Monday, December 23, 2013

Taking Back Christmas!

 Soooo.......if you haven't been on my FB page......we haven't moved yet!!! ARGH only begins to touch the surface of how this feels!  We were supposed to move LAST MONDAY!!!  So we got everything ready- to move that day!!! 

When Monday fell through, and we were still waiting on underwriting for the people buying our home then said it would be Wednesday.  From there it kind of feels like Ground Hog Day movie.  ;).  Now this wouldn't be so bad......except a few things! 

Ummmm.....we have been without internet- except on our phone.  So we have to go other places to do our work. 

We have called the utilities more times that I can eve remember at this point- pushing the cut off dates etc. YES we have them on speed dial- not even kidding....

I can't blog as much as I wan :(.........and it is sad.....

Oh and we have ben without a washer and dryer now since last Monday!!!  (We gave ours away to a church since our new home has a new washer and dryer.)  Yep, good thing we don't have a big family or anything ;) sarcasm.....helps! 
 In great news!  LOOK AT THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Days before we move- Michael decides to climb up the step!!!  WHAT???  GO MICHAEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  He amazes me daily!!!!!!
 The story of our life........
 Makes me want to lose my head - have to keep a sense of humor. 
 A whoopies.........our only injury so far was mine. 
 But this cutie helps me keep going :)!!
 We have had some fun- we wet to see the new Hobbit movie with our beautiful oldest!  She is basically as tall as me. Shhh.....don't tell her I said that!  I am still denying it in real life. 
 THIS!  THIS IS STINKING AMAZING!!!!  My little man singing E-I-E-I-O!!!!!!  Hopefully you can view this.  He seriously is making so much progress!  Singing the sounds like this I awesome!

OH AND!!!!  His HIV count is BELOW 20!!!  This is sooo huge because that is what they call "undetectable".  WAHOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!  Considering his count was in he millions when he was 18 months......this is wonderful.  LOVE that we get access to medicines that help our babes!!!  Just a tad excited ;). 
 All the bunks have been disassembled for over a week now- the kids have been on the floor on mattresses. 
 This is where our bunk parts are- in the dining area. 
 We even got really crazy and had fun with a strap that was around a blanket.  Ultimate teamwork practice baby!!!
 We have been breaking out or "Christmas presents" mostly DVD's at this point because did I mention I packed up all our dvd's, and we have no TV/internet??  yep!
 We also were given a Karaoke machine- so that has brought a lot of fun!! 
 OH and we finally got to meet the Langston Family!!!  They also used Christian Adoption Consultants to bring home their youngest angel.  They recently moved closer to us, and have been going to one of the campuses for our church that is a little further south.  We have been FB friends for a long time, and FINALLY got to meet!  Large family fun!!!  (They don't have all their crew with them). 
 So we had to change our attitude!  IT WAS HARD!!  Our expectations were NOT MET!!!  Moving in would have been soooooo NICE!  However, it hasn't we could cry about it- oh never mind WE DID! 

But there comes a time to GET OVER IT & TAKE BACK CHRITMAS!!!!!!!!!!  After all it has nothing to do with where you are!  IT HAS TO DO WITH CHRIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  AMEN!!!
So we finally put up our tree, a few manger scenes, and a wreath on our door!  We had our hot cocoa and popcorn! We have toured some lights around town!  We have found our mixer and some cookie baking ingredients and we will have cookies, turkey, and fixins!!!  It may not be ideal, but then we are in good company because according to many- the first Christmas seemed like it wasn't ideal either.  Or was it? 

Something to ponder!  Something to think about!  How often do we think something is frustrating or not ideal, and maybe that is just the way it feels.  We have a choice in that moment- to mourn, be mad, be angry- and I was ALL OF THE ABOVE! 

When we decide to let it go- well.....maybe we will find that God had it right all along.  Don't make Christmas about the expectations, but about the marveling over the birth of Christ!  That is the lesson we are learning!!  It is one that we battled, but are now trying to soak in. 

I pray your Christmas is spent marveling at the beauty of a child....a tiny infant that came- TO SAVE YOU!  Just that alone is enough!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Thanksgiving and our Christmas traditions.....

