Friday, February 29, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Pecan-Oatmeal Pancakes)

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

Upcoming Themed Schedule
March 7- Mexican Edition
March 21- Easter Edition II
April 4- Desserts Edition

Every now and then I like to surprise my family on the weekends by making a bit of extra effort on a nice, sit-down breakfast. The pancake recipe I'm about to share is always a big hit here! It's hearty and just sweet enough. I think you're going to like it!

Pecan-Oatmeal Pancakes

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preparation:
In a bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Combine milk, eggs and butter; stir into dry ingredients just until blended. Fold in pecans. Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a lightly greased hot griddle; turn when bubbles form on top of pancakes. Cook until second side is golden brown.

Tips:
1) Add a tsp. of vanilla and some cinnamon to jazz it up a bit.

2) When you first scoop the batter into the pan - you have a tiny mountain of crunchy stuff with a puddle of runnier stuff around it. Tap down the mountain with the bottom edge of the measuring cup you're pouring from.

3) Let batter sit a few minutes before starting to cook to get it a little thicker.

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
14 comments


Thursday, February 28, 2008
BloggedIn- News & Networking Contributor
Did I mention that I'm a contributor over at BloggedIn- News & Networking?

Yes, that's right. I'm a co-host for the Highlights section (every other Tuesday so I'll be searching through the posts of bloggers who are part of Family-Friendly Network looking for a special one to highlight.

If you're not already a member, you might consider joining! It's a great group of bloggers!

If you are a member and have a post you'd like highlighted in the near future, leave me a comment or send me an email with a link to that post and I'll check it out!

Stop by this next Tuesday, 4 March, to see which post I've chosen to highlight! You never know, it might be one of yours!

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7:45 AM
3 comments


Wednesday, February 27, 2008
WFMW (making your own hair bows)
Happy Wednesday to you! It's time once again to post another WFMW tip!

I don't know about you but as much as I love participating in this WFMW exchange, sometimes I can't think of any decent ideas. So, unless Shannon requests a specific theme, I've decided to focus my efforts on offering craft ideas. And I'd love it if you'd leave me a comment with some craft ideas of your own!

This week I'm not sharing a craft idea to do with your kid, but rather for your kid.

Now that we have two little foster daughters I've decided to figure out how to make my own hair bows. Purchasing them pre-made can become quite expensive.

I've found several fantastic websites that offer illustrated instructions on how to make your own hair bows. I'll list them here and let you peruse them at your leisure:

Girly Things

Elegance in Bloom

The Ribbon Retreat

Creating my own bow clips 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.

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6:00 AM
12 comments


Monday, February 25, 2008
Adoption #2- A Birthday Party for Boo
Remember how I said I was angry on Boo's behalf? Well, the anger has simmered down a bit, in large part because there's not a lot I can do (about the lack of pictures during her first 12 months of life). I guess in the grand scheme of things, if we get to keep her, missing 12 months of pictures won't be so bad. We'll be able to make up for it over the years.

We started this weekend by throwing Boo a 1st birthday party. We took lots of pictures as she mashed her face and fingers into her birthday cake and smeared frosting all over her cheeks, nose, and in her hair. It did my heart good to see her enjoyment over this birthday cake. She was a bit confused by the #1 candle and our group of family/friends that sang her Happy Birthday and she had no idea what to do with her wrapped presents, but she loved that cake!

I had attached a picture of Boo playing with her birthday toys because I couldn't resist showing you how cute she is but now it's been removed. If you really want to see it, leave me a comment and I'll email it to you. If you saw the picture, you might have noticed that she had help opening her presents. Snuggle Bug had more fun with that part than she did.

Speaking of Snuggle Bug, the poor little guy is having a tougher time adjusting to Boo's presence in our home than he did with Baby Bug's addition. Now he has a little one who's mobile and curious and who likes to come play with whatever he's playing with. We can't help but smile when he says, "No honey, not nice!" as she attempts to grab things from him. He's also said, "MY mommy!" a couple of times when she's attempted to come share my lap. This weekend was also rough with potty training efforts. Snuggle Bug has been doing so well with that (except for #2, we're still working on that) but this weekend there were a lot of accidents. I'm sure it was in large part due to the changes our family is going through.

