Friday, November 30, 2007
Favorite Ingredients Friday- Casserole Edition

Good Morning everyone! Thank goodness it's Friday!

Okay, it's time for my Favorite Ingredients Friday- Casserole edition recipe exchange! I'm hoping you have some quick and easy casserole recipes for me because time is precious right now!

The recipe I'm sharing is a Campbell's Kitchen recipe and it's quite yummy! I think you'll like it.


Beef Taco Bake Casserole

Ingredients

  1. 1 pound ground beef
  2. 1 (10.75 ounce) can Campbell's® Condensed Tomato Soup
  3. 1 cup Pace® Chunky Salsa or Pace® Picante Sauce
  4. 1/2 cup milk
  5. 6 (6 inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch pieces
  6. 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preparation


  1. Cook beef in medium skillet over medium-high heat until beef is browned, stirring to separate meat. Pour off fat.

  2. Add soup, salsa, milk, tortillas and half the cheese. Spoon into 2-quart shallow baking dish. Cover.

  3. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes or until hot. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. .

I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday- Casserole edition 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 everyone to go back and search for recipes.

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6:46 AM
18 comments


Thursday, November 29, 2007
Adoption #2- Update on this precious little girl.
I've just finished feeding and changing this cute little Baby Bug (our nickname for her at the moment) and she's hanging out in my lap. I thought I'd take a quick minute to give you all an update but typing one-handed will take some time.

This little girl is the sweetest baby. She's mellow, only crying when she's hungry, really. I can't remember for sure if this is right, but at 3 weeks old she seems to be smiling in response to our voice. I don't think it's just gas. She's such a teeny tiny little thing. She's got quite a bit of dark hair and her eyes seem hazel, although I know she's way too young to know for sure what color they'll be. She has a cute little button nose and long fingers.

Baby Bug arrived with a diaper bag containing newborn diapers, an unopened container of formula, a bottle of medicine to treat thrush, 2 pink blankets, and the yellow sleeper she was dressed in. That's all the CPS worker could get her mom to put together before they took Baby Bug away. Unfortunately, everything smelled like smoke. We took the diapers and formula out of the bag and then set the bag outside.

Thank goodness we saved all of Snuggle Bug's baby stuff. I got out some bottles, a couple of newborn sleepers and my favorite sleeper gowns, as well as a couple of baby blankets. I undressed her, checked her over, and then re-dressed her in clean clothes. I'd forgotten how squirmy little ones are at this age and I fumbled a bit to get her diaper and sleeper on. I took the sleeper she arrived in and put them in the washer. I braved an outing to Target yesterday with both Baby Bug and Snuggle Bug (it went well) and I bought Baby Bug more diapers and some baby socks to keep her feet warm.

Oronzo and I are getting in to the swing of night time and daytime feedings. In the beginning of her stay with us, Baby Bug started out only drinking about an ounce of formula at a feeding. She slowly worked her way up to a couple of ounces and even 3 ounces once or twice. This latest feeding she surprised me by sucking down 4 ounces in no time flat!

She came to us with a bit of a diaper rash so we've been treating that with what we always used for Snuggle Bug, Aquaphor, and it seems to be helping. I'd forgotten how often little ones need to be fed and changed. Good thing I bought those extra diapers!

Oronzo and Snuggle Bug took her to her doctors appointment yesterday and we learned that she doesn't actually have thrush (I'm glad we took the CPS worker's advice not to administer any medication until after she had seen our doctor). Our pediatrician told us to throw out the thrush medication that was brought with her.

We learned that Baby Bug weighs 6 lbs even (somewhat troublesome considering we think she weight 6 lbs, 11 oz at birth 3 weeks ago). Our pediatrician is concerned with that weight loss and wants to see her again next Thursday to weigh her. She's 19.5" long and her head circumference is 36 cm.

There doesn't appear to be any bruises or injuries anywhere on her body. The pediatrician did notice the stiffness in her limbs and said that's often a symptom of a drug exposed baby (even though she tested negative at birth, her mom admitted to doing drugs during the first 4 months of her pregnancy). There's not a lot that can be done about that.

Snuggle Bug is really enjoying having a baby in the house and is very gentle. He likes to "help" us feed her, adjust her blanket, and talk to her. He even sat on the floor next to her infant carrier and "read" her a book. And Oronzo told me that Snuggle Bug was quite protective of her in the doctor's office. He didn't like that the doctor was making her cry during the examination and Snuggle Bug walked up to the doctor and scolded him, saying, "Stop! Not nice!" and then turned to Baby Bug and asked, "You okay, baby?"

Yesterday was a flurry of activity. My phone ran off the hook. I had family members calling me. I played phone tag with the CPS Investigator a couple of times, I spoke with our agency, and I spoke to a woman from a state-run child protective agency that I'd never heard of before.