 We spent our Thanksgiving with my cousin Heidi, husband Mark, their cuties MaKenna and Jessa, and my Aunt Jane.  We ate at my cousin's church- plenty of room and lots of outdoor play area outside too. 
 Michael is dancing!  He can now sing 5+ different CUTE!!!! 
 I have people tell us all the time wow Christmas at your house must be CRAZY!  I say you have no idea, but not for the same reasons you are thinking of.......
 It is busy mostly because between November 8th and January 6th we have 8 birthdays and adoption days!!!  Our Elizabeth is a Christmas baby!!!!!  So it gets crazy and fun with lots of different cakes or pies :).  This year we have the added fun of moving, packing, and well you know all the paperwork that goes with a new house too!!!   

When we had 5 children we did Christmas presents on Christmas Day.......and decided- this is a wreck!  Not what we want at all, and hugely chaotic!!!  So we changed our way of thinking.....

***NOTE I AM NOT SOMEONE WHO JUDGES!!  Of course we all judge, but I am saying this post isn't about We are better than You because we......  Not in the least!  I have many friends that do many different things.  So I am not offended, nor do I want to offend you.  Just sharing what we have felt laid on our hearts.  :)
 We have never done Santa.  Some people look at me like we have 3 heads when we say this.  It's ok we are pretty used to it.  Our reasons:

Santa only comes to those who can afford him.  Jonathan never got gifts from Santa when he was in Ethiopia, and neither do most of the children in the entire world, or in our own neighborhood.

He is kind of creepy sometimes (think of all the kids that sit on his lap and scream) or maybe just too mysterious.

We didn't want to lie to our children.  About Santa or other things...... 
Note: we don't do Easter baskets, tooth fairy, or any other things like that either. 
 UGH!  I hate saying that, but it is just something I know people have fun with, but what if we lie about these other "fun characters", and then teach our children about Jesus and other stories that are true from the Bible.  We felt like it wouldn't give us credibility. 

When it comes to parenting children from hard places......we felt like we also couldn't afford to lie- they have been through enough!  If we lied to them about Santa then what about their birth stories and history?  Would we lie about those too?? 

Again, this is not meant to be critical, just simply our thoughts on it- our convictions. 
 We don't do Black Friday shopping :).  Just can't stand the crowds.....or the grandma's beating each other up.  Just doesn't sound like fun.   
 WE DO:  Family presents throughout the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's.  It is sporadic at best ;).  We like to surprise the kids on random days.  We hide the present in a gift bag around the house.  The kids take turns searching for the bag.  We get things like- matching shirts for everyone, books, dvd's, wii games, board games, "group toys" like scooters or bikes, or tickets to a theme park (cheaper once you live in FL). 
 We do a Bethlehem meal- get dressed up, and have fun sitting on the "Inn" floor, and talking about how it was in the day of Jesus. 
 We love to get ornaments for each child- yearly for them to hang on the tree. 
 We have Mary and Joseph and the wise men "wander the house".....

until Christmas Eve when Mary and Joseph "appear" in the manger scenes while we read the Christmas story from the Bible. 

Then baby Jesus appears on Christmas Day. 

The wise men appear on January 6th...of course we know it was much later than that. 
 We love having a Happy Birthday Jesus cake and Happy Birthday Elizabeth cake :). 

We love getting in the car with snacks (no hot chocolate sorry- snacks make enough mess.  Hot chocolate when we come home.)  and looking at Christmas lights........wonder at the amazement of all God has done for us in the past year!  Sharing our Blessings that we have received throughout the year. 
Whatever you do for Christmas- I pray that you share love and hope!!!  That GRACE of our Lord covers all that you do!  That you amount of presents and how much we spend has nothing to do with our happiness, but the fact that Jesus came down to us in human form.  That HE showed us how to love and live!  That we get to share that with so many others!!!!! 

Our prayer is that EVERYONE KNOWS HIM!!!!  THE GREATEST GIFT EVER!!!!!!!!!!! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Miracle Of Our New Home!

