Thursday, December 25, 2008
Merry Christmas & good news!
Wishing you all a blessed Christmas today, this day of Christ's birth.

We have had a wonderful day thus far.  The kids woke up to lots of fun presents from Santa, mommy and daddy, and extended family.  Our living room was made chaos for a while!  

Now the kids are napping and when the get up we're going to visit a dear friend in a retirement home and then head to Oronzo's sister's house for dinner with her family.


Boo's two favorite gifts were a Fisher Price shopping cart, which she took shopping with me at the grocery store this morning, and her baby doll set (doll, stroller, playpen, & high chair).  She's really into babies right now and it's fun to see her play "mommy" with her dolls! 

Snuggle Bug's favorite toys were his kid-sized guitar and his Geotracks train set!  Last year he wanted a drum set from Santa, which he got.  This year he wanted a guitar.  I suspect there's a chance he'll have a career in music!  Maybe he'll start his own rock band. :)

So, now for the good news!

As you may remember, we were scheduled to have court this week for Boo.  

Let me just say that things went far better than we expected!  All the prayers offered up for our family were indeed heard!

Two big things came out of this court hearing.

1) The judge has refused to transfer Boo to the state where her mom resides.  He said Boo has been through enough change in her short life and she's doing well with us so he does not feel it's in her best interest to move.  He told Boo's mom to stop trying to come up with families in her state that would be willing to foster Boo because he will no longer entertain such requests!  Praise God for that!   She will be required to make arrangements to move here if she wants the opportunity to work a case plan.  

2) The judge has changed the case plan goal from Reunification with Boo's mother to Severance and Adoption by our family!!

This court hearing brought out quite a lot of the history of Boo's mom and it was clear that she'd had a rough childhood and a rough life.  Her extended family was not very stable either.

The judge finally acknowledged that Boo has been in the system for 17 1/2 months of her 22 month life and deserves permanency and stability!

Now, before you get too excited, thinking we're close to adopting Boo, let me caution you to wait.  The judge made it very clear that he is unable to make a final decision at this time because this is a very complicated case and he needs more time to review all the facts before reaching a decision.  He told CPS that they had to continue to offer Boo's mom services and he encouraged Boo's mom to avail herself of those services and continue working hard to get her life in order.   He could, at any time, change his mind and allow Boo's mom to work a case plan for 6-9 months.

So, the next step is an initial Severance hearing, scheduled for late January.  Then there will be a Termination Trial in late March that may last days.  Each side gets to call witnesses to testify on their behalf.  After all the testimony has been heard, the judge will need time to make a decision.

IF he rules that severance and adoption is in Boo's best interest, then Boo's mom has 30 days to appeal his decision.  If she does that (we fully expect that she will), we could have a long wait.  We've been told by an experienced foster mom who's adopted through the system in our state that it can take 8-15 months just for the appeal to be reviewed and a final verdict reached!

After the appeals, if it's still a verdict of severance and adoption, then we probably have another 4-6 month wait to get a court date for adoption finalization.

So, as you can see, we're not out of the woods yet by any means and we still have a long road before us.  But, the court hearing this week gave us hope.  We're moving at the right direction!

We'd sure appreciate your continued prayers for Boo and our family! 

Merry Christmas to you all!  May your new year be blessed!

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12:00 PM
26 comments


Saturday, December 20, 2008
Foster news
Things have been hectic in my world lately but I wanted to share a little foster care news with you all.

For Boo
 
We're stressed about Boo's case right now and we're bracing ourselves for a visit that's scheduled to take place between Boo and her mom.  It'll be the first time they've been together since she was born 22 months ago.  The visit is happening early next week and we've been instructed to drop Boo off at the CPS office (or we could've let a CPS Aide come pick her up at our house but we weren't about to put her through that) and then come back in two hours to retrieve her.  I'm pretty sure Boo is going to FLIP OUT at being separated from us and left with strangers (CPS and her mom, who at this point is a stranger) and I'm worried about the repercussions of this first visit.  I'm sure we'll see some acting out of some kind from Boo when she gets home.  