Several people are interested in checking on the welfare of Baby Bug. Per the request of the CPS worker who delivered her, we had Baby Bug checked out by our pediatrician right away. The CPS Investigator stopped by on his way home from work last night to check in on her. The woman from the state-run child protective agency is stopping by today at 8:45 a.m. to check her over. Our Foster Care Specialist is coming at 10 a.m. to do an in-home visit. We were warned in training that once we had a child placed with us we'd have a lot of strangers coming in to our home. They weren't kidding! We don't mind though. We know that all of these people have the interests of this little angel in mind.

After investigating the circumstances of Baby Bug's parents all day yesterday, the CPS Investigator assigned to this case finally connected with me on the phone around 5:00 p.m. He told me that he's confident that the decision to remove Baby Bug from the home was a sound one. There is evidence of substance abuse in the home and neglect of Baby Bug as a result. We suspect she wasn't being fed or changed on a regular basis.

We have been informed that it's very likely that an extended family member, from the mother's side, will step forward and request to take Baby Bug while her mother works her case plan. We learned that the 2 previous children that this mom had taken from her were adopted by extended family. Although we're sad to learn that we probably won't have a chance at adopting her, if that's the way things turn out, we are encouraged that Baby Bug has extended family that loves her and wants to care for her. I know if there were someone in my family struggling, I'd do everything in my power to take the kids in and care for them while things are being sorted out.

There's a Team Decision Meeting being held today at 10:00 a.m. and we've been told that Baby Bug's family, CPS, and a judge will be sitting down to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the family and to decide whether Baby Bug remains in custody of the state, in our home, or if she's allowed to be transferred to an extended family member.

An extended family member would have to pass a modified home study (not a rigorous or time consuming as the one we passed) but if that worked out, they could have Baby Bug in their home tomorrow, this weekend, or early next week. The CPS Investigator said it'd be Tuesday at the very latest but probably sooner.

So, it looks like we won't have Baby Bug here with us for very long. Oronzo and I are a bit sad about that but we're both grateful that the CPS Investigator has been very upfront with us about the situation. It's better that we know right away than have things drag on for months before we learn that the extended family will be taking her in.

While we have her here, we're making sure her basic needs are being met (food, clothing, diaper changes) and we're showering her with affection...holding her close, singing/talking to her, kissing and stroking her soft hair and cheeks. She really is very precious! Her little squeaks and coos are adorable!

Okay, that's all for now. Thank you to all of you who left such sweet comments on my post yesterday. Forgive me if I don't respond to them individually. We're a bit preoccupied at the moment. :)

I'll keep you all posted on what we learn from the Team Decision Meeting later this morning.

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6:09 AM
24 comments


Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Adoption #2- We have a tiny baby here!
We've just received our second placement call from our state agency at 11:30 PM! If you remember, our first placement call didn't pan out.

I'll tell you what I can about this most recent call.

There's a little girl, just 2 weeks old, who is about to be removed from her mother's home (unless the mother flees before they can get to her as she has in the past) because her mother has a on-going drug problem. The baby tested negative for drugs at birth but the mom is still using. Apparently this mother has had her parental rights terminated for 2 other children for the same reason. The baby will start out as an emergency receiving placement but may move in to a foster-to-adopt placement. It's too soon to tell.

I've been told that a CPS worker is on her way to remove this baby girl from her home. The CPS worker has to have the police meet her there. It may take a couple of hours for it to happen.

The CPS worker will call us on her way to our house. The baby could arrive at our house by 1:00 AM or so!

Once she arrives, we have to call and leave a message for our Foster Care Specialist, letting her know the time the baby arrived. Then our Foster Care Specialist will arrange to come to our house for a visit within 72 hours.

So, now we wait to get a call from the CPS worker to see if this baby girl is coming to our home tonight. It depends on what the CPS worker finds when she arrives at the last known residence for the baby's mother.

I'll keep you all posted!

Edited to add:

We have a tiny baby in our house as of 1:30 AM! She's so precious. Although she's a day shy of 3 weeks old, she's a bit small, weighing about 6 lbs., 8 oz. We're going to try to get her in to the pediatrician later this morning. The CPS worker that delivered her to our home is worried that she's a "failure to thrive" baby and wants a doctor to look her over!

Snuggle Bug woke up with the commotion and came out of his room to see what was up. I introduced him to the baby and he asked, "Where baby mama go?" I explained that the baby's mommy and daddy couldn't care for her right now so we would be taking care of her for a while. He wanted to touch her feet and put her blanket on her.

