Friday, October 31, 2008

the magic cookies

The kids had a great Halloween! Luckily it warmed up a bit today and the snow did not stick - though it was cold enough for a layer of clothes under the costumes! And Cade of course had 2 costumes - he was kind enough to allow his momma to take some pictures of his Ninja costume before changing into his beloved Spiderman one. ^_^
Can you believe I took nearly 100 pictures and not in one do I have all 4 kids looking at the camera at the same time (at least, looking NORMAL hahaha!) I have too many pictures to post the traditional way, so here are a few in a little montage. :)

Happy Halloween!

I'll post some pics of our costumed little ones later tonight. ^_^

In typical Upstate New York Halloween fashion, it is currently 34 degrees (a whole 1 degree Celsius!) with snow on the ground.

Meanwhile, it's an amazing 23 degrees Celsius (73 degrees) in beautiful Beograd... wish we were there! :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

holding our breath

Wow what an emotional rollercoaster. For anyone who thinks adoption is easier than pregnancy, think again!

Great news for the Campbells, who are traveling on Nov. 10th!!! So excited to see some movement between our countries! ^_^

The latest news for us is that there were some problems with Emerson's paperwork that need to be corrected by her Social Work Center... they are working hard on this but need some time. We don't know how long yet and our facilitator is looking into it for us. I can only hope it is weeks not months (or days would be even better) as the thought of her heart waiting several more months (not to mention mine!) is very scary.

I feel so overwhelmed with this right now, this morning I looked at the calendar and realized I'd forgotten for the last few days that tomorrow is Halloween... funny how holidays and birthdays just fade into the background, more dates of possible travel or agonizing waiting.

She is doing well but I admit that does not put me much at ease as all I can hear is Dr. B's warning that the appearance of reasonable health might really mean extremely high pulmonary hypertension, which suppresses the symptoms of congestive heart failure and could mean she is inoperable or if she is operable she will be at higher risk for complications afterwards.

But what can we do but wait and hope? Please keep our little one in your thoughts and prayers, and Heather's little Zoey too as they received confirmation she does indeed have leukemia. :(

I know, I know, my blog hasn't been a place for great news this week. Maybe we will have some better news soon!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

more goodies!

I got an email tonight from >Ark Therapeutic, the makers of the wonderful Grabbers and Tri-Chews... they are shipping us a box of items for the orphanage tomorrow! I am really excited about bringing the Tri-Chews because they're something the kids can just play with and chew on and improve their oral tone and feeding skills without the caregivers having to do anything extra.

As always I am in awe of the generosity we have received - not a single company I have asked has said no and I could not be more grateful.

Please forgive yesterday's poor-me post... seeing Emerson's beautiful sleeping face (isn't that picture amazing? - I think our facilitator has a career opportunity as a photographer!) has renewed my hope. How could you not smile seeing that face? ^_^

We will hope very much for a miracle in November, but if not we will be ready to go in January!!

One more picture of our little angel...

no words

Just our angel. :)

thinking of Zoey

An amazing friend I have made on this journey has a beautiful little angel who shares that extra 21st chromosome as well as the same heart condition as Emerson and has fought more than her share of battles in her short little life ... and yesterday they found out she likely will be facing leukemia.

It is very hard to realize fully that life is not within our control, especially when all we want to do is protect these precious little ones with whom we have been entrusted.

Please keep sweet little Zoey in your thoughts and prayers, and her wonderful momma and family.

Monday, October 27, 2008


I am not sure what my goal in this post is... I started this blog to share my thoughts on our family, our life, and I guess that is all I am doing here.

Two of our fellow families adopting from Serbia received encouraging news today - one dossier just waiting for a small thing and hopefully a travel date this week! And another probably coming for review in the next week or so. I am very happy for those little girls and their families, it has been a long wait for all of us!

