Four Favorites

Four Favorites

Happy Saturday! The last time I shared some of my favorite things was this Fall, and considering we are heading into Spring, it is time for some updated favorites.

Four of My Favorites by Aduke Schulist

Photography
This is my obsession right now! I must take ALL the photos! I’ve always loved photography, but as I am venturing into business mode with it, my love has ramped up. I finally feel like I am mastering things that took me years to begin learning. I’m slowly upgrading and adding to my equipment, so that makes it even more fun! (Check me out on Facebook at Aduke Schulist Photography)

Aduke Schulist Photography Favorites

YouTube Speed Cleaning
Seriously guys, this is just too much fun. I found speed cleaning videos and gotta admit my first thought was “Weird!” but now, I can’t get enough. I love watching other people clean their house. I love seeing the messes get turned into happiness, and it’s great motivation for me to clean my own house up.

Canadian Reality TV
I’m not even sure how this favorite started, but I have been binge watching Canadian Reality TV shows on Netflix lately. I imagine the obsession here started from a simple Netflix recommendation. (Side note: Why do people act surprised when they get caught trying to smuggle something across the border?)

Webinars & Workshops
My first experiences with these related to school, so I was never in a hurry to willingly sign myself up for some, but thanks to Facebook ads, I’ve been getting lots of opportunities to learn more about subjects that interest me, like blogging and photography.

What are some of your favorite things right now? 

 

What Are You Adopting? (And other questions answered)

What are you adopting?

Do you want to know what is worse than being a single mother and announcing you are pregnant accidentally?

Announcing you are intentionally bringing a child into your single-parent family.

I recently announced our intentions to adopt. While, I knew it would be met with some strong opinions, I wasn’t prepared for some of the things that were being said.

 

First of all, no negative opinions have changed our decision to adopt. We are still adopting. I think one thing people misunderstood is the timeline. I mentioned the timeline could be anywhere from four months to four years and said a lot had to happen between now and then, and while some things have already fallen into place (hello, new van!), there are still some big hurdles to overcome. So that brings me to the first question.

Adoption FAQ

 

What are you adopting? Are you adopting an animal?
I didn’t really think I would have to clarify, but this has been the number one question we have gotten. A human! We are adopting a human. It stings every time I have to answer that yes, I, a single mother am in fact adopting a child. It makes me feel like they are questioning my abilities or choice as a single mother to adopt.

While I understand that some may not feel qualified to adopt for various reasons, I have already went over all of these myself and it has been a well thought out decision. I fully know what has to be done and what I am getting myself into and I am ready for it all. I think out of all of the questions, this one has been the hardest. (Side note: Do people really make a big deal out of announcing their intentions to adopt a puppy/kitten?)

When are we adopting? 
We have started the process and are contacting different agencies regarding the requirements and whatnot. The actual adoption and bringing a child into the home will take months, if not years. As mentioned, there is still a lot that I have to do first.

Are you adopting internationally or domestically?
We are aiming to adopt domestically, but if international adoption is possible then I would love to explore that route more. I have already fallen in love with some international children that need homes (like yesterday) but I currently do not meet all of the qualifications to adopt internationally.

What ethnicity/race are you adopting?
No clue. There is one little boy we are extremely interested in that is an entirely different race than either myself or any of my children, but honestly, he will probably have a forever home by the time we are approved and ready. I certainly don’t want to wish him to remain homeless until then. We are open to any race or ethnicity.

What age are you adopting? And are you looking for a specific gender?
There is also no preference for gender or age (to an extent). We are open to male or female. The age is a little tricky as Aybra has mentioned she would like to be the youngest, but understands that if I had another child biologically that wouldn’t happen. Kaia wants to be the oldest too and I am willing to agree there for a few reasons, but also because of the age difference between myself and a child older than Kaia.

Why did you announce when you aren’t ready yet?
Good question! I wanted to blog and vlog our journey so I had to announce our intentions early. Also, I am including my other children in the entire process. There is no way they could have kept this a secret. I wanted to announce it before they spilled the beans.

Are you open to adopting a child with special needs?
Yes! In fact, that is our preference. I’m not really sure I am qualified to adopt a “normal” child. All of my children had/have special needs and that is what I am good at.

Will the child keep their birth given name?
This one really depends on the age of a child. Either way, I would want to include their given name somehow.

Do you have any questions about our decision to adopt? Let me know in the comments. 

 

How Do I Do It? Financially? #SingleMom #Budget

How Do I Do It? Financially?

As a single mother, I’m not sure when people say “How do you do it?” if they mean emotionally, physically, or financially, so I’ve decided to turn this question into a series.

Financially speaking, this is how I do it.

 

Buy Used & Sell Used
The majority of things we buy are used. If I have exhausted all options and can’t find something used, then I will buy it new. The key to this is knowing what things cost and refusing to pay more. If I know that I can buy something for $5, then I won’t pay $10 for that item. Additionally, I save all of the kids’ outgrown clothes and sell them at a consignment store.

Make a Menu and Stick to it
Before you grocery shop, see what you have on hand and what you can make a meal out of. Then, make a menu including the items you have available. You don’t have to have tacos on Tuesday if you would rather have that roast you had planned for Thursday. Feel free to switch days and meals around, but stick to what you planned. The less you are in the grocery store, the less you will spend on impulse buys. It also helps to know what days you should prepare easy meals for. If you know it is going to be a busy day, then you don’t want to plan a labor intensive meal which could cause you to end up in the drive-thru ultimately spending more money.

