Saturday, February 27, 2010

2 Years Ago Today....

Two years ago today, the Lord blessed our family with Samuel Elias. The day of his birth was very different than when Evangeline and Landis were born. It took a lot of heartache, pain, waiting, doctor's visits, ER visits, tears, phenegran, zophran, sonograms, castor oil (ha-ha, it did not work!) fainting and hemorrhaging to get him here....and it was worth every minute! Samuel shocked us at weighing 8lbs, 11 oz. Our sweet little lard bucket!(Ugh...I'm looking rough. Think I was questioning the sanity of another natural labor at this point :)
Samuel has been a joy, delight and challenge from the start! He is our wild child. He manage to loose, break or eat everything he can get his hands on. A little firecracker, Samuel is my "heart attack a day" baby. He bumps, bruises, cracks, falls and crashes constantly! I have enjoyed every minute of Samuel first two years. He has reminded me daily how precious life is, and how great the responsibility and privilege of parenting is. I am guilty of cuddling and spoiling sweet Samuel to the point of pathetic.... and am not apologizing for it! :) Time passes too quickly....I do not want to miss a single smile, hug or slobbery kiss!
Happy Birthday to our little butterball. We love you! We celebrate you today....and look forward to you becoming a big brother very soon!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Our First Homestudy!

It has been almost 8 years since we decided to adopt, 2 years since we were old enough to adopt, six months since Samuel was old enough for us to adopt, 6 months since we sent in our application to adopt from Ethiopia with AGCI, 5 weeks since the Lord closed the doors for us to adopt from ET, 4 weeks since He opened wide the doors for us to adopt domestically, 2 weeks since we officially started the domestic process...... and last week...
We had our first homestudy interview!
I was nervous, excited, anxious, excited, eager to start, excited..... so ready to complete this process! The interview was great. We basically just sat in Connie's office and chatted for about 2 hours. I think it was especially good for Kenny to get to ask questions and be a part of everything, since typically I do a lot of the reading, research, etc and "report" back to him. Each time we meet with Covenant Care, I am blown away by not only their love and care for birthmothers, but also the sacrificial love that birthmothers have for their child. After meeting with Connie, I am also no longer too concerned about the home visit....actually, I can't wait for her to come out and see our home! I now realize that a home that is small and not fancy will not keep one from becoming homestudy approved. Yes, the house must be a safe environment, but our marriage and family structure is what's most important. The only bum thing about our first homestudy, is that the soonest date Kenny and Connie could work out for the second interview is not until March 19th....almost a month away. Torture! Once that interview is complete, Connie will come to the house and meet the kids, (heaven help us as to what they may do or say while she is here!) we will give her our birthmother letter and family profile....and then.....the wait begins. It is soo difficult to guess at a time frame for a domestic adoption, it has been, is and will be a learning time for me in trusting the Lord and in patience. When the wait is over, no matter how long or short that wait proves to be, the Lord will place in our family a little one He has know since the foundations of the World, a little one He knit together and choose to place in our family. Oh, my heart hurts to see who this little child will be!!
Me and our caseworker, Connie, whom we love!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Saving Money.....For a Purpose

I have always loved the idea of frugality. Who doesn't like a deal?!? For the most part, I have aways tried to manage a "frugal household". I grind wheat to make our bread, cut the kids hair, grow a lot of our produce and we now have chickens! (For eggs, we're not frying our pets :) We have also pretty much always done without a cell phone plan, tv bill, car payment (partly due to generous "hand-me-down" cars from relatives) and other "extras". About a year ago, we searched for more ways to cut back. With Kenny in seminary, plus gas, insurance and utility bills rising (while income stayed the same!), we needed to find a way to keep our living within our means. After pouring over the numbers, the only thing we could find with wiggle room, was the grocery budget. I had used coupons in the past, but not on a regular basis. So, I read up on the subject, searched blogs, and started clipping. OH.MY. I had no idea how dramatically I could reduce our grocery budget by simply learning a few "tricks". Within a few months time, we had gone from spending about $120 a week on groceries (diapers, meds, cleaning supplies, etc included) down to $75 a week! We are now down to about $60 a week, and have a maybe unrealistic goal of spending only $45 a week this summer once our garden is in full bloom. We will have to see how that goes.....because I hope to have 2 in diapers by then! (Or maybe one in diapers and one potty trained!)

