Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Twittering for RR dollars

To celebrate her own milestone of getting to 10,000 followers on Twitter, actress Patricia Heaton (@PatriciaHeaton, known widely for Everybody Loves Raymond among other things) is sending $1 per Twitter follower of Reece's Rainbow up to $10,000!! How super great is that?!?

It's a SUPER way to spread the word about what RR does and to help kids come home to families who are working very hard to add them to a real family!

So if you're on Twitter, be sure to follow Reece's Rainbow (@reecesrainbow) and you might even drop a note to Ms. Heaton saying thanks, too!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Un-unemployed

I'm no longer unemployed.

I don't like that term because it sounds like you wish you were employed, and except for the financial implications, I haven't missed it much. But whatever.

I've been without a paying job for almost 3 years, but today that ended. I became official at my new part-time job, and as first days go, it was pretty great. The people are super nice...which is not news, since we were already members at the Y before I got a job there. I think I'll like the actual "job" part, too.

Today was computer training, part 1, and tomorrow evening will continue that. I am looking forward to the point where I am once again knowledgeable about what I do and am able to do it without thinking about it. It is weird to be in a completely different environment from the medical practice surroundings that I've worked in for the last 15 years where I could do anything in any situation that could be thrown at me. No more big responsibility and people reporting to me, etc. I'm back to being a small fish on the bottom of the stream. But somehow I don't mind how far I've "fallen."

I think it's gonna be a good thing... and I'm very thankful for that.

Tomorrow M starts his new job. We're excited for it, too. Changes all around!

Friday, March 25, 2011

A day in the life: Blown button, new job

Done with…

  • Early morning private OT session, sensory-focused, for Braska. Had to use or lose flex spending money from M’s soon-to-be-in-4-hours-FORMER-job, so we get a few weeks to see how it goes. I’d love to document this stuff and the reasons behind it so much better for myself and others… but alas…
  • Picked up Kidlet, little snoozalicious.
  • Girls’ Playtime while I got Braska’s meals for the next several days ready to go. Oh how I love a quality stick/immersion/hand blender. Pulse, Pulse, Pulse, Done.
  • Kinlee declined lunch and wanted to go to nap. Not that uncommon. Kidlet went down about the same time.
  • Don’t forget plenty of diaper changes all around and various feeding.

But then…
As I was preparing to give Braska her mid-day milk, via tube, I sat her on my lap and something was weird. Missing. The belly terrain was too smooth.
*eye roll, sigh, then hunt for the button*

It was found quickly, near the chair where she had been sitting…probably fell out when she climbed up.

Ever seen a Mic-Key Button with a blown balloon??
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Pleasant huh?

In case you’re not familiar but curious, the part on the right of the above picture is the balloon, which is supposed to be inside the stomach, inflated with water once it’s in by the port on the lower left side. I always describe it kind of like an earring. Except you don’t inflate the earring post behind your ear. The tube connects to the port on the left side, when the little flap is opened.

Hmmm…that might be interesting though. The inflatable earring thing... Maybe later I’ll ponder that more.

Anyway, after more pushing and effort than I care to experience, and Braska agrees, in order to get the new button in (thank goodness I had one already in the cabinet for backup…I sometimes forget), we’re all set and she’s good to go.

If we ever get rid of that thing, she’s going to be one of those whose stoma just closes in no time when the button’s removed. So that’s good.

Now on to the rest of the day…

  • Short appointment for paperwork for the new job. Oh yeah, I didn’t follow up with that did I? I got the job from Saturday’s interview. Working part-time at the Y!!! I’m pretty excited! Evenings, weekends, front desk, you get the picture. The people there are great, from my perspective as a member, so I think it’ll be fun to work with them. Big props to my long-time friend Sarah for the tip and lovely reference!! Now we’ll have the extra income required to pay for medical insurance since M’s new job has astronomically high group benefit costs. We’re going with an individual family plan and it’s far cheaper.
  • Potty training seminar tonight, also dealing with elopement, specifically for kids with DS. Should be interesting. (Workshop day tomorrow for practical solutions in educating kids with DS. Both put on by our DSA. Bridget Murphy from the KC DSG is speaking.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New discovery of skill

During my last check on the girls before bed tonight, I found that Kinlee had turned herself around and was sleeping the wrong way in her bed. I debated turning her. She sleeps soundly and can transfer pretty well. Unlike her sister.

As I was looking at her with my cell phone for a flashlight, M came in to see how cute she was. I told him I might move her and he said to let her be. I noticed a diaper on her end table of sorts. I thought M might have changed her before bed and not tossed it. As I picked it up, I realized it was dry. Light. Not full. I was confused but M whispered, "She took her diaper off?"

