Wednesday, November 30, 2011

If Katie Was Here Now. . .

I think it's time for the Christmas version of "If Katie Was Here Now."  You may remember the prior installments from this post and this post.  Well, if that little nugget was here for Christmas, it may look something like this. . .

Santa *may or may not* be bringing her a Baby Stella doll.
Let's just say it's not impossible!


I will admit I want this dollhouse.
So I can decorate it.

Yes, these are jeggings.
Apparently I'm only against them (strongly!) for adults.
I find them oddly acceptable for children.

This child will be the first girl in our family in 29 years.
I'm pretty sure overboard will not be uncommon.
Santa will be bringing her some presents at our house and we'll bring them to her on our first visit, whenever that may be.  I cannot wait for next year when she's here to see and experience Christmas herself!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Keeping Our Heads Up

I am trying so hard not to be discouraged.  Although we found out today that our documents will be sent to Katie's country by Friday, we also found out today that we will very likely not travel for our first trip until February.  That's a month later than we were anticipating.  And I know - it's just a month.

It's a month longer that we have to wait to see this girl.
It's a month longer that she has to be in an orphanage instead of at home with us.
But, it's just a month.
We have done everything we can to get our paperwork done as fast as we can.  
Now, we wait.
We raise more money.
We apply for grants.
And we wait.
I will not get discouraged, and I will not be pessimistic about it.
We will celebrate Christmas and know that next year she will be here with us.
And we will wait.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Getting Christmas Started

Well, Thanksgiving is over so it's time to get Christmas started around here.  I love Christmas - if I could put a Christmas tree in every room I would.  And really, we're not far from it.  We will have a big tree in our living room, a tree in the entry, a tree in the playroom, a tree in the guest room (Katie's room), a tree in the boys' room, and two potted trees on the porch.  And those are just the trees with lights. . . we have several smaller trees with no lights all around the house.  We got started yesterday and have these up so far:

This is the entry.

The playroom.  
You should see this beauty in daylight.
To say it's a little heavy on the ornaments is an understatement.

And this is Katie's room. 
It's the old playroom tree, and we've got it on the window seat.
Henry decorated it.  
And included a Hawaiian lei.  
It's, um, interesting.  It looks best in the dark.

Henry has asked me several times about Christmas for Katie, if she celebrates Christmas, what she gets for presents, if Santa comes to her orphanage, and things of that nature.  I told him that I don't think Santa brings her gifts or that she gets gifts, and he was very, very upset about it.  He asked if Santa would bring her gifts here, and we talked about that for a little while.  He said he thinks that Santa knows she will come live her, and he thinks Santa is going to bring her presents so that we can bring them when we go to see her.  We've gotten her a stocking that we'll hang, *just in case* Santa brings her something here.  The stocking we've gotten is plain red. . . if you know me at all you have realized there's no way I can leave it like that.  I found this ADORABLE stocking on pinterest, and will be making my own version.

Have you started your decorating yet?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Next year I hope we have to set another place at this Thanksgiving table.

A spot for this little turkey.
I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving.  
We have a lot for which we are thankful!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving Thanks

You may remember my post about the kindness of strangers from earlier this month.  In that post I talked about the family of one of our clients and the very generous donation they made when they heard about Katie.  Well that same family was moved by Katie and wanted to help even more with our fundraising so we can get that sweet girl home.  Today I am thankful for the R family and their many, many friends.  When the R's came to my office today, they came bearing gifts. . . 

In two weeks they raised $2,517.00.  They provided me with a list of the donation amounts - they range from $5.00 to $350.00.  Every single one of them is from someone I have never met.  I know I have said it a million times, and I hope it doesn't sound contrived because it is entirely sincere, but the generosity of everyone we have come into contact with on this journey to Katie Ruth has been completely overwhelming.  I am surprised nearly every day buy how giving people are - of their time, of their money, and of themselves.  We will never be able to thank people enough.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Gift for Katie!

My sweet friend Joey, who is someone I met through work and I knew the day I met her I wanted to be friends with her, gave us our first gift for Katie!  (She also gave us some delicious blackberry jam and blueberry jam. . . which lasted about 48 hours.)

She made an adorable tutu and hair bow for Katie.  I love it!  And, true to form, Jack had to try it on.

I hope Katie won't mind sharing.  

Katie's First Christmas Decoration

Each year, we buy the boys a nutcracker and a Christmas ornament.  They love nutcrackers, and they've picked some pretty funny ones (like David's "soldier girl" two years ago. . . who I think lost a battle, as she very quickly lost her weapon and was beheaded.)  We were out today getting some things for Thanksgiving and found Katie's first nutcracker.  It had to come home with us!

Next year I hope she will pick her own!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Part of the Reason

Probably the most common question we get from people is, "Why are you adopting?"  While my natural response is really to ask, "Why not?," I typically don't say that.  I explain that we feel like we can give another child a good home, we have always wanted a big family, we really want a little girl. . . all of the reasons people expect.  Then, when some people find out we're adopting a child with Down syndrome, they are really surprised.  Or ignorant.