Cheap Entertainment
While I do sometimes dream of extravagant vacations and taking my kids out of state to do fun things, I don’t feel like they are lacking in the entertainment area. As a family, we attend free festivals, see dollar movies, and skate on the cheap-skate days. Most places like zoos and museums offer reduced admission during non-peak hours or seasons. Take advantage of these offers. We have gone to the zoo on $1 day a few times, or used can food as admission into some museums.   

Barter
If you know you have a service to offer, see what bartering can get you. Maybe you can watch your neighbor’s kids twice a month in exchange for them cutting your grass. Or maybe you don’t have a garden but have chickens that lay eggs. If you have a creative talent, offer that as a barter. Never pay for something that you could get with a barter.

Sell Your Talent
If you are good at something, there is no reason you shouldn’t be making money for it. If you know how to play an instrument, consider giving lessons a couple days a week. Know how to paint? Sell some of your artwork. Don’t beat yourself up thinking your talent isn’t valuable. More people than you may realize will find value in your talent.

Be Patient
My kids are just like any other YouTube watching, game playing kid out there. As soon as they see a YouTuber playing a new game, they want it. A little patience pays off though. Don’t purchase the game (or whatever it may be) right away. Instead, wait a few months and the price will drastically drop or they will lose interest in it. Just think about it, how many times have you bought something your kids wanted, only to find it abandoned a few weeks later? Your kids may not have the newest thing, but they will be okay.

What are some of your budget tips to help single moms (and those on a single income) do it financially?

We are… ADOPTING! – Single Mom Adoption

Single Mom Adoption

Our family of four is growing in size;
In no time at all, we’ll be a family of five.

Yes, that is right. We are expanding our family.

No, I am not pregnant.

We are adopting!

We are Adopting! #SingleMom #Adoption

 

Growing up, I always wanted a large family and knew that I would adopt children with special needs. When I had children of my own with special needs, I thought perhaps it was God’s way of giving me what I always imagined my future to be like.

So, I focused on nuturing my children and waited to see what the future would bring.  

Even though I had three children, I knew I wasn’t done. I still wanted a larger family. I assumed I would get married before I was 30 and then work on adoption with my husband. I’ve come to realize that marriage just isn’t in the cards for me. And that’s okay.

I also thought that there was no way they would approve a single mother to adopt children with special needs. I was also under the impression that single mothers/single people in general were not able to adopt or foster in the state of Arkansas. The more I learned, the more I realized I was wrong. Single mothers are chosen a lot and actually preferred by some. Single mom adoption isn’t as uncommon as I first thought! 

When I realized this a few years ago I began getting serious about the idea of adopting as a single mom. I sent letters to inquire about the process and even filled out a couple applications but found it hard to commit to the process and stopped. But I never stopped browsing the children available and praying that if it was in God’s plan it would happen.

Another fear was the fear of judgement. I’m already judged as a single mother. What will everybody think when I announce my intentions to grow my family as a single mother? I’ve never lacked confidence in my ability to raise more children as a single mother, but there is just something scary about the unknown.

But, the more I thought about it, the sillier it seemed. Why was I worried about what people would think when I was trying to give a child a loving home? If I was going to be judged, then so be it.

The Big Reveal

Over the weekend, the kids helped film and edit a video announcing our plans to adopt. They had already been involved in the process of searching for available children and I had to get on the ball with announcing before they spilled the beans.

We are all super excited, and while we each have our preferences as to what kind of child we would like, we know that it is ultimately in God’s hands. We are only in the baby steps and there is a lot that must be done in order for this to happen (for one, I want to trade my car for a van). I cannot give a timeline, but it could be anywhere from 4 months to 4 years. You never know what can happen. In the meantime, we are preparing as much as we can.  

I will be filming a video with some frequently asked questions as well as answering some on the blog, so if you have any feel free to leave them in the comments, send an email, or find me on social media.

Stand Still. Stay Strong. Have a VOICE.

VOICE

Stand still. Stay strong. Have a VOICE.

Voice is my 2017 word of the year. I probably started thinking about it in October and one day it just came to me. It may seem like a funny word, but I promise there is a story behind it.

2017 Word of the Year

 

In 2016, I worked through a lot of the issues in my past. I was able to sort through and put away some things that had always bothered me. I was able to find myself in the midst of everybody else and part of that was realizing I have my own voice.

To me, voice represents speaking out and standing up for myself and my family. Far too often I have kept quiet when I shouldn’t have. I have let people walk all over me to avoid conflict rather than speaking up. Coming from a verbally abusive past, I feared conflict. I didn’t want to say the wrong thing and anger somebody, so I just kept quiet.

Finding My Voice

Thanks to some dear friends who played the part of therapist and some great books, I was able to figure myself out and why I was the way I was. I was also given new techniques to try and I am already finding relief from using my voice.

Voice also represents the physical in that I want my house to be a reflection of me and my beliefs. I want my children to have their own voice too. When we moved into this house, nothing was changed. I didn’t decorate or paint. I only hung what few pictures are hanging because there were already nails in the wall.

As you may have seen, I began the process of decorating and organizing at the end of the year starting with my laundry room. Throughout the year (and probably longer) I want to work on making my house mine and letting it speak for me. When somebody walks in, I want them to get a sense of me.

I added the quote at the top to my planner to remind me everyday to have a voice. 

What is your 2017 word? Or what are some of your goals/things you are working on during 2017?