Friday, November 30, 2012

So what if it's another life?

Several weeks ago I read a comment on someone's facebook page that just floored me. The topic under discussion was abortion, and specifically due to a pregnancy by rape. One person said "so what if it's another life, I wouldn't have a rapist's baby." She went on to say some other nasty, and completely without logic, things, but that comment just cut right to my heart. Has our society become so hardened that even those who believe an unborn baby is more than a clump of cells can choose to kill them?

 It's one thing to honestly (if mistakenly) believe that a baby isn't a baby until a certain age. That's bad enough, and something I just don't get. If you get pregnant, there's only one choice of what you will give birth to. It will be a baby, a human child, no other options that I've ever heard of. Have you ever asked a pregnant woman what she's going to have? You weren't asking if she was having a goldfish, or a spider monkey, or a baby. You wanted to know whether it was going to be a male human child or a female human child. But to say "so what"?

I've been thinking on this for a while now, wanting to wrap my head around it and do a blog post that was insightful and thought provoking, but it's just not happening. One, it's me writing it, so therefore much like a dog chasing a squirrel all over the keyboard, it's not going to win a Pulitzer. And two, there's no making sense of this woman's comment.

It's just sad. It breaks my heart to think that someone can say, no, this life isn't valuable enough to save. Because it is. Every life is valuable.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My two favorite RR kids

UPDATE!!! Not long after I did this blog post (like within a couple of hours!) Dayna showed up on My Family Found Me! So happy for her family!!! It takes a while for a child to show up on that part of the website, so that means her family has been working on this for probably a few weeks. I am just tickled to death, and if her family does a blog, I will be sure and link to it so we can all follow her journey home and help out with fundraisers!

There are two children on Reece's Rainbow that really tug at my heart. Right now it's not possible for me to adopt them, but I would in a heartbeat if I could! Please take a look at both of these adorable kids and see if your heart isn't also affected. They both are in a country that is extremely expensive, but it's just money. I've seen so many amazing things happen, financial mountains melt when God's people step forward, so don't let that intimidate you for a second!! And WHEN Archie and Dayna do find their families, I will do everything I can to help fundraise, and so will lots of others.

Enough talking. Just look at their pics and that will mean far more than anything I could possibly say:

This is Archie. I've been blessed to see other pics of him, and as cute as this one is, it doesn't even do him justice. He just turned 4 in July, which unfortunately means he will be transferred to a mental institution soon, if he hasn't been already. Four year old boys don't deserve to live spend their lives in a place like that, because it's not living. Four year old boys need to be playing on the swingset, playing ball, chasing the dog around the yard, snuggling with Daddy watching a football game. Not lying in a crib with no one to love him. Want to see more Archie? Here's a link to a video, so you can see more of his adorable smile!

And sweet Dayna

Dayna is 3. I've also seen a video of her, and she is just smiling and laughing. Look at that short hair! She needs a  mommy to grow it out and put some cute bows in it!

If you want more info on either of them, just click their name and link back to Reece's Rainbow. I can also put you in touch with people that can give you more details. Please help me find their mommy and daddy!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

October is a busy month! Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Month, Pregnancy Loss and Infant Loss Month, Eat more Bacon Month. ok I made that last one up. We all know eat more bacon is EVERY month. But I want to focus on Down Syndrome Awareness, because, to be honest, that is something I never thought much about. Why not the others?

We're all aware of breast cancer and see the pink ribbon everywhere. We know to go get our mammograms regularly. Right??? When was your last one? GO DO IT! 

We all know domestic violence is horrible, and the key to that is raising our sons to respect women, and raising our daughters to watch out for warning signs that their guy might not be who they first expect, and to get out at the first inkling of an idea.

Pregnancy loss and infant loss is another terrible situation that no parent should have to face. I've seen too many families lose babies, and it is heartbreaking. 

But there is another group of babies that unfortunately, don't even get a chance to ever be with their families. These are babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Did you know that 90% of babies diagnosed with DS while the mother is pregnant get aborted. NINETY PERCENT. The doctors tell the families that it's the easy way, it's better for everyone. It's a lie. Parents gets scared, not knowing much about DS because they haven't had much, if any, interaction with a child or adult with DS. 

The number one fact to know about a child with DS is this. Brace yourself, because it's a doozy. A child with DS is....

Just a regular child.

Yep. There's nothing scary about them, nothing weird or different. They're just kids. They have every bit as much love to give as any other child. So why are people so scared to have a child with DS?

