Monday, December 22, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
We went to Kohls first because they get checkout lines an hour and a half long from fifteen minutes after opening until the sales end. We got there an a half hour before opening, and had a good position in line. I ran to the toys, while my mom secured a position near the registers. I was successful in grabbing a very large and heavy set of metal Tonka trucks (this, plus my existing closet stash means Child #2 is now officially set for Christmas) plus a Rubiks cube. I ran to get the Cutlery Set next, but it was non existent. In fact, funny story, they only had one in stock. A lady that was two steps ahead of me beat me to it. Ah well. Kohls was not a first place finish.
* KitchenAid 14pc cutlery Set $29.99 - Unsuccessful
* Tonka Mighty Truck 2Pk $19.99
* Rubiks Cube $6.49
We ran to the car and high tailed it to JCP. My mom went in, but couldn't find them. After a bit of a muddle, I went in and found a Customer service guy. He pointed me in the direction of a rather hidden pile off to the side. I grabbed two and ran out. Not sure what he thought of me...
By now it was 4:30am, so I leadfooted it to WalMart for the stuff I was really looking forward to. I have to say this turned out to be my favorite stop. (I never would have gone to the WalMart near us in SoFla, too seedy and unpredictable.) It was busy, but they were organized. They were already open, so people just lined up next to the pallets of stuff they wanted. At 5am, they cut open the pallets. We walked in at two minutes to 5. Good timing! We grabbed the housewares, and soon realized we were in dire need of a cart. Mom went for that while I moved on to the electronics... madhouse, and a line had already formed for layaway. Now that is just sad. Do you really need that plasma screen TV that bad? (No, you don't.) I had recently found out Wal Mart price matches Black Friday ads, so I tried to find some of the stuff I say in the Best Buy ad. (I took all the ads with me into WalMart.) I was only successful in finding the Micro SD card. I did find a bunch of $2 DVDs though. Mom guarded the cart while I went for the pajamas and clothing. I got four pairs of pajamas at $4 each; Star Wars, Transformers, Spiderman...yippee. Fleece PJ pants for dear hubby with an obnoxious XBox logo all over them, and some turquoise ones with HSM all them for me. The best was the hoodies with fleece lining though. Luxe! Dear hubby is totally loving me because of that. He has worn his for the last two days. Check out was super quick, but I had a panic attack when I went to pay. No wallet, breathing and heart stop. AAAAH! Mom paid and we went quickly to the car. False alarm, wallet seemed to have fallen between seats. Obviously, in my marathon shopping, I had gotten sloppy.
* DVDs $2 - Cinderella Man, Grumpy Old Men, Miss Congeniality, TMNT
* Hamilton Stand Mixer $15
* 1.5 cup Mini Chopper $4 - rang up a dollar!?
*Eureka Stick Vacumn $9
*2pc Pajamas 4 pairs- $4
*Fleece PJ Pants 2 pairs - $4
*Fleece Hoodies 2 - $8
*Graphic Hoodies - $4
*Micro SD Card 2gb - $7.99
Load up the car and off we go to Target. I was disappointed in Target, but in their defense, it was a newer location. And it was their first Black Friday. I really needed the iPod dock alarm clock for sweet husband's Christmas gift, and it was nowhere to be found. Mom and I split up and combed the electronics section. I found four on the bottom of an endcap, with no sale sign nearby. I matched the upc numbers and grabbed two (one for my sister, per her request). They had unlocked all the doors holding the video games, so it was blissfully easy to get the Lego Batman game (officially done with Child #1's Christmas shopping). We also had a very hard time finding the womens shirts that were 2 for $10. They were hidden in the back of the clothes section.
* Clok iPod dock Clock Radio $29.99
* Lego Batman DS game $20
* Lionel Trains DS game $7 Unsuccessful, didn't appear to ever have been in stock
*Womens Cherokee Shirts 2 $5
*Transformers DVD $6
By now it was 6:20am. We took a break to eat at Chick Fil A, and with my many coupons we had a feast for under $5. I love Chick Fil A breakfast, and the Dr. Pepper perked me up. We headed over to Office Max next. The crowd waiting was small and very tame. I really wanted a souped up labeler that normally retails for $40, it was on sale for $10. I headed straight there, and I got one. There was two other ladies at the same time that got the only other remaining ones. (Sidenote: If a store spends all that money to put the item in their national ads, then stock it in the stores for goodness sakes! Otherwise, I will deem the store untrustworthy for next year.) I also got a 100pk of DVDs and mom picked up a 4gb Micro SD card.
