Wednesday, November 12, 2014

World Adoption Day (a few days late!)

This post is a few days late.  I know it shouldn't be this difficult to stay on top of daily posts, but some days really are harder then others.  Sure, I can find the time but as I sit here typing I'm also thinking of the 512 other things that I could or should be doing. (Even if one post does only need to take 10 does cleaning the bathroom...)

November is National Adoption month and the 9th was World Adoption Day.  The first one ever!  To celebrate, there was a photo op going around of adoptive families taking pics with smiley face drawn on the palm of their hands.  I loved seeing all of the pics and if my own sweet girl had not been lovingly tucked into her bed and already snoring away by the time I realized this photo op was trending, we would have been on time. But, as it goes, our pic was a day late.  It's still ridiculously adorable though. 
                                         I mean who couldn't love this little squishy hand!!

I must tell you I got scolded at first, for writing on my own hand and then a very silly face as she looked back and forth from her hand to mine with smiles faces on them both.
I wasn't even going to try to attempt getting our smiley faced palms AND our faces all in a pictures. That's an insane thought in this house! The girlie loved looking at her hand in her mirror and spent a good 15 minutes 'talking' to the reflection of her smiley hand! (Sorry, no pictures. I was too busy staring at my adorable daughter enjoying her little moment of joy!)  I am so blessed that this little girl is a part of my life and I am especially thankful that I get to hold that squishy little hand, every day!
 I'm not going into great detail about adoption month in this post, just letting you enjoy a smiley little hand! 

                                         I will share something else though....this handsome boy...


who would love for someone to bring him home, so next year, he could have a smiley face on his hand and enjoy the silliness of his smiley faced palm reflecting in a mirror.  Don't you want to hold him in your lap and draw a smile on his squishy little palm next November?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Family Dinners

   As a kid, we sat at the table and had dinner on a very regular basis.  Talked about our days, joked, laughed and enjoyed the company of our family.  Sometimes there were faces at the 'yucky' food we had to at least try, most often the meals were delicious and seconds were often enjoyed.  Sometimes we got to choose a meal.  Mom would let us pick our favorite dish, sides and dessert.  It seemed like such a big deal to get to choose dinner!  There were certainly nights that one parent had a meeting or one child had an event or it was just simply a 'lazy' night and we had sandwiches or cereal.  (Which were also fun and kind of like 'treat' nights.)   We also enjoyed a meal out on occasion or a carry in from a local restaurant.  Pizza and movie nights were accompanied with handmade milkshakes (and most often the pizza was probably made at home as well!) 
    I have fond memories of sitting at the dining room table with my family.  It's a tradition that I wanted to share with my daughter.  Actually sitting at the table and enjoying meals together as family.  We do sometimes have to eat 'on the run' so to say.  There are also evenings that we eat at church or I am working and the girl is  eating at Grandma and Grandpa's.  But every Sunday, we all make time to enjoy a meal as a family. 
     My mom enjoys setting up the table, we sometimes eat on my Grandma's nice dishes just because.  There is usually a tablecloth and the table has seasonal decor.  There are places set for everyone.  Food comes to the table in serving dishes and is passed around for everyone to get a helping.  There are conversations, laughter, jokes, memories.
   Every once and a while, the meals happen at a restaurant or get moved a bit due to occasional obligations.  But it is a tradition that my daughter is learning about.  A tradition that she'll hopefully remember into adulthood.  And maybe even carry on to her own family one day...
   I'm very thankful for the memories created around the dining table.  I'm thankful for the delicious food we have to put on our table.  And I'm especially thankful that my daughter has a family to be able to enjoy a family dinner with.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Cows and cupcakes

   I missed yesterday's post.  I didn't have to work, had the girlie home sick still and took advantage of getting to just be Mama all day.  (Which was great, by the way!)  Josie is seeming much better.  We're still on breathing treatments and the poor nose is pretty stuffy, but she's got more energy and I'm seeing more of 'my girl'.  We got out yesterday for a little walk, hoping some fresh air would be good, and got to enjoy a through-the-fence view of a local airshow.  She thoroughly enjoyed the walk and all of the planes and had more energy after our walk then she's had all week!

"Cow" complete with Mooing
   We've had tickets to the local Historic Ritz theater to see "Click, Clack, Moo - Cows that type" for a few weeks! And even though the girlie has not been 100%, I thought she was well enough to sit in the theater for an hour (and no, she's not contagious now!)  It was a children's musical based on the book by Doreen Cronin "Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type".  Which we own and Josie loves, because, well, it's all about cows.  She wore part of her Halloween costume and had to bring "cow baby" with.  I think she's obsessed.  She was SO good during the performance.  She sat, mostly in my lap, enthralled by the actors on stage.  Dancing, singing, cows (and a chicken and a duck and a farmer) could not get any better!   She stared wide eyed at the stage with a big grin on her face, sometimes almost in a trance and sometimes with a look of disbelief.  I would LOVE to know what her little mind must have been thinking.  We met the cast afterward, out of their costumes and she was a little confused.  Pretty sure she just wanted to see the cows!!!  I'm so thankful that we have an arts and theater program to present this opportunity.  Thankful that Grandma thought to buy tickets to something she was pretty sure Josie would love (and boy was she right!!)  Thankful that Josie was feeling well enough to attend.  And thankful that she was able to enjoy watching the 'animals' that she is in love with, live, on stage, singing and dancing. 

