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!