Friday, December 29, 2006
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake)

Hooray! It's Friday! I am so ready for a long weekend of doing nothing after this busy holiday season.

Okay, it's time for another Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange!

The recipe I'm about to share is something I just made for Oronzo last night. He was complaining that I always make baked treats and then take them in to work and that he wished I would make something just for him that he didn't have to share. So, I did just that and he loved it!

Hmm...I'm noticing from my previous posts list that I seem to lean towards dessert recipes. I may have to try to mix things up a bit...next week.


Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake
Ingredients
  1. 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  2. 3/4 cup sugar
  3. 4 eggs
  4. 2 tablespoons flour
  5. 1/2 cup sour cream
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  7. 16 Reese's cups, chopped
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
  4. Add flour, sour cream and vanilla.
  5. Pour half of batter in crust lined 9" springform pan (see below for crust recipe).
  6. Sprinkle Reese's on top.
  7. Pour remaining batter over top.
  8. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 225F and bake for an hour. (This 2 different heat seatings worked wonderfully! My cheesecake didn't even crack!)
  9. Chill cheesecake in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours.
  10. Garnish with Reese’s cups and drizzle warmed chocolate over the top.
Crust
  1. 1 cup Oreo cookie crumbs
  2. 1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs
  3. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Mix together and press onto bottom and sides of greased 9" springform pan.
Here are some pictures from the one I made last night.

This is the center of the cheesecake. Look at all those yummy chunks of Reese's!
Here's the second layer of cheesecake going over the top of the Reese's.

Here's the top of my finished cheesecake. I didn't have time to drizzle melted chocolate over it.


Here's the piece of my final product that was delivered to my husband!
Okay, that's all from me! Now I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe!
Don't forget to link your specific recipe post link on Mr. Linky 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.

My previous Favorite Ingredients Friday recipes
Strawberry & Cream Cheese Fudge Brownies
Roly-Poly Santa cookies
Cole's chili
Grandma's Sponge Cake
Parmesan Bow-Tie Skillet
Scalloped Potatoes
Chocolate Crepes
Chocolate Cream Pie
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Caramel Brownies
Peach Banana Daiquiri

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


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7:00 AM
20 comments


Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Christmas & Toddler Bed
Hello everyone! Sorry I've been out of commission for a while. It's been a busy few days.

Christmas at our house was quite exciting. Now that Snuggle Bug is older, he's more aware of what Christmas involves. He didn't quite make the connection between Santa and Santa bringing him gifts, but he sure had fun opening presents. In fact, today he saw his Christmas stocking and said, "Presents?" I had to show him that it was empty and that the presents were all gone. :)

We took Snuggle Bug to Christmas Eve mass at 10 p.m. and he pretty much slept the whole time. Thankfully, he went to back to bed after mass with no problems.

Christmas morning, Snuggle Bug walked into our living room and found a Imaginarium train table set waiting for us. When he saw it, his eyes widened with surprise and he turned to me and said excitedly, "Mommy, trains!" As you can see from the picture, he's had fun with his train table!


The train table wasn't the only new thing Snuggle Bug got this week. Oronzo and I have been discussing getting Snuggle Bug a toddler bed and have done some research, but since Snuggle Bug wasn't attempting to climb out of his crib, we weren't rushing out to buy his toddler bed.

Yesterday, while I was doing some post-Christmas shopping, I found an adorable sleigh-style toddler bed. I called Oronzo and asked him what he thought about me buying it, he told me to go ahead.

Below is a picture of Snuggle Bug helping Oronzo to put together his new "big boy" bed. We simply moved Snuggle Bug's crib to the opposite wall in his room, still fully intact, and put the toddler bed in it's place.


When it was time for Snuggle Bug's afternoon nap, we asked him which bed he'd like to sleep in. He chose the toddler bed. After a bit of stalling, he finally laid down to sleep. I turned on his music and left the room. I listened outside his door for several minutes to figure out if he'd get out of bed to play or not. He chatted with his bunny for a bit and then the only sounds I heard was the music playing.

15 minutes later, I snuck into his room and snapped the 2 pictures below of him napping.



He seems to like his new bed but I guess it's a bit early to be certain, isn't it?



Last night he did the same thing, he picked the toddler bed to sleep in, stalled a bit (asking for extra hugs and kisses) and then settled down to sleep, or so I thought. I checked with him later in the evening to see how he was doing and found his jammies and diaper tossed on the floor next to his bed. He was sleeping, naked, wrapped up in his blankie.

