Friday, June 30, 2006
Five Ingredients (Oronzo's Italian Marinara Sauce)

It's time to exchange recipes for Five Ingredients Friday! This Friday, I'm going to change the rules slightly, to accomodate a fellow blogger, Jess, who claims she just doesn't know many recipes with 5 ingredients or less. So Jess, this one's for you. This Friday I want to see recipes that are 5 ingredients or MORE! Don't worry, next Friday we'll go back 5 ingredients or less.

My contribution is actually from Oronzo. He's given me permission to post his oh-so-delicious Italian marinara sauce recipe. Believe me when I tell you this recipe is well worth the work! When it's made in our household, a big stock pot of sauce simmers on the stove for hours, making the whole house smell Heavenly!

Of course, we can't eat a whole stock pot of sauce in one sitting, so we break it up into individual Ziplock bowl containers and stick it in the freezer to be used again and again at later meals. I use this sauce not just for spaghetti but also for cooking whenever a recipe calls for tomato sauce or red sauce of any kind.

Oronzo learned this recipe from his Italian grandmother and I'm told this woman was a fantastic cook! If any of you take the time to make this sauce, and I hope you do, stop back and let me know how it turned out for you.

Oronzo's Italian Marinara Sauce

2 bulbs garlic
1 large yellow onion
10+ sweet Italian sausages
4 (28 oz.) cans of whole tomatoes
4 (6 oz) cans of tomato paste
oregano (to taste)
basil (to taste)
parsley (to taste)
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
crushed red pepper (to taste)
3 whole bay leaves
1 bottle Merlot red wine
olive oil

Chop up onion (into large chunks) & garlic, throw in a large stock pot with olive oil & sauté until onion is soft and translucent.

Throw in sweet Italian sausages & cook until juice escapes sausages when pierced with a knife. Remove the sausages & place in a covered bowl in the refrigerator until you're ready to add them later to the simmering sauce.

Add 1 can of whole tomato & 1 can of tomato paste + 1 tomato past can full of water into a blender & blend on pulse for just a few seconds. Pour mixture into stock pot with the onion & garlic. Blend the 2nd can of whole tomatoes & tomato paste (don't forget the tomato paste can full of water), pour into the stock pot, & continue until all cans have been blended & added.

Add about 1/2 to 3/4 bottle of Merlot wine to the pot of sauce. Drink the rest! :)

Add a handful of each (or more or less, according to your tastes) of oregano, basil, & parsley to the pot of sauce. Then add salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste.

Put the Italian sausages (or pre-cooked meatballs) back into the sauce to simmer.

Put 3 whole bay leaves on the top of the sauce & leave in for flavoring while the sauce is simmering. Be sure to remove all bay leaves before serving.

Let sauce simmer for several hours before serving! Serve over pasta of your choice! Freeze leftovers for later meals.

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8:10 AM

Thursday, June 29, 2006
Blog of the Week 6
It's time again to highlight a fellow blogger. The first time I "met" her was on an adoption newsboard. Then, I discovered she had a blog as well it didn't take me long to get hooked, in large part due to her blunt honesty. She's a fellow adoptive mom who hasn't had an easy journey to motherhood. After two failed matches and dealings with an unethical agency, she was finally matched with her son's birth parents independently. After getting over a few nail-biting hurdles, she's now due to finalize her son's adoption within the next couple of months and I couldn't be happier for her and her husband!

Without any further ado, my chosen Blog of the Week is Away To Me. I do hope you'll take the time to read her responses to my questions, and then go check out her blog today to see beautiful pictures of her precious son. Please leave her a comment, letting her know you've stopped by and that OW sent you! Thanks!


Q: What inspired you to start blogging?

A: I started blogging because I was frustrated with our adoption wait and because I wanted to let other hopeful adoptive couples know that the feelings they were going through while waiting for their child were normal. I also wanted to be able to go back and read what my emotions were at different times of our journey. Getting advice from other bloggers turned out to be the reason I stayed blogging. I love comments because they truly make you feel like you are not alone and that as a community we can all help each other.

Q: What's the meaning behind your blog name?

A: Away To Me. Is a command given to a dog when competing in sheep herding (the sport I do). It tells the dog to go in a counter clockwise direction. I felt like our journey to becoming parents was kind of counter clockwise to most people.

Q: What are some of the major themes of your blog?

A: Mostly my blog is about our adoption journey. Now that we have our son it is about his adoption journey and the procedures we have to go through to finalize his adoption. I'm sure the nature of the blog will change as our lives change. This is my second blog. My first blog I had to take down because of our unethical adoption agency. I complained about them (not using their name) but using my own first name. Someone told them about my blog and then they started reading it and basically black-balled us. On January 1, 2006 I switched to my new blog location, went password protected and tried to regroup. I ended up taking off the password protection because I got sick of hiding from the agency and because they were not working in our best interest any way. I was going crazy trying to determine who was friend and who was foe when giving out the blog's password. I just gave up and thought who cares if that stupid adoption agency reads this.

