12.11.2012

Nissan NV passenger van review

Approximately 18 months ago The General and I started discussing larger vehicles.  We have an 8 passenger Chevy Venture.  This will fit our family.  With 3 car seats, it is tight!  We also can't take any extra people along.  Our second vehicle was a 7 passenger Dodge Durango which we just weren't happy with for many reasons.  So, the search began.

Ford's and Chevy's seemed to be our only options.  The safety options were less than desirable.  No head rests to help prevent whiplash in children who were taller than the seat.  No air bags for those in the back.  Another issue is cargo room.  In a 12 passenger there is VERY LITTLE cargo room behind the last row.  Many families I have talked to recommend getting the 15 passenger and taking out the last row.  Other cons...these vans are loud and hard to work on without taking into a shop.  And, let's be honest, they are not the most attractive vehicle on the road!  Not that important in the grand scheme of things, I know, but a fact none the less.

Fast forward to just before Thanksgiving.  I am browsing Craigslist for vans in our area.  Since we live in a high tourist state, 12 and 15 passenger vans are pretty easy to find.  During my browsing session I came across an odd looking vehicle claiming to be a 12 passenger van.  As I googled this vehicle, I was very impressed.  Click here and check it out!  When my husband came home I showed him what I had found.  He was just as impressed. 

Let the research begin!

The safety standards on this vehicle are top notch.  Each seat has a head rest and its own seat belt.  The curtain side air bags run the full length of the van.  These are unparalleled in a vehicle of this class.

To top it off, it is kind of cool looking too!

 
 
 
 
Let's talk cargo.  There is definitely more space in the back than it's competitors.
 
 
 
Yesterday I bought about $100 in groceries and they fit fine in the back with room to spare.  Now I don't plan to use this vehicle when I do a large grocery store run.  I will take the little van for that since I can fold the seats down.  But I was happy with the amount I could get back here.  I just stood the stroller up.  There is quite a bit of clearance under those seats!  Oh, and these back doors unlatch and swing all the way open to the side.  They are held there by a magnet!
 
The really awesome thing about these vehicles is that the seats can be configured 324 ways!!!  Crazy!!!  You see the split in those back seats?  Each row has that split so you can take out, rearrange, whatever suits you.  We like taking road trips and plan to do plenty once we are back on the mainland.  When we do that we will be taking out half of the back row.  That still gives us 8 seats in the back for 6 kids.  And it will give us plenty of cargo room for our stuff. 
 
Now, we didn't get all crazy and get the top of the line model they show on the website.  We have the 3500 SV with the V6 engine.  We discussed the V8 because we do plan to pull a camper at some point.  After some research we feel the V6 will perform just fine and save us on gas. The seats are cloth, not leather, but they are not the type of cloth you see in a "regular" vehicle.  These seem very easy to wipe down and I get the idea that they wouldn't stain easy.  Haven't tested that theory out yet but I am sure I will in the future.   We did get the tech package.  I definitely recommend this.  My biggest fear with a large van was backing up.  With the tech package you get a back up camera.  LOVE THIS! 
 
 
 
As you can see above, we chose to take out the head rests in the middle.  This will be where the car seats go so they are not necessary at this time. (Side note:  there are 5 seats with the tethering system for car seats.  The middle seats have the anchor on the back of the seat and the anchors on each side of the seat.)  With the head rests in there is zero visibility out of the rear window.  Now, the side mirrors more than compensate for this but I am a creature of habit and I like to use my rear view mirror. 

 
Love that each seat has it's own seat belt rather than stretching from the roof across to the seat.  Also, the two seats you see in the above picture are "single" seats and can be removed to make a bigger isle.
 
 
 
Tons of space up front.  Since the engine is all out front there is more leg room and the cabin area stays cooler.  That center console you see...it is HUGE.  I am pretty sure my 2 year old could sit in there!
 
I also recommend checking out this blog.  She gives a great review and pictures of the inside with lots of car seats. 
 
Overall, I feel this van doesn't even compare to the Ford and Chevy.  It seems to be in a class of its own.  I highly recommend this for large families...at least those who don't need more than 12 seats! :-)

Vehicles, vacations, and adoption

I have debated doing this post for a few days now. 

When we first started the adoption process I must have read 100 or more blogs.  I was "friending" other adoptive mamas on facebook and creating a community of like minded people. 

On occasion I would read a blog or a post about a family going on vacation or making a large purchase and I would wonder, how can they do that while trying to save for an adoption?  I would judge.  I would assume they had tons of money.  I was being human...but wrong.

Many of you saw my facebook post a few days ago about buying a new vehicle.  Some of you may have even looked up this vehicle (because it is unique and you were just curious) and saw that it is not cheap.  Some of you may have wondered how we are doing this.  Some of you may have even thought, "is this where my money is going that I have donated to this family?"  Now, I could be wrong about all of this but the truth is, we are all human. 

My first thought was that it was not any of your business.  Then I realized that is not entirely true.  In the past year and a half we have done fundraisers and asked for you donations.  Right now, our finances are your business.  So, let me tell you a little about our decision.

My husband and I have been discussing vehicles since we started the adoption process.  Once we decided to adopt siblings we realized that a 12 or 15 passenger van was probably in our future.  We had been researching Chevy's and Ford's for a very long time.  Comparing prices, safety features, and other options.  My husband is in the military so he has seen many large passenger vans.  He was less than thrilled with the idea of owning one.  He agreed that it would be nice to have the space but just didn't like the vans.  We discussed large SUV's.  I had been researching on Craigslist here and in the different states that we may get stationed when we leave here.  We planned to buy an older used van and hopefully pay cash.  One day, as I was browsing Craigslist for the umpteenth time, I came across a vehicle that looked kind of like an SUV.  I started just to scroll by it when I saw the words 12 PASSENGER underneath.  I clicked on the picture and saw a Nissan NV 12 passenger van.  I googled this van and showed my husband that night.  He was very impressed and actually excited about this prospect.  The only negative...it is a new vehicle.  We didn't have the option to buy used.  We discussed, researched, test drove, discussed more.  After a few weeks we decided this was the best option for our family.