Last week I tried a commenter's suggestion of putting him in a onsie and then putting his jammies on over that, to discourage him from stripping. That seemed to work. Last night I didn't think to use this trick and so he stripped. Tonight I will use the trick.

So, wish us luck on the toddler bed transition. I'm hoping it will continue to go well.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!


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6:00 AM
26 comments


Friday, December 22, 2006
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Strawberry & Cream Cheese Fudge Brownies )

Yikes, it's Friday and I just realized I hadn't posted a recipe yet! Sorry for the delay. I've got the day off of work, but I was busy fixing breakfast with Snuggle Bug and getting ready to dash out the door to run errands. Whew, this is a busy time of the year!

Okay, it's time for another Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange!

The recipe I'm about to share is off of the Duncan Hines website. I've made this just now for a Holiday party that we're attending today.

Sorry, I don't have time to fight Blogger to get the picture to post. Go check out the Duncan Hines link. :)

Strawberry & Cream Cheese Fudge Brownies

Ingredients

  1. 1 package Duncan Hines® Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix or Duncan Hines® Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix
  2. 1 container Duncan Hines® Creamy Home-Style Cream Cheese Frosting
  3. 1/4 to 1/2 cup
    seedless strawberry jam

Preparation

  1. Prepare and bake brownies according to package directions.
  2. Spread Duncan Hines Cream Cheese Frosting generously on cooled brownies.
  3. Shake squeezable strawberry jam well and squeeze in a zigzag pattern on top of frosting. (I actually put the jam in a pastry bag and made the pattern that way)
  4. From the red dough, shape one 1-inch ball and five 1/2-inch balls.
  5. For decorative effect, run a knife through the jam, in opposite directions.

Okay, time for me to dash off!

I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe! Don't forget to link your specific recipe post link on Mr. Linky 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.

My previous Favorite Ingredients Friday recipes

Roly-Poly Santa cookies
Cole's chili
Grandma's Sponge Cake
Parmesan Bow-Tie Skillet
Scalloped Potatoes
Chocolate Crepes
Chocolate Cream Pie
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Caramel Brownies
Peach Banana Daiquiri

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


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8:45 AM
11 comments


Thursday, December 21, 2006
Cute pictures of Snuggle Bug
Well, as we're trying to decide what to do with Adoption #2, I thought I'd share some cute pictures of Snuggle Bug.


This is Snuggle Bug and me in the airport walking to catch our connecting flight to Nebraska (for our Thanksgiving trip home). Snuggle Bug is fascinated with moving sidewalks and escalators. Those proved to be a great way to entertain him during our layover! He's such a good little traveler though.


Here's Snuggle Bug braving the moving sidewalk on his own. It didn't take him long to get up the courage to walk on them without holding my hand. Isn't he cute with his little boy backpack on? We filled it with some of his favorite toys and books.

Here's Snuggle Bug with one of his cousins. This cousin is 7 months older than Snuggle Bug and the two of them love spending time playing together. They like to hold hands a lot as they're walking.

Okay, that's all the eye candy for today. I need to get back to work. Tomorrow I'm off and I don't return to work until 12/27, so I'll get a nice long weekend with my family!

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10:52 AM
10 comments


Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Adoption #2- a lead through the State

Do you ever feel confused about the path that God wants you to follow? I'm feeling extremely confused right now.

Not long ago I wrote a post, Adoption #2- considering the State. In this post I talked about exploring the option of adopting through the foster-to-adopt program. Oronzo and I attended an orientation and I walked away feeling as though the emotional risks were too high for me to handle. Oronzo respected my decision not to persue adoption through the State at this time. I thought that was the end of the subject for a while.

Well, today we got a call from a good friend of ours who adopted her son through the State. She was calling to tell us that one of her friends has been placed with a newborn baby girl just yesterday and they're unable to adopt this child because they're moving to Alaska in 5 months. All they can do is provide a foster home for this baby. Once they move, the baby will be put back in the system.

All our friend could tell us about this situation is that the baby's mother has had 3 other children taken away from her and there's a very high probability that this baby girl will be taken from her as well, and that it probably won't take even a year for this mother's rights to be terminated.

Our friend is strongly encouraging us to get certified through the State so that this baby can be given to us by the time that her friends move to Alaska.

We've met the couple who is fostering this baby girl. Their son, also adopted through the State, has been in various playgroups with Snuggle Bug. They're a very nice family and I know this baby girl would be very well taken care of by them while she's in their home. In fact, we'd be able to visit this baby girl frequently while we were in the process of getting licensed through the State.

Is God trying to tell me that adopting through the State is the way we should go and that I need to open my heart to this option?