Today, we found some sweet deals at Kroger: All of these items, before coupons and catalina deals would have been just over $112 plus tax. We paid just under $46 !
(It does not look like much in the picture, but trust me, it is a LOT of food!)
Then, we headed over to CVS, and got the following items for a grand total of $3.10

I am not sure who would pay $28 for these 4 items, but that is what the total would have been without coupons and sales.

Sometimes, I get caught up in the "fun" of the coupon game, and love to get a deal just for the sake of a deal. Crystal over at Money Saving Mom has been my inspiration in the coupon hunt. She talks about "saving more so that you can give more". With our adoption, I am more motivated than ever to spend less. Bringing our peanut home depends on it! But without a "goal" to why we are making hard or simply inconvenient choices (like not fixing the broken AC last summer), it is easy slack off and start spending or just swiping the card. Seeing our means as a way to bless others and further His kingdom is our ultimate "financial goal"!

Some weeks, in the grand hope of saving 20K for an adoption, I also like to set "little" goals. Recently, Andrea has shared a bit about Wiphan ministries in Zambia. I love this ministry and what they are about! So, a "little' goal I have set for the next couple of weeks in my grocery shopping is to shave an extra $30 off of my spending and buy one these awesome Wiphan shirts:

click on the image to buy a shirt!

The profit from the shirt feeds and educates an orphan for a month! It is also a great way to "advertise" for Wiphan, and hopefully lead others to their site and the work that they do. I was looking over my Kroger receipt a bit ago, and noticed how easy it was to save crazy amounts of money, all by printing out and cutting out a few coupons. And to think those tiny steps to saving will actually impact a precious child in Africa!

OK, so I get weekly requests of "how do you get groceries that cheap?" I am getting set up to teach a little couponing class, and I have some idea of also teaching a class this summer on nutrition/whole grains/canning/ preserving/ and stocking up. Still thinking on how to narrow that one down! If any of you local ladies would ever like to go with me to the grocery store and see "how to do it", just email me. (And yes, I also go grocery shopping with the 3 kiddos..... it is exhausting!) There are hundreds of great couponing/frugal sites and blogs out there, and honestly, I spend very little time looking at any of them. (When I am on the computer, I'm looking at all of your adoption blogs!!!!) Here a few of my favorites:

* Money Saving Mom: Crystal's love for the Lord and her family is so evident in each of her posts. How awesome is this.... Crystal and her husband just saved 100% down to buy their first home?!? She is also a homeschooling momma, and has great tips, recipes and recommends on her site.

*Southern Savers: If you like to ease of weekly matchups from each particular store here in the South... you will love this site!

*Freebies 4 Mom: I don't spend too much time signing up for freebies, but my favorite thing about them are the great high dollar coupons that typically accompany any free item. If you love geeting free goods in the mail, this is the site for you!

* Shortcuts: download coupons to your shopping you can stack these e-coupons with paper coupons for great deals!

*My Blessed Life: I love Myra's site.....her love for her hubby and little boy are so evident! Myra has some amazing decorating on a budget tips!

*Keeper of the Home: This is not a couponing site, but if you are interested in whole grains, soaking, fermenting foods, whole foods or anything along the "Nourishing Traditions" lines, THIS is the site for you! I recently found it, and love everything I am learning. My "have to have" book list is getting dangerously long as well....humm, maybe I should go clip some more coupons. :)

Do you have a favorite "frugal site" or are you selling something (like an adoption tee or anything to support an orphan/widow ministry). Leave a comment with your favorite site or fundraising link so I can check it out. I would love to add your fundraiser to my "little goals" list of what I am saving for!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Few Recent Creations

Here are a couple of creations from this week:

I have LOTS of new fabrics in for the spring....SOOO cute! Plus, I need to update my home page with a couple more pictures and garment styles for the spring/summer season. It will have to wait until tomorrow though, because, We are finally headed to our long awaited first homestudy interview!!!!!! There is much excitement in our home today :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Great Little Read for Today...