I looked at her, pulled her blanket back to find her little bare buns in there. Her sheets and blanket were wet. So I scooped her up, M stripped the bed and blankets and took them downstairs to start the wash. I put her diaper back on and tucked her into my bed while I made hers.

She is now back in her bed though not pleased at her missing blanket. Lets hope this is a fluke.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sunny day smiles

We got up. Shower dressed and breakfast. Dropped Braska at school. Now we dance in the kitchen to Glee mash-ups...goooood times.

M took his last personal day today since his last day at the current job is Friday. It is a beeeeaUtiful day and we are enjoying some midweek playtime. THANK YOU GOD!!

We have come a long way and I have to remember to be always aware of our blessings. Loving seeing the sunny day smiles today!

Monday, March 21, 2011

What that extra chromosome means to some

(If you didn’t see the great video full of precious and adorable faces, including one I’m partial to, click here to go to the earlier post.)

In our house…
It means you get to wear glasses when your sister doesn’t
It means you get to go to school and play with lots of the best teachers and therapists
It means you sometimes get frustrated with what your body won’t do that it should
It means that when you’re frustrated you get to spend extra time with Mommy or Daddy
It means you’re loved absolutely to pieces.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, of course.

In a place far away…
It means that even when there’s a mommy and daddy who are there to pick you up, money in hand, paperwork all filed, pleading for your life, a judge can say no. Just plain no.
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That little handsome fella just haunts me. I can’t imagine what his parents are experiencing. (Click here and then here for that story. They need your prayer support. Desperately. Please.) I still can’t comprehend this.

It means that even when your mommy and daddy come and bring you home, you still have a long, LONG hill to climb. (Click here to read about precious Carrington and pray for her as well. She is very much in need of intercession.) She came from the same orphanage as our good buddy Dashlyn, and yet she was clearly not cared for. Three years old. 11 lbs. Literally wasting away.

We have a long way to go in this venture to convince the world that our children, ALL children and people have value. Some days, like this past week when these kinds of stories kept popping up, it seemed futile. But nothing is impossible. We must keep working for these kids and every other one who is not treated with the tender care they deserve.

World Down Syndrome Day 2011

3-21-2011 
For 3 copies of the 21st chromosome, unique to Down syndrome. In my opinion, creating some of the cutest of the cute out there. Don’t miss the video below.

World Down Syndrome Day.

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Take the chance to tell someone a wonderful thing about someone you know with DS. Or share with someone how your views have changed now that you know and love someone with DS.  If Braska is the only person with DS that you know, be sure to brag on her a bit today. I don’t mind at all!  Feel free to link to the recent post about how far she has come since her heart surgery 4 years ago.

Today, make a decision to be intentional about making others aware that a diagnosis of DS does not have to be met with utter despair, it doesn’t have to be a death sentence, and it is not a reason to take an unborn child’s life.

Just tell someone. 

The IDSC for Life has put together a really nice video of some of our little beauties… I have my favorite in there, and a few who follow close behind her.  Maybe posting a link to this in your Facebook status or on your blog or Twitter would be a great awareness opportunity.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sounds familiar

So last Saturday I had an interview at 11:30am for a job I'd applied for online on Thursday evening and got a call for on Friday.  It didn't work out, and that's fine by me.

Today, I have an interview at 11:30am for a job I applied for online on Thursday evening and got a call for on Friday.  We'll see how the second time goes...  this one seems to have lots of very cool God-winks around it… more on those later. 

I only pray for the best for our family. And I’ll accept whatever that looks like.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Thoughtful sponge

This girl is smart. And she’s striking. Sometimes I just glance over and see her and MUST take a picture.  They never do justice to the moment. But still…
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She kind of mindlessly chews on her thumb or fingers when she’s watching Word World or Sid the Science Kid or anything, really.   She watches so intently, taking it all in. There’s an occasional smile that flashes if something funny happens, but usually she is pretty focused.  PRETTY. Focused.
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The coolest part, in this mom’s opinion?   This girl… this one below…
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…when the show is over, she will come running and answer any question I throw at her about the show she just watched.  She gets it ALL. She has an amazing ability to comprehend and then recite the whole story in correct order. 

My little thoughtful sponge. I just love watching her soak it all up.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hidden. Horrible.