Here are my concerns:

1) Oronzo is scheduled to interview for a job in Nebraska, in the very city where 2 of my siblings live, on 11 January. I'm praying he gets the right job offer and we can move closer to my family. Although he's willing to consider such a possibility, he's not thrilled about moving to Nebraska and away from his family. Still, he's said that if the offer is right and the company seems to be a good one, he'll do it (he was the one that applied for the job initially with no prompting from me, I didn't find out until after the fact). He's told me, "We've lived near my family for the past 10 years, I'd be okay with moving close to your family now. I know it'd make you happy."

2) Can I get over my fears of the emotional risks to try adopting through the State? I'm not sure that there's any guarantee that the baby girl in question would be allowed to go to us even after we're certified. There's a good chance that she would, but no guarantees.

3) How would I feel with just visiting this baby girl for 5-6 months, not being able to mother her and care for her, in the hopes that I'd be allowed to adopt her?

Ugh, these decisions are so difficult! I guess I should be thankful these leads are presenting themselves to us. At this rate, we're bound to find a second child soon, one way or another!

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10:26 AM
16 comments


Tuesday, December 19, 2006
What's a mama to do?
Snuggle Bug lying on his turtle in his reading corner.


So, I found Snuggle Bug in a precarious position late last night. Let me explain.

Each night, when I put Snuggle Bug to bed, he has to have "blankie" covering him. He loves it when I tuck it in around him tight. Blankie was made by one of my aunts. It's got his name and birthday embroidered on it. It has a matching pillow. It's a beautiful set and this past year Snuggle Bug has become quite attached to it.

Unfortunately, Snuggle Bug refuses to sleep with any other blanket. His room can get a bit chilly, even with the heater on, so I attempt to cover him with a warm quilt, on top of blankie. He'll have none of that! He shoves off the quilt, pulls blankie close to him and says, "Dis one!"

I've made it part of my bedtime routine to tiptoe into his room and put the warm quilt on him, after I know he's fast asleep and won't protest.

Last night, I tiptoed in his room and the first thing I noticed out of place was a diaper on the floor next to his crib. I picked it up and noticed it was slightly wet. I peeked over the side of his crib rail and what do you think I found?

There was Snuggle Bug, sleeping on his stomach, with his arms tucked under him and his legs drawn up close and his adorable baby bum sticking up. Oh, and did I mention he was naked as the day he was born! Not only that, he was sleeping on top of his blankie, not under it. His zippered footed sleeper was discarded at the far end of his crib.

I've started to call him my little "Houdini" because no matter what jammies I put him in, he can get out of them and often decides to take them off at some point during the night. Usually I find him sleeping in just his diaper, but occasionally, like last night, I find him totally naked.

Unfortunately, I had to wake him up as I put a new diaper on him and put his jammies back on. I couldn't just let him sleep naked in the crib, that might have caused problems.

So, how do I teach him not to take off his jammies and diaper at night? Any ideas?

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9:21 AM
13 comments


Monday, December 18, 2006
Adoption #2- The lead didn't pan out.
Well, it's official. We're walking away from the adoption lead that we were given earlier this month. If you remember, I wrote about it in my We've got a lead! and my Uncertain about our lead posts.

We got an email last Friday from the lawyer that we had hoped to hire but couldn't because he was considering representing the expectant mother (in our state it's required that each party have their own legal representation and I think that's a good thing). The lawyer stated that he was accepting the expectant mother's case and he laid out the details of the situations surrounding the adoption plan and the expenses that we would be expected to pay, should we proceed.

Bottom line, there were just too many red flags or issues that made us uncomfortable. If it were one or maybe two things we might have taken the chance and hoped for the best, but in this case there were several. So, we decided to say, "No, thank you."

I felt a bit nauseous when I called and told Jessica, the midwife, that we had done a lot of soul searching and discussion but had come to the conclusion that this just wasn't the right situation for us. It especially hit home then that we wouldn't be "expecting" a baby in Feb/Mar as we had secretly hoped.

Jessica completely understood and confessed that had she been in my shoes, she and her husband probably would've made the same decision for the same reasons. She assured me that she would keep looking for us and asked me to give her a photo scrapbook when we met. We're planning to meet in person after the holidays.

So, thank you for all of your prayers on this one. I do appreciate it. I'm so thankful that, since we're already parenting Snuggle Bug, we feel as though it's okay to take our time and choose wisely for our second adoption. It don't feel such a franticness to get matched this second time around. Does that make sense? I'm still hopeful that our next child will find his/her way to us when the time is right.

