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.

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Longing to be a Mother

I go through spurts where I am good with life.  Not a care in the world.  But many days I feel empty.  I get jealous of my friends and relatives who have children.  I see the pictures or Facebook statuses about their children, whether it’s the chaos the kids are causing or the sweet, funny moments.  I want my home filled with noise; yes, even the noise of arguments or complaining.  I look forward to the days where my children are arguing or causing a ruckus. I want the food on the floor, dirty dishes, laundry piling up, dirty bathroom, etc. I want to help my kids with their homework or take them on fun adventures to the park, museums, etc. I am eager for the hugs and kisses and saying/hearing, “I love you”.  I want to console my children when they are sad, and wipe their tears away.  I look forward to family game nights where we can sit around and laugh and talk about life, and then argue about who cheated.  Or even the simple laid back nights of watching a clean movie and popping some popcorn on the stove top.  Tears run down my face as I type this, imaging the day we get to finally have our children home with us.  The days we finally get to experience the things I’ve mentioned above.

This time of year is hard on me.  This is the month where kids are going back to school, which means friends/relatives are going to be posting pictures of their little ones on their first day back to school.  Then comes the holiday season where you have hayrides, apple picking, pumpkin patches, thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. While I am so happy for my friends and relatives who have children, it hurts so much, as well.  It’s awesome when we are included in our friends/relatives family time, but often times we just feel out-of-place or left out.  We don’t have children to do all things fun things with.  While we love our nieces, nephews, God-children, friends kids, etc., it’s just not the same.

If you have children, remember to count your blessings.  The days where your children are driving you insane, remember that there are plenty of couples like us who would do anything to be in your shoes and have the chaos that you are dealing with.

You’ll never fully understand what we’re going through unless you’ve been in our shoes, or are currently going through what we’re going through.  This type of pain is real, and I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.  And no, this is not a “poor me” situation.  I am not looking for the sympathy.  I simply just wanted to share what is in my heart and in my mind.

Until next time.

Milwaukee Air and Water Show

This past weekend we attended our local, Milwaukee Air and Water Show.  This is an event we try to attend every year when it’s in our area.  There have been a few times that the event got canceled due to fog, which was very disappointing, but this year we had gorgeous weather; sun, light breeze, and not very humid.  We usually make a full day out of it by bringing a canopy for shade, coolers full of drinks and foods, bring along a few footballs, mitt and glove, etc. and hangout with our friends.  Our day typically starts around 5am with us getting ready and packing things up.  We like to get to the beach early since parking gets filled up fast.  With everything we had going on the past few months with planning our adoption fundraising event, we had been looking forward to this Air Show more than usual.  We needed a relaxing time with actually hanging out with our friends, and not stressing over preparing for our event.

To me, an airplane is an airplane…I don’t know all the details of what they are called and what specific features they have.  Jason, on the other hand, could rattle off a bunch of information. haha He’s my walking encyclopedia.  So when I attend these Air Shows, I am aimlessly taking pictures and videos of all the cool maneuvers that take place, and Jason tells me all the detailed information. We’re a great team, hey?

Here are a few pictures from this years event.  If you follow us on Instagram, you will see a video on there, too. Enjoy!

Amazing – Fundraiser Results

I don’t even know where to begin with this post.  This past week has been a chaotic, stressful, exhausting, and challenging time for us.  We worked for three months sorting, pricing, packaging, planning for our fundraiser event.  We had no guidelines to work with.  We started with a simple rummage sale in our driveway to a bigger rummage sale at our church.  Then it expanded to serving foods/drinks, and then expanded again to having vendors sell at our event.  Which then expanded to a silent auction.  One simple idea kept getting bigger and bigger.  This whole journey has been incredible.  We have met some of the most gracious and amazing people.  When we asked for donations, we were provided with well over 100 families that had donated to us.  We asked for baked goods for our bake sale and received well over our needs.  When I reached out to vendors, so many perfect strangers were excited and willing to attend our event, donate silent auction baskets, donate their commission (or a portion of it), donate their time, share their excitement for us and the journey we are on.  Also, we received such amazing support from our church.  Everything we needed, they were there to help.  We give our many thanks to our pastor, to the church secretary, and anyone else who made our process successful, and for all the help they provided to us.  We made plenty of new friends throughout the past few months.

Now, don’t think this past few months has been sunshine and rainbows.  Haha.  We have been beyond busy.  This past week was a challenge, to say the least.  We had eight days to pick up over 50 tables to set up, so many boxes and items to transport (lots of larger pieces of furniture, too), sorting, pricing, planning where to set up the tables, what categories to have, etc.  We were blessed to receive help from our parents, some close friends, Christi’s boss and coworker, etc.  There were plenty of arguments due to lack of sleep and frustrations.  We started early and didn’t usually get home until close to 10pm most nights.  We functioned on eating one meal a day because we forgot to eat or were too busy to take a break.  We did share some laughs, too.  We got goofy at times, sometimes simply just from being over tired.

