Thursday, 29 September 2011

Coins for Katie Takes Over!

Remember when I told you about my friend Erin and our incredible Coins for Katie opportunity with her first grade class?  They handed out their cups today to the first grade. . . to NINETY students!

Erin sent me an email today that said:   

The cups went out today...the kids are so excited when we were talking about Katie and the wonderful family that wants to adopt her.  We all agreed that since we all love to help people in need, that we would love to help Katie find her family!

Some of the cutest comments from the day that I thought I would share...
  • "When I get my two dollars from my dad I am going to give one to Katie!"
  • "Can we give the green money too?"
  • "My mom is adopted."
  • "Can we fill it up two times?"
  • "I can take all the coins in my jar at home and put them in this cup!"
We are so excited that our family has the opportunity to be a part of such a great project!  

Monday, 26 September 2011

Some Updates

  1. We had our biometric fingerprinting done today.  YAHOO!  This is one huge step closer to Katie.  We are so close to being ready to submit our dossier.  Once we get those results we are waiting on two documents to come in the mail, and you can consider our dossier signed, sealed, and delivered.  
  2. Remember the party I told you Jenny was having?  Well, she had it.  In a big way.  Guess how much money they raised?  I don't have a final tally yet, but just the dollar bills and checks they received totaled. . . wait for it. . . $870!!!  Can you believe that?!  She said that they have a ton of coins too that they will have counted at the bank this week.  I'm waiting to update our thermometer until I get the final count from her.  $870 is absolutely amazing.  She said that people were incredibly generous, asking questions about Katie and our family, and some were hopeful that we would be there so they could talk to us.  This made me cry.  I know some of Jenny's guests have been reading our blog - please comment to let me know you were here!!  I am so incredibly humbled by the generosity of strangers.  I'll let you know the final number when I hear from Jenny. It's so exciting!  
  3. I went to elementary school with a girl named Kathy.  She has a son who is in high school and took it upon himself to organize a benefit concert for Katie at his high school.  As his mom said, "I'm shocked - he can't even clean his room, but he organized a concert!"  He spoke to the principal and got permission to use the auditorium at his high school and he's organized the entire thing.  I have never met this boy before in my life.  The concert will be at Gardner High School on Sunday October 16th from 5-7:30 p.m.   All proceeds will go to help bring Katie Ruth home.  The willingness of children and teenagers literally all over the United States to help us bring Katie home is unreal.  There are some parents out there teaching these children some really great lessons.  
  4. We found out Friday that Katie is non-verbal.  This didn't really surprise me, and was something we had definitely discussed and considered.  Speech development in children with Down syndrome is usually late, and she's clearly not receiving any therapeutic services in the orphanage.  While certainly a non-verbal child brings along with her another layer of challenges, this my friends is one for which we are prepared.  David was non-verbal until he was three years old.  (For new readers, David received speech therapy for three years at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center in Nashville for apraxia of speech.)  This is familiar territory for us, and I've already started thinking about things we did with David (sign language, food boards, flashcards, et cetera) that were helpful to decrease his (and our!) frustration.  Certainly with KR we have the additional challenge of English not being her first language, but we will cope.  We're (very, very slowly) learning a few words of her native language, and will incorporate those to help her as much as we can.  I've also talked with Ms. Dana, our OT for David, about available speech therapists she would suggest for KR.  Vanderbilt is just too far for us to travel now on a regular basis, as much as we absolutely adored the program there.  I know there are several other very well qualified providers closer to us.
  5. We have another fundraiser in the works - a softball tournament!  It's being organized by our friend Brian, and I will pass those details along as I get more.  I believe it's scheduled for October 22nd in Eagleville, TN.  
  6. We got our FBI criminal background checks back today (unrelated to the biometric fingerprinting I mentioned in paragraph 1).  Thankfully neither of us had a secret criminal past!  :)
I hope your week got off to a great start!  Thank you so, so much for your continued support on this adventure - we truly have the best friends we could ever think of having!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Run for Katie Runner Profile: Meet Kirk!

This is Kirk.
He's one of the attorneys I work for.
Kirk has been an attorney for about seven years.  
He practices criminal defense, domestic law, and insurance litigation.
And he's a very good attorney.
(I mean really, do you think I'd work for a bunch of losers?!)

Kirk is married to Carrie Beth, who is one of my favorite people.
They have two adorable daughters, Charleigh Anne and Carrigan.
They are a fabulous, fun family.

