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

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Humbled and blessed (and a matching grant!)

It's not often that I'm speechless.   

Those of you who know me in real life know that I fully earned my childhood nickname of "Motor Mouth."  I like to talk.  Too much, most of the time.   

But tonight I was speechless.  

Totally and completely unable to find the right words.  Unable to find the way to express my intense gratitude for the generosity that was being offered to us, the love and compassion being given to us, and through us to our Peter.

Tonight we were offered a matching grant for the REST OF OUR FUNDING.

Yes, that's right, folks.   We were offered a dollar-for-dollar matching grant until we hit that glorious "fully funded" mark of $16,500.  

God is good.  All of the time.

Let me tell you about these generous donors.   They'll probably hate me for embarrassing them here on the blog, but their story is one of beauty, courage, and grace, and I can't help but share it with you.

photo source

When we moved to Arizona, we were quickly welcomed and supported by this family.  Johnny and Alison truly welcomed us with open arms, to use a cliche.   You may remember them from previous mentions on this blog - they had an adorable on-going fundraiser for an adoption of "Baby Girl" (who was later named Seraphia Caritas once born).   Alison worked hour after hour to create beautiful "bird's nest" necklaces to fund their adoption.

At the very last minute, however, the adoption of Seraphia fell through.   You can read Alison's beautiful, grace-filled reflection of that experience here.   While heartbroken, the faith and courage that Johnny and Alison witnessed to those around them was unbelievable.   Loving Seraphia was always their first duty, and their only goal was to be faithful to God's will.   We never may understand exactly why their situation played out like it did, but what we do know is that Johnny and Alison never lost their trust in God's plan and their faithfulness to His call in their lives.

They are continuing to try to live faithfully to God's call, and He has placed it on their hearts to take the funds raised for their own adoption to help support others' adoption journeys.   While many of us would be tempted to hold on to those funds in anticipation of a future adoption of our own, Johnny and Alison are stepping out in faith that God will provide when they do move forward themselves, and are blessing other families with their funds.

We are humbled and incredibly grateful to be blessed by their generosity.

With their support, we are now officially able to say that every single donation from now until we are fully funded will be doubled automatically.

One $10 puzzle piece automatically becomes 2 (and you still can enter into the lobster giveaway and Macbook giveaway!!)

We could be fully funded - and Peter's puzzle complete! - in half the amount of time, thanks to Johnny and Alison!

So, can you help us?  Can you help us make every dollar and donation double in value?

Share this link - let everyone know about our matching funds.  Facebook, twitter, people you know in real life, email, blogs.   Let's see how many different people we can find who want to see $1 become $2, and watch Peter's puzzle grow and grow.  

We all like to get more for our money, right?   Now we can, thanks to an amazingly generous gift.

Let's get started!   And while you're spreading the word, make sure to share Seraphia's story.   It's a witness to God's grace that you do not want to miss.  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Slloooooowwwwllllyyyyy moving forward.....

....and no, I'm not talking about the packing!  (Although that is slow-going, too!)

We received word this week that Peter's country was going to be sending us some follow-up questions with regard to our application to adopt.   We expected that - it's few and far between when his home country doesn't send questions back to the adoptive family.    Considering we're a religious, homeschooling family with additional siblings at home, we expected to get a few questions from the government.  (Just to clarify - these aren't seen as obstacles for adopting in Peter's country, but when you look at his home culture vs American culture, these things are not the norm in his home country.   They're not "anti-homeschooling" or "anti-religion," but it's not commonplace in his home culture.   Therefore, they're going to ask more questions of us so that they can fully understand the daily life that Peter will be coming home to).  

We haven't seen the questions yet, but our social worker says they're coming.   She's not worried about them, and so neither are we.  Just one more step in the journey to bring our Peter home.   It is a good sign that we're getting questions, though - that means that they're reviewing our application and we are still moving forward.  Slowly, but surely, we'll get our little guy home!!

On a side note, have you entered our Vacationland Giveaway yet?   Things are getting fun with our scavenger hunt, but we still need more items to look for!   A donation gets you a chance to give us something fun to look for, and donating or sharing will get you a chance for one of our awesome thank-you gifts (LOBSTER!  A handmade hat!  MACBOOK!!).  Your chances for any of that are still really good - don't miss out!  

