Saturday, April 27, 2013

Wrap Her Up in Love

So because adoption means endless fundraising...

I'm trying to get creative...

Because how many hoagies or spaghetti dinners can one eat.
(Hopefully a lot because we are going to be doing those at some point)

I'm trying to offer things for your generosity - selling thirty one, dedicating photo session fees, raffles... Delicious coffee (Just love coffee has an ongoing fundraiser for us )

Not just ask for donations
(although they are greatly appreciated !!! By far!)
In the line of creativity I've decided to do a very meaningful fundraiser.

I'm going to make a quilt for our little girl in Haiti.

I've seen other adopting families do this and how they make it a successful fundraiser is they have people "sponsor" the squares.

You aren't just sponsoring a square.

This quilt will be a visual reminder that she is an orphan no more. It will be a physical representation that she has Been placed by God into a family and a community who loves her and has been thinking about her.

You will be represented by not just the square but also your name/names will be printed on the fabric!

If you want to customize it further and represent more of yourself on her quilt you can pick your square color or pattern.

Known for your love of a sports team? Ask for black and gold.

Wild for zebra? Get zebra print!

Pinkalicious like Ella?

Go hot pink!

To pick certain fabrics add $1 to your total, because ill have to buy fabrics instead of using what I have .
Squares are
$5 for 4"
$10 for 8"
$15 for 12"

Also the first 12 people will be given an additional square that will be used in a lovey sized quilt I'm going to make to take and give her while she is still in Haiti during our first visit.

There's no telling if it will make it back to the states with her so I'm keeping the full sized quilt for here and only leaving the lovey sized one in Haiti, to give her hope of her family and friends who are waiting for her!

Also I'd love to make her a memory book of all the people (2 actually one for here and one for Haiti) who have been praying for her and supporting the adoption along the way, so if you purchase a square please send me a picture of your family and a message or special verse for her if you'd like.

I hope the low price with price point choices and the deep meaning behind it all will be something many can get behind so we can make her a big quilt and literally wrap her up in all the love and support!

This will be something she can keep forever and look back on and remind her of her worth and the love that surrounds her.

I'm hoping to get good at this quilt thing ;) and want to make baby clothes quilts. I know all the Pinterest ladies have seen these- where you take your favorite outfits that your babies have grown out of and make them into a memory quilt.

So don't throw or give away all your baby stuff !

I've been saving my favorite outfits for a few years and I'm glad I couldn't part with some of lacis stuff so that I still have some to work with.

If its something you're Interested in - keep me in mind!

Thanks so much to those who have supported us in various ways. It means a lot.

Being called to adopt was completely unexpected on our part and it can be overwhelming- not so much the addition of a child just all that is required to get there.

We greatly appreciate the thoughts, prayers and participation in fundraisers/photo shoots so far.

You're all playing a part in her journey home.

Thank you.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, April 15, 2013

Another Disney Day- Disney on a budget. (It can be done!)

How can we afford to go to Disney?

Lets face it - the economy sucks and gas prices (auto or air) are insane and surely will soon begin the summer spike.

So many of us are wringing our hands wondering how to stretch dollars for normal everyday things let alone being able to give our family amazing vacations.

Or heck, at this rate - even mediocre ones.

So what's a fun loving, Disney obsessed parent to do?

Our financial situation is burdened with the sudden " hey we are going to adopt from Haiti" - monumental cost with plenty of unknowns (a d according to Murphy's law- if I plan a vacation it's going to turn out I need to be in Haiti that week)

I'm not sure what's in the cards for the Carey vacation this year.

We definitely are sidelining all discretionary spending, saving to put money into this adoption. ( my most repeated phrase lately - "adoption is expensive y'all" and it so is...)

I definitely know we nixed our Myrtle Beach annual beach trip, as my husband groaned in disappointment.

I'm still holding out hope that my feet will grace the threshold of Cinderella's castle and even better - Belle and Beasts for the first time!

How can we (and you ) make this a possibility?

Here are my budget planning tips:
Go during value season.

I don't want you to because that is when I go and I love the low crowds.

But if you're pinching pennies- this is a no brainer.

Google value season, it's going to be at Inopportune times for most people but that is why they're value - not many people can make it .

- watch for specials and jump on them because they're available to only a limited number of rooms. They may still have rooms open, even in the hotel you're looking at

- but the specially priced rooms may book up.

* right now they're booking for April 15- mid August at 30% off rooms. Probably select rooms... Also the % may be less in certain resorts - often the 30 is for deluxe resorts.

