Friday, May 17, 2013

Frugal Friday~

“I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy them.”
John Stuart Mill

I have a confession to make....I have no problem putting consignment clothes on my children. 

Seriously- have you all watched how your kids play, with total disregard for their clothing??

We are big outdoor lovers and spend much time outside among the livestock, manure, and dirt.  My goal is to have them clothed,  but mainly I'm just looking for clothes that are inexpensive and will last.  (Of course, my second goal is to pick out clothes with their favorite movie characters on them because how fun is THAT?!)

To buy the "better made" clothes, I need to go to consignment stores to find the brands that I know will last, and because they are used, I pay less.  Win-Win!!

I hit Once Upon a Child and this is what I came home with. 
For Quinn:  1 dress, 2 capri pants, 8 shorts, 9 tops
For GW: 4 shorts and 5 tops.

All for under $90.00!  Many of the clothes were Gymboree, Levi, Gap, and Childs Place, so I know they are made to last.

Bottom line is...WE ARE READY FOR SUMMER!!  BRING IT ON :-)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Happy Adoptive Mothers Day

I read this and wanted to share it, because it speaks for so many of us that have traveled this journey of adoption~

Dear Mom of an Adopted Child,
I met you in adoption education class. I met you at the agency. I met you at my son’s school. I met you online. I met you on purpose. I met you by accident.
It doesn’t matter. The thing is, I knew you right away. I recognize the fierce determination. The grit. The fight. Because everything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy. You are the kind of woman who Makes.Things.Happen. After all, you made this happen, this family you have.
Maybe you prayed for it. Maybe you had to convince a partner it was the right thing. Maybe you did it alone. Maybe people told you to just be happy with what you had before. Maybe someone told you it simply wasn’t in God’s plans for you to have a child, this child whose hair you now brush lightly from his face. Maybe someone warned you about what happened to their cousin’s neighbor’s friend. Maybe you ignored them.
Maybe you planned for it for years. Maybe an opportunity dropped into your lap. Maybe you depleted your life-savings for it. Maybe it was not your first choice. But maybe it was.
Regardless, I know you. And I see how you hold on so tight. Sometimes too tight. Because that’s what we do, isn’t it?
I know about all those books you read back then. The ones everyone reads about sleep patterns and cloth versus disposable, yes, but the extra ones, too. About dealing with attachment disorders, breast milk banks, babies born addicted to alcohol, cocaine, meth. About cognitive delays, language deficiencies. About counseling support services, tax and insurance issues, open adoption pros and cons, legal rights.
I know about the fingerprinting, the background checks, the credit reports, the interviews, the references. I know about the classes, so many classes. I know the frustration of the never-ending paperwork. The hours of going over finances, of having garage sales and bake sales and whatever-it-takes sales to raise money to afford it all.
I know how you never lost sight of what you wanted.
I know about the match call, the soaring of everything inside you to cloud-height, even higher. And then the tucking of that away because, well, these things fall through, you know.
Maybe you told your mother, a few close friends. Maybe you shouted it to the world. Maybe you allowed yourself to decorate a baby’s room, buy a car seat. Maybe you bought a soft blanket, just that one blanket, and held it to your cheek every night.
I know about your home visits. I know about your knuckles, cracked and bleeding, from cleaning every square inch of your home the night before. I know about you burning the coffee cake and trying to fix your mascara before the social worker rang the doorbell.
And I know about the followup visits, when you hadn’t slept in three weeks because the baby had colic. I know how you wanted so badly to show that you had it all together, even though you were back to working more-than-full-time, maybe without maternity leave, without the family and casseroles and welcome-home balloons and plants.
And I’ve seen you in foreign countries, strange lands, staying in dirty hotels, taking weeks away from work, struggling to understand what’s being promised and what’s not. Struggling to offer your love to a little one who is unsettled and afraid. Waiting, wishing, greeting, loving, flying, nesting, coming home.
I’ve seen you down the street at the hospital when a baby was born, trying to figure out where you belong in the scene that’s emerging. I’ve seen your face as you hear a nurse whisper to the birthmother that she doesn’t have to go through with this. I’ve seen you trying so hard to give this birthmother all of your respect and patience and compassion in those moments—while you bite your lip and close your eyes, not knowing if she will change her mind, if this has all been a dream coming to an abrupt end in a sterile environment. Not knowing if this is your time. Not knowing so much.
I’ve seen you look down into a newborn infant’s eyes, wondering if he’s really yours, wondering if you can quiet your mind and good sense long enough to give yourself over completely.
And then, to have the child in your arms, at home, that first night. His little fingers curled around yours. His warm heart beating against yours.