 Here are some medical things the parents and child will/may have to deal with. Some, but not, all kids with DS, have heart defects. The chambers of the heart (4, in case it's been a while since biology class) may not be fully divided, and the doctors go in and make a wall to divide them. It's actually a very simple procedure! Ok, so that's covered by insurance, done and over with. Once it's fixed, it's fixed. They may have a lower level of hearing. Wow, scary right? Not! 

Many times they need glasses. Geez, really? How awful! Look around you at the number of people wearing glasses.

But you know what? When a parent is told their child may have DS, they don't think about these things. What's the first and biggest issue they face? The fact that one, their child may not develop a level of intelligence that most adults have, and two, because of this, their child will never be able to move out. And I think that's the kicker. It's not about the child, it's the notion that the parent will be "saddled" with the child forever. side note rant here, not just for parents of children with DS: Let me tell you something. If you're a first time expecting parent, and you think for one second that your responsibility as a parent will end at 18 when your child moves out, you are DEAD wrong. Your responsibility will never end, no matter the physical, emotional, mental capabilites your child has. It's been said, and is so true, "the decision to have a child means that for the rest of your life, your heart will live outside your body". ok side rant over.

Please please please, if you are pregnant, and find out through testing that you might have a child with DS, go spend some time with someone that has DS. Wherever you are, there are support groups for parents, lots of resources available. If for whatever reason you truly can't feel like you could parent a child with DS, don't abort it! There are families on waiting lists that WANT to adopt a child with DS. At any given time in the U.S. there are approximately 200 families waiting. And you wouldn't believe the number of families that are adopting children with DS internationally. Around the world, children with DS are put into orphanages, and then mental institutions, because the parents don't realize that they CAN do this. Most children in Eastern Europe that have DS are transferred to metal institutions at age 4. While your child is starting pre-K, with their hair in pigtails and cute little outfits on, the child in EE has her head shaved (to prevent lice) and stuck in a crib to lay there forever. No one to love them, sing to them, teach them to read, anything. 

But they don't have to stay there. I've seen people who, after having biological children diagnosed with DS, make the conscious decision to have another child with DS, through adoption. If DS was so scary, would these families do this 2, 3 even 6 times? 

Take a look at Reece's Rainbow to see how you can help a child with Down Syndrome. 

And one more thing. Well, two more things. Let's make sure we see children as children first, not identified as their disability. There's a fancy phrase I learned in my Exceptional Child class, called "people first terminology". That's just a $5 phrase that means BE NICE. How would people classify you if they looked at your features or limitations first? Oh, that's the fat chick (yeah, that would be me.) Or, take your item to the wrinkly lady to check out. The Ugly man will fix your car. How offensive would that be? We would want people to use our names, our best features, right? Don't all people deserve that? No matter your disability, your race, whatever is unique about you, you're a person first and foremost. 

So don't call a child with DS a Downy, Downs, anything like that. Call them by their name. If it's relevant to the situation, then yes, it's fine to say the child has Down Syndrome. But above all, DO NOT call them retarded, or a retard, or any other offensive term. Let's get rid of those words altogether. Yes, we all know that used to be the term everyone used to in reference to someone with an intellectual disability. But that term has gotten twisted and redefined, and now it's just offensive to the person themselves and to the people that love them. It's used in a joking manner by lots of people (even I did, before I learned not to) to call each other stupid or goofy. Don't even do that. Let's get rid of it altogether. My kids are weeding it out of their vocabulary because they see how wrong it is, and they are calling out their friends who do it. 

Give a child with Down Syndrome a chance. See them as a CHILD, not a diagnosis, and more than likely, they will brighten your world and help you to see it as you've never seen it before. Honestly, I think in that extra chromosome they have, there's a lot of love and sunshine. Don't we all need that?

This month I'll be posting lots of pictures of children available for adoption, all of which have Down Syndrome. I'll feature some families that have chosen this wonderful path, and tell you what their life is like. It'll be interesting, I hope, so stick around!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Life Worth Living

Today our church family said our final goodbyes to a wonderful woman, Sally Ford. While we mourned the loss of her companionship and guidance, we rejoiced knowing she is truly in a better place. I can't remember a time when I didn't know her. She and my mom have been best friends as long as I have been alive, and our families took many vacations together. From surf fishing at Carolina Beach in North Carolina to trips to the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, almost every childhood memory includes Sally, her husband, and their three sons. She has been a role model for me from the time I was a child. You know how it is when you're a teenager; your parents know NOTHING, they don't understand you, and have no clue that you are practically an ADULT and still treat you like a kid. The nerve of them. At times like this, when you have someone like Sally that can put things into perspective, and put you in your place, it's a huge help. She taught me a lot. By sitting and talking with her, seeing what she did with others, and following her lead, I have learned so much. I have learned that by inviting a group of girls from church over to make candy on Sunday afternoon, you give them a memory that will last a lifetime. I have learned that you can pick up the phone to call someone or send them a card, and by doing that you help them to realize they matter and they are not forgotten. I have learned that you can speak your mind, in love, and make an impact on someone. I have learned generosity, compassion, love, how to keep a positive attitude and find the joy in any situation.