We're doing our best to reassure Snuggle Bug of his place in our family by carving out special one-on-one time with him. Oronzo took him for a nice long bike ride this past weekend while I watched the girls at home. Snuggle Bug gets my undivided attention at bedtime as we read lots of books, sing songs, say prayers, and get ready for bed. And we're obliging him when he asks to sit in our laps and be cuddled more frequently than usual and giving him lots of hugs and kisses.

Thankfully, we've seen more than just jealousy from Snuggle Bug. We've been pleased as we've watched moments where he'll share with Boo without prompting and he'll display affection towards her and play with her.

I think over time things will be all right if we get to keep Boo. It's just going to be an adjustment. Boo's next court appointment is April 8th. That's when we'll find out whether or not the judge will grant severance.

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6:17 AM
24 comments


Friday, February 22, 2008
Winners of my February PIF Book Exchange

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

And the winners are...

# 12- Oliva at Three In Under Three who wins Knock Yourself Up by Louise Sloan.

# 15- Paige at Yes, I would really like to be thin who wins Austenland by Shannon Hale.

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, 3 March.

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7:56 AM
0 comments


Favorite Ingredients Friday (Side Dishes Edition)

Good Friday to you all! It's time for my Favorite Ingredients Friday Side Dishes Edition recipe exchange.

The recipe that I'm about to share comes from Recipe.AOL.com. It's very yummy!

Georgian Green Beans

Ingredients:
2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Directions:
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Place green beans in the water, and cook about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and drain in a colander. Place under cold water until no longer hot. Drain, and pat dry.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until onion is tender. Melt remaining butter in the skillet, and mix in the green beans. Stir in the vinegar and broth. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in cilantro. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes, or until green beans are tender.

I hope if you try this recipe you'll let me know how it turned out for you! Now I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday Side Dishes 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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7:02 AM
13 comments


Thursday, February 21, 2008
Adoption #2- I'm angry on Boo's behalf!
First of all, we get to keep Boo. There will be no sending her back to her previous foster home only to have her transitioned back into our home a few days later. Thank goodness for that!

Yesterday Boo's previous foster mom brought over the rest of her stuff. It was nice of her to do this and I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions while she was here. Boo perked up when she saw her and crawled into her arms and played there.

As nice as this foster mom was, I'm still angry on Boo's behalf about a couple of things.

1) For the poor shape of her clothes. The previous foster mom brought over a grocery bag of her clothes and a couple of nice two piece outfits. The outfits were the only really nice things. Most of the other clothes she left us were stained or tattered. Some were "okay" but the majority of them were not. I couldn't help but wonder how Boo was dressed each day, given the poor condition of the clothes that were delivered to us. There's no need for that! Foster parents get a clothing allowance for goodness sakes! It's not much but if you're careful in where you shop you can get nice stuff for inexpensive prices. She deserves better and now that she's with us she'll get nicer clothes! We already went out and bought her a few nice sleepers, an Easter dress, a couple of shirts and a couple of pants. We may or may not get a clothing allowance for her, it depends on whether the previous foster mom already spent Boo's allotted amount for the first half of this year. I don't care. We'll be buying her more clothes to fill out her wardrobe regardless! I was extremely disappointed in this foster mom for not keeping her clothes in better shape. I understand that little ones spit up and get food all over their clothes at mealtimes but that's what Spray 'n Wash if for!

