Wednesday, January 30, 2008
WFMW (creativity for children’s mealtime)

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

Getting Snuggle Bug to eat is sometimes be a challenge (he's a picky eater) so I'm always looking for creative ideas at mealtime.

I read this in a magazine a while back and thought I'd give it a try.


I use an apple cutter to make flower shapes out of Snuggle Bug's sandwiches. It makes his mealtime more fun and the sandwich is cut into perfect bite-sized portions, easy for little hands to handle!

Do you have any creative tricks that you use to entice your little ones at mealtime? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Flower-shaped sandwiches work 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:

I have two giveaways going on this week.

You can win a free brand new hardcover book or a free container of Beech-Nut Easy Pour™ dry baby cereal. Just stop by these posts and leave a comment to be entered for each drawing. It's as easy as that!

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5:30 AM
16 comments


Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Win free Beech-Nut Easy Pour Cereal
UPDATE: The winners of this giveaway have been announced right here.

Kate with Weber Shandwick recently asked me if I'd be interested in reviewing the new Beech-Nut Easy Pour™ dry baby cereal. "I'd love to!" I told her.

After I received Kate's big box in the mail, it dawned on me that Baby Bug, our foster daughter, isn't quite old enough for baby cereal yet. She'll have to wait another couple of months. No worries, I've shared some of the product with my local mommy friends who have little ones just the right age and I have 3 more containers to offer to my readers, thanks to Kate's generosity!

This new Beech-Nut line includes 7 oz dry cereals featuring Easy Pour™ packaging with three yummy flavors: DHA plus+ Brown Rice with Bananas & Raspberries, DHA plus+ Multigrain with Apples & Yogurt, and Soy Free Rice.

So, what's this Easy Pour™ packaging all about? Well, when Snuggle Bug was first trying dry baby cereal, I remember how frustrating it was pouring the dry cereal out of those boxes. I'd inevitably spill a good portion all over the counter and flakes would get stuck in the metal spout, making it hard to keep the box closed properly. Ugh!

With the Easy Pour™ feature there's no fuss or mess! Honestly, it looks like a carton of orange juice and has the same easy twist-off and pour spout. Since the batch that Kate sent me is good for several months, I opened one up and poured some into a bowl to try it out. Guess what? I didn't spill a drop and I just had to twist the cap back on the carton when I was done! These containers will store nicely until the time comes for me to start Baby Bug on dry baby cereal!

The local moms I shared this with loved it! Besides loving the ease of pouring, they said that their little ones really seemed to like the flavor of these dry cereals. I'm told that theBrown Rice with Bananas & Raspberries was a big hit with several of the babies!

The great thing about Beech-Nut dry cereals is that they are all-natural with added vitamins and minerals. They're free of preservatives, artificial flavors or colors, trans fat, soy, and added refined sugar. They support brain and eye development and digestive health. You can feel good about feeding your baby these cereals.

If you'd like to try one of these Beech-Nut Easy Pour™ dry baby cereal, just leave me a comment on this post and I'll randomly choose 3 winners this Saturday, 2 February. I'll even throw in a cute Beech-Nut stuffed bear for your little one!

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6:00 AM
13 comments


Monday, January 28, 2008
Bloggy Giveaway Carnival: 2 Free Books

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UPDATE: The winners of this giveaway have been announced right here.

Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer is hosting another Bloggy Giveaway Carnival and I'm joining in the fun!

I'm giving away two brand new copies of the book, Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler, a memoir by Wade Rouse.

I reviewed this book in a previous post. You can see the details right here.

If you're interested in winning one of these books, just leave me a comment! I'll pick two winners this Saturday morning, 2 February.

I'll also have more books up for grabs for my February Pay It Forward Book Exchange! Check back on Monday, 4 February for that book giveaway list.

To see what others are giving away, stop by Shannon's Bloggy Giveaways Carnival: Winter '08 Edition.

One last note:

I'm also giving away brand new Beech-Nut Easy Pour™ dry baby cereal right here.

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9:33 PM
87 comments


Being a Foster Parent Does Not Make Me A Saint
Oronzo and I have been foster parents for all of two months, since Baby Bug was delivered to us in the wee hours of the morning on 28 November.

During these past two months, we've had a lot of support from family and friends (in-person and on-line) and the encouragement has meant the world to us however, I must confess that I've been caught off guard and feeling a bit uncomfortable by comments that make Oronzo and I out to be saints for being foster parents.