Thankfully, I've only encountered the ignorance on this journey one time, and it was yesterday.  A woman was in my office, and she is someone I encounter in my job quite frequently.  She said she heard we were adopting a child, and I confirmed the rumor.  She said, "Well be careful.  You never know what kind of medical problems those kids can have."  I tried to bite my tongue.  I just couldn't do it.  I told her that we actually already know she has "medical problems," as she's got Ds.  She got this shocked look on her face and said, "WHAT?!  DOWN syndrome?  I mean, is there even a cure for that?"  What. The. Hell.  I just shook my head and smiled.  She followed that flash of brilliance with, "KIM.  Those people don't even have a normal life expectancy."  I wanted to ask her if she even knew what a "normal" life expectancy is.  (PS, it's 78.1 years in the US for a normal life expectancy, and about 60 for a person with Ds.)  I seriously wanted to smack this woman.  And she questioned, I mean grilled me, about why we would want to adopt "one of THOSE people".  Seriously?  I had ugly, ugly thoughts about her.

This is one of the reasons we want to adopt one of "THOSE" people.

His name is Clayton, and he's my uncle.
My great-uncle, to be more specific.
His brother is my grandfather.
Clayton was born at home with his umbilical cord wrapped tightly around his neck.  In the 30s, that didn't typically end up well.  So, my great grandmother's first child (of 5) was born mentally disabled.  We all know what that was called then - retarded.

Clayton grew up in the same small town I lived in as a child.
He likes to say that he went to every grade through sixth.  Twice.
He did not go to an institution.  He lived at home with his family.
Clayton was a member of the community.  I have heard stories of boys in the neighborhood getting into fights to protect him at school if someone made fun of him.  

Everyone in town knows Clayton.  
He has recently moved to a retirement assisted living facility.  
He has lived relatively independently, in his own home but with help, for his entire adult life.  
He's 81 years old.  
He loves to drink black coffee all day long.
He loves gummy fruits that he gets every year at Christmas.
He loves NASCAR and the Patriots.

Clayton never had any sort of therapies, like occupational therapy or speech therapy.
He has had jobs.  He's never been a doctor or a lawyer.  Have you?
He's worked jobs that made him feel important and independent. 
He has felt like he was contributing to something good, and that made him feel important.
Isn't that how we all want to feel?
He felt valued.
He is valued.

He's travelled to Alaska and Florida, and several places in between.
He has been a part of my life since I was born.
He can remember things that happened fifty years ago.
Last week?  That's a little fuzzy.
When I was growing up, he was a part of my daily life.
He would come to the grocery store with us.
He would walk to our house nearly every day.
He would just want to chat.
And, most of the time, he sort of irritated me.
As I got older, I became much more aware of Clayton being different.
He was loud, and he chewed with his mouth open.
He wanted to talk to all of my friends, and I didn't want him to.
He sometimes acted like a child, and I was often embarrassed when he came places with us.
He would come to the movies with us and laugh too loud.
He would come to programs at school and act different than everyone else.
He needs daily attention and care.
He can't do things like cut his own toenails or be trusted to have proper hygiene all the time.
He can't do his own laundry or cook a meal for himself.
He can't drive or take himself to the doctor.
He can't balance a checkbook or pay his own bills.
Someone has had to care for him for his entire life.  
But our family did - nobody put him in a home or in an institution.

Clayton is part of the reason we have chosen to adopt Katie.
I have always, since the day I was born, had someone in my family with special needs.
Someone who was different.
Someone who was too loud and acted different than everyone else.
Someone who laughed too loud at the movies and who needed help every day.
What would Clayton be like if he was born today?
What would his life be like if he had occupational therapy and speech therapy?
What would his life be like if he had special education services and graduated from high school?
What kind of opportunities would Clayton have if he were born in my generation or the generation of my children, instead of in the 1930s?
I would love to have had the opportunity to talk to my great-grandmother about what it was like to parent a special needs child 70 or 80 years ago.  
I suspect it was not easy.
Just as it is not now, but she had many more obstacles.
While I once considered Clayton an embarrassment, I know we are lucky to have him in our family.
He has taught us all lessons about life, society, and family without trying.
I hope we pay attention.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Now What?

Now that our Coins for Katie pancake breakfast is over (and I have recovered!) I am starting to think about the next fundraiser. . . There's something wrong with me.  I enjoy the fundraising portion of this journey a lot!  Time to get my planning mojo on!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Coins for Katie Pancake Breakfast

We had our Coins for Katie pancake breakfast, silent auction, and cupcake sale this morning at Chili's.  I was so nervous while I was driving there that I'd pull up and there would be nobody there. . . Thankfully that wasn't the case!  I did our shopping last night.