Our sweet facilitator is doing all she can to move things along for Emerson and the necessary paperwork, but I can't help but feel discouraged. We have just 4 weeks left in which we can travel this year. I try to tell myself it will be next year, to conserve some emotional energy... maybe it will be January or February... but it is hard to convince Hope to shut up! ^_^

I cannot help but worry about her heart and it is hard to worry from afar, to feel so weak and powerless. Hearing the 50/50 chance of death if left uncorrected, the 25% chance of death even after it IS corrected... those numbers seem so abstract and manageable at first, because she is not yet in my arms, my lips have not yet brushed across her cheek. But when I try those numbers on Dawson, or Cade or Parker or Macy, absolute terror and despair springs up in me and it is hard to stop the tears.

It took a lot from us to make a committment to a child who could die before we even reached her, but it helped knowing we would do all in our power to get her home and healthy quickly. And we did. We've been waiting for that precious travel date about twice as long as it took us to compile our dossier. It's out of our hands and that is hard to accept.

I know I have to remain positive, hopeful, strong. But I would not be human if I did not have moments where I felt that strength faltering. Tonight is one of those moments.

I love you so much Emerson. Stay strong little heart!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

21 lessons

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. These are 21 of the lessons I've learned from that extra little 21st chromosome. ^_^

Friday, October 24, 2008

wheels turning

One of our fellow Reece's Rainbow families adopting from Serbia, the Campbells, received great news today - their little one's paperwork is all complete and they hope to have a travel date very soon, maybe on Monday! :)

So hopefully this is the start of things speeding up across the big pond and Emerson's paperwork will be the next to be completed.

For some reason I have the week of November 17th stuck in my mind... it means missing Thanksgiving but at least that will mean we're not waiting until next year! At this point it will likely be February before Em has her heart surgery and that is long enough.

Keep those positive thoughts and prayers going that Em's Social Work Center finishes things in the next 2 weeks - we would need to receive a confirmed travel date by November 14 to still travel in November, though traveling the week of Thanksgiving might be a stretch for our budget. I really don't think we should or can miss Christmas with our other children, so really the last day we can board a plane this year is December 3rd... which means we have to get that date by Nov. 21st. That seems so close, I hope it is enough time for the paperwork to be done and a date to be given. Fingers crossed all works out! ^_^

Thursday, October 23, 2008

ask and you shall receive

I had ordered some things for the orphanage from Beyond Play including some Jigglers, Chewy Tubes and Grabbers and just received it yesterday.

I noticed on each was the manufacturer's website, so of course I thought maybe I could email some more donation requests and see what happens...

The makers of the Chewy Tubes (and Ps & Qs and many other wonderful things) were quick to respond, telling us they will be sending us 100 (yes, ONE HUNDRED) and if the orphanage needs anymore in the future all we have to do is ask. 100. That is over $700 that we could not have spared on our own.

Amazing, amazing, amazing. I am so very happy we can bring these things for these precious little ones - in all this waiting, it feels so good to be doing something positive! ^_^

We still have a little bit of room in our big suitcase... :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

a crystal ball

... I sure do wish I had one! ^_^

We received an email from our facilitator today - you cannot imagine how much my heart leaps when I see her name in my Inbox :) - just letting us know that she spoke with the Social Work Center responsible for Emerson and though the necessary paperwork is not yet done, they promise it will be done soon. They indicated our chances of traveling in November are very good.

I think I have long since learned to not get my hopes up too high, and when I do I can always read Shawnie's wonderful blog entries from their adoption earlier this year to sober me up! But I simply cannot imagine waiting until next year, or more importantly, Em waiting that much longer for surgery, so I do try to be optimistic.

It seems the caregivers really love Emerson and that is so nice to hear - I truly envy them right now! :) Hopefully good news soon ....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

cuteness x4

Ooh it's Spider-Man!

What a ham!

Our pretty little Macy

Oh no, another bookworm!

I had to post this one - what a face!

Monday, October 20, 2008

grant update (final)

Well after emailing back and forth with GOA explaining the ins and outs of a non-Hague adoption using a facilitator, we received an email tonight saying we did not receive the small grant we have been applying for since August. No real reason this time, just lack of funds for all that applied, etc.

I did not have my hopes up at all, but I admit I am a little disappointed this won't be made easier for us. (Not to mention how much time, energy and emotion was spent pursuing this grant for so long and through much red tape.)