2) For the lack of baby pictures. This previous foster mom has had Boo in her care since last July, which means she would've been 5 months old. I specifically asked if we could have a copy of any pictures they might have taken of her since she was placed with their family. I even offered to pay for these copies. Yesterday, this foster mom brought over her digital camera and allowed us to transfer over 8 pictures of Boo. It was clear that they were pictures taken fairly recently, like probably within the last week or so. She had NO baby pictures to give us. How hard is it to pick up a camera and snap a few pictures of a baby, foster kid or not, and get them developed? How could a mother, foster mother or otherwise, fail to understand how important those baby pictures might be to a child as they get older?! That's a part of Boo's history that she'll never have and there's no way I can get that back for her. It's yet another thing she's lost as a result of being placed in the foster care system. I seriously doubt we'll get any pictures from her parents either as they haven't seen her since birth. She was given to her aunt at birth who then had her taken away and put into foster care four months later.

The lack of clothes I can fix. The lack of pictures I can not and it breaks my heart. Her earliest pictures will be at 1 year old. How sad is that? I can't help but feel angry at this previous foster mom for not making at least SOME effort in taking pictures of Boo as a baby.

Well, thanks for letting me vent. I think it helps to get that off my chest.

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7:17 AM
26 comments


Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Adoption #2- Meeting Boo (long)
Yesterday afternoon I got to meet Boo for the first time, at the airport as Oronzo was picking us up.

I watched as Oronzo walked up to us, holding a little girl with a full head of silky brown hair. Her face was somber and inquisitive.

Snuggle Bug looked up and said, "Daddy has another baby!" I had to laugh at that! He didn't seem to phased at this additional baby, he was just stating the obvious.

Before I barely got the words, "Hi!" out of my mouth, Oronzo handed Boo over to me so that he could sweep Snuggle Bug up for a big bear hug. Boo didn't fuss at being passed over to me, she just looked me over intently and I did the same to her.

Boo is a beautiful little girl. She has shoulder length hair that is thick, soft, and wavy. Her bangs are a bit long over her dark brown eyes. Her skin is creamy and fair. She has a pretty bow shaped mouth and a delicate nose. It's obvious that she's been well taken care of because she's a solid 12-month old.

I got to spend the rest of the day yesterday getting to know Boo. She's certainly quiet and clingy but I don't blame her. She was removed from the only family she's known for the last 7 months. I'm surprised she wasn't more agitated. She doesn't like to be set down on the floor, it makes her cry, but if we set her on our bed or on the couch, she's okay with that. She just wants to keep one of us within eye-sight.

Despite her shyness, we had a few happy moments with Boo yesterday. She smiled and laughed out loud as she watched Oronzo and Snuggle Bug tickling each other and giggling together. She pretty much laughed each time she heard Snuggle Bug laugh. She also chattered away to Baby Bug when we had the three kids strapped in their car seats in the back seat. Oronzo said that's the most he's heard her laugh or chatter since she arrived at our house. Apparently having other little ones around her is good for her.

Boo is a good little eater. She doesn't appear to be picky about what she eats and Oronzo says she can eat more than Snuggle Bug at times! She ate quite a bit at dinner last night.

Bath time last night was interesting. Juggling 3 kids' bath, storytime, cuddling, and bedtime was a bit of a challenge but between the two of us Oronzo and I got it done. At one point, while Oronzo was finishing Snuggle Bug's bath, I was holding Boo and Baby Bug at the same time in our leather rocker recliner. They both snuggled up to me and let me rock and sing to them. It was very sweet.

Boo went to bed last night with no objections. Oronzo said she's the easiest baby in that respect. If you put her in her crib with a blankie for a nap or bedtime, she'll not fuss a bit. She just goes to sleep. I don't think I've ever had a child that doesn't fuss at least a bit at having to go to bed, so I'm not sure what to think of that. I checked on her a few times throughout the night and she appeared to be doing fine.

I found out yesterday that there's a chance we may have to send Boo back to her most current foster family. We weren't supposed to get her this soon, she came earlier because the foster mom requested respite care for her. That respite care was only approved by CPS through Monday and Oronzo got a call from our agency social worker telling us that she'd have to go back to the foster family until her CPS case worker could get a transfer approved.

Oronzo told our agency worker that Boo is doing fairly well at our house and he thought it might be more confusing to go back her previous foster family, only to be sent back to us within a few days. Oronzo asked if she could just be transferred directly to us. Our agency worker said that wasn't up to her and since Monday was a government holiday, the CPS case worker wasn't in to discuss it with. Oronzo got off the phone with the our agency worker believing that he'd have to return Boo that day.