 So as most of you know we are MOVING!  :)  But, I can not just leave it like that because God has been at work in and through the story of our new home! 
 We have had a lot of people ask, so first I wanted to explain why we are moving.  We bought this house 2 1/2 years ago because of its location for Jason's job that he had when we first moved here, it had 2,100 square feet, 1/4 acre corner lot, nice pool, 4 beds/3baths, place for homeschool, and living room, and a nice sized dining area :).  Which is all well and good......except - 6 months after moving in we brought home Michael- which was really GREAT! 

We knew then that with his cerebral palsy we would be moving again.....because we also have 3 levels: upstairs, main area, sunken dining area, and a lower level :(.  Works great for those of us who do not struggle to walk, but for Michael- this has now started to hinder him.  He has a wheelchair and a walker, but we can't use them in our home :(. 
 So when things started looking good financially- monthly wise- we started really thinking it  was time to get serious.  Then came the thought of who to get as a realtor because our last one- well, she stunk!!!  :(  It was a NOT NICE experience that we lived through, but did not like! 

That is when we get a phone call from someone at our church saying that there is a life group that wants to "adopt your family".  What???  YES!!!  We were blown away!!!!  God has once again said- here are more people who will be supporting you.  WAHOOO!!!!

Oh and it was by NO accident that the life group leaders were realtors- NOT even kidding you!!!   What??  Yep, that is how God rolls!!!! 
 That in an of itself is amazing, but it keeps getting better!  A week and a few days ago we got news that the house we had put in an offer for- was saying our offer wasn't good enough. 

Now picture this 3 weeks prior to that we immediately put our home on the market to show them we were serious about selling our home!  We had to rush around like headless chickens getting projects done to the home and decluttering!  Within 2 weeks we had 14 showings and 2 offers :).  ALL GOD!!

We did all of that quickly because we needed the money from our present home to put towards our next home- contingency.  Well, 3 weeks later they then after presenting the offer that someone put on our home and a solid closing date- they then say oh well....ummm.......we owe more than we thought, so if you still want the home you will have to pay more- WHAT???? 

(Ummm......Dawn I thought you said it keeps getting better???)
 When our amazing realtor Mickey Arruda called with the information- I was DEVASTATED!!!  Crying my eyes out at Sam's Club!!!  Thinking are you serious- you had 3 weeks to tell us this, and you wait until now??  3 weeks and a couple of days before closing?  ARE YOU SERIOUS??  Do you not know we have 9 kids?  Ummm......we can't live in a hotel!!  UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Did I mention I cried- as in a lot!!!! 
(This is going to be our own private driveway to our home!!!  I feel like royalty!!)

THEN........our realtor said- why don't you look and see if you can find ANYTHING that fits what you want.  Really I thought?  Ummm.....well let me list what our "must haves" were and you will see what I mean.  We want:  1 acre, 4 bed/3bath, at least 2,400 sq ft, one level, in the area of Michael's present therapy place, not too far from church, fenced in would be nice, open concept would be amazing and easier for Michael to get around, and of course within our budget.  For those who don't know I am a very budgeted person!  Did I mention we live in Brandon, FL area?  In town.  Yeah, now you see this list was pretty long! 

Oh and it can't be a short sale or a foreclosure- because we didn't have cash, and we didn't now have time to mess around getting the ok from a bank either! 
 So that evening we spent a lot of time looking through all the present listings AGAIN.  Not a whole lot of new things popped up at all.  But, we found a couple that maybe we could go look at.....I guess.  Out of the blue Jason said - I think we should go look at "this one".  I said clearly you are outside your mind because it is way out of our budget!!!! 
 We did agree that maybe we should at least look at it.  So we went to look at a couple of properties.........but this one- THIS ONE!!!  WAS AMAZING!!! 
 You has around 2,500 square feet, 4 bedrooms- all good size which is important, all one level- all but 2 rooms are tile, in the area we wanted, and not 1, not 2, BUT 3 FENCED IN ACRES!!!!!!!  There was still one thing to get past- the price........
 Well, after some quick negotiating over the next day- they came down to even lower than what we would have had to pay for the other home- did you hear that?  LOWER! 

