Monday, October 31, 2011

Moving to cash only

So we have decided to move to a cash only system again. We did this once before we started the adoption process, and then stopped although I don't really remember why we quit. It may have to do with the fact that our bank is 15 minutes away and it seemed annoying to drive to get cash and the fact that it is just so easy to swipe our credit card, even though we always pay off the balance each month.

But we're back on the cash only wagon. I take out cash every two weeks that we need for our living expenses. If we want something but don't have the money, then we don't buy it. I would love to say that we are saving all sorts of extra money, and in a way we are, but we have to pay off medical bills from Truitt's birth, and so while it is good that way, it kind of stinks because our saving account is not getting larger, and I will tell you that I feel much better about everything when we actually have stuff in the savings account!

We originally took a Dave Ramsey class where you move to cash only, get $1000 in the savings account and then pay off all of your debts from that point on. This was around 2009 after all the mass chaos of 2008 happened. But instead of paying off our debts, we fully funded our emergency account in case something happened with the economy. Then we felt called to adopt and when we changed programs, things happened differently then we expected them to and we ended up using almost all of our savings. :(

Now we are in the process of boosting that back up. It will definitely help to get the tax refund this year, but knowing that almost everyone is getting audited and that many did not get their money until the last couple of months, it won't do us any good to know that we are getting thousands back from the IRS when we can't access it.

I tend to be a glass is half empty person, and so when I stop and think about our tiny savings account, it gives me anxiety. Moving to cash only has helped a lot with this, because for some reason that I can't figure out, I hate parting with money from my wallet as opposed to swiping a card. Like today, the kids and I went to the store. Ava needs new snowpants and they happened to be on sale. So we had her try a pair on. Even though I know that winter is coming and that we have snow for like 6 months out of the year, it just about killed me to spend $25 on pants when we don't have snow. But I know what will happen if I wait, they will all be sold out and she will be out of luck. Due to situations like this, moving to cash helps me avoid purchasing things that I don't really need. The other thing that helps me with this is to just stay out of Target. Those two things alone are helping me immensely!

The hardest part about moving to cash only is that first initial using cash. You know that you have to have enough money to pay off last months credit card bill and enough money for your current needs. If you don't already have enough in your savings account, you could be strapped a little tight, as in eating Ramen several nights a week. But once you get past the initial pain, it works really well.

We cheat a little bit, Chris uses the debit card to buy gas, because he likes that he doesn't have to go into the station to pay since he is already so busy going to and from work and this saves him time. And I like to order vitamins and items off Amazon, so I use my Amazon credit card for that. Other than that, we don't use credit cards for anything.

Who knows, maybe all of this will lead to a really large savings account and we can go on that trip to Italy that I have been dreaming of and that it seems like everyone I know has been going to Italy except me! I am a world traveler in my dreams, and to be honest, I have gone to several interesting places, Uganda, Belize (twice), Honduras, Mexico, and Canada (I know you may be thinking that Canada doesn't count but we had such an amazing time there!). But there are so many more places I would love to visit: Italy, Australia, France, Istanbul, Greece. I better stop there because I think I could go on and on. I am hoping that heaven will be an amalgam of the most beautiful nature of all the countries in the world. Of course, it will be more amazing than that, but my mind doesn't work like that, and I can only try to imagine earthly things in that context!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bean Burritos

If this is what bean burritos look like going in,

I am not real excited about seeing what they look like coming out.

We aren't cloth diapering Moyz and Kembia. We totally planned to, and then once we got them home and dealt with parasites and the fact that they both poop several times a day, and the fact that cloth diapers are about a bazillion dollars a piece, we opted not to cloth these two.

We do, however, plan to cloth diaper Truitt. I have 18 fuzzibunz and bumgenious diapers all lined up looking so pretty in all the nice colors we picked. But we were given so many disposable diapers as presents that we haven't had a need to use them yet.

I may sound slightly pathetic right now when I confess that I have wanted to just "try one out and see how it goes", but then I think that it probably isn't worth all the effort at this point just to use one and then wait for what still will be quite some time since we still have lots of disposable diapers yet. In my mind, why pay for heat and water if you don't have to?

Now I realize that this makes me sound completely non-earth friendly, but to be honest with you, we are still using paper plates the majority of the time. We don't have a dishwasher and paper plates save me tons of time with dishes, although I did just promise Ava that once we ran out of the current paper plates I would no longer be using paper as our regular plates. She has formed a "save the earth club", probably in direct response to my conspicuous consumption. Of course, the only two people in her club are herself, and her 55 year old great aunt who lives one hour away and will probably not be much help in picking up garbage from the local parks as Ava hopes to do.