Office Max 7am
*Brother PTouch Labeler $9.99
*DVD-Rs 100 pk $16.99
We were winding down, so we drove over to Home Depot real quick before going home. I got six of the $.99 poinsettias, two in white and four in red. They were beautiful. I gave two of the red ones to my neighbor and she really appreciated them.
* Poinsettias $.99
Finally, we made it home. Nobody was awake, but of course, the sound of us unloading woke the house. I had a tricky time hiding some things, but it was a very successful morning. (And I did write my mom a check for WalMart, in case you were wondering.)
And a funny sidenote, I brought my reciept with a $3 coupon from today's paper to Target, and I got $3 back for the Transformers DVD. So it ended up costing me $3 total!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
I made these back when we lived in SoFla. They are tricky to adapt from the canned pumpkin recipe, but the kids love making them (and eating them).
Ingredients: Pumpkin Cookies
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Ingredients: Filling/Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 to 5 cups confectioners' sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Beat the eggs, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla in a mixing bowl until smooth. Stir in the pumpkin. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture a half cup at a time, blending each time until smooth.
2. Drop a heaping tablespoon of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet, using a moist finger or the back of a spoon to slightly flatten each mound. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
3. Meanwhile, make the frosting. Beat together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract in a bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in the confectioners' sugar a half cup at a time, until the frosting is spreadable.
4. To assemble the pies, turn half of the cookies bottom side up and spread a generous amount of cream cheese frosting on each one. Top them with the remaining cookies (turned right side up). Makes 10 to 14 whoopie pies.
Curried Pumpkin-Apple Soup
This seems to be turning into an annual tradition. It is my favorite pumpkin recipe, and I love it as dinner on cold winter days. My husband isn't as keen. I don't use curry in it, that's up to you.
2 Tbsp Butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 large apple, peeled, cored, chopped
2 tsp mild curry powder
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups solidly packed pumpkin mash or canned pumpkin
1/4 tsp salt, more to taste
1/3 cup heavy cream
2-3 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
1. Melt the butter in a medium size pot. Stir in the onion, celery and apple. Partially cover the pot and saute the ingredients over medium high heat until the onion is clear, about 8 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and saute the mixture for another minute. Stir in 1 cup of chicken broth and cook it for 1 minute more.
2. Pour the contents of the pan into a blender or food processor, add the pumpkin, and puree the soup until it's smooth. Pour it all back into the pot, then stir in the remaining chicken broth and the salt. Set the soup over medium high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
3. After 5 minutes, stir in the heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of honey. Taste the soup, adding more salt or honey if necessary to get the desired balance of sweet and savory. Simmer it for 2 minutes more, remove the soup from the heat, and serve it hot. For a tasty touch, garnish each bowl with a dollop of sour cream. Makes 6 servings.
Sugared Pumpkin Seeds
This recipe comes from Money Saving Mom. You can see it here:
2 c. pumpkin seeds (from two pie pumpkins; rinsed and dried on a baking sheet for 48 hours)
1 egg white mixed with 1 Tbsp. water (save the egg yolk for your next batch of pancakes or scrambled eggs!)
1 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
Mix seeds and egg white mixture. Add remaining spices and mix well. Spread on greased baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees for one hour stirring every 15 minutes.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
On the upside:
-I haven't smelled poop in four days.
-I have no motivation to go out of the house, so we are saving money.
-I finally found a use for that sample tube of Aquafor that I picked up at the pediatricians two years ago. It works really well for that painful upper lip/outer nose that is red and dry from all the Kleenex use.
-I have a good excuse to sit around in my house robe and slippers.
-That tub of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blue Bell will taste all the better when I can finally eat it (and taste it. I'm not going to waste any, if I can't taste it!).
-At least I got it this week and not next week, can you imagine no taste buds on Thanksgiving?
