Monday, December 31, 2012

HERE'S TO 2013!

Today's guest blogger is CAP Board Member and Secretary, Matt Reynell. Matt is an active volunteer and staunch advocate who has traveled nationwide, fighting for the rights of our youth.

December is such a special time of year - coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday and into the Christmas season, the promise of a new year ahead. New Year’s Eve is very special for our family in more ways than one.

It is the anniversary of the day we met our son James.

When you are adopted, especially as an older child, you get many special days, not just your birthday and the normal holidays. A family that adopts has the day you meet and “gotcha day,” the day you finalize - it is hard to say one is more special than the other.

James and Matt

We met our son James on December 31, 2008 at 1:00 in the afternoon. It was October when we saw his photo listing and learned he was recently separated from his brother and sister. They had all lived with a woman who wanted to adopt them but in the end, she decided not to take James. (This year we will be spending our holidays with James' biological brother and sister, who are also being adopted into our family, but that is a story for another day.) He was brought to Rochester to live in a group home where they could care for him and assist him in moving on without his siblings. James was described to us as "a very difficult child." He functioned emotionally at a four-year-old level, took a lot of medications, and lashed out at everyone. A friend who works for Children Awaiting Parents told us to read children’s files with a grain of salt - to try and remember how much this young child has been through. Many times the negative information about a child gets documented and the positive things are forgotten -  knowing this helped us make the decision to meet him. The information in his file wasn't good, but the situation he was put in was equally as bad. When reading his file, we had to think how we might have acted, would we have endured all he had at such a young age. In the book, “The Martian Child” the author explained how when he saw the photo listing of his son, he just knew it was his son - just from the photo.  That’s how we felt when we saw James’ picture...somehow we just knew he was meant to be with us.
As we were getting ready to go meet him, I said to Jaime, my partner and James's dad, “How are you? How do you feel about this?” He replied, “Good..fine..let’s do it.” But he sounded nervous. What if this kid didn’t want to talk to us? What if he didn’t like us? What if he didn't want to be adopted?"  We drove in complete silence toward the group home. About four miles out, Jaime asked again, "How you feeling? You ok?"  I relied, “Yep, fine.” but I wasn’t. My nerves were so bad I could have screamed! I was actually feeling nauseous in anticipation.
Once we pulled up the winding drive and got inside, a worker called out, “James! There is someone here to see you!” He popped his little head around the corner and we get our first glimpse at the little boy we had spent months talking about.
James was quick to take us into the game room where all the children were playing with their Christmas gifts. He showed us all he had received. He was so smart . He asked, “You bought these for me, didn’t you?” We had but we had done so anonymously. After a few hours of playing, James jumped up in Jaime’s lap and asked “Are you my new Daddy?” For us, that sealed the deal, but we answered as we were instructed, so as not to give false hope. “We're here to hang out and play right now if that’s okay.” James replied, “Yeah, that’s great!” Our day with James came to an end three hours past our allotted time. As we walked to the car, I said “What do you think?” Jaime replied, “If I could take him home right now, I would.” Months later, after a lot of time spent in the group home, James came home on June 11th, 2009. And then October 27th of 2010, we finalized James' adoption.
This is why New Year’s Eve is so special to our family - it is the day we knew we had found our son.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012


We here at Children Awaiting Parents are so grateful for this past year. We have seen a number of adoptions and shared in the joy of children finding permanent, loving homes. We're so happy that you've opened up your hearts and your homes to not only our children, but to us, so we can share in the beauty of seeing a child receive the unconditional love they all deserve.

Below is a photo of us in Mark's beautiful home (some of us posing with our "gifts" from the white elephant exchange), enjoying one another's company and eating lots of great food!

Back row, left to right: Mark, Pat, Veronica, Lisa, me (Ilona), Kate, David
First row: Melanie

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Since I've been at Children Awaiting Parents, we have had a secret santa exchange (sans this year). I loved the exchange because you'd get little gifts throughout the season and you had to try and guess who your santa was before our holiday party. Well, this year we didn't do the exchange and in memoriam, I'm posting one of our office's favorite (note sarcasm) secret santa items - Thumper.