Kirk is a great dad for little girls.
He does lots of fun things with them, like play in the river.
He coached Charleigh's little league team.
He will threaten to seriously harm any boy who comes near them. . . 

I wasn't sure how I would feel about Kirk when I first met him.
He seemed tough to get to know at first.
The fact that he has more friends than anyone I've ever met should have been a clue.
He's not at all what most people think of when they think of an attorney.
And he's probably going to be mad I said that!
He's very laid back, makes me laugh until my stomach hurts, is witty, and is fiercely loyal.
He is smart, rarely serious, loves to golf, and is the first to crack a joke.
Kirk is generous, appreciative, fun, and sensitive.

He's also the first person to offer to help when someone needs it.
He has a heart that is greater than his sense of humor.
When we were completely lost about how to best help David, Kirk was the first person to offer to call some of his contacts to help. 
When we decided to adopt, Kirk was one of the first people to say he would do whatever he could to help.
And he has.  
He has donated things for our yard sale.
He has collected coins.
And now he will run.
He has offered to do a simple will for people who donate $100 to his fundraising.
He has offered DUI representation for people who donate $250 to his fundraising.
And he has offered uncontested divorce representation to people who donate $500 to his fundraising.
And I promise you these are things that he normally charges significantly more for.

Kirk started running last year, and lost something like 60 pounds.
He's run in lots of 5ks, and ran the Ragnar Relay last year with Travis.
He's running Ragnar again this year, and he's running the Las Vegas marathon.
He's running the Middle Half to help us raise money to bring Katie home.
And he never hesitated to offer to do so.

Kirk is generous, and giving.
He gives of his time by volunteering to serve on the boards of several local charities and organizations.
He volunteers at the legal clinic for the Greenhouse Ministries.
He donates to pretty much every child who asks him nicely.
He is very generous with the people in our office.
I think everyone I know is probably sick of hearing how much I love my job, but it's really true.  I'm very, very lucky to work with people I enjoy so much, and Kirk is certainly one of them.

Thanks KDC!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Coins for Katie Goes Global!

Remember when I told you that Danielle had a great family?
I wasn't kidding.
This is her mom, Krystyna.
She lives in Canada.
Coins for Katie has gone global!
Danielle's mom is bringing a Coins for Katie jar to her office!


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Silent Auction Prize - Danielle Bennett Photography

 I have a really great prize to tell you about that will be available in the silent auction at our Pancake Breakfast on November 12th.  Danielle, of Danielle Bennett Photography has very generously donated a gift certificate for a mini-session.

I have known Danielle for three years.  We met when I worked for The Little Gym and she brought her oldest son T there.  I immediately liked Danielle.  She is a great mom, has a fabulous sense of humor, is smart, has great recipes she's quick to share, and she's a lot of fun.  She has since had her second son sweet little J.  She has a fantastic family.  She is also a wonderful, creative photographer!
I told you she has a great sense of humor!

Danielle has donated a mini-session to our silent auction.  Her mini-sessions are valued at $125 for thirty minutes of shooting.  She does location shoots in and around Nashville.  As part of the package she has donated, she will provide 10-12 edited color and black and white photos on CD.  If there are more than 12 great photos (and I can almost promise there will be!) she will have the client select the first twelve and then they have the option to purchase additional files for $5.  She also offers a very affordable, high quality print service.  She does not use flash photography, and her pictures are so creative.

What a great Christmas gift a photo like this would be!

Seriously?  Can I borrow her legs?

Please visit Danielle's website at  Tell her I sent you!  I cannot wait for someone to get this great gift certificate at our silent auction so I can see the photos they'll get!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Pancake Breakfast!

