Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Orlando Day 4

Day 4, our last day. :(  We were planning on swimming one last time in the morning, but the weather was very overcast. :(  Took a couple good pictures before heading out to meet up with some good blogger friends...

We met up with Brandi and Jessica on our last day in Orlando.  The eight kids had lots of fun swimming, catching frogs in the pool, and eating peanut butter and marshmallows sandwiches. :)

Josh and his grapes...

Davis savoring his oreos...

Grace and Abby loving sliding down the bannister... (while snacking) :)

Liam and Brayden discussing life... :)

Braeden with his "best pet ever"...  Luckily there were no tears when we had to leave...

Grace was NOT impressed with the yucky frog, especially when it jumped on the back of her neck!!!

On our way out of town we stopped at Hardees.  Olivia had eaten quite a bit at the pool, but the boys, my parents, and I were busy talking and playing...

They LOVED these cinnamon sugar biscuit holes dipped in frosting! Yummm.....

Another wonderful day!  We are planning to meet up with Brandi and Jessica and the gang next week here at the beach, hopefully it works out, I truly enjoy their company! :)

Orlando Day 3

Day 3 brought us to Sunday...

Olivia's world passport which she was given at the end of her Make a Wish Trip to Disney has been just amazing!  We have gotten in to so many many things, free, that we probably never would have gone to otherwise, today was one more of those days.

Wonderworks is this cool looking place that looks like so much fun!  We saw one in TN when we vacationed there, but it was too pricey to justify going.  Since it was listed on our passport, I thought this was the perfect time and way to check out the one in Orlando.

The outside looks like a huge building has crash landed upside down, with steam and noises to "prove" it!  Unfortunately my lens had condensation on it and I didn't realize it until later. :(

Inside were areas of different science and other gadgets that were just FUN!  The kids loved the huge bubbles!

I loved the display that had a tank of water for you to put your hand inside, which was the same temp as the water would have been when the Titanic sank.  WOW!  Talk about a reality check!  I never thought much about how cold the water would have been for those who did make it long enough to even be in the water swimming.  IT WAS FREEZING!

We had lots of fun with many of the things inside...
Olivia "slept" on a bed of nails!

We played air hockey with a virtual puck and used the shadows of our hands to hit it... so cool!

We thought that this room was very cool...

It was fun, BUT would it have been worth the $70 it would have otherwise cost (Liam was FREE)????  I doubt it. :(  But very fun! :)

We then headed back to the house for lunch, naps, and, you guessed, more swimming!

Orlando Day 2

We were all up bright and early Saturday ready for a new day! :)  We ate breakfast and then did a craft project I had brought with.  Each of the kids had a "bucket" which they decorated with stickers.  They will use these to keep shells and such in from the beach...

Then, it was back to swimming!

And while we were swimming, a sky writer came overhead to write some messages...

He also wrote Jesus Loves U, it was very fun to watch!

After lunch and naps, we headed out to Give Kids the World Village.  When Olivia had her Make a Wish trip last August, we were blessed to stay at this WONDERFUL place!  It is just amazing!  You can read more about our trip here (all seven days of it, just scroll down): Wish Trip.  We are welcome to come back, free, anytime to visit, which is what we decided to do.  On Saturdays they celebrate Mayor Clayton's birthday (the "Mayor" of the Village) and have a big party with games, dancing, etc.  It was Olivia's favorite thing when we were there so that was the day we decided to return to visit.

My parents had donated money to inscribe a tile in their walkway with her name and the date of when she was there.  We were told it hadn't been laid yet, but as we were walking I happened to see one from October of 2008, and looked nearby, and lo and behold, there was her stone!

We were also excited to see the new playground and section of villas that were completed shortly after our stay.  The playground was just amazing, we weren't playing long however as the weather was quite HOT! :)

Had to ride the carousel!

This boutique was also new since we were there.  Olivia had a flower painted on her face and was then given a My Little Pony that was a winning design from someone representing GKTW.  Braeden had a panther spray painted on his arm, and he then was given a Transformers card game.  Very excited kids!

The birthday party was a huge hit again, and Olivia loved going "on stage" and dancing!  Braeden had his face painted, Liam LOVED the characters walking around, they played lots of carnival type games, ate popcorn and birthday cake, got plastic necklaces, and Braeden and I ate some Dippin Dots which we LOVE - Braeden decided to share his with Liam...

We went home tired and happy, with more wonderful memories from such a special special place!

