Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Break

Even as a homeschooler, Colton is very excited about Christmas Break. He can't believe that we won't do any school work for 2 whole weeks! I keep harassing him with questions like, "What's the matter? Don't you like your teacher?"

December has been quite busy already. Eli's choir sang at church a couple of weeks ago. He was so excited to get to sing on stage. He went around singing his songs for us all week prior. He looked so cute dressed up as an angel with the other 3 and 4 year-olds. Then 2 minutes before the service started, he came running to the piano (where I was prepared to start playing the welcome song). He was crying for me to hold him. I held him through both of his choir's songs. He sang a little from my lap, but refused to get up on stage. It just about broke my heart because I knew how excited he had been and how in about 5 minutes it would all be over...possibly until next year. No second chances later in the service; no "redo" next week or next month. I tried frantically to get him to settle down and get on stage. I wasn't sure if he was just having a typicall "mommy meltdown" (which he does often) until he finally mentioned being scared. I guess stage fright really did get him after all. I had to apologize later for fussing at him to stop crying, and I made a big deal of telling him how proud I was of him for being in the choir and learning his songs and singing well during the rehearsal I saw.

Colton's choir sang the following week (last week). I felt pretty certain that he was old enough to stick it out (he refuesed at Eli's age too), but now we had the extra anxiety over a solo. He had the entire first verse of "Joy to the World" all to himself. I was so scared he would get scared. But, he pulled it off like a trooper! Needless to say, I was so proud of him.

Then the week of losing teeth began. Tuesday night after going to bed, Colton got up with his mouth bleeding. One of his top front teeth looked really close to coming out. We worked on it for a while and reluctantly sent him back to bed. (The mom in me was naturally afraid it would come out in his sleep and he'd choke on it.) Wednesday we worked on it some more and nervously sent him to bed again with it still barely in his mouth. Thursday morning he was eating breakfast and suddenly spit his tooth out in his hand and handed it to me. We got all excited, took pictures for the Christmas card, and went to Memaw's house so she could see his missing tooth. In retrospect, I did notice that the other top front tooth looked a little funny. It seemed to be at a slightly odd angle. Losing the first must have freed up space for the other to loosen a little. Then just after supper, my 3 children (Tim included) were wrestling while I cleaned up the kitchen. Yep, Eli's foot and Colton's mouth made contact. He came in the kitchen holding his mouth. I asked to see it, and when he moved his hands, there was blood everywhere. After rinsing the blood away, I could tell the top of his tooth was pointing left and the bottom was pointing right. I'm thinking, there is no way I can send him to bed with this one. So, for the next 2 or 3 hours we sat on the couch watching TV while I wiggled his tooth back and forth or in circles and twisted it 4 or 5 full turns in each direction. As bedtime approached, he went to eat a snack. Once again, he stopped mid snack to hand me his tooth. So two teeth in one day! Naturally, we had to retake the Christmas card picture Friday morning. You can't send out a picture with one missing tooth when there are now two missing teeth!

Now, we head into the weekend for my choir's Christmas program. I've been sick with a sinus infection/cold/throat mess/cough for about a week. I'm hoping it will leave at least long enough for the program. I can be sick again next week, but I just don't have time right now.

Let me end with a few prayer requests for you...
  • Anna Grace is recovering from having her tonsils and adnoids removed.
  • Debbie had her baby yesterday/today (a girl) 3 months early.
  • Keely and Maggie need to come home to us. All we need is the money to go get them. (Paperwork is slow when the money isn't there to back it up when finished.) Pray that I can finish my medical transcription course and get some work right away.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Give Thanks

I know everyone is making their "Thankful List", but here is mine anyway. I wouldn't dare rank my list of things I am thankful for, so in no particular order, here we go...

1. Jesus Christ, my Savior
2. The Christian home I was raised in; the Christian home I have now
3. My Godly (and handsome) husband Tim
4. My beautiful and long-prayed-for children and the hope of more to come
5. My country (in spite of its faults, it is still the best...not perfect, but great...etc)
6. My church and our new pastor and his family
7. My house is warm, sturdy, and leak free
8. We have two vehicles that are currently running.
9. I can homeschool.
10. I bought groceries this week even though there was still food in the house.
11. My family and I are healthy.
12. Our closets overflow.
13. I have all five of my senses.
14. Music
15. Breezes
16. Bats (Okay, that's for Colton. We've been studying them, and he thinks they are the coolest.)
17. All of creation, really.
18. Sleep
19. Friends
20. Our neighborhood

Every night we have family prayer time just before going to bed. As we have taught our kids to pray, we didn't want them to sit down with their updated Wish List and run through it. So, we've really not taught them yet how to ask for things. What kid needs to be taught how to ask for something he wants!? Instead, we focus on being thankful. Even if they don't feel like praying, we prod them to at least say Thank You for one thing. I prompt Eli this way..."Dear Jesus, thank you for..." and then I encourage him to think of something on his own or I suggest things like being thankful for his brother or for something he got to do or for friends visiting.

This past Sunday our pastor challenged us to begin our prayer time with thankfulness and thanking God for everything we could think of. I looked at Tim and mouthed, "We'd never get the kids to bed." It's true. The entire Internet would be depleted of space, if I listed everything that I am thankful for present and past. The list above is a mere sliver of how my heart thanks God. I truly try to thank him in "all things" as the Bible says.

I don't always understand his ways, but I do trust that he is always in control and can work any situation to our good and His Glory. I don't understand why my years in education were miserable ones, but I'm sure there was a reason for that experience. Maybe it has simply made me a better homeschooling mom and more understanding of my husband who is still in the educational trenches. I don't understand why my dad had to have cancer or why he is already in Heaven, but I do thank God for showing us a miracle when He healed the cancer, and I thank God that Dad lived 14 more years after being given about 6 months.

I don't understand why Tim and I have such a desire to be generous to others and yet our bank account won't exactly support the habit. Or why we have the desire to open our home and our hearts and our lives to two little girls, and yet the funds to make it happen aren't exactly pouring in. But God's ways are not our ways. We have human minds that are limited to understanding things in this world. As long as we live on this earth, we can never completely understand God's ways. We know Him and love Him, but there is always more to Him. I'm glad He's the one in complete control...I know I don't want the job.

Oh! I just thought of a new one. I'm thankful for bloggers. It has been so cool to follow blogs of other people I know (and stay caught up) or to read blogs of people I meet (as a quick way of getting to know them) or to find blogs of people in various stages of adoption (so I can learn from their experiences or ask questions).

So, thank YOU for reading this and have a sincerely thankful Thanksgiving. And even after the turkey is gone, try a little experiment. Thank your spouse for even the little things. ("Thanks for getting the kids' coats on them." "Thanks for getting the mail.") Teach your kids thankfulness by expressing thanks to them ("Thanks for picking up your towel." "Thanks for coming when I called you.") When you are comfortable saying "thank you" at home, try randomly thanking people each day outside of the home. Thank the janitor at work for keeping the bathrooms clean. (You didn't have to do it!) Thank the store clerk when she gives you your receipt. Ladies, please thank a man if he opens a door for you! Encourage them to continue showing courtesy. Just think, if we spent our time being thankful, would we have as much time to criticize?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Starting the Paperwork

It looks like we are going to change agencies after all. We will be using Christian World Adoptions as our placing agency and Heaven Sent Children as our home study agency. I believe this will be better since HSC is local, and CWA is a lot less expensive (but still with plenty of credentials, experience, etc.)

