Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Polish New Year's Eve Superstitions

Friday, May 6, 2016

How many of you are planning to skip church this Sunday (mother's day)?

I asked this question to an adoption/infertility forum: How many of you are planning to skip church this Sunday (mother's day)? The response was overwhelming in favor of skipping church this Sunday.

Here are some of the responses:

“Not going. Its too painful for me. My mom passed away 5 years ago, and I haven't been able to be a mom. I dont want to be reminded of any of it.”

"Mother's Day is a difficult day for my adopted daughter. It reminds her that her birth mother abandoned her and then her foster mother who abused her. It's not a happy day for our family."

“Before we adopted, I skipped it on Mother's Day because I couldn't deal with it.

“I totally avoid church on Mother's Day and Father's Day.

“I went before I adopted and had an amazingly special moment there. A lady who attended church with me came up to me and told me she knew how hard it was for me. She told me she loved me and was praying for me, and knew I would be a great mom. It was so encouraging to know someone who hadn't struggled with infertility saw my pain and cared. I try to watch for women who are having the same struggle and encourage them like she did for me.

“We used to just disappear for the day, always found it very difficult, then we adopted our son and had a bio daughter it was ok & now since my mother passed away it's a difficult day again.”

“I would totally opt out, but I am performing that day. But oh, what I wouldn't give to have just one day where I could sleep in and not have to be anywhere or have anyone needing something immediately!

“I'll be avoiding church on Mother's Day, they make a really big deal about Moms and it would be a visual reminder of my "failure," not to mention pull up feelings of jealousy that I would then feel guilty about.

"Every year, I cry when they recognize mothers by having them stand up. I am a birthmom. I don't know if I should stand up or not. It's too painful. I'm taking a trip instead."

“Both of our pastors and wives experienced infertility and make sure the day is sensitive.

“I always skipped Mother's Day, Father's Day and baby dedications before kids!

“I am not going to church. Instead I will be drinking.

"Our church tries to give something to all the moms (usually a chocolate bar), and when they give me one I always feel weird cuz I'm not one. I just like skipping that bit of awkward."
“So.. I debated about weighing in on this. Mother's Day is hard for many many women. It is very hard for me as well. I think back to the babies who I lost, the children that I couldn't bring into this world and frankly, I don't want to be reminded of this. I don't want to celebrate the "lucky ones". Don't get me wrong. I'm not bitter. I have a strong faith but I will not be in church Sunday.

“I will be attending, but I have to admit there is a part of me that would like to avoid church this Sunday - not because of the pain of infertility though. This is a day of mixed emotions for me, but, more importantly, it is also a day when my now adopted daughters often struggle.

"My mother is very abusive. This day reminds me the pain she has caused me and my brothers."

Are you planning to skip church this Sunday?

Introduction to Polish Language

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Great Article About Grade Level

This article was a great encouragement for me, as a special needs mom that homeschools. Sometimes I wonder if Smalls will ever catch up to her "grade level". If you struggle with that too, please read this wonderful article:

Friday, March 18, 2016

My New Job: Teaching English Online

About a month back I mentioned that I started making some extra money using the NiceTalk app. Well, the Chinese Winter holiday ended and I stopped getting phone calls from students. I was so bummed! I would be online for several hours and not get a single phone call through this app. Luckily, there is another app that I found that's even better than NiceTalk!

It's called Palfish. And let me tell you why it's way better!

1. I can set my own rates for my students.
You have two rates with this app (with NiceTalk you had one flat rate-$10/hour), your trial rate and then your regular rate. Your trial rate is for the the student's first time talking to you. I set the trial rate lower than the regular rate because I want to attract more students. I set my regular rate high. For students who aren't serious about English or who want to mess with me, I do not give them a discount on my rate so they will not want to call me back again because they will get charged more. I can potentially make more money with Palfish than with NiceTalk because I can set my own rate.

2. I can give my students a discount on my regular rate.
For students that I enjoy talking too or that I know want to keep calling me back, I give them a discount on my regular rate. My regular rate is higher than average to ward off creepy people from calling again or if they do call again they have to pay a lot for wasting my time. Even with the discounted lower rate, I am making about $10-12 an hour. I want to have lots of students wanting to  call me back so I can make more money!

3. I get more calls.
Palfish is a Chinese based app, but it is open to other countries. More students on the app means more calls for the teachers. So far I've had people call from China, England, Egypt, and Turkey. Most of my calls still come from China though. I am able to get about 10 hours a week. This is great considering that China is awake when I am asleep and I'm awake when they are sleeping! I could probably get more if I put in more hours at my night time, when it is their daytime.

4. I have the option to video chat or just have a voice call.
I love, love this option. With NiceTalk, you only have the ability to do video calls. I had to make sure I'm wearing appropriate clothes (not pjs) and make sure my hair is combed, but not with Palfish. I can wake up, grab some coffee and go online. Chinese people are usually to shy to open up the video chat. Out of the 15+ hours I've worked on Palfish, I've only had one student who asked me to do video chat and that was because he was having a hard time with the "th" sound and his tongue placement. We practiced the tongue placement and he returned back to the voice call.

5. I don't get many creepy calls.
Oh my goodness, my last NiceTalk call was the worst one in history. It was very inappropriate and disgusting. I reported the person to NiceTalk and I have not heard back from them (it's been 2 weeks now since the incident). I don't have the option of blocking this person's call in the future and NiceTalk does not verify the phone number used, so the user can create another username and do it to me again. For me, Palfish has been a safer app with less creeps because they verify the phone number and you can't create a bunch of usernames.

6. Palfish responds faster to issues.
If there is an issue, Palfish responds within a day or two. China is ahead of United States by 12-15 hours depending on the time zone you live in, so it may take them a day to respond to questions or problems. But at least they respond. NiceTalk does a terrible job at this!

7. This app is better quality and isn't as buggy.
It loads faster and has less bug issues than NiceTalk. Forget about submitting a bug report to NiceTalk because they won't fix it and they won't respond to it. Palfish is a way nicer app than NiceTalk.

8. You can schedule sessions with students.
If you don't have time to sit and wait for phone calls, you can set up available times that you can talk. If a student schedules a time with you, you must be present to answer the phone call. You can get charged a fee if you are not available. The fee that you will get charged will get deposited into the student's account. And same goes for the student. If the student takes one of your time slots and doesn't call you, they will be charged a small fee and it will be deposited into your account.

