Next stop China

Next stop China
Next Stop China!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Found dog!

Don't I feel silly.  The last time I saw Chloe, we had come home from Mom's this morning.  That was around 9am.  So we just went outside to take a walk and I was getting some bug spray out of the van.  I opened the door and here comes Chloe.  She had been in the car all day.  She's lucky it was a cooler day here in Alabama. Very happy!

Something is fishy or we have terrible luck with pets.

When we moved into this house a little over a year ago, we brought our dog Princess, who looks like a yellow lab mix, and our 3 cats - Cotton, Lily, and Calico.
Cotton and Lily hate each other (even thought they are mother and daughter).  So as soon as we moved in, Lily moved to the woods behind our house and I see her about once a month scurrying through the woods. Cotton and Calico liked each other and hung out on either the front or back porch together all the time.
Then  about 5 or 6 months ago, I went to the pound in search of an inside dog.  Princess will NOT come inside without us dragging her while she shakes in fear.  So we found this cute little pug mix and named him Frodo.  He was not a puppy and such a sweet dog. I loved him.  Then one day he was outside and we never saw  him again.  Don't know what happened to him. Saw no trace of him, he just disappeared.
I waited a month or two and we went back to the pound and got a dachshund mix puppy and named her Chloe.  She has been more of a pain due to her scratching doors and whining at night. Thankfully we have a 2 story house with a basement and when she is in the basement we can't hear her in our bedroom.  I love that dog too.  And I haven't seen her since 8:30 this morning.  Which doesn't sound bad except that every time we open the door, she comes in, then if we open the door she shoots out, back and forth 100 times a day. Always ready to go in or out. 
About a month ago, I worked 2 days in a row and didn't notice until the end of the 2nd day that I hadn't seen Cotton or Calico.  Who normally are under my feet trying to trip me whenever I go in or out of the house. And 2 of Cotton's kittens had died, probably of dehydration/starvation.  One was still alive and we tried to save it with no luck. 
Never saw a trace of either cat. 
I don't know what is going on, but it is weird.
Princess is still here.  Lily has made an appearance a few times since her rival Cotton is gone.  I don't know.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Camping and Co op

The girls went on vacation with Aaron's parents to Pigeon Forge last weekend.
After this was already planned and hotels booked, our class at church decided to go on a camping trip about 3 hours away.  We decided to just take the boys camping and let the girls go on their vacation.
We had a great time. Aaron and I used to camp back when we first got married and lived in the mountains of NC.   We had not camped together since I was pregnant with Madelyn 13 years ago. 
We had a great time.  Pretty cheap vacation.  And now that we have camped with kids, we want to do it again.  It wasn't too bad.
The worst part was that it started raining at 9:30 Sat. night and rained almost all night.  Therefore, all of our stuff was muddy and wet. 
I think that our camping buddies from church also set a record.  Apparently, the campground doesn't have a limit on the number of tents on each campsite and they managed to fit 11 tents on 3 campsites.  We only had 2 on ours.  It was pretty crowded, but soo much fun getting to know everyone.
The boys did wonderful. I guess they were so worn out that they both slept great the first night, all night long.  We had 12 Boy Scouts as neighbors.  Not good.  #1 they took our soccer ball from our camp and we finally got it back the next morning when we saw it at their campsite. #2 they all got up at 6am and were SCREAMING at the playground next to our campsite.  Not just playing, but screaming, constantly. After about 30 min. one of the ladies with them finally told them to be quiet, and of course, they weren't.  BOO to this Boy Scout troop! But even the Boy Scouts didn't wake the boys up.  Then they took a 4 hour nap in the tent on Saturday afternoon. We let them sleep, thinking we would be up late Saturday night.  But then the rain came at 9:30 and everyone went to their tents. Even with the long naps, the boys went to sleep pretty quick.
The worst part was trudging to the bathroom every time the boys needed to go.
At one point, Ethan had hardly drank and Aaron had just taken him 15 min. before.   Well, we were eating lunch with our friends who shared our camping spot.  Ethan and Seth were sitting in their lawn chairs eating (Ethan apparently can't handle sitting at a picnic table with not back, since he fell so much we banned him) So Ethan comes and says he has to pee. Seemed like each time the boys got bored, then all of a sudden they have to pee. So I told him to wait, I would take him later.  Well, a few min. later I look over to Ethan sitting in his chair with a very concentrating look on his face.  I said "Ethan, what are you doing?"   He said "I'm Peeing".  And sure enough, he peed a river.  OOPS.
And the boys also got their first yellow jacket stings.  Ethan got it first right under the eye and started screaming.  Aaron saw him flick the bee away so he knew what had happened. About the time I picked him up, Seth got it on the back of the ear.  So he commenced to screaming. It wasn't funny that they got stung.  The funny part was that Seth's ear swelled up so big it looked like a cartoon ear.  unhuman.  Ethan's eye swelled some, but not near as much as Seth.
We went to our new co op yesterday. I think it went well. I also think as it grows and expands, it will get better.  I will probably write more later, but right now I am wasting dishwashing time.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