I have been working on the paper work sent to us from HSC. I hope to finish it by Thanksgiving. We are still short on the fundraising, so I'm not sure when I will be able to send it in. I had wanted to finish the homestudy before applying with CWA so that we could go ahead and start applying for grants, but it looks like we may have to also show that we are clients of a placing agency when we apply for those grant.

I know the entire adoption process is mostly about waiting, but I'm getting so impatient about waiting to start waiting. It is so frustrating (and almost down right depressing) when I realize that we began researching adoption over 18 months ago. If we had started something then, we might actually have a referral by now, or better yet we might have our girls home. Why does it have to be so difficult just to get started? I keep praying that once in the process things will pick up--fundraising will be easier, maybe I'll be doing some medical transcription by then, the process will miraculously not be as lengthy or difficult by then, etc.

Please pray that I will be able to stay focused and get each step systematically completed as quickly as possible.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Happy Post

I promised you a "happy" post this time, so I'm going to start with Halloween. We never bothered with Halloween until moving to our current neighborhood. Colton was too young to care before that, and Eli wasn't here yet. When we moved here, though, we discovered the child-like fun of Halloween. The kids will dress up this evening. I will take my place on the porch steps with a big box of candy. All the neighbors sit on their porches or in their driveways to give out candy. Tim and the boys will roam down one side of the street and back up the other. When the candy begging is done, we will gather with a bunch of neighbors next door for a cookout.

On the adoption front, please be in prayer. I am still re-researching agencies. I thought we were all settled, but I'm not so sure any more. One is way more expensive than the others. Does that necessarily mean better or that the others have hidden fees? Another is only 4 years old. Maybe they have more passion because they are fresh, or maybe they lack experience. One tells us that Bulgaria is reluctant to allow 2 children to be adopted at the same time because there are so many families wanting to adopt. I don't think I buy into the "one per customer" theory. Another tells us that Bulgaria will adopt 2 children as long as they are siblings. Another won't let us request siblings. Still another agency says you can adopt 1 child, siblings, or 2 unrelated children. It is so HARD to sort through it all. And this is not something that a person can already instinctively know something about. As has happened several times now, I think I am zoning in on an agency to choose. My prayer right now is for wisdom and discernment.

On yet another topic, have you ever read "This Present Darkness"? If you haven't, you absolutely must. First let me say that yes, I realize it is fiction. On the other hand, (to those who have read it), don't you think there's a chance that prayer works that way? It makes sense to me. Okay, for those who haven't read it yet (and I'm not going to spoil the story), here is an idea what I am talking about. The basic story line is realitively simple: a bad guy is taking control of a town. Told you it was simple. The twist is that one minute you are reading about the bad guys or the people in the town, but the next minute you see the spirtual side of the unfolding drama. Angels fighting for good. Demons trying to take people down. Now here's the best part. The angels are not allowed to fight on the offensive unless they have enough strength to win. Where do they get their strength? The prayers of "the saints." So if the Christians aren't praying enough, the angels can't fight. When the Christians are praying, the angels are unbeatable.

Now, I say all of that not just to recommend a good book but to make a point as well. Early voting has ended. Only one day of voting remains. All you can physically do is cast your vote. But that's not ALL you can do. Everyone says, "Pray for the election." Everyone says, "It's okay. God is in control." Yes, I believe God is in control. That doesn't mean He won't let America collectively do something stupid. Yes, He can work all things together for good with either choice. But I also really believe we need to make sure that the angels working this side of the globe have our constant prayer support. I say this to me as much as anyone. Let's see if we can get beyond, "Lord, be with the election," or "Let your will be done in this election." We need to cry out to God about this election and many other aspects of our nation right now. Whether the end times are imminent or still a thousand years away, our nation as a whole is not glorifying God. We need to take that back. I'm concerned about what kind of nation we are leaving to our children. It is already so much harder to raise my children in this time period because it seems like a huge chunk of society has no concept about the things in my value system. If we would take the focus off of self and turn it back to God where it belongs, we would see many areas of society that would suddenly be corrected. Are you ready to fight for what you believe in?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Just Wondering Out Loud

As you may have noticed, I've not done a lot of updating on our adoption. That's because we have come to a painfully grinding halt. There is a sweetheart of a lady at church who brings us 5-10 dollars almost every week where she has sold a couple more of our pizza cards. That's as fast as the money is getting raised. Do the math. Even at $10 a week (and counting the money we've already raised), it will take us 78 YEARS to raise this money. I think we can all agree that I'll be too old by then.

I know our God is in control. I know our God can literally do anything. I know our God still does miracles today...I've personally witnessed a few. I know that if God wanted, He could just add $45,000 to our bank account right now, and I'd find it in the morning. But I also know that God allows His people to have free will. And He often gives people an opportunity to participate in what He is doing. If they choose not to participate, He will either accomplish His will through someone else (allowing them to receive the blessing), or He will allow the mission to go unfulfilled.

Now, when there are 143 million orphans in the world, I can't help but think that if I don't adopt my 2 girls, then there will be two more girls who never get adopted. After all, there is not a waiting list for all children.

I hope you aren't hearing whining here. I'm not. I'm frustrated, yes. I don't feel we've gotten the emotional or financial support that I had anticipated. I still feel the need for more children. I still feel called to adopt. Because of the major lack of financial resources, we are rethinking our adoption plans. We're back at square one, you might say...saying "yes" to adoption but trying to figure out the details. We wanted to adopt 2 girls from Bulgaria. Maybe we need to reconsider international and look at domestic. Maybe a different agency would be less expensive. Maybe we should try to adopt just one (at least for now). How old can we be and still get this done? Should we reconsider the age range or other details of the child we seek?

I'm reminded of a story from the Bible. (I can't give you the reference because I'm doing this off the top of my head. But I think I have all of my facts straight.) Remember when Moses sent the 12 spies to check out the land up ahead. I forget what nation they spied on, but they came back with 10 negative reports. Only two men (Joshua and Caleb) said that the Israelites should move forward and take the city. God's plan was for them to take the city. Joshua and Caleb agreed, but most people were not supportive. Did God go ahead and take the city anyway? Did God send someone else to defeat the city? Did God let Joshua and Caleb take the city and everyone else just missed out on the victory? No, the entire nation (Joshua and Caleb included) were punished by having to wander another 40 years before coming back to this point and taking the city after all. Do you see the correlation? Just because God can cause His will to happen in spite of our disobedience, it doesn't mean He will. Even if He brings us back to this point 40 years from now, it will be too late for us to do the adopting. As I said, I know God can move $45,000 our way in a heartbeat, but if we don't pick up our fundraising participation (or find a fundrasier that actally does all that it claims), it may never get done.

Can I just stop here and turn this into a prayer request? We are praying for clear direction in every step of the process. We are praying for increased income so that we will qualify to adopt two. We were close at one time, but the babysitting ended. Right now I am enrolled in a course on medical transcription. Hopefully this will be one way to work on that income thing. Finally, we are praying for direction on fundraisers. It seems like most of what we have tried so far has not been very successful. We still have more than enough bracelets and pizza cards for sale. We are praying to be surrounded by people who understand our desire and support us. We are praying to come into contact with people who have been moved to help out. I know people adopt all the time. It can't be this hard for every family who adopts.