I love the following post by Missy at "It's Almost Naptime". If only my kiddos had college savings accounts for us to deplete to fund our adoptions :) Head on over HERE and check it out!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

And the winner is......!

The winner of this weeks giveaway is (according to :

Manhattan Mandie
Thank you for everyone who entered. We will have another giveaway soon!
And on the adoption front...this week was great! It is awesome to actually begin to do something to bring our peanut home! I have been itching for some paperwork, and this week has delivered. I finished almost all of the 70+ papers needed to start our homestudy, did the many steps needed to get the form to get our well and septic tested, am working on our fire escape plan, and got the cat its shots so that I could get the paper I needed to prove the cat is up to date on shots (did ya catch that? Is that bad ? :) AND filed our taxes so I can get the needed 2009 return. I am also getting together pictures to make our family profile for our birthmother. I had thought about posting pictures of our profile each time I finish a page (it will be about 8 pages in the end), but I think I will not. I don't know if this makes an sense, but a part of me feels like this profile is something special, just for our birthmother. If she wants to show it off, that's just fine. But those little eight pages of pictures and letters will be just for her, to do with as she wants. I already feel so much for this person I do not know, and hope to one day be able to articulate my love and respect for birthmothers!
This Thursday we have our first homestudy interview....I cannot wait!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Adoption News..Let's Celebrate with a Giveaway!

We are thrilled about God's faithfulness in our adoption journey....guiding us on His path, even when it appeared to be "no path" to us! (Go here to read our adoption update.)

So, let's celebrate...with a Flitterbugs Giveaway! The winner will win any one garment, any size and fabric of your choice!

To Enter:
* Just leave a comment (be sure to leave your email address if your comment does not link to that info!)
For Extra Entries:
*Follow Flitterbugs on facebook (if you already do just comment that you do!)
*Post about this giveaway on facebook
*Twitter about this giveaway
That is up to 4 entries! Be sure to leave a separate comment for each one! And, if you are not sure how to comment, just email me and I'll comment for you.
The winner will be chosen Saturday Evening.....thanks for entering the Giveaway!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

God Moves In a Mysterious Way...Our Big Adoption News!

" Gods moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. He plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm. "

* Warning: the following posts is one in which I am sharing my heart...which you will see, isn't always pretty :)

If you have been following our family, or this blog for any amount of time, you probably have one question: "Where are you in the adoption process?"

We like to call it "adoption purgatory".

We first sent our preapplication to AGCI in November of 2008, a few months before Samuel was born. Obviously, we could not begin the adoption process until he was older (um...born), so we waited. This past August, we announced our plans to adopt from Ethiopia, and launched my sewing/fundraising site. I am sure everyone who enters an adoption has some fear about fundraising. $20,000 is SO MUCH MONEY. But then, we serve the God of the Universe, is anything too hard for Him? We sent our official adoption application to AGCI in September...and eagerly anticipated our approval. Because of our income level, AGCI really had to be through in our application, and it took almost a month to receive our formal acceptance into the Ethiopian program. We were elated! We sent out support letters...many support letters, and hit the sewing, fundraising and saving money hard. We were stepping out in faith, knowing that the Lord had called us to adopt...and eager to follow that call. The first big fee of $7390 was within 90 days...we were sure it would come in much sooner.

But the money did not come.

"His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour. The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower."

"What are you doing Lord? Why? We are WILLING. We are EAGER! Our arms are OPEN! We will take the least of these. We have said YES to special needs!"

Discouragement, lack of trust and even anger at the perceived complacency, ignorance and condemnation of fellow believers began to well up in me. I was disgusted around Christmas time. All I seemed to hear was talk of flat screened tv's, cars and extravagant vacations. "These kids are ORPHANS. No mother to tuck them in, no father to protect them. You are THROWING away your life when you could be saving someone else's." was what I wanted to scream. (I warned you my heart isn't pretty!)

During the holiday season, I was really becoming discouraged. I was willing, and tried, to sell my China and the few pieces of jewelry I have, to help with costs. (Turns out they aren't worth anything). In a passing conversation, I was told that in Georgia, adoption agencies have a very difficult time placing African American babies. There are several reasons for this, but the end result is the same: a birthmother, making the most difficult and loving decision of her life, and being told there are NO or very few family profiles to chose from.

