Saturday, September 27, 2014

Angel Tree - Kimberley - Year 2

I'm not going to lie, I'm sad to be advocating and fund raising for Kimberley again this year.  I wasn't going to do the Angel Tree project again this year (I'm pretty busy with my own little munchkin, Avon sales, knitting, and 5/5/5 for families) but I just can't let this little girl down.  She needs someone to gush over her progress and take before and after pictures.  She needs a Christmas stocking and gifts.  She needs LOVE!  She NEEDS and DESERVES a family.  

I'll be working hard this Christmas season to raise money for her grant.  I hope that people will help by ordering items and sharing fund raisers.  More importantly, though, I'd love for my friends, family, and followers to SHARE HER!   She needs to be seen.  She needs to be loved and cherished.  

As you probably know, I found my daughter through an organization called Reece's Rainbow.  Each year at Christmas time, they have a huge Angel Tree project with a goal of raising $1,000 for hundreds of children on their site.  This money is held in a grant and then used to help pay for that child's adoption when a family is found.  (Sara had $0 in her grant when I committed to her.  $1,000 would have been a huge blessing!)  

Again this year, I have signed up to raise money and awareness for Kimberley.

She is an adorable 7-year-old in a country that I love in Latin America.  The country has a very small international adoption program.  For a long time, the country leaders felt that kids with Down syndrome were unadoptable.  Some brave families have worked very hard to change that perception.  Wouldn't it be great if Kimberley was the next one to show them that kids with Down syndrome are wanted by families?

I'm working on a virtual craft/vendor fair that will raise money for Kimberley, for my friend Emily's AT child, and for the school where I work.  This fund raiser has the potential to be huge.

I'm also thinking about ways to raise the rest of the money.  Just in case the local fund raiser isn't as epic as I'm planning.  

*All orders from my Scarves and Skirts for Sara page will benefit Kimberley during the months of October, November, and December.  It's not too early to think about special orders for Christmas!  I've found some great Christmas ruffle fabrics for really fun scarves.  

*10% of all AVON orders from my Avon site will benefit Kimberley during the months of October and November 20% of all sales from AVON will go to Kimberley during December.  (I am part of the Virtual Craft Fair that benefits the IDSC during October and November so they get 10% of all orders as well.)

*I will have some items in a large group auction that will benefit multiple children in November.  (I'll post the link as soon as I have it.)  

If you would like to help in any way, please let me know!  If you are interested in helping your own child this Christmas season, you can check out the Angel Tree page on Reece's Rainbow.

*Anyone who makes a donation of $35 or more to any child on the Angel Tree will receive an adorable ornament with the child's picture.  What a great gift for those people on your list who have everything!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My Dana, My Heart


Yesterday, I went to the wake of a 27-year-old former student.  She is the fifth student that I have mourned (3 here and 2 in Mexico).  It never gets any easier but this one really tugged at my heart.  I thought at first it was because she had always been healthy.  She had Down syndrome but she didn't have the health issues that some of our students do.  As a special education teacher, you will most likely be at more wakes and funerals than most teachers.   But Dana wasn't one of the wakes you expect to attend.   I realized as I was driving home and processing why it hit me so hard.  Dana had a hand in saving Sara.

You see, Dana was my first female student with Down syndrome.  She walked into my classroom on the first day of school with Matt.  He quickly informed me that she was his girlfriend and they needed to sit together.  I had only had male students for the previous two years so this came as quite a shock to me.  I wasn't even sure what to do with female students and now I had dating students?  I quickly rearranged the desks so they were no longer sitting together.  I wasn't exactly sure what they meant by boyfriend and girlfriend but I was not about to find out in my classroom.  

I had a male student with Down syndrome before Dana who I adored.   But there was something different about Dana and the rest of  the female students with Down syndrome that I've had over the years.  I can truly say that I have loved them all.  I love their fiestiness, their stubborness, and their sassiness combined with their amazing sweetness and tender hearts.   It's a combination that is hard to explain but it's so fun and so amazing.   (Yes. I realize I am stereotyping right now but these things have been true of all the girls I've taught with Down syndrome.)