Tune in next time for a "happy" post. ; )

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Vacation Time

Our vacation is officially over. : ( We decided back in February that we would use Tim's Fall Break as a chance to take the boys to Florida. They've never seen the beach before. Of course, they would have been happy in a town of 400 with nothing "to do" for 600 miles around as long has the hotel had a pool. Still, they loved the beach! And they were so good about the drive. I was so tempted to see if we could borrow a portable DVD player or buy a cheap one. But we survived another vacation drive without it. They took a few toys, their DSes, coloring books, and white boards. They took a nice long nap going and coming, we looked for water towers, and I even read aloud a little bit.

Their favorite activities would have been running on the beach, swimming in the indoor pool, and pushing the buttons on the elevator. My favorite activity was eating out. We decided to spend most of our money on eating out rather than local attractions because we figured the kids would mostly want to swim anyway.

Here's the view from our room...

Here are the kids. Colton is enjoying a pop-up sun shade that one of our neighbors loaned us while we were loading up the van. (I love our neighborhood.)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A New Pursuit and New Pets

I've been thinking a lot lately about how to bring in more income. I'm enjoying the bookkeeping, but I only have a couple of clients, and I don't have time for "pounding the pavement" trying to find new clients. Also, every client's situation is so different from everyone else's, and while I want to do bookkeeping only and no taxes (in spite of the fact I took a tax class), the two are so interwoven it's crazy. So, while I hope to keep my "couple of clients", let's see what else I can do...

That brought me to considering medical transcription. I've seen so many ads for medical transcription, that I begain to think it must be a scam or something. And some of the ads could have been. But the field itself is legit. I've talked with a few people with medical jobs and done a lot of research on the Internet. Now I have signed up for a course, and I'm very optimistic about pursing this. I'll let you know how it goes. If you have any personal insights, please pass them along.

Onto the pets. You'll remember that we recently named a hummingbird who has adopted our yard. Kylene is still doing well, but I expect her to head south soon. Last Friday night, though, was the Fall Festival at Tim's former school. Since this was the first year he didn't have to work it, we took the boys and simply attended. Colton arrived intent on winning fish. We found the booth that was giving fish away as prizes. He got 5 balls to throw at a bucket. For every shot he made, he would win a fish. But he missed all 5 shots. Naturally, Eli wanted to play since his brother did. Being smaller, he got to stand behind a piece tape that was closer to the bucket. He made 2 of his shots! Colton seemed to take it well from the very beginning, and Eli generously agreed that Colton could have one of them. So now we have 2 goldfish: a gray one named Nemo and an orange one named Yoda. The boys were spending the night with Memaw that night anyway, but Tim and I were up quite late as we headed for the pet store and Wal-Mart to buy a fish tank, fish food, and all the accessories we would need. We had already decided that if these two went belly-up, we would let the boys just go pick out some more fish. So far they are doing very well and actually seem happy in their new home.

Don't forget:
  • I still have bracelets for $8.
  • We have cut the price of the pizza card from $10 to $5. (Remember, you could easily save over $200 with these cards.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

One Step at a Time

The other day I was watching Adoption Stories. Colton came in, mentioned Keely and Maggie, and asked me who gave them their names. I said that we had chosen them. He said, "Well, what are their real names?" I told him I didn't know. As he left the room, he said, "Who knows? Maybe they're twins." I sat looking after him a moment and thought, "I hadn't really thought of that. Could be."

You know, I realize that the current economic situation in our country has affected probably everyone. Sometimes I think we really picked a bad time to try to raise or even save the money to do this, but I figure there is a reason that this is our time. After all, all of those kids around the world aren't going to just stop being orphans until there are more families adopting again.

On a deeper note, as much as I feel the need to adopt, I often find myself caught in a neverending list of questions that are supposed to pass as my prayer time. Why is fundraising being so difficult? Do you really think we can do this? Now or maybe later? Bulgaria or maybe you meant somewhere else? I felt confident with each decision when we made it, but when those decisions don't lead to a bunch of open doors, I start second guessing myself. Maybe I missed something. Maybe I misunderstood the details. Maybe we've got some part of this heading down the wrong path. I start asking God for answers. "Just tell me...clearly...without question what you want me to do." I think the problem is that I'm wanting the big picture, and God wants me to focus on the next step only and trust Him for the rest.

Let me illustrate this from my own day (any day) with Colton. We sit down to do a math lesson. (It could be any subject.) I open the book to today's worksheet. Colton starts flipping the pages to see what is on the next page...10 pages later. "Colton, don't worry about what's next. Just focus on what's in front of you." We sit down to read science. He asks, "What are we going to after science?" "Um. Math I guess." "Are we going to Memaw's after lunch?" "Honey! Please just focus on science right now. Don't worry about what we are doing later."

I was thinking tonight that maybe I should listen to myself a little more closely. "Lord, do You want us to do this or that? If this, do You want it this way or that way. You know, it would be cool if we blah, blah, blah." "Libby, honey, quit worrying about what to do next. Just take care of the task I have placed in front of you. You can't get to the next step without this task anyway. Trust me."

On to new "stuff"...I am looking into taking a course in medical transcription. I've done some research into it, and I've talked with a few people in the medical field. So far, everything sounds promising. I'm not looking for "get rich working from home," but I would love to get beyond thinking about gas and food prices. Besides, as I've probably mentioned before, we fall short of qualifying to adopt 2 children since I stopped baby-sitting. The added income would not only qualify us for both girls, but it would help us save for expenses as well. If you know someone who is a transcriptionist or uses a transcriptionist, ask them to send me all the info they know.

Current efforts to raise money...
  • Throw a party
  • Bracelets ($8)
  • Pizza cards ($5 now)
  • Bookkeeping job for Libby
  • Transcription of any kind for Libby

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We're still here

Wow. Has it really been that long since I updated my blog? I guess things just got busy. Let's see, we are all working hard being back at school. That keeps us all plenty busy. School is going well for Colton and me. As I mentioned before, it takes up a lot more time for 1st grade than it did for kindergarten...but it is time very well spent. We went to the library last week, and the kids loved it. Eli got his own library card. As we were leaving, he was holding and admiring his new card and said, "I never thought you'd get me a liberry card." I guess he's been waiting all 3 years of his life for this moment. Tim is liking his new school and situation for the most part. (It is still school, after all.)

We also had major issues with our 18 month-old water heater. Tim decided to take a few minutes to drain it so he could replace the drain valve at the bottom. (See, it came with no threads to attach a hose for draining, and we didn't notice until it was installed and filled. Who'd think you had to check something like that!) Anyway, the old valve refused to come off. Tim spent all day trying to drain it (it had filled with sediment again), and finally had to have a plumber come out on a Saturday (of Labor Day weekend) to remove the valve. After a LOT of effort, he gave up as well. With the water heater drained and the valve partially off, we had to leave the water turned off to the house and move to my in-laws' until Tim could call the company on Tuesday (Labor Day weekend, remember?). He finally got us all fixed up by late Tuesday night with yet another brand new water heater.

Colton almost has a pet. Since we have been studying birds in science, I bought 2 bird feeders. I put one with seed in the front yard, and a hummingbird feeder with sugar water in the back yard. Almost immediately we had hummingbirds. One little female in particular has staked claim to our feeder. She spends most of the day perched on the wire around Tim's tomato plants or in a nearby tree. Anytime another hummingbird heads for the feeder, she chases it off. Colton has named her Kyleen (Kylene?), and we've all had a lot of fun watching her.