Although you can't hear him, when Thumper's head is pressed, he sings this great little tune that really gets in your head. Last year, Mark's daughter pressed it a bunch of times before heading out with her grandmother and Kate and I thought it was the best thing ever. It's since become our little mascot.

So Danni, this one's for you!

♫ Thump, thump, thumpity. ♪ Thump, thump, thumpity...♪ Happy Holidays!♫ ♪

Friday, December 21, 2012


Today's guest blogger is our very own, Mark Soule. Mark is our fearless leader (aka. Executive Director).

Hello All,
My name is Mark and I am the Executive Director for Children Awaiting Parents. I have been the director for about 5 years but my history with this organization goes way back. I am the youngest of 6 adopted children of Dave and Peggy Soule. My parents, along with many adoptive families in the late 60’s began photo listing waiting children here in Monroe County. Forty years later, Children Awaiting Parents serves families in all 50 states and children from approximately 15.
Growing up, foster care and adoption were, to us, as normal as all our friends who were biologically connected to their families. We were cute kids who did not like their *vegetables. We became teenagers, who do not like their parents, and are now adults, (with kids of our own) who respect and finally appreciate all that our parents did for us. I can remember doing bulk mailings for CAP as a child. I’d ask, “Mom, can I go watch TV?” and the answer was often, “Sure, there is a bulk mailing that needs stuffing and stamping in the den. Have at it.”
My mother served as the first director for CAP and I never thought this would be where my passion went but I could not be happier to have made the choice to apply for this job. Mom is still on speed-dial and gives advice (asked for and unrequested).

Primarily my role is to keep out of my staff’s way. A bit tongue and cheek, perhaps, but the truth is that my staff knows their job FAR better than I could tell them how to do it.  I am blessed to work with powerful/passionate advocates. Their goal, every day, is to see what they can do to help find homes for the more than 100,000 children, here in the US, who live without a family. As a father of 3 children who appreciate the benefits of being part of a family (good as well as frustrating), I am energized every day to help them.
*Mark still does not like to eat his vegetables.

Kira, Mark's stunning wife, and Mark at our A Toast To Spring Wine Tasting

Mark's son Joe, his wife Kira, and his daughters Alex and Danni

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Check out this awesome camp for siblings in foster care!

Camp to Belong is a nationwide program of summer camps that allows siblings in the foster care program who live apart from each other to spend a week together building family relationships. Click here to watch the video.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Photo courtesy of Dave Thomas Foundation

Tonight, CBS will air the 14th annual "A Home for the Holidays." This powerful special shares stories of foster care adoption and features performances from some of America's top musical talent.  

This year, the stories of four exceptional families who have been touched by adoption will be featured along with a segment that gives a voice to children in foster care still waiting to find permanent and loving homes to call their own.

These inspirational stories will be accompanied by performances by Rascal Flatts, Phillip Phillips, Rachel Crow, Matchbox Twenty, and Melissa Ethridge. Celebrity personalities Kevin Frazier, Wayne Brady, Jillian Michaels and Julie Chen will also present.

During the show, you can chat with the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption on Twitter about foster care adoption by using the hashtag #AHFTH. They'll be around during the show to answer any questions you have about adoption from foster care and to discuss the special.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


To all our amazing CAP supporters, WE NEED YOUR HELP! We have an awesome opportunity to win $1000 from an organization in Rochester. We've put together a little video and submitted it and now we need your votes! It's a Facebook contest by Frontier and we've got approximately 35 votes as I write this - but we need more.

Just follow this link to watch and vote for our video. That's it!

Monday, December 17, 2012


While we already printed this article in our 2012 annual report, we're so happy to be re-running it on our blog. This past Saturday, December 15, marked the one year anniversary to the adoption finalization of Lisa, a youth previously featured on our website.

Lisa's story is an amazing one. Her moms saw her on our website and never having even met her, decided she was their daughter. They became certified as adoptive parents and one year later, they legally became her parents. Below are photos and a shortened version of Lisa's beautiful adoption story. We're so happy for you and your family, Lisa! You deserve everything life has to offer you and we're so honored to be a part of your story.

Check out the family's blog here; it's awesome!

