Tuesday, March 29, 2011

iPad2 and More Giveaway

~~~ 2nd UPDATE ~~~

Well, it is Wednesday. That means just two more days until this ends. There is great news: The Burger family received approval from USCIS for their orphan request. This means that they can now submit their dossier, requesting an interview with Brian's country officials in order to accept his referral. This is great news. So, with that in mind - let's continue to bless the Burger family by donating in this giveaway. Ultimately sweet Brian is who wins. Thank you to all those who have given and shared or posted on different social media sites. With your help we have gotten up over the $2,000.00 mark. What a praise! Let's see how much more we can do in these last two days! How exciting it is to be apart of rescuing that little boy!

*** UPDATE***

As of today (April 14th) there are eight days left. Another family within our Down syndrome community has stepped forward to help. The Sader family is donating $1 for you just merely sharing on Facebook or posting on your blog. Just be sure to leave them a comment that you have done so. You can visit their blog and get details here.

<< Also be sure if you donate to leave a comment here on this blog>>

~~~ Thank you to all those who have donated/shared/posted/prayed in support ~~~

I am very grateful for your help. Thank you.

A year ago, I sat at our dining room table and wept. It was the first time I was confronted with the images of the children listed on Reece's Rainbow. Having a baby with Down syndrome, my heart sank at the notion of what was happening half a world away to those who shared his same blessing of having an extra chromosome. The plight of these children weighed on our hearts so heavily that there was a constant pull - a burden that could not be ignored.

I thank God for that burden. We brought home Max and Ivanna last December because of that call from God.

The Burger family has sought out to answer a similar call. To adopt little Brian. To rescue him from spending the rest of his life behind these gates - where he will be transferred, an older boys mental institution.

*picture above taken by Julia Nalle, her blog is truly inspiring and touches hearts*

Look at this picture below. Brian is beautiful. Simply beautiful. He (nor any other child) should ever have to spend a life confined, uncared for, never to know the hugs from a mama or rough housing with papa.

That is why we are hosting this giveaway. Yes, it is fun - and it's always exciting to win. However - when you donate, it isn't you who may ultimately be the winner - it is Brian. So, with that said - let's get to the fun stuff. iPad 2 Giveaway

You have an opportunity to win a new iPad 2 - your choice of color, 16 GB, WiFi, and 3G - with Verizon or AT&T - valued at $629.00 purchased by the Burger family. *service plan will be winner's responsibility, if winner does not want the 3G capable iPad 2 - we ask you let us know upon winning*

Entrance Details:

$10 = 1 entry

$25 = 3 entries

$50 = 8 entries

$100 = 20 entries

$150 = 35 entries

$300 = 80 entries

** If you donate via chip in AND share this giveaway on your blog or FB page - you can have an EXTRA entry***

Giveaway closes April 22 at noon (PST), and the winner will be announced April 25th on this blog.

Winner will be drawn using a random number generating website.

Donations must be made via the chip in at the bottom of this post - or on sidebar.

Once you have donated please come back and leave a comment (this is where we will be deriving names for drawing).

When you leave a comment please include an email address if you are commenting anonymously and do not have a google account. All proceeds are going directly to the Burger family.

... but...

...that's not all ... Let's make this REALLY fun.

The first name drawn will win the iPad2, then we will continue to draw additional names for more prizes available.

You also have an opportunity to win:

Item #1 2 sets of custom made long Korker Bows by Malissa Farmer Upon winning - the entrant drawn for this item will let Malissa know what colors they want. Yes, that is a Reece's Rainbow korker bow you see. ;) Korkers are very well made and affixed to a french clip to stay in the hair better. Item #2 Matryoshka family doll Straight from Eastern Europe - this is a four piece doll that stands at 5 inches height at it's tallest. Item #3 Tu-Tu Boutique Dress by Deanna Sader These dresses are very much sought after - and for good reason. They are beautiful. I have two dresses made by Deanna and they are very well made and shipped very nicely. I love these dresses. Deanna is herself in the midst of adopting a little girl with Down syndrome from Brian's same country - so we thank her for the donation. You can visit her blog here. Winner will receive one dress made up to size 4T. Item #4

A copy of 'An Extra Leaf' in lustre finish in photo quality paper. Winner will have choice of