I managed to get Snuggle Bug back to bed, promising him he could see the baby again later this morning. Oronzo's cuddling with the baby right now. We're not sure how long we'll have her, but we'll take good care of her while we do.

I think it's going to be hard for me to sleep but I probably should try!

More later!

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11:45 PM
32 comments


How much would you pay?

We're getting price quotes for a cleaning service to come in and do the heavy cleaning of our house twice a month. With both of us working outside of the home at the moment, it's getting to be too much and our house is suffering. I'm tired of it! It's time to take action and I'm not talking Flylady kind of action!

So I'm curious, how much would you pay for housekeeping service? Do you hire someone now?

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7:00 AM
12 comments


Monday, November 26, 2007
Winners of "Confessions of a Mommy Handler" giveaway!
Good morning everyone!

I'm sorry I haven't been around in days and that I didn't get the drawing of names done for the Confessions of a Mommy Handler giveaway done this past Saturday as plannned. We were out of town for the holidays until yesterday afternoon and our entire extended family got some kind of stomach virus while we were all gathered together. Not fun! We're all fine now, thank goodness!

So, it's time to announce the 5 winners of my most recent book giveaway! The winners were randomly selected using Random Integer Generator.




And the winners are:

#7- Darcee at Simply Catholic

#30- Sherry at unknown blog (Sherry you have until Wednesday to email me your info, otherwise I'll have to pick another winner).

#8- Stephanie at Olive Tree

#25- Michelle at Scribbit

#24- Jill The Diaper Diaries

Congrats to all the winners! I just need you to email me your mailing address so I can get these books out to you this week!

For those of you who didn't win this time, there are still 7 more books up for grabs on my November Pay It Forward Book Exchange so check that post out for more details! And you know me, I'll be hosting other book giveaways in the future.

Happy Monday to you all!

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5:11 AM
6 comments


Wednesday, November 21, 2007
WFMW (Holiday Cooking)
Happy Wednesday to you! It's time once again to post another WFMW tip!

Okay, forgive me for being a bit lame but things have been mighty busy on this end! I've just finished baking a pie for our Thanksgiving dinner, cleaning, and packing for our road trip that we're taking today to spend a long weekend with Oronzo's parents.

I hope you don't mind if I just share a reminder with you, rather than a new tip.


If you're looking for some last minute ideas for your Thanksgiving dinner, check out my Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style post. It's got probably close to 200 recipes to choose from! And feel free to add more if you'd like! :)

Using tried and true recipes shared by fellow bloggers works for me. To find out what works for others, be sure to check out the other links at Shannon's, the creator of Works-For-Me Wednesday!

My past WFMW entries are found here.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

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6:00 AM
9 comments


Monday, November 19, 2007
Win a copy of "Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler"
The winners of this giveaway were announced right here!

Kira over at Random House asked if I wanted a review copy of the book Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler, a memoir by Wade Rouse. I'm always looking for the next good book to read so, of course, I said, "Yes!"

Imagine my surprise when I received not one copy, but six copies of this book! One for me and five to give away to my loyal readers!

I just finished this book last night. It was good!

Here's what the inside jacket says:

When Wade Rouse—a rural, public school graduate who grew up more Hee Haw than Dynasty—was hired as the director of publicity at the prestigious Tate Academy, he quickly discovered his real job was to make a few of the very pretty, very rich, very mean mommies of the elite students happy. Enter former Tate beauty queen and sports star Katherine Isabelle Ludington—Kitsy to her friends—who went to an Ivy, married an Ivy, and made a lot of money. Now, she is Wade’s VIP volunteer and a perfectly coiffed nightmare. In between designing Louis Vuitton–inspired reunion invitations, dressing as Ronald Reagan for Halloween, and surviving surprise Botox parties, Wade tries to tame Kitsy and her pink Lilly Pulitzer–clad posse while reclaiming his self-esteem. Following a year in the life of the super rich and super spoiled, Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler is hilarious, heartbreaking, and deliciously catty.

I just finished reading the book last night and the entire time I was reading it I kept thinking, 'Surely people don't really act like this?' I didn't go to a private school but I had some Barbies in my high school and I suspect their mothers were much like the Pink Ice Barbies described in this book!

This book not only delved into the materialistic mentality and cruelness of the "in" crowd, but the extrodinary efforts that Wade and others made to be accepted by these people, until the personal cost became too high.

I really enjoyed this book and I think you will too! If you'd like to win a copy of this book, just leave me a comment and I'll randomly choose five winners this Saturday, 24 November.

Now, I'm not including this as part of my November Pay It Forward Book Exchange but if you're a winner who'd like to share this book with others, by all means, please do so!

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6:00 AM
30 comments


Saturday, November 17, 2007
Pay It Forward Book Exchange Winners!