Orlando Day 1

Our trip to Orlando this past weekend was a wonderful blur. :)  I rented us a house in Kissimmee with four bedrooms and a pool - it was FANTASTIC!  The kids and I were in heaven being able to go outside and swim whenever we felt like it, gave us a real good feeling for what it could be like if we were to move to FL at some point. :)

We started out Friday at Downtown Disney before heading to the house.  We checked out some stores, and ate lunch at TRex which was so much fun!

Even on vacation I've been continuing to eat healthy.  If we go out to eat I try to do it at lunch and I "research" ahead of time to find out what I'll order and then plan the rest of my day around that.  TRex was hard.  They have no nutritional info online that I could find anywhere and their menu is NOT very health friendly. :)  The menu itself is online so I was able to pour over it and came up with a great meal, but the prices weren't listed and of course it ended up being one of the most expensive things on the menu. :(  But it sure was GREAT! :)

We were seated in the "ice cave" which changed color, hence the different hues in the pictures...

After lunch we chilled out with a little water fun...

Then it was time to go to the house.  The kids were running through and couldn't believe the pool, hot tub, bedrooms, etc. :)  It was only about 20 min from Downtown Disney.  We swam, ate dinner, and hit the hay! :)  A great first day!
Monday, June 29, 2009

Taking Pause

Hello!  My parents and I took the kids to Orlando for the weekend and we just got back not long ago.  We had a blast!  I have lots of fun pictures to upload to the blog and some posts swimming in my head, but as I was checking my email earlier I received one that really stopped me in my tracks.

Months ago I had received an email from a blog reader about wanting to send literally boxes of clothing items for the kids which her kids had outgrown.  I was incredibly humbled and grateful that she had thought of us and was willing to do that.  The email had come almost hours after I had decided I needed to put our needs of that sort into God's hands and allow His provision in some of those areas which I tend to take over myself.  It seemed like such a blessing.

A couple months went by and I really hadn't thought much about them when I received another email from Cindi.  She told me she was sorry nothing had been sent yet and that she had just done some major cleaning out and was going to send even more than she had originally planned.

A few months more brings us to now.  For some reason I was thinking of her the other day and wondered how she was doing, surprised I hadn't heard from her actually.

Well, there was an email in my box today from her husband.  Cindi passed away in March from heart complications.  I couldn't, and still can't, even believe it.  I didn't know this person aside from a few emails, but it brings me to a stop to hear about her passing.  My thoughts and prayers go out to her husband and children, friends and family.  What a very difficult thing to go through.  May God bless those who knew her...
Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesday in FL

Today was another great day.  We started out in the morning with a summer movie camp movie, only $1 each admission and with discounted kid packs of popcorn and pop.  The thing I loved about it here compared to back home was that the money garnered from these Wednesday mornings goes to charity.  I want to look it up to see if they choose different charities each week, or how that works, but it sounds great!

We drove through Chick Fil A for lunch, took some naps, and then headed to Largo, FL to check out their Family Aquatic Center which looked like something we'd love.  It was great!  A two hour time slot, half price admission for the last one of the day (4-6pm), zero depth kids area, 3 1/2 foot area with basketball hoop, two medium kid sized slides (Braeden tried four times to go on one, but only got part way up each time and chickened out), and two larger slides.  Olivia went on them all!

This picture cracks me up.  It looks like he's walking on water, but he's really jumping in! :)

Then it was home for Grandpa's grilled pork chop dinner, a little relaxation, and the kids are now in bed, hopefully for the night! :)  We're here another day tomorrow, then leave Friday to go to Orlando for the weekend.  I rented us a house outside Orlando with it's own in ground pool.  We're planning on visiting Give Kids the World, Downtown Disney, possibly WonderWorks, and hoping to meet up with one or two blogger buddies we've gotten to see a few times. :)  Looks like a great week!

Tomorrow my friend J from home travels this way with her three kiddos.  They are stopping first in TN to visit friends, and then coming here.  Her brother and sister in law recently moved nearby so she will be staying with them.  I think they'll be here the 1st of July until the 11th.  We're thinking of hanging out a few more days than originally planned and driving back with them.  It's still up in the air though.  We'll see... :)
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Catching Up

I've been busy I guess the last few days and haven't blogged... oops! :)

Liam's doing better. His fever came and went the but I think the worst is behind us. He's taken somewhat of a hiatus from water activities which has helped.

Sunday brought us to Father's Day. I thought a lot about the kids' birth fathers and where they were and if they were thinking of the kids. I pray for them often.

We went to Krispy Kreme to celebrate Father's Day with my dad, then out to lunch later at Cici's Pizza, and finally to see Stomp. LOVE that show! I've seen twice years and years ago, but the kids had never even heard of it. They loved it too!

Here we were before the show, outside the venue...