Sally wasn't in good health for a while, and this year it seemed like it all just exploded on her. She found out she had macular degeneration, and had surgery then shots after shots in her eyes, to try and preserve her eyesight. Then in May she had to have heart surgery to replace a valve in her heart. In July she was diagnosed with cancer, which had already started spreading. This is a lot for any one person to take, especially all within a few months of each other. But did she complain? NOPE. The way she put it to me one day was like this. She said "I could be bitter and say why me, why is all this happening to me at one time. But I see God working. He knew all this was coming. He fixed my eyes so I see my cards. And by fixing my eyes, they found the heart damage. If I hadn't had the heart surgery, I wouldn't be strong enough to face chemo. God knows what He is doing.".  Wow. To be able to look at all this and still give God the glory. But we all saw that her faith was unshakable.

Sally had been a Christian for about 45 years. I never saw her waver from that. She and Webby raised their boys to be good Christian men, which they all are now, and are raising their children with the strong faith they learned. As much as she hurt, she made it to every service she could. Some of the same services I missed because I was tired, or because my back hurt, or whatever other excuse I had. She has helped so many of us so many times with encouragement and support.

For those of you who may have been reading my blog from the beginning (yes, all 2 of you), you might remember that I said Sam had really struck something in me because I knew someone who was born with a similar condition in their hands. That someone is one of Sally's sons, T. He and I are the same age, have grown up together, and I got to see firsthand just what all Sam could do if given the chance. It really got to me how different their lives were, all because of their mothers. Sally gave birth to T, saw his hands were like they were, but it didn't make a bit of difference to her. He was her son, and he was never treated any different than his brothers. He was pushed to be the best person he could be, never was treated as if he had a disability or as someone different. Sam's mother gave birth, saw his hands were like they were, and cast him aside. It's just inconceivable to me. If Sam had Sally as his mother, his dreams would be unstoppable. And that's what I had intended to do. I wanted to be for Sam what Sally had been for T. And when we were unable to continue, she knew I hurt. She sent me the sweetest card and invited me over for coffee. It made such a huge impact on me. All around were people I knew who hadn't even acknowledged that we were adopting, and never understood the grief we had when we had to let go. But she did.

She knew I was hurting, and she reached out to me. And she did that to everyone. I doubt there's a person at our church who doesn't have a similar story. That's just who she was. Even in the hospital she tried to comfort everyone around her who was upset. I sat with her last Thursday at the hospital and just cried at seeing the amount of pain she was in. I was holding her hand, trying to comfort her, and she put her other hand over mine and kept saying "I'm ok, I'm alright". She even kept her awesome sense of humor to the very end. Once during a really bad pain, she took a deep breath and said "Traci, let's just go to the beach".

She has always been one of the funniest people I know. She had a sharp wit and a quick mind, and you knew you would be cheered up around her. Sally loved to laugh. Once, we were heading to the beach, I with two of my kids, my mom, Sally, my brother, and his friend. We stopped at a gas station for a break, and when we all piled back in the van, my brother and his friend couldn't stop giggling. When twelve year old boys do that, you know they're up to something. After several miles, we finally got it out of them. They had taken some snap and pops and carefully placed them under the seat of the toilet in the women's room. (If you don't what they are, they are these little paper balls filled with an explosive powder. Throw them on the ground and they make a banging noise. Completely harmless, but will scare you to death if you aren't expecting it.) Now you know how gas station bathrooms are. You don't use one until you really HAVE to go. Imagine running into one, plopping down on one thankful you made it in time, and those things going off! Let's just say it would be a good thing you were where you were. Mom and Sally were horrifed at first that they had done this, but couldn't help but laugh at the thought. Sally tried to scold Josh and his friend, but she was laughing so hard she couldn't hardly do it.

Sallie Gatewood Ford

She was one of a kind, and there is so much I could write about her. But the most important thing I will remember about her was that she lived her faith, right up to the very end. She's an example we all need. I hope I can grow up to be a Sally one day.

