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Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy Birthday, Judson!

Yesterday (Jan. 30th) one of my best friends gave birth to her 3rd child.(a BOY after two girls!) We are all so excited for them and baby

Judson David, 6lbs. 13 oz. born in Dubai, UAE.

Look how sweet these big sisters look holding their brother. Awwww....

Gloria was my college roomate, bridesmaid, and a dear sister to me for the past eleven years! Her oldest daughter is just 3 weeks younger than Vivi. Gloria called me this morning and told me everything is going so well. He is feeding better than his sisters did and pees everywhere!! I said welcome to the land of having a boy! LOL!! You can check out an awesome photo of her husband, Dave holding the baby, HERE. His arms have been disabled for many years now so to see this miracle moment is amazing. I will be bringing adorable tiny blue clothes to his mother this week because she and Dave's Dad are headed across the ocean next week to visit their very first grandson. What a special time for the whole family!!!

Congratulations Dave, Gloria, Aliza, and Norah...for the addition of your newest family member!

And Happy Birthday, Baby Judson!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fun With Pink Blocks

Vivi has these pastel colored blocks that she LOVES and plays with everyday.
Last week we combined some Little People and Toy Story characters to create
Sunnyside Daycare.
It even had Lotso.

And evil Dr. Porkchop.

She loved it!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

J's Sleep Study

We were both able to take J to his sleep study thanks to our friends Jen and Jay who kept the older two. I laid out all his stuff to make his hospital bed look familiar.
He wanted to put his suitcase in the closet!

Then we trotted down to the lounge for a drink.

He sucked down an orange juice.

Then the sleep study tech told us to really get him active and tired, so we ran up and down the halls for about 20 minutes. There were 3 other toddlers on that floor participating in sleep studies...but none of them came out to run.

Playing chase with Daddy.

Then we went back and watched TV for about 30 minutes while he had a snack and began to look droppy eyed. That is when we paged the techs to come in and hook him up!

It took over an hour for all of the wires to be taped on.

He sat perfectly still while the TV played Despicable Me in Spanish!
He didn't seem to mind any of it. They said they see few patients this young that take to it so well. We found that out quickly because when they moved on to the next room we had to endure blood curdling screams for about 30 minutes while they got another kid hooked up.

That's our boy!!!
We were very proud.

then it was time to lay down and shut off the tv and lights.
I laid with Billy for about a half an hour waiting for J to fall asleep. The screaming kid and other hospital noises kept him up so I kissed him and headed home.
Billy told me that two times in the night the tech came in and was concerned about how much congestion he had. He called a Dr. to see if he should proceed with the sleep study despite his trouble breathing. They had oxygen in his nose, so we are glad they kept going with the study. They released him around 6 this morning. We should know the results in about 2 weeks.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sleep Study

I have spent the entire week trying to get the ENT for J to call me back because he was supposed to have a sleep study scheduled for this month. He has had a runny nose practically non stop since he came home and his cousins have bad asthma...so I really feel agitated that we have not been able to get exactly the medical treatment that J needs. He snores like a bear and lately I have found him sleeping with his eyes open!! He is also a constant mouth breather, his mouth is always open because he can't breathe through his nose. So, getting this sleep study is the next step to see if he has sleep apnea or anything related to that. The ENT finally called me back yesterday and said they put the order in, but when I called the sleep clinic, they said it was not in their system! So frustrating! She said that their first available is mid March...lovely. Then after looking through her books she noticed that she had a cancelation for tonight! I of course snatched it right up. We have asked our friends if they can keep the older two so Billy and I can both take him to the hospital to get settled. Then I will come home while Billy stays the night in the room. If our friends can't keep Isaac and Vivi, looks like Billy will be heading off on his own. He will get better rest on a hospital room couch than I would, so it is the best plan. I have all of J's items packed and ready to go. I will feed him dinner, bathe him, and send him off in his pj's and pull-up. Let's hope for some results!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Fur Babies

Lucy: Shepherd Mix (7 years old in March)
Oscar: Pomeranian/Chihuahua (4 years old)

Time To Register For Camp!!!

