Friday, September 25, 2009

Dust, trees, grass and weeds oh my!

Leeann had an appointment with an allergist today. She is allergic to dust, tree pollen, grass and weeds. Lovely eh? Have I ever mentioned that we live in the grass seed capitol of the world?

The tree, grass and weed pollen we can't really do much about. She's likely going to have to be on medication during peak outdoor allergy seasons, as her symptoms have gotten worse and worse over the years.

The dust mites however, are something that we need to do something about. The more she's exposed to the allergens, the more likely she is to develop severe asthma in the years to come. So, we're supposed to get special coverings for her mattress and pillow, wash her bedding in hot water 2-4 times per month, and take her stuffed animals off her bed or wash them frequently. She only has like 80 0f them on her bed!

It's also recommended that we take carpet out of her bedroom and get leather furniture. That's right, leather furniture... doctor's orders :0) Okay, he didn't tell me to get leather furniture but when I asked him if it would help he said, "Actually yes, it would help a lot". Hmmm, do you think insurance would cover that? See, dust mites eat dead skin so they get embedded anywhere dead skin cells are. Couches and beds are the worst places. They don't however, get embedded into leather like they do fabric covered couch cushions. We also probably need to get a vacuum from this century. Or at least one that's newer than 1970-something.

So, one step at a time we will start working toward dust-mite proofing our house for Leeann's sake. I'm sure one of my readers how a deep, chocolate-brown leather furniture set that they aren't using anymore right? And a Kirby or a Dyson, or some other high powered vacuum? Hey, you never know!

One loan down, one to go!

(Rob clicking the mouse to make his final student loan payment!)

I still feel a bit funny sharing part of our finances with the blogger world. But, we are so excited about our commitment to live a debt-free life that we feel we ought to share our excitement with our readers to potentially encourage or inspire some of you that it can be done. And better yet, it should be done. There's such a freedom in not feeling bogged down because of our obligation to pay a debt to someone else.

We started our quest to become debt free on April 16th, 2009. We started off with $20,819.79 in debt which included a medical bill, an ambulance bill, Rob's student loans and my student loans.

Five months later we've been able to pay off all but my student loans and our debt total is now $14,072.15! The most exciting part is that now we're taking the monthly payments that we were paying on the ambulance bill and Rob's student loans and we've rolled that into what we're going to start paying on my loans. That, combined with any extra money that comes in (including the potential sale of our condo), and we're realistically looking at being completely debt-free outside of our mortgage far sooner than we had ever imagined could be possible!

I cannot even begin to explain the freedom we're beginning to feel. In case you're wondering, we're following the Dave Ramsey Plan, which is delightfully simple, yet profound. This should be evidenced by the fact that we've been able to pay down as much debt as we have in a few short months on an average salary. It's a beautiful thing! So now, we continue to trek on and put any penny we can scrape up into getting my loans payed off. Then we're going to do a happy dance! Okay, that's not part of Dave's baby steps, but you better bet I'm going to squeal with delight and start doing the happy dance!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Saved by the Malfunctioning Bell

On Monday of this week I woke up rather well rested. Both of my kiddos had crawled in bed with me, which they often do once they hear Rob getting up and about. My alarm on my phone rang and I turned it off and gingerly hopped out of bed with a smile on my face. I actually got off to a really good start, getting out of bed right away and getting some laundry going. Leeann got in the shower and I got Titus dressed. I was getting a few things done around the house and pretty happy with the progress I was making since I am anything but a morning person. In fact, I'm purposefully waking up 1.5 hours before Leeann goes to school so we can all be ready without our mornings being rushed.

Anyway, after a half hour of being productive I peeked my head into the bathroom where we have a digital clock and I saw that it was 8:33. 8:33! What? My alarm is set for 7:00 am. How can it already be 8:33? I checked the time on my phone--just in case my self-setting atomic clock in the bathroom was somehow incorrect. Sure enough, my phone confirmed the pickle I was in. My alarm was set for 8:00 instead of 7:00 for some reason. Yikes!

