Making the Most out of 2018

Lately my brain has been in panic mode.  So much on my to-do list but not enough hours in the day to complete every task.  I am a very impatient person.  I have this to-do list running through my mind and partially stress about this list while I sit at my desk at work, or if we are at an event outside of the home.  I keep telling myself, “If I were at home, I could be finishing this or that”.  I don’t like putting my to-do list on hold.  I am a determined person.  When I have my mind-set on something, I run full force ahead and finish the task at hand.  I don’t like interruptions or taking breaks.  There are many times where I am so focused on a task that I actually forget to eat. This year I plan to use both of these characteristics about myself to make 2018 a productive year.

This year, I am focusing on multiple tasks.

  • Continue to pay off debt and get finances in order
  • Declutter the home (even more so than past years)
  • Get back to healthy (eat better and exercise daily)
  • Finish house projects
  • Successfully finish the adoption program (and hopefully be placed with a child or multiple children by the end of the year)

Decluttering has been the biggest challenge so far.  Every year we have gone through our items and sold or donated items we no longer want.  There are always those items where you know you aren’t using them or don’t exactly need them, but you hold on to them for sentimental reason or “just in case” you’ll need them in the future.  This year, I’m working on getting of the “what ifs” and focusing on clearing our space, earning some extra money, and taking some weight off my chest.  I even found a few websites that have some helpful tips for decluttering your home.

Tip 1

Tip 2

Tip 3

Tip 4

Finances…now that’s a never-ending topic. I’m sure many people feel like they are being buried by their debt.  I am so proud of all of the stuff Jason and I have paid off over the last few years.  We are definitely seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but the light is very dim right now.  I know that if we stick to the strict budget I’ve set up for us, that we will have great success of paying off the dollar amount I want to pay off this year.  We’ve cut things out of our lives, we have changed where we grocery shop, etc. In general, just changing our mindset to be a bit more frugal.  I’ve been keeping track of our finances through a website called mint and also through excel spreadsheets.  I track our finances every few days.  I’m following Dave Ramsey’s 6 Baby Steps to Financial Peace, and may start using the envelope system, too.  I will post a new blog post with more details on this at a later time.

There’s been a change in our work schedules this year, too.  Jason is now working a new position at the same company, but is now working 3rd shift and took a little bit of a pay cut.  Honestly, I’m happy for this change for him.  Where he was working before had too much drama going on.  The new position/location is a little bit more relaxed and less drama (at least so far).  As for me, instead of working 8 hour days I am now working 7 1/2 hour days.  By the end of this year or even next year I may be working even less hours as my boss considers retirement and closing up the business.  This is something for Jason and I to discuss and see how it works for us financially or even for when we have kids in the home.  I will post a new blog post with more details on this later.

We typically like to take random road trips throughout the year, and this year we have it planned to visit my sister in Pennsylvania.  I’ve already started looking up free things to do throughout the state.  Plus it helps that we get to stay at my sisters place for free.  Along with our trip to Pennsylvania, we would like to do more things around our home state, so I did a search for free things to do around our state, too.

I’ve added a budget category for house projects, too.  We can buy supplies as they go on sale and do as much of the work ourselves.  If you know Jason or me, you know we are not very handy when it comes to house projects or tools, but it could be a great learning experience.  Plus it will get us off of the couch and moving. 🙂

Jason and I joined our local gym recently.  We signed up for the cheapest membership ($10/month/person) so it won’t hurt our finances/budget.  We both don’t like the heat of summer, so now we can use the gym when its super hot out.  When it’s nice out, we can enjoy the outdoors. I’m hoping to set up some type of rewards system for us to hopefully help keep us motivated.

During all of this, we will continue with every step of our adoption adventure.  After all, everything mentioned above relates to our adopting.  We need finances in order, house projects finished, house decluttered and organized, and good health for when we have kids come into our lives.  Yes, I know, house projects are never going away.  Yes, I know, no one is ever actually “ready” to have kids.  But, to put my mind at ease, I will do as much as I can to mark these tasks off my list before kids do enter our home.

Stay tuned for updates on how we’re doing with these topics in future posts!

Advertisements

Steps Six and Seven – Officially in Adoption Program

If you aren’t caught up, here is where we are at on our adoption process:

We have finished steps 1 through 7 so far.