Now, I have to email the lawyer back to tell him of our decision. Hitting that "send" button will not be easy.

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12:08 PM
14 comments


Saturday, December 16, 2006
Roly-Poly Santa cookie pictures
Yesterday I posted a Roly-Poly Santa cookie recipe but I didn't have decent pictures to share.

Today, I made these Roly-Poly santas to give to my neighbors as a little Christmas gift. I took pictures along the way, to share with those interested.

I made a double batch of the dough and colored about 3/4 of it red and left the rest white. It was a good thing I made a double batch. The recipe says a single batch makes 12 santas, but my double batch only made 16. I guess I made my santas a bit more roly poly than required. :)

The recipe called for mini chocolate chips to be used for eyes and buttons. I couldn't find a single store in my area that had mini chocolate chips left for sale, so I had to cut up my big ones instead.

Here's how the assembled santas look before being baked. If you don't own a Silpat baking mat, you really should get one! Nothing sticks to these mats!

Here's the finished product. I let the cookies cool, then I used two piping tips (round, size 3 tip and a star tip) to create the white portions of the cookies. Isn't he cute and roly-poly?

Here are some of the cookie plates that I've assembled for my neighbors. I hope they like them! Oronzo, Snuggle Bug, and I will be delivering them tomorrow.

Okay, that's all for now!

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10:37 PM
13 comments


Friday, December 15, 2006
Favorite Ingredient Friday (Roly-Poly Santa Cookies)

Good Morning everyone! Thank goodness it's Friday! It's been a very long week. :) I'm looking forward to getting some Christmas shopping done this weekend. Nothing like procrastinating until the last minute!

Well, it's time for another Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange!

The recipe I'm about to share is from my 1992 Better Homes & Gardens cookbook called Cookies, Cookies, Cookies .

Forgive me, the picture I'm about to share is not so great. I took a picture of the picture in my cookbook. I'll actually be making these cookies again tomorrow and I'll take a picture of my baked cookies and re-post it here tomorrow.

Note: Pictures have been added to my Saturday post so stop by and take a peek.



Roly-Poly Santa Cookies

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup butter
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1 Tbsp milk
  4. 1 tsp vanilla
  5. 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  6. red paste food coloring (you can get this at Michael's)
  7. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  8. white frosting

Preparation

  1. Mix butter on medium to high speed on your mixer for about 30 seconds or until softened. Add sugar, beat until fluffy. Beat in milk and vanilla. Add flour and beat until well combined.
  2. Remove 1 cup of dough and set aside.
  3. Stir red paste food coloring into remaining dough until desired color is attained.
  4. Shape each Santa by making one 3/4-inch ball and four 1/4-inch balls from the white dough.
  5. From the red dough, shape one 1-inch ball and five 1/2-inch balls.
  6. On an ungreased cookie sheet flatten the 1-inch red ball for body to 1/2-inch thickness. Attach white 3/4-inch ball for head; flatten to 1/2 inch. Attach four 1/2-inch red balls for arms and legs. Shape remaining 1/2-inch balls at the ends of arms and legs for hands and feet. Use chocolate pieces for eyes and buttons.
  7. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets. Remove and cool on wire racks.
  8. With decorating bag fitted with a plain tip, use your white frosting to pipe a mustache, a band of icing on hat, cuffs at hands and feet, down the front, and at the bottom of jacket. Use a star tip to pipe beard and pom-pom on hate.
  9. Makes 12.

Fear not, I'll take pictures along the way as I make these tomorrow and I'll come back to this post and upload them so that if you're really interested in making these, you'll have a clearer idea on what the instructions mean. These cookies are really cute and they make great gifts for the holidays!

I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe! Don't forget to link your specific recipe post link on Mr. Linky 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.

My previous Favorite Ingredients Friday recipes

Cole's chili
Grandma's Sponge Cake
Parmesan Bow-Tie Skillet
Scalloped Potatoes
Chocolate Crepes
Chocolate Cream Pie
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Caramel Brownies
Peach Banana Daiquiri

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



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6:32 AM
10 comments


2006 Christmas Tour of Homes

BooMama is hosting a Christmas Tour of homes and, since Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year, I thought I'd join in on the fun. You're about to see pictures of our various Christmas decorations.

BooMama mentioned providing refreshments. Well, I can't decide on any one refreshment to offer you. Would you settle for a link to my Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style recipe exchange where you'll find 200+ recipes that 80 bloggers contributed?

Okay, now for our Christmas decorations!

Let's start with our tree. It's a humble little tree, but we love it. We've made no effort to get a larger tree. This one suite us just fine.