Now for the financial part.  Currently we have an older Chevy minivan that we bought here in Hawaii.  We also had a Dodge Durango that we bought a few years ago and regretted doing so shortly after.  We were still paying on the Durango and it wouldn't even fit our family once our Ghana kids come home.  So, we traded it in.  We did not have a down payment (due to every extra penny going towards the adoption).  We were able to get 100% financing, our Durango paid off, and keep our payments in an affordable range.  We are also quite fortunate, due to being military, that we can get a waiver of sorts for the registration fee.  So rather than almost $500 we only pay $25.  So, as you can see, very little out of pocket expense and once the adoption is paid we plan to make large payments to get this vehicle paid off ASAP.

Rest assured that any money donated to us goes to adoption related fees.  We wouldn't dream of using it for other purposes.  And, quite honestly, life must go on.  I don't think families should completely drop everything in order to adopt.

Hope this clears up any questions some of you may have had.  Now, if you are in the market for a passenger van, stay tuned.  I plan to write a review about our vehicle very soon!

10.24.2012

3 months...

Do you ever open up your email and get butterflies every time you see a certain name?  Right now that is what happens whenever I see the name K***** M*****, our social worker.  Now, she doesn't always bring good news but it still brings a smile to my face, my heart skips a beat, and those butterflies kick in when I see her name in my inbox.  You see, when you have been waiting this long to bring home a child/ren you have never touched, hugged, kissed, or talked to...every bit of news is exciting.  Today, I received 2 emails.  The first one was letting me know KM had received the rest of the paperwork we needed to complete our dossier.  And, just to show you how awesome our SW is....the next email, a couple hours later said this:  "And it's off to Ghana!"
The pic of our dossier KM sent with her last email. :-)

It is an amazing thing when 5 simple words can completely make my day, can make me smile every time I think of them, give me butterflies every time I think of what they mean.
So, you may be thinking, what do they mean?  Simply put, I get to see my babies soon!  The more complex answer...this packet of papers, a biography of sorts, is on it's way to our POA in Ghana.  Our POA will take this packet to the regional director (have no idea who this guy, or girl, is!) in Volta, which is the region of Ghana our children are in.  This director person will process everything (whatever that means) and issue us a court date.  At that time our agency will call or email us to see if the court date will work for us.  If it will (I can't imagine it won't), then we start making our travel arrangements!  Unfortunately there is no clear timeline for this process(HA!  Like that is a shock!).  It can be anywhere from 2 to 3 months with 3 months being more the average.   So, prayerfully, we will be traveling to Ghana to see our precious little ones sometime in January, maybe sooner!  That may seem far away to many of you but after 18 months of excitement, tears, road blocks, detours, tears, joy, fear...3 months is a balm to my heart.  In 3 months I will see this amazing country my children were born in.  In 3 months I will smell, taste, and live their culture.  In 3 months I will look into two sets of dark brown eyes.  I will breathe in the sent of two precious beings the Lord has brought to our family.  I will touch, hug, squeeze two little people who have lived far too long without a mother or father.  In 3 months our family of 6 will grow to a family of 8.  *SIGH*  3 months....

"Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, let the earth hear HIS voice, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, let the people rejoice. O come to the Father through Jesus the Son and give HIM the GLORY, great things HE hath done!"

10.22.2012

Out with the old...

...In with the new!

With the anticipation of our 2 newest members arriving in the next 6 months or so I have been cleaning, organizing, simplifying, re-organizing and just trying to get our house in order before our world gets turned upside down.  We had a yard sale and got rid of most our stuff. Today I am cleaning out the school room and we are getting some new curriculum so I am listing LOTS of great curriculum.  Here it is:

CLE Reading 1
I Wonder book, Light Units 101-105 ***No marks, new***

CLE Language Arts 3
Teachers Guide and Light Units 306-310. No markings in these at all.

CLE Language Arts 4
Answer keys, Light Units 402-410 ***I have doubles of units 406-410*** Unit 402 has been slightly used. I have either erased or used white out on most of it but may have missed some. This is only on the first few lessons. It is also missing the first list of spelling words that can be cut out from the back. I am still searching for the quizzes and test...I know they are around here somewhere!

CLE Reading 4
Bridges Beyond book, answer key, and Light Units 404 and 405. I also have the quizzes and test for unit 3 that I will throw in.

CLE Social Studies 4
Into All the World text book, student map pack (for 2 students) in a 3 ring binder, 2 copies of the Teacher's Guide, Light Units 401-410 (2 copies of each unit), one copy of the answer keys. ***Both copies of units 401-2 have been lightly used. Lessons 1-15 for 401 have been written in with pencil, but 402 is clear. The books also have my children's names on the front.***

CLE Bible Elective I-Acts Through Revelation
Teachers Guide and Light Unit 5

CLE Reading 5
Open Windows book, answer key, Light Units 504 and 505 ***no writing or other marks***

CLE Bible 5
Teachers Guide and Light Unit 505 ***no writing or other marks***

CLE Language Arts 5
Answer keys and Light Units 502-510. ***Unit 502 has writing in the first two lessons, pencil only. I may or may not remember to have my oldest erase it. ***

CLE Research Paper I and II ***no writing or marks***

CLE Science 6
Answer keys, Light Units 601-610 ***I have duplicates of all the Light Units. The first few pages in both Light Units 601 have writing in pen and/or pencil. It is very minimal and can be erased or whited (is that a word?) out***

CLE Bible 7
Answer Keys, Light Units 710-710 ***Light Unit 701 does have writing, pen, in the first few lessons and is missing the test.***

God's Design For Life science series
The Human Body, The Animal Kingdom, and The World of Plants ***There are some pencil marks in 2 of the books, very minor.***

Math U See:

Beta-Instruction manual (spiral bound), DVD, and Test booklet (has all tests)
Gamma-Instruction manual (spiral bound), DVD, and Test booklet (missing tests 1-6)
Delta-Instruction manual (newer version, not spiral bound), DVD, and Test booklet (has all tests)
Epsilon-Instruction manual (newer version, not spiral bound), DVD, test booklet, and Student Text (missing 2 or 3 lsns for 1-12, starting in 13 all lessons are there)

Mystery of History
Volume I text, CD Audio set, Through the Ages timeline book (Beautiful!!! Has some figures already glued and minimal writing), Through the Ages timeline packet (over 250 black and white timeline figures with name, date, and descriptive text), CD Printable Reproducibles, 3 ring binder of multiple copies of maps printed out, Folder book (lap book) figures printed on card stock in triplicates. I used to have the Folder book CD but I seem to have just the case right now. If I find the CD I will ship it out no extra charge. This is a great set and much of the work has been done for you!!!

