Monday, October 31, 2011

taking a break

What a month!

I have read so many other posts today reflecting my feelings about Down Syndrome Awareness month- it's been a wild and  exhilarating ride, but...

I'm exhausted and I'm glad it's over:)

Artem's fund is well over ten thousand dollars, the Abell's are fully funded, and there are five winners to be announced for our Thousand Gifts Giveaway.

And I need a break.

I have a huge giveaway planned for after Thanksgiving, for my newest angel, Robyn. We have several big events at church in the days ahead- including the wedding of my second oldest son, Josiah. We have therapy and homeschooling and about 30 friends and loved ones who will share Thanksgiving with us.

My family needs me, my Lilybird needs me, and after praying and asking some wise friends for advice, I decided a little blog break would be good for the soul.

I'll be back this week once to post winners to our the meantime, there's a wonderful list of great blogs to read on my sidebar, and I hope you will continue to pray with me that little Artem finds a family soon.

Now if you'll excuse me...



I have some fun to attend to!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

five little starfish

 Dear Friends,

If you hadn't heard the news, a little miracle has happened on Olga's chip-in over to your right  (called Breaking Starfish Free.)

In other words....

You finished the job.

Olga's mommy and I were texting furiously back and forth tonight when we realized her chip-in was just about full. A huge donation had just come in, and I wanted to know if that was "the donation"- the $500 donation that had been pledged to match dollar for dollar donations that came in over a 5 day period. Jenn told me that it wasn't- it was from a donor who had come through a connection with someone named Molly Auble. I texted back to Jenn- who was Molly Auble? We were both so excited, as we realized the matching $500 donation hadn't even been made yet- meaning Olga would be almost fully funded once that was made.

Just as I sent that text I had a flashback- I remembered getting a comment last December from someone named Molly....I quickly searched my December emails and found this...

Hi Patti!!! I am Olga's Christmas Warrior!!! Obviously I am overjoyed about all this and am SO GRATEFUL for your compassion. We had a fundraising party for her DEC 4th and prayed before it that ultimately someone would see Olga (and Nicholas) and adopt them!!! GOD IS MIGHTY TO SAVE- look fwd to seeing who the lucky parents will be!! Peace and Joy, Molly Auble 

At that time I didn't even know what an "Angel Tree Project" was, let alone a Christmas warrior. I just saw Olga's pretty little face on my friend Stephanie's blog and fell in love with her...I had no idea she even had a "warrior" assigned to Angel Tree warrior named Molly Auble.  

And you know what is amazing about that prayer meeting?? It happened on December 4th. And that night, I could not sleep- because I was consumed with a little girl.... named Olga.

So late at night I wrote this post called Just One without even knowing Molly and her friends had been holding a prayer meeting, hoping someone would notice Olga.  Three days later I wrote The Most Important Post I Have Ever Written, starting a fundraiser for Olga that ended up giving her a $13,184 grant, thanks to literally hundreds of amazing readers.

I fully believe that Molly Auble's prayers brought me to Olga, to help my friend Stephanie shout it from the rooftops that Olga needed a family...which led to the Abell's committing to adopt her...and now, coming full circle, Molly helped finish the job she began.

Is anyone as amazed as I am at the little details of Olga's journey home??

Oh, that post I wrote called Just One? It was based on the Starfish Story. I wanted so much to help save just one starfish.

And the name of Olga's mama's blog? Which she started without ever reading that post?  Saving Our Starfish.

Pretty cool, eh?

Can I just tell you that you people are flipping AMAZING? You rallied for Artem this month- his grant fund is now at $11,387...meaning almost $4,000 came in for him. And now you've helped finish the job for Olga. All in one little month of Down Syndrome Awareness. And we still have one more day to go!:)

Thank you just doesn't cut it. Thank you for being some of the sweetest, most gracious, most generous folks on the planet. Thank you for helping to save not one, but five little starfish this year.


It's 12:27 a.m. I'm going to bed a HAPPY woman. :)

Saturday, October 29, 2011


We have three days left of Down Syndrome Awareness Month...and for the most part I've been pretty focused on raising awareness for some very special children on Reece's Rainbow this month. Poor little Lily has been a little neglected as far as blog attention goes~ in real life she has been anything but.