Our tree during the daytime. We put it in the living room, in front of the bay window.



Our tree at night. My puny digital camera just didn't do a great job of capturing the lights on the tree. Sorry for the blurriness of the image.

I think the most enjoyable part of putting up our Christmas tree is hanging on our ornaments that we've collected over the years. Both Oronzo and I have ornaments dating from our childhood, up to 2005. I'm waiting to see what ornament Oronzo will get me this year.



This ornament is very special. It was given to Snuggle Bug by his birth grandmother, Clara, the day he was born, in preparation for his first Christmas. This is his very first ornament ever.



This ornament was given to us last year by one of our neighbors. We'd only been in our new home for 3 months by the time Christmas had arrived and we were so touched by the thoughtful welcome gifts from many of our neighbors. We love our neighborhood!



This ornament was made for me by my mom a few years back. She made each of us kids a set of about 6 ornaments. I love each of them!



This is my Fontanini nativity set. I've been collecting pieces of this set since I graduated from college. I love it because, not only is it beautiful, but it's hard to break.



This is Snuggle Bug's Little People nativity set. I put it out in the open for him so that it's easily accessible when he wants to play with it. You may have noticed that in both of my nativity sets, baby Jesus is not present. Our Catholic tradition is to wait until Christmas morning to add baby Jesus to the nativity scene.


This is my favorite children's Christmas book. It's a Little Golden book. I used to have a copy of this as a child but it was lost over the years. I made a point to buy another copy for Snuggle Bug. The illustrations in this book are beautiful!


And this helps remind me how many days until Christmas, which is good because I still have a few days to finish up Christmas shopping!

Well, there you have it, some of my Christmas favorites. I hope you've enjoyed my little tour! Now, I'm off to go see the many other holiday decorated homes of my fellow bloggers.

Thanks, BooMama, for hosting the 2006 Christmas Tour of Homes! :)

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5:30 AM
64 comments


Wednesday, December 13, 2006
WFMW (12 lbs 'til Christmas)
It's time to post yet another WFMW tip.

Everyone knows that the holiday season is not the right time to be trying to loose weight. Just to make you're not tempted to diet, you might consider doing a 12 lbs 'til Christmas goodie sharing at work.

This idea was introduced to me by some of the ladies that I work with. We're doing this at my company right now and it's been fabulous! Everyone seems to be willing to take their turn at bringing in goodies and we all love having something yummy to look forward to each moring!

12 lbs 'til Christmas!

  1. Make a daily sign-up sheet that covers two weeks (more or less days are fine) until Christmas. The sign-up sheet should have dates listed, as well as sections for names & items being brought. If you want a sample copy, leave me your email address and I'll email you one.
  2. Send out an email to all your co-workers asking for particaption. Here's what you might say in the email:

Please join us in our 12 lbs 'til Christmas goodie sharing efforts. For the next two weeks, leading up to Christmas, we're asking two people per day to sign up to bring goodies for everyone in the office. You can bring cakes, cookies, breads, or any other baked goods that you like. These goodies can be homemade or purchased.

Sign up sheets can be found taped to the door at the main entrance.

Be sure to stop by the breakroom each morning to see what scrumptous goodies are waiting to tantalize your taste buds! First come, first serve!

Here at my office, we've talked about extending this after Christmas, but dropping it down from a daily offering to just doing it on Fridays. No dieting for our group! :)

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 creator of Works-For-Me Wednesday.

My past WFMW entries:

Toddler Healthy Eating Techniques
Reindeer Puppet
Grocery Game website
No Fear Shakespeare
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

Labels:

6:30 AM
14 comments


Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Blogger Beta doesn't like me!
Okay, what's up with Blogger Beta today? Everytime I try to post a comment on someone that is using Blogger Beta, it doesn't accept it! Ugh! Sorry folks, I'm trying to catch up with y'all but it's not happening.

So, has anyone successfully switched their old Blogger account to the new Blogger beta? I'm tempted to do it, but I'm so afraid of loosing my posts and my beautiful blog design by Susie over at Bluebird Blogs.

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8:25 AM
14 comments


Monday, December 11, 2006
Snuggle Bug's 2nd birthday party
It's hard for me to believe, but this past weekend we celebrated Snuggle Bug's 2nd birthday with a party held at our house.

Where have these years flown? I kid you not, it feels like just yesterday that I held him in my arms at 2 minutes old and marveled at how light he felt and how much thick, dark hair he was born with. The memories of his birth day are still so vivid!

Now, he's a walking, talking, sometimes sassy, very sweet little boy who has Oronzo and I wrapped around his little finger.