10 minutes later, Oronzo got a call from Boo's previous foster mom. She sounded quite distraught at hearing Boo would be coming back when she thought we'd get to keep her. She said she wasn't feeling well and didn't think she could handle taking her back. Oronzo told her it was out of his hands and suggested that she call our agency worker to discuss it with her, since Boo's CPS worker wasn't available. Apparently she did just that because our agency worker called back and told Oronzo she was going to extend the respite care through Wednesday in the hopes that she could get a hold of Boo's CPS worker before then.

Apparently Boo's CPS worker is okay with her staying with us, but she has to get Boo's lawyer to approve of this immediate transition and she's not 100% convinced that the lawyer will buy off on it. So, there's still a chance that Boo will be sent back to her previous foster family, despite the fact that the foster mom seems to be under a lot of emotional stress right now (at least that's what Oronzo can tell from the few conversations he's had with her) and would rather not get her back.

I hope Boo isn't sent back, she's been traumatized enough without being bounced back and forth even further. She's had 4 moves in her 12 months of life. I just want her to be able to settle in to our family so that we can love her and help her to trust those around her. She's very timid and scared right now.

Today Oronzo will have three small kids to care for while I'm at work (a 3 year old, a 12 month old, and a 3 1/2 month old). This is the most he's ever had at one time and he's wondering how it'll go. It won't be easy, but I'm confident he'll handle it with patience and love as he always does. He's so wonderful with children!

Wish us luck today as we wait to hear back from Boo's lawyer as to whether or not her case can be immediately transferred to us so she can stay.

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6:53 AM
14 comments


Monday, February 18, 2008
Adoption #2- We have Boo at our home!
In my last adoption post I mentioned that we were chosen to get a 12-month old little girl. We thought having her moved into our home would be a gradual process but it hasn't quite worked out that way!

I'm currently in KC, visiting my sister and the rest my side of the family (they drove in from NE to see us). I have Snuggle Bug and Baby Bug with me. Oronzo stayed at home and had intended to enjoy some quiet at home but it wasn't meant to be.

Last Friday he got a call from our agency social worker asking him if he would consider taking Boo that evening, rather than waiting until this week. Apparently her foster parents were having relatives coming in from out of town and wanted to arrange respite care for her. Oronzo gave up his plans and agreed to take her.

Boo has been in our home for 3 days now and Oronzo says that she's doing pretty good so far. She's quiet and a bit clingy, but she doesn't seem overly distraught. Poor little one has probably gotten used to expecting change.

Oronzo's emailing me pictures of her and she's adorable! I can't wait to meet her tomorrow! I hope she isn't too overwhelmed when the three of us arrive back home!

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7:57 AM
14 comments


Friday, February 15, 2008
My Blog Spotlighted on 5 Minutes For Mom!

Want the inside scoop? Check out my interview with Shauna over at 5 Minutes for Mom Spotlight.

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9:29 AM
5 comments


Favorite Ingredients Friday (Tomato Basil Fettuccine)

Good Friday to you all! It's time for another Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange! Sorry I'm a little late getting this posted.

Upcoming Themed Schedule

February 22- Side Dishes
March 7- Mexican Edition
March 21- Easter Edition II

I love pasta dishes and this one is particularly creamy and delicious!


Tomato Basil Fettuccine

Ingredients:

8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

Cook fettuccine according to package directions. meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, saute onion and red pepper flakes in butter until onion is tender. Add tomatoes and salt; cook and stir over medium-high heat until most of the liquid is evaporated. Remove from the heat; let stand for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Drain fettuccine and place in a large bowl. Add the basil, Parmesan cheese and tomato mixture; toss to coat.
Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals 236 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 11 mg cholesterol, 507 mg sodium, 40 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 10 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 lean meat, 1/2 fat.

