Wednesday, June 5, 2019


Who doesn't love Bacon?  Seriously.  Anyone?  

As a final fund raiser for our Mexico missions trip, my family is giving away half a pig.  

Yep.  The winner will get about 85 pounds of fresh, family farm raised, local pork.  

All cut, smoked, wrapped and ready for your freezer!  

The retail value is $215.  

We are aiming for December 1st as a delivery date.  

To Enter:

Share this post or a facebook post for a free entry.  (Please message me a screen shot so I don't miss anyone!) 

For every $1 you donate, you will get one entry.  ($5 donated gets 5 entries, etc.) 

You can donate by Paypal to
or by using our Go Fund Me Page:
You can also give cash donations to any of the Kellers.

Fine Print:

The winner must live within a two hour radius of our farm (Darien, NY) or be willing to meet somewhere in that radius.  

The give away will benefit three specific team members:  Sara, Natalie, and Rebecca Keller

Donations through Paypal and Go Fund Me are not tax deductible.  If you would like to make a tax deductible donation, please contact me!  

Monday, April 22, 2019

Short Term Missions - Good, Bad or Ugly?

I've heard a lot of negativity about short term missions trips recently.  I even had someone message me and ask me how in  the world I could justify taking a team to Mexico every year just to harm orphans.  (Seriously.)  I've read When Helping Hurts.  I know about RAD (Reactive Detachment Disorder) and other attachment issues.  I know that orphanages are harmful to children.  I also understand the idea that the money we spend to get down there could do a lot of good down there.  I get all that.  I really do.  But, I take a team anyway.

A lot of missions trips have done a lot of harm.  Phrases like "glorified vacations" and "poverty tourism" didn't come from no where.  Neither did people's fear and dislike of short terms missions.  Even in the valley that we visit there were numerous organizations working which had unintentionally created a lot of dependency.  (This is changing through communication and cooperation.)  Well meaning people giving their lives to the people of the valley.  And harming the people in the process.  So how do you avoid hurting the people you want to help?  And why go at all?

1.  Go with a reputable organization that is living and working with the people.  There are lots of agencies that organize missions trips to place they aren't intimately involved with.  Missions Trips are big business.  Make sure that you are going with a well-established organization that knows and understands the values and pitfalls of short terms missions trips.

The organization that we go with has made quite a few changes over the last several years to make sure that they are not creating dependency, participating in poverty tourism or harming the children in their care.  It's a balancing act of knowing and understanding the people and the needs there while honoring the people of the valley and their way of life.

2.  No one, not even someone who runs a children's' home will tell you that orphanages are good places for children.  Children need to be with families.  But, the systems in other countries are far behind ours.  (And ours are far from perfect!)  Many cultures don't believe in foster care or adoption.  At this point in history, there are tons of children living in orphanages for a variety of reasons.  It's a fact.  Family preservation is great.  Services to the families are great.  But they don't exist.  So, we have to work within the system as it exists right now.  Not the ideal situations that may exist 10 or 20 years down the road.

I have to believe that a well-run, private orphanage is better than a large, government run institution.  Sure.  There are bad private orphanages but, overall, private is better.  Especially when that private children's home includes family-style homes for the kids and education through college.  The key to breaking poverty is education.  A free college education gives kids a chance to break out of the cycle that previous generations were in.

3.  Yes.  We spend a decent amount of money to get there as a team and stay for a week.  I work very hard to keep the costs down and it actually costs less than the vacation I just took with my daughter.  But, yes, we could send the money down there.  However, the mission stays alive and thrives because of their visitors.  Visitors make donations to the mission to cover room and board.  Visitors spend money every week in the community (mostly restaurants) which allows some of these places to stay afloat.  And, visitors are the ones who end up sponsoring kids or missionaries and making future donations to the mission.

People are more likely to give to an organization that they trust and a need that they have seen.  People like to give to something they have a connection to.  Someone spending some money to go visit the mission could lead to a lifetime of donations from that person.

Also, many of the staff at the mission started out as visitors.  I visited in 2003 and 2004.  I was then on staff during the summers of 2005, 2006, and 2007.  I took a year off of teaching and went to the mission during 2008 and 2009.  I started an English program for some of the kids with disabilities that came to the special education center.  Someone else took it over when I left.  At least on  of those kids is now teaching English to help support their family.  All because I went as a visitor.  The executive director of the entire organization also started as a visitor with her church.  (The non-profit organization that runs the mission bases is US based and must have a US executive director.)