We stopped at Smallcakes, a local cupcake bakery with the most delicious (and HUGE) cupcakes, on our way home.  My girl is not the biggest 'sweets' eater but LOVES her cupcakes!! (and cake and icecream!)  She only got a part of the giant treat (I can't even eat a whole one on my own!) but Mmmm...did she enjoy every morsel. She was covered, literally, in chocolate but it didn't matter.  She enjoyed every bite of that treat.  I'm so thankful that she is able to express her likes and dislikes.  Thankful that she has such joy in such little things and shares her happy emotions with exuberance!!  And very thankful that I get to be on the receiving end of that sharing.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


You probably thought this was going to be some deep thought filled post about reflecting on the past, the future, life in general.  Nope, sorry. (Maybe next time?) Today, I'm being literal.  
I am thankful for actual reflections. Two specific reflections.  

This one....
I am so thankful every time I look into my rear view mirror and see this reflection. 
That little face peeking back at me, melts my heart every time! 

And this one....

She LOVES herself in the mirror. Smiles, kisses, laughs, makes faces.  
This is the reaction to ANY mirror that she catches herself in.  Or any surface that might give her a reflection...elevator doors, stainless steel appliances, glass doors in restaurants or grocery stores...if there is a reflection, she needs to give some love to that little girl on the other side.  This is our mirror at home.  (Which she loves extra because she can also climb in/through it!)  She pulls toys over to the mirror or watches herself read.  She stands up and sits, squats and spins.  Her mirror is great therapy without her even realizing it!!  And I love how happy she is making faces to herself and see the smile reflect back.  
I'm so thankful for something so simple that makes her so happy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Hallmark Channel

I have always been one of those people who really loves Christmas BUT also enjoys Thanksgiving and usually don't want to miss out on the Thanksgiving decorations and festivities to get straight to Christmas.  This year is a little different.  I am still looking forward to Thanksgiving.  We do have a 'Thankful Pumpkin' in the center of the table and the walls will continue to be covered with turkeys, Indian corn and pilgrims.  Hand prints and Foot prints will be turned into feathers and turkey bodies.  And the meal itself will be thoroughly enjoyed by all.          However, I've officially been sucked into the Hallmark channel Christmas movie marathon "Countdown to Christmas".  I will also admit to playing Christmas music in my car today.  I'd try to blame it on my daughter and in a way I can and will, this is her first Christmas and I want her to get a good experience of holiday tunes!  But the truth is, I turned on the Hallmark channel this weekend, while the girl was napping and caught a glimpse of 'Hitched for the Holidays'.  I know, it sounds as cheesy as it really was.  BUT it was full of Christmas spirit, music, people being neighborly, Santa and all of the magic that comes with the Christmas season.  I do know the real reason for the season and my daughter will learn all about Jesus' birthday, but I also am fine with letting imaginations stretch and allowing Santa to come visit on Christmas eve.  I love the feeling of Christmas, how people just genuinely seem to be happier, share more, give more and smile more.  Watching the cheesy, full of make believe, Hallmark countdown to Christmas movies, just gives me a little extra happiness while waiting for Thanksgiving to get it's day, before Christmas can entirely take over!!! 
      So today, I am thankful for my TV....thankful for cable and especially thankful for Christmas movies.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bath time (Day 4)

My girl is not feeling so great right now, and it kind of stinks!  Scratch that, it stinks A LOT! She's in a steroid crazed/sleep deprived/coughing is for the birds kind of mood. She is still trying to play and be happy, but is obviously not feeling good at the same time. It's heartbreaking for this Mama to have to go to work and leave her....even though I know she is in good hands and having as much 'fun' as possible, with "Bamma".

The one thing that is making her the happiest right now is the bathtub! She loves her time in the water. I'm convinced she thinks she's part fish, or maybe mermaid?  She's fearless in the water. Splashes like it should be an Olympic sport, flips, rolls, kicks, scoots.  She has no problem with her face/head getting fully submerged to blow bubbles or simply because she thinks it's funny to stick her face in the water! She loves to put her head under the running faucet and best of all...turning on the shower while she's sitting in the water!   She loves to sit under the spray of the shower, some times head tipped up letting it rain down right onto her face! Pure joy!