8X10 Item #5 Authentic loose beach glass straight from a local beach here in Washington. We have loose beach glass scattered throughout our home. It makes a nice accent and reminds me of days spent with the smell of sea air and toes muddy with sand. Winner will receive one bundle of loose beach glass. Item #6 Floral hair pretties made by me. The winner will receive the lot of hair pretties pictured above. These flower pretties are perfect for the upcoming Spring weather (will we ever get there - LOL) and Summer months. Pretties are affixed to alligator clips. Lot includes four sets. Item #7 'The Open Door' by J.L Ragsdale A touching true story of a well off Californian couple who gave up all their worldly riches and decided to follow God and open up The Open Door - a children's home, loving on those closest to God's heart ... children. This story - is quite impactful. Winner will receive one new copy. See ... the book is Max approved! Item #8 Happy Hartman Farm Hope Soap My friends, the Hartman family are preparing to journey to Europe and adopt their own little blessing with 'an extra leaf'. This soap has been a means of fundraising for them. Cured right on their farm, in wonderful scents. You can visit and follow the Hartman's journey here. Winner will receive 4 bars of soap. Item #9

Thomas Kinkade Gazebo New in package beautiful gazebo that lights up and winds to play music.

Is that all?


Not everyone can donate - but you CAN share this giveaway and post on your blogs and Facebook pages. A second, separate drawing will be done for those who leave comments stating they have shared or posted to their blogs about this giveaway. Just leave a comment everytime you share - please remember to state that you are entering the "GIFT CARD" drawing.

A dear friend of the Burger's, Amy, donated one $25 Darden Gift card - good at the following restaraunts:

Red Lobster Olive Garden Longhorn Bahama Breeze Seasons 52

Winner of this second, separate drawing will receive this $25 gift card.

Okay ... let's have some fun - and help bring BRIAN home!!! You can donate here: (be sure to come back and leave a comment for the drawing)

Getting Ready

Do you remember that little face? Yes, it is Brady. Little Brady has a family preparing to come take him out of the mental institution he now resides in ... forever.

The Hartman family could use your prayer, encouragement and support. They are working to raise the very last of what they need. They were submitted to the SDA last Thursday. I know from experience - that this means their travel date is coming VERY soon. The Hartmans have a few fundraisers that you can check out at their blog: here.

I remember sitting in the foyer of a church our dear friend pastors - we were visiting, and Phillip was given the opportunity to share a brief testimony. We, ourselves, were preparing to go overseas and adopt our own little Max and Ivanna. I sat that morning in the foyer with a fussy Justus. Sitting next to me ... was Brady's soon to be mama. How sweet that memory will always be to me. A short, unremarkable conversation about our adoption, our son Justus, and how beautiful Down syndrome is. A small chit chat between moms.

I had no idea that God had been doing a work. That God would spark a flame in this family's heart for this little boy:

I am thankful for the Hartmans. I am thankful for Christ who is responsible for putting the burden before those who will answer His calling. I am thankful that Brady's future ...

his world ...

is about to change.

Praise be to God.

Please visit the Hartmans and let them know you will be praying for them. Maybe donate a few dollars - or just leave an encouraging word. Be sure to follow their blog. They will soon travel - and you don't want to miss that first meeting!

Carrington and Kirill

Two stories have just recently shaken the international adoption community. Two different children, two different families, two entirely different scenarios, and two different countries. Yet - each family, child, and all others involved in these cases share one huge need: prayer.

The picture below is not photo shopped, nor altered in any other way. It is disturbing. This is a picture of a little girl with Down syndrome who just landed in the USA this month. In the orphanage, each child is dressed with several layers of clothing - and often (as I found out with Ivanna) you have no idea how truly tiny they are. Carrington was much more than just tiny folks - she was literally dying from starvation. She was living on borrowed time. As soon as they landed, the family skipped all the warm welcomes and rushed this poor sweetie to the hospital, where - doctors and nurses cried at the sight of her. It was concluded that she was indeed dying - and they needed to respond quickly. At three and a half years old, she weighed ... eleven pounds. Horrible. Carrington is still in the hospital, and the Burman family could use your prayer and encouragement. You can visit a blog to follow her progress here.

Carrington and the rest of the Burmans need the almighty hand of the GREAT PHYSICIAN to touch and heal this beautiful baby girl. Please pray for Carrington.

The next case is of a little boy in Russia. His name is Kirill. He has Down syndrome and is non verbal and currently lives in an orphanage. His family, the Davis' just recently went to Russia for their mandatory second trip to be seen by the judge and complete the court appointment. During this FIVE HOUR session - the judge decided against granting the Davis family the right to adopt little Kirill. The judge stated that staying in an institution was the best for this little boy. Why? Her reason, because he has Down syndrome - and is socially unable to adapt. Outrageous, and quite clearly a statement that is derived from just not knowing what these beautiful children are capable of. This judge made this decision despite the contrary opinion of EVERYONE else in the courtroom. The Davis family are in the midst of an appeal. This story has reached so many within the media - uncovering the injustice of this decision. Every child, adaptable or not, deserves the opportunity to have been loved by a family. I ask that you pray for the Davis family, and other families that are scheduled to meet before this same judge: the Hook family and Moreno family. You can follow Kirill's journey: here.