Q: Do you have any "Real Life People" reading your blog?

A: I have one real life friend who reads my blog. I trust him with all my heart and because he and his wife have moved out of state he keeps up with our lives through our blog. I don't really need any other real life people to read my blog, they know what is going on in my life.

Q: What else would you like your readers to know about you, that they may not already?

A: I'm a terrible speller and without spell check I wouldn't blog. I'm a comment whore, the more comments the better because I like to hear what people are getting from my blog and I love the good advice I've received because of my blog!

I can't always blog about what I want until this adoption is finalized but once it is finalized I intend on singing like a canary. We should be finalized in 60 days or less.

4:15 AM

Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Coping with the death of my beloved uncle.
Sad news in my world. A beloved uncle died yesterday, at the age of 75. He had a heart attack and subsequent brain aneurism. Oronzo, Snuggle Bug, and I will be attending his funeral mass on Monday morning.

Let me tell you a bit about this uncle, if you don't mind. Writing about him helps me process my grief. He was born on April 29, 1931 in a Midwestern city. He was the fourth of 13 children. He was one of my mother's older brothers.

My uncle married and had 4 children and several grandchildren. He worked hard all of his life, providing for his family, and made a point to be involved with his mother and his siblings throughout the years. Eventually my uncle moved away from the Midwest and we only saw him occasionally at family holidays. Honestly I lost touch with him, until about 12 years ago, only hearing about him through my mom and Grandma G.

12 years ago, our college football team was playing in a bowl game in the city that he and his family had moved to. I called him up out of the blue, reminded him that I was his niece, and asked if we could come stay with him for a week to attend the bowl game (yes, I was bold, even back then). He quickly encouraged me to come and stay with them!

When we arrived (5 of us total), my aunt and uncle opened their home to us, even giving us a spare key to come and go as we pleased. They were just as excited as we were about the bowl game and threw themselves into the festivities. They made our visit a fun one and I was able to reconnect with them at a whole new level, as an adult rather than a child. I discovered that they were truly kind and loving people.

A year later, I unexpectedly moved out of state to a city only 2 hours from them (where I live now) for a job. I knew absolutely no one in the city that I moved to and this was the first time I'd ever moved away from my family. I was excited and yet terrified and terribly homesick. The only thing that comforted me is that my aunt and uncle were at least driving distance and I was thankful that I knew them better because of our stay with them the previous year.

My first year out of state, my uncle and aunt made a point to invite me to all of their family gatherings so that I wouldn't have to spend any holidays alone. I went to several of them. When Oronzo and I started dating, they invited us to drive up for dinner, so they could meet him, and they gave me their approval. It meant a lot. Occasionally I'd go spend a quick weekend with my uncle and aunt and always had such a good time with them. They were so warm, giving, and laid back.

Last June, when Snuggle Bug was 6 months old, they came to visit us and met him for the first time. I took a picture of the three of them and I'm so glad that I did, it's the last picture of my uncle that I now have. I kept meaning to take Snuggle Bug and go visit them again as they encouraged me to do, and just never got around to it. I regret not making the time.

I'm going to miss my uncle. He was instrumental in reaffirming to me the importance of family. He lead a life to be proud of. He had 54 years of marriage with his wife and they were able to enjoy retirement and a good life with their family.

God be with you, dear uncle.
10:59 AM

Monday, June 26, 2006
My first try at embedded video clips.
Hello blogland!

Hope you all had a great weekend. Mine wasn't as fun as I had hoped, due to Snuggle Bug being sick. He started running a fever last Friday evening and continued on through the night. I slept in his room part of the evening because I was so worried about him.

He woke up at 4 o'clock Saturday morning crying. I picked him up out of his crib to comfort him and to give him more Children's Tylenol and he proceeded to vomit chunks all over himself and me. After cleaning us both up, I gave him the Tylenol and put him into our bed with us. He continued running a temperature, up to 102 degrees F most of Saturday. His fever finally broke Saturday evening and he slept through the night. Yesterday was better, but we still stayed close to home and took it easy.

I want to try to attach some video clips to this post. This is my first attempt and I'm not sure if I'll get it right, but I'm going to try! These were taken during a day at our favorite park last Thursday. We often go to feed the ducks.

Do me a favor, leave me a comment and let me know whether or not you were able to access these 2 videos. Thanks! Enjoy!

Feeding the ducks at the park. 6/22/06

Catch me if you can! 6/22/06
11:32 AM

Friday, June 23, 2006
Sending a scheduled update to Giselle.
Before you get too far into this post, please remember to glance at the post below and, if possible, contribute a recipe for my Five Ingredients Friday exchange! Thanks!