I know that bliss. The perfect, guarded, hopeful bliss.
I also know about you on adoption day. The nerves that morning, the judge, the formality, the relief, the joy. The letting out of a breath maybe you didn’t even know you were holding for months. Months.
I’ve seen you meet your child’s birthparents and grandparents weeks or years down the road. I’ve seen you share your child with strangers who have his nose, his smile … people who love him because he’s one of them. I’ve seen you hold him in the evenings after those visits, when he’s shaken and confused and really just wants a stuffed animal and to rest his head on your shoulder.
I’ve seen you worry when your child brings home a family tree project from school. Or a request to bring in photos of him and his dad, so that the class can compare traits that are passed down, like blue eyes or square chins. I know you worry, because you can protect your child from a lot of things — but you can’t protect him from being different in a world so intent on celebrating sameness.
I’ve seen you at the doctor’s office, filling out medical histories, leaving blanks, question marks, hoping the little blanks don’t turn into big problems later on.
I’ve seen you answer all of the tough questions, the questions that have to do with why, and love, and how much, and where, and who, and how come, mama? How come?
I’ve seen you wonder how you’ll react the first time you hear the dreaded, “You’re not my real mom.” And I’ve seen you smile softly in the face of that question, remaining calm and loving, until you lock yourself in the bathroom and muffle your soft cries with the sound of the shower.
I’ve seen you cringe just a little when someone says your child is lucky to have you. Because you know with all your being it is the other way around.
But most of all, I want you to know that I’ve seen you look into your child’s eyes. And while you will never see a reflection of your own eyes there, you see something that’s just as powerful: A reflection of your complete and unstoppable love for this person who grew in the midst of your tears and laughter, and who, if torn from you, would be like losing yourself.

~~~ Through all the fostering, adoption paperwork, travel, attachment struggles, and worry, it's all been worth it, a thousand times over.  And I would do it all over again.
Love you, girls!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Frugal Friday

“There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important as living within your means."  - Calvin Coolidge
Home Repairs
Me texturing the stairway down to the basement.

As you know, we moved our farmhouse from our acreage to Loren's family farmstead about a year ago.  Since then, our home has been a running series of This Old House reruns.  Lots of finishing work to be done to the new basement and added mudroom, and repairs on the cracks created by the move.

Home remodeling is an area that can get fiscally out of hand very quickly.  Once we had refinanced our mortgage to include the added basement and mudroom structure and the expense of the move, we didn't want to add to our debt for the additional tasks of texturing and taping, painting, carpet laying, trim staining and application.... you get my drift. 

To combat this, we knew we had to follow a few guidelines:
  • We would only do future finishing work as we could afford it.  This explains why there are still rooms that are still waiting to be worked on, even ones that we really need, like the downstairs bathroom. :-(
  • We would do as much of the work ourselves, with the exception of electrical and plumbing work, because of something is going to go wrong with that, I want someone else to take the blame! 
Truthfully, this extra work has been a blessing as well as a curse.  As much as I dreaded working on the house each weekend, it has been a good bonding experience for all of us.  Once you've tackled texturing a room together, with spackling in your hair and your arm feeling like a dead weight from the roller, you are bonded for life.

Not to mention the skills we are picking up- I like learning new skills and I take pride in learning how to do a fairly good job with some of these projects.  However, there is a learning curve with all things, and the walls I textured last look WAY better than my first few attempts.  Oh the house character. 

I like that we are also modeling self sufficiency for our kids and teaching them a few of these skills- hopefully they will make use of these new talents when they have homes of their own.  There is nothing more attractive than a handy man in my book, and I'm trying to impress that on Luke so that he sees the advantages of learning how to do his own home repairs. 

Someday, his wife will thank me.

I hope our family is also learning a little about delaying gratification.  Yes, we could've had all of these things done right away, paid someone else a bundle for it, added to our debt load, and our undone house wouldn't be inconveniencing us now.  But maybe this is teaching them some patience?  Maybe it's showing them that they don't have to live in a house right out of Better Homes and Gardens, with everything in it's place and arranged shabby chique. 

I believe there is merit and a feeling of self worth in working to create something, especially when it's your home. Working together as a family to build a home- it's what kept the pioneer families together, right?  And if it was good enough for the Ingalls, then it's good enough for the Johnsons.