Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Fall Into Reading- my progress report

If you remember, Katrina over at Callapidderdays is hosting a fun reading challenge called Fall Into Reading! I thought I'd provide an update as to where I'm at in the list of books I chose to read.

This was an excellent book! It was amazing to see the difference in this journalists treatment, based on the color of his skin, especially towards the end when he was going back and forth between both worlds on a fairly frequent basis. The writing was wonderful. I could feel this author's hopelessness and despair as he conducted his social experiment. And when he was finished, the hatred that he and his family were subjected to was astounding!

This was done in 1959. I can't help but wonder if things such as racism, segregation, and degrading living conditions in the South (and other parts of the United States) have improved dramatically since then. I hope these things have improved, but I honestly don't know.


I've finished this book and it was heartbreaking. These young women were forced to go to maternity homes to have their babies and were given absolutely no choice in placing their babies for adoption. The ones that they should've been able to count on most for support, their parents, were the ones that forced these women to give up their babies. These parents were more worried about their social status than what they were doing to their daughters.

After having and giving up their babies, these young women were told to forget it ever happened and to go on with their lives as if it had never happened. Studies showed that these women had many long term effects (depression, unable to feel emotions, physical ailments, etc.) associated with being forced to give up their babies.

Reading this book generated some good discussions between Oronzo and I. I never want Giselle to have to wonder if Snuggle Bug is alive and well. She deserves to know. I'm more determined than ever to continue to provide her with detailed updates on how Snuggle Bug is doing.

I'm a little over half way through this book. I've never read anything by Francine Rivers before and can I just say that she is a fantastic author?!

This story of the heartbreaking romance between a prostitute and the upright and kind farmer who marries her is very well written. I have a tough time putting the book down when it's time to go to bed. I'll probably have it finished by the end of this week.

I love how the book has snipets of internal conversations between Michael and God and how he listens and obeys, despite his misgivings.

Reading that the main character, Angel, was sold into prostitution at the young age of 8 years old made me sick to my stomach. I know things like this still happen today but my mind and heart has a tough time grasping this reality.

I love the fact that the main message of this story is of God's unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love.

So, the four books listed below are the ones I have yet to read. I actually found a movie version of the book Guns, Germs, and Steel at the library this past weekend, so I think I'll tackle that one next.

So tell me, if you're doing the "Fall Into Reading" challenge, what's your progress thus far? Feel free to leave me a comment or a link to your blog if you've already posted an update there.


Editorial Review from School Library Journal

Grade 5 Up-When Rudyard Kipling took up residence in the U.S., he found intriguing characters in the sailing men of New England. This dramatization of his classic novel focuses on a good-humored, hard-working Gloucester fisherman who rescues a spoiled rich boy, Harvey Cheynen, when he falls off a passing steamship. Unconvinced by Harvey's story that his father is a millionaire, Captain Disko Troop and the crew of the We're Here teach the boy the value of a job well done. When the ship returns to port several months later, Harvey is reunited with his exultant parents and there are happy surprises for everyone.



Editorial Review from The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

Novel by Willa Cather, published in 1927. The novel is based on the lives of Bishop Jean Baptiste L'Amy and his vicar Father Joseph Machebeut and is considered emblematic of the author's moral and spiritual concerns. Death Comes for the Archbishop traces the friendship and adventures of Bishop Jean Latour and vicar Father Joseph Vaillant as they organize the new Roman Catholic diocese of New Mexico. Latour is patrician, intellectual, introverted; Vaillant, practical, outgoing, sanguine. Friends since their childhood in France, the clerics triumph over corrupt Spanish priests, natural adversity, and the indifference of the Hopi and Navajo to establish their church and build a cathedral in the wilderness. The novel, essentially a study of character, explores Latour's inner conflicts and his relationship with the land, which through the author's powerful description becomes an imposing character in its own right.

Editorial Review from Amazon.com

Explaining what William McNeill called The Rise of the West has become the central problem in the study of global history. In Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond presents the biologist's answer: geography, demography, and ecological happenstance. Diamond evenhandedly reviews human history on every continent since the Ice Age at a rate that emphasizes only the broadest movements of peoples and ideas. Yet his survey is binocular: one eye has the rather distant vision of the evolutionary biologist, while the other eye--and his heart--belongs to the people of New Guinea, where he has done field work for more than 30 years.

Editorial Review from Amazon.com

Annie Zook, the preacher’s daughter, struggles to keep her promise to her father—to abandon her art for a full six months. Will she succeed, only to succumb to another "forbidden" desire? And what would her father do if he discovered her friendship with a handsome Englisher? Ben Martin has recently moved to Pennsylvania from Kentucky on a secret search of his own. He is mysteriously drawn to Paradise and especially to the covered bridge depicted in Annie’s painting, a folded copy of which he carries in his pocket...along with a smooth peach stone. Will Ben’s keen interest in Annie derail her intention to join the Amish church come autumn?

9:09 AM
6 comments


Monday, October 30, 2006
Adoption #2- ongoing research
Oronzo and I have decided that we need to look at more than just Catholic Social Services as an option for our next adoption. Neither of us are overly impressed with their professionalism. We're not getting the warm fuzzies and for something as important as this, I think we need to have a good feeling about the agency we're working with. We haven't totally disregarded CSS, we're just continuing our research.

So, today I ripped out a page from the Yellow Pages phone book. There's only 1 page in our city for adoption services. There's a bigger city about 2 hours from here that probably has many more agencies, but we want to start locally and see what we find.

One listing in the yellow pages really disturbs me. Here are the details:

Silver Spoon Adoptions
Providing Families of Distinction & Privilege, Doesn't Your Child Deserve the Very Best?

Yikes! Does this mean they only work with very wealthy prospective adoptive families? To me, this ad smacks of condescension and coercion!

Of course, I will be calling them to see what they have to say. We're far from a family of distinction and privilege so they'll probably not give me the time of day, but I simply have to hear their sales pitch. I plan on asking them a lot of questions regarding how they treat the expectant mother, see if I can't make them squirm a bit.

The other ads seem fairly benign, although many of them stress the paid living and medical expenses for the potential birthmothers (I have mixed feelings about this) and none of them say "potential" birthmother or expectant mother in their ads. No, they consider them birthmothers even before the baby has been born. Rather annoying.

Well, I have some phone calls to make to these agencies so I'll keep this post short. I plan to create a spreadsheet to track and compare what we learn about each agency.

Wish me luck!

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11:01 AM
11 comments


Sunday, October 29, 2006
Thank you! Thank you!
I'm back from our family vacation! We had a nice, relaxing time. We stayed in a resort condo next to the ocean beach so we had fun swimming, playing in the sand, napping, and hanging out with Oronzo's side of the family. There were 9 adults and 4 children under 2 1/2 years old. Although we had a great time, it's nice to be back at home, sleeping in our own beds. I'll post some pictures in the near future after I've had time to upload them.

I want to give a big "thank you!" to all of my guest bloggers. It's so nice to have others taking the time to post on my blog while I'm away. I love coming back and checking out what they wrote. :)

In order of appearance:

Thank you Jenn at Knee-Deep in MunchkinLand for your sweet Childhood Home post. I've moved away from my family home long ago, but my mother still lives there so at least I can return for visits. I think I'd have a tough time saying goodbye for good if that changed for us.

Thank you Chelle at Crazy Thoughts by Chelle for your Knitting Soothes My Soul post. I've never learned how to knit myself but I used to do cross stitching and found it very soothing. Perhaps I should think about taking up that hobby again!