We've added two physical therapy sessions in a month, along with her regular Early Intervention therapy. We've also concentrated a lot on sign language, and it has paid off- she has literally had a language explosion the past few weeks, mastering over 25 signs and working on about a dozen more. My cousin Kate sent me a Baby Signing Times video last year, but Lily wouldn't really stay focused on it for more than a few minutes.

We tried it again last week and to say that she is OBSESSED with that video would be putting it mildly. She looooooves watching and signing along with the video, and as soon as the music starts she is head bopping and waving her hands excitedly. And an added bonus: I now have the signing-time-with-Alex-and-Leah tune permanently lodged in my brain, never to be replaced- apparently - with any other song. I think I've fallen asleep the past 6 nights humming that tune, and I wake up doing the same. Come and play.....come and play...come and....   

ANYWAY, Lily is just amazing us with all she's been learning, and I was able to catch the bulk of that on video. A word of explanation: if she gets stuck on a sign we just move on to the next one, as you'll see in the video. Also, some of the signs she nails perfectly, others look like a primitive form of the actual sign. For instance, she doesn't tuck her third and fourth fingers under when she signs "airplane" but if you look closely she's trying! Even if she attempts a sign and comes close, we give her lots of praise, unless she just totally gets it wrong. Sometimes she gets really stubborn (like when she gets distracted with a hairbow!) and sometimes she just draws a blank, so we show her the sign and then move on. Mostly we just practice, practice, practice, and often the very next time we practice, Lily shows she was absorbing everything we said- even if it didn't seem like it.

One more clarification (in case Lily's therapist is reading!) - we typically don't teach a sign or ask for one without a context for it. If we're signing milk, it's while we're offering her a cup of milk, and if we're asking her to say "cat" we're pointing to a cat in a book or our cats outside. For the video I just asked her one sign right after another, but that isn't how we teach them day to day.

Hope you enjoy the video, and if you can't see the player, just refresh the webpage and it should come up. If not, you can click on the OneTrueMedia link and it will take you to the source.

So proud of our girl!!

In other news....

Olga's mommy emailed me last night with some exciting news!!!

Someone has agreed to MATCH DONATIONS UP TO $500 for the next five days!!! 

If you have somehow missed it, we are hosting a giveaway to help Olga's family finish the job of fundraising. So far they have $1,572 of the $2,895 that is needed to submit their paperwork and get their first date to travel to see Olga. Olga has almost $20,000 in her grant fund on Reece's Rainbow that will be available to the Abells once they get their travel date.
(And a HUGE thank you to all of you who made that happen!)

We are giving away three autographed copies of Ann Voskamp's fabulous book, One Thousand Gifts:

and my sweet friend Julia has donated two $50 gift cards to Target and

You can be entered to win simply by donating a dollar to Olga or to Artem. You read that right- one dollar.

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, every dollar you give to Olga (on the Abell's Chip-in located at the top of the sidebar, labeled Breaking Starfish Free) will be DOUBLED for the next five days!

So if you're homeschooled... (KIDDING. my kids are.)... that means IF you give one dollar, Olga will get two. If you give ten dollars, she gets twenty. If you give $100 she will get $200...all the way up to $500 !!

Winners will be drawn by November 1st . Please spread the word:

Let's finish the job for Olga!!

Friday, October 28, 2011


Olga's mommy just emailed me exciting news!!!

Someone has agreed to MATCH DONATIONS UP TO $500 for the next five days!!! 

If you have somehow missed it, we are hosting a giveaway to help Olga's family finish the job of fundraising. So far they have $1,572 of the $2,895 that is needed to submit their paperwork and get their first date to travel to see Olga. Olga has almost $20,000 in her grant fund on Reece's Rainbow that will be available to the Abells once they get their travel date.
(And a HUGE thank you to all of you who made that happen!)

We are giving away three autographed copies of Ann Voskamp's fabulous book, One Thousand Gifts:

and my sweet friend Julia has donated two $50 gift cards to Target and

You can be entered to win simply by donating a dollar to Olga or to Artem. You read that right- one dollar.

