Wednesday, March 27, 2013

sobering

Last week was a sobering one, as we learned that Brad's cousin's wife, who has an almost-5-month-old baby boy, had a brain tumor that was found to be aggressive and malignant. She had surgery last Thursday morning to have it removed, but there will be a great deal of recovery needed (although she's already home!), and they are still waiting on official results regarding the specifics of the tumor. No matter what, she (Rebekah) her husband (Adam), and their sweet baby (Brayden) will continue to need to be lavished with prayer, positivity and probably help with meals, childcare, etc. as Rebekah focuses on getting healthy and strong. 

Please pray for them EVERY DAY, as thousands of people are doing already. As we learned throughout our adoption process and the early entry of our second son, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16) Rebekah is a spitfire with a lot of fight in her, and she has a multitude of people pulling for her and praying her through this, so please join in the story God writes. 

As Bradlee said on Facebook, we will take a cue from
Brecken and Brayden and get through this together. 

On a similar note, we got to spend some time with little Brayden (most chill baby ever!) last week while Rebekah was in the hospital, and let me tell you, having three kids is tough! Brayden is a sweet little guy, but his cousin Brecken is sometimes a "diva" who likes to have attention on him at all times. Having three kids to bathe, feed, change, and cuddle makes a lot of other daily chores virtually impossible. (So we enjoyed it and let the house suffer the consequences.) **Shout out to Adam's parents, who managed 3 kids--twins Adam and Jared, and 16-months-older Melissa--every day of their lives!**

Brecken and Brayden got in some nice cousin time! (Seems to me they both like to cuddle!)



However, the next day Bradlee noted, "I'd be ok if our next adoption went in slow motion." I would say we aren't QUITE ready for three babies. 

However, that didn't stop us from putting in a pre-application for a home study update (the very first step in the process of adoption). We are hoping this process goes at a nice, easy pace to allow us to get grant applications sent out all over and hopefully get some grant money to help with our next adoption. (People keep asking me if I was really serious about adopting again...there's your answer.)

Friday, March 22, 2013

budgeting 101


Lately, we've been making some strides in the budgeting department. Honestly, our financial life has been so crazy-ridiculous with the adoption and then the medical bills from Brecken's early birth that we just kind of lived, bought what we needed and sometimes what we wanted, and paid bills. I wouldn't say we were foolish with our money (we didn't do a lot of things that we would have liked to do), but we weren't consciously evaluating EVERY purchase the way we should have been (even though I've always been kind of a cheapskate in most areas). Now the dust is beginning to settle a bit from the entrances of our baby boys, but with the desire to adopt again in the future (uhh, or NOW, if i'm being honest) and the generosity of some of our friends who have already offered to help us raise funds, we feel that it's even more important to make sure we are accounting for each dollar.

I've been doing some research...started reading America's Cheapest Family for more ideas to try to help streamline the budget. It is an interesting read, but I feel like I've already gleaned a lot of useful information from a few blogs I've been reading lately. I've also been tracking my spending (particularly on groceries) and keeping tabs on best prices in the area. (Why is there not an app for that, or at least a hashtag...#417frugal, anyone??). In my tracking up to now, I've found that we spend waaay too much on food each month. Trying to change that.

One way I'm trying to change that is by giving menu planning a try. Listen, don't judge me if you already knew this was a good idea....I knew it, too, but our lives have always been so ridiculously busy that I would have failed miserably and never tried again. Now seems like a good time to try. Also, driving to the grocery store, sifting through the store, putting groceries away, etc. is such a pain...I'd love to only shop for groceries once a month, so that's a goal of ours. We go to the store at least once a week right now, sometimes 3 or 4 times. Not cool.

Internet, cell phones, and satellite TV bills are also killing me (killing my psyche more than anything). I get so frustrated watching our rates increase for no reason and feeling pretty helpless in it. However, I'm thankful to have learned a helpful lesson from our first adoption: speak up! Now, if I don't like the way a business is operating or treating me and it affects me in a big way, I am much more likely to let them know, not by screaming or shouting, but by being assertive and telling them exactly what I feel hasn't been right and how they can make it right. I never would have done that before because I wanted to be nice. I have now called DIRECTV and CenturyLink NUMEROUS times regarding our increasing rates. After about the 7th call (I wish that was an exaggeration) and a false promise about reducing our rates, CenturyLink finally credited us $20 and took $20 off our monthly bill from now on. However, we will see if they "forget to put that in the system" like last time. Now I'm going to give DIRECTV another call.



Do you do anything to save money? I'd love to hear some ideas from others!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

getting it done

Last week was spring break in the lotz household, so we had a few things we tried to accomplish in our "free time." However, i always fail to recognize the additional time it takes to complete average tasks with two kids in diapers in the house.

here's the original list from each of us, as determined through email the last few days of work leading up to the break:

brad's list--
till the garden
buy new seed potatoes for garden
get new water tub ready for garden
get battery tested and fixed for mower
fix up the chicken cage (chicks are coming in the next few weeks)

jenny's--
adopt 3 kids from the Congo
clean out garage
sell barnwood (recognize that from my President's Day list? yeah....about that...)
create under stairs storage  ?? (this involves building a support system and cutting through drywall, making a door, etc. a large task for us given our daily routines with the boys.)
taxes (finally got our 2011 refund about two weeks ago)
renew car license
get stuff from my parents' basement (oh wow...I know how to accumulate a lot of junk and paperwork!)
visit amish store (some great prices, particularly on baby food and formula!)

