The Starfish Story

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed that starfish have been a trend popping up in the jewelry, clothing, and knick-knacks being sold in stores. Seeing this specific ocean creature always reminds me of a certain story, which I’ve seen retold in many ways. The following version is from GoodReads.com, and is attributed to Loren Eiseley.

“Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, 
“It made a difference for that one.” 

It made a difference for that one.

I’ve had the privilege of advocating for a little named Jonah for more than 6 months now. He’s one of millions of orphaned/abandoned kids in the world, and it’s all but impossible for me to help every single one of them. But this little guy, of all the Angel Tree kids last year, jumped out at me, and I had to give him a helping hand. It made a difference- more than $1000 was donated to his adoption grant in that short time period. But he’s not home yet.

If you’d like to make a difference to Jonah (and his soon-to-be brother, Jackson) you can support the family adopting them by shopping for various items across the sites below. You can also donate directly to their FSP on Reece’s Rainbow, http://www.reecesrainbow.org/sponsorsteele. (It’s tax deductible, too!)

Amazon Shopping: If you need to purchase something off Amazon.com, go to his family’s blog (http://www.steeleadoption.blogspot.com), find the little gray Amazon button (right side, above the Reece’s Rainbow button) and click on it. It’ll take you straight to Amazon.com, and when you purchase something, Amazon donates part of their profit from your purchase to his adoption. Super simple, and costs you nothing! But for it to work, you have to enter Amazon through the button on their blog! 🙂

Scentsy (Candles and Smells):
https://www.itallmakesperfectscents.scentsy.us/Scentsy/Home?partyId=237669005

Velata (Kitchenware & Edibles):
https://www.lovetofondue.velata.us/Velata/Home?partyId=237676764

Tastefully Simple (Food & Edibles) (make sure to scroll down under the consultant’s name to “attend a party” and click JonahNJack)
https://www.tastefullysimple.com/web/chofstetter

Handmade Jewelry: (Make sure to put STEELE FAMILY in the comment section if you order)
http://www.etsy.com/shop/everarizona

Puzzle Fundraiser:
http://steeleadoption.blogspot.com/2014/03/puzzle-fundraiser.html

Water Filters:
http://steeleadoption.blogspot.com/2014/04/we-have-fundraiser-for-everyone.html

 

And, if we’re friends on Facebook, I still have a photo album full of t-shirts, jewelry, and handmade cards for sale, for which all proceeds benefit Jonah’s adoption.
Please consider sharing what you’ve been blessed with.. because it matters to this one.
🙂

*drumroll*

The time has come for me to announce my five “special” kiddos. Now.. I gotta say that there are a lot of lovable children listed on RR, but these are some of the ones I’ve come to feel a bit more strongly about. These are the current five kiddos who I’ll be advocating for until they are home with their families! Introducing… Brandon, Janie, AnnaMarie, Hale, and Jasmine!

Brandon

Brandon

I’ve been shouting for this little guy for what feels like forever! Brandon is listed as “special needs” because of his several large “nevus” birthmarks. Where he is at, the presence of the birthmarks may have been considered unlucky or cursed, or it may have been assumed that he would need medical attention, which hasn’t been the case. He’s described in his profile, which you can find at http://www.reecesrainbow.org/brandon.

“Brandon is not afraid of strangers. He loves to smile and has an extroverted personality. After he entered the institute, he received meticulous care. Brandon doesn’t often cry and his sleeping condition is very good. His daily life is one of routine and his life habits are very good.”

He’s just turned three years old and has so much potential! Other than his birthmarks, he has no other known problems or diagnoses. He also has great hair. 😉

Janie

Janie

LOOK AT THOSE CHEEKS! Janie is just a little cutie- she’ll be two in August. She has Down Syndrome (and a healthy heart) and cataracts, which are being treated and monitored.

“Janie is a sweet, quiet girl who loves to eat and sleep.   She is interested in her environment and smiles and babbles when someone gives her attention.   Janie can roll over on her own and is well loved by her caretakers.

