Friday, August 30, 2013

Nearly Done with the Homestudy, among other Quick Takes

Tomorrow we will be having our second visit with our homestudy social worker.  The first visit lasted four hours and we were able to get done on that visit just about everything that we needed to get done.  Tomorrow's visit shouldn't take more than an hour.  We got the homestudy rough draft to look through yesterday.  All we need to do is finish up 2 more hours of education, and Sean and I need our physicals and doctor letters.  We have appointments for Sept. 9.  Then, we're all DONE!  With the homestudy.  But it's a big adoption milestone!

We received some exciting news recently.  Susan from the Etsy store Ginger on a Mission is donating 50% of her sales to families adopting through Reece's Rainbow!  She sells the most adorable wallets, business card holders, reusable sandwich/snack bags.  Don't you love these sweet prints?  And she has plans to add hair bands soon.  Very affordable prices and cheap shipping!  When you buy one of her cute creations, please specify that you would like the sale to go to support "Abraham for the Bailey Family" to help support our adoption!

Rosemary lost a tooth this week!  Serious business, that.

This is a wonderful short video about what one can do with $20,000 instead of going to college.  I'm a big believer that college is NOT for everyone, and the push for everyone to go to college does many young people a great disservice.


And speaking of self-directed learning, something exciting happened with our TV situation this week.  We don't have TV reception (haven't since 2006) and only use DVDs and Netflix.  Our desktop computer is connected to the TV, so whatever is on the computer can be seen on the TV hanging on the wall above it as well as on the monitor on the desk below.  This week, Joey figured out how to set up our computer for "portrait screens" as he calls it, so that one program is displayed on the computer monitor and another program is displayed on the TV screen.  This is awesome, because now when someone wants to watch Netflix or a DVD (we don't have a DVD player, we just use the computer's DVD drive), someone else can still use the computer for other things!  Joey does a lot of his learning on the computer.  This is such a help!  I couldn't tell you how to set this up--Joey figured it out on his own by reading the Windows Help topics on the computer, one of his favorite reading materials.

We have had no movement with our Choose Life fundraiser this week.  We're still sitting here at halfway to our goal.  There are 22 entries so far, 6 of which were free.  Could you share with your Facebook, Twitter, and/or e-mail contacts, and help three little ones in need? 
Do you have a few dollars you could spare to help us bring Abraham home and bless two families facing crisis pregnancies?

Our prayer requests this week:
  • For Joshua and the Parker Family.  Seven year old Joshua is very close to going to Heaven now, and you can follow his story and write words of encouragement to his family here.
  • For friends who are sick and need to heal for travel soon.
  • For Kym on bedrest with placenta previa and a houseful of beautiful children to take care of.
  • For Baby L. and his family as they learn about his medical needs and manage his condition, and for wisdom for his medical care team.
  • For Katie Beth who is recovering from surgery.
  • For safe travel for everyone this Labor Day weekend.
  • And last but not least, in thanksgiving for God's continued providence, for a happy birthday for Felix last Sunday, for our family, our health, and every blessing given to us by God!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

We have a one year old!

Happy Birthday Felix!

You came to us so wonderfully a year ago, and we are eternally grateful to God for blessing our family with YOU!  You are growing so well and have such a sweet personality.  You smile at everyone you meet, radiating joy and love.  What an amazing year this has been!

Best 4th born baby ever!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bump in the Road and other Quick Takes

We've had a major-ish bump in our adoption fundraising journey.  Our savings account has gone from almost $4,000 to $144.58.  The problem is that when we bought our house 8 years ago, we did an 80/20 mortgage package to avoid paying the mortgage insurance (technically it was an 80/15 package since we put 5% down when we purchased it).  Made sense at the time and seemed like a good move.  But after 11 months of unemployment and a move out of state, we had to attempt a short sale on our home.  We had a buyer lined up for Bank of America, and our wonderful realtor wrote up a 17 page report documenting how our asking price was the fair market value of the property.  Unfortunately, Bank of America turned the offer down and priced the house way out of the market.

So we had no option but to foreclose on the house.  Communication with Bank of America was atrocious.  We couldn't get in touch with anyone, and the "contact person" didn't return any of our numerous calls.  Eventually we found out through our realtor that the house was slated for foreclosure while it was still on the market for a short sale.  It sold on May 7th of this year.  We never heard from Bank of America.

Until last week.

We got a phone call out of the blue telling us that we were still responsible for paying off that "20" portion of the 80/20 mortgage.  Because technically that portion is a "line of credit" or "note" and not a "mortgage," a loophole in Georgia law allows Bank of America to go after borrowers to pay that amount, even after the collateral (house) has been reclaimed by the bank.  This move is illegal in some states, but not Georgia.  Slimy, slimy.