I mentioned we are going to Colorado this summer. Well...now that I know I have SO many adoptive and foster family readers, I wanted to pass this amazing opportunity on to all of YOU!!!
We are going to Adoptive and Foster Family Camp at Horn Creek, Colorado Aug. 7-13th. This camp is open to ALL adoptive and foster families all over the country, and the really fun thing is that any child(ren) that have entered your family in the past year...gets to go free! It is a week of outdoor fun and family bonding. Adoptive and foster families eat all meals together provided by the camp, and will spend the evenings together. You also have the option to pay for white water rafting and horse back riding!
So go check out the Tapestry Blog that will lead you to the details.
Early bird registration ends very soon...so don't delay!
We are really looking forward to this time with some of the families we have known over the past 5 years and would LOVE if some of you bloggers brought your families too!
How much fun would that be? :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wow!!!

Thank you all who have come out of the "lurking closet" and left your mark on my blog during roll call!! I did not expect SO much love to pour out in the form of way more regular readers than I really thought I had...over years, even! Wow! I am so glad I did this. It has felt like a gigantic group hug! (If you haven't commented yet, please feel free to go down to the post below and say "hi!" You can click on name, you don't need to have a blog account)

During naptime today, I visited every single one of the new blogs left here and I have to say I stand here amazed at your stories. I did not know I was stepping into illnesses, infant loss, death of parents, adoptions falling through, children with reactive attachment disorder, recent miscarriages, and all the mess that is real life. I wanted to say to you,"thank you, friends". Thank you for coming here to read about what goes on in my four walls while so very much is going on in yours. Thank you for blogging about your journeys and heartbreaks...you have taught me much today in my short time visiting your home on the web. Your words have made me laugh, made me tear up and my jaw drop, made me smile, and inspired me to be a better Mom. Thank you for the gift you have given me and all those who have the privelege to be a part of your world in such a small way. Blogging has been an immense blessing to this stay at home Mama who doesn't get out much in the adult world with 3 little ones at home. Blogging has allowed me to process life in a forum of love and acceptance. Reading your blogs has allowed me to open my mind and heart to the ways other people do things, to change and grow. The kids sing a song at church that goes "My God is a Big, Big, God...He holds us in his hands...." Meeting all of you here, and reading your stories, has spoken to me today just how BIG our God really is.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

ROLL CALL!!!

Just this week alone, I have gotten several emails from people who read my blog, that I never knew did! Feel free to email, anytime!! I will reply and I love to hear your stories! Sometimes I come across acquaintances in real life who will comment on something my kids do and I will say "you must read my blog!" to which they nod and smile. It can also be awkward at times to live my life transparently in this format and not have a clue who knows! So I am doing my annual ROLL CALL! Please leave a comment on this post so I can get an idea of who comes here. You don't have to explain yourself or how you found the blog. You don't have to post any identifying information, and can sign in under name or anonymous and just leave your first name. BUT if you want to leave your blog address or the state you live in, that would be awesome too! It will be nice to get an idea of who really cares about our mundane life.

Comfort Crockpot Meals

Bonus Recipe!! Chicken Tacos in the Crockpot:
Take out about 5 large frozen boneless chicken breasts...don't waste time thawing, there is no need! Put them in the crockpot. Dice up one onion and toss it in there (can you tell I am a fan of the onion?!) Sprinkle one packet of taco seasoning over the frozen chicken. Pour one can rotel (or a jar of salsa) and half a can water over chicken. Put lid on and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Thirty minutes before serving the meal, take the lid off and fork the chicken into shredded strips, stir it all up, and add a can of drained corn and/or a can of rinsed black beans. Cook on high for 30 min. to heat up those items. Put into flour tortillas w/your choice of taco toppings and enjoy!
**For the kids I put their chicken/veggie portion in a strainer and rinse under warm water. This takes off the spiciness and cools the chicken!

With winter, comes comfort meals around here!

And the crockpot is the perfect setting for a low maintenance dinner.



Vivi and I will demonstrate how to make Meatball Stew! First put on your pinkest outfit and wash and peal enough potatoes to feed your family plus leftovers! Do NOT let your child use the peeler...a few bandaids taught us that lesson the hard way!



Then stir one packet of Slow Cooker Beef Stew mix in with about 3 cups beef broth.



Take a break to munch on celery...and adjust your dress!

Pour the broth sauce over the potatoes, then pile on plenty of chopped onion, carrots and celery!



Then layer on one bag of frozen meatballs (no need to thaw!)



Add a can of diced tomatoes and some more onion (if desired), then pour the rest of your box of beef broth over all of it!