Thank you Kathleen Marie at Stranded in the Mountains for your Travailing Prayer post. My parents have watched 2 of their 5 children turn away from their faith and then come back to it in their own time as adults. I know that couldn't have been easy for them. I pray I will have your strength and wisdom when my children are old enough to make their own faith choices. Great post!

Thank you cmhl at Crouching Mommy, Hidden Laundry... for your Five Things About Me That Some People Might Find Unusual post. I'll tell you one unusal thing about me: when I travel, the first thing I do when I arrive in my condo/hotel is to unpack all of my bags and put things away in their proper place. This drives Oronzo nuts! :)

Thank you Barb at A New Chelsea Morning for your Overwhelmed...With Absolute Joy post. I just loved this post. You and I have much in common, well, except for the joy at the birth of a grandchild. :) I haven't experienced that yet.

Thank you Michelle at Big Blueberry Eyes for your What's That? post. That is so fantastic that Kayla is asking more questions and communicating more every day with you and Joe! I don't blame you for rejoicing in each magical milestone, no matter how big or small. We do the same thing. Snuggle Bug's latest repetitive question is "This?" which translates to "what's this?" :) Oh, and thanks so much for doing a Favorite Ingredient Friday post as well. I can't wait to go see all the yummy recipes that were shared!

Thanks Jenna at Family Living; Hatfield Style for your post on I'm Late, I'm Late, I'm Late post. I can so empathize with you! I feel just as rushed and frantic sometimes as well, which is why this past week of being a beach bum was fantastic! :)

And last, but certainly not least, thank you to all of you who took the time to read and comment on the posts of my guest bloggers. I certainly do appreciate it!

It's good to be back!
5:30 AM
10 comments


Saturday, October 28, 2006
I'm Late, I'm Late, I'm Late
I'm betting that Overwhelmed! and family are on their way home. I meant to post this morning. But you see, I've lost my mind. Truth be told, I've simply lost my ever-loving mind. I've been overwhelmed lately, emotionally and physically. I've just simply run out of time for me. I'm trying to chug down hot tea as I write this in hopes of soothing some fried nerve-endings. Have you tried to chug hot tea? Again, I've lost my mind.

Some of it comes with the territory of Motherhood. Any time I make plans to do something, they get thrown askew by the little one. A poop as we go to walk at the door on time. A sudden bout of extreme hunger that can't be met with anything that we could possibly dream to offer him. Random naps. I mean, everyone wants their kid to nap. But when you have to leave the house at 1:10pm and he suddenly is fast-asleep at 12:45, there's a bit of inward screaming.

Then we have the holidays upon us. Yesterday was Nick's first Halloween party. This evening he's going to another one with his Grandma (while my Husband and I pretend to be adults and go to a costume party of our own!). I'm overwhelmed with costumes and times, dates, plans. I feel like I need a holiday planner, akin to a wedding planner... but wearing whatever matches the current holiday at hand. Today she would be dressed as a pumpkin, complete with pumpkin earrings. Just to make me smile. And breathe. Oh, breathing.

As soon as Halloween is over but before Thanksgiving rushes in, we will celebrate Nick's first birthday party. SAY WHAT? I know, I can't get over it either. It's emotionally disturbing and draining. I've got most of the party planned out though I am concerned about being able to make Nick's own special organic cake. I haven't given it a test run. It's a carrot cake. Everyone say yum. Beyond the craziness accompanying any first birthday, the Munchkin will be in town for a visit with her Mom and baby brother (who happens to be sixteen days older than our Nicholas). I've got nerves there.

Then Thanksgiving will come and go in a whirlwind of mashed potatoes and weight gain. Followed by the hardest time of year for me. We'll be traveling East to visit Munchkin and her family for her birthday and to drop off presents for Christmas. The good news is that the birthday is more low key than the first one (whew), Josh will be with me for a majority of the time and we've packed some other activities into the visit, such as taking my Husband to NYC for the very first time. Exciting!

Oh, then our anniversary. And then Christmas slams into us like the day-after-our-wedding blizzard.

Is it any wonder that I'm consistently running late right now? I used to be on time for things. In fact, I used to be early! Pfft to that idea! I have a better understanding for the crazed state my Mother was always in during the holidays and subsequent tax season. I want to give her a big hug and say thank you for not killing us all during these hectic times.

But I don't have enough time! I'm running too darn late! Maybe tomorrow. Maybe. If I can manage to not completely lose my mind in the meantime. Hmm. Maybe. I just keep telling myself, "Make it to January 1st and then things will slow down." But it's a lie, isn't it? :)

//
Zoomed in HappinessJenna writes at her family blog, Family Living; Hatfield Style on a regular basis. She also writes at AdoptionBlogs on the Birth/First Parent Blog coming from the firstmother in open adoption viewpoint. And more of her personal adoption story is available at The Chronicles of Munchkinland.
12:03 PM
1 comments


Friday, October 27, 2006
"What's That?"
Welcome to another addition of "Guest Blogger!" Before I get started on my post, I did want to let everyone know I do have a recipe posted below; couldn't let Friday go by without having an ingredient for today! So check it out and leave a link for your own recipe too!

Now that I got that out of the way - this is Michelle of Big Blueberry Eyes. As the previous guest bloggers stated, I am also honored to be asked to be a guest blogger while Overwhelmed is away on vacation.

So, to the title of this post - "What's that?" has now become a favorite question of my 3-year old daughter. Why does a 3-yr old asking that question warrant a post? Because my daughter has a speech delay. When you have a child with a speech delay, or any delay really, you tend to notice all of those much smaller milestones that lead up to the big ones. In speech and language it's considered a milestone to be able to ask and answer the 5 "wh" questions.

Kayla understands the concept of "where" and uses that, although she usually will leave the "where" out and just say "ball go?" or "fish go?".

With us asking her all the time "what's that" when we're reading books or something she was bound to start asking it herself. She has been for the past several weeks now. "At's that?" you hear over and over and over and over again. (I guess this is like when they get to the "why" stage and everything is "why?"). She even asks the question when she darn well knows what "at" is!

She especially likes to ask it while I'm driving somewhere. Of course I can't see what her finger is pointing at as I'm driving down the road, so I try to take a guess at the passing scenery and throw something out there, not knowing if she was indeed pointing at what I named or not. More often though I'll put the question back to her, "I don't know, what is it?" Sometimes she'll answer me, sometimes she'll just ask it again.

When we walk down the street to catch the bus I hear "at's that?" every morning. We pass our neighbors house with Halloween decorations. The first day I told her that is a witch and that is a ghost. The next day when she asked I said, "I don't know Kayla, what is that?" and she told me "a witch!" "a ghost!"

While it can get redundant to hear, what seems like every 5 min, "at's that?" I'm actually quite thrilled at this. She's communicating with us; asking us questions. Her speech and language is coming along bit by bit, but I get to hear it all develop and unfold and rejoice in each magical milestone.
7:11 AM
15 comments


Favorite Ingredients Friday (Chocolate Cream Pie)

Chocolate Cream Pie

1. 1/2 cup milk
2. 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows or 16 large jet-puffed marshmallows
3. 1 bar (8 ounces) milk chocolate, chopped
4. 1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
5. 1 package (6 ounces) ready-to-use graham cracker or chocolate-flavored pie crust



1. Heat milk, marshmallows and chocolate in 3-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate and marshmallows are melted and blended. Refrigerate about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon.

2. Beat whipping cream in chilled medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Fold chocolate mixture into whipped cream. Pour into pie shell. Refrigerate uncovered about 8 hours or until set. Garnish with milk chocolate curls and whipped cream if desired. Immediately refrigerate any remaining pie after serving.