Tiny Kirill - in Tesney's arms. Hmmm - doesn't look like he is "socially unable to adapt" to me.

I will say that the photos of Carrington are a slap in the face reminder of the need. Not just the need for families, but the absolute horrible living conditions that some of these children face. It truly breaks my heart. It angers me that there are these types of cases. The need is huge - and some would say that it is so big, so many orphans, that it is insurmountable. Yes, the orphan crisis is big.

Our God ... He is bigger.

I will also say that you can't change the world with the adoption of one child, but you can change the world for that child. Carrington's future has been changed. She no longer sits in an orphanage dying. She is now being covered by prayer for healing, and care for her physical needs. She is being loved on by a family who puts their trust in Christ. I'd say her world has changed ... quite a bit.

Kirill deserves that same chance of having his world change. Let's pray for those who are responsible for deciding the appeal. Let's pray Kirill home.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy World Down Syndrome Day

Our three beautiful reasons to celebrate:

World Down Syndrome Day is today, March 21st - or 3/21
3/21 is a fitting date to celebrate Down syndrome
Down syndrome is three copies (instead of the typical two) of the 21st chromosome
Hence, the date: 3/21 is meaningful and quite perfect for celebration
Today, we celebrate our three very special kiddos
We are so thankful that God bestowed these three blessings upon the Browning family
May your day be filled with goodness and blessings
May you be able to celebrate the blessings God has bestowed upon you

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Three Months

Well, it is March - and that means that we have been blessed to have Max and Ivanna in our home now for over three months. March 2nd - would have been three months exactly. In some ways it seems like it has been forever - and in other ways it just seems like yesterday. I remember the feeling of what it was like to sit in my living room preparing our dossier to ship to Europe. I sat there, cried (really I did) and prayed over the shuffle of pretty apostilled papers. Our dream of bringing home these two little lives - was about to become reality. It seemed so surreal.
It still does at times. Especially when I flip through the images from when we were making our daily orphanage visits. I still can't believe we were there. Smelling those smells, seeing the faces of all those children - it was overwhelming. I wish I could impress upon you the burden for these kids, or for that matter - any of the "fatherless". The need is great. Their plight is real.
I remember what it was like to meet Max and Ivanna for the first time. Max - came in first. He was beautiful and everything I made him up to be in my mind. Big eyes - and a very gentle and sweet nature. Ivanna came in next. It was shocking to see her. She was dehydrated, dopey, and very frail. That was the first time I faced the reality these children face everyday. I was overwhelmed with thoughts and emotion as I took her from the caretaker arms. This sort of bombardment of emotion would continue for the entire trip there.
Perhaps it is a little different when you have a child biologically with Down syndrome. I kept imagining Justus in the same shoes as these other children. What would have happened to him if he were born here? Would he have gotten the heart surgery that most assuredly saved his life? The thought that someone could label my beautiful Justus as insane and shuffle him away as unwanted or even worse: a drain on society - was and IS so difficult to even form in my mind's eye.
Well, I say all that to say this - Max and Ivanna have been home three months. The journey is far from over. They have, with the blessing of our Lord, come through so much already. They both have made great strides in accomplishments, yet there is still a long road ahead.
I have posted some pictures so you can "see" the difference in both children. The images marked with a water mark are by my friend Jenny Savage. She does a great job and is so patient with children. She does our annual family picture.
Thank you Jenny.

Our Family
(from oldest to youngest)
Phillip, Charrissa, Isaac, Gabriel, Ethan, Max, Elisabeth, Ivanna, Chloe, and Justus
First meeting of Max in the orphanage. November 1st, 2010

Three months home. At the park in March 2011.

Family photo shoot. February 2011.

