Monday, December 9, 2013


We are so happy to report that our long-awaited matching approval occurred just about a month ago.  As of 11/12/2013, JKL is OURS to adopt!

The estimate we were given is that travel usually takes place 5-7 months after matching approval, which puts us at mid-April to mid-June.  So much waiting.  We are praying that it is on the early side!

We have been busy busy busy with paperwork!
There has been more government paperwork to file with USCIS, and we have been working on grant applications.

If you would like to help us bring our son home, my Lilla Rose business has helped us raise funds to this point.  They make the greatest hair jewelry:  flexi-clips, hairbands, bobby pins, hair sticks, flexi-ohs, and you-pins.  The clips can also be worn as scarf pins! Everything I make goes to help fund our adoption.  Click on the graphic below to do some Christmas shopping!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Lilla Rose Sale!

One of the ways we've saved for our adoption is through my direct-sales work as an independent consultant for Lilla Rose, Inc.

Right now, everything at Lilla Rose is on sale through Sunday!  Everything is 10% off, and some select items are 15% off.  Additionally, if you are new to Lilla Rose and order at least three items, I will get you a fourth item of your choice (up to $16 value) for free!

You can shop at

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

PAP (Prospective Adoptive Parent) Waiting Questionnaire

Becca over at Milk & Honey Living has been posting this ‘Waiting Questionnaire for the Adoptive Mother’.  I thought it was great, and I’d like to do this here once a month or so!

How long have you been waiting? Our home study was completed on March 28th, we identified and committed to a specific waiting child on April 23rd, shipped our dossier to Hong Kong on May 31st.  And we’ve been married almost seven years and hoping for children the whole time.  I guess we’ve been waiting anywhere between four and a half months and 6 years 10 months, depending on how you look at it.

How do you feel this week? Honestly, I have been really antsy and getting frustrated.  We were told that the official matching approval would come within two to four months after the dossier was sent, and that Hong Kong's process was consistently within that time frame.  It has now been four and a half months.

What’s been on your mind? I’m thinking on where to get training on g-tube feedings and supplemental oxygen for our little guy, since he requires those for the time being.  Once the match occurs, we’ll contact our county public health department and go from there.  I also wonder if our little one is a morning person or a night owl, and how our dog will adjust to a child in the home.

What are your prayers for this baby? I have been praying daily that he is safe, his needs are being met, and that we will be matched and travel SOON.

What are you doing to prepare? I’ve been de-cluttering the house to prepare for the influx of baby/toddler gear!  I’ve started a pile of things for our future son (baskets and blankets) in the guest bedroom, which we’ll covert to our child’s bedroom.

How are you taking care of yourself this week? I’m trying to get back into working out five days per week.  I did Rip’t Circuit yesterday and Speed 2.0 today.

Nervous about anything? Yes, I’m nervous about why this match is taking so long.

Dreaming about/Looking forward to this week:  I am praying that this match is coming any day now!

New Baby Items:  I haven’t bought anything lately.  Over the summer I got an ERGO carrier and a Seven sling, plus an adorable and hilarious t-shirt that I just couldn’t pass up!  I was also nice and got him a Colts hat, on behalf of my hubby the Colts fans.  Now I need to look for a Packer something for our little dude.

What is your number one recommendation for those in waiting? Pray and read Scripture. Find things to do and keep busy! 

Monday, September 30, 2013

One Year Ago....

It's about to be October and the early days of autumn.  The weather is what I consider ideal - breezy, sunny, with highs in the high 70s and low 80s and very low humidity.  Fall is a time to remember.  I often ponder the "Seasons of Life" when the seasons change.

Right now, I'm remembering this time last year.  It was excruciatingly, painfully emotional.  Within a week, a friend of ours died, I got terrible news about my extended family that resulted in my uncle going to jail, I got correspondence from the final agency in our state that placed adoptions from South Korea and learned we would not be able to adopt from them.  My heart broke, and I ran to our bedroom to cry and kick and scream.  I thought that was the end of any possibility to adopt.  Did I mention that my husband was gone at a conference and that I got strep throat at the end of the week?  Honestly, it was the worst week of my life.

Then, a friend of mine  posted a portion of Matthew 16:24 as his Facebook status: "If anyone would come after Me, let Him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me."  And, well, that ceased any thoughts of anger or hatred towards God.  I was hurt and struggling and felt so spiritually weak, but I knew we were doing the right thing.

