Dance Marathon 2014

Posted by Wulfekuhle Family | Dance Marathon, Families
Dance Marathon 2014 was AMAZING!!!! Get ready for lots of pictures AND videos…because pictures don’t do it justice.  And neither do videos, so you all should just come next year 🙂
The lights, the music, the students, the anticipation, the hope, the love, the cause…it all culminates for a day-of that is unlike anything else I have ever experienced.  
We had two really excited kids!

Before I tell you about the day, lets talk about the students. They are awesome!  An event of this magnitude is no easy feat to pull off, much less for a group of full-time college students.  I’ve said it before, but they are some of the most giving, selfless, supportive, fun, energetic students I have ever met.  Reese loved spending the day with some of her favorite people.  

You all made Reese feel like a million bucks this weekend, and I will forever be thankful for the great example you are in her life. 
The day starts with the run-in at 9am.  Over 1,000 students yelling and dancing and running though the human tunnel.  Oh man, it’s awesome.

Then they learn the morale dance.  This dance is done every hour, on the hour. It’s fun and Reese loved dancing to it and participating on stage.

Reese is the little blonde enjoying the morale dance on a dancer’s shoulders in this video…

Reese LOVED being on stage!
We got to meet our team…Team Kangaroo!! Dancers are put into teams and are assigned a family.  They compete in games and eat meals with their team throughout the day. 

They will do anything For The Kids!

Leslie and Justin were our team’s Morale Captains.  They dress up for the theme hours.  Time isn’t tracked with numbers at Dance Marathon, it is tracked by theme hours.  
Super hero hour…

Iowa State hour…

There are lots of morale captains, and it is so fun to see everyone dressed up each hour. And they go all out creating their costumes! I saw one student dancing on stage in full snowboarding gear, helmet and goggles and all and another in a box painted as Spongebob.
As the day went on, there is so much to do.  The dancers can’t sit down and they sure keep them busy.  Bounce houses, laser tag, magicians, bands, swing dancing, crafts, yard games, cupcake decorating….there was always something to do.  Dance Marathon takes over the Memorial Union and has something in every room.
The “Families Room” was decorated as Candy Land and had crafts and snacks for the families.

Gingerbread houses!

I have no idea what hour this was, but Cade wouldn’t take his pirate patch off all day, not even for a bath. And Reese LOVED having Jaida visit!
They had a talent show for the kids.  Reese sang Brave, of course. This is WAY out of her comfort zone, getting up on stage.  But at Dance Marathon, she turns in to a different person.  
The band Paradise Fears was scheduled to hit the stage around 8pm.  They were awesome, coming early in the day and spending time with the families and taking everything in.  They were front row during Reese’s singing debut…future lead singer??
Here is Reese with their lead singer, Sam.
We were able to share our story and video with the dancers.  Our children were so well-behaved on stage.
The fashion show was Reese’s favorite.  A gal from The ISU Fashion Show, Ashlyn, custom made this dress for Reese.  So fun! It’s a mix between Sophia the First,  dM teal, and the rainbow since Reese doesn’t have a favorite color. (She always says she likes them all.) She gets to wear it in the big ISU Fashion Show in April.

I’m not sure how to sum up a day like this, or if my description even does the event justice.  It was an honor to stand in the same room as some of those families.  They are an inspiration to us, and their kids are amazing. So many special memories were made this weekend for so many special kids. 
And they raised over $420,000 for Children’s Miracle Network and University of Iowa Children’s Hospital!!!  See, they are amazing!  We are just so, so grateful for our Dance Marathon family!

Dance Marathon love

Posted by Wulfekuhle Family | Dance Marathon, Families, Reese, UICH

Do you guys know what is happening this weekend?

Dance Marathon!!!

Dance Marathon is the largest student run organization on ISU’s campus.  They raise money throughout the year for Children’s Miracle Network and specifically University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.  They have pledged one million dollars to the new children’s hospital scheduled to be completed in 2016!

This is our second year participating in Dance Marathon. We had an absolute blast last year!!  We made a new video to share Reese’s story and our love for Dance Marathon.