Friday, November 14, 2008
http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/ = all sorts of fun for rainy day science/nature lessons!
http://www.starfall.com/ = LOVE this site for young kids learning to read!
http://www.hsiz.org/ = You can register for free, and get a great Fall lapbook for ages 4-8. There are also great planner pages and shopping lists.
http://www.joyoushome.com/ = Free download a day for 12 days of Holiday Homemaking~
http://www.doverpublications.com/sampler/1114a/index.html = Free samplers from Dover Publications sent out weekly, great for puzzles, coloring pages, clip art, etc.
http://www.bhg.com/gardening/plans/?esrc=esbhgreg0208c = Free garden charts, guess you'll have to wait a while to use that :)
http://www.termite.com/images/USASpiderChart.gif = Nifty spider chart
http://homeschoolfreebie.wholesomechildhood.com/ = They send out an email on Mondays with the freebies for that week, usually downloadable PDFs and some audios.
http://www.quamut.com/category/hobbies_and_leisure =I could get lost on this site for hours. It is a bunch of how to guides. I didn't even get past the hobbies section, there's just so much.
http://www.thehomeschoolshop.com/sh-freedownload.htm = Monthly free downloads.
http://www.wowio.com/ = Download free books daily.
http://www.currclick.com/?&SRC=Newsletter = They also send out a newletter weekly with free downloads.
http://www.splashesfromtheriver.com/spelling/index.htm = Free Homeschool Spelling Curriculum - 30 Lessons, middle school level.
http://gardenofpraise.com/bbspel.htm = Free Bible Based Spelling Lessons - 35 Units
http://donnayoung.org = Tons of lesson plans, calendar sheets, budget sheets that you can print for free and lots of other stuff.
http://www.kidzone.ws/ = Free printables/worksheets
http://www.squidoo.com/historyfreebies = Great ideas for teaching Middle Ages
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people, the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those whom in Thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
--Washington, D.C. March 4, 1801
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
We have been trying to catch up on a lot of things that we put off while we were saving money for submitting the dossier. One of those things was a vacuum. Our vacuum handle broke off again, and this time, it was irreparable. Instead of getting a new vacuum, we duct taped a pencil to the wiring inside putting it in a permanent "on" position, then we duct taped over the gaping hole to cover the wiring. This means that it has a shorter handle perfectly designed for a person 12 inches shorter than me, and also, it turns on automatically when you plug it in. Yes, I know what you're thinking, where can I find one of those? The sad thing is that my husband uses it more than I do, so I think it was slowly driving him mad. We having been using this "custom" version of our vacuum for around six months, and we finally bought a new one. We are really enjoying the luxury of a new vacuum - the sound, the cleanliness quality, the features! Sometimes I like to deprive myself just so that I can fully appreciate and savor the experience or, in this case, new vacuum. Can you tell which is the new and which is the old?
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Here is the list:
Page 1: Dossier Family Profile Summary
Page 2: Letter to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs
Enclosures: passport size photos of me and the hubby
Page 3-10: Certification of notary with Home Study Report
Page 11-12: Agency License
Page 13-14: Certification and Power of Attorney
Page 15-16: Certification and Power of Attorney
Page 17-18: Certification and Power of Attorney
Page 19-20: Certification and Power of Attorney
Page 21: my Birth Certificate
Page 22: dear husband’s Birth Certificate
Page 23: Marriage Certificate
Page 24: Letter of Recommendation
Page 25-26: Letter of Recommendation
Page 27: Police Clearance for me
Page 28: Police Clearance for dear husband
Page 29: Medical Certificate for me
Page 30: Medical Certificate for my dear husband
Page 31: Employers Letter for my hard working hubby
Page 32: Notary for 2007 Income Tax 1040
Page 33-34: 2007 Income Tax 1040
Page 35: Notary for 2006 Income Tax 1040
Page 36-37: 2006 Income Tax 1040
Page 38: Attestation and Declaration of Personal Conditions
Page 39-40: Bank Letter
Page 41: Certificate from Parents re: Post Placement Reports
Page 42: Copy of both of our Passports
Page 43: Form I-171H from USCIS
Enclosures: Two money order to Embassy of Ethiopia
Two checks to Department of State
Check to courier
Check to agency for certification
Check to agency for country fee, visa/medical fee
-Two page Contact Agreement, signed
-Referral Disclaimer, signed
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Hey mom, that was really funny, but I think it sort of scared my husband :)
Here is a little commercial that makes me think of my mom.
She looked just like that in the eighties, thankfully she has some real cool jeans now. In fact, my mom still looks better than the ladies in that commercial.
Happy Birthday gals!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
- Charge up anything rechargeable - AA batteries, Cell Phone, IPOD, Drill, flashlight, lantern, Nintendo DS etc. If you have a solar powered radio, they are great for after the storm, but you have to wait for the clouds to clear. A weather band radio is the best, sadly, I don't have one. Too bad I can't borrow yours, mom.
