Sunday, August 31, 2008

closing time

Well it's day 2, 3 hours in and nada. Just had one older couple return from yesterday to see if there was anything new. No other people have stopped by.

Not sure where we went wrong. We did tons of advertising. I know it's Labor Day weekend but this is a pretty big city - I don't think EVERYONE left. We might try this again sometime, but in order to get it into the paper it has to be 2 weeks notice which means it would be 3 weekends from now and getting close to October, so not sure how successful that would be.

We're closing up now as we're all very disappointed, tired of looking out the window every few minutes, and the kids are very restless. We're taking them somewhere fun instead.

I extended our raffle one week in hopes of getting a bit closer to our goal (at least, I tried lol - had to start a new one and there's something wrong with ChipIn that won't let me select September, so it says it ends 10/7 but it's really 9/7. Geesh, even the little things aren't going right LOL.

Thank you for all the encouragement and support!

** Update **

Aw, I feel badly for being such a whiner lol. We've received $150 in donations since I posted last night - thank you ladies!

I know we will get to that final goal one way or another. After all, we've saved, received and raised so much. No way are we letting this last bit stand in between us and Emerson. ^_~

I'm sorry for the negativity this weekend - I know in my heart that everything will work out just as it's meant to and I will instead look forward to the fact that as of tomorrow morning we should be meeting our little girl NEXT MONTH!!!! :)

And hey, at least our garage is now all clean hehe! ^_^

Saturday, August 30, 2008


(Save Our Sale)

Wow. What a disappointing day.

After baking all day yesterday and me, Matt and my little sister Chelsey staying up all night last night (no exaggeration) setting everything up in the garage, today may very well have been The Worst Yard Sale Ever.

The morning began with sprinkling, which quickly turned to pouring. We had just two customers at that time, but only one bought something small. At 11am it stopped raining and eventually the skies cleared and turned sunny but unfortunately things did not improve for us. We had a total of about eight people stop and look, only two bought things and two more bought some baked goods and entered our raffle. Things were so slow we all went back into the house and just looked out our living room window every few minutes. No one was coming.

Our grand total for day 1 was $44.50. Yep, the decimal point is in the right place there. Most of the stuff is very nice, not overpriced (I don't think anyway lol) and in great condition... we put up signs on 3 different streets, put an ad online and in the paper, posted on our local moms community board. We're not sure if it was the early rain or what happened. We're thankful for those that did come by, just wishing we'd had a better turnout.

Trying to stay hopeful for tomorrow but I admit part of me just wants to scrap the whole idea. The worst part is that we spent about $300 on groceries for the bake sale and folding tables for all the stuff. So we're worse off than we were before we had a sale.

Forgive the poor-me post. I'm exhausted and so discouraged. :(


Friday, August 29, 2008


About a week ago Dawson surprised all of us by going from being still pretty wobbly when upright to sitting unassisted for minutes at a time! ^_^ He is getting better and better at it; sometimes he lasts a good 10 minutes before he bursts into a great belly laugh and topples over backwards heh! I don't think I could describe my feeling as saying "I'm proud of him" because really, does it matter if he sits on his own or not? But I am thrilled with how happy he is when he's sitting there playing with a circle of toys or having his cheeks covered with kisses from Macy. I'm so happy to see him loving this new exploration!

Here are some more cute pics of our sweetie - oh oh those wonderfully soulful eyes!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

praise the bridge

Praise the bridge that carried you over.
~ George Colman

We received a very generous donation today from our local Down Syndrome Information Network - we are so grateful for this gift!

We also received two huge donations of items for our yard sale! Last night we were wondering how on earth we would fit all of the items we have for sale on the few folding tables we have; well, part of one of those donations was a big folding table! And Dawson's wonderful occupational therapist completed this day of gifts with cookies and cakes for the bake sale - all adorably wrapped and ready to sell!

One thing I've learned in this process is that adoption is balm for a weary spirit. Never before have I witnessed so much incredible generosity and support - it is a daily reminder of the goodness that persists in a world that sometimes makes it all too easy to forget. Having Dawson made me confront the negativity in myself and broke down walls I'd spent years building around my heart. Adopting Emerson has truly flung it wide open.

How lucky am I? ^_^

the final two

Our final two fundraising efforts are nearly done!