It's time to pick three winners for my November Pay It Forward Book Exchange. I've used Random.org to find my winners.

And the winners are...



1) Nicki at Angels of Heart who wins The Grand Weaver.

2) Jubilee at Notes of Jubilee who wins Return to Me.

3) Cynthia at Springmont Cottage who wins My Sister's Keeper.

Congrats, Ladies! Please email me your mailing addresses so I can send you your books next week!

And for those of you who didn't win my giveaway, check out the additional books still up for grabs! And stop back later next week, I'll publish a post about 5 copies of a book that I got from a publisher. I'm giving those away separate from my monthly Pay It Forward giveaways.

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7:27 AM
8 comments


Friday, November 16, 2007
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Muffin Edition)

Good Morning everyone! Thank goodness it's Friday!

Okay, it's time for my Favorite Ingredients Friday- Muffin edition recipe exchange! Since I'm a chocoholic, I couldn't resist posting my favorite chocolate muffin recipe. These are so yummy, you have to try them!


Chocolate Muffins

Ingredients

  1. 2/3 cup of baking cocoa
  2. 2 large eggs
  3. 2 cups of flour
  4. 1 cup of chocolate chips
  5. 1/2 cup of sugar
  6. 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  7. 1 1/3 cups of milk
  8. 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
  9. 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  10. 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Coat muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and vanilla. Stir in half a cup of chocolate chips.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs and milk. Add the egg/milk mixtute to the other ingredients until moistened.
  4. Scoop the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips.
  5. Bake for about twenty minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.Cool on a wire rack before removing from the pan.

I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday- Muffin edition 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 everyone to go back and search for recipes.

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5:00 AM
9 comments


Thursday, November 15, 2007
Adoption #2- News from the Agency
Well, we've received a call from our state agency. Unfortunately, it wasn't great news!

Remember that 1st placement call that I mentioned about two weeks ago, for the 11 month old little girl? Well, we were told today that we were not the family picked to receive her.

Oronzo and I weren't particularly surprised by this news. In fact, we would've been quite surprised if we were picked out of the 30 other families, especially considering we weren't even officially licensed at the point that our homestudy was reviewed. I suspect that a family who has been waiting longer than us was picked, at least I hope this is that case.

Still, I can't help but feel disappointed that we weren't chosen. I know, God has the right child in mind for our family and we need to be patient. I'm trying to keep that in mind.

Each time that the phone rings, my heart races a bit and I wonder, 'Is it the agency calling us with a placement?' So far, we've received no further placement calls.

And so, we wait. Thank goodness we have Snuggle Bug to love on! He helps to keep us smiling with his fun antics.

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7:02 PM
8 comments


Wednesday, November 14, 2007
WFMW (removing adhesive from walls)

Happy Wednesday to you! It's time once again to post another WFMW tip!

The other day Snuggle Bug plastered several stickers on our mirrors and walls (it's amazing what happens when you have your back turned for 2 minutes) and I couldn't get them off just by trying to peel them off.

After doing a Google search, I tried the suggestion of using a blow-dryer to soften the adheasive of the stickers and remove them from these nonplastic surfaces. Guess what? It worked! And now those stickers are way up out of his reach!

Using a blow-dryer to remove stickers works for me. To find out what works for others, be sure to check out the other links at Shannon's, the creator of Works-For-Me Wednesday!

My past WFMW entries are found here.

One last note:

Please join me in sharing any hot deals that you know of for toys, books, and other gifts, either online or in stores. It might be a sale that you have confirmed is taking place. It might be a coupon that you found online or in your mailbox. It might be a mail-in-rebate that you learned about recently. It might be the most reasonably priced product you’ve found when you’ve done your cost comparisons. Anything that might save us some money during our holiday shopping is acceptable (keep it clean, this is a family-friendly website)!

If you know of any really hot deals for Christmas this year, please let me know on my Hot Deals for a Cool Christmas post. Thanks!

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6:00 AM
12 comments


Monday, November 12, 2007
Hot Deals for a Cool Christmas!

With Christmas just around the corner, I thought it’d be fun to put together an exchange of hot deals for a cool Christmas! Here’s what I have in mind:

Please join me in sharing any hot deals that you know of for toys, books, and other gifts, either online or in stores. It might be a sale that you have confirmed is taking place. It might be a coupon that you found online or in your mailbox. It might be a mail-in-rebate that you learned about recently. It might be the most reasonably priced product you’ve found when you’ve done your cost comparisons. Anything that might save us some money during our holiday shopping is acceptable (keep it clean, this is a family-friendly website)!

I have some basic guidelines for this information exchange:

1) Please only leave a link if you have written a "Hot Deals" post. Please mention my "Hot Deals for a Cool Christmas" in your post (you can grab the image/button from the top of this post) and link back to my master list here. I will delete any links to blogs that haven't posted a "Hot Deals" post.

