Posted by: katieperez | January 14, 2010

A ray of Sunshine & Sweet Potatos

OK so as many of you know I’ve been a little busy over the last 8 months or so with all sort of things in life. Hence why I haven’t even posted about the birth of my beautiful baby girl. Now that I’m back at work life is getting a bit more normal and orderly and I thought it was time to pick back up the blog posts.

Life is jsut as busy as ever. My little girl, Lizzy (or Chubs as she is lovingly refered to by her Unckle) is amazing and a true delight. She has just turned 6 months old and she is simply ahead on everything. She was sitting up on her own at 5 months and love the concept of ripping open presents at Christmas. At 6 months she is now almost 22 lbs. and very long (95% for length) so she is growing nicely. She has a beautiful personality and is almost always happy which is very important as life has often necessitated her going all over with us and it’s great that she has been a happy trouper through it all. She has already been on something like 36 flights, stepped foot (ok carried) through 4 countries, and sports a very cute Passport photo in which she is wearing a Horton Hears A Who onesie. She is just starting to eat solids and I lovingly make all of her food at home. I’m pretty proud of my homemade organic baby food and I am now personally eatting sweet potatos, a food that I thought I would never like.

For those of you not in the know about Jeff, my bother, he is doing really well. His cancer has responded amazingly to the drug treatment and we are going to Cincinnati this week for him to have surgery to hopefully remove all of the cancer. They are several long weeks ahead of him (and us) during his surgeries and recovery but we are all just so excited at this amazing turn of events.

And to top if all off my non-profit, The Neema Foundation (neemafoundation.org) is just in the process of building our first computer lab in Tanzania. I’ve uploaded some photos of the lab for those interested.

I’m sure I’ll update with more soon.

Love to you all,

Katie

http://www.flickr.com/photos/familyperez/sets/72157623209950352/

Posted by: katieperez | June 30, 2009

Still no Baby…..

Well she is now 4 days late and there is no sign that she will make her debut anytime soon. My Doctor wants to induce me next Monday (July 6th) if I don’t go before then. I really HATE the idea of being induced as I want a fully natural (yep- no pain meds) birth and am worried that with the induction I won’t be able to handle the added intensity without having an epidural. I’m hoping that she’ll make her appearance in the next day or so. The 4th of July is my absolute favorite Holiday of the Year so it would be a great day to have a baby.

We did an all out attempt yesterday to try and convince her to show up. My doctor stripped my membranes and I immediately started having Braxton-hicks contractions. I lunged on the birth ball, walked, Jeff and I even had a dance party but we just couldn’t get all of the contractions to turn into the real thing.

Overall I’m doing well. The swelling is probably the worst symptom as it is truly painful. And this last week I developed very itchy hands and feet which are driving me NUTZ!!! My blood pressure still spikes on days when Jeff isn’t doing super so I just have to keep a constant watch on that and try and stay relaxed.

Hopefully my next post will include adorable photos showing off my sweet little girl.

-Katie

P.S.- the doctor thinks she’ll weigh in at over 9 lbs so she won’t be that little J

Posted by: katieperez | May 13, 2009

Jeff has cancer…..

As I’m sure many of you heard my little brother Jeff was just diagnosed with Stage 4 Kidney Cancer. He has a very agressive and rare form of kidney cancer but we are confident that with all of the love and support he will win this battle and defeat the cancer.

Jeff has started a blog so that those who are interested can stay up to date with teh latest info and track his progress.

The link is:

http://jeffscancerupdate.wordpress.com/

Thanks for all of the love and support!

 

-Katie

Posted by: katieperez | April 22, 2009

It’s A Girl & 501c3 Status Approved!

We have 10 more weeks to go but the exciting news is that it’s a girl. Elizabeth Estrella Perez. Her name carries a lot of significance for us. Elizabeth was my grandmother’s name and is also the name of my favorite literary hero, Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice (those of you that know me know I am a HUGE Austen fan!). Estrella (which mean’s star in Spanish) was Pedro’s grandmother’s maiden name. Pedro’s dad (Pedro the 3rd) refers to her as Estrella constantly so we know we have his approval. And our little girl will carry with her part of both of her great grandmothers.
Lizzy (my nickname for her) is going really well. She is kicking up a storm. All of the sickness and things can be a pain but man it’s all worth it when you get to have those private moments with your little one and you can just feel her kicking and moving away. Pedro and I are busy getting everything in order. We taking baby classes, getting the room ready and are working to finish off all of those other little household projects that we know will never happen if we don’t do it now. 
Pedro’s game, The Dark Void, is getting wonderful press. He’s been working insane hours but he’ll get 2 weeks off once the baby comes so there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
My other little project, The Neema Foundation is also picking up speed. We just approved by the IRS as a 501c3 so we are now officially a non-profit. This is super exciting as now people can give us money and it is Tax-deductible. The board is busy working to get our logo finalized, website updated, and programs in place so that we can do a big announce and start to officially raise funds for our 1st Project- a Computer Lab at Ebenezer School. Neema is doing wonderful. I just got her report card for her first quarter of 1st grade, All A’s. She is such a smart and talented little girl and it just feels wonderful to know that all of our efforts to put her in school are paying off.