One well-meaning friend's comment stands out in my mind, "You're so noble to be fostering this baby girl."

A family member said, "It must be so hard to get attached and then have to give her back. I couldn't do what you're doing. "

Let me assure you that Oronzo and I are not noble people and we're certainly not the saints that some people try to make us out to be. We are ordinary people who actually became licensed foster parents for selfish reasons, so that we could adopt a second child. And anyone reading my blog consistently knows that it took me a good year to let go of my fears of fostering and take the plunge to get licensed. As might be expected, I have good days and bad days when it comes to fostering.

On the bad days, I have a tendency to dwell on the likelihood that Baby Bug will be returned to her parents, possibly in April. I feel down, I shed tears, I worry about what kind of life Baby Bug will have after she leaves us, I wish she could stay with us and become a part of our family forever, and I wonder how letting her go will affect our family emotionally.

On the good days, I'm able to focus on the positives of fostering this precious baby girl. I've had the opportunity to help a failure-to-thrive baby grow and flourish into a happy, healthy baby that is quick to smile and is beginning to laugh out loud. I've watched in amazement as her parents have done everything that the state has asked of them, with 100% compliancy. It's clear that Baby Bug has a family who loves her and wants her back. I'm seeing the "system" actually work in the way it was intended to work and it feels good to be doing our part to allow that to happen. I'm even surprised that Oronzo and I are interacting with Baby Bug's parents in ways we never expected to be comfortable with (sharing notes and pictures pertaining to Baby Bug, striking up conversations at court hearings and team meetings, getting an invite to walk through their apartment when dropping Baby Bug off for one of her supervised visits, etc.).

Not long ago two bloggers left comments that caught my attention and made me reflect on the benefits of sharing our foster care experiences with others.

abebech wrote:

Thanks so much for sharing about baby bug. Dh and I have been having long talks about fostering, in large part because of the way it's working out for your family.

Happy Momma wrote:

Maybe the Lord is going to use your family and this experience with baby bug to shine light onto the Foster Parenting system. It far too often gets a negative wrap and yours may show others that not all of it is so negative.

It warms my heart to know that by sharing our personal experiences with foster care, a family such as abebech's is talking about the possibility of one day becoming foster parents. I know fostering is not for everyone (for the longest time I didn't think it was for me) and that's okay, but if sharing our experiences helps a family to at least consider it, than I am happy to share.

And, until receiving Happy Momma's comment, it honestly didn't even cross my mind that the Lord might be using our family to shine a positive light on Foster Parents. I'm more than happy to be used by the Lord in this manner, but please don't consider me a saint. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm simply an ordinary woman who is taking it day by day and trying to do my very best for the children that come through our door, no matter how long they're meant to stay. There are many others like me out there.

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6:00 AM
19 comments


Friday, January 25, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Super Bowl Sunday Edition II)

Image design by Susie with Bluebird Blogs


Good Friday to you all!

In preparation for next Sunday's Super Bowl XLII, New England Patriots vs. New York Giants, it's time for my Favorite Ingredients Friday Super Bowl Sunday Edition II recipe exchange! Stop by here if you want to check out all the yummy recipes from last year!

Please share with me your favorite appetizer, side dish, salad, or any other type of recipe that you'd find yourself serving at or bringing to a Super Bowl Sunday party! :)

My contribution is quick and easy to make and it's oh so delicious!

Pork Kebabs

(Serves 4)

The word kebab comes from Arabic and means on a skewer. Use pork fillet (tenderloin) for these kebabs because it is lean and tender, and cooks ver quickly. They are good served with rice, or stuffed into warmed pitta bread with some shredded lettuce leaves.

Ingredients

  1. 500 g/1 1/4 lb lean pork fillet (tenderloin)
  2. 8 large, thick spring onions (scallions)
  3. 120 ml/4 fl oz/1/2 cup barbeque sauce
  4. 1 lemon

Directions

  1. Cut the pork into 2.5cm/1in cubes. Cut the spring onions into 2.5cm/1in long sticks.
  2. Preheat the grill (broiler) to high. Oil the wire rack to prevent sticking.
  3. Arrange the pork and onions on the skewer in an alternating fashion (as shown in the picture).
  4. Grill (broil) until the pork juices drip.
  5. Brush barbeque sauce on the pork (and the onions too, if you'd like) and grill for 30 seconds on each side, repeating the barbeque sauce application process twice more.
  6. Arrange the skewers on a platter. Cut the lemon into wedges and squeeze a little lemon juice over each skewer. Serve immediately, offering the remaining lemon wedges separately.