In the fall there has been free dining for the last eleven years. It falls mid August through September. It requires an in resort stay and a ticket package to qualify.

The last few years this has been extended during November and December- but with limited days.

She is really 3 but Mickey says she's 2 for one more week !!

If you have a child on the precipice of a Disney age milestone get there before their birthday!
2 and under eat play and stay free (eat free on meal plan that is

- in table service restaurants) so you don't have to buy tickets or count them toward your room occupancy limit.

10 years old is an adult.

Really ? I know I I know, but being a Disney apologist I get it .

At ten average sizes kids can ride all the rides and so enjoy the park fully.

And have you seen a ten year old eat ? They can wipe out the buffet at Chef Mickeys ! So it behooves Disney to charge adult for the meal plan as well... I guess :/

With that base knowledge I can explain this tip.

If you check in at Disney the day before your child's birthday - Mickey turns a blind eye at the rolling over to a new age.

So say Suzy is 3 on April 13. Check in on April 12 and little

Suzy gets a free pass to lie about her age for the duration of your Disney stay.

She will be considered, for all intents and purposes 2.
This means she doesn't count toward your room occupancy.

Why is that a major boon?

Value and moderate only go to a four person occupancy.

This really is a let down because the next level of hotels, whether they be deluxe or the new Magic of Animation Suites - are a huge price jump. (Even though the new suites are considered "value" ahem.)

So if you are a family of five you can save yourself a nice chunk right in the hotel by coming when Suzy doesn't count.

* a few rooms in Port Orleans Riverside fit 5 using a Murphy bed. Mmhmm lotsa comfort right there....

If you are paying for the Dining plan it is a bonus because two and under are ineligible so you won't be required to purchase for the toddler when buying your package.

They will get free food in sit downs- but you'll have to provide for snacks and counter service .
We've always gotten by with just buying one or two counter service out of pocket to feed the toddler.

And we always have snacks left over at the end of the week.

Also no park tickets are required for two year olds at the parks and water parks! Obvious huge savings!

On the 10 year old front- same thing applies. Check in the day before their birthday and they stay 9 all week.

10 year olds pay adult tickets and adult meal plan.

You save a huge amount per day this way.

This is my plan for this year.

My 2 year old turns three the week we always go.

So instead of stating our vacation on the normal Saturday we will get there on Thursday because she will turn three on Friday- if we get to go...

Ask for Disney funds in lieu of gifts.

If you're like me, your kids have more than they play with and you regret buying stuff after every holiday and birthday.

Instead, consider asking gift givers (at least close family like grandma) for money for your Disney fund instead.

Last year my mother in law offered to pay our gas - we drive from MD to WDW - for us as mine and Tony's Christmas gift .

That was a huge help! We could breathe a little easier and add some $ to the girls souveneir accounts.

This year we are thinking of asking people instead of her buying a ton of gifts if they would give their portion or at least some of it ( grandmas like to wrap some presents you know!) toward our trip.

Since we will possibly be putting large sums of money into this adoption we have decided the only way to go may be using what we would spend (waste) on Christmas toys and put it toward our trip.

The kids will get a couple things from "Santa" and nothing from us . The trip will be their gift .

They're ok with this btw.

less days of magic :(

Look I love to be in Walt Disney World.

I have planned our retirement.

I will be a photo pass photographer and part time Main St character and Tony can be a bus driver full of misinformation or whatever he wants.

Retiring in Disney.

I think about Disney World more than any grown adult should and even before I set foot inside I dread the final day.

I dance around as they check us in and giggle at all the characters.
Parting is indeed sweet sorrow and I sing " and now it's time to say goodbye..."

I love it .

My goal this year was to do a double week and really enjoy our resort some.

The was before we found our we would be adopting...

Instead we will be doing less than our normal 7 days.

But hey, a little Disney is worth more than none right?

I think we are doing five full days with the fifth being our departure day and driving as far as we can once we leave that evening.

You just may have to do less days.

Here's the thing.

The more you play the less you pay.

By days 6,7 8 your park tickets are ridiculously cheap.

I messed up and had to add on day 7 one time - for two adults and two kids - I laid a whopping $24.
Four tickets.

So on the ticket front you aren't going to save much but you will save on hotel costs.

it's not be the Poly -but it will do



You love the Polynesian.

Yeah who doesn't ?!
I will stay there one day.

Declared .

(This year was also supposed to be Poly year :( )

There are noticeable differences in all levels of Disney hotels. But let's face it - you're at Disney for the parks and if you're there for less days you definitely aren't hanging out at the hotel much.

