Sunday, February 27, 2011

2011 Featured families #7

This week will be the last week of featured least until I get back. I have really enjoyed featuring other adoptive families and would love to continue this once I get back.Time will tell.....
Todd, Amber, Jay Tyler, and Leah Dufries

This week's featured family is Todd and Amber Dufries from West Columbia, SC. They have been married almost 6 years and have two biological children. Leah is 3 and Jay Tyler is 18 months. Todd works for US Foodservice and Amber has been a stay-at-home mommy for almost 2 years. They felt God calling them to adopt this past summer and prayed through the summer and fall about adopting and what country to adopt from and God led them to Ethiopia! To read the story about why they decided to adopt, read this entry here. On September 30, 2010, they were accepted into the Ethiopia program at AWAA and they were officially DTE on February 4. They are requesting a boy or girl age 0-24 months.

For a fundraiser, they are going to be having a big yard sale on March 12. If you live near by and would like to donate some items, they would LOVE to take them off your hands. I'm pretty sure they would be happy to take any monetary donations if you would like to send them as well. :-) Check out their blog here!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Employee of the Month!!!!!!!

I have known since about October 2003 that Garth is a FANTASTIC guy and I am so blessed to have found him. Today, though, I was thrilled to find out that his employer knows that also as he was awarded Employee of the Month for February! Smeal Fire Apparatus manufactures fire trucks that are sent all over the US and Canada. Garth works in the Engineering department as an electrical drafter. He draws up blueprints of the electrical system in each fire truck that goes out. Smeal has a monthly newsletter and in this month's newsletter was this note.

Employee of the Month
Garth Druckenmiller

Congratulations to Garth Druckenmiller who was selected as February 2011 Employee of the Month. Garth is a CAD Designer in the Electrical Engineering department. Garth has been with Smeal Fire Apparatus Co. for nearly four years. Daily job activities include creating, proofreading, and editing custom as-built drawing packets for every truck. Garth creates and updates custom drawings to support engineering and production staff. He also answers special drawing requests from customers as well as any questions from employee production. Garth is also developing training and tracking materials such as spreadsheets, databases, and PowerPoint presentations.

Garth was nominated by his foreman Mike Hansen who stated that “Garth’s attitude is outstanding! Garth always maintains a professional, pleasant and cheerful attitude. His accuracy and attention to detail are second to none. The harder the task, the harder he works. Garth is able to set his own goals and works very hard to achieve them”.

Garth grew up in New Jersey and moved to Nebraska when he met his wife, Carmen. Garth and Carmen currently reside in Oakland, and are in the process of adopting 2 boys from Ethiopia. While not at work Garth is an avid coin collector, he also enjoys reading, hiking, and fishing. Another past time Garth enjoys is being able to use his tools, fixing and making things around the house from woodworking to electrical.
Congratulations Garth for all your hard work and dedication.

Isn't that AWESOME! Congratulations Honey Bunny!

Prayer requests

I first want to say that I know there have been MANY, MANY people praying for us through this journey. I truly can feel them and thank you. As we get closer to leaving, I have several prayer requests that I would like to share with you. Feel free to pass these prayer requests on to all the prayer-ers you know because "the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective" (James 5:16). Also, these are not listed in order of importance. They are ALL important.

1.  Please pray that we can get all the stuff we need to take with us in 6 bags...four to be checked (maximum weight 50 lbs. each) and 2 carry-ons. I know that it seems we shouldn't need 200+ lbs of stuff, but considering that I may be there for 2 months, the weight adds up fast.

2.  Pray that we will will not be rushing around at the last minute getting things ready. Pray that both Garth and I will manage our time wisely so on Thursday night we can have a somewhat relaxing evening at home (well, as relaxed as we CAN be) before we head to the airport on Friday morning. (I know...some of you are saying "Is blogging spending your time wisely?" I can tell you that when you are asking for prayer is).

3.  Pray that there will be no travel delays. We will leave next Friday from Omaha and fly to Chicago and from there to Washington DC. We will stay overnight in DC and board Ethiopian Airlines on Saturday morning and arrive in Addis Ababa approximately 12 hours later at around 8:00 a.m. ET (Ethiopia) time. Addis is 9 hours ahead of us in the Central time zone.

4.  Please pray for my ears. I sometimes have severe ear pain from the pressure changes. It doesn't happen all the time but when I do have it, it usually brings me to tears. It can also take several days for my ears to quit popping after we land.

5.  I know that it is very unlikely that we will get very much sleep before we finally meet our boys but please pray that we get some. I don't want to be a complete zombie when I finally get to hold our boys in my arms for the first time.