Last night I began putting together the update packet for Giselle, the one we agreed to do every 6 months. This time it includes a large assortment of wallet sized, 4x6, and 5x7 prints spanning 6 months in time. It also includes two of Snuggle Bug's handprints. I made extras to send to Giselle when I did prints for Oronzo's Father's Day card and t-shirt. Giselle got a set of hand and feet prints from the hospital the day Snuggle Bug was born and I thought she might enjoy a set of the handprints to compare and see how much he's grown!

Besides the photos and the handprints, I've just tucked a 6-page letter into the packet. It seems that each time I do these updates, the letters get longer. I hope that doesn't overwhelm Giselle. I have to trust that she'll tell me if that's the case.

I spent about 1 page per month in this letter, describing each of Snuggle Bug's monthly milestones, noteworthy activities, and an explanation of what was going on in each picture that I'm enclosing for that month.

I try to put myself in her shoes and write about what might interest her, no matter how trivial it may seem to others. That's the beauty to me of these updates, I can write ad nauseum about minute details of Snuggle Bug's life and I know I have a captive audience. I know that Giselle enjoys hearing about all of these details as much as I enjoy sharing them. Who else would truly feel the same way? Even grandparents usually don't care about that much detail.

I think the updates are getting longer not because there's necessarily more to tell, well maybe a bit of that because he's more active now, but more so because I'm feeling more comfortable in sending these. I'm learning that, although these update packets may be bittersweet to her, what I send to Giselle is treasured and much appreciated. I have the email responses from her to assure me of this fact.

I wonder sometimes, what goes through her mind as she plucks my packets out of the mailbox. Does she stare at it, hesitating for a bit to open it, taking a deep breath before doing so? Or, does she snatch it up, quickly tearing it open, and lingering over each picture looking for similarities and absorbing each written word with an eagerness to know more.

Does she horde the pictures and the letter to herself for a while, giving herself time to savor it uninterrupted? Or, does she call her mom, grandmother, or younger sister, to let them know she's received another update? Does she read the letters aloud to anyone else? Does Quinn ever glance at them, even in private?

I don't ponder these things with a feeling of control or power, I would never want Giselle to feel like I'm holding the power of pictures and words over her head because that is never my intention, but rather from an intense curiosity. What does Giselle really feel when she receives these updates? Will I ever truly know?

No matter what, I will continue to send these updates unless she asks me to stop. And even then I will make copies of the pictures, write the letters, and store the packet away in case she changes her mind. I really don't ever foresee her asking me not to send them any more.

I once asked Oronzo, "If I were to die unexpectedly, you would continue sending the updates to Giselle, wouldn't you?"

"Yes," he responded. "But it wouldn't be long, drawn out updates like you send. Writing long letters is not my thing."

I'm comforted by the knowledge that Giselle would continue to receive updates, no matter what the length, even if I'm not the one sending them. This is so very important to me, for her sake and for Snuggle Bug's.
12:51 PM

Five Ingredients Friday (Muddled Lemonberryade)

It's time to exchange recipes for Five Ingredients Friday! I swear, this has been so helpful for my weekly menu planning. I make a point to use at least a couple of recipes from this exchange each week, just to try new things. The ones I don't use right away, I print out and store in my "cooking ideas" binder. So, please, keep participating!

The recipe I'm posting for today is something that I saw on TV as Snuggle Bug and I were munching on Goldfish crackers and watching Food Network together (that's one of our favorite channels). I haven't tried this recipe yet, but I'm going to! If you beat me to it, let me know how it tastes, will you?

Muddled Lemonberryade

(courtesy Michael Chiarello)

Recipe Summary

Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
User Rating: No Rating


4 lemons, sliced
1/2 cup mint leaves
1 cup sugar
1 pint berries (strawberries and blackberries preferable)
1 quart club soda


Slice lemons and place in the bottom of the drink pitcher.

Add 1/2 cup fresh mint and 1 cup sugar on top of lemons.

With the wooden spoon mash the mixture for 1 minute. Add the berries and lightly mash.

Add 1 quart water and refrigerate until chilled.

To serve: Fill a tall glass with ice and fill 3/4 with lemon juice mixture,
top with club soda and serve.

Episode#: MO0801
Copyright C 2003 Television Food Network, G.P., All Rights Reserved

I look forward to seeing your Five Ingredients Friday recipe!

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8:36 AM

Thursday, June 22, 2006
Adoption #2 thoughts swirling in my noggin!
Before I get into the adoption thoughts swirling in my noggin, I wanted to point you to the post below this one so that you can check out my chosen Blog of the Week, Big Blueberry Eyes.