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, every dollar you give to Olga (on the Abell's Chip-in located at the top of the sidebar, labeled Breaking Starfish Free) will be DOUBLED for the next five days!

So if you're homeschooled... (KIDDING. my kids are.)... that means IF you give one dollar, Olga will get two. If you give ten dollars, she gets twenty. If you give $100 she will get $200...all the way up to $500 !!

Winners will be drawn by November 1st . Please spread the word:

Let's finish the job for Olga!!

you can't have my shih-tzu

It's Thursday night and I'm getting ready to call it a day.

Lily is passed out on the overstuffed chair next to the computer, there's a fire going in our wood burning stove, my kids are all listening to Adventures in Odyssey while I type, and I'm looking with tears in my eyes at little Artem and Olga's totals right now.

I don't even know how to put into words how blown away I am by the generosity of people. Truly, I just wish there was a way to reach into the computer and hug all the people who leave comments here...or look them in the eye and tell them how moved I am by their kindness.

Take Sue for instance.

Well, back up for a moment first...
I finished feeding all our munchkins tonight, wiped the last dish dry and put it in the cabinet, and came over to the computer to check on Olga and Artem's totals. Which was probably the three hundredth time I've done it today...I'll clear the history and recheck again if their totals haven't moved, just hoping there's been a change the computer isn't registering yet.

So tonight when I sat down for a second and hit "refresh" on my own eyes just about popped out of my head when I saw Olga's chip-in at over $1,500. She had been holding out at a little over a thousand all day, and I had been brainstorming for things to add to our giveaway to entice donations. Poor Tillie, our ancient shih-tzu, has been in my sights more than once when I start scoping out our house for valuable things to give away. She was a prize back in the day, but a serious under bite and a bad case of dog Alzheimer's has probably lowered her market value somewhat over the years.

Just kidding. I would never ever stoop to auctioning off my dog.

ANYWHO, my eyes just about popped out of my head when I saw Olga's total at about $500 more than what it was at the last time I checked, so I quickly opened up my gmail to see what comments had been left...and found this one:

First off thanks for allowing anonymous posts because I don't have an online account and can't post on many blogs I read!

Thank you for this post about the institutions. I am new to RR this year and trying to gather information as a Christmas Warrior for a Christmas appeal letter to raise money for my RR child who is facing the institution soon. I also read your interview with Adeye Salem from awhile ago - gave me lots of helpful information! You might want to rerun it sometime!

Giving thanks for my healthy baby born this year (who was expected to have many complex chromosomal and heart problems - but had NONE) --- I donated $500 to little Olga's account.

Sue - Wisconsin

Sue- bless you. Bless you for showing a little mama of ten that there are amazing, kind, generous, unselfish people in the world, even when it sometimes seems that life is filled with critics and cynics.
And bless you for bringing Olga that much closer to coming home to her family.

You're the reason I keep on blogging. You and people like you, whose hearts humble me with your compassion and tenderness for orphans.

People like Mary:

How could I not donate again to help Olga? She has been in my prayers since I first read about her here through a link from the blessing of verity. Susanna is my niece. God bless you for what you do for these orphans, Patti.

or Caroline:

I just donated to the Abells! I came across your blog about a week ago and quickly found myself drawn to Reece's Rainbow, and today I'm signing up to be a prayer warrior!

or Mandy:

I donated and shared on facebook. We found Reece's Rainbow last year when you were advocating for Olga. Now, we're leaving for our first trip to meet our two new sons, in less than a month. We'll do whatever we can to help bring Olga home! Blessings!

or Heidi:

I donated.
I always want to donate but never seem to have enough money to spare anything. Sometimes that 5 or 10 dollars means the difference between putting gas in my car, or paying for some other thing we need.
I am so thankful that this time I was able to help in some small way. I can only imagine how much it must hurt a mama's heart to be sooo close to bringing your baby home, knowing how long she's already waited, and yet being so far away.
Love to the Abell family!

or Emily:

I donated.
I am so amazed at the little ways your readers come together and bless families and children in BIG ways! Our money is tight too, and I would never think just $1 can help. But the way you put the call out there makes it easy to give - and makes me feel like that dollar DID important work. I'm glad to send it to Olga and her family!

or thebauer4:

Perfect timing. I only have 5.07 left on my rebate card and truly was wondering how that would ever get used being such a weird amount. This is great!!! You have such a big heart and are helping so many. Hugs to you. 

or Jennifer:

I donated to Olga. I had never really thought of donating "only" 1 dollar before, but your writing helped me to see how much of a difference it could make if everyone donated. Kind of like voting.