I am so, so thankful that we bought a house under our means back then and had been working to pay it off early before Sean was laid off.  The balance on that mortgage, excuse me, note, was $10,151.  The amount Bank of America wanted was $10,700, and they wanted a payment within ten days, "To keep the account here at Bank of America instead of sending it to collections or litigation," we were told.  Lovely.

Yesterday Bank of America called again and told us that after reviewing our hardship letter and tax returns, they were prepared to settle for a lump sum of $3,579.01.  Why do they bother with the one cent at the end of that amount?  Who knows.  I won't complain about a seven thousand dollar discount.

So yesterday we watched our savings (slated for adoption costs) go from $3723 to $144.  I won't lie, it brought tears to my eyes.  It was like watching Abraham drift further away from us.

But being the optimist that I am, it wasn't long before I found the sunny side of things.  This is yet another way that adoption blessed our family!  I can say with 95% certainty that we would not have had that money "lying around" if it weren't for our adoption.  God provides!  He gives us what we need, when we need it.  And while it's (very) disheartening to have to start over and set our fundraising thermometer from $11K to something in the $7K range--the amount we've already paid for adoption expenses and fees so far....  He helped us save it up the first time and I have no doubt He will help us save it up again.

Help us with a share or $5?  Or both? :)
That leads nicely into an update on our "Choose Life" adoption fundraiser which is explained here.  Yesterday our Reece's Rainbow Family Sponsorship Program grant (FSP for short) broke the $100 mark!  We're so excited to be just over halfway to our giveaway goal of $200.  Please share our fundraiser and encourage others to participate.  Do you have a church pro-life ministry that could get our fundraiser out on its e-mail list?  It would be so encouraging to get more entries, especially in light of the financial blow we took yesterday.

This past weekend we were blessed to be able to donate our car to an extended family member in need.  This was the car that I learned to drive in, took my driver's license test with, and received as a wedding gift from my parents over 10 years ago.  It was our getaway vehicle when we got married.  I couldn't help feeling a little sad to say goodbye to a car that had seen us through all of our major adult life milestones.  But I'm so glad this car can be a blessing to someone who needs it!

A special car needs a special "Tag Applied For" sign.  I had to send my car off in style!
--- 4 ---

Today is a precious little boy's birthday.  Brett is turning twelve today in an institution in the same country as our "Abraham."  He was transferred there when he turned three.  All those years waiting and longing for love.  I am thinking about Brett today and praying that this is the last birthday he will be spending without his family.

Other prayer requests today:
  • For my friend Kym who is 22 weeks pregnant and on bedrest with placenta previa which started bleeding last night.
  • For Abraham's Aunt Jessica, who fell down some stairs and broke her foot yesterday.
  • For Abraham's 5 year old cousin who broke his arm a couple of days ago.
  • For Abraham's honorary Aunt Mary Cate and Uncle Welton who are both sick, and for issues with their power chairs to be resolved soon.
  • For a dear friend's father who needs wisdom in making a major life decision.
  • For our extended family member and his wife mentioned in Quick Take #3 above who is going through a very trying time.
  • For all the children and teachers who are starting the new school year, that God would protect them all from every harm and help them to learn His Truth. 
  • For safe travels for those on the road this weekend.
  • For Martha who is fighting breast cancer.
  • For Renee Tam who lost her brother this week, and for the peaceful repose of his soul.
For all of these intentions we pray, Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever.  Amen.

Laryngomalacia.  Ever heard of it?  No, it's not an obscure country in Southeast Asia.  It is a condition present in some babies when floppy cartilage in their larynx makes them sound a little bit congested when they breathe.  Severe cases sometimes need surgery to fix.  Felix has a mild (harmless) case of laryngomalacia which will resolve on its own as he gets older and the cartilage gets stronger.  I'm going to miss it when it's gone!  Now it often sounds like he's purring.  Who doesn't love a purring baby?!  And he makes the cutest snoring sounds when he's asleep.

Bookworms behind the couch.
Also, I can easily hear where he is crawling and cruising around the house, behind furniture, etc.  I love it!  Our little grunt baby turns one this weekend, and I hope his laryngomalacia hangs out for at least another year.

We will be launching our Facebook adoption page soon, stay tuned!  We have a punny acronym in mind.  You have been warned.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Choose Life" Adoption Fundraiser

Entries into our "Choose Life" adoption fundraiser have stalled, so let me refresh everyone's memory and explain how this works.  We will donate two new car seats to a pregnancy resource center or crisis pregnancy ministry of our giveaway winner's choice.  Every donation of $5 and every share gets one entry.  Once our Reece's Rainbow grant reaches $200 (it used to be $250, but we really want to bless a pregnancy center with these seats!) we will draw a winner who gets to pick where the seats are donated, about a $100 value.  Comment or e-mail to let us know where you shared and/or how much you donated so that we can enter you accordingly.