How far we have come in a year - from deciding to give domestic adoption a try a few weeks after that terrible week, to returning to international adoption through a completely different plan, to finally deciding on Hong Kong despite our agency's hesitation, to committing to a special needs child, to now - waiting for matching approval that looks like it will come any day now (we got word last week that it is being written, along with some updates on the child we have committed to).

That being said, my message today is:  Don't give up.  Don't think a pursuit or a dream is ended when all doors seem to be shut.  Never doubt that our God is greater and more powerful than all things of this world, and He can use the most desperate and dark of situations to let His glory shine though our lives.

Psalm 71:20 has long been my favorite Scripture:  "Though You have made me see troubles, many and bitter, You will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth You will again bring me up."


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Frugality: Living on One Income

Recently, I came across this article.  It says that having a parent (but this could apply to one spouse if a couple is childless) stay at home while one works will either work really well or it will fail.  He then goes on to say that the stay-at-home parent/spouse must be doing money-saving activities during their time at home in order to make it on one income.  I would say that these activities are simply part of a frugal, financially responsible lifestyle, but maybe that’s just me.

At any rate, we have lived on one income for the majority of our marriage.  For the first three and a half years, I worked while my husband attended (tuition-free) Seminary and studied for hours after class.  After that we moved for his vicarage.  During that time, our rent and utilities were covered by the church, and our health insurance premiums were covered by the Seminary.  I worked part-time at the church preschool.  After tithing and taxes, all of my salary went into our adoption fund. Now, he is a pastor and I work part-time (I worked full-time as school was in session for the past two years).  We have continued to live on his salary while saving all of mine.

With this method, we have saved over $25,000 over the past three years.  Our adoption costs are estimated to add up to about that much, so now we are saving all my salary towards our next car (mine will need to be replaced in the next few years).

Here are “money-saving tips”, or simple frugal practices, that have worked for us over the years:
-Budgeting.  My DH is SO GOOD at this.  He sets a budget and we both stick to it.
-Home haircuts for DH.
-Home haircuts for me, or very minimal salon cuts (by minimal I mean like twice a year trims).  No extras like highlights (I did get them once as a birthday present) on a regular basis.
-Making homemade laundry soap and other homemade cleaning products.
-I make my own deodorant now. 
-I use shampoo/conditioner every second or third day, and alternate with baking soda/vinegar or a homemade dry shampoo mix.
-Asking for new clothes or gift cards to buy new clothes for birthdays and Christmas.
-Minimal vacations, except to see family.
-Not getting alcohol on a regular basis, whether from the store or when out to eat.
-Minimal eating out.
-Making meal plans and grocery lists.
-Buying simple food – we eat lots of chicken and eggs.  I have never bought steak or anything luxurious like that.  I guess it helps that we’re allergic to shellfish.
-Baking things from scratch.
-We generally use our credit card for everything.  This is an easy way for my husband to track our spending and making sure we are staying within our monthly budget.  Plus, we get rewards points, which are a nice bonus!  I know there are mixed opinions out there on credit cards and stewardship, but it works for us because we have literally never had a balance or late payments.  We have always been able to stay on budget using plastic.
-Buying used vehicles (I admit, our parents helped out a bit here) that we could pay cash for.
-Utilizing cheap entertainment – we like watching a movie, going for walks or hikes, and reading books.
-Avoiding a gym membership by getting workout DVDs that can be used over and over again.
-I’ve sewed or crafted lots of Christmas and birthday presents.
-Only going to the doctor if we are seriously ill, i.e. a sliced hand, strep throat, or when DH had a nasty -flu and ended up rather dehydrated and needing IV fluids.

What We Haven’t Done
(Disclaimer:  I include these methods, not to knock them or those who use them, but to help demonstrate that what works for one family doesn't work for everyone.)
-Coupons.  For quite awhile we couldn’t even afford a Sunday paper subscription to cut coupons.  When I was able to get ahold of one, it seemed like I would just buy stuff that was a good deal, and not because we needed it.  I ended up wasting money on things that weren’t good for us, that we didn’t use or didn’t need.  Our grocery bills were lower when we didn’t coupon.
-“Get paid to shop” apps.  I have a couple friends that do eBates or iBotta, etc, but I just haven’t.  Again, it feels like I would spend money to get money back, which isn’t good stewardship. 
-Cut certain extras.  We do have internet (which I consider a necessity as we live six hours away from our closest family and don’t have friends in this area) and cable.  I would love to try dropping the cable, but DH refuses.  As long as we can afford it....
-Government assistance.  We may have qualified at some point, but we sure don’t now.  We would have to be pretty desperate to go down this road.

