Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Little Firefighter

Rutherfordton, NC Children's Museum, July 15, 2011
Photoshopped by Aunt NeNe :0)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Summer Blow Out Sale!

FYI- If you haven't gone on vacation yet (like us....counting down the days.....)
Lulilly is having a HUGE summer blow out sale- Women's, boys, and girls bathing suits and such. Once you pay shipping once ($5.99 flat rate) then you get shipping for the rest of the day free! Start shopping HERE. Now we are BEACH ready! When you refer friends you get $15 credit, so I had $30 saved up! I scored:
Swimsuit for Me $24.99-FREE with my store credit when you refer friends :)

And for me! $9.99 (Cost $2.99! Friend credit!) 

Swim Shorts $4.99

Leather sandal (Charlie) $6.99

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tight Wad Wednesday

    I know you don't remember (and if you do I am going to be a little scared...) but about a year ago, I started to get in on the whole coupon craze after checking out behind a lady that spent 63 cents on $132 worth of groceries. If you want a refresher and a little chuckle, you can read about my experience HERE.
    So I've been at this couponing thing for about a year now, can you believe it? Time flies whether you're having fun or  not :0) and I now look forward to Wednesdays (or as I like to call them, Tight Wad Wednesdays) because it's the day that the new sales start in the store.

    On Tuesday nights I go to my favorite couponing site SOUTHERN SAVERS and Jenny does all the work for me. I just go through the little checklist and make a shopping list, print some coupons, and then go through my giant file cabinet of circulars and clip the coupons she tells me too! Sometimes I also visit I heart Publix and I heart Bi-Lo to make sure Jenny didn't miss anything (she rarely does!). It takes about 2 hours in all and I am ready for Tight Wad Wednesdays by 8:00am the next day (before all the crazy hard core couponers come and knock you down for the last box of Kellogg's and run your over with their cart for good measure) I usually go to Publix first on my way into the office to get their penny item (a mystery item for a penny on Wednesdays only! Fun!) and then to Bi-lo on the way home with Charlie. He calls all grocery stores the "yum-yum shop" which is too cute, he drives the grocery cart shaped like a car that has the turning radius of the Titanic and holds the coupons for me. Very good helper....

    Anyway, by doing this I have cut our monthly food budget in HALF! That is so exciting to me! I know some folks do even better, but I am still buying items without coupons that are weekly must haves, like milk, fresh fruit, fresh veggies, and meat. Those are all things that seldom carry coupons. I've even taught a free class for my church and the community teaching other people these little tips and money savers. If you love watching your grocery tab get sliced at least in half every week, have 2 hours a week to spend, can buy 2 Sunday papers a week, and can keep organized- this is a great way to save some hard earned money! If you want a copy of my class handout, email me :0)

    So the rundown today for Tight Wad Wednesday?
Publix: Spent $22.04 and saved $46.65
Bi-Lo: Spent $37.93 and saved $36.20

    I LOVE being a tight wad! Once you get use to this way of shopping it will almost make you cry to buy things without a coupon. Chad makes fun of me a little because when he comes home I put everything on the counter and he has to play "The Price is Right" and guess how much I spent. See, isn't being a tight wad the coolest?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Important Things

Please pray for a close friend of mine who is going through a Job-like situation with her family and her health. She provided me with counsel and a shoulder to cry on while we were stuck in adoption limbo for so long and now she could really use your prayers. You don't know her name, but God does. She is an amazing Christian woman that is really fighting a serious battle right now. Please lift her up. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Can you help a little?

This post is from our friends, the Moreno family. They are trying to get their precious daughter home from Russia (and the same region Charlie is from). Their wait has been as long as ours was and they are about $5,000 short of being able to travel in hopefully about 22 days (we all know how *special* the hoops to jump through are over there, so that is not yet set in stone....) If we all chip in a few dollars HERE in honor of Baby Moreno's 5th birthday today, she will be thaaaat much closer to home. I think about all the ways so many people funded our way to Russia, and it still brings tears to my eyes. And not only is this helping a family and a precious orphan, but it's really kingdom work! Let's chip in! Here is their story. If you click the link HERE (just in case you missed it before.....) it will take you to their Reece's Rainbow account.