HOD-Beyond Little Hearts For His Glory
I also have the following resources to go with this: God's Wonderful Works (Science), American Pioneers and Patriots, Stories of the Pilgrims, Boys and Girls of Colonial Days. ***No marks, new***

Leave a comment or message me on facebook for prices!  Thanks for looking!

10.04.2012

Financial Disclosure

We have had many questions about the cost of adoption lately.  That is understandable.  When you donate to something you want to know where your money is going.  To the right you will see different pages.  Click on the one that says financial disclosure.  I tried to break down the fees to show you exactly where the money is going.  Hope this helps but if you have any questions feel free to ask!

God is in the details!

So much has happened in the last few days regarding adoption finances.  As mentioned in a previous post, our agency was requiring us to pay $9500 before they would send our dossier to Ghana.  We have been desperately trying to raise this money to get our process moving again.  A couple days ago I emailed our agency letting them know we would be sending $6000 this week and asking if that was enough to get our dossier sent.  Later that same day a dear friend (and adoptive mama) called me with an offer.  After talking to her husband they decided to loan us the rest of the money to get our dossier in the mail!  I was shocked and in tears.  Normally we would not consider taking a loan from friends but at this point we were just so desperate to get things moving and get our babies home.  Now, I mentioned there was a small contingency.  They needed to sell their mini van first.  Once that happened they would send the money to our agency.  Praise God, He moved that mountain!  But wait, there is more....
Yesterday I received an email back from our agency.  They were willing to accept the $6000 and send off our dossier.  Another concern we had was that the rest of our fees, equaling $14,000, were going to be due before the first trip.  YIKES!  Once again, God had this the whole time.  We were told that those fees wouldn't be due until the last trip.  WHEW!  A huge burden has been lifted.  (Needless to say, we will not be taking a loan from our friends but we are very grateful to them for the offer!)
Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22
Now we can focus on getting the money for travel, which will happen approximately 2-3 months after our dossier is sent.  For this first trip I am estimating we will need about $6000. This covers round trip flights from Turkey (planning to get there free via space a flights with the military), hotels in Ghana, food, transportation, visa fees for the kids, and spending money. Our goal is to have $10,000 by the time we travel.  $6000 for us and the rest towards agency fees. So, how can you help?  Well, over the next few months we will have a couple things going on.  We will continue to promote our puzzle fundraiser and would greatly appreciate it if you would share it with others as well. In November I will be hosting another Thirty One party and my consultant has, once again, offered to give all profit to our adoption fund.  Most importantly, as cliche as this may sound, we need and covet your prayers!
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.  1 John 5:14 

10.03.2012

Now what?

Yesterday, on facebook, I posted that God had crushed our mountain.  On September 18th I wrote a blog pleading for your help.  Between our own finances and the generous donations of friends and family we were prepared to send in $6000 to our agency by this Friday.  Add the $500 grant we received a couple months ago to that and our total owed to get our dossier to Ghana was $3000.  I emailed our agency in hope that they would be willing to send the dossier once this money was received, even though it wasn't the full payment.  I have not heard back from them yet.  Instead, I receive an email from a dear family saying they may be able to help us with that last bit.  PRAISE GOD!  Now, this is not set in stone and is contingent on one thing, but I am not going to go into details because God is in the details and I have faith that HE will make it happen.  So, mountain #1...CRUSHED!

Now what?  Once our agency receives the last bit of paperwork and funds (prayerfully by the end of the week) our dossier will be on its way to our children's birth country!  This is a HUGE step in getting our little ones home.  Once the dossier is in Ghana.....well, we wait!  Yep, more waiting.  This time we wait for a court date.  This takes approximately 2-3 months.  There are some things that take place in Ghana during this time before we are cleared to go to court.  I predict sometime in January we will receive the call that we have a court date.  I am pretty sure this is when I will get a little crazy!  I will finally be able to see, hug, squeeze, kiss and love on my beautiful babies!  Lord willing we will pass court quickly without any issues and enjoy several days with the newest members of our family in their beautiful country.  We expect to be in Ghana for approximately 2 weeks.  Before we leave, Lord willing, we will file the I600 (google it :).  No, our children will not be coming home with us at this time.  I know, heart breaking.  We will count down the days until our children are back in our arms.

With all that said, we still have another mountain looming in the distance.  I am waiting for confirmation from our agency of exactly when this next fee is due.  Our prayer is that it can be split up.  Some due before our first trip and the rest due before our last trip.  This mountain is BIG and does not include our travel expenses.  Are you ready for it? ******$14,000!******  WHEW!  Guess what?!?  My God is bigger than that mountain.  So, over the next few months we will continue to ask our dear friends and family to buy the puzzle pieces.  We will continue to ask you to pray.  We will continue to ask for your support and encouragement.  Our earnest prayer is that we will make a decent dent in that amount via grants and fundraisers.  Thank you to all who have donated and helped us get this dossier to Ghana!  We are eternally grateful for your help in bringing our children home to their forever family.  Please continue to share our blog and facebook posts so that we can finish putting the pieces of the puzzle together as we continue to piece our family together.

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the ADOPTION of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.
Ephesians 1:4-5 


10.02.2012

What God has done

Remember that mountain?  $9500 in order to get our dossier sent to Ghana.  Well, here is what God has done with that mountain.  We will be mailing paperwork and a check to our agency this week.  Once all funds are applied to our account that mountain will be reduced to $3000!!!  Yep, my God is so good, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God cannot do!!!

Since the start of our puzzle fundraiser (which officially started months ago for my kids to get to Ghana) we have sold 154 pieces.  This is a 500 piece puzzle so we still have a ways to go!  Please continue to share our blog with others and help us get our little ones home.

Thank you, a million times, thank you for  your love, encouragement, prayers, donations, and support.  You have all been a blessing to our family and will forever be a "piece of the puzzle" in our adoption journey.

God bless.

9.27.2012

Puzzle

Since September 18th we have sold 112 puzzle pieces!  Several months ago when my children started the puzzle fundraiser, they sold 29 pieces.  That leaves 359 pieces left to complete this beautiful puzzle!  Our goal was 400 pieces by September 30th.  While we still have time it doesn't look like we will meet that goal.   I am ok with that.  It is all in God's timing and I am trusting fully in Him.



I do ask that you continue to share our blog and pray for our family on this journey.  Thank you to all those who have donated thus far.  Your generosity means the world to us and to two precious children, it means a life.