6.  During the night of March 9 while you are sleeping, Garth and I will go in front of a judge telling him/her that we want to adopt our boys. He/she is going to ask us some questions like why we chose Ethiopia, have we met our boys and spent time with them, etc. Please pray for favor with the judge and especially that all documents will have arrived. We would obviously like to pass court that very day.

7. On Friday following court, we will be traveling down to the Sidamo region where our boys are from. This is about a 5-1/2 hour drive so pray for safety during that trip. We plan on going to the Shalom Home orphanage that our boys were at before coming to the AW transition home. Please pray that we will be able to talk to some kind of an administrator there to get more information about our boys. We will stay overnight somewhere in Awassa so we have as much time as possible to soak in the region that our boys lived for their first few years of life. Sometime on Saturday we will head back to Addis.

8.  Pray for Garth as he returns home alone the following week. Pray that he won't have any travel delays and that he will get home as planned. Pray for him as  he works on other projects around the house to get ready for our boys. Pray for both of us as we are separated from each other for the longest period of time ever since we got married 6 years ago.

9.  Pray that the boys will start bonding with us right away and that bonding will continue throughout our time together. Pray that we don't miss any opportunities to have "special" moments with each child that will help them learn that we will be there for them for the rest of our lives.

10. Pray that I will find the best guest home to stay at for the duration...whether that be staying at Yebsabi guest home or finding another guest home that will meet our needs for a lower price.

11.  Pray for my mom as she plans to come to Ethiopia when we get a confirmed Embassy appointment. Pray for safe travels for her with no delays.

12.  Pray that we will get a quick Embassy appointment and that there will not need to be further investigations into the adoption of our boys. If the US Embassy does decide to open an investigation, it can take up to 12 weeks to process...that's 12 weeks beyond the 4 that I will have probably already been there.

13.  Pray that I will know the exact right time to bring the boys out of the transition home (TH). I know that I had previously told you that once we passed court I would take our boys out of the TH to come stay with me right away, but Garth and I have made the difficult decision to NOT do this. As I think I mentioned in another post, there have been some delays with the adoptions of children from the Sidamo region recently. I will not be able to say in ET indefinitely and we really haven't planned on me being there more than 2 months. That said, if for some reason we still can't bring our boys home in a certain amount of time then I will have to come back home without them. Once we take the boys out of the TH they will not be able to go back in. So, while we are still praying and believing that I will be able to bring the boys home within that time frame, we need to be prepared that it won't happen that way. At this point my thoughts are that I will keep them in the TH until we have a confirmed Embassy date, but that means that I will only be spending about 4-5 hours a day with them. Also, they will still be depending on others to care for them when the whole purpose of me staying was for them to get used to ME and learning that I will care for them.

14.  After court, we will be meeting the birth dad of our boys. Please pray for all of us as this will undoubtedly be a very emotional meeting. There are so many questions that I would like to ask him but know that I won't be able to ask all of them, so please pray that I will know the RIGHT questions to ask. I would like to be able to video the meeting so we could potentially show the boys when they are older. Pray for healing for the heart of this brave young man who has made the very difficult decision to allow his boys to grow up with a family halfway across the world. I can't imagine the anguish he must have gone through to make this decision and it makes me cry just thinking about it.

15.  Please pray for fairly reliable internet access. Ethiopia is a 3rd world country so I know that it's not going to be like it is here, but Garth and I will be using Skype to stay in contact with each other while we are apart and I would like to have at least 5 minutes a day with him so we can pray together, see each others faces, and say "I love you." I have also been asked by several people whether I will be blogging while there and my answer is "I hope so." Mom and Garth have both agreed to post blogs for me if I can't do it so hopefully I'll be able to keep everyone informed of what's going on and of course once we pass court we'll be able to show all of you pictures of our handsome new sons!

16. (From Garth) Pray that Carmen puts full trust in our Lord Jesus Christ on things that will occur that may seem like mountains at the time. Help her to cope in a strange land after I leave.

17. Finally (and in my opinion most importantly) please pray for our boys J*** and S***. Pray that they will quickly learn that we love them and will be there for them in all circumstances. Pray that they will have as easy a transition as possible when I take them out of the TH and ultimately when we bring them home.

If you have made it to the bottom of this blog I thank you for your time. I know that the Lord has this whole process under control and that His way is perfect even if it doesn't look exactly how I would have it. We cherish all your prayers so please keep them coming.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New adoption shower pictures

My mom sent me some pictures that she took of the shower and some of them include people that I missed. Enjoy!