And inside waiting for the show to start... Yes, I was "busted" for taking the picture :)  I honestly didn't know you couldn't snap any BEFORE the show started for goodness sakes! :)

Here are the kids on Monday helping Grandpa to make hot dogs and asparagus on the grill.  They LOVE taking turns and being the grill helper!

Today I took my van to a local dealer, a warning light came on and I wanted to be safe.  It's one that came on previously and my own dealer had done some work, under warranty, regarding the same light.  It was fixed pretty quickly, and free!

My mom and I went to lunch together today at Panera which was fun.  I love it there.  Afterwards we picked up Olivia and Braeden and went swimming.  Following some much needed naps (while I biked on the stationary bicycle!) :), Olivia, Braeden, and I ate an early dinner and headed to the beach...

Fun on the boogie boards...

Fun in the sand...

And some scary fun finding out why we never should bring snacks to the beach! :)  (I later found out you are NOT supposed to feed them and that there are signs posted.  Hmmm... I missed those!) - so NOT the mom teaching moment!...

I also found out more about the state's budget cuts...

Basically, they want to lessen the deficit.  I get that.  They are calling for a 50% state income tax increase for two years which is to be voted on this week in legislature.  If it is NOT passed, then many many scary cuts WILL take place as of July 1st.  

The foster and adoption issues are only a part of all the cuts that will be made, but a large part.  Some things have already happened, and those will not be put back in place even if it does pass.  They have already ended the DCFS hotline to turn in children at risk and laid off all those workers.  In addition all adoption subsidy services such as counseling have already been cut.

A formal letter from DCFS was sent out June 18.  My friend J got it today, and I'm sure mine is being forwarded here as I type.  It states the cuts made as of July 1st.  ALL foster and adoption subsidy funds - cut in half.  All day care for foster, adopted, and theraputic care - cut.  All post adoption and adoption preservation services - cut.  Over 30% of DCFS employees will be fired.  Many DCFS offices will be shut down.  Caseloads for workers going up to 50 per worker.

I just don't get it.  I don't understand how you could ask someone to take in a child, who is not theirs, go through the hoops of potential issues, caseworkers, visits, etc, pay day care, pay food, pay clothing, pay any extras such as - heaven forbid - some toys, etc all for about $150-200 per month.  Are you kidding!?  That's about ONE WEEK of day care!  There are 3-4 more weeks, plus all the rest.  IF you had a stay at home parent, maybe.  Really for me the biggest issue is day care.  How can you ask someone to pay for day care when it's not their child???  Grandparents, well meaning and decent foster parents, other relatives, if you work out of the home, you are scre**d!  How can they afford to do that out of the goodness of their heart???  I don't get it!

Then, IF this does happen, it's very possible it would only take a few months for them to figure out it's wrong and reverse it.  I guess there are already lawyers in place ready to fight on behalf of the adoption subsidies since it was a legal agreement made.  And they tried to cut them years ago and it didn't last for that reason.  BUT, who's to say it WOULD be reversed???  

SO, you are going to have MULTITUDES of people, well meaning or not, who are NOT going to be able to or want to do this anymore, and WHERE on earth are these children going to go???????  I know if it comes to pass I will be called to take children.  I have spaces for three more technically.  So then (because my mind plays these things out), if I were called with the "perfect" opportunity: a 2 month - 22 month old or so, no major issues, most likely not going home... what do I say???  In my heart I say YES!  I don't care about paying the day care!  BUT, there is a chance they could go home.  Do I risk paying over $500 a MONTH out of pocket for a child who isn't "mine" and could go home in 3 months to 2 YEARS!?  That adds up!  OR what if I took in a child, and then a couple months later the payments and day are reversed and then the former foster parent wants them back????  It happens!!!  So much to think and pray about!  I want to do what I can for the children, but can I truly afford it?  Probably.  Would I if I knew they were going home and I was going to spend over $5000 to care for them 10 months?  Uh... that would be an adoption of an HIV child from Eithiopia!  Can I really do that to send a child home?  I don't honestly know, and it's a hard battle between my brain, my pocketbook, and my heart.

Today the legislature was in session.  Nothing was voted on.  Most likely lots of debating still.  I know many went on busses to lobby for the tax increase.  This week a lot will play out in many lives in IL.  My thoughts and prayers are with those waiting for the word, with those making the decisions, and with the children caught, once again, in the middle of it all with no control whatsoever...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Stuff... good... bad... ugly...

Liam woke today with a temp of 103!  He has been on Motrin and Tylenol off and on all day! :(  Poor guy!  No clue what's going on with him, but other times when we've gone swimming and he's ingested a bunch of chlorine from the pool he has been irritable, cranky, not sleeping well, etc.  To an extreme.  The last few days he has been swimming like a fish!  Which is great, but I'm wondering if the chlorine is affecting him again????