"No way. I do not believe it. People are fighting over babies here in the States, right?"

I tried to ignore the comment. My child is in Ethiopia, and I do ANYTHING it takes to get to her and bring her HOME!"

The Lord got to working on my heart, and over the next few weeks, He squeezed pretty hard. The sewing IS taking off and going well, but obviously the grand total needed would not be earned overnight! We did have days of encouragement, an unexpected monetary gift, a short note of love....but in the end....we were winding down those 90 days. And the contract fees were nowhere to be seen.

"Blind unbelief is sure to err, and scan His work in vain. He is his own interpreter, and He will make it plain."

We prayed hard as a family. Oh, how sweet it is to gather up your children, to kneel before the Lord and to pour our your hearts. "Lord, bring to us a child who needs us!" Is He not faithful to hear our requests? Over and Beyond!

A couple weeks ago, I finally emailed Covenant Care, a local pregnancy/domestic adoption agency, and just inquired if it was true that the have a hard time placing AA children. I was blown away by the response. Very true. So true. Yes they would love to get us on their list. Yes they would place a child with us even though we have kids. Yes, they have had situations were a baby was in a home within a week of a completed homestudy. Yes....the need is great In Ethiopia...the need is also (not quite in the same way) great here. EVERY child deserves a family." *** On a side note, CC prefers to work with families IN GEORGIA, and African American birthmothers prefer to place their babies in AA homes....just as some extra info!

Wow Lord. What are you doing? I AM GOING TO ETHIOPIA! Over the next week, I tried to ignore what I had been told (again!). My heart is at Hannah's Hope in Ethiopia. I love AGCI. I so desperately want to love the children of Africa. Last week, I emailed a few adoptive Momas who are all in the process of going to Ethiopia. I unloaded my heart. I know each of these women would sell all they have, sell the clothes off of their backs to get to their children in Africa. Surely they will encourage me to stay head strong to Ethiopia, right? They responses were nothing short of a huge burden being lifted from my honey to my heart. "..ALL children need someone who will love no matter where they are or come from i how I feel." "We know we are called to adopt children.... wherever they come from is irrelevant." "You can do other adoptions in the great is that!" "I believe that God is leading you exactly where you are supposed to be.""Do not feel like you are failing Africa."

How was Kenny feeling this whole time? For weeks, he had felt like we should pursue a domestic adoption, and all the while continue to raise and save money to adopt from Ethiopia next. This past Friday, the Lord totally confirmed that in my heart. I feel at peace. I am excited. We are right where the Lord has us to be. And the cost? We can fund it through Flitterbug sales.

Probably the biggest "didn't see that coming" moment of our whole past 6 month "waiting to get our adoption moving" happened this week. A couple, to whom we will forever be grateful, offered to fund our first set of fees to get us to Ethiopia. Shock. How confident are we in where the Lord has us in the next chapter of our adoption tale? We turned down the opportunity to sign those AGCI contracts. If you had told me a month ago I would do that...I would have NEVER believed you. We now have an "Africa Adoption" savings account. Day by day, little by little, stitch my stitch, dress by dress, coupon by coupon...we will continue to fund raise. PRAISE the Lord that He has given me the opportunity to sew. An adoption from Ethiopia can happen, it just may take a bit, a lot longer than we had planned. So has our God answered our prayers or what? He is bringing a child who needs us into our home...and He is financially paving the way for our next child to come home!

"Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace. Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face."

So where does that leave us? Our first Covenant Care home study interview is next week. We are FINALLY GETTING to fill out paperwork. Once we have completed our homestudy and put together our family profile....we will be on "the list". ( do you like that, no dossier!) Our profile will then be shown to birthmothers, and she will have the opportunity to choose who she places her baby with. On a note about our birthmother. I have nothing but RESPECT for birthmothers. I have learned so much from my friend Stefanie on being a birthmother. The sacrifice they make for the sake of their child humbles me. Much of our decision to adopt domestically has to do with birthmothers! In all probably, our birthmother is already carrying this child, already hurting, already receiving counseling, already weighing out her options. She in constantly in our prayers. Though there is no way to be sure, we should be prepared to have a baby in our home by this summer. We are willing to take a child up to the age of 2, but 90% of placements with Covenant care are newborn placements.