I'm SO thankful today for the fact that we have clean, warm, running water so my sick, sweet girl can enjoy some happy play time in the tub! Or really, more like, three happy play times in the tub!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sick Days

Let me clarify.  I'm not thankful for being sick or for the fact that anyone needs to be sick to constitute a sick day.  My darling girl woke up this morning (or in the middle of the night rather) wheezing, crying, coughing (trying to anyway) and gasping for a deep breath.  Due to having Down syndrome, she has tiny airways and very low tone.  This makes coughing a challenge.  Which means something as simple as a little cold can turn into something a little more serious for my girl.  It was a scary few minutes for both of us.  She was panicked trying to catch her breath and I hated seeing my daughter struggle.  We have our own nebulizer machine and an ongoing supply of Albuterol (with a never expiring prescription for more!)  She had a breathing treatment at 4am and snuggled back into Mama's bed.  After a quick call to the after hours nurse, we had an early appointment with the pediatrician. End result - croup.  Yuck.  We left with a steroid prescription and an extra breathing treatment a day.  She'll be out of school for the week, missing the class trip to the fair.  Not really how we wanted to start our Monday and a new week!

So, what I am thankful for?  Because that certainly doesn't sound like anything positive!!

I'm thankful for an understanding boss and co-workers who respond to my before 6am texts with, 'all is good, just take care of your girl!' 
I'm thankful for friendly and helpful after hours nurses who leave notes to help get your sick child into the office asap. 
I'm thankful for our pink 'Claw-dia the Cat' nebulizer. It makes those treatments just a little more pleasant.
I'm thankful for a very good pediatrician who is not super quick to just prescribe medicine but to make sure that every symptom is addressed to make a proper diagnosis.  (And prescribe medicine if needed after a thorough exam!)
I'm thankful for a friendly and helpful pharmacist who offered to bag and carry my items from CVS to the check out so I didn't have to juggle my goods and my sleeping daughter. 
I'm thankful for parents/grandparents who stop by with 'sick' food and special treats, because every little girl needs new books, crayons and comfy socks when they are home sick!
I'm especially thankful that my daughter is home, with her Mama, to be comforted and cared for when she's sick.  No more sick days alone in an orphanage.  Only sick days snuggled in Mama's arms from now on.

Who would have thought there would be so many things to be thankful for about a sick day!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Orphan Sunday - Meet James

My daughter is an orphan no more.  She has a mother and a family.  
She was an orphan, but has now been found.  
She is loved.  She is cared for. She is a daughter.

When I traveled to Colombia to meet and pick up my sweet girl, I was given the amazing opportunity to visit the orphanage where she had spent so many years.  It was such an emotional day.  Those children seemed so happy to see us and to see their friend back for a visit.  Their Friend.  They were all friends, family of sorts.  Most didn't know any different.  They had each other and that made them happy.  Yet, at the same time, they followed us around, clung to us, seeking any tiny amount of attention.  They asked repeatedly about "Majo's Mama".  They wanted to touch and be touched, they were aching for a family of their own.  The emotions so mixed, it was very hard to walk through and picture my girl there.  It was even harder to realize that these kids were her friends, they were who she had spent most of her life with.  They loved her and she loved them....and we left them behind.  We visited, we hugged and touched and smiled and then, we left.  I will NEVER forget the faces of those little ones as we walked through.  The looks in their eyes, happy to see their friend, happy to be getting a few minutes of love and attention and aching for the love of a family at the same time.

There were 150 kids living there.  3 had families coming for them.  That is just one orphanage, in one small town, in one country.  There are orphans in EVERY country of the world. There are most likely orphans in your town, right down the street.  A child who needs a family.  A family who needs support.  An organization that needs volunteers.  There is opportunity to help right around the corner.

 Today is a day set aside for people to acknowledge that there are kids out there without families.  
And to do something about it.
Here is a link to a great blog post of specific things you can do for Orphan Sunday.
Orphan Sunday 2014

On this Orphan Sunday I'd like to introduce you to one special little boy.  This boy is from the same country as Josie.  He has no family and is desperately in need of one.  I first read about him from an organization that helps raise awareness and advocates specifically for orphans from other countries who have Down syndrome.
Reece's Rainbow is the organization where I first saw Lizzy.  After the Russian ban, through another adoptive parent met via Reece's Rainbow social network, I found Josie.  One of the ways that Reece's Rainbow helps families is by fundraising.  Or rather offering a place where families can have funds donated into a grant for the child they are working to adopt.  They also have grants set up for orphans who don't have families committed to them yet. That way, when a family does commit to that specific child, there are a bit of grant funds that the family can use toward adoption expenses.

Every year, near Christmas, Reece's Rainbow hosts their Angel Tree.  Individuals chose a specific child in need of a family and work to raise funds to increase that child's grant.  And also raise awareness for the child they are 'sponsoring' with the greatest hope, that someone will see the child and feel led to bring them home.