Nicole, Lisa & Karen

Karen and Nicole both felt that foster care adoption was something that was very important to them but being a same sex couple in Florida, they never really looked into the possibility. But in 2010, when Martin Gill vs. Florida overturned the ban on gay adoptions, they began to talk about becoming adoptive parents.
At the time of their conversations, Karen was working as a pediatric nurse in a home where many of the children in the home were adopted. When sharing her dreams of adopting from foster care with one of the adoptive mothers, she was told, “When you see your child, you will just know.” She was skeptical, but always kept that advice in the back of her mind.
A few weeks later, Karen and Nicole decided to search “foster care adoption” on the internet and came across the Children Awaiting Parents’ website. They began looking at all the children’s photos but a certain photo kept catching their attention. As Nicole read through the profile, she began to cry. She looked at Karen and said, “That’s our daughter.”  
Because the laws for same sex adoption had just changed in Florida, Karen and Nicole had a lot to learn along the way. It was then that they turned back to Children Awaiting Parents.
“We were really grateful for the support of Ilona. She was emotionally supportive, sent us tons of information, steered us in the right direction, encouraged us and generously gave us of her expertise and enthusiasm.  Many times I sent her an email, frustrated and discouraged only to be right back on track within hours because she had just the right advice or information to get us where we needed to go.”
After months of being proactive and tenacious, and learning how to navigate the foster care system, Karen and Nicole we finally able to conference call with the selection staff and answer their questions about Lisa.   The questions were few, but important, and the answers came easily.   After the last question, one of the supervisors said, “Congratulations!  It’s a girl!”
Lisa was seventeen years old when Karen and Nicole finalized the adoption. They have been living and learning for the past year and the advice they have is invaluable.
“Be patient, polite and respectful. Throw away your expectations and meet the kids for who they are…there are going to be days when you ask yourself, “What have I done?!”  It’s okay, we all have those.   Just take a step back and take a deep breath.   It will all be okay.   REALLY.   And it will all be worth it.   Because one day, that kid will look at you and you will see it in their eyes that they get it…that they belong.   That’s the pay off.   And it’ll knock your socks off!
The road was a long one but Lisa is finally home and happy - a well-adjusted young woman who now believes herself when she says she’s smart and beautiful. And although she admits to sometimes not fully appreciating everything her moms do for her, she strongly believes that being adopted has changed who she is “on the inside.” “What makes my relationship good with my parents is that they parent me.   They aren’t there just to be my friend and that is something that I am starting to learn.  I just love my Moms because I know that they love me.”
Lisa at her highschool graduation! Click here for video posted in a previous post.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Happy ROC the Day!

Today is a big day for us at Children Awaiting Parents. Not only is it our open house but we're celebrating how awesome Rochester is with ROC the Day!

This is proof of the kind people who inhabit this city. I saw this on the way to work a few months ago and had to take a photo!
ROC the Day is an effort to raise funds and awareness for nonprofit organizations in our community. You can read more about the event here. So far today, our awesome CAP supporters have donated just over $1500 and there's still time to participate! Every hour, one lucky ROCstar donor will be chosen to send a $500 bonus to the charity of their choice. (Please pick us!)

Please click here to make your donation today.

You don't have to live in Rochester to ROC the Day!

Lisa's computer screen. You can't see her in this photo because she claims she's having a bad hair day but trust me, she's very happy for all the support!

Proof that people love us and visited our open house.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Photograph by Paul Lange
Our kids are being featured on the awesome website, Heart Gallery of America. Here's what they're all about:

The Heart Gallery of America is a collaborative project of over 120 Heart Galleries across the United States (and growing) designed to increase the number of adoptive families for children needing homes in our community.
National Heart Gallery Video
Now, in its tenth year, the Heart Gallery model is being replicated in many communities across the country. Although many of our children were removed from abusive and neglectful situations, they still have hope. They love to laugh, to learn, and to be with their friends. Most of all, they dream of finding a forever family to be their own.
Click here to view our amazing CAP kids on the Heart Gallery of America website!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Today's guest blogger is our very own, Lisa Best. Lisa is our Development Director...and she's been sporting a sweet new car lately!
My name is Lisa Best and I am the Director of Development for Children Awaiting Parents.  What does that mean?  I beg for money! J  Actually, I share the mission of Children Awaiting Parents to as many people and businesses as possible, and try to find a way that we can partner together to benefit everyone, most importantly, our kids.

