Monday, December 29, 2008

Unspoken Prayer Request

I REALLY don't like unspoken prayer requests. I really don't. I feel like if you don't know what the reality of the situation is, how can you really pray for that person the way they need to be prayed for. But I find myself in a predicament tonight as we need your prayer, and yet I can't go into great detail. Just pray that God's will be done in a situation in our life. Pray that our hearts and heads don't get in the way of HIS will. I promise I will update you when/if I can.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Did you know?

That I love to scrapbook? I don't talk about it on here that often, but I do love to do it. I started scrapbooking in 2000. Actually, that's a lie. I started scrapbooking in middle and high school, but I didn't know it had a name. I used to save my allowance and then buy the scrapbook style books at Hallmark. I would use scotch tape to tape down pictures, movie stubs, anything really and then I would write dates and the events that went along with the pictures/stubs, etc. I put them in a hope chest and forgot about them until my mother in law, Barbara, asked me to go to a scrapbooking party in 2000. Honestly, I really didn't want to go. I was partied out. I had just had a Pampered Chef party and with Anna underfoot, I didn't have time to scrapbook so why even go? But I went. It was in the basement at Ebenezer Baptist Church. A lady Barbara went to church with, Mindy, was the consultant. She went through the "spill" and showed off cutters, corner rounders, papers, a tape runner (basically the scrapbook version of scotch tape) and then we sat around and made our first page. As the night went on, I fell in love. This is what I had done in middle/high school. There were actually REAL tools I could use to cut circles in my pictures. There were actually scrapbooks that were gauranteed not to fall apart (I forgot to tell you that my beloved Hallmark albums that I had saved for were in shambles in the hope chest, they were total crap).

I must stop here and remind you I am cheap.

When the event was over and it was time to order, I wanted EVERYTHING and they even had a kit that had everything. But it was $300. And I am cheap. So, Barbara and I decided we would split it. We would scrapbook together at her house and split everything. HA!

I think about a week later I was a Creative Memories consultant. Not only could I not stand not having it all, but once I learned that a consultant got a discount, I couldn't sign on the dotted line fast enough. That was almost 9 years ago, and although I am no longer a consultant (although I loved being a consultant), I still LOVE to scrapbook. I love to see my kids' faces as I bring them their school albums that I just done a few pages in. I love to write stories in my books. My style of scrapbooking is not fancy. Pretty plain actually. I really enjoy paper and writing and being able to use all of that in to albums is really great. Plus, when you get together and scrapbook (called a crop), you get to hang out with friends and you eat. What could be better than that?

Anyway, the reason I am telling you all this is because I am having a crop at my house this Friday, Jan. 2 from 6pm-midnight. If you've never scrapbooked before, don't worry, you can come and there will be a consultant here to teach you. AND TRUST ME, no strings attached. You don't have to spend $300, you don't have to sign up to be a consultant, but you just might fall in love with something that your family will love looking at. Come crop, eat and have fun with new and old friends!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Silver and Gold

Well, it's already December 27th and I haven't even updated the blog with Christmas pictures, details on our festivities, etc. There is a GOOD reason why. I have, and have had, the stomach virus since Christmas mid-morning. I just got back from the doctor who confirmed it was indeed the virus and not food poisoning. I have felt so bad that today is the first time I have turned on my computer since Christmas Eve, I believe. What was just the 12-24 hour bug has turned into a 3-4 day virus and since I am officially half way through, I got a nice shot of phenegran in my bootie and instructions to go back to bed with clear liquids only. So much for post holiday shopping and hitting Crescent furniture. It will all have to wait. Jonathan just left to take the kids (and hopefully NOT the virus) to his parents. I decided to check email (all 153 of them) and do a quick update. Here are a few stories of our Christmas:

1. The other night the boys and I made a last minute pre-Christmas trip to the hateful CVS in Hendersonville. On our way, the boys began telling me how excited they were to open presents. "Aren't you excited too mommy?" they asked. "I am," I replied, "but even more excited about the real meaning of Christmas!" We then began discussing the birth of Jesus which then led into the wise men visiting the baby. "Do you remember what gifts they brought," I asked. At the same time, in perfect pitch they both sang out "Silver and Gold" and then Luke added, "and Purr" Well, there you go. Thank goodness it was dark, as I was dying in the front seat.

2. The boys got a McDonalds kitchen from Santa. They would DIE if they knew I had posted this on the blog, as they are very nervous about their friends finding out they have a play kitchen. Yes, they fear it is a baby toy. But, they love it and even though I was very sick, I went upstairs and placed my first order last night for a cheeseburger, fries and shake. It just so happened that Luke was the cook at that moment. He wanted to know if I wanted his "special" fries. I later found out the "special" fries are fries with cheese and mustard. I'm thinking being a cook is not in his future.

3. Anna announced yesterday she would like to be a nurse when she grows up. Or a rock star. Hmmm. Do you think we watch a little too much Hannah Montana around here?

4. Speak of HM. Anna is now sporting the UGLIEST pair of crocs made. Yes, I know all cros are ugly, but trust me when I say these make the normal, ugly ones look like ruby slippers. She is the proud new owner of purple with black fur Hannah Montana crocs. They come complete with silver guitars on the front and a big label proudly stitched to the front that says HANNAH MONTANA. That way all other children her age will know that Hannah herself designed these hideous things. Anna promises me though that they are warm and super cool. I'm pumped.

5. I had really planned (in my super grand vision scheme of things) to pull down all our Christmas decor today. I'm thinking it might take a while since we decked a bunch of our halls this year. I guess this too will have to wait. Why is it everyone begs me to put all the Christmas decor up but everyone groans when I mention taking it down. I plan to go through all my decor when we do take it down and donate all the crap I haven't used in a few years. There are lights in there that we haven't touched in at least 3 houses and it's time to let that go.

6. Mary Elizabeth is offficially walking. Not just her past two months "I think I can" walking. The girl can now WALK. Granted, you could run a small train through her legs while she is trucking it across the house, but it is adorable all the same. We are so blessed that our tiny little peanut whom we were told at birth would have CP is walking around, talking up a storm, and the perfect bill of health.

Hope all of you had a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

who, what, when, where? oh, and how?

These are the questions I think about when I think about our next adoption. I know I haven't talked about it as much this time. It doesn't consume me. My four beautiful kids do.

Here is a little update on us: Brea is dragging her feet. Really, but for no good reason. J's paperwork is complete, my paperwork is about 90% complete, and then we have to get fingerprints and physicals. I think most of our references are already turned in (now that is amazing!). Once we turn in the above mentioned items, the social worker from CC will meet with J and I individually and then she will come to our house and do a home visit. Then, we will be approved and waiting.

I'm not sure why I'm dragging my feet. Maybe because I can't imagine having another baby right now (not yet anyway). Maybe because I want to get my migraines under control first. Honestly, I just keep feeling like God is telling me to wait and enjoy the process. The first time with Mary Elizabeth, we went through the process like a crazy person. We finished our formal packet in four days and I was constantly so stressed about hurrying up and getting approved that I look back at the whole thing as stressful. I want this time to be different and so far it has been.

Back to my initial questions...
I think about whether we will be blessed with a boy or a girl. J seems to think girl. I think about what she/he will look like. Will he/she be premature like Mary or a fat chunk like my other three were? Will he/she be born here in TN or will we travel to another state? How will we raise the rest of the needed funds? Then, I just sit back and smile because I know my God has it ALL under control.

The perfect spot

I have the perfect spot in my house for this...


Is it not gorgeous? My friend Laura made it for my friend Tracie to raffle off for her adoption fund. For $10, you get a ticket AND you help bring a child home. Go HERE NOW and donate before it's too late.

But don't be upset if I win...I told ya, I already have the perfect spot for this!

I bet Santa has a migraine

I just loved these...hope you enjoy!




Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ignorance

Many people have asked me about how people react to us being a transracial family. Today I had two funny things happen so I thought I would share them with you so you could see some of the ignorant things people say. I should tell you that many days, although many people will stare, we usually never have anyone say silly things like this.

I met Alison B. for a quick lunch/shopping trip. I stopped in Janie and Jack to look for Christmas shirts for the boys. I was holding Charlotte while Alison and Norah were outside the store waiting on me. I quickly found two sweaters and headed to check out. The sales lady, who was very nice I might add, began commenting on how sweet Charlotte was. She was asking me questions like how old is she, how much does she weigh, etc. I then told her that I wasn't her mom. She then asked me how many kids I had, I answered and then told her our youngest was adopted. Her face immediately lit up and she said, "it's so funny you mentioned adoption. I was just telling my family we need to go to the town orphanage and see if we could help out." I just smiled, paid and left, wishing her good luck in her endeavors. Good luck finding the town orphanage.