If you've already donated and haven't added an item to our list, make sure you comment on the blog and give us something to look for.   We really want to make this drive a fun one!  

Thanks, guys, and I'll keep you all updated on the scavenger hunt list AND the follow-up questions.  Let's get Peter home!

Current scavenger hunt list:

a honeybee hive
the Gateway to the West
a philly steak and cheese
Memorial Park in Oklahoma City
Amish baked goods
a kite, toy, or frisbee stuck in a tree

Monday, September 10, 2012


a : assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something
b : one in which confidence is placed 
I've been thinking a lot about the idea of trust recently.  It just seems to be coming up wherever I turn around.   Friends have been trusting their children into our care, for different reasons (a weekend getaway, the birth of a new sibling, etc), and each time it happens, I think about how humbling it is to be trusted with someone else's child.     It's scary - for some reason I find it a bit scary whenever I'm caring for someone else's child.   It's not like I treat their child any differently than my own:  I'm still caring for them in the same manner of care that I give my own children, but there's an added touch of anxiety involved.
I think it comes down to a fear of the unknown.   There's a little bit of unknown when caring for someone else's child, especially a young one.   What is their normal bedtime routine?   What kinds of food do they like?  What if I can't understand him/her?    All of those unknowns can add up to a little bit -- okay, a lot -- of fear.
But yet, even with all of those unknowns, our friends have found us worthy of their trust.   They've placed their confidence in our ability to care for their children, their blessings.

Each time this happens, I am overcome with a feeling of not being "good enough."   How could I possibly be able to successfully care for someone else's child, with knowing so little about that child?   I'm no SuperMom.   I'm just Heidi.   
But yet....I have been found worthy of trust.   
This last week, we were placed into this position of being trusted twice.   Each time, those feelings of being scared and humbled brought Peter to my mind.   Hopefully in the near future (God willing!), we are going to be trusted with our little boy.   Someone out there trusted that we were here, waiting for Peter, and that we were the right parents for their little boy.  

We are being trusted with the biggest gift that anyone could give:  the gift of a child.   

It's humbling.

It's terrifying.  

It's exciting.

Unlike a weekend getaway or helping out during the birth of a sibling, there's not going to be a parent on the other end of a phone call to help us decipher what he wants to eat, or what he needs to go to sleep at night.    There's not going to be a favourite stuffed toy/lovey that comes along, a favourite pair of pajamas, a special song sung during a bedtime routine.

It's all new.  It's all unknown. 

Sure, we know the basics.   We know his medical information (most of it, still waiting for details).   We know a bit of his social history.   We know a bit of his day-to-day life.   But the majority of it, his likes and dislikes, his routines, his friends and loved ones......we have billions of questions and no answers.

It's humbling.

It's terrifying.

It's exciting.

We are being trusted -- by Peter's birth parents, by his home country, by our own government, by our social worker and agency.   Trusted to provide a life full of love, care, and joy.   Confidence has been placed in our ability to be this little guy's family. 

It's a bit overwhelming when you think about it like that.   I find myself panicking when I think about all the unknown details, all the things I still need to know, all the steps we still have to take until our little guy comes home.   I find myself lost in a sea of fear, being tossed about by waves of anxiety, unable to see steady land.

And then I see one of these little guys:

...and I start to breathe again.  I start to climb out of the fear.
I'm already being trusted by Someone:  God.  He's placed these rascals in my life, knowing that I am the perfect parent for these little boys.    Am I a perfect mom?  No -- is there such a thing?   But He has told me that I'm the perfect mom for these boys. 

And so I'm reminded - by the goofy faces of my little boys - that I will be found worthy of trust in Peter's life for the sole reason that I am worthy of trust in Rascals 1,2, and 3's cases:

I trust in Him.

There are going to be unknowns.   There are going to be questions without answers.   There are going to be moments of anxiety and uncertainty.   That's parenting.

But if I trust in Him, He will lead me.   If I trust in Him, He will never let me go.

So I can climb out of that sea of fear, walk above the waves of anxiety, and rest on the shore.   He will be there, to guide me through the long as I trust.

