Monday, February 28, 2011

A Day to Save Olga

Hello everyone, I have a guest blogger here :-) Patti from "A Perfect Lily". She is a warrior, a mother, a child of God. Patti has a beautiful little girl named Lily who, like my Ellie, also carries that extra special chromosome. We are fighting to bring Olga home to her forever family. Please read Patti's plea. Please help us to bring Olga home, to the Abells who desperately love her. --Anna, the mother of Ellie

Dear friends,
So many of you already know this beautiful little face....


Olga turned five last month. She has spent the last five years in an orphanage in Eastern Europe, without the love of a mommy and daddy- simply because she arrived in life exactly as God designed her. One chromosome too many, and her fate was sealed from birth.


Sealed, because in Eastern Europe, babies who are born with Down syndrome are deemed unacceptable at birth. They are discarded as cast-offs of society, and when they turn five they leave the only home they've ever known...


And I wish I could say that for most of these children, leaving that home meant going to a place of safety, a place of happiness, a place where they would finally know the love of a family...know what it meant to be cuddled or sung to or read to, tucked in at night, prayed for, loved.

Instead, they are taken to a place that most people wouldn't leave their family pet.

A place of living hell, where they will never know the tenderness of a parent, never know the security of being raised in a family, and there they will stay, one ugly, pain-filled day at a time...until they die.


I read a post last December that stayed with me to this day. It was called from baby dolls to bedstraps.

The blog author wrote about Elizabeth, an orphan on Reece's Rainbow who had been transferred to a mental institution, waiting for a family to step forward for her. Her words still haunt me.

I wonder where she thought she was going as they led her out of the orphanage that day. Did she think that maybe it was finally her turn? That they were taking her to her forever Mommy and Daddy?

And when they instead took her inside that dreadful place, when they shaved her head and tied her to a too-small metal crib

when they turned their backs and



when they left her confused, terrified,

in a room where the wails of schizophrenic adults echo through the cold air

what was going through her young mind?

Did she wonder if she was being punished?

How long did she hold out hope that this was only temporary?

That any minute, they would come and take her back to the baby house

to her baby dolls and teddy bear,

to her best friend, Angelina?

Did she long to free her arms from the restraints

to cover her head with her hands to drown out

the scary noises

the scary sights

the scary smells?

That could be my Lily….

It could be your child.

And what if it were?

What if you woke up one morning

and by some hellish, twilight-zone twist of fate

your child wasn’t still tucked into that warm bed down the hall,

what if your child was trapped

across the dark sea

in that nightmare that is

the institution?





Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. Proverbs 24:11

Elizabeth is being rescued today, thanks to the efforts of that blogging mama, and others like her.

Olga is being rescued today, thanks to so many of gave so much and created such a large grant that a family was able to step forward and start the process of adoption.

The Abells have done so much already, towards rescuing Olga. I can't even imagine all the paperwork and prayer and emotion and finances that goes into an international adoption. They have done numerous fundraisers, and will continue to do so until they can bring Olga home.

Through the help of so many, a grant of over $13,000 has been raised for Olga's adoption. That grant is set aside for the final travel costs and fees that it will take to bring Olga home. It will take every penny of that and then some.

Right now the Abells are in need of raising the $7,000 that is needed to submit their dossier for Olga. Without that dossier we don't even know if Olga has been transferred yet. Here in America you just pick up the phone and ask these questions. But here in America we don't tie five year old girls to cribs to keep them from climbing out.

The Abells need to submit that dossier as soon as possible- at the very least to find out if she has been transferred already- because I know an army of prayer warriors who is going to want to know that piece of information as well. And at the very most, it could be able to hold Olga at the baby house until the Abells can rescue her. I wish I could say with certainty that she won't be transferred- truthfully we just don't know that.

Olga has been so heavy on my heart for months- friends, I want you to know that I DO trust that God has a plan here.