Jennifer from CA

or Kellan's Momma:

I read this with tears...I just know this is the final push needed to get Olga home. I've been praying and e mailing and face booking and I just don't have the impact that you do. You are a blessing to many Patti, and I admire you so much! We have been saving coins for Olga and my 9 year old counted them again tonight, and we have about $27 that we will cash in at the bank tomorrow and add to the chip-in! Happy way to end my day! Thank you!

or Melissa Buirchell:

$5 all the way from Australia. Time for Olga to meet her family now. My mom has just recently passed away & feeling such sadness but knowing this little girl has no one is nothing in comparison to what I'm feeling. Can't wait to see the outcome of this. God Bless xxx

or Gwynne Adoption Journey:

The Gwynne Family is sowing seeds into Olga's adoption! We gave $10.00 and all in honor of our little boy waiting in EE.

or Julie:

We gave $5, which is sadly all we can afford right now (end of the month is rough). We've been giving every spare penny to her fund this year and are praying faithfully that she will be home by THIS Christmas. I shared this on my facebook wall in the hopes that some of my friends would come by and donate. I hope and pray that they have or will. I will continue to share it until the last dime has been raised to ransom Olga. A blog is coming as soon as I have a minute to write it - girls are sick this week and time is limited.

Bless you Patti for never giving up on these children or their families. The $1 challenge was brilliant. I mean, who DOESN'T have a DOLLAR to spare? Even if there are no prizes, everyone should be able to give a DOLLAR to save a child's life.

And I could go on and on and on and on because every single comment left here has touched my heart so deeply, and I know they've touched Olga's mama's too. And some day, when Artem gets his family, I hope they come back here and read how hundreds of incredible acts of kindness were woven together to produce a life of hope for their son.

I am honored- so very honored - to call you my friends.

Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me. Matthew 25:37-40

There are four days left of our Thousand Gifts Giveaway for Artem and Olga. Just in case you missed it, we have some fabulous prizes that have been donated. Three autographed copies of this wonderful book:

as well as $50 gift cards to Target and

(sorry, no shih-tzu!)
All you have to do to be entered to win is donate to Artem or Olga. Any amount is welcomed- a dollar is just as generous and amazing as $500, because honestly? These children's grants have risen for the most part, thanks to hundreds of one, five, and ten dollar donations. We are eternally grateful for the love and generosity you have shown this month, and I cannot wait to see what God does for these children in the days ahead. will draw winners on November 1st.

And just because I know you've been missing her, here are some cell phone pics of our little Lilybird. She has had an EXPLOSION of learning as far as sign language goes the past two weeks. I've been trying to get it all on video, but Mackenzie has had her camera for the past few days, and my lame little flip phone really doesn't take the best videos. Next week I'll be sure to capture it all though...we counted over 25 signs Lily can do, and she is SO proud of herself when she does them! 
For now here are my favorite mobile uploads....



Happy Friday!!!

P.S. I just wanna know: how many of you came to read this post today because of the title??? :):) teehee!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

the institution

Have you ever wondered why people who advocate for orphans on Reece's Rainbow are so motivated to see those children rescued before they are transferred to "the institution"?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a Baby House (as the orphanages are called in Eastern Europe) and "the institution"?

It was this video of an institution that moved my husband to help me find a way to start a giveaway for Olga last December. And I know that video is several years old, but it's not every day an American film crew is going into one of these places ~ that greatly resembles a concentration camp ~ to document what goes on there. It's also not every day a place like this allows a film crew to go in and record evidence for the world to see. The gentleman who allowed this film crew to come in and video tape the horror that is there talked about the fear of what would happen to him as a result. But he was willing to suffer those consequences, because he wanted someone to see those atrocities and act.