Then, it was off to lunch and then playland for Norah. While Norah was running around, I was sitting there holding Charlotte when another sweet lady approached and asked how old she was. I told her and then she asked if she could touch her hair. Sure. Then, she asked me how much she weighed. I said, "um, I'm not her mom, I'm not sure" to which she said, "well, that's obvious that you aren't her mom" I felt like I had been smacked. I wish you could have seen her face when I then asked Alison how much she weighed and loudly said, "and there's her big sister" and pointed to Norah. Hmmm...shouldn't assume I couldn't be her mom.

I make ignorant comments all the time. We've all asked how far along a woman is when she really isn't pregnant. I guess I just try to be more aware of what I say now. That "normal" is no longer 2 kids and a white picket fence. I love being a transracial family. I love that others feel comfortable around us, especially those that also don't have the traditional family.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Snow Can't Stop God

If you don't live in TN and are reading this, let me preface this post by saying that even during a threat of snow, life in TN stops. Seriously. People forget how to drive, stores are instantly out of milk and bread, and people hunker down like we will have a blizzard. Never mind that since the ice storm of 1993, I'm not sure we have EVER had a snowstorm that would keep you from getting to the store, but alas...I have other things to blog about tonight.

So, last night was our auction. I must admit that this was a stressful event for me. For some reason (AKA SATAN), we seem to have been under attack during the planning of this event. Kids were sick, I got sick, people died, you name it...we've experienced it in the last few weeks. I just felt completely ill prepared, but Katie and Ray totally picked up the slack. I must admit, when everything was set up last night, I realized that no one but me would realize that I felt ill prepared. Bidder registration started at 5:30pm and at 5:50pm we still had less than 10 people there. It wasn't because we hadn't advertised, it was because it was snowing. Hadn't I said (OUT LOUD) multiple times yesterday that Satan needed to stay away from me in the name of my Lord, Jesus Christ. I was freaking out. Seriously. Freaking out.

And then we had to make the decision to cancel the auction. What would we do with all the items that had been so graciously donated? How would the people feel that had ventured out in the SNOW to come to this? I mean, I would have been ill.

It was at that moment that I was once reminded that I am not in control. GOD IS. God is in control of everything. He knew it would snow. He knew I would doubt. AND HE INTENDED TO PROVE ME WRONG. You see, the people who did show up were there by the GRACE OF GOD. My sister, Ali, and Sarah...both of whom graciously helped us load in everything and set up in the rain, snow and cold. Both of whom reminded Katie and I not to worry. My mom and dad wrangling all of our kids. Laura Horton, my ultimate prayer warrior, who instantly put me at peace. Angie V., ever faithful, with her plates of cookies and brownies and a smile that made me feel safe. Karen and Brian, who are themselves adopting...my new friends! Ray and Katie's family, always so kind and have such encouraging words. A couple from Long Hollow, who come to find out, the wife was Anna's first camp counselor years ago. Such a kind, sweet soul. Another couple from Long Hollow who know Ray and Katie. A couple who saw our signs and decided to drop in. Susan Gupton who always is just a doll! I hope I have named you all. You were all instrumental in what I am about to tell you.

You see, we canceled the auction, but offered to everyone that was there that if they had come for something specific, we would sell it for half of the listed value OR they could make an offer. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. Everyone started rounding up items off the tables and coming out front to check out. And you know what? We sold $1900 and we both brought home carloads of items to sell on craigslist and ebay. $1900!!!!! AND WE DIDN'T HAVE THE AUCTION! People paid us full price for items, people handed us cash, checks, etc. and people gave us love.

THANK YOU to those that hugged us, prayed for us, and gave. Not just your money, but your time. I am humbled, so incredibly humbled. And exhausted. Love you all!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A more detailed listing

of goodies we will have to auction off on Thursday night:

Massage Therapy sessions, Fisher Price Smart Cycle, Super Speed Wash certificates, living will and estate planning session, Restaurant Certificates, Dance and Gymnastics, Real Estate Signs, Manicures, Mini Storage for 3 months, Golf Packages, Nashville Symphony tickets, Arbonne, Pampered Chef, Art Pieces, Photography sessions, Hotel stays at Hyatt Place and at Lowe's Vanderbilt Plaza, Heating and Air service packages, Car services from Firestone, Upper Case living, Furniture pieces, Boutique clothing, Gift Baskets, Tee Shirts, Webkinz, American Girl Doll w/ accessories, custom curtains (THEY ARE GORGEOUS!), mirrors and other home decor, Maggie Moo's customs, Pitter Patter Art custom artwork, framed oil on canvas by Eddie Holland, Bakugan basket (THE HARD TO FIND BOY TOY THIS CHRISTMAS!), Taste of Home Entertaining, Dave Ramsey Financial Peace Jr. set, Longaberger baskets, and SO MUCH MORE!

Be there at 6pm Thursday night. Score some great stuff and help a great cause!

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's Auction Time In Tennessee!

I know I haven't been good about really advertising the auction coming up this week, but please don't take my lack of posting as a lack of excitement. I am JACKED about this auction, just sick with a sinus infection and I feel like I am running 2 steps ahead and taking 6 steps back.

Here's the poopy scoop on the auction:
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11 at 6pm at THE CHURCH AT INDIAN LAKE (formerly the Hope Center in Hendersonville) This is located at the Drakes Creek exit on Vietname Vets and is opposite the interstate from the Streets of Indian Lake.

This is a LIVE AUCTION with Gene Carman Realty Company. All items have been donated and you will get a number and bid, bid, bid. ALL and I mean EVERY DIME is going to our adoption fund (J and Brea) and Ray and Katie's adoption fund. They are adopting from Ethiopia.

As of 8:22pm on Monday night, we already have over 60 lots to bid on. This ranges from a piano, a computer armoire, a chair, photo sessions, custom kids clothing, paintings, an American Girl doll with accessories, hotel stays, massages, toys, and so much more. People have graciously donated some amazing items.

What we need? Of course, we still donations. Please let anyone you know that might want to donate from a local business that we have a way to have them write that donation off AND they will get a ton of exposure as every bidder will have a piece of paper in their hand knowing who donated what.

If you don't have stuff to donate, we also need baked goods. We will be selling canned drinks and would like to be able to offer something for people to snack on as well. If you wouldn't mind baking some brownies, cookies, a cake, etc. We don't care, you bake it...we sell it. Again, every DIME goes to our adoption fund. All you need to do is email me at cheapbrea@gmail.com and let me know where to come get it. We will take care of packaging it up and getting it ready for auction night.

I don't say this enough, but please know how much we are thankful for your support!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Aiden: Help Bring Him Home

As you know, I am very passionate about adoption. And, unfortunately, part of adoption is finances.

I mentioned a gal named Tracie on my blog a few weeks ago and several of you asked me later who that was. So I thought I would take a moment to tell you a bit about Mrs. Tracie and what she and her family are up to.

Tracie is a consultant with Christian Adoption Consultants. I have followed her adoption blog for over a year now (give or take) and I find that their approach to helping people find matches in the adoption world is refreshing. Many of you might be wondering what exactly she does? Well, I'll tell you (in the Brea way I can). She is in contact with tons of adoption agencies and when they have a "situation" (AKA baby that they don't have current families wanting to adopt) they let Tracie and her company know. She then works with her clients to help find families for these babies. The thing that is nice about Tracie is that she is up front and honest about what she does. Yes, there is a fee, but it is minimal. If and when we choose a consultant, it will be Tracie.

Anyway, she and her hubby have four wonderful kids. Three bio and one adopted daughter (does this sound familiar?) They have recently answered God's call on their life to accept their newest child for their family: Aiden. Aiden is a cutey patootie that has Downs Syndrome and they, like us, are trying to raise funds to bring this little guy home. Someone has graciously offered to match any donations made into their adoption fund between now and Christmas up to $5K. So, if someone donates $5K, their other person will match that, giving them $10K in their fund. How AMAZING is that? If that doesn't give you a reason to give, I don't know what will. So, even $5 means a lot, because it magically turns into $10. Please consider sponsoring sweet Aiden as one of your Christmas gifts. Does your grandma really need another ugly sweater? NO. But Aiden needs to come home to his family. And trust me, parenting four kids, $10K is a BIG DEAL!

Check out the post HERE and take a look at their wonderful family and then write a check. It will make you get all warm and fuzzy, I promise!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cutting Back

J and I have been having some pretty DEEP conversations on cutting back. Another post for another day. Tonight I got to thinking about if the economy is forcing readers of this blog to cut back this Christmas? Or are you just wanting to get back to the spirit of Christmas and that's why you're cutting back? OR are you not cutting back simply because it's Christmas and you want it to be as fun as possible? AND on that note, do you have a certain number of gifts you give your children? A certain tradition? I want to hear all about it, so give me some scoop in the comment section!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pretty funny

I realize that no one else will think these are very funny, but I completely cracked up when I saw them simply because I was HORRIBLE at math and science in high school and college. I don't think I was ever this bad though...