  1. Attend Information Meeting
  2. Discern about children with special needs and your skills/abilities to meet their needs.
  3. Mail Permanency Resource Family Survey to State Program Office
  4. State Staff – Initially screens for compatibility with Program.
  5. Initial Screen In – Noticed by letter and assigned for In-Person Screening Visit
  6. In-Person Screening Visit with Public Adoptions Staff
  7. Public Adoptions Staff consults with supervisor about visit.
  8. Adoption packet is mailed out.  We complete and return materials.  Can enroll in Public Adoptions education classes with returned application.
  9. Application is assigned to an adoption home study worker.
  10. Adoption worker schedules visit to begin home study.
  11. Licensing Timeline – Varies depending on schedules, visits completed, meeting education requirements, all materials completed and returned to home study worker

Step One – Adoption Information Meeting

Steps Two and Three – Adoption Survey Application

Steps Four and Five – Can’t Believe This is Finally Happening

Right now we are on Step 8.  Last week Tuesday, November 26th, we received a phone call from the lady that did our In-Person Screening Visit, and she told us that her supervisor approved us!  We are officially in the Adoption Program and have been assigned a caseworker (same lady that did our In-Person Screening)!  We just received our Adoption packet and will begin to fill this out and will also receive another visit from our Caseworker to explain how to fill out the second half of the paperwork.  She mentioned that classes will begin in January.  We will have to attend two Public Adoptions education classes (8hrs each).

What have we been doing these days?  Well, I’ve been sick with bronchitis and an ear infection.  The bronchitis has been almost never-ending.  I had it bad for just over 2 weeks and received some meds from the doctor, which definitely helped.  But now I have this lingering cough/phlegm/nasal drainage.  Besides being sick, we’ve been working on decluttering the house still.  Going through and organizing has been a never-ending task.  We are hoping to sell our home and purchase a new (bigger) home within the year, so having everything decluttered and organized will definitely help.

Jason had a dartball tournament this past weekend and his team did very well.  While he was playing darts, I was at home catching up on housework and laundry.  Not a fair, right?! haha

That’s about it, for now.  Until next time!

 

3 Years Ago

Three years ago today was a day we will never forget.  When Jason and I talk about this day, we both tear up as we share our thoughts.  After the tears, we end our conversation with a smile and a hug while remembering Jason’s words, “I kicked cancers @$$”.  Yes you did, Jason.  Yes you did, and I couldn’t be anymore proud of you.

Before I go forward, let me start from the beginning.  June 10, 2013 will forever remain in my memory.  It is the day where our world came crumbling down.  Now, we’ve had our fair share of rotten news.  The loss of Jason’s dad to pancreatic cancer.  Our infertility.  The loss of our twins to miscarriage.  The loss of other loved ones.  The loss of pets.  Severe car accident.  Medical injuries and illnesses.  The list goes on and on, but that day, June 10, 2013 will forever be in my memory as one of the worst days ever.  On that day, Jason had received a phone call from the doctor confirming that he had cancer.  Cancer… not a word that anyone wants to hear.  All the questions pop into our heads. But how?  What kind of cancer is it? Am I going to die? Am I going to lose him?  What’s the next step?  I can’t even begin to explain all my thoughts during that moment when Jason told me the news in the car after work.  I cried hard as Jason cried alongside me.  We drove home crying.  We walked into the house and gave each other a huge hug and I fell to my knees clinging to Jason’s legs, sobbing.  My heart was shattered into a million pieces.  I hurt in such a way I can’t even describe.  I felt like it was a horrible nightmare I just needed to wake up from.  I had JUST re-learned how to walk again after 8 months of using a walker due to my vestibular disorder.  We can’t be going through another huge struggle.  Not so soon.  Not cancer.  I remember making phone calls that night to our parents, siblings, and other relatives to share this horrible news. I remember crying so hard I could barely get the words out.  I remember calling Jason’s mom and responding to her “hello”, with crying.  I could hear the pain in her tears as we all cried together over the phone.  Not sure I even wanted to say the words, “Jason has cancer”.  Saying the words would confirm it and make it more real.  I remember saying to Jason, “Why would God do this to us?  We’ve already been through so much.  Why this?”  Even with this awful news, Jason turned to me and sternly said, “Don’t blame God”.  Mind you again, I just went through a horrific ordeal of the miscarriage our twins after many years of trying.  I just went through great depression over losing our babies and losing my ability to hear, to hold my head up, to walk, to function in general.  I was definitely in a love hate relationship with God at the time, and adding the news of cancer just wasn’t going to help.