Update February 2014: Janie is doing well.  She is an active girl who responds to music with clapping and rhythmic babbling.  She likes playing in her playpen, too.  Janie has received a crystalline lens implant in her right eye and now responds to light.  She is being monitored by her doctors for progress with her vision and to decide how to treat her left eye.”

The rest of her profile can be seen at http://www.reecesrainbow.org/Janie. This Eastern European princess needs a momma to poke them chubby cheekers!

AnnaMarie

annamarie

I spoke to someone who has met AnnaMarie! “I met AnnaMarie but wasn’t able to spend much time with her. She seems very sweet. Nastya says she loves to dance and is a good dancer. She’s quiet natured, very friendly and very polite. Always smiling.

annamarie2

Her RR profile (http://www.reecesrainbow.org/annamarie) says:

“AnnaMarie loves school and was in 6th grade when I met her. Her favorite subject is math and likes working on the computer and with cameras. AnnaMarie is very quiet, sweet, and soft-spoken. She is very positive. She wants to have brothers and sisters of her own, and has many friends. She likes going out with her friends and dancing. She wants to go to college. I hope someone can help her make her dream come true!”

AnnaMarie has a crossed eye and is HIV+. I’ve noticed that so many kids with HIV go overlooked because the disease has been surrounded by so much negativity. This video from Project Hopeful is a really quick look at the facts of HIV and the prognosis for kids who have been diagnosed with it. And it’s features some cute kids. 🙂

AnnaMarie seems like such a sweet girl who has hopes and dreams for the future.. but, she ‘ages out’ in December, when she turns 16. If she turns 16 and hasn’t been adopted, there is little hope for her to actually realize her dreams and she will then have to deal with many of the things that come with being without a family- homelessness, unemployment, and probably a  difficult time getting the medication she needs to control her HIV. 😦

Hale

hale hale2

The first picture is the more recent one, but I love the second one because he looks so dang cheerful in it! His profile’s description of him (http://www.reecesrainbow.org/hale) is as follows:

“He loves to see people’s reactions to his noise making.  He is curious and he likes to go to noisy places.  Hale is a little shy with strangers; but, he is outgoing and active with other children. He loves to explore and participate in  group games. He is walking and has begun potty training at his foster home.  Can’t you see this beautiful boy as part of your family?”

Hale just turned three in January and has Down Syndrome. There isn’t any mention of  diagnoses beyond that- hoping it stays that way!

Jasmine

Jasmine

Jasmine is a beautiful older girl who was diagnosed with HIV. I am unsure what the ‘age out’ limit is in the region where she is, but she’s already thirteen years old. Her RR profile (http://www.reecesrainbow.org/jasmine) says:

“Jasmine came to the orphanage in 2008. She is doing very well in the orphanage and has learned a lot from the other kids at the home. She loves to dance and listen to music; she has a beautiful singing voice.

She enjoys playing with the younger kids and they in turn really look up to her. She is exceptionally beautiful with a smile that lights up the entire room. At times she is reserved but she is so eager to learn about any and everything. She is very good with technology and is learning how to use a computer.”

She seems like an excellent kid.. and she’s the same age as my little sister. 😦

BONUS ROUND- KOEN!

I had planned on blogging about a cute little dude named Koen William who needs a family (http://www.reecesrainbow.org/koen) BUT when I woke up this morning he was on the MFFM (My Family Found Me) page! I’m still going to advocate for him and his coming family, so stay tuned for more on him, too!

Koen

This kid is cute! He’s five years old and has been diagnosed with HIV. Can’t wait to find out who his family is!

And last but not least!

You can find updates about Jonah’s adoption at: http://www.steeleadoption.blogspot.com.

His family is finishing up the process of their home study. They’re current fundraiser is a puzzle fundraiser! You can check it out and/or participate here:http:// www.steeleadoption.blogspot.com/2014/03/puzzle-fundraiser.html

So now you’ve met all 7 kiddos on my current advocacy list! Feel free to join me in sharing/praying/donating for them! If you have any questions, feel free to let me know!

 

 

 

 

An Announcement! :)

{If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen this already… }

I’m *officially* Jonah’s Family Warrior!