I know we have no choice in the matter about this visit.  It was bound to happen sometime once mom got out, I just wish it didn't have to happen right before Christmas.  We've worked so hard to get Boo stabilized and I'm worried that all that hard work is going to be blown to bits in that short 2 hours and that Christmas will be a struggle.

We're stressed out about the court hearing that happens the same day as the visit (that's why mom is flying into town...for the court hearing).  I suspect that the outcome of the court hearing won't be in our favor but I'm trying to remain positive.   Your prayers would be much appreciated!

Oronzo's mom touched my heart yesterday.  She came for a visit and surprised us with a stocking for Boo, with the name that we will name her if we're allowed to adopt her stitched on the top.  It's a beautiful stocking with elaborate embellishments!

This is a very significant gift because it's meant to be a symbol of hope.  Oronzo's mom has made personalized stockings for Ornozo, for me, and for Snuggle Bug over the years and now she's made one for Boo.  She's been telling us to remain positive, not to give in to the negativity of the situation.  Every time I look at that stocking, I will be reminded of this.  That stocking may not go into storage after Christmas is over.

On a practical note, I'm thrilled that Boo will have her very own stocking hung at the fireplace, right next to Snuggle Bug's, and it'll be loaded with fun little gifts on Christmas morning.  Santa's good like that!

For Baby Bug

I'm happy to report that Baby Bug is still doing well, and so are her parents and baby brother!  

Yes, we're back in contact with them and I was invited to go on a shopping trip today with Baby Bug, her mom, and her baby brother!  We arranged for me to meet at their house, they wanted to show me their pretty Christmas decorations that they put up, and I got to play with Baby Bug for a bit before we hit the stores.  Then I got to help pick out adorable clothes for Baby Bug!  Hooray!

I can't tell you how happy it makes me to have gotten to the point where I get to see and hold Baby Bug again!  I'm so thankful to her parents for allowing this connection with us!  

Baby Bug gave me several big bear hugs today, and a long hug when it was time to part ways after shopping, and her mom said, "I swear to you, I've never seen her hug anyone like that other than you and Oronzo.  She doesn't even hug us like that!"   The hugs from Baby Bug lift my spirits and having her mom be okay with her daughter's continued affection for us is a blessing.

Had you asked me a year ago if I'd have on-going contact with a biological family, I would've told you that you were crazy.  God works in mysterious ways.  

I'm so glad that it's turning out this way.  It's a joy to see Baby Bug each time!  Oronzo and I have decided to invite Baby Bug's parents, baby brother, and of course Baby Bug to Snuggle Bug's birthday party.  Baby Bug's mom said she'd love to come!  It hasn't happened yet, but I'm hopeful that it will.  

Well, that's all for now.   Take care!

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4:00 AM
12 comments


Friday, December 19, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Cookie Edition II)

Good Morning everyone! Thank goodness it's Friday!

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

I hope you don't mind a repost of a cookie recipe that I've shared in the past. I just love these cookies and it seems appropriate for the upcoming holiday. I got this reciep from my 1992 Better Homes & Gardens cookbook called Cookies, Cookies, Cookies . I made these last year for Christmas and they were a big hit! :)


Roly-Poly Santa Cookies

Ingredients

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

Preparation

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

I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday- Cookie Edition 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 me to go back and search for recipes as I build my weekly menu.

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7:03 AM
4 comments


Saturday, December 13, 2008
Birthday party invite that I created!

So, I couldn't resist sharing.  Take a look at the birthday party invite that I created for Snuggle Bug's 4th birthday party.  Obviously I modified it to remove our personal contact info.

Not too shabby, eh?  I love Photoshop!

I decided to have a cooking theme for Snuggle Bug's birthday party, since he loves to cook and bake!  We keep his parties rather small, because he's more comfortable in small groups, so I think we have about 6, maybe 7 kids that will probably be coming.   Oh, and Baby Bug and her family are attending too (even though Baby Bug is too young to cook).  We'll have Baby Bug in our house again for the first time in 4 months, hooray!