Here's what we actually got done:
cleaned out garage (I wish I had "before" pics because it was ridiculous. My brain doesn't function in disorder very well. Also, as a side note, I LOVE organizing and would do it for money if there was a market for that...)

Brecken helped by hanging out in the carrier. 


sold barnwood beams (a couple drove down from STL to pick them up!)
got a few more tax documents in the mail. did nothing with them, so we should probably get on that.
got some stuff from my parents' basement (i spent a long time going through old letters, barbies, baby dolls, etc.)
tilled garden and planted seed potatoes
cleaned out our closet (not on the list but SO NEEDED!)
sent in paperwork for the very beginning of an adoption process (I'm trying to give myself plenty of time to send it grant applications after our home study update is complete, since we didn't have time to get those in with Brody)
took the boys to a Bears baseball game
played with my boys:


relaxed with my boys after they got tired of playing:







Sunday, March 17, 2013

Some things never change

While sorting through tons of old papers, memorabilia, and toys from my parents' basement, I ran across a few documents that only affirmed my belief that I'm supposed to be sharing the joys of adoption. Allow me to share...



See? 
I've always been into adoption.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Brody is 2!


I'm blogging with two boys asleep on my lap. It's about the most heart-melting thing you'll ever experience...to have your kids willingly curl up in your arms and snuggle. And to get both of them there at the same time?! It truly melts my heart (partly because I'm pretty sure all three of us are sweating, but whatev).




Couple of exciting things happened this past weekend. 1- Brad and I, along with my cousin and her husband and about 1,500 of our closest, crazy friends, ran in The Gladiator Mud Run. Definitely the most exciting thing I've done without the littles in a while. At what other time in a woman's life is it completely ok to play in the mud and look downright silly climbing ropes and walls, then run up and down major hills for no good reason?! Never! So I lived it up and enjoyed every muddy second.

After the run. Yes, I'm kissing the medal like a boss (or a nerd).

Last week I tweeted that I was "about to go all 'here comes the boom' and start cage fighting to raise funds for adoption." Well, I would also mud wrestle or mud race as a fundraiser (not that anyone would pay money to see any of that, but hey, it would be fun stress relief for me!) I feel like my background as the youngest and the only girl in my family and as a former athlete (notice: former) would make me somewhat decent at any of those activities. Maybe?? Probably not.

Anyway, on to the other exciting weekend event: Brody turned two. (What?!) I took a memory trip back to the days before we even knew about him, all the way back to the phone call on Saturday morning that changed everything:
Social Worker: Hi, Brad? This is so-and-so. I have news for you.
Brad: Yes...
SW: We showed your profile to a birth mom; did you know that?
Brad: No. (We had just gotten approved a few days before.)
SW: Well, we did, and she chose you!
Brad: Really? When's the baby due?
SW: He was born Wednesday. Can you talk to the birth mom and then meet the birth mom and myself in Kentucky on Monday? If she carries through and chooses you, you'll probably be able to get the baby Tuesday.

And so it began...they sent us a pic of Brody, along with his stats, and I made sure to tell everyone not to get too attached because nothing was certain yet, while all along in my heart I knew that from that first picture of him, I had fallen in love and that this boy was our son.

That first picture that made me fall in love.
After a nerve-racking meeting with Brody's birthmom, we entered swiftly into the world of diapers and bottles and sleepless nights (and DNA testing and courtrooms and crying and pleading with God for miracles...and boy, did he ever deliver and write a whopper of an adoption story for us!)

Brody is such an amazing little man. He speaks in full sentences (when he wants to, of course), counts to ten (and tries to get to 20), sings a few different hilarious versions of "Twinkle Twinkle," is obsessed with hunting bows, golf, baseball, and basketball (and his cousin Addyson), is full of energy, and has huge blue eyes with long eyelashes that flutter when he smiles (particularly when he's gotten into my purse and stolen gum --rascal!--).
Bro got some Superman and Batman PJs for his birthday. (LOVES THEM.) As if he needed another excuse to jump off the furniture!


I can't imagine life without him, and we continually thank God that his birth mom made a great decision for his life despite the many obstacles and pressures she faced.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

the least of these



"kings and queens" by audio adrenaline (the same group that brought us the amazing "my father's house" back in the day.

thanks to shannon and natalie for introducing me to this song. LOVE it and the video....what a message!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

i think it's a sign

I haven't looked at adoption photolistings in a while...partly because I haven't had much time lately, partly because I know I can't save them all and it hurts my heart, and partly because we aren't quite ready to adopt yet (based on our Earthly logic, which doesn't always correspond well with God's timing and authorship, ka-boom!).

Imagine my excitement, aching heart, joy, LONGING when I looked at one of my favorite pages and found these faces:

Moise...3- or 4-year-old little guy
who is a happy entertainer!
Jenny...(WHAT!? IT'S a sign!!)...Shy little
2-year-old who lights up the room with her smile. 
Leticia...4-year-old little girl with stunning Congolese
beauty! A sweet helper who loves to dance and sing.  

EVERYTHING in my heart wants to adopt them all. EVERYTHING. If we can find a way to do it--Dear God, please orchestrate a miracle or two, or three...AGAIN--we will adopt them all (right Bradlee?), but if that's not the plan, I want you to adopt them. If you're interested, go to: http://www.allblessings.org/.

<<If you are absolutely loaded, go ahead and send us a check for about $90,000 
and we will give all three of them a mommy and a daddy, mmmmkay?>>