Friday, August 29, 2008

Inevitable Delays

I've been a bit bummed lately because it has become glaringly obvious that it will take another two to three weeks before we have the money for our dossier to get sent off.
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, 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

Adoption Progress Report for July

We have everything for our dossier, so we are just waiting for the last bit of money to submit it. We had a lot of pitfalls this month in our quest toward saving. I mentioned most of them in my Summer Vacation Report, and my husband didn't get much overtime. He got a small bonus, so that was a blessing. Despite all that, I think we will be able to submit our dossier by the end of this month, but I'm a little trepiditious about the financial situation it will leave us in. We're praying for it, and we're also praying that we would hear from Shaohannahs Hope soon. I am still hoping that we may be able to get a small grant. Either way, hopefully I will have big news for you in the next month! After that, I will go more in depth about Ethiopia and our process, so you know how it works. Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement!

My Summer Vacation Report Part 3: July 28 - Now

No time to relax. There is painting to be done. We painted a mural on one wall of the boys bedroom last year. It was supposed to extend onto two walls, but we ran out of time. I was determined that it would finally be completed this summer. My mom does wonderful murals. She does all the landscapes and people and I do the brick walls. I am very good at bri and I am a perfectionist about color. I used about 27 shades of gray, maybe more. She completed the inside, but I didn't finish the stone bricks until today. I told you I'm a perfectionist. I wonder about the color of that volcano, maybe I should tweak it to a more burnt umber lava...

We also celebrated a birthday for Child #2 by going to the best place on earth - Chuck E. Cheese. We invited some good friends of ours to join us, and I used oodles of coupons for pizza and tokens. It was kind of predictable: the kids loved it, I got hoarse from trying to talk and couldn't hear what anyone else was saying, we stayed too long and the kids had a breakdown when it was time to go. We did get a pretty neat souvenier though, only one token and we actually fit six people into the picture! That took some doing.

My sister arrived on Aug. 1 for a whirlwind visit. We went to lots of thrift stores, and we all found some great treasures, especially at Nearly New at Conroe where they were having a fill a bag with clothes for $1 sale. I actually found clothes for me. That's unusual. While she was here, we found out that there was an article in the Miami Herald about her and her husband and other artists. Check it out here: If you look at photo gallery there are more photos of them and their art. Awesome! Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of places that we could go because it was about 100 degrees outside. Then the day before she left we had a mild tropical storm, so it was rainy all day. We all thought it was sort of funny how people were all running to Wal Mart for supplies for a tropical storm. We got dinner at PF Changs. I keep a permanant supply stockpile, so I don't panic anymore. We have a joke in south Florida about how anything less than a catogory 3 isn't worth getting out of bed for.

My husband and I got in a last date before everyone left. We tried to do something nice for our eleventh anniversary, but it turned out that there was a John Mayer concert that was clogging all the streets and restaurants. We went home and tried again the next night. That worked better. We saw the Dark Knight, which honestly, was kind of a waste of money. Total downer. I'm sure the critics thought it was a great movie, and Heath Ledger was such a good actor that you really think he's psychotic. But it was scary, depressing and demoralizing. I don't pay big bucks for a critically acclaimed movie, I pay to have fun. You know what my favorite movies this summer were? Ironman: Really FUN, Wall-E: FUN and Really heart warming. Also, Penelope on DVD, it's uplifting and funny. Okay, that's my tangent. Just wanted you to know that my husband and I wished we had gone to see a mindless, fun popcorn flick instead of Batman. Don't make the same mistake.

Also, I finally got a new crock pot last weekend! The 7 qt went on sale for $20 at Kohls, so after eight months of waiting and watching, I finally have a giant slow cooker. I am now able to cook a whole rack of ribs, a whole pork loin, a giant beef brisket or two whole chickens, not sure that will happen, but still, it's nice to know that I can if I want to. I am finally catching up on laundry and house cleaning, and Child #3 has been teething (molars!). Back to work! I am still not getting enough sleep though because my husband and I are currently reading Breaking Dawn. It's 750 pages long and we're not even halfway through it. I don't mind though, I love Stephenie Meyers books.
July's progress report is coming soon, just a little late :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

My Summer Vacation Report Part 2: July 23-27

This was a big week. We took our long-planned-for trip to San Antonio dragging my mom along for fun. I really do think she had fun... I'm pretty sure. Now since we are saving money, or rather, just not spending it, we only had three days and two nights there. We loaded up the minivan with all the kids, grandma, one giant suitcase, and lots of snacks, games and DVDs. We thought if we left early in the morning, we would have plenty of time on our first day for sight seeing. While this might have been true, it also meant that the kids started to get cranky much sooner, and we couldn't check into our hotel until the afternoon. We drove around the city on a very dreary, grey, wet day trying to make up our minds about what to do. Oh, did I mention that we went right when Hurricane Dolly was on top of Texas? We ended up going to a swanky shopping center that looked very pretty from the highway. They had lots of stores that I would never shop at, like an expensive granola store called Whole Earth. Now, when I say granola I am describing a type of person, not a food. They sold $100 sandals, which came in leather or the vegan version (synthetic). We spent most of the time using their bathroom. They did have an awesome baby carrier called the Ergo, which I tried on and salivated over. It's $92... I thought that was ridiculous, surely it would be cheaper on Ebay. (Much to my dismay when I got back home, I found out that $105 is what it costs online. $92 would be a used one on Ebay.) Ah well, something to wish for.

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.