I know everyone going through international adoption understands how absolutely straining it can be all around, especially with 2 birthdays and Christmas packed into the next 2 months, but I know we will keep chugging along and get to where we need to go.
We truly could not be doing this without all the support we have received already, so I'll let my gratitude and happiness of that fact overshadow any disappointment I feel tonight. ^_^

Sunday, October 19, 2008

another week (and raffle winners!)

Sundays always find me a bit anxious. Another week, another chance for a travel date. I have never been a very patient person but I try to remember that every week that passes means we are getting closer to that travel date, whenever it may be. Today marks 3 months since we sent our dossier to Belgrade with love. It seems like forever ago now. I am very hopeful for this coming week.

Macy's 2nd birthday is November 12th and though I don't like missing it, we will celebrate when we get home with Emerson (we're celebrating Em's 1st birthday at the same time - we are having a ladybug party for our little ladybugs!). If we do not leave by Nov. 11th (11/11 of all days, right?) we won't be here for Thanksgiving. We'll be disappointed to miss out on our family gathering, but it's just one day compared to Emerson's lifetime and well, it's worth it! ^_^

I think of Emerson all the time, find myself in tears at least once a day - either tears of sadness that she is not yet here or tears of happiness as I think about meeting her for the first time... yes, I cry just thinking about meeting her. What on earth will I do when I actually hold her in my arms? I will have to bring an extra suitcase for tissues! ^_~ We love you so much, Em.
We are hoping and praying we will know soon.

And in other news, we're happy to announce the winners in our last raffle!

The $100 gift card goes to.... Carie V. in Tempe, Arizona!

The $50 gift card goes to.... Jennifer F. in Lakewood, Colorado!

Your gift cards will be in the mail tomorrow. Thank you so much to you and to all of our supporters in bringing home our little girl! :)

Friday, October 17, 2008

raffle ending soon!

Our final raffle fundraiser ends tomorrow night - if you would still like a chance at winning one or two Target gift cards, get your tickets soon!

Thank you so much to all who have participated and spread the word! ^_^


It seems ChipIn ends them at midnight, not at the time you started it - ah well! We'll be announcing the winners this weekend and sending out the gift cards on Monday. ^_^

As always, if you missed the raffle but still want to contribute to Emerson's adoption and donations for the other children in her orphanage, you can do so through a tax-deductible donation by clicking the picture of that little sweetie to your right. :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

four digits

Sorry, so many posts today! ^_^

Just a quick one to say that I just realized we are now over the $1000 mark in our Family Grant Fund. I am just overwhelmed by all the support we have received - everytime I think about how hard this last stretch is, the waiting, I just have to think about how far we have come and how many people have carried us along the way and I cannot help but smile.
Thank you just doesn't do it justice. ^_^

first smiles

At least, these are the first we have seen - so, so adorable!
Isn't our facilitator wonderful? ^_^

Very soon, baby girl, very soon!

random acts of kindness

Oh my, what a great day! First Emerson's beautiful pictures, then coming home from picking Cade up from preschool I saw a big Medela box on our doorstep. I just ordered 6 Haberman bottles last night - not cheap! - and was thinking WOW! what amazing service! hehe!...

I emailed Medela weeks ago asking if they would donate some of the bottles, and they did! They sent us 12 Haberman and mini-Haberman feeders!! I cannot believe their generosity - those are so expensive! :)

And I just got an email from the film company that produced Mr. Blue Sky ... they are donating 6 copies of the DVD to us to share with the Ministry and our facilitator and others. I am so happy to share this movie, it was so touching and the actress with DS is just amazing and really shows the potential for these amazing human beings.

Now wouldn't receiving a travel date just be the icing on the cake? ^_^
Perhaps next week will be THE ONE! :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

speech evaluation, part III

Dawson had another Speech re-evaluation today and ... he is still measuring Age Appropriate!! ^_^ We could get services if we want, but the Speech Therapist was so impressed with him. He is doing so much now - making kiss noises when you say "Kiss," playing peek-a-boo, signing "Milk," imitating sounds and this morning he started clapping his hands!! Oh my is that the cutest thing ever - smart boy must've known he had someone to impress today.

We requested another re-evalation in 2 months, when we will probably request therapy services, and we figure Emerson will be here by then and can have her speech evaluation done at the same time ... hopefully!