Then the fear kicked in.  Are we going to have enough room for everything?  Are we going to have enough tables?  Are we going to have enough room for all the vendors?  Will enough people show up?  What are we going to do with everything once the event is finished?  Are we going to receive enough helping hands during the event?  Are we going to receive any help to clean up?  Are we going to have good weather?  We prayed and prayed over every one of these questions, trying to hold onto faith that God is in control.  He put this desire in our hearts to adopt and have our family.  He has helped us every single step of the way as we went through this planning process.  Everything has worked itself out every single step we took.  The night before our event, we didn’t get to bed until after midnight, just to wake up a couple short hours later.  Trying to function when you are running on empty is, well, exhausting.  Running through our lists of things that still needed to be finalized… visit the store for last-minute items, making sure we have enough ice, getting our cash boxes ready, prepping the foods, packaging the bake sale items that were donated, setting up the silent auction, planning the spots for the vendors,  assisting the vendors in any way we can, etc.  You get the idea.

Then the event had officially started.  We saw so many new faces as well as familiar faces.  We had folks from our childhood show up; many we hadn’t seen in years!  We received so many donations for our adoption.  We met people who had also adopted or had been adopted or have known someone who had been adopted.  It was neat hearing the stories and about their experiences.  We received so many encouraging words.  It was so overwhelming, but in a beautiful way.  It is incredible to know how much support is out there for us; so many that are praying for us and are excited to follow us during this journey we are on.

Remember me saying that God has been there every step of the way?  He had provided for us.  He answered every single prayer; every single fear we had were taken care of.  We had plenty of room for everything.  We had just enough tables.  We had room for all the vendors.  We were blessed with more customers than we could have even imagined. We had friends and relatives show up and volunteer their time.  They helped guests load items to their vehicles, answer questions, assist us in ever way that we needed.  We had the most amazing weather both days of our event; not too hot, sunny, light breeze, etc.  Simply perfect.

During the first day of our event, we met this group of three individuals who were shopping for this incredible organization, Nation of Visions.  Nation of Visions Annual Summit is aimed at providing individuals, communities and organizations with inspirations, in-depth Leadership professional development workshops, networking, and community service opportunities.  They were looking for items that could be packed up and taken to Africa to help those in need there.  You can find them on Facebook by simply searching for “Nations of Visions”, and you can learn more about them on there.  Any who, we told them that if they were interested, they could come back at the end of our event and take whatever they needed for their mission.  We were already blessed with the donations, we wanted to share our blessings with them, too.

During our last day of our event, during the last hour, we saw this elderly couple going through everything, filling boxes upon boxes of stuff.  Out of curiosity, I went up to them joking around about how they “really like to shop”.  They explained to me, that they like to go to rummage sales and purchase items to donate to local shelters to help the women with children and the homeless.  They are such beautiful blessings from God, with hearts of gold.  We couldn’t even imagine charging them, since we ourselves planned to donate to charities as well.  We had them take whatever items they needed for their donation, and their faces lit up.  We received so many thanks, but it was us that should thank them for being such incredible examples of how people should be.

We had this little girl show up, shopping with her mother.  She found this toy carousel and was in love with it.  My mom was talking to her and this girl asked, “how much is this?”  My mom loves children and gave her a price.  She noticed the girl was paying with her own “hard-earned money” and pulled out some coins.  My mom didn’t have the heart to charge her the true value, so she said it was a quarter.  The girl was happy and paid that quarter and carried her new toy around while she watched her mother shop.  She came back a little later with another item and asked my mom how much this new item was.  My mom told her it was a quarter.  The girl was digging through her little bag and pulled out a quarter and handed it to my mom saying, “Here’s a quarter, but it’s a little dirty, hope that’s okay!”  The sweet innocence of this child, melted our hearts.  Jason went up to this girl with two bags and told her to put any toys she wanted in this bag, and it would all be free.  She asked him if he was serious, and of course he said he was.  She was thrilled!   After all, we were blessed with all these donations, why not share our good fortunes with those that may be in need?

When our final day of our event was coming to an end, it was time to clean up.  We looked around the room thankful that so much had sold, but there was still so much that still needed to be packed up and removed.  Our good friend who had been there to help during the week and both days of the event, offered to help stay and pack things up.  Then, before we could even stand up to start packing up, a friend of Jason’s, a fellow dartball player, showed up saying he was ready to help us clean up and take down tables.  Moments later, the group of three we saw during the first day from Nation of Visions showed up ready to go through the items and pack things up for their mission.  We shared stories about our journey through infertility and adoption. They prayed over us and shared their stories and more about their program.   We had my dad’s best friend’s take all the clothes, shoes, accessories, etc. to donate to the homeless shelter they volunteer at.  I guess recently they have run out of or are close to running out of the clothes they have available, and are in great need.  What incredible timing, since we obviously needed to get rid of the clothes we had left over.  We helped them load up so many garbage bags full of these items, and hope their needs are now met. The whole experience was amazing.  With the help we received, we had most of the gym all packed up and tables put back to their rightful places before we left for the day.  We ended our night with a wonderful, inspiring, amazingly powerful prayer that was prayed over us and the journey that is ahead of us, by the pastors from Nation of Visions.  We exchanged our contact information, so we could keep in touch and follow each others adventures.  We can continue to follow them and their program and they can follow us as we go through this adoption process.  Our Lord is amazing, and has provided for us in every way we needed.  Even ways we didn’t know we needed him.  He brought these individuals into our lives for a reason.