On a side note, look at the fun things already added to our scavenger hunt:
a honeybee hive
the Gateway to the West
a philly steak and cheese
Memorial Park in Oklahoma City
Amish baked goods
a kite, toy, or frisbee stuck in a tree
This is going to be a fun 3000 mile road trip!!   Have you added your item to the scavenger hunt?   Go check it out!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Vacationland Giveaway!!

Our move is coming up quickly (TWO AND A HALF WEEKS!!), and we want to have a bit of fun along the way.    We're driving almost 3000 miles from one side of the country (AZ) to the other (ME).   Now, with three kids and two dogs in the car with Mike and I, the idea of this kind of drive is a bit scary, I'll admit.   That's a LONG time to be crammed into a minivan with that many people (and canines!).  

So, we want to share the fun with you guys -- and in the process, help Peter come home!   Want to join in?   Of course you do!    Let's get started.

Close your eyes.

What do you picture when you hear the word "Maine?"

If you're like us, you probably picture:

Ahhh, rocky shore lines

Or maybe a few of these guys:


Or maybe a certain boot comes to mind:

We love our Bean's!

But my best guess for the image that popped into your mind?    One of these rascals:


How would you like to have a dinner of four of those yummy guys.......on us?!?!?

We're going to give away a dinner of 4 Maine lobsters, shipped fresh (and live) to your door....all for helping us have some fun on our drive back to Maine.    

Here's how it will work:

This giveaway is going to be part of our current puzzle fundraiser.   Your entry will not only get you a chance to receive our gift of a true Maine dinner, but will also get you into the running for the MacBook we're currently giving away!   It's a true two-for-one kind of thing, with every chance helping us bring Peter home.   

In addition, we still have this awesome hat, made by a friend of the family, that will find its way to one of you guys after 25 puzzle pieces are spoken for (we're sitting at 131 puzzle pieces right now).   

As an added incentive, we are asking everyone who donates for a puzzle piece to help us create a scavenger hunt for our three boys to complete on our way back to Maine.   We'll look for your item, take a picture of the boys with it, and update the blog with the pictures once we get out East.  (With any luck, we can update along the road, but I can't make any promises - we're not sure what our internet access will be like!).

Here are the official rules:

To enter our giveaway, you must do one of the following:

- Donate $10 to our Reece's Rainbow account (tax deductible), in exchange for a piece of Peter's puzzle.   The link can be found on the right hand side of our blog.  This will get you entered into the lobster giveaway as well as the Macbook giveaway.  Each $10 increment will get you one puzzle piece, and one entry into the lobster giveaway as well as an entry into the Macbook giveaway.

-  Donate $10 to our personal paypal account (not tax deductible), in exchange for a piece of Peter's puzzle.  The link can be found on the right hand side of our blog.  This will get you entered into the lobster giveaway as well as the Macbook giveaway.  Each $10 increment will get you one puzzle piece, and one entry into the lobster giveaway as well as an entry into the Macbook giveaway.

Doing either of these things will allow you the chance to add an item to our "Great American Road Trip Scavenger Hunt."  Simply leave a comment on this post with your name, the fact that you donated, and the item you'd like to add to our scavenger hunt.    (You can also add this item into the message part of your paypal donation, if you use the paypal link).   We will find the item along our 3000 mile road trip, take a picture, and make sure it goes on the blog.  Make these items creative and fun - we want this road trip to be as entertaining as possible!!

There is also a way to enter into the giveaway without donating any money.  To do this, you must:

- Share this blog post via some sort of social media.   Email it, share it on Facebook, or Twitter, or any similar site.   Comment below, making sure to leave your name and how you shared it.   Tagging us on Facebook will not count - you need to leave a comment below.  This will get you entered into the lobster giveaway and the Macbook giveaway.

There is a catch.

This is a time-sensitive giveaway.

In order for this to work, we must meet a very important goal:

The giveaway will end the day before we leave Arizona.   This means that at midnight (PST), on September 25th, we will stop accepting any entries or donations for this particular lobster giveaway.

Are you ready?   Let's start sharing!!   Get your name on a puzzle piece now, give us a fun item to look for on our drive, and give us the opportunity to treat you to a Maine lobster dinner!!

Let's get this show on the road!!

(FYI:   150 puzzle pieces spoken for will cover the entire cost of our homestudy update.   Can we get that accomplished by the time we get to Maine?  Let's try!!)


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!  



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!