The seats will be donated in loving memory of precious little Hanson from Eastern Europe who died an orphan, alone in an adult mental institution.  The monetary donations will go to help bring our "Abraham" home from his Eastern European orphanage and save him from a similar fate when he ages out and faces transfer to the institution.  And this all  chance to help three little ones who need our loving support--our "Abraham" and two little ones whose mothers need help and support through their choice of life and parenting.

Even a totally free entry, sharing this fundraiser, could win this fantastic prize for your favorite pregnancy center.  What a great opportunity to help two very important branches of the Pro-Life movement at the same time! 

And a great big THANK YOU to those who have already participated!  Each entry is so encouraging to us, and every bit helps!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Amazon $5-off-$25 Promotion

A fellow adopting mom told me about Amazon's Back-to-School special going on right now for $5 off any purchase of $25 or more!  Here it is, for anyone who hasn't already participated!  And once you've earned your credit and are ready to make your purchase, please remember to click through our Amazon link ( to send "Abraham's" adoption fund a portion of the sale.  Thank you and happy shopping!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Blessings

One year ago today, we were preparing to meet our 4th baby and celebrating and praying with friends at my baby shower.  I never would have imagined that a year down the road we'd be here in a new state, preparing to bring home our 5th baby in a completely different way.  We are so incredibly blessed to be on this journey to bring home "Abraham," and to be on this journey with four wonderful children already in our family.  Some days I can barely wrap my mind around how very blessed we are.  Four awesome little ones, and still we get to bring another one home from Eastern Europe.  God is SO good!

We went to Mass this morning as a family and got to sit in one of the front pews.  Our two littler boys lately have been having a... loud... time at Mass, so we've been sitting at the back for the last month or two.  But today we were a few minutes late and the only place where we could find 5 consecutive empty seats was right in the front.  Praise God for a nice, full church!  And what do you know, the kids all behaved so well, and the littlest members of the family did not need to be taken out once!  Not even the baby!  I don't remember the last time he made it through Mass without at least needing to be walked a little at the back of the church.  What a pleasant surprise!

Our priest, Fr. Andrew Trapp, gave a fantastic homily as usual.  His column in our bulletin today summarized the message pretty well, and I thought I would share it here.  What a clever analogy, don't you think? 

Imagine parents coming home from an afternoon
together to find their teenagers out on the front lawn,
conducting an unauthorized lawn sale. With fistfuls of
twenty-dollar bills in their hands, they are gleefully
selling their family’s electronics, furniture, and other
valuables to the neighbors at rock-bottom prices.
The parents would, of course, be furious... the
children have no right to do whatever they want with
these objects! The parents own all of the family
belongings, and not the kids. The parents have entrusted 
many of these things to the care of their teenagers,
and allow their children to use them, and they have the
responsibility to use them wisely. 
This is somewhat analogous to the Biblical approach
to worldly things: that of being a steward. In the
Lord’s time, it was common for a rich person to
entrust their property to a manager who would act in
that person’s name and best interests. The master
expects the steward to fulfill his tasks honestly and 
We are always tempted to think, “This is my time.
These are my talents. This is my money. This is my
stuff.” But this is a selfish way of approaching the
world, which will always lead us to disappointment and
lack of peace. When we see ourselves as stewards, our
perspective changes, and the questions change.
For example, as you plan a free weekend: “What should
I do with God’s time this afternoon? Besides legitimate
relaxation, how can I use this gift of time to develop my
daily prayer life, to learn about my faith, or to serve
Likewise, when standing in a department store or listen-
ing to a salesman: “How should I use God’s money?”
Or when deciding on extracurricular activities: “How
does God want me to use these talents and abilities
which he has given me?”
Let’s ask the Lord for help to see the world with His
perspective, as stewards entrusted with great responsibility.
—Father Andrew

Friday, August 9, 2013

Very First 7 Quick Takes

I've enjoyed reading the 7 Quick Takes series on other people's blogs for a while, and today I'm participating in 7 Quick Takes myself for the first time.  Another first that this little blog has experienced this week is its first visitor from Abraham's country!  здрасти!

We only have a handful of documents that we still need to gather to complete our homestudy--teacher letters for our school-aged kids (we homeschool, so we're using Sunday School teacher letters), and doctor letters for the adults.  We also have one more 2-hour class to take online to complete our education requirements.  The light at the end of the homestudy tunnel is starting to peek out at us!