I prayed like crazy for a way to help the Abells. I truly believe that there is a network of people who love Olga here in blogland...a net that is woven by God and is stretching out across this blessed country we live in, and even beyond to generous hearts in other nations. I really cannot express enough how thankful I am to be a small part of what God has already done for Olga, Peter and Kareen. But I don't think our job is done.

Olga needs us.

I don't want her to spend one more forsaken day in that place than she has to.

We're not doing a giveaway here today. I don't even think we need to do one- I know so many just have a heart to help and to give, and prizes were never the real reason we all gave anyway.

So I'm just asking- for one day- for you to do whatever you could to help Olga. Whether that's $10 or $20 or even a hundred...if you are able to help raise this money for the dossier, please do so HERE...

This is the link for the Family Sponsorship Page on Reece's Rainbow
...every single dollar goes to the Abell's adoption fund, and every single dollar will help.

We're calling this A Day to Save Olga, because there are about 17 of us blogging mamas who have set aside this day to blog, post on Facebook, pray, give and spread the word to SAVE OLGA.

Will you help us?

I know you will:)




Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thankfulness, "In", and Faces of Ellie

I do not have too much to say this go around.  Shocking, I know!  It has been a busy week which ended up with me hanging out in the ER on Wednesday afternoon/evening.  Not to fear.  Everything is okay. nothing was found wrong. Yet I have now bought myself an appointment with a cardiologist.  Oh goody. It seems that pesky family medical history is out to haunt me.

It feels odd. . .me going to the doctor because it is usually Ellie.  The statement I just made is not something I want to contemplate right now. . . like about the fact it is starting to seem so normal that it is my little girl who visits specialists all the time.  Little kids aren't supposed to need specialists.

It is time for: "The Many Faces of Ellie"

Why hello everyone!  I am so excited that you visited Mama blog.

I want to show you all of my molars.  They wake me up at 4am every morning.
My Daddy calls them 'iceburgs'.  Chomp. Chomp. 

This is my "carefree" look.

Ellie the Rockstar!

Yep, that is a snack trap in the photo above.  Remember back when I was working in vain to get Chicka-Boom-Boom to put things IN a bucket or bin?  Not a problem anymore.  Well, unless it involves cleaning up her toys.  Her hand will hover over the toy-box, but Ellie Bear will not drop it [toy] in.  Stubborn little Bear.  Nonetheless, I was all excited (and proud and beaming) because she figured out how to get her puffs out of the snack trap.  She would grab one and a few others would go flying out, ricocheting off of the high chair and whatnot, but still fine motor skill development!  Now she is putting the plastic egg from her play kitchen among other things into random containers and boxes.  Like how I couldn't find her shoe and it was in the diaper holder. . .  

It has been gorgeous the past few days.  As a part of battling my current depressive state, I have made it my mission to spend some time outdoors everyday.  Even if it is just for 5 minutes.  Even if it is 30 degrees like it was a few weeks ago. There is something about the sun that is so good for the soul.  I notice that it can quickly calm a Miss Cranky Pants Bear-Bear in seconds--hence the multiple trips to our mailbox to "check" for mail.  Little does the Bear know that mail doesn't arrive on Presidents' Day or Sundays.  Shhh.  I am not going to tell her.  For now, the mailbox is magical.

You see that!  It looks like she might have some reddish highlights in her hair :)

Speaking of depression, I will be writing another post on that soon.  (Previous posts can be found here. here. and here. Oh and here.)  I forgot to blog my latest Thankful Thursday. Everyone has been so unbelievably kind and supportive.  I have discovered that I am not alone in this and I would like to believe that blogging about depression and anxiety can help dissolve the unnecessary stigmas related to mental health issues.  It is a difficult topic to discuss and I know that many people have their own opinions on the matter.  