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6:57 AM
8 comments


Thursday, October 26, 2006
Overwhelmed...With Absolute Joy

Hello everyone. It's Barb from A Chelsea Morning. I was very pleased when Overwhelmed asked me to be a guest contributor at her website today. After a lot of thought, I decided to tell you what the words in the name of her blog mean to me.


In my life, I have been completely overwhelmed with boundless joy only a few times. The first time I can remember is when I gave myself to Jesus and was saved. I was seventeen years old and I remember feeling a total sense of rebirth. I felt completely cleansed and ready to start a whole new life. It's hard to describe how I felt but I suspect you know exactly what I'm saying.

The day I married Rob was a day of complete joy. I'd spent nine years in a bad marriage, unhealthy for me. It took me several years to find the courage to end it. I'd never been alone in my life. I went directly from being Daddy's girl to being the wrong man's wife. I was terrified. I met Rob just two weeks after my divorce was final. I knew right away I'd found my soulmate. The day we stood together and married each other I knew what we were doing was absolutely right. I knew I was marrying a wonderful man and that we would share the rest of our lives together. I felt safe. Finally.

On July 17th, 1979 at exactly 6:03 a.m. my doctor placed my newborn daughter in my arms. Just remembering how I felt at that moment is giving me chillbumps. I never thought it would happen. I'd been told for years I'd probably never be able to carry a baby to term. We would have adopted children had I not miraculously become pregnant because with all my heart I wanted to be a mother. So when Krissy was born (and Mandy twenty-one months later) I felt more happiness than I can describe. In that moment I knew my life was complete. I was a mother.

Just when I thought I'd never feel that degree of overwhelming joy again, I held my grandchild for the first time when he was thirty minutes old. And that's all I can say about that because just thinking about that moment is putting a huge lump in my throat. If you haven't experienced that yet I pray someday you will.

These are just a few of the moments in my life when the name of this beautiful website absolutely describes how I felt.


Hurry back, Overwhelmed. We all hope you're having a wonderful time but we miss you!
5:00 AM
20 comments


Wednesday, October 25, 2006
guest post from cmhl
hey there! I'm normally found here, but am thrilled to be guest-posting for Overwhelmed with Joy!

See, here's the deal... I was going to do a "works for me Wednesday" post, but I have just successfully manuevered an in-law invasion, so I really have nothing.

No really.

Instead, let's have an audience participation post, 'kay?

Here are Five Things About Me That Some People Might Find Unusual...

  1. It is October 25th, and I have my Christmas tree up, and it is fully decorated. Yes, I know that is a little odd, but I needed to find something that the in-laws could participate in and I love having the tree up, soooooooo, Feliz Navidad!
  2. My youngest in in transitional kindergarten, and is all just lost her first tooth last week. Awwww. The odd part? I am a little casual about the "tooth fairy" deal, since I don't really want them to think I am lying to them when they get older, but we did discuss the tooth fairy in a roundabout way. As a result, both of my offspring because slightly freaked out about a fairy-creature breaking and entering into our house, and insisted on sleeping in the same room. And the fairy? She left a trail of pixie dust (oatmeal and colored sparkly sugar) from the front door to the room. Tooth fairy is rather festive, isn't she?
  3. I am overwhelmed by my laundry situation.
  4. I wear contact lenses for approximately 18 hours each day. Yes, clever readers, I don't get enough sleep.
  5. And finally, I love the color scheme on this blog, don't you? I find it very restful and relaxing. And Overwhelmed with Joy? She rocks. Don't doubt it for a minute.
So what about you? Give me some odd facts about yourself so I feel welcome!
3:43 PM
9 comments


Sunday, October 22, 2006
Travailing Prayer
I am very honored that OW has asked me to post a blog in her stead. I pray her vacation is a very blessed one. I am posting this before midnight MT as my hubby informed me I have to get up very, very earlier and I don't think I will have time to do it before we leave or rather, I'll be walking in my sleep and who knows what could happen. Thank you for understanding.

Travailing Prayer isn’t something that you can muster up on your own; only God births travail. Lately I have found myself in great times of travail over my children, especially over my "prodigals". Like many Christian parents I know I am not alone in this area. It is an area that I find very painful. I really just don't get it, but maybe I am not supposed to. I do want my children to have their own faith in the Lord, not my faith.

I see many children grow up with their parents faith and when they leave home they become extremely rebellious and confused because they don't have a personally relationship with Christ. I can honestly say that my kids didn't become really rebellious but they are looking, searching for the Lord in their own way and at times it seems they are looking in all the wrong places, justifying their lifestyle or rationalizing bad decisions. As a parent, I pray, I travail on their behalf.

As a parent I want to help them, rescue them, but they are adults and need to develop their own faith in God, their own relationship with God and I know once found, they will be the stronger for it. I have also been travailing over issues that are plaguing our nation. God puts different kinds of burdens on different people. At times when I go to certain blogs the Lord may have me travail over that person or their child who needs prayer.

Travail: to birth or a birthing anointing (without travail we will not birth anything); to bear, to have a conception and then deliver it; to be troubled. To toil and writhe in pain; to feel a weight upon you. It is a type of burden bearing. Lamentations 3: 12 & 13 says: “He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrow. He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver.”

We can mistake travail for depression. You may not know what the travail is about until you yield to it. God is calling people to travail in prayer: “The Lord will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal..." Isaiah 42:13-14. Elijah travailed for the birthing of rain, 1 Kings 18: 41-45.

Travail brings forth the very purpose of God, Romans 8:22-26. Jesus travailed in the Garden of Gethsemane: “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” Luke 22: 44. This travail that Jesus experienced was prophesied in Isaiah 53:11. The travailing prayers of Jesus are mentioned in Hebrews 5:7. What we must remember is that Jesus was travailing for us, on our behalf. Can we do less? When you enter into travailing prayer, stay with it until the burden is lifted because there is something God wants to birth. “I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain… but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that the child is born into the world” John 16:20-21.

This week many churches across the nation are asking their people to pray and fast for our nation. I do believe that God is calling his children to travail more now than ever before. Be alert, heed God's call and pray without ceasing.







Kathleen Marie, Stranded in the Mountains
7:31 PM
6 comments


Knitting Soothes My Soul
Hi! It's me Chelle from Crazy Thoughts. Overwhelmed asked me to pop over today and make sure her blog did not get all lonely. She is so sweet! I am very honoured to be here, as I am a huge fan of Overwhelmed.

I would have gotten here earlier, however I had to meet with my knitting group this morning. Our group started off strong with quite a few members, however due to scheduling it is just myself and another woman for now. We try to meet every week and we chat about knitting, the kids and life in general.

I have just started knitting again. My grandmother taught me as a child to do the basic garter stitch, cast on and bind off. However knitting so was not cool when I was a teenager. If only I had known I could have knitted Nirvana on a backpack! I would have been the envy of all my grunge pals!

I have longed to pick up the needles for quite sometime now. There are many bloggers that I admire for their knitting skills. Yet I would look at the patterns and get dizzy with confusion, I had no idea where to begin. Then some of the women in my Mom's group started chatting about a knitting group, oh I was so excited!

The lady I knit with now is amazing. She dyes her own wool! Crazy committed to the craft and has directed me to some amazing patterns. In fact I have knitted a sweater for my toddler and a few more for presents already!

Knitting has been a saving grace for me. I find it very relaxing, yet challenging. I adore creating things (I love to make themes for my blog!) and the knitted gear is something tangible. I am in a foreign country, pregnant, have a toddler, planning a move (to where? We do not know!) not long after the baby is born, and all the while trying to remain sane.