9. You don't need a minimum amount to have your money deposited into your paypal account.
This is a nice benefit. NiceTalk has a minimum of $20 in order for you to get your money the following Monday. And since I haven't been getting any calls, I can't get my $2 out that I earned :(.

10. Your messages to your students stay in your inbox. And you have followers.
I love following up with my students. That's what makes a great teacher, right? If you sign out with NiceTalk, all of your messages instantly get deleted. I had built up a great student base, but now it's all gone. Not with Palfish! You can have followers who are interested in you being their teacher. Being able to see the students who have followed me gives me the opportunity to message them when I am not getting many calls.

Here are some Cons:

1. You still have to wait for students to call you.
You can't call students and you can't see when students are online. I like to message them when I am not getting calls to help build more of a relationship so they will want to call me.

2. You only get paid once a month.
Yes, you have to wait once a month to get the money deposited to your paypal account. This is the one advantage that NiceTalk has over Palfish. But on the plus side, there isn't a minimum amount that you have to make in order for it to get deposited like NiceTalk ($20 or more).

3. You can make less starting out.
You want to have more hours of experience

4. You set your rate by Chinese Yuan (CNY).
If you're not familiar with the CNY, then click here for a conversion.

5. The most popular time for people to use Palfish is between 7pm and 11pm in China, which is about 5am and 9 am in America.
If you are an early bird then this is a great way to make some extra money before work.

How to teach your students English, if you've never taught English before:

1. If they're having trouble pronouncing a certain sound, do a quick google search on tongue twisters with that letter or letter combinations. They can practice with you or in front of the mirror at a later time.

2. Have some base questions to start the conversation off with. You want to get your student to practice their spoken English. You can get them talking with some of these questions:
What is your name?
Are you a student or do you have a job?
What city do you live in?
How many people live in your city?
What is your city famous for?
Do you have siblings?
What are your parents like?
What is your degree?
How long have you been speaking English?
Why do you want to speak English?
What are your hobbies or what do you like to do during your free time?
What is grocery shopping like in your country?
What movies or shows do you like to watch?
What is your favorite music?
Do you have a pet?
Do you want a pet? If so, what kind?
What kind of food do you like?
Can you cook?
What is your daily schedule like?

3. After you have them talking, write down or remember some pronunciations that they need to work on. Most Chinese students have trouble with the "th" sound. It always sounds like an s or a z.

4. Encourage your student. They need to hear that they are doing great speaking a certain phrase or letter combination. Find something that they have exceed at during your talk and praise them for it. They will most likely want you to be their teacher again if you are positive towards them.

5. Be patient. They might stutter their way through a sentence, especially if they are beginners. It's hard to think in a new language and their vocabulary might take longer to come out than us native speakers.

6. Be willing to open up about your personal life. Foreigners love to talk to Americans. They want to know what we do in our spare time, what we eat, watch, and how we hang out with our friends. If they ask a personal question don't get easily offended they just want to know more about you and Americans. Also keep in mind that certain countries do not have as many rights as we do in America. They may want to know about your religion or political views or how you vote.

7. If you've never taught English before, set your rate a little lower until you have at least an hour or two teaching experience through the app. You can increase your rate as you gain more experience.

8. Make sure you fill out the introduction part of the app. Before students call you, they want to know a little about you. I put all of the states that I lived in, my interests, my previous and past jobs, my family, and my hobbies. If a student shares a similar interest they are more likely to call you.

9. Speak slow and clear. Try not to use as many contractions. If using puns, slang words or idioms, type them out and explain them. Foreigners have a hard time understanding those because it may not translate well in their native tongue, but still try to explain it. Some students want to learn to understand American humor.

10. With Palfish, you can message students that follow you. If you are not getting many calls reach out to the students are interested in you.  I like to message them "thank you for following me. I hope to talk with you soon!". I will also message them "happy _____", fill in whatever American or Chinese holiday it is. Making the first contact might be the ice breaker that the shy student needs to be able to talk to you.

11. Some students are too shy or ashamed of their spoken English. Speaking a new language takes a lot of confidence. Remember back in speech class and you had to give your first speech to the whole class? If not, I do. I was scared out of my mind. I knew how to speak, but speaking in front of strangers or my peers made me cringe. I kept thinking that they were judging every word I was saying. Foreigners will be harder on themselves about speaking English than you will towards them. Help build up their confidence and reassure them that they are doing a great job. Their hard work will pay off eventually.

12. Know your culture. Students want to know why and how we celebrate St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. Be comfortable enough to share what your family does and how you celebrate the holidays. Also know about America. Know famous landmarks like Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, Statue of Liberty, Hollywood and Disney World. Some students are preparing to travel to the United States and they want to know some great places to visit. Share with them your travels and how many states you've visited.

13. Print some of these worksheets to help guide your talk with your student.

14. Be willing to learn about a new culture. You want your student to practice their spoken English. Get them talking by asking them what holidays they celebrate, how do they celebrate birthdays, and if they have any strange customs or sayings in their native tongue. It will be a great culture lesson for you!

Palfish has been a great way for me to earn some extra money. In my opinion, it is way better than NiceTalk. In the last 2 weeks, I've gotten over 20 hours of calls and have made over $180. I enjoy helping others learn English and getting paid to do it!

If you want to sign up, please use my referral!

Adoption Travel: What to bring for the month of April

Traveling to Poland during April?

Besides the normal packing gear like clothes, toiletries and etc..., I want to share some fun things for you to consider bringing on your adoption trip. (And that's if you still have enough room in your suitcase!)

But first let's answer 2 questions to help with your packing:
1. What's the weather like during April?
Usually the low is 40 F and the high is 55 F.

2. What holidays are in the month of April?
Click here for April holidays.

  April Packing Extras:

  • Plastic eggs (if you're into Easter egg hunts) (and you can buy candy in Poland)
  • Egg dye kits (or you could buy food coloring and vinegar in Poland)
  • Your favorite chicken/egg salad recipe to use after you dye the eggs!
  • Kites (you can find them at the dollar store)
  • Bring a joke book and have it translated for April Fools day.
  • Bring some flower seeds. Plant and watch your flower grow. Before you leave to go back home, give it to your neighbor or a friend that you met while there!
  • Color some flowers
  • Make a plant life cycle book.
  • A couple of children's movies (for when it rains and you have to cancel your plans)
  • Allergy medications (the seasons will be changing!)