Oh, a note about the pizza cards. Since they do have a 1 year expiration date (and we are a little less than that now), we're selling them for $5 each. This is a good time to get some cheap stocking stuffers.

On the adoption topic, we don't have a lot new. We're still working on paperwork. I've got to schedule our physicals soon and gather some official documents. We haven't been in a super huge hurry because we are still waiting for a little more money to come in first. Once we have the home study complete, though, we can start applying for grants. I do have a few fundraisers in the planning stages, so stay tuned. I understand that a lot of people still do not understand why we want to adopt, especially since we already have kids. On the one hand, I'd like to argue that no one questioned why we had Eli when we already had Colton. Had we chosen to get pregnant again, would we be facing resistance? Why is this any different? Just because we have chosen to combine our desire for a larger family with the need of two children without a home. Is that so terrible? Anyway, stepping down from my soapbox, let me recommend the show Adoption Stories. I don't think it comes on regularly but rather in spurts, and I think it comes on Discovery Health. It has been so cool seeing families united with their children. Sometimes it has been sad to see the conditions at the orphanages. I think of Keely and Maggie, and I pray that they are in comfortable conditions with caretakers who actually care about them, not just for them. Then I still pray that they won't have to stay there much longer.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pizza Challenge & GREAT News

Okay, folks. Our fundraising has hit a dry spell. I'm asking you to take our pizza challenge. What you do is buy one pizza card (Papa John's, remember?). Then you show this to a few friends, neighbors, colleagues, relatives, enemies, whatever. Try to get at least 4 other people to buy one. You can email me how many you need, call me, or even order from the "store" section of our website. I will mail the cards to you at no extra cost.

On another note, last week was most exciting. Colton accepted Christ as his Savior. He has been asking questions for a little over two years. Recently, I wrote a little booklet that was based strictly on the Roman Road but in words that I knew he could read himself if he wanted. We read through that a week or two ago, and it did prompt a very good discussion. I know some people may question the conversion of a 6 year-old, but they weren't here to witness what I did. He was very serious and sincere as he prayed asking God to take charge of his life, and he was on "cloud 9" for at least the next 24 hours. He has now taken to discussing God with his little brother.

We've added a new twist to our homeschooling. Tim's sister is the children's ministry director at her church. She just purchased a new curriculum for all of the children's Sunday school classes called DiscipleLand. In a nutshell, their goal is to disciple kids...not just entertain them or rehash the same 10 Bible stories from 2-12 year-olds. It looked so good, I ordered the curriculum to use at home with Colton. Then, so Eli wouldn't feel left out, I ordered a couple of the pre-school books as well.

Something NEW on my blog... Did you notice the Blogarithim box is missing above this message? I was having some issues with it. The link above will allow you to subscribe to my blog. This way, instead of checking here every day, my updates will be emailed to you. It's really cool. I have about 4 blogs that I have emailed to me whenever they are updated. It makes it super easy to stay connected. I encourage you to sign up. I'm hoping I won't have to change it again, but if no one signs up, I won't know how well it works. Please give me feedback.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Another One Back to School

Tim is now officially back in school...another stressful week in the world of teaching. Let me start this update with a prayer request: Tim's school needs probably less than 10 more 6th graders. Right now, while Tim is still teaching science, he (and every 6th grade teacher) has to teach one section of reading. With about 10 more students, the county would have to hire one more teacher so that the classes would not be overcrowded. That teacher would take all of the reading classes leaving Tim teaching only science---stress level goes down about 6 notches.

Colton is amazing me with what he is learning in 1st grade. So far, I love all of the books I chose for us to study. Every once in a while, I think it is going to pile up on him, but he is the proverbial sponge that generally describes this age. He just soaks it all up. Now don't get me wrong. We are not the Homeschoolers Poster Family. He does really well academically, but we're still working on staying on task and not being so easily distracted. I'm working on not getting so frustrated that I think I'm going to burst a vein or something. He is enjoying his first spelling book, and he has already memorized a poem in grammar. He wasn't supposed to even try to recite if for about another week, but we've read it several times, and he wanted to try today. He didn't miss a word. We have a scavenger hunt tomorrow in science that he is really looking forward to doing. If we can't find all of the items here, we will have another excuse to go to Memaw's for the afternoon.

Eli has been working on a project of his own this week...potty training. When he turned 3 (back in February), we put him in Pull-ups. In a couple of days, he had the hang of No. 1. He would come and tell us whenever he needed to go. No. 2 was a whole 'nother issue. Then he was sick with a cold for a few days and quit. A few weeks went by, he caught on again, and then he quit again. We tried rewards, stars, lectures, guilt trips, and punishments of various kinds. He didn't care about any of it. The only information we could get from him was that using the potty was "boring". I wasn't about to entertain him with a song and dance routine every time he had to go. I even tried just putting him in underwear so that he would find accidents unpleasant. Not unpleasant enough. Maybe it was because I put those vinyl covers over the underwear because I didn't want to be cleaning up the carpet. At one point, I declared I was through trying to train him--He could just stay in pull-ups and let his future wife deal with him! It's not like I have to get him ready for public school! Well, Monday I decided to try one more tactic. When I took his pajamas off, I put him in a shirt and underwear (no cover). I took the bath mat out of the bathroom, gave him a towel to sit on, gave him a couple of coloring books and toys, and told him that he was not to leave the bathroom. He had on real big-boy underwear, and if he needed to go he could either let it run down his leg, get on the potty, or call me to help him get on the potty. I then moved Colton's little school table to just outside the bathroom, and we had school there. Eli was very agreeable about staying in there. He did perfectly all day, but had no No. 2. The second day we conquered that and began leaving the bathroom more. (He was also promised a trip to Memaw's if he ever did No. 2.) Today I let him wear shorts over his underwear and kept asking him every few minutes if he needed to go. Every so often I would just take him if he hadn't been in a while. So, 3 days in underwear with no accidents...and he even went to church tonight without switching back to pull-ups. I hope I haven't jinxed myself by telling this, but he has done so well. The funniest thing was when Memaw called Granny Clayton so he could tell her how big he is now. When he got off the phone, he came to me and asked, "Am I 4 now or 5." I told him no, and he said sadly, "I'm still 3?" I said yes but that it was now a BIG boy 3. That made it all better. We then thought to tell him he was now 3 and a half. (He will be this week.)

Nothing new on the adoption. I started working on paperwork today, and it really does begin to overwhelm quickly. I'm going to have to make little bite-sized piles for Tim. If I pace him, maybe it won't be too stressing to do in addition to all of his school work.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Getting Ready for School

I didn't realize it has been over a week since I last updated. I know you've just been on pins and needles wondering what has happened in the latest episode of our lives. Not a lot to report on the adoption front. We have raised a little bit more money, so I hope to update the pie chart soon...after I double check my numbers.