2) When adding your post to Mr. Linky, link directly to your "Hot Deals" post, not to the front page of your blog. This makes browsing easier for everyone, especially when people browse around in the archives. For an explanation on how to do this, go here.

3) Enter a 3-4 word description of your post, in parentheses, after your name. Be descriptive, be specific, and BE BRIEF.

Thanks for participating! I can't wait to see what savings ideas you all come up with! Take your time, I'll leave this post up for a couple of days and then it'll still be on my sidebar if you want to continue to add ideas until Christmas!

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6:05 AM
8 comments


Hot Deals: FREE and Five Dollars!

Here are a couple of hot deals that I've stumbled across that might be useful for the holiday season.



1) Polly Pocket $5.00 coupon- You can print this coupon directly from my post and get $5.00 of any Polly Pocket product. You might even find this coupon in the store next to the Polly Pocket toys. Some Polly Pocket toys are $5.00 or less so this coupon would make them FREE! I purchased a Polly Pocket rolling case (to hold all the little dolls and accessories) at Toys R Us this past weekend and got a good deal. Normally, the case is $15. Toys R Us is offering 30% off all Polly Pocket products right now and I used my $5 off coupon and got the case down to approximately $7.50! Not bad, eh?



2) $5 Chef's Pan or Roaster- Early last week I got a Bed Bath & Beyond flyer in the mail. The flyer has a coupon on the back page for $5 off a purchase of $15 purchase. There's an expiration date on it, but BB&B accepts expired coupons so don't worry about that. You can use the coupon to get a chef's pan or a roaster for cheap, after mail in rebate! Here are the details:

Invitations 5qt non-stick covered chef's pan (it's really a fryer) or Oneida 18" Roaster (holds up to a 30 lb turkey)- either are $19.99 - $10 mail in rebate - $5coupon = $4.99. If you don't have the $5 off coupon, you can use one of their 20% off coupons --> $19.99 - $4 (20%) - $10 mail in rebate = $5.99.

I'm going to purchase the roaster pan myself!

I hope these two deals are helpful for your holiday shopping. I may be back to post more hot deals as I discover them!

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6:00 AM
4 comments


Friday, November 09, 2007
Favorite Ingredients Friday (cloverleaf rolls)

Good Friday to you all! It's time for another Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange! Before we get started, stop by and read about my good news!

Upcoming Themed Schedule

November 16- Muffins
November 30- Casseroles
December 14- Quick & Easy Meals
December 28- Side Dishes
January 11- Pies

The recipe I'm about to share is one that I found on All Recipes. These are yummy, especially warm out of the oven and smothered with butter! And the cloverleaf shapes are easy to make for these rolls! In fact, I think I'll be making a batch of these this weekend.


Cloverleaf Rolls

Ingredients:

2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F to 115 degrees F)
1 1/2 cups warm milk (110 to 115 degrees F)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup shortening
2 teaspoons salt
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Preparation:

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Beat in milk, sugar, egg, shortening and salt and 2 cups of flour until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down.

Roll into 90 balls; place three balls each in greased muffin cups. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees F for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

Now, I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe! I won't be able to visit your recipes right away but fear not, I will stop by to visit your recipe as soon as I can!

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.

For guidelines and my past Favorite Ingredients Friday recipes, click here.

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

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5:00 AM
9 comments


Thursday, November 08, 2007
Adoption #2- We're LICENSED!!!!
The day has finally arrived! We're officially licensed for foster-to-adopt! After all the delays and frustrations, we've made it!

Looking back over our timeline, I see that we attended the agency on 30 March and it's now 8 November. So, it took us 7 months and a week to jump through all the state hoops to get licensed. For those of you considering adopting through the state, I'd encourage you to get started now because it takes quite a while!

So, now that we're licensed, we agreed to be put on the "Open Call" list, meaning the agency can call us day or night with emergency receiving or foster-to-adopt placements that meet our requirements.

When I learned that we had become licensed and Oronzo told me to call the agency back to let them know whether or not we'd like to be immediately put on the Open Call list, I must admit that I hesitated. It's not that I've changed my mind, it's just that my nerves got the better of me for a bit.

Placing that call meant accepting that our life is about to change in a drastic way. It could happen tonight or 6 months from now but if we stay on this course, changes are coming our way. We'll be opening our home to many strangers (foster care rep, case workers, lawyers, etc) and we'll be at the mercy of many more strangers. We'll be falling in love with a child (or several) and probably experiencing the pain (at least once, possibly more) of having to return the child to the parents. We'll be chugging away through the bureaucratic red tape of the state.