I have not experienced adoption in my immediate family, but I was introduced to Children Awaiting Parents about 10 years ago when I heard of this tiny charity that was doing amazing things.  I was working for a business at the time who somehow decided to support CAP with a small fundraiser, which I led.  I was so moved by this scrappy group of people who worked tirelessly on behalf of children who needed families.  What better cause could there be?  Since then I have volunteered for CAP, and last year I had the wonderful opportunity to come to work for Children Awaiting Parents.  I am so proud and happy to work here.  And two of the women I was so impressed with many years ago, Pat Burks and Veronica Black, are now my co-workers and friends, and I could not be more pleased.  My favorite day at work so far was the day we all went to the Rochester International Airport to welcome Veronica’s sons, Ian and Jaubert, to their new adoptive home in Rochester from their foster home in Louisiana.  To be able to witness those little boys running into the arms of their new Mom was amazing and solidified why we all need to continue to work hard to find homes for all waiting children, wherever they may be.  It is a great feeling to go to work at a job where you know that what you do makes a significant difference in the lives of people, and we have that here at Children Awaiting Parents.

In my “real life” I don’t have children of my own, but I am the most-fun Auntie you will ever find to my three nieces and one nephew.  I love animals (I have worked for the Seneca Park Zoo and Lollypop Farm in the past) and I currently share my house with a 27 year old parrot, a 17 year old dog, 2 cats, 2 parakeets and a very active fish tank.  I love horses and recently started horseback riding again after a long absence, and absolutely LOVE it!  I also enjoy working out (boot camp style!), exploring local parks and to travel, especially to places near water.  I also have my own business which is growing and although I wish I had a few more hours in the day, I couldn’t wish for a more fulfilling life.

If you have any thoughts on how your place of business might work with Children Awaiting Parents to find more kids great homes, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at 888.835.8802!

PS – This is my friend Atticus, who I helped to raise from a 3 day old calf back in my Lollypop days.  He is now 13 years old, and extremely handsome! 
Lisa and Atticus



Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Check out this amazing story...Isaac and Dakotah met at their local community pool, only to discover that they're long-lost brothers!

Photo courtesy of

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Today's guest blogger is our very own, Kate Runyan. Kate is our Marketing Specialist guru!

Hi everyone, my name is Kate and I am the Marketing Specialist at Children Awaiting Parents. If you have ever received any print or electronic communication from us, I was probably behind the design process. I came to Children Awaiting Parents (almost) right out of undergrad where I began as an intern. Turns out, I was pretty lucky to land at an organization that cares about their mission as much as their employees so I was (am) grateful to remain here part-time. I work another part-time job as well and I am finishing up my Master’s thesis at R.I.T. so my schedule here is pretty nice. And, how many twenty-something’s can say that love going into work? I am pretty lucky.

Actually, this job gets you feeling lucky a lot. I never realized how many kids are without a home. Prior to Children Awaiting Parents, I never even realized that adopting from the foster care system was an option! But, I’m only 25 and my only experience with adoption has been this little lady who INSISTS on riding on my lap in the car. Probably not safe at all, but so adorable.

Kate and Sophie
Although I don’t know about adoption on a personal level, I know about family and I feel lucky all over again because my niece Savannah is such a joy. When I was home in Elmira for Thanksgiving, my sister and I took Sav to the parade. She is still trying to figure out the whole getting your picture taken thing but she looks so cute I had to share.
Kate and her niece, Savannah
Working at Children Awaiting Parents is an incredible experience. As a group, we are passionate, diverse and innovative. We champion and advocate for all types of families while lending ourselves as an ally to kids and families. In the future, I see myself being a mentor and who knows, possibly an adoptive parent!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Last Friday, while many were out shopping for the best deals, I had the privilege of attending one of our youth's adoption finalizations.

About a year ago, I received a call from Emily and Kristen's caseworker. The ladies were looking to adopt another child to join their family. I had just learned about DeJuan and knew they had to learn about him. I sent photos and profiles to the worker and she called a week later stating that the family was interested in learning more. Every time I have seen DeJuan, he's had a smile on his face, but I'm pretty sure I've never seen it as big and beautiful as it was on Friday when he joined his forever family! DeJuan, from everyone here at Children Awaiting Parents, we wish you all the happiness, laughter and love you deserve. (And you know I was trying not to cry when I typed that...) Congratulations!!