4.  We don't go to "love on kids."   We go to support the full time staff that are living and working in the home and in the community.  Our jobs might look like renovating an apartment or bagging beans and rice.  We do the behind-the-scenes so the staff can work with the children and the locals and build relationships with them.  We go into the community to help out with Bible clubs run by Mexican nationals who are in the communities every week bonding with the kids and building relationships with the families.

We get to meet the kids in a controlled environment on Monday night.  We are not care-givers.  We are visitors.  I know that this can be a fine line and I have mixed feelings about it.  Personally, I keep my distance from the kids.  But, I know that a lot of these kids end up with sponsors based on these evenings.  Sponsorship is a huge part of the children's' home budget.  It's what keeps them afloat.  Sponsors can choose to send letters but I think most just send checks monthly.

I think the key is being conscious of what you're doing and why you're doing it.  I know that the mission leadership has become much more conscious of the good and the bad of short term teams in recent years.  I'm conscious of our team and what they are doing and my motivations.  (I could probably have more detailed conversations with my team members about their motivations.)

Are all trips good or bad?  Nope.  

Is it a fine line?  Absolutely.  

Should we scrap all short term trips because some are bad?  No.  I don't think so.  

If you are personally against short term missions trips, that's ok with me.  Don't go on one.  Don't give to one.  But don't villanize everyone who thinks and feels differently than you do.    

I welcome comments and questions that are honest and productive.  I enjoy a good conversation and even debate if it's polite and respectful.  

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Christmas Campaign for Jais

Reece's Rainbow's Christmas Campaign is back.  Andre is now home and AJ's family is waiting for approval from his country.  So, I'm back with another little boy for you all!

So, meet Jais.  There isn't very much information given about him.  He's 5 or 6 and in Latin America.  His listing says he has Down syndrome and is generally happy.  He's clearly adorable!

Check back often for fund raisers as we get into November and December.  The goal is $1,000 and I'll need lots of help and support to get there!

Just a note---I start fund raising in October but only donations made during November and December will count toward the $1,000 goal.  I'll start fund raising now and holding on to the money until November 1st.  If you would like to make a straight up donation, please wait until November 1st!

Current Fund Raisers:
*Map Ornaments.  Customizable.  $3 each plus shipping. 

*Scarves and Skirts for Sara.  Hand knit items.  50% of each purchase from now until January 1st will go to Jais' grant.

*Plexus.  All of my new commission earned from September through December will go to Jais' grant.  I love my Plexus products and the benefits I get from them.  Feel free to ask questions!

*Homemade Sugar Scrubs and Bath Salts.  50% of each purchase goes to Jais' grant.  Custom scents and flavors available.

*Ornament Sale.  Make a donation to Jais' account of $35 or more and Reece's Rainbow will send you a Christmas ornament with his picture on it.  November 1 - December 31.

*Color Street.  All commissions from this link will go to Jais during October, November, and December.  If you're new to Color Street, join my facebook group to learn more.

Upcoming Fund Raisers:
*Blissful Holiday Shopping Event with Color Street - Sunday, November 11th, 12-4PM, Bliss Recreational Hall, Bliss, NY

*Amherst MS/HS PTSA Fall Craft Fair with Color Street  - Saturday, November 17th, 10AM-3PM, Amherst High School 4301 Main St.  Amherst, NY

*Christmas Craft and Vendor Show with Color Street- Sunday, November 25th, 12:30-4:30, Ransomville United Methodist Church, Ransomville, NY

*I have some more ideas in the works but I'll always take any help anyone wants to offer!

Past Fund Raisers:
*Online Auction - October 26-November 2nd

If you are looking to purchase any gifts this Christmas season, I encourage you to join the Miracle of Adoption Christmas Campaign Virtual Vendor/Craft Fair.  You will find all of your usual sellers (Tupperware, Avon, LuLaRoe, etc) while also finding crafters with one of a kind gifts and many who will take special orders just for you!  Let's help more kids find families instead of supporting corporations and big box stores!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Miracle of Adoption Christmas Campaign is Coming!

For the last several years, I've participated in Reece's Rainbow's Christmas Campaign.  The goal of the campaign is to raise $1,000 for a chosen child's grant and to do everything you can to get their face out there and hopefully find them a family.

In 2013 and 2014, I advocated and fund raised for Kimberley.  Sadly, her country has closed to US adoptions.