Our raffle for a $100 Visa gift card ends this Sunday - we still have a ways to go but we're also putting out a raffle box at our yard sale so we are hopeful we can get pretty close to our goal. If you would still like to enter, please do! ^_^

The yard sale/bake sale event is looming ever closer and we are scrambling to get everything ready in time. We have enough baby/childrens clothes to open up our own shop, I think o_O Glad I've since learned not to go overboard with clothes shopping (at least for the most part LOL!) We are very much hoping to raise a total of $500 at the 2 day event but would just be thrilled if we can do even better! :)

I am really looking forward to next Monday. I can finally say we are done fundraising and that we will (hopefully!!) be going to Serbia NEXT MONTH!! ^_^

Saturday, August 23, 2008

if you have one minute to spare

Use it for a good cause!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

our little beauty

We got a few new pictures of Emerson - oh my goodness I cannot wait to scoop her up! ^_^

Monday, August 18, 2008

tropic thunder

Here's my interview with the local news about the Tropic Thunder controversy:

And in case you missed it down there, my review/interpretation of the film:

Friday, August 15, 2008

a tale of two visas

Introducing our final fundraiser! Ending 8/31, we are setting a goal of $600 - this will cover the costs of Emerson's medical exam, passport and VISA fees.

The prize? A $100 Visa gift card, complete with Miss Emerson's picture! :) (Yes, a Visa for a VISA - how could I resist? ^_^)

You can enter here or you'll also be able to do so the old fashioned way during our yard sale fundraiser.

We are so thankful for this last bit of help! :)

(p.s. Don't worry! The image above is not the actual card, just a mock-up; we can't order the real card until we know who wins the raffle so it can be made with the winner's name ^_^ Also, if you prefer a card without a picture, just let me know in the comments section in PayPal or email me if you are the winner.)

the outside looking in

Dreamworks’ Tropic Thunder is one big inside joke. An inside joke that Ben Stiller is letting all the rest of us in on. At least that’s what he’d like to think.

The truth of the matter is that the joke runs deeper than even Ben realizes, so deep that the line between “inside” and “outside” isn’t as clear as at first it seems.

Tropic Thunder follows the misadventures of a motley crew of actors, shooting on location a movie based on the fraudulent story of a false Vietnam War hero. Before the movie is halfway through, it’s made clear that no one in Ben’s Hollywood understands the meaning of truth, or cares to. Along the way he attempts to point out and tear down a stereotypical Hollywood’s stereotypical stereotypes.

In his attempt, there is one group in particular where he simply fails to achieve this goal and instead only reveals his own prejudices; sadly, those are prejudices shared by many of his viewers and though they may not realize it, prejudices that Stiller’s film serves to substantiate and solidify.

The beauty of “satire,” as is often the name given to comedy that pushes past mere humor into offensiveness, is that the victim in the joke can be an active participant. He or she can choose to counter the truth of the portrayal or laugh along at themselves.

But for this one group, while some are capable of making that choice there are also many who are not. For the intellectually disabled, they are not given an active role in the joke; because of that, it loses its funny.
“Retard” is not just a word. It is part of an official diagnosis found in the medical files of hundreds of thousands of Americans that has been transformed by society into a negative slur. Although Stiller did use the word in an effort to illustrate a different point, which in the end illustrated something else entirely, it’s important to point out that no other medical diagnosis is seen as acceptable material for a comedic tagline. If Stiller’s inspiration had been drawn from Tom Hanks’ performance in Philadelphia instead of that in Forrest Gump, would he have dared to release the catchphrase, “Never go full AIDS”? One finds it hard to imagine. There is something unique about the diagnosis of “mental retardation,” something that encourages a suspension of decency.

It’s interesting to see how careful Stiller is in his illustration of Hollywood’s treatment of African-Americans. He does push the envelope with Robert Downey Jr.’s “blackface” character – a white man taking on the role of a black man – but he holds back just enough to prevent the satire from transforming into a more viscous lampoon. By including a true African-American character in the cast, he is effectively taking someone from the outside and placing them on the inside, where they can serve as our conscience – a challenge to his offense. And Brandon T. Jackson does just that when he calls out Downey Jr. on his stereotypical characterization. This removes the slight discomfort that the audience feels – or at least thinks it should feel – in laughing at such an edgy portrayal. By having a true African-American there to openly remind us of the offensiveness of Downey Jr.’s character, Stiller gave himself an out with that group.