The scene that followed was comical. I barked orders at the kids, told Leeann to grab a granola bar and scarf it down, and tried to make myself somewhat presentable (The kids were ready. I was not!) since I knew I was going to have to go inside to sign Leeann in for being tardy. It was only the second week of school--Mother of the Year escapes me again!

Anyway, we all ran to the car fast as fast can be. I didn't even let Leeann grab her backpack knowing that there was the slimmest of chances we might be able to make it to school before the 8:40 bell. So we buckled in in record speed and I tried to avoid hitting small children on my way to her school (which is literally like a stones throw away from our house). I pulled in the parking lot and there was even a parking space! So we flew inside and to my astonishment the bell hadn't rung yet. I looked at the aide with a perplexed look. "We aren't late?" "Nope, head on in." So, just as I turned to take Leeann to the gym where she waits the Kindergarden aid popped her head out the door. "Why hasn't the bell rung yet? It's past time." They looked at each other and agreed that the bell was malfunctioning so they went ahead and started heading to their classrooms.

Saved by the bell. The malfunctioning bell! Let's see how long I can go without my child being late. Should we start taking bets? I'm honestly kind of surprised that we're two weeks into school without being late yet. And Monday doesn't count as being late, the school bell doesn't lie!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Deep Cleaning Fun

Titus and I are (or, um were before I started blogging) doing a little deep cleaning while Leeann is at school today. I am anxiously awaiting for someone to come look at our condo. Who? I don't care... as long as they might want to buy it!

Our renters move out this week so we now have a short window of opportunity to sell our condo before we need to find new renters. I would really love to move back into our other house. We've had a couple of people come and look so far... it would be such a blessing if we got an offer in this next week!

So, for now, I'm trusting that if that's what God is doing then I need to do my part by keeping the house in show-worthy shape. It's easier to do now with only two kids, but still difficult because now that the other two are gone I'm trying to get more work in and I desire very much to get some much needed time with some long-neglected friends. But, perhaps those things will have to wait just a little while so I can play housekeeper extraordinaire!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just Drop Me Off

Leeann asked me if I could just drop her off--on the second day of school! So I did, after rehearsing where she is to go (the gym... NOT outside with the bigger kids). I watched her walk in the foyer than I watched her start to walk outside with the group of kids walking that way. Then she stopped, turned around, and started walking toward the gym. Then she looked up at the adult in the hallway who was directing traffic. Then she kind of spun around again in obvious confusion. Finally I saw her head outside. So, Titus and I parked the car and got out and went to chase her down. She was swinging away merrily with all of the bigger kids.

According to Leeann the lady told her to go outside. I'm not sure if this was the case, or if she was telling other kids to go outside and Leeann thought it was her. Or if she was just following the other kids without thinking. Anyway, Titus and I went out and got her and brought her back into where she was supposed to be and she had a delightful second day of school. She asked if she could have a second chance, but Titus and I walked her to school today so we went ahead and took her all the way inside.

All seems to be going well for Leeann so far. She enjoys school a lot and it's only 2.5 hours. I am somehow managing to have everyone dressed, ready and out the door bright and early. Titus is enjoying time with me, but is having a tough time doing anything on his own.

"I can't clean my room by myself."
"I don't want to play cars by myself. "
"Should I get TWO color books out?"
"Let's watch a movie TOGETHER!"

Poor kiddo, he's spent like .0007% of his life without other kids around. He's not quite 4 and Weston and Logan lived with us for 8 months and Hope and Logan lived with us for 6 months. And, if no one else is around at least Leeann is usually here. Oh well, I imagine it's good for him to learn how entertain himself at least a little bit! I wonder what he'll do when Leeann is at school until 3:00 next year!

Monday, September 14, 2009

First Day of School

Titus and I just got back from walking Leeann to her first day of school today.

Yep, first day. My daughter. In school. I'm okay... really...

She did great and has been very excited to start school. She spent some time reassuring me this morning that when she gets older and she's all done with school she'll try to come visit me sometimes. :0) She also rehearsed to me on the way to school ways to be a good friend, like politely asking someone, "May I have that toy when you are finished? Not, I want that, give it to me!" She came up with that one her own without any prompting from me. It was cute!

