Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Annual Race for Orphans With Down Syndrome!

Join me and my family on September 8th in Meridian Idaho for the first annual RODS Racing Race!  I will be doing the 5k, with a goal to finish before the kids fun run (1 mile) gets underway so I can do it with my kids!  All proceeds will go to Maggie, the current RODS orphan who desperately needs a family of her own. RODS has already raised over $10,000.00 toward her adoption grant, and has a goal to get her grant to $15,000.00.  Speaking from our own experience, once a child's grant gets that high, it is only a matter of a month, maybe two, before a family will commit with such a large portion of their adoption already taken care of.  We'd love to see you there!  Easy online registration HERE.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Travel Date!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By this time next month, we will have met our little boy!
The countdown has begun....
We are busy buying plane tickets, arranging accommodations, making packing lists, and imagining our first glimpses of the boy we've been thinking about for so long.  Thank you for your prayers and good thoughts!  We can feel them and are so grateful!

Friday, August 17, 2012

And the winner is......

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My mind has been swirling since last night, mulling over all the things I wanted to write.  I am sad to say I don't have many photos because although I brought my camera, I forgot to make sure there was a memory card in it!!!  So I only have a few photos that Brian took on his phone and a few others I stole from the Tueller's post on Facebook.

531034_10151100754153604_1574240492_n So when we arrived, the concert was going full blast.  The place was seriously crowded and the energy was just awesome.  We had invited a wonderful family from Mountain Home to come to the drawing to celebrate with us.  They happen to be in the process of adopting sweet Marena from Reece's Rainbow, who is in the same country as Arnold.  They have visited her once, and will be traveling soon for their court date.  We had a little something up our sleeve for them and wanted to surprise them :)  It was so great to get to actually meet another Reece's Rainbow family in person!  I hope soon there will be tons of us in the Treasure Valley, and we can have a get-together every summer to catch up with each other.  Gretchen and Chris were super nice and their kids just adorable. They were so great to drive the 45 minutes and put up with the sweltering heat.

We also got to meet Bill and Jan Gage, the owners of the Edwards Theater Complex in Boise and the ones who made this all possible.  They are just the nicest, most genuine people you could ever meet.  They are expecting a sweet grandbaby in a matter of days, but managed to still come out for the big drawing.  How awesome is it that a big company like Edwards can still have heart for their local community???!!  They were so accommodating to the whole process, offering any help needed, suggesting ideas and allowing ticket-selling on their big free concert nights.  They came up and made a large personal donation while we were there, but little did we know what else they had in store for us that night.
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There were other wonderful people we met that night, Chelsea and her friend-I just really enjoyed talking with you both-and Erika and her husband, who have a sweet child with Down syndrome too and have been learning more about Reece's Rainbow.  This has been the best part of the whole adoption experience: getting to meet people like you who have these huge hearts.  Thank you for being a part of our story.