I've been busy trying to clean up from the yard sales. We donated a ton of stuff to the Salvation Army, and I've been putting some of the items on Craigslist. Tim has been working out at his school trying to get ready for the new year. I've been rounding up materials and books and laying out my lesson plans for Colton. It looks like 1st grade is going to be a lot more involved than kindergarten was, but I'm excited and he seems to be excited, too. Subjects include New Testament, spelling, writing, grammar, math, science, health/safety/manners, and piano. See what I mean? When I list it out, it seems like an overwhelming amount. But when you look at an individual lesson, most of them are quite short. I'm so glad we finished his reading book this week so I wouldn't have to schedule that in as well. I'm planning to hit core subjects hard Monday through Thursday. Then on Friday, he'll finish the week's spelling with a test, and we'll do another science lesson. But unlike the other days, this is the day we will also cover the health/safety/manners lesson, have a piano lesson, read library books, and have a time of singing songs. I'm also going to read a longer book to them on Fridays. For our first book, Colton chose the children's classic version of "The Swiss Family Robinson." I read this one to him last year, but apparently he liked it. If you are interested in what curricula I use, check out our website under Homeschooling. I don't have it posted right now, but I will be updating my curriculm list very soon.

Stay tuned for more exciting episodes from our family.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Agency Meeting 1 & Yard Sale 2

On Thursday we had our first meeting with Miriam's Promise to go over the application packet and ask questions. It was exciting to think that we had finally taken a step closer to actually being in the process...which is also a step closer to bringing Keely and Maggie home. It was a little stressful to know that some big payments are looming very closely on the horizon. I would really like to have saved above and beyond those first two big payments before we get going, but I know God will provide as we need it.

On Friday we began weekend #2 of our yard sale. Friday was quite slow compared to both days last weekend. We ended the day a little discouraged and very much in prayer. See, back when we were planning just a one-day sale, I had prayed that if we were on the right track (adopting at all, adopting 2 girls, choice of agency, etc.), we would raise $1000 through the yard sale. It was beginning to look like maybe something was wrong. Then Saturday came. We were so busy! Items that had been sitting there since day one were selling. Of course, items that I thought were hot were not selling. As we closed for the day, and I began counting the money, I remembered an envelope of yard sale related money that came in prior to actually starting the first day of selling. With this envelope plus 4 days of yard sales, our grand total raised was $1015.70! I believe we are on track.

We still have a long way to go. We are at about $3900 today. Enough to start the home study, but remember the adoption is supposed to run about $45,000. That doesn't include things like our physicals, requesting vital records, and maybe even our travel to Bulgaria (twice). It also doesn't include buying beds and furniture, bedding, clothes for two, etc. We still need to raise lots of money, and we still need your help to do it. Here are some ideas of ways you can help. Feel free to change them to suit you.

>Bracelets and pizza cards are (as usual) still for sale. Buy a pizza card and show it to your friends. They are only $10, and you save more than that the first time you use it.

>The Party Fundraiser is a fun idea. Have a party, and ask each guest to donate $10.

>Get a group (like your Sunday School class or any group you are in) to do a fundraiser for us. Have a doughnut sale, a car wash, a yard sale of your own, sell candy bars, anything.

>Be cleaning out the house. We are 90% sure we will be having another yard sale in the fall. Since we are donating most of the things that were leftover this time, we will need a fresh new round of donations next time.

>I would love to hear from you if you have other ideas for fundraisers that we can do ourselves or that we can suggest to others.

I know that everyone doesn't feel led to adopt a child and bring him or her into their family. Some people simply can't because of various circumstances. But the Bible does teach us that we are all supposed to do our part to help widows and orphans. By supporting our adoption, you are helping two orphans to be united with a family who will not only take care of them but will love them and share Christ with them as well. With an estimated 143 million orphans in the world, I can't possibly adopt them all (the house does have its limits), but I sure do want to do everything I can to rescue 2 of them.


A big huge "thank you" goes out to all of you who donated to our yard sale. We felt blessed just that you cared enough to donate. Then your stuff sold and helped our adoption fund. Thanks to Cindy for sitting in the heat with us for 2 of the 4 days. Also, thanks to Brent, Ty, Albert, Jean, Jennifer, Timothy, and Charles for also spending time keeping us company. Thank you, Annette, for bringing your 4 kids to the sale and leaving with 5. I know Colton had more fun at your house than he was having here. Thank you, Memaw, Grandpa, and Granny, for keeping the boys for 3 days and 2 nights during this second weekend of selling. Thanks to our church members who stopped by to shop or just to see how it was going. Finally, thanks to everyone who came: those who shopped, those who donated, and those who encouraged us with their own adoption stories.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Yard Sale Weekend #1

Whew! I am still so tired. It was hot, it was muggy, and we were busy. The response we got was even greater than we expected. Sales were good, but there were many more blessings that came from the sale. We met several new neighbors; we had several people tell us that their children were adopted or their spouse or they themselves; we had people pay more than we were asking; we had people make donations without buying anything; and we even had one lady come back the second day with a few nice donations to add to the sale. Over the course of the two days, we raised $500! It almost makes me excited that we are doing this again next weekend. Just kidding, I really am looking forward to it. If any of you live in our area and have items you could donate, please let us know. We will be glad to pick them up.

On the job front, I am searching even more for new bookkeeping clients. My baby-sitting days are now behind me (sniff, smile). As for Tim, please continue to pray for him. He feels like he has a new direction he would like to go, but he isn't exactly sure what it is.

On a cuter note, yesterday we brought two of the kids' friends home with us for a while--a brother and sister. We weren't sure if we would know what to do with girl but figured we needed the practice. On the way to our house amidst the noise of chatter behind us, we hear the word "princess" float to the front of our van. We looked at each other funny...not a word we normally hear.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Here We Are

This is our official family photo for our adoption application. Not bad for grabbing someone after church and saying, "Will you take our picture?"

We just got back from our "mini-vacation". We went to Crossville for a week. Tim's folks have a trailor at Fairfield Glade, and his sister lives in Crossville. So we spent the week sleeping at FG and spending almost every waking moment with Beth and her family. One surprising moment was when we took the kids to the pool, and I met a lady there with her husband and 3 daughters. As she put it, one daughter was "home grown", one was from China, and one was from the Philippines. The youngest (from the Philippines) had just turned 2 the day before and had been home for 1 year. They were so precious.

The yard sale begins this weekend! We are planning to be open Friday and Saturday this weekend as well as Friday and Saturday of next weekend. We have a lot of stuff, but if you have any items you would like to donate, that would be great. Let us know so we can plan to pick it up or be here for you to drop it off. In addition to actual yard sale items, we are going to have our pizza cards (more later), and I still want to have snacks like maybe candy bars and bottled water. Anyone have a suggestion on that?

If you like pizza (especially Papa John's), you've got to get one of our pizza cards. We decided to claim one as our own and use it while we were in Crossville. Yes, they honored it. We can officially say these are accepted outside of the Murfreesboro area. We saved $11.38 (for a large 1-topping). The card already paid for itself. Let's see...if you got the same free large 1-topping each time for the full 20 uses of the card, you would save $227.60. After subtracting the $10 you spent for the card, you would come out ahead $217.60. Not bad! If you don't live nearby, we would be more than happy to mail them to you. See if you can sell a few at work or in your neighborhood.

I'm still seeking bookkeeping clients. My babysitting career will be ending soon, so I need to replace the income. Tim is still seeking laminate jobs. We are going to meet with someone tonight to look at his house and talk about doing his floors. Hopefully, this time things will go well, and we will actually be able to lay this floor.

  • Pray for Tim as the new school year begins. He isn't sure if he needs to stay in teaching or find something else. We are praying through this now but could always use a few more warriors on our side. On one hand, public schools need Christian men in them (and the kids love him) and being unemployed all summer allows him extra time with his family, especially for taking trips. On the other hand the stress is taking a toll on his health, he has almost no time for family from August through May, and the expectations handed down to him are humanly impossible to meet 100%. Tim has such integrity and such a strong work ethic that he gets all the extra assignments that the "slackers" don't do. It seems easy to say, "Well, quit. Go do something else." But when his income is by far our main source of income, it would be difficult for him to walk into a total different field and start out at the same level of income (even if it is just a teacher's salary to begin with). He wants to be where God wants him, but he would also like to love his work and not stress about it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Another FUN Party!