I am so excited about a fundraiser we have coming up!  On Saturday November 12, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., we will be having a pancake breakfast to raise money to bring Katie home.  We are calling it our Coins for Katie breakfast, because each table will have a sippy cup in the center.  We are so fortunate to be able to host this event at Chili's at the Avenue in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Tickets for this event will be $7.00 per person, which will get you a delicious pancake breakfast!  (And, if you're worried about who will be doing the cooking. . .it will be the Chili's staff..)  What do we do?  Find some waiters.  And I have the best waiters in town.  The four attorneys I work for are coming to Chili's that morning to wait tables.  And I promise you these are not people who have e.v.e.r. waited tables before in their lives.  And, of their own creation, they are having a contest to see who will earn the most tips.  The tips will obviously be donated to Coins for Katie, and the three losers will additionally donate $100.00 a piece.  Seriously, if I have failed to say it enough, the people I work with are amazing.  So fun, generous, and supportive of this process for us.  They are truly like my family, and I hope they know how much I appreciate each one of them.  Not only are my attorneys going to be my waiters, one legal assistant will be the hostess and her husband will be a bus boy.  One legal assistant who doesn't even work in our office anymore (my dear friend Jennifer, who also happens to be the only one of the bunch with experience waiting tables!) will also be a waitress.  Our newest legal assistant, who has only been in our office since September 1, has also volunteered to help and her boyfriend will be a bus boy!  Katie is going to be so lucky to have this crew when she gets here.  I know they will welcome her with open arms.  They are all working hard to get her here!  

We will also have at our pancake breakfast a silent auction and a cake sale.  (For those who don't know me in real life or follow my personal blog, I used to do professional cakes and specialty desserts. . . waiting tables I can't do.  Cakes - that I can do!)  We have had amazing silent auction items donated - things like a vacation to a Marriott Vacation Reward Club, a Totally Bowlicious gift, a Keurig machine, an incredible photography gift that deserves it's own post, goodies from Embellished Living (which also will get their own post!), a custom made cornhole set similar to this one (but not with a beer logo!), and more!

We are SO excited about this event, and would love to see lots of your faces there!  I have tickets available now, so please let me know how many you'd like!

Saturday, 17 September 2011


We have an FBI biometric fingerprinting date!
I've heard about people walking in after they've received notice of their appointment and getting the prints done sooner.  Does anyone have experience with this?  I will have to take time off to do the fingerprinting, so I really don't want to go as a walk-in and have it be a waste of time.  Our date is October 11th, so it's not that long to wait, but certainly if we can do it sooner I want to!  We'll go in Nasvhille, and I would love to hear from other people who have already done the biometric printing and have done a walk-in appointment.  This is a big step for us, and one big step closer to Katie!

Thank You Ali!

We got a donation in the mail today from Ali in Templeton, Massachusetts.  Ali has been one of my closest friends since first grade.  (For those of you counting, that's almost THIRTY YEARS.  What in the world. . . )  We did everything together, for many many years.  We went on vacations with each other's family and spent probably every Saturday night at one or the other's house for about 10 years, 

We rode our bikes all over town together and told each other lots of secrets.  If you were looking for some dirt on me, Ali would be a good person to talk to!  Ali is beautiful, smart, and hilariously funny.  She has a great laugh, and a smile that is contagious.  She's a special education teacher, and she has been a great source of information and encouragement for me throughout our journey with David.  I'm very lucky to have been friends with Ali for such a long time.  I don't get to see her often, but when I do it's never uncomfortable - it's an easy friendship that's simple to pick back up.  Ali's turned into quite a traveller, and I hope she has Nashville somewhere on her list!  ;)

Thank you Ali!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

What a Week!

We have the most supportive friends!  We have received a donation every single day this week for Katie Ruth!  Today I came home to a card from Kristin, from Brighton, Massachusetts.

Kristin is another friend I met while working at the Gap.  We worked together for a number of years while Kristin was in high school and college.  She is an absolute riot - she is quick to laugh, and has a smile that touches her whole face.  She is not afraid to be goofy, is smart, sensitive, and fun.  I loved working with Kristin and getting to know her.  She is a thoughtful person, and she has a warm, wonderful family.  

And here she is with our friend Jenny!
Kristin sent us an adorable card with a sweet note - we are saving all of the cards we receive from people to share with Katie.  It is amazing to me that people like Kristin, whom I haven't seen in nearly ten years, are willing to help us raise money to bring Katie home.  I'm sure Kristin has plenty of other things to spend her money on, yet she so generously sent us a check to help us.  I know I have said this before, but we are so incredibly lucky to have such great friends.  I cannot believe the support we have gotten on our journey to Katie.  Thank you so much Kristin!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Special Thank Yous

We received two checks in the mail this week.  One from Linda (shown above with her grandchildren and husband).  Linda and I have never met.  She is Briana's mom, and the grandmother of Logan, Quinn, and Olive.  She sent the most lovely, thoughtful card and a donation to help us raise Coins for Katie.  It was such a nice surprise, and incredibly kind and generous of her.  Thank you Linda!