November 2010 ~ outside in the orphanage park.
We were given a list of food that Max could not eat. We were told he was allergic. They must have thought that because he was refluxing it was allergies. He came from a good groupa - and they really did a great job caring for him. However, now that he is home we are working on getting him to be as healthy as he can. Physical therapy, and medical appointments addressing some GI issues. He has also been given glasses - which have made a world of difference for him. Funny, a small thing like glasses - has a HUGE impact. Sight. We take it for granted.
~~~ please pray for Max, he has an endoscopy on March 24th ~~~

Ivanna ~ family photo shoot. February 2011
She has gained nearly 10 pounds since her weighing in at the embassy in Europe. She can now feed herself the bottle, and is currently working on feeding herself from a spoon, learning how to walk and in training to not constantly "eat" her hands for stimulation. She is truly blossoming into a beautiful sweet spirited little girl. It isn't always easy - but VERY much worth it. An honor to be apart of her quickening - "coming to life".

November 2010
There was nowhere for us to visit both children. We were told to use the hallway between both wings of the orphanage. I was given a bottle to feed Ivanna with. It was half full of an apple cider type liquid. Her meal. I held Ivanna - and even now look at this and am astonished at how small she was.

November 2010
Outside in the park at the orphanage.
We were able to take Ivanna outside. She was bundled up - and out for walks with us. We would place her in the stroller and she would doze off. It was hard to keep her awake, as they continually gave her antihistamines. She could not properly enjoy her first time being outside. Can't wait for warmer weather where she can sit in the grass and feel the warmth of the sun.
February 2010
Ivanna is beautiful. Once thought of as "nothing worth investing in" she is now on the road to blossoming into a sweet little girl. It's hard for her at times - all this new stuff she needs to learn. Yet, she does it and continues to thrive and flourish.

This was taken a few days after being home. Her eyes are red from crying. She hated baths when we first got her home. She is in a size four diaper in this picture - and is skinny. Praise the Lord that she has gained nearly ten pounds in just three short months. She is a walking testimony of God's redeeming power. Of how prayer, provision and love can change the whole world of one child. She may not entirely realize the change - but others see her transformation and are impacted. I know I am.
To flip through the older images of being at the orphanage still stirs my heart. We have pictures of other children. Children left behind. Those are especially hard to look at. Will they have a family soon? Some - I know probably will not. They are extremely developmentally delayed and older children. That makes it especially difficult.
We were recently challenged to our motive behind this adoption. It was a difficult email to address, yet it was good - our motive was simply James 1:27. The scripture listed on this blog's header. It is only God that has called us to this journey. He has provided the means for it and it is Him that I continually go to for strength and patience as I awake every morning and face the day. He has to be the focus - so much so in this adoption even. If we didn't adopt to glorify Christ, but did it for some weird self gratification - we would fail, miserably. Why? Because this whole process isn't easy. From the paperwork chase, to the fundraising, to the travel to another country, and then most of all: when you get the children home and the work really begins.
I hope that you enjoy the pictures. We thank you for continuing the support and encouragement. To all of you who are adopting - continue to press and work. Those little ones waiting for you, are so worth every dime spent and paper chasing adventure.
It is a beautiful journey God has placed you on. Enjoy this lifelong ride.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Park Visit

So I promised a heavy photo post awhile back - and here it is. *sigh* Better late than never. :)

We had Physical Therapy today for Max and Ivanna. I am blessed that there is a local therapist who comes to my home for them both. I would typically have to enroll them in a public school program called "Child Find" or take them to a private therapist in office all due to their age. Justus receives care in home too, but that is typical until a child is three years old. So ... the kids got quite a work out today. I love ther PT. She takes no gruff from Miss. Ivanna Pants - bossy britches. Ivanna is lazy. She doesn't like to be pushed into new territory as far as development is concerned. You really (I mean REALLY) have to push the girl. During the PT visit, I looked out my window and saw the sun was out. A rare thing here in the Pacific Northwest during this time of year. The sun tempted me. Yes, I had a pile of dishes. Yes, laundry coming out my earholes. Yes, kids had not finished school yet. Yes, Yes... all those responsible type things beckoned me to stay home and be a big girl ... but they lost. I waved our PT goodbye, bellowed out to the kids to get their mudboots and coats on, and sent Phillip a quick text that said: The house is a mess. The school is not done, and dishes are in the sink. We are going to the park! Of course, I heard no arguments from the kids as they got in the van in record time. Probably hoping I would not change my mind. So ... off to the park we went:

Chloe is totally lovin it!