Knitting Soothes my Soul.

Thanks for stopping by! Chelle is a Canadian girl, living it up in California. Mom, Wife, Designer, Mac Addict...she can be found at Crazy Thoughts by Chelle. As you know Overwhelmed is currently on vacation and has requested that a few guest bloggers stop by and blog this week.
11:50 AM
13 comments


Saturday, October 21, 2006
Childhood Home
My parents sold our childhood home last spring and while we’re all thrilled for my parents and this new chapter in their lives; it was one of the hardest things to say good-bye to that house. The following is something I wrote the week after we moved them out.

We said our final good-bye to our childhood home yesterday. We spent all weekend moving my parents out of their house and it was a chore. On Saturday, we rented the U-Haul and my parents had a number of volunteers ranging from family to friends to youth group kids running in and out of the house with boxes, mattresses, and furniture. I’ll be the first to admit that the Sanchez Sisters weren’t among the harder workers but we chipped in with our fair share. My favorite memory of the day was when all four girls grabbed Alli’s queen-sized pillow-top mattress and carried it from her room to the U-Haul Truck; we were in tears from laughing so hard. Then on Sunday, my parents, sisters, spouses, boyfriend, and Grandma Nancy spent the day cleaning the house from top to bottom. Emotions were high and temperaments flared as the cleaning fumes went to our heads but we got the job done.

Once the cleaning was done, the immediate family (just Mom, Dad, Christine, Alli, Courtney, and I) said good-bye to our family home. It was emotionally exhausting to say good-bye to a house where 21 years of memories took place. I walked from room to room and was flooded with different memories; laying on my parents bed crying from a recent heartbreak; whispering secrets in a dark room with Christine; watching Mom place baby Courtney in her crib; heated family discussions at the dinner table; raising tents in the backyard; my first kiss on the front porch; and the list goes on. (I’m getting misty just sitting at this computer writing about these things.)

How do you wrap up all those memories into one final good-bye? How do I accept that I will never again walk through that front door? How can I thank a building for taking good care of us and being part of so many memories? We met in the living room, our eyes red from crying, and said a final prayer. I watched as my father lost his composure and wasn’t prepared for his good-bye to the house; I watched my baby sister, Courtney, come to grips that she was leaving the only house she’d ever known. We called Jon in for a final photo in front of our fireplace and then we closed the front door for the last, and final, time.

Good-bye, dear, sweet house! Thank you for the memories and thank you for taking care of our family for 21 years; you will be missed!

My name is Jenn, I'm the mommy of an almost-2-year-old and another baby is on the way; I blog over at Knee-Deep in MunchkinLand. Overwhelmed is currently on vacation and she has asked a number of guest bloggers to blog this week. I am absolutely honored to have been asked and I hope they have a wonderful time this week!! I know she’ll be missed…
10:51 AM
8 comments


Friday, October 20, 2006
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Chocolate Chip Banana Bread )

Good evening everyone.

I'm so sorry that I didn't get my Friday recipe post up sooner. Unfortunately, I got a bad case of food poisoning and I've been out of commission since Wednesday evening. I'm just now starting to feel human again. So, if you're still interested, please feel free to participate.

Based on the results of my post last Friday, it seems as though many of you would appreciate the option of being able to post recipes with more than just 5 ingredients. So, I've decided to change my Friday posts into a Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange!

I just have a couple of guidelines with this newly revised recipe exchange:


1) Please aim for simplicity in your recipes, no matter how many ingredients they have. Simplicity was the whole appeal to me of the 5 ingredients or less. I don't want to loose that, but I think we don't have to even with recipes that have more ingredients.

2) Please number your ingredients within your post so that, at a quick glance, we all know how many ingredients we'll be working with if we make your dish.

That's it. I hope you all like the change and I hope that this will encourage even more of you to participate in this recipe exchange! You know how much I rely on your recipes for my weekly menu planning.

The recipe I'm about to share is from Oronzo's side of the family. I love it because the bulk of the ingredients get thrown in a blender and then mixed in with the dry ingredients, making it an easy recipe, despite the fair amount of ingredients. I hope you enjoy this one. It's one of my favorites!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Ingredients

  1. 2 cup flour
  2. 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  3. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  4. 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  5. 1 stick butter
  6. 1 cup sugar
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 3 Tbsp sour cream
  9. 1 tsp lemon juice
  10. 1 1/2 cup sliced bananas (I use 2 full bananas)
  11. 1 cup chocolate chips
  12. 1 tsp vanilla

Preparation

  1. Mix the first 4 ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Put the remaining ingredients in a blender and plus blend until well mixed.
  3. Pour blended ingredients in with dry ingredients and blend well, but don't overmix.
  4. Pour into greased loaf pan or cupcake pan.
  5. Bake for approximately 50 minutes at 350 degrees.

I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe! Don't forget to link your blog on this post so I can see what's cooking at your house!

Oh, and be sure to put the title of your recipe in parenthesis! It makes it so much quicker for me to go back and search for recipes as I build my weekly menu.

Thanks so much for your participation at this late hour! I do appreciate it!

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4:30 AM
16 comments


Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Query Response from Adoptive Families!

Look at this email I just got!

Hi OW,

We're finally getting back to you about the query you sent us in June asking if we'd like you to send your essay about adopting without using an agency. The answer is yes.

Apologies for keeping you waiting. We look forward to seeing your essay.

Thanks much,
Renee Olson
Editor
Adoptive Families

Yikes! I can't believe it, they want me to submit a personal essay for review! My query got a response! Now, I have to sit down and consolidate my story of Snuggle Bug's adoption. I've been advised to shoot for one essay that's 600-800 words long.

Their Writer's Guidelines specify that if my personal essay is chosen and published, I will receive a one-year subscription to the magazine. Not bad. My subscription is due to expire in March 07 and I had intended to renew. More importantly, I'd have an article published in one of my favorite magazines!

I guess I'll be doing some writing and editing while on our family vacation. Isn't it ironic that Adoptive Families wants to hear more about our experience adopting without an agency and yet we're not forced to consider using an agency for our second adoption. Oh well, what can you do?

I'm curious, have any of you been published in Adoptive Families or any other magazine?
1:18 PM
20 comments


Crazy Busy!


I've been crazy busy so far this week and here's why:

1) We're hosting a big annual conference at work this week so it means long hours and not enough breaks. It's mentally draining work!

2) When I get home from work, I'm keeping Snuggle Bug up later than usual so I have a chance to spend at least a little bit of time with him.

3) I'm trying to prepare for our upcoming week-long family vacation with Oronzo's side of the family. This includes cleaning, packing, lining up a neighbor to water our plants and collect our mail, and lining up guest bloggers since I won't have Internet access while we're gone.

4) In what little spare time I have, I'm trying to research more adoption agencies.

Ugh! There just don't seem to be enough hours in the day! Sorry if I haven't visited your blog in a while. It's nothing personal.

What are you all busy with these days?
4:30 AM
14 comments


Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Adoption #2- Response from CSS.
Thank you all for your kind comments yesterday. I do appreciate the support, the insight, and the prayers!

Thankfully, my email to Ms. Dowly generated a response from her. She returned my email the same day and apologized for not getting back to me. She claims that she never got my voice mail message and confessed that she may have accidentally deleted it while trying to check her messages remotely with her cell phone (she was out of town that day). I'm still not pleased about that but at least she gave me a prompt response with her email and when I called her back yesterday late afternoon, she spent a considerable amount of time with me answering some of my questions.

Here's what I learned.

1) We qualify for their infant adoption program based on our length of marriage, the fact that we have only one child, the fact that I am unable to have biological children, and a couple of other qualifiers that I can't remember.