This basically means that I’ve committed to helping his family get him home by sharing their blogs and fundraisers on social media, fundraising, etc. (So essentially what I’ve already been doing). I’m so excited to be helping them out!

 

If you are at all interested in being a Prayer Warrior for Reece’s Rainbow, or a Family Warrior for a family, please check out this information at RR: http://www.reecesrainbow.org/familywarriorprogram. It’s a very simple way to support a family who is adopting, and it does not require that you donate or spend any money- all you have to do is share on social media! Easy peasy.

If you have any questions about it, feel free to ask me!

And don’t forget to visit Jonah’s family’s blog at: http://www.steeleadoption.blogspot.com!

 

 

Updates (and some old but great news) !

Mmmmkay!

I haven’t posted much (and by that I mean anything) since my conclusion post on Angel Tree.. three months ago… so I thought it might be a good time to give everyone an update on what’s been happening.

First of all (if you didn’t see my shouts of happiness on Twitter/Facebook) Jonah is in the process of being adopted! I’m so happy for him!

His Family Sponsorship Page (FSP) is up on RR’s website: http://www.ReecesRainbow.org/SponsorSteele. You’ll notice that the total is different than what his grant is- that’s because the family’s FSP is a different grant than Jonah’s: http://www.ReecesRainbow.org/Jonah. The family has no access to these grants until the point the adoption is most likely to succeed- after the dossier has been submitted and the family has been given their first travel dates. Feel free to send them some love there!

You can also check out his family’s blog to meet his family, follow his adoption journey, and see their current fundraisers. http://steeleadoption.blogspot.com.

Secondly, I’ve decided to be more specific in the kids I advocate for beyond Angel Tree. (Though I promise, you’ll still see many many faces.) I’ve decided that I definitely have the time and ability to pray for and share for more than one kiddo at a time.. So I’ve decided that no matter what’s on my plate, I’ll always be actively rooting for at least five kids and one family. I decided that I would choose from 5 different ‘categories’ of kids:

  • Kids who have HIV- This category has always been heartbreaking to me because of the gains that we’ve made in medicine and treating this disease, and because it’s a lot simpler to live with than many people may realize.
  • Kids who have Down Syndrome- These kids are the reason RR was founded and also the reason I found RR. Like HIV, I’m saddened by the negative prejudices about it, and the high abortion rate for babies diagnosed with it in utero.
  • “Other Angels” is the category for kids who have diagnoses other than HIV and Down Syndrome and are listed on RR. These kids range from serious (needing medical treatment) to less serious (having a simple condition that doesn’t much affect daily life), for example). Either way, an orphanage is not the place for these children!
  • Older children- These kids (teenagers, really) are close to ‘aging out’ of the state care systems in their country, at which point they will be institutionalized or released on the street. This means they are often at risk for homelessness, joblessness, sex trafficking and/or prostitution, drug use, and more..
  • Younger children (under 5)- Because babies are adorable. 🙂 And because the sooner these kids are adopted, the better it is for their development and progress in the long run. Also, because the older they get, the less likely they are to be adopted… and I can’t stand the thought of seeing them age out 10 years from now. 😦

I’ve already picked out the kids from these categories and the family I’ll be advocating for.. but I think I’m going to do a series of introductory posts for each one. Although if you do some investigative work, you can probably figure out who they all are… 😉

I think that’s about it for now.. But I think I’ll have some more news to share shortly, so come back soon!

 

A Glance at the Numbers

11 days into Reece’s Rainbow’s Angel Tree Fundraiser:

$25,000+ has been donated/raised.

5 kids have had families (informally) commit to adopting them.

$108 has been donated to my AT child, Jonah.

This means I’m at 10.8% of my goal of $1,000.

Altogether a great start. 🙂

Learn more about Jonah or donate online:

http://reecesrainbow.org/66178/jonah

Questions about donating:

https://oceansandeyedroppers.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/questions-about-donating/

Hi, my name is Jonah!

Hi!

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 6.39.56 PM

My name is a secret (this keeps me safe) but you can call me Jonah.

I live somewhere in Asia.

I just turned two in September.