All of the hotels are clean, even at value price they have to abide by Disney standards so its not like you're staying at a motel 8 .

If its downgrade to a value or don't go - do the value .

You're so tired when you reach your hotel anyway it doesn't matter where you are.

Put the Mickey ears down

I don't want to talk about how many stuffed animals we have acquired on WDW vacations.

And thank you SOOO much to whomever in marketing came up with the baby versions swaddled in blankets....

Disney = nostalgia and even for adults it's hard to say no to an adorable item in the endless gift shops rides dump you into.

What we did this year was we gave the girls a flat sum from us and if they had birthday money or whatever cash we added that to their individual account and got them each a gift card our first night.

Our first night when they already made purchases....

Having "their" own money definitely cut Down on the Gimmies ( I have to admit they're not the type to throw tantrums to buy something anyway ) and they judiciously spent their money .

They each had their eye on an item or two they had to have - items that were found in every park- and they waited til the end to buy them.

If we were at a park that had park specific items - the yeti at Expedition Everest - they bought that item then otherwise they waited and bought maybe one item a day, actually less .

They knew if they wanted - for laci it was the dog from Nightmare Before Christmas- they had to reserve x amount to get it- therefore the thousand items that would have appealed to them lost their luster a bit!

Another thing that helps is buying clearanced items through the year (Disney store does a big sale january and I believe July) and saving them for the trip .

Each day while we are at the park a character stops in and leaves a gift.

Knowing they have something waiting for them really curtails the need for spending on exiting the park.

Usually I end up in the room before them or stick around a minute while dad gets the stroller set up outside - so the kids don't see the gifts put out. Or you can leave a note and work it out so you Mousekeeper does it
If it sounds gratuitous - well it kinda is .

But we started this tradition on our first trip when I scored a ton of dirt cheap items at the Disney outlet near my cousins house and its become a beloved tradition.

You don't have to do this but it's an alternative to in park souvenir buying without feeling like your kid is missing out.

Also if you're going to do this- consider that it's going to become a tradition because you're kids are going to wonder long before you get there what items their favorite characters will leave them.

Another thing I've done on subsequent trips to cut down on the in room gift expense is to leave notes from characters inviting them to the various character meals and occasionally a little trinket.

- A note from Mickey inviting them to Chef Mickeys the next day along with a dollar store Minnie Mouse bracelet from Minnie.

- A wax sealed invitation to Cinderella's Royal Table or the Bibbidi Bobbity Boutique or both together. It's great to get the BBB appointment just before your Cinderella's Royal Table reservation and go right from one part of the castle to another.

- An invitation from Lilo and Stitch for Ohana breakfast with Leis or something Hawaiian themed.

As far as lodging you can stay off
site to save some serious coin- we feel staying onsite makes our vacation but if I had to choose between staying off site and not going I would suck it up and stay off site.

There are surprisingly nice rentals nearby for low prices.

You may want to skip chains to get better prices.

Check out Dwellable

I found this site because they liked one of my blogs on The Villages and asked to use it.

I was surprised at the beautiful lodgings - houses, condos and amazing amenities that cost less than a moderate at Disney.

When my kids are a little older and easier to get to the parks I think we will go this route. You can rent entire houses for the amount you'd pay for moderates - with your own pool!

One option is renting points off Disney Vacation Club members.
I've never done this but considered it last year.

You need to do your own research on it because I don't know enough to recommend a seller.

Disboards has a board on point buying.

People buy and sell on there and you can get a crash course on what it all entails. They also out poor sellers and recommend good ones.

This isn't a bargain dollar budget idea but more a way to stay at the deluxe resorts and time share properties for less than you'd pay out of pocket.

Also, compare sellers- they set their own points so you'll find a wide range . Don't just go with the first person you find.

- Pack your own food .

Garden Grocer will allow you to set up an order in advance and schedule it to be delivered for your arrival.

We usually now just stop at target or SAMs in Orlando or The Villages, but when we flew we had orders shipped to our room.
We had things like diapers and baby food, beverages, bottled water and snacks in our order.

Peanut butter and jelly and some bread isn't a bad idea.

All rooms now have mini fridges so you can feed yourself in your room if you must.

The park allows you to take your own food in, so don't hesitate !

The suites have kitchens - even the new value Art of Animation suites.

At a lower price point than the rest of the suites you'll find in Disney the extra price of paying for a suite would like be off set by you food savings.

- Bring your own strollers.
In park stroer rentals are about $40/ day.

If you don't have room to haul one pick a cheap one on your way to the park and leave it at the front desk for them to offer to another family coming as check out .