So, there ya go. The first day of the next 13 years of education. *Tear*.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 11, 2009

Let Me Clarify

Bribing Titus has been a big part of our potty training efforts. He initially got surprises for doing anything on the potty. Then only for #2, then for staying dry all day. Now that he's almost 2 weeks potty trained however, the surprises have disappeared. I think Titus finally realized this yesterday and asked what else he could do to earn a surprise.

"I know, Titus--you can earn a surprise if your pull-up is still dry in the morning."

"Okay!" he said, eager to earn his surprise.

So, bright and early Titus jumped into my bed and in his cute little voice exclaimed, "Mommy, I changed my pull-up so my pull-up is dry now... can I have my surprise?"

"Oh, sweet boy, let me clarify... if your pull up is dry because you didn't wet during the night, not because you changed it..."

Poor kiddo. It's my fault for not being more specific with my expectations!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Whole New Stage

I came to realize something tonight that I've known, but didn't really know... if you know what I mean. Things are so different than they were when Logan and Hope came to live with us 6 months ago. So different!

Titus was barely 3 when they moved in. Now he's close to 4. A lot changes in a little boys life during this time! He can now buckle his own car seat harness, eat without his booster seat, get his own socks and shoes on, actually help clean up. He can dress himself now. He's able to focus a lot better and respond more quickly to things, so I can expect more of him. Basically, he's become so much more independent.

So, while I've spent the last 6 months simply trying to hold everything together with so many little ones running around--I've emerged on the other side to what feels like a whole new world!

For instance, I used to find it very difficult to do much of anything with just my two kids (but especially with all four). Like, taking them to work with me and actually get something done. Or, taking them into more than one store without someone falling apart (usually me!). Getting housework done seemed impossible since Titus would run around behind me like a tornado and undo anything I'd just managed to muster up the energy to do!

Well, now it's just a whole new ballgame. After spending all summer with all four of the kiddos, having two seems like a cake walk! Keeping up on laundry--piece of cake. Dishes? Done. Work--still difficult with the two kids in tow, but manageable. Only two baths--no problem! Extra snuggles? I've got lots! Going to the store--Easy peasy lemon squeezy! Bed times--hardly even any work.

Ah, bed times. Bed times were especially difficult when Logan and Hope first got here. Most nights they would scream and squabble and whine until I wanted to crawl under a rock. By the end bedtimes were actually pretty easy. Now, with just the two, and with Titus potty trained, they practically put themselves to bed. They can both go potty, get their jammies on and brush their teeth without assistance. Seriously... it's beautiful!

On the other hand, I'm recognizing how quickly this is going. Leeann is 1/3 of the way to adulthood. If the next 2/3 go anywhere near as quickly as the first I don't have much time left! I don't have babies anymore. I don't even have toddlers. In fact, I only have 1 preschooler left in the house and he's growing and changing and learning new things everyday. I have an elementary school kid. She's not a baby, a toddler or a preschooler. She's just a girl. A vibrant, toothless, eager to learn, compassionate, loving little girl. She's starting to think on an abstract level and reason and learn in incredible ways. She's gaining knowledge at a rapid pace as her mind starts to connect more and more dots. She's full of curious questions!

Ah, I love my children. I love being a mommy. I have a cool job! I get to look after, care for, teach and build into two of the coolest kids ever known to mankind. I get to teach them about God, and people, and life, and pain, and conflict, and joys and responsibilities and character...

Did I mention this job is tough? Well, most of you know just how tough it is. But, it's so rewarding. I am one blessed mama!

Dinner is Served

This evening I heard Leeann loudly sobbing as I was... momentarily indisposed. I soon found her with her face bright red with tears and snot streaming down her face. I asked her what was wrong and she told me that she looked everywhere for me and thought that I was gone and that I'd left her and Titus all alone. Poor girl! To try to get her mind off of the crazy notion that I went to a friend's house and left them home I asked her, "What would you have done if I wasn't here?" Titus said, "We were going to play out back and I was going to take care of Leeann!" I asked them what they would have eaten. "That's silly mommy, we can't cook!" said Leeann.