In 2015, I decided not to participate because we had just moved and I was beyond stressed with my new job.  I was really missed it and wished I had made the effort.

In 2016, I picked Andre.  He was just a little chunk of a baby waiting for a family in Colombia.
Now he's home, thriving, going to school, getting the medical care he desperately needed and being loved every day.

In 2017, I picked Lianne but then found out she was being adopted to Italy so I changed to AJ.  He now has a family who loves him dearly and are working to bring him home as soon as possible.

So, now I'm gearing up for 2018.  I was informed today that any child 5 and under can be a part of the campaign.  So, I'm rethinking my choice and planning and plotting my fundraisers.  I'll let you know who I picked as soon as it's official.  (Although the choices for kids 5 and under in Latin America are pretty limited.)  

But, I also want you to consider participating.  I know $1,000 sounds like a lot but it's doable.  And, if you don't get there, that's ok too!!  The most important thing is getting kids faces out there!  You never know who might see them and decide they should be part of their family.  I certainly never thought my childhood friend would end up adopting Andre and that her teaching friend would adopt AJ.  You just never know!  

*If you think you might adopt someday, this is a great way to get your feet wet with fund raising and find out what works and doesn't.

*If you think it might be fun but aren't sure if you can do it, there is a facebook group that provides support for everyone participating.  There is also a group just to promote fund raisers.  And, I'll gladly help you with ideas and marketing.  You don't have to be super crafty or creative.  You just have to find a niche item that will sell.  Pinterest has a million ideas.

*You can always grab a friend or two or a group to help.  Last year, I did a dress down day at work with a raffle and made more than half of the goal that way.  People want to help kids.  People want to support you and your efforts.  You just have to ask!  

*If you don't want to choose your own child but you want to help me share fund raisers or host fund raisers (maybe you have a great idea or your own business), just let me know!!  I'll always take some extra help.

Check out all the kids on Reece's Rainbow that are five and under and see if one of them tugs at your heart strings.  Sign Ups will be at the end of the month.  

Boys 0-2 with Down Syndrome Here

Boys 3-5 with Down Syndrome Here

Sunday, May 6, 2018

My Why

If you've been around me on social media for any length of time, you know that I post.  A lot.  I know that.  I always have some new fund raising idea or side hustle.  Some of you may wonder why you still follow me at all. 

I post about Plexus.

Sometimes I even post about what other people are selling or doing.

Basically, it probably looks like I'm always trying to raise money one way or another.  

But hang with me! 

I also post teaching memes.  (Because I can't post actual stories about teaching.)

And about my annual trip to Mexico and our other travels.

A little bit about farm life.  

And I mix it all up with Sara stories and pictures and videos.

But I post everything I do for a reason.  And the reason all leads back to this girl.

This girl is my why.  

I post about Plexus because being healthy makes me a better mom to her.

And Color Street because I'm committed to raising money for adopting families and waiting children while getting our little family into a position where we can live debt free and I can plan for her financial future.

And my knitting business because I love knitting and helping others where I can with the money I make.

And waiting kids because every child deserves a family just as much as she does.

And adopting families because so many people helped me get this little girl home.  I will always be indebted to them for helping me create my little family.  I strive to provide that kind of encouragement to other families.  

Sometimes I even post about what other people are selling or doing because I want to encourage others who have a heart to help those less fortunate.

Basically, it probably looks like I'm always trying to raise money one way or another.  Because I am.  If I can find a product that you need/want/will buy anyway, why not let you know that you can your purchase can help others and not just a big company?

But hang with me! 

I also post teaching memes.  (Because I can't post actual stories about teaching.)  I wish I could share more of my actual teaching stories.  Teaching is such a big part of who I am and what I do.  My love for my students is what made me decide to adopt a child with Down syndrome.  

And about my annual trip to Mexico and our other travels because I firmly believe that live was not meant to be lived in one place.  There is so much out there to see and experience.

A little bit about farm life because who doesn't want to know about baby goats?

And I mix it all up with Sara stories and pictures and videos because she is my why.  I strive to keep it real.  Not every day is a picnic.  Some are just hard.  But in between those rough moments are the hilarious, sassy, funny moments with my girl that make this life all worth it.  

But I post everything I do for a reason.  And the reason all leads back to this girl.

Sunday, April 8, 2018


It seems like I always get files of kids right at the worst times.  Jenny was one of those kids.  I got her file last year just as I was preparing to job hunt (again) and change jobs.  I was also headed into my last year of grad school.  Not great timing to start an adoption.