Over the past year the people of this organization have become near and dear to us.  These college students spend their time, talents, and many hours raising money for children who spend time at the U of I.  They give selflessly.  They plan fun events for the kids and families throughout the year. They spend hours preparing for a day long event that is designed to celebrate life.  Reese looks forward to the “day-of” all year.  Dancing, music, games, 900 college students to play with, a 15 hour non-stop party…what’s not to love?

If you (like us) are feeling the love, you can make a general donation here.  But, I want to introduce you to a couple students who have made an impact in Reese’s life.  These folks are special.  Please consider specifically supporting them.  In the end, all the money goes into the same pot, so maybe you should support them all 🙂

Meet Terry.

Terry is our families contact this year.  Meaning, he is in charge of getting us info and keeping us in line 🙂  We love Terry.  We have been able to share life with him and the kids get so excited when he comes over.  He supported Reese at her dance recital, visited her in the hospital- twice, sent his fiance to visit when he couldn’t be there, watches sports with Brian, joins us for dinner, he is just great.  As a matter of fact, he is watching our kids tomorrow night so we can go to connection group.  We are blessed by his support of our family.

Meet Natalie.

Natalie is the co-director for Business Relations on this years exec committee for Dance Marathon.  She and Reese have become fast friends. We were so blessed by Natalie in the hospital when she called up and asked to play with Reese so we could grab dinner.  Um…YES!  She brought crafts and she and Reese made blankets and headbands while Brian and I ate a glorious uninterrupted dinner. She is also a tech at Reese’s pharmacy.  We know Natalie has been working when there are fun doodles on Reese’s medicine bottles 🙂
Meet Leslie.
Leslie was the Morale Captain for our team last year.  She dressed up through out the day-of and it was her job to support and encourage her team of dancers. When she came out for Disney hour dressed as Snow White, Reese was hooked.  Reese spent most of the day-of last year hanging out and dancing with Leslie.  This summer, when public swimming lessons weren’t a possibility for Reese due to her issues, Leslie gave Reese private swimming lessons.  She loved on Reese well during her surgeries this fall too.  Reese is excited to hang out with Leslie at this years day-of!


Meet Jessica.
Jessica is one of the co-directors for this year’s Dance Marathon.  I have no idea how she does it all, but somehow she (along with Anna) manages around 15 exec members, over 200 committee members, and throws a killer event for over 900 students.  And she does this in her free time, while majoring in Pre PA, and being the campus leader that she is.  She’s amazing.  She always has a smile and hug for Reese. When Jess is around, you can bet Reese is with her.  She brought the exec committee over to our house one night for a riveting game of hide-and-go-seek and duck duck goose. And it made Reese’s night.  We are so thankful for her commitment to Children’s Miracle Network!

We love so many of them but I should probably stop at four. And…I don’t have pictures with any more dMers 🙂 We can only pray that we will give of ourselves as sacrificially as these students have.  We are so grateful for all of them!!

Christmas Pictures

Posted by Wulfekuhle Family | Families, family time
Christmas 2013 in pictures.  Enjoy!
Please note: our two year old CAN NOT TO SAVE HIS LIFE smile and/or keep his eyes open in pictures.
Cade is not sneezing.  Nope, he did that on purpose STINKER.

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Here is the progression when you ask Cade to take a picture.
1. He refuses.

2. He decides mid-picture to back into the frame.

3. He decides to be a goof.

4. The best I could do.

Mo and Bo were not forgotten.  We got all the kids one big gift this year.

We headed to Quasky for the Wulfekuhle Christmas and some family time.

How did Aunt Allison get Cade to smile?!

Merry Christmas!  Yay for 2014!

We have had a great Christmas season, preparing for the birth of our Savior.  We have been doing Advent reading through the Jesus Storybook Bible and a fun activity each day to countdown until Christmas.  Gingerbread houses, cookies, visiting Santa, popcorn rides, movies, hot chocolate…the kids have been LOVING it!!

In the midst of the fun and hustle and bustle, we are missing part of our family.  They are half way around the world, with no timeline as to when they are coming home.  We miss them.