We love this child so very much! He's brought such happiness and contentment to our lives. We truly enjoy parenting energetic, often funny toddler. We're so very thankful that we've been blessed with having him as the center of our little family.

For his 2nd birthday party, we went with a Thomas the Train theme. Snuggle Bug is very enamored with trains. Anytime we walk into Barnes & Nobles or Toys R Us, he makes a bee-line for the Thomas the Train table sets that each store has set up for little ones to play with. He also loves playing with the one Geotrack set that he got for Christmas last year and the other miscellaneous trains he has about the house. And the times when he's gotten actual train rides, he's been excited beyond words!

I thought I'd share some pictures from his 2nd birthday party. I hope you enjoy them.


Here's the front part of his party invitations. I made this on Photoshop, then I cut it out and pasted it to colored cardstock, and finally pasted it on more colored cardstock folded into a card. I did the same type of thing for the inside details. The cards turned out cute!

This is Snuggle Bug's train cake. Believe it or not, this was actually made from scratch by Oronzo's mom, Aleiza. She came to our house Friday night and showed me how to make this cake. It only took about 3 hours! She's made train cakes like this for the past 40 years, beginning with Oronzo's 1st birthday. Each of her children have had train cakes at one point in time, and now she's making them for her grandchildren. She taught me how to make this so that I can take over the tradition after she's gone. I took a lot of pictures along the way to jog my memory later.


Here's the table set, in preparation for the beginning of Snuggle Bug's party. I was so excited to find a 50% off sale going on at Party America! I got all his Thomas the Train supplies for 1/2 off. Hooray! The stickers were well received. I gave one to each child when they arrived and I was surprised at how excited they got.


The train cake was a HUGE HIT with Snuggle Bug and all his little friends. All of them wanted to touch it and when we cut it up to serve it, the lollipop wheels were the first things to be eaten, even before the cake and ice cream. The picture above shows Snuggle Bug (right) with one of his cousins (left) happily devouring their suckers. This is a rare treat for both of them, so they were quite thrilled.

This is Snuggle Bug playing with the Little People farm set that Grandma and Grandpa gave him for this 2nd birthday. Yes, my house looks like a Toys R Us store. It always does this time of year, with Snuggle Bug's birthday being so close to Christmas.

Here's Snuggle Bug opening a gift from his aunt and uncle. It was an ambulance with a removable driver. He's been carrying this toy around everywhere for the past 2 days. He even wanted it on the table next to him as he ate breakfast this morning.


Here's Snuggle Bug playing with his new Geotracks train set. Oronzo picked this out because he liked the remote operated train engine that it came with. He and I both know that he bought this train set more for him than for Snuggle Bug, but I guess that's one of the perks of being a parent.



Here I've taken the birthday party invite design and changed it a bit to use for making "Thank You" cards that I'll send out this week for all the great gifts Snuggle Bug got at his party. You have to love Photoshop for quick and simple designs!

((Sigh)) My baby isn't a baby anymore. He's now an adorable 2 year old. Thank you, God, for your many blessings...most importantly Snuggle Bug.

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10:34 AM
26 comments


Friday, December 08, 2006
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Cole's chili)

Good Morning everyone! Thank goodness it's Friday! It's been a long week. :)

Well, it's time for another Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange!

The recipe I'm about to share is from my brother, Cole. He has started a tradition of making a big pot of chili on football Saturdays (when the Huskers are playing out of town). He invites family and friends over to watch the game and they are greeted with the appetizing aroma of his chili bubbling in a pot of the stove. This is, by far, my favorite type of chili.


Cole's Chili

Ingredients

  1. 3 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
  2. 3 (15 oz) cans warm water
  3. 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  4. 2 (15 oz) cans Del-Monte original recipe stewed tomatoes
  5. 1 (15 0z) can mexican style chili beans
  6. 1/2 cup minced onions
  7. 1 Tbsp Lowrey's seasoning salt
  8. 1 tsp garlic salt
  9. 1 tsp pepper
  10. 1 tsp chili powder
  11. 1/2 package taco seasoning
  12. 1 1/2- 2 lbs. ground beef

Preparation

  1. Brown the ground beef, coating with chili powder. Drain and add to a stock pot.
  2. Saute onions with 2 tsp olive oil or butter until softened. Add to the stock pot.
  3. Add remaining spices into the stock pot.
  4. Add cans of tomato sauce, water, tomato paste, stewed tomatoes, and chili beans.
  5. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat so that chili can simmer for several hours.
  6. Note: If chil is too thick, add tomato juice. If too thin, add tomato paste. If you want your chili spicer, add more chili powder.
  7. Optional: serve with shredded cheddar cheese and crackers.