That's all that I could come up with. I'll add more as I think of them!

Do you have any creative suggestions to add to this list?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

April 2016 Menu

photo credit: Firenze 4 via photopin (license)

April 2016 Meal Plan:

1. Blueberry Muffins
2. French Toast
3. Peach Muffins
4. Green Smoothie
5. Blackberry Baked Oatmeal
6. Yogurt, toast, eggs and bacon, and oatmeal.

1. Sandwiches (pb & j, ham & cheese, grilled cheese, etc...)
2. Leftovers
3. Caesar Salad Pizza (add Spinach for more protein)
4. Hummus with salad
5. Smoky Bacon Green Salad with hard boiled eggs

1. Crockpot Red Beans and Rice with salad
2. Vegetarian Gumbo with salad and roll
3. Spinach and Artichoke Lasagna with salad
4. Sweet Potato Burritos with rice and salad
5. Vegetarian Philly Cheese Sandwich with green bean and tomato salad
6. Crockpot Honey Garlic Meatballs with rolls and steamed veggies
7. Cheesy Crockpot Cowboy Casserole with salad and roll
8. Whole Roasted Chicken with veggies and baked potato
9. Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta with salad
10. French Dip Sandwiches with store bought Arby's curly fries
11. BBQ Sandwiches (with leftover beef from the French Dip) with baked potato
12. Black Bean Chicken Casserole with salad
13. Whole Roasted Chicken with veggies and salad
14. Slow Cooker Hotdog with Sauerkraut and Apples with mac and cheese and salad
15. Spaghetti with meatballs with salad
16. Polish Night: Pierogi with Cucumber Salad and Kielbasa
17. Pizza Night (store bought pizza) with salad
18. Hamburgers with sweet potato fries
19. Sweet Potato Buffalo Chicken Casserole (I'll use my casserole crockpot to make this!) with salad and green beans
20. Breakfast Night: Breakfast casserole with fruit
21-30. Eat leftovers, at church, and date night.

1. Peach Cobbler
2. Ice Cream Sandwiches
3. Pineapple Upside Down Cake
4. Banana Pudding
5. For Mom: Starbucks Caramel Macchiato

To see other meal plans, click here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Important April Dates for Poland

photo credit: rainwashlake via photopin (license)
Here's a list of important dates for the month of April:
  • Beethoven Easter Festival (During Holy Week) 
  • Good Friday (A public holiday. Most stores will be closed. This day changes every year due to the Jewish calendar.)
  • Good Saturday (A public holiday. Most stores will be closed. This day changes every year due to the Jewish calendar.)
  • Easter Sunday (A public holiday. Most stores will be closed. This day changes every year due to the Jewish calendar.)
  • Śmigus-Dyngus Day (This day changes every year because it is based on Easter. It is the Monday right after Easter.)

April showers bring May flowers. Click here for important Polish dates for the month of May!-Coming Soon.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Friday Funny

Here's a Friday funny. In Poland, our apartment did not have a bath but only a shower and I missed taking a bath. And Smalls was absolutely terrified of the shower and we had many wars during shower time. Apparently, this girl missed her bath too. Maybe I should've bought a plastic box like her??

New Wroclaw Attraction

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Cheap Meals That We Love

1. Pierogi Lasagna (use 2 or 3 onions instead of 5)
2. Vegetarian Cheese Steak Sandwiches

3. Breakfast Casserole

4. Slowcooker Bratwurst with Sauerkraut and Apples

5. Red Beans and Rice (you can eliminate the meat and add more beans for a cheaper alternative)

6. Spinach and Artichoke Lasagna

7. Spinach Quiche (use cheddar cheese)

8. Dirty Rice (minus chicken livers)

9. Banh Mi Hotdog

10. Tex-Mex Hotdog

11. Cuban Dog

12. Cheddar Bacon Dog

13. Pizza Dog

14. Reuben Dog

15. Tropical Dog

16. Steakhouse Dog (caramelize the onions first and maybe add some mushrooms?)

17. Taco Lasagna

18. Taco Salad

19. Greek Tacos (use chicken or lentils instead of ground beef)

20. Taco Soup (use chicken instead of beef or use extra beans for a vegetarian meal)

21. Taco Meatloaf (use 1 lb. of ground beef and add 2 cans of black beans for a cheaper meal)

22. Chicken Tacos

23. Jambalaya (you can decrease the amount of meat and add beans for a cheaper alternative)

24. Black Bean Tacos

25. Fried Rice with Egg

26. Pancakes (blueberry, strawberry, banana, chocolate chip, etc...)

27. French Toast

28. BLT Sandwiches

29. Chocolate Banana Breakfast Quinoa with fruit

30. Green Eggs and Ham Burritos

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Apps That Make YOU Money for Your Adoption

1. Grocery Apps
This a wonderful concept! Submit your grocery receipts and get money in the bank! Here are some grocery apps that I am currently using:

Receipt Hog


Checkout 51


2. Gigwalk

3. NiceTalk and Nicetalk Jr
This is an easy way to make money. This is a Chinese app that lets Chinese students practice their English with you. If you can communicate well and can help someone learn English, then this is for you!

4. Viggle
Get paid listening to music or watching TV!

5. GymPact
Yes, please pay me to work out! I need the motivation to exercise.

6. PalFish
This is similar to NiceTalk Tutor, but with this app you can set your own rate. With NiceTalk you get a flat $10 per hour, but with Palfish you can set your own price. You might want to start out in the lower end of prices until you have enough experience. Then you can bump up your pay. With using this app, we get more calls than NiceTalk. And with these types of apps more calls = more money.

7. Mobee
Please use my referral code if you decide to sign up: 5GVL

8. SlideJoy
Does getting paid for using your phone sound like a good deal? I thought so too, which is why I signed up. If there's an easy and passive way for me to make money (and if it's legit!), I'm all for it. I love this app! I've been using this app for a week now and I already made $1! It is a way better deal than taking boring surveys for a penny. I'm hoping to score lots of gift cards to help pay for Christmas this year!