So to conclude, Jason and I had a monetary goal that we hoped we’d reach at the end of this event.  We are beyond thankful and happy to say that we not only reached this goal, but we went over this goal.  We still have other donations that have been coming in and still need to receive money from silent auction baskets and other vendors that said they would donate some of their commission to us from their sales.  We still have a ways to go to reach our ultimate goal, but we couldn’t be any more thankful for the outcome we received from this adoption fundraiser event.  Thank you to everyone that has helped us.  Whether you donated your items, donated baked goods, donated silent auction baskets, donated your time, donated money, prayed for us, etc.  Thank you to my retired bosses church for their donation of items, to our old church for their donations of items, to our church, to friends and family, and even strangers.  If we are forgetting to list anyone, we still thank you, too! We couldn’t have done all of this without you, and we could never thank you all enough!

God’s blessings to you all.

P.S.  As I am typing this, it is raining outside.  I even heard a couple rumbles of thunder out there.  Thank you God for giving us our two beautiful days and bringing the rain AFTER our event.  How amazing is that?!

Here are a couple pictures from our event that were shared by a good friend of ours.

 

Feeling Accomplished

It’s been awhile since we have written a blog post, but honestly, we have been swamped.  Every single day we have been sorting and pricing items.  We have boxes upon boxes of stuff everywhere.  For a good while, we didn’t have much of a kitchen or living room to even use.  We had my parents over this past weekend for Father’s Day and sadly we didn’t even have a surface to set our food down on.  My goal for the past couple weeks was to at least finish sorting and pricing all the donations that we had on the main floor of our home, and last night, we met this goal!  What a relief!  Now we have to find a place to put all the boxes! haha  This is what our hallway and living room currently looks like.  This pile of boxes doesn’t look like much in the pictures but it’s seriously a lot of stuff. It’s only a tiny fraction of what we still have left to go through. As you can see, the cats are liking the “climbing obstacles” that we have set up for them, and the fact that we have our coffe table back.

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Our next task is to move down into the basement and start sorting and pricing items down there.  Eventually we will be moving into the garage and continue this exciting task.  Once we get into the garage, I’ll be happy to share a picture of the adventure that is ahead of us.
Besides all this sorting and pricing, we have been busy with many other things.  We printed and folded 150 copies of a letter we wrote to our friends/family.  Then had to stuff and seal the envelopes, make the mailing labels, buy stamps, etc. This past Sunday, we shared an addition 200 copies of these letters with our church family, which meant going to church early to stuff all the mailboxes for the members.

Also, we have been purchasing items we will need for the event and trying to get things situated and planned for what we will need and how things will be set up.  We handed over the task of planning quantities of foods/drinks to my dad, and he has been working with Four Men and a Grill (the folks we have preparing the food for the event), to get this part of the event taken care of.  Our kitchen and extra freezer looks like we are starting to open up our own restaurant or something.  All the cases of bottled waters, sodas, packs of brats, hot dogs, etc.  It’s starting to turn into an obstacle course of trying to figure out how to walk around our house. Watch out for the boxes, random items, soda/water, and don’t forget our random 4 cats that like to run around our feet.

Life has been beyond chaotic the past few months and the next 2-1/2 weeks will get even more chaotic, but I keep trying to remind myself that in the end it will all be worth it.  All this hard work will pay off when we officially bring our children home and have our family complete!  Honestly, the end result is one of the few things that keeps me pushing on.  I am a very stubborn and determined individual.  I love challenges and I will work my tushy off until I achieve my goals.  I may be tired and cranky the next few weeks (poor Jason haha), but soon I’ll be back to my fun and bubbly self again.  Watch out world, Christi has a goal to achieve!

Speaking of goals, this year I set a goal (with Jason) to pay off a few debts we’ve had sitting around… mainly my gazillion school loans from my two degrees.  Last year I paid down 1 of my 7 loans, and just this past weekend I paid down my 2nd loan!  What an amazing feeling that was for me once I clicked “submit payment” online.  My goal is to have 2 more school loans among other things paid off by the end of this year! I cannot wait.  I am one of those weird people who actually enjoys paying bills.  I feel a sense of accomplishment knowing we have the funds to pay our bills and being able to “check off” those bills from my spread sheet every month.  Jason and I are very fortunate that we have our jobs and can rely on our paychecks.

Okay, I think that’s enough blabbing for today.  We’ll be back soon with more updates, so stay tuned!