Wednesday, December 3, 2008

THANK YOU

for the love you showed to Angie and her family (and me!) the last three days.

for the food your brought to the funeral home. It was so needed, so appreciated and so eaten.

for the prayers you have prayed for this family. I feel confident to say that they have felt them.

for being willing and able to help in any way, whether it was watching kids, cooking meals, or forwarding an email.

THANK YOU

A little more REAL

I'm sure many of you that have followed this blog for a while thought "oh boy" when you read the title. What is she going to rant about now?

My weight.

As many of you know, I started on estrogen about 3 months ago to help with migraines and some other issues I was having. Well, in my opinion, the old estrogen hasn't helped and I am anxious to go back in a few weeks and find out if my doctor feels the same. On top of that, when I went in to start on the estrogen, they weighed me and I was 144. Honestly, I was pretty happy, because I had been hovering around the 150 mark for a while but with all the migraines, I had dropped some weight. Now don't get me wrong, I am not happy at 150. I feel heavy at 150.

Well, three months and a week later, I have gained 13 pounds. Yep, 13 pounds. It ain't cool.

Now, before any of you leave a comment saying "I wish I only weighed 157 pounds" well, that's great. But, it's not great for me. I hate looking at myself naked and my clothes are TIGHT (and not in a good way). So, I'm being real and saying that I am super bummed. I'm putting it out there because I'm being REAL and I'm going to try to loose it, even though I feel the good old Estrogen has a lot to do with it.

Honestly, I've never really struggled with my weight and it sucks. I'm sorry to those of you that do.

That's my real moment for today.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Arrangements for Pat Hill, Angie's Mom

Here are the arrangements for Angie's mom. She will be at Cole and Garrett in Goodlettsville. Visitation is Tuesday, December 2 from 2-4pm and 6-8pm. The service is Wednesday, December 3 at 1pm. Mrs. Pat wanted to be cremated so their will not be a viewing, just visitation for the family.

What is needed? Food at the funeral home. I (and my mom) are coordinating food for the funeral home. If you can bring something for the family to eat, please leave me a comment below. Right now I am not going to try to assign different food to different people, so just check others comments.

I am going to take care of all the drinks and I am also planning to get one of the big sandwich rings at Sam's Club. I know JuJu is doing a chicken casserole and a vegetable. Please keep in mind we will need food both Tuesday afternoon/night and Wednesday for after the service.

Also, the family is requesting that you make a donation to the Fybromyalgia Foundation vs. sending flowers since she is being cremated. Mrs. Pat struggled with this for years and funds are desperately needed for research to treat this disease.

THANKS for your outpouring of love to Angie and her family.

EDITED TO ADD MRS. PAT'S OBIT:
HILL, Patricia GriffinAge 67 of Madison, TN, passed away November 30, 2008. She is survived by her husband of 46 years, Warren Hill; daughters, Lisa (Marty) McPherson, Angie (Robert) Vaughan & Margaret Dennis; grandchildren, Katy, Duncan, Sarah, John, Alexandra & Abby; sister, Jackie Smith. Visitation will be Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m. & 6 to 8 p.m.. Services will be 1 p.m. Wednesday at Cole & Garrett Funeral Home, with Bro. Joe Vickers officiating. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the National Fibromyalgia Association, 2121 South Towne Centre Place, Suite 300, Anaheim, CA 92806. COLE & GARRETT FUNERAL HOME, Goodlettsville, TN (615) 859-5231.

Bringing Home The Children Auction

Our next FUNdraiser is December 11, 2008. I am going to post the details below (THANKS Ray for typing this up!). Basically, to give you a quick overview...we are having a LIVE auction. We are busy collecting donations of anything and everything that will be sold at auction that night. We only have three fundraisers left (this being one of them) and are hopeful that we can raise the remainder of our money at these events. Did I mention how THANKFUL we are to all of you that has supported us in this journey!

Here's the scoop:
It is coming around the corner and fast! It will be December 11th before you know it! That is the day for the:

Bringing Home the Children Benefit Auction!

The sale is going to be at The Church at Indian Lake in Hendersonville TN. If you work at a company or know of a place that would be interested in making a donation (gift cards, certificates for service, gift baskets, etc) please let Katie Carman (sharpkiddo@gmail.com) or Brea Freeman (cheapbrea@gmail.com) know. They are doing a great job gathering up donations, even though our economy is somewhat interesting.

If you have some nice items you would like to give personally, you can let them know and we will arrange to come get them as well!

Thanks for all your help! This past holiday and the one coming up are great reminders of the fact there are millions of children who will not know the joy of the season till someone opens their home to them! Continue to pray for us and other families who are taking this leap of faith! You guys are great!

AND COME TO THE SALE ON THE 11TH AND GET SOME GREAT CHRISTMAS GIFTS FROM LOCAL PROVIDERS!

P.S. As a little spoiler, here's a few things we have collected so far: HARD TO FIND Bakugan gift basket (the HOT toy this year), Broyhill Computer Armoire, Custom Framed Artwork from Eddie Holland, Maggie Moo's Mom Original, gift certificate for J.D. Harris photography, and so much more!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Death

I don't fear death. By the grace of God, I heard the good news and chose to accept Christ as my personal savior at 13. Although my relationship with God is like any other, always growing and strengthening with each passing year, I know that he is always there for me. He desires that I will want to know more and more about him and in turn, share those things with others. Tonight I think I got to do that.

My best friend, Angie V., lost her mom today unexpectedly. Mrs. Pat was a wonderful woman, a cool cat as I told them tonight. I don't think I ever saw her without makeup, jewelry and some wonderfully smelly perfume. Her apartment was decorated to a "t" and she loved nothing better than to go to a tea room for a girls luncheon. She loved me like I was one of her own daughters, even though I technically wasn't. As I did her dishes in her sink tonight (I wanted her kitchen to be clean), I got tickled as she had a half drank cup of egg nog sitting on the counter. The egg nog wasn't just in any cup, it was in a fine china wine glass. Mrs. Pat loved the finer things in life, and one could never had too much BLING!

Even though I felt like an intruder being there tonight (Angie wanted me there), I hope that I was able to serve the family tonight in the way God would want me to. There were times that I wasn't sure what I should be doing so I cleaned (JuJu, you have definitely rubbed off on me).

So please pray for Angie and her family. She, her sisters and her dad are meeting to make arrangements at 10am in the morning. If you don't mind stopping and saying a prayer for them, I would be very thankful. For those of you that still have your momma's, give them a big hug next time you see them and never leave them without telling them you love them. They can be gone in an instant.

I love you Mrs. Pat and you will be greatly missed. You're a cool cat, and I only hope I'm half as cool as you one day!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Isaac and Luke - Growing Up

Seven years ago, as I type this, I was laying in Vanderbilt hospital wondering how in the world I was going to handle what God had just blessed our family with. Isaac and Luke had been born the night before at 9:41pm and 9:51pm, and although they were 7 weeks early, they were holding their own in the NICU.

They were so tiny compared to the only other baby I had ever birthed. Anna had weighed in at 8 lbs. 7 oz. Isaac was 5 lbs. 2 oz. and Luke was 4 lbs. 14 oz. I now know that is huge for twins that are born 7 weeks early, but at the time when they are hooked up to so many things, they looked like tiny little peanuts. I had labored the day before for 12 hours, so I was exhausted, but cried every time I had to leave the NICU and my babies. About this time, Anna was arriving to meet her new brothers for the first time. My grandma and grandpa had kept her the night before. When she arrived at the hospital, I think she was more excited to push mommy to the NICU in a wheelchair than she was to actually meet her new brothers. You see, she was only 3 years old, and although she was a smart cookie, she had no idea how much her world would change in 10 more days when mommy brought her new brothers home.

Now, 7 years later, those guys that started out so tiny are some of the tallest in their classes. Last night, our family went to Kabuto (the boys choice) for a small birthday celebration. JuJu gave them some New Balance shoes (size 3) and when we got home and tried them on, they are too small. My 7 year olds have a huge foot! Although many people still can't tell them apart (yes, they are identical), they are as different as night and day. They are both very smart, love to read. As I tell many, they are the best of friends and the worst of enemies. When they are in good moods, they don't want to play with anyone else (except their best friend Cam). When they are in bad moods, they don't want to fight with anyone else (well, that's a stretch).


Isaac was born first and to this day, remains more of the leader of the two. He's a pretty easy kid. He is a great reader but struggles a bit with his handwriting. He took to Mary Elizabeth right away when we brought her home and to this day, will come and love on her for no reason or pick her up and wag her around the house. He enjoys anything outdoors, especially riding his bike. He loves to help me with anything I ask and he is a great boy. I love this guy to death!