Garth, me, Josiah, Troi, and Esther Ellis

Troi and Esther Ellis, Donna Tompkins, Isaac Ellis, and Preston Fowler
Allen Tompkins, Sharon Schluntz, Bonnie Gangstad, Mary Kahler

Mary Kahler, Dolores Ricchini, Mary Kollar, Aaron DeWitt, Jennifer DeWitt, and Dianne Kelley

Garth, me, and Troi Ellis 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Great day for AWAA Ethiopia families!

I know I have said this before, but there are times where referral, court date, and Embassy date news seems to be at a standstill. That has been the case since about the end of January. These types of announcements have been trickling in very slowly. Well today that has ended! So far today on the AW Yahoo Group, FIVE families have been notified of their court date and one family received Embassy clearance! It is amazing what these days do for those who are waiting. Today's news was even more exciting for me because I have been e-mailing a couple families specifically over the months so knowing that they will be going to see their kiddos soon brings such gladness in my heart! The Grant family is adopting two boys who are also from the Sidamo region so we shared that bond. They received their referral on October 29 and have been waiting since then for their court date. The Weber family is also adopting two children who are unrelated. They received their referral for their son on November 4 and their daughter on November 10. Since we had referrals at around the same time, we have been keeping in contact with each other. Now I know that I will get to meet BOTH of these families in Ethiopia! Both of these families have court dates on April 5 and I'm sure I will still be there! YEAH GOD!!!!!!!

Now we just need to hear of some more referrals. If that would happen this week it would be one of the BEST WEEKS EVER!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Adoption Shower update!

On February 19, 2011, Garth and I were blessed to have an adoption shower hosted by Troi Ellis and family. The shower was held at Grandma Max's restaurant in Grand Island, Nebraska. It started at 11:30 and began with a delicious fried chicken buffet, mashed potatoes and gravy, mixed vegetables, pea salad, potato salad, and dinner rolls. I usually get pictures of the food at special things like that but I have to admit that I was slightly distracted that day and I didn't get very many pictures. I did have some people get pictures while we were opening presents and I did get a few pictures when we first got there, but I neglected to get pictures of all the people, the food, and the gift table. Oops! If any of the attendees have pictures of the shower, I would LOVE to receive them from you.

Anyway, after we ate, Garth and I shared a little bit about what led us to adopt and why Ethiopia. For those who don't know, I have wanted to adopt since I knew what it was and always wanted to adopt from Africa. In fact, Garth and I met through and before I ever talked to him in person I asked if he was open to adoption. I knew that God was calling me to adopt so I didn't want to waste my time on someone who wasn't open to that. Anyway, we were leaning towards either China or Ethiopia. We actually started the process to adopt from China in 2008 but we kept hitting roadblock after roadblock so we decided to wait for our 5-year anniversary and then start again. When we started again, China's wait time was like 5 years. Since we didn't want to wait that long we knew that the Lord was leading us to Africa and ultimately to our sons! Some of the reasons I was drawn to Ethiopia are listed on the side of this blog as well.

Following that little story, Troi had everyone share who they were and how they knew us since there were people who didn't know each other. There was actually one woman (Mary) who came with my friend Dolores that we didn't know but her son and daughter-in-law had adopted a little girl from Ethiopia so she wanted to come celebrate with us. I LOVED that! Not only did I make a new friend in Mary, but I was able to contact the daughter-in-law (who also lives in Nebraska)! I LOVE making new friends!!!!!

Next, we played a few games. One was a nursery rhyme fill in the blank, the 2nd was a hilarious game of Whatchamacallit and Thingamajig. That game is kind of hard to explain without demonstrating but it was really fun! For the 3rd game, Troi had two rolls of toilet paper and said that we were all going to Ethiopia and how much toilet paper would we need to take to be prepared. After everyone got their TP, she then said that everyone needed to give one piece of advice for every square that they took. Thankfully, I only took 2. :-) I really loved this because not only were there adults, but there were also kids from ages 9 to 20. I have listed the responses below.

Following all that good advice, we got to start opening presents! We had a LOT of really nice gifts which include clothes, books, a stroller, gift cards, flash lights, teddy bears (two were picked out by 10-year-old Aaron and are ADORABLE), band-aids, first aid kits, wipes, medicine, a thermometer, a children's Bible and cassette tapes with songs, backpacks, plastic baseballs, crayons, a sticker book, magic writer (like an Etch-a-Sketch), diapers, Cheez-its, washcloths, and toys. Everyone had a FANTASTIC time and we were so blessed. Thank you all so much who came. We really loved seeing all of you. Thank you especially to Troi and her family for scouting out venues, sending the invitations, and preparing for this shower. It means so much to us.

Advice received
Troi Ellis (aka the surrogate grandma): Don't be afraid to say "No", love unconditionally, have family mealtimes together around a table, remember that our boys will treat their wives the way Garth treats me (so be a good role model).