A few weeks ago, I did my weekend routine on Saturday or Sunday…straightening all the rooms, vacuuming, general clean up, readying the house for another chaotic week.  As you may have learned in my previous post, cleaning is not the top priority in our house.  This is no secret.  Family interactions are priority. Relaxing is important. Clutter is common. (Piles, Sara??) Dirty is not ok though.  That doesn’t mean sometimes it doesn’t exist, just that it’s on my list, even if I haven’t gotten there yet. 

Anyway……….  as I was running the vacuum, it annoyed me, as it has every time I’ve used it for a very long time, that it doesn’t pick up very well. At all.  I gripe about my carpet all the time, and we even looked into replacing it all just last month.  But it’s not in the financial plan right now, so I’m trying to make the best of it.  I try to vacuum frequently, feeling like that’s better than nothing.

I finally stopped in frustration, tipped the thing over, and decided maybe if I cleaned out the brush it would pick up better.  It didn’t look very dirty, but it HAD to be something. As I was messing with it, M came in and offered to deal with it, because even though he’s not into cleaning as a favorite pastime, he doesn’t mind taking things apart and doing a bang up job of clean out if you catch him on the right day.  So off he went with the machine, heading downstairs to tackle the job.

Only a few minutes later he came up holding out a broken belt for my inspection. Yeah, that can’t be good.  He announced he was off to the vacuum store for a new belt and a new filter to boot.

I continued to put laundry away, organize the girls’ room, etc.  He got home, told me it was only $22 for both, and down he went to put it all together.  Moments later, he came upstairs with the nicely clean and now functioning machine in hand. I was working in the kitchen and he simply said, “Vacuum something.”  I looked at him like, “Eh, alright.”  But he said, “No, vacuum something. Now. Like just plug it in and run a strip.”

So I did. And the squealing commenced. 

HOLY COW!  We had TOTALLY forgotten our vacuum had a self-propelled element to it WHEN THE BRUSH IS ACTUALLY TURNING! 

I just about flipped out…or I kind of DID flip out.  I was jumping around and shrieking about how AWESOME this was and how completely worth $22 that task was!

Then it hit me…. it has not been properly functioning for YEARS!  At least a couple of them… we can’t even remember when it worked like this before!!  I felt like such a loser to not have known that my silly vacuum was broken.  I mean, I’ve been griping forever about it not cleaning well, how I had to use the tools to really get something if there was spot that needed particular attention.  All this time I’ve been pushing the thing all over the house with only the suction from above…nothing to propel the dirt INTO the reach of the suction! Ahhhh!

After I had done that one strip, I looked down and was shocked to see how much gunk and gack was in the collector already.  Oh my gravy… we’ve been living on hidden, horrible dirt!

(Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit this openly, but seriously, I don’t want to forget this crazy day!)

I quickly started barking at M to get EVERYTHING off the floor, that I was going to do it RIGHT now.  I vacuumed the living room and the hall—about 300 sq ft—and THIS is what we found.
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For all of you who have come over and had direct contact with my carpet, I’m SO SORRY!  Generally, we don’t sit on the floor directly, because we use blankets or pillows or something like that… but oh my… 

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I continued vacuuming each room, NUMEROUS times, for the next long while.  M took the girls downstairs so I could go hard core with the job.  I did each room, then emptied the collector and cleaned out the filter.  That routine repeated over and over.  I did each room over and over and over. I called M to come upstairs at least twice to show him what massive amounts of dust and ick had been sucked up from a little tiny space.  I was really blown away.

During the past couple years, I’ve cleaned all the carpet in the house with a really good carpet cleaner several times, but I was amazed at what was deep down. My carpet, though still FAR from good, is so much better. Now I’m anxious to get time soon to use the carpet cleaner again and see how much better it does without all that gack down in there!

My enjoyment of vacuuming has returned.  I do actually enjoy it, as household chores go.  But wow, how great it is to get that thing out every day and watch it WORK!!  Who knew?!?

The moral of the story… check that belt, kids.  Before you toss it and replace it…check the belt!

So come on over, friends.  We’re ready for a rousing game of Duck, Duck, Goose in the middle of the living room floor!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rare find 'round these parts

The bathroom is clean. Like with chemicals and scrubbers and all that. So if you need one and you're in the area, stop on by. (The floor isn't finished..that'll have to wait for naptime.)


I'm not even going to pretend. Doesn't happen often. Pretty much only when we're hosting friends or family for the evening or something like that.

So today is successful because my living room and bathroom are clean. They aren't just "straightened" in quick fix style.

The kitchen is next. But it's different. It's clean at least once a day only to be destroyed several more times a day.

But if I have happy, healthy girls who love hanging out with their Mommy and "taking up" my time, the rest can wait.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Big changes. One step at a time.