Once again, I cling to this verse:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

9.26.2012

Faith

Now FAITH is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1 KJV

This seems to be the verse of the day on facebook.  It could not have come at a more perfect time for me.  This whole adoption journey has been about us putting our COMPLETE faith and trust in the Lord.  It has not always been easy.  Lately it has been extremely difficult. 

Many of you know that we were turned down for two precious little Korean girls last year and one precious little girl we felt we had to say no to.  One of those girls has come home to her forever family, another one will be home in a few weeks and I am sure the last one will be home sometime in November.  It has been bittersweet following their journey while we wait and wait and wait. 

From the time we started this process we have always had the funds we needed, by God's grace.  It was always in the bank before we needed it.  This time it is not. 

Faith.  I hoped and prayed for the Lord to show us who are child was.  It took a while but He answered and showed us TWO!  Faith.  Just over a week ago I published a blog literally begging for money.  In that time we have received over $1000 in donations and an opportunity to serve our church.  No, it has not happened in my timing and we have not reached the goal that I have set but I have FAITH.  You see, I serve an AWESOME God. He knows when we will be traveling to Ghana.  He knows when my children will come home.  He knows!  Today I am once again giving it to HIM.  My complete trust and faith rest in my Heavenly Father, for He knows best.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 
Jeremiah 29:11 KJV

Yep, He knows and the end will be exactly what I expected, my children will be in their forever home.


9.20.2012

330 TO GO

That's right!  We have sold 70 puzzle pieces in the last couple days.  Thank you for your support...donations, shared links, and prayers are all appreciated! 

Our goal is still to come up with $4000 by September 30th so that we can send our agency a check for the full amount owed and get our dossier sent out. We are also working on selling some stuff (keep checking under our "for sale" link) and we are also trying to sell one of our vehicles.  Unfortunately, Hawaiians don't seem to be interested in our 4 wheel drive, gas guzzling beast of an SUV. :-)  As one friend reminded me today, God is in the business of performing miracles.  May not be on my time but it will happen.

Some of you may have seen the measurements I posted on facebook.  Our Ghana girl is, guesstimated, to be turning 5 this November.  She has finally caught up to my 2 1/2 year old in height at 37 inches and weighs approximately 30 lbs.  Also the same as my 2 year old.  Our little guy, who was on the brink of death when he arrived at the orphanage, is 31 inches tall and approximately 25 lbs.  He is reportedly turning 3 next month.  On top of that our daughter needs to have tests run to see what her viral load is (among other things) concerning her HIV.  She is not receiving any medical attention regarding her disease right now.  So, you see the urgency in getting this dossier sent out to get the process moving again. 

Our hearts are full of gratitude for all of your support, no matter what form it comes in.  We have been so blessed by this process and grateful the Lord chose us for this journey that will forever change our lives.

9.19.2012

Crumbling mountain

Slowly, but surely, God is moving the mountain!  I am so grateful for my wonderful facebook friends.  A good portion of them I have not even met but we share a very special connection.  ADOPTION.  Please don't misunderstand me, I am extremely grateful for all my friends and family but I have watched this adoptive parents community rally around other families whom they have never met but support in every way possible.  It is a beautiful thing.  Two Bible verses come to mind when I think of the adoption community and their love for one another.

John 13:34 says, "A new commandment I give unto you, thay ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."

Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."

Since yesterday we have sold more than 21 puzzle pieces (some people are sending a check so I am unsure of how many pieces they are buying) and we have received a very kind donation on $350.  We still have a ways to go to meet our goal by the end of this month but I have been amazed and humbled at how God works. 

Just to clarify the reason we are asking for help at this point.  Our home study was officially completed (with update) on July 12, 2012.  In order to apply for grants or adoption loans you need a completed home study.  So, prior to that we have used our own funds and have done fundraisers through our church to pay the fees.  To date we have paid in approximately $10,000 total.  We have received one grant in the amount of $500 and were declined for a grant.  We currently have 3 grant applications being processed and about 3 more to be mailed out shortly.  Most grant organizations have certain times when they process and award grants.  Just so happens that we wont hear back from any of the organizations until late October through December.  Meanwhile, our dossier sits, almost completed, on the desk of our very sweet social worker until we can pay the next fee.  We cannot move forward until this dossier is sent.  At that point the Ghanaian government will look at it, prayerfully decide we can adopt these children and then a court date will be issued.  This should take approximately 3 months.  So, you see our dilemma.  The longer the dossier sits, the longer my children wait for their family.  Please understand that it is VERY difficult for us to ask for help, especially financially.  God has provided every step of the way so far and I know HIS timing is perfect.  If it takes another month or so to get this money then I know it is HIS will.  We are just trying to do everything possible to make it happen.  If you don't feel comfortable or are unable to give towards our adoption then please know that we also, more than anything, covet your prayers. 

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
James 1:27

While you may not be able to visit the fatherless (orphans) this is your chance to help two of them come to their forever home.  To help one of them receive the medical treatment that can take her disease from terminal to manageable.

Thank you again for your kind support in both prayer and donation!

9.18.2012

On our knees begging and pleading...

OK, so here is the deal.  Our home study took FOREVER to be completed.  In order to apply for grants you must have a completed home study.  I have about 10 grant applications almost completed.  Yes, almost.  For those of you who have not adopted or have never filled out a grant application, I assure, it is no easy task.  There are no two applications alike.  It is a long and arduous process trying to gather all the necessary paperwork.  Another issue is that it takes time to hear back from these organizations.  In the meantime we are once again at a standstill.  Up until now we have been held up due to "red tape".  There was nothing we could do about it.  Now, it is finances.  It is all in our hands (actually, HIS hands)!  We have received I600a approval and the next step is to get our dossier to Ghana.  Unfortunately, our agency needs our latest fee in order to send off the dossier. This is where the begging and pleading comes in.  We owe $9500 right now...actually, like yesterday!  Our dossier will be completed as soon as we get the last couple pieces of paperwork sent in this week.  Then it will sit and wait.  My children are sitting (ok, maybe not sitting) but definitely waiting.  We are tired of sitting and waiting.  Right now we are short about $6000.  We are trusting in our AWESOME SAVIOR to move this mountain and bring us another step closer to getting our children home.  Would you be willing to help us? 