What will your legacy be? What will they say about you at your funeral? Will they be able to base an entire sermon around your faith and life, and be able to say, this is how everyone should do? Will your family have the comfort Sally's family has, of knowing she is truly at peace and without pain?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Full circle

Back in late February when I first saw Sam's picture and we started our adoption journey, I would never have dreamed the twists and turns that would happen. In case you haven't been following along, here's the Reader's Digest Condensed Version:

I found Sam's picture and information on a friend's FB post. After a week or two of scrambling to find a home study agency that could work with us on such short notice, we committed to Sam. Duncan soon had a family committed to him. Then the first twist, which you can read about here Details on Duncan. So now we were committed to both boys! We were overjoyed to be adding two precious sons, and began preparations. A room was remodeled, we began to look at adaptions that would need to made to the house to accommodate Duncan's CP issues, fundraising, and working on our homestudy and dossier. Every conversation revolved around the boys. Not just about the adopting process, but things like "here's a soccer camp for Sam he may like", "I can't wait to take them camping", "I wonder how they will like living out in the country". We began studying Russian, which is not easy, since you have to learn a whole new alphabet! I did lots of reading on issues they would have and adjustments they would be making, to help them make the transition as easy as possible. We were so excited for the opportunities they would have. 

But then we had the worst news possible. Sam's birthday was coming up, and our homestudy still wasn't finished. Tears and Prayers We had to make the unbelievably tough decision to back away from the adoption, to make sure we didn't cause them to lose their last chance to be free. I could not have lived with myself if that happened. We knew there were other families that were waiting to step in, so that helped trememdously. Soon we got to "meet" their new families online. The Daughtons for Duncan and The Stokes family for Sam. Both incredibly nice families, and I could see the boys fitting in so well with both of them! We prayed constantly for them and followed their journey.

As you may know, the Stokes family went over and Sam decided not to come to the U.S. after being misled by others at his orphanage. The rumors that were fed to him are crazy, but very prevalent there. We were all devastated of course, as we had no clue that might happen. Then the Daughtons went, and Duncan also said no.  Again, everyone was heartbroken. 

We could say that's the end of the story, but that's not true. There have been so many blessings for us along this journey. I have made new friends that I truly love. I've been able to follow so many stories of seeing orphans, once abandoned and forgotten, come in families where they have flourished and grown. I've seen and hugged some of these precious kids, not once forgetting that if not for the families who have sacrificed so much for them, they would still be lost to the world.

Here are some kids who are changing the world, through adoption:

Keith was adopted from one of the worst orphanages in Eastern Europe. He was basically being starved to death. The picture on the left is him at 5 years old, and he weighed 12 lbs. Yes, 12 lbs! One month after being home with his family, look at him!! Look at those chubby cheeks, those fat little arms! His family's blog is one you need to read. There are so many children still in that orphanage that need OUT. They need families to see the potential these kids have, and are willing to answer God's call and DO something. Not because you need another child in your family, but because this child needs a family. Look what a family did for Keith!

Another family, one I have gotten to know and love, is the Rhodes family. Here is one of their two new sons, Vaylo. (Hope you don't mind me stealing a pic Mandy!) He's a very snuggly sweetheart who just melts in your arms when you hold him. I could sit all day and snuggle him! Their story is also incredible. They are headed back to Eastern Europe to rescue Samuel's best friend, and they have some really cool fundraisers going on. Check out their blog and see if you can help them on their journey.

The Pickett family is also very dear to my heart. They are in the process of adopting a son and a daughter from EE, and I can't wait to have their daughter in our Girl Scout troop! She will be an inspiration to all the girls, I know. You can click above to their link on Reece's Rainbow, or click here for their blog. They could also use some financial support in their journey.

A lot of people don't understand why adoption advocates are always wanting others to help out financially. They don't understand, and say things like "if you can't afford to adopt them, you shouldn't do it", or "why should I help pay to get your kid here". Well, for the first comment, "if you can't afford to pay for it", let's think for a second. Did you have cash up front for your house? Your new car? Your boat? Your tv that you put on a credit card? Adoption is very expensive, ranging from $17,000-$40,000+. I don't know anyone who has that kind of money lying around. But why ask others to help? Because God said to. Ok, not exactly. But, He told us to help orphans and widows. Read James 1:27. Not everyone can adopt themselves. That's ok. Some have reluctant husbands. Some don't qualify for the requirements. For whatever reason, some just can't do it. But that doesn't let you off the hook. Your church may send part of the offering to a children's home. Yes, that's helping. But where's the personal sacrifice in that? And what is it doing? It's keeping the children's home going, sure. But God adopted us, he didn't leave us as orphans. Don't you think He would rather we do the same? We can help a child go from being an orphan, to being a son, or a daughter. Which way do you think makes the most impact on that child's life?

