Monthly Archives: May 2014

Apparently, Country Comes with a Price

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My husband and I recently signed up to hear a timeshare pitch at the Wilderness Club at Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, Missouri with Bluegreen Vacations & Outdoor Traveler. This package was offered to us at the new Bass Pro Shops in Little Rock. We had never sat through a timeshare presentation, but we have friends who do it regularly just to get all of the free stuff. This particular package offered us Bass Pro gift cards, so we gladly signed up.

The timeshare presentation wasn’t as high-pressured as I expected. Our assigned sales guy was extremely nice and not like a typical salesman at all. A different person gave the main presentation to a group of us, and he was quite entertaining – very funny. We then went with our assigned salesman and toured the Wilderness Club property, which included anything from a studio to a cabin – all of which were lovely.

After our tour, we were offered the base of 12,000 points for a whopping $28,800. Gulp! As if the price wasn’t bad enough, you get 10 years to pay for it at 16.99%, but they required 20% that day. Once we said our initial “NO”, the “finance guy” came in the room to discuss “other options”. They presented three different plans at that time – 10,000 points, a different 12,000, and a 15,000 points – all at reduced amounts per point – so reduced that the original 12,000 point offer was now $20,000. This made me sad for those folks who said yes immediately.

Needless to say, we did not walk away with a timeshare property that day. It’s just not something we would spend our hard-earned money on. The timeshare pitchman kept trying to remind us of all of the memories we have with our families while on vacation. I suppose that’s true, but my favorite family memories come from laughter in spontaneous, goofy moments – not from an out-of-town itinerary. Vacations always make me tired and homesick.

After our presentation, we finished our trip by spending four days in Branson. It was nice only because we weren’t at work, but that’s about all we can honestly say about it. The theatrical shows were too expensive in our thrifty opinions. I’d rather spend $120 on a decorative something for our home that reminds us of the trip than $120 for two tickets to a show that may or may not be worth watching. The flea markets didn’t really seem all that flea ridden either. Most items in them were brand new. The sign above one item actually read, “Antique Looking Door”. It wasn’t an antique door – just painted to look that way. We have a few old doors in our fruit house (where we stored our home-canned veggies) that are older than I am. I could dust one of those off, paint it, and actually have an antique door for the price of a can of paint. Their door was almost $200!

My husband attended school at College of the Ozarks in Branson. Of course, that was more than 20 years ago; but he was really surprised at how touristy and pricey Branson had become in that amount of time. He was really disappointed. It seemed so strange to pay such high prices for things that are so common to us. I just refuse to pay $7+ for a pint jar of jelly, jam, or preserves. The same can be said for “homemade” quilts. We don’t own a quilt that’s not homemade by either my step-grandmother or my mother. I have the knowledge, recipes, and patterns to do all of this stuff; so paying money for it just seems odd to me.

However, there were people from other states who were cooing over some of the same items we scoffed at. I suppose it’s all about perspective. People were buying quilts, jelly, fudge, etc. It honestly made me want to set up shop somewhere and start selling my family’s wares. Who knew that being country was so chic now? However, I still believe folks should be cautious of buying such things at tourist traps. Just because it’s sold in the Ozarks doesn’t mean it’s authentically country. On the way to your tourist trap destination, find a small town where the locals sell such things. I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the quality and the price.

The Hope of the Unknown

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My husband Michael and I have been extremely busy since March 17th. That’s the night we attended an informational meeting about becoming adoptive parents in Arkansas. Please understand that this blog isn’t about adoption; however, I am feeling compelled to explain a little bit of the process thus far. This will also explain why I haven’t posted anything new in over a month.

Michael’s Background:

My husband is adopted. He was placed in foster care in Arkansas at the age of six, traumatically bounced around homes of extended family members for a year, and then went to live with some wonderful foster parents for one year. He went to live with his adoptive family when he was eight and was adopted when he was ten. He and his sister were adopted by parents of 14 biological children, so he is technically one of 16 children in the same family. We have 57 nieces and nephews and, as of this week, 76 great nieces and nephews. Don’t worry; they don’t “do” Christmas together – only Thanksgiving. There were approximately 85 at the 2013 Thanksgiving Dinner.

Denise’s Background:

I am an only child. I could stop there, but it just seems too simple. My parents separated when I was five. My father threatened to take me out of school and leave for Texas, so the school administration thought it was best that I drop out of kindergarten for my own safety. My parents’ divorce was final in May 1976 after I turned six, and my father was remarried to a 19-year-old girl by June – one of his Sunday School students. Yes, the irony is apparent. I’m tempted to write a book about it, but I actually like her now. She was just naive and wanted out of our little, podunk town; and my 31-year-old father offered her the opportunity. He ended up leaving her with two girls instead of just one. So I have two half-sisters by his second marriage. We won’t go into his third, fourth, or fifth marriages. At least there are no offspring associated with any of those – to my knowledge.

Our Background:

Michael and I have been married for six years. I’ve never been wired like most women. I’ve never “craved” to give birth, and I’ve joked repeatedly about my clock not having batteries. I love kids, but I’ve never been one to coo over a baby. While dating, we discussed adoption a lot and had always had a plan to do so when the time was right for us.

Well, in 2009, we found out we were pregnant. At 10 1/2 weeks in November of that year, I miscarried and thought my world had ended. It was a traumatic experience for me; and unless you’ve been through one, you will not understand it. My husband was sad over the loss, but it wasn’t the same emotion that I experienced. We tried to conceive again but never could. We then returned to our initial adoption plan.

Current Process:

Since the informational meeting in March, we have already completed our foster/adoption training, our initial home visit, and a ton of paper work including FBI and Child Maltreatment background checks and fingerprints. We are scheduled for a required CPR course next week and will submit our final “red packet” the next day – hopefully. We then go into Home Study mode, where a third-party contractor crawls into our family’s past, present, and future to determine if we will make acceptable parents for children currently in foster care in Arkansas. We have chosen not to foster – only adopt. Therefore, we will only be considered for children whose parents have had their parental rights terminated by an Arkansas court.

We are excited, scared, nervous, hopeful, etc. It’s a much more emotional experience than we originally anticipated. The Home Study is supposed to take 30 days or less; so feasibly, we could be looking at placement of a child in our home by the end of June. He/She/They has/have to live with us for six months, then Arkansas finalizes the adoption to make him/her/them our child/children. That’s right! We also don’t know if we’re getting one, two, or three. We’re open to whatever God has planned for us.

After finishing our 30 hours of training, we rewarded ourselves with a trip to Branson, Missouri, this past weekend. We enjoyed ourselves, but we really missed our home and our pets. Honestly, we couldn’t wait to come back home.

Now, we are just waiting for our CPR course and still trying to prepare the house for kids. It would be easier to do if we knew what age we were getting. We have no clue as to what kind of bedroom furniture to buy. A crib? A toddler bed? A twin bed? Bunk beds? All of the above? We know that June will provide more answers for us, but the unknown is still a little scary. However, we are excited about being able to make a better life for a child or children and to pour love onto him/her/them. Our prayer is for the right child/children to come into our life at the right time. That gives us hope…