Cook's Tip

If you are cooking pork on a barbeque, soak the wooden skewers overnight in water. This prevents them burning. Keep the skewer handles away from the fire and turn them frequently.

I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday Super Bowl Sunday Edition II 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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6:00 AM
11 comments


Thursday, January 24, 2008
A Feast Fit For A King
This morning Snuggle Bug wanted me to play with him and his new picnic Play-Doh set that he got for Christmas. I still like the homemade play dough best but the molds that came in his this Play-Doh set are neat!

We made a feast fit for a king. We made a sandwich, strawberries (including chocolate covered ones...my favorite), a banana, an apple, a pear, and a pretzel.

Take a look...



So, this Play-Doh set is Snuggle Bug's favorite toy at the moment. What's your child's favorite toy?

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8:21 AM
9 comments


Wednesday, January 23, 2008
WFMW (Homemade Play Dough)

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

I'm always looking for fun projects to do with Snuggle Bug (he's now 3 years old) and my Parents magazine gives me a lot of great ideas.

We've bought Snuggle Bug Playdough in the past because he loves, loves, loves playing with it. The problem is that it dries up so darned quickly if he leaves it out even for an hour or two so we've gone through a ton of Playdough over the past 2 years.

When I saw this homemade play dough recipe in my Parents magazine, I decided to give it a try. I invited one of Snuggle Bug's little friends over and we all made it together.

This play dough is amazingly soft! It still dries out over time, but it takes much longer for that to happen that the store-bought kind. I like that I know exactly what ingredients are in this play dough, in case Snuggle Bug or one of his friends decide to eat it (thankfully he's past that put-everything-in-your-mouth stage, but you never know). Best of all, the kids had a blast helping to make it!

Homemade play dough 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 this coming Friday, 25 January, for the second edition of my Favorite Ingredients Friday Super Bowl Sunday recipe exchange. You'll get lots of great recipe ideas for your Super Bowl party, whether you're hosting one or attending one and need to bring a dish.

Hope to see you back on Friday!

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6:00 AM
13 comments


Tuesday, January 22, 2008
That's A Wrap! (For Your Baby)
Do any of you use baby wraps with your little ones? If so, what kind do you use?

I’ve always seen the benefits of wearing your baby to promote attachment. Now, I’m becoming a fan of baby wraps, thanks to the loan of one from a friend.

With Snuggle Bug, I used a Baby Bjorn. It was “okay” but the contraption was so bulky that I often bumped into things and knocked things over around the house when I was carrying Snuggle Bug and he seemed to fit in it rather precariously. It got to the point where I stopped using it.

Shortly after Baby Bug arrived, a friend lent me her baby wrap (that she had made herself) and gave me an in-person demonstration on how to use it for what’s considered a Hug Hold. It took me a while to get used to the awkwardness of getting the wrap on right but the more I used it, the quicker I got at it. Baby Bug seemed to enjoy being in it “most” of the time.

After about three weeks of having Baby Bug in our home, another friend gave me a Moby Wrap. She’d had it given to her as a gift for her daughter but the wrap was too short in length for her so she never used it.

I have to say I really love this Moby Wrap. It's comfortable and convenient. It came with a wonderful instruction booklet that gives you step-by-step picture instructions for 7 different ways to wear your baby (including how to wear twins and how to nurse your baby while wearing the wrap)!

I’ve found that although the Hug Hold works on Baby Bug when she’s tired, the Cradle Hold works even better. She likes to be held facing out and this method allows that, with great support for her head. I couldn’t wear Snuggle Bug facing out like that in the Baby Bjorn when he was this age.

Last night I had Baby Bug in the wrap and my hands were free to fold laundry while she slept. Wonderful! I intend to use this wrap to hold Baby Bug in the airport when she travels with us back to the Midwest for family visit in February.

If you haven’t looked into a wrap for your baby yet, I’d recommend the Moby Wrap! By the way, this was not a solicited product review. I’m writing this because I love this wrap and want to share the details with other moms.

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7:00 AM
10 comments


Monday, January 21, 2008
Things I Learned While My Son Was In Daycare
Do you remember when we first placed Snuggle Bug into daycare and I felt like I was trying to avoid having a panic attack over it? Once he started we survived the first day and then the first week but barely.

Well, we somehow managed to survive 6 months of Snuggle Bug being in daycare. His last day was on 10 December and I've been meaning to post about it since then but just haven't gotten around to it. I was reminded of it by reading another post on the topic of daycare.