Luke is our free thinker. He is sometimes just lost in space and although he is the most loving child you will ever meet, he has definitely taught me more patience than I thought I would ever need. Luke doesn't read quite as well as Isaac, but his handwriting is perfect. He doesn't pay Mary Elizabeth much attention, unless he notices Isaac doing it and then he is on board. Don't get me wrong, he loves her, he would just rather drag his best friend (a stuffed bear) Johnny around the house than to wag his sister around. He is very sensitive and worries about what people think. He did everything first (walked, crawled, etc.) and to this day will eat anything you put in front of him (Isaac is super picky like his daddy). Luke makes every day fun as you are constantly laughing out loud at something he comes up with. He is a master of doing nothing but making you think he is right there working along with his brother. I love him to death as well!

So, that's my boys. My great guys that are now 7 years old. Being their mom is a blessing, seriously. They are a riot and I constantly am amazed at how much personality God stuffed in their bodies. A big THANK YOU to Uncle Josh who took these amazing pics on Thanksgiving Day. Check out this post to see the rest. YOU ROCK!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I am thankful for...

As with many blog posts I have seen today, I see everyone talking about what they are thankful for. Then I found this one. Please take a few minutes and read through it and then I challenge you to really think about it and give up what you are struggling with to God.

UPDATE: The blog post I was referring to has been pulled down. The author of the blog lost a child earlier this year and was talking about being thankful to God for everything, even the bad stuff. Finding the good, if at all possible.

Today, amongst everything else, I am thankful that I struggle with migraine headaches. I have learned to slow down and fully rely on God. I have learned that my body is not always strong and although I hate these headaches, I am thankful for them.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Hubby's Vision

Jonathan has always felt called to Ethiopia. We assumed that meant that we would adopt from Ethiopia, but as he read through one of his many books (yes, I finally rubbed off and my hubby loves to read), he discovered that just a small group around us could MAKE A DIFFERENCE in Ethiopia. So he started a blog to tell you guys all about it. I hope you'll take a few minutes today to read through it and catch a glimpse of my hubby's heart and vision for Ethiopia. Tomorrow as we sit and stuff ourselves with family surrounding us, keep in mind what you read on his blog and think about how your family can truly make a difference. Let me know what you think. I love you J and I'm really proud of you for stepping out and following God's will!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Brea's Rule For Tuesday 11/25

On Tuesday, 11/25, if you read a blog post (and yes, I am following my own rule) you MUST post a comment. Let people in blog land know you're glad that you get to be nosy and know all about them :)
UPDATE: This is not just for my blog, any blog you read today, you must comment!

The ball is OFFICIALLY rolling

Ever have one of those days where you feel like you lived fourteen lives in one day? Today was one of those days for me. We woke up just like any normal day, except that it was raining and yucky here in Nashvegas.

Mary Elizabeth, Angie V., Abby, and I loaded up to head to Catholic Charities in Nashville to turn in the pre-application to start our independent home study. On our way, we began discussing lunch. If you know me, I don't go anywhere and not start immediately thinking about lunch. Since we would be in Nashville, we were thinking a little P.F. Changs, but what would the girls eat? That just wouldn't work and then, at the same time, we said "MONELL'S!" out loud. If you have never been to Monell's, you need to stop reading this blog, get in your car and go. It's on 6th Ave. in Germantown in a cool cat old house. They serve authentic "Southern" food family style. This means you sit at a big, fat table with a bunch of strangers. It is UMMM, UMMM GOOD. You will need buffet pants if you go (or at least adjustable waist). $12.95 per person, kids eat free, trust me, you will eat your money's worth. So, we walk in and get seated at a table with two guys who turned out to be from New York. They were in town for the Jets vs. Titans game yesterday and we had a great time eating with them. For some reason, they didn't seat anyone else at our table but that was A.O.K. with us. As we sat down, the guys were already eating on the broccoli salad, cucumber salad, and breakfast casserole. They made over the kids and we started telling them the history of Monell's. That's when Angie V. and I discovered that these guys thought that was all the food they were getting. We both bust out laughing because right about this time, girlie brings huge bowls of (and I'm not kidding) mashed potatoes, meatloaf, fried chicken, chicken and dumplins, corn casserole, green beans, and biscuits and cornbread with fresh peach preserves. I thought these guys were going to die! They even took out their cell phones and took a picture of all the food as they said no one at home would believe this. Now, let's just take this moment to discuss that you are not supposed to use your cell phone inside Monell's. I have ate there several times and didn't know this, but we quickly found out when the cell phone freak from the back came out and rode New Yorker's butt about him using his cell phone to take a picture of the food. How about that Southern hospitality? Anyway, we ate and ate. Mary Elizabeth cleaned her plate. Then, it was time for dessert. Strawberry Shortcake. Oh YEAH!


We said our goodbyes and it was time to head to CC. We got there and can I just say, place is HUGE. When the Catholics say they are doing some Charities, they aren't joking. It's not just a little building, they have a whole freaking campus. I was very impressed and everyone was super nice, although I didn't have a clue what in the world I was supposed to do. We'll take this moment for a sidebar:

SIDEBAR: I would LOVE to use Bethany again and we have NOTHING in the world against them, but as I told Kim T. this morning, I feel God gave us a brain for a reason. If we can get a home study completed in 1/4 of the time and at 1/2 of the cost, it just seems wasteful of God's money and time not to do that. I absolutely LOVE Bethany and plan to recommend them to anyone I know (and still volunteer there), it's just that J and I have prayed about this at great length and we really feel God is leading us in a different direction this time. Ok, back to the story.

That's the thing I will miss about Bethany. I KNOW Bethany. I KNOW the staff. I KNOW my way around. It's COMFORTABLE. BUT, I have found in my life that when I get comfortable, I don't fully rely on God. So, we're going with the unknown this time. We walked in CC and I asked the receptionist to make copies of all of our birth certificates and J and I's marriage certificates. I gave her all our paperwork, a few pictures of our family, a check for $625 (half the homestudy), and then Angie V. took our picture. Can I just say that I am sure the front desk lady now thinks I am the crazy scrapbook lady who took a picture at her front desk turning in paperwork? So, yes, the ball is OFFICIALLY rolling on Freeman #5.



We get back in the car, run a few errands and are heading home when my cell phone rings. It's the dentist office wondering where I am. CRAP. I forgot that me and the three older kids ALL had dentist appointments at 1pm and it's 1:02pm. CRAP. CRAP. CRAP. So, I call J (at work) and he leaves to get the kids and meet me there. Angie drops me off, takes M.E. to meet my saint of a mother-in-law Barbara, and I start my teeth cleaning, x-rays, oral cancer mouth screening, scrape my gums off process. The kids come rolling in and 2 hours and $1034 later, we leave the dentist. Next week, we will be having a yard sale to raise funds for dental treatments (I'm totally kidding).

We head home with J who is officially hacked off at me as he has now missed 2 hours of work (did you notice that Angie dropped me off as my car was at home), my gums are radiating, and I'm trying to figure out what I can sell on ebay to help pay for the dental abomination that just occurred. Did I mention I'm getting a migraine?

So, that's my day. Aren't you jealous.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Recognition

So, I have to tell all you fellow bloggers a funny little story about recognition.

As many of you know, I run a consignment sale. What started out as a small consignment sale turned into a large consignment sale pretty quickly so I am constantly running into people where I know their face (and possibly some recognition of a situation), but I have no clue what their name is.

After the fall sale, I received an email from a lady who had gotten home and one of the toys that she had bought was incomplete. Can I just take this moment to say, CHECK YOUR TOYS before you consign, as there is nothing more frustrating than getting home with a toy that you know your child will just love only to find out the silly thing doesn't work or is missing pieces. Can I get an AMEN! Anyhoo, back to the story. She was super sweet about it. Honestly, her name was familiar but I couldn't put a face with her name.

Fast forward to a day at CVS when they were having a special on paper towels/toilet paper. I loaded up because the deal was fabulous, but it took me forever to find the Viva paper towels as they were hidden in the back corner at our newly remodeled CVS in Hendersonville with the hateful staff-except for the manager (another blog post for another day) As I rounded a corner with my plethora of kids and Viva, I ran into a girl whom I knew looked familiar from the sale, but had no clue what her name was. She immediately said, "that's where all the paper towels went!" I immediately told her where they were hiding in the back corner, but it ate at me all day why I didn't ask her name and re-introduce myself.

Today, I get a wonderful email from a lady that reads the blog. It was awesome and made my day. I recognized her name as the toy missing parts lady so I decided to take a few minutes and surf her blog. Liked what I saw, decided to add it to blog reader and then I saw her picture. Yep, Mrs. Sarah, you are my CVS Viva paper towel lady.