June 11, 2013…we spent the whole day laying in bed together crying and laughing.  Laughing you ask?  Jason and I love Whose Line is it Anyway and own a few DVD’s of their different skits.  We decided to pop in a couple DVD’s to lighten the mood.  I remember awaking during the night and watching Jason sleep.  Listening to the air exhaling and inhaling from his mouth and watching his chest rise.  Gently touching his hair and his face.  Yes, I know this sounds kind of creepy, but when you’re so deeply in love with someone and have been with them for just over 10 years, it’s okay with being creepy.

Soon after this day, we had our first appointment with the oncologist.  Yes, I am using the word “we”, because we are a team.  We both are on this journey together and are very much affected by this cancer.  Back to the story, the oncologist shared a bunch of information with us, and we set up appointments for Jason to have his first bone marrow biopsy and CT scan to check the cancer and to find a starting point so we all had a better idea of where to go from there.  Long story short, Jason was confirmed to have cancer and was diagnosed with a form of leukemia called, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). His cancer wasn’t very active at the time; in fact he barely had any symptoms besides swollen lymph nodes throughout his body. We played the waiting game for about a year before Jason officially had a port surgically inserted into his chest for the start of his 6 month-long chemo treatment.

I remember the very first day of chemo (June 30, 2014).  We were both terrified, which is to be expected.  We didn’t know how Jason’s body would react to treatment.  He was scared of side effects, where I was scared to see my husband go through all of this.  There is no way to prepare for such a moment.  You learn to just go with the flow and trust that the nurses and oncologist know what is best and that Jason is in good hands.  Jason did react to the chemo the first day.  His blood pressure was through the roof one moment and then down too low.  He was in sweat a lot and very uncomfortable.  We borrowed a fan from a nurse who was going through life changes (haha thank you again nurse).  Since he was reacting to the chemo, they had to slow down the IV’s, which made the day even longer.  We were at the hospital for over 12 hours that day.  There even was a horrible storm that came through and wiped out the power.

Jason continued with treatment for the next 6 months.  He went to the hospital for 3 days at a time, every 4 weeks.  The first of the three days was always the long days where he received the largest batch of chemo.  We would pack up lunches, movies, and games and hangout all day together.  The second and third days were the shorter days, so Jason would often times go to those alone, or I would go with if I was able to.  The few days after treatment days, we would usually take it easy to allow Jason’s body to rest and heal.  He had gotten sick a few times during those days, especially after the first few treatments, as his body was re-adjusting.  We received meals through a few people from our church and my parents prepared dinners for us.  All of which was very much appreciated.

Those 6 months dragged on and felt like eternity, but the big day finally arrived…November 21, 2014,  Jason’s last day of chemo.  I whipped up 2 signs for him to hold when his treatment was done.  I ordered cupcakes for the nurse staff, along with a basket full of goodies (hand sanitizer, lotion, chocolates, etc) for the nurses to share.  The nurses all came in randomly to thank us for the gifts and congratulate Jason on his final chemo treatment.  Jason received a certificate signed by a few of the nurse staff and we got a group picture of Jason with the nurses that have been there for the past 6 months.  I ran to the gift shop and bought Jason a stuffed teddy and congratulation balloons to surprise him and show how proud I was (and still am) of him.

Then the moment came; the nurse came into our room and unhooked the IV from Jason’s port.  We walked out of the office and had many congrats said to Jason and people wishing us a happy thanksgiving.  We walked down the long underground tunnel from the hospital to the parking garage.  We made it to our SUV and buckled up.  Then, Jason shouted, “I KICKED CANCERS @$$!!”, which then followed with many tears from the both of us.  We sat in the SUV for several minutes, hugging and crying and praising God for giving us both the strength to get through the past 6 months.

