Sunday, June 24, 2012

And the fundraising begins...

Since we needed to fundraise for our last two adoptions, it will come as no surprise to folks that we need to do it again to bring Cooper home. 

One thing I know for sure is that God has used our financial dependence to stretch our faith, and to show His magnificant GLORY!

He has shown us how very much he cares for our sons, and all the fatherless children around the world.  He has used these fundraising opportunities to show us that it is HE that provides for our needs.  I learned this most during our journey to Cameron.  The timing of his adoption was so tight that, while I did what little fundraising I could, there was no imaginable way for us to fundraise all that money in 8 weeks.  During that time, we received very unexpected grants and donations.  All that to say...He has been faithful and has blessed our obedience each step of the way.

With Colin, we worked very hard and had such a variety of fundraisers from selling vintage Barbie dolls and yard sales to Thirty-One parties and our "What can God do with $10?" campaign. 

With Cameron, we made homemade bracelets with much help from my Mother. 

This time around, with Cooper being younger than the older two boys, and not in danger of aging out, we have one small advantage--TIME.  Not a ton of time, mind you, but more than we had before.  Just because it will take about a year to bring him home, that doesn't mean that we have a year to raise the funds.

There are homestudy fees, background checks to pay for, educational requirements to pay for, agency fees and the list goes on and on...

Today, we actually achieved the 10% mark for the funds that we need to raise for Cooper!  If you focus only on that HUGE end number, it can keep you discouraged, so we are celebrating that milestone with praise!

We have been doing a lot of purging around here and selling off those things that we don't need to prepare for Cooper's arrival.

I have sold many of my nicer clothing items, homeschool curriculum that was donated to us from friends and many other household items donated for our yard sale.  That got us started and moving in the right direction.

We held a yard sale for Colin's adoption and had the help of some amazing volunteers from our Community Bible Study Group.  But, as a newbie to the Blogger world, I took exactly ZERO pictures!  (I know, a major crime!)

This time, I was determined NOT to make the same mistake, so here we go!

Donations started coming in weeks ago.  First, we filled the garage.

Once the garage was full, we started loading things into our house.

first the front room....

then the living room...

 then the kitchen...

You get the idea.  We were overrun with generosity!

Once we received, sorted and priced all these wonderful treasures, it was time to get serious on the marketing.  The signs were made, the ads were placed and we were ready to go.

Next step?  Supplies and Helpers!
No one ever pulls off a yard sale of this magnitude alone.  Just not possible.  We were blessed by some amazing friends who came alongside our family and worked tirelessly this weekend to help us maximize our efforts.

Some made baked goods for us to sell, others donated canned drinks, MANY loaned us hanging racks and tables and still others sacrificed a beauitful Saturday with their own families to come work- and I mean WORK.

We were up and moving before 5 and by 5:30 a.m., these angels arrived at our home and hit the ground running!

In a short 60-90 minutes we went from this....

to this...a yard FULL of items for sale and more importantly, full of people buying!

what made the day even more enjoyable was sharing it with good friends, Chris & Annie Hamlin.  They are working to bring home a precious 8 year old girl from China, so we joined forces and took advantage of the increased traffic.

here are some of our community members shopping the incredible assortment of items we had for sale yesterday.

Tom and Andy handled checkout under the LIFESAVING canopy that our good friends loaned us. (It was 95 degrees all day).

 Our youngest, Tommy, "working" the cold beverage and baked goods table.

We had around 20 tables and FILLED EVERY ONE of them!  The body of Christ really came together and supported us with their donations.

We even had an impact on the neighborhood.

About 30 minutes before we planned to pack up for the day, a new neighbor came by with her mother.  When she learned the reason for our sale, she asked if she could trade some things for the items she wanted from our sale. (TRADE??--are you missing the point here?)  Well, she ran home to get some things she wanted to donate.  Now, I must be honest.  At this point, I had spent a solid month accepting donations, pricing them, sorting them. I lived for weeks in an episode of the "Hoarders"!

I had been awake since 4:30 (yes, A.M.!) and had been working non-stop in oppressive and almost dangerous heat.  While I wanted to be gracious, at this point, the LAST thing I wanted was MORE stuff to sell.  My very fatigued, human self wanted to say, are you crazy?  Don't you see all the stuff we still HAVE LEFT?  But, she seemed so sincere and so I agreed to let her bring me a few "things". 

About 10 minutes later, she returned to "trade" her donations for a few goodies she had found at our sale.  And oh, how surprised I was when her donations were AMAZING!  Their value FAR exceeded that which she wanted from our sale. 

She donated a very nice quality, gently used Chicco Play Yard with music and remote control (retail around $300!)

a JEEP jogging stroller with I-pod dock and toy station for the kids
(Retail around $180!)

and SEVERAL... BRAND NEW...Miche Bags!

Even in my current state of exhaustion, it was clear that this generous neighbor was there to help and was graciously offering items of real value to our fundraising efforts.

I was so thankful for her and all the folks who came out and shopped yesterday.  It was hard to believe that after all those sales, that there was anything to put back into the garage, but....

we still managed to FILL our garage with the leftovers.  So, as much as I would like to say we are done with this particular fundraiser, I'm afraid we will be pulling it all out again this coming Saturday.

