Monday, July 30, 2012

Denise's Ukrainian Adoption Trip Tips & Tricks

We've been here a few days and I thought I would start a running list of things we learned to help those who come after us. My inner girl scout yearns to be prepared for anything. So we tried to pack smart.

We are thankful to those who came before us and gave us great advice too.

#1 You can eat ice cream in Ukraine every day and not get fat. Why? Because you walk everywhere. And if you are here in the summer it's really hot. So you will really want ice cream. Once you have it you will want it every day. Trust me, it's really good.

#2 Bring really comfortable walking shoes. See above.

#3 Ladies - hand wash your upper body unmentionables (you know what I'm talking about). The washing machines here have the potential to destroy them. Thank God I packed 3. Now I have only 2. Only use detergent you purchase here in the machines. American detergent is not compatible.

#4 While in Kiev avoid the Pigeon People and the Giant Cartoon Characters like the plague. The Pigeon People will just put their birds on you, want you to take a photo and then demand money. The cartoon characters will chase you down, hug you, want you to take a photo with them and pay them money. Unless of course you don't mind pigeon poop and sweaty college students in worn out Winnie the Pooh costumes. Then by all means smile for the camera. But don't say we didn't warn you. From Chris: Men stick up for your wife. They will go after the ladies more often then the men so get in between them and your wife please.

#5 Be adventurous and try new food. There are some American places to eat around Kiev. There are several McDonalds and a TGIFridays. There are also some other places to get some great Amerikansky food. But don't be afraid to try some Ukrainian food. It's delicious. Everything we have eaten so far has been great. I love Shashlick (all meat shish kabob), cucumber & tomato salad and if it wasn't so darn hot I would have some borsch. Find places off the main drag to eat at. They are just as good and won't cost as much. When you do eat out you will have to ask for the check. They will assume you just want to hang out and visit with your friends and probably will not bring it until you ask.

#6 Speaking of saving money on food: eat breakfasts and lunches at your apartment if possible. Find a Billa Market and you can get fruit, veggies, lunch meat, bread, cheese, coffee, juice and just about anything else you need for the first 2 meals of the day. BTW - It all tastes better here. No really it does. I think stuff is not as processed here and has less chemicals and preservatives. My very picky eater husband has been very happy with the food.

#7 Packing lists. If your facilitator puts something on the packing list there is a reason for it. We have needed almost everything she listed so far except for the medicine (thankfully we have been healthy) and our umbrella and raincoat. (Thank you Tonya for the extensive list)

#8 Bring snacks. These are especially helpful while in route (duh - mine ended up in the checked suitcase so I am speaking from my mistake here) and they are helpful for the first couple of days until you get to know your neighborhood and where to shop. Also if you have a special diet take that into consideration while packing.

#9 Bring something to entertain yourself that does not require an internet connection once loaded. While in Kiev we have had the luxury of a steady internet connection. But when we get to our sons region we may not. So make sure your mp3 players and ebook readers are loaded. You will have down time but will also be pretty pooped out. If you can't get online at least you can read or listen to music during your down time or travel time. Again I am speaking from my mistake here. I had nothing to read on the plane. Again duh!

#10 Things to do in Kiev while you wait to travel to your child's region: Visit the Monastery of Caves. It's very interesting. If you can arrange for a local to give you a tour that's even better. Ladies bring a head scarf and wear pants or a skirt (or rent one for 50 grivna) before you go into the caves. Your head and legs must be covered. While at the Monastery also visit the museum of miniatures. I won't spoil it for you but just know you have to go. You will be blown away. There is also a World War II museum under the giant statue of the lady with a sword overlooking the river. We hope to go there. Ukraine has a fascinating history and has been through alot. No wonder these folks are so tough.

#11 Power converters. Do not use old ones for newer electronics. That old one you used 15 or 20 years ago for your honeymoon in Paris may not be safe to charge your laptop or other expensive electronics with. We didn't have laptops and iPads back then. Those old ones are probably ok for your hair dryer or electric razor. Get a new convertor for your trip PLEASE. We got the kind that's an all in one converter. I found it at Walmart for cheap. You can flip out the different plugs you need in different countries. Works great for keeping our gadgets charged up. The old one I brought as a back up will not be used again. I plugged my iPhone into it and the phone started blinking like crazy. NOT GOOD!!!

I will keep adding to the list as I learn new things.

Happy travels and God bless!

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Let the countdown begin!

We are leaving in less than two weeks. TWO WEEKS!!!!!!! I am scrambling as you can imagine. My head is spinning. There is so much to do still. Andriy has no idea that we will be in his country in just a few days.

In all my busyness I do let my mind wander a little. I keep wondering what it will be like when he sees us for the first time in 7 months. Did he get to keep the photo album we sent him home with? Has he lost hope that we are coming for him? Will he have a few days warning that we are there or will he be surprised when we show up at his school?

