Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Six Day Miracle-Guest Blogger Patti Rice

Many of you may recognize little Charlotte in this post for she has been featured on The Chronicles on Forget-Me-Not Fridays.  Her family (the Dirkes) is getting ready to travel soon and they need our help.  Also, take a look at the pictures for you may just recognize sweet Francine being united with her family!  Mountains are being moved!  Please read the below guest post by Patti Rice from A Perfect Lily and learn how you can be a part of "the Six Day Miracle".


I read the words of a friend last night, and as is typical of posts written by mamas rescuing their babies from orphanages across the world, it cut me to the heart. I read it with my girl tucked safely in the crook of my arm, her golden head laying softly against my neck, and I gulped back hot tears trying to read the words out loud to Sam.

"You read it," I said, because I knew it was pointless to go on.

There is something beautiful and powerful about mamas and daddies sacrificing finances, time, and energy to rescue a child who is going to require extraordinary amounts of care and effort once they are home. There is something amazing and rare about families who will put everything on the line, including and especially their hearts, for a child who by the world's standards is broken. There is something pure and noble and absolutely right about that kind of love- the love that says it doesn't matter what it takes, I am going to rescue this child, and nothing is going to stand in my way. The love that faces seemingly insurmountable costs and mountains of paperwork and risks what family and friends will think about traveling across the ocean to save a child you've never met before, one that many people might say wasn't really "fit for life" in the first place.

So when I read this mama's account of the very first time she met her little girl- it didn't matter that I've read several dozen similar stories- they get me every time. I want you to read this account, that of a mama rescuing her daughter. I want you to listen to the words spoken by a five year old little girl...

...and if you're a parent, imagine your child saying them...

About 5 minutes in, the door opened and someone pushed our girl in the door and shut it.

She was stunned. It seemed she had not been made aware of what was happening or why, and she regarded us quizzically at first. We were stunned.  The picture had turned in to a person! My mind was literally swimming, I could not remember a.single.word. of Russian. I couldn’t remember how to greet her, or how to tell her she was absolutely gorgeous, or how to say I am your Mama.  Nothing. Just complete shock.

Then I remembered I had a Disney princess doll in my bag to give her. I pulled it out, and she smiled.  I asked if she wanted to sit on my lap, and she did.  The director and doctor began talking again, but all I could do was stare at the sweet, brown pigtails swishing in front of me. Her little hands turning the doll over, as she began to speak a little bit.  She began to realize what was happening.

We were there FOR. HER.

Our sweet little Vi.

She looked up and asked me “What is your name?” in Russian.  I told her “Lora. Mama.”  She looked straight to Dean, “What is your name?”  He told her “Dean. Papa.” She looked to the director and smiled “Mama! Papa!”

Everyone was absolutely beaming, and perhaps had just a glint of tears in their eyes.

“I kept asking for you!! Mama? Mama? Mama? When will you come??” she said, according to our translator. 

Five years is a long time to wait for this.

Or this...

Or this...

I can't imagine Lily never knowing the security of having a mama to tuck her in every night, to hold her when she's hurting or comfort her when she's sad, never knowing how it feels to be desired and loved.

I can't imagine what goes through a little girl's mind for five years, wondering when her mama will come take her home, waiting for the day she will walk through the doors of her orphanage, dreaming about that elusive, imaginary angel....

Mama? Mama? Mama? When will you come??

Yesterday I received an email from a friend...another amazing mama who traveled last year to rescue not one, but two children.

I wanted to see if you could help me out by posting on your blog about the Dirkes family. You see she contacted me today just heart broken and at her wits end. Her faith is shaken and my heart has gathered her burden. She leaves in one week. Yes, 7 days and she still needs at least 7k for this trip. Grand total is still about 17k. I am asking for your help because I was in her shoes not long ago and it is heart wrenching. It takes all you got to get through a day. The tears seem to never end. You pray there will just be one person who hears your cry. You pray until you have no words left just hoping someone will help. Patti, financially I cannot help her, I have made donations but not nearly enough to help. I have heard her cries and I cannot just sit back and hope she gets her funds. Her daughter Charlotte holds a special place in my heart; she was the one I would of chosen if we didn't choose Varvara. So, this leaves me to contact people who I know can help. Please go to her blog and see if you can help. Post a story, anything you can think of....
Ann Plummer 

I went to Ann's friend's blog, and recognized a sweet little face I donated to a few months ago...and again a few days ago, in honor of another friend's birthday wish. Little Charlotte met her mama and daddy last November. They are traveling in six days to see her again, and go to court to make her theirs.

Six Days. 

 Six days to make a miracle happen.

Do you think we can do it?

With God's help, I believe we can.

Charlotte's mama, Kelly, emailed me yesterday, after I said I would do everything I could to help.