"I bet you could find something. What would you do for dinner if I weren't here?" They both went straight to the pantry and Titus said, "Let's make mac n' cheese Leeann." I discouraged that, but Leeann came up with an idea that I actually thought they might be able to pull off on their own. "Can we?" she said.

"It's your dinner."

Dinner is served with ZERO help from mommy! Leeann proudly announced after she finished. "Titus, now we get a piece of candy!" she looked at me to see if she would get approval on that one. She did.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 07, 2009

Family Day

Rob, Leeann, Titus and I are in St. Helens today. We dropped Logan and Hope off with their new foster family last night. It's a little crazy.

We're going to enjoy a family today! It'll be the first time the four of us have just gotten to spend the day together in quite some time. We'll still have Logan and Hope on some weekends, so that will be nice. But for today, I'm going to enjoy some much needed time with my sweet, sweet family!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Rebekah's Mommy

I imagine a number of my readers recall hearing or reading about Rebekah, our adoption lawyers young daughter who fought cancer. You can read about them here: Well, Rebekah's scans are clear, but Rebekah's mommy was just diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrigs, which is unfortunatly fatal. My heart hurts so badly for this family. Please join with me in supporting them with your prayers and by keeping up with their story and encouraging them at this incredibly difficult time.

Seasons Change

As we gear up to say hello to the Fall, and Leeann's first day of school and her new teeth already growing in, we are also saying a few good-byes as well.

The first things we said good-bye to were a few of Leeann's teeth (see previous posts).

The second thing we said good-bye to is PULL-UPS! We are officially a diaper/pull-up free family! Woo Hoo!

The third thing we're saying good-bye to is our season as foster parents. Logan and Hope will return to their home town to another foster home so they can start school closer to their parents this year.

So we now say hello to cooler temperatures, pretty trees (Fall is my favorite time of the year), a new school and a new season of life. I'm really excited to get some time with just Titus. I've never really had that before. Leeann will be in school half days so Titus and I will get a few hours each day to hang out together. This will be especially refreshing after being pulled in 18 different directions by 4 crazy kiddos all summer long. I look forward to our bonding times... especially since it doesn't include changing pull-ups!

If you want the story on that, here ya go: Last Friday Rob changed a particularly disgusting pull-up and told Titus, "I'm done, I will not change anymore dirty pull-ups." So he put Titus in underwear and sent him on his merry way. We had planned to take this approach once Leeann was in school so we could devote a little more time and energy to this effort, but Rob was DONE! I was okay with that since he's off on Fridays and was scheduled to be caring for the kids much of the weekend. So, accident after accident Titus got a not-so-warm bath to clean him up. Cold Turkey baby, there was no turning back!

I forget exactly how it happened (and I'm sure you don't particularly care) but day after day he made a little bit of progress. On Monday he had more successes then he had accidents, which I was rather excited about. Tuesday he had an accident after lunch, but he didn't have another one until right before dinner tonight 48+ hours later! INCLUDING NIGHT-TIME! Yup, I'm a little bit excited. At first he earned a surprise from our surprise box for every success. Once those started adding up he got a nickel for every success. He got a dollar for staying dry all day yesterday and now he's getting a surprise for every #2 success if you catch my drift. Yep, we're getting there folks. There's absolutely no turning back now, we're DONE! Average cost savings? $40 a month.

Oh, he can put his socks on by himself and buckle his own car seat harness now too. He's turning into quite an independent little guy, and I'm not sure what to do with myself anymore! I'm sure I'll figure something out :0)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Logan and Hope stayed in St. Helens last night, and Titus stayed the night at Aunt Suzy's, so Leeann and I were able to go out and have a mini photo shoot with her birth mom, Kyndall. She calls her Nai-Nai, which is Tagalog (Philippino) for mommy. Anyway, we had a lot of fun and got some cute pictures to send along with Kyndall when she heads off to boot camp for the Air Force in three weeks.

I LOVE this picture. What beautiful girls!

(Click on the collage to make it larger)
Posted by Picasa