Monday, October 13, 2008

autumn fun

Yesterday we had so much fun at Critz Farms, our amazing "Pumpkin Patch"! :) We went with Nana and Papa and Aunt Chelsey (my parents and little sister) and the weather was perfect. Autumn in Upstate New York is always so beautiful but this year the colors in the trees are just amazing! Here are some pictures from our trip!

The Pumpkin Patch:

Nana and Papa:

The kids - they even left a spot for our one missing ^_^

The Cow Train (haha!):

Beautiful Dawson:

Having fun with Papa:

Chelsey, Macy and me!:

Cade in the "hay tunnel":

Beautiful Macy (and her boo-boo):

Me and Matt (who really, really needs a hair cut!):

Friday, October 10, 2008

hope springs eternal

I woke up this morning feeling much better and more hopeful, especially after reading some words of wisdom from friends.

I know there is a perfect time for us and though it is hard to wait, I will be happy knowing it will still be very soon.

We are taking a trip to our favorite Pumpkin Patch this weekend and though originally we thought we'd have Em with us, I will smile knowing that next year not only will she be with us but her heart will be beating much easier. ^_^

We love you, Em!

Thursday, October 09, 2008


We know for sure we will not travel before November. Sorry I cannot share more details.

I know I need to be patient but for today I am sad and worried about Emerson.

I know this is something many new moms say after giving birth, but
I don't know how anyone does this more than once.

November is only three weeks away... just three weeks...

I've extended our raffle for a week, in case anyone still wants to enter. We will need to figure much more for plane tickets now.
I might take a blog break for a few days.

a rose by any other name

The girls' room is all ready for one more occupant, complete with these amazing wall letters done for us by a friend. This is truly my favorite room in our house and I love that when I'm rocking Dawson to sleep I can look at Em's name up on the wall and remind myself that someday soon (hopefully very soon!) there will be a beautiful little face peaking out over the crib rail below. :)

And Macy's side of the room:

And a few new pictures of our Fantastic Four - soon to be the Fabulous Five, of course! ^_^

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

waiting and play review

Entering the middle of the week and no news yet on a travel date. I am patient but anxious, if that makes sense. ^_^

It's a good thing our PC crashed because it means I only get to steal a few minutes on Matt's laptop throughout the day until the kids are in bed (he works from home), otherwise I think I would just sit in front of the screen hitting REFRESH every minute on my inbox hehehe!

Speaking of my inbox, I got an email tonight from GOA - saying our application meets the standard requirements (I guess they let our non-Hague country slide!) and it is being recommended to our closest local chapter for review. Matt and I weren't sure what that means exactly; is it like being waitlisted at college? ^_~ It certainly would be nice to not have such a restricted budget in Serbia (i.e. I could unpack some of those mac n cheese boxes LOL!) and to be able to withstand the hike in airfares predicted in reaction to the current economic turmoil. I am trying not to worry about that right now, though I admit I still check airfares every single day and cringe at the slightest increase in price.

And of course we have Part II of the adoption process, Em's medical issues, which includes a ridiculous out of pocket courtesy of our wonderful insurance company (which Matt works for, by the way, go figure!)

I guess we'll see what happens on that front. For now, we're clinging to everything we have and can save, waiting to buy anything for the orphanage until we get that travel date and find out how much the airfare will be.

Now, I return to my previously scheduled waiting ^_^ ...
[enter Jeopardy theme song... doo-doo-doo-doo doo-doo-doo...]


Had to share this adorable video of Cade and Macy - aren't siblings just the sweetest? ^_^ (Please excuse the messy house LOL - I have 4 great excuses!)

Monday, October 06, 2008

angels part II

Tonight I am reminded by a comment on one of my posts a while back, from Julie of course (thanks, Julie! ^_^) It stuck with me for some reason and it is so amazing how right she was.

"God was faithful, even when we doubted. He had things in the works that were out of our line of vision."

There have been many times when I sat tearfully wondering how in the world we would come up with what we needed to financially when plans did not work out as we had hoped. But because of some incredible family members, old friends and new friends, we have made it so far.