Anyway, that is our diapering saga, now the only thing I can think about is that sweet little jingle that goes: "Beans, beans the magical fruit....." (you know you love that song!)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stool test negative

Yep, no parasites on tests number 6 & 7. So, where that leaves us with little (seriously) miss Kembia is that we are just going to watch her. The U said that let's give her until November when we go in again and see if she loses more or gains some. They want to account for a different scale at two clinics, as well as her increase in mobility, even though she isn't walking yet, she crawls like a crazy woman. Which sometimes she is. Like today where she played with herself and the nipple of a bottle in front of a mirror in the living room. She thought she was hilarious, and I thought I should have video taped her.

Other than that, I found the awesomest DIY counter top ever. I realize that it may not be for everyone, but it is for me. Now I have to convince my hubby that we should do it in our bathroom. I think I have shared pictures of it before, blue tub, old fake blue veined marble sink top and tile in the shower, and a remodel is not currently in the Nelson budget, so here is what I found this morning while I wasted time eating breakfast:

I think this is an amazingly awesome idea, and perfect to go over my ugly faux marble sink top. And not all that expensive when you consider the cost of the pennies involved! Although perhaps the epoxy and the rest of it might add up a little bit, but I still think it will be quite cheap.

And for Neil, who I know when Kelly shows you this, will say "not in our house", you better watch out! Someday I may come over and start decorating your place!!

What do you guys think? Chris says that I am a tad bit eccentric, so this probably won't surprise him too much, but we will have to see. These are the types of ideas you find and love when you have a slight decorating problem, but no budget to do it with!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Last week we had a doctors appointment every single day except Friday, and we were supposed to have an appt. that day but it got moved. How tiring. I have a strong suspicion that this is my future life- going to endless doctor appts. with 5 kids in tow. Perhaps that would be my own personal hell, except I know that I am going to heaven, so funny as that thought is, I don't have to worry about that!

And hopefully here when the kidlets catch up with vaccines and everything else we are monitoring, we will significantly reduce the amount of time in the office. Of course, the upshot of last week is that Owen is getting ear tubes. So we now have that to deal with.

Then there was the paramedic that I chatted with at church today. We were talking about Kembia and her weight loss and how she eats like a horse, and he suggested that perhaps she had a tapeworm. That his experience with them, and that has only been with adults, is that they eat and eat and fail to gain weight. Interesting. And disgusting. Has anyone dealt with that before? I am going to call the U on Monday and run it by them and see what they say.

Other than that, I have folded no lie, about 10 loads of laundry since yesterday. I am tired just thinking about it, and I am halfway serious about just gathering up all of the socks in the house and throwing them all and starting fresh. They would all be the same, no pattern, no color, no anything extra. Just all the same, accounting for different sizes and then I would not have to spend hours trying to match them.

The only other thing that I can think of right now through my exhaustion is when I was talking to Chris about the possibility of going to Kingston, Jamaica for a mission trip next spring or summer. And then I discounted it because "Owen would still be on the boob". And then I realized that I said the wrong child, and Chris almost had a heart attack laughing at the thought of me telling people that my 5 year old son was "still on the boob" and that is why I can't go. Does anybody else completely mess up their kids' names? We have so many that I cannot keep them straight. I even called Owen, "Kembia". Although that was the first time I messed up names plus gender.

Somebody put me in a rubber room.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Conferences and more Poop

Ava had her fall conferences last night. I have to admit, I started getting a little embarassed at how much her teacher LOVES her. As in, she must be a teacher's pet because she went on and on about how great she is, and how helpful and sweet and so smart.

Now don't get me wrong, I love it that she is doing so well, but I have never sat before someone who talked about Ava in that way. And most of the time I was thinking "Why isn't she always like this at home?"

Ava is the top reader in her class by a long shot, she has more than double the AR points then the second highest reader. The third grade goal for reading is 30 AR points by the end of the year. Ava has 23.8 and it's only October. Oh, and she reads out loud 201 words per minute.

Aside from that, we are up to our ears in poop. Both Moyz and Kembia are having parasite tests run again. Moyz to make sure they're gone and Kembia to see if she has them and perhaps that is why she isn't gaining weight. This will be her 6th and 7th test.

Ava and Owen don't even bat an eye anymore at poop vials on the counter. When we dropped one off today Owen responded that "they got that one done fast" I still am finding it gross to scoop poop out of a diaper, but hey, diapers are pretty much my life. I cannot wait for them to be potty trained!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Another round of checkups

Kembia and Truitt had checkups today.