My children started a puzzle fundraiser to help them purchase plane tickets to Ghana when we go for the "pick up" trip.  They have graciously agreed to give us the puzzle fundraiser so that we can get this process moving again.  The kids sold 30 puzzle pieces and that money will remain in their account.  That gives us 470 pieces to sell for $10 a piece.  Our goal is to have this by the end of the month.  Would you like to have a "piece" in bringing our children home?  If so, just click on the donate button to the right of this blog and in the comments let us know the names you would like to have put on the back of the puzzle pieces. If you would prefer to send a check please email me at travstac5@msn.com for our address. Once the puzzle is complete we will glue it together and hang it in our home as a constant reminder of God's provision in providing for "the least of these".  Thank you in advance for your support!


8.28.2012

Disclosure, stigma, undetectable, viral load...

Those words are all part of our daily vocabulary now.  From the title some of you may understand exactly what I am talking about but for those who don't, let me start at the beginning.

You have heard me talk about the mounds of paperwork involved with adoption.  One of the very first pieces of paperwork is the medical stuff.  Not just for us but regarding the child we want to adopt.  This particular paper is a medical check list.  It is a list of medical conditions ranging from mild to severe.  Many of the things on this list we had never heard of.  So, with Google up on the computer we began checking of the special needs we would be willing to deal with, for lack of a better term.  This is not an easy thing to do.  How do you say no to any child?  Unfortunately there were some needs that we just didn't feel comfortable taking on.  Under the label, COMMUNICABLE DISEASES,  we checked no to all of them.  We had a family and felt that was a risk we weren't willing to take.
Fast forward several months.  We switch from the Korea program to the Ghana program and we are matched with two adorable children.  There was very little information in their file.  We received their measurements and were told our daughter has an umbilical hernia.  We did ask if either one of them had a communicable disease and were told no.  Four months later we finally start receiving medical information.  First for our little guy.  Other than malnutrition, he is healthy.  A few weeks later I received an email from our agency regarding our daughter.  It is a moment I will never forget but not because I was shocked or upset.  Because this is the first time I realized the profound love I have for these children that I have never even met.  Our agency informed us that our daughter did test positive for HIV.  They still needed to do another test to confirm which we take some time to get the results.  In the meantime we were to decide if we wanted to continue with the adoption.  Here is where that profound love comes in.  YES.WITH.OUT.A.DOUBT.IN.MY.MIND.YES!!!
This was no different to me than if a doctor had told me there was something wrong with a child I was carrying in utero.  This is my child, a precious gift from above. 
The next few weeks involved lots or research and reaching out to other adoptive families with HIV positive children.  What did I learn?
HIV is no longer considered a terminal illness, but instead it is a manageable disease.
HIV has never been contracted in a casual setting such as in the home, church, school, et.
HIV,with the correct treatment plan, can acutally be undetectable in the blood!!!

I was amazed by the advancements that had been made and saddened by the fact that there has been so little education about HIV/AIDS since the 1980's. 
Next came the issue of disclosure.  To tell, or not to tell.  I read blogs, I asked other moms and I prayed.  This is not a subject to be taken lightly and there is no correct answer.  Since you are reading this it is obvious that our decision was to disclose.  We told our family members right away and then a couple months later we told our church family.  We have received nothing but support and encouragement.  We have been blessed!  Due to the military, we relocate every few years.  We do not plan to tell each church we attend.  We chose to do so here because our church family has played a vital role in our adoption process.  We chose to post it on this blog because we covet your prayers and hope to connect with other families parenting a positive child.  What we are not looking for is your pity or your discouragement.  You know the saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all"?  Yep, that applies here. :) 
Right now our daughter is not on medication and is doing just fine.  Our first few months home will consist of numerous doctor visits.  We have already been in contact with her Pediatric Infectious Disease doctor and he is wonderful.  I look forward to the day I can type the word undetectable in HUGE letters!  Please join us in loving and praying for our sweet children on the other side of the world.

Thank you!

Too long...

I have to give KUDOS to mom's who find the time to blog!  My goal this year was to keep up with this blog, chronicling our life and adoption journey but with 4 kiddos, homeschooling, church activities, adoption stuff....I am sure the list goes on...I just can't seem to find the time.  So, with that said, be prepared for a long post full of updates!  Here goes...

Adoption:

Things are finally moving along.  Our homestudy was officially completed (for the second time).  I600a sent and fingerprints done on August 24th.  Now we are just waiting for the approval letter to come.  Once we receive that we can get our dossier sent to Ghana.  We are a bit stuck financially so your prayers would be appreciated.  God has miraculously funded this adoption so far.  While I do have days I struggle to trust in HIM and not be discouraged, I know He has got this.  I need to rely on HIS timing and have complete FAITH that HE will bring my children home. 

Homeschooling:

We have switched things up here a bit...actually, just going back to a method that worked great for us before.  Occasionally I panic and lose all confidence in my ability to teach my children.  When this happens I tend to go on a curriculum hunt and start buying things I am sure will be better.  We get excited about it, start it, and inevitably we burn out within a few weeks.  I know my children's learning styles and I know my teaching style, so why don't I just stick with what works?  FEAR!  Well, I am done with that.  We have gone back to our Charlotte Mason style of teaching and we are LOVING it!  I do a touch of classical too.  I love the "one room classroom" style of teaching.  I know once my oldest hits high school in a couple years he will be doing a good portion of work on his own so I am relishing in this time of having them gathered around me while I teach. 

Hawaii:

We have been here for about 20 months now.  I did not love Hawaii when we first got here, actually for the first year or so. I know, I know...you are thinking in your head right now, HOW COULD SHE NOT LOVE LIVING IN PARADISE???  Well, that is just it.  We LIVE here.  This isn't a vacation, at least not a short one! :)  The weather is pretty much the same every.single.day.  I miss the fall...leaves changing, the cool air, curling up on the couch with a blanket and bowl of soup.  I miss seasons!  We are not very "outdoorsy" people.  This is an "outdoorsy" place.  With all that said, I have been trying to have a better attitude about it.  We have been blessed with an amazing church family.  My husband and I are Sunday School teachers and that has been a huge blessing.  Our church has been wonderful and very supportive during our adoption process. I know God has brought us here for a reason and I am determined to embrace it and enjoy it for the next 16 or so months.

I think that about does it for updates.  Thanks for reading and God Bless!

4.18.2012

Kids blog

Hi!  Head on over to my kids blog and check out their puzzle fundraiser.  My oldest two would really love to go to Ghana with me on my second trip to bring Hannah and Isaiah home.  Do you think you could spare a little cash to help them out?