Life is really good right now. Snuggle Bug has our undivided attention, he's a great laid back kid, and things are fairly uncomplicated. I couldn't help but feeling nervous about disrupting all of that.

Thankfully, my excitement overcame my nervousness and I made that call! I let the agency know that we'd be willing to accept calls, starting now! Our state requires that we do 240 hours of strict foster care before we can be eligible for a foster-to-adopt placement so we're accepting emergency receiving calls to fulfill that requirement.

So, now we wait and watch the phones! Wish us luck and I'll keep you posted.

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3:00 PM
27 comments


I Love You More
Tony at Source Books sent me a great children's book recently and I wanted to share details about the book with you. It'd make a great Christmas gift! :)

I Love You More by Laura Duksta, illustrated by Karen Kessler, was originally self published in 2001 and it sold over 180,000 copies before it even hit a bookstore! I can understand why. It's a lovely book.

I Love You More is a cleverly conceived flip story, which ends in the middle and starts from either side. It shows you what love looks like from both a parent's and a child's perspective. It's message of love is elegant and moving!

From the parent's section:

I love you higher than the highest bird ever flew.
I love you taller than the tallest tree ever grew.
I love you longer than the longest path ever wound.
I love you prettier than the prettiest flower ever found.

From the child's section:

I love you quieter than the quietest caterpillar ever creeped.
I love you further than the furthest frog ever leaped.
I love you bigger than the biggest bubble ever blown.
I love you freer than the freest kite ever flown.

When I received the book in the mail, I sat down and read it to Snuggle Bug. He loved the bright and imaginative illustrations and he loved that he could flip the book over and read a second story! If you'd like to see some of the book's illustrations, head over to Amazon for an inside look.

I would highly recommend this book for your family, or to be given as a gift to a loved one!

Thanks, Tony, for sending me I Love You More. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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8:00 AM
1 comments


Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Works-for -Me Wednesday (Backwards)
Happy Wednesday to you! It's time once again to post another WFMW tip. Once again Shannon is doing a Backwards Day edition where you ask for advice, rather than give it. I got a lot of wonderful suggestions last time for my eye makeup remover question and can't wait to see what you all come up with for this next question of mine!

So, I need help figuring out a Christmas gift for my in-laws who have everything! I want a gift geared around their grandkids, whom they adore. Any idea of great grandparent gifts that I can give my in-laws for Christmas this year?

Any suggestions would be much appreciated. If you can share links on where to purchase suggested gifts, that would be fabulous! Thanks!

To see what advice others need, be sure to check out the other links at Shannon's, the creator of Works-For-Me Wednesday!

My past WFMW entries are found here.

Oh, a quick note:

My November Pay It Forward Book Exchange is now in full swing. At this point in time, there are 13 free books up for grabs and more will probably be added throughout this month!

If you want a chance to win, be sure to check out this post for more details! You don't have to be a blogger to win!

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6:35 PM
41 comments


Monday, November 05, 2007
November Pay It Forward Book Exchange- 21 books up for grabs!

Winners for my giveaway this month were announced right here! My next PIF Book Exchange will be held on Monday, 3 December, so please stop back then!

It's time for another one of my free Pay It Forward book giveaways!

For those who may have missed out, please read about the guidelines right here.

So, I have three books to give away this month.

1) The Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharias.

This book was sent to me by Anne with Authors on the Web. Thanks, Anne!

Here's what the back cover says:

How differently would we live if we believed that every event of our lives- from the happy to the tragic to the mundane- was part of a meticulous and purposeful design in which all the elements intertwined with breathtaking precision? That's the question bestselling author and internationally known speaker Ravi Zacharias answers in this book.

This book isn't a quick read, you'll need time to digest and contemplate this book, but you'll be glad you did! The message of this book trys to keep us moving from a threadbare existence to a tapestry that reflects the beauty and glory of God that Zacharias assures us is God's ultimate end. It's a wonderfully written book that you're sure to enjoy!

2) Return to Me by Robin Lee Hatcher.

This book sent to me by Trish at A Joyful Heart. Thanks, Trish!

Here's what the back of the book says:

A lot has changed since Roxy escaped small town life to become a Nashville star. Her former boyfriend Wyatt has found Christ and plans to become a minister. Her sister Elena, who comforted Wyatt when Roxy ran away, is now his fiancee. Her father Jonathan, a successful businessman, is heartbroken over the estrangement of Roxy from the family.

Now Roxy—her inheritance from her grandmother squandered, her hopes of stardom dashed—finds her way home ... not by choice but because it's her only option. Her father's love and forgiveness surprise her, but her very presence throws the contented Burke family into turmoil, filling Roxy with guilt and shame.