If you've never read The Boy From Baby House 10, I highly recommend looking in your library for a copy, or investing in buying it on Amazon, to get a glimpse of what the difference is between an orphanage and an institution.

And if you care about orphans on Reece's Rainbow and want to be educated about why we advocate so passionately that they must not be transferred to the institution, PLEASE READ THIS.

We can turn our heads and pretend that evil doesn't exist in the world, or we can hope and pray that the difference between a baby house and an institution is just a different view out the window or a change of caregivers, or we can decide that we just don't want to take the time to see what that difference truly is.

But these children don't have the luxury of that decision.

These children, Artem and Olga, will understand what that transition means, will experience it and live it every day, will know all too well what the difference between those bright colored toys and the red and blue slide and a world of gray is, will come to dread the difference between rain and sunshine  ~ if we don't act.

You can donate to Artem and to Olga right here on the sidebar, to make a difference today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

one little girl

What would you say if I told you that one little girl's prayers changed the fate of an orphan?

What if I told you that one act of kindness could save a little girl's life?

In 2008 one little girl in America saw a beautiful face on Reece's Rainbow and signed up to be her prayer warrior.

She kept this little girl's photo on a bulletin board in her room, and faithfully prayed that someone would come and rescue her. She asked God to make a way for this orphan's family to find her some day. She poured out her heart to God, and continued praying for a miracle, day after day.

One day she noticed that the photo was no longer listed on Reece's Rainbow. She didn't know what happened to the beautiful little girl whose picture hung on her wall, but she continued praying for her, hoping she was safe.

Fast forward to two years later...when Olga's mama received this letter:


You don't know me, but my name is Kelly and my oldest daughter's name is Jesslyn. About 2 years ago we both signed up to be prayer warriors for children with Reece's Rainbow. My daughter was assigned a girl named Olga. She has kept Olga's picture on her bulletin board all this time. Jesslyn has such a compassion for these children (as do I, my youngest child has Down Syndrome) and she has been so concerned for Olga all this time. The child I was assigned to pray for quickly got a family and is now in her forever home. However, we lost track of Olga on the website. Tonight however, she was perusing the website and we came upon your Olga's picture and your information. We really think she may be the same girl. We only have this outdated photo. I thought I would take the chance to send it to you to see if it was her. Ironically, we have been stationed at Bremerton for the last few years! We are actually getting ready to move in a couple of weeks but I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to ask if the "Olga's" were the same. If you don't mind, could you let us know at Jesslyn would be thrilled to know and can then be more specific in her prayers. 

And the beautiful thing about this story? Olga's first prayer warrior lived just an hour away from her future family. All those months of praying had brought Olga a family- who lived just an hour from where her picture hung on the wall.

And what if I told you that one little act of kindness on your part could change the fate of that child?

That one dollar could make a difference in how and when Olga will say goodbye for the last time to a life with no family, and begin a new filled with a mom and a dad and sisters and love.

That one dollar, multiplied by hundreds of like hearted friends, could determine that Olga will never face the horror that is the institution?

Don't believe me?

It's happening already.

The Abell's chip-in (located at the top of the sidebar) is now $884 closer to the final amount needed to finish the job.

One dollar, multiplied by love.

Olga's mama sent me an email yesterday....

Oh my goodness Patti. God is moving this mountain a dollar at a time. It is blowing my mind!! The generosity of so many and the love they have for Olga warms my heart and brings me to tears. How can you ever really thank someone for saving your child? And that is what each of your readers are doing, saving our little girl and that is something we will never forget!! I just checked the actual chip in account page and since yesterday $763.95 has been donated. That leaves us under $2000 left. Her ransom is almost paid!!! Thank you so much for helping in this and please thank all your readers!!

If you didn't read about it yesterday, one dollar also gets you a chance to win one of these: well as one of three autographed copies of Ann Voskamp's fabulous book, One Thousand Gifts...

Just leave a comment saying you donated a dollar to Olga, and you'll be entered to win.
And as a bonus: blog about this giveaway or share it on Facebook, and leave another comment saying you did so for an extra chance to win.
Yeah, we're that nice around here:) will draw winners on November 1st.