Isaac Ellis (16 years old): Give ice cream and candy, teach with actions, teach them that materials are not important, love God with all their hearts, be a friend to them.

Esther Ellis (9 years old): Don't give too much candy. Always carry a wooden spoon in the car (I thought it was hilarious that a 7-year-old would be saying that)!

Preston Fowler (15 years old): Always encourage them and show God through examples.

Josiah Ellis (11 years old): Love unconditionally, treat them as we want to be treated.

Donna Tompkins: Teach them to use magic words (please, thank you, etc.)

Allen Tompkins: Don't let the sun set without telling them you love them.

Sharon Schluntz: Love, pray, read, play, and encourage them daily.

Bonnie Gangstad: Remember there are no perfect parents, Mom and Dad should stand together, discipline, apologize, stay close, don't miss bonding opportunities, make a decision and stand by it, keep a sense of humor, have a monthly date. (She took a LOT of toilet paper!)

Mary Kahler: Have good bedtime habits.

Dolores Ricchini: Pray, give thanks in everything, don't use your hand to discipline...hands are meant to bless, listen to the Lord, listen to the kids.

Mary Kollar (My new friend): Sew seeds of what you want them to become, have patience, make sure we have friends to talk to/share with, laugh a lot.

Aaron DeWitt (10 years old): Don't give more toys than there is space for, read them books.

Jennifer DeWitt: Our words and actions should match, have good communication, have good bedtime habits (brush teeth, shower, etc.), tell them we love them every day, don't have too many activities going on, and encourage creativity.

Dianne Kelley: Have a sense of humor, teach responsibility, and things will be better tomorrow.

Linelle Kelley (aka Grandma): As stated by my nephew James Kelley, First Popcorninthians states parents should listen to their children. Be flexible, consistent, have fun, pray with them, teach them about the Lord.

Jonathan Ellis (20  years old): Be prepared for anything. Do things right the first time (as in do your best the first time instead of doing a partial job over and over).

Ellie Klassen (aka my big sister): Don't put them down.

Garth Druckenmiller (aka Dad): Dream big and have good work ethic.

Carmen Druckenmiller (aka Mom): Treat them the same as we would any biological children..make them feel like they were born into our family. Be the best Mom I can be.


Sharon Schluntz, Bonnie Gangstad, Mary Kahler, Dolores Ricchini, and Mary Kollar

Dianne Kelley, Linelle Kelley, Rick Klassen, Ellie Klassen, Garth Druckenmiller

Books and clothes from Grandma Kelley

More books and clothes from Grandma Kelley

Gifts from Grandma Kelley

Garth's favorite gift...his fave color is yellow!

Teddy bears from Grandma Kelley...apparently Garth wanted to hide

T-shirts and books

Bears that Aaron DeWitt picked out. The blue one says "You're a rare bear" and the green one says "You're a beary special friend"

Magic Writer-this will be a great toy for the plane!


More clothes and the Winnie the Pooh diaper bag!

Our boys are going to be so well dressed!

More clothes!

One of the backpacks we received from Stan and Troi Ellis

The other backpack...both were full of lots of stuff!

The ice cream cake...I wasn't quick enough to get a pic before it was cut.

Isaac, Josiah, and Jonathan Ellis and their friend Preston Fowler

Sunday, February 20, 2011

2011 Featured families #6

Kaylen and Tony Niehaus

This week's featured family is Tony and Kaylen Niehaus. They've been married for 4.5 years and live in Denver, CO. They’ve always wanted to adopt a child but never knew if they would have their own or adopt first. They felt God calling us to adopt last May and immediately started the process. They are hoping to be DTE soon and their heart already aches to meet their child! They’re so happy that adoption is how they will build their family first. Their life has changed drastically since May, in so many good ways!

Tony and Kaylen have 3 fundraisers...sponsoring puzzle pieces, Just Love Coffee, and t-shirts. 

Puzzle: Everybody who can sponsor a piece for only $5 and your name will be put on the back of the piece to show how many people helped to bring Baby Niehaus home. See the picture below. 

Just Love Coffee: Check out their coffee store and order some DELICIOUS coffee today! For every bag purchased, Tony and Kaylen will get $5 which will go towards their adoption expenses. 

T-shirts: Aren't these t-shirts adorable?  They are all chocolate brown with the choice of a pink or blue ink. They have S, M, and L in pink and M, L, XL, and 2X in blue. For a donation of $20, one of these t-shirts will be yours!!!!

Let's really bless them this week with some orders and/or sponsoring a puzzle piece!

Monday, February 14, 2011

In-Country Travel Package!