I exercise.  I know by looking at me, it is hard to believe, but I actually do.
I do it for health and  I do it so that I will be healthy for my husband and children.
I would do it to lose weight, but apparently that doesn't work for me.
For instance, a few months ago, for at least 6 weeks straight and it might have been longer, I walked/ellipticaled/exercised for 1.5 hrs a day at least 4 days a week.  Not one pound lost!  Not one!  However, towards the end of that 6 weeks, my triglycerides were down 30 points from a year ago.  They aren't really high now, but they were slightly elevated before.  And that was my only abnormal lab.
I had been doing the MOVE series off .  This is a website I LOVE!. 
Joining a gym is out for us.  It costs too much money and I just don't have 2 hrs a day to devote to driving there, working out, extra shower, driving home, etc. and I know I just wouldn't want to leave the family every night to go work out, IF I could even fit it into my schedule.
I saw an article about a month ago and I don't remember where, so I can't link to it.  But it made a point that cardio is good, but you have to have weight training to build muscle to lose weight.   The article also said that if you go to a gym, the overweight people are trudging along on the ellipticals, treadmills, etc, while the ripped, thin people are on the weights. Hmm!  He did have a point. 
And when I was thin in college, I did lift weights, (in addition to playing every intramural sport, running, and going to the fitness center almost daily)
There is  a section on Daily Burn that is call Tactical Body Weight Training or TBT. Aaron had been doing these, but I hadn't.  It is an intense workout where you use your weight as the weight to build muscle. I have been doing it at least 4 weeks.  I could tell a difference in my arm strength after two weeks.  I can really tell a difference after 4 weeks.  Have I lost weight.?  Why no, of course not, that would be too typically human to exercise and lose weight. I have to be atypical.
But I do like feeling stronger.  My legs have always been my strongest.  Seriously, before I even started this I could do 10 squats with Aaron on my back.  And carry Aaron on my back up the stairs without breaking  a sweat.  ( I know, weird ways to occupy ourselves) He weighs 155.
But I can tell a difference with my legs too.
A huge plus that I was not expecting...
About a year ago, my calves, ankles and feet started swelling.  not too bad, and probably not even enough that a person that didn't know what my legs looked like before would notice.  But I noticed. It would be really bad after working 12 hour shifts. I know some of that is normal, to swell a little.  My doctor went ahead and did an Echocardiogram to rule out heart issues.  Heart was normal!  So she put me on this little diuretic pill. Which I did not want to take, but I do.
It was dependent edema, caused by gravity.   For instance, the week I had bronchitis, my legs were the smallest they had been in months. no swelling at all because I had been in bed and not on my feet.
Well, back to the benefit of this weight training exercises... I started noticing that my ankles and feet were smaller.  All this building of calf muscles is promoting better circulation in my legs and I have even skipped my pills a few times because I didn't need them. Soon, I expect I can throw that prescription away!
All this to say that I am sore.  I had a weird 2 day summer cold last week, couldn't exercise, then I worked 2 12 hr shifts, which exhaust me, had a headache one day and was just plain lazy another, which all ended in me skipping a week of TBT.  I started back two days ago. I hadn't lost all my strength, but OH am I sore.  But it is a good sore, that perhaps I will work out today.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Aaron and I have a ministry out of our own home.  It is to raise our 5 children to be on fire for God.  To be more than church attenders and good people.  Our ministry is to school our children.  Our ministry is to raise as many children as we can.  Children who would have no hope without parents and a family.  I have realized that part of this ministry is to pay off our debt so we can adopt again, which requires me to work a lot.
At this time in my life, I have a lot going on. I realize that we could all say that. 
I have 5 children. 
I am homeschooling these children.
We are starting to get full swing into fall soccer.
And back to our ministry.  We both realized that with all this debt hanging over our heads....leftover from the adoptions, house repairs, and our car...that we can't adopt again or help any more children until it is gone.
Why, because I would have to work even more if we added more adoption debt to what we already have.  Probably full time, which I could get in 3   12 hour shifts a week, which leaves me exhausted for the rest of the week.   And very stressed out and irritable.  Aaron and I dream of how nice it would be for me to only work 3 days a month ( which is my minimum) and be home the rest of the time.  With time and mental energy to relax and enjoy life instead of stressing so much.  If we get rid of this debt I and fundraise for the next adoption, I should be able to work minimal hours.
Here we are to the point of all this...
I don't need another thing to stress about.  I don't need another responsibility.  And when I tell you nicely, that I don't want that other responsibility, don't ask me to do it again.  And when I tell you nicely again, that I am not taking over that other responsibility, don't call on a Saturday, put my husband on the spot (who was there BOTH times I said no) and wrangle him into doing it, thereby wrangling me into doing it.
Do you realize that I have 2  45 min sections of time every week, that I can sit down, listen to a Bible lesson, with people my own age, and mingle with Christians my own age and NOT have a child in my lap or trying to get my attention and distract me from worship and study.  THAT IS IT!  1.5 hrs a week for this if you count Wed. night and Sun. morning . 
Unlike all the retired people at church, all the people whose children are teens and can take care of themselves for a few hours, all these people could easily have friends over to their house for uninterrupted chat time or Bible study or supper.   We can't!  And I am not complaining that we can't.  I love a big family.  However, esp. on Sunday mornings, that 45 min that I sit in class without interruptions, after getting 5 kids ready for church and driving 20 min. is such a blessing to me.
And someone wants to take that away from me.  Ahh!
I know that it isn't as personal as I am taking it, but AHHH!!!.
So Sunday morning, instead of looking forward to going to worship and class, I had to pray and bite back bitterness and irritability.
That apparently, you can't politely tell anyone no.
I don't like this position I have been put in.  Someone asks nicely.  I, knowing that while we are paying off this debt, I am stressed to the max, that I can't handle 3 year olds on Sunday morning and I really do need that 45 min. class. So I tell him no.
The next week, because the teacher is late again, perhaps not showing up, he asks again, I tell him no again.
And then 2 weeks later, he calls the house on a Saturday, asking Aaron to fill in the next day, and being put on the spot, Aaron says yes. 
I don't know how to say NO again without being rude.  And I feel mad because I have been nice twice and he won't take NO for an answer and I know that next time when I am rude, then I will look and feel bad, when if he would just take NO for an answer I wouldn't be put in this position.
Seriously, what makes you continue to ask the person at church with the most kids to teach over and over when they say NO?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Got my 12 hours in on Friday and Saturday.  The pickings at home for meals were scarce and didn't leave much choice. However, Aaron looked on the bright side and said that it was easier to not have many choices and to just cook the minimal food that was there.  When you see firsthand what other people have to eat just to survive in other countries, you realize you have no right to complain when there is plenty of clean, fresh food you can eat, you just may not get to eat what you want to that day.  Anyway, I had a grocery list that was going to send me to Aldi and Kroger, since there were a few things on my list that are unavailable at Aldi. Like rice milk, kale, and a few other things.
I remembered that Kroger had sent me some coupons in the mail. I dug those out and had a lot of coupons for things that were on my list including free eggs and peanut butter, and other things that were cheaper at Kroger with these coupons they sent. So I ended up going at 8pm last night when I got off work. The girls went with me and we got home about 9. I was feeling pretty good when I left the house, but was feeling pretty awful by the time I got home.  But I survived.
I had a small list for Aldi, so Aaron agreed to drop me and Natalie off on the way home from church, go get gas, then come back and pick us up and go home. This was very hard because we are always starving.  But we all had a cheese stick on the way home to get us by until lunch.
I am proud of myself with our new budget.  I added the food up today, as we put it in the cart, knowing that I had $75 left in our 2 week budget for food.  We even put some items back because I really didn't want to go over.  But, alas, I ended up spending $77 today.
We started this budget almost 4 weeks ago. Our goal is $600 total in groceries every 4 weeks (we really do 2 week budgets, so $300 every 2 weeks)  I ended up spending around $575 on groceries - $270 the first 2 weeks and $305 this past 2 weeks.  That includes paper products, cleaning products, etc.  It can be done! 
The girls are leaving Thursday with Aaron's parents to go to Pigeon Forge.  I know they are going to the Titantic museum. Not sure what else they have planned, but I am sure they will have a great time.  I think I will try to get 3 school days in this week before they go.  We are on day 20 I think.  So we have somewhat of a headstart.  That will give us a  buffer for sickness, me working, vacations, etc.
Think I will go back to bed. I was in bed for a while and couldn't sleep. Now for a 2nd try.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