So, I'd like to share some things I learned by having Snuggle Bug in daycare.

1) Snuggle Bug never really grew to love daycare as I've heard some kids do. He tolerated it. He had days when he wouldn't cry at drop-off and days when he would. We never knew what to expect because this went on the entire 6 months he was in daycare. Interestingly enough, there were days that we'd come to pick him up and he'd not be ready to go home. We'd have to wait until he was finished with snack or a project or allow him time to go from room to room to say his "goodbyes" before he'd willingly walk out the door.

2) Snuggle Bug does well in a structured environment. He listens to the instructions of other adults. He plays nicely with other children. He ate more things at daycare than he ever has for us here at home (he's a picky eater). He laid down on his little cot and took naps each day with no arguments. I'm actually glad to learn that Snuggle Bug does well in a structured environment. I'll be a little less stressed now when he starts Kindergarten because I know he'll be fine.

3) Snuggle Bug is good at making friends. He had about 2 or 3 kids in daycare that he gravitated towards and played with but he was friendly with almost everyone in the daycare center. We learned that he stuck mostly with the quiet kids in his room (stands to reason since he's a rather quiet kid himself) and avoided the rowdy, mischievous boys. What amazed us is that he remembered the names of every child in his room, and most of the children in the 4-5 year old room that he liked to visit whenever possible. We were at a restaurant one evening and Snuggle Bug stood up in his chair and yelled, "Colin!" and started to wave. We looked around and couldn't figure out who he was yelling to. Then we say a little boy waving back to him from across the room. On our way out we stopped and learned that Colin was a boy in his class whom Snuggle Bug recognized. We had this happen in a grocery store too and we parents just grinned as Snuggle Bug and another little boy greeted each other with a hug. Talk about cute!

4) Snuggle Bug knows most of his colors. The first time his "teacher" told me that Snuggle Bug knew all of his colors we I said, "Are you sure, because at home every color is blue?!" Apparently he's been fooling us all this time because in daycare they had to ask him to stop participating in a color naming activity because he kept shouting out the correct colors before any other child could make a guess.

5) Snuggle Bug does not follow blindly. One of the things I worried about the most is that Snuggle Bug would be a follower and pick up many bad habits (and phrases) from other children in his room. I worried that his personality would change (not for the better) as a result of being in daycare. I needn't have worried because he's still our sweet little boy. He did come home with new words and phrases but thankfully none of them were inappropriate. He wasn't lead blindly by the "troublesome" children (as we were told by his teacher). He avoided them and went his own way. Any temperament changes we saw at home were a result of him being 2, going on 3, and wanting to exert his independence. He's still a happy, well-adjusted little boy how likes to do things himself.

6) Snuggle Bug is a survivor. It was clear from day one that Snuggle Bug was less than thrilled to be going to daycare. We stressed the entire time he was in there and Oronozo and I juggled our work schedules as much as possible so he was never there for 40 hours a week. But in the end, Snuggle Bug adapted to his new surroundings and survived. Amazingly, we survived too!

In the end, while we're thankful he's out of daycare and back as a SAHK with Oronzo caring for him, we don't regret our difficult decision to place him in daycare. Having Oronzo work that contract job outside of the home for 6 months allowed us to build up a nice cushion of savings so that when there are lean months, as happens when running your own consulting business, we'll have savings to draw on to get us through. Having this savings gives us peace of mind and allows us to know that we can provide for our family through thick and thin.

We are thankful that Oronzo is back to working from home because not only does Snuggle Bug get to stay at home with Daddy, but so does Baby Bug and any other foster children that come our way. Knowing that most of the foster children we take in will be coming from distressed circumstances, it's important to us to be able to care for them at home, so that they can have consistent one-on-one attention.

So, there you have it, the conclusion to our daycare saga. Thanks for all the supportive comments that were offered along the way. We survived and learned a lot along the way!

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8:15 AM
7 comments


Saturday, January 19, 2008
Pay It Forward Book Exchange Winners!

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

And the winners are...

# 1- Victoria Kondovski, a non-blogger, who wins Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.

# 13- Tamy Bollar at Three Sides of Crazy who wins Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti.

# 2- Nikki at Angels of Heart who wins Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts.

Congrats, Ladies! Please email me your mailing addresses so I can send you your books next week! If I don't hear from you soon, I'll have to pick another winner.

And for those of you who didn't win my giveaway, check out the additional books still up for grabs this month!