Some of you know that on February 8 all the families who have March 10 court dates had a conference call with Kristen (the AW travel coordinator) regarding our upcoming trip, what the schedule will be like, what to be sure to bring, etc. Ever since that call I have been waiting (not-so-patiently) to receive our in-country travel package and last Thursday it finally arrived! One thing we were wondering about was how much our in-country package would cost. Let me preface this amount that this ONLY covers the time that Garth and I are there together through March 13...not for my entire stay. The cost is.....$2129. This travel package covers:
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off
  • Transportation to adoption appointments
  • Transportation to planned sightseeing and activities
  • 3 group meals
  • Accommodations (including breakfast) at the Yebsabi Guest House
  • In-Country guide services
  • Processing fee
If we wish to do some sightseeing that isn't included in the package, we will have to pay those on our own. In the packet information, AW lists several English-speaking, Christian drivers that we can hire. Garth and I will be taking advantage of this service so we can travel down to the area that our boys are from...the Sidamo region. On Friday morning after visiting our boys at the transition home, we will be hiring one of those drivers to head down to Awassa. While down there we will be visiting the orphanage that our boys were at before relocating to the AW transition home and doing some sight-seeing. Since it is about a 5-1/2 drive one way, we will be staying overnight and then come back sometime on Saturday. Some of you may be wondering why we would leave do this instead of spending the time with the boys, but Garth and I both feel strongly that in the long run it will be better for them because while we are down there, we will be able to see the area that they lived in for a few years. We are also hoping to be able to speak with someone at the orphanage and possibly get more information about them. We will be able to get pictures of that area to put in their life books, the houses, the vegetation, etc. When we come back on Saturday, we will go back to the transition home and hopefully, if we pass court on Thursday, we will be able to pick the boys up and bring them to our guest home with us. If we don't pass court on Thursday, then they will have to stay at the transition home and we will spend as much time as possible with them.

One of the things that the travel package included are optional activities that we could do which I have listed here:
  • Spend more time at orphanages (in Addis Ababa)
  • Visit historic churches in Addis Ababa
  • Ethiopia National Museum-Home to "Lucy", ancient artifacts, and the occasional art exhibit
  • Museum and Library of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies-Museum in former palace of Hailie Selassie at Addis Ababa University campus. It displays artifacts of Ethiopian ethnic groups, musical instruments, crosses, and icons.
  • Addis Ababa Museum-A former royal residence located on Entoto Mountain, contains old ceremonial and official clothes, also contains a large collection of photos of the early days of Addis. 
  • Lion Zoo-A small and inexpensive zoo focusing mainly on Abyssinian Lions (black-maned)
  • More souvenir shopping-you can hire a driver to help you barter and find the best prices
  • Holy Trinity Cathedral-The interior is decorated by painting in both modern and medieval Ethiopian styles. It is the burial site of Emperor Hailie Selassie and his wife. It also houses a memorial to the first victims of the Derg regime (30 birr/person)
  • Visit the Fistula Hospital
  • Entoto Mountain-View of Addis Ababa from the top of the mountain, optional museum of a very old, traditional Orthodox church on the mountain; optional gift shop with bags and crafts supporting the women who carry heavy loads of wood down from the mountain for a living. 
Some of the planned activities that we can participate in include visiting 2 orphanages in Addis Ababa, shopping, and going to a coffee factory. Garth and I would like to go to the Lion Zoo and Entoto Mountain and I would like to visit the Fistula Hospital so hopefully we can do those as well.

The travel package also includes three churches that we are welcome to attend on Sundays while in Ethiopia. They include:

  • The International Evangelical Church-A diverse congregation from many nations, traditional services at 8:30 and 11:15 a.m.
  • Beza International Church-Lively worship, challenging sermons, aims to meet the needs of the country through the church body, 2-3 hour service starting at 9:00 a.m.
  • St. Matthews Anglican Church-Traditional Anglican service at 10:15 a.m., informal service at 5:00 p.m. 
I have to admit that the Beza International Church sounds like my kind of service with "lively worship" but I will probably visit each one while I'm there.

They also have an extensive list of restaurants they would recommend. The best part is they are separated out by food type.