If you want to, you can add a can of green beans the last 30 minutes of cooking.


Remember, do not lift the lid and stir throughout the day, just when you add the beans!


Enjoy!


(*Note- take your children's portion out about 15 minutes before dinner because it will be HOT!)




I will post a photo with a bonus recipe for chicken tacos in the crockpot later today!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

No Good Very Rotten Weekend...

Billy has been sick all weekend with a bad throat infection that resulted in a penicillin shot in a not-so-fun place. This photo was NOT taken this weekend, as noted by the smile on his face and the fact that kids are piled onto him...however the pajamas are authentic. He has been in extreme pain and very, very shall I say...not happy. Which means Mama has to do all the work for the 5th day in a row, AND deal with a grumpy husband (who can't even talk to me :( which has made me very grumpy as well. I have paused to take note that if one of us was disabled, this would be our life. So I have tried to serve the family with a generous spirit, but my selfish side has reared its ugly head a few too many times. All of this combined has made for a very BAD weekend. The highlights have been...The Cosby Show, Skyping with my sweet Gloria (and daughters!) who is due to deliver her 3rd baby any moment now, taking the kids out for lunch today, starting some of my Valentine's decor projects, and seeing that the kids CAN play alone and with each other in harmony...sometimes.
This week I look forward to a new playdate with Isaac's 2nd BFF from school and his Mom, and her 3 year old brother who happens to be in J's class at school! She said they moved from out of state at the beginning of the year and have not made many friends...so I think it will be great for both of us to venture out and start a new relationship. And her son has the cutest face and disposition ever! When I take Isaac lunch, Caden sometimes sits with us and is just so sweet.
So...we will put this weekend behind us with pizza and America's Funniest Videos. And I will never be so glad to see two days end in my life!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why Renting Can Often Be Better Than Owning...

We moved into our house in September 2009. We had come from 18 months of living in a tiny two bedroom (although nicely decorated. ;) apartment. Before that, Vivi spent her first year in our house that we had owned for 4 years when we made the tough decision to sell it, downsize, and tackle our debt.
Apartment living was...fun...to say the least. :) Actually it was not SO bad. We had a playground in walking distance and a dog park, two pools, and a gym. We made due, for sure. But when our lease was coming up, we wanted to move back into a house. Without having a down payment, renting was our best option. We saw many, many houses in the town we wanted to move...many were just gross. When we walked into this house...I gasped. The fireplace caught my eye as being one that reminded me of my childhood in Indiana. And we were thrilled to discover not 3 bedrooms, but 4 in this one story! Perfect for our growing family! We put our application and deposit in that afternoon and the rental agency called to tell us good thing for that because hours after approving ours, another couple came in and the wife sobbed when she found out the house was taken.
We were so excited to have a backyard once again! And a huge green one at that!!
We re-signed our lease this past September for a 9 month (that will end in June). Even though our house was built before I was born, it has been the biggest blessing for us! Why rent when you can own...some might wonder. As it seems that owning a home is still considered the "American Dream". Well, for one we got nothing back on the sell of our first home, and selling it was tough...long story. But the main reason is because we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our rental company. These people always come out within 24 hours if something isn't right (like our A/C going out last summer!) and they cover all the expenses. Recently the owner of the home asked the agency to do a tour of our home and assess the condition it was in. He also gave them the ok to do any needed repairs...
Like a brand new kitchen faucet (with a sprayer!).
Our old one was leaking and had no sprayer.

Yesterday we were delivered and installed a new dishwasher because the last one wasn't working up to par.

Our thermostat was one of those old school dial-on-the-side ones. And we were having trouble regulating our furnace because the thermometer did not match up to what we thought we were setting it at...by more than 10 degrees!
So in comes an electrician with a brand new digital thermostat! And besides the dishwasher...the most exciting thing for me has been new closet doors!!!
We used to have these cheap old metal ones. They began to fall off one by one, starting with the pantry door (to the left). We had to put up a curtain for about a year! Once the laundry room doors started to fall of their sliders, we said "That's it!" Within days, the rental agency sent in our handyman Craig (such a nice guy!) to take off all metal doors that weren't working and replace them with white heavy wooden doors. YEAH!!