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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9:15 AM
7 comments


Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Adoption #2- Placement Meeting- UPDATED!
In about 3 hours we will have a CPS worker and two agency social workers in our home to discuss the fate of a 10-month old little girl.

I didn't sleep well last night. I tossed and turned as I worried about all sorts of things with this upcoming meeting.

Will we be the family chosen to get her?

Will we be allowed to adopt her if we are chosen?

Will she settle in to our home and our family routine okay or will she be quite anxious with being separated from the only family she's known for the past 7 months?

Can we really handling caring for a 3-year old, a 10-month old, and a 3-month old and give each of them the love and attention that they need?

Can we believe what our agency is being told by CPS, that this little girl is developmentally on target, or are we being told what we want to hear?

What's the story with her parents? Why is CPS moving towards severance?

What kind of interaction will we be expected to have with the parents?

These thoughts and more are swirling through my head, making me nervous and a bit fearful about this upcoming meeting.

I pray that the Lord will give us the wisdom to ask the right questions and the courage to accept this little girl into our hearts and homes. I pray that he will continue to bless our family and help us to do our very best by all of the children that enter our home, for whatever amount of time they are with us.

UPDATED INFO

We're taking her!

The meeting this morning went well and CPS was pleased with our family. We learned quite a bit of information today. I can't share all of it with you but I will share some:

1) The "baby" is not 10 months old, she's 12 months. In fact, she turned a year old yesterday. I'm bummed that we missed her first birthday! I'm not sure why we were told she was 10 months old, obviously there was some disconnect in communication somewhere, but it doesn't matter.

2) We saw a picture of her and she's as cute as a button! She's fair with lots of dark hair and healthy looking. I think I'll call her "Boo" on my blog because she looks a bit like Boo from Monster's Inc.

3) She's said to be developmentally on target (crawling, cruising but not quite walking, babbling, etc.) but only time will tell if that's truly the case.

4) One of her parents is incarcerated in another state (not due to be released until late fall of this year, at earliest). Sorry, sharing details as to why is not allowed. The other parent was here illegally and was deported to another country last year. CPS has not been able to reach this parent since.

5) Boo has been in foster care since last summer and, given the circumstances of her parents, CPS is going to ask the judge to sever parental rights in her next court date this April. There is no known extended family qualified to take Boo. There has been attempts to have "acquaintances" take her in as a foster child in the state that her one parent is incarcerated in, but so far those attempts have failed for various reasons. CPS is eager to have Boo moved into a foster-to-adopt home so that when they go to court they can tell the judge that she's in with a family that will adopt her.

6) IF the judge agrees with a severance of parental rights plan, then a court date would be set to accomplish that. That court date would probably happen in May. We've been told that it's possible that the incarcerated parent will appeal severance and that would mean yet another court date probably in July. If, in the end, parental rights are severed, they would be severed for both parents at the same time. The parent that is out of the country would be considered to have abandoned Boo. This parent has never met Boo.

7) There's a chance that the judge will mandate that Boo remain in foster care until the incarcerated parent is released and has time to work a case plan, but CPS doesn't want that to happen because that means she will have been in foster care for about 2 years before anything is decided. CPS doesn't always get their way. We have to accept that things could go this way.

We're leaving on a family trip tomorrow afternoon so we won't actually meet the current foster family and start transitioning Boo into our home until the middle of next week. I'm okay with that. I need a bit time to get comfortable with the fact that our life is about to become very chaotic with taking care of 3 little ones!

Wish us luck!

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6:18 AM
31 comments


Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Adoption #2 Info & Stroller Review
I wanted to let you know that our interview with the CPS case worker (for the 10-month old little girl) was re-scheduled for tomorrow at 9:30 AM so if you’re interested in hearing the results of that meeting, check back late morning tomorrow.

Now, on to a totally unrelated topic…

We got a new double stroller this past weekend and we love it! It’s a Combi 2008 Twin Sport 2 (ours is brick red and ember).

Originally we had planned on getting a tandem double stroller, rather than a side-by-side double stroller because we were worried that a side-by-side would be too wide to maneuver around in stores and such. What we found is that the tandem stroller was too long to fit in the trunk of our 2007 Jeep Compass!