- Eat all your ice cream and popsicles and use the new space in your freezer to make lots of ice. Store the ice in big Ziploc bags. Also, freeze 20 oz water bottles. Right before the storm, put all your pricey solid frozen things (meat, chicken) in the middle and surround them with frozen vegetables, bags of ice, etc. You can also move some things you can eat in the next few days from the fridge (cheese, milk, lunch meat, jelly) to a cooler with some of those frozen water bottles. But don't waste time doing this until you lose power. The main thing is that you don't open your freezer. Keep the cold in. We only opened our freezer once a day to use up stuff that was thawing.
- I hope you have paper plates and disposable cups already because the only thing you want to wash is pots or pans. Or you can use aluminum foil for cooking. (I am assuming that you have a grill with charcoal or propane.)
- Fill your bathtub. This is overrated because you don't want to drink the water, but it will work for flushing the toilet. Even a plugged bathtub will drain the water after a day or two though. This is also a rather dangerous thing to do if you have little children, so be very careful of the drowning hazard. For those of you that want to go hardcore, you could fill a heavy duty trash can halfway (that will of course be stored in your garage during the storm) and keep a bucket nearby. If you don't have a lot of water for flushing, then everyone should use the same toilet and only flush when nessacary.
- I am assuming that you have already gone outside and cleaned up all your childrens toys - shovels, wagons, bikes, buckets. Don't forget your windchimes, birdhouses, and trash cans! If there are things outside that you can't take in, tie them together or tie them to a porch post. And of course, fill up your gas tanks! And any gas cans.
- Park your car inside the garage or right up against the garage door. If you have two cars, park them right next to each other just barely touching the garage door. This seems to lessen the wind that could blow in a garage door.
- Get your board games, puzzles, and cards ready. Put these near your safe room. Take your Very Important Papers, put them in a ziploc bag or something and keep them near you. You will also want a good radio and flashlights. This is the stuff to keep near your safe area (bathroom in the middle of the house or maybe a closet). You want to be in the middle and away from windows.
- Safety: Be very careful if you are using candles! (For bathroom lighting, I would put water in my sink and the candle the middle of that.) Be very careful if you have open containers of water near small children! Never use a propane grill in your garage! Never use a generator in your garage! You would not believe how often people die of carbon monoxide poisoning after a storm. Don't let the kids play in flood waters! Be very careful with the chainsaw!
- As long as you have no damage, you can enjoy some fun family bonding time the first few days. No computer, no TV, no distractions. Unless of course, you have yard work to do or fence repair. Sigh.
I will leave you with memories from my favorite hurricane. It hit us during a cool fall, so we had very pleasant weather. And those that went without A/C for two weeks were very thankful. (Our house was right near the hospital, so we always had electricity back within five days.)
Hurricane Wilma, where is your sting? I knew this was not another simple hurricane when I found myself helping my husband hold our front window. It would be the one window we hadn't boarded that would get the direct wind after the eye passed. It was bowing in, so we stood there pushing it with our bodies at a 60 degree angle. Looking out, I could see the minivan in the driveway getting lifted every now and then, so the tires would just barely leave the ground. I was praying that the wind would die down and not blow in the window or push over the minivan. I was also praying that the house down the street would not lose their garage door. It was halfway out and flapping, and we were straight downwind. God listened and we only had to hold it for 30 or 40 minutes, and the neighbor's garage door did not sail away. Our house stayed in tact and so did our cars. So began the alternate universe. I was kind of getting used to living in it. I had finally gotten the knack of cleaning the grill every afternoon, so hubby could cook whatever was getting mushy in the freezer (hamburgers and salmon anyone?). We have to start by four thirty, so we can have dinner finished before it gets dark. Plus we need time to heat water up on the grill for whoever's turn it is to get a lukewarm bath. The only connection I had with anything was talking to my neighbors and my radio, but I had to conserve batteries. My brave husband ventured out today and waited for two hours to get ice, water and fun boxes of food - thank you, state and federal government for the Pringles and pudding! He brought me home a treat, a newspaper. I was beginning to develop such a routine, the kids went to bed when it got dark. I usually went out to look at the stars (and to see if there was a new glow anywhere indicating electricity) It's insane how many stars I could see, I could even see the milky way it was so dark. I could tell it would soon be gone because tonight I couldn't see the stars on the horizon anymore. Iwas reading by candlelight (have to conserve the batteries) and all of a sudden the kitchen light went on. I picked up the phone and there was a dial tone. I got up and started crying. I honestly thought I was dreaming. In a wierd way I am very sad though. This has actually been a really good time. We have never gotten so much sleep, there has been no obligations, nothing to get done. There was a lot of manual labor, sure. We had to seperate our neighbor's entire backyard from ours and pull a giant seagrape out of the little fish pond. Thankfully, the palm tree did not fall on our minivan, although it stil is leaning toward the east. We have dinner early every night, and nobody is fighting. The candlelight and classical music on the radio at 8 o clock has been really nice. In fact when the lights came on, I thought they were way too bright and had to turn them off. My husband and I agreed we will have to have a hurricane anniversary and turn off the electricity for a day every year, except for the fridge. I really hope that everyone else out there in South Florida is doing well and getting by. We considered ourselves very fortunate because we never lost water. I am very thankful that we live in such a great state that is able to organize things so quickly, and I am loving FPL right now. I am thankful to God for restoring power about ten minutes after I was fervently praying for it and imagining it would be tommorrow if we were lucky.