2) We'd have to fill out an application and clarify what (if any) health issues we'd be willing to consider in a newborn and what race we'd be willing to consider. We can not specify gender. I forgot to ask if there's an application fee. I suspect there is.

3) We have to go through a training series involving 6 seminars which cost $300 for the two of us. Their next series won't be until sometime in January. Apparently they had one scheduled to start in early October but they canceled it because they only had one perspective adoptive couple signed up and it wasn't cost effective to do it for just one.

4) We'd have to be fingerprinted again at a cost of about $34 per person.

5) We'd have to have a homestudy done at a cost of $2,000. The $300 cost for the 6 seminars would actually be applied to our homestudy fee. Of courses, the homestudy involves criminal and financial background checks, home inspection, individual and couple interviews, a completed autobiography, and references. It also involves post placement visits once a baby is placed in our home.

6) The time to become qualified and eligible to adopt is about 3-4 months, if we don't delay getting our homestudy paperwork in and taking the 6 classes.

7) The placement fee is 15% of our combined annual gross salary, not to exceed $15,000. The fee includes legal services for us and the prospective birth mother, living expenses for the prospective birth mother if she needs financial assistance during her pregnancy, court fees to include adoption finalization, and counseling fees for the prospective birth mother. It does not include medical expenses if the birth mother is not insured, the cost of a certified copy of the adoption decree or the baby's birth certificate, or fingerprinting fees.

8) The placement fee is not due until a child is placed in our home with the intent to adopt. The first half of the fee is due within the first month following placement. The second half of the fee is due 30 days before the court date for finalization.

9) If your match is disrupted, you're put back in the waiting pool and you don't pay another placement fee.

10) So, given all of that, it looks like an adoption through this agency could run us up to about $18,000. Let me just say that's a lot more than the cost of Snuggle Bug's adoption, but as I look at other agencies, it's much less than some others charge.

11) When I asked about what they offer their expectant mothers, I was informed that CSS is first and foremost a pregnancy crisis center and that they do what they can to help the expectant mother parent. There's a separate division within CSS that work with the expectant mothers and Ms. Dowly doesn't get involved unless the expectant mother has reviewed all her parenting options and resources and still decided to make an adoption plan for her child.

12) The expectant mothers are counseled during their pregnancy and given resource information to show them how they can parent. They're offered pregnancy housing and counseling for up to a year if they decide to parent. If they place, they're offered counseling during their pregnancy and for as long as they feel they need it after they place.

13) No match is made until after the expectant mother is at least 7 months along. They don't want the expectant mother to have undue pressure placed on them by having a long-standing relationship with the prospective adoptive parents before their baby is born and they don't want the prospective adoptive parents to get too attached because they realize the expectant mother will have to make her decision all over again after the baby is delivered.

14) Many of their matches are considered "emergency" placements where an expectant mother has just given birth and decides to place or has to place because she tested for drugs. Some matches are made at the 7th month of pregnancy or later.

15) I asked the question, "What happens if we have gone through your classes and the homestudy process and we're qualified and waiting but then we're matched through a family or friend." Ms. Dowly said that it would be understood upfront that we would bring the prospective birth parent to CSS and let them offer her their services and we would still pay the placement fee, even though we'd found out own match, in part because that fee includes legal and counseling fees. Oronzo and I have to talk about this scenario some more.

16) The average wait time once licensed to adopt is between 15-18 months. They have a family that was approved in Jan 05 that's still waiting. A family that was approved in Apr 05 but then placed a hold on their adoption until Sep 05, they're still waiting.

17) She was a bit vague on how many placements they've done this year and I'll have to nail her down on more specifics before we make a decision but I believe they've had 3 adoptions that were finalized and 1 situation in which the expectant mother decided to parent. That doesn't seem like very many placements for 1 year. Can anyone share insight on this?

18) They don't do very many interstate adoptions, unless a prospective adoptive couple brings an expectant mother from out of state to them. Most of their expectant mothers are local.

Okay, I think that's all I know for now. Ms. Dowly is sending me a packet of info to include fingerprinting cards, an application, and the fee structure information.

I've shared all of this information on my blog so that others looking into adoption have just one idea of what's out there and in the hopes that others will share their insight with me. Do the fees sound reasonable? Should I be concerned about the low rate of placements? Does it sound as though the expectant mothers are being treated ethically? Are there any other questions I should be asking?

We will continue researching other agencies. This is just the first one we've gotten concrete information on. All feedback is appreciated.

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5:52 AM
16 comments


Monday, October 16, 2006
Adoption #2- Trying to get a response.
So, on 9 October I called Catholic Social Services and left a voice mail message with the appropriate person that I was transferred to. I left my phone number and asked for a call back.

For several days we got no response so Oronzo decided to drop in without an appointment to see if he could catch the woman we needed to talk to (to be referred to as Ms. Dowly). She wasn't there, but a co-worker of hers was kind enough to spend some time with him and answer some of his questions.

Here's what he learned:

1) If we sign on with Catholic Social Services we will have to go through an orientation, 5 classes, an application process, and a Home Study process before we're eligible to be matched.

2) The next orientation may not be until January. Apparently there was one scheduled not long ago but there weren't enough prospective adoptive parents signed up for it, so they canceled it.

3) We're not able to specify a gender preference. In fact, they go so far as to counsel the expectant mothers NOT to disclose the sex of their baby to prospective adoptive parents. That's fine with us. We really don't care whether our next match is a girl or a boy. Eventually we'd like a girl, but if this next adoption is of a boy, that's perfectly fine. In fact, I think Snuggle Bug would probably have more fun with a little brother than a little sister. :)

4) This infant adoption program only places newborns. When Oronzo mentioned that we'd be comfortable adopting a child up to a year old, he was told that all their placements are of newborns only.

5) Couples are only able to adopt up to 2 children through this program. Since we already have one child, we'll only be able to go through their program once. That's fine. We may want to adopt a 3rd child but if that's the case we will probably go through the State the third time around.

6) The expectant parents look through profiles and choose who they want to meet with.

7) The agency requires at least a semi-open adoption, where there is a meeting before the birth and at least pictures shared afterwards. This is fine by us.

So far, that's all we know. After a week of us waiting, Ms. Dowly still hasn't returned our phone call. So, I sent her an email asking her to contact us. We'll see what happens. I must admit, I'm a bit frustrated by the fact that Ms. Dowly hasn't given us the time of day so far. Is this typical when working with an agency?

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4:30 AM
19 comments


Sunday, October 15, 2006
Shout out for upcoming blogger events!
I'd like to give a shout out for a few fun activities that are coming up soon. Stop by and take a look! :)

Theresa over at Bullfrong & Butterflies will be hosting a Blog-O-Lantern contest next week.



GiBee over at Kisses of Sunshine will be hosting a Homemade-gift-ideas exchange on Monday, 23 October.


Kailani over at The Pink Diary will be hosting a 2006 Halloween Costume Contest 25-31 October.

halloween_pumpkin_glasses150

Chilihead over at Don't Try This At Home will be hosting a Halloween Open House on Monday, 30 October.

Sandra over at Diary of a Stay At Home Mom is hosting a Holiday Traditions day on Wednesday, 1 November.


Magi over at Kaffee Klatsch is hosting a Sharing Gifts from the Heart exchange on Monday, 6 November.

Stop over at these bloggers for more details and let them know if you're interested in participating!

6:30 AM
9 comments


Friday, October 13, 2006
Five Ingredients Friday (Caramel Brownies)

It's Friday again and time for another recipe Five Ingredients Friday exchange! Before I post my recipe, I'd like to ask a few question.