13051771_148827145517696_893591254493027701_n

What Jason didn’t know was, that I had a surprise for him at home.  I had it planned with my mom to set up my surprise at home while we were at the hospital for the last treatment and have it ready for Jason for when he walked through the front door.  Seeing Jason’s reaction to the surprise was priceless and I am so happy I was able to take a picture to capture the moment.  If you’ve been following our blog, you are fully aware of Jason’s addiction and passion for LEGOs.  His surprise was a LEGO set that he really wanted, but I kept telling him no because it was too expensive.  Again, his reaction to seeing this surprise at home was priceless.

13002421_148827172184360_2883252688681645367_o

During those 6 months of treatment, we grew relationships with the nurse staff.  They were all so wonderfully supportive and kind.  They encouraged you during the hard days and helped loosen up the mood.  We shared many good laughs with a few of the nurses that we saw regularly. These nurses helped make this whole chemo experience more bearable.  They even surprised Jason with a birthday cupcake and a card!  We don’t have enough thank you’s to say to this awesome staff.

I would never wish cancer upon anyone.  It’s not only hard for the patient, but for the spouse.  You, as a spouse, have to be strong enough to hold yourself together AND take care of your spouse.  You go through the fears and worries.  You wonder if you’re going to lose your spouse.  You wonder what life will be like if you do lose your spouse.  Will I be able to afford the house and cover my bills if something happens to him?  Will you be able to go on with life without them?  Are you strong enough to take care of both of you?  You know you have to keep it together; your spouse is counting on you.  A lot of your thoughts can’t even be voiced out loud because you don’t want to hurt your spouse or worry them or make them think they will not make it, but at the same time the questions run through your mind.  You strive not to be a Debbie Downer and put on your brave face and speak words of encouragement.  Your spouse already received the worst news and there is nothing to take the news away.  You remind yourself that it’s not about you and it’s about your loved one and what they are going through.  You get angry at the family and friends that don’t show support to your loved one.  You get very defensive and protective of your spouse so no one is able to hurt them.  Your spouse is going through a scary battle and needs all the love and support that they can get and when you see they aren’t receiving this support, it’s hard.  You wonder…  Where are the phone calls from people checking in on him to see how he is doing? Where are the visits?  Where are the people who offered to help us out?  It’s a huge responsibility to take care of someone going through chemotherapy.  Everything falls on you.  You can’t expect much out of someone who is fighting for their life.  I have so many thoughts and I can’t even express them all.  It’s hard to put everything into words.  I just pray that someday you don’t receive the news that you or your spouse/loved one has cancer.  Hearing Jason say the words “I have cancer” will never leave me.

Flash forward 3 years.  Jason had his cancer check-up appointment this past Friday (November 17th).  He received the news that he remains in remission!!  His blood work is exactly where it should be, and he has to go back in 6 months for another check-up.

Jason is many things.  He is the strongest man I know.  Jason is filled with so much loving kindness.  He is a big teddy bear.  He’s a friendly giant.  He’s incredible with kids.  He’s playful.  He’s an amazing provider.  He’s a wonderful caregiver.  He’s handsome, supportive, irreplaceable, loyal, caring, smart, faithful, courageous, determined, a protector, dedicated, thoughtful, respectful, etc.  I thank God every single day for blessing me by bring Jason into my life.  I couldn’t have asked for a better husband.  I am madly, deeply, and passionately in love with my husband.  He’s my lobster.   He is a warrior.  He is my hero. JASON IS MY SURVIVOR!

12976990_139741643092913_7632754732194640363_o

What I have learned from all of this.  Life is short and life can be ended in a heartbeat.  Don’t take your loved ones for granted.  Don’t end a conversation with hateful words or in anger.  You may never have the opportunity to apologize or to say I love you.  We are beyond blessed that Jason remains in remission and has the opportunity to live a long life (Lord willing).  Many who are diagnosed with cancer, do not have this opportunity and are taken from us too quickly.  We lost Jason’s dad way too soon (about 8 months after his pancreatic cancer diagnosis).  There are things we will never be able to say to him.  Jason will never be able to hug his dad and say I love you, or to ask for advice. There are so many memories his dad has missed out on here on earth.  We will forever miss and love him.

Thanksgiving is in two days, here in the U.S.  What I am most thankful for is our Lord and Savior.  Without him, I would be nothing.  Second, I am beyond thankful for Jason and the many years we have already shared together and the many more years we hope to have together.  I’m thankful for family and friends that have become family.  I’m thankful for our jobs, having a roof over our heads and food on the table.  I’m thankful for the freedom to love and serve our Lord.  I am thankful for way too many things to even list.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe thanksgiving!  God Bless!