Heather, thank you again for your gift today to us and to Emerson.

You, Holly, Dianna and our wonderful family have been some of the most amazing pillars that have lifted us up in this journey. Thank you!


We have met so many angels disguised as strangers on this journey.
I still cannot believe that less than one year ago I was caught up in focusing on the negativity that lives in all of us, that I thought was too strong to be overcome by anything positive. I was so wrong about people, it only took one little extra chromosome to set that lesson in motion. ^_^

We just received a generous donation in our family fund - as the shortage that we've had for funds gets smaller and smaller, I have no doubts that we will find a way to complete this journey.

Thank you to one of our angels, you know who you are! :)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

packing lightly

... or not? ^_^

Knowing that we could be leaving in as little as 2 or 3 weeks, I've started packing in earnest. As you can see, my overly-detailed tendencies would not be complete without lining the suitcases up neatly (in size order, of course!) against a wall in our bedroom. The boys call it, with great seriousness, "the Serbia wall." :)

The second suitcase from the left is done, having reached 47 lbs, and it is filled with nothing but gifts for all the people involved in the adoption - 25 to be exact, if you can believe that! The first suitcase on the left will be codenamed Suitcase of Advocacy as it is being filled with all the items we are bringing not just for the orphanage but also to help our facilitator and to give to the government officials and Childrens Center staff.

A few weeks ago, on a whim, I decided to send emails to several companies talking about our trip and asking for some donations. As seems to be the theme of our adoption, I have been blown away by the amazingly generous response we received!

Thanks to Kathryn for donating a dozen copies of Gifts and Nicki with Band of Angels for 2 Celebrate! New Parent Packages (I love these - they have the beautiful "Common Threads" book which has lovely pictures of people with DS and amazing facts about life in the U.S. with DS; they also have a calendar featuring children with DS and a short DVD celebrating life with DS) and I loved the DVD so much I wanted to share it with each person we are giving gifts to, so BoA sent us 23 more!

And TalkTools sent us 2 DVDs on feeding issues in children with DS (of all things - exactly what these kids need!) I plan on watching at least one of them (one is 6 hours, one is 3 - yikes!) before we leave so I can share the most important tips with the caregivers at Em's orphanage.

Thank you so much for all of these wonderful gifts! We hope to show so much to the government officials. I can't help but think if one heart can be won, perhaps the torch of advocacy will be passed to exactly where it needs to be. I know our facilitator is an angel for these children and I hope some of the things we bring help her on her own mission!

I think we will have just enough room in that suitcase for some toys for Em, at least 5 or 6 of the Haberman bottles for cleft lip/palate (I can't get over how expensive those things are!!) and a dozen or so specialized toys to help with oral strength.

And those iddy biddy suitcases on the right (are they suitcases? maybe 'duffels'? LOL!) will hold everything else we need. The washing machine in our apartment will certainly be getting some exercise while we're there! ^_~

I am so excited about this coming week. I have suddenly found some much-needed patience, but I admit I secretly hope to get an email with our travel date in the next few days!! ^_^

conversations with Dawson

I had to share this video from last week. Dawson has really been babbling lately; it is so adorable to hear all of those Dadas and Mamas and many other sound combinations. It's so sweet to see the bond we share - he loves to observe other people and occasionally shares smiles and coos but when I talk with him he really comes alive. We both do I guess ^_^ I don't know what we'll do without one another for 2 weeks!!

He responds so well to prompts for sounds - sometimes he'll even reply "buh bye" to me heh! He has a speech re-eval coming up on the 14th and I'm wondering if he'll get off with "age appropriate" again. It's wonderful to see him progressing so much but I also really want to get services started soon for him in that department! He is truly our little Wonder Boy! :)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

raffle: edited

Thank you so much to our contributors in our raffle thus far - we are so, so grateful for your help! ^_^

Unfortunately since things seem to be moving rather slow and we're a little afraid of losing money instead of raising any considering the gift card costs, we are changing it to a traditional one-time raffle with a $100 Target gift card and a $50 Target gift card as prizes in the drawing to be held Oct 11th.