Please spread the word- because one little act of kindness really can make a difference.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


This post has been on my mind for quite some time now. I've hesitated to write it, because I am worried about two things:

I don't want Lily's readers to feel like every time they come here to read they are hearing "give, give, give." If you're anything like me, if you see a need for a family who's adopting, or a post about an orphan without a family, you want to do everything you can to help.

AND if you're anything like me, you only have so much "disposable" income. And I say that very lightly, because at the Rice Ranch, there is no such thing as disposable. We live very much week-to-week, and at the end of the month when all the bills are paid...well, frankly there isn't a month when all the bills are paid. We wing it, and we pray, and we stretch a dollar as far as it will go, and things like trips to the Roloff Farms are a pretty big splurge for us, even if it did only mean gas money and $2 parking and lunch brought from home.

Simply put, I don't like asking readers to give all the time, because I know there's only so much one readership can do.

Which brings me to...

The post I am about to write has been on hold for a bit, because it sort of goes against my "philosophy" of helping the children who have no families, and leaving the families who are fundraising to finish the job themselves.

I've talked about it here before, but my aim in fundraising this past year has been to help those children on Reece's Rainbow who do not have families, by asking readers to donate to their grants.

I've tried to encourage people to help get those grant funds above ten thousand dollars, so that a potential adopting family will be able to commit to an orphan, knowing they are almost half way or a third of the way there as far as finances go.

So far, Lily's readers have been able to help make that happen for five orphans this year: Olga, Peter, Kareen(Mia), Albina and Artem. You helped to raise $13,000 for Olga at Christmas, and another couple thousand dollars during our day for Olga. You raised $15,000 for Peter during our Pure Love Giveaway and over $6,000 for Kareen (Mia) during that giveaway as well as our Home For Christmas giveaway. You helped raise over $10,000 for Albina, and now over $11,000 for Artem. On top of this you've given over $2,000 to Jason and Naomi's adoption fund and helped to raise an additional $3,000 for the Quinn's adoption of Autumn.  

To say that you folks are some of the most generous people on the planet would be an understatement. 

The reason I have not continued to raise funds for those families after they committed to a child (aside from sending readers to their blogs, and aside from the Quinns, who started their adoption with no grant fund))- is because there are SO many children on Reece's Rainbow without families. Some of those children- like Artem- sit there for years waiting for someone to notice them. I feel so honored that Lily's blog has been a place where some of those children could be "spotlighted" so to speak.

But yesterday I read a post that tugged at my heartstrings...a post written from the heart of a mama who just wants to bring her girl home. I know SO MANY of you have already given towards this little girl, and I know her mama is so grateful for all you have done for her girl...

The Abells are so close to traveling to see Olga for the first time. So close. Because of the way grants are set up on Reece's Rainbow, the money you've helped raise for them will be available once their dossier is submitted and they get their first date to travel. 

**(This is done to protect the child's grant money, by the way. In the past there have been families who have mismanaged money and ended up being short when it came time to travel. This policy is in place to ensure that even in the unfortunate case of a family having to back out on their adoption, the money stays with the child. Just making sure everyone is clear on that- because sad to say there are critical people out there who want to take shots at Reece's Rainbow for not releasing grants sooner.)**

After reading Jenn's post yesterday, I really felt impressed to call on Lily's readers to help.

Can I tell you I am really really nervous about asking you to help after all you've done for Artem this month?

That's why I'm asking you for a very small donation.

Extremely small.

One dollar.

You read that right. I'm asking each reader here to give one dollar to the Abell's chip-in.

But how can that help, you might ask? How can one dollar have any impact on what the Abells need to finish the job?

Glad you asked:)

The Abells now need $2,230 to complete this adoption. Just $2,230 to finish the job.

Lily's blog receives roughly 5,000 to 6,000 hits a week.

(And that is small potatoes in the blogging world. I heard from a friend last week that when a big blogger linked to her blog, she had 12,000 hits in 12 hours. Can you imagine what we could do here with that kind of traffic???  Which is WHY you always hear me asking you to vote in boring blog contests all the time- a bigger audience means a bigger donor base, and those contests really do help!)