He even took down our makeshift curtain (that we put up instead of the hazardous metal door) in the nursery and put a wooden door up on that closet! So baby will be ALL set with a cute nursery when he/she comes home! Plus, they are going to repaint the front of the house/front door and fix the ventilator in the bathroom.
All of this at NO cost to us. They documented our house as "very clean and tidy with no noticeable stains on the carpet". Such a compliment with 3 kids and 2 dogs, I have to tell you! But I scrubbed and cleaned before that inspection harder than for any homestudy we have ever had! I wanted them to see that we take care of our property whether we own it our not. I really do think that has just motivated them all the more to give us nice stuff! Now I know we are the lucky ones...that some people have crappy landlords and end up with more hassle renting. But I have to say renting this house has been SO good for us. No home owners association fees, property taxes, repairs...and all for less a month then we used to pay on our 3 bedroom mortgage!
So with pride, we will be signing our lease in June for another year!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Recommendation!

As I have waited ALL morning for our new dishwasher to be delivered which hasn't happened yet (blogpost for another day), I was able to finish my library book!! I picked up this book, Another Mother; Coparenting with the Foster Care System randomly on Monday in the parenting section. I have read plenty of books on adoption, but have actually never read one about foster parenting. This book proved you can't judge a book by it's cover...literally...cause the cover is kinda ugly. But the book was AWESOME! It is a woman's account of navigating the foster care system with her infant placement from 2000-2002. She is a mother of two children by birth and she and her husband wanted to "give back to society" by foster parenting. Of course they never anticipated how much the experience would change them. I thought I would quote some of the book here that was especially impactful to me:
First she talks about the arrival of her 5 week old foster baby without the "usual cultural rituals" like baby announcements, showers, etc. She says, "It bothered me that Cecilia didn't have the same fanfare that other children had when they were born or adopted. Why does it matter? I thought. She doesn't know any different. But ritual is part of our human social condition and not being able to partake in it on her behalf made me unhappy." I SO can relate to this feeling with all of my babies. We only had two "fanfare" kids...our foster baby girl that was an adoption placement but fell through, and Vivi. Maybe because people don't rally around "temporary" placements because they are seen well...as temporary.
In another section she hits the nail on the head with this statement, "...you are at the mercy of an agency that doesn't create most of the regulations but must enforce them. Complicating this are unreasonable and excessive rules that the agency may not enforce but can use as evidence of noncompliance if it chooses to." The Lord knows we found this to be true!
They were an upper middle class foster family and did a wonderful job caring for the baby, so it was refreshing to read these words that echo our feelings exactly...."My thesaurus has the following synonyms for the word 'foster': back, champion, support,uphold, entertain, harbor, house, lodge, shelter, accomodate, assist, favor,help, oblige. We were prepared to do all these things as foster parents. What we weren't interested in doing was going to useless training, having to get permission to go on vacation, getting reprimanding letters in the mail when we were behind on some regulation (regardless of whether we were at fault), and spending time on paperwork that had to do with agency business, not with parenting. But we did all those things."
And one of my FAVORITE quotes from the book on the topic of people saying "I could never do that, I would get too attached": "The next time someone tells me that they would get too attached, I'm going to say 'You're probably right. Why bother risking your own feelings for a kid you don't even know? I mean really, who cares?' We talked about how warnings about 'getting too attached' sometimes seemed to imply the speaker was taking the high road-suggesting how sensitive they were when in fact they probably didn't want to disrupt their lives, a more honest and understandable excuse. We wanted to say to people, 'Yes, getting attached is a risk, but we are adults and we are supposed to care about children in our society, even if it is difficult.' AMEN!
She also goes on to talk in depth about transracial fostering/adopting, and using Medicaid and WIC. That was some really good stuff too...but I will stop with the quotes here. If you are thinking about fostering or are a current foster parent...run to GET this book. You can order it online and read the synopsis, HERE.
Or go see if your library has it for free!! It is a real treasure and will help you feel not so alone as you navigate this tricky system!

Monday, January 17, 2011


"When all God's children can work together, pray together, struggle together, and stand up for freedom together...If America is to be a great nation, this must become true."
~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I Have A Dream...









"I have a dream that one

day little black boys and girls will be holding hands

with little white boys and girls as sisters and brothers."

~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Weekend Full of Blessings...

