Monday, December 31, 2012

Let it snow!

We finally got some snow here in Kentucky this week! Rather, we finally got some snow in my area of Kentucky. Other regions have had 6-16 inches of snow this week and last. I think we got about three inches at my house (judging by the height of the snow around the kids' tricycle that is sort of in my backyard, for reasons that are unknown to me.) I was very excited about it, and took some pictures of my backyard to send to our sponsor kids (who don't have snow!)

Early morning in my backyard

Our poor, neglected patio furniture

The neighbor's backyard (the trees look so pretty!)

I wanted to get a picture of myself outside in my beautiful new hat and scarf my mother-in-law made me for Christmas, but I was too cold, so I settled for a screen-door picture instead!

Sweet Greetings

On Mondays, blogging Compassion sponsors often post the letters they may have received during the week. I am linking up with Blogging from the Boonies- please check out Michelle's lovely blog and the wonderful Compassion-related resources she posts there.

We are finishing out the year with an enthusiastic letter from my dear, sweet Tasya! It was so good to hear from her. I receive fewer letters from Tasya since Compassion implemented their new letter-writing rules for the kids, but I still rejoice over each one. Tasya was so happy to receive a picture of our dearly departed guinea pig- just one more reminder that the letters we sponsors send are so important to our kids! And using Compassion's online letter-writing tool makes sending pictures so easy!

6 November 2012

Dearest Jessi, 
I am well. Hopefully mommy is well, too. 
When I had my medical check up, the doctor said that I have to take care of my health. I got vitamin to be healthy all the time. Mommy, I am so happy because you've sent me a photo of guinea pig, even though it has already died, but I am so happy to see it. Every day, I always gather together with my family. I am so joyous to have such a nice mommy as you are. At home, I have a dog. Last week, her puppy is died. I was so sad. 
I will keep praying for mommy to be kept by God and be blessed by God. 
With love, 

We also received some good news and bad news from Compassion this week. Thursday we found out about our new correspondence child Mbari, and on Saturday Compassion called to say that sweet Annet had been dropped by her financial sponsor. I am hoping to find another sponsor for her soon. If you or any of your friends have been considering taking on a sponsorship, please let me know!!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Annet needs a sponsor

About 36 hours after getting the good news that Mbari had been added to our Compassion account as a new correspondence child, I got a phone call from Compassion saying that Annet's financial sponsor had decided to discontinue the sponsorship. This makes me terribly sad for many reasons. I feel sorry for Annet, especially since we are unable to take on her financial sponsorship- we just added Jayid as a "real" sponsorship two months ago, and are still adjusting to that extra bill. I feel sad because I felt such a connection to her, partly because of her location (Uganda), and I feel sad because of the sort of miraculous way she came to be our correspondence child. I feel sad because of a mix-up at Compassion, we were slow to receive a first letter from Annet. We never received our introductory letter, and the first actual letter we got from her didn't even have my name on it because she was originally added to another person's account by mistake. I was just getting to know this sweet girl.

I wanted to try to find Annet a new sponsor among people I know (or am acquainted with) before telling Compassion to add her back to the sea of children without a sponsor. Are any of you, kind readers, looking to sponsor a child? I will wait a week before telling Compassion that we cannot be Annet's sponsors, and then I will continue to advocate on her behalf. I just pray she doesn't go very long without a sponsor.

Not a creature was stirring, except for the rats.

Belated Merry Christmas, everyone! Our holiday was extremely busy, as both Brandon and I have lots of family that lives in town. We had a good time, though, and were very happy to see everyone. It was nice to actually feel Christmas-y this year. Last year we didn't put our decorations out because we were preparing to close on our house, and we spent all day (until about 4 pm) on Christmas Eve moving in! The family festivities were kind of a blur because of everything that was going on at the time.

This year, though, I got to take time to enjoy everything. I hosted my group of friends' annual ornament exchange at my home, which was a nice evening. I also cooked Christmas breakfast for my family (my parents, my brother, and my grandparents)- and even wore heels and an apron. Picture of domesticity, right there. We had a good time visiting three sets of grandparents, attending an open house, and eating lots of yummy food.