I sent emails to our contributors but in case you didn't get it, I am sorry to change things around so if you prefer we would be happy to refund the ticket purchase! Just shoot me an email -

Thanks again everyone and good luck!!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

a call to arms!

What a rollercoaster ride!
We just heard from our facilitator that she has spoken to the officials about Emerson's urgent medical needs and .....
she thinks she'll have a travel date for us soon!! o_O

I think I had completely convinced myself that we had a couple more months of waiting ahead of us because I am absolutely elated at even the possibility of traveling soon - perhaps the last week of October? Even the first week of November seems so close now! ^_^ So... after the initial thrill of joy, just a teensy bit of panic has set in heh! We do still have a little bit of fundraising to do, not just for our costs in-country but also for my crazy idea of making a positive change in the lives of the other children in the orphanage.

And with that, we are holding one final (really, I mean it this time!) raffle to support these two causes.

It's 11:11 and I'm making a wish! ... okay, okay, so it's not quite 11:11 - I couldn't wait to share the excitement! :)
11 has always been a special number for us for many reasons and I always smile when I glance up at the clock and see that time. So here is our wish!

Our goal is lofty - $1111 - but it will bring us very close to what we need and would also allow us to bring some tools and toys to help the children with DS with oral motor skills, special spoons and bottles to help with feeding skills (our facilitator said this is a big problem for children with DS in Emerson's orphanage) and some special bottles for the children with cleft lip/palate that would help them get the nourishment they need. They have no such tools right now and they have a lot of trouble feeding those sweeties.

The prizes are a $100 Target gift card and a $50 Target gift card and the raffle ends Oct 11t (of course!) :)

Please click the chip-in widget above or to the right!

If gift cards don't catch your fancy but you still want to help we are grateful for any tax-deductible donations made through Reece's Rainbow - just click Em's picture up there on the right. We appreciate this last bit of help for Emerson and for all of the other children waiting for families in her orphanage! ^_^

Also, if anyone has any used items in good condition that you would like to donate for the orphanage, please email me ( as we would love to bring them with us! (We are looking for: chewy tubes, grabbers, jigglers or other vibrating toys, bristle buddies, maroon spoons (the shallow kind for side-feeding) and Haberman bottles.) We have already obtained some generous donations from some wonderful people and companies to help on our little mission, I will post more about that later. ^_~

Thank you so much for your help in this final stretch - I can't believe we're almost there!!! :)


At times our own light goes out and is rekindled
by a spark from another person.
Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude
of those who have lighted the flame within us.

- Albert Schweitzer

I received a little surprise in the mail today...

Thank you so much, Holly, for donating back the gift card. I could not help but get teary peeling back the activation sticker to see Emerson's sweet face.

This makes two of our raffle winners who have donated the prize back to us. Words cannot express how grateful we are for meeting such amazing spirits on this journey.

The first Serbian word I've learned is hvala. I figured it would come in handy the most. ;)

Hvala. Thank you.


strike three?

Just a little update that we have not yet heard anything on our third GOA grant review. So perhaps I was wrong about it being the first Wednesday of the month; maybe next week sometime.

However, in my online wanderings last night I ended up at their homepage for the first time since July and I saw something new (at least, I'm pretty positive it's new as I know I would not have applied had it been there initially)... it appears GOA now only awards grants to families adopting from countries under the Hague convention.

Which means, unless by some miracle they still consider us because we began applying before this new rule was posted on the site, we are not eligible. :(

It also means that families adopting from the two countries with the most urgent situation for children with special needs now have pretty much no options for help with funding. That is so unfortunate. :(

I cannot help but hold out a little hope that they will still consider us. If they don't, we will still be short of what we need. Not an enormous amount, but more than we can save on our own in the next few weeks/months.

As much I am disappointed to do so, I will likely hold one more raffle and I'm also going to be holding a Virtual Yard Sale via ebay with the hundreds (I'm not kidding! ^_^) of baby/kids clothes and other items that we did not sell at our yard sale. I will try to start that next Monday afternoon with the auctions ending Saturday afternoon - so you can browse and bid/buy Saturday just as you would a real-life yard sale :)

I still have my fingers stubbornly crossed though about GOA.
We appreciate all the support and prayers you can spare right now, dear readers! ^_^