Elena is shocked to discover doubt and resentment in her heart after her father's easy acceptance of Roxy into the family circle. Wyatt wrestles with doubts about marrying Elena. And Roxy struggles to accept forgiveness. Isn't she more deserving of rejection? As the story of the prodigal plays out, each member of the Burke family must search for and accept God's grace.


I really enjoyed reading this book, in large part because I've always been fascinated with the biblical prodigal son story. This book gives it a unique twist (changed to prodigal daughter) and really does a great job of exploring it from every angle. Through this story, Robin Hatcher succeeds in capturing the mixed emotions and challenges that we all face as we attempt to live our faith.

3) My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult.

This book was sent to me by Lucy with booksprice.com. Thanks, Lucy!

Books Price is a really cool multiple price comparison website. If you type in the title of a book (or a DVD, CD, or game) you'll get a long list of price comparisons so that you know where the best deal can be found...very handy for Christmas shopping! And the price comparison even includes shipping costs! If you haven't already, you really should check out booksprice.com.

Okay, now for more about this book! Here's a short synopsis:

Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate - a life and a role that she has never questioned… until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister - and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable… a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves. My Sister's Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child's life… even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less?

I can honestly say that this is one of the best books I've read in a long time! It was fantastic. I laughed in parts, cried in others, and was blown away by the last few chapters! The flash backs that the author used were a bit disjointed at times but I loved that the narration shifted from person to person throughout each chapter, giving you many points of view. Wow! What a great book! I'm giving this away reluctantly and I hope that whoever wins it enjoys it as much as I did!

So there you have it, details on the three books that I'm giving away this month. If you'd like to win any of these books, here is what you must do:

1. On your blog, write a post about this giveaway, using my "Pay It Forward" button, and then link back to my post. I am sure your readers would appreciate learning about the chance to win a book. You must complete this step to be put in the drawing, unless of course you don't have a blog!

2. Sign the Mr. Linky (the Mr. Linky is that list of names at the end of this post - just type your name in the box) with your name and the specific URL of your PIF post. Note: If you are not a blogger, you may still enter to win. Just sign your name on the Mr. Linky without a URL and then email me your contact information. Please note on your email that it is for the PIF book giveaway.

I'll announce the winners next Saturday morning, 17 November, so be sure to check back.

Best of luck!

Additional Pay It Forward Giveaways:

1) Karen at Mommy of Three is giving away the book At Home in Mitford (The Mitford Years, Book 1) by Jan Karon on 30 November. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Karen!

If anyone else is hosting a Pay It Forward Book Exchange giveaway this month and you'd like me to link you on this post, just leave me a comment letting me know the details and I'll be happy to add you!

Kathleen Marie at The Open Window gave away three books to one winner! She gave away The Vienna Passage by David Porter, A Woman's Influential Relationship - a Bible Study, and A Christmas Carol and other Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens on 9 November. Thanks, Kathleen Marie!

Paige at Superpaige's Pad gave away the book I Chose You by Lindsey Shumway on 14 November. This book was illustrated by her sister, Amy! Thanks, Paige!

Renee at 2 Peas in a Pod gave away the book Where Angels Go by Debbie Macomber on 15 November. Thanks, Renee!

Jubilee at notes of jubilee gave away the book The Spirit Controlled Woman by Beverly LaHaye on 15 November. Thanks, Jubilee!

Cloudscome at a wrung sponge gave away the book The Splendor of Silence by Indu Sundaresan on 17 November. Thanks, Cloudscome!

Cynthia at Springmont Cottage gave away the book Let Me Call You Sweetheart by Mary Higgins Clark on 17 November. Thanks, Cynthia!

Carrie at with all that I've been given gave away the bookAustenland by Shannon Hale on 17 Nov. Thanks, Carrie!

Vail at Thoughts of a Wannabe gave away the book The Elevator By Angela Hunt on 20 Nov. Thanks, Vail!

Lauren at Baseballs and Bows gave away the book A Proper Pursuit By Lynn Austin on 20 Nov. Thanks, Lauren!

Tracy at Abundant Living gave away The Goose in the Pond by Earlene Fowler on 30 November. Thanks, Tracy!

Briggie at There Is Power in Prayer... gave away the book The Christmas Hope by Donna VanLiere on 30 November. Thanks, Briggie!

Jill at The Diaper Diaries gave away the bookWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen on 30 November. Thanks, Jill!

Lace at Keeping My Fingers Crossed gave away two books! She's giving away Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Honk and Holler Opening Soon by Billie Letts on 30 November. Thanks, Lace!

To Know Him gave away the bookThe Elevator By Angela Hunt on 1 Dec. Thanks, To Know Him!

