Friday, February 27, 2009
Disturbing message from Baby Bug's mom! *Updated*
Before I begin, if you're looking for my Favorite Ingredients Friday post, it's right here.

Now then, at 8:30 AM this morning, I received a call on my cell phone.   I was still sleeping because I had been up once or twice with Snuggle Bug who had bad dreams and I didn't recognize the number on my cell phone so I let it go to voicemail.  I really wish I would've taken that call!

An hour later, when I listened to my voicemail message, I was surprised to hear Baby Bug's mom leaving the message.  I had planned on calling her parents today to tell them we had returned and to see if we could arrange a play date with the kids this week.   

Baby Bug's mom called not to ask if we were home yet or to set up a play date.  She called to give me a new phone number.  The rest of her message was a bit disturbing.

She told me that there had been some drastic changes since we had left, besides the new number, and asked me to call her.  She said she could use a friend.

I immediately called her back, frantic with worry about Baby Bug and her family!  She didn't answer.  I got her voicemail.  Interestingly, the voice mail greeting on the phone was only for her, not her and Baby Bug's dad.  I left her a message saying we're back in town, I'm happy to listen and I'm willing to offer help in any way that I can.  I asked her to please call me back.

So, did she and Baby Bug's dad get into a fight and separate?  Did one of them return to their troubled past way of life?  Did CPS step in and take the kids (Baby Bug and her little brother) while we were gone?  I pray that this did NOT happen!  I don't want Baby Bug back in the system and certainly not with another foster family.  If she is in the system again, I will be calling everyone I know associated with her past case to insist that she be transferred back to our home.  We'll take her baby brother too if they let us!

I'm jumping to conclusions.  There's no reason to believe that CPS has taken the kids away from them.  They've been well cared for since returning home, I've seen it with my own two eyes.  

Ugh, I wish I could talk to Baby Bug's mom and find out what's going on!  I will be keeping my phone close too me all day!

Update:

Okay, so I finally got a call back from Baby Bug's mom in the early afternoon.  The kids are fine.  They're not in CPS custody.  Thank goodness for that!

What it boils down to is that Baby Bug's parents are struggling in their relationship right now and Baby Bug's mom feared that they'd be parting ways soon.  She's not sure how things will turn out but she really just needed someone she could trust to talk to.  I offered my moral support and told her if she and the kids need anything just to let us know.  Baby Bug's maternal grandparents have also made it clear that if worse comes to worse, they want Baby Bug's mom and the kids to move in with them, so they'll have family to stay with.  That's comforting.

Time will tell.  For now, all I can do is be encouraging and keep in contact with them so that I can keep tabs on how Baby Bug is doing (and her baby brother too).

As for a commenter's question as to whether or not CPS would call us if they took Baby Bug back into care, that's debatable.  We've made it very clear that we'd like to be called, but there's no guarantee that the CPS worker that would pull the kids from the home would even look at the previous case file on Baby Bug before placing her and her brother in a foster home.  We hope they would but there are no guarantees.  I hope it never comes to that.

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9:49 AM
11 comments


Favorite Ingredients Friday (Homemade Pizza Edition)

Good Friday to you all!

Last month I posted a recipe for a fabulous bread machine pizza dough that works like a charm every time!

Today I'm hosting a Favorite Ingredients Friday Homemade Pizza Edition recipe exchange!

Today I'd like to share a homemade pizza recipe that I found on one of my favorite food blogs, Simply Recipes. I think you're going to like this as much as I do!

Meatlovers Pizza

Ingredients
Olive oil
Cornmeal (to slide the pizza onto the pizza stone)
Tomato sauce
Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese, shredded
Feta cheese
Mushrooms, thinly sliced
Bell peppers, stems and seeds removed, thinly sliced
Italian sausage, cooked ahead
Chopped fresh basil
Pesto
Pepperoni, thinly sliced
Onions, thinly sliced
Sliced ham

Directions
Spoon on the tomato sauce, sprinkle with cheese, and place your desired toppings on the pizza.

Sprinkle some cornmeal on the baking stone in the oven (watch your hands, the oven is hot!). Gently shake the peel to see if the dough will easily slide, if not, gently lift up the edges of the pizza and add a bit more cornmeal. Slide the pizza off of the peel and on to the baking stone in the oven.

Bake pizza until the crust is browned and the cheese is golden, about 10-15 minutes. If you want, toward the end of the cooking time you can sprinkle on a little more cheese.

Thanks to Elise sharing this recipe, it's become one of our family favorites.

