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.