Okay, so the concert is winding down, and Bill says it's time to go on stage and do the drawing.  This awesome band, Pilot Error, was so gracious to give up their stage and host us for the drawing and a few other shout-outs during the evening.  Christy got up and told the audience what we were doing, then asked me to come draw the winning ticket.  Talk about pressure!!!  I swirled my hand around a bunch and reached in to draw...."Arnold Preece" for the winner.  OH MY GOODNESS.  That's when the tears began to flow.  Christy told me that probably 50% of the tickets in the drawing were written out to Arnold.  I'll say it again: OH MY GOODNESS.  Can you even imagine??!!  So many people, as they were buying tickets, told Christy that they thought it would be so great to see Arnold win the house that helped bring him home.  I definitely wanted a ticket-buyer to win the house; I can think of so many who deserve it-my sweet niece who has been selling blackberry jam door to door in Utah to raise money for Arnold; my cousin-in-law who sent a generous donation (and asked us to put half in Arnold's name); a gentleman I don't even know from Homedale who emailed me the night he saw our story on the news to ask where to mail a check.  So, so many people deserved to win that beautiful little house.  Well, when I saw Arnold's name I was overcome with gratitude, but quickly informed the audience that we would be turning around and using this house to help another family in the adoption process.  However, when I got back to the house I was informed by a few people that we would certainly not be giving the house to someone else.  As Mike Tueller posted on Facebook today, "The winner was destiny: "Arnold Preece".  When the little guy gets to his new family, he will have a play hosue and his parents will be able to look out back and be reminded of the caring and generosity of others." Oh my goodness, the tears were flowing.
This is me saying, "I don't want to be the one to have to draw the ticket!"
I thanked the crowd as best I could, being so overwhelmed with gratitude, and was heading off stage when Bill Gage stopped me and said, "hold on, we're not done up here!" I'm standing there and he says into the microphone: "we are just so touched by what has happened here, that on behalf of Edwards Cinema we wanted to make a donation of two thousand dollars to this adoption."  That is the moment I, as Oprah would say, did the ugly cry!  My head was in my hands and I thought my heart was going to burst right out of my body.  I have tears running down my face again just writing about it.  It was a moment I will never forget, ever.  In that moment, I knew that our adoption was fully funded.  We have every penny we will need to bring Arnold home.  Without going into debt at all, without borrowing from our own small business, by our own savings and the incredible generosity of others, many complete strangers, we now had this giant obstacle moved out of our way. The feeling of relief was more than I even knew was possible.  I don't think I realized how much I had carried the emotions of worry and fear on my shoulders until I felt them be released in that moment. But even more than that was the utterly overwhelming feeling of love I felt inside of me. It was like all of the good thoughts, prayers, and wishes of every single person in this journey-hundreds of you, if not more-were all at once poured into my heart and my body just couldn't contain it all!  I was literally sobbing right there on stage!  And I didn't care!!  I wished, in that moment, that I could have hugged every person who has been there for us in any and every way.  I have never been on the receiving end of so much love and support before, and the feeling was absolutely amazing.  I couldn't help but think, "I can't wait to do this for someone else!"

With the Gage's and Christy (where were you, Aubrey??)
We made our way back down to the play house and tried to clean things up and get ready to leave.  We  stopped to talk again with the Gage's about all the little miracles that made this little house possible. Thankfully we were able to snap a quick photo of all of us together.  One of my favorite stories about the play house so far:

When Christy wanted to put this idea into motion, she put out an ad on craigslist, letting people know what she was looking for and why.  She got a response from a sweet woman in Nampa who offered to sell her their old play house for a great deal.  Christy said they were such a nice family and were so happy to be helping another family in this way.  They thought Christy would fix the house up, sell it for a few hundred dollars, and put a dent in our last costs.  Earlier this week, when Christy had added up her totals and it was in the thousands, she thought it would be nice to call this family and let them know just how much it was going to help us.  When she talked to this sweet woman, she was beside herself to learn that it had earned us over seven thousand dollars toward our adoption.  You see, this family were the owners of a small christian book store here in Nampa that closed down in April due to the economy.  They had been out of work since then.  Their store had been their way of sharing their testimony of God with others, and since closing down they had felt a great loss at not being able to do that as much as they had before.  That very morning they had prayed that God would somehow use them for good, to bless others.  I am still in tears thinking about this too!  When Christy called them with this news, they knew it had been their answer to their prayer.  Talk about helping others!!!  This little house has blessed so many lives, and who knows how many people have now visited Reece's Rainbow and been made aware of the plight of these helpless little children because of them?  I know that many have, because they have talked to me about it.  I know of at least one family who is now adopting a little girl because of learning about Reece's Rainbow from our blog!  Amazing!!!

I have not had the pleasure of meeting this family in person yet, but I hope they know about this blog and I hope they realize just what their seemingly simple act of kindness has done.  They made an offering and God magnified it 10,000.00 times!!!  This little house raised the final $10,000.00 we needed to be fully funded.  What a miracle, there is no other way to describe it.