Miss Kembia was in for her 15 month check up. She did pretty good. She has finally made it on the regular growth chart, 4% for head circ. and 1% for height, but unfortunately, she lost almost half a pound since the last time we were in and isn't on for weight. I just don't understand it. She eats like a horse. I am amazed at how much food that girl can pack in. Now I know that part of it is because she is moving around so much, but she is only 16 1/2 pounds at 15 months old. Her doctor said the most important thing is to try and make her chubby, but aside from taking her to McDonalds every night for supper, I feel like we are doing good with giving her high calorie foods. We slather butter and peanut butter on just about everything she eats. I would try the cream instead of milk but she still will not drink milk in any form so we do lots of cheese and yogurt. Aside from the weight thing, she is doing really well and her doc. is very happy with her.

Of course, there was the small detail of the fact that she had a double ear infection and pink eye. I swear we had no idea about the ears, she never acted like anything was going on, and the eye we knew was gunky, but it didn't seem too red until we were in the doctors office. At least now we can treat her and pray that pink eye doesn't go to any of the other kids.

Truitt is doing well too. About the 75% across the board. If only there were some way I could alter his eating-every-two-hours-during-the-day schedule. It is exhausting. Oh well, at least I get a 5 hour break at night.

The two kids got a total of 8 shots between the two of them, and Owen and I got our flu shots too. Owen was so proud of himself, he told me that he almost cried but didn't. He wanted to be a good example for his brothers and sister. So then we went and got a donut at the hospital cafeteria which Owen loves. Whenever we are out doing errands he asks if we can have lunch at the hospital. Weird.

Monday, October 17, 2011

5 kids smiling in a photo? No way!

I had the brilliant idea of taking pictures of all 5 kiddos for our Christmas letter in a great, big pile of leaves. Well, it didn't work out so well. It is almost physically impossible to make 5 kids look in the same direction at the same time.

We pretty much dumped all the kids in the leaves and then started taking pictures. You really need a third adult. One to take pictures, one to put kids where they need to be, and one to stand behind the photographer and make silly noises so the kids look at the photographer. We only had two, and thus the following pictures:

We spent forever and a day trying to get a good shot of the kids, didn't happen. I think we are going to have to recruit someone. And now all of the leaves are gone so I guess it will have to be a winter shot, which will kinda suck. Jackets almost always look dumb in winter shots, but you can't exactly go outside in just sweaters for too long, especially with 3 babies.

But I did get the following shots which I think are cute.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Peer Pressuring my 4 year old

Owen is very particular about his clothes. He has a certain "style" and doesn't fluctuate too far from that.

The other day we were in Target and they had the most awesome polos on sale for $1.98 can't beat that for a brand new shirt! I picked out a couple for him to try on and he told me that "he doesn't like shirt with buttons".

So then I told him about two boys a little bit older than him who go to our church, and that they wear shirts with buttons and always look super cool, hoping that this would sway him to like the shirts.

Nope. He turned to me and said "But Mom, I am a different person"! What? How does a 4 year old not bow to pressure from his mom about two older boys that are pretty cool? I have to admit I started chuckling, and am a fairly proud of him that he stood his own ground.

Then last night, a moth got in the house and he tried to catch it because "He wants it to just live its life and eat and we are starving him in our house". This is also the boy who at 2 told the cable guy when he was burying our internet cable in our backyard that "He didn't think his dad would like what you are doing to our yard"

I so wish that I would have written every single thing this kid says down in a book, I have some of them, but there truly have been some crazy things he has said. My all time favorite/most embarrasing, and I may have shared this before so sorry if you already know it, is when we had our big meeting with the social worker to do our home study for the adoption, and Owen is playing with his pants and says to me and Chris proudly "My penis is the biggest it has ever been! It's huge!" I could have died right there on the spot. Luckily, our social worker was a little older and I am not sure that he heard him, or he was able to do a remarkable job of not letting on that he heard him!

Gotta love that boy!

Monday, October 10, 2011

I Love Noisy Toys

I know, you are all thinking, are you out of your mind? But hear me out.

With our first two kids, noisy toys were the bane of my existence. Once those batteries ran out, oops, the toy "broke". Sorry kiddos, no more noise. I would actually request that people not give us noisy toys. No way Jose.

Then, when kidlets 3,4 and 5 came along, boy did I change my mind. The below toy is from a lady at our church. Her daughter used it several years ago, and she got it from a garage sale, so who knows from what decade it hails. At first when I saw it my very first thought was that it was huge, and in no way was I going to keep that monstrous thing upstairs, I would relegate it to the basement and it could be a playroom toy.