My hands are raised, and my heart is gushing forth in Praise before the Lord! I will continue to and love the kids of Ethiopia....we will continue to support our Compassion child in Africa, continue to pray for them, continue to help support others adoption and continue to love those children, in whatever way we can. (Um...but I am not going to watch any more ET gottcha day videos for awhile...they get me too emotional :) And now.... we begin our domestic adoption. Our faithful Lord, who day, after day, after day, commands the rising of the sun and calls the starts by name, is bringing a child into our home. We are longing to love on that baby! We are longing to love that birthmother.....and praise the Lord we are getting to fill out some paper work and lug out of this adoption purgatory! :)

You all have been such an encouragement to me. Your comments, email, words of encouragement and financial donations means more than you will ever know. are now helping to bring 2 peanuts home!

"Angels, help us to adore Him; you behold Him face to face. Sun and moon, bow down before Him, dwellers all in time and space. Praise Him, Praise Him, Praise Him, Praise Him, Praise with us the God of grace!"

(Here we are, finally signing an adoption contract and starting the homestudy. Bringing our Georgia baby home!!! Hopefully, this will be the first of many!)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

5 Years Ago Today.....

Five years ago today, our little family of 3 became a family of 4.
Landis had my heart from the first sight!
(Ok, sorta of added this picture for the background. Yup, those mountains would be our front yard..... why did we move? We are still wondering :)

You can't tell from this picture....but colic IS NOT a myth. Babies can cry for 11 hours straight. Consecutively. Without a break. For 8 weeks.

Had he been a girl, Landis could have sported some major hairbows.

Do we look young? Couldn't even rent a car at this point. Life was good. (And for the record...that is a size 6 month outfit Evangeline is wearing :)

I was..and am...pretty proud of my little fella!

Did Evangeline ever not have her "thing-thing" in her mouth. Nope. We love those plugs.

Happy Birthday to our funny, sweet, kind, loving, courageous Landis. We love you!!
(We have some exciting, wonderful new adoption news to share...but it will have to wait unil tomorrow...because we have a kiddo to celebrate today! But to raise your curosity...the Lord has been working. And there is a bun in the oven...nope, not my oven. And we are still headed to Africa. And I need to get a carseat and diapers pronto. And the diapers...need to be size NB. Curious? Tomorrow :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's Not Too Late!!

It's not too late to enter the Flitterbugs Giveaway over at "We Are That Family". Head on over and leave a comment...the drawing is tomorrow!

(click on the image and scroll down to Tuesday's post to enter!)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Heirloom Dress, Anyone???

Hum.....this may be sort of a long shot, but I thought it would not hurt to try! Anyone interested in buying a french handsewn dress?!? I made this for Evangeline a couple of years ago. As much as I love to make fun, everyday clothes.....french handsewing is my love! This dress is a size 5, though the style makes it pretty flexible and she wore it from size 4 to size 6 (it really still fits!)
The dress is made from 100% swiss batiste. It has antique swiss cotton insertion and french cotton laces (all antique). All seams are joined by entradeux. The bodice and sleeves have tiny tucks and some handwork (double feather stitch and bullion roses). The sleeves are finished out in a swiss beading and satin ribbon.

The coordinating slip is also made of swiss batiste and french laces and entradeux. The dress and slip close with mother of pearl buttons.
Five is supposed to be the perfect age to have your child's portrait taken..... they are old enough to (hopefully!) corporate with the photographer, yet haven't lost their baby teeth yet (probably!)

I typically sell an heirloom dress and slip for about $500, but since Evangeline has worn this (two Easter Sundays, for a wedding and for her picture to be made) I am asking $275. Thought it wouldn't hurt to try and boost that adoption fund! Oh, and Momma, if you are reading this..... don't panic. My love is handwork.....being without this dress will just be a great excuse to pull out my stash of fabric and make another :) Eliana is going to need her own special dress :)

If you are interested in buying the dress, or would like more pictures or exact measurements, just email me! (