Celebrating the Days of Summer

Looking for ways to make summer fun without breaking the bank? Us too, all the time! Even an outing to the movies can cost upwards of $100 with a family of five for all the bells and whistles, never mind the cost of an amusement park or out-of-town vacation.

Our income dropped in half when we moved here and decided I would stay home. We had to find different ways to make the summer days fun for our family without spending a small fortune.

Food seems to be the center of many family celebrations, so when I came across this idea, I knew I’d found a winner. We are celebrating the days of summer! Summers days fly by too quickly. An easy way to make each one special. Heaven Not Harvard

Everyday is a food holiday (see the Nibble’s list here). Yep, everyday. In fact some days are more than one. July 20 is hot dog day, lollipop day, fortune cookie day and ice cream soda day.

While we simply can’t do them all, we certainly are giving it our best shot. So far, we’ve celebrated holidays for strawberry shortcake, fudge, black cows (coke floats), cherry tarts, picnic day, vanilla milkshakes, peaches & cream, onion rings, pecan sandies, strawberry parfait, chocolate pudding, ice cream sodas (which gets celebrated several days a summer in various forms), creative ice cream flavor day (we made banana peanut butter chocolate ice cream from scratch), ginger snaps, chocolate wafers, BBQ ribs, apple turnovers, fried chicken day, strawberry sundaes, chocolate with almonds, pick blueberry day, blueberry muffin day, french fries, and beans&franks day, and tapioca pudding day last night for dessert.

We start the day the boys arrive for the summer and try to celebrate as many as we can. If there is a day that we can’t celebrate like alcoholic beverages or lobster which was not in our budget, we either finish off the leftovers of previous days or pick a day’s celebration that we will miss after they leave.

I usually grocery shop with the week’s holidays in mind, but don’t tell the kids the coming holidays so that they can be surprised each day as we prepare the treat for dessert or dinner.

Looking for ways to make every summer day fun? Try celebrating the "Days" of summer.Blueberry picking day came with an outing to a local orchard. It was hot and sweaty work, but that blueberry pie was so much sweeter when we picked those berries ourselves.

I have found different sites have slightly different lists. Foodimentary’s list is a little different than the Nibble’s, which might vary from another site.

Who cares if these are really real or really official? The fun is in making each treat. We can prep and cook as a family. This sneaky momma teaches cooking, measuring, and kitchen skills while they’re busy having fun.

I try to use a different list every summer for some variety. We have other traditions and summer activities, but celebrating all the days of summer is one way we make summer feel like one long holiday.

Adoption – The Cost

Adoption costs are part of the journey many avoid discussing. However, few people are truly aware of or prepared for the adoption costs.

Families come to adoption in various ways, after long infertility battles or even as the way to grow their family by choice, or desire to give a family to a child in foster care. This is only our story and experience.

Seven years ago today, we officially started our adoption journey with our first conversation with an adoption facilitator and our first sticker shock.

I went from excited to defeated in one call, but we had a plan.

We don’t want to think about the costs. It seems vulgar to assign a monetary value to a person.

Discussing #adoptioncosts is hard, but being prepared is priceless if you're planning to adopt. Click To Tweet

But the expenses don’t pay for a baby, they pay for all the necessary parts of funding an agency or court fees, etc. and understanding these expenses can mean having the option to adopt or not having the resources when your heart is ready.

Adoption costs are part of the journey many avoid discussing. Families come to adoption in various ways. This is only our story and experience.

Adoption costs vary depending on the adoption route.

Some are nearly free or just legal fees, which generally run a couple thousand dollars (foster to adopt or private adoption of a family member’s or friend’s child).

Some are less expensive, through state or public agencies or the adoption of a minority or impaired child (mentally, physically, health impairments, etc.) in which the state assists with the costs.

The (potentially) quickest (but costliest) method of adoption is the one we pursued, private agency.

We chose a non-profit agency, but the agency still has employees and maintains several offices across the country with overhead expenses.

Our adoption costs from 2010

Rates change yearly, and some agencies have a sliding scale depending on salary.

Home study – $1500 for the first visit and subsequent two visits post placement. About $250 baby-proofing for the home study.

$ 500 – application fee (one agency had a $150 fee just to get the application)

$6000 – retainer due when accepted as clients

$10,000 – Agency fee due prior to placement. We paid this AT the hospital.

$4,610 – Birth mother living expenses for end of pregnancy (6-9 months)

$1830 – birth mother expenses postpartum (one month to recover)

$1000 – travel expenses for agency (we lived in same state as agency and birth mother, these could have been much higher)

$6320 – anticipated legal costs (ours turned out to be $1850 higher)

Total – $31,760 plus all the little fees and costs here and there.

Attaining certain documents and fingerprinting cost several hundred dollars.  We spent a  $110 on our profile booklet.

We spent another $250 for website advertising of us as a “Waiting Family” plus various hotel/travel living expenses while the baby was in the NICU.

Total adoption costs for us ended up at around $36,000.

Depending on your family’s financial situation, this may not be an overwhelming expense, but as a teacher and soldier, our budget definitely needed some adjusting.

It took years of discipline, of living below our means to save the money. We lived very frugally, eliminated all unnecessary debt and still had to borrow $6000 from my mom.

Saving for an adoption took sacrifice, but so does parenting #AdoptionCosts #PricelessBlessings Click To Tweet

I didn’t buy new underwear for a really long time, much less new shoes.

Sacrifice is definitely part of the parenting equation anyhow!

For my first birthday as a mom, I gave myself a high chair for our daughter. For Christmas I got a vacuum and was SUPER excited.

That’s how you know you’re a grown up.

Saving up on a modest income can be challenging.

My best recommendation is to pay off your cars, even if you have to trade down to eliminate payments. Cut as many unnecessary expenses as possible.

If you are able to wait, then it’s a good to be debt free, have a savings account, before you start saving toward an adoption. Being financially secure when the baby comes is priceless. We used Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.

If necessary, adoption loans exist, and you could pay back a loan using the adoption tax credit from your taxes, which was $13,170 in 2010.

Saving money has never been easier than when I knew the goal was a beautiful baby. Yet, it took quite a bit of dedication and combined commitment as a couple to save the money.

But we can’t put a price tag on our wonderfully precious daughter because somethings are just priceless.

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