I made stockings for our pets this year, and we tried to take pictures of them opening their little gifts (two dog cookies and a rawhide chewy each), but they were excited and fast, and having a photo session proved a bit difficult at times. Never the less, here are our fur-kids opening their Christmas presents!

Monster's stocking

Monster was more interested in her stocking than the contents. We had to empty it out for her. 

Monster grabbed a cookie and ran to her cage to eat it, but we had shut the door so the other little beeps wouldn't bother her!

Glitter's stocking

Glitter sniffed her stocking and ran away. She was afraid of it!

While Brandon chased Glitter down, I watched Monster try to eat the frosting off her cookie. We put her in a box so she couldn't hide her presents around the room. 

Brandon caught Glitter and tried to get her to chill out long enough to look at her stocking stuff. 

Cupcake's stocking. We gave up on Glitter. 

Cupcake immediately grabbed a cookie and ran, very fast. 

She ran into the cage, backed into her igloo and tried to take her cookie with her!

Cupcake checks out her rawhide candy cane. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Meet Mbari

We got our newest correspondence sponsor child today! I actually got an email from Compassion saying my account was updated about an hour after I checked my account (pretty late in the day) and was a bit saddened to see that we still had just 6 kids on our account. I am so glad I decided to check my email on my break at work!

Mbari is 17 years old and lives in Kenya, the same country as Victor. Mbari's parents are married, and she lives with both of them, which is truly a blessing- it is so sad to see how many children available for sponsorship are missing one or both parents, especially in Africa, where AIDS, alcoholism, and other issues so often tear families apart. Mbari's performance in school is average, which is great! She likes playing games like hide and seek and other group games, and listening to music. I am excited to get to know Mbari!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A list.

I once read that if you have a lot to do, it helps to write everything down in a list. When you see your list written down, your tasks no longer seem so insurmountable, and you realize there is actually a lot less on your list than you originally thought. I'd like to see if this also applies to other kinds of lists. I'm sure if I were to actually write down all the things I need to do around the house, both those things that need to be taken care of sooner rather than later, and the stuff that just needs to be done before January 14th, I would probably feel a bit better about that area of my life (you know, the housekeeping and organizing area.)

This evening, though, I am not overwhelmed with housework, because I am feeling so overwhelmed in almost all the other areas of my life. I'm hoping that by writing down the things that are stressing me out, I will feel a little less overwhelmed.

This week has been rather difficult for me. On Tuesday night, I was extremely upset and stressed about some things that are going on in my life right now. I cried a lot and was up really late. After finally going to bed around 3, I really struggled to wake up in the morning. I got out of bed around 9, fixed myself a glass of chocolate milk, and went back to bed. I couldn't get up until almost 1:30 in the afternoon this time. I felt really sick, like I had the flu, but without the respiratory symptoms. Because I felt so nasty (and I spent much of my time asleep), I got really dehydrated, which makes me have heart flutters and chest pains. So for the past several days I've been trying to move past that. Even though I know what is causing them (or at least, I think I know), that doesn't mean I'm any calmer when they happen. When I was very small there was a commercial played on TV a lot that described what a heart attack feels like. And ever since that time, even if I have the slightest tingle in my chest, my left arm will start to hurt and I'll think I'm going to die. Or if my left arm hurt, I'd start getting imaginary chest pains. Lots of fun for a seven year old, let me tell you. But I really haven't become any more rational about this subject as I have grown older. I actually think it's worse now in some ways because I am aware of people, mainly celebrities (John Hughes, Tim Russert, Douglas Adams) whose hearts just gave up on them and they died way too young (even though they were all at least twice my age.) Also, now that my surgery is officially less than one month away, I'm starting to get more antsy about that, which I didn't think was possible, but I am full of surprises.