DeJuan and his moms

Me and DeJuan
DeJuan, his forever family and grandparents, and Judge Ruhlmann

DeJuan, his forever family and Judge Ruhlmann


Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Giovan Bazan is an advocate who spent over 10 years in our country's foster care system. Please see this video below, detailing his personal story regarding the drugging of foster care youth.

Monday, November 19, 2012


It's almost that time of year again!

We are rallying our supporters to help us celebrate how much CAP kids rock and in doing so, we ask that on 12.12.12 you ROC the Day 2012 with Children Awaiting Parents. We're asking supporters to donate at least $12 to help us raise money and awareness for our waiting youth. (And don't forget - all day, ROC the Day will be choosing one random winner an hour to choose the charity of their choice for ROC the Day to donate an additional $500!)

As always, on behalf of the children we serve, we are so grateful for your support!

Friday, November 16, 2012


Not flesh of my flesh
Nor bone of my bone,
But still miraculously
My own.
Never forget
for a single minute:
You didn't grow under my heart
But in it.
Copyright Fleur Conkling Heyliger; Adoption Media, LLC 1995-2006
Today we celebrated Monroe County's National Adoption Day! Every year, I get so excited to see adoptions finalize and families made. It's a beautiful day in what can sometimes be a very beauracratic and frustrating field. But the faces on the beautiful children and the words that are shared, always give inspiration to those who have the privilege of attending this event. Below are photos and video from today's celebration.
A little about today's features on our blog:
The video is of Kambria Horton-Brinkley, and her mother, Jackie Brinkley. Jackie was recruited to be an adoptive parent by our community outreach specialist, Veronica Black. Be sure to grab your tissues for some happy crying - Kambria does an amazing job!

Trelawney McCoy works very closely with Children Awaiting Parents, helping to raise awareness about the importance of stepping forward to be an adoptive parent. She has adopted six children and today, she finalized the adoption of her youngest girl, Cocoa.
Cocoa (in the tiara) and her sisters.
Cocoa's brothers looking on as their sisters get their photo taken.

Trelawney and her girls.

Cocoa and her sisters practicing their dancing.

Don Alhart, our emcee, finalizing the program in front of the CAP display. Don is our local newscaster and has been helping our youth find forever homes for over twenty years!


Thursday, November 15, 2012


We just received notification from our friends at New York State Citizens' Coalition for Children that they are petitioning for statewide funded post-adoption services. Please take a moment and sign this important petition to help families receive the services they need in order to avoid adoption disruptions. A disrupted adoption is another loss and another step back for our already fragile youth. We need your support!

Please sign and share with friends so NYSCCC can reach their goal of 1000 signatures by National Adoption Day.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Photo: Jennifer Silverberg for PARADE magazine

While the story may be a bit outdated (it was published in January of this year), its message resonates. The third of six kids born to a struggling single mother, Dorial Green-Beckham, member the 2012 PARADE All-America Football Team, bounced from motel rooms and vans to living in foster homes until his football coach, John Beckham, and John's wife Tracy, opened their hearts and home. Click here to read Dorial's amazing adoption story.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Photo courtesy of
For the second straight year, in honor of November being National Adoption Month, Portrait of an Adoption is running a special series called 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days. Designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of adoption, this series will feature guest posts by adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, waiting adoptive parents, and foster parents-turned-adoptive parents. Painful and beautiful, these stories will bring you a deeper understanding of what adoption looks like, allowing you to appreciate the many brushstrokes that comprise a family portrait.
(Taken from

Check out today's post, "Why a Loving Parent Raises a Child's Expectations in Life."

Thursday, November 8, 2012


As many of you may know, our organization works very diligently to advocate and recruit on behalf of the forgotten youth in our country. The children who are registered with our organization have come to us because they have amazing caseworkers who care very much about the future of the youth they serve.

Ian from Florida featured in an African American newspaper

Traditionally, we charge $100 a year to recruit for one child or two siblings, $200 a year for sibling groups of three or more but at the beginning of 2013, we have scholarships available for some states who may not currently have their youth listed with us.