In the meantime as we prepare to go, my sister is preparing to come home with her little princess, Tatiana. They will arrive home a few days before we leave. So you can imagine the excitement and anticipation for our family right now. My cup overfloweth. HAHA! My Mom (Babushka) is super excited that her little family is growing by 2 new grandkids this summer. My husband's parents are thrilled about finally having a grandson.

In our busyness we are still fundraising too. We have the Chipin button here on our blog. Anyone with a Paypal account can donate directly to us by clicking on that button. We are also doing a few more fundraisers including another yard sale this Saturday. Our need right now is to cover plane tickets. The amount we need is $3825. We are getting so close to our travel date that we are getting kinda nervous about this.

My dear friend Lori Delisle has offered to give us a portion of her sales in her Etsy shop. You can find her shop here. Her shop is called Salt & Light. Her jewelry is beautiful. Lori is very talented and I love her work. Each piece she does has a very special meaning and message behind it. Please check out her shop. I think you will be inspired.

To make sure Lori knows you are shopping on behalf of our adoption you will just need to put "Bring Andriy Home" in the comments section when you are going through "check out". This special fundraiser will run starting today and go through July 26th. We appreciate Lori so much.

Here are a few photos of her work. I'll start with my favorite piece from her collection.

I wasn't kidding when I told you that Lori's work is beautiful.

We really appreciate all the prayers and support we've received during this process. We know that we could not have done this alone.

Thank you everyone for helping us bring Andriy home.


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Sunday, July 1, 2012

We Are Having a Thirty-one Party!!!!!

Through this adoption process I've had the pleasure of meeting so many other people, near and far that host, adopt and/or advocate for orphans. What a great community of like minded people to belong to. One new friend is Karen Kochies. Karen is in the process of bringing home a sweet boy named Ruslan. You can read all about their adoption journey here. Ruslan will be home with his new family VERY soon.

Here is Ruslan with his new family.

Karen is also a Thirty-one Consultant and she graciously offered to throw an online Thirty-one party as a fundraiser to help bring Andriy home. We get 15% of all sales through our party link here.

You can click on the link and have fun shopping. Thirty-one mostly has beautiful handbags and totes. But they also have tons of other items.

Here is the cover of the latest catalog so you can get a peek.

Here are some close up photos of a few of their other items.

This is called the Cindy Tote.

Large Rectangle Basket (several different liners are also available).

Skirt Purse (you can get all sorts of different covers for this to change your look).

Ruffled Cinch Sac (Oh my word this is cute).

City Weekend Tote.

Hang Up Home Organizer.

Upperclassman Backpack.

Oversized Storage Organizer.

This is a Thermal Tote (lunch box).

Look at these adorable personalized note cards.

Here are July customer special.....(with every $31 spent, customers can choose one of the following items for just $5:

Zipper Pouch valued at $15, item no. 3045
Cinch-It-Up Thermal Tote valued at $24, item no. 3785,
Thermal Tote valued at $18, item no. 3000,
Littles Carry-All Caddy valued at $12, item no. 3401, or
Mini Zipper Pouch valued at $12, item no. 3013.

Additionally, embroidery is only $5 per item all month (normally $7!) on ANY order!

I have a few items from Thirty-one and I love them. They make high quality, sturdy products. Many items are mono-grammable and come in several different fabrics to chose from. While on the Thirty-one website you can click on the catalog link to see which fabrics are available for each item. You can also see which items can be monogrammed and pick out thread colors. There are so many choices to personalize your purchase.

From Karen: "A percentage of every purchase you make will go to help bring Andriy home to his forever family. With just a few weeks left to raise funds, every little bit counts! We have the perfect gifts for teachers, baby showers, weddings, birthdays, graduations, etc. Things to help accessorize, organize and more. Many of our items can be personalized, and you'll be helping out a great cause!"

Thank you so much for taking a look at Thirty-one and participating in our fundraiser. We only need to raise our plane fare and are about 3 weeks away from traveling.


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Saturday, June 23, 2012


We could be receiving notice any day now that we have an appointment in Andriy's country with their social services department.

We are anxious (understandably), nervous and a little stressed out.

Andriy's room is coming together. He now has a bed and dresser. Thanks to my neighbor and my nephew that seems to be drinking Miracle Grow we have plenty of clothes for him. We need a few more items for his room and a new place to stash all the stuff in the closet (my personal place to shove things I don't know what to do with).

We have one more fundraiser that our Sunday School class is doing for us. We have a great class that has been so supportive. I've been trying to sell some things on craigslist that I know we really don't need to free up some money too. I am just about fundraised out, worn out and running out of ideas.