Hope all is well with everyone!

-Katie

Posted by: katieperez | February 5, 2009

Baby Perez & Neema!

Hi All-

I hope that 2009 is treating everyone well. The big news on my side is that Pedro & I are expecting our first baby in June! Little baby Perez is expected on June 26th, 2009 (one day after our wedding anniversary). I’m almost 20 weeks and everything has been going well. The baby has been doing great although Mom still gets EXTREME morning (should be called ALL DAY) sickness so that is a little rough. There’s nothing like having your husband help catch your vomit (so you don’t puke on yourself) to help confirm for you that you married the right man.🙂 We have our 20 week ultrasound next week and will FINALLY find out the gender of the baby so stay tuned. And although we don’t know yet if it is a boy or a girl I think we have figured out that this kid is going to be a Xbox gamer🙂

 12 Week Ultrasound with controller

12 Week Ultrasound Photo

 

I also wanted to give everyone an update on Neema. She is doing great. She graduated from Kindergarten in December and is now in 1st grade (the school year runs Jan -> December in Tanzania). Her teachers continually talk about how smart & dedicated she is. I have a friend down there right now who has visited her and is sending me some photos so I’ll get those uploaded as soon as I get them.

The Neema Foundation is also off to a great start! We have all of our paperwork submitted to the IRS and are just awaiting our official letter saying that we are a non-profit. Our Math Set Campaign was a huge success and we’ll be sending the Math Sets to the kids the Weekend!!! We’ll be kicking off our official communication with Donors as soon as we get our 501c# status. If you are interested in joining our mailing list please e-mail: info@neemafoundation.organd put MAILING LIST in the Subject line. We have a ton of plans for the coming year.

I think that becoming a mother myself just re-enforces my passion around helping these kids. Pedro and I spent last Saturday at Babies R Us going through and looking at all the stuff that we have in the US to help us parent. I can’t help but think back in those moments to all of the women and children in Africa who go without food, let alone a Diaper Gennie.  My time in Africa has definitely changed me, and I am happy to be changed. And as I take this great leap into motherhood I am keeping in my heart all of the children I met in Africa, especially the little girl who I think of in my heart as my first daughter, Neema.

 

Hope all is well!

 

-Katie

Posted by: katieperez | October 14, 2008

info@neemafoundation.org

Hi All-

Just wanted to clarify that our email address is info@neemafoundation.org. I had typed it wrong in my previous post!  We now have a pledge form and are taking donations for the Math Sets so e-mail us ad let us know if you are iterested & we’ll send you the Pledge form.

Thanks,

Katie

Posted by: katieperez | October 8, 2008

1st Letter from Neema

I am so excited! Last night I received my first letter from Neema. She wrote the entire letter in English; and although it was clearly someone else who translated the message to English and she copied it  it was still such a wonderful feeling to open it and see her adorable penmanship. She writes her ‘r” very distinctly J

 

To brighten my day even more I received an E-mail from mama Grace who just visited her at Parent’s Day.  She looks so happy and full of life and is even wearing the nice dress that Sue bought for her. J

 

Days like today will be what it is all about-  now we just have to get this project from 1 letter to hundreds.

 

Let me know if you want those math sets or to make a pledge!!

 

-Katie

Posted by: katieperez | October 4, 2008

The NEEMA Foundation Is born….

Well I have been back in the states for just over a month. In some ways Africa seems like just yesterday and in some ways it seems far too long ago. Coming home was truly bittersweet. I had to leave Neema the little girl who captured my heart so quickly but I was able to return home to my friends and family who I love so dearly as well. I actually returned home to find out that a very dear friend was sick. She’s doing better now but it is truly such a lesson for us when someone we love is ill. We are all so blessed to have the ones we love in our lives, and even more so we are blessed to be loved in return.

Coming back I knew that I had to do more than just put Neema through school. That effort, as amazing and life changing as it is, seems so small and easy to do at this point. School is set-up, I e-mail back and forth with the principle to check in on her and send my love, and I’m already counting down the days until I can be back in Africa and she how she’s grown.