The thing that sold us on this Combi stroller is the compact tri-fold feature (it collapses flat and then you can fold it in half from there) and the fact that once it’s folded it’s self-standing. It fits in our Jeep Compass with plenty of room to spare. It may even fit in the trunk of my compact car; I just haven’t tried it yet. Amazingly, our side-by-side stroller fits through all the doorways and aisles of our favorite stores with no problems. And I love how lightweight this stroller is!

Snuggle Bug and Baby Bug seems to find the stroller comfy. We’ve taken them on two long walks so far and neither complained. Actually, Baby Bug gave her endorsement by falling asleep in the stroller on one of those walks.

After searching Babies R Us and not finding what we liked we found this brand at a local specialty baby store here in our city. But I noticed on the Combi website that they’re offering free shipping on all strollers now through 29 February so if you’re interested in one, you can order it online. Check it out!

By the way, I was not solicited to post this product review. I just love our stroller so much that I wanted to share!

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6:01 AM
6 comments


Friday, February 08, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Chocolate Edition II)


Last year, about this time, I did a chocolate edition of my Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange, in preparation for Valentine's Day ! It was a great success, I had 29 bloggers post their favorite chocolate recipes. You can see those recipes right here.

So, today I'm doing it again and I hope you'll join me by sharing your favorite chocolate recipe! I'm a chocoholic and I need my fix! :)

The recipe that I'm about to share comes from Godiva's website. Godiva is one of the highest quality chocolates out there and I love this recipe. It's scrumptious!


Flourless Chocolate Cherry Torte

Macerated Cherry Mixture:
1 cup sun-dried cherries
3/4 cup cherry brandy
2 tablespoons maraschino cherry juice
Zest of one orange

Chocolate Cherry Torte:
5 bars (1.5 ounces each) Godiva Dark Chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into pieces
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup whole blanched almonds, finely ground

Garnish:
Sweetened whipped cream
Chocolate-dipped cherries
Shaved Godiva Dark Chocolate

Make the cherries:

Heat cherries, cherry brandy, cherry juice and orange zest in saucepan over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand 1 hour.

Make the chocolate cherry torte:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 10-inch round cake pan with vegetable cooking spray. Line with parchment or waxed paper.

Place chocolate and butter in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium (50% power) for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave 30 seconds more or until chocolate is softened. Stir until smooth and let cool.

Beat eggs and sugar in mixing bowl until mixture is pale and forms a ribbon, using electric mixer at high speed. Add chocolate mixture, ground almonds and reserved cherries with juice. Mix just until combined. Turn mixture into prepared pan.

Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. (The center will sink slightly.)

Invert cake onto serving plate. Cut into wedges. Serve each wedge topped with whipped cream, chocolate-dipped cherry and shaved chocolate.

I hope if you try this recipe you'll let me know how it turned out for you! Now I look forward to seeing your Valentine's Day chocolate edition Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe!


Don't forget to link your specific recipe post link on Mr. Linky so I can see what's cooking at your house!

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

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5:07 AM
18 comments


Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Adoption #2- Another Placement Call!
We've received another placement call recently! We've actually received a couple more foster-to-adopt calls since Baby Bug was placed with us, but our home study hasn't been chosen.

On Monday we got a call from our agency letting us know about a 10 month old little girl who has been in foster care since birth. I'm not at liberty to get into the details of her case and I don't even have all the details yet but I will tell you that she has no visits with her parents and since she's nearing the 1 year mark of being in foster care, the state is starting to consider severing the rights of her parents, without taking the step of having a reunification plan and a concurrent adoption plan active at the same time. We're being told they'd want to move straight to adoption.

This baby girl is currently in a foster home where the couple caring for her has grown children and they're just fostering to help children in need. They have no desire to adopt and start another family. Since this baby's plan is changing to an adoption plan, CPS has decided it's time to move her to a foster-to-adopt home, such as ours.