There are no words to thank you and the others who have stepped up and spoken out for us and for my girl. I knew this journey would give me the opportunity to learn a great deal about being a momma and about Down Syndrome...but I didn't know just how strong this community is.

Well, Kelly- you're about to find out. I say that not because I have confidence in Lily's blog, or in my own words, but because I serve a BIG God. And I'm part of a faithful and generous community, one who rallies around its own.

Charlotte is our own, friends.

 She's been waiting for her mama all of her life, waiting and hoping for someone to come and take her home.

“I kept asking for you!! Mama? Mama? Mama? When will you come??”

 Lily's readers have responded so many times to the needs of orphans. You've given so much to help these families find and rescue their children. Will you help me again?

Will you help us make a six day miracle happen?

Will you help save a little girl?

Because Charlotte is our own.

I know Lily's readers, and I know it doesn't even take a giveaway to move you beyond compassion, and into action. I know the face of one beautiful little girl who desperately needs her mama is enough to move you to give.
But a giveaway full of amazing prizes is always nice too:)   (and thank you, Kelly, for letting me hijack your giveaway!)

Here's how it works....

1 chance=$10 donation

5 chances=$25 donation

20 chances=$50 donation

All donations are tax-deductible and go directly to the Dirkes's grant fund through Reece’s Rainbow.  They can be made using the Chip-In at the top of my sidebar on the right.

Canon Rebel DSLR camera (with lens)

Petal Knot Dress from Willow Bean Creations

Custom made t-shirt from If You Say Sew

Starfish necklace from The Vintage Pearl

Pearl, bracelet, and earring set from Kay Jewelers

Insulated Tote from 31

Autographed copy of Alton Brown’s book “I’m Just Here for the Food”

Autographed “Hopkins” from Rachel Coleman of Signing Time

$150 gift card for Kimberly Wilson's TranquiliT (an amazing line of clothing for anyone who loves yoga...or comfort)

$50 gift card for Planet Jill

$50 gift card for Scentsy

$50 gift card for Hanna Andersson

$50 gift card for Target
$25 gift card for The Adopt Shoppe

$25 gift card for Wal-Mart

$25 gift card for Starbucks

$25 gift card for Olive Garden

A jar of Renee Tam’s famous toffee

A batch of oReshki, traditional cookies from Charlotte’s country

Kelly sees who donated on her chip-in, so you do not need to leave a comment to be entered to win. She will announce winners on her blogon February 6th, the day they leave to see Charlotte....

We need that chip-in to be at $13,300 for the Dirkes family to travel on February 6th.

I believe in miracles.

Do you????

Sunday, January 29, 2012

ABA Therapy: Learning to Talk, Improving Behaviors

This is what Ellie has been doing during her Applied Behavior Analysis [ABA] therapy:

ABA therapy is commonly used in working with children who have Autism and has more recently been implemented with children who have sensory integration issues and developmental disabilities.   This type of therapy works on behaviors, social cues & interactions, as well as communication.  Surprisingly, Wikipedia has a really in-depth and accurate outline of ABA therapy

The Bear attends ABA therapy twice a week and I have to say it has been by far the most beneficial type of therapy for her.  

First off, Ellie loves her therapist Miss L.  The Chunky Chicken is so excited that when we arrive that she often drops her lunchbox, claps her hands and says "yay".  She is so excited she can barely get inside the door.  

Secondly, I have seen huge gains in both communication and behavior.  Ellie has most recently started pointing.  She imitates sounds and hand gestures.  She no longer throws her plate or cup.  She can match objects.  She can walk through a room filled with toys and be minimally distracted.  She will actually sit in a chair to complete a task.

Here are a few of Ellie's goals:

1. Improved speech--making sounds, mimicking sounds
2. Learn to point to express desires
3. Increase attention span
4. Decrease distractibility
5. Improve social interaction such as increased eye contact and motor imitation
6. Sensory Integration
7. Decrease mouthing behaviors

Our therapist provides me with a very detailed outline on how to achieve the above goals.  One of the tools we use to help Ellie practice vocalizing sounds is the above video.  Ellie (and many other kids) LOVE watching themselves-whether it be in a mirror or in a video.  Ellie watches the above video and actually mimics what she hears.  It is fabulous and wonderful and makes Mama Bear proud.


A Smile as Big as the Moon

Alright everyone, it is time to set those DVRs for there is a new Hallmark Hall of Fame movie on tonight on ABC--A Smile As Big As The Moon.

Yes, sometimes, okay most of the time, these Hallmark movies are a tad cheesy, but given all of the crime, war, and drama going on in this world today, it is time to watch a feel-good movie and well, feel good.

So cozy on up and grab some bonbons!