Jake and Lauren's blog

4.13.2012

Birthday's

My youngest turned 2 on March 31st and my oldest turned 12 on April 9th!  Seriously, where does the time go?  My little one is no longer a baby and my oldest is a young man.  I am one blessed mama...these kids are amazing!
Jacob went to lunch and a movie with daddy for his birthday.  He also had a little geocaching adventure to find one of his gifts.  Here are the pics of that:








Clue #1

Clue #2

Clue #3

Off to find the last clue...

Found it!

He got a geocaching shirt!  He LOVES it!       

Too busy!

Tomorrow (or today since I wont be publishing this until tomorrow...that made sense, right?) marks the beginning of our insanely busy and crazy few days.  Actually, come to think of it, this whole week has been busy already.  For the entire month of April we will knock out a whopping 13 doctor and dentist visits!  Seriously? 
So, tomorrow am we have Kyle's pre op appointment for his surgery on Tuesday.  Then, in the afternoon, I have to see my doctor to fix some adoption forms he filled out for me a while ago.  I am assuming he didn't really mean to check the no box under the question "Is the adoption applicant's state of health suitable for raising a child?"  At least I am hoping he didn't mean too!  Saturday...yard sale and bake sale in the morning, baby shower in the afternoon.  Sunday...church!  Monday morning Kyle has an appointment with developmental peds for an autism evaluation.  Looking forward to getting some answers there.  Monday afternoon Lauren has gymnastics from 12-2 but just realized as I am typing this that she will have to leave early because Kyle and I have a dentist appointment at 2:00.  Sealants and a crown...I think I got the raw end of the deal! Tuesday, Kyle has surgery #2 on his ear.  Praying this is it for the little man.  So far Wednesday and Thursday are free! Oh, wait, piano lessons on Thursday but I can just drop the older two off and enjoy the hour with my younger two.  Friday is my mommy and me book club...which is really just a fancy name for kids running around having fun while mommy gets some adult time with a great group of Christian ladies...but that seemed too long. ;-) Somewhere in all that craziness we also need to squeeze in some school and I have to finish up adoption grant paperwork to be turned in by the 30th.  Yep, pretty sure smoke will be coming out of my ears by Friday evening...if not sooner.  Definitely thinking Saturday needs to be a beach day!
Now, the hardest task during those busy days is to take a moment and thank God for giving me the most amazing job in the world...mom.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.  I love you Jacob, Lauren, Kyle, Hannah, Isaiah and Ethan!!!

4.12.2012

Easter

We had a wonderful day celebrating our RISEN SAVIOR!  Here are some pics:
Hunting for eggs




Making Resurrection Rolls


HE IS RISEN!


We enjoyed a great church service and a super yummy potluck meal afterward!

4.11.2012

For Sale!!!

I mentioned in a previous post that we are making some changes in our curriculum for home schooling.  Because of those changes I have some great deals on our previous curriculum choices.  Some items were barely used!  I also have a couple Korea and adoption books to sell.
Mystery of History volume one, complete set.  This is a GREAT value.  This set was very gently and barely used.  We only got through the first CD.  There are some timeline characters colored and already placed in the timeline book.  There may be a few marks in the teachers book.  Online the whole set would be $220 before shipping.  I am selling this for $120!!!

All the folder pack worksheets have already been printed onto cardstock and are ready to be cut out.  We did use some so you may have to print a page or two but most of the work has been done for you.  Including a 3 ring binder full of multiple copies of the maps you will use throughout the book.  You can have all of this for $120!

Spanish curriculum.  This was also very gently and barely used.  There are 3 workbooks included and they do have my children's names on the front.  One page inside the workbook has pencil markings.  This is in excellent condition.  This set cost me $165 not including shipping.  It can be yours for $85!


This is an excellent spelling curriculum.  It is not the most recent addition but still wonderful.  The book has been taken apart and put into a large 3 ring binder.  There are some markings throughout.  I am asking $30 for this.



Love these books from titus2 ministries.  They have been well loved and well used in our house.  They do not have all the extras that you can buy with them but they are still wonderfully useful and you could go to the website and purchase the add -ons.  I would like to sell these as a set for $35 but would consider selling separately.

Writing With Ease by Susan Wise Bauer.  These books were never used and therefore are in excellent condition.  You will get the Strong Fundamentals book and the Level 1 Workbook.  $25  SOLD

First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind Level 3...this is just the teachers manual.  Workbooks will need to be purchased.  $10  SOLD

First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind Level 1 & 2....LOVE this book.  I have debated quite a bit with myself about selling it.  This book shows some wear as it was used A LOT!  This is a wonderful introductory language arts book.  I love the poems and the short, simple lessons!  $10

A brand new baby book for adoptive families.  This is a very sweet baby book for infant or toddler adoptions.  Since our children will be older we will be doing a different type of memory book.  $10



Seoul, Korea visitors guide.  This book is awesome!!  Tons of information about Korea and beautiful pictures.  Would be great to have around the house for you Korea adoptive mama's!  $15



Toddler Adoption, The Weaver's Craft.  Great resource for toddler adoptions.  Good used condition.  $8


If you would like to buy any of the items just click on the donate button at the top right of this blog and specify in the comments what you are purchasing.  Most books will be sent media mail.  The bigger items will probably be sent in flat rate boxes.  Shipping can take a while from Hawaii...just a warning. :)  I included shipping fees in the prices.  Thanks for looking!

4.05.2012

Goal failed!

HA!  So much for my goal of keeping up with this blog.  Whew!  I give kudos to you blogging mamas who find the time to do this.  Between homeschooling, church commitments, adoption paper work, and...well...LIFE, I just can't seem to find the time.  So, here is an update:

Adoption:  We are finally home study complete!  Woohoo!  Only took a year. :\  What's next?  Well, we are waiting just a bit to file our first official form, the I600a.  Basically we are waiting on some medical reports.  Our home study needs to be very specific regarding any medical issues with the children so we may have to update it.  Rather than send in all the paperwork and then have to send in more because it changed we are waiting a week or two for some results and then we can send in everything we need.  Once the I600a is sent we will get a notice in the mail for fingerprinting.  Hopefully that wont take long and we will get our approval quickly.  While waiting for the approval our agency will be working on our dossier.  I find this rather redundant since our home study has basically the same information as the dossier.  What is with governments and massive amounts of paperwork?!?  So, those are the next steps.  It is definitely getting closer and starting to feel real again.  My excitement has been renewed.  I.CANT.WAIT.TO.MEET.MY.BABIES!!!