After having such a horrendous day on Wednesday, I saw something Thursday evening that really brightened my spirits in a major way. Compassion posted on facebook asking for correspondence sponsors. They gave an email address and instructions, saying that the people who requested an additional child would receive an email confirmation, and then they would get their info packet in a few weeks. They also said that each person who responded would only get one child. I sent in my ecstatic, overjoyed email about three hours after the original post, slightly worried that I would miss the boat this time around but feeling comforted by the fact that they did say they would add everyone's names to the waiting list. I didn't expect to get an email for a few days. I was very surprised to see the next day that several online acquaintances (and random people around the internet) had already had their new kids added to their accounts! And several of them got two kids. I know of four people who got two, even though the post said everybody would get one. I am very happy for my fellow sponsors and their ever-expanding far-away families, but I am a little worried about my situation. I haven't received an email, and there are no new kids on my account. I would be thrilled to have two new correspondence kids, but I really would be happy with just one. I have asked a few people online if they got emails before they got their kids (so very very quickly!) but I haven't received any responses yet. I know this is an extremely silly thing to be worried about, but Compassion and child sponsorship are very, very important to me. My sponsor kids are my life, basically, and I am always praying that we will either have the opportunity to have another correspondence kid, or that we will somehow find ourselves financially able to do another regular sponsorship. This opportunity felt like an answered prayer, a bit of comfort from my heavenly father after an extremely difficult week. And since things aren't going as smoothly for me as they have for some others, I am starting to worry. I'm worried that my email got lost in the shuffle. I'm worried that if it did, and I try to contact Compassion about the matter, they will tell me I can't have any more correspondence kids (which has happened before- once when they posted on facebook about a need for correspondence sponsors and I called just as the post had said, and again when Tae dropped out of the program and I was initially told that I could go on the waiting list for another child. Both times, the second person I spoke to told me I couldn't have another sponsor child, even though the initial contact had said otherwise. Talk about a scary moment!) We will have to wait and see what the week holds, I guess.

I am not actually going to dwell on this topic, but over the past few days, two of my facebook friends have announced pregnancies, and last night I dreamed that Brandon and I got a little girl to adopt from foster care just in time for Christmas. Christmas is kind of a hard time for me this year because I expected to be at a certain place in the process of adoption, and I am not. And I don't hate other people for having babies, but I have a *lot* of pregnant friends and acquaintances and relatives right now, and it is overwhelming at times.

And lastly, we come to the ever-popular topic of money. Brandon and I are out of it. Well, we have a little money in savings, but we are really trying not to touch it, particularly since we already had to touch it a few days ago to be able to pay the bills that were immediately due. We had some unexpected expenses recently (a flat tire, expired car tags, new prescriptions) and that kind of threw off our budget for the rest of the month. Things will be ok again when he gets paid this weekend, but until then, I have to spend the next five days with $2.07 in my checking account, not much food in the house, and about a third of a tank of gas in my car. Maybe half. I'm hoping it's half. Anyway, the next few days will be super fun and stressful. I hope the weekend comes quickly so we can take care of these other bills that are floating around, but I'm also a little concerned because next week is Christmas, and that means I have to buy some special/extra groceries for my family since I am making everyone breakfast. We'll see how things go.

I am keeping my fingers crossed for a peaceful, low-stress, good-health kind of week this week. Oh, and energy! It would be great to have some energy. I am currently sapped of it. Have been since Wednesday. I feel like I have had mono, or something, the exhaustion is that pervasive and ridiculous.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sweet Greetings

On Mondays, blogging Compassion sponsors often post the letters they may have received during the week. I am linking up with Blogging from the Boonies- please check out Michelle's lovely blog and the wonderful Compassion-related resources she posts there.

This week we have received three total letters! The first two were short letters from Said.

Praise the Lord. I thank God for his protection and fights for us. I'm doing well in my studies and I ask you to pray for me because very soon I will complete my primary school studies. I feel sympathy for you because you were sick. My mother is healed and I thank you for your prayers for her. Thank you for your nice Christmas photos. 
I wish you good health, blessings, success and God's protection. 