9. TaskRabbit
Get paid doing someone's unwanted task! I haven't tried this yet, but it has great reviews online. The only caveat with this is that it is limited to 19 cities and my city isn't one of them :(.

10. Field Agent

11. Joy Rewards 
Please use my referral code: 2743550, if you decide to join.

These are the only apps that I'm aware of and that's legit that can make you money or gift cards. If you know more, please let me know and I'll post them.  

A Fun Way to Learn U.S. Government

Here's a great website to learn all about the U.S. government:

Friday, March 4, 2016

Thursday, March 3, 2016

10 Adoption Fundraising Tips

1. Fundraising is NOT your first line of defense.
For a lot of prospective adoptive parents this is their first step on how to pay for their adoption. Fundraising shouldn't be the first means of raising money for a great cause. Alright, I think I just lost some friends over this post already and we're only in sentence 3! As a family who has gone through the adoption process, when we give to someone's adoption we want to see good effort that they are doing everything that they can to save for their adoption. I'm also talking about taking up second jobs and doing tasks on the weekend to help bring in more money besides their 9-5 job (babysitting, dogwalking, house cleaning, Uber/Lift, teaching English online, etc...) Fundraising shouldn't be your "Plan A" on how to pay for your adoption, although it can be a part of the plan.

2. Expecting to NOT MAKE sacrifices in your own budget is a terrible mistake.
This tip goes along with tip #1. There's nothing worse than giving to someone for their "great cause" and then see their Facebook profile blow up with their constant eating out, taking trips, shopping, etc... In my personal experience, I have seen adoptive couples ask, almost begging, for money and then the next day they are planning a vacation to the beach, mountains, or Disney World. I do not like this and maybe it's because my family made huge sacrifices to bring home Smalls and I kind of expect others to make similar sacrifices for their adoption goals. People who donate to your adoption campaign should see you making sacrifices. I want to hear about a crazy way you've saved an extra $100 this month.

3. Don't ask the same people to continually give towards your adoption. It's distasteful and rude.
Yea, you felt called to adopt but your friends don't. So they want to support you and be a part of orphan care. You asked your friends to give you all of their unwanted items for your garage sale. They graciously do. The next month you launch your online coffee business and your friends buy a couple bags of your expensive coffee. And then the next go around, you are asking them to participate in your pancake breakfast fundraiser. Geez...soon the well you keep tapping into is going to dry up!

Spread out your fundraising efforts among your friends, neighborhood, or town. This tip kind of goes with tip #1. It's better to offer services to people to help save money for your adoption so you won't come across as a beggar to your community. Here are some examples of services you could provide that can reach different people so you won't keep tapping into the same well: babysitting, party planning, yard work, errand running, house cleaning, house sitting, baking cookies or goods to sell around holidays, pet sitting, or dog walking. In addition to those odds and ends, do you have a skill? Accounting: help people file their taxes on the weekends. Lawyer: notarize documents on the weekends. Nurse: teach basic first aid to mommy groups or get certified as a CPR trainer and train people in your community on CPR (local doctor's offices are always looking for opportunities for their employers to maintain their CPR certifications). Stay at home mom: Since you are already doing the carpool thing, see if you can add a couple of kids to your car for a small fee. You could probably even babysit till parents get off of work. Artist: set up an Etsy shop, go to craft fairs, let local churches know of your talent (they always need someone to paint a huge mural for VBS).

Reaching multiple people will make you the most money rather than reaching the same people for every fundraising event. And you won't lose any friends over it!

4. You don't have to start the adoption process first, then start saving money for your adoption.
This is a common myth. If you are concerned about the financial responsibility of adopting, save at least half of the money first, then apply to your adoption agency. Now you are half way to your adoption goal! It takes patience and dedication to save up lots of money. I can hear this now "it would take us years and years to save up that amount and we would never get to adopt". NOT TRUE. So, not true! Yes, you can. Is it hard? Absolutely. Will it be easy? Nope, sure not. Is it worth it? Absolutely! During the adoption process, you have to take days and days off from work to send documents to various people. You will be missing out on some of your paycheck or taking up your vacation hours that you should be saving for the adoption. Another bonus of saving first, then adopting is that you don't have to focus on the money during the adoption process. You can just focus on the child you are going to adopt. There's no "oh, the agency needs ANOTHER $2000 to send this paperwork off. Where's that money coming from?". Having saved up the majority of your adoption expenses is a great way to relieve some of the stress that adopting a child can bring.

SNL: Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford from Credit Abuse Resistance Educaton on Vimeo.

5. You expect to fundraise 100% of your adoption cost. WRONG!
You felt called to adopt, but you don't feel called to have the burden of paying for it. Yes, you should pay for it. If you've signed adoption papers, then you've entered into an agreement with the agency that you (not others) will be responsible for this account. Just because you are adopting and it's a great cause doesn't mean that you can pass the financial responsibility onto someone else. You chose to adopt and adoption costs lots of money. Please tell me you knew that before signing up to adopt. Building your family has financial consequences whether it's through birth, foster care, or adoption. Having the expectation that your adoption will be free will cause you some heartache later on in the process.

Definitely fundraise for your adoption! I am not saying to NOT FUNDRAISE. Be mindful of the risks that you are taking when you sign that adoption contract with your agency. Financially, you will be liable for costs associated. There's nothing worse than knowing an adoptive couple who can't complete their adoption because of money and then having to spend more money to restart it. And trust me, I know several couples who that has happened to and it wasn't a fun thing to watch!

6. You expect to pay 100% of your adoption cost all by yourself. (maybe if you're a millionaire?)
This is a wrong view too. Here is a blog post that I found that hold's this view on adoption fundraising. I'm not necessarily a fan of this view because I think it is too extreme. I'm all for a healthy balance when it comes to fundraising.Your friends do want to help you out. If you announced that you were having a baby, your friends will want to help you with showers and such. Adoption is a great cause and not every one can adopt. Adopting is also different than getting pregnant and having a healthy baby. There are really, really expensive costs associated with adoptions.

People do want to help you. I have a friend who isn't in a place to adopt right now, but has the desire to help those who want too. She will help out with fundraisers and publicize events. It brings her joy to help those who want to adopt. I am thankful for people like that. We need each other and saying no to those who want to help is doing a disservice to us and to those who want to help out. You are not put on planet earth to live all by yourself. We have members in the community who can and will help your fundraising efforts.