I think we will be bringing this boy some manly flip flops! haha


You may notice the "bump" under her shirt.  She has an umbilical hernia.

Life:  We are pluggin' along as usual.  Kyle will be having sugery this month.  He had surgery in February to remove a tube that was placed in his ear over 5 years ago.  That tube left a hole in his ear drum that needed to be patched.  The doctors made a small incision behind his ear and took some fat to stuff in the hole.  Well, at his 4 week check up the fat did not "take" so there is still a whole.  So, little man goes back in on the 17th to redo the fat stuff.  Praying it works this time! 

Homeschool:  Since deciding to adopt I have been changing up our curriculum a lot.  I wanted to get my oldest two working independently so that I could devote my time to the younger and "newer" kiddos.  So, Jake and Lauren are now using Christian Light Education for Language Arts, Reading, and Bible.  I just recently ordered their History workbooks as well.  It has been hard on all of us switching to a workbook type approach but it needed to be done and it is definitely allowing me to focus more on the younger two right now. 
Kyle is still struggling to read.  We see a developmental pediatrician in a couple weeks.  I am hoping we can figure some things out and this will help me to know how to teach him.  Since I have to sit with him and "do school" we are using Heart of Dakota, Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory.  It is mainly literature based which works well for him right now.  I am hoping to get him reading soon so he can start doing some work independently as well. 
I really like the CLE curriculum.  It is very God focused and it fits the needs of our family.  We will most likely be using this for Hannah and Isaiah once they are home a while and I can assess where they are at developmentally.

Last but not least, I want to give a shout out to all my Korea adoptive mamas....CONGRATS ON EP'S AND TRAVEL CALLS!!!  I am so anxious to see facebook light up with pictures of mama's holding their precious baby's after a ridiculously long wait!  ADOPTION ROCKS!!!

1.26.2012

Slow going

Not much to report on the adoption front.  We did meet with our social worker recently and are hoping to have the home study completed by mid February.  Unfortunately, our state clearances will expire in the next couple months so we will be redoing those.  We are also hoping to get medical and background information on our little angels.  We have received very little information thus far and it is getting rather frustrating.
Please continue to keep our family in your prayers as we navigate through the crazy world of adoption!

For now I will leave you with a link to an etsy store.  This sweet adoptive mommy has a very sad story to tell but through her tears of sorrow the Lord has blessed her with 2 sweet children from Ethiopia and she is now waiting to bring home her daughter from Ghana (from the same orphanage as our little darlings).  Click here to check out her store.

God Bless!

1.25.2012

Brainstorming

Yes, I know it is Wednesday and, yes, I know I said I would be blogging about homeschooling on Tuesdays.  Bare with me, I am a work in progress. :)

Today, I am asking for advice/thoughts from all the homeschool mama's who read this blog.  I am struggling to get school done with a 2 year old running around!  So, here are my issues and some thoughts on how I can change things.  I would love any input you can give.
My two oldest children can pretty much do all their schooling independently.  They still come to me with questions and we do Science and History as a family.  My biggest issue is with my youngest two.  Some of you may have seen my facebook post about my  3rd child.  He will be undergoing some test for Autism Spectrum Disorders and Sensory Processing Disorders (ASD and SPD).  I am not going to go into these issues now but we are definitely dealing with some learning delays.  Mainly, reading.  Kyle turned 7 in December and is "technically" in the 1st grade.  I tried the 100 Easy Lessons with him and he did ok but didn't seem to retain it.  Now we are using a different reading program and it slow going.  Since he can't read on his own I need to be able to work closely with him to read instructions and such.  This is extremely difficult with my toddler who thinks he needs my undivided attention every waking hour!  I had a pretty good schedule going on for a while.  I was able to help Kyle through some of his subjects and have him play educational games until my youngest went down for his mid-morning nap.  Recently, my strong willed, wild, gets into everything sweet, lovable toddler has decided to move his naps to the afternoon.  I prefer to have most of our schooling done by lunch time.  I tend to lose my energy around then and I enjoy my quiet time when all the kids are resting (the older 3 rest for one hour in the afternoon).  Right now, the child who needs my help the most is getting pushed to the side so I can deal with the toddler and my older ones aren't getting the help they need and this mama is ready to pull her hair out!
Now, my thoughts on how to fix this.  I think the obvious answer is to do the majority of schooling in the after noon while the toddler naps.  Fortunately, he does take a 2 1/2 to 3 hour nap.  The pros I see with doing this are as follows:  I would be able to give most of my attention to my 3rd child with some interruptions to help the older two when needed.  At some point I will be starting at home exercising therapies with Kyle and the mornings would be a perfect time to do it so that he is more able to focus on his work later.  I would also like to start doing Tot School with my little guy and this would give me the time to do it.  I think the older kids would enjoy being involved in this as well.  The cons:  I definitely lack energy after lunch time.  I worry that the kids will also be tired and not able to focus as well.  My husband gets home from work around 4:30ish so I am concerned we would feel rushed in getting the house picked up and all our normal "before daddy gets home" chores. 
I would love any input from those teaching multiple ages and how you do it.  We will probably end up going to the afternoon school schedule because I just don't see another option at this point.  I also want to make sure we have a good routine/schedule down before we bring home 2 more children who will also need A LOT of my attention. 
Thanks in advance for any help!

1.23.2012

Moving

For those of you who haven't figure it out yet, we are an Army family.  Moving is what we do.  A lot.  Not only do we move to a different state (or country) every 2 to 3 years but my family seems to move 2 or 3 times within that same state (or country).  LOL  When we moved to Hawaii the Army was unable to get us in a home in a timely manner and we were quite tired of living in a hotel so we moved off post (off base for the "other" services) and signed a lease.  Our neighborhood was great.  Our home, not so much.  The homes in Hawaii are rather small and it is hard to find one with AC. So, we were hot and little cramped.  Also, the charge for utilities out here would blow your mind.  During the past year we stayed on the list for military housing.  As we came to the end of our lease we started calling to see if there was anything available.  It wasn't looking good.  One day, out of the blue, housing called my husband with great news.  They have a house for us!!!  Woohoo!!!  Better yet, it is BRAND NEW! 
On Wednesday, January 11th we received the keys to our new home and started moving in.  Our amazing church helped us finish up on the following Saturday.  Our lovely new home has lots of space and will accommodate our growing family well.  We are also just a few miles from our church now which is wonderful since we spend a lot of time there.  In our little community there is a pool, splash park, skate park, library, movie theater, rec center and more.  Oh, did I mention we live in a crater?  Yep, a crater...kinda weird. 
Now that we are settled it is back to business.  More blogging, adoption paperwork, homeschooling and just being a family.