The kids did not go to sleep easily that night. They probably weren't used to all sleeping in one room. I really don't want to remember it. That night, I got to sleep next to Child #1, who took the longest to fall asleep and then proceeded to spin around and around. I was woken up from being kicked in the head and in the ribs at different times of the night. It was similar to when I was pregnant with him.

Day 2 was all about Six Flags Fiesta. I had some free tickets and some BOGOs, so for three adults, two kids and a baby, it was $80. I thought that was pretty good for a theme park. On the downside, it was hot and crowded. Seriously, why isn't there more shade and benches at that park. I wanted to pass out by 1pm, but I soldiered on (for the children's sake). They had oodles of fun. Child #1 is cautious, and really enjoys mellow rides, like trains and little airplanes that go up and down. Child #2 is not cautious. He will go on most anything and is usually limited only by his height. He sat in the front of the log flume with my husband and was totally unfazed by the drop. His favorites are things that spin around and around, like tea cups and the carousel. Child #3 mostly rode in the stroller. We actually made the mistake of trying out the attached water park in the afternoon. This should definitely not be done on the same day as the main park. First of all, they put the kiddie pool and play area at the top of a big hill! So now you know why I came so close to passing out. After pushing the double stroller up about five stories worth of ramps, I was done, but the kids all wanted to get wet, including the baby. It is a mother's nightmare - large open area, teeming with people, plenty of places to lose kids. We only stayed an hour or two and by then, we were all running out of enthusiasm and energy. I am proud that we spent only $5 in the park. We let Child #1 play a $5 guaranteed to win fishing game, and he got to pick out a nice sized teddy bear emblazoned with the Six Flags logo. Totally worth it. We ended the day on a wonderful ride that my sons called the Tornado, not sure if that was the real name. It was a lovely breezy ride that swings you around in circles. We rode it a few times in a row because thankfully, no one else had discovered this gem. I do love to swing! All in all, it was a big theme park, but I have been spoiled by Orlando. It just does not compare to the quality of Islands of Adventure or Magic Kingdom. And there were bees everywhere! They were by every trash can and they would come investigate your stroller if there was any food uncovered. Every time I tried to sit down, they showed up. I saw one poor girl burst into tears after getting stung and Child #2 also got a nasty welt on his foot. I am glad it didn't bother him as much. I was grateful that no one in our family had a bee allergy. Seriously, can't they afford pest control - there was red ant problem too. That is just one of the things that differentiates the great Florida theme parks.

Thankfully, everyone went right to sleep at the hotel that night, and I got to enjoy cable! Psych and Monk are such a treat to someone that only gets three channels with her bunny ears at home.

We headed out the next day and made the all important trip to the Alamo. It seemed like a requirement for people that have never been to San Antonio. Although the Alamo is free, downtown parking is not. We found a parking lot nearby that charged $1 for the first hour, but then the price jumped to $6. So that was the challenge. We do so love a challenge. We synchronized our watches and jumped out of the van. Bear leash for Child #2 and umbrella stroller for Child #3. Child #1 holding grandma's hand. Let's go! We did a whirlwind tour, and even had time for souvenirs. And boy do they have souvenirs. Lots of plastic, made in China, doo dads stamped with the Alamo. We settled for two crushed pennies, a clicky camera key chain that you can look into and see photos of the Alamo (aside from the crushed pennies, the best deal by far at $1.75) and a lovely poster that shows the Alamo when it's not totally swarmed with tourists. Did I mention how crowded it was? There was not enough room to move. It is fortunate we had a time limit because I don't think I would have wanted to stay longer. I really enjoyed the missions a lot more, they seemed more authentic and less touristy (also less crowded). We got back to the car and out of the parking garage with six minutes to spare. We drove north and after a few indecisive stops ended up at Wonder World in San Marcos. I was drawn to it because it reminded me of Rock City in TN. I have fond memories of my mom taking us to Rock City and Ruby Falls. It was a splurge, even with a coupon it was $70 for all of us. It was lots of fun though. We went through a cave. Child #1 went via Snugli. She enjoyed it a lot more than her first cave experience at Mammoth Cave. Child #2 had the bear leash, but I still kept a firm hand on him. I have lots of fears and caves bring out the worst of them. The stairs are steep and the hand rails inadequate, but thankfully, nobody slipped. So why do we explore caves? We all love it. It is something so amazing to see God's handiwork in forming the layers of the earth. Plus, natural air conditioning. Then we all went up to the tower, where you can see the hill country to the west and the flatter plains to the east. There is a fault line that runs under that seperates the areas. It is a whole lesson in geology. Next we drove through the "Mystery Mountain" to feed deer. Thanks mom for buying us all deer food! We all got to hand feed them and still have time to take lots of photos. I especially enjoyed sneaking a feel on the antlers of the young bucks. Velvety. Then it was time to go and we finally got home. It was the longest, most action packed three days that I have seen in a few years. I swear I am still trying to catch up from it.

My Summer Vacation Report Part 1: July 4-22

Okay, I wasn't technically on vacation, but I was on hiatus from my blog and most emailing. I dove deep into listing on Ebay and I made almost $300 for the month off of miscellaneous book lots. I specialize in book lots, and they are my favorite thing to ship (very easy to package). My mom came to visit for three weeks. I wasted no time utilizing her babysitting services. My husband and I went on a date her first night here. I think she was really eager to visit our kids, so I thought heck, we should go to dinner and a movie and let her have fun with them. (Thanks mom!) We saw Wall-E. Yes, it is a fantastic date movie, and I teared up at the end. If you don't, then your heart is made of stone. I hope it wins lots of Oscars.

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.