We are so grateful for a reason to celebrate.  And we celebrate His birth, the Savior of the world who came to save us from OUR sins.  He came into the world to die for US.  And that gives us hope.  His children are not forgotten, and neither are ours.

We turned our photos of this Christmas season into a video for Mo and Bo.  It was therapeutic for me to do something for them.  Someday I hope they know, in the midst of such a joyful season, how much they were missed.

P.S. Mo and Bo are not their birth names, nor are they names we attend to use once they come home.  They are nicknames based on the names on their birth certificates.  Also, their faces are blurred to protect their adoption and future adoptions in their birth country. I would love to share the real version in person!

At the time of our last update, we had just passed court.  For all of this to make sense, here is your adoption 101 class for the day.

After you pass court, you file your I600 (petition for orphan visa) with the US government.  When your I600 is approved, your case gets passed to the US Embassy in-country for an orphan investigation.  This investigation is estimated to take 3-6 months.  When and if your case passes the investigation, your child(ren) have visa interviews and visas are printed.  With a US visa, the kiddos can then enter the United States.  The last step is for the birth country to issue an exit letter, so that they can leave the country to come home.  There are little steps in there…but those are the big ones.

Now that you have the background info, I’m going to resort to bullet points.  Because I could ramble forever.

  • We applied for our I600, and received approval at the beginning of Sept. Our paperwork was then sent overseas to begin the orphan investigation.
  • On Sept 27 our children’s birth country decided to suspend exit letters for up to a year.  Without an exit letter, parents can’t take their children out of the country.
  • The country isn’t technically closed, as the court processes, investigations, and visa issuance’s are still continuing.  But again, the children can’t come home without an exit letter
  • In November, we learned that our daughter had passed the orphan investigation and her visa interview is set for December 23. We haven’t heard anything about our son.
  • Somewhere in there we received updated pictures of our kiddos.  They were wearing clothes we sent them and playing with toys from their care packages.  LOVE!

What does all this mean?   Honestly this is very scary for us.  We love these kids.  We want them home. They won’t be coming home anytime soon.  Please pray for this country and all the children in need of forever families.  Pray that the suspension ends SOON!  Pray for our children, that they would remain healthy and feel loved.  Pray for their foster momma, “M” that she would love generously and provide a safe and nurturing environment for our kids. 

The confusion, corruption and disorganization of their birth country seems insurmountable.  Promises are not kept, deadlines are not met, rules are not followed.  But we love this country.  It has given us two beautiful children that we can’t wait to hug and tuck in to their beds.  

We are so thankful for our agency.  They are organizing crucial meetings between officials in-country and continue to advocate for adoption and orphans.  We are thankful for friends who pray for us, support us, and listen to our fears and doubts.  We are thankful for our God and His all sustaining, never failing mercy and grace.   

So we trust, and pray, and wait…

Wait
by Russell Kelfer


Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .
And the Master so gently said, “Wait.”



“Wait? you say wait?” my indignant reply.
“Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I’m claiming your Word.



“My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I’m needing a ‘yes’, a go-ahead sign,
Or even a ‘no’ to which I can resign.



“You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I’ve been asking, and this is my cry:
I’m weary of asking! I need a reply.”



Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, “Wait.”
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, “So, I’m waiting for what?”



He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .
and He tenderly said, “I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.



“I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You’d have what you want, but you wouldn’t know Me.
You’d not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You’d not know the power that I give to the faint. 



“You’d not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m there.
You’d not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.



“You’d never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart. 



“The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.



“You’d never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I’m doing in you.



“So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still . . . Wait.”

Lucky

Posted by Wulfekuhle Family | Africa Adoption, Families

I get this statement a lot in regards to our kiddos from Africa…

“Those kids are so lucky to be coming into your family”

And I think I truly understand where people are coming from.  Thanks to the never-ending love and grace of our Father, they will have a family, food, a home and they will be loved.  But they really aren’t lucky.

Lucky isn’t losing your first family.  Our kids will probably never know their birth mom, what she looked like, or even her name.  Your first family is a large part of who you are.  Losing your first family is not lucky.

Lucky is not losing every sight, sound and smell that is familiar to you.  Can you imagine losing everything you know to come live with a strange family, who doesn’t look like you or talk like you?