This is always a big hit with our family and friends! If you decide to try it, I hope you'll love it as much as we do!

I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe! Don't forget to link your specific recipe post link on Mr. Linky 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.

My previous Favorite Ingredients Friday recipes

Grandma's Sponge Cake
Parmesan Bow-Tie Skillet
Scalloped Potatoes
Chocolate Crepes
Chocolate Cream Pie
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Caramel Brownies
Peach Banana Daiquiri

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


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7:34 AM
19 comments


Thursday, December 07, 2006
Adoption #2- Uncertain about our lead.
Thank you all who left such supportive comments on my Adoption #2- We've got a lead! post. It's hard to express how much your encouragement and prayers mean to me.

So, I can't get into a lot of detail about this lead that we have but I need to share at least a couple of points to explain our uncertainty of it all.

1) The expectant mother has no medical insurance and does not qualify for assistance of any kind. We'd be required to pay all her medical expenses (pre-natal, hospital bills for her and the baby for the birth, etc.).

2) The clinic that she went to contacted the lawyer that we would've liked to use (the best one in our state) and he's meeting this expectant mother next week. If he accepts her case and represents her, then we can't use him. We'll have to start from scratch and find a new lawyer.

3) The baby's father's whereabouts are unknown. He doesn't know about the baby or the adoption plan.

I'm not certain that we can afford to pay all medical expenses in this scenario. I have no problem with her needing them paid, I just don't know that we're the couple that can do that. Even if she has a perfectly healthy delivery, the bills can be high with no insurance coverage. And if there are any complications, it could skyrocket way out of hand.

I'm a bit thrown through a loop that we wouldn't be able to hire the lawyer that we wanted. He did an excellent job for us and we would've felt safe using him again. I wouldn't even know where to begin to find another one. He's the best in the entire state, no kidding. It'd feel weird to have him on the other side of the fence, so to speak. At least I'd be comforted knowing that the expectant mother would have the best legal representation, looking out for her best interests. I'm just not sure where that leaves us.

I'm nervous about the wildcard of the baby's father's whereabouts being unknown. That's an added complication that makes me uncomfortable.

So, where does this leave us? Waiting. We're waiting until next week when the lawyer we wanted to hire meets with the expectant mother to get more details. We're waiting to find out what kind of living, legal, and counseling expenses, in addition to the medical expenses we'd be asked to pay for her.

On a positive note, this expectant mother has expressed an interested in meeting with us before the baby's birth so we'd have the opportunity to get to know her a bit, which is important to me for the sake of the child.

We haven't said no to this situation, but I can honestly say that I'm not getting a good feeling from all the factors involved.

Your continued prayers would be much appreciated!

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8:14 AM
19 comments


Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Adoption #2- We've got a lead!
I can't believe it, I'm so excited that I just have to share. We have an adoption lead! It might be promising! Let me share some of what I know.

Oronzo's mom, Aleiza, has been spreading the news amongst family and friends that we're looking to adopt a second child. She's told us more than once that she's determined to find us our next baby!

So not long ago she was talking to one of her neighborhood friends, they've known each other for years, about the fact that we were looking to adopt. Her friend says, "Hey, my daughter-in-law has a friend that's a mid-wife. Maybe she could help keep a look-out."

Aleiza promptly asks for this friend's name and phone number and then emailed me today, telling me to contact her and introduce myself. So, I did just that.

The friend (to be referred to as Jessica) happens to live in the same city as we do. I called, introduced myself, and explained the convoluted way that I found out about her and got her contact information.

Jessica surprised me by saying, "Oh, I'm so glad you called today. I've been wondering how to get in touch with you!"

Come to find out, Jessica has recently been put in touch with an expectant mother who is 7 months pregnant and looking to place her child for adoption! I won't get into the details as to why she's making this decision (I don't know all the details but those that I do know will remain private out of respect for this woman).

Jessica is meeting with this expectant mother, in-person, tomorrow and getting more information from her. She asked if I wanted her to call me afterwards to share what she learned so that we can decide whether or not we want to be put in contact with this woman, if she wants that too. I told her, "That'd be great!"

Can you believe it?! We may have a lead on a baby due in just 2 months! We weren't planning on something happening so quickly!

Now, I know this could not work out. But even if it doesn't, Jessica has assured us that she'll keep us in mind for other situations that are brought to her attention. She said she'd like to arrange a time to meet with her so we can get to know each other. She also asked if I'd make her a photo scrapbook so that she can share it with expectant mothers if she's but in contact with any. She told me that she has connections with hospitals and doctors throughout our city and it's not uncommon for her to hear of these potential adoption situations.