(Chili's provides the space and cooks the food - we had to provide the food and the waiters.)  Someone donated $500 to us to purchase the food, and the Gammon Dairy donated fifteen gallons of milk for us to use.

We set our silent auction items and our cupcakes up on the bar.  It was perfect - everyone had plenty of room to walk around and look at all of the items.

These cornhole boards (made by my dad!) got the most bids of any item.  They looked great and sold for $175.  Thanks Matt and Crystal for bidding and winning!

The Fullbright family, who was generous beyond measure, added a k-cup holder and several boxes of tea and coffee tot he Keurig machine.  We also had the gift basket next to that donated by the Honeybaked Ham store in Murfreesboro.  

I was so happy with how our silent auction looked all set up.  
It was so exciting to see it all finally come together!

The silent auction items got a lot of attention. . . especially at the end!

We sold our beach vacation and our Cirque de Soleil package.  
Those two items alone brought in $1,500!

We had LOTS of cupcakes!
I made cupcake toppers with Katie's picture, hearts, and the cupcake flavors and 
just brought my cupcake stands and cake stands to put them on.

We had these big vases for the tips - this was probably the best thing we did.  Since they were all competing to see who got the most tips, you could really see who was winning.  They were the first thing people saw when they walked in the door, and they got a lot of attention.
Just in tips alone we made $2,672!  (That includes the $300 to be paid by the three "losing" attorneys.)

Three of our excellent waiters:  Brock, Andy, and Travis.

We had jewelry for sale, and 10% of the profits from her sales were donated to Katie.  
She had cute, cute things!  

Erica F. and Erica D. did a wonderful job seating people, greeting, and making sure everyone was taken care of.

This is the whole group from my office.  
We had an amazing morning.
Our grand total raised?  

This breakfast FAR exceeded any expectations or guesses we had about how much we would raise.  The generosity, kindness, and friendship everyone who was there displayed is completely overwhelming and incredible.  There is absolutely no way we could ever communicate how appreciative we are of the support we have received from our friends, our families, and our community.  The only way for us to thank people for what we have received is to be the best family we can for Katie Ruth and to pay this generosity forward.  And that is exactly what we will do.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to everyone who came to our breakfast, bid on silent auction items, bought cupcakes, and tipped your waiters so generously.  This was an amazing day for our family!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Giving Thanks - The First Grade Edition

This is hanging outside of Henry's classroom.  

This my friends, is what it's all about.
This little girl has no idea what is waiting here for her.

Coins for Katie Silent Auction List

We have a seriously good selection of silent auction items for our Coins for Katie pancake breakfast!  I am so excited about it - I think we're going to have a great morning.  Our items are:

1.  A private box with tickets for 14 people, including a catered dinner with private waiter and two parking passes to the Michael Jackson, The IMMORTAL World Tour, Cirque de Soleil performance on June 12, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.  Fair market value:  $4,000.

2.  A week's accommodations at the Marriott BeachPlace Towers, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  Fair market value:  $3,500.

3.  A gift certificate for a haircut and style at Salon Cargile in Nashville.  Fair market value:  $50.00.

4.  A set of birthday countdown blocks and decorative clips from Embellished Living.  Fair market value:  $26.00.

5.  A book page wreath from Embellished Living.  Fair market value:  $45.00.

6.  A University of Tennessee cornhole set.  Fair market value:  $150.00.

7.  A gift certificate to Danielle Bennett Photography.  Fair market value:  $125.00.

8.  A gift certificate to What's New The Salon for a signature facial.  Fair market value:  $70.00.

9.  A football autographed by Middle Tennessee State University head coach Rick Stockstill.  Fair market value:  $50.00.

10.  A triple-strand necklace of green semi-precious gemstones, glass and Swarovski crystal beads with matching earrings.  Fair market value:  $83.00.

11.  A Keurig Elite coffee brewer with 12 K-Cup sample pack.  Fair market value:  $120.00.

12.  A gift certificate to Paige's Pantry for a parent/child cupcake decorating class.  Fair market value: $30.00.

13.  Four tickets to the December 26, 2011 Nashville Predators game vs. Detroit Red Wings.  Fair market value:  $380.00.

14.  A Totally Bowlicious gift basket including 2 headbands, a tutu, 3 flower clips, 2 Korker bows, and more.  Fair market value:  $77.00.

This is not the basket we have - ours is bigger!

15.  A gift certificate for a Valorie Cole celebrity makeup artist makeup application and consultation.  Fair market value:  $75.00.

16.  A gift certificate for ZOOM! Teeth Whitening.  Fair market value:  $495.00.

Total fair market value of all donated silent auction items:  $9,276.00!!
People have been amazingly generous with the items donated.  We also found out today that someone has donated $500 for the purchase of the food for the breakfast, which means that every dollar we earn is profit!  Please join us if you're local - it will be a lot of fun!