I set up my rack at Daff-a-Deals last week and have a few more items to add this week.  I've been experimenting with baby blankets and after a little tweaking, I'm be ready to add those to my rack as well.  So far I've made 8 ruffle scarves, 1 infinity scarf/mobius wrap, 1 summer wrap, 1 knitted scarf, and 1 crocheted scarf.  Another crocheted scarf is in the works, using Clemson colors (orange and purple).  There is ruffle yarn in USC colors (garnet and black) in the mail which should arrive any day now.  Columbia is a city with lots of college sports pride!

Goodies for Daff-a-Deals, tagged and ready to go.

Paul, who will be Abraham's virtual twin, turned 4 last Saturday, and we had a wonderful time celebrating with family from out of town.  It has been a while since we've had a 4 year old boy in the family.

Then, on Monday, the little guy had a dental appointment to pull a tooth.  See his gap in the picture?  They wanted to pull the matching tooth from the other side.  The dentist said it was "flapping around" and the area was tender, so the tooth had to go.  I don't know how he assessed the tenderness, because Pauly hates anyone fiddling around in his mouth, let alone a dentist, and was crying and trying to escape during his dental exam.  Paul was born with an enamel defect on his four top front teeth, ended up losing one and having another two capped.  He has been the recipient of dental work since he was 13 months old.

As I was brushing his teeth before heading out for our morning appointment, I decided to check to see if the tooth was still loose.  It was a tiny bit loose, but not nearly as loose as it had been at the dental exam.  Also, it didn't seem to be tender at all!  So I canceled his appointment, and that little tooth on his left will live to chomp another meal, at least for now.  We'll be keeping a good eye on it and have an appointment to take him in for a second opinion with another dentist.

He is our one and only child (so far) who was born at home.  We used the Hypnobabies program to prepare for his birth, and it worked beautifully.  I submitted his birth story to the Hypnobabies blog, which can be found here for those who enjoy reading positive, normal birth stories.

Felix, who will be 1 in a couple of weeks, is starting to walk, Mowgli-style, on hands and feet, with his butt in the air.  He walks normally when we hold both of his hands.  And he cruises well, holding onto walls and furniture.  But there's nothing like the Mowgli walk when he wants to go FAST!  We're just enjoying it while it lasts.
All that Mowgli walking and mad cruising tired him out!
He is modeling a blanket I made with a crocheted border for Daff-a-Deals.

Our car seat giveaway pro-life fundraiser has been a little slower than anticipated.  So far we have a grand total of seven entries spread over three entrants.  We will draw a winner when our Family Sponsorship Program (FSP) grant at Reece's Rainbow reaches $250.  It's at $74.69 right now, as it has been for the last week-plus.  $5 donated to our FSP grant and/or sharing our giveaway (comment or e-mail me to let me know) gets you entered into the giveaway.  The winner gets to choose the crisis pregnancy ministry or pregnancy resource center to which we will gift two new infant-to-toddler car seats!  What really surprises me the most is that only one of the 7 entries so far has been a free entry!  I never expected the paid entries to outnumber the free ones.  What do you have to lose?  Share and help three little ones--our Abraham and two other babies whose moms chose life!

Last, but definitely not least, we have some prayer requests.
  • For Martha, who was diagnosed with breast cancer this week.
  • For Mary who is dying.
  • For Baby L. who has just been diagnosed with a neurological problem, and for his parents to have peace and to get help with his many medical bills.
  • For the peaceful repose of Baby Margaret who tragically passed away on Monday, and for her parents, three older sisters, family and loved ones.
  • For a birth family who is discerning the choice of adoption.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Happy 4th Birthday Paul!

Pauly was the "baby" of the family for longer than any of our children so far (just over 3 years), so it's hard to believe that our little guy is 4 today! 

4 years old and playing up a storm!
He will be "Abraham's" virtual twin, and I suspect when strangers see them together, they might assume they are biological fraternal twins.  Even Paul thinks that some of "Abraham's" photos are of himself! 

In honor of Paul's 4th birthday, would you like to consider donating $4 into our Family Sponsorship grant at Reece's Rainbow to help bring his virtual twin home?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

We have an Amazon Affiliate link!

Yesterday I finally managed to figure out the Amazon Affiliate program and discover that our link is.... drumroll please.....

Yeah!!  Now, we're not asking people to go out of their way to buy things on Amazon, but if you're going to make an Amazon purchase anyway, would you please consider clicking on through our link to get to the Amazon site?  We will get a little portion of each sale deposited right into our adoption savings fund!  And we all know how little bits add up after a while. 

Amazon also requires us to display this sentence as part of our affiliate agreement:
Giving Thanks for His Gifts/Blagodarya is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to