I've ordered kids aprons and chef's hats online and I'm going to have fabric paints available for the kids to personalize their aprons and hats.

After their aprons and hats are ready, I'm going to let the kids roll out pizza dough and create their own personalized pizza's.  

Sounds fun, right? :)  I hope so!

Tomorrow I'll try to find time to post pictures of one of my recent Christmas tutu orders.  They turned out really cute, I think.

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11:21 PM
9 comments


Friday, December 12, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Quick Cheddar Cheese Biscuits)

Good Friday to you all! It's time for another Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange! I can't wait to see what you all come up with!

Check out my upcoming themed schedule below:

Upcoming 2008 & 2009 "Themed" Schedule
December 19- Cookie Edition II
January 2- Casserole Edition II
January 16- Pies Edition II
January 30- Super Bowl Edition III

Now that the weather is chilly, I'm doing a lot more baking (I love baking)!  I made these for dinner last night.  They really do taste just like the ones you'll get at Red Lobster! Yum!


Quick Cheddar Cheese Biscuits
(Makes 8 biscuits.)


Ingredients

  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  3. 1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  4. 2 TBSP chilled butter
  5. 2/3 cup milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine flour & baking powder in a medium bowl (optional addition, 1/2 tsp salt).
  2. Cut in butter using a pastry blender or 2 knives until coarse crumbs form.
  3. Using a fork, stir milk into flour mixture until a soft dough forms. Do not overmix or overwork dough.
  4. Stir in shredded Cheddar cheese.
  5. Drop dough in heaping tablespoons, 1 inch apart, onto ungreased baking sheet (I use a Silpat mat, they're awesome).
  6. Bake until biscuits are firm to the touch, about 15 minutes.

Suggestions

  1. Try basting the biscuits with melted butter and Hidden Valley Ranch powder.
  2. Freeze these biscuits to have for mini egg sandwiches. Defrost biscuits; reheat for 10 minutes. Fill with scrambled eggs, bacon, and Cheddar.
  3. Complement a spaghetti dinner: use Parmesan cheese instead of Cheddar and add 1/2 tsp dried basil in Step 1 of directions.

Now, I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe!

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

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

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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7:38 AM
2 comments


Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Crazy busy!
I've been neglectful of my blog lately and I'm afraid it's not going to get any better anytime soon.  Here's why:
  1. I returned from an 8-day trip to NE last Friday and I'm still playing catch up at home and at work.  We had a fabulous time, by the way.  More on that later!
  2. I'm trying to plan two different birthday parties for my boys (Snuggle Bug & Oronzo).  They both have birthdays this month.
  3. I'm working on about 4 Christmas tutus and a couple of packages of hair bows/clips!
  4. I want to get some baking done to give as gifts for my friends and neighbors.
  5. I'm sewing some gifts for family (i.e.  I made my 2 year old nephew a cute Thomas the Train fleece blanket for Christmas).
  6. I'm working on getting Christmas cards ordered and a Christmas newsletter put together for family and friends.
  7. I'm working full-time and coming home to two small children who want my attention the minute I walk in the door until I put them to bed.
  8. There are holiday parties to attend.
  9. I'm juggling court hearings and Foster Care Review Board meetings for Boo's court case and I'm trying to prod Boo's CPS worker into getting us a referral for services for Boo.  I just typed out a 3 page "Foster Parent Input" letter to submit to the courts (to be viewed by the judge and everyone else involved in her case) giving an update on what she's been through these past 10 months, how she's doing now, and why we feel it's in her best interest to have services put into place for her.  I've been fighting this battle since August and have made very little progress!  More on that later.
  10. I'm trying to keep up with house cleaning, laundry, and other "fun tasks".
  11. I'm keeping in touch with Baby Bug and her family (what a joy)!
Whew!  No wonder I'm exhausted!  Bear with me, I will get better about blogging as I cross some of these items off of my to-do list.

I will be hosting my Favorite Ingredients Friday recipe exchange this Friday and I hope you'll join me.  I'm always in need of good recipes to help plan our meals throughout the week!

What's keeping you busy this month?!

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8:51 PM
5 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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