Friday, August 29, 2008
We had more dents in our wallet than I expected, most of them having to do with teeth. My husband has bad gums and I have bad teeth. It is marginally less expensive to take care of bad gums. I went to the dentist last week for a cavity that was "the size of Texas" on a back tooth. He told me there was a small chance that we could avoid a root canal. I prayed on that small chance, and wouldn't you know it, I did not need a root canal. I still needed a crown though, so... not a big savings. He told me to take Motrin for the pain and that would keep the blood flowing to the root. Unfortuanately, three days later I started to feel a lot of pain whenever my Motrin wore off. I would compare it to getting punched in the jaw. So I went back this week, and I looked like someone had run over my puppy. I was so depressed. They did an x-ray, and he said to take super Ibprofen (sp?) for ten days because sometimes the nerve will shrink back and become desensitized. He wanted to try that before we went back in to do a root canal. Wow, I have never heard of that. I don't care if it works or not, I was just happy to put off the root canal. I am a bit curious though. If this works even fifty, forty or even thirty percent of the time, it makes me a little bitter against the dentists that gave me my last two root canals so suddenly. I swear, this is the first dentist that doesn't seem to look in my mouth (*countless fillings, five crowns, two root canals, two missing molars, and previous braces), and see his next big paycheck.
So anyway, I should be inputting items for the Little Lambs Consignment Sale http://www.littlelambs.twumc.org/, but I am procrastinating. Shame on me. We are redoubling our efforts of making money and saving, and we are still waiting to hear from Shaohannahs Hope. In the meantime, my poor husband is back to doing lots of overtime, and I am back to Ebay. Sigh. All in God's perfect timing.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
We ventured back out when the rain let up, and we drove south to check out the missions. They are all free, free, free, and there was hardly any other tourists. We visited Mission Concepcion and Mission San Jose (or San Juan - I mix them up). We would have seen them all, but they closed at five. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip, and it was all so beautiful. There is a real sense of history and God in those parks. The churches still hold mass and the bells still ring. They all date back to the late 1700s. Child #2 was obsessed with the fans that were in most parts of the un-air conditioned missions and the bells. Oh, how he loved the bells. How do you explain to a preschooler that he cannot go up to the tower and ring the bell himself? Such misery. Child #1 thought it was all pretty neat, and listened to most everything I told him. He was a little impatient, but mostly really good. Child #3 was just along for the ride in the stroller. She did feel that we were taking too long once it got close to closing time. She made her displeasure known quite loudly. And yes, if you look behind that old cook stove(?) that is a Coke machine peaking out of one of the old cloisters doorways - don't you know that those monks loved their caffeine.
We got our fingerprint notice from USCIS on the 17th, so we went the very next day. I was praying we could go while my mom was here because I had no desire to drag our three kids with us downtown to the immigration office. I have to say that we were pleasantly surprised. It was the nicest government office I have ever been too. They were all so helpful and polite and organized. (If only the DMV in Conroe was that nice.) I'm still glad we didn't have to take the kids with us though. Here is how much I like them - we got our approval letter on the 22nd! They must have sent the I171H the day after we were finger printed. Woo hoo!! Awesome! That was the last bit of our dossier.