My next Pay It Forward Book Exchange will be held on Monday, 4 February.

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8:54 AM
2 comments


Friday, January 18, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Ham and Potato Soup)

Good Friday to you all! It's time for another Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange!

Upcoming Themed Schedule
January 25- Super Bowl Sunday Edition II
February 8- Valentine's Day Chocolate Edition II (my favorite!)
February 22- Side Dishes


I love soup and this recipe is one I got off of Allrecipes.com. It's a fairly simple recipe that's quite delicious. I think you'll like it!
Ham and Potato Soup
Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup diced cooked ham
3 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground white or black pepper, or to taste
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk

Preparation:
  1. Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.
  2. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. Serve immediately.

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
10 comments


Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Adoption #2: We went on a shopping spree for Baby Bug!
Oronzo and I went on a shopping spree for Baby Bug last night. We got paid from the state yesterday and I couldn't wait to go spend the alloted clothing allowance on new outfits for the baby! I just love little baby girl clothes. :)

We went to my two favorite stores, Old Navy and The Children's Place, where I knew they were having great sales. Sure enough, Old Navy had 75% off many of their clothes, including some baby clothes. The Children's Place had 50%-75% off!

Between the two stores, we got Baby Bug six zipper sleepers (my favorite kind), two two-piece outfits, six shirts, and a pair of tights. We're not done shopping. We still want to get her more pants and two-piece outfits.

Believe it or not, every piece in this bunch was $6 or less, many of them were $4.80-$5.50. That's less expensive than most Wal-Mart outfits, and these are much better quality!

Even Oronzo got into selecting cute outfits for Baby Bug and this is a man who normally hates shopping and cringes when I walk into my favorite children's clothing stores.

We bought Baby Bug 3-6 mos. and 6-9 mos. sized clothes, even though she still hasn't grown out of her 0-3 mos. clothes. If she gets to go home in early April, as we suspect, we want to be sure to send her home with lots of new clothes that she can grow in to, in an effort to help out her parents. They won't get a clothing allowance from the state like foster parents do.

In other news, we got approval to take Baby Bug with us on a trip to the Midwest to visit my side of the family for 5 days in February. Baby Bug's parents initially expressed concern about us taking her with us, fearing an accident might happen while we were away. Thankfully the baby's CPS worker went to bat for us, telling her parents, "Well, she can either go on vacation with them or she can be put into respite care with another foster family that she doesn't know. It's usually not good to put foster children into respite care."

Put that way, Baby Bug's parents decided they'd rather have her go with us on vacation than be shipped off to a "strange" family during the time that we were out of town. We were asked if we'd be willing to call Baby Bug's parents when we arrive at our destination, to set their minds at ease that she did well on her first plane ride, and then call again when we get back home to let them know she was safe and sound. If it helps set their minds at ease, we're willing to make those calls. Of course, we'll be calling from payphone both times because we are making a concentrated effort not to share our home address/emails/phone numbers, mainly for safety reasons.

So, all is well at the moment at our end. All that shopping has put me in a very good mood and there's more to come! :) We had to stop because Snuggle Bug was getting bored and hungry.

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6:00 AM
19 comments


Friday, January 11, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Pie Edition)

Good Morning everyone! Thank goodness it's Friday!

Okay, it's time for my Favorite Ingredients Friday- Pie edition recipe exchange! I love, love, love making pies so I can't wait to see what you all come up with!

I'm going to dazzle you all with a couple different recipes. I've scanned them in to make it easier on me. For some reason, the images aren't enlarging when you click on them as they should so if you're having troubles reading these, leave me your email in the comments and I'll send you the documents.

Notes: Scrap the crust recipe that's listed on this sheet. It's not all that great. I'm going to post a much better one below. Just focus on the pie filling portion. If you make it, you'll get rave reviews from those you serve it to! But be careful, don't be tempted to add more blueberries. If you do, you'll have a soupy mess. Trust me on this one!

Notes: You're getting two pie crust recipes on this one. I've honestly never tried the cream cheese pie crust but I'm sure it's divine. The flaky butter pie crust though is probably the best pie crust recipe you'll ever make! I get so many compliments every time I make it for my pies! All the notes you see scribbled in the margins are mine and these tips work! I actually got this recipe at a baking class I took at a William's Sonoma store. What a fun class!

So there you have it, my pie recipe contributions! I hope you like them.