Here's the interesting part, we're being told that CPS does not have time to have home studies submitted to the Foster Care Review Board for consideration of this baby girl (I'll be asking for more details on why that is from the CPS worker). Whichever family they transfer her to is the one who will have the chance to adopt her.

Our agency told us that we are their new favorite family and they immediately thought of us when they received the call. Now they could just be flattering us but I don't care. They called us, that's the important thing.

Oronzo and I asked a lot of questions, discussed it for all of about 5 minutes, and then told our agency we'd be interested in being considered for this 10 month old baby girl.

We'll be meeting with the CPS worker on Monday and if that meeting goes well, then plans to transition this baby girl into our home will begin.

IF we are the chosen family for this little girl and IF parental rights are severed and her plan is changed to an adoption plan, we'll have to have her in our home for at least 6 months before we'd be allowed to petition to adopt her. From there, it would take several months to secure a court date for an Adoption Finalization. So, an adoption of this baby girl wouldn't happen overnight, but at least the potential to adopt sounds very promising.

Can you believe it, we may have two babies (and our 3-year old) in our home soon! We're only licensed for up to two foster children at a time (that's all we felt we could realistically handle) so if we take in this 10 month old we won't receive any more placement calls, until Baby Bug is returned to her parents (they're still at 100% compliancy so it's probably going to happen in April).

Speaking of Baby Bug, she's doing fantastic and we adore her! She's almost sleeping through the night, she still likes to wake up for a 4:30 AM feeding. She's smiling, cooing, laughing out loud. She's starting to reach out for things and trying really hard to roll over. She's developmentally right on target. She's starting to outgrow her 0-3 month outfits so we'll have to move her into 3-6 month outfits soon. Thankfully we're prepared after the shopping spree that we went on last month.

Okay, that's all for now. I'll let you know how the meeting goes on Monday. I'd appreciate any prayers you might want to offer up.

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5:02 AM
23 comments


Monday, February 04, 2008
February Pay It Forward- 11 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 two books to give away this month.

1) Knock Yourself Up by Louise Sloan.

This book was sent to me for review by Jessica with Penguin Group. Thanks, Jessica!

Here's what the back cover says:

Frank and funny, Knock Yourself Up is the ultimate girlfriend's guide to becoming a single mom. At thirty-eight, writer Louise Sloan realized she'd better get serious about motherhood before her fertility ran out. So began the hilarious and at times heartbreaking journey that involved cyber stalking an anonymous sperm donor, grappling with exploding semen vials, and being mistaken for a horse breeder. In addition to Sloan's own experiences, this book is filled with candid, intimate stories from women all across the country who have created happy families on their own.

Knock Yourself Up has the kind of straight-up answers you won't find anywhere else, to questions like:

* When do I decide it's time to go it alone?
* Can I afford it?
* Is it fair to my child?
* How do I tell my parents?
* How do I tell my dates?
* Have I gone totally crazy?

This honest, entertaining, and informative book gives a unique inside look at a growing trend. It is a must-read for any single woman who might want kids someday.

So, I must say that this book fascinated me, even before I started reading it. At one point in my life, before I met Oronzo, I seriously considered the option of adopting as a single woman. I knew I wanted kids and I wasn't willing to sacrifice that if "Mr. Right" didn't come along. Obviously, adopting as a single woman wasn't necessary for me, but I was fascinated to read how other women felt about making that choice.

I think Louise Sloan did a great job discussing what's involved with choosing the right sperm bank (she didn't really get into choosing adoption in this book), how challenging single pregnancy can be, how being a single mom can often kill your social life, and so on. I do however; think she glossed over a bit how much your future child's wishes to know his/her biological origins should be taken into account. Other than that, this was a well written book that I think you'll enjoy!

2) Austenland by Shannon Hale, advance reading copy.

This book was sent to me by Carrie at With All That I've Been Given. Thanks, Carrie!