We are awaiting news of our court date. Our judge is on vacation this entire month, but our in-country facilitator is planning on asking her to give us a date as soon as she returns. We just sent additional paperwork, and we aren’t entirely sure whether they need the translated documents in their hands in order to ask for our court date. If so, it might take a little longer.
But there is a very real possibility that we could be traveling as soon as….
…drumroll please


In case you don’t have a calendar handy, that is less than 30 days away. Now, it could be longer, but our agency feels pretty certain that it won’t be much further out.
So now the crazed and chaotic chase to prepare, assemble, copy, notarize, apostille, and FedEx paperwork has given way to the crazed and chaotic chase to finish our court speeches, assemble, copy, notarize, apostille, and translate a mound of documentation to support our ability to give J a better life here than she has in the institution, pack, and prepare our household for our absence—including arrangements for who will be staying with our children, which is still somewhat up in the air.
Oh, and we have to come up with another $4,000-$5,000 before we travel.
Yes, you read that right. Although we are very close to being fully funded, we’re not quite all the way there.  Through the generosity of friends and family (thank you, Lord, for putting so many pie-loving people in my life), God has thrown us a bunch of cows.  We held two really fun events, and I baked hundreds of Key Lime Pies, and our adoption fund grew.
I had plans to host one more really fabulous fundraising event, but it was impossible to schedule a date when we sat in travel limbo, knowing that we could get our travel orders “any day now” for nine months. But that was okay. We figured that as soon as we got home from our first trip, we’d schedule our event, knowing that we’d have a few months until court.
Only, what we didn’t know is that the time between your first trip and going back for court is filled with an all-consuming paper chase, leaving no time to wipe the drool from your chin, let alone plan a major fundraising event.
I did hike up my big-girl-panties (which are a couple of sizes bigger thanks to months and months of adoption-related stress eating) and pull off two good pie sales right after we came back, but that’s all I had time for.
And now that our court documents are done and sent off, I have a new project: gathering mounds of documentation to take into court with us to prove that Baby J is better off here than she is in the institution. And once it’s gathered, it has to be notarized, apostilled, and translated.
And we could be leaving in less that 30 days. Actually, I just redid the math. Mid-August is 22 days away.
During this process, I’ve tried to stay away from asking for outright donations. Don’t get me wrong: a good portion of our funds came from outright donations, and I am ever so grateful. And I don’t begrudge families who ask for outright donations. After all, they are scrimping and saving to save up the ransom for this child, and they are committing to parent that child forever. That’s a big thing. I certainly don’t mind being asked to stand with them and be a part of God’s work through them. I just decided early on that I always wanted to try to offer something of value.
Today is Baby J’s birthday. She has spent the first five years of her life as an orphan. Last year at this time, I wouldn’t have dreamed that we still wouldn’t have her home by now. And yet, another year has passed, and now she’s been transferred from the baby house to an institution for older children with “neurological defects”.
That makes me so sad.
So in honor of Baby J’s birthday, I am asking for a favor. I am asking for you to help us get her home. I think it’s the very best birthday present she could ever get.
I don’t want anyone to feel any pressure. I don’t consider anyone less of a friend if they can’t or choose not to donate. But I know that God will multiply the gifts of those who do, no matter how small or how large the donation. I trust Him to provide.
After all, I have an Ebenezer stone the size of  small island nation that tells me He will….
Won’t you please help wish Baby J a happy 5th birthday by being a part of this bigness? You can make a tax deductible contribution to our adoption fund through Reece’s Rainbow. Please designate “MORENO FAMILY/BABY J” in the PayPal comments section. Click HERE to donate.
Thank you, friends. I love you all.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Conversations with Charlie

Today we were playing outside and I was pushing Charlie on the swing.
Charlie: "High Mama"
Me: "Ok, I'll push you high"
Charlie: "The sky mama"
Me: "To the sky?"
Charlie: "Da, the moon"
Me: "The moon isn't out yet, what else is in the sky?"
Charlie: "Sun"
Me: "Yeah, the sun and the clouds....what else?"
Charlie: "Baby Jesus"
Me: "That's right! You know Baby Jesus grew up, he's not a baby anymore. He grew up to be a big boy"
Charlie: "Jesus, tee tees (in the) potty?"
Me: "Uhhh......I guess he did....."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Po-Po's and Egg Legs