I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday- Pie 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
14 comments


Thursday, January 10, 2008
Adoption #2: The latest on Baby Bug
Yesterday Baby Bug's father had a settlement hearing. Early in the settlement, he agreed to the same case plan that Baby Bug's mother has. The judge emphasized that he has up to 12 months to be working this case plan required for reunification. If he fails to work the case plan during htat 12 months, his parental rights will be terminated. The judge also emphasized that his parental rights can be terminated sooner than 12 months if deemed necessary.

The lawyer for Baby Bug requested that CPS has discretion to modify visition without a court order. The lawyer also asked that CPS be given the discretion to return Baby Bug home.

Baby Bug's lawyer spoke out and said she'd agree to allow CPS to have discretion with visitation (as long as she was given at least 5 days advanced notice before a change was to be made so she would have time to file an objection if necessary) but she did not agree to allowing CPS to have discretion to return Baby Bug home. The judge agree with Baby Bug's lawyer.

So, as things stand right now, Baby Bug is to remain with us through at least the end of March, when her parents have a Dependency Review hearing (this happens every 90 days until she's returned home).

During the next two months, it's the intention of CPS to gradually change the nature of Baby Bug's visits with her parents (as long as Baby Bug's lawyer doesn't disagree). Starting in February, if all goes well, the visits will be supervised out of the parent's apartment, rather than out of the CPS office. The visits will still be twice a week for 2 hours and then Baby Bug will be returned to our home. If that goes well, the parents will start getting short unsupervised visits and then overnight stays.

By end of March, CPS hopes to have the parents to the point where they are managing unsupervised overnight visits. Then they will recommend to the court that Baby Bug be returned home and that services continue in-home.

For the past 6 weeks, Baby Bug's parents have been in 100% compliance with case plan requirements. I sat in on a Family and Child Team meeting (CTF) and listened as various state and agency employees applauded the parents for their efforts, stating they've never seen parents comply 100% straight out of the gate, and encouraged them to keep it up.

During that meeting, I also got to watch the parents interacting with Baby Bug (she was there too). They were quite loving with her but I had to hold my tongue a couple of times as she was fussing. For example I wanted to tell them, "She likes to be held out, not close to you, so that she can see what's going on," but I didn't want to undermine their efforts with my advice, so I said nothing (hard to believe she's been living longer with us now than with her parents).

So, overall, I'm happy with the results of the hearing. CPS has decided to gradually work into in-home services, rather than just returning Baby Bug this week, as we were initially lead to believe. I believe our CPS worker is fairly new because she mentioned that after a conversation with her supervisor they decided to take it slow with the in-home services goal. Good idea!

I think it's great that the parents are 100% in compliance and seem highly motivated to get their baby back. I just thought that 6 weeks was too soon to tell if they were going to stay on the straight and narrow. I'll be more comfortable with Baby Bug returning home if they can keep up the good work for another two months.

I sure will miss this Baby Bug if/when she returns home. She's such a sweet and happy baby!

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5:07 AM
11 comments


Monday, January 07, 2008
January Pay It Forward Book Exchange- 23 books up for grabs!

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) Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.

This book was purchased with a gift certificate given to me by BooMama. Thanks, BooMama!

Review from Publishers Weekly:

See's engrossing novel set in remote 19th-century China details the deeply affecting story of lifelong, intimate friends (laotong, or "old sames") Lily and Snow Flower, their imprisonment by rigid codes of conduct for women and their betrayal by pride and love. While granting immediacy to Lily's voice, See (Flower Net) adroitly transmits historical background in graceful prose. Her in-depth research into women's ceremonies and duties in China's rural interior brings fascinating revelations about arranged marriages, women's inferior status in both their natal and married homes, and the Confucian proverbs and myriad superstitions that informed daily life. Beginning with a detailed and heartbreaking description of Lily and her sisters' foot binding ("Only through pain will you have beauty. Only through suffering will you have peace"), the story widens to a vivid portrait of family and village life. Most impressive is See's incorporation of nu shu, a secret written phonetic code among women—here between Lily and Snow Flower—that dates back 1,000 years in the southwestern Hunan province ("My writing is soaked with the tears of my heart,/ An invisible rebellion that no man can see").


2) Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti.

This book was sent to me by Karen at Mommy of Three. Thanks, Karen!