So, this lengthy post is to remind you to do something. Next time you see someone you think you know, bite the bullet and reintroduce yourself. I just love this girl and I could have figured out a while ago that she was THE SARAH if I had just opened my mouth in CVS that day. Trust me, seeing her was the only pleasant thing that happened in that store with the hateful staff (except for the manager).

How we did this weekend...

This weekend those of you that came to my house and shopped helped us pay for our homestudy. Yes, we raised over $1500 this weekend and that is just enough to pay for our homestudy which we start THIS WEEK! You guys are awesome, a HUGE THANK YOU, and to GOD be the glory!

And the winner of the Wii Fit is....

a pic of the bowl of all the names right before we picked a name out
McKinley T. was my Vanna. THANKS McKinley for drawing out the name. The winner is Vickie Henry!

Vickie was so excited when I called her. She was screaming and just couldn't believe it. She and Allison were all smiles when they just came to pick up. CONGRATS and THANK YOU for helping with our adoption fund!


Thanks to all of you who bought tickets. You guys ROCK!!

An Adoption Update

This is where it appears we are heading right now. Just wanted to give everyone an update.

As I told you a few weeks ago, Jonathan's heart has been burdened for Ethiopia for a long time. I am so proud to tell you that yesterday Jonathan was on a conference call with a group that sponsors orphanages in Ethiopia and it appears that the Lord is definitely calling our family to make this a big priority. So, you will be seeing us blog very shortly about how you can personally help us in this challenge. What does this mean? Simply put, we are going to try to assemble at least 20 people who are willing to commit to adopting 1 child a year to support financially (the cost is roughly $35 a month). If we can assemble this, there is a strong possibility we can actually find an orphanage that is currently getting no financial support and get these kids fed, clothed and taught (not only with school related materials, but about the Lord!) How awesome is that!

As for us personally, I think we are both feeling led to do another domestic adoption so we will begin filling out of packet pretty soon for that. What does that mean? RIGHT NOW, we will not be adopting from Ethiopia, but instead here in the United States. We will only be open to African American children and we are also open to some medical issues so please begin praying for us as we begin this process. We just want to do God's will, not our own so this may change, but right now, we feel at peace with this decision. God has definitely put some people in our path this week (thanks Tracie!) who we totally feel comfortable with and this time we probably won't be doing a traditional agency adoption. We feel very strongly that we want to adopt a child that may be considered "hard to place" either because of age, health reasons, etc. and we love that Tracie sees our vision in this.

We are so thankful for your prayers. As I told my friend Laura last week, if you do nothing else to support else in this adoption process for us but pray, you have done the most. We are SO THANKFUL for money, don't get me wrong. That is what makes it possible. BUT without your prayers for us and with us, I'm just not sure what we would do. We have FELT THEM many times. We FELT THEM last Friday as we wept for the son that would not be part of our family. We FELT THEM when we brought Mary Elizabeth home. We FELT THEM when we announced God's decision for our family to go to Ethiopia initially.

Someone asked me recently in a comment if you can find an agency that will let you adopt if you don't attend a church/aren't a Christian. I'm ashamed to admit that I never responded. Not because I didn't know what to say, but honestly, I forgot about it until now. This is Brea's response. Yes, you can adopt and find an agency if you aren't a Christian. If you want to email me privately (cheapbrea@gmail.com), I will be happy to point you in the right direction. In my opinion, being a Christian and attending church are two different things. Should attending church be something a Christian does? Sure. But attending church doesn't affect salvation.

Now, as for adopting without Christ being your personal savior. I have physically birthed three children and mentally birthed one, and I can tell you that the process of adopting a child is one of the hardest things emotionally and physically I have ever done in my life. How I would have done it without Christ in my life is beyond me. I seriously CAN NOT comprehend it. There were days when I seriously did nothing but CLUNG TO MY DADDY. My relationship with Christ is so much stronger because of our adoption experience. I would love to share this with anyone that will listen, so again, please email me if you want to know more. So, I say this. Yes, you can adopt without having Christ in your life, but I wouldn't advise it. I wouldn't advise your feet hitting the floor without Christ in your life.

Sorry this post got long. God just put this on my heart to share.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How It Went...

Today was great, but honestly, there was barely a dent made. I am so thankful to each of you that came by and spent your hard earned money.

99% of the American Girl stuff is gone. People were lined up at 10am and they swarmed those American Girl tables like shark infested waters. It was amazing how fast they snatched it up.

Julie sold quite a bit, but I am not lying when I say that you can't tell her racks were touched. They are still STUFFED FULL.

The Longaberger tables are full. I think I only sold about 7 baskets today so if you are thinking that you aren't going to come on Saturday because all of the good stuff would be gone, you would be wrong.

I am exhausted. Ready for the yummy Steak and Shake my hubby is bringing home (a rare treat at our house) and then I am off to bed. The boys best friend, Camden, is spending the night and I have already told them it is a "boys night" so daddy is in charge.

Come see us tomorrow and don't forget that we are drawing for the Wii Fit at 12 noon sharp so if you want tickets, just pay through the paypal link on this blog. THANKS to everyone for their support!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Our House....

is a very, very, very FULL house.

Seriously, this sale tomorrow is going to kick butt. Come see it for yourself.

Friday, Nov. 21 10am-3pm
Saturday, Nov. 22 10am-1pm

Also have after hour by appointment times on Friday, Nov. 21 from 6-8 pm. Just email me at cheapbrea@gmail.com if you want to come during those times. Oh, and don't forget to buy that Wii Fit ticket while you're here :)




Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What did I do today?

What did I not do today is the better question! Just to make myself feel better about how much I really DO get done in a day, this is what I did today.

1. Took a bath and shaved my legs
2. Gave M.E. a bath and styled her hair (trust me, this takes time)
3. Hosted an informal luncheon for three friends adopting from Ethiopia (had a great time girls!)
4. Organized downstairs to get ready for sale on Friday
5. Vacuumed bedroom
6. Emptied and reloaded dishwasher
7. Took several phone calls and made several phone calls (all adoption related)
8. Updated facebook, blog.
9. Gave what felt like 8 million sets of directions to the sale on Friday (I hope they all come)
10. Organized boutique clothing
11. Packed up two boxes I need to ship tomorrow.
12. Read a few pages in a book
13. Caught up on Alison B., Maris, Tracie, and my sister's blog.
14. Answered most of my email.
15. Helped Anna clean her room
16. Cleaned out a whole bag of paper/trash from the art/toy room.
17. Cleaned out three more bins from the garage and organized the contents
18. Got American Girl dolls completely organized on tables for sale on Friday.
19. Set sales goals for Friday
20. Got cost and timeline for homestudy if done by Catholic Charities (very pleased with results)
21. Took migraine pills and going to bed.

I'm pretty impressed with myself. All of this while parenting four children. Now, we did have leftovers for dinner, but the leftovers were homecooked and everyone seems content and ready for bed at 7:38pm. I consider this day a success.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Family Pictures 2008

A big thanks to Alison B. for these great photos:




Monday, November 17, 2008

More about fundraisers

Am I starting to sound like a broken record? I hope not.

I wanted to update you guys on a few things about this weekend's upcoming fundraiser sale at the house. I don't think I have already posted this, but we will have WEBKINZ! If your children are like mine, they love them. AND if you are like me, you are going to LOVE the prices on these.

Webkinz $8
Littlekinz $6
Trading Cards $1

Also, I'm not sure if I mentioned this before or not, but in addition to Julie's awesome boutique goodies, Longaberger galore, and Webkinz we will also have the following random goodies for sale:

*Kid Express shoes for your little girls. THE BEST boutique shoes! 50% OFF!
*American Girl dolls and accessories. Approximately 6-7 more dolls, 3 horses, etc. Dolls are $65 each, horses are around $30 each, clothing is $12 and under. It is all organized and pretty.
*Gone With the Wind collectibles. A Scarlett doll, several collector plates new in boxes and some figures. All of this will be priced at $5-$10 each.
*Snowbabies/bunnies (I can't remember the exact name) These are cute little figurines that are collectible. $5 each.

All of this stuff has been donated and will be nicely displayed with the Longaberger in the bonus room downstairs. Remember, Julie will be taking cash, check, visa and m/c for her boutique stuff. All of the other stuff will be cash and check only so please plan accordingly. Can't wait to see you all!

OH AND DON'T FORGET TO BUY YOUR Wii FIT RAFFLE TICKETS. So far you have a 1 in 7 shot of winning!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Domestic vs. International

Since our news less than 36 hours ago that Ben wouldn't be coming into our home (although he IS going home...praise GOD!), J and I have both been doing the whole "do we go domestic or international?"