A big THANKS goes to Jennifer for hosting this week's fundraiser party. She invited her homeschooling moms to come for an idea swap. Since I homeschool, too, this was a lot of fun. We talked homeschooling; we talked adoption; we talked spiritual walks; we talked and talked and talked. Although Jennifer had invited quite a number of friends, only a few were able to come. But, we still raised $50! Thanks ladies!

An even bigger outcome of the party was their enthusiasm for our adoption. They were so eager to hear our story and ask lots of questions. (If any of Jennifer's friends find my blog and have more questions, bring them on.)

YARD SALE UPDATE: Someone recently reminded me that Friday mornings are quite often busier than Saturday mornings for yard sales. Apparently, the "professional" yard-salers come out on Friday morning to catch the most stuff. So, we are going to have our yard sales on Fridays as well as Saturdays. Mark you calendar for July 11-12 and July 18-19. Again, if you have donations let us know. We will be glad to pick up any items.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pizza Fundraiser

Yes, we have another fundraiser going. We have pizza cards for Papa John's. Here's how it works. You buy a large pizza at regular price and get a second pizza of equal or lesser value for FREE. One pizza card gives you 20 uses--or 20 FREE PIZZAS-- for only $10. (Okay, "free for $10" doesn't make perfect sense, but that's 50 cents per pizza.) The card does not specify that it is for the M'boro area, so if you live outside our area, I can always mail you one...or two...or ten.

The other night I was sitting at the computer staring at my fundraising spreadsheet. "If we do this and this and this and make that and that and that, we'll be up to this amount. Still short." Colton came in and said, "When are Keely and Maggie going to come?"
"Just as soon as we can raise enough money to go and get them," I said.
"I know!" he said, "We could sell ice cream!" Then he ran out of here calling his daddy and told him how he had figured out how we could raise more money. He was so excited. As I later told Tim, don't think I haven't seriously considered his suggestion. The way I see it, because he is a child, he just might be better able to hear God's voice than I am. I tend to making spiritual listening a complicated process. So, I keep thinking he might be on to something. But I don't think an Ice Cream Stand in our front yard would work very well.

Yard Sale Update...We are still planning the yard sale for July 12, but we are also going to go ahead and plan a second one for the 19th as well. If you have any items you'd like to donate for either date, let us know. We'll be glad to come and pick them up. So far our inventory includes a ton of baby stuff, maternity clothes, Christmas stuff, a couch and love seat, a unicycle, and much more. We also plan to have the pizza cards for sale and maybe even some snacks.

Party Fundraiser...I'll be attending my 2nd party fundraiser this weekend. Jennifer is hosting an idea swap for her homeschooling friends. I'm hoping to get some new ideas myself. Please be praying for me as I will need to share our story so far. Most of these ladies don't have any personal experience with adoption, so maybe someone will leave this party thinking about it herself. That's exciting!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Yard Sale Coming...and other reminders

I finally have my yard sale on the calendar-- JULY 12. I'm also penciling in the 19th as a make-up rain date (just in case) and also as a possible sequel sale (we'll put it all out again). If you have some nice things to donate, please let us know and we can pick them up. Let us know as soon as you can because we would like to have time to organize items. We are also going to have snacks and bottled water available for sale, so if you would like to donate anything like this, that would be great.

Tim is still looking for laminate flooring installation jobs. He has had three people talk to him about it, but then other things come up to prevent the job from going through. I guess times are tough everywhere, but nevertheless we still have a mission to accomplish, and we must continue trying to raise the money. By the way, he just bought a new pneumatic nailer that he is just itching to play with. He likes installing trim, if you know of anyone who might hire him for that as well.

Like Tim, I'm still looking for more business, too. I still need about 5 more bookkeeping clients. My babysitting job could run out around the end of the year, so I need to go ahead and get that income replaced. This could totally affect whether we qualify to adopt both girls or not.

Bracelets are still for sale. Don't forget about them. If you aren't in our immediate area, I will be more than glad to mail you one.

I mentioned previously that we have chosen Bulgaria and All God's Children International. Click here to view their page on Bulgaria. Lots of adorable pictures, too.

On a more personal note, Tim and I just celebrated 13 years of marriage yesterday. It's funny how it seems like forever and yesterday at the same time. I am so blessed that God put Tim in my life (twice actually). He is my very best friend, and we have shared a lot of fun and adventurous times. Yes, there have been valleys as well, but at least we were able to go through them together.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day and GNO

Happy Father's Day to my dear sweet husband! Tim is definitely one-of-a-kind. Not only is he a wonderful compliment to me (literally my other half), but he is a most excellent father. Colton has always had his dad as his favorite toy, and Eli caught on to this fact very quickly. I love to watch all three of my boys play together. They wrestle, jump on the trampoline, go for walks or bike rides, work in the yard or on special projects, and play video games together. At the same time, his primary goal is to be a father to them...not a buddy. We noticed from a very young age, our boys would get extra cuddly and loving after being disciplined, and their dad always has lots of lovin' to give them after they have received their consequences. Now, they have respect for him and just enjoy being with him and doing what he is doing. He is certainly setting an example for them in how to be a godly man.

Last night was my first GNO (Girl's Night Out) fundraiser. Gwen and Yolanda hosted, and we had a really fun time. I didn't know many ladies there (and those I "knew" I met once before), but it is so inspiring to listen to their adoption stories. Almost everyone there has already adopted at least once. They raised $145 for our adoption. [Don't forget the contest ends July 7. Any takers?]

You may have noticed my fundraiser goal pie chart has shrunk. I went ahead and changed the goal from $3000 to $6000. This may be a little short of covering the homestudy, the first agency installment, and lots of associated fees, but I think it is a reasonable goal right now for starting the process. It was hard to change the goal since we just met the old $3000 goal as I changed it. Oh well, we'll get there.

Do you remember a recent post in which I listed several obstacles to our fundraising? Well, it continues. Two people have asked Tim to lay laminate flooring and later had to back out (for their own good reasons). Tim was supposed to go to a another friend's house a couple of weeks ago to help her clean out her garage--paid for his time, and anything she got rid of would come here to await our yard sale. The night before he was supposed to go there, she called. She had taken a fall on her front steps and ended up in the emergency room with a broken nose and a very swollen face. Needless to say, she didn't feel like keeping the scheduled cleaning day. But the funniest one has got to be Corky's. I had an idea for getting this barbecue place to cater a fundraiser dinner for me. Just the other day we drove by the restaurant and noticed the message on the sign. After 12 YEARS, they have closed down the business. 12 YEARS! And they pick now to shut down just as I decide to use them. It's just too much not to laugh out loud.