Here is a brief synopsis from their website:

Mike Kersjes is the name of a real special-education teacher (and football coach), in Michigan. Mike doesn’t talk down to his “special” students. He respects them, and he believes they’re capable of achieving great things.
Mike hears about Space Camp, a competitive education program at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Even though it’s designed for gifted science students, Mike decides participating in the summer program would do wonders for the self-esteem of his young students, one especially who wants to be an astronaut.
He faced incredible obstacles in trying to make his improbable dream become an inspiring reality. At first, school administrators refused to buy in. The folks who ran the camp were less than encouraging; they’d never had a group of special ed kids apply before. Trying to raise the money to pay for the trip was a nightmare. The kids even put on a carwash!
But it was after they were finally given the green light that the real challenge began. How to get kids with Down syndrome, Tourette’s, learning disabilities and emotional problems to leave their baggage behind, to coalesce into a team, and to tackle a bunch of extremely smart students from top schools around the country?
After 9 months of rigorous training preparation the class molded itself into a working team where they turned in a performance so startling, so surprising that it will leave you breathless.
Mike Kersjes had an impossible idea. Yet he made it happen. A truly triumphant story of the power of the human spirit. You won’t want to miss it!


Friday, January 27, 2012

Forget Me Not Friday: Feeling defeated

Sometimes I feel so defeated because when I check my blog stats, these Reece's Rainbow posts are the least frequented.  Does anyone read these Forget-Me-Not posts?  Instead of incessantly worrying if I am annoying all of you with these faces of orphans and requests for saving up change, I think, what if?  What if, just once, someone sees their child on here?  Or what if, the right person sees this week's give away and helps the Sader's bring Charity home?  There are a lot of what ifs and it is these what ifs that keep me forever blogging on Forget-Me-Not Fridays.  Plus, I know of a very exciting, never-before-done give away coming up.  Do not worry, for I will be sure to give the details when the time arrives.

These children below are all in desperate need of a home.  By now, you are all aware that children in Eastern Europe with special needs such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Apert's syndrome, and other needs are sent to orphanages and later, mental institutions because they are valued as less than worthy.  If you want to learn more, please click here.


Bogdan B.




Facing Transfer to Mental Institution



Seven Snippets Friday

The Sever Snippets Friday blog hop is sponsored by my cyber bubby Andi at Bringing The Sunshine.

1.) Toddler bear has another ear infection.  She is getting her 3rd set of ear tubes today.  Goody.  You can see that she doesn't feel well.

2.) The Descendants has been nominated for multiple Oscars and it greatly saddens me that a movie that has:

Matt King ( Clooney): You are so retarded

Sid (Nick Krause): That's not nice.  I have a retarded brother

Sid : I'm just kidding.  I don't have a retarded brother. Sometimes when old people and retarded people are slow, I just want to make them hurry up.

as its dialogue is regarded so highly.  Yes, I know that the book does indeed have those very words in them, but come on! you would think Hollywood would be smarter than that to put those offensive, ignorant words in their movie.  Still, apparently the public must not care as this movie is receiving a great honor in the just nominations alone.  Am I the only one saddened by this?

3.) At the pediatrician's office this week, one of the ladies in the waiting room asked me if I was expecting.  You know.  As in pregnant.  No, I am not pregnant.  I am just overweight.  I had a baby 2 years ago and I am still carrying a spare tire around my waist.  Working out and eating somewhat (kind of sort of) right just don't cut it.  Perhaps I need to push myself more.  Still, what kind of person thinks it is okay to ask unassuming women if they are pregnant?

Actually, I look sort of like a chicken-skinny arms and legs, thick middle.

4.) Since we are on the subject of weight, the Ellie Bellie Bear is having the opposite problem.  She lost some weight.  We were referred to a dietitian who after reviewing Ellie's food diary declared that she is getting 133% of her calories met.  We went back to the pedi a week later for the above-mentioned ear infection and it looks like she gained 2 pounds in 1 week.  Me thinks their scale is inaccurate.  Me thinks The Bear moves too much on the scale.  I am assuming that Ellie has neither gained nor lost weight and I am not worried.

5.) We have a significant mold problem in the bathtub/tile of the master bath.  So significant that I have forbidden Andrew from showing in that cesspit of a bathroom.  I go into the bathroom yesterday to clean only to discover not only large dust bunnies in the bathtub, but also magazines.  That's right, my husband has turned our tub into a huge magazine rack.  I told him that is so white trash.  His response. . . "nope, we are off-white trash."

6.) Andrew, Ellie, and I are traveling to Long Beach, CA soon to visit Andrew's father.  I have only met him once and that was before we were engaged.  I am nervous.  What if after this visit he thinks "I cannot believe my son married this woman!"?  I am also nervous about taking Toddler Bear on the plane.  Ellie-Miss-Screams-A-Lot on Jet Blue.