And one more family. Of course I can't do a post about adopting families and NOT mention my favorite kids, the Rogers! Jessa and Caleb, formerly known as Bernadette and Mason, Lord willing, arrive home in the United States in about 48 hours! When the call first went out about Jessa, a 15 year old girl with Down Syndrome who would be sent to a mental institution if she didn't find a home, and FAST, the adoption world rallied around her. Her family found her, her fund shot up like a rocket, and now she is Jessica Dorothy Rogers, with 10 siblings!! Her world is getting ready to explode with color and fun and love, and the world will be changed forever. Because Erika and Mel said yes, we will be her parents. We can be what she needs.

What can you do?

I guess the title "Full Circle" is a misnomer. This leg of my journey may be completed, as far as Sam and Duncan go, but I can't wait to see what's next. Once your eyes are opened to special needs (the biggest need being that these children need families) you can't turn away. And I won't!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Who is your emotional toilet?

I started back to school this week (for about the 14th time), but this time I have no excuses for not finishing up my degree. I'm working on my associate's in Education Assisting, and hope to continue on for a teaching degree in special education.

One of my classes is College Survival Skills, which I have been putting off forever. As many credits as I already have, I surely have the skills to survive college. But apparently this is a statewide required class, so I'm in it. I had my first class this morning, and the instructor is a hoot. She has a great way of teaching and keeping everyone listening. But one question she had stopped the room. "Who is your emotional toilet?"

Say what?

She went on to explain that we all need a friend who, when we are feeling overwhelmed and full of negative thoughts, we need a friend that will help us flush those thoughts away. Umm ok. So of course I stopped to think about who my emotional toilet is. It took about 2 seconds to know who mine is.

My best friend Kristin. Umm, if she's still my friend after I've called her a toilet, that is. I think she'll be cool with it though. Most of the time I'm hers too, so it should even out! Kristin and I are co-leaders of the most awesome mega girl scout troop ever. She is our MEGA FEARLESS leader. We have so much in common besides girl scouts though. We are both very strong advocates of international special needs adoption, Christians, and are both Pinterest addicts. Kristin so much that she is embarking on a great adventure with homeschooling her girls this year, Pinterest Academy. You need to check this out, seriously!!

I am very blessed to have a great circle of close friends. My best friend, Angie, who I have literally known my entire life. I have a picture somewhere of me and my mom at her mom's baby shower. Even though we don't talk nearly as much as we should, she's like a sister to me. Another best friend is Marsha. We REALLY don't  talk or see each other much, as she lives VERY VERY far away, which makes me sad. But now I temporarily have her dog as she moves even more VERY VERY VERY far away, so I have a hostage to make her come back and see me. Marsha and I have known each other since kindergarten, and some of my most favorite memories from high school are of us riding around town listening to the Beach Boys. We can go years, and we have, without talking, but then we'll pick up the conversation like it was 10 minutes ago. That's true friendship.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 - Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Appreciate your friends. Be a friend to them. Learn what makes a true friendship and cherish and nurture it!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Rogers kids - part two

Dave and I had always said we wanted eight kids, but God had other plans for us, and we wound up with only four. So staying with the Rogers meant I had my chance to see what it was like to mother eight kids (counting my daughter Anna, who stayed with us most of the time, until she had to start school.) I have SOOO much respect for mothers of large families! It's a challenge, and that's an understatement. lol. But as I have said, it is worth it! It's nuts, especially at mealtime, trying to get everyone's plate, drink, making sure there was food that they all liked (linguine with bacon was an unanimous hit, pork chops were a bust). I counted heads a million times a day, and the longer I was around the kids, it didn't seem like so many kids. There were times we were all sitting around watching a movie, and I would count heads, sure two or three were missing, because it just didn't seem like that could be all of them. Other times it seemed like they multiplied into about 57 kids!

 I can't call my four kids by their right names, so I knew there was no chance it was gonna happen there. More than once I would say, "hey, you in the red shirt, come here!". Others were nicknamed, Joy aka the Leech, John aka Wild Man. The kids are very well mannered, and started out calling me Mrs. Traci. That just seemed too formal to me, and we changed it to Tia (spanish for aunt, and what my nephew calls me.) John, though, developed a funny habit. He would call me Tia most of the time, but when he wanted to do something that he knew was wrong, it inevitably started out as "umm ummm heyyyyy, can I .....". It got to be a joke with the others, and soon my nickname was "umm heyyyy".