The second card we got was from Amy, Forest, and Grace.  Grace is the special little girl I wrote about making a teapot birthday cake for.  Grace is three, and she is fighting hard to beat leukemia.  She started the most difficult portion of her treatment last week, and her parents were still thinking of other people and sent us a sweet card and generous donation for Katie.  They are literally fighting to save their daughter's life and are thinking of other people.  We are very thankful for their support, but more than that I am thankful that Katie will have people like Amy, Forest, and Grace in her life.  If you are praying for Katie, please take some time to pray for sweet Grace and her parents Amy and Forest as well.  They need as many thoughts and prayers as they can get in this difficult, senseless fight.

Coins Add Up!

We got this cup and a small baggy with "overflow" change in it returned to us today from Michelle in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  This is a perfect example of how quickly our change will add up. . . it was nothing but coins, and it had $30.50 in it!!!  Michelle said people from her office and her family contributed.  And when her daughter learned what it was for, she emptied her purse into the cup.  I love that children are getting involved with this!

Think about this - we have given out 179 cups and received six donations from people who live further away.  If each of the people with our 179 cups saved $30.50, we would raise $5,809.17 (including our six donations).  JUST FROM SAVING COINS!!!  I counted and rolled the coins from Michelle with the boys tonight, and they couldn't believe how much there was.  This is not a big cup!  I am so, so excited about this project!

This is sweet Olive in Keene, New Hampshire.  Her mama and I grew up about five minutes from each other but never knew each other until we lived 1,200 miles apart and started reading each other's blogs.  Small world?  Olive has two older brothers who are David and Henry's age, and Olive is three.  She and Jack were born within weeks of each other.  Olive's mama posted on my facebook today: 

Olive is excited that her "Katie Cup" came today!  She has been searching the house for coins so "Katie can have a mom and dad"!  Her cup is half full already!"  

And then she thanked me. . . um, thank you.  Thank you for teaching your child about giving and about generosity.  Thank for teaching your child that it's exciting to help other people.  Thank you for teaching your child about Katie and, in turn, about other children who need a mom and a dad.  Thank you for teaching your child about literally making a difference in someone else's life.  And, most of all, thank you for teaching your child about Katie, and for helping us bring her home.

I can't wait for Olive to see Katie at the lake in New Hampshire, to play in the sand, and splash in the water with her!  Thank you Briana, Kevin, Quinn, Logan, and Olive!!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Thank You!

We received a $100 donation to our Reece's Rainbow fund today.  We're now up to $400!  Unfortunately we don't get notified when a donation is made, or who made it.  (However I have emailed the contact person at Reece's Rainbow to see if we can find out.)  Was it you?  Please tell me if it was!  We'd like to thank you properly so you know how much we appreciate you and your generosity.  Until then, Thank you!

The Swanky Southern Yankee's Cup

Here is Erin's cup in Texas.
I LOVE the name of her blog.
I'm mad I didn't think of it first!

Erin posted this photo on my facebook today with the comment:
"Girl. . . you need to get bigger sippy cups.  Katie, pack your bags!"

I have known Erin since she was in high school and worked for me at the Gap.  She was a riot then, and from everything I can see now, that hasn't changed! 

Thanks Erin - we so appreciate your help!
And we're not that far from each other - Yanks in the South have to stick together. 
Come visit Katie when she's home!

Run For Katie Runner Profile: Kathy

Today's post is written by a guest poster - Misty!

This is Kathy:

I like to think of her as my unintentional friend. 
Kathy’s daughter, Jessica, and I have been friends since second grade.  Four years ago, Adam and I bought our current home two streets over from Kathy’s (the same house that her daughter and I once threw more parties than I’d care to admit to). When I decided last year that I’d run my first half marathon, Kathy was the only person crazy brave enough to join me. Although she’s always been fit, she’d never been a runner and having always been fat, neither had I. We both had reasons for wanting to run a half marathon:  She to celebrate her upcoming 50th birthday, I to celebrate my recent weight loss.  And from there, a very unique friendship was formed. 