It was time to dream big- so I called in the reinforcements- my girlfriends! And last week, after dinner and while sitting around Kiara’s coffee table we (Ashley, Kiara & I) signed the articles of incorporation and the NEEMA Foundation was formed. I don’t have grandiose plans of changing the life of every child in Africa- instead it is much more of a bottom’s up approach- working to change the lives of children, one at a time, day by day. There are a lot of other non-profits so why not just join them you might ask? Well, there are very few established non-profits in the area of Africa that I visited. Those that do exist there are just like the Neema foundation- a small group of very passionate people doing it day by day, dollar by dollar. Most of those non-profits are also focused on a specific population, either an orphanage or a specific school. And although we will have strong partnerships with both types of organization I wanted to keep our charter a bit more broad so that we can work to improve the lives of all children in Africa. Our mission is simple- help get more kids into school and help get these kids access to technology. And I think there are a lot of people out there who are looking to make a difference and to really SEE the difference they are making- and we can provide that!

I won’t go into full charter and programs here as we are still ironing everything out. What I will do though is ask for your support. We need volunteers & we need $$$$. J We are still in the process of getting our 501c3 status from the IRS so were actually not really asking for donations yet but we are asking for pledges. Actually to get our 501c3 status we have to be able to demonstrate that there is interest in the non-profit and that we will be able to raise enough funds. Getting pledges from people like you will really help us to do that. Our donations will go towards education and providing the kids access to education materials and computers. The first money raised will go to buy computers for Ebenezer Primary School.

We are also trying to fill an immediate need for the school in Africa- they have asked for 100 math sets. You can purchase a set from us for $10 and we will ship it to them. You can even have your kids send along a letter or picture to the kids if you want them to know who donated it J Our goal is to buy ALL 100 of these sets in October! It’s a great project as even kids can pitch in some allowance and help change the life of a child in Africa!  

Please consider buying a math set & also making a pledge towards the foundation. If you are interested you can e-mail info@neemafoundation.org. We’ll then send you info about buying a math set (again just $10) as well as how to make a pledge. Because the goal is actually to get as many people involved as possible we ask that you only buy one set per person (3 per family) and then pledge any additional funds that you are interested in giving. This will help us to get more people involved with the organization and will also really get us off to a strong start to get those computers!

Thank you so much for all of your love and support. This dream started with the wish to change the life of one little girl, but together we can change the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of children in Tanzania.

 

SALAMU KWA MPENZI WAKO,

(With love from my heart,)

Katie

Posted by: katieperez | September 3, 2008

Asante Sana Mama Grace!

Mama Grace, Katie & Fortunata

Mama Grace, Katie & Fortunata

I don’t even know how to being to thank Mama Grace for everything that she did & for all of the wonderful memories that I have because of her. She is simply one of the most self-less and Amazing women I have ever met. Sue & I are convinced that she doesn’t sleep because we simply don’t know how she does everything! She helps run the CCS program, takes care of volunteers who are sick (even if that means her staying up all night as she sits by their hospital bed), she gets to know everyone and becomes a friend to everyone, she runs a hostel (called Mama Africa), she is a mother to 4 boys (one who has special needs), and she is a loving wife. She has helped to found several schools and agencies in Tanzania and she is the women who introduced me to Neema.

The woman is simply amazing and deserves the biggest THANK YOU possible so here it is:

THANK YOU MAMA GRACE!

We MISS you!

 

 

Love,
Katie & Sue

Posted by: katieperez | September 3, 2008

Asante Sana to our Friends at Mt. Kilimanjaro View Lodge


Over the next few days I’ll be posting Thank You’s to some of the amazing people that we had the pleasure of getting to know in Africa. I’ll also be uploading some of the videos and pictures and I couldn’t upload while in Africa because of the low bandwidth.

Our first Thank You:

Sue & I would like to say Asante Sana (Thank You) to all off our new Friends at Mt. Kilimanjaro View Lodge.

Our stay at the lodge was one of the true highlights of our trip. Not only is it one of the most magical & beautiful settings in the world but it is filled with the kindest and most loving people we have ever met.

Phillip, the owner of the lodge, is a wonderful giving man who welcomes people from all of the world into his home. He grew up on the moutain and does so much to help the local Chaga people. You could not ask for a better host!

Flora is a beautiful & talented young women. She helps manage the lodge. We really enjoyed getting to sit and talk with Flora but even better was sitting and listening to her sing. She has an amazing voice and when I think of the poeple of Africa and the music it is her voice that fills my memories.

Katie, Flora & Sue

Katie, Flora & Sue

Charles was our amazing guide. He lead us on Amazing hikes and filled every moment with a smile. He is a bright and talented young man. He would sing the Jambo song with us as we hiked and one of my favorite memories of my trip is us hiking in the rain forest and Charles marching along leading us in song. Not only was he an amazing guide but he also has the patience of a saint! It had rained on the mountain so it was very slippery and I slipped every few feet on a 7 mile hike! Charles walked by me the entire way and would reach out to catch me as I went down. I’ll never forget him saying “Come on” in this light tone with disbelief as I slipped again and again while going down the mountain. Thanks to his help I only went down and landed in the once each day.

To all of our new friends- thank you so much for the visit! We simply loved it and we hope to return again to “hevan on earth”!

Love,
Katie & Sue

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