Although it was frustrating at times, and as I told one man at the Mexican restaurant, "having this many kids is like herding fish", it was pretty funny most of the time. And yes, I took all seven kids out to eat by myself. After a few outings, I got brave and we even went to the grocery store. Being out with all of them usually led to a few questions, "are they all yours" usually... I would say not exactly mine, but they are all brothers and sisters. And I love these kids. I really got to see their individual personalities shine through. Madi is definitely's mommy's helper, and she is a very intelligent imaginative young lady. We had fun hanging out after the others went to bed, trying to watch the "Love Begins" movie. We never made it start to finish on the movie. Matthew is all boy, loves playing outside, but can be very wise and spiritually minded. We enjoyed our quiet time together when the younger kids were asleep. Joy, who I nicknamed the Leech, truly is a joy to be around. She has a lot of love to give, and is very affectionate. She loves to help, and everytime I turned around, she was there to give me a hug or offer to do something for me, thus her nickname. After I explained what leeches were and why I nicknamed her that, she thought it was hilarious! Cailee is a bundle of energy! She will snuggle for a while, then she's off to see what she can get into. Infamous line to Cailee - "stop pouring pepper on your brother's head!" John...what can I say about John?? That kid is a trip. Absurdly long eyelashes over big brown eyes, they will melt your heart. And that's when you're in trouble! If you can't see or hear him, you have to assume he's doing something he shouldn't. In other words, a typical four year old boy! Infamous John line - "John, stop eating your shoes". I'm not kidding.

Malachi - he stole my heart. I miss him so much! One of the happiest kids I have ever seen. And he loves to make people laugh. He'll do something funny, then just fall on the floor, so proud of himself for making you laugh. My favorite Malachi pic:

 And last but definitely not least: Clare Bear! Clare is very much a princess! She is an absolute doll. The last week of my stay she wasn't feeling her best, and let me know real quick if I wasn't giving her enough dedicated attention. She didn't have to worry about that with Dave around. I love this picture of her. Dave had just came in from work, and this was the biggest smile I had seen on her face all day!!

I couldn't have done this without help. Dave, my three daughters, my mom, some friends of mine and Erika's, it took all of us to make this happen. And we are all better off for having done it!! If you know of someone adopting, ask them exactly what you can do to help. It's not always about giving money to help them financially, or praying for them, but there are many burdens you can carry for them to lighten their load. 

An amazing experience - part 1

Utterly and completely exhausted! Best way to sum up how I feel! I just spent three weeks with an amazing family. The Rogers family are adopting Jessa and Caleb (formerly Bernadette and Mason), and Erika and Mel needed someone to stay with the kids while they were overseas. I've never had much sense anyway, so I cheerfully volunteered to stay with their 7 kids (all ages 10 and under), 2 dogs, 2 cats, and a herd of alpacas. Where to start to tell you about this? I had planned to blog while I was there, so that Erika and Mel could keep up with the kids and our goings on. Yeah, right! By the time bedtime for the kids rolled around, I was so tired I couldn't have typed my name! But it was worth every single second.

One last family pic before they head into the blue skies!

And they're off!

The kids looked forward to the daily call from Mom and Dad. Afternoon here, but bedtime overseas.

Bathtime for seven kids can be kind of crazy but that meant bedtime (and rest for me!) was very close! lol

One last chance to get their energy out before bed!

I couldn't have done it without help though! Mrs. Debbie came to help us out overnight the first weekend and we even made it to church on time Sunday! 

Madison took over the alpaca chores while her parents were gone and did it like a pro. From hauling hay and grain to watering, and even to rounding up escapee alpacas, she did a great job!

Another fun part was checking the mail for care packages from Nammy, their grandma! This helped them so much to pass the time, from coloring to melty bead crafts, books, making picture frames. Here's Madison opening the first package!

Clare had fun drawing!

Malachi loved the crayons. First he had fun rolling them off the table, then he thought it was hilarious to put them in the opened package so they would fall out the other end!

The rain didn't stop the kids from playing outside! They had fun dancing in the rain!

Working on their craft from Nammy one day and their parents called. Love this look on Cailee's face!

 Clare was always so excited to see my hubby Dave come in! She took a shine to him the first time she met him, and any night he was there, she wouldn't let me put her to bed. Dave had to do it!

Dave taught them how to balance a quarter on their elbow and then catch it in their hand. 

Clare happy in Dave's arms!

Playing badminton

The one bad thing about doing this to one of them...they ALL had to have a turn! He got his workout that day!

Dave brought the tent up so he and the big kids could have a sleepover. That lasted until the scary story had them too scared to sleep outside!

They did have a campfire and roasted marshmallows!

And of course I had to spoil them just a little bit! One day was backwards day, where we started the day with brownie sundaes, and ended with french toast.

Movie night with popcorn. (I made kettle corn for the older ones, it was sooo good!!)

To be continued...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Quick matching grant for the Rogers!