Are you running out of recipes that have only 5 or fewer ingredients? Do you think I should expand this to, say, a 14 ingredient recipe exchange? I, personally, like the simplicity of the fewer ingredient recipes, but I'm open to considering more if enough of you tell me that's what you want. Your feedback would be appreciated.

The recipe I'm about to share is from a cookbook that my mom gave me back in 1994. It's called, Fraternal Order of Eagles Auxiliary. It's stock full of delicious recipes submitted by ladies from all over the mid-Western community I was raised in. I hope you enjoy this one. It's one of my favorites!

Caramel Brownies

Ingredients

  1. 1 can evaporated milk
  2. 3/4 cup butter
  3. 1 box German chocolate cake
  4. 14 ounces caramels
  5. 12 oz. chocolate chips

Preparation

  1. With a mixer combine 1/3 cup evaporated milk, 3/4 cup butter, and cake mix. The batter should be crumbly.
  2. Put half of cake mixture into 9 x 13 inch greased and floured cake pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 6 minutes.
  4. While baking, melt caramels and 1/3 cup evaporated milk in microwave until caramels are liquid.
  5. Remove cake from the oven and pour the caramel mixture over top.
  6. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and the second half of the cake mixture.
  7. Bake for another 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
  8. Cool 30 minutes.

I look forward to seeing your Five Ingredients Friday recipe! Don't forget to link your blog on this post so I can see what's cooking at your house!

Oh, and be sure to put the title of your recipe in parenthesis! It makes it so much quicker for me to go back and search for recipes as I build my weekly menu.

Thanks so much for your participation! I do appreciate it!


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4:38 AM
26 comments


Thursday, October 12, 2006
Counting to 10
My 21 month old "baby" counted to 10 today for the first time! Can you believe it?!

Oronzo and I were outside playing with Snuggle Bug earlier this evening. Oronzo was swinging him high up in his arms, counting each time up to five. Snuggle Bug was counting too and when Oronzo stopped swinging him, he said, "more!"

As Oronzo continued to swing him, they counted up to six and then up to seven. Then Snuggle Bug started counting higher and Oronzo stopped counting with him to see how high he'd go on his own.

He counted aloud, "One, two, twee, foe, fife, sis, sevn, neight, nine, ten."

We couldn't believe what we were hearing. Until that moment, we'd never heard him count higher than four! Suddenly he was counting to 10 in the right order and without missing a single number!

We asked him to do it two more times, just to make sure it wasn't just a fluke. Each additional time he counted accurately to 10.

I guess all the counting books we read to him, that go up to 10, truly make a difference! How neat is that?! :)
9:46 PM
6 comments


Bye Bye Baby, Hello Little Boy
The time that many parents dread has come...the taking away of the bottle.

Now, we're much later in doing this than most parents for several reasons.

Snuggle Bug has always been quite attached to his "ba ba." At his 18 month doctor's appointment, our pediatrician told us that normally he recommends cutting off the bottle cold turkey. Since Snuggle Bug has been consistently in the 3% range for weight and since he wasn't drinking enough from a sippy cup to get the required daily intake of Vitamin D milk, our pediatrician advised against the cold turkey method. He just encouraged use to work harder at getting Snuggle Bug to drink more milk from his sippy cups.

For the past month, Snuggle Bug has been doing much better with drinking from his sippy cup, in large part due to the fact that both Oronzo and I have been better about ignoring his requests for a "boddle," handing him his sippy cup instead.

I think this transition of giving up the bottle has been harder on us than it has on Snuggle Bug because it forces us, in yet another way, to accept the reality that our baby isn't a baby any longer. He's a little boy.

Last night, I decided it was time. After getting Snuggle Bug to sleep, I went into the kitchen and packed all his bottles into a box. As I was packing them, Oronzo walked in and observed what I was doing. The only thing he said was, "Leave just one out, will you?" I realized that Oronzo is not totally ready to let go yet. Perhaps at least being able to look at one of those bottles comforts him, so I left one out of the box.

I shed some tears as I wrote on the box with a Sharpie "baby bottles" and then tucked them away into storage. I didn't just pack away Snuggle Bug's bottles, I packed away the sweet memories of cradling my swaddled baby in my arms, rocking slowly, singing softly, and drinking in the sight and smell of him as he drank his bottle. Oh how I will miss that time with him. I savored every precious moment of that time and now it's gone.

This morning when Snuggle Bug awoke, I made a point to take him to the drawer where the bottles used to be and I told him, "look, bottles all gone." He peered down into the drawer and repeated, "all gone." I made a point to praise the fact that he was a big boy now and didn't need bottles anymore. It'll be interesting to see if he asks for a bottle anymore. If and when he does, I'll take him back to the drawer, now filled with his sippy cups.

All to soon comes the next big milestone in Snuggle Bug's transition into becoming a little boy...potty training! A few questions for you parents out there, What signs should I be looking for to clue me in as to whether or not Snuggle Bug is ready to start potty training? Is the fact that the last 3 mornings I've found him naked in his crib, possibly because he didn't want his wet diaper on him, a sign? Any recommendations for successful potty training methods? What type of potty chair did you like?
9:33 AM
19 comments


Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Works-for -Me Wednesday (No Fear Shakespeare)

It's time to post another WFMW tip. I stumbled across this gem the other day while in Barnes & Noble bookstore.


The series is called No Fear Shakespeare and it puts Shakespeare's language side-by-side with a facing-page translation into modern English—the kind of English people actually speak today.

I purchased A Midsummer Night's Dream and I wish I could type a quote from it because some parts are quite funny, but I can't seem to find my book. I suspect Snuggle Bug walked off with it and Heaven only knows where he stashed it.

Instead, I'm pulling an example from the Spark Notes website so that you can take a peek.

Shakespeare Text:
HAMLET: To be, or not to be? That is the question—Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And, by opposing, end them?

Spark Notes Text
HAMLET: The question is: is it better to be alive or dead? Is it nobler to put up with all the nasty things that luck throws your way, or to fight against all those troubles by simply putting an end to them once and for all?

I tell you what if books like these encourage more people, young and old alike, to read Shakespeare, I'm all for it!

This works for me. Maybe it'll work for you too!

If you'd like to share something that works for you, please leave me a comment. And be sure to link yourself over at Shannon's, the host of Works-For-Me Wednesday.

My past WFMW entries:

list of age appropriate children's chores
linking within comments
baptism gift
creating blogger categories
alternate use for pot rack
cake decorating tips
unique way to stay connected
cake baking tip
comforts of home while traveling
quenching the thirst of your little one
pie crust made in bulk
hot chocolate kicked up a notch

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4:30 AM
27 comments


Monday, October 09, 2006
Adoption #2, exploring a new avenue

I realize it's been a couple of months since I last mentioned our efforts to adopt a second child.

This past February, we notified nearly all our family and friends and asked them to keep their eyes and ears open for any potential adoption situations. We were hoping to do another private, domestic adoption where we were matched through a family member or a friend and only using an adoption agency for the Home Study process. That was nearly 8 months ago and we've had no matches, not even close.

After much consideration, Oronzo and I have decided to attempt to expand our options by exploring a new avenue as well. With much trepidation, today I placed a call to Catholic Social Services to learn more about their infant adoption program.

I'm not thrilled about going through an agency for placement, I was hoping to avoid this, but I'm worried that we're sitting here with no goal in sight by trying to adopt the way we did with Snuggle Bug. Being matched with his birth parents was nothing short of miraculous.