Egg-Leg Pooch
Charlie is officially speaking more words than I can keep track of.
I can truly say as well he is starting to converse more. Our conversations mostly revolve around the same topics- going bye-bye, whether or not the "woo-woo" is "night-night" or "working" (meaning the firetruck is inside the fire station by our house or out on a call ), his schedule "time to eat?" "nap?", etc., and where people are at any given time of the day as in who's working, sleeping, or at home. If I ask him what he wants to eat, he can tell me. That is a big relief, I mean who wants to eat stuff they don't feel like eating? That would be like going to a restaurant and having someone choose every meal you eat day after day. "Fish, Ewwwwww.....not again....."
He is starting to try to repeat words a lot more. When we read to him he mumbles the words along with us and says the last word of each sentence very loudly.
My favorite new word is for a pirate, we are working on a pirate themed scavenger hunt at our church so he's seen a lot of pirates lately, and he calls them "egg-legs" as in "peg-legs" Too funny. We were also eating lunch with a friend yesterday and a cop came in and sat at the table next to us. Charlie stood up and started yelling "PO-PO!!!" at the top of his lungs. Not funny. Well, it was, but I digress....
On August 1st and 8th we are having him evaluated by another speech therapist, however. We want to make sure we are doing everything within our power to make sure he is where he needs to be. I am hoping this is more for my piece of mind and he is making appropriate progress on his own. We started watching the "Little Pim" videos in Russian and when they start a new word and I ask him "What is that?" he says it in English, even though the Russian is blaring in the background...Hmmmm.....
Over the course of the last three weeks he has started saying what appears to be a new Russian word which is pronounced "Dee-Et-Ah?" and points at something. We think it's Russian for "look" or "what is that" either that or it is a badly butchered English word for "look" or "what's that". Hmmm.....
I love the way he is more in tune with his surroundings. He talks about the people walking, the cars driving down the road, people "working" and big trucks along the way. It's hard to believe the first month home I was checking my rear-view mirror constantly to see if he was asleep; he never made a peep in the car.

I think he has an amazing sense of direction. Several miles from our house coming from any direction he points and says "home over there?" and he is right 90 percent of the time. Now if we could just work on his odds of putting his shoes on the right feet.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Well that only took 15 months!

Russia and the US has finally reached a bilateral treaty concerning adoptions. I personally know families that traveled around the same time as we did that are still waiting....I just can't imagine. The 10 months we waited were absolutely excruciating. I can't imagine another 5 months.....
I hope and pray that in the next few weeks, Russian adoptions are at full force again. I found a lot of articles with a lot of spin, but this Question and Answer format comes directly from the State Department, I found it to be most informative our of everything I read.
Check out the article HERE
Please continue to pray for these waiting families, children, and agencies that have been in limbo for so long. I pray that this agreement strengthens relationships for our countries and the children waiting in orphanages, not hinders the process even more.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

How to go crazy in 7 days (A How to guide)