I have an extra chromosome, but I think it makes me extra cute!

I also have a heart condition called ASD, but it doesn’t give me trouble.

I love dessert, music, and playing hide-and-seek.

I also need a family, or I’ll be stuck in an orphanage until I’m too old.

Do you know anyone who could help me out?

Do you know anyone who could give to my adoption fund?

Could you share my story?

It’ll make getting me home easier when my family finally finds me!

Learn more about me, or donate here! http://reecesrainbow.org/66178/jonah

How Much Does A Life Cost?

If you don’t spend much time in the international adoption community, you might not know the answer to that question. Most people know that adopting is expensive, but not many know where that money actually goes. It’s not as though parents walk through an orphanage, choose a child, and pay one flat rate to take that child home. It’s FAR more complicated than that. You don’t purchase a child, but there are costs associated with adopting a child.

I found these numbers on an adoption agency’s website. These are the fees that would be approximate to what Jonah’s adoption would look like. In order to protect Jonah and comply with the laws of the country he is in,  I’m not going to link to that webpage or include his country’s name. I can, however, tell you that he is in Asia, and if you want the agency’s page, I can send that to you in a non-public form.

Anyhow, here are the adoption fees as listed by this specific agency. It’s a lot to take in:

AGENCY FEES:

  • Application Fee- $250.00
  • Service Fee- $5,500.00
  • Country’s Orphan care ministry-   $250.00
  • Liaison Fee-  $1,500.00
  • Home Study Fee-  $1,500.00
  • Shipping Fees: All documents-  $195.00
  • General Translation Fee-  $50.00
  • Post Adoption Services-  $1,500.00
  • Post-Adoption Management-  $250.00
  • Post Adoption Translation Fee- $360.00 (per child)

Total Instate Fee- $11,355.00

Total Out of state Fee-  $8,605.00 

FOREIGN COUNTRY PROGRAM FEES

  • log in fee for a child when you are not yet matched with a child- $1,190.00
  • log in fee for a child when you have been matched with a child-  $800.00
  • log in fee for reusing your dossier ($20.00 wiring included)-   $710.00
  • log in fee for second (or sequent) child being adopted concurrently-  $500.00

ADDITIONAL PROGRAM FEES (IF APPLICABLE)

  • Orphanage Partnership Fee (due when a family receives pre-approval for a child from one of our partnership orphanages)- $600.00
  • Pre-identified Child Fee due when a family enters the program with a pre- identified child, not on the shared list or when a family currently in the program identifies a child that is not on the shared list or any List- $500.00
  • Out-of-state Home Study Review: Families using Non-Hague Accredited Agency- $250.00
  • Non-Orphanage Partnership SN online processing fee- $140.00

OUT-OF-POCKET US ADOPTION EXPENSES

  • Fingerprint Fee (for home study)- $102.50
  • Medical Reports (varies depending on health insurance coverage)-  varies
  • Passport pictures (8 copies)- $20.00
  • Passports for two parents-  $240.00
  • Birth Certificates (1 copy of each)-  $26.00
  • Marriage License (1 copy)-  $13.00
  • Parent Training-  $195.00
  • Crossings (on-line)-  $200.00
  • Prepare and Enrich- $35.00
  • Out-of-state clearances- varies
  • Citizenship and immigration service fee (for 2 adults adopting 1 child)-$890.00
  • Fed Ex fees (dossier sent to ___)- $45.00
  • Dossier Country Certification ($5/doc) based on 13 documents- $65.00
  • State Certifications  ($3/doc) based on 13 documents- $39.00
  • Consulate Authentications  ($25.00/doc) based on 13 documents- $350.00
  • Authentication Courier fee- $150.00

Estimated Out of Pocket Expense- $2,345.50 

ESTIMATED TRAVEL COSTS

  • Official costs- $6,500.00
  • Hotel Accommodations-  $580.00
  • Guide Service- $300.00
  • Transportation/ sightseeing package-  $500.00
  • Tips for guide/ driver-  $120.00
  • In-country flights-  $750.00
  • Based on 6 nights/ 7 days in  Consulate costs- $450.00
  • Hotel Accommodations-  $800.00
  • Guide/ transportation/ sightseeing package-  $1,100.00
  • Tips for guide/ driver- $120.00