Disney on a budget- it can be done!

Really we don't spend more on Disney than we do on a beach trip.

You can cut extras out during the year to pay it off a little at a time. It's all about what you want more.

For me this:

Is worth more than eating out every week.

If I can do both - I will.

But if not- steakhouses lose out big time to my kids smiling up at

Mickey Mouse!

Happy planning!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Considering an off site stay? Check out Dwellable for beautiful, affordable accommodations to kick your feet up in after a long day hanging with The Mouse!

Check out my new blog dedicated to Disney Travel and if you need help planning a getaway hit my travel agent button on the sidebar. My services are free to you paid by Mickey!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Of Sumos and Sacrifice

Adoption is a big task.

It is.

And I find myself , even though my heart bleeds for children without families, sometimes wanting to go back to the days when I lived oblivious to Gods calling for us.

See, when God wrecks you like he went ahead and did to us this January- you can't go back. I mean I suppose you can but things aren't the same. You can't unknow what he's revealed to you. You can ignore it for sure, God doesn't force anyone , but you can't ignore with blind ignorance now that God has shown you the truth, now that he's revealed his heart.

You could go on living your life in your own little world, providing for you and yours and making going to church the main spiritual accomplishment of your life- but always in the quiet recesses of your mind, your soul- you know.

You know that God has called you (as he's called all his children) to so much more. That sitting in a church was never his design for his followers.

You know that your hands weren't meant just to be folded in prayer but to heal hurt and sickness. To touch the untouchable.

Your eyes weren't meant just to take in the beauty of the world around you that God has created but to see need, sickness, pain. To look into the eyes of dying, the lost, the hurting.

Your feet not made to walk you to a pew to sit and be comfortable as you are affirmed by the pastor and fed spiritually but instead to walk among the people, to go where the whitewashed church won't go. You see the bible never says the lost will come to you - instead we are told continually to go. Go.

Your heart wasnt just made to love those around you it was meant to be broken for the things that break Gods heart. To beat with the passion for things that matter to Him- the fatherless, the widow, the outcast- the lost.

And no, your money wasnt meant just for mindless spending either.

But in America we are told going to church is enough. Doing Sunday school, or serving on a committee makes you an over acheiver in the church today. Only special Christians are called to more.

Are they?

Or is it just that we've all shirked our responsibilities onto those with titles- pastor, missionary....

When we are all called to be these things. There's no special or ordained in Gods kingdom. While he calls some to that as an official job - we are all called to do the same in whatever life he has for us.

But we don't.

And why?

I guess because its so easy to skate by just on salvation.

We accepted Jesus so we will get to heaven anyway right? Why not live out these days enjoying the fruits of "our" labor, providing for our own kids and making life as comfortable or in excess as much as we can.

I'm not going to lie. I often want to go back to that. It's my nature. I want the comfortable life we had made full of Disney trips and shopping trips and whatever we wanted.

When I look at this adoption this is what I see:

That's me the tiny guy pushing the sumo of this adoption.

The financial requirements alone could be represented by that guy. In my own mind it makes me shudder and want to turn on Real Housewives of whatever new city bravo tv has invaded to silence the magnitude of what alone that financial burden entails.

Then there's the government hurdles in two countries.

The visiting of an unstable country just ranked the poorest in the ENTIRE WORLD for two weeks on our first trip.

Two weeks of leaving our children to meet another or the prospect of Injecting them with numerous vaccines with toxins to take them along.

Two weeks of living with a child we don't know but is ours, getting to know her and love her and then being ripped away from her without being able to say anything to soothe her little soul and reassure her that we are not leaving her like everyone else has always left her - we will back when the governments finish the rest of their job.

And then waiting indefinitely to return to a little girl who isn't just a face in a picture anymore - but a child in our heart, a missing part of our family. indefinite stretch lf time worrying, praying, missing.

I don't want to do it all the time. I don't.

I'm not special, I'm not extraordinary.

I'm just Mandy who likes to sit at home with her kids in flannel Santa pj pants making chicken nuggets and snuggling on the couch with fuzzy headed little loud creatures.

I don't feel like pondering the hunger of tiny bellies and imagining tear stained cheeks of children longing for a family.
It hurts.

But I don't really have a choice because for some reason God chose us to be softened to the most defenseless in our world - the orphan.

He wrecked us and our plans, made our hearts beat for what makes his beat and so I can't just ignore it.

Even though at times I want to.

Because let's face it: Reality IS ugly.