Now, I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday Homemade Pizza Edition recipe! Don't forget to link your specific recipe post link on Mr. Linky so I can see what's cooking at your house!

Oh, and be sure to put the title of your recipe in parenthesis! It makes it so much quicker for everyone to go back and search for recipes.

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6:17 AM
4 comments


Thursday, February 26, 2009
Mahalo Hawaii!

Well, our time in Hawaii (on Oahu island, to be specific) has come to an end.  21 glorious days that will not be forgotten.

As you read this, we're on a plane traveling back to our home state.  

We'll miss beautiful Hawaii and our daily walks to Waikiki beach to play in the ocean, but we'll hold our memories dear.  Snuggle Bug and Boo may not remember this trip, but we have lots and lots of pictures to share with them later!

I must admit, I'm looking forward to being home, to sleeping in my own bed, to seeing our two kitties, and to buying groceries at reasonable prices again. 

Mahalo Hawaii for the wonderful time!

UPDATE:

We made it back home safe and sound.  The kids traveled surprisingly well and for that we were thankful!

When we stepped off the plane back home, Snuggle Bug said, ALOHA to many passersby!  He also asked us when we were going to see the ocean again.  I had to explain that it'd be quite a while.  He got spoiled with walking down to Waikiki beach every morning! 

Both kids were happy to see their two kitties and neither of them protested when we gave them a quick bath and put them to bed shortly after dinner.  I think they were happy to be in their own beds again!

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6:00 AM
2 comments


Monday, February 23, 2009
Sore throat in Hawaii.
Here I am in beautiful Hawaii where the weather is consistently between 70-80 degrees day and night, yet somehow I've ended up with a sore throat!

It hurts to swallow.  It hurts to talk.  It hurts to eat.

I'm wondering if I should go see a doctor but we're flying home Thursday morning so I'm thinking of waiting until I get home to do this, if my throat is still hurting by then.

We only have 2 full days left in Hawaii.  I don't want a sore throat slowing me down!

Any recommendations on how to sooth a sore throat, besides cough drops?

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9:28 PM
10 comments


Saturday, February 21, 2009
A new case worker for Boo.
I'm not sure if I mentioned it or not, but Boo's case worker (the one she had from day one) quit.  I guess it shouldn't have come as a shock that she'd find a different job, there's a high burn-out rate for CPS workers and she lasted much longer than most, but it took us by surprise when she told us.

The original case worker left her job at the end of January and we were waiting to see when we'd hear from the new one.  We were hoping we wouldn't have any troubles with taking Boo to Hawaii with us, since the first case worker gave us written permission to do so.

Well, we've just now heard from the new case worker (22 days after she started).  She called to schedule a home visit with us.  I had to tell her that we couldn't do one next week as she'd requested because we're still in Hawaii.

Sadly, she didn't even know we were in Hawaii.  Apparently there was very little transition between the old case worker and the new case worker, so she had no idea that Boo was out of the state!

We're not in trouble, we had everything in writing for approval, but she seemed a bit flustered that she didn't realize this until I told her.

We've scheduled a home visit for the week after we return.

Did I mention that the new case worker sounds like she's about 16 years old?  Oy Vey!

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5:46 AM
5 comments


Friday, February 20, 2009
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Mai Tai)

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 2009 "Themed" Schedule
February 27- Homemade Pizza Edition
March 13- Side Dishes Edition
March 27- Mexican Food Edition
April 10- Easter Edition

In honor of my time here in Honolulu, Hawaii I thought I'd share the recipe for my favorite Hawaiian drink.  The picture below is the first one I had the night I arrived!  Yum!

Mai Tai

Ingredients
1 oz light rum
1/2 oz creme de almond
1/2 oz triple sec
sweet and sour mix
pineapple juice
1/2 oz dark rum

Directions
1. Pour light rum, creme de almond and triple sec, in order, into a collins glass.
2. Almost fill with equal parts of sweet and sour mix and pineapple juice.
3. Add dark rum, a large straw, and serve unstirred.
6. Add toppings of your choice.

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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6:10 AM
4 comments


Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Surf's up on Waikiki beach!
Each day we walk down to Waikiki beach in the mornings to let Snuggle Bug and Boo play in the sand and ocean.

One day as we were passing a beach front shop, Snuggle Bug noticed a boogie board in the shop window and asked if he could have it.  Oronzo took him in and let him pick out which one he liked.

At first Snuggle Bug just held his new "surf" board.  Then he asked me to pull him on it in the water, with him laying on his stomach and holding on to the board.