So, considering that the play on the intellectual disability stereotype is given a much more integral role in the plot, the “r” word is used over a dozen times (so much in one scene I lost count) while the “n” word is only used once, where is our conscience for this group? Where is our character with true intellectual disabilities to challenge the offensive stereotypical portrayal? (And no, it’s not Jack Black.)

The fact is that there is no one to challenge Stiller’s stereotype, no one to speak for the intellectually disabled.

What does this say about Stiller’s underlying feelings toward people with
intellectual disabilities? Either he feels that intellectual disability is fairer game than race, that the “r” word isn’t as offensive as the “n” word, or perhaps he really just doesn’t “get it.” Maybe he really thinks that “full retard” means “true retard” and because he thinks he is not portraying a stereotype, but a truth exploited by Hollywood, he sees no need to allow an outsider in to keep the satire in check. Which of these motivations is worse? To echo Stiller’s advice – you decide.

The truth of this supposed satire is more importantly revealed not in the rampant use of a word that for decades has been employed to marginalize and hold down a group of people but rather in Matthew McConaughey’s conflicted talent agent character.

There were two parts in the film that I found most offensive, most disturbing and most saddening. The first had McConaughey commenting on Stiller’s apparent adoption plans. McConaughey says, “At least you get to choose” while the camera pans to a photograph of him with his son who obviously has intellectual disabilities. At the end of the film, this sad revelation is revisited with McConaughey on a plane leaving the filming location and his son beside him, plastic bib around his neck, slack-jawed, vacant expression directed out the small window.

The most disheartening part of this tale…during the latter scene as soon as the boy entered the frame the audience around me burst into laughter. It was not the loudest laughter heard during the film, but it ranked highly. I allowed myself a moment, just a moment, to look at the faces around me. This is what prejudice looks like. This is what hatred looks like. Perhaps this is what you look like.

This scenario is interesting since McConaughey’s character is probably the most hopeful. Despite the fact that he takes a bribe in exchange for silence, in the end he remains true to Stiller’s character. Perhaps Stiller wrote in McConaughey’s disabled son for the purpose of showing his character development. In the first scene, disdain from afar; in the second scene, he has his son with him, maybe an indication of a new appreciation. But even if this was truly his intention, the fact is that Stiller could have accomplished this possible message without turning the boy into a drooling caricature. Like most of the movie, the audience laughs not at a possible deeper interpretation but at the surface humor. McConaughey’s son is seen as no more than a gag, an easy laugh.

Maybe this reality is something that can only be changed through experience. Perhaps you need to hold a child with intellectual disabilities in your arms, a child like my son, to feel him soft, warm, heart beating with the persistence of life. To befriend, to love a person with intellectual disabilities brings out the best in you because it forces you to first confront the worst. It is a gift that few of us possess and one that should be treasured, not disrespected with subtlety and context.

I do not believe that Ben Stiller intended to disparage any certain group in the making of this film, other than perhaps his fellow thespians, a subject of contention in its own right and one beyond the context of this piece.
But I do believe that Stiller’s creation, much like his response to the cry that has gone up from the disability community, reveals a great deal of apathy, ignorance and prejudice.

He set out attempting to briefly pull back the curtains on what he believes is his Hollywood, to let us stand on tiptoe and see the ridiculousness of cruelty, vanity and greed. But what Stiller achieved instead was to allow us the rare opportunity to see those things in a different house, to be on the outside looking in – at ourselves.

Tropic Thunder is a $100 million wake-up call. And for that realization and the change it has the power to bring, it was worth my seven bucks. I hope it was worth yours.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

can you hear me now?

tropic blunder, new fundraiser & our sweetie

I finally got irritated enough with the whole Tropic Thunder fiasco to do something about it - one of our local TV news stations is coming out on Friday to do an interview to see the face of the controversy locally. ^_^

Hoping I can articulate the major arguments and not just implode on camera hehe! I'll post something up here once I've organized my thoughts on each argument and excuse made by the Hollywood folk.

I also came across something cute that gave me an idea for our next and final fundraiser - it will begin next week and run through the end of the month, ending the last day of our yard sale event. There are several fundraisers going on with many Reece's Rainbow families right now so I'm waiting until next week to kick things off. :)

And, the best part of my day - an email from our facilitator updating us that our dossier is being translated right now and sending me some new pictures of Emerson! Here are some of my favorites - so good to see her playing and it looks like even rolling over! ^_^

Monday, August 11, 2008

grant update

Not much to report. I did get a response from GOA but it didn't acknowledge my confusion; they just said to update the financial part of our application and email it back. I did, and they said it will be reviewed during the September meeting.