From School Library Journal:

Thirty-three-year-old Jane Hayes, who has a fairly serious addiction to the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice, inherits a trip to Pembrook Park, Kent, England, the location of a resort where guests dress, talk, think, and act in ways that Jane Austen would approve. Refusing to lie about her age, even on vacation in a place right out of Austen's England, Jane finds herself quickly overcoming the obsession with Mr. Darcy that may very well have jeopardized her 13 "relationships" over the years. Left to walk in last to dinner, mildly obsessed with one of the hotel's gardeners, and annoyed by another guest's overeager attempts to bag a man, Jane is eager to return to Manhattan. Then she decides to give it all one more chance, since Great-Aunt Carolyn did see fit to pay for the entire vacation. Hale does a lovely job with the tale of a single woman who would appreciate a genuine shot at love. The book is well written, quite readable, and the myriad characters, especially those working at the resort, are quirkily funny.

I must say, I really enjoyed this book and I'm reluctant to pass it on because it's one that I would read again. I'm a huge Jane Austen fan (I've got TIVO recording the current PBS Austen series). This book has some good pun, inside jokes for Jane Austen addicts, and a vivid writing style. I'd highly recommend it!

So there you have it, details on the two books that I'm giving away this month. If you'd like to win either 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, 22 February, so be sure to check back.

Best of luck!

If you have any books you'd like to Pay It Forward yourself this month, please leave me a comment and I'll link you in this post!

Additional Pay It Forward Giveaways:

1) Cynthia at Springmont Cottage is giving away the book, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith on 17 February. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Cynthia!

2) Oliva at 3 In Under 3 is giving away the book, Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld on 17 February. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Olivia!

3) Paige at Yes, I would really like to be thin is giving away the book, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green on 22 February. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Paige!

4) Tamy at 3 Sides of Crazy is giving away the book, Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks on 29 February. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Tamy!

5) Karen at Mommy of Three is giving away the book, Sisters, Ink by Rebeca Seitz on 29 February. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Karen!

6) Kathleen Marie at The Open Window is giving away two books, The Legacy of Drennan's Crossing by Wanda Luttrell and The Legacy of Greenbrier by J.H. Rhodes on 29 February. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Kathleen Marie!

7) Forgetfulone is giving away the book, Why Animals Don't Get Heart Attacks - but People Do by Dr. Matthias Rath on 29 February. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Forgetfulone!

8) Christi at Blah Blah Blog is giving away the book, The Stone Flower Garden by Deborah Smith on 29 February. Stop by her blog to enter to win. Thanks, Christi!

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5:00 AM
23 comments


Saturday, February 02, 2008
Books & Baby Cereal Winners!
Good morning everyone!

It's time to draw winners for my books for the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival, the two copies of Confessions of a Mommy Handler!

The winners were randomly selected using Random Integer Generator.

And the winners are:

# 15- Megan, a non-blogger with the email address of mnatherson [at] comcast [dot] net.

#51- Chantelle at Chantelle Unscripted

And now it's time to select the winners for the Beech-Nut Easy Pour™ dry baby cereal.

And the winners are:

# 6- Happy Momma at Our Happy Home

#10- Angelaandconner at Seven Dogs and a Baby

Congrats, Ladies! Please email me your mailing address so I can get your prizes out to you soon!

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7:58 AM
4 comments


Friday, February 01, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Dried Beef Over Potatoes)

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

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

This recipe is actually one that I learned from my mom. She used to make it for us kids and we loved it, over buttered toast or mashed potatoes!

Dried Beef Over Potatos
Ingredients:

½ cup flour
¾ cup milk
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
Pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon of butter
Dried beef cut into cubes
Toast or mashed potatoes


Preparation:
  1. Melt butter over low heat in a small skillet, then add dried beef, cooking only until warm, but not crispy. Cover and set aside for addition to cream sauce.
  2. Over low heat mix milk, flour, and Worcestershire sauce stirring constantly. Mixture may become thick; just add small portions of milk until it is creamy, but not runny. Add pepper to taste. Also taste sauce along the way to be sure it does not taste too floury. Add dried beef from skillet and stir well.
  3. Serve over toast or mashed potatoes.

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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6:00 AM
6 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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