We went to our new Co-op meeting yesterday at one of the member's houses.  It was at 1pm about 40 min. away.  But even at 1pm and the boys missing their naps, they did real well. The house was very big and plenty of space for the 25+ kids to run around and play. There was a play room right next to where we were meeting where I told the boys to stay and they did real well.  Only slept for about 20 min. on the way home, so they got to go to bed at 8pm.  They don't normally stay up much past 8pm, and surprisingly, Ethan wasn't too whiny.  We didn't leave until 4pm and because of rush hour traffic, didn't get home until after 5pm. 
I am terrible to always 2nd guess myself.  I feel confident in this change, however, I don't want to really get into the reasons for it with everyone that asks me. I think this will work out well.  The girls seemed to enjoy playing yesterday.  It is just so hard to leave old friends.  Myself included. I started thinking yesterday of the few moms at our hold Co-op that have adopted, or are fostering and how nice it was to talk with them each Friday. There, I do it again, start 2nd guessing.  Like Aaron said, the decision has been made, go with it.
The girls have struggled with it too.   I reminded them that when we changed churches a few years ago, the girls were upset.  And for a while really missed the old place, but soon enough, they all at some point, made it a point to tell us that they were glad that we changed. 
We only did one day of school this week. I planned to do 4, but Tuesday, I ended up working 7-4.  Yesterday, I really didn't want to rush around before we went to the meeting and today, I think we will enjoy the summer a little and go to the splash pad before it storms this afternoon.  It has rained a lot this summer and that means a lot of inside time.
Seems like it is always time to go to the grocery store.  Ugh!  I might go today, if I can work on my list at the splash pad. I am working 12 hours the next two days, so I can't go then. Then we get into Sundays, which are sooo busy. Aldi is on our way home from church.  About 2 miles from church, about 15 miles from our house, so it takes up all afternoon to drive back after coming home and eating, then back home again, then back to church again.  Perhaps, if I have my list ready, Aaron would be willing to stop on the way home from church. Bad thing is, we are all starving by the time church is over, it would be hard to have to stop at the store.  We'll  see.  We went through 7 boxes of cereal since the last grocery run.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Saving money on groceries!