I have no idea if going through Catholic Social Services is the answer to our desire to expand our family, but Oronzo and I both feel compelled to at least explore this avenue and see how we feel. We agree that although adopting a newborn again would be nice, it's not a requirement. We'd have no problem adopting a child a year or younger. We just want Snuggle Bug to remain the oldest and we want at least a year between any sibling that he may one day have.

We had to leave a voice mail message today. Perhaps we'll speak to someone tomorrow or later this week. I'm nervous about this. We'll see how it goes. We have a lot of questions to ask them.

More to follow.

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9:00 PM
26 comments


Friday, October 06, 2006
Five Ingredients Friday (Peach Banana Daiquiri)

It's Friday again and time for another recipe Five Ingredients Friday exchange!

It's been a long standing tradition with my girlfriends to get together every now and then for a "girl's night." Now that I have a family, I have to plan it well in advance and send Oronozo off somewhere and time it so that Snuggle Bug is already in bed. When the girls arrive we soak our feet in a warm scented salt bath, eat yummy junk food, paint our fingernails and toe nails, and talk about girl stuff. And of course, we have a drink or two to relax and unwind. You're really never to old for a girl's night, they're a lot of fun! I need to organize another one soon.

With that in mind, my Five Ingredients Friday recipe for this week is one of our favorite mixed drinks.

Peach Banana Daiquiri

Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 ounces Bacardi light rum
  2. 1/2 medium banana sliced
  3. 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  4. 1/4 cup sliced peaches (fresh, frozen, or canned)
  5. 1 cup crushed ice

Preparation

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend well.
  3. Garnish glass with peach or banana slice.

I look forward to seeing your Five Ingredients Friday recipe! Don't forget to link your blog on this post so I can see what's cooking at your house!

Oh, and be sure to put the title of your recipe in parenthesis! It makes it so much quicker for me to go back and search for recipes as I build my weekly menu.

Thanks so much for your participation! I do appreciate it!

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6:00 AM
26 comments


Thursday, October 05, 2006
Results of Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style

This past Monday I kicked off my Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style recipe exchange. I must admit, I wasn't sure how it would play out. Imagine my surprise and delight as Holiday recipes started quickly pouring in!

Not only did many of you contribute a recipe or several recipes, but you also shared heart warming stories of how you came by these treasured family recipes. Each post that has been linked is fantastic! Believe it or not, there have been well over 200 recipes submitted!! Amazing!

Thank you all for participating and sharing your recipes! As promised, I've visited each and every post (at this time there have been 72) to check out your recipes. If I've somehow missed you, please let me know. I'm sure I'll be back again as I begin the task of collecting all of these recipes together.

Don't hesitate to stop back often to look up recipes. I'll leave the "Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style" button on my sidebar for quick and easy reference. And if you think of more recipes to submit or you didn't get a chance to when this exchange was first launched, by all means, feel free to stop by and do so anytime!

Again, thank you to all who have made this Holiday recipe exchange such a success! I won't be lacking in ideas for my holiday cooking for a long, long time! I hope you've enjoyed the recipe exchange as much as I have.

3:49 PM
16 comments


Slow Cooker Thursday (Round Steak Italiano)

Time to participate again in the slow cooker recipe exchange that Sandra over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom hosts each week. This one is a quick and easy recipe and it's pretty tasty too! :)

Round Steak Italiano

Ingredients:
  1. 1 1/2 lbs. round steak
  2. 1 tsp. salt
  3. 1/2 tsp. oregano
  4. 1/4 tsp. pepper
  5. 1 (15 1/2 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce with mushrooms
  6. 1 (16 oz.) can whole small onions, drained

Preparation:

  1. Cut steak into 5 or 6 serving-size pieces. Coat with salt, oregano, and pepper.
  2. In a slow-cooking pot, pour spaghetti sauce over meat. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours or until meat is tender.
  3. Turn control to high; add onions.
  4. Cook on high for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with Italian green beans and toasted garlic cheese bread.
  5. Makes 5 to 6 servings.

Well, that's all for now. Please visit other Slow Cooker Thursday bloggers, starting with Sandra. Please leave me a comment if you've done one yourself so I can go check it out.

Thanks!

1:37 PM
2 comments


Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Thoughts by Gloria Steinem via Mom-101
Liz over at Mom-101 has twice now posted about her conference call and follow-up discussion with feminist leader Gloria Steinem. Thanks for sharing, Liz!

Rather than re-hash what I love about these posts and what Ms. Steinem has to say, I'm just going to link both of them so you can go check them out. The comments garnered from these posts are worth checking out as well, great dialogue going on there!

Go take a look and, if you're so inclined, let me know what you think. You obviously know what I think. :)

Post #1: Gee-El-Oh-Are-Eye-Ayyyyyyyyy

Post #2: Ask (Gloria Steinem) and Ye Shall Receive
9:02 PM
9 comments


Pray for Canon

I was going to publish a follow-up post regarding the results of my Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style recipe exchange but then I got an email request from Susan at Blessed Assurance that constitutes a much higher priority. The recipe exchange update will have to wait.

Susan is asking for prayer requests for a little boy named Canon Norman. 4 year old Canon was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. He had been awaiting a heart transplant and had endured four heart surgeries. On Saturday, 16 September, he had a heart transplant.

Today the doctors did a biopsy and discovered that it is possible that Canon's body might be rejecting his new heart. He is still on a ventilator, but coherent and very scared. His mother, Carla, is beside herself.

Now, I don't know Canon or Carla personally, but I am a mother and I know how terrified I would be if Snuggle Bug were in the same circumstances! For that reason, I am helping to spread the word and requesting prayers for little Canon.

I strongly believe in the power of prayer. I've had many people offer up prayer on my behalf over the years as I've faced my own medical challenges. Canon and his family are in my prayers and I hope they'll be in yours as well.

You can read more about Canon on a Pray For Canon blog. Please stop by and leave some encouraging comments for their family.

Thank you.
4:07 PM
7 comments


Monday, October 02, 2006
Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style

Edited to add: For more great holiday recipes, check out the 2nd Edition of my Holiday, Cooking Blogger Style recipe exchange right here!

Not long ago I asked you all to mark your calendars for today. The day has arrived to kick off my Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style recipe exchange! If you intend to participate, and I hope you do, I'd like to lay out just a few guidelines.

1) Recipes can be as long or as short as you'd like. They can be quick and simple or they can be a bit more complex. You can post more than one recipe if you'd like. Don't worry if you think there might be duplicates of the recipe you have in mind (more than one stuffing recipe, for example) because I'll bet each recipe is unique.

2) I'd appreciate holiday recipes that are tried and true. They don't have to be your own creations, I don't care where you originally got the recipe from, I just ask that you post a recipe that's worked for you in the past. Feel free to give credit where credit is due. If you post a recipe from your aunt Martha Stewart, by all means, mention that! I'll be sharing some family recipes.

3) Since I will probably take these recipes and compile my own amateur little recipe book with them, I'd appreciate it if you could add a tag at the end of your post that places your recipe in one of the following categories:

* Appetizer * Beverage * Bread * Candy * Cookies * Dessert * Jam/Jelly * Main Dish * Salad * Sauce * Side Dish * Snack * Soup *

4) When you post your recipe on your blog, within your post be sure to link back my post so that others know where to come and view more recipes. Feel free to use the graphic above in your post or on your sidebar.

5) Once you've posted your recipe on your blog, don't forget to stop back and link on my Mr. Linky so that everyone can stop by and take a look at your recipe. I'd really appreciate it if you'd put your recipe title in parenthesis in Mr. Linky.

6) There's no deadline on when you have to post your recipe. This post isn't going anywhere, so take your time!