Here is a listing of possible recruitment avenues when you use CAP's services:
  • feature on the Children Awaiting Parents website
  • feature on AdoptUSKids website, if not already
  • feature in our traveling Heart Gallery
  • features in both local and national newsletters
  • features on our blog and/or Facebook page
  • email blasts to certified families across the country

Are you a caseworker who would like to be sure you're doing everything you can to find your youth a permanent home?

Email to find out if your youth can benefit from the services of Children Awaiting Parents or click here to submit your registration online.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


What a night - last week's Heart Gallery was a success! Below are some photos of the event. Denille Goff, our featured speaker, did an excellent job. I'd be surprised if there was a dry eye in the house! Beautiful photographs of our children were displayed in the museum and people were given the opportunity to hear about the work we do and the children we serve.

Click here to view more photos from the event!

CAP Board Member, Larry Shannon-Missal, showing off his awesome volunteering skills!

CAP Board Members, Russell Olson, Maryjane Link (former Executive Director), Michelle Ely and Matt Reynell

Guest speaker, Denille Goff, and Veronica Black's boys, often referred to as "Four brothers, one family"

Friday, November 2, 2012


Today is the opening of our Heart Gallery at Strong Museum and the office is a buzz! The Heart Gallery is a national movement that showcases artistic portraits of children currently in foster care and available for adoption. Click here for a sneak peek at one of tonight's featured children.

Nicole Dobbins, Executive Director of Voice for Adoption (VFA), was our guest speaker at last year's opening. VFA is an excellent organization that advocates for improved adoption policies. Each year, they celebrate families who have adopted children from foster care with the Adoptive Family Portrait Project. The primary goal of the project is to raise awareness among members of Congress about the real experiences and needs of families who have adopted children who were in the foster care system. (Click here to learn more.)

Below is a photo of Nicole with the youth who attended last year's opening. Because her position concentrates on relations with Congress, she rarely gets a chance to meet the children who are so greatly impacted by the excellent work she does. She was so happy to be able to spend time with some of our featured youth and this photo captures it!

If you're in the Rochester area and would like to attend tonight's Heart Gallery, David is still accepting reservations. Just email or call 585-232-5110.

Heart Gallery 2011

Heart Gallery 2012 brochure

Heart Gallery 2012 program, pre-cut

Kate's desk taken over by the Heart Gallery preparations!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


It's one of our most favorite days of the year here at CAP - Halloween! This year, we had a witch, super mom, Minnie Mouse, and Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie. Kate and I have "Halloween Party Radio" on Pandora and we highly recommend it. We're currently rocking out to "Maneater" by Hall and Oates.

Hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween!

The CAP Crew...Angie, our new volunteer, even got in the holiday spirit!
Minnie Mouse

Paris and Nicole

Super Mom! (And she IS - Veronica is in the process of adopting TWO more boys!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Over here at the CAP office, we definitely get excited for Halloween (well, most of us do...) and this year, we get to dress up with a bunch more people from The Children's Institute! In anticipation for tomorrow's festivities (which includes a potluck lunch...BONUS), here are some photos from previous CAP Halloweens in our old office.

David as a happy playing card!

Cupcakes Melanie and I made for Halloween 2010

Halloween 2010: Veronica (witch), David (California Raisin), me (ventriloquist dummy), Gretchen (witch) and Melanie (cowgirl)

Halloween 2011: Melanie (Ramb-ette), Kate (Hawaiian luau girl), me (zombie), David (irate bookkeeper)

Just a zombie filing some papers...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


So in our little CAP office, we have a tradition of doing a potluck lunch to celebrate birthdays. Every time one rolls around, we all secretly email about the potluck, deciding who is bringing what.

This afternoon, we had the pleasure of celebrating David and Melanie's birthdays...only we didn't realize Mel wasn't in the office today! So here's a group photo of the CAP crew, grubbing on Mark's awesome West African peanut soup in our break room...sans Melanie.

Eating and of our downtime specialties.
(This birthday celebration, I was feeling particularly festive so I decided to try this recipe for "easy, best pumpkin cupcakes"...yes, that's literally what I typed in my search bar. Fall is such a good time for warm spices and pumpkin desserts and what better way to bond with children than to bake with them! Below is a photo of the final product - I definitely recommend adding cream cheese frosting to top them off!

Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting..yum!