Moving on...if just a small fraction of those who visited here in one week gave ONE DOLLAR to the Abell's chip-in- they could get a travel date to see Olga.


One dollar multiplied by loads of people who love Olga will finish the job.

Do you think we can do it?

I'm just crazy enough to think that we can.

You've raised so much for little Artem this month already. His grant fund is at $11,145 and we still have a little under a week to go til October is over. I am still imploring you to spread the word that Artem needs a family.

But I'm asking you to do one more thing- give a dollar to Olga. Her family's chip-in is now on Lily's sidebar (the one that says Breaking Starfish Free!) I would love to see that chip-in maxed out by the end of October.

Will you help me finish the job?

And if you do give a dollar- please leave a comment here saying you did so, and be entered to win one of these fabulous prizes: well as one of three autographed copies of Ann Voskamp's New York Times best seller, One Thousand Gifts..

And if you already commented about giving to Artem to be entered to win, go ahead and leave another comment if you donate to Olga. 
You deserve it.

Will you help spread the word??

Let's finish the job.

I'm going to bed a happy woman;)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Little People Big World/ part two

At long last, here is the second part to our Little People Big World post. If you missed part one, it was equally packed-out with fun pics and trivia about the Roloff Farms, so please go back and read that one first.

The farm, as I talked about in the first post, is situated in beautiful Helvetia, Oregon. Rolling hills and pumpkins galore. Perfect weather that day too (well, perfect to me- I love overcast fall days!)~ chilly enough to wear hats and boots, but not so cold that it wasn't enjoyable.

Jack, our four year old

Noah, age seven

Jonathan and Caleb, and no, they're not twins. same height, but two years and 4 days apart :)
Me and my lovely daughter, Mackenzie. also mistaken for twins all the time. I wish.

We knew ahead of time that the food court would be a little too expensive for our large-family-budget. So, as with most family field trips, we brought our own gourmet lunch: salami, cheese sticks and triscuits, apples, bananas, pretzels and licorice. A well balanced meal, n'est-ce pas? ;)

Lily was in heaven sitting at the picnic table with all the kids. She kept grinning and swinging her boots, and the look on her face seemed to say, "I'm so BIG now!"

*and to the commenter who asked: I got Lily's pants at Children's Place before she was born for only- wait for it- 74 cents. Day after Thanksgiving sale! Only I had no idea she would be 21 months old before she fit into them (they're size 6-9 months:))

The Roloff's dog, Rocky, was wandering all over the eating area, and I bet we weren't the only ones who fell for his "feed-me-because-I-haven't-eaten-for-days"  eyes..

Mackenzie splurged and bought us a bag of this scrumptious snickerdoodle popcorn. They make the fresh stuff right there on the farm, so the sweet smell of kettle corn is wafting over the entire place, tantalizing guests with its luring aroma. I'm calling Scentsy right away to tell them about my new idea for a scent that guarantees happiness and comfort with one whiff.     to.die.for.

So just a few minutes after we sat down to our feast, the kids started asking what else there was to do on the farm that was free. Admission was free and parking was only two dollars, but besides visiting the petting zoo and exotic animals, the other exhibits (pony rides, face painting, bouncy castle, and tours) there wasn't anything else we could afford for the day. It would be do-able for a family of four, but 8 kids plus Mama made things a little spendy for us.

While we were trying to explain to the little kids that a tour of the farm (which was the only way you could see the castle, western town, pirate ship, etc) would cost us almost $100 in tickets, Mackenzie suddenly spotted Matt Roloff, walking up to a pile of hay across from us. "THERE'S MATT!!" she yelled- and faster than you can say Little People Big World, the Rice family ditched their entire picnic (food, purses, water bottles, van keys, etc.) and went running across the gravel to meet Matt.

Fortunately Kenzie grabbed her camera, and fortunately Rocky and other farm guests left our smorgasbord of food and valuables sitting safely on the picnic table.

We were second in line for photos, and when we sat down with Matt, it was like talking to an old friend. Seriously, he was so kind and friendly, and he wanted to know all of the kids' names, and was cracking jokes with them the whole time. You just have to know my kids' personalities- they've grown up in a pioneer church, where they meet new people all of the time, and they are completely at ease talking to adults (except for Jack, who gets very shy around strangers.) So they just sat there trading barbs with Matt like they'd known him all their lives.

