It's been an eventful weekend! Really, a week in the making :)
I appreciate all the kind emails and posts asking if we're ok, and I'm sorry for scaring anyone! We left on Wednesday afternoon for a 2 day/ 20 hour drive to Philadelphia where we were invited to witness and take part in my sister, Elizabeth's, wedding! Some of you long-time blog watchers would remember her as the person that came from Minnesota to Florida and moved in to our house for a month to watch Kristopher and Brianna during our first trip to Ukraine for Emma and Micah.
She's also the person I went to for a little get-away in Minneapolis a few times. Elizabeth and I are just 2 1/2 years apart and have always been great friends as well. I was honored to be the matron of honor at her wedding this weekend!
Pictures to come... because I will have to get them from other people that actually took pictures... But it was a beautiful wedding, the most beautiful bride ever, and we had a great time with family from all over the country and friends!
Our kids did GREAT, and we had the best babysitter go with us too :). You know, someone who you can say "will you change ____ 's diaper" and she does that one and two others within 5 minutes then comes back with a diaper bag packed and ready for 8 kids so we can leave for a while? Yep, that kind of babysitter and it was GREAT having her along!
I don't look forward to another road trip like that anytime soon, but we did all survive! We did 20 hours over the span of 2 days to get there and then drove a straight-through 18 hours home. We got in about 1am.
Congratulations Elizabeth and Jim Isajewicz!
PS: My kids are ready for cousins!! No rush... but a honeymoon baby wouldn't be SO bad, right? I mean... we already have a 7 or 8 year head start on you... no pressure!! :) And I'm sure you won't read this for at least a few weeks, so I feel totally safe in saying that without ruining your week. Have a great time! :)
Before we left we did the drawings for the iPad and gift cards. The winner of the $20 gift card hasn't written me back yet, so please contact me! The $25 gift card winner will have theirs on the way soon if not already (being sent from Shelley!). The iPad winner sent me their info, but then the story went on from there. Here's the continued story of the iPad...
Kim and Ray have 3 little boys and won the iPad! I've known Kim through virtual forums for the last 4 years or so (I think?) since her Charlie and my Brianna are the same age and both have Down syndrome. Kim and her husband decided to make a significant donation and did so. Then they saw that we were trying to make or $5k goal and Kim decided that was a good time to donate. Well, Kim has a little thing called A D D. (yes, seriously). And, she forgot that she had already donated the day before! So... they accidentally doubled their donation :). Kim never told me any of this and she and her husband decided that they were glad to make the second donation as well, so they didn't try to reverse the donation or anything like that.
When Kim won, she and Ray laughed to themselves that their extra donation had actually amounted to winning the iPad! They sent me their address when I requested it, letting them know I'd order it on Tuesday of last week. On Monday I decided to go ahead and order it since I already received their address, but in doing so found that Apple is currently doing free engraving as well. I instead wrote to them and asked if they wanted their last name or anything special engraved in their iPad and if I didn't hear from them by Tuesday I'd just order it without.
On Tuesday morning I woke up to an email that went like this:
We are very grateful to Kim and Ray for the gift that they've given! In fact, there's a little more to the story there even...
After we began the give-away is when we learned the extent of Wesley's vision issues. When he got his glasses, especially, we really decided that we'd get an iPad very soon for him... well, as soon as we could save up for another one. We really felt like it would be the only communication device that he'd be able to effectively use since it is back lit and most are intentionally NOT lit at all.
God asked us to give, and we gave not out of our excess, but out of our need. And God blessed that, when someone else gave, not only out of their excess, but their own need (with their second 'unplanned' donation), and He blessed us both through it.
A HUGE THANK YOU to Kim, Ray, and their boys for the gift of a voice for Wesley!
I continue to attempt to write a proper thank-you post to another organization that blessed us abundantly this year, and each time I go to write I find that I either run out of time or something else happens... So though this isn't the 'grand' post it deserves, here it goes anyway :).
In October I received a call from my kids' cardiologist. We had, at that time, 4 kids seeing them and they didn't even know about our current adoption (I don't think). My immediate thought was concern because I was recently in the office with Emma and James and I was concerned that they'd be calling my cell phone!
I was relieved to hear that it wasn't about my kids' health at all. In fact, it was a blessing instead.
One of the nurses' daughter works for Sherwin Williams, the paint company. She had been put in charge of a project to sponsor Christmas for a family at the very last minute. She was charged with finding a family in a week and went to her mom, that works at the cardiologist, for help in finding a family. Her mom said she knew the right family but hung up with her and called other nurses in to ask who they thought would be a good one. They all came up with the same family-- us.
When she called I got back in contact with her and said that we really WOULD have a Christmas for all of our kids. Even with the adoption and the special needs of all of our current kiddo's... we would find a way to have Christmas for everyone. Michael and I both felt that if they were doing Christmas for someone that wouldn't otherwise have Christmas, they should choose another family.
We heard back from the nurse's daughter the next day and she said something to the effect of: "this isn't for someone that can't, this is for a family that we want to bless and you all are the right match. I've already sent your blog out to the rest of the ladies doing it and they agree-- so you're it!"
Little did we know that not only would I not make it back for Christmas, but I also wouldn't have the down time that we were expecting to have while in Ukraine either. In addition to that, we needed the finances that we'd set aside for Christmas in order to complete Aleksa's adoption. It ended up being a HUGE blessing to us!!
And so, Summer and the ladies' group at Sherwin Williams asked us for a wishlist for the kids. We had picked out one gift for each kiddo that we were planning to buy at some point, and aside from that we just sent ideas of what type of things the kids were into (and were developmentally appropriate). We were blessed by the Ladies of Sherwin Williams giving at least one or two things for each of the kids as well as some stocking stuffers of toothbrushes and toothpaste for the kids! Between the gifts from Sherwin Williams and some things I'd purchased before Aleksa's adoption was even a thought, we were blessed to have a Christmas just like in years' past when we had much less financial responsibility in other areas and we were able to give abundantly!
Each year for Christmas we've done 3 gifts for each of the kids, and a stocking with 'needs' rather than gifts in it. We know that Jesus received 3 recorded gifts from the Magi and that is our way of keeping Christmas about Christ and not just about everything that they receive!
And so... a HUGE THANK YOU to Summer and the ladies of Sherwin Williams! We were so very blessed by your generosity and your desire to bless our family! Now... if you ever need some paint or professional painting services... you can shop at Sherwin Williams! :) They have demonstrated to us that they're a company that wants to give back to their community!
Since we're on a roll here, I also wanted to announce that there is a 5K coming up in April! Originally this was formed by a local family in our town wanting to help us with the expenses for Aleksa's adoption. Unfortunately it wasn't able to be done right away and was delayed several months. In doing so, our adoption expenses have been covered through God's provision, and the need in that area isn't there any more. With the race still on their hearts, the Holland family is proceeding with a 5K walk/run through their blueberry farm! We've asked to split the proceeds, with some helping toward the medical bills incurred through Wesley's surgery next month and the rest going toward a family (who I will share more about later) that is in need of funds for their current adoption. We are blessed by the support of our community in many different ways!
If you're local, be on the lookout for more information and details about signing up for the 5K! And if you're not local, but you like to run, consider coming to join us for the event!! :)
That's all for now, I have laundry running and no dish soap so I need to get these little ones dressed and out the door to the grocery store before lunch and naps! No one slept really great in the car, so they were all exhausted when they woke up at about 8am and we stayed home from school again today. Tomorrow they'll be fresh and ready for a great week!!