P.S.  I will have to add some pics later, they are on a different computer.

1.05.2012

Blogging: a schedule

I mentioned that one of my goals is to blog more.  I have set up a schedule to do just that.  My goal is to blog at least 3 times a week.  So, here is my schedule:  Mondays: my life, Tuesdays: homeschooling, and Thursdays:  adoption.  Occasionally I will add in Wordless Wednesdays and Photo Dump Fridays.  So, today is Thursday...

Let's start off with an adoption time line.  The number one question after we announced we were adopting Hannah and Isaiah, is when are they coming home.  In short, no idea!  The adoption world is very unpredictable.  So many things have to happen in a certain order before the children can come home.  Sometimes these "things" happen quickly and the children are home in a very timely manner (insert hysterical laughter from all my adoptive mama friends).  More often than not, these things do not go quickly or happen without issue.  So, here is a rough run down of what needs to happen:

Home study finished!  This is a big one...we are at a standstill until this is done.  The hubby and I will be meeting with the social worker on January 17th to get this ball rolling...quickly, I hope.  Since we changed countries there are, obviously, some changes that need to be made to the home study.  After this meeting we will have a better idea when this will be finished.  I am praying for the end of January!
Then we have to file a form called the I-600a, which is the application for the advance processing of orphan petition.  This form carries a ridiculous fee along with it and the processing time for this form is currently 75 days. 
While waiting for this document to be approved we will be getting together all paperwork that we need for a dossier.  This isn't too difficult...just some very specific paperwork that needs to be notarized and sent to our agency.  They will put everything together in a nice, little packet. 
Once the I-600a approval is returned, our agency will add the approval letter to our dossier and send it off to Ghana.
This next part I just copied straight from my email...much easier. 
Our in-country liaison will provide your dossier to a lawyer in Ghana. The lawyer will then complete the petition for adoption and file this with the Court. The Ministry will then file a report supporting the adoption. Once this is complete, the Court will set a hearing date. At that time, you and your husband or one of you will go to Ghana and present yourself to the court to receive the Adoption Decree. This is usually about 3 months after sending your dossier.
So, in case you have lost track, we will be making our first visit to Ghana about 135 (business) days after our home study is finished.  IF...that is a very big IF...our home study is finished by the end of January we should be traveling to Ghana to meet our little darlings some time in August.  We will be staying in Ghana for 10-14 days.  In that time we will be spending a ton of time with our little ones and we will also have a court date.  At this point we will officially adopt Hannah and Isaiah!  Very exciting!  We also hope to be able to file the next necessary form while in country.  This forms is the I-600.  This is a petition to classify the orphan as an immediate relative.  This seems obvious to me...um, we just adopted them in court...they are our son and daughter!  The government loves paper work!  
Then, we wait!  I imagine this will be the most difficult part of the whole process.  I can't imagine spending two weeks with my children and then leaving them.  I am really not looking forward to this part of the process.  
This form takes a minimum of 60 days to be approved but it seems it is usually longer so I am praying for no longer than 75 days!  Once this is approved our in-country liaison will, with power of attorney, pick up our children's visa packets.  Then the visa interview and hopefully a printed visa...with no issues or hold ups would be nice.  Once the visa is issued we will be on a plane to bring home our baby's!!!  This trip will be about 7 days long.  
So, if all goes well (HA!) we will be bringing Hannah and Isaiah home around Thanksgiving time! ( I think in an earlier post I mentioned October...this would be great but I forgot to count business days only...oops...so in reality we are looking at closer to the end of November.)  
Typing this all out kind of makes me sad.  November seems ages away! 

Waiting....
 



1.03.2012

Goals vs. Resolutions

I have noticed a trend lately regarding New Years resolutions.  People just don't make them anymore...instead they make goals.  I like this.  Often, we make these resolutions, stick with them for the first month or two...maybe even three...then we slowly taper off until these resolutions are a thing of the past and we haven't truly accomplished anything.  Resolution has a certain...well...resolute feeling to it.  A goal has a more long term, achievement type feel to it.  Did that make any sense?  A popular resolution is to lose weight.  Many jump into this resolution by working out and dieting.  They quickly burn out and then give up entirely.  So rather than resolving to lose weight, your goal could be to start living a healthy lifestyle.  See, the resolution has this "must do now or fail" feel to it but the goal has a "long term, move toward it gradually" kind of feel to it.  So, all that rambling to say we have made some goals, both personal and for our family, this year.  We are still working on the family goals so I will blog about that later.  Without further ado, here are my personal goals for 2012:

Consistency!!!  This is a huge one for me and goes for all areas in my life...my relationship with the Lord, with my husband and with my children, homeschooling, house keeping, eating healthy, exercising.  I tend to dive into something with closed eyes and outstretched arms, only to quickly fall flat on my face.  So, with the strength of my Heavenly Father I plan to slow down and be consistent and steady in all I do.
Another goal is to enjoy this little slice of paradise in the pacific.  When we first moved to Hawaii I was very excited.  It didn't take long for that excitement to dwindle and for me to feel like I was stranded on a deserted island.  I almost felt claustrophobic.  I spent 2011 brooding.  NOT ANYMORE!  The Lord does not make mistakes.  He has sent us to this island for a reason.  We have a wonderful church that we are already serving in and I plan to serve even more this year!  The Lord has blessed us with two more children we will be bringing home to this beautiful island sometime this year.  In less than two weeks we will be moving to a brand new house that will accommodate all 8 of us nicely.  The Lord is certainly blessing our time here in Hawaii and I plan to get out and enjoy His beautiful creation, making the most of our short time here.
Last, but certainly not least, I plan to keep up on this blog.  I would like to develop a schedule of sorts to help me post 3 or 4 times a week.  More on that later. :)
So, if you are still reading this...sorry so long...I would appreciate your prayers as I work towards these goals.  Feel free to comment about your goals and I would love to pray for you as well.  Consistency in my prayer life!!!
Happy 2012 to all.  It's going to be a great year in the LORD!!!