Here's what the back cover says:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5 (ESV)It all begins in Bacon's Corner, a tiny farming community far from the interstate . . . An attempted murder, a case of mistaken-- or is it covered up?-- identity, and a ruthless lawsuit against a struggling Christian school. Sally Beth Roe, a young loner, a burnout, a kind of " leftover hippie, " finds herself caught in the middle of these bizarre events, fleeing for her life while trying to recall her dark past.Across a vast panorama of heart-stopping action, Sally Roe's journey is a penetrating portrayal of our times, a reflection of our wanderings, and a vivid reminder of the redemptive power of the Cross.

3) Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts.

This book was a purchase I made some time ago.

Here's what the back cover says:

In 1972, in DeClare, Oklahoma, 10-month-old Nicky Jack Harjo disappears when his single mother is murdered. Thirty years later Mark Albright, Californian veterinarian to the stars, having just learned he was adopted, arrives in DeClare, looking for an explanation from the mother who gave him away. His search for answers to the past turns into a mission of justice for his murdered mother and an explanation of his own mysterious adoption in California.

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 on Saturday morning, 19 January, so be sure to check back.

Best of luck!

Additional Pay It Forward Giveaways:

Jill at The Diaper Diariesgave away the book Dangerous Admissions by Jane O'Connor on 12 January. Thanks, Jill!

Paige at Superpaige's Pad gave away the book Dangerous Admissions by Jane O'Conner on 14 January. Thanks, Paige!

Elrena Evans gave away the book The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea J. Buchanan on 15 January. Thanks, Elrena!

Jenn at And then there were four gave away the book Having a Mary Spirit by Joanna Weaver on 15 January. Thanks, Jenn!

Forgetfulone gave away two books, Cutting Edge: Tom Clancy's #1 Power Plays by Jerome Preisler and 5th Horseman by Gloria James Patterson on 15 January. Thanks, Forgetfulone!

Michelle at Big Blueberry Eyes gave away three books, The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler, Dream Language by James W. and Michal Ann Goll, and Summer Sisters by Judy Blume on 16 January. Thanks, Michelle!

Kathleen Marie at The Open Window gave away two books, The Makers Diet by Jordan S. Rubin and So Far Back by Pam Durban on 19 January. Thanks, Kathleen Marie!

Cynthia at Springmont Cottage gave away the book The Rocky Road to Romance by Janet Evanovich on 21 January. Thanks, Cynthia!

Christi at Blah Blah Blog gave away the book After Long Silence: A Memior by Helen Freemont on 26 January. Thanks, Christi!

Nikki at Angels of Heart gave away two books, Fair Game by Carol Cox and The Veil of Fire by Marlo Schalesky on 30 January. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Nikki!

Briggie at There is Power in Prayer gave away two books, Bless This House by Gloria Gaither and Bless This Marriage by Gloria Gaither on 31 January. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Briggie!

Home and Hearth gave away a book on 31 January. The chosen winner gets to choose between The Big Four by Agatha Christie, The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, or Chin Deep in Bubbles by Melissa Placzek. Thanks, Home and Hearth!

Karen at Mommy of Three gave away the book The Ultimate Tea Diet by Mark Ukra on 31 January. Thanks, Karen!

Tamy at 3 Sides of Crazy gave away the book A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks on 31 January. Thanks, Tamy!

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7:30 PM
20 comments


January Pay It Forward Book Exchange- coming soon!
I'm running short on time and need to get out the door to get Snuggle Bug to the dentist and then go in to work so my January Pay It Forward Book Exchange giveaway post will be published later tonight. Sorry, I had hoped to get it out this morning.

If you have any books that you're giving away, please let me know and I'll link you up on my post.

Also, in my absense from blogging I now realize that I forgot to draw winners for the two books I was giving away in my December Pay It Forward Book Exchange, so I'd like to do that now.

Using Random.org, the two winners are:

1) Prize-A-Tron won The Five People You Meet In Heaven.

2) Christi won Kissing Adrian.

Ladies, please email me your mailing address so I can get these books out to you.

For the rest of you, check back tonight for more free books to win!

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7:42 AM
7 comments


Friday, January 04, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Strawberry Stuffed French Toast)

Good Friday to you all! I'm trying to get back on track with posting regularly again, so I hope you'll join me in this recipe exchange today because it's time for another Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange!

Upcoming Themed Schedule
January 11- Pies
January 25- Side Dishes
February 8- Valentine's Day Chocolate Edition II (my favorite!)

Breakfast is one of my favorite meals of the day, although we don't always take the time to make a nice, sit-down breakfast. The recipe I'm about to share is one that I found on Disney Family Food. My family loves this one. You can use raspberries instead of strawberries if you'd like.