I'm trying not to get overwhelmed with all that has to be done in the next 3 or 4 weeks before we leave. The TO DO list is long and I keep adding things to it. People keep asking us how much more money do we need so I am going to get straight to the point. We are estimating that we need $4350 to cover our plane tickets. Ticket prices are outrageous to Europe right now because off the big soccer tournament going on now and the Olympics starting in late July. We have had very little money come in since I asked last and frankly I am tried of asking for money. I know everyone is strapped these days.

So here I am, asking again and trusting that God will provide very soon. I've seen him move mountains in the last month for my sister's adoption and I know He can do it again.

In the meantime we are keeping very busy with all our preparations and I'm hoping to have a few special days with Danielle since I am going to be away from my girl for 6 whole weeks. I know our family dynamic is going to change alot when I bring her new little brother home for good. I want her to understand that our love for her won't be divided. Our love gets multiplied.

Also, My sister and her family are over in Eastern Europe right now adopting their precious girl. I wanted to thank everyone that donated money and items for our giveaway to bring Taylor home.

Here is the happy family with their new little princess.

And let me tell you she is a princess. She is already a Daddy's girl and it is obvious she is her mother's daughter. She is a tomboy in a dress just like Mama. She loves dresses, flowers in her hair, dancing with Daddy and hunting for bugs. All of her playmates are boys and she keeps up with them and keeps them all in line too. HAHA!

We can't wait to have her home and get to know her.

And speaking of that. We may in traveling to get our boy while Nicole is still there to get Taylor. The kids are not in the same region so the chances we would happen to be in the capital at the same time are slim. But it's kinda neat to think we may be there a the same time getting our kids. I wonder what Andriy will think when he finds out he has a new girl cousin that is also from his native country. He will have one more buddy to speak Russian with and we are glad for 2 cousins and 2 friends nearby that he can spend time with. It's important for all of us that our kids don't lose their first language.

Please keep us in our prayers over the next few weeks. We really nave no guarantees on the dates of our travel. We will have to get ready to travel with very short notice and will need all of our funds at that time.

So we are trusting our Father's plan and coveting your prayers.


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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ten for Ten for Ten Giveaway For Taylor






This is a giveaway to benefit Taylor, a 7 year old orphan from Eastern Europe that is HIV+.

If you want to find out why I am calling this a Ten for Ten for Ten Giveaway you will have to read all the way through to the ALL CAPS print to find the BREAKING NEWS!!!!!

Taylor's new family will be traveling to adopt her on June 16. They have 2 weeks to raise the remainder of the funds needed to adopt her. Right now they still need to raise about $24,500 to be able to adopt her. You can read more about their story here.

Over the years Taylor has asked other families, that have arrived at her orphanage to adopt children, when someone will be coming to adopt her. She is currently at a baby orphanage but because of her age, she is in danger of being transferred. If she is not adopted soon she will be transferred to an institution. She really is running out of time and needs to be adopted ASAP. The Dewberry's are very willing but need your help to do it.

So I have gathered some donations from some very generous people.

Take a look at the prizes.

Adorable Girls Skirts. We have two to give away. You get to pick the size up to 4T. One will be the blue/green combo and the other will be the giraffe/stripes combo. Please state your preference and size you would want.

Winner of Giraffe Skirt: The Ristow Family
Winner of Blue/Green Skirt: Sharon Walker Robbins

Antique Book #1: "When a Man's a Man," Vintage novel by Harold Bell Wright. First edition! 1916. (from Allison's Attic of Rare Books)

Winner of Book #1: Julie Leto

Antique Book #2: "My Story that I Like Best," Vintage short-story collection. First edition, 1924. (from Allison's Attic of Rare Books)

Winner of Book #2: Jeff & Karen Barnes

Gorgeous Throw Blanket with 2 Matching Pillows From Sew Elegant (Retails for $85)

Winner of blanket and pillow: Amy McCoy

Beautiful Lined Baby Sling (Retails for $75)

Winner of Sling: Kelly KTB

Close up of sling fabric

8x10 Print from Andie Eggimann. We have 8 of these to giveaway. See some sample prints below or visit Andie's shop and let us know which one you prefer. You can visit her Etsy shop here. (These retail for $18)

The 8 Winners are:
Evan Thompson
Christine Nichols
Half Dozen Mama
Donna Jakubczak Ewer
Julie Leto
Kimberly Dill
Alice Waarvik

Winners please go to Andie's Esty shop and pick out the print you want. Include your selected print when you send me your info.