Prayer Requests
  • Keely and Maggie
  • Our fundraising efforts
  • More bookkeeping clients for me
  • Laminate installation jobs for Tim
  • and as always...constant guidance

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Summer is here

It's finally summer! Tim doesn't have to go to school anymore; Colton's friends are home during the day; our friends who are teachers are free to visit; and we don't homeschool...well, not everyday. I have gently talked Colton into continuing reading lessons and piano lessons 2 days a week through the summer. We started this reading book in January 2007 for just 3 days a week and continued all last summer. By sticking with it this summer too, we will be able to finish it before starting our first grade material. I highly recommend The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. The website suggests that even kids attending school will benefit from this method of learning to read, and I believe it. So many schools have lost all focus of phonics (learning the sounds of letters and combinations of letters so you can sound out a word). These schools have gone to memorization of words, and a kid can only memorize so much, and what happens when he is on his own and sees a word that wasn't on one of his lists?

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed homeschooling this year. I was actually afraid of kindergarten because I was used to teaching middle and high school students. Kindergarten is so fundamental and so basic, I was afraid I would have a hard time explaining things in a way Colton could understand. But the materials we used really took care of the explanations for me.

Soccer was another highlight from our school year. Funny, though, Colton's interest in soccer peaked about 2 days after the season ended. I think it was because Eli started driving the soccer ball throughout the house. Big brother then had to give him some pointers because he had actually played soccer before. Now they both want to play next year. Eli announced that he wants to be on a red team. (Colton's was blue, so I'm not sure why he picked red.) Eli will actually be old enough next year as a 4 year-old. Can't wait to see that.

Fundraising Update
Tim has a garage to clean (hopefully adding items to our yard sale). Tim may have to get a summer job, but he would love to fill his summer with installing laminate flooring. If you can recommend him to someone, please, please, please do so. He not only could raise more money this way, but he would enjoy it so much more than the summer jobs he's has in the past. Oh, and of course, he will charge way less than the stores who sell the flooring, so everybody benefits.

As for my bookkeeping, I could use more clients. I figure that if I just had a couple more clients, we could qualify for adopting 2 children through the agency we like best. (See the last posting for an explanation if you need to.) With 5 or 6 more clients, I could maintain that qualifying amount even after I stop babysitting some day. (That never was an indefinite source of income.) It doesn't HAVE to be a small business either. I can do your personal bookkeeping as well. I'd show you where you are spending money so you could see where you could trim and save. I'd also help you create and follow a budget. We've been using a budget for at least 11 of the almost 13 years we've been married. If you've never had a budget, you really should try one. I find it relieves a lot of stress when the car breaks down and you see that you have more than enough money in the Car Repairs category to cover the repairs. Ok, end of the commercial.

Back to Summer
Isn't it strange how summers seemed to last longer when we were little? Summertime was this vast space of time filled with fun relaxing activities: days spent at Granny & Grandaddy's or at a friend's house, swimming, playing outside, completing a special project and so on. So much time to just do what you wanted to do. Now, it seems like we're just getting started when the summer is gone and Tim's back at school. What was your favorite summer memory? Any big plans for this summer?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yea!...I Think

(Update at bottom and in green.)

Yea! about the pie chart on the right. We have $2800 in our adoption fund right now. We've sold a few more bracelets, had a donation, saved some, and biggest of all had a contribution from Uncle Sam. It would seem we are very close to getting started, right? We have $2800 of the $3000 needed. Then yesterday I heard from one of the agencies I'm talking with. She said that just after the home study, we will have a packet of paperwork to complete before becoming "official" clients of their agency. Along with submitting the finished paperwork, the first lump sum is due--$6750*--and there is a little over 90 days for getting it all turned in. With our fundraising efforts still averaging about $100 a month, we can't apply with that looming so soon in the future. Obviously, we need to really step up our fundraising. Unfortunately, we are completely dependent on other people's responses to our efforts.

I also just found out that with this same agency (whom we were favoring), they have a minimum income requirement. (Many agencies have this.) Right now, we fall short of qualifying to adopt two children. Of course, this time last year, we barely qualified to keep the two kids we have. ; ) It seems simple enough to say, "Well, you qualify for one child, so just adopt one." The problem is my brain is thinking in twos; my heart is feeling in twos. We've been praying for Keely AND Maggie. It feels almost like being pregnant with twins and being asked to choose which one you want to keep and which one you choose to lose. (And if fundraising doesn't take off, it's like being told that two of your children are going to be taken away.) For those of you who do not have a foot in the world of adoption, you may not understand this, but these girls are already a part of our family. We just have to pray that God will bring us all together very soon.

This is probably a good time to remind you to keep your ears open for people in M'boro who need a bookkeeper. If I can get my bookkeeping income up, we could qualify for two AND we could save faster. Also, Tim is hoping to fill his summer with laminate flooring installation. He has already talked with one gentleman from our church. A few of these jobs would make a really big difference.

By the way, unless something changes before we have to declare a country on paper, we have chosen Bulgaria. The only way to adopt 2 children there is if they are siblings, so Keely and Maggie will already be sisters.

Party Update
I have 2 parties scheduled (both of these from the four who were willing before the contest). I have had zero new responses since declaring the contest. Oh well, it sounded like a good idea. If you might still consider participating, look at it this way: With so few participants, you might actually win! More info...

Personal Notes
Jessica, thank you so much for your sweet letter and donation. I tried to email you, but it bounced. Email me sometime with a new address so we don't lose touch.

Prayer Requests

  • Choosing an agency
  • Increasing income to qualify soundly with any agency for 2 children
  • Fundraising needs to skyrocket; What can I do differently? New ideas.
  • Steven Curtis Chapman's family
  • Laminate flooring and/or summer job for Tim
  • Yard sale coming in June; I don't want to blow this opportunity.

*Update: I just heard from the agency mentioned above. She quoted me for the wrong program. Instead of needing $6750 so soon after applying, it is only $3750. Still quite a bit, but at least not as much.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day Thoughts

We have our first official entry in our Party Contest. Gwen is hosting Girls' Night Out on June 14th. Can we get some more on the calendar this week? Everyone is being awfully quiet. Remember, I don't HAVE to be at your party in case you live too far away or if you were planning the 14th as well.

Happy Mother's Day (a day late) to all you moms, especially those of you who are celebrating for the first time. To those of you waiting, hang in there. I remember one year during the 4 years it took us to get pregnant with our first child, I couldn't even bring myself to go to church on Mother's Day. They were giving out special pins and flowers to all the moms; they were recognizing all the moms; they were singing and preaching about moms; and they were even having a baby dedication service as well. It was just too much to handle. I thought, "If one more person tells me and a big grin, 'Just wait. Your turn is coming,' I'd just have to scream." I was tired of waiting, and I had no idea if my turn would ever come. What if it didn't? I wanted so badly to be a mom. I've always wanted to be a mom. I had a hard time choosing a path in school and a career, but I've always wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. It's funny...last night just before bedtime, I got my Mother's Day card from my kids. Colton had dictated to Tim what to write in it. One line said, "You have been a great mommy since you were a child." Well, maybe I wasn't officially a mommy then, but my sights were set on it.

I guess this adoption is an extension of that desire. I always wanted more than 2 kids, but we got off to such a late start, and I don't really want to be pregnant at my age (and worse yet, pregnant again later). Then when I really began to feel the need that exists for so many orphans in the world. Wow! The solution is so obvious: I can have more kids; they can have parents and siblings and cousins and grandparents and a home and learn about Jesus and.... Not that they will receive more than I will. I've heard a lot of you adoptive parents talking about how you wanted to be a blessing to a child and ended up being the one blessed. My primary hope IS to be a blessing to them. If some of it gets on me, that's just extra.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ideas/Work/Encouragement Needed

No one ever said this was going to be easy. I never even thought it would be. But even so, we've had some interesting obstacles that have come our way.