  • East Dragon-Authentic Chinese
  • ZhongHua-Authentic Chinese
  • Gati-Thai Food

  • Castelli-Fine Italian dining-reservations required
  • Antica-Brick oven pizzas, past, and more
  • Il Camineto-Affordable 3-course Italian meal
  • Makush-Known for their Italian food and art gallery
  • Blue Tops-Sandwiches and pastas...great ice cream!
  • Top View-Blue Tops with a better view
  • Don Vito's-Known for good pizza
  • Pizza Deli Roma-Good pizza

  • Fasika-Ethiopian food and traditional dancing
  • Yod Abyssinia-Ethiopian food and traditional dancing
  • Heber-Ethiopian food and traditional dancing

  • Garden Paradise-Good BBQ chicken, kebabs, salads, burgers
  • Zebra Grill-Chicken wings, burritos, and more
  • Biergarten Inn-German and bar food
  • Loti-French food
  • Family Restaurant-Wide variety of food, known for their burgers, Mexican, and chocolate cake
  • Meda Sports Bar (dinner only)-Fajitas, fried chicken
  • Serenade-Mediterranean
  • The Chop House-Steak
  • Aladdins-Lebanese/Mediterranean
  • Lime Tree-Sandwiches, soups, salads, and the best chocolate cake
  • Melting Pot-Wide variety of food, salads, Mexican, pizza
  • Metro Pizza-Excellent pizzas

Coffee Houses
  • Enricos-Excellent cream puffs
  • Tamoca-Great coffee
  • Kaldi's-Ethiopian Starbucks
  • La Parisienne-Good coffee, croissants
  • Bilo's-Great ice cream cakes

Knowing these details made me even more excited to go! Obviously Garth and I are most excited about meeting our boys, but we are also very excited about getting to experience Ethiopia. I can hardly wait to smell the smells, hear the sounds, see the people, and learn as much as I can about the culture, history, traditions, etc. of the Ethiopian people. We will also be there together for Garth's birthday, so it will be FANTASTIC to be able to share that with the boys. YIPPEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2011 Featured family #5

Pam and Nate Maxwell

This week's featured family post is especially fun for me to write because Garth and I just spent the weekend with them in Iowa! Nate and Pam Maxwell are from Ankeny, Iowa. They have been married 6-1/2 years and are currently waiting for two siblings ages 0-4. Pam is a Pre-K teacher at Victory Christian Academy and Nate works at Wells Fargo. They currently have no children, but do have one cat, Oreo.

Pam and Nate started their adoption journey in March 2010 when they officially decided to adopt. They looked at agencies for the next month and chose AWAA in April. On May 5 they submitted their application to AWAA and on June 2 they were accepted into the Ethiopia program. They were able to get their dossier completed and were DTE on Christmas Eve! They are currently number 22 on the unofficial list of families wanting siblings age 4 and less.

Pam and Nate have several fundraisers and every Friday Pam writes a "Fundraiser Friday" post on their blog.

Lifesong Matching Grant: This is their newest fundraiser. Lifesong for Orphans will match any donation up to $3000 through April 15! I would love to hear that there are people out there who donated some of their tax refund to Lifesong for this family! For instructions on donating to this grant, click here. All donations are also tax deductible!

Soup Supper/Silent Auction: This coming Saturday, they are also having a soup supper/silent auction at Slater Baptist Church in Slater, Iowa. Some of the items that they will be auctioning off are: a Hair Bow basket, kitchen basket, 2 baby afghans, a Mary Kay basket, Edible Arrangements basket, and a Wellspring gift certificate. They will also be serving soup and desserts for everyone. Check out the details here.

Homemade cards: Nathan's sister Heidi got a group of creative and talented ladies together to make a wide variety of homemade cards. They made cards for birthdays, get well, wedding, sympathy, and general friendship (to name a few). The cards were put into 4-card packets. They are asking for a donation of $10 for each packet. Get the details here.

Faith and Grace Quilts: In October, a college friend, Karen, contacted Pam about doing a fundraiser for their adoption. Karen likes to make quilts and she wanted to make a quilt for both of their future children via donations from friends and family. How does it work? Well for a minimum $10 donation, Karen will make a quilt block. Each block will feature an appliqued star and no two blocks will be the same. On the back of the square she will put your name so the children will know who helped bring them home! For more details on this fantastic fundraiser, click here.

Just Love Coffee: Nate and Pam also have a Just Love Coffee website so get on over there and order some coffee. Click here to get to their store!

Soda cans: Pam and Nate started this fundraiser on June 18 and so far they have deposited 9570 soda cans/bottles! That is $478.50! If you live in the Ankeny/Des Moines area and would like to donate cans/bottles to them, contact Pam at They would love to take them off your hands!

Christmas ornaments: I know that Christmas is over, but who doesn't like homemade Christmas ornaments at any time of year? There are 5 left and you can get them for $10 each. Check them out here.