(Me and Kathy, after finishing The Middle Half last year  You have to be pretty awesome to run a 13.1 in Ray-Ban aviators…)
Since running her first half marathon last October, she’s since run two more, will run The Middle Half again this year, and will join me in the Ragnar Relay race.  As if that alone didn’t make her cool, Kathy has been riding Harley Davidsons for over twenty years and has been known to drink 13.1 Bud Lights after a race.  (You didn’t hear that from me!) She takes cool vacations and has even cooler running clothes.  She has a contagious laugh, a smile that lights up a room, and a heart of gold. She’s terribly loyal and, at times, had faith in me when I didn’t have it in myself. Of all my friends, Kathy was the only one to not only join Run for Kate but she did so without hesitation and without me even asking. This doesn’t surprise me, she’s super generous.

(Kathy with really bad hair.)
Recently Kathy was dealt a very hard loss, the kind that would cripple most people for weeks or months.  But not Kathy. She cried her tears, said her goodbyes, then strapped on her running shoes and ran. Her strength is amazingly heroic. 
And even more recently, Kathy became a grandmother:

(Layla Jane sure is one lucky kid.)
Running the Middle Half again will be bittersweet for Kathy.  Her biggest supporter will not be cheering her on from the sidelines this year. 
 But I will be.  I will be with her every step of the way.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Cups Galore!

Here is Kelly's cup in Keller, Texas.
She has it on her kitchen window and her two young boys love to put in change they find.
She emailed me and said they also take it to playgroups and out with them during the day to put in their change from the car, etc..  I love it!  Thanks Kel!

Lynn, in Manchester, New Hampshire put her Coins for Katie jar out at her yard sale over the weekend.

At her yard sale she made $34.49.
And she's combining that with her husband's change jar.
AND still collecting!

We also got three checks in the mail this weekend from a very special family.

Our family has been friends with Keri and Abby's family for years.
This is Keri, and she sent a check for us from Delray Beach, Florida.

This is Abby and her husband Kendrick and their two adorable little muffins.
Abby and my sister have been close friends since they were very small.
Abby and Kendrick's Coins for Katie check came from Gardner, Massachusetts.

And their mama, Debbie, and their dad Armand (who I don't have a photo of!) sent a check from Templeton, Massachusetts.  My mom and Debbie (and all of Debbie's sisters) have been friends since they were children.  

I so appreciate you thinking of us and helping us bring Katie home!!

Going out in tomorrow's mail?

These are going to my friend Erin to use in her first grade class.  
I am so, so excited about this!

And Henry made this thank you note, which is included in the package we're sending to Erin.
I love his little creativeness!

Our Starfish

As I walked along the seashore
A young boy greeted me.

He was tossing stranded starfish
Back to the deep blue sea.

I said, "Tell me why you bother,
Why you waste your time this way.
There's a million stranded starfish, 
Does it matter anyway?"

He smiled and said,
 "It matters to this one,
It deserves a chance to grow.
It matters to this one.
I can't save them all I know.
But it matters to this one,
I'll return it to the sea.
It matters to this one,
And it matters to me."

(I don't know who wrote this - the only credit I can give is that I found it on the blog Saving Our Starfish.)

Thursday, 8 September 2011


This is my beautiful friend Jenny.  And her adorable little boy Dylan, who is now two years old.  Jenny and I have been friends for over ten years.  We met when we worked together at the Gap.

Jenny is now married to her husband Matt.  Aren't they cute?  Jenny and Matt are both from Chicago.  They now live in Singapore.  Yes, that Singapore.  And the girl I would have voted "Least likely to live in Singapore"?  Yes, that would have been Jenny.

Jenny and Matt have two precious boys, Dylan who is two and sweet baby Gavin.  They are in Chicago for a bit and are having a party at the end of the month to celebrate Dylan's second birthday and Gavin's baptism.  And in lieu of gifts they are asking their guests to bring donations to help bring Katie home.  Isn't that amazing?  It shouldn't surprise me, because Jenny is an incredibly giving, generous person.  However, this journey to Katie Ruth has been full of surprises for me.  To ask that people - complete strangers to us - donate to help us bring our girl home instead of buying a gift for Dylan and Gavin is remarkable to me.  It's completely unselfish and amazingly generous.

This process has been, and I expect will continue to be, a very humbling one.  How do you thank people for literally helping you bring your child home?  There are no words that are adequate.  We are trying to be very gracious and thankful, but really?  How do you thank people for this?  We are so fortunate to have such amazing friends, and that has never been more apparent to me.

Thank you.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Even More Cups

Here's Danielle's cup in Gardner, Massachusetts.
I love to see these filling up!

And here's Pete's cup in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Pete's mama was our sweet babysitter Kayla.
She watched the boys every week for over a year, and we miss her!