But it IS TIME for someone to go get Jenny!  She's beautiful.  (I have a picture to the right and several more on my phone.)  She's doing so well.  She had her heart defect repaired and is in good health.  She's learning and growing.  Imagine how well she'd be doing with the love of a family!!

She's 7 now which means she's "old" by adoption standards but still young enough to thrive with a family and structure and therapies---all things she desperately needs!

I'm on a mission to raise her grant to $2,000 and get her seen!  I got a generous birthday gift so I'm starting the race to $2,000 now.  More importantly, I want to get her story out there and get her home!

Jenny is a sweet 6-years-old girl with Down syndrome living in a children’s home. Jenny has been described as an affectionate and calm young girl who enjoys playing games and loves animals and other young children. It has been said that nothing brings a bigger smile to Jenny’s face than being able to play with her musical instruments and having others play along with her!
It is reported that Jenny receives therapies to support her speech and development. As a young child, Jenny underwent corrective surgery for a congenital heart condition and currently takes medication for hyperthyroidism and hypertension.
Jenny is in need of a family that can provide consistency, support, and a lifetime of love.
The agency has photos of Jenny for inquiring families. She is darling!

Here is what Rainbow Kids has to say about her:
Jenny, born with Down syndrome, is affectionate and engaging with people she knows well!  She has benefitted tremendously from living in a loving foster family, and is close with her foster mother. Jenny is very happy when playing with other kids or toys and musical instruments, and can entertain herself for long periods. She enjoys going on outings, whether it’s to attend church, play at the park or stroll around the town fair. Jenny loves celebrating holidays, especially Halloween and Christmas!  While she’s limited in her mobility, expressive speech and cognitive development, her sweet, easy-going personality makes her a delight to have around. Jenny needs a family who understands her special needs—and is ready to love her for the charming little girl she is!

Here are the country requirements listed on Reece's Rainbow:
  • Colombia is now open to heterosexual and same-sex couples. Singles may still apply as well.
  • Multiple unrelated children may be adopted together
  • No family size restrictions
  • Both parents must travel to the country initially — but only one needs to stay for the duration of the trip which is approx 2-3 weeks
  • Estimated total cost $21,000-27,000 and this does not include 3rd party fees

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Keep On Keeping On

Well, Reece's Rainbow's Christmas Campaign has come and gone.  I was able to raise almost $1,700 for AJ with the help of some amazing friends and supporters.  I am so excited for this little boy's future.  I am choosing to believe that there is an amazing family out there for him and that he won't grow up in an orphanage.  He'll be home getting therapies and love and nutrition.  I have to believe that to keep on keeping on for these kids and families.

So, my next goal is to get AJ's grant to $2,500.  When he gets there, he will be put on a "sizable grant" list through Reece's Rainbow.  Hopefully that will mean more visibility for him and a family sooner, rather than later.  There is a thermometer on the right of the blog to keep you all updated on the progress to the goal.

To that end, the following fund raisers will be ongoing.

*Scarves and Skirts for Sara.  50% of each purchase from now until January 1st will go to AJ's grant.

*Plexus.  New Commissions earned each month will go to AJ's grant.  Feel free to ask questions!

*Homemade Lip Balm, Sugar Scrub, and Bath Salts.  50% of each purchase goes to AJ's grant.  Custom scents and flavors available.

*C&E Baby Blankets.  $10 of each blanket purchased will go to AJ's grant.  Just mention AJ when you place your order.

*Teacher Tired Shirts and Hoodies. Through February 16th.  

*World Down Syndrome Day Shirts.  Through March 7th.  Long sleeve tees, tshirts, ladies tees, hoodies, and mugs available.

Past Fund Raisers:
*LuLaRoe Pop-Up.  Online.  November 6-10.  Any sales made this week benefit AJ.  And LLR matches the donation of the consultants!  We raised $271!

*Ornament Sale.  Make a donation to AJ's account of $35 or more and get a Christmas ornament with his picture on it.  November 1 - December 31.

*Dress Down Day at Batavia High School - December 8th

If you are vendor of any kind and would like to host a fund raiser for AJ's grant, please let me know!  I'll always take and appreciate help.  

AJ is not even a year old!!  Imagine---he could celebrate his second birthday with is family.  He could have therapies and early intervention years before Sara did.  And LOVE!