Today, there was a breakthrough, thanks to this "older" boy on the beach.


This boy and his three friends, all within the 6-7 year age range, were using their boogie boards to hone their surfing skills.  

Snuggle Bug watched as they stood on their boards and balanced in the shallow part of the water.  He noticed that they put the boogie board strap around their wrist on so he wanted his on his wrist too.

He asked me to hold his hands as he attempted to stand up on his boogie board.  

In no time, the older boys were cheering Snuggle Bug on, giving him pointers like,

"Keep the front of the board up slightly out of the water," and 

"Real surfers put the strap around their ankles when they surf, but it's okay for you to wear yours on your wrist for now."

Snuggle Bug spent the entire morning on the beach focused on learning how to balance standing up on his boogie board.  He was excited that he was "surfing"!  I was impressed that he caught on so quick, has great balance, and is overcoming his fear of water.  Not bad for a new 4 year old!

Here's are some more pictures of my little surfing dude!




As for Boo, she was content to search the shore for rocks and shells, filling her bucket full of her treasures!


And when they put out a sign cautioning about jellyfish, she decided she wasn't going to let jellyfish stand in her way of having a good time!  She stayed out in the water.


Good thing her brave daddy was out scouring the water and removing any jellyfish that he spotted before they could reach her.

We have one more week left on Oahu island.  We're sure going to miss this beautiful place!

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9:39 PM
4 comments


Tuesday, February 17, 2009
A chance to win 6 of my Uptown hair clips!
Revka (the one who designed my business website) over at Berries & Cream Blog Design is hosting a giveaway of 6 of my Uptown hair clips from my Sparkle and Charm Boutique.

If you're interested in a chance to win, visit Berries & Cream Blog Design and leave a comment there!

Good luck!

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6:42 AM


Saturday, February 14, 2009
Look what we saw yesterday in Hawaii!
We went exploring yesterday. We hopped in the car and drove along the coast, stopping here and there to enjoy beautiful scenery, to do a bit of swimming, and to grab a bite to eat in a costal town.

The kids had a blast and so did we!

I thought I'd share a couple neat pictures that Oronzo took while we were out and about.

Water rising from a blow hole.

Makapu'u Beach where we played in the ocean with the kids.

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6:04 AM
7 comments


Friday, February 13, 2009
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Mardi Gras Edition)

I got a request last week from Barbara at therextras for a Favorite Ingredients Friday Mardi Gras Edition (Mardi Gras I believe is 24 February)!  I told her I'd be happy to work that in!

So,  please share any savory recipes that you might think of cooking in the spirit of Mardi Gras.

My contribution was found from a fun Mardi Gras recipes website. Be careful, this is so tasty that you might be tempted to eat ALL of it yourself! :)


Baked Brie En Croute

INGREDIENTS

one small round of brie
one sheet purchased puff pastry
apricot preserves (optional but worth using)
dried cranberries (optional but worth using)

DIRECTIONS

Roll out the puff pastry sheet, making sure the folded seams will hold together. If adding a flavor layer between your crust and the brie, spread the apricot preserves on the pastry, then sprinkle dried cranberries over the preserves. Place the brie with its rind intact on the pastry, and fold up the edges of the pastry around the brie, pinching to seal the pastry edges. Turn over onto greased foil so the pinched pastry seam is on the bottom. Decorate with extra puff pastry scraps if you wish. Brush with milk or egg wash, then bake at 400F for 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Wait at least 20-30 minutes before serving, since the cheese will be piping hot and very runny. Serve with a knife spreader and assorted crackers.

Be creative with your flavor layer! :) Apricot preserves and dried blueberries, spiced loquat jam, anything you like, but sweet with acidity seems to work best with the brie flavor. You can also use miniature individual bries for even smaller bries en croute.

Now I look forward to seeing your Favorite Ingredients Friday Mardi Gras Edition recipe!

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

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

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6:12 AM
5 comments


Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Fun in the sun!
We're having lots of fun in the sun here in Hawaii!  The kids are loving their play time on the beach and in the water.  I got to spend time with them there this morning before I went in to work at 11:00 AM.  While I was working, Oronzo took the kids to a nearby zoo and then back to the beach after lunch and nap.  Thankfully I only had to work 11:30 AM- 5:30 PM today so I was able to have dinner with them and run to the grocery store before it was time for bed.

Now it's time for me to head to bed.  But before I go, I thought I'd share a few pictures.  Aloha!

Snuggle Bug & Boo playing on the beach.


Boo getting brave about wading in the water.