7.) We have a birthday party to go to tomorrow.  I love that Ellie has been invited to birthday parties over the past year.  I love that she is included in these celebrations with her little friends.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stay At Home Moms Eat Bonbons. All Day.

Many of my non married, non-mommy friends ask me just what it is I do all day with all of my free time.  I scoff and say "Free time?  What is that?" and "I eat bonbons while watching my 3 soap operas, of course!".

Mommy's bonbon.

That's right ladies, I sit on my tuckus all day long in front of the televisions with bonbons.  Then I take nice, long luxurious bubble baths.  Complete with wine, of course.  Okay, in all seriousness, I am lucky if I get to pee by myself. Yep, for real.  If Toddler Bear and the menagerie of fur babies are not hanging with me in the bathroom, I end up with tiny little fingers under the door and a "mamamamamama!"
 and "Meow!" scratch-scratch.  Alone time is rare.  As is sitting down.  Oh and getting to eat a meal without sticky little fingers with long grasps grabbing at my food on the plate. . .

Her arms are longer than they look.  They can reach just about anything.

Here is what really happens for all of you non-mommy friends out there.  Mama Bears, you know exactly what I am talking about!

The (early) morning:

First, I wake up at a completely ridiculous hour because my daughter inherited the very-early-riser gene from my father.  There is breakfast complete with food throwing and Nutella in the hair and a whole lot of coffee (for me, no coffee for the hyper toddler bear). Then there is the battle to wipe down the Bear and then brush Ellie's hair.  I do this in her high chair with a ton of detangler because I do not want her to escape.

I admit that I stick my kid in front of Signing Time! so that I may get dressed and slap on some concealer so as not to scare anyone with my horrific sleep-deprived looks.  I may even let her watch the whole episode while I check my email and check Facebook in case I happened to miss a very important status update.

Then we rush off to therapy #1.  This is either music, speech, or occupational therapy.  Upon arriving to our destination, we do a some pre-therapy heavy work and tooth brushing so that Ellie Bear can focus about 50% of her attention on the therapist.   (If it is Wednesday, we have playgroup!  This is the BEST part of the whole week and the closest I get to eating bonbons.  It is a chance for Ellie to play with peers while I get to carry on an adult conversation with adults!)

Lunch time!  A repeat of breakfast, but typically with peanut butter crackers and raisins because that is ALL the chunky chicken is eating right now.  I scarf down a Zone bar in which Ellie pitches a fit because apparently she wants a Zone bar too.  I break off a piece, she tastes it, and then hurls it.  Nevermind, peanut butter crackers it is.  While she is in her high chair, we practice her consonant cards.

Nap Time!  Ah, the best part of the day.  The part where I drink more coffee and deal with insurance companies.  The part where I fill out forms for partial reimbursement of the 30,000 therapies my child is in. The part where I cut out and laminate various educational flashcards or PECs.  The part where I contact x,y, and z -ologist (ENT, endocrine, cardio, etc) and set up follow-up appointments or discuss Ellie's incessant spitting up.  Nap time is the time I could really use some bonbons as I am often on hold and listening to annoying elevator music and then hitting a gazillion prompts before I am in contact with a real live, breathing person.  Sometimes, if I am feeling especially productive, I get the bathrooms cleaned :-)

Toddle Bear wakes up fully re-energized.  I try to spend some time teaching her important things like colors, shapes, how to build a tower, how to point, how to make sounds, and whatnot.  Sometimes she is a willing participant and other days she isn't.  I also try to take her to a park to let off some steam before her afternoon therapy.  During that time, I try my best to not have a heart attack as she climbs up the playscape and rushes down the slide.

Rushing off to therapy #2.  This is either ABA therapy or developmental therapy.  We do a repeat of the heavy work and tooth brushing.  If it is ABA therapy, I get to sit in the waiting room for some of the session and read.  You know, read a book or a magazine AND sit.  Pure bliss.

You all know the drill--make dinner (in go out to dinner which we do half the week since I am a horrible cook).  Eat dinner.  Clean up dinner. Teach Bear how to eat using a fork/spoon. Also add in corralling Ellie into the bathtub and attempting to get all food remnants from hair.  Then we start the bedtime routine.

Fortunately, the Bear goes to bed early so I do get a few hours with Andrew (and to do laundry) before I get to hit the sack.  It is also when I finally get to shower--that's right, uninterrupted "me" time!

I believe my day is more busy now than it was back when I worked full-time.  While I would love to eat some bonbons, I wouldn't trade my days with Ellie for anything.  Staying home with her is more full-filling than any job.  After all, I am there to receive all of her hugs and snuggles.  I am there to comfort her when she falls.  I was there when she took her first step and uttered her first word.  I cannot imagine not being with her.


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...