There's pros and cons to both. Having BTDT (been there done that for those of you that don't text-trust me, I'm still learning) with domestic adoption and then laying eyes on THE packet for international, I personally feel like internation adoption is a lot more work. With domestic, you do your home study and then once it's approved, you wait to be picked. Six months after placement (give or take), you finalize. With international, you do your home study, do your dossier, wait for referral, wait for court date, wait for travel date, travel but then you are pretty much done.

It's a hard decision and one that J and I don't feel ready to make yet. So we are just praying. And asking for your prayers. We do plan to start on the homestudy itself b/c some parts of it are the same (physicals, financials, etc.) Yes, mom, you can start breathing in your paper sack now HA HA! As we go through the paperwork process, we are just praying for God's will to be done. If we need to go domestic, we go domestic. If we need to be parents of a child from far away, we go international. We just want to go where HE wants us.

So, that's Brea's random thoughts at 11:44pm on a Saturday night. I'm sure there will be more to come. You never know with us!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fundraiser #3: All the Scoop

So, yes, even in light of the last post, fundraiser #2 and #3 are ON! God has a plan for us....and because we still feel so strongly that the plan is for us to adopt, we are FUNdraising.

#3 will be The Kids Clothing Basket inventory blowout sale along with Longaberger heaven as I am calling it :) The details are as follows:
Friday, November 21 10am-3pm (if you need to come after 3pm, shoot me an email at cheapbrea@gmail.com and we can hook you up)
Saturday, November 22 10am-1pm

DO NOT come before 10am, as we will line you up at the door to my garage (yes, the sale is being held indoors in the warmth with hot cider and a smile!).

Here's what will be here: Julie is bringing scads (I just wanted to use that word) of beautiful fall/winter clothing. Think smocked dresses, Gabiano Christmas pajamas, ZaZa Couture, Indygo Artwear, Mulberribush, SHOES, Baby Lulu...loads of yummies. ALL OF IT WILL BE HALF OF THE PRICE IT IS CURRENTLY MARKED which means that it will all be 60-90% off retail. If you have twins, you need to come. If you need outfits for Christmas pictures, you need to come. If you want to help Brea and Jonathan bring home their 5th Freeman, you need to come (like how I threw that in there?) Seriously, this is GREAT stuff and most of it is BRAND NEW stuff that she has gotten in SINCE the fall consignment sale so unless you have shopped with her at Christmas at Beech or at Christmas Village, there's a good chance you haven't seen it. DON'T MISS THIS SALE. She will be taking Visa and Mastercard (that's dangerous huh?) but there will be sales tax so keep that in mind. Bring your mama's and your wallets!

Now, on to Longaberger. Oh, there is yummy stuff in there as well. Four LARGE tables FULL ALREADY to be exact and did I mention that none of it is over $35. We will have a large tub of liners, protectors, etc. for $2 EACH, baskets starting at $10 and going to $35. We only have a few wrought iron pieces so far, but are hoping to get more consigned. EMAIL ME at cheapbrea@gmail.com if you have Longaberger you are wanting to get rid of. You are welcome to consign it here. The best part? Ms. Candy will be here taking orders on all the NEW Longaberger fancies so you can even be the first kid on your block to have the latest greatest Longaberger!

Ok, so that's the scoop. Email me if you need more info, directions, or a shock to the heart over all this greatness. THANKS for your support and see you Friday. Oh, and don't forget to buy your Wii Fit tickets!

We just got a call...

and Ben has been placed with another family that was waiting for a referral. Evidently, they requested him earlier this week and corporate just told our case worker. We are thrilled for Ben that he will get to be with his new forever family even earlier, thrilled for the family who will soon be his new family and yet sad at the same time. I held up so well talking with our social worker (who is an absolute doll) and then cried like a baby when I had to call and tell my husband.

We will pray about what direction to go, although I feel like we will continue filling out our paperwork for Ethopia. There are so many children there that need homes. We just want to follow God's will. Please say a prayer for our family tonight as we tell the kids.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fundraiser #2: Wii Fit



That's right, for $5 per ticket, you get your name in the hat for a BRAND NEW Wii Fit. The HOT toy this Christmas. It retails for $89.99 and is VERY HARD TO FIND! This only works if you already have a Nintendo Wii. What can you do with it if you win? Use it, Give It Away, Or Sell It On Ebay.

How do you buy tickets? Just click on that handy dandy paypal link to the right and make a $5 donation. If you want 2 tickets, donate $10. Be sure you put whose name you want the raffle tickets in and a phone number for us to contact you if you win. If you don't have a paypal account and still wish to purchase tickets, email me at cheapbrea@gmail.com and I'll email you the address to mail a check to. We will be drawing at 12pm CST on Saturday, November 22. I'll post the results immediately following. GOOD LUCK AND I HOPE YOU ENJOY THESE PICS OF US USING OUR Wii FIT!

Jonathan and the kids hoola-hooping on the Wii fit:


Mommy and kids doing a little yoga:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Our Next Fundraisers

Can I just say that I am having so much fun fundraising for Ben? Now, granted, I didn't know that with our first yard sale it would be to bring Ben home, but now that I have a face and a name, I feel so excited knowing that each dollar we raise puts us one mile closer to putting my arms around my newest son. I can't wait to hold him in my arms and tell him all about his brothers and sisters waiting at home to meet him (and grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, friends, etc.)

Anyway, I am proud to announce fundraiser #2 and #3 tonight. I think they are both PRETTY AWESOME if you ask me and I can't wait to see what you guys think. I think what makes these really fun is that you guys get to benefit from the fundraising too! Not only are you helping raise the balance of our adoption fund, but you are getting cool stuff as well. I mean, how much fun was it shopping through all those goodies at the yard sale? Anyway, back on track.

Fundraiser #2 will start tonight as soon as I get dinner in me and get the post up. We are doing a raffle for the HOT TOY this Christmas: A BRAND NEW IN BOX Wii FIT! Tickets will be $5 each and we will be drawing a winner on Saturday, November 22 at 12pm CST.

Fundraiser #3 will be held Friday and Saturday, November 21-22. Julie Montgomery (The Kids Clothes Basket) will be bringing ALL OF HER REMAINING BOUTIQUE INVENTORY to my house and selling it at 50% off the lowest ticketed price making it 60-90% off retail. If you love smocked clothing, Baby Lulu, etc. you do not want to miss this sale. If you need Christmas outfits for your kids, you do not want to miss this sale. It will be held in my garage and times will be announced tomorrow night here on the blog. Julie is graciously making a donation to our adoption fund since I am hosting this for her! During this awesome sale, we will also be having a Longaberger sale in the bonus room downstairs. What is this you ask? Candy Williams, my awesome Longaberger rep, will be set up taking orders for anything out of the current Longaberger wishlist and promises to have it to you in time for Christmas. The best part? We will also have OVER 70 BASKETS available for cash and carry and nothing will be priced over $35. Did you read that? Yes, $35. There are some amazing baskets here already. Signed baskets, collectors club baskets, etc. and most of them are retired. IF YOU HAVE LONGABERGER YOU WOULD LIKE TO SELL...it's easy. Just email me at cheapbrea@gmail.com. All you need to do is figure out what price you want to put on your items (we are taking baskets, wrought iron, pottery, pretty much anything Longaberger) and then we set up a time to get it from you. We will display it, price it and hopefully sell it. We will keep 20% of the selling price for the adoption fund, BUT if you choose to turn around and spend your profits with Candy, you keep 100% as Candy is making a donation to our adoption fund for all purchases made that day on any NEW Longaberger. It's a win win for everyone....

So plan to come see me on November 21 and 22 to shop for beautiful children's boutique clothing, new Longaberger and some of your retired favorites. It's a great way to pick up Christmas gifts and help us bring Ben home! And if you are a grandma reading this, trust me when I say, that we all love boutique outfits for our kiddos for Christmas gifts!

THANKS again for all your support. THANKS to those that have sent paypal donations the last few weeks. I haven't sent thank you notes yet, but I haven't forgotten you. Your support means so much and we love you!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Following God...

to Ethiopia.

Yep, if you had told me a year ago that we would be considering adopting from Ethiopia right now I would have seriously LAUGHED YOU OUT OF THE ROOM.

But, here I am. Honestly, not even sure I have the right words.

In a nutshell, this is what is happening. Jonathan's heart has been burdened for Ethiopia for quite some time. He had mentioned several times that he wanted to adopt from Ethiopia and I would always do the "la la la, I don't hear you" comment. Then, I began praying that I would be submissive to my husband. He IS the spiritual head of our household and I knew his heart and relationship with the Lord was ALL GOOD! Still, after finalizing Mary Elizabeth's adoption, I no more felt led to adopt from Ethiopia than I did to go for a friendly jog (yeah, that ain't happening) We requested the packet from Bethany to pursue our second domestic adoption and yet, once it arrived, I noticed I did not have the same desire to HURRY UP and get it done like I did when it arrived for Mary Elizabeth. I blamed that lack of desire on the fact that I am struggling with migraines, that we don't have our money saved, that M.E. isn't old enough yet, and though honestly, none of those are the real reasons. You see, anyone that has known me for more than a millisecond knows that regardless of circumstance, once I get my mind set on something, I'm doing it.