*Not everyone in our circle is excited or even accepting of our decision. While we still believe God has called us to adopt, it's hard to erase the opinions of those close to you once their opinions have been heard.

*When I first started making bracelets, Tim took one to school, and another
teacher had just started making and selling jewelry too.

*When I began making plans for a June yard sale, we received a flyer on our
mailbox that some charity organization would have a truck in our neighborhood on
a given day collecting everyone's unwanted the stuff we might have
had in our yard sale.

*Our church is constantly fundraising for a building project. How do you ask
church members (of a small church) to give to both?

*Tim (being a teacher) can't even set out a box of candy bars or something for
sale. He can wear the bracelet, and if someone asks about it, fine. I don't work
outside the home, so I come in contact with very few people, just church.

Before I announced the Party Contest, I had 4 people who said they would be willing to host one. While I don't have any dates yet, I still have those same 4 who are still willing. (Thank you, my Fantastic Four!) If anyone else out there is planning to participate, I would LOVE to hear from you. It doesn't matter if you have 5 guests or 50. Just your efforts will be a huge help. I confess, I'm needing a little boost of encouragement.

I can't think of anything else to sell, especially when I haven't had much luck selling. I can't afford to spend money on fundraisers that might not raise any funds. The only other way to get more money that I can think of is lots of work + lots of saving. I am certainly not opposed to working. I love the feel of working hard, doing a good job, and earning money for it. (Yes, all three make a really good feeling.) So, here is my request of you today. If you know of anyone who could use me to do their bookkeeping from home, please recommend me. I use QuickBooks. I have also had a little formal tax training and am currently studying independently to learn more. I even have my tax preparer's ID number and can prepare tax returns. Or, if you or someone you know would like to have laminate flooring installed, call us. Tim loves doing this, and as a team we are quite efficient...and cheap. We have one gentleman from church who has asked Tim to install some for him as his way of helping our adoption. Tim would love to be able to fill up his summer doing this. We have even replaced siding on a couple of houses and could do that, too. Well, maybe not a 2-story house, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

Another thing that would just help morale is to hear from you on this blog. If you have ideas for us, thoughts for us, or can just type "Hi" and your name, let me know that you are out there and reading.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Have a Party!

Remember the Girls' Night Out fundraiser I went to? Well, I'm putting my own twist to it. We're having a Party Contest. You can see all the rules and how-to on my website. Click here.

Here's the idea. You think of a group of people you know and a reason to get them all together. It could be a Girls' Night Out, a card tournament, a scrapbooking party, a 4th of July cookout, etc., etc. Tell all of your guests that this is a fundraiser for an adoption, and ask them to bring a $10 donation to your party. For every party that sends in $150 or more, the host will receive a $10 Sonic Card. For the party that sends in the most money, the host will receive a $25 gas card.

I think this will allow us to receive support from people we don't know. So far, my newsletter list has 55 people on it. Since our most recent estimates for adopting 2 children is looking like $45,000, each person on our newsletter list would have to donate almost $820 each! That's not going to happen. I know I can't keep soliciting the same people to buy stuff or donate. (Although only a few people off the newsletter list have bought or donated so far.) With this contest, the person we know is only kicking in $10. This will be a great fundraiser IF ENOUGH PEOPLE WILL PARTICIPATE. The contest runs through July 7.

A Quick Update
We are still researching countries and agencies. I'm expecting a packet any day from Holt International. I'm still looking at material from All God's Children International, Carolina's Hope, and Little Miracles. We're focusing our country search on Bulgaria right now, but I see the country and agency choice as almost one choice--picking the agency based on the countries they offer and picking the country based on the agency we like.

Family Update
Colton turned 6 in April, and he just lost his first tooth. He was so very excited. Eli (3) has learned to spell his name. I know, it's a short name, but he is proud of himself. I've been hanging out at the dentist's office this month. I had 5 fillings and a crown in two appointments. Then the crown has given me trouble since day one and caused me to go back 3 times. I think the adjustment yesterday has done the trick. It already feels much better today. Tim has a birthday coming up Monday (Cinco de Mayo). If you see him, be sure to rub it in. He is trying to patiently wait out the remainder of the school year and is eagerly anticipating moving to the new middle school in the fall.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Cool Fundraiser

Last Saturday I went to an adoption fundraiser at Gwen's house and met a wonderful group of ladies. Everyone there had either already adopted or were at least further into the process than I am. The way this fundraiser worked was really quite simple. The hostesses provide all the refreshments and a movie (which we never got around to watching). All I did was bring $10 and enjoy the great company. Most of these ladies, like myself, already had biological children when they decided to adopt. I'm really looking forward to learning more from them.

The fundraiser was for Katie Jo and raised $160. Way to go, girls! I hear she has 9 other Girls Night Out parties scheduled just like this one. Their goal is $1,000. I'm definitely going to have to try out this fundraiser. Lots of fun.

Speaking of fundraisers, I'm looking into pizza cards. Has anyone tried this one? Does it work well?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My Crazy Life

Hi, everyone.

Allow me to introduce myself. I have been married to the most wonderful man (Tim) for almost 13 years. We have two boys--Colton (6) and Eli (3). I taught school (grades 6-12) for 8 years and then moved to a position overseeing technology in the classrooms for 3 years. While my husband is completing his 13th year as a middle school teacher, we have decided to homeschool our own children. Colton and I will be finishing kindergarten soon. In addition to homeschooling, I baby-sit an 8 month-old neighbor; I play the keyboard/piano full-time at church; and I have a very small bookkeeping business that I run from home during naps and between diapers.

But the "craziest" thing on my plate right now is trying to make plans for an international adoption. Actually 2 adoptions if God wills it. We would like to adopt 2 girls most likely between the ages of 1-5. We don't know where they are, but their names are going to be Keely Page and Maggie Elizabeth. Our 2 biggest obstacles right now are choosing a country (and agency) and raising the money. We are trying to set small financial goals, but even those are slow in coming. Just to get through the application, home study, and initial paperwork, we need about $3,000.

Part of the reason for this attempt at blogging is so that I can meet people who have adopted or who know people who have. I'd like to hear your words of wisdom. We have a website at where we advertise jobs we can do. We also have a little store there for selling these adoption bracelets I'm making. What do you think? They cost $8, and I have recently made a couple of necklaces for $10. Want one?

We are also planning a yard sale for June, but other than those two things, we've been fundraising since December, and we've only got $470 to show for it. Any suggestions anyone?

Now about country, we started out looking at El Salvador. They had very few adoptions per year and had a potential for being flooded if/when Guatemala closed (which they have). Then we chose Guatemala, but it has closed for now. As I look at other countries, there seems to be at least one major obstacle with each one. Either it has recently closed, is way more expensive than others, has a very long wait (like 3 years), or requires a very lengthy stay in the country (like 5-6 weeks). I can neither imagine leaving my boys for that long nor can I imagine taking them into a foreign country where a little girl or girls would be needing my undivided attention anyway.

Over the last few days I have looked at Bulgaria, Ukraine, and even China. But China's wait is approaching the 3 year mark, and you can only adopt 1 child at a time. That's 6 years! I'll be too old to handle it by then!! Okay, I'm not exactly ancient, but I'm 38, and Tim is about to turn 42. That does start disqualifying you from some programs.

Does anyone have any advice on countries? or agencies?