Oh, also my wonderful, generous mother helped me have a garage sale. It was not quite as lucrative as my last one. I only made $100, but compared to some of the garage sales we used to have in Florida, that qualifies as a success. Other events: I went to the dentist and found out that I will be eating some of our savings, quite literally -root canal and crown = $700 out of pocket. Yeah, that sucks. Then I took all of our crazy animals to the vet for a much delayed visit. Annual for cat, annual for old dog, semi annual for epilectic dog = $430. Sigh, there goes my Ebay money. Sad thing is, I go to the cheapest vet in town. That was a tough few days. I kind of let a few tears sneak out, but at least, my mom was there to offer perspective.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Other highlights this month? I had my big toenail removed. Yes, it was numbed first, but by night time, it felt more realistic - like my toenail had been ripped off. I went around for a week cringing every time a child came near my foot. Despite my best efforts, I had a couple days were the toe was stepped on six times by different children and animals. I am glad to report that it is feeling relatively normal, and hopefully, the toenail will finally be normal when it comes back. (Interestingly enough this is the second time I have lost that toenail. The first time was in fifth grade when a conference table was dropped on it, but that isn't what did it in. No, I had a soccer game the next day. I got put in, so I had to play! I had to kick the ball. Afterwards, my mom stuck my purple toe in ice, but the nail came off the next day. I suspect it is a cursed toe.)
I spent one whole week doing VBS. We actually went all five days, and we were even there on time once. I helped with the Crafts. I love crafts, all the glue sticks and glitter and markers. Plus, I don't have to worry about someone messing up my carpet or using too much glue. Go for it! There was also some overlapping days of Child #3 being terribly cranky and feverish with no other symptoms. I blame it on a new molar and front tooth, but watch out, I think more molars are coming.
Oh also, I turned 30 and my daughter turned 1. Milestones? I supppose, especially when you consider what I was like when I turned 20. Thank you Lord for grace! Mostly, I am just thankful for what God has given me in the last 30 years. I am thankful for every day that I have watching my kids grow and being with my husband and loving all of them. I am thankful that my parents and sisters and brother are all still living and healthy and happy. Oh, I'm getting misty. I'll tell you why. I just finished watching Jane Eyre. It's a newer version (2006) from Masterpiece Theatre and four hours long at that, and I was leery about another adaptation of a great book. Oh, but I was wrong. I was bawling by the end of it, and I am not fond of crying at movies. But this was a good crying. The actor playing Mr. Rochester will rip your heart out. He rivals Mr. Darcy. I am not joking. It was so good that I went straight to the internet to purchase it. It will go in my closet as a Christmas gift to me (thank you honey!).
Anyway, I will tell you our progress since that is supposed to be the purpose of this post. We sent all the paperwork to USCIS. We are on the verge of sending in our grant application materials. We sent stuff to the Secretary of State to be authenticated. Some day I may run out of things to fill out and send. I am waiting to hear from the USCIS, and I admit I am starting to get a little anxious. But I repeat my mantra, all in God's time. Once everything comes back to me and gets completed, our dossier will be almost complete. We continue to thank God for moving everything along smoothly and continuing to provide for us financially.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
I went to one of those benches in the middle of the mall and called my husband.
" *sob* Don't *sniff* ever buy me a *sob* Victoria's Secret gift card again. *sniff* Victoria's Secret is for skinny girls that have nothing better to do than to blow money on smelly lotions and $40 bras. I can't shop there anymore. *sob* "
Yeah, I called my dear sweet husband and blamed him for his gift.
I hate looking like an incompetent mother more than anything else. Mothering is what I do and it is probably what I do best. It was the way those ladies were looking at me - disdain, fear, disgust, annoyance and the occasional look of pity.
Ah well, screw the mall. Let's go home. It was really stinking hot out today, and I just wanted to get everyone in the car. As I'm buckling kids in, my cell phone rang. It was some lady from an occupational therapy group calling about the coverage for Child #2, who had a SID assessment done a few weeks ago. Apparently, when she called for pre authorization, they gave her the wrong coverage information. It's not covered at 100% with a $25 copay like she told me - no - "you have a $1000 deductible and it's covered at 60%".
"Mommy, I'm thirrrrstyyyy."
$300. I could not hear half of what she was saying, but I heard that. So... I burst into tears again. "I'm sorry *gulp* I have to call you back *sob*" I can't think about this right now. In my heart I am indignant and angry. We would not have driven an hour to get the assessment for him, if she had told us the correct coverage in the beginning. This is their mistake. I will deal with it later, not now.
"Mommmmeee, I'm thirsty."