Because of all of the success of our fundraisers and what we've sold on ebay, we changed our requested amount from $5000 to $3000. Considering they approve around 8 families per month, it seems hard to believe there is a better "qualified" family out there... child with special needs, life-threatening medical issue, four kids at home already, pretty mediocre income for a family of our size, tons of fundraising, requesting less than the average grant awarded - what more could we toss in to the mix? :P

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers at the end of the month - getting this would let us stop obsessing about raising funds and start obsessing about how to fit everything into our suitcases! ^_^

Sunday, August 10, 2008

trick or treat!

Well, not really, but this was the best I could find to hold over 100 slips of paper!! :)

Macy was our honorary Paper-Picking-Girl. She was very happy when her task was complete and I gave the go-ahead to dumping the entire cauldron onto the living room floor so they could roll in the paper. Kids! ^_~

We have two winners... congrats to Kristie F. and Katherine C. for winning the $100 and $50 gift cards, respectively. :) :) They will be on their way to you tomorrow morning!

Thanks again everyone for your help in bringing home Emerson - I could retitle this post "how to save a life," ... just like the song, because you have. ^_^

Dear Emerson

One year ago today you said hello to the world. I do not know what time you were born, or if you had any hair or if your eyes were that silvery newborn blue. I do not know if the medical staff realized immediately that you had Down syndrome, or perhaps your parents knew before you were born. Did the room fall silent while you cried, the joy that should have been there sucked out by misconceptions and fear? I know your mother and I must have shared the same emotions upon hearing such a diagnosis - disappointment, disbelief, grief - but did she still hold you against her chest and let her sobs lull you to sleep? Did her grief ever turn to acceptance, to enlightenment, to bliss?

I know that it was nearly 3 months before you were given over to the "Children's Center"... did you spend those three months alone in the hospital or did your parents intend to keep you with them forever but once they realized your heart was not well make the painful decision to give you up in hopes of sending you across an ocean to be healed?

I know the people taking care of you now are thought to be very kind and loving. I do not know how much you are held and tickled and kissed. I hope today it is all the time. I hope someone with gentle hands and a soft voice will blow bubbles beneath your chin until you giggle, engage in a great debate of coos and raspberries and kiss the adorable space between your first and second toes.

I do know that today I will bake cupcakes with your brothers and sister and tonight we will place one small candle in one and sing to you. I know that you can't hear us and will likely be sleeping deeply at that moment, but you are part of our family and we will celebrate your life anyways. Perhaps a few soft notes will find their way into your dreams. We will at some point snuff out the flame but we promise to save your wish for later.

These days I give even more kisses and hugs than usual, hoping that some of that love will spill over into the universe and reach you somehow, that you will feel that there are people out there who know of you and adore you and cannot wait just for the chance to see you smile.

I know that you were born into this world one year ago, but your life is soon to be just beginning. We cannot wait to watch.

Happy Birthday, little one!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Parker's big day!

Finally, those promised pics of Parker's birthday party - pretty sure he had fun! :)

A "little" present from Grandpa ^_^

More loot!

Enjoying lunch on the sunporch (or at least, waiting for cake on the sunporch!)

And here it is, my 99.9% organic (excuse the green food coloring - oops!) masterpiece! (LOL!)

Make a wish!

That smile!

Happy Birthday, sweetie!

raffle closed!

Well, we have reached our revised, revised goal of $650!!! I closed the ChipIn and will now be working on getting all the names ready for the drawing this weekend!

Thank you so very much to everyone who helped by buying tickets, posting our widget on your blog or just sending good thoughts and prayers. Those efforts raised enough funds to feed us in Belgrade (and hopefully cover our taxi rides too!) When you think about it that way, it really illustrates just how much of a difference seemingly little things can make.

We are so appreciative! ^_^

If you missed the raffle but would still like to support our adoption, you can donate directly to our family fund with Reece's Rainbow by clicking on the picture of that darling little girl to your right. :)

I may do another raffle as we get closer to traveling - trying to think of something more exciting than gift cards for a prize! ^_~

Thursday, August 07, 2008

almost there again!

We're only $15 away from our second goal! (Thanks, Uncle Dave!) If we get to $650 we'll have made up the cost of the Target gift cards! :)

Still have to post Parker's pics today when I get a chance!