As we made our way out of the courtyard and toward our van, Kennedy just kept saying over and over, "I can't believe we have all the money we need now!  Mom, this is so amazing!  There are so many nice people helping us bring Arnold home!  I don't know if I want to cry happy tears or sad tears!"  At that, little tears streamed down her face and I just stopped to hold her and whispered in her ear to always remember this moment and how she felt.  I told her she was feeling all the good there is in the world.  I told her how we always hear about all the bad, sad things going on in the world, but that there is still so much good.  I just held her for the longest time and we both cried and once again felt overwhelmed with love.
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Lastly tonight, I just wanted to publicly thank Christy and Aubrey (and their devoted husbands who sacrificed time with their wives so many times on our behalf!  I know there were many dinners you made for your kids, many times tucking them in to bed alone, and I can't say thank you enough.  You are my heros too!  Thank you guys!!)  Oh my goodness, will these tears ever stop??!  Christy and Aubrey, you are honestly angels disguised as cute young moms.  I know you will never take credit, but I know that you are more than the average person.  You have something that is incredibly rare in an individual-you were willing to sacrifice so much personally for the sake of a complete stranger and a child you've never met but felt great love for.  I know you haven't told me of all of the times you've run yourself ragged doing errands, painting, selling, begging, pleading, stalking news channels, corporations and who knows who else to make this play house raffle a huge success.  You dreamed bigger than I could have ever imagined and you have changed my life, my family's life, forever.  I hope that every time you see sweet Arnold, you will be blessed to feel the magnitude of your role in bringing him home.  I hope you plan on seeing a lot of us, because I consider you family.  I honestly feel as if I've known you forever.  I am sure I knew you before this life and I am so glad we finally found each other!!  There will never be words enough to thank you, but since you are mothers, I know that you know what a mother would do for her child-go to the ends of the earth if necessary-and you have carried me there to rescue my boy! I know you can imagine what I must feel toward you!  For now I will just say, with all sincerity, Спасибо, (pronounced "spa-see-ba"), thank you.


Finally, an update on the adoption itself:

Our dossier was submitted to officials this past Tuesday!!!!!!  This means we should get a travel date next week!!!!!  Our visas arrived this week also, so we are all set to go, just waiting for the magical date so we can book our plane tickets!

First visit to playhouse raffle

***This post was written a couple weeks ago, when we took our first trip out to the playhouse raffle at Edwards Theater in Boise, but I just got my photos today, so I'm posting it now****

What a great and tiring week it has been!  We went down to the Boise Spectrum Thursday night to support Christy and her awesome volunteers who were there selling raffle tickets.  As we walked up to the courtyard, we heard Christy on the microphone at the concert that was going on (they hold free outdoor concerts every Thursday evening in the summer).  She was telling the crowd about us and the playhouse raffle.  Wow!
The kids were so excited to see the playhouse again.  We had a ball dancing to the music of the great band (local band Pilot Error) that was singing all the favorites.

Here's a video I took (and please rest assured Brian is not going to drop Jake...although the mother in you may think otherwise!)

Kennedy striking a pose...oh my!
Jake has been obsessed with his shadow since he was a tiny baby.  He danced and danced, watching his shadow dancing too.  

We met some really great people there too.  I am so impressed with the goodness of the people in this valley.  They really know how to rally for their own.  Just this week when Kristen Armstrong won the individual time trials at the Olympics, the community went wild.  Kristen is a native of Boise and is always doing community events for kids and adults alike.  She won gold four years ago, and decided to retire and have children.  Well, she had a son and then realized her desire to race wasn't gone and decided to try one more time for gold, this time with the goal of holding her son on the podium after winning the gold.  She was able to do just that, and it was so inspiring for all of us.  If a 38-year-old mom can be the best female cyclist in the world, then there is hope for the rest of us thirty-something moms out there!