Lucky is not fighting for survival on the streets at two years of age.

They are not lucky.  But they are fighters, they are loved, they are blessed and they are ours.  We are the lucky ones.

__________________________

I wrote this post back in August and it sat unpublished for four months.  And then today I ran across this blog post, and it explained it perfectly.

“(Adoption) is such a work of God’s grace and mercy that out of such brokenness and heartache and loss could be hope, restoration, and redemption. Yes, I see that, I promise I do. But that’s not lucky or winning the lottery or getting the best deal in life. It’s beauty from ashes… but you can’t discount the ashes.”


Read the post HERE.  Don’t discount the ashes.

_________________________

Also, I really need to post an adoption update. Soon, very soon.  I even have one half-written.  By saying this, I am hoping it won’t take me four months to publish.  Public accountability 🙂

Fall

Posted by Wulfekuhle Family | Families, family time, time with friends

It snowed last week, so I guess that means fall has come and gone.  We fought hard to unearth our sweet Reese from the stress and trauma of her hospital stay. And…she’s back!!! And feeling great.

We had a great time soaking up the leaves, colors and fun fall brings.  Here is a fall update, thanks to camera phone pictures.  Enjoy!

We took Oma to the orchard, our favorite fall place…

We went home to the farm to get in some harvest time…

Reese worked hard in the kitchen with Grandma to prepare lunch to take to the fields.

First for everything.  Picnic in the hog building 🙂

We had some great football weekends, complete with great friends who came to stay…

Our besties Katie and Mollie stayed for a week.  So, naturally, we took them to a paint pumpkins at a fraternity house…

Reese charmed some frat members who were making cupcakes in the kitchen.

And, naturally, we took then to the orchard!!

We had a two cute mice for Halloween…

And Reese had a big first this past weekend.  She went to her first drop-off birthday party!!  This would have never been possible if it weren’t for her recent surgery..

Saying good-bye to fall, and the gazillion leaves in our front yard…

Good- bye fall!  Bring on Thanksgiving, family, peppermint, snow, blankets, fires in the fireplace, football and Christmas!!

Thank you!

Posted by Wulfekuhle Family | Families, Reese, UICH
Reese is home and doing fabulous.  We got out Tuesday afternoon and haven’t looked back.  Our last couple days at the hospital were spent hanging out together.  I love this girl!

Reese had a couple themes songs for our time in the hospital, but this was a go-to.  Reese loves Sara Barielles’ Brave.  Reese was so brave, and we sang this song during yucky times in the hospital.

Reese also loves Katy Perry’s Roar.  And let me tell you, that song is very representative of Reese’s time in the hospital 🙂  She made her displeasure known, so much so that our favorite resident would stop by to be sure Reese was OK because she could place Reese’s “roar” from down the hall. She’s a fighter 🙂

We are SO GRATEFUL for all of your support and prayers.  God used you to make the hard days bearable.  Your prayers sustained us when we didn’t think we could handle any more.  Your words of encouragement reminded us of how many people we had praying for us.  Your gifts brightened Reese’s day. So many people came to visit with us and Reese.  Way more than I have pictures of, but we are eternally grateful for each and every one of you.  Even when Reese wasn’t up for visitors, many of you sat in the family room with us and kept us company.  And when Reese was up for visitors, you all proved to be a great distraction tool 🙂

Reese and Leah painting.  With bottomless glasses of Sprite and a playroom stocked with any toy you could want, they had a good time!

Reese absolutely loved seeing her Dance Marathon friends.  Dance Marathon holds such a special place in our hearts, and we are so thankful to have such great support. These college students are something special.

Natalie even showed up with crafts one night, and she made headbands and fleece blankets with Reese so Brian and I could grab a meal together!

We came home loaded with presents, balloons, gift cards and a thank you list a mile long.  Our house was cleaned, our fridge stocked and we haven’t had to cook a meal yet.  Seriously, so grateful.  So very grateful.

We are excited for our new normal and are praying that this surgery was worth the road we traveled. We pray that the tube gives Reese some much needed freedom and normalcy.