However, this toy has saved my life. It now holds a permanent place upstairs in our living room. It has come in handy more times than I care to count, especially in that first month when Kembia would freak out ALL THE TIME. I once sat and watched her push the same song button over and over again for almost 10 minutes. She has since moved on to all of the other buttons, which is the key part of this toy. Everything on it makes noise, and sings and flashes. It totally rocks. If you ever see this toy at a thrift store or garage sale, fight women out of your way to to get it. You will not regret it. Unless, perhaps, it is for your first child, and then it may just drive you insane.

We also have put to use several other toys.

1. The keyboard.

This one is especially annoying, I mean good for kids, in the fact that there is no off button on the top, and there are a zillion demo songs on it that they can play and rock out to. It also starts songs at top volume. Super fun, but my kids love it. And really, when you have 3 kids under 15 months, what's more sound with the screaming?

2. Musical Turtle.

This was a present when Owen was born. It sings classical music and moves so kids can catch it. It also asks you things like "where is the purple triangle"? Perhaps if it was in French my kidlets would understand it, but for now they like the music and flipping it onto it's back. Poor Turtle.

3. Musical Ball.

This was a present from my brother and his wife for the kidlets. At first, I will admit, I thought it was the dumbest thing ever. This was mostly due to the fact that my kids couldn't figure out how to move the ball and have it make noise. Now, they push it around and rock out to the songs. There are other learning options on the ball like counting and colors, but we're not at that point, so for now we just listen to the same songs over and over again, and the occasional screaming at one another when the other is hogging the bal.

I do often wonder for how long their fascination with noisy things will last. Cause as much as it makes me happy that they are entertained and not freaking out, there are days where if I have to hear one more toy sing I just may need to spend some time in a rubber room!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Green Card!

Well, the post-placement social worker visit went good, exactly like the initial home study- you worry and clean like crazy and then it's very low-key and over before you know it!

Kembia's green card arrived in the mail today. Yeah! I have been wondering where it was. (Moyz's hasn't come yet) We ended up calling USCIS last Friday to figure out what was taking so long and they opened up formal inquiries. Monday we got notice that hers had been issued, but nothing for Moyz. I called again today to see what was going on and they said that they have looked into it, but that it is just talking longer than hers. Don't know why, they haven't requested any more info. so I guess we will have to wait and see.

Have to admit I shed a small tear when I saw her cute little baby face on the card. She has changed so much, and somehow holding that green card seemed to make it feel even more final that they are home and ours, and almost Americans. We hope to go to court for the readoption in late October or November.

Looking at her little picture made me think of her birth mom, whom she looks exactly like. We can look 20 years down the road and see our daughter. It also made me think about how her birth mom sang her the song about having a mommy and a daddy and that she was an American now, when Chris met her in Congo. That still brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it. I wonder how often her birthmom thinks of her and what she is feeling now. I pray that God gives her the peacefulness of knowing that we love her little girl more than we can ever express.

I have been thinking a lot lately about how we will talk to Moyz and Kembia about their birth moms and the decisions that they made. As well as talking to them about their country. Our kids' moms have very different stories and some of it will be hard to share. I know that sharing will come in stages as they mature and are able to handle the information. I wonder if they will want to meet their birth moms, we have their names so it could be possible. I wonder what Congo will be like when they are old enough to go there to try and find them.

So many questions and wonderings, but nothing with answers. And that's okay.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Social Worker Cometh...

Tomorrow is Social Worker Day. So for today, that means extremely frantic, running around with your head cut off like a chicken, cleaning day. because my house is a DISASTER. (Still working on the whole cleaning thing...)

It also means hoping that Moyz's nose heals where he fell on the cement and smashed it up pretty good, and hoping that Kembia doesn't have another day like yesterday where she screamed every time she was in the car, around the entire zoo, and if I wasn't holding her. For reals, I bet she spent 3-4 hours screaming yesterday. Super fun. But the moment we got home, she was good, so I guess for whatever reason, it was too much deviance from her normal routine for my little pint size person.

I am also hoping that the social worker doesn't ask our kids too many questions, I can just see it "mom makes us throw away the diapers, and we have to put the pacifier in Truitt's mouth if more than one kid is screaming and she can't get to him." Or the latest one "my mom makes us go down to sleep when the babies go to bed" well, you have school the next day and need a lot of sleep, hence you all go down together. End of story! Hopefully my children will say wonderfully sweet things like "my mom is the best mom ever, and she is totally rocking 5 kids, and always does things correct and awesome!" Okay, that is probably not coming out of their mouths, but I can dream right?

Today clean, tomorrow we will probably spend the majority of the day outside or away from the house so the kids can't mess it up.