In other news, Olivia, Braeden, Grandma and I went to a special place for lunch today.  It's called BD's Mongolian Grill.  I LOVE it!  And it's SO healthy!  Online you can "build your bowl" and see the calories as you add, it's great!  It's basically a line up of three "bars" - one with meats, one with veggies, and one with spices and sauces.  You choose your raw meat and add it to your bowl, then whatever veggies you can stack to fill that bowl up.  Finally you choose a sauce and/or spices and put them in a small ramekin and take your goodies to the grill area.  Some grill-sters are there to cook it up, and even do a little flipping per chance for fun.  There is also a salad and soup bar.  The kids had not been before and had fun.  Braeden got mostly shrimp, but I did get him to try a little calamari! :)

And of course how can you say no to these adorable mini desserts! (Especially when they bring them right to your table and ask if you want some with them staring you in the face!) :)  They LOVED the peanut butter cup one!

I also found out some rather unsettling news about Illinois today.  It seems that as of July 1 they are cutting foster care board rates from about $390 per month to $150 per month.  Not only that, but day care funding is getting nixed and I'm assuming that means day care for foster children as well.  The state used to pay that if you worked full time.  Next will most likely be adoption subsidies, and other subsidy items such as counseling have already been cut.  A friend took her child to counseling the other day to be told that even though it's in her subsidy that the state would cover these costs, they won't pay it anymore.  That's how Olivia was about to get her counseling paid for.

How on earth can people be foster parents anymore if this is what it comes to???  Why would you willingly take on a child you know NOTHING about, to pay to care for them, to not get support such as counseling, to have a caseworker who is now going to have 50-75 cases as if they weren't overworked for no money already, and who may have many serious issues, to be told by birth parents how horrible you are, to then potentially have the child you've worked so hard for and paid so much to help, to then go back home??? 

 I don't know that I could or would.  Certainly not if they are under the age of 5 and would need day care, possibly diapers, I couldn't afford it.  It would be different if it was an outright adoption.  Foster care is SO not the same!  

What will happen to the children in the system whose foster parents are going to start saying they can't afford them?  The children not even taken into custody yet but NEED to be, because there aren't homes for them?  The children who will be hurt in horrible foster situations because workers CAN'T meet their needs and check up on them with all the cases they have???

What will happen to these children???

I know we'll be fine.  Yes, we may not be doing dance or vacations or buying clothes, etc, but we'll get by just fine.  How many other well-meaning, good intentioned people, won't be fine.  Won't be able to "do it."  What about those adopted whose parents NEED that subsidy.  I'm lucky Olivia's issues we were going into counseling for really aren't THAT great, but what about those whose ARE???  Wow, I can only imagine, and it's not a pretty picture!  

My prayers are with these children...

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About Me

I am a single mom to four amazing kids; each of whom just happen to have been adopted. The first three were adopted through foster care, and we just completed an international adoption from Haiti. Our family has grown through adoption and I am all the more blessed to know each of my children. I worship a mighty God, teach Special Ed, love bargains, and am inspired by Pinterest... come along with us for the ride!

Olivia - 14

Olivia - 14

Braeden - 11

Braeden - 11

Liam - 9

Liam - 9

Macy - 5

Macy - 5

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Blog Archive

What you should know about HIV

-HIV can NOT be spread through casual/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or any other casual way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles). - HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives. - People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do. Additional information on transmission of HIV can be found on the Center for Disease Control website: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources

Other Awesome Blogs

Orphan Crisis

• 147 million orphans in the world
• 50 million orphans in Africa 
• Every 14 seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS
• 16,000,000 have been orphaned by AIDS
• Every week, AIDS claims as many lives as American fatalities in the Vietnam War
• 854 million people do not have enough to eat
• Malnutrition is associated with the deaths of 5 million children under the age of five
• Every 2 seconds an orphan dies from malnutrition

Hence the title of my blog

Little Did I Know

Little did I know that the road would be so rocky
Little did I know that the trip would take so long
Little did I know that my heart could hurt so much
Little did I know that God is never wrong

Little did I know that love could be so powerful
Little did I know that a dream so far could go
Little did I know that God would place the right ones
Little did I know that my heart, so large, could grow

Little did I know that a dream has it’s own timing
Little did I know that this day would finally come
Little did I know that four souls would be sent to guide me
Little did I know that they would choose to call me mom

But God knew all along and He had a plan to follow
God knew all along that my dream would soon come true
God knew all along that we five should be together
God knew all along that I’d share it all with you