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5:00 AM
23 comments


Saturday, November 03, 2007
Fall Y'all Winners!
It's time to announce the winners of my Fall Y'all bloggy giveaway. I used Random.org to randomly select the two winners of my beaded bookmarks.

And the winners are:

#24 AngelaB (no blog listed, but I'll email her)

and

#125 Emily at Raising Monkeys

Thanks to all of you who entered! If anyone is interested in purchasing one of my custom-made beaded bookmarks, just email me!

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6:44 AM
2 comments


Friday, November 02, 2007
Favorite Ingredients Friday- Cookie edition

Good Morning everyone! Thank goodness it's Friday! It's been a very long week, but not necessarily a bad one (see my post from yesterday for more details on that).

Okay, it's time for my Favorite Ingredients Friday- Cookie edition recipe exchange!

The recipe I'm about to share is from my 1992 Better Homes & Gardens cookbook called Cookies, Cookies, Cookies . I made these last year for Christmas and they were a big hit! :)


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.

I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday- Cookie edition 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.


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5:00 AM
16 comments


Thursday, November 01, 2007
Adoption #2- Our 1st Placement Call
Yes, you read the title of this post correctly! We've received our first placement call yesterday morning, and we're not even licensed yet! Let me back up a bit and explain.

To begin with, I hadn't gotten around to telling you all that our application reveiw has been put on hold a second time due to incomplete information! I got an email last Friday from the state employee, Martha, who's reviewing our application. She explained that there were three things our licensing agency didn't provide her with and also that there's a Federal Law, The Walsh Act Check, that our state has suddenly decided to enforce! What this means is that we have to have another background check done in the state that we lived in 3 years ago, in addition to all the checks we had done in our current state of residence! We were told this can take 3+ weeks to get this information back!

This past weekend was a rough one for me. I was feeling angry, frustrated, and down right discouraged that our licensing agency had dropped the ball yet again, causing us unnecessary delays! I shot an email off to the director of the agency expressing concern over the way our application has been handled, outlining the facts of the delays, and I asked for her response.

Monday, I got an email from the Program Director we'd been working with telling me that she'd taken care of everything on Martha's list, except for the additional background check. For that, she emailed me the form and instructed me to fill it out, have it notarized, and send it to another state employee. That was all done by yesterday morning.

I got an email back from the director on Tuesday, basically apologizing profusely for the frustrations we've experienced and telling me she'd be looking into it further with her staff.

Now for the good part, at about 10:00 a.m. yesterday morning, I received a phone call from our agency. A foster care specialist, Amy, who we're meeting for the first time tomorrow was calling. I immediately suspected the worst, that she was calling about something else that was going to cause us even more delays.

Imagine my shock when she told me she was calling about a foster-to-adopt placement! I quickly grabbed a piece of paper and started jotting down information as she shared it with me.

Now, obviously I can't share many of the details of this case with you, but I will tell you that the call was for an 11 month old girl who's been in foster care since she was 2 months old. The foster family she's with now is only willing/able to handle straight foster care and now that this little girl's mom has stated that she wishes to relinquish her rights (she's denied the visitation rights that she was given) the state is moving her from a foster only to a foster-to-adopt case plan.

Amy warned me that there'd be a lot of homestudies submitted for this little girl because she is young, Caucasian (we could care less about that but it's important to others), and has shown no signs of developmental delays. She has some dietary restrictions but they're pretty minor. That's it.

Amy also warned me that our homestudy could be set aside because we're not yet licensed (although we may be licensed by the time a decision is made on this little girl) and we haven't met the state requirement of 240 hours of foster-only before being eligible for foster-to-adopt. Amy did say that sometimes they overlook that requirement so it could happen, but no guarantees.

I made a quick call to Oronzo and asked him if he wanted our homestudy submitted for this little girl and he said, "absolutely!"

I called Amy back and told her to go ahead with submitting our homestudy. We know it's a long shot but Amy thought it was worth the effort. She said that even if this one doesn't work out, it gets our homestudy out there for review by those that make the decisions on placements so that the next time around they'll be at least a little familiar with us.

So, now we continue to wait. We wait for the additional background check to be done. We wait for the review of our application to be finalized. We wait for our license to come through. Most importantly, we wait to hear news on this little girl. Amy said we probably wouldn't hear anything for a few weeks.

Oddly enough, now that we know we can receive placement calls even though we're not totally licensed, I'm feeling better about the waiting.

So there you have it, news of our very first placement call! Your prayers would be appreciated. Yes, this situation is a long shot, but miracles do happen. We have a little miracle named Snuggle Bug tucked into bed safe and sound right now, so there's hope in this case as well!

I'll be sure to keep you all posted as I hear more. As always, thanks for your ongoing support!

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7:02 PM
19 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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