The Rogers family is on their way to finally go meet Bernadette and Mason! Some news superquick! There is a matching $450 grant opening up tonight for the Rogers! It will run through midnight, August 1st, so anything you can donate will be doubled. They still need about $3000 to be considered fully funded, and it would be so awesome to be able to tell them to relax, enjoy their new son and daughter, and not to worry about how they pay for the remainder of their expenses! If you can donate $10, it will be doubled and pay for two meals for the kids on the way home. If you can donate $50, it will be doubled and you'll be paying for a night's rent. Let's get them fully funded and I'll quit bugging you about them. (But then I will start nagging you about the Rhodes family. Check out Mandy's blog for some exciting news there!

 I am so blessed, and very honored, to be caring for the Rogers kids while their parents are away. It's a huge responsibility, but such a special one. We had always wanted eight kids, so with my youngest plus their seven, I'm finding out just what that is like. A just loves their daughter Madison, and asked me yesterday, "where have they been all my life?". They have so much in common and I can see them being friends for a very long time!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

An Auction, an Experiment, and a Recipe (Chicken Dip)

Doing something really weird tonight (completely normal for me though, right?) I found a thing on Pinterest for getting the dead skin off your feet. As I despise wearing shoes, and my feet look really rough sometimes all the time, I thought I would try it. Here's a picture of my yucky feet (but some really cool Snoopy pjs. It's what all the cool kids are wearing this summer.)

The original post can be found here. This is my experiment on seeing how well it works.

First, gather your supplies: Listerine, shaving cream, a bucket or bowl, and a hand towel.
Put equal amounts of warm water and Listerine in your bucket or bowl.

Yeah, it kinda looks like pee. Maybe this isn't the best post to also include a recipe. Hmm. I might should have thought this one through a little better. 

 Get somewhere comfy, then smear the shaving cream on the bottoms of your feet.

Soak the hand towel in the Listerine mixture, then wrap it around your feet. I wasn't really sure how to best wrap it. I think it might be better to use two and wrap each one individually, but I made it work. (It's Christmas in July with my penguin hand towel!)

Now sit back and relax for 30 minutes. The warm water does cool off and your feet get kind of chilly! So, while you're waiting you could write a blog post about what you're doing for the 30 minutes, like me, or...

you could check out this Facebook auction Rescuing the Rogers. There are some really cool items up for auction! Erika and Mel will be leaving very shortly to go get Bernadette and Mason, and we need to get them funded!!! 

Ok, now that 30 minutes are up, you've bid on some cute items in the auction or made a donation to the Rogers FSP on Reece's Rainbow, you're ready to check out your feet.

Take the wet towel and vigorously rub all the rest of the shaving cream off your feet. It's supposed to actually take a layer of skin off. Once you've done that, dry your feet really good. *Diabetics, please be very careful, read the original post for specific comments on recommendations for you. 

Here's before and after pictures of my feet. I really hope none of my three followers have a foot phobia.

You may not can tell from the pictures, but they really are better! Much softer, smoother. Not sure how much is just from soaking them for thirty minutes or if it really took the dead skin off. I'll be able to tell better in the morning I guess.

Now that we're done talking about my yucky dead skin from the bottom of my feet, I'm sure you've worked up an appetite, right? Ok yeah I know. Bad idea. So go take a break, and come back later for the recipe!


Yay, you're back. Ok, for the food! I was trying to find a recipe to fix the other day for some friends, and as always, I was missing one or two ingredients for everything. Does that happen to everyone? Reminds me of the line from the Friday movie. "Ya'll ain't never got two things that match. Either ya'll got Kool-Aid, no sugar. Peanut butter, no jelly. Ham, no burger". Story of my life! So I combined two of the ones I really liked. I just called it Chicken Dip, very original, right? I'm creative that way. Now, for the chicken, I boiled it and threw it in my Kitchen Aid mixer while it was still really hot, and it shredded up in a minute. (To whoever first came up with that idea and pinned it, I love you!!) Then I added everything else and just mixed it all up. And another tip...I don't buy shredded cheese anymore. An 8 oz block of cheese will shred up into at least one and a half cups. Way more cheese for your money! So for this I used about half the block. It really doesn't take that long to shred it yourself, and it's so much better for you, both health wise (no cellulose added to keep the shredded cheese from sticking, yuck, and saves you money!) It doesn't take the prettiest picture, but I've made it twice now and there are NO leftover. I recommend doubling the batch!

Chicken Dip

2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese
1 can HOT Rotel

Mix everything up and put into a greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Some DS goodness, a verse and two recipes (BBQ Slackpots and Spoon Bread)

DS - some people call it Down Syndrome. I call it Deluxe Sweetness! I got to spend some time today with some pretty deluxe sweet kids. Their parents could have adopted any old typical kid, but instead they upgraded to this DS perfection! Today was the first day I got to meet Samuel and Joseph Rhodes, who just came here last month. They are too sweet! Samuel strutted around the playground like the rock star he is. He doesn't just "give you five", he gives you about twenty. And Joseph, what a snuggle buddy! He loves to sit in your lap and just cuddle, which I could do all day!! 