OUT OF POCKET COSTS

  • International flights- $3,000.00
  • Spending money (souvenirs, shopping, lunches, dinners)-$2,000.00
  • Costs associated with visiting orphanage-  (est.) $500.00
  • Additional beds/ breakfasts (if necessary)-  varies
  • Visa expenses (for 2 adults)- $350.00
  • Bell boy tips-  $25.00

Total estimated in-country: $17,095.00 

The costs estimated above are for two adults traveling to adopt one child. If you are adopting two children concurrently, the in-country costs will increase by approximately $10,000. (Please note: the costs will be increased if your time in-country is increased)

POST ADOPTION COSTS

Note: The following estimated Post-Adoption Expenses will be paid out of pocket after you return home with your child. These post-adoption costs are not included in the estimated total as they vary by state.

page4image13032

  • Social Security Card (varies)
  • United States Birth Certificate (varies)
  • Passport (varies)

ESTIMATED TOTAL COST BEFORE TAX CREDIT (IN STATE) — $31,985.50

ESTIMATED TOTAL COST BEFORE TAX CREDIT (OUT OF STATE) —  $29,235.50

ESTIMATED TOTAL COST AFTER TAX CREDIT (IN-STATE) — $19,215.50

ESTIMATED TOTAL COST AFTER TAX CREDIT (OUT OF STATE) —  $16,465.50 

based on the 2011 Adoption Tax Credit** ($12,770)

While these costs vary by country, state, and agency, this is a fair estimate of what costs would be for a family thinking about adopting Jonah.

These numbers are partially why we do Angel Tree- to show families that while adoption might be a big financial commitment, there are people out there willing to help. The bigger the grant, the easier it is for a family to say YES!

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 6.39.56 PM

Jonah’s Angel Tree grant fund is still at $0. Will you help his future family bring him home?

Donate here—->http://reecesrainbow.org/66178/jonah

Tell me what you think below!

 

 

“I Can’t Give Money, How Can I Help?”

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 “You can’t donate? That’s okay, just share my

super cute face with everyone you know!”

One of the main goals of Angel Tree is to raise funds for an orphaned child’s grant in order to make the adoption process easier. However, not everyone is in a position to help through donating money, and there is nothing wrong with that.. especially since an even MORE important goal for Angel Tree is to help this child find a family. Often times, this happens when people find Reece’s Rainbow or a specific child being shared on social media. Your digital shares are just as valuable as a money donation. Both are greatly needed in order to get these kids into loving families.

Here’s a list of things you can do to help, even if you can’t donate money:

1. Share on social media!

Sharing my blog posts, giveaways (there will be some cool things coming up!), and Jonah’s page (http://reecesrainbow.org/66178/jonah) increases the amount of people who see his story. Even if you personally cannot donate or adopt, you may be able to put his face in front of someone who can! Even ‘liking’ a post helps keep it on people’s timelines and also gives me encouragement!

If you have a Tumblr or a blog, think about giving Jonah a shout out. 🙂

2. Think outside the box

If you have a skill and some extra materials (for example: knitting and some extra yarn), I would be truly grateful if you used them to help Jonah!

If you own or work at a business, see if there’s something extra we could use to do a Facebook giveaway. Or, simply share my blog and Jonah’s page with your customers.

3. Pray

Pray that Jonah and his peers are seen by people who can give them a home.

Pray that until they can go to that home, they are safe, cared for, and know they are loved.

Pray for those who age out and end up in prostitution, drug abuse, sex slavery, jail, and institutions.

Pray for those who are working tirelessly to get through adoption requirements while their child is languishing, oftentimes across the world.

Pray for the underlying causes of orphaned and abandoned children: poverty, drugs, cultural views on gender, negative views about adoption and special needs, natural disasters, the lack of dignity and respect given to life.

Pray, and then do.