A Quick Belated Thankful Thursday:
1. That I did not have a heart attack or pulmonary embolism on Wednesday.
2. That my husband is very smart when it comes to electronics.   Like reprogramming iPhones.
3. The smell of Ellie's baby shampoo.  Instant stress release aromatherapy.  
4. Barnes & Noble
5. My household Zoo: my four-legged and two-legged lovies


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Questioning Expectations & Walking with Push Toy

I am often told to have high expectations, but not unrealistic expectations.  That line is fuzzy for me when it comes to Ellie.  I am a "shoot for the stars" kind of girl. Determination. Ambition. Overachiever.  Those three words have been frequently used to describe me.   Just where is that line of pushing Ellie hard enough vs. unrealistic?  I do not know.  Will I ever?

Life is also a big checklist for me, which in turn translates to my child meeting those developmental milestones.  Standing unsupported. Check.  Drinks through a straw.  Check.  Uses a pincer grasp.  Blank box.  Life is not a checklist.  It isn't a competition.  I must stop comparing. This mental checklist of mine is getting thrown into the trash.  Right now.

Life is a journey with sharp turns, rocky bumps and sparkling rivers, wildflowers.  It is important to push through the bumps and turns, but to enjoy the rivers and wildflowers.

In theory, Ellie has taught me to take things slowly.  Well, slower.  I have discovered that with Ellie, gross motor skills are not slow.  She is a motivated, determined go-getter like her mother (and father).  She doesn't have time to sit still and learn how to use a spoon or point to flashcards because she is too busy trying to walk.  Yep. Walk!  My Super Ellie!  Okay, one last checkmark.  Walks with push-pull toy.  Check.  Burying the checklist right now.

We were walking down the driveway to get the mail. . . 

Then she just veered off and went into Max's yard.

Recently, I was beating my head against a wall because "why can't Ellie just look at these cards and point to the dog?"  After all, I see other, younger kids with Ds do it.  "Why will she not point to her ears?  We see ENT all the time she should know where her ears are or perhaps how to point".  This type of thinking does not do anyone any good.  Definitely not for Ellie.  She is a motor superstar right now!  The other things will come in time when ELLIE is ready, but right now my little girl has set her goal and is focused on it.  She doesn't have time for the other things.  And that is okay.

Well, let me just remove these pesky shoes.
Everyone knows the Bear-Bears go barefoot.

Check out my flexibility

Believe me, I know how the above paragraph sounds and I am ashamed of some of these feelings.  I love my Ellie.  I am SO very proud of my Ellie. She is a fighter who has taught me so much in her short little life.  Ellie has defied every one's expectations.  She is beautiful, smart, and a joy to everyone.  I truly am a proud mama bear who fully intends to encourage Ellie in anyway that I can.  Who will stand up for her.  Who will challenge her.  Who will be her #1 supporter and biggest cheerleader.  I will be with her every step of the way. . . wherever those steps may lead.

Adding a little round-a-bout to the journey.

Singing my mantra: Ellie will do things when Ellie is ready.  When she does, it will be that much more wonderful.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dispelling the Myth-Always Happy

Lately, I frequently (as in almost daily) hear from strangers that people with Ds are always happy.  The thing is, I cannot get angry because I was guilty of having the same misconception.  However, now that I am knowledgeable, I would like to think that I can help educate others when the opportunity arises.

A complete 180 in 2 seconds.

Strangers at Target and the supermarket, park, etc look at Ellie's beautiful smiling face and say "they are always happy aren't they?"  These people with innocent intentions phrase it as a question yet when I say "nope, same feelings and emotions as everyone else." I get the strangest response "but they are always happy."  Um, okay so much for enlightening others.

Here is all that I have to say to those who doubt me:

Come over to my house between 2pm-5pm and witness Ellie staring as Miss Cranky Pants in the daily production of "The Witching Hours at the Theurer's".  Come and enjoy  Ellie's perfect imitation of Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin.  I am relative positive that just 20 minutes in my household during the aforementioned time will cure anyone of the belief that "they are always happy".