In addition to that God threw in some amazing "extras".  When we first started talking about moving- Jason threw out the idea of building new.  Now, I have no idea how people do that, but it did my brain in just thinking about it.  I had major reserves.  Jason still really pushed, but I couldn't get my head around it, and that would also mean a lot more time here.  :(  I wanted Michael to be able to start using some of his equipment now. 
 This home was a "flip"!  So although it wasn't new, it has completely been redone!!!!  New walls, new kitchen, all new stainless steel appliances including a washer and dryer- all high end, new tubs and showers, and bathrooms, NEW!!! 
 In addition the new home is all open concept.  Sorry the pictures I had on my phone and camera were ones that caught some details I wanted for moving.  The pictures that were on the original listing- are already taken down.  And I have them in document form, but now can't share them with you.  But trust me it is open dining, kitchen, and living area- nice open spaces!!!  No more yelling down to the living room and having the kids not hear me.  Check that- at least not because they can't hear me ;). 
 We probably would have not ever spent that much money on some of the high end counters and well the above island- where we can all do cooking together!!!  We were in love!!!! 
 Nice huge patio!!!!  Within a few days we were having the inspection- which the important details are being taken care of right now!  Praise the Lord! 

Now we all know God is also in the details, and not ever wishing this upon anyone, but the water pump broke the day before the inspection so even that is new! has a water softner!!!  Now, that may not excite everyone, but we have talked about how we have nice appliances here that we have bought, but the water is so hard on them.  Yep, God planned it all out for us.  Whew!!! 

Did I mention that it has a laundry room?  It does!!!  :)  (right now our laundry is in the garage- which is ok, but a laundry room- is amazing!!!

Oh and just because God threw in a fireplace too!!!  I know I know we live in Florida, but when it gets even a chill in the air- we are using that thing!!  I love fire :0 places.....
 Of course there are details waiting to be worked out, but we are thrilled!!!!  God provided a realtor that has been amazingly patient with all our questions and "freak out" moments.  God provided a "like new" home.  God provided all new appliances.  God has covered all the big items (which we just replaced at our present home and didn't want to have to replace again at another home). 
Ahhhh.........and this is our new massive circle drive where our kids can scooter until their hearts are content!!!!!  Without me stressing that they will get run over :).  Just looking at this picture brings a peaceful feeling!!!!!!

And there will be gardens soon, more fruit tress soon (it has a couple of orange trees), and maybe some chickens, and Jason wants to do bees too.  ;)

There will be lots of tree climbing, sports playing, running, jumping, playing, walks, talking, bonfires, and probably a lot of fun outdoor noise going on here soon!!!

Did I mention we close on our home we are living in now and on this home in 2 WEEKS!!!!!  WHEW!!!!  I have packed 79 boxes so far........

Please keep praying as of course it isn't over 'til it's over, but we are thrilled and know that God was in the details even when it seemed to fall apart!!!  Seems to be a theme in our lives ;).

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy 3rd Adoption Day Joanna!!! (Last Friday)

Happy 3rd Adoption Day Joanna!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
 3 years ago we got to adopt Joanna when she was 6 months old :).  She was our cute ball of baby chub with a smile that stole our hearts. 
 She has a lot of "cheek", and has an amazing crazy fun personality :). 
 She loves princesses.....
 LIP GLOSS (as in if you want to be her friend- give her lip gloss and it will seal the deal ;).....
 She got her first lego set! 
 She loves her bedtime snuggle stories! 
 Fairyland fun :) 
 and dressing up! 
 Our Joanna is truly one of a kind.  The only toddler I know that loves meat and onions :).  She loves her snuggle time with mommy and daddy and does not like it if we ever leave the house without her.  She definitely likes pink.  She likes to listen to our favorites on You Tube when I do her hair (hey it keeps her distracted).  She is amazingly crazy fun all at the same time and then some. 
 As you can see----- our parties get out of control ;)
 I mean we totally know how to live it up! 
 And miss diva here is totally a nut! 
 Her cute cupcakes! 
 Cutie pie....
And then there is this??  Oh yea....I know I am sooo fashionable!!!  ;)