Ivanna on the swing. It was soooo cold, but this girl LOVES the breeze in her hair!

Isaac is not impressed by my camera abilities.

Ethan is loving being outside and playing when he should be finishing seatwork.

Max is LOVING the swing, but I'm not loving the glasses transition to sun glasses thing. I don't know ... seems a bit cheesy to me. Hmmmm...

Justus. Cute as a button.

First time in a swing.

Gabriel, my handsome boy!

Ellie girl. Usually full of smiles.

This is inside on another day. I love his glasses! (just not sure about the lenses having that transition stuff on them) The glasses at Specs4Us are awesome!!

Ivanna Pants showing us her pretty smile.

Okay. Thought I would show you how I have been fairing in trying to get Ivanna to feed herself. It is trying ... to say the least. She does NOT like doing new things. She will fight you, yell out, turn her head, and all out cry because you are trying to get her to do something new. Part of it is sensory perhaps - but I think the majority of it is she has never been expected to do anything. So ... why start now?

Because Ivanna - Mama needs you to feed yourself. I need you to have victory in this and move on to your next goal.

She will not pick up that spoon and hold it. So ... I read somewhere once of a mom who connected the spoon via a hair scrunchy. IT WORKS! It stays in her hand. Now, getting her to dip the spoon into her bowl and put food into mouth: another story. She also cocks her head to the side when she herself is made to put food in mouth. This makes it so the spoon goes into her mouth sideways. I need a spoon that is twisted. Do they make those?

Any suggestions???

Monday, March 7, 2011

Where I'm Called

Have you ever had one of "those" days? Of course you have. Everyone does. Well, today - was "one of those days". It started by me being greeted by my fourteen year old dog's mess in my entry way. He's old - and getting older, some things just can't wait. Ugh. I do what any mom of eight kids would do - ignore it and walk to the coffee maker. I get the coffee going, set little #1 in the excersaucer and start the cleanup process. Then it just seemed like things spun out of control. Rather than bore you with the details: suffice it to say, my attitude had taken a turn for the worse.

It was during lunch time that I had this conversation with my five year old daughter, Ellie:

E ~ Mom, you know - I really want to go to South America.
Me ~ Why?
E ~ You know ... to go fishin' and stuff.
Me ~ huh.
E ~ But, I guess it really is up to God. I'll go anywhere he calls me to.
Me ~ (thinking - wow!) Oh, Ellie - that is very sweet. Yes, you should do whatever God has called you to do.
E ~ Mom, what has God called you to do?
Me ~ Oh, Ellie. (thinking about it ... then smiling) God called me to be a mommy and a wife. To love you kiddos. To stay home and make sure you are all cared for.
*** That's when it dawned on me. God was using my Ellie to remind me of my calling. No, it didn't matter that things get squirrelly here and there. Those were all ... just stuff. I was called to be a mommy. To love these kiddos. To enjoy my calling ... ***
I kissed Ellie on the head, and we lingered over lunch.

When I heard Max upstairs giggling for the third time, when he should be napping - I went up there, pulled him out, sat him in my lap and .... rocked him as I stroked his hair.

I love it when God taps you on the shoulder and gently reminds you of what you have forgotten.
needed that today

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Day in the Life ...

... of me:

Due to Ivanna's difficulty in eating anything she needs to chew, and Max's aspiration problems and Justus' - well, just being a baby - we make baby food in mass quantity. Prior to all this, I had no idea that baby food was so expensive. We had always just trained our children straight to table foods. There is NO WAY we could keep up with each child's appetite with jarred baby foods in the grocery stores. So ... we boil, blend and freeze our own.
Sweet Potatoes

I am currently working on helping Ivanna "learn" to feed herself with a spoon. No easy task. It takes a TON of patience, something that I am not well versed in. I have to literally hold her hand to the spoon and go through the motions of it with her. She hates it. Just like she hated holding her own bottle. She would buck and cry then too. BUT, praise God, she actually holds her own bottle now. So ... I am going to continue to push her. I suspect her not wanting to hold things comes from some sensory issues, but I can't just let it stop us in our tracks. Truth be told, I am just too busy to continue to have to feed her myself. I will if need be - but if she holds that potential - I NEED her to unlock it.
So, I am praying that she will. It may seem like a strange prayer request, but could you pray with me?
Max is going to have an Endoscopy done soon to have a plan of action regarding this H. Pylori thing. They will biopsy his stomach and check for H. Pylori and Celiac disease. We took him to the GI specialist, and my suspicions were right. It seems that H. Pylori is a BIG CULPRIT when it comes to reflux. So, I am hopeful that an end to our nasty little friend will end Max's reflux. Praying for this too. We continue to keep him on a "honey thick" diet for his aspiration. He seems to be doing well with that.
That's it for now. Thank you for praying along side us.
** A big congratulations to our friends, the Bowden family, who are preparing to come home with their newest blessing: Sophie. You can visit their blog here. **


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