Strawberry Stuffed French Toast
Ingredients:
8 slices white or wheat bread, cut 1 inch thick
8 ounces cream cheese
6 tablespoons strawberry preserves
1-1/3 cups milk
4 eggs
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
4 cups sliced strawberries

Preparation:
  1. Cut each bread slice in half crosswise. With a sharp knife cut a horizontal slit in each half slice to make a pocket.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and preserves. Spread 1/16 (approximately) of the mixture inside each bread pocket.
  3. Pinch edges of bread together to hold filling.
  4. In a shallow bowl, whisk together milk, egg, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Dip filled bread slices in egg mixture to coat. Cook about 6 minutes or until golden brown, turning once.
  5. Top with strawberries and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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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5:30 AM
12 comments


Thursday, January 03, 2008
Adoption #2- Overdue Update on Baby Bug
It's well beyond time for me to give you an update on Baby Bug. Yes, we still have her. Yesterday it was the 5 week mark since she was dropped off at our house in the wee hours of the morning. Today she is 8 weeks old.

Baby Bug is doing great! As of 27 December, she weighs 9 lbs. I'm not sure how long she is but it's apparent that she's growing and filling out. She's finally outgrowing some of her newborn sleepers (she's still in 0-3 months) and we've been able to move her from newborn diapers to Size 1 diapers. She's filling out nicely.

Baby Bug is a fairly happy baby. She'll fuss or cry when she's hungry and now that she's awake for longer periods of time, she lets us know when she's bored and wants us to talk to her. She's quick to smile when she hears our voices and when we interact with her. She's even started to coo and attempt to "talk" to us. Snuggle Bug loves to sit in front of her and say, "Smile, baby!"

Speaking of Snuggle Bug, he continues to be amazing with Baby Bug. He likes to help care for her, to read her books, he tries to comfort her when she's crying, and he's protective of her around others. Still no signs of jealousy.

We thought we were doing a good job of helping Snuggle Bug to understand that Baby Bug has her own parents, that she visits twice a week, and that we are just caring for her for a while. Yesterday he surprised me by calling her, "my baby sister". We've never referred to her as that with him, but strangers automatically assume this and use that phrase so I guess he picked it up that way. I must admit hearing him call her that alarmed me a bit. How will he cope if/when she returns to her parents?

Speaking of returning to her parents, by all appearances thus far, reunification is just a matter of time and it may happen sooner rather than later.

Baby Bug's father has a court appearance next Wednesday and the CPS worker told me today that they're going to push for in-home services, where Baby Bug would be returned to her parents and CPS would provide services for her each week. I'm not clear if "they" means Baby Bug's father and his lawyer or if that means CPS as well, but the CPS worker is giving me the impression that they will support this arrangement. CPS is very pleased with how well both of Baby Bug's parents have followed the mandates of CPS and the state these past 5 weeks. They've done everything asked of them.

I'll be honest, the thought of Baby Bug being returned to her parents as early as next week made my stomach clench in fear. Has it been long enough for her parents to prove that they have gotten their lives together enough to take care of her properly and to keep her safe?

Last night I was discussing this with Oronzo and I started crying as I held Baby Bug. It's impossible not to get attached and it's very clear to me that I'm attached to this baby. I will miss her dearly when she is gone!

I'm sad that we won't be able to adopt her. Still, Oronzo is right when he reminded me that if her parents can take care of her, it's a good thing that they're getting her back. And, if that's the case, it's better that her return happens now, rather than 6-9 months from now, when letting her go would be even harder.

It's not a done deal yet. Baby Bug's dad (and lawyer) will have to convince a judge that they are stable enough to get her back. You can bet I'll be at the hearing next Wednesday to find out the results, first hand.

If/when Baby Bug is returned to her parents, I will be praying that they shower her with the love and attention that she deserves. I just want this baby to be loved and well taken care of.

Any prayers that you can offer up for the well-being of Baby Bug would be much appreciated.

I'll let you know what is decided next week.

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5:14 AM
20 comments


Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Yes I'm Still Alive- Happy New Year!
I think I'm ready to come back to my blog. I've neglected it for far too long but now that the holidays are over, Snuggle Bug's 3rd birthday party is behind me, and my visiting family has returned to Nebraska I should be able to work on getting caught up here and back on track.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! We did. It was hectic but fun!

Wishing you all a blessed and Happy New Year!

Stay tuned for an update on Baby Bug and some holiday pictures coming soon!

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6:00 AM
3 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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