Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Survivors: January Spotlight

I am starting my series on Survivors. There are so many great people out there that have encouraging stories to tell. We all have gone through things in our adult lives that required us to make the choice to become a victim or a survivor. No story is more important than others because we all need encouragement in different ways. In this series you will see people who have made the hard choice to become a survivor. I hope you are encouraged by their stories and are filled with hope.

I feel that it is so important to share the story of my parents. They have survived so much and have been an inspiration to me and others around them. 

When my mom was in her early 30s she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. It was caught early but she was faced with the decision of having the surgery to get rid of it and be done having kids or wait until she was done having kids and then have the surgery. I can't imagine how terrifying it would be to hear that news and then make that decision, but some how she did. Since they had three kids already having the surgery seemed to be the better option

 A few years later both my parents felt something missing and decided to pursue adoption of a little boy around 3 or 4. They looked into kids with different special needs knowing that those children had the hardest time finding families. After many difficulties and frustrations they gave up on the idea. 

Years went by and my parents had a 14, 13, and 9 year old and we were fine, had our own routine, and hadn't thought about adopting in a long time. Because of close friends, my parents decided to become foster parents. Before they were even licensed for foster care they received a call about a baby that was to be born in about a month and would be immediately taken from the mother. This would be her third baby and was not mentally able to care for this child. If my parents took the baby, they were asked to do so with the possibility of adoption. After talking and praying about it my parents decided they would foster this baby. 

July 17, 1999 a beautiful little red headed girl was born. Three days later she arrived at our house. We all loved on her so much. The day she arrived was the day she became part of our family in our hearts. 

As the months went by my mom started to notice that things were not normal with this baby. She cried all the time, had problems with her immune system and digestive system, was not gaining weight, had to be taught how to crawl, along with many other problems. There was very little that my parents could do until she had some sort of diagnosis but she first had to become legally ours. 

In March of 2001 she legally became part of our family. At that point my parents were able to start looking at what was really going on with my little sister. A few months later we finally knew the truth. Her birth mom drank a lot of alcohol while she was pregnant. My little sister had Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) which is now known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). It is not reversible, there is no way to fix it. She has severe brain damage most similar to a child who is shaken. The damage is irreverasable and 100% preventable.

After getting this news, our family had to take some time to grieve. It changed everything. Now this little girl who captured our hearts would have a life of frustration, confusion, and hardship. Nothing would be easy for her and as the months went on the realization that she would forever be a child began to set in.  

The grieving process started over again and has continued and will continue. Hopes and dreams of your child are dead when you realize that they will never do most of what you dreamed for them to do. You spend your days grieving for a child lost and in many ways can be worse than losing a child. There is no finality or closure when you experience dream after dream, experience after experience not ever meeting your expectations. Your child is not normal and will never do normal things. You will always be a caregiver and never have the chance to be a friend. 

My mom took her grief as an opportunity to become very informed about FASD and start informing others. In the years that followed she became involved in support groups, visited a few high school classrooms to speak on the subject of the dangers of drinking while pregnant, and became an advocate for my sister in the school. Becoming a survivor was a necessity for my mom especially. If she hadn't, our family wouldn't have been able to deal with the devastation that FASD can bring to a family.

Children with FASD may have a variety of symptoms including mental retardation, behavior problems, mental disorders, poor immune systems, inability to understand social issues, and many more symptoms. 

For more information on FASD check out

If you have a story you would like to tell please contact me at I would love to have you be a guest blogger for my survivor series.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Prom Dress Redos

 In wanting to declutter and re-purpose things I have, I came across my old formals. I had no idea what to do with them. I probably won't get anything for them if I try to sell them, so what do I do with them? 

Here's where having three little girls comes in handy. My now 4 year old is a little princess and dresses up almost every day. I shortened my old formals and they became her "new" princess dresses. It is so easy to do even if you don't have a sewing machine. All you need to do is get some stitch witchery from Walmart and hem the bottom to fit.  So simple and your little princess will be so delighted.

If you no longer have any laying around this is the perfect chance to ask your friends if they want to donate any of their old formals to you. Check out garage sales too, you may get lucky and find a few for a couple of bucks. I'd rather do that then spend $20 or more on a single dress-up dress that is poorly made. Everything has to make it through three girls.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Become a Survivor

"No one can make you into a victim; only you can do that . . . you can choose to be a survivor." --The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck

This quote has been weighing on my heart since I first read it. I knew I had to share it and my thoughts on it but I have been trying to figure out how to say what it on my heart without sounding like a know-it-all or offend people.

Let me first give a brief summary of the book it came from. The Christmas Sweater is about a young boy of twelve who is trying to deal with the pain of losing both his parents in a very short time. He is angry and doesn't know how to deal with his pain. Instead of feeling the pain and trying to live his life, he makes himself a victim and spends his days trying to hurt those who love him most. 

I have been thinking  for while about how we all will have to deal with tragedies and struggles where we will have to make the choices to become a victim or a survivor. Being a survivor is never easy and takes a lot of courage. It can be heartbreaking and devastating while making the choice to become a survivor. It doesn't happen overnight but through pain and then encouragement and support from others.

Survivors have a chance to make a difference in the lives of others. I have seen this in my life and am so inspired by those who have become a beacon of hope for those around them. I would love to hear your story and would invite you to be a guest blogger. It is so important to hear your stories and encourage each other.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Adventures in Budgeting: Month Two

In beginning our budget I never thought about when would be a good time to start budgeting. We've always had enough money to pay our bills so we never saw the need. Now I really see how important it is especially when you have an ever changing income. My husband is a seasonal employee so four months out of the year he is on unemployment. This can be a difference for up to $800 a week. During his working months we put away money so that during the winter we can make up the difference. By budgeting I know exactly how much we have to be putting away each month and if we are meeting that goal.
December is probably the worst time to start a budget but I am so glad we did even if we couldn't stick with it. I have decided to take our clothing budget and put it into an envelope so when Carter's has it's end of season sales, I can use the cash then instead of a small amount every month. This is also for shoes, socks, and underwear. 

To help us stay on budget for birthdays and Christmas, I decided to do the same as the clothing budget. I figured out what we spend on gifts (which is not that much) for the entire year and divided it into 12 months. The beginning of the month, cash goes in the envelopes for gifts and clothing. 
I strongly encourage you try to get on some sort of budget. I am much more aware of how much we spend and am more inclined to wait on things that may not be in our budget for the month. The chances are it is a want rather than a need. 

I love Dave Ramsey's resources and am very encouraged by him and others' stories like mine. You don't want to wait until you are in serious financial trouble to start a budget. Do it now and start building wealth.