7. Please don't post on social media EVERY SINGLE DAY about how much money you need to raise for your adoption.
Too much advertising can be a bad thing when it comes to raising money for your great cause. You want a lot of followers on your social media accounts and you want to keep adding followers to your accounts, but you do not want to lose followers! I have unfollowed friends on social media who repetitively post ridiculous stuff. If you keep posting the same spill, you might come off as a beggar and that is the last thing that you'd want for your adoption campaign.

8. Offer a service as a fundraiser.
With sites like and, fundraising can be a very passive way to get money for your adoption. It's not a bad thing, but it shouldn't be your only source for raising money. It bothers me to see adoptive families only fundraise this way and then complain that they aren't getting a lot of money for their adoption. People like to receive services when they donate money. I would much rather give $100 to an adoption couple if they host a BBQ, pancake breakfast, silent auction, dinner and movie, etc... Having actual fundraisers will give you lots more donations to your adoption campaign, unless if you have some rich aunt that likes to give out $10,000.

9. Don't have 5 fundraisers in one month and expect everyone to participate in all of them.
This great tip was given to me by Cat at Spread them out over the course of 6 months to a year. You want to have the most people attending your fundraisers. The more people that attend, the more money you could potentially get donated to your adoption campaign. Your friends do want to help you out, but they can't commit to a bunch of fundraisers in a month. They have lives too!

10. Don't forget the thank you notes.
Be thankful to those who've helped you raise money for your adoption. Tell them how much you appreciated their hard work and money donated to you. You can keep a ledger of all of the money donated to you in a notebook and when you mail out the thank you note you can cross that person off the list.

Do you have any tips to share about fundraising?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Not sure if this affects Poland...Another recall on food!

Tesco is recalling their flavored butter.

The packs are Tesco Chocolate Chip & Maple Syrup Butter, Red Chilli & Lemon Butter, Roast Garlic & Herb Butter and Three Peppercorn Butter. The complimentary butter discs are Roast Garlic & Herb Butter, Peppercorn Butter Discs, Chilli Butter Discs, Mr Crumb Roast Garlic & Herb Disc and Mr Crumb Chilli Butter. 

Here's the article:

They have not listed the affected countries, but this article is from the UK. It could be just a UK only thing, but you never know. You might want to play it safe!

Traveling to Poland with Food Allergies or Sensitivities

Traveling to a foreign land can be scary. It's even more scarier when you have food allergies or sensitivities. You may not always have the luxury of being able to pack ahead food or even have a place to store it if you are traveling the countryside of another country.

First, make a card that list your allergies in whatever language you will be among. You can show this card to the wait staff, hotel staff, and others that you feel need to know about your allergies. There are several ways to get one.

You can print out this emergency card.

You can also have an allergy card made with your specific type of allergies. I prefer this website over others because you can print it multiple times and it doesn't have to be mailed to you. You might want to laminate it so it won't get torn or wet. I would also recommend to bring multiple copies of the allergy cards on your trip just in case you lose one.

Here's resources for allergies that I've found helpful for traveling to Poland:

Gluten Free Resources:
List of Gluten free Restaurants
Guide to traveling in Poland gluten free
Polish gluten free products (you might want a pocket translator to help decipher some of the topics)

Vegetarian Resources:
Restaurants in Warsaw
List of Vegetarian restaurants in Poland by city

Lactose Free Resources: 
I couldn't find any resources on how to go lactose free in Poland. If you find them, please let me know so I can post them. If you are lactose free, check the super markets like Tesco, Piotr i Pawel, Alma, and other health foods stores for lactose free versions of your favorite groceries.

Peanut/Nut Resources:
Same with the Lactose free, I couldn't find any resources on being nut free in Poland. If you find them, please let me know so I can post them. Poland uses a lot of nuts in their dishes. Be sure to print out one of those medical emergency cards and allergy cards. Play it safe.

If you do have a severe allergy that causes you to seek out medical attention, research the nearest hospitals and know where they are located in the cities that you are staying at.

If you're in Poland, you can dial 999 for emergency help. Here's an article about receiving emergency medical help in Poland.

And before you leave for your trip, make sure your Epipen doesn't expire while you travel. Ask your doctor on how to prepare for international travel with your allergies. They might give you another Epipen script and great advice if you find yourself in a sticky situation.

If you're traveling with a group, notify them of your allergies as well. While you're in anaphalactic shock, they can communicate to the authorities for you if they know what is going on ahead of time.

And last tip, of course, bring your medications. If you take allergy medicines, Epipens, Benadryl, inhalers, Lactaid pills, etc...,Poland has a great pharmacy but it might be tough to navigate if you are having an allergic reaction. Prepare in advance for your medical emergencies.

Here's an article that gives tips on traveling with a food allergy. The author has a severe nut allergy and she gives great advice on how to travel internationally.

Here are some general articles about traveling with allergies:

Do you travel with food allergies? Please share your tips!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

20 Unconventional Ideas to make money for your adoption

Fundraising for your adoption is a smart way to lower the cost of your adoption expenses (and boy, there are a lot of expenses!). Here are some unconventional ways to make money for your adoption:

1. Lyft
Why not drive people around and make money? This is a great way to make some side money on Friday and Saturday nights, especially if you live in a big city. Make sure you have great ratings because you want people to ask for you! If our car was a newer model, I would definitely be doing this right now (and if it wasn't illegal in my city, but that is slowly changing)!

2. Uber
This has the same concept as #2.

3. Airbnb Host 
I wish we had a house for this very reason! If you don't mind letting strangers into your house this is a really nice way to make easy money. I've heard people making $1000s each year by just renting a room in your house. This is a high reward but low effort way to make money. You need to make sure you have good reviews so you can have more renters!

4. NiceTalk Tutor
This is an easy way to make money. This is a Chinese app that lets Chinese students practice their English with you. If you can communicate well and can help someone learn English, then this is for you!

5. PalFish
This is similar to NiceTalk Tutor, but with this app you can set your own rate. With NiceTalk you get a flat $10 per hour, but with Palfish you can set your own price. You might want to start out in the lower end of prices until you have enough experience. Then you can bump up your pay. With using this app, we get more calls than NiceTalk. And with these types of apps more calls = more money.