We are so thankful for the men and women who came out to support us and hope you will tell all your friends to come see us next Saturday too!  We will have COLD DRINKS and a smile!

Here are pics of just a few items we still have available for all your Charleston natives...

For those who are reading this and are not able to join/support us in person, there are still ways for you to assist us in our fundraising efforts.

First, would you come alongside us in prayer?  We know from personal experience how Satan loves to attack you when you are following God's call for your life. Please pray that He would protect our family as we work toward bringing home our newest son.  Also, please pray for our boys that they would continue to bond with one another and that they would learn to rely on the Lord as we have. 

If you are not already a friend of ours on Facebook, please send me an invite.  I post lots more updates there than I can here, so keep up to date with the Rylands crew that way.

You can search for "Rylands Family Adoption" and "Angie Jewell Rylands". 

If you feel the Lord would want you to support us financially, you can donate directly to our fund in two ways.

1. You can donate funds through our paypal button at the top left of our blog. (They do keep a small percentage of the funds as a processing fee, but it is quick, easy and safe.)

2. You can send donations directly to "Journey Together Ministries" here in Charleston.  They are a wonderful Christian non-profit organization that had accepted our family into their scholarship program.  All donations they receive on our behalf are sent directly to our adoption agency (LIFELINE!) and they do not charge any fees, so 100% of what you send them is applied to our adoption bills.  The best part is that, as a non-profit, you will receive a tax-deduction for this donation. 

We are grateful for all those that cover our family in prayer, donate items for sale, make direction financial contributions and even those that follow along on this blog.  Your comments of encouragement are fuel for our family and we appreciate you so much!

I will do my best to continue updating everyone on our progress and to keep our thermometer up to date.

God Bless...Angie

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Videos of Cooper!!!

What a pleasant surprise!  We just received three short videos of our sweetie pie!
(Note: if you receive these blog updates via email, you will have to log onto the internet and go to the blog to see these videos. It won't work from your email.)

Here he is introducing himself, telling his age and reading a story.

Here he is jumping rope. Ok, maybe he is not the master rope jumper that his big brother Cameron is, but he gives it his best effort!

Here he shows off his bed-making abilities and then asks if he did a good job!  Wait till you see his little "ta-da"! move at the end...

Just love that God has provided a little glimpse into his life. We were told that he did receive our note and pictures and that he was very excited.  The orphanage is not willing to arrange for us to skype with him, but maybe later when we are closer to travel.

Ok, the cooing can commence.  Go ahead, you know you want to...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

School is OVER! Well, sort of...

School is finally over...well, sort of. 

We have officially concluded our Middle school and home school year!

Last Thursday we attended Colin's 8th grade awards ceremony.

We were so very proud of him for navigating all the newness of a new family, new culture, new school, new friends....

A.N.D.  to top it all off...

Colin shaking hands with Mr. Rogers, Principal at Hanahan Middle School
 while receiving his "Distinguished Honor Roll" certificate.
He got STRAIGHT A's!

We were very proud of how hard he worked, despite the language barrier, to continue to learn as much as possible this year.

Each homeroom class wore a different color T-shirt for the Olympic style field day that followed the awards ceremony.

Here he is with his Science teacher, Mr. Thomas.  We loved Mr. Thomas and are so appreciative of all he did to help Colin translate notes and tests this year.

Colin at home posing for his camera crazy mother!

Showing me the back of his T-shirt that was signed by his classmates and teachers.

That same evening, the younger boys celebrated the end of their homeschool year with their Legacy friends!

Tommy officially finished 3rd grade 

and Cameron, 4th.

We are very proud of our sons and glad that our schedules will lighten up...somewhat.

Now, as we continue to remind our oldest two, learning English is not a school task, but a life task, so....that part of their education, along with practicing their pronunciations will continue.  

Tommy will continue working through his advanced language studies with the Michael Clay Thompson Language Arts Curriculum because, well, we 
 that much!  

We still have a lot of work to do to prepare for next year when all three boys will start school away from home.  A very big step for this mama...

Well, as many of you out there in Blogger world are likely experiencing also, Summer also brings with it new routines.  Tom and I decided that we needed to be ahead of the, before we were flooded with tons of "Mama, May I?" questions, 

we preempted them with our OWN plans for things like computer time and bedtimes etc...

I know my boys. Well.  And I knew that they would see "no school" as a free rein over the household technology!  So, Tom and I decided to implement a 2 hour daily screen limit for each child.

They get to choose each day how they will divide their screen time amongst the various machines in the house-- wii, computer (always monitored), DVDs, get the idea.  So far, this new routine has worked fairly well.

So, what in the world will they do the other remaining waking hours?

What will fill their time when it is...?

Practicing their trumpets!

Beach time! 
(Dad's favorite)

Well?  It just keeps GROWING!

Water fights! 
(What summer is complete without a few water fights, after all?)

Picking Fresh veggies at my Mom's house

Being generally goofy! 
(Someone's gotta save the world!)

(ok, this one pays!)

swim in Granny's new pool!

Picking blueberries!

and their latest OBSESSION...


These are the two puzzles that the boys put together in the last TWO days!  

Needless to say, it will not be a dull summer at the Rylands' house!

Can't wait to add this cutie pie to the craziness!