Anyway, we received many kind words and were able to meet the owners of the Edwards complex there.  They were so, so kind and down-to-earth.  They were enthusiastic about the whole thing.  After the concert they had Christy get up again to remind people to buy a raffle ticket on their way out.  She had me and my girls come up to introduce us.  We were greeted with cheers, it was awesome!  One of the shop owners in the complex offered 30 free minutes of game time with every ticket purchased that night.
Jake happy to be at the playhouse again

Christy with her two devoted helpers, getting ready to get out and sell tickets.
Leah trying on the "Big Bad Wolf" mask that comes with the house.
The Stinker Gas Station mascot was there, notice Christy trying to persuade Jake and Leah to come out and say hi to him.
This is where they were hiding-I love how Leah was hiding behind her big brother for protection from the scary skunk!

I hope so very much that every person who has purchased a ticket, said a kind word, or done anything at all to help us in this process has visited this blog so they will know how much we appreciate them.  Just last night Brian said, "how do we thank people?  'Thank you' just doesn't seem like enough."  I completely agree.  We say thank you for the simplest things, it seems a shame there isn't a better set of words for when someone does something that merits so much more than a humble "thank you."  So please know that if there were adequate words to describe how much we truly thank you, they would be yours.  You have changed the course of not only our lives, but the life of Arnold.  Oh I can't wait to meet this little boy, and to share story after story with him about all of you.

And on that note, an update on where the adoption process stands:

All of our dossier paperwork is in his country, being translated as we speak!  That should be done any day now, then our facilitator there will request an appointment with the Ministry of Education to "register" our paperwork.  If that goes well, the Ministry will issue us a travel date approximately 10-14 days later.  That means we could be traveling in the next few weeks!  I can't wait to update this blog when we receive our official travel date!!!

Our Visas have been in process as well.  We received our invitation to travel last week, so we then sent in our official visa application.  I believe it takes another week to get our visas back.  After that, we will be ready to roll and just waiting for our travel date!!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Short Update & a big Thank You

I have a whole post ready to go about our visit to the playhouse raffle.  It was awesome!  But I took my small camera and my computer won't read the photo card on it (too old I guess) and I can't find the cord.  I will go on a hunt and hopefully get the post up.  Let's just say it was amazing and we met some of the best Boise has to offer!

We finally found out that our coordinator has an actual appointment with the Ministry of Education next week to register our paperwork!!!  It has taken this long because the official at the Ministry has been on vacation and won't be back until Monday.  That means we will get our travel date the following week, if all goes according to schedule.  So it looks as if we will be traveling in mid-September instead of August :(.  I guess it is good because our kids start school next week, and it would have been difficult to leave them after only two days of school (especially Jake, who is starting 1st grade and full day, which should be interesting!)  This will give us some time to settle in to a school routine.  But it is killing me to think about waiting that much longer to see our boy!

Today was a stressful day at the shop and Brian said, "let's just get on a plane and go to [Arnold's country]!"  Some days it seems as if that day will never come, but I know it will and look forward to it more than anything right now.

Jake was laying in bed with me the other night and told me it was time to go get Arnold.  He said, "you got to get all your papers, and we get a babysitter, and you go get Arnold!"  Then he came up with a better idea: "two brothers!  I have two brothers and one sister, mom!"  So now Jake thinks we need to pick up two boys and a girl.  Oh boy, I don't think I'm up for that right now, Jake!  I love that he knows that we have to do lots of paperwork (sometimes he calls it my homework) in order to bring Arnold home.  He knows how hard we have been working toward getting on that plane.

So, not a ton of news, but at least we know that paperwork is getting turned in next week!  Wahoo!

I would like to say thank you to the anonymous donor who almost gave me a heart attack yesterday when I looked at our FSP page on Reece's Rainbow!!!!!!!!!!  Your kindness will not be forgotten!!!! Thank you...