I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Praise Jesus my dear friend. I believe that you are proceeding well with your daily activities. The purpose of this letter is to say thank you for the nice letter that you have sent to me. God bless you also. I say thank you for the post card that you have sent to me. I am proceeding well with my studies at school, , also learning a word of God at the centre. I am praying for your blessing and good health and may God multiply you. You are welcome Tanzania. There are wild animals, parks, and high mountains, sea and ocean. 
Keep in praying for me every day. May God conserve you!


I am also thrilled to say that we received our first letter from Annet today! Oh, how I have anxiously awaited getting to know this little girl. Due to a slight mix-up right before she became our correspondence kid, Annet's letter to us is written on stationery that is addressed to another kind, blogging sponsor, but her letter is written in response to my letters to her! I'm sure everything will be cleared up the next time I hear from her (which I hope will be sooner rather than later!) 
I learned today that the stationery used in her project is covered in the margins with tiny, stamp-sized pictures of things like the Ugandan national flag, various animals (the crested crane, the lion, and the Uganda Kob, all of which we saw at the zoo last week!), and plants like pineapple and maize. There are fun facts underneath each picture. What a fun way to teach sponsors about the country where their child lives! 
Annet's letter was written in English by a Compassion project staff member. 

Receive Warm greetings in Jesus name. She says she is fine and the family members are fine too. 
She thanks you very much for the nice letters you sent her. She says thank you for sending her assorted information about youself and an encouraging memory verse. 
She says to answer your questions, pray for her to study hard and pass her promotion exams and she also says that her place is Kampala. 
She says the weather is cool because it is raining and the care givers are busy with garden work such as planting and weeding their food crops which they expect a good harvest if God continues blessing them with rain. 
She says what is the weather in your area now?
She also says that at the project, doctors came to carry out HIV testing and counseling and all children and the caregivers were tested. 
May God reward you and bless you so much. 

I am so happy to read that where Annet lives, the Lord has been "blessing them with rain." It has been raining for several days here in Louisville, and all I hear is complaining from the people around me! How quickly we forget what a dry summer we had, and how much we needed and wanted the rain just a few short months ago. I am so thankful to God that the "care givers" are (or were) expecting a good harvest, particularly when so much of Africa has faced extreme drought and starvation over the last few years. Thank you, Lord, for this miracle in my mailbox today. I give thanks every time I receive a letter from one of my kids, but I feel such a special connection with Annet for a bunch of reasons- I am overjoyed that we finally got our first letter from her today!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Raspberry brownies, Cookie dough truffles, and two kinds of fudge, in case you were wondering.

Last night I had my annual Christmas party with my friends. We only get together twice a year (once for my birthday, once for Christmas) and I look forward to both occasions with a lot of excitement and a bit of a nervous tummy. We had our party at my house this year, since I have my own house. We had a nice dinner of KFC and waaaaay too much dessert, and did a secret ornament exchange. I always like to get weird ornaments, because I am a weird person. Last year, for example, I bought a Santa riding a raccoon- which implies that Santa is either very small or he has a giant mutant raccoon. Either way, win! This year, I found a blown glass warthog wearing boxing gloves, a champion's belt, the whole bit. I don't understand it, but I knew I needed to buy it. My friend Lauren drew that one, and everyone thought it was funny. I drew my friend Sarah's ornament, which just happened to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex. I just about died. I love dinosaurs. My friends know this. If someone else had drawn that one, I probably would have tried to trade. He has weird rubbery skin, too, so it's fun to touch. Like touching a real T Rex, but less dangerous.

At the end of the evening, we always try to get some pictures together- one serious and smiley, one silly and fun. We couldn't decide what kind of silly picture to take, and then I remembered- "we are in my house. I have lightsabers." I only found two in my frantic search, but I also rounded up a ninja sword and some Pokemon equipment. So there you have it. And I also needed to get a picture with my best friend Kelli, since Brandon messed up the one he took at my birthday party earlier in the year (he zoomed in on my elbow and I didn't find out about it til everyone went home.)