I was so sleepy after working 2 12 hr. shifts that I went to bed around 9pm last night. I could hardly stay awake. Of course that meant I was up at 5:45am.  I am also fighting allergies/cold/ or sinus infection. Not 100% sure which.  I woke up stopped up yesterday morning and my head was clogged all day. I  took a Claritin this morning and I am starting to feel slightly better.  Natalie was having a leftover "I didn't drink enough water" camp stomach ache and was lying on the couch alternating between moaning and sleeping before church, so we decided to stay home.
Actually, we took advantage of the no tax on school supplies and went to Wal-Mart to get her something to help her stomach get back to normal and I went ahead and spent my $50 I had budgeted for school supplies this week. I hope I got enough for the whole year.  You can get a lot of school supplies for $50.  Walmart is pretty empty on Sunday mornings.
Not much else planned for today other than church tonight and the older girls have a devotional afterward.  Hoping my head will clear up enough to do my exercises.
I also wrote the checks for the rest of the bills due in this 2 week budget.  Since Aaron got paid yesterday.  Looking at the bright side, I have enjoyed this challenge of staying in the budget.  I am such a nerd.
I am spending SOOOOO much less money on groceries. I don't even know how much I was spending before, but I am know that I am saving at least $200 a month, possibly up to $400 a month.  .
This is by making a detailed menu of 7 dinners and desserts, making a detailed grocery list from this menu, adding breakfasts and Aaron's lunches to the grocery list, shopping at Aldi and only getting what is on the list.  I make the "hard" dishes on the days I am home.  Normally, I would buy a lot of premade, processed food, easy to make for Aaron while I am at work. I save the easy dishes and leftovers for Aaron to make or cook. He can follow any recipe if he wanted, but his goal is easy and the least amt of time in the kitchen. I love to cook, so it works out good that way for us. I also take all leftovers for my lunches at work.  I have to take a lot, since I leave the house at 6am and arrive home at 8pm at the earliest. Even eating in the cafeteria at work at a discounted employee price adds up.
Aaron went to Aldi with me Friday.  He was amazed that the full grocery cart was only $151.  I am too lazy to do a price comparison, but guess that I probably save about $50 shopping there when I fill up the cart. The bad thing about Aldi is that they don't carry everything.  For example, rice milk, I have to go elsewhere.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Bit of Irony