With all of these very unique fundraisers, I KNOW that you are going to be able to help them in some way. Right now they are fundraising for their referral acceptance fee, which is $9785. They currently have 43% of that amount. I would LOVE to see that thermometer jump to at least 50% of the amount by NEXT MONDAY! That would require donations of $706 total in a week... I know that we can do it if we try! So let's really bless Pam and Nate this week!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Feelings and roller coasters

When I was about 8 years old I was at an Aglow conference with my mom. There was a lady there named Karen (who has become a VERY good friend of mine) who had a baby daughter named Christa. I'm not exactly sure what brought the subject up, but at some point 8-year-old child...offered to baby-sit Christa. I think I really was surprised when she said no! That is the first memory I have of wanting to care for a baby. I finally got my first baby-sitting job a couple years later when my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Neil had their first cousin Sarah. Aunt Ruth and Uncle Neil ended up having 4 children with their youngest being born on the best day 16th birthday (I often say that my two favorite gifts that year were my driver's license and Paul). I had the privilege of baby-sitting Sarah, Natalie, David, and Paul and even though I may have taken Natalie's radio from her and put it up where she couldn't reach it, overall we enjoyed our time together.  When I went to college in Tulsa I got a work-study job at the daycare center that was affiliated with the college and I worked in the infant room. The summer that I stayed in Tulsa working I had several families that I baby-sat for and I loved EVERY MINUTE!

So why am I telling you this? To demonstrate how long I have loved children and dreamed of being a mom. Seriously, the only thing I have ever REALLY wanted to be was a stay-at-home mom. We are now under a month away from going to meet our boys and I have to admit that I am starting to freak out a little bit. I have had all these thoughts running through my head like "What if I screw up" (I know, I will), "What if they don't like me", "What if we don't bond", "What if they don't like the cats", "What if they don't like my cooking", "What if I FAIL as a mother?"

I know that all first-time parents feel this way but since I have wanted to be a mom for so long I really didn't think I would. Well I AM!!!! It's kind of confusing because there are many times that I feel pure JOY at being able to adopt these boys, but I also have moments of pure panic at the thought that we are going to be responsible for raising these boys. Our lives are going to completely change FOREVER...there's no going back. It's going to be like a roller coaster ride...once we get on and the train starts, we are in it until it stops. We will experience all the highs and lows, bends, flips, loopty-loops, etc. I know that becoming a parent will ultimately be the best thing ever and once I get those boys in my arms it will all become so clear, but right now I feel like I'm at the back of that roller coaster and I can't see what's coming thing is for sure, I know it will turn my life completely upside down. I'm sure glad I like roller coasters...

Pampered Chef February Fundraisers

It has been a week since we started the PC fundraisers and I would like to thank everyone who has participated. Since many of you reading this blog don't know the families who are having these fundraisers, I wanted to share a little more information about them. This week I will tell you more about Tim and Angi.

Tim and Angi Cooper have been married for 15 years in June and have been praying for a child for many years. They began their adoption journey last year and were DTE on August 19. In November, Tim had to leave his job and is still searching for another one. Angi currently works full time at Bloomington Hospital. They are both leaders in their church's Orphan/Adoption Ministry, Tim is a Deacon, and they can hardly wait to have a child to share their lives with. Tim and Angi will be using the money they earn from this fundraiser to pay for Aerie's ticket home. Will you help them? Click on the Pampered Chef picture on the right and enter Cooper adoption as the fundraiser.

Tim and Angi Cooper

Monday, February 7, 2011

2011 Featured families #4

For the first featured family post in February, I'm featuring two families again: Jeff and Katie Seevers and David and Erin Hurley.

Jeff and Katie are from Ohio and they have 4 children currently ages 12, 10, 7, and 2. They have a pretty interesting story about why they decided to adopt that you can read here. They even have a video so make sure to check that out on that same page. They officially decided to adopt in January 2010 after the Haiti earthquake. They started looking at different agencies and in May they decided to partner with America World and sent their application. They were accepted to the Ethiopia program in June and began to compile their dossier. They were DTE in December and are currently waiting for either siblings under 24 months or a single child under 12 months old. They have a couple fundraisers going on right now. The first is with Just Love Coffee that you can access here. They also have t-shirts for sale (which you can see in their picture above)! Jeff actually designed these t-shirts himself. They have children's sizes as well as men's and women's medium to XL. Order some today!

David and Erin Hurley are from North Carolina and they have two daughters who are described as having daddy's eyes and mommy's hair. They were comfortably living the American Dream when God began to move their hearts. Initially they had many excuses why they shouldn't adopt but after listing them, they realized that they were all selfish. Shortly after that they decided to adopt from Ethiopia. They were accepted into the AWAA Ethiopia program on March 30 and were DTE on October 1 and are requesting an infant 0 to 9 months old. You really need to check out their website because they have a lot of neat things on there including their fundraisers, information about adoption, their blog, as well as their story. Check it out here! They have several fundraisers which include t-shirts, jewelry, children's clothes, bibs, headbands, and even a denim tote with an Africa applique from a giraffe print on it! Click here to go right to their shop.