6. Dog walking
Put an ad out on Craigslist that you will be willing to walk dogs. Put fliers in coffee shops, mailboxes, and on doors in your neighborhood.

7. House sitting
Same deal as the dog walking. The more you advertise, the more clients you can potentially get.

8. Pet sitting
Same deal as the dog walking. The more you advertise, the more clients you can potentially get.

9. Gigwalk
This is a great app if you live in a big city.

10. Viggle
Get rewarded for watching TV and listening to music.

11. EJury
No one likes to be a jury on a trial (except for Wes-he loves it and was jealous that I got summoned for criminal court in Orleans parish. I was terrified and it was a horrible experience!). Probably because you are missing out on work and you need the money. But what if you could be a mock juror and get paid for each trial?? Umm..yea sign me up! You can make between $5-$10 for submitting your opinions. Its an easy way to make some money on the side without having to put out a lot of effort.

12. Ebay
Look around your house. Do you have items that you could sale on Ebay? If not, try shopping at Goodwill or another thrift store in your area. Find and buy the name brand clothes/shoes with no defects and post on Ebay. You do need some money to buy product, but not much, especially if some thrift stores have a 50% off day or $1 days.

13. Coinstar
Go through your couches, pockets, and change holders and gather up all of your change. Find a Coinstar near you and change out your coins for cash. To get 100% of your money, opt for a Amazon gift card. Save the gift card the next time you want to buy something and put the money you would have spent into your savings. I like to save all of my change and then get one big Amazon gift card to buy my Christmas gifts. The money I would have spent for Christmas goes back into my savings! In some Coinstar locations, you can also trade in your unwanted gift cards for cash or another gift card!

14. NiceTalk Jr
It's the same as #4, but it's for Chinese children who want to learn English. And you make $14 an hour! You still need to download the app to get signed up with Nicetalk Jr.

15. Craigslist
I know this may sound sketchy, but there could be some legitimate part time jobs. I recently found one for a nanny position for $16 an hour from 5am-9am in the mornings. If we had two cars and Wes was able to keep Smalls, I would definitely had applied for that job. There are all kinds of random opportunities in the part time section of your local Craigslist. Check once a day until you find a job that fits you and your schedule.

16. Ask for a raise
If you're not able to pick up a part time job or perform extra side jobs, asking for a raise would be an easy way to "make" extra money for your adoption. I'm assuming that your boss hasn't given you a raise in quite some time. If they have recently given you a raise, then I wouldn't ask for it. But, if you haven't gotten a raise in a long time and you are a hard worker, go for it! Once you get the raise (fingers crossed), pretend that you didn't receive one and start a savings account to put the "extra" money that you are now getting into your savings account for your adoption.

17. Find odd jobs with your current job and licenses
Are you a lawyer? Then become a notary on the weekends. Are you a nurse? Get certified in teaching CPR and contact local doctor's offices. They are always looking to renew their certifications and to train their new staff in CPR. Are you a teacher? Become a tutor on the weekends or after school. Whatever you do professionally or have a license in, use that for your advantage to pick up some extra money. When you are fundraising for your adoption, offering services is 100% better than just asking money for a good cause. More people will be apt to give to you if you offer them a service. Market your services on Craigslist and other social media avenues to get your name out to potential customers.

18. Babysit
This one's an easy one. All you have to do is get your name out there. Contact mommy and me groups, your local church (if you're a part of one), friends with children, and your relatives. Get your name out there. Tell them that all of the proceeds go towards your adoption. I would definitely hire you if I knew that you are trying to make some extra money for your adoption. You could even throw out there that you are having to take lots of parenting classes and reading lots of parenting books for your adoption. Parents love a babysitter who is educated!

19. Pizza Delivery
I know this does not sound glorious, but it's extra money! Pizza places are always looking for pizza delivery people. This would be a great temporary job to earn some extra money on the weekends  or week day nights. And you get tips!

20. Bake goods for people
This is a great idea that I got from my church. We have several people in our church that make tamales, salsa, cookies/cupcakes, etc... Do you have a special recipe? Then tell people a week that you will be making it and they need to place their order to you. And as always, 100% of proceeds go towards your adoption!

Do you have any other unconventional ideas to help raise funds for your adoption? Please comment below!

Warsaw City Hacks

This is a great article that gives some cool tricks to help navigate the capital city of Poland!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Busy Bags

We've had a lot of doctor's appointments in the last 3 months. 7 to be exact. And we are nowhere near from finishing them. We have several scheduled in the coming months. Since we homeschool, we haven't "missed" a lot of school because we can make them up on the weekends and work on school while we are waiting for the doctor. But sometimes waiting for the doctor and working on school can be a very hard task for my daughter. I am so glad that I found these ideas to take with us to all of our appointments.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Easy Homemade Condensed Soup Recipes

We have a tiny grocery budget for our family of three plus a cat and a gerbil. I like to spend less than $300 each month for everything (toiletries, food, cleaning products, cat/gerbil food, etc...). Sounds crazy, I know. Whenever I talk to friends about our grocery budget they immediately assume that we eat a lot of processed foods because they're cheaper. That could further from the truth in my house! I am very picky with the types of food that I buy and what we eat. I try to buy protein filled snacks and very few processed foods. I'm on this paleo diet minus the no dairy and legumes. I've got to have some legumes-they're so cheap! And dairy, I can't give up cheese. One thing that I've had trouble giving up that is processed is condensed soups. I make a ton of casseroles that I freeze and can pop into the oven on a busy night. Condensed soups are loaded with sodium and have lots of "other ingredients" in them, but they are a staple in American cooking. I've thought about making my own condensed soups, but I feared that is would be a long process and frankly, "I ain't got time for that!". I came across this recipe on my facebook a couple of weeks back and I am so thrilled to try it!

Easy Homemade Condensed Soup Recipe:

Here are some alterations to this base condensed soup recipe:
Tomato Soup:
Use Tomato juice instead of milk or stock. And leave out the salt unless you're using salt-free tomato juice. Also add a dash of onion powder and cook the rest of the ingredients according to the base recipe.

Cream of Chicken:
Use half milk and half chicken stock. Add a pinch of sage and a dash of onion powder and cook the rest of the ingredients according to the base recipe.