We had a great weekend with the boys' cousins K and T here again!
K asked if they could come because it was a 3 day weekend for them, but we really need a day to just lounge around and not have to entertain before Billy goes back to work and the kids to school...so having been here since Friday afternoon, we took them back today. The big theme when the boys are here is FOOD and GAMES. My two tiered stand got lots of face time, with the number of meals I prepared. I also made peanut butter fudge which was a homerun....thanks Bakerella.com! And brownies which were a raw disappointment. ;(
These kids are the gamiest!! We played Pacman on our TV, countless games of Sorry and Uno, Yahtzee, Scene It, Guess Who, Jenga, Perfection, War, Go Fish....it goes on.
That is was K loves to do non-stop! They also enjoyed the Chipmunks movies we own, and Despicable Me in 3D at the dollar theater. It was their first 3D experience and they seemed to really enjoy it. Even though the boys are very polite, they are not complimentary...which can get me down sometimes as I really feed off of verbal encouragement...and go out of my way to make meals special and games fun. At one meal I joked "you know it would be nice to get a 'this is the best meal ever' or 'your fudge is amazing!' every once in awhile." All five kids did not catch on to my not-so-subtleness but T immediately said "can I have a soda?" to which Billy and I died laughing! The requests never stopped for 2 days. Good grief!! But we know that they love coming to our house and enjoy everything about it. They are 10 and 14 year old boys...I can't expect an award for making them yummy pancakes!


Despite the normal issues and discouragement that we have with them here...the fact that beds were being wet every night and nap by one or more of our boys (the smell of pee has stalked me for 3 days now!)...and Lucy tracked mud over the entire house while we were at an event Sat. night, it was a great weekend. K once again shared so much with me about J's home life and Isaac and J's birthmother...things she has done and said in her life...and various incidents that I have in CPS documentation but have not had a personal account of. It seems like K saw and was witness to everything that went on. He recalls so much! We have a whole box of avadavits from when we were petitioning the court to adopt Isaac, and K was able to fill in so many gaps for me. On that note, I have a very special thing to share that I am SO excited about!!!
A few days before K and T came, I was looking through this box of CPS documents. I haven't looked at it in years, but I always remembered there was a grainy black and white photo copy of a picture of Isaac as a baby. It was taken the day he first entered foster care, 11 months before he came to live with us. It is the only baby picture we have of him. In the picture, there is a profile of a child holding him. We of course never knew who this child was. But when I pulled it out of the box last week, I gasped! "Honey!! It's K!!" I said to Billy who was in bed. I knew by the shape of his thumb and his nose and mouth. I couldn't believe it! This missing piece is so huge to me. K confirmed when I showed it to him, that it was in fact him at 8 years old. He remembers the photo being taken and he remembers buckling my child into his little carseat right before CPS took him away from his birthfamily forever. K looked at the photo for a long time as I could see memories flooding back....some happy I am sure, many sad. He said he was always holding "the baby" and wanted to say goodbye to him. He didn't just take care of my J. He also loved on my firstborn son. For that reason and so many more, our relationship with K is so special to me.
I had to share this sweet photo with you.
It says so much.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Joy in unexpected places...

I had a Dr.'s Appt. today for "female issues". I won't share what that means here, but the Dr. had me do a pregnancy test. Of course I knew I was not pregnant...but you know how they like to rule things out. As I was telling my Dr. we are still waiting for a baby and was showing her photos of J (last time she saw me I was getting my physical for our infant adoption!) I told her, "You know, this is the first time in my life where being pregnant would be a really BAD thing!" After the results of course came back negative...I kissed Vivi's forehead and said "In 7 years...this life was way better than a pregnancy any day!" Vivi said "I love you, Mom!" and the Dr. and assistant gushed over her. I told her I would be concerned about having a biological child, because I would not want people to say "Is this one yours?" She jumped in, rolling her eyes and said "They are ALL yours." I said, exactly!! With my current "issues", I am being put back on the Pill for the first time in 7 years! I looked at the Dr. and said "I am way beyond pregnancies now...and way over my head with kids!"
After having an exam of *ahem* the most annoying kind...I gathered my coat and my daughter and said to my Dr. "Despite the circumstances...this was a very pleasant visit!"
We both laughed at that one!
As I pulled out of the parking lot, I drove past an OB/GYN office and this fertility clinic. Who knew that this heartbreaking failure 6 years ago, would have led to this immense and unmeasurable joy today...
I would not have it any other way.