*bonus idea that still involves money*

I know Christmas is coming up, so everyone will be reaching in their pockets to buy gifts for their loved ones. MANY people, whether they are raising funds for their child’s adoption or fundraising for Angel Tree, have some great items for sale, with proceeds going to the adoption process. You can find some really great handmade and personalized items that are perfect for gifts, while at the same time helping a family and/or child in need. This may not benefit my baby, Jonah, directly, but it can still help those who are raising funds for other kids! (I’ll probably have a post up shortly with a ton of links for you to check out.)

Thanks!

(And don’t forget to share this!)

Questions About Donating?

I’ll try to get through most of the basic information, but if you have more questions, comment below!

How do I donate?

First of all, thank you! Secondly, it’s easy!

ONLINE:

Just go to Jonah’s page (http://reecesrainbow.org/66178/jonah) and hit the donate button! Reminder: donating online does cost Reece’s Rainbow a little bit of money because of PayPal fees. If you can save them money and mail them a check, that’d be great (especially if you’re making a sizable donation)! Here’s a breakdown of how the Paypal fees work:

$1.00 Donation = $.32 Total Fees Charged to RR = 32.2% Fees 😦

$5.00 Donation = $.41 Total Fees Charged to RR = 8.2% Fees 😦

$10.00 Donation = $.52 Total Fees Charged to RR = 5.2% Fees

$15.00 Donation = $.63 Total Fees Charged to RR = 4.2% Fees (getting better)

$20.00 Donation = $.74 Total Fees Charged to RR = 3.7% Fees

$30.00 Donation = $.96 Total Fees Charged to RR = 3.2% Fees

$40.00 Donation = $1.18 Total Fees Charged to RR = 3.0% Fees

As you can see, the more you donate, the smaller percentage PayPal charges RR– but these fees can be avoided by sending a check or going through your bank, if it allows free online bill payment.

(If you’re donating to multiple Angel Tree children, you can also use the “gift basket” option to make one transaction for multiple donations, cutting down on the PayPal fees)

CHECK/MAIL:

As stated above, mailing checks does save RR on PayPal fees. Checks can be made out to Reece’s Rainbow and mailed to them at Reece’s Rainbow —  PO Box 4024 — Gaithersburg, MD  20885. Don’t forget to specify that you want your gift applied to Jonah’s grant!

CASH:

I’ll also be collecting cash donations and sending them in as one check toward the end of December. If you’ll see me or my parents during this time and this will be easier for you, just let us know! ALL of the money I collect will be marked for Jonah’s grant. I keep none of it.

Why isn’t my full donation showing up in the fund?

10% of each donation that you give will be put toward Reece’s Rainbow’s Voice of Hope fund. This is basically the money that they use to cover their operating costs.

Is my donation tax deductible? 

Yes! Reece’s Rainbow’s tax ID is # is 20-5466141.

Are there any perks to donating?

With a donation of $35 or more, Reece’s Rainbow will send you a Christmas Ornament. Simply visit this page (http://static.reecesrainbow.org/angeltree2013/), find Jonah’s picture, and select “buy an ornament” under the Donate tab beneath his picture.

Beyond that, you get the satisfaction and warm fuzzy feelings that come from helping a child who truly needs a family.

What happens to my donation?

Your gift is added to Jonah’s grant fund. This fund will be able to be accessed by his future adopting family only after they have met the requirements by RR. Certain paperwork must be filed and travel dates to Jonah’s country must be scheduled. These requirements ensure that grants are given out securely at the time the adoption is most likely to be successful.

Sometimes, children will become ineligible for adoption, be adopted by someone who doesn’t contact RR about their grant, or die while waiting for a family (Yes, children are literally dying. 11 in 2013 alone, and those are just among the small number of kids listed on RR. http://reecesrainbow.org/background/in-loving-memory) In any of these cases, or other extenuating circumstances where the grant money is unable to be used, the grant will be reassigned to another child on RR’s list.

Why should I donate?

Jonah, like all these other orphans, needs to be saved from living in orphanages and institutions. Providing grant money to those who are willing to adopt means making it easier for families to say yes to adopting.

Now that some of your burning questions are answered, feel free to give Jonah’s grant numbers some love!