Cream of Mushroom:
Use half milk and half mushroom stock. (mushroom stock: take a small jar of mushrooms/or a handful of chopped up fresh and put into a sauce pan. Cover mushrooms with water and let saute.) Once your mushroom stock is done, add the base ingredients for condensed soup and a dash of onion powder and cook the rest of the ingredients according to the base recipe.

Cream of Celery:
Chop 1/2 cup of celery and 1/4 cup of onion. Saute with butter until vegetables are tender. Add to the base ingredients and cook according to the base recipe.

Cream of Cheddar Cheese:
Shred 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese. Add 1/4 tsp of mustard and cook the rest of the ingredients according to the base recipe.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Extras to pack (by Month) for Poland Adoption

These by month lists are suggestions on some extra things you can bring. Depending on the age of your child and their needs, your discretion is advised.













Adoption Travel: What to bring for the month of March

Traveling to Poland during March?

Besides the normal packing gear like clothes, toiletries and etc..., I want to share some fun things for you to consider bringing on your adoption trip. (And that's if you still have enough room in your suitcase!)

But first let's answer 2 questions to help with your packing:
1. What's the weather like during March?
Usually the low is 28 F and the high is 43 F. March has a higher chance of rain than most months out of the year.

2. What holidays are in the month of March?
There's a lot going on in March. Click here for the full list.

March Packing Extras:
  • Plastic eggs (if you're into Easter egg hunts) (and you can buy candy in Poland)
  • Egg dye kits (or you could buy food coloring and vinegar in Poland)
  • Your favorite chicken/egg salad recipe to use after you dye the eggs!
  • Kites (you can find them at the dollar store)
  • Make your own shamrocks (You don't need rice or fruit loops. Let the kids decorate them with markers)
  • Funfetti Cake Mix with icing (an easy rainbow cake!)
  • A couple of children's movies (for when it rains and you have to cancel your plans)
  • Allergy medications (the seasons will be changing!)

That's all that I could come up with. I'll add more as I think of them!

Do you have any creative suggestions to add to this list? 

Adoption Laws by State

This is a super helpful website! Where was this 3 years ago?

Disclaimer: This is a great resource for adoptive families, but this is not LEGAL advice. You may want to hire a lawyer for guidance in your state.

Click here for the adoption laws by state.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

13 Ideas to Help YOU Survive the First Year Home With Your Newly Adopted Child

1. Yeti Tumbler
Your coffee will get cold and your tea will be lukewarm by the time you get around to drink it. And the coke you poured over ice 3 hours ago when you wanted to drink it, yea all of the ice is melted and your drink tastes gross now. The first year home is challenging with an new child. There will be so many messes and so many close calls that you forgot where you last put your coffee. And then when you finally find it, it's cold. I couldn't tell you how many gallons of coffee I had to throw out because it got cold. I know, I could have microwaved it and not have thrown it out. Yea, I tried that too, but some disaster or mishap would happen and I would leave it in the microwave. I got tired of microwaving the same coffee 3-4 times a day. This is why you need to go ahead and buy a Yeti tumbler. Or put it on your adoption registry. These tumblers can keep your beverage really hot or really cold for a long time. After getting one, I could not live without it.

2. Keurig/Verissmo/other fast coffee maker
It's been another long night with your new child. Your child finally went to bed at 2 am. And before you know it, your alarm is screaming at you that it's 6 am and it's time to start a new day. But wait, you hear something in your child's room. What the heck?!? Their waking up! Why?? You haven't even had coffee yet. Lucky for you, making coffee takes exactly one minute. When you parent hypervigilent children, YOU NEED COFFEE to help get you through the day! And you need it fast.

3. Crockpot
Making dinner will definitely be a hassle with a new child in the home. Who has time to stand in front of the stove while your new child writes on the walls with a sharpie (personal reference)? Ummm, I've been there and now I'm pleading with you. Don't have walls of sharpie drawings. Buy a crockpot. You literally throw stuff in there, set on low, and walk away. When dinner time comes, all you have to do is serve it. I love my crockpot. It has made life so much easier since I started using it.

4. Freezer Meals
This goes with the crockpot. A newly adopted child will have many, MANY, many doctor's appointments, dentist, ophthalmology, pediatrician, and other specialists they send you to. You will literally be running around town all day and the last thing you want to do is to stand in front of the stove. For those super busy days or those super hard days with your new child, make it easy on yourself and use a "freezer meal". Freezer meals take time up front but in the long run, but they are so worth it. Pick an afternoon to throw some together in ziplock bags. I have several recipes that I use. I like OAMM, 365 Days of Slow Cooking, or A Year of Slow Cooking.

5. Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad
Most likely, your child will have sleeping issues. They will be scared to fall asleep at night. You might want to sleep in the same room with them as they get comfortable in your home. Sleeping on a hard floor is no fun which is why this product made the list. It's self-inflating, so that means no blowing up or having to pump it yourself. It automatically inflates on it's own. If you're not a fan of sleeping in the same room as your child, you can still get this sleeping pad or a variation for when your child gets scared and comes into your room. This could be their "scared bed" that they can get out and put next to your bed without having to wake you up during the night. Children are going to get scared at night in a new environment and having a "premade" bed that they can just use without waking mommy or daddy up during the night is a wonderful thing!

6. Rocking Chair
Rocking chairs are very calming, even to older children. Rocking helped to calm Smalls down for bed time. If you're child is having a difficult time, hold them like a baby and rock them. Stare into their eyes as you rock. This will help the bonding process between the two of you. The rocking motion is also soothing to the brain. I used our rocking chair with Smalls for several hours a day. Smalls would get so hypervigilent and the only way to calm her down was to wrap her up in a blanket and rock her. In addition to the traumatic times Smalls would have, I also would rock her for 30 minutes after breakfast, lunch and dinner.

7. Calendar
During the first year, your mind will have 10 trillion thoughts. You will have lots of appointments with your new child. Life will get crazy and you don't want to forget an event. Some doctor's offices will charge you for not showing up to your appointments! Write everything down in your calendar. The first year will be exhausting emotionally and physically and your brain could use a break from having to remember all of those appointments and doctor's phone numbers! If you're not a fan of having a physical calendar, get one for your phone and track all of your appointments there. The goal is to make your life easier this first year.