What's neat is that Jessica is an adoptive mother. I don't know all the details but she and her husband adopted their second child when a co-worker came to her with an private adoption situation. So, she totally gets where we're coming from. She didn't feel comfortable with adopting through an agency any more than we do. She knows what going through private adoption involves, both emotionally and financially.

And even if we never get matched through her I'm excited because, based on our initial phone conversation, I think I've made a new friend! :)

All prayers would be much appreciated! I'll keep you posted.

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5:03 PM
26 comments


Monday, December 04, 2006
Getting into the spirit of Christmas
I don't know about you all, but I had a busy weekend! My most favorite part was getting into the spirit of Christmas by setting out my decorations and putting up our Christmas tree.

Oronzo and I invited two of our neighbors over to help us put ornaments on the tree. I just love unwrapping each ornament and reliving the memories surrounding each one. Oronzo and I both have many ornaments from our childhood and we're starting a new collection for Snuggle Bug.

We took a break and had hot chocolate with whipped cream and brownies warm from the oven. Fun! Fun!

After the neighbors left and Snuggle Bug went down for his afternoon nap, I took the opportunity to set up my Fontanini nativity set. I started this collection shortly after graduating from college and I love each piece. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you'll notice that Baby Jesus is not in the manger. As a Catholic, it was our tradition not to place Baby Jesus in the manger until Christmas morning. I just love that anticipation.

For the first time ever, I now have a fireplace mantel to display my nativity set on. It's a humble mantel but I think it's perfect! My Grandma G. had a nativity set that she set out each year, on her buffet, and I remember how I used to love to climb on a stool and peer over the top of the buffet to see all the figurines. Grandma G. used fluffy snow-like material to set the manger on, and she'd put some on top of the manger as well. She also strung white lights throughout the scene. I need to go get white lights and snow fluff to complete my arrangement, don't you think?

Yesterday, we attended a dear friend's baby shower. They're due in February with their first child. I'm so happy and excited for them! It's hard to believe that nearly 2 years ago they attended our baby shower for Snuggle Bug, and I was tickled to be able to return the favor! :)

This coming weekend, we're throwing a little party to celebrate Snuggle Bug's upcoming 2nd birthday! We've decided to go with a train themed party. It should be fun!

Well, that's all for now. So tell me, what did you do this weekend? I hope you've been getting into the Christmas spirit too!

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12:02 PM
19 comments


Friday, December 01, 2006
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Grandma's sponge cake)

Good Morning everyone! Can you believe it's the beginning of December already?! Where has this year gone? Well, it's time for another Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange!

The recipe I'm about to share was given to me by my aunt while I was back home in Nebraska for Thanksgiving. She made this for me and then let me copy down the recipe. She told me that it was her mother's recipe (that'd be my paternal grandmother, Grandma K).


Grandma's Sponge Cake

Ingredients

  1. 4 eggs
  2. 4 Tbsp water
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 1 tsp vanilla
  5. 1 cup flour
  6. 1 tsp baking powder
  7. frozen strawberries, thawed
  8. Cool Whip

Preparation

  1. Separate the yolks from the white for all 4 eggs (both will be used).
  2. Beat the 4 egg yolks with 4 Tbsp water.
  3. Add sugar & vanilla and beat some more.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour & baking powder.
  5. Add dry mixture to wet and then fold in the 4 egg whites, beating gently.
  6. Pour mixture into a greased & floured 9x13 inch pan and bake for approximately 30 minutes at 375 degrees. The center of the cake needs to bounce back to the touch before it can be considered finished.
  7. Cut into individual slices and spoon strawberries & then Cool Whip over the top for a scrumptious strawberry shortcake dessert! The juices from the strawberries will soak right into the sponge cake, making it even more moist and delicious!
  8. Optional: this cake batter can also be used to create an upside down cake by being poured over a mixture of 1/4 lb. melted butter, a handful of brown sugar, & a can of drained pineapple chunks. You still bake it for approximately 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

This was a big hit with our family during the Thanksgiving holiday! If you decide to try it, I hope you'll love it as much as I did!

I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe! Don't forget to link your specific recipe post link on Mr. Linky 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.

My previous Favorite Ingredients Friday recipes

Parmesan Bow-Tie Skillet
Scalloped Potatoes
Chocolate Crepes
Chocolate Cream Pie
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Caramel Brownies
Peach Banana Daiquiri

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


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6:00 AM
13 comments




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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