Self Control

Dwelling Place




Knitted Aqua Beanie Cap for Baby

Aqua Cap winner: Half Dozen Mama

Knitted Red Sweater for Baby

Red Sweater Winner: Kimberly Dill

Small Red Felt Tote

Tote Winner: Melissa Macy

Little Girls Purple Felt Backpack

Backpack Winner: Amy McCoy

Purple Knitted Beanie Cap for Baby

Purple Cap Winner: The Ristow Family

Rainbow Knitted Sweater for Baby

Rainbow Sweater Winner: Carrie (frednphil)

Knitted Yellow and Purple Sweater and Matching Beanie Cap for Baby

Sweater & Cap winner: Amy McCoy

Knitted Pink Stripe Beanie Cap for Baby

Pink Cap WInner: Sharon Walker Robbins

White Knitted Beanie Cap for Baby

White Cap Winner: Sue Petersen

Light Blue Knitted Bonnet for Baby

Bonnet Winner: Holly Fedele

Blueberry Knitted Beanie Cap for Baby

Blueberry Cap Winner: Kelly KTB

Tomato Knitted Beanie Cap for Baby (2 available)

Tomato Cap Winners:
#1 Jessica Rudder
#2 Kelly & Co

Strawberry Knitted Beanie Cap for Baby

Strawberry Cap Winner: Crissilea

Pumpkin Knitted Beanie Cap for Baby (2 available)

Pumpkin Cap Winners:
#1 Chelese
#2 Alexis Wesley

Pink Knitted Breast Cancer Awareness Scarf

Scarf Winner: Christine Nichols

White Breast Cancer Awareness Knitted Wash Cloth

White Cloth Winner: Jenifer Hall

Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Knitted Wash Cloth (7 available)

Pink Cloth Winners:
#1 Julie Leto
#2 Bonnie McKinney
#3 Sara Brinton
#4 Karen Jo Moseley
#5 Rosemary Marshall
#6 Half Dozen Mama
#7 Kelly KTB

Pastel Stripe Knitted Wash Cloth

Pastel Cloth Winner: Julie Nielson

Pink ABC Knitted Wash Cloth

ABC Cloth Winner: Jessica Rudder

Have a Coke and a Smile Snack Gift Basket - Ultimate size. Retails at $127.99. You can see more details about this basket from Doodlebuckets here.

Gift Basket Winner: Katie (evansadoption)

Bracelet from the Noonday Collection

Bracelet Winner: Caren

This piece is handmade in a region of India that is not farmable because of
the climate and topography of the area, so residents must depend on crafts
for their livelihood. Increased disputes over the land between Pakistan and
India have given rise to violence, threatening the safety of tourists and
residents alike. This has decreased tourism and the artisans access to a
market. Through fair trade, they now have a market for their products.

So how can you win one of these awesome prizes and help Taylor come home?

The first way is FREE!!!!!

A share on Facebook, Twitter or on your blog you will get ONE entry into the giveaway. You can share as many times as you want. But only your first share will count as an entry. Please comment below and include the URL of your "share", "tweet" or "blog post" for us to know you shared and count your entry.

The second way to get entries is to donate to Taylor's fund at Ten for Orphans, all donations are tax deductible.

If you want to donate but do not have or want a Paypal account, the third way to get entries is to mail your donation via check.
You can make your check out to Project Hopeful FIG and mail to:
Traci Heim
Project Hopeful FIG
6920 W 173rd Place
Tinley Park, IL 60477
Include a note that states it is for Taylor's adoption fund.
But again you must comment below to receive your entry.

$5 = 1 entry
$10 = 2 entries
$25 = 5 entries
$50 = 10 entries
$100 = 20 entries

Please leave a comment letting me know you shared and/or donated with your name and the amount you donated (I am happy delete your comment if you want to remain anonymous) and your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice of prizes (I will be able to verify donations). Please do not post a comment as anonymous (in other words enter your email address). I can't send you a prize if I don't have any way to contact you. If you do not want to leave your email address on your comment you can send it to me a onelilstarfish at gmail dot com. If you do not indicate your 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice of prizes you will receive whatever prizes are left after preferences are matched. So please let us know your preferences. We will do our best to honor them but there are no guarantees. We will award preferences in order of names drawn.

Entries must be left in the comments section of this blog to count. Comments left on other blogs that are helping to promote the giveaway will not count.

This giveaway starts Sunday, June 3 and ends on Thursday June 14, 2012. Entries will be drawn by a random number generator. Time is short so please get your entries in very quickly.

All prizes will be mailed to winners.

*Disclaimer -Many prizes were donated and some are one of a kind. Any item lost or destroyed in the mail sadly cannot be replaced*

Most recent photo of Taylor. She is getting so big and needs a family soon.

**********BREAKING NEWS*************

There is also another Giveaway for Taylor going on right now over here. It is for a Macbook Pro Laptop. Please go there for details.

######SPECIAL NOTE######


Don't forget our SPARE CHANGE CHALLENGE is still going on for Taylor. You can find details for that here.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this long post and for considering helping the Dewberry family bring Taylor home and give her the family she longs for.


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