Before we left for our first trip, I had a question and answer post. It always seems a little funny to me that this post is one of the most viewed posts on the entire blog, every single week, but there are only six questions! So now, two months later (hope you weren't on the edge of your seat waiting for the answers!) I'll answer those burning questions.
1. Kellan's momma asked, "It looks like the majority of your fundraising was done outside of RR, and you did very well. How did you raise so much? And what is your favorite southern dinner?"
Kellan's momma is right. When we committed to adopt "Chloe 15h", who you now know as Katie Ruth, she had $87.49 in her grant fund through Reece's Rainbow. We had another $1,719.77 donated to her fund with RR. As you can see on the thermometer, we raised $30,000. (It's actually been a bit more than that, but I never adjusted the thermometer.) And our expenses have been more than $30,000. From almost the day we committed to adopting, fundraising was my job, in addition to my [more than] full-time job and being a mama to the three boys we already have. We did the following fundraisers: a yard sale, Coins for Katie, had a Run for Katie team in our local half marathon (through which I made a wonderful friend, Misty), and had our Coins for Katie Pancake Breakfast and Silent Auction. We were also very fortunate to have a very dear friend give us an incredibly generous, thoughtful, amazing Christmas gift in December by funding the remainder of our adoption. That gift provided the remaining one-third of our expenses. My biggest suggestions for people when they ask me about fundraising - and I am by no means an expert - are to keep things simple, talk about your fundraiser to everyone (but don't be a pest - you will get it quickly if people don't want to hear it), and be excited. Fundraising can be daunting and discouraging. Don't let people know you feel that way. Excitement about anything is contagious. So is pessimism and doubt. We were, throughout this process, constantly amazed at how generous and excited people were about helping us bring Katie home. And I don't mean people we see every day; they were excited, but I really mean people we haven't seen in years - people I went to elementary and high school with, people I worked with fifteen years ago, people I used to babysit for, or total strangers. You get what you give, and if you are doing good things I truly believe good things come back to you.
As for my favorite southern meal......I'm not originally from the south, so the food here still (almost 10 years later) seems different to me. I think my favorite southern meal is breakfast with biscuits and gravy. Or a veggie plate with okra, mac & cheese, green beans and cornbread.
2. Sarah asked, "What did you have for dinner?! LOL"
Well I clearly don't remember what I had for dinner in February the night before I posted that blog, but last night I had homemade nachos with grilled shrimp and guacamole. And they were delicious!
3. Sue asked, "Given your space limitations, how did you decide what to bring for Katie (other than uber cute clothes)?"
On our first trip, we didn't bring much for Katie. We brought toys, and I tried to make each toy have a purpose. At that point we knew nothing about her cognitive development, her motor skills, et cetera. I wanted to make the most of the toys we brought to sort of start to gauge how her developmental progress was. I talked to our occupational therapist and asked her for some suggestions, and I talked to a friend who is a physical therapist and asked for her suggestions. And I brought small, inexpensive, easy to pack toys. We brought a hand-held spinner toy that she LOVED. She liked the lights, and she liked the vibrations. We brought crayons and a book of blank paper. I wanted to see if she even knew what to do with a crayon, if she could grip it, the sort of pressure she used on the paper, and what her pincher grasp was like. (I was very pleasantly surprised.) For the notebook, I got a bound small pad of art paper, because I knew I would want to frame some of her little drawings. We brought a small silky blanket I made, because I wanted to leave it for her. We also brought some small animals, which we didn't even take out of the bag on the first trip. We brought some small Little People cars, which Henry selected, to see if she knew what they would do and was able to manipulate them. I took a soft doll to leave with her, but also to see if she knew how to pretend play with it. We brought bubbles, but I ended up giving them to a frantic mom at the airport with a child who was losing his mind. Trust me - she needed them more. We took stacking cups to see if she could stack them, if she could get them in the right sequence, if she understood cause/reaction when they were pushed over, what her reactions would be if we pushed them over, and things like that. I think that's about it for the first trip. We also brought two photo albums - one large one (that oddly, I think the staff kept) and one small padded baby album that we left for her. It had photos of our house and family. We left the doll, blanket, and stacking cups at the orphanage.
On the second trip, I brought all of the same toys, and I added a beach ball. I wanted to see if she remembered the toys, and I also wanted her to have something familiar if she was nervous about visiting with us. She DEFINITELY remembered the toys, and she got really excited when I pulled the bag out. And she love, love, loved the beach ball. (Thanks for the great suggestion Caroline!) We left it there when we left at the end of the second trip, and I've got one to take for our apartment when I go in a couple of weeks.
4. Misty asked, "I've always wondered, how did you and your husband meet? Was it online? And can you please potty train Elijah? hahaha!"
Chris and I met out in Nashville two weeks after I moved here. I knew the day I met him that I would marry him. I know that sounds cheesy, and it's crazy and so out of character for me, but I did. And we got married four months later in Hawaii. I'm so sure people doubted that decision, but nine years, three children, three houses, two dogs, one voluntary layoff, and one international adoption later - here we are.
And you'll be happy to know Elijah is potty trained, and I had nothing to do with it!
5. Jane asked, "I just started reading your blog and am praying for your safe travels....do you have any recent pictures of Katie?"
Obviously at this point, yes! Lots of recent photos. Before we traveled on our first trip we did not. We only had very old photos, and the most recent was taken a year before we met her. She looks almost nothing like that photo anymore. She has lost her baby-ness and looks like a big girl. That makes me a little sad when I think about it, because it means we missed almost five years of her life. However, she's going to have so, so many more great years with us.
6. Jennifer asked, "What is your secret to good hair days?"
She is a smarty pants. And I have no secret. I feel like I don't even know how to do my own hair!
Any other questions? I can't promise, but I'll try not to take two months to answer them!!