8. Salsa and Chips, Chocolate Bars, Diet Coke, or your choice of comfort food
Parenting a new child brings on lots of challenges. You will have so many different emotions going through your body. While you're out grocery shopping buy some comfort food. If a bowl of salsa and chips will help you to destress for a moment, go for it! You are doing a hard job (parenting) that no one in this child's life has committed to do for them. Your child needs you to be relaxed and able to take on their stress because they never had that before-and it's hard! So, reward yourself!
(Cat from gave me this tip!)

9. A Friend
During this first year of getting to know your new little one chaos, you will need to call on someone throughout the day. You need someone that you trust, who will not judge you and say "well you knew what you were getting into right?". You need to be able to cry to this person and share your thoughts-you will have many thoughts, some nice and some not so nice. This friend could be a relative, spouse, or a neighbor. Have them call on you several times throughout the week to see if you need anything. You will need lots of support parenting your little one. I called Wes almost everyday for the first 6 months. It was brutal, but I'm glad he had a flexible schedule at work to listen to me.

10. A Reliable Babysitter for your Self-Care time
You need someone that you can trust to watch your little one while you take care of yourself. It could be the same friend from #9. They need to be trauma informed and know some background on your child. One requirement that I had for our babysitter was to read The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis or to read a pamphlet that I made on Smalls' issues and disabilities. I want our baby sitter to understand what Smalls is going through and babysitting her will be different than babysitting other children. If you are fortunate enough to trade out with another adoptive mom for babysitting, that's amazing and do it! You will need some alone time to destress and to take care of yourself. You can go grocery shopping all by yourself, get a hair cut, manicure/pedicure, or even clean your house. Those are all great things to do to take care of yourself. Do something you enjoy or something that makes your life easier throughout the week for a couple of hours each week. The first week of the month, I would take a whole Saturday or Sunday to do once a month grocery shopping and meal prep for the whole month. It was a hard day, but for the rest of the month I didn't really have to worry about dinner, except which meal I wanted to serve that day. And the best part about it was, that I got to "take a day off" from parenting. Of course, once a month grocery shopping and meal prep might wear some people out, but I found it therapeutic and it helped me out during the month.
 The next couple of weeks, I would take a couple of hours each week to do something fun like go shopping, go out to eat with a friend (no kids allowed!), or visit a coffee shop to read in peace. Being proactive in self care will help you to keep your cool when you parent a child from a traumatic background.

11. The Connected Child
This book by Dr. Karyn Purvis will be your go to parenting book. It will help explain some of the behaviors that your child is experiencing. The Connected Child outlines strategies for you to take to help calm the fears that your child is experiencing. I also have a list of other books that were helpful the first year of parenting Smalls-click here. Knowledge is power when you are parenting a child from the hard place!

12. Feelings Chart
Your child may not know how to express him or herself in a healthy way. If you've adopted an older child, you will probably need to teach them how to express their feelings with words and not behavior-that's the never ending challenge at my house! Having this feeling chart helps Smalls to point at her feelings because sometimes saying how she feels is too traumatic for her. Using this chart has changed some of my daughter's negative behaviors to teaching her to use her words to express how she is feeling and then we can dissect to the reasons behind why she is feeling these emotions. I also use Emotion plates to help as well.

13. Date night with your spouse
Your new little one will be a master at triangulating between you and your spouse. It is CRUCIAL to have a healthy marriage when parenting a child from a traumatic background. You have to work extra hard to protect your marriage. Try to go on a date night at least once a month with your spouse. Make time for your relationship because your child will suck all of your free time away if you let them. Yes, chaos and troubles will come up when you make time for your spouse, but show your child that you are committed to your spouse and that is first priority. If you can't go out on a physical date, put the kids to bed a little early, make some coffee and chat with your spouse about life and catch up with one another.

Did I forget anything? What would you add to this list?

Find Polish Restaurants Near You!

Here's a list by state of all the Polish restaurants. 

Of course, there aren't any in Louisiana! :(

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

March 2016 Meal Plan

photo credit: Happy St Patrick's Day.....xx via photopin (license)


1. Scrambled Egg Muffins
2. Breakfast Balls
3. Rice pudding
4. Breakfast Oatmeal Cupcakes
5. Green Eggs and Ham (March 2nd-Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!)
6. Yogurt, toast, eggs and bacon, and oatmeal.

1. Sandwiches (pb and j, ham and cheese, grilled cheese, etc...)
2. Leftovers
3. GREEN! Mac and Cheese
4. Irish Root Soup with Soda bread
5. Corned beef and cabbage (slow cooker version)

1. Collard Greens, pinto beans and cornbread.
2. Spinach Quiche with Roasted potatoes
3. Red Beans and Rice and salad
4. Chili Cheese Lentils over Fritos
5. Black Bean Soup with Cheese Quesadillas
6. Crockpot Roasted Chicken with rolls and veggie
7. Cheese Pizza with salad
8. Sloppy Joes with salad
9. General Tso's Chicken with rice
10. Loaded Baked Potato Soup with bacon, cheese, and sour cream
11. BLT sandwiches with macaroni and cheese
12. Creamy White Bean and Apple Chili with salad
13. Slow Cooker Pot Roast with veggies and roll
14. Hope's Meatloaf with veggies and roll/brown rice
15. Pepperoni Pizza with salad
16. Hamburgers with roasted veggies
17. Caribbean Jerk Chicken with rice and veggies
18. Crockpot Chicken Nuggets with veggies
19. Lemon-Dill Salmon with veggies
20. Mediterranean Chicken with Cucumber Salad
21-31. Leftovers, eating out, church, etc...

1. Pot O' Gold Chex Mix
2. McDonald's Shamrock Milk Shake
3. Taste the Rainbow Cake or Rainbow fruit kabobs
4. Leprechaun dip with sliced veggies
5. (for mom) Coffee with homemade Irish creme coffee creamer

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Important March Dates for Poland

photo credit: giant clovers (actually, wood sorrels) via photopin (license)

Here's a list of all important dates for Poland in March:

Click here for April's list of important dates.

For a complete list of important dates in Poland, click here.

Traveling to Poland during March? Here are some extras to bring to help bond with your child!