So, without telling Jonathan, I went online a couple of weeks ago and filled out a preliminary application for international adoption through Bethany. I just wanted to see what countries we would be eligible for IF the day ever came that we decided to pursue an international adoption. When I got the response back that we were ONLY eligible for Ethiopia, I about fell off my chair. With that eligibility, I was also able to see waiting children in Africa and that is where I saw the most beautiful little face waiting for a family.

Again, though, I would not be swayed. How could we leave four kids and travel to Ethiopia for a week? How could we afford an international adoption when we weren't even sure we could afford a domestic adoption?

Thursday night was Bethany's New Friends Dinner. This is our agencies one time a year fundraiser. Jonathan and I hosted a table and as the speakers began speaking and I noticed that Chris, our international social worker from our office, was going to be speaking about waiting international children, I immediately felt that feeling I felt when I saw that beautiful little face the first time. Sure enough, as she flashed that picture on the screen and talked about how this child was looking for HIS forever family, I was officially sobbing. I knew without a shout of a doubt he was supposed to be our son.

So after the dinner, we made our way to Chris and told her we thought we were supposed to be his parents. Today, we officially told Bethany in Michigan (the main office) that we wish to pursue adopting this sweet little boy in Ethiopia. God has changed my heart and our circumstance.

So I am excited, scared, and blessed to share with you that you can begin praying for a little boy to join our family. His name is Ben (the name we had already picked out for our family). His full name will be Benjamin Tucker (Tucker after my great grandpa-did you catch that crazy aunt Jane?) He is 5 years old and is all alone in Ethiopia.

We don't know much about the process yet, except that the paperwork is INSANE and that the process will probably take about 10-12 months before he is home. He may be picked by another family before we get approved, but we are trusting that if this happens it is God's will and the praise will be that Ben will have a home.

We told the kids tonight. Luke and Isaac jumped around like crazy boys, Anna said "oh great" to another brother (although she is REALLY excited), and Mary Elizabeth said "DAH!" which we think means she is really jacked up.

So, please pray for us. It looks like the cost will be about $25K. We know we will get a $5K grant and we have $8K saved already for this adoption, so we are definitely going to be doing some letter writing for more grants and some more fundraising.

THANKS if you have read this far! Sorry I don't have a picture..I can't post it but trust me, he's a cutie! We covet your prayers and are thankful for your support!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Talented Sister

She's a Christian, a wife, a mom, a great friend, a teacher, a homemaker, a music lover, a scrapbooker, and UBER talented. And she's giving away this gorgeous little skirt that she made for free!

So, how do you win this you ask? Well, it's simple. Go HERE and leave her a pretty little comment about how much you love it and she will register you! Who doesn't love a free skirt from my beautiful little sister?

Can I get an AMEN!

I don't care which party you align yourself with, can we all just say THANK GOODNESS this election mess is almost behind us. I'm so sick of the mud slinging, the tv commercials, the word "maverick", people using the race card, etc. I'm just glad it's almost OVER!!! Can I get an AMEN!

Prayers for Wez & the Websters

If you are like me, you hear of many heartbreaking prayer requests daily. Requests for donations to certain causes. Heck, I've even asked you to come spend money at our yard sale to help fund our next adoption.

Today, I have two things to tell you about that I want to prayerfully consider if you can help these people.

The first is this family: Prayers for Wez He desperately needs surgery that insurance won't cover and they are even ready to sell their house to make this happen. Please check out their blog and consider giving. We gave $25 and I would challenge any of you reading this to consider giving the same!

The second is the Webster family. Karen and Brian are adopting an embryo through Bethany Christian Services here in Nashville. They are having a yard sale (does this sound familiar?) on November 15 and need stuff. I know Jonathan and I are cleaning out stuff to give to them (including all of our leftover stuff!). They need to raise at least $4,000 so please consider doing a little pre-holiday cleaning out and donate to them. They will even pick it up! What's better than a clean house and giving to a good cause.

Chicago Trip: New Kids On the Block Concert


So, I had these elaborate plans to make a wonderful post about the New Kids concert, but nothing can top Kim's post so I am directing all traffic there. She gives all the details and scoop on our night at New Kids. You must go and witness the video at the end. I will do one more Chicago post about where we went (besides the concert), where we ate, and what we bought! Stay tuned and let me know what you think about Kim's post. Good times indeed!

Halloween

This was probably my favorite so far. ENJOY! Anna was Alice in Wonderland, Isaac was Tweedle Dee, Luke was Tweedle Dum and Mary Elizabeth was the Cheshire Cat. Everyone loved their costumes! The boys broke the spinners off their hats within about 5 minutes of putting them on and Anna won first place out of the entire 5th grade for best costume (they had to dress up like a book character!)

Friday, October 31, 2008

You Can't Fix Stupid

In the words of comedian Ron White, you can whiten yellow teeth, you suck out fat, but you just can't fix stupid.

This post kept me up half the night last night (well, that, and a migraine). You see, I feel I am pretty good at "turning the other cheek" when it comes to people being ugly to me, etc. I tend to use humor to deal with comments that really hurt my feelings. I don't anger easily and I find it pretty easy to forgive simply because I've put my own foot in my mouth a few times (to say the least). But when you say something ugly and racist about my kids, I honestly have a hard time dealing with that. You see, I want to give that over to God and forgive you, but that cuts me to a level I never realized I had before having kids. So, I find myself in a new place. Do I call this said person and let her know what an idiot she is for saying ugly things about my kids (especially to someone that KNEW ME! Ummm. hello?) or do I just turn the other cheek and just realize that you can't change stupid? And, honestly, there can be no other excuse for these comments except that you are stupid. Well, and a racist.

I am posting this for several reasons.
1. To spit it out. To get it out of me.
2. To let you know that racism is alive and well.
3. To let you know that racism SUCKS.
4. To beg you, plead with any of you that are reading this...before you let another racist comment leave your mouth, please think. It's painful. It's hurtful. It's stupid. And you can't fix stupid.

**An update on 11/3. I called her and we had a great discussion. THANKS for all your advice and I am truly sorry I sounded like such a grouch in this original post. We should ALWAYS talk things out...it's what we are scriptually supposed to do, and besides, it just makes things easier to get it all out there in the open**

Monday, October 27, 2008

Our Trip to Chicago: The Airport

Yes, we are back from Chicago and our New Kids on the Block concert. Yes, it was absolutely freakin fabulous! I was trying to figure out how to make this post short and sweet, but I just don't think it can happen.

We left on Friday morning. Picked up Kim and Chris in Greenbrier and headed to the park and fly. Took our limo to the airport and checked our baggage. As we headed through security, I noticed these three guys in front of us that looked, well, famous. They were pasty white and dressed completely in black. I turned to Chris, the music guru, and asked if the guys in front of us were "anybody." He immediately began shaking, putting his fingers to his lips, and acting a fool. I thought he was being a smart butt and even a guy from the other line took notice of Chris and was motioning to me like "what?" It was then that this said man noticed the pasty white fellows in front of us and also began acting like a fool as well. Chris then told us it was Jack White from the White Stripes. One of his top five all time favorite singers. This means a lot coming from Chris T. He's a music man and goes to A LOT of concerts. Now, I must say that Mr. Cool, Calm, and Collected Chris turned into a major mush ball when I told him we should get a picture of them together. "No, no, you can't bother him in Nashville," Chris said. Whatever. So, I walked up to him in the gift shop and after Chris introducing himself, this was the pic I snapped. I wish you could have seen Jack's face when we told him we were off to Chicago to see New Kids.


(this post has taken me 4 days to do since I am currently struggling with a migraine/sinus infection, so I decided to bust our Chicago trip up into several posts. Bear with me as I work at getting them uploaded. Trust me, it's worth the wait)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

There's Daddy!

I had to go get new tires on the car today so I decided to head to Franklin. Jonathan's Uncle David and Aunt Diane have a tire store there and not only do we get a family discount, but I want to support their business.