Dana was one of the first students that made me say "If God chose to bless me with a child with Down syndrome some day, I would not be disappointed." She was a blast.  She had a family that adored her.  For them, a diagnosis of Down syndrome was not an end to their lives but  just the beginning.   I met them in later years so I don't know how they processed the diagnosis or if they struggled. But I know that by the time she was in high school, they loved and accepted her for exactly who she was.  They were one of the first families that made me realize that having a child with a disability was a blessing and not a curse.  They helped teach me that you can raise your child with Down syndrome the same way you raise their siblings and they can turn out to be pretty cool kids.  Dana planted the seed in my heart and in my head that I could parent a child with Down syndrome.  

I only had Dana for one year because I changed positions the following year.  But I can honestly say that was one of my favorite classes ever. I wish I had gotten the chance to teach her again.  Even though I only spent a year with her, she will impact me for the rest of my life.  In part, because of this spunky, beautiful, amazing young woman, I am now the parent of a spunky, beautiful, amazing little girl with Down syndrome.

Because of Dana, Sara is now thriving in a family and loving life---the way that Dana did for her short 27 years on this earth.  Because of Sara, Laurence is now being adopted.  Who knows where the chain will end? Dana's life on earth may be over but the ripples will be felt for years to come.  


Monday, September 1, 2014

Christmas Shopping

I know.  It's September 1st. Seasonal creep and all of that BUT I started Christmas shopping yesterday.  And I know I am not alone.  Maybe it's because I'm a crafter so I have to plan ahead and wish others would too. Maybe it's because I'm so very excited about Christmas with Sara this year. Maybe it's just who I am since I usually had my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving long before Sara was in the picture.

I'd like to give you something to think about as you start your gift and shopping lists:

Who is benefiting from your Christmas shopping?  

This is not something I thought of before two years ago.  I shopped sales and deals at Amazon, the mall, Target. I bought things that were cute and fun and benefited large corporations.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I love Target and my Amazon prime just as much as the next girl.  I'm just challenging you to think about Christmas gifts a little differently.  After all, isn't part of Christmas spreading goodwill and cheer?
For the last two years, my Christmas shopping has almost exclusively benefited adopting families and orphans waiting for families.  That may sound tedious and stressful but I assure you it's not.  Here are some examples:

*You find the perfect item on Pinterest or Etsy.  Send me the link.  I am almost positive someone in my adoption group can make the item at a reasonable price with all proceeds going to an adoption.

*You find something made by a direct order company like Avon, Tupperware, Pampered Chef, etc.  I know someone that sells it and will give the proceeds to an adoption or waiting child.  Pretty  much every vendor you can imagine is selling items at this virtual craft fair from November 16th to December 6th.

*You have an idea for a perfect gift but can't find it anywhere.  Let me know.  I can probably put you in touch with someone that can help you and help an adopting family at the same time.

*You need something for that person that has everything.  Why not make a donation to a non-profit in their name?  Lots of non-profits have special programs at Christmas time that give you a token gift for your donation.  (Need a non-profit? How about Reece's Rainbow's angel tree?)

*You want a unique gift that represents your family with pictures or birth stones?  I can hook you up there too with either Origami Owl or handmade gifts.

*You need to get teacher gifts and another candle just won't cut it.  (Although I can connect you with Celebrating Home candles if you want to go that route.)  How about personalized Christmas ornaments for a reasonable price?  I know someone that makes those too!

*I know that there are some people out there that these gifts just don't work for.  (My Dad!)  Sometimes you just need to order something from Amazon. Let me know that too and I can get you an Amazon link so that an adopting family will still get a percentage of your sale!

I know that not everyone is as passionate about adoption as I am.  That's ok!  I get that.  But would you rather help a big corporation or a family?  I don't think any of us are super passionate about big corporations.

Oh, and if you are looking for a gift for me, just message one of my adoption friends. They can help you out!