Yup...pretty sure this was the guy.....
 Lets see, the week of July 3rd....where to begin.
Sunday: Barbecue with friends. Fireworks exploding all night long. Dogs are literally climbing the walls already and it's not even the fourth yet. But, I think to myself,  I am proud to be an American! I love the 4th of July. It's not so bad.....
Monday: Barbecue with more friends. Watch fireworks from the church parking lot. Charlie really liked the show. He is so fearless, it's one of the many things I absolutely adore about him. Late going to bed, but it really doesn't matter since our neighborhood sounds like a the battle of 1812. The fireworks are making my left eye twitch.
Tuesday-Friday: Our neighbor had a family emergency and had no one to watch her three children while she traveled out of state. So, of course, I volunteered. I know what its like not to have family within a days drive. It was the least I could do, and they were angels, truthfully. However, the logistics of having 4 children (ages 9, 7, and two 3 year olds) is another thing all together. Getting everyone into the car is like putting together a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle in the 100 degree weather. Charlie liked having his friends over, as long as the other 3 year old didn't try to get too cuddly with HIS mama. He shared everything except for me! Set off on a midnight expedition to find out who is setting off the stinkin' fireworks.
Tuesday: Receive an email from our social worker. She needs to come out to the house for our first post adoption report home visit this week or next. Uhhh......Chad left for his mission trip Saturday, so next week was out of the question. That left us with Tuesday or Friday. Either way, it was very short notice. It was either less than 24 hours or 72 hours. Needless to say, a lot of stuff is now piled in my closet. And how people clean anything with four children in the house is beyond me. We chose Friday.
P.S.- The fireworks are sending me over the edge.
Thursday: Dinner for 13? No problem. Every year I really enjoy cooking a special meal for the youth Mission leadership team. This year, the circumstances were a little different. Have you ever tried to read a  recipe while children scream in the background? I wish someone was shooting off fireworks to distract me from the chaos.
Friday: As if the fireworks had not frazzled my LAST nerve, I take the all the kids to Monkey Joe's for a special treat. I witness two women get into a fight. Like clockwork, my parents arrived at 4:30pm (my dad always goes on the Mission Trip with Chad and my mom is thankfully staying with me while Chad's away). The neighbor kids were picked up at 6:00pm. I hope they didn't pick up on the "you gotta get outta this house" vibe. From 6:00-6:30 I frantically picked up toys and ran the vacuum. Social worker arrived at 6:30. During the visit Charlie was, well Charlie. Running, laughing, flirting. She fell in love with him as most folks do :) I am starting to plan my revenge against the ignoramuses launching the fireworks. They will pay. Oh yes. They will pay. Mu-hahahahah.....
Saturday: 4:45am (went to bed approximately 2 hours ago due to stupid fireworks) Chad leaves for the trip to Ohio leading 85 people. Now it's his week to run ragged. It's 10:55 and I think they have finally run out of fireworks. After I post this blog I am going to Google "States that fireworks are illegal in"
Sunday: Move to said State.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Insurance Woes....

Can anyone give me some helpful hints/tips and/or any other useful information when dealing with insurance problems with respect to adoptive children? We have a reputable company that has B's and C's and a Shield in the title....but.....they are acting like some kinda fly by night operation when it comes to Charlie's health care.
First, it took an act of congress to get him added.
Then, it was the hiked up premiums due to his "speech delay" (duh...he's lived in America for less than 5 months....)
Now, it's them not wanting to pay for ANY of his routine health care (immunizations, well baby check ups....nada....)
Our bill from his first 2 visits at the pediatrician is already over $1500! Insurance has rejected all of it. HELP! Has anyone gotten any answers regarding why our adoptive children are treated differently than our birth children? Anyone filed a grievance or anything fun like that?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Friends and Family Plan

Charlie at Reedy River Falls
What's the secret to keeping a big ol' smile on your face despite the sun trying to melt it off? It's simple- join the friends and family plan. It's simple. Spend your time with the people you love the most.
How does one locate such friends and family? It's simple too. They are the people that make your heart feel happy. They don't keep score or get jealous of your time. They don't make you feel guilty if your cheesecake burns up in the oven and you bring cookies from Publix. They don't keep track of all the things you forget, they just cherish your time spent together. Everyday is a celebration when you're with them.
They call you up whenever you cross their mind and say "Hey.....what are you doing tonight for dinner?" or "Hey.....we just took an impromptu vacation to North Carolina and we want to come see you!" or "Hey....would you like to come over after work and swim in our pool??" The answer to all of the following this week- WE WOULD LOVE TO!!! No fuss. No expectations. I am so thankful for these friends, not only do they fill me with gratitude, but I am even more thankful for them now that Charlie is here. He is surrounded by so many people that love him.
Enjoying Mrs. Sharon's Pool

Playing with Sam and Seth in the Pool

Charlie meets his awesome Great Aunt & Uncle
and his charming Second Cousins from PA

Wading in the Reedy River with Kelsey