*Update II*

Only $25 away from our final goal! I just may get to close it up early - then I'll have plenty of time to get all the paper slips ready for our drawing LOL! ^_^


We're at our goal again - thanks so much Jody!! :)
I raised it to $650 (and that's our FINAL OFFER! LOL) If we get there we will truly have raised $500 for Emerson after the $150 cost for the gift cards. You are all AMAZING!!!

(Jody's raffle still has some time left - she is raffling off this adorable puppy and beautiful handmade blanket! You can purchase tickets here!)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

where's a head-to-brick-wall smiley when you need it?

Oh yeah, there it is.

The Gift of Adoption Fund emailed me tonight to say our request was denied for the following reason:

"Perseverance not demonstrated (Less than 50% of the total reported adoption costs have been funded."


Only about 25% of the total costs happen before you travel (which have all been paid in full) and we listed for them the remaining funds we have and were raising which far exceeded 50% of the total. We applied for $5000, less than 1/3 the total costs, and really we could've done with less than that after all of our fundraising recently.

I emailed them back with the math, I'm eager to see what they say. Now we wait until next month's committee meeting to have our application reviewed again. Fingers crossed!

the little widget that could!

Look at that ChipIn widget to your right (and then add some more that hasn't been reflected yet LOL) - we are only $40 shy of our goal!!!


We have reached our goal!!! Thank you so much everyone! ^_^

I raised it to $600 just in case anyone still wants to enter the raffle. We will still close it on Sunday as planned and will be holding the drawing and posting results Sunday evening!

new pics & thanks

Our friend Julie sent me 2 more pictures of Emerson from her trip to Serbia in June. This little girl is just so stinkin' cute!! ^_^
I cannot wait to brush that hair off her forehead. :)

We actually got to visit with Julie and her sister Lisa yesterday - we had a great time and boy was it incredible to meet little David; it was almost as sweet as holding Emerson ^_^

And I was so pleasantly surprised to see our raffle tip the $400 mark (ChipIn is not quite updated) - I know we can reach our $500 goal by Sunday!! Thank you so much to Katherine (in my hometown of San Diego!) for your generous donation!

When all is said and done, we will probably have fundraised close to $2000. There's no denying this adoption wouldn't be possible without the support of others. How cool is that? ^_~

(P.S. I got all of Parker's party pics uploaded last night, hopefully will have them posted today!)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

good news/bad news

Well it looks like airfare is finally starting to come down significantly - at one point it was $2000 per ticket with a 3 week notice, now it's only $1200 per ticket. Hopefully the prices stay there until we're ready to buy tickets next month!

The airfare issue is more important than ever as we just found out that one of the organizations through which we were hoping to pursue a grant will not allow us to apply because we are not using an agency, but an independent facilitator. We tried to make the argument that we do have a family fund set up through Reece's Rainbow which is also a 501(c)3 organization like any agency, but the board said no. So that leaves us with only the Gift of Adoption fund and we might not find out about that until the end of September. Based on the number of applications they receive, our chances are only about 10-15% anyways, so we really can't count on receiving any help.

Our raffle is ending this coming Sunday - if you would like to buy a ticket (or more tickets!) please do so soon and help us reach our goal for Em's birthday! ^_^

I will hopefully be uploading Parker's bday pics tonight - despite some mishaps around the house that had two poor grandpas moonlighting as handymen, we had a great time! :)

And I'm so happy to say that little Emma came through her heart surgery like a trooper and is doing very well - she gives me so much hope for Emerson's heart! ^_^

Sunday, August 03, 2008

another little heart

needs prayers and good thoughts!

We have many pics to share from Parker's party but will be waiting until Tuesday. For now, joining in with some of my blogging pals in their "blogging silence" for little Emma, who has a very important surgery to repair her little heart tomorrow morning.

Praying that Emma continues to prove everyone wrong and pulls through this major surgery!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

august 10th

Okay, final change (I promise!) - decided to end the raffle on Sunday, August 10th. We're nearly to our goal, sales have slowed and I figure why make everyone wait an extra week to find out who the winners are? ^_^

Oh and of course, August 10th is a very, very special day - Emerson's 1st birthday! Completing a raffle might not seem like much of a celebration, but until we get that little cutie home, it's something! :)

Friday, August 01, 2008

getting close!

I changed the end date on our raffle to Aug 16th as the 24th seemed so far away for everyone to wait!

We're now up to $300 - hoping we will reach our goal!! ^_^

Thanks everyone!