Snuggle Bug & Boo in the water.


Building a sand castle with new friends made at the beach.


Sunset view on Waikiki beach.

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1:47 AM
3 comments


Saturday, February 07, 2009
Guess where I am right now?
You'll never believe where I am right now.  Can you guess from the image above?

I'm in Honolulu, Hawaii!!! We just got here today and we'll be here through 26 February!  That's right, nearly 3 weeks in Hawaii!  Talk about heaven! 

I'm actually here for a work deployment, so everything is being paid for except for the 2 airline tickets we purchased for Oronzo and Snuggle Bug (Boo is still under 2 so she flew for free as a lap child)!  And we only paid $180 for those two tickets after we cashed in some travel rewards points from our master card!

Oronzo and the kids insisted on joining me for this deployment. Oronzo said he'll work too...work on his tan, that is. :)

Getting here was exhausting and with Boo being sick with a cold, she was not in the best of moods during our 2 flights, especially the 5 hour flight from LAX to Honolulu!  Still we survived and once we got off the plane she was all smiles!  

We're renting a condo on Wikiki beach and there's a long strip of restaurants and shops within walking distance, not to mention that the beach and the ocean are only a block from our condo!  Sweet!

Well, the jet lag has caught up to me and I'm ready to hit the hay!  I'll share more along the way!

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10:44 PM
9 comments


Friday, February 06, 2009
Favorite Ingredients Friday (Chocolate Edition)




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 lot of fun!  I had 24 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 Chocolate Lava Cake recipe that I'm about to share comes from Chef Geir's Culinary Resources. It's one of my favorite chocolate desserts!



INGREDIENTS
yields: 5

CAKE BATTER

DARK SEMI-SWEET CHOCOLATE 7 ounce bar
BUTTER 8 TBSP.
VANILLA EXTRACT 1 tsp.
EGGS - separated - room temperature 3
CAKE FLOUR - sifted 1/3 cup
SALT 1/8 tsp.
CREAM OF TARTAR 1/8 tsp.
SUGAR 1/4 cup

CHOCOLATE LAVA CENTERS

DARK SEMI-SWEET CHOCOLATE 2 ounces
HEAVY CREAM 1.5 ounces
BUTTER 1 tsp.

DIRECTIONS

CAKE BATTER

1) Chop the dark semi-sweet chocolate into pieces. Place into a metal bowl, add butter. Melt over a simmering waterbath. Remove from heat.

2) Add vanilla extract and (3) egg yolks. Whisk together until chocolate mixture is smooth. see picture #2

3) Add well sifted cake flour, and gently incorporated into the above chocolate mixture.

4) Place the (3) egg whites into a clean metal bowl, add salt and cream of tartar. Using a whisk, whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue to whisk while slowly sprinkling in the sugar.

5) Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold 1/3rd of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Then fold-in another 1/3rd of the egg whites. Then fold-in the last 1/3rd of the egg whites. see picture #3

6) Deposit the batter into large "non-stick" muffin tins - fill 3/4 full. Ramekins can also be used simply butter insides and dust with cocoa powder. see picture #4

7) Push a Chocolate Lava Center into the center of each cake batter. This creates the molten lava center!
see picture #4

8) Bake at 375F degrees for 15 minutes. Do not over bake! see picture #5

9) Remove from oven, wait 5 minutes, then unmold onto a wire rack to cool.

** Serve cakes warm! If you need to reheat, simply place in a microwave for 30 seconds.

CHOCOLATE LAVA CENTERS (ganache)

1) Chop dark semi-sweet chocolate into pieces. Place into a metal bowl. Heat heavy cream, pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Add butter and whisk until incorporated.

2) Place mixture into the refrigerator to cool. Every few minutes whisk the mixture until a frosting like consistency is reached. If the mixture becomes firm slightly rewarm.

3) Fill a pastry bag with the ganache. Pipe-out "cherry" sized portions. Place these mounds into the freezer until ready to use.

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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6:35 AM
9 comments


Sunday, February 01, 2009
Hugs & Kisses bow- just in time for Valentine's Day!

Take a look at my latest bow creation.  I made one for Boo and then made 4 more to sell in local boutique.  I love this boutique.  I don't have to sell my bows on consignment there, they just buy them outright from me and I still get "free" advertising with my bow cards that they're displayed on!  And they tell me to bring in whatever I come up with.  As long as I offer them variety, they buy what I bring them!  

If you're interested in ordering one or more of these for a little someone you know, go right here .  They'd make a perfect Valentine's gift! 

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6:09 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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