Ellie is a child just like any other 46 chromosome child.  She knows fear, separation anxiety, love, humor, pain, and most of all anger and frustration.  My Aunt Peggy had profound depression when her mother/my grandmother went to Heaven.  So, no, our blessed population of the extra special 47 chromosomes are not "always" happy.  However, I would like to think that Ellie's jovial nature come from Andrew and from the fact that she knows she is loved.

Let's end on a happy, exciting note since the previous pictures make my mommy heart cry.

Apparently I need to keep the bathroom door shut as toilet paper does not make a very fashionable boa. Nor is it fun to clean up.

I see you Amelie and Sophie.  Must be Ellie's accomplices.

My dog just cracks me up.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kids and Animals: Pet Therapy

Often times I read about people wondering if they should introduce an animal into their home with a baby/toddler/kidlet.  Or how their furbabies will react to a baby.  I do not have a definite answer as each child, family, and pet is different, but I would like to think that pets would enhance family dynamics.

They certainly have ours.

Many times, Andrew or I can be heard shouting "Amelie, stop chasing your sister!".  Amelie is a cat.  Or "That's it, you are in time out, missy".  Also to the cat or the dog.

Our beautiful only child who will most likely be completely and utterly spoiled for the entirety of her life.

I will tell you that Ellie is our 1st and only child.  She will be an only child.  Yet, her "siblings" provide a source of companionship, support, and motivation that even I, as her mother, can not give.  Such is the special bond between a child and her pet(s).

3 of my babies "playing" nicely together. Amelie, Sophie, Ellie

We have 3 four-legged babies.

Tama is a bit camera shy. . .and Ellie shy.

Tama is my all black kitty with serious cattitude who was found wondering an ACME parking lot in Camden, NJ.  Camden is in the top 5 for most danger cities in the United States.  Tama survived the streets and still has a bit of teenage angst that became very pronounce when I up and moved to Austin, TX.  She tolerates her siblings and shows a vague interest in Ellie.  Actually, Ellie can pull her tail without hissing.

Amelie guarding a newborn Ellie Bear

We rescued Amelie immediately upon returning from our Germany honeymoon.  She is a spunky, talkative (yes, she "talks") kitty who enjoys tormenting Tama.  Chasing her all about the house.  Up the cabinets and cornering her on top of the refrigerator.  Amelie spends a lot of time in time out.  In the guest bathroom.  Where she will unroll the toilet paper and then nestle herself on-top of that unrolled TP.  She is a strange, yet amusing cat.

Just look at how little Baby Bear was!  Oh and those chunky arms.  Rolls!

Now Sophie is another story all together.  First off, she is a puppy.  Yet she thinks she is a cat.  We adopted Sophie when I was 5 months pregnant.  At the time, I was extremely stressed and many people deemed me a bit insane to allow Andrew to get a puppy.  A PUPPY.  Border collies are smart.  Very smart and fast learners.  I was pregnant and becoming even more large, uncomfortable, and well pregnant.  I had to train Sophie while very pregnant.  Talk about stress.  Sophie and Ellie are buddies.  I look back on that time and have come to realize that Andrew had it right.

Many people have asked me if Sophie herds Ellie as borders are known for herding small children.  It is in their nature.  My answer is: no, she herds the vacuum cleaner and the rolling garbage can.

You might have noticed that Sophie's tail, paw, or entire body appear in my Ellie photos.  In the background, there she is, with her bone, ready for Ellie to "throw" it for her.  They try to play fetch.  Sophie licks Ellie's face (eew puppy make-out session) and does not seem to care when Ellie uses Sophie's Pantene Puppy Fur to pull to a stand.  Sophie waits outside Ellie's bedroom door until Toddler Bear is asleep.  Sophie's and Ellie's special bond is most apparent when it is Sophie's dinner time.  I must keep Ellie out of the way or else Sophie Dog backs away to allow Ellie to "eat" her food from the bowl first.  Hello Ellie the alpha!  Do not worry, dear friends, I do not let my child eat dog food (I just let her chew on the dog bone for antibodies and teething).  Although there are worst things she could eat. . . well, maybe not since oat is a filler in dog food.  Evil allergy!