I would love to hear from these families that they got sales this week from at least one of their fundraisers. Will you help them bring their children home by purchasing something?

New page!

You might have noticed something new on our blog today...yes a new page for the Pampered Chef fundraisers! Judi, whose family will be having a fundraiser in March, had a great idea of having a separate page highlighting the families who are having a PC fundraiser so when people realize they need/want something from Pampered Chef, they can just go to that area to see who they can help support! So, take a look at the page and don't forget to help support their adoptions with a purchase!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

From My Heart You Came adoption book

Last December (I think) Heidi Ballard notified the America World YG of a book that she had written and another AW mommy had illustrated title "From My Heart You Came." Well today Heidi notified the YG that due to the overwhelming success of the book, she was GIVING AWAY an autographed copy of the 100th book! This book is about the thoughts and emotions of a mother's heart for her adopted child. It is written in a rhyming pattern and is created by hand. It is laminated so even after reading it thousands of times, it will be as good as new. My favorite feature is a pocket on the last page that you can put a picture of you and your adopted child(ren) in. Even though Heidi and Amy adopted from Ethiopia, it is appropriate for ALL adoptive mommies, no matter what country you are adopting from. I can't say enough about this book. All this week you will be hearing me promote this book because for every plug on Facebook and our blog, I will get an entry to win this book. Even though I already have one, I have wanted a second one so I could give it away to just the right adoptive mommy (who at this point is unknown). Check out Heidi's blog here about this book. Since I'm sure I'm going to win the raffle, you will probably just want to go ahead and buy it from her for $15 (which includes shipping). :-)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

One Less (pause music at bottom of the page)

OK, I have to admit that I have been avoiding this song even though I have heard about it for quite a while. I was avoiding it because I thought I would cry through the entire thing...which I did....but it's still a GREAT video that I wanted to share with all of you. Maybe it will inspire you to make sure there is one less...or two...or five!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pampered Chef online fundraiser parties!!!!!

UPDATE! For some reason the "shop now" link isn't showing up. The home office is in Chicago so that may be the reason. For now, however, you can still support these families.

1.  On the home page, click on "our products". It is on the left side in about the middle of the page.

2.  Shop!!!

3.  When you find the item you want, click on it to get to the quantity requested page. To the right of the quantity box, click on "How to Purchase."

4.  This will take you to the page that will allow you to enter the name of the fundraiser you want to support. Enter either "Anderson adoption" or "Cooper adoption".

5. After you select the fundraiser, you will be directed back to the item you wish to purchase. You can then continue shopping. You should see the fundraiser you selected at the top right of your screen listing the name of the fundraiser.

Hey everyone! I wanted to share that I now have a Pampered Chef website for those of you who like to shop online. Even better than that is that I have two PC fundraisers going on to get the website buzzing with purchases!

Tim and Angi Cooper are from Indiana and they are going to adopt a little girl who they will name Aerie. They are currently #8 for an infant girl between the ages newborn to 12 months old and #4 for an infant girl between 10 and 12 months old. They are going to be using the funds raised in this fundraiser for Aerie's plane ticket home.You can see their blog here!

John and Christina Anderson are ALSO adopting a baby girl who they will name Nora. They are currently #10 in the infant girl from newborn to 12 months old and will also use the money raised to help bring baby Nora home! Check out there blog here!

So, you're probably asking yourself how you can get your hands on some GREAT kitchen products AND help these wonderful families! Well on the right side of my blog there is a Pampered Chef link that will take you directly to my PC website. When you are done looking at all the specials that are on the home page, click "Shop Now" at the top right, which will take you to a page that allows you to choose what family you want to support. If you don't know either of them, then just pick one! They are truly wonderful people and deserve to get as much out of this fundraiser as possible! For Tim and Angi, you can enter Cooper Adoption Fundraiser in the space provided. For the John and guessed it...Anderson Adoption Fundraiser! Then shop! My new personal favorite is the Ultimate grates, slices straight or with crinkle cut, etc. When you are done shopping you can choose to either have the products shipped to Tim and Angi or John and Christina or directly to you.

These fund-raising shows will be ending on March 2 so I can close them before we leave to go get our boys. If you have ANY questions, don't hesitate to call or e-mail me. My information is on the home page. Enjoy shopping and THANK YOU!!!

Today I Kissed an Angel

Today I kissed an angel. I knew it from the start. The first time my angel smiled at me; I gave away my heart.

Today I kissed an angel; This angel child of mine. Though not of my creation, My child by God's design.

Today I kissed an angel. My heart is dancing wild; Our family, by a miracle; Blessed by our angel child.

All I Really Want by Steven Curtis Chapman