Mary Elizabeth and I went into the lobby to wait while Uncle David was getting ready to put the tires on. Aunt Diane and I got to catch up and M.E. was showing how she could "walk" (holding my hands of course!) and smiling and waving. Another lady walked in and took a seat near us. She commented on how pretty M.E. was and I continued trying to keep her busy. It was about this time that the front door to the lobby opened. Not looking up, I heard the lady say, "There's Daddy!" I immediately realized she was talking to M.E. and looked up wondering how she would know what Jonathan would look like. I was shocked to see a tall, stocky black man. Evidently, when the door opened, Mary Elizabeth noticed him and did her traditional killer smile and wave. The lady took this to mean that she knew the man and assumed he was her dad. She assumed wrong. I immediately smiled (trying not to die laughing) and just said "nope!" She stumbled all over herself and couldn't get out of there fast enough.

That was definitely a first and although I'm sure it won't be the last, it sure was funny!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Another yard sale update

This is going to be quick as I am EXHAUSTED. I have so much to say, but I must sleep so I will update more on Monday.

Our grand total for both days was over $6,000. GOD IS GOOD! We literally have a third of what we will probably need for this adoption from just ONE YARD SALE!

THANK YOU doesn't seem adequate, but it's all I have right now. We love you guys. You rock!

P.S. I think we found our girls name today (if we adopt another girl). It's Sarah Catherine. What do you think?

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Quick Yard Sale Update

Although we hardly made a dent in the amount of stuff here, I am in awe to tell you that we sold over $4,000 today.

If you are thinking, "oh, all the good stuff is gone and I shouldn't go on Saturday".....well, you would be wrong. There is TONS (and I mean literally tons..trust me, we moved it back inside) of awesome stuff left. I am hoping some of you will post comments to tell me what you thought.

I hope it was worth the drive for those of you that came a distance (the farthest we heard was Huntsville, AL) and I hope to see many more tomorrow.

We are here from 7am-3pm on Saturday!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Yard Sale Reminder

I know I promised pictures, but with today's weather, pictures just weren't possible.

I am exhausted, but I promise you, if you can bear with us while it takes the hours it will take to get everything out....this is the BEST yard sale you will ever come to. There are RACKS and RACKS of NEW clothing at $4 each. 99% of it is sized and arranged by sex. They are bins and bins of shoes. These will probably not be arranged by sex and size, but I can tell you that they will all be $4 each and there are definitely more girl than boy (way more girl). As for clothes, there is everything from size newborn to size 16. There is a good amount for both boy and girl in all sizes!

There is a ton of used clothing that has been donated. Adult clothing and tons of kids clothing. All the used clothing will be $1 each and all the used shoes will be $1 each. There is a twin size bed, a crib, 2 tvs (one big screen, one regular size), a kids size wooden table with two chairs, tons of toys including a Dora house COMPLETE for $15, home decor, and just STUFF. So much stuff. Please continue to tell everyone you know!

We will be here Friday from 8am-4pm and Saturday, the 18th from 7am until 3pm. PLEASE KNOW THAT IF YOU COME AT 8AM ON FRIDAY, WE ARE DOING OUR BEST TO BE READY BUT WITH THE AMOUNT OF STUFF WE HAVE, IF WE AREN'T...I hope you don't mind digging! Please tell everyone to bring cash cause if we don't know you and know where to find you, we aren't taking a check. Please also let everyone know that EVERY dime of this sale is going into our adoption fund!

I can't begin to adequately tell you how blessed we feel this week. People have open their homes and their hearts and donated so generously to this cause. Words can't do it justice how much we love you guys and appreciate each of you. Please pray for good weather, good attitudes and I will do my best to post an update with pictures tomorrow night!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Home

Home...what a powerful word. Seriously.

A year ago today, we brought Mary Elizabeth home.


She was so tiny. When we met her on October 5, she weighed 4 lbs. 1 oz. and by October 13 she was up to 4 lbs. 10 oz.

I don't remember our house feeling incomplete before her, but now I can't imagine what our life would be like without her.



Thank you Lord for bringing Mary Elizabeth home.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

How Big

Last week was fall break for the kids at school and Papa Eddie and Juju decided to take Anna to Washington D.C. for a visit. She had a blast getting to tour the Smithsonian, visiting the White House (including a self guided tour), eating in China Town (yes, she ate sushi), and visiting Kennedy's grave and the tomb of the unknown soldier. They snapped this pic of Anna in front of the White House right before they went in. You aren't allowed to take any type of purse, etc. so all they had was the camera on their cell phone. When they forwarded it to me, I just sat there and stared at it. How is it possible that Anna is that big? It seems like yesterday I could feel her moving around in my belly and now she is 10 years old.

Now, while Anna was riding to Washington D.C. with Papa Eddie and Juju, Gram and Papa Sam got to spend the day with the boys at Camp Boxwell. Again, when she sent me these pics, I am once again reminded at just how big they have gotten. They will turn 7 on November 28. They are the BEST of friends and just love being together. Although they look like they are different sizes, don't be fooled. They are standing on an incline (although Luke will tell you he is taller). To the naked eye, they are identical through and through. To me, they are as different as night and day. Lord, I love my kids.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm assuming (and you know what they say about that)...

I'm assuming that you have all jumped over to Alison and Brad's blog to check out the fact that they raised ALL of their needed money to bring home the newest Bynum. I'm also assuming that you all know that the fourth member of their family was a girl (my boy vibes were obviously wrong) and that her name is Charlotte Marie. I'm also assuming you have seen their wonderfully fab pictures of Char's homecoming. If I am assuming incorrectly, you had better hightail it over there and check it out. Good stuff.

I am working at Bethany Christian Services again today as everyone is out of the office today to host their orientation. I just talked with Alison B. and she is bringing Charlotte to see me. Of course, she has another reason to come here, but I am so excited that I had to find something to do with the time otherwise I would be a nervous wreck. THANK goodness I put a camera in my purse this morning, although most of you that follow this blog know that it will take me forever to actually upload pictures.

I am wondering if Charlotte is going to give me baby fever? There is NOTHING like the smell and touch of a newborn and ooh, I just can't wait to get my hands on her. There is also NOTHING like the sleepless nights and days without showers, so I will need to remind myself of that while I am holding her and making plans to sneak that formal packet in the house!

So enough babble for a while. I am going to be working on yard sale prep this weekend and helping my friend Candy celebrate her 40th birthday tonight. Have a great weekend!

How This Works

First, I must admit that I am horrible about reading comments that people leave on my blog. Sometimes I see them right away and respond, other times I go a few weeks before I even realize that I have comments. Yes, I know I need to set it up so that I get notified every time I get a comment, I really should do that, I know.

Anyway, I had a comment on my last post and I thought I would take the time to post a blog about financing an adoption. Hopefully I can explain to everyone what Jonathan and I's take on "financing" an adoption looks like for us.

First, I should let everyone know reading this blog that to do a traditional domestic infant adoption (which is what we did with Mary Elizabeth), the costs can range anywhere from $12K-$35K. With our particular agency, the MOST you will spend is $22K but I have known others to spend upwards of that with other agencies. You will also find that other agencies will discount the fees based on the race of the child, health of the child and the likelihood of the child being placed. For instance, since a healthy white child is the most in demand, you will find that other agencies tend to charge top dollar for these children. Yes, it is sickening. That is why we choose Bethany Christian Services in Nashville. They charge a sliding scale fee based on each couple's income, NOT based on the child.

You pay for the costs of the adoption (formal application fee, home study fee, etc.) a little at a time until the big whammy which is the placement fee. The placement fee is due when you are placed with the child. The placement fee is the remainder of the set fee based on your income that you have yet to pay. For instance, if your determined fee is $18K and you have already paid in $4K in various fees mentioned above, you would owe $14K at placement. Yes, there are loans available to pay for this fee.

BUT, for Jonathan and I, we aren't comfortable with taking out a loan. Why? Well, there's a couple of reasons. 1. We are already parenting four children. The last thing we need is a fifth child named adoption loan. If we can't pay cash for the adoption, we personally feel that now is not the right time to start the process. 2. We are willing to work, and work hard, to save the cash for this adoption. We don't EXPECT people to help us, but if people WANT to help us, that is the reason we put the paypal link on the blog. We've had some people say, "hey, we don't have stuff to donate for a yard sale, but we feel called to help you guys out" so that's why we stuck it up there. 3. We don't want to be normal, and taking out a loan is normal. Is it bad? For us, yes...for you, it may not be...but when we welcome home Freeman #5 we want to be able to completely enjoy this child and not have a loan on our back.

Now, as for what happens if we don't adopt. We are keeping all the donated funds in a seperate savings account (that already has $210 in it! YAHOO!) If something happens and we can't adopt, we will refund every dime back to each person who has donated. On something like the yard sale where that can't be determined, we will donate those said funds to another family that is in the process of adopting.

I hope that I have helped answer some questions that some of you might have been thinking, but not brave enough to ask. Again, I am not saying a loan is bad, it just isn't right FOR US and we personally believe that God has given us knowledge, skills and the means to save the funds to bring our next child home!