Box = Ellie's walker.  Tail = Amelie "hiding" in the box.
Meow! I bet you can't see me.
What is it with cats where they think they are "hiding" behind a curtain or piece of furniture yet their tail and hindquarters are still hanging out?

I know there is a kitty kitty in here somewhere.

Nothing motivates Ellie more in her therapy, I mean baby bootcamp, oops playtime than Sophie Dog and the Ame cat.  So when people worry about their animals, I want to say "don't be!".  My furbabies are a part of the family.  Ellie was the intruder and they have accepted her.  Ellie learns from them.   We are truly one big, zany family.  I just cannot wait until Ellie is old enough to feed the animals, let the dog outside, and take Sophie for walks.

Welcome to our zoo!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Art Therapy

**I intended to post this back on 2/11, but I just kept making crafts and then life got in the way. . .so here it is, a few days late.**

The return of the Sassy Pants!
That is dear Fiona on the left.  Don't you just want to eat her up?!

Disclaimer: I enjoy being crafty, but I am not creative on my own.  I try to sew (only bags and table runners because that is all I can do) and attempt various projects, but the idea must come from a pattern. Even then, I need step-by-step directions with pictures to even understand/conceive the project. Many of my crafty creations were sparked by other people's projects.  Thank you Jessica, Becky, MOYC, & NAMC.

Doing some important reading.  She can read upside down.  She is that GOOD.

My little Angel

My therapist is a huge supporter of my sewing.  Apparently, it helps alleviate some of my anxiety. . .unless my machine is giving me attitude or I end up with jagged pieces of paper/fabric.  Then, I become peeved and frustrated.  Anyway, this concept of art as therapy is great because I can tell Andrew that I need this scrapbooking paper, fabric, scissors, etc for my mental health.  Literally, I need it :-)

Ellie preparing to build her city. . .well more like knock it down.

Building the City of Bear-Bears

Taking a break from all of that building to "snack" on a leaf.

This building is HARD work.

Last week, I have made it my coping mission to get out of the house for something fun every day.  I succeeded for the most part, but it was really hard.  Difficult, actually.  Thursday and Friday I was so close to saying "nope, I cannot, will not do it".  However, I had told my friends I would be going to the mothers' club events and I felt that I could not cancel on them last minute.  My thought is it is rude to cancel without a good reason and it is healthy for Ellie (and me) to be out and about.

The thing is, once I was out and about, I did well.  It felt GOOD to be with friends.  Plus, we were crafty!

Kids Crafts at NAMC:

Friends Getting Crafty

Contact paper, torn tissue paper, paper flowers, and glitter.

Creative Valentine's Day cards at one event.

Did I mention that I LOVE Target's $1 section?  Mailbox, glasses, etc.

Painting wine glasses at another.

Have I mentioned that I LOVE IKEA.  Oh and experimenting with Photoshop

Clearly I am not Van Gogh or Michaelangelo, yet I had a great time nonetheless.  Now, if some one could just tell me how to get the paint of my shirt. . .and pants.


On a side note, Nelda was giving 10 minute massages at one of our meetings.  It was awesome!  I could just feel the tension leaving my body and my anxiety levels dropping.  Many studies suggest that massages are good for you--they stimulate circulation and the lymphatic system.  Thus, your immune function is improved.  Plus, you feel pretty happy afterwards.  If you are interested in massages, I have Nelda's contact info.

A mask for kids with Down syndrome

Do you hear crickets?  Yes, we are here!  We are alive!  We are safe and healthy!  We haven't been inside a restaurant or store since m...