I forgot to post about this earlier.
I had mentioned that we were changing home school co-ops and one of the reasons was because the girls hardly got any of their classes that they wanted.  The reason I knew this was because the Co-op had sent out the list of classes that had filled up on Monday (our sign up date was Tuesday morning).  Most of the girls' 1st and 2nd choices were already full. 
Like I mentioned before, I am terrible at making the final decision to stay or leave somewhere. I finally emailed both the new co-op and the old one. 
Less than an hour later, Madelyn got the mail and in it was a letter from our old co-op, with a list of the classes the girls got in.  And come to find out, Madelyn got her first choice in classes, Natalie got her first choice  in classes. Poor Hannah got 3rd choice in all her classes. So that wasn't a good excuse to leave anymore.
However, I had already sent the emails and I feel good about the decision still.  I am glad that I sent the emails before getting the mail though, because I would have really second guessed myself.

USCIS Fingerprints done

Aaron took work off today and Mom watched the 3 kids at home while Aaron and I drove to Birmingham to have our fingerprints done for USCIS.  We were only there about 10 min.  and we were done, ready to drive the 1.5 hrs back home.
Getting our USCIS fingerprints done is exciting, however a little depressing seeing how we have so long to go before affording this adoption.  But there could always be a miracle and someone pay for our adoption or somehow we pay our debt off real, real quick.

Aaron and I then went to Aldi, where I only went over by $1 on the groceries for the week.  I can make up for it next week, since we are doing 2 week budgets. Aaron HATES to go to grocery stores, but he was sweet this time with minimal irritation :)

Oh yeah, the other day when I went over all the repairs in the last year, I forgot about having to replace our hot water heater and buy all new tires for the Montero.  :(.  I knew there were things I forgot about.

I never did get finished going through our old file cabinet.  Maybe tonight.  I haven't felt real great today, so I may just lie around tonight. Working 12 hours the next two days!  Money, money!