"What is this, every single one of your kids has a type A personality, Mama?" asked Matt, signing Jonathan's sweatshirt. The kids told him we had two older boys who were working that day, and Matt said the same thing his wife had said- are you trying to start your own show?? I said I was probably too old to catch up with the Duggars, but I would if I could.

And here is where I'm kicking myself- WHY didn't I say, "NO but for reals, my friend Andrea Roberts needs to have her own show, she is doing amazing things for orphans, maybe you could give her a spot on an episode some time??"

Unfortunately, girlfriend is not that smooth, so we just chatted a few more minutes. Matt asked Noah if he had seen the Noah's Ark he built, to which Noah replied not yet. Matt asked if we were going on the tour of the farm, and all the kids just smiled and said ummm, and we'll see, so Matt said we would have to make sure to go on both tours. We talked a bit more, and then all posed for a few pictures..

As we were walking away, and the kids were thanking Matt for talking with us, he smiled and said, "Good job, Mama," and gave us a thumbs up. We walked  back to our picnic table, and Mackenzie and I were laughing about how quickly we had ditched all our personal belongings. We sat down to finish lunch, and about a minute later one of the staff members from the farm approached us.

"Matt wants your family to go on a tour of the farm," she said, smiling and pulling out a family pass for us. Needless to say, my kids were all grinning and cheering! "Why would he do that?" I asked. She answered, "Sometimes he's just nice like that!" 

She asked how many of us there were and wrote it down on the back of the pass and told us we were welcome to go on both the scenic tour and one where you stop at Western Town to get out and explore. As I said earlier, this would have cost our family almost a hundred dollars to go...and with one kind gesture, Matt made a way for that to happen. Pretty sweet!

We finished lunch, said goodbye to Rocky, and headed over to the "dock" as it's called- where people stand in line to get on the wagon tours. Standing there was Jacob, the youngest of the Roloff children, who was shy, but willing to sign autographs and pose for pictures...

A few minutes later we were boarding the wagons, more than a little stoked at our unexpected blessing!

The tours take you all over the 110 acre farm, past the Roloff's barns and offices, 8,000 square foot home, and out to the country side that is loaded with attractions, many of which were built by Matt or his kids...

There were animals everywhere, including these hairy bulls. One of Lily's readers graciously suggested that my "hairy bulls" sounded like Buffalo's...maybe someone can clue me in, so my kids can have a lil' respect for their science teacher??

*some of them had horns...which is why I said hairy bulls...maybe they're just hairy cows? anyhow, they were cool.

Noah was waaaay thrilled to see the ark Matt told him about...

And crazily enough, when we drove by it, there seemed to be a sign from the Lord in the sky!!!

(if you have no clue what that was all about, go HERE.)

Tyler, age 15, in the old western town- totally authentic, complete with a hotel, chapel, bank, post office, and spooky dollhouse. don't ask. it was...spooky ! :P

If you go visit the Roloff's Farms, I highly recommend both tours. They really were so cool, and as I said in the first post, it would be a kid's dream come true to live there. And if you're broke like us, bring a bunch of extra kids along and look pitiful when Matt asks if you're going on the tour.

KIDDING. I'm sure it was Lily's cuteness that did the trick:)

Kenz and Tyler did some waltzing in the pumpkin patch. Cuz you know, that's what everyone does in a pumpkin patch....

Abigail Joy, age nine

*and for the reader who asked- we did not each get a pumpkin. Winco beats the Roloff's on price-per-pound, so we bought a few token pumpkins and will shop this week for more:)

So there you have it. A wonderful day, and one that will be tucked away in my children's memories to be pulled out and savored many times in years to come: "Remember the day we went to see the Roloffs and we got to meet them and go on the tours for free!"

Please make sure to come back tomorrow- we have one week left of Down Syndrome Awareness month, and as you have all so graciously met and surpassed our goal for Artem this month, we are switching things up a bit to help someone very dear to my heart...

And if you didn't get a chance to read the post just below this one, on the Prenatal Test for Depression, please don't miss it.

Good things to come!