We can hardly stand the wait, please Christmas, don't be late

My house is all decorated for Christmas! It is so nice to be able to enjoy the holiday season this year. Last year, we couldn't put our decorations out because we were preparing to move (we closed on our house on December 23, and moved in on Christmas Eve!) So last year, it didn't feel very Christmas-y to me. Here are some of the decorations we have around our house.

Christmas stuffed animals! There's even a guinea pig in there. 

The inside of our door, with our lovely rug and lovely Christmas card holder.

One of several very important ornaments on the tree. 

Our "new house" ornament", purchased on clearance after Christmas last year. 

Most of the ornaments on our tree are Star Wars, Batman, Transformers, Hello Kitty and more Star Wars. Nerds. 

One of my walrus ornaments. Walruses make me happy. : )

Last year at a conference I won a set of ornaments from Operation: Christmas Child. There are six globe ornaments that depict children around the world with their shoebox gifts! I love them. The shoebox ministry is something that is really important to me. 


Our pretty wreath.

Christmas tree!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Good day

I'd just like to say that despite having an atrocious night and a pretty bad start to the morning (it's a long story involving bureaucracy, rude civil servants, and late night drives to the weird vampire mechanic who only works in the middle of the night, for some reason), today was pretty good. And pretty good days don't happen very often, I'm sorry to say, so we're going to celebrate it.

Brandon and I went to the zoo this morning, and invited my dad and pappaw to go with us. I think I kept pappaw entertained with interesting animal facts. We were some of the only visitors in the zoo, and saw about 97% of the exhibits with  no interruption from other patrons. The weather was really nice. It was a little chilly, but the sun was shining and a lot of the animals were hanging out, napping in the sunbeams. I got lots of pictures (some of which I will post below) and we had a nice time.

Tonight, after picking up Brandon's car, we stopped at Steak n Shake for some free milkshakes (coupon+free $5gift card= date night), and took our treats over to the nearby pet store to have a look around. We love visiting pet stores. There were some very cute mice and hamsters there tonight, and some baby bearded dragons. We had a good time looking around at all the Christmas stuff, and Brandon actually picked out a bag of Christmas cookies for the rats, which was surprising. I know he thought it was dumb when I made them stockings this year, and I fully expected him to say I couldn't fill them. But no, he picked out a bag of dog cookies that he thought the rats would like. I was also surprised when we got home and I said "these are for Christmas- they can't have them til then," and he replied with "uh, yeah." Like, obviously he knows that and acknowledges that the rats have to wait til Christmas to have their presents. That tickled me. Usually he doesn't indulge in my pet-related silliness like that.

Anyway, it was a pretty good day. I hope tomorrow is good, too, and the rest of the week as well. My friends are coming over on Saturday for our annual Christmas get-together/ornament exchange, and I'm excited about seeing them. Usually we just see each other twice a year. This year our little "party" will be at my house, since I have a house that I don't have to share with other people (Brandon will be going to a ball game that day.) So I'm definitely looking forward to the weekend- but not necessarily the two work days and the house cleaning that precede it!

Here are some pictures from the zoo for your enjoyment:

Sunny rhino

Our youngest baby giraffe was inside with the others today, licking the bars of the enclosure, for some reason. It was very strange and slightly adorable. 

A very serene lion, relaxing in the sunshine.

I really can't stand these types of tamarins. I think they look like witch doctors and they appear slightly evil. But the picture turned out ok, so here it is. 

The man of the forest. 

Brandon saying hello to a komodo dragon. I took this picture specifically to send to our sponsor child in Indonesia, since that is where komodo dragons live. 

We have three tigers, scattered throughout the zoo. This one seemed a bit twitchy today. I think she wanted to jump in the water, but the pool in her enclosure (usually housing siamangs or a tapir) was extremely small.