Me too. We got Sonic. Chili Cheese Coney dog, grilled cheese, corn dogs and french fries, plus a peach iced tea for poor mommy. Total indulgence. We went home and everyone felt much better. That was when I discovered that I'm ovulating again. Oh joy. Let me take this moment to revel in my fertility ability, and the fact that I am not pregnant. Well, at least that explains why I was so shaky and weepy. Yeah, it was a great day. Seriously, if you take out the whole mall part we had an awesome day. What I relearned today - 1) If you already went to the post office and then play group, then the kids are done for the day. 2) If it's after 1 pm, just go home and try again some other time.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Here's how it works:
-We need to file a Form I-600A for Advance Petitioning to bring our orphan child here (This is only for non-Hague countries like Ethiopia. For Hague countries, you would need to file the I-800. Find all your immigration forms here: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/) This involves printing out a form and filling it in, not so bad. With this form, you must include:
-Two money orders made out to either US Department of Homeland Security or US Citizenship and Immigration Services, NO abbreviations please - one for the application ($670) and one for the fingerprinting or "biometric" fees ($80 per adult over 18 living in the house)
-Copies of birth, marriage, divorce (if applicable) certificates
-Completed home study with the agency's license (I have heard of people submitting the I600A without the home study, then forwarding the home study once it was done. But I wanted everything together because this is beauracracy. The less that can go wrong, the better.)
-I also included a copy of our drivers licenses because they have requested that before, and for good measure, a cover letter with our intent and a list of enclosures.
Now that I have compiled everything, I have to mail it. I can either go FedEx or certified mail, but regardless, I have to be able to track it. Once they recieve it, they will send us a notice and also, a time to go get fingerprinted. This can usually be done as a walk in. After a period of days, they will hopefully send us the I 171H or Notice of Favorable Determination (or something along those lines). It is the hallowed piece of paper that is absolutely essential to the dossier. All this can take weeks or months. From others experiences with the Houston Field Office, it sounds like about two months, hopefully.
We also applied for a grant from Shaoshannah's Hope (a wonderful grant program started by Stephen Curtis Chapman), which also involves a tedious amount of supporting paperwork, so I will be working on compiling that as well in the next week or two. We will be praying over this effort a lot because the overtime is drying up this month (husband is kind of glad about that).
Friday, June 13, 2008
Friday, June 6, 2008
-Find the cheapest gas stations near you: http://autos.msn.com/everyday/gasstations.aspx
-Check out hypermiling here: http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/08/06/04/Hypermiling_How_to_Save_Big_on_Gas.htm
You can google the term and find even more details. Easiest savers: don't speed up and slow down, don't acclerate, stay below 55 mph (I used to laugh at this and now I'm considering it.)
-This AAA site was reccommended for long trips, but I found it rather limited: http://www.fuelcostcalculator.com/
-Fill up during the cool part of the day and don't fill up when a fuel truck is refilling the underground tanks. Don't carry around extra weight and don't fill the gas tank up all the way. Here are some other tips with explanations: http://www.funandsafedriving.com/content-11.html
-A more accurate method that I use to figure out if a trip to the mall is too expensive to make it worthwhile: First determine your gas mileage. To do this, the next time you fill up reset your trip mileage or write down the mileage you're at. At your next fill-up, write down how many miles you have gone and how many gallons you put in. Take a calculator and divide the mileage you've gone by the gallons you put in (like 320 miles divided by 17.8 gallons = 18 miles to the gallon) Okay, now you know your exact gas mileage. Now look at what you paid for one gallon of gas, and divide that number by your gas mileage number ($3.75 divided by 18 = $.20). So in this example, you're paying $.20 per mile. That means it costs a dollar to go five miles. Now what I do is, I go to www.google.com/maps and I put in the library or mall or Wal Mart or whatever with the street and city. You can usually find the location you're looking for with that much information. Once you find the destination, click on get directions and put in your home address. This will tell you the exact mileage if you take that route. At that point you can add a stop to see how far away it is or whatever, but remember you always have to add in the trip home as well. Once you now the exact mileage to go to the bank, library and grocery store all at once, then you just multiply it by your per mile ($.20 in this example) and you now know how much it costs to run your errands. This works well for figuring out the best route, whether it's worth it to drive by Big Lots as well, whether you should bother trekking down to IKEA, etc. This is what made me realize that it would cost $4 in gas to get photos for Child #3 (which I was using a $5.99 coupon for). So I decided to reschedule for a day that we could do a whole bunch of other things on the same side of town.