Trainfest – America’s Largest Operating Model Railroad Show 2017

This is the third year we have attended Trainfest, and I think each year it gets better and better.  Trainfest is held at the Wisconsin Expo Center at State Fair Park in West Allis, Wisconsin.  The first year Jason and I attended this event there weren’t as many activities for kids to get involved.  Since our first time, they have added a kids area where they can press buttons to light up lights or make things move.  They have a few ride-on mini electric trains for parents and kids to ride on.  Our favorite is the display table that has LEGO sets and LEGO trains.  This year they actually had two large displays.  Jason and I joke, but are partially serious, about wanting to set up a train table in our basement and display his LEGO buildings and have train tracks set up and operating around the buildings.  It would be awesome!  Back to our experience at Trainfest… haha  We checked out a few stands that had train sets available for purchase.  A few that we liked were a bit outside our price range, though. This year (and they may have had it in previous years but we never noticed), they had a sheet of paper for kids to fill out as they go around to see all the exhibits.  Kids were able to operate some of the train displays among other things.  Basically everything you can imagine that has to do with trains, is available to be seen or purchased at Trainfest.  They even had an Usborne Books & More stand set up.  I like Usborne Books.  If you haven’t heard of Usborne books, you really should check them out; they have books and other items for kids of all ages. Since we were there with our close friends and their son (our Godson), I decided to purchase a couple of books for him to play with that had to do with trains.

Overall, I like that the planners for this event have found more ways to get kids involved and help them learn more about trains.  I remember telling Jason during the event that in today’s world, with all the electronic gadgets around, I wish more kids would be hands on and creative with their play time.  Kids should build LEGO sets, play with blocks, assemble train tracks or race car tracks in different variations, etc.  We, personally, own a bunch of these type of toys for when our nieces and nephews come over to our house and for our future kiddos.  Jason and I enjoy working with our hands whether it’s us building model car kits, putting LEGO sets together, playing with train sets or race car tracks, putting puzzles together, etc. Hopefully our kiddos will enjoy these things, too.  We hope to pass along our interest in these activities to our kids.

We give this event two thumbs up and we definitely look forwarded to attending again in future years to see what else they add.

Here are a few pictures from our experience.

China Lights Milwaukee

Last year there was an event not too far from our area called the China Lights which was held at the Boerner Botanical Gardens, but we never made it out there to check out the lights.  This year we were very determined to go since there were many great reviews last year and this year.  The event lasts about a month, give or take, and every week it is usually extremely busy. We attempted to check out the lights on our anniversary but was turned away since we didn’t have tickets and they already sold too many tickets online.  We were told they would have more tickets for sale that coming Monday so I went online and snatched up 4 tickets; 2 for us and 2 for our close friends.

Well, finally were able to check out the China Lights this past weekend and I am so glad we did.  We had a great time with our close friends and their son (our Godson).  Surprisingly it wasn’t as busy as I was expecting it to be. We had good parking and there was a shuttle that took us to our destination.  There was a little confusion when we arrived because we didn’t know where exactly the start of the event was.  We aimlessly walked around and seemed to have found the correct route to take.  The lights were extremely cool.  It was fun seeing the different lit up animals, especially my elephants.  The best part was hearing the commentary out of our 3-1/2 yr old Godson.  He is such a hoot.  One of the displays was a “tunnel” archway of the Chinese Zodiac.  We had a fun time finding our Zodiac animals and seeing if the description matched our personalities.  I am the Ox and Jason is the Rooster and I would say most of the description does not match us. You can check out the pictures below.  Towards the end of the event we saw a few food stands so I bought some egg rolls just to try them out.  They tasted pretty good, just wish I had some soy sauce! haha  We had just missed one of the shows that was scheduled; an egg roll eating contest.  It may have been fun to watch, but at the same time not really (if it didn’t end well…if you know what I mean). haha

Overall review from us… We thought it was a fun experience but a little overpriced.  But then again, they probably charge what they do to help cover the cost of all the electricity being used.  Would we go back again?  Probably not, unless they added more or changed up the displays (if you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen everything).  All in all, we did create some memories there, and it was an experience we won’t forget.

Here are a few pictures from our experience.