Whew. What a week. Pardon me while I slump into the couch and put my feet up.

It’s been a wild one around here. And it looks like life is going to be far from dull for a while.

Where to begin… Well, my husband got a new job, after a flurry of craziness for 72 hours between the interview and the final offer that was accepted.  In that space of time were literally dozens of phone calls, jumping for joy halted promptly by sinking sensations and cruel reality.  There are still many details to figure out, but an agreement was able to be reached and he is very excited.  I’m pleased he has found a place that seems very promising in the “I won’t dread this job every day” category.  He can’t wait to get started.

We’ve sent over 30 resumes in the past several months.  He’s been to interviews that were great and with promising follow-up, but then weird things kept happening that prevented a final agreement in each case.   He was getting more frustrated at his current job and that’s no fun for anyone.   So this lead, from a personal contact (friend-of-a-friend kind of thing) turned out to be just so smooth.  We pray every single morning for direction to know what’s best for our family and wisdom to make the right choices, and it is so nice when the direction is so clear that the choice is obvious.

The snags with the new job came with the benefits…unbelievably expensive costs for the employee health plan. Completely shocking, as far as I’m concerned.  It was a deal breaker. And that was a heartbreaker.  Phone calls were made to contacts and agents and companies and HR people.  Emails were sent to everyone who might offer input on the situation. We had to learn our options and investigate a totally different direction than we’d expected, but we have very favorable leads in that department.  We’ll know more concrete info this coming week.

Because of the increased costs for medical, even though they won’t be as high as the employer-provided plan, additional income has to be brought in.  Enter my new job search.

Since I am not willing to give up my days with my girls, and since we have Kidlet with us some days as well, the options are to work evenings and/or weekends to bring in enough to fill the gaps.  The benefit there being that the girls will be with M when I’m gone, so no childcare arrangement will be needed.  It won’t be a lot of hours, as the gap is much narrower now that we’ve had more info on our choices, but the gap still exists. If you’ve been around here long, you know we don’t do debt, but we make it a high priority to do our best to always live within our current means and save aggressively as well. When tough adjustments are required, we make tough adjustments. It’s that simple.

So late Thursday night, I began my online application frenzy.  We are fortunate to have literally hundreds of businesses within 2 miles any direction, let alone the rest of our urban/suburban area.  The trick is to find one that has the flexibility I need and whose need matches what I have to offer in time availability.

Friday morning I got a call to come in for an interview. “Can you come in tomorrow?” she asked.  I thought it was all pretty fast, but sure, why not.  So in I went today, dressed the only way I know how to when it comes to an interview, and I showed up a little early, very prepared and not nervous.  I had to chuckle to myself a little, as I did seem a bit overdressed, but hey, put your best foot forward, right?  But I’m not sure what I expected…  I mean, it was Walmart, for goodness sakes.  I’m a big WM shopper, and it didn’t really seem intimidating to consider working there.

I found it interesting that, in completing the online application, there was no place for a resume.  It just had fields that you fill in.  And for “job duties” there was not much space for the ins and outs of medical practice management.  And the salary fields only accepted hourly rates instead of yearly salary… so I popped out the little computer calculator to figure those.

The summary of the interview was that it was short, polite, and clearly showed I’m not a good fit for the need they’re looking to fill.  I was clear upfront with what I was looking for, and I told her I’d just as soon not waste their time interviewing me through three different people, though she offered me the job if I wanted it.  Between the location (not my closest store, though in a more affluent suburb), and flexibility issue (though they were flexible, just limited a bit where I needed some give), and the pay rate (my goodness…reality check!) it was clear this wasn’t my go-to job for re-entry into the working world. 

And to be fair, I know good and well I’ll not be making what I made before. That’s fine and obviously expected. But wow… to be given a number LESS than 1/3 of my last pay rate (if my salary had been broken into an hourly rate) did jolt me a bit.  I’m willing to acknowledge that it might be my new reality, but not at a location that requires a 30-minute drive when gas is $3.39/gal and on the rise. AND that pay rate was taking into consideration, she said, my college education and previous experience.  Amazing.

So I thanked her for her time, complimented her on the very nice store they have, and left the “backstage” area to go back into the store and shop.  I mean, you know…while I’m there… I had a list and everything.

It was interesting to hear her tell me that when I get ready to work again “with more time available” she thinks I would “do very well” at Walmart and could climb the discount ladder quite quickly.  Maybe that’s true, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s my next chapter.

More apps went out today… should be interesting to see what happens.  If you’re local and you know of a great place who wants to hire a darn good employee, hook me up!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Money means life or death

"Hey, I need $5. Like, I need it bad. Would you help me?"