I try to stay away from anything even remotely political on here, but I am getting absolutely disgusted with our Congress. Do they really have no idea how bad our economy is just from gas prices? Food prices keep rising, companies are laying people off, etc. and what do they do? They sit around debating global warming, and they think the solution is to tax someone? Seriously, anytime somebody wants a bond, that money has to come from somewhere, and anytime Congress wants to tax a corporation, the corporation will just raise their prices to cover it. So I figure supply and demand, just provide more supply. We've got it in Colorado and ANWR and off the Florida coast, just open it up. And build more refineries, for goodness sake. Sign a petition here: http://www.americansolutions.com/actioncenter/petitions/?Guid=54ec6e43-75a8-445b-aa7b-346a1e096659 if you agree.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Sunday, June 1, 2008
We put on sandals and summer clothes and headed over right after we had eaten a good dinner. The weather was much better than I expected and some of the blueberry bushes were quite tall and shady. We decided to use the double stroller, which turned out great because the ground was mostly grassy or hard packed dirt. Once again, this was a hit with the entire family. My husband yielded the most, of course, but Child #1 is getting very good! Child #2 was still basically there for the tasting and exploring. The most difficult part was trying to teach him to discriminate between the green ones and the dark blue ones and the ones on the branches and the ones on the ground. I'm not sure he learned much, but he really enjoyed himself. The double stroller turned out to be helpful for hauling the blueberries. We strapped a full bucket into the front seat, and none of them spilled. Child #3 turned out to have quite a proclivity for them, and once she had a taste, she only wanted more. Yes, that's her hand in the photo.
I really appreciate this thrift store because they are open later (until 6pm) and they have carts! Although some of their prices can be high and might not be consistent, the store has a nice, wide open feel and a great selection. On the right side of the store is furniture, and toys, games and sports equipment are in the back. Books are in the front next to more expensive antiques and collectibles on display, with small appliances and dishes behind that. The left side of the store is clothes, shoes, computers, baby items and stationary. I started with the books, regular price is $2 hardcover, $1 paperback and $.25 flimsy kids books (this is very subjective so ask the cashier before she rings you up). They were having a sale, as they often do, for buy two books get one free. I found some ABeka books, Christian Liberty Nature Reader Book 2 (!), and a vintage Disney pop up book plus a few others that got me excited. Also, there is usually a table with a bunch of VHS and books that have been marked with a red X - these are only $.25 each. I also spotted some vintage comics and magazines in the collectibles section, but they were $2 to $5 each. Most of the items that they display on those glass shelves have antique store prices.
My husband and kids occupied themselves by looking through the variety of kitchen helpers. Child #2 really wanted his own electric mixer ($4), but I didn't think that was such a great idea. We moved on to the toys next. There is always a great selection of board games, and today I found Balloon Lagoon by Cranium (complete with all pieces and batteries $1.50). I am indebted to my husband and his keen eyes for spotting a vintage Fisher Price Little People pop up camper trailer ($2). There are many signs posted warning you not to leave any children unattended, but there will inevitably be some of those trying to prevent you from buying any the toys within their eyeline. Ah well, it wouldn't be a thrift store without somebody else's kids stepping on your toes (and not apologizing).
Next, we briefly checked out the clothes. The shoes are far too expensive for my taste ($5-15), and most of the adult clothes are as well. The formal gowns start at $10 and go up to about $25, but what a selection - 20 pounds of sequins, pink satin, rhinestone straps, florals! My sister would probably like them. The prices on the clothing are confusing with Kids clothing under 24 months priced seperately from Kids 2t to 5t or Kids 6t to ... Also they subdivide basic categories so collared shirts cost more than pullover shirts and elastic waist are cheaper than button. I had to refer to the prices at least seven times as I looked through the clothing, so that didn't last long. It is worth it for good baby clothing 24 months and under, since those are $1-2. I was also able to find a like new shirt for Child #1 for $2. That was the cheapest though, it went up to $3 and $4 and I didn't even look at the adult clothing.
Since we were shopping as a family, this was a relatively short trip, and I didn't get to really look at a lot. However, I was very pleased because it was only $12.99 for everything, and I bought things that we actually needed. By the way, they accept cash, check and Visa ($5 minimum for charge cards).
I highly recommend this store for it's organized set-up, kid friendly carts and variety of merchandise.
Kids "flimsy" books $.25
Board Games $1-5
Barney VHS on Clearance $.25
Fantastic Four Comic Book $2
Atrocious Black and Gold Sequined Dress $18
2 Skeins of cotton baby yarn $.25 each
8 pack of vintage cards $1.75
Burgundy Leather Ladies Boots $14