What frugal tips do you have for saving money?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Whole30 – Long-Overdue Update!

So much for updating along the way with our Whole30 challenge!  We finished several weeks ago, went back to eating forbidden foods (on a very limited basis) for a little over a week, and now are back on Whole30 with a few exceptions.

My goals, and reflections are listed below:

1.  Cut out the cravings for sugar and grease.
This was the biggest change that I noticed.  I still long for fat and sweets; however, when I did indulge afterward they tasted completely different.  Coca-Cola was disgustingly metallic, my oatmeal peanut butter snack bars were overly rich, and a brownie in a mug was grossly sweet.

2.  Cleanse!
Yeah.  Eat ground flax meal on a regular basis and you will be cleansed.  We added a tablespoon of flax to our smoothies, and I rolled chicken or tilapia in flax, then cooked the meat in coconut or olive oil.  Delicious and very high in fiber!

3. To identify any other dietary headache triggers that one or both of us may have. (I have already identified MSG, aspartame, and excessive food coloring such as in Skittles as my migraine triggers)
I didn’t find any other triggers, and still got headaches.  This revelation was frustrating, but at the same time, it’s good to know that I can’t do any more, diet-wise, to reduce my migraines.  I hypothesize that the remainder of my headaches are due to things like weather (barometric pressure/humidity) and hormone cycles.  Unfortunately, these cannot be controlled.

4.  Segway into a healthier way of eating.  We pretty much eat a standard American diet, save for avoiding the items I listed above in number three.  I think we each manage about one vegetable and one-two fruits per day, and I want to do better than that.

Done.  My cart at the grocery store is now loaded with fresh produce, meat, frozen fruit, and eggs.  I use almond milk instead of cow’s milk for cooking.  I will eat cheese once or twice per week, but it’s a small amount, and way less than pre-challenge.  We don’t buy soda, flour, or sugar anymore.

5. Get better sleep.  I've testimonials of other people that have conquered this challenge and said they slept much better on this diet.  Since I still struggle with insomnia now and then, that'd be nice.
I saw no change in my sleep.  Disappointing, but again, I guess it’s good to know that I can’t do anything else with my diet to fix my insomnia.

One unexpected quality that I gained from this challenge is confidence in the kitchen.  I’ve been less afraid to experiment in the kitchen, and have had to force myself to learn how to work with unfamiliar ingredients such as flax seed, coconut flour, etc.

Our workout challenge (Focus T25) is going great!  I feel so strong and am really seeing better muscle tone.  We are on week seven of ten.  I’m both looking forward to the end and worrying about how to continue this level of fitness.

Between the two challenges, I lost eight and a half pounds during the first week and about two more in following weeks.  I gained a few during our week off and am still working on getting back to that initial number I lost, plus lose more!

Adoption Update: Waiting to be Matched

I feel like I need to apologize for the lack of updating.  At the same time, apologizing seems silly because there really hasn’t been much to update anyone one. 

We did receive “supplemental questions for matching approval” from the Hong Kong government’s adoption unit on August 2nd.  They wanted more information, such as photos of the inside of our home; a picture of our dog, how big she is, and how she handles children; more information about our community, etc.  I think we received it on a Friday, I tackled it over the weekend and our Hong Kong worker had it by Monday morning.  The good news is, our paperwork is being processed, and hopefully we have an answer soon.

Obviously, it is hard to wait.  I don’t feel nervous 24/7, but my heart does a little jump every time the phone rings, and every time I check e-mail I’m hoping for a message from our agency’s Hong Kong worker.  Matching could happen any day now….

While we wait, I am praying.  I pray that ‘our’ little one will be matched with us SOON, that he is safe, and that his needs are being met. 

In other news…I’m back to work. Thankfully, my request to be part-time this year was honored!  I go in on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  I love that I have plenty of time to prepare healthy food, clean, work out, bond with our little beagle, etc.  The time has even been found to play piano and read for fun. I need to turn off the TV more often and make time for those hobbies.  My husband is just keeping busy with two churches.  His busy season (school year) is about to start, so we are trying to lay low and conserve our energy.

In closing, I have been reflecting on Ecclesiastes 3:11 lately - "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end."