I feel sure that for most of you, if this were me asking you on the sidewalk as we chatted at the park or as we paused to catch up in the aisle at Wal-Mart, you would be happy to share that with me. You would gladly meet that little need I had, and I would appreciate it greatly.

But it's not life or death, usually. It's not about whether or not a child will survive or die a very lonely unpleasant death.

Too dramatic for ya? Yeah, me too. Usually. But not this time. Don't bail yet...give me 60 seconds and then it's up to you.

Little Lera has had families commit to adopt her and then run into unavoidable obstacles that made them unable to continue. I've not known any other child who has been waiting and on the brink of coming home so often only to once again go on the list of kids needing a family. Now her family is ready, all set, paperwork together. Praise God!

But the money is the problem. Not like, "Gee, we'd like some help so we don't have to take out a loan." But like, "If we don't have $35,000, in the next 3 weeks, we can't get her. Ever. Period."

Unreasonable? Well, welcome to international adoption, it seems.

She's already been transferred out of her orphanage, her home where she was at least cared for and fed. She's now in a mental institution where most children die within one year. They are with adults with various mental illnesses. Care is almost nonexistent. Food is not a guarantee. Interaction is almost unheard of, as I understand it.

But she's there. A little girl just like MY little girl. She should be in preschool or kindergarten but she's in a cold, dangerous place.

Still dramatic? Yes. It is. But it's true, and that's the saddest part.

Her family has been told that to proceed they must raise A LOT of money in a very few weeks. Please see Cathy's post below with suggestions about donating or raising funds. Lera's family desperately wants to bring her home, and they have thousands of dollars already available, but they need $15,000 more as of this posting. They MUST have it by the end of the month or Lera is going to be made to live out her life in the institution. However short that life may or may not be.

So yeah, it's dramatic. Not much I can do about it. So I'll ask again, "I need $5. I need it badly. Will you help me?"

Click here to go to Lera's family's blog and see an iPad and many other great items up for a fundraiser. There are links there to donate as well. Give $5, $50, or $5,000 if you can. It ALL helps.

Look at the little face below... that's from when she was in her orphanage, dolled up, smiling. I pray that she will be home with her forever family soon, all dolled up, smiling, and SAFE!




Lera

From my friend Cathy's blog...
Hello friends,

As most of you know, we have been knee-deep in emergency funding for Lera's adoption fund.

For those of you who do not know, Lera is an orphan in eastern Europe. She has a committed family, the Higbies. The Higbies have followed a bumpy road in their fundraising efforts. Some friends...ok...lots of friends, have gotten together to help them raise funds.

This fundraising is so important because Lera has been transferred to an institution...a MENTAL institution...with ADULTS. It's a sad fact that many of these children die within a year of being transferred.

The importance of these fundraising efforts was increased many-fold yesterday. Lera's parents were told in a conference call with their agency that if they could not show proof by Friday, that they had secured all $35,000 for her adoption, they would not be allowed to proceed. EVER!!!!

God heard our prayers!!! When Diane, Lera's mommy, called back and told them of our fundraising efforts and how much had been raised in 24 hours, they gave her until the end of the month.

While $18,000 in a matter of weeks seems daunting, we know that we serve an almighty God...with HIM nothing is impossible. In less than 48 hours, Lera's account has grown by $3000!!!!!!! He is MIGHTY TO SAVE!!!

God WILL provide!!! It might take some creativity though...

Here are a few ideas swimming around in my head (and Deanna's). Please post your comments and give us other ideas. I will add them to this list.

  • Organize a dress-down day at your work (or school where kids wear uniforms) Donate $$$ and you can wear casual clothes.
  • If you live in a warmer climate, organize a car wash. When I used to run these as the youth leader at my church, we collected the most money when we asked for a free-will donation instead of asking for an actual dollar amount.
  • Make a collection jar...with Lera's picture and story on it...and put it anywhere and everywhere.
  • Have a garage sale. Sell stuff on eBay.
  • Do you have gift cards that you haven't spent??? Ask your friend, neighbor, or co-worker if they will "buy" them from you by donating the same amount to Lera's adoption fund.
  • Organize a bake sale.
  • Speak to groups at your church.
  • Have a collection at your church for Lera.
  • Talk to your Sunday school class/small group/Bible study/youth groups to get their input.
Whatever you do, do it FAST!!!!! This IS a matter of life and death.

If you haven't already donated, go to http://www.savinglera.blogspot.com/ and do so, Thank you!!!!!!!!!!