Okay, enough with the guidelines let the fun begin! I can't wait to see your holiday recipes! I promise, I will visit your blog to see your recipe if you link here. Depending on the response I get, it may not be right away today, but I will get to your blog as soon as I can!

And now, here are three of my favorites.

Recipe #1- Dad's Stuffing

My dad has been making stuffing for our family for years. His recipe is the best, it's flavorful and moist. He never really had this recipe in writing because he always just grabbed the ingredients and threw them in. Back in 1995, I convinced him to allow me to measure those ingredients as he went, so I could finally get that recipe recorded.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 stalks of celery, chopped & pre-cooked [chop, then boil]
  2. 1 onion, chopped fine
  3. 1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted
  4. 3 eggs
  5. 1/2 tsp sage [be careful not to use too much]
  6. 1 tsp salt
  7. 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  8. 1/2 tsp pepper
  9. 2-5 loaves of bread/croutons
  10. turkey giblets [neck, heart, gizzard, & liver entrails]
  11. 2 or 3 chicken bouillon cubes

Preparation:

  1. Boil turkey giblets in a big pot with lots of water & 2-3 chicken bouillon cubes until meat pulls off the bone (30 minutes). Pull giblets out of the water and grind them up really fine. Save boiled water to use as moisture for the stuffing.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large baking pan. Add boiling water as needed to keep stuffing moist.
  3. Stuff your turkey with the stuffing or leave the stuffing in the baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 40-45 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the stuffing is heated to 150 degrees through and through.

Category: Side Dish

Recipe #2: Best Ever Sugar Cookies

This recipe was given to me at my bridal shower. It's from Oronzo's mother. The ingredient that makes these cookies so yummy is the almond extract. I use this recipe for all my holiday cookies!

Ingredients:

  1. 1 1/4 cup sugar
  2. 1 cup shortening
  3. 1 tsp vanilla
  4. 3 eggs
  5. 1 tsp baking powder
  6. 1/2 tsp salt
  7. 3 cups flour
  8. 1 tsp vanilla
  9. 1 tsp almond extract

Preparation:

  1. Cream shortening & sugar.
  2. Add eggs, vanilla, & almond extract.
  3. Sift dry ingredients and add to wet.
  4. Roll out to 1/4" thick. If you're not planning on frosting the cookies, sprinkle sugar on the top before baking.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes [the cookies should be barely brown on the edges].

Category: Cookies

Recipe #3: Buttercream Icing

There are a lot of buttercream recipes out there, but this is the one I like to use best. Fair warning, this recipe makes a lot of frosting (3 ½ pounds), but it can be used for icing cakes and cookies as well as for borders and art work on cakes. It also makes a good tasting filling between layers of the cake and under a Fondant Icing.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  2. 2 cups Crisco shortening
  3. 1 teaspoon butter flavoring (Wilton’s makes the best flavored version)
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla (use Wilton’s Clear Vanilla if you want the frosting to remain white)
  5. 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  6. 2 pounds powdered cane sugar
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  8. 1 tablespoon meringue powder (optional but the texture will be smoother)
  9. Water as necessary (I usually add about 2 tablespoons but you may need more or less depending on the humidity in your neighborhood)

Preparation:

  1. In the mixer, mix butter, Crisco shortening, and salt together to incorporate, about 5 minutes on low.
  2. Add almond, butter and vanilla extracts. Mix together well. Add about 1 pound of powdered sugar and the meringue powder and mix.
  3. Add 1/2 cup of powdered sugar at a time and mix until you get the consistency you want.
  4. Add a little milk, a teaspoon at a time, if necessary to thin the frosting. Blend well on low for several minutes.
  5. Use immediately or put in tupperware container and refrigerate. NOTE: Buttercream Icing will last for weeks as long as it is well sealed.

While I'm sharing my frosting recipe, I might as well show you some of the holiday goodies I've created in the past, using buttercream frosting and Wilton food coloring paste. Sorry, I couldn't find pictures of my Christmas cookies, but I'm sure I'll eventually be able to share some. :)

Picture #1: Ghost cake made from a Wilton mini cake pan.

Picture #2: More ghost cakes!

Picture #3: A whole stash of Halloween goodies. Click on the image to see larger picture.

Picture #4: Easter cookies made with various cookie cutters that I've collected over the years. That's another thing I collect, metal cookie cutters.


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4:00 AM
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Name: Overwhelmed

My complete profile

It wasn't supposed to work this way...Parts 1 through 10

(the story of the private, domestic adoption of our son)


(Part 1)
(Part 2)
(Part 3)
(Part 4)
(Part 5)
(Part 6)
(Part 7)
(Part 8)
(Part 9)
(Part 10- Adoption Finalization)

Fostering isn't for the faint of heart!

(our journey to adopt again through foster-to-adopt, the good, the bad, & everything in between)


Adoption #2- considering the State
More Adoption #2 thoughts
Adoption #2- Back to considering the State
Adoption #2- The Paperwork (Round 1)
Adoption #2- The Paperwork (Round 2)
Family Foster Home Licensing Prep Checklist
Adoption #2- Long overdue update
PS-MAPP class homework assignment
Our preliminary home inspection went well!
Adoption #2: Licensing update
Adoption #2- Foster Facts
Adoption #2: I love it when things go my way!
Adoption #2- The home inspection
Adoption #2- We failed our home inspection!
Adoption #2- We passed the follow-up home inspection!
Adoption #2- Still waiting
Adoption #2- We're getting closer
Adoption #2- An update & a lead
Adoption #2- The lead that didn't pan out.
Adoption #2- We're licensed!
Adoption #2- We have a tiny baby here!
Adoption #2- Update on this precious little girl.
Adoption #2- Quick update on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- Baby Bug is staying longer!
Adoption #2- Baby Bug is growing!
Adoption #2- Overdue update on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- The latest on Baby Bug
Adoption #2- Shopping spree for Baby Bug
Being a Foster Parent Does Not Make Me A Saint
Adoption #2- Another Placement Call!
Adoption #2- Placement Meeting- UPDATED!
Adoption #2- We have Boo at our home!
Adoption #2- Meeting Boo
Adoption #2- I'm angry on Boo's behalf!
Adoption #2- A Birthday Party for Boo
Adjusting to three 3 and under!
Stressful moments in fostering.
Adoption #2- Update on our foster daughters
CPS Workers Jerking Our Chain!
It's getting much worse!
Fostering: Update on Baby Bug
Fostering: Update on Boo
The effects of fostering on Snuggle Bug
The time is drawing near to let go of Baby Bug.
Good conversation with Baby Bug's dad.
Boo has a Permanency hearing coming soon!
My heart is breaking!
Bittersweet news about Baby Bug.
Next Friday is going to be tough.
Packing up Baby Bug's belongings
It's done- Baby Bug is gone.
Working on finding peace, one day at a time.
Referral to the Early Intervention Program
Baby Bug update
Home Inspection for re-licensing
Parole granted for Boo's bio mom
Baby Bug is turning 1 year old soon.
Day 2 of Boo's permanency hearing
A prayer answered today!
Attending Baby Bug's 1st birthday party
Foster news
Good news for Boo's case
Boo's bio family visits
Termination Trial date set!
A new caseworker for Boo
I've been asked to testify in court.
Court hearing for "John Doe"
Contested termination trial begins tomorrow afternoon
Boo's adoption has been finalized!

Beautiful adoption video
Date Night Bliss
Family Rules and Values
In the swing of school
It's time for the kiddos to head back to school a...
Flying home for a nice, long visit!
Baby fix!
Easing back into blogging
A shocking phone call
1 year anniversary for Boo
























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