This is Samuel:
And here's Joseph (Vaylo)

If that weren't good enough, the Rogers clan were there too! I can't get enough of these kids. Their parents are going soon to get their two newest kids, and could use some encouragement to help them get fully funded.   Here's the perfect example of what our help can do. This is Clare, their Ukrainian princess they brought home last year. She has THRIVED being in this family, just like Joseph and Samuel have in their family. 

These precious innocent children need a voice, and it needs to be ours.  Remember what Jesus told us:

"Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of God". Matt 18:3.

And what about these kids after they grow up? The fear of that is what prevents a lot of families from stepping forward to adopt kids with Down Syndrome. I can give you an example of that too. Darren is a man I know with DS, and he is right around 60 years old. He divides his time between his siblings. They have worked out a great system so that he can spend time with each of them. He spends most of his time out of state, but his sister lives near me, and he's here for several weeks. Tonight he was at church with his niece, great nephew, and great niece. I sat behind them after our bible class, and couldn't help but watch the way he was interacting with his great niece who is 8. You could just see the love he has for her and her brother. He put his arm around her and hugged her, gave her a kiss on the cheek. He's such a sweet friendly man, and has a great sense of humor. He grew up with siblings who loved him then, and love him now. He's not "the brother with DS", he's just their brother. As one friend put it a while back, someone asked her wasn't she putting a burden on her typical kids, knowing they would be the ones to have to take care of their siblings with DS. She said she hoped she wouldn't raise kids who would feel like it would be a burden to take care of their own family. 

And for the recipe:

We love BBQ Jackpots. If you don't know what they are, here's a link to one version. 

I normally make mine this way ^, but tonight I had leftover Spoon Bread batter in the fridge so instead of rolling out the canned biscuits and pressing them into the muffin pan, I mixed up the cooked ground beef and BBQ sauce and put it in my Deep Covered Baker. If you don't have one, they are awesome! (Click on the link to find the Pampered Chef adoption fundraiser for the Marble family.) Ok, so I put that stuff in, put some shredded cheese on top, and dotted the top with the spoon bread batter. It was so much easier. I guess my version would be called BBQ Slackpots, since I did it the slacker way. lol. And no, AGAIN, I didn't get a picture, because by the time I fixed supper, it was 9:30 and the hubby was about to perish with hunger (or so he acted) So, for the actual recipe:

BBQ Slackpots:
1.5 lbs of ground beef, cooked and drained.
1 cup of BBQ sauce (I actually didn't have enough BBQ sauce, so I subbed in some A-1, which was yummy)
1 cup of shredded cheese (adjust according to your preference)
1/2 cup chopped onion (optional)
2 cups of Spoon Rolls batter (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400. Mix together ground beef, BBQ sauce, and onion in a 2 qt casserole dish. (I don't spray mine, because I like the crunchy bits that stick to the side, but I'm weird that way. Feel free to grease the pan!) Sprinkle the shredded cheese over beef mixture. Dot the spoon bread batter over that. Don't put it too thick or it will take FOREVER to bake. Small dots! Bake for 20 minutes or until topping is brown and done. 

And for the Spoon Rolls, I found the recipe in the Southern Living All-Time Favorites cookbook. I'm intimidated by any recipe calling for yeast. My homemade breads usually turn out like rocks, even when I used a breadmaker. Operator error, every time. But when I found this recipe, I thought maybe it would work, because you don't have to let them rise. I made them night before last, with some cubed steak. The great thing about these is that it makes 14 rolls, but you can put whatever batter you don't want to use in the fridge, and it will keep for up to a week. So the first night I made 7 rolls, and they were good. I did screw up and used pizza crust yeast, which is not recommended for bread baking, but it turned out fine. The remainder of the batter I refrigerated in an airtight plastic container that screwed on. When I went to get it out tonight, it had risen and expanded as much as it could, and the top was bulging up. Very glad it wasn't a pop off lid, because it would have! So make sure you leave room for it to expand. They were actually better tonight!

Spoon Rolls:
1 (1/4 oz) envelope active dry yeast
2 c warm water (100-110 degrees)
4 c self-rising flour
1/4 c sugar
3/4 c butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Combine yeast and 2 cups warm water in a large bowl; let mixture stand for 5 minutes. Stir in flour and remaining ingredients until well-blended. Spoon into well greased muffin cups, filling half full. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.