This year, I am an Angel Tree Warrior for an adorable little boy called 'James'.
 ('James' is just a nickname to provide some privacy.)
James is three years old.  He has Down syndrome and is healthy. 
He is such a handsome boy, isn't he?

For the next two months, I will be hosting a few different fundraisers, saving change and crafting A LOT to help increase James' grant amount by $1000.
Would you like to help?  You can donate to James' grant by clicking the link in the upper right corner. (or click on his picture above.) You can share this blog in hopes that maybe James' family will see him.  Maybe there is a Mama (or Papa) sitting out there right now, just wondering about adding this darling boy into their family.  If you share him, maybe they will see him.  (Or is that you!?!)  And you can pray for him.  Pray that he stays healthy while he's waiting for his family, pray that his family finds him,
pray that someday he knows he is loved.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Full of Thanks for Firsts

November 1st - The beginning of a month of Thankfulness.  I've attempted to write a blog post of 'thanks' each day for the month of November for the past two years.  This year I'm at it again.  I've been a little behind with the posts since we've been home, but this is my hope to catch up and blog a little more regularly!  I have SO many things to be thankful for this November...(all the time really)!  I'm certain I won't have trouble filling each long as I can find the time to post it!

Today, on the first day of November, I'm thankful for many months of firsts!  We've experienced so many first times, first tastes, first visits, first experiences, first falls, first climbs, firsts of every kind!  I've shared some pictures of firsts, but here are some of my favorites... (warning...this post is LOADED with pictures!!)

First time meeting Grandma & Grandpa. 
Now known as Bamma and Bapa.

 First time sleeping in her own night ever!
                                                                         First day home.
 First time playing with her own toys,
in her own room.
First time in the pool.
I wonder if she thinks she's part fish.
 First toes in the ocean (which quickly turned into 
first whole body dip in the ocean)

First jog with Mama.

First toy picked out at the toy store, 
purchased and brought home to keep.

First lick of the beater while making cupcakes.
 First time at church, 
meeting new friends.
 First pink toenails
 First visit to the golf course.
 First cupcake baking at home with Mama.

 First day of school.

First ice cream cone, first swing and first trip to the playground...all in the same day!!!

First visit to the dentist...that little mouth looks good!!
  First attempt at piggie tails.
Her hair is growing so long and beautiful.

First tries using her new walker.  She loves the independence it gives her!

First visit to the ENT...gonna get ear tubes!
First trip to the ophthalmologist...and first time trying on glasses.
You can see how well this first went!
First visit to orthopaedics.
Hips and neck got an A+, legs get AFO's.
 First visit to the cardiologist.
Found a second defect we didn't know about,
BUT nothing surgical!!
(This was by far the girl's LEAST favorite Dr. visit!)

First 'real' beach day!
She could spend all day here.
First time standing on her own! 
What a big girl!!
First surgery...
Ear tubes are in and boy what a difference!!

First time seeing a real cow.
Somehow our favorite animal, before ever seeing one?
Her scary!!

First visit to Disney World AND first encounter with a princess.  Rapunzel was like a dream come true....all of that HAIR!!!
 First Down syndrome awareness month.

First sick day.
Not a favorite first,
 but there sure were
lots of snuggles.

First movie night (and craft) in PJs!
Charlotte's Web...talking animals, especially cows,
perfect pick for this girl!!

First bounce in a bounce house.
More like, first 'flop' but she still loved it!

First pumpkin picking from the pumpkin patch.                                              Yes, absolutely 'Cutest in the Patch'!

First holiday party at school.  She loved dressing up for her Halloween Super Hero and Princess Party!

First team sport AND first trophy!  
Buddy Ball was hard work, but she loved running in the dirt and was pretty pleased with the trophy she received for a great season!

First Halloween and Trick-or-Treat.
She had to be a cow.  It's her favorite.
She asked (signed) 'Candy' 'Please' at every
house and 'Thank-you' after getting over the excitement
of choosing from the bowl full of candy in front of her.


First pumpkin carving.  She LOVED watching us scoop out pumpkin guts (but wanted nothing to do with touching them herself). She thought carving out faces was the greatest idea in the world!

I can't begin to explain how grateful I am to be able to experience all of these firsts with this amazing little girl.  Her excitement level is off the charts.  She is the most expressive child and makes each new experience seem like it's the best day of her life.  (or the worst if heart monitors or EKG machines are involved!)

She is growing so much EVERY day.  Moving, climbing, cruising...she's become so active and I love it!  She picks up a new sign almost daily and retains what she's learning after only a few days of practice.  She works so hard to figure things out and is anything but a quitter.  The more she realizes there is for her to explore and learn, the more she seeks to go and do. 
She is so full of life and I am so thankful be able to be a part of that life.  
I love her so much!

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