Now that some people know we are adopting and talk to us about it they always things like:

"That is so wonderful of you to do"

"I'm proud of you"

"You guys are incredible" So. Nice.

But it's not true.

I'm not , any of those things.

I'm flawed, I'm human I'm selfish.

I'm much more comfortable living life on my couch with my kids in my Santa pjs planning out our next vacation

The thought of doing all this
freaks. Me . Out.

It's not me at all.

It's God in me.

It's Jesus living through me.

It's his heart beating, him using my hands, my legs.

It's. All. Him.

Now don't get me wrong.

I want nothing more than to bring a family-less child into our home and give her family, to love her.

I want to find homes for all orphans.

I'd take 20 in myself.

If it were that easy.

It isn't the end result I'm afraid of or not desiring - even with all the uncertainties bringing an orphan into your home can bring.

It's the process, it's the money, the time, the pain, the sacrifice.

All that puts me into the frame of mind of breathlessly staring at the big sweaty stinky sumo of the adoption process- in a pilot program no less.

And I falter.

I back pedal.

I second guess.

But then I'm reminded, especially this week of someone facing their call.

Alone in the garden.
Sweating blood.
Spirit willing
Flesh weak.

God if there's some way...

Let this cup pass from me..

But in the end.

Not my will but yours...

Jesus looking down time span of the next few hours in his earthly hours knowing full well what he was facing

Jeering hateful taunts



Desertion by devout followers

Spit in the face

Whipping - flesh ripped ; bone exposed gleaming white against the red of torn skin and muscle. The very humanity being torn from God incarnate.

Carrying the instrument of his own torture and death

Crown of thorns piercing his brow blood running down his face the metallic sting of his own life source trickling between parched lips

Crude nails tearing through muscle and ligament joining flesh to wood

Struggling for breath as an exhausted brutalized body struggles to support itself as iron rips flesh with every inhale.

His Father turning His back as the darkness of sin envelops the sinless.

The sting of death.

Jesus in that garden faced much more than you or I could ever be asked.

He questioned- if this cup could pass from me...

He could have said no.

Left earth and the constraints of man and returned to heaven and its glory.

But he continued on.

Because he was the kinsman redeemer.

His death paid the ransom to bring us- the fatherless into the family of God.

No price was too great for him to pay for our redemption.

I think like me when he asked if the cup could pass- it wasn't for lack of desire for the end result - our redemption, bringing us into His family - it was for the process that redemption cost.


How then could I - who has been given so so much deny this call?

A call that costs me , yes- money, inconvenience, patience, many various sacrifices on our family- but yet so little.

How can I ignore God asking me to pay the ransom of one of HIS children .
To give a home to a lost child.
To allow him to place the lonely in a family- our family.

I can't.

So, even though I struggle at times looking ahead at what is required of us, what it will cost - the time and the money, when discouraged I do what I believe Jesus did.

I'm looking past the process, what it costs and looking at a face. In our case A beautiful Haitian child looking for love and a home.

In Jesus case-
I believe he saw you.
And me.
He saw our faces.
He saw us lost and alone in our sin.
He saw us and knew the cost was not too great.
He endured it all to give us a home.
A Father.

I just want to encourage everyone to go after what God id calling you to do. He has SO much more for us than warming a pew in a church .

Church was never meant to be the totality of our Christian experience.

It was meant to be a place where we came back to for refreshment and encouragement after pouring ourselves into His work.

I encourage you all to take a step and look past the cost of what Hes calling you to and forward to the end result, the goal, the good you will accomplish by allowing Him to use you.

It's not us, it's Him in us. Let Him move in you and through you.

It's not easy, it will cost you your comfort in the very least.

Even though its trying emotionally and in every aspect of our lives right now - it's also amazing to have a passion about something- to be given a task by God and working toward it .

If you don't feel direction in your life seek God. Ask him to break your heart for what breaks him. To send you.

Your life will never be the same and though at times you'll feel like that tiny stick of a man against the hulking Sumo as you accomplish your task- nothing compares to actually walking out your faith .

And from this little stick man to all of you-

Any of you who have had a kind or encouraging word, who have shared a status or fundraiser link, have given of your time, prayers, thoughts or money to help us so far-


Any support we get is so appreciated. It's hard sometimes- we have close family who we thought would be supportive who have not even spoken a word about it, acting like its not happening.

It's hard.
Walking out what God has called you to is not always popular and sometimes you feel you walk alone.

So any gesture- great or small- is noted and warms our hearts and each one is like another helping hand to help puny us push over that big bad Sumo of this process.

Thank you!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone