Woot!   Maureen, if you could just send me your shipping address here , I will get those lobsters ordered and on their way!

Congrats, Maureen!!  I hope you enjoy your taste of Vacationland!  :-)



.........But wait!  There's more!

Thanks to the generosity of our wonderful friends, Johnny and Alison, and their matching funds, we've had a great flood of donations come into both our Paypal account and our Reece's Rainbow fund.   We've been brought to tears as we've seen Peter's puzzle jump from 140 puzzle pieces spoken for to 227!   (And this is BEFORE we add in the matching funds - amazing!).

Because of those puzzle pieces being spoken for.....we get to give away the Hello Kitty hat!

Remember this beauty? was put to work once more and the winner of this awesome handmade hat is....


Congrats, Charles!  :-)  Send me your new address here and I'll get it in the mail for you right away!

Thank you all for your generous and loving support - we definitely could tell you were all cheering us on as we drove from one corner of the country to the other!

Watch out for the scavenger hunt pictures.....and our next hat to giveaway!  It's football season - I'm pretty sure some of you will really like our next hat!  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Quick Update (hi and bye!)

Well, we made it to Maine, but we don't have internet set up just yet.   That will get turned on tomorrow.   Once that happens, I'll be able to upload pictures, double-check all the entries for the lobster giveaway (I tried to do that on my phone, but it was NOT user-friendly!!  haha), and go ahead and give that Vacationland dinner away.   Thank you for being so patient!

I just wanted to check in quickly, let you all know that we made it safe and sound, and to thank you for all the support and prayers along the journey here - we definitely felt them!

We'll see you all again tomorrow!

***ETA:  If you've commented recently on the Macbook or lobster giveaway, they're sitting in my email, waiting to be published.  I'm waiting to add those entries until we are online again.  Thanks!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Great American Road Trip, part 1, and Vacationland Update

Well, we're finishing up day two of the Great American Road Trip, and I wanted to check in for a quick minute.   Our internet connection and time is kind of spotty while on the road (as in, non-existent for all of Texas, pretty much!).   I'm about to crawl into bed, but wanted to give you guys a few updates.

Let's see, day one took us from Phoenix to Albuquerque.  It was a great day for traveling, although we had to go back quickly after leaving because we forgot to reset the sprinkler system at our old house (no sprinkler system = no grass in the desert, which would NOT be appealing to whomever is living in our house next!).   Other than that, we had a fun day exploring the "high desert" of Arizona.

Our first stop in Albuquerque was fantastic - let's just say that if you EVER need somewhere to stay in that town, check out the Residence Inn.  They were amazing - I honestly have NEVER stayed in a hotel and been given better customer service.   Definitely go there if you're heading through New Mexico!

Second stop tonight is Oklahoma City.   It was a LOOOOONNNNNGGGGGG day of driving, but we made it safely to our second hotel.   We made a quick dinner (yay for suites with kitchens!), and headed back out to the car to visit the memorial for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.   While the museum was not open, the memorial itself is open 24 hours, and I can honestly say that I am very glad we came at night.   The memorial is beautiful and awe-inspiring when lit up at night, and the fact that there were only a handful of people there with us made it very easy to take our time and explain things to the boys at their speed and on their level.  I'm very  happy we were delayed today and ended up at the memorial late  (I'm also super thankful for the scavenger hunt - I can honestly say that I probably would have scrapped the idea of going to the memorial because we got here so late, but we didn't want to skip it, thanks to your support.   I'm so glad we didn't.  It was something I will never forget and something that I am so grateful that the boys were able to see).  

Next item of business:  the Vacationland (lobster) giveaway.  We're waiting for the official list of donors from Reece's Rainbow, just to make sure we didn't miss anyone's entry.  Once we get that, will pop out the name of the person that gets a lobster dinner on us.  Thanks so much for helping us make this road trip an awesome one!   

Last but not least, a HUGE thank you to everyone who's donated since our matching fund was announced.  We've had $625 come in from you guys, which is turning into $1250 after Johnny and Alison match it.   We are overwhelmed and so very grateful for your generosity!  THANK YOU!

You'll find an updated scavenger hunt list under the pictures - I'll keep crossing things off as we find them!

Some pictures from our journey so far (these are all from my phone, I will upload the ones from the real camera once we get to Maine):

Peter's big brother playing with the toy of the day:  a cookie sheet covered in chalkboard paint, chalk, and magnets

A rainbow over New Mexico (taken by Peter's big brother, NOT me - I was driving!)

"Cadillac Ranch" outside of Amarillo, TX

The boys thought it was AWESOME that Daddy remembered the spray paint AND that we got to use it!

Our addition to the artwork - Let's hear it for our Spartans!

Across the street from the OKC memorial - a statue of Jesus weeping

Looking at the memories on the fence surrounding the memorial

Mommy and the boys at the OKC memorial

Current Scavenger Hunt findings:

Honey bee hive - we tried in Albuquerque, which is apparently a "bee friendly" city, but according to the Bee Keepers Association, none of the hives are on public land.  We'll keep looking!!

Memorial Park in OKC

The “Gateway to the West” arch in St Louis

Tumbleweed -  saw some in AZ, but we were going 75 miles an hour and couldn't get a picture!!

Philly cheese steak sandwich

Amish baked goods

Kite, toy, or Frisbee stuck in a tree

GW Bridge or Tappan Zee bridge in NYC

The Mississippi River

Welcome Center in Portsmouth, NH

Welcome to Maine sign

Hudson River

Red leaves

Pine trees

NYC skyline

Red barn

MacIntosh Apples

Amish horse and buggy


A waterfall

The Atlantic ocean


Our house in Maine

Maine license plate - saw one while driving today, but couldn't snap a picture.  We'll try to find another one in a parking lot so we can capture it!

a cowboy