I also want to post a disclaimer to Oronzo, in case he's reading this. I doubt he is. He's probably out to lunch with Snuggle Bug right now. But, Husband, if you are reading this, I'm feeling the need to blog about this, as my attempt to solidify some of what I'm feeling, before I approach you to talk about this some more.

Okay, now for those thoughts swirling in my head. I think many of you know that we are hoping to adopt a 2nd time. We've put the word out with our family and friends, through a Valentine's Day newsletter. So far, we've had no real leads, but it's only been 4 months, so I'm not surprised. These things don't happen overnight. We're not in a rush to adopt again RIGHT NOW, but I'm hoping we'll be able to within the next year or so.

Oronzo and I have talked about how we plan to approach this adoption, in example, we're hoping to be matched again through family and friends, rather than going through an agency for placement, like we were with Snuggle Bug's adoption and we'd like to hire the same adoption attorney that we used before. Unfortunately, I'm realizing that we're not on the same page in all respects. I'd like to sit down soon and talk to him about this.

Oronzo wants to wait until we're matched before we start the homestudy process. The cost for a homestudy is not minimal and the kicker is that it expires in 18 months or the minute you adopt a child (because your circumstances change), whichever comes first, and then you have to pay again to have your homestudy updated. We've talked about using the same agency as our 1st time. I've been in touch with the owner of this agency off and on for the past 18 months and they have all our previous information on file. It'd be less work for us if we used the same agency again for the homestudy & licensing. They did a good job for us the first time around so I don't have a problem with this.

When we were in the process of adopting Snuggle Bug, we barely got licensed before he was born (1 week before, to be exact). It was nerve-racking to me that we were cutting it so close, but then our lawyer told us not to worry, if our license/certification didn't come through in time, he could get us temporary guardianship until it did and we could still take Snuggle Bug home with us from the hospital. It never came to that but it was close.

So, in Oronzo's mind, the logical thing to do is to wait until we are matched to start the homestudy/licensing process, as we did in Snuggle Bug's adoption. Even if we're presented with an immediate situation, we could go for it, have our lawyer get us temporary guardianship, and then get licensed. Not the ideal situation by any means, but feasible. Oronzo's concern is that we'd spend money to get licensed, not be matched in 18 months, and then have to spend even more money again. He doesn't want to do that. I understand.

Despite the fact that I understand the logic behind Oronzo's wishes to wait on the homestudy, I'm finding that I'm not as comfortable with that decision as I initially thought I was. I find myself wanting to get licensed sooner, rather than later, even if it means that we have to pay again later. There are a couple of reasons I don't want to wait:

1) By working on our homestudy, I'd feel like we were doing something concrete to work towards our 2nd adoption.

2) We'd be able to space out the money that we'd have to come up with for a 2nd adoption, rather than having to shell out money for everything (homestudy fees, lawyer fees, etc) all at once upon getting matched. We don't qualify as an often stereotyped "wealthy couple" trying to adopt and we never will. Spacing out expenses would be helpful.

3) If we have our homestudy completed before we're matched, rather than afterwards, I'd probably experience a lot less stress at the time of being matched!

In light of these thoughts, I decided to email the agency we used previously and ask a few questions, so that when I went to Oronzo to discuss it further with him, I'd have some facts in front of me.

Here was my initial email:

-----Original Message-----
From: Overwhelmed With Joy!
Sent: Tuesday, June 20, 2006 10:37 AM
To: the agency we used in the past

Subject: Questions for [agency owner's name here]

[insert adoption agency owner's name here],

Hi there! It's OW, Snuggle Bug's mom. It's been a while since we've talked. I hope all is well with you.

I have a few questions for you. I think you know that Oronzo and I are looking to adopt a second time. We're going to try for another private, domestic adoption situation. We've got the word out with our family and friends.

Here are my questions:

1) Would we be able to hire you again for your Homestudy/Licensing services?
2) If so, what is the cost for those services?
3) Would you be able to use the information from our previous homestudy, as well as updated information, to get us licensed?
3) Once licensed, how long would the certification last?
4) What is the cost to renew our certification if we haven't been matched by the time it expires?
5) What's involved with renewing our certification?

I appreciate your time in answering my questions. Hard to believe that a year an a half ago we were impatiently awaiting the birth of Snuggle Bug. :) He's been such a joy in our lives!

Hope to hear from you soon.


Here was her prompt response:

-----Original Message-----
From: [agency owner's name here]
Sent: Wednesday, June 21, 2006 2:47 PM
To: Overwhelmed With Joy!

Subject: RE: Questions.

Hi OW,

Of course we can get you Certified to adopt again. The present fee for 18 month Certifications in this county is $1,275.00.

For families coming back to adopt a second time, we reduce the fee to $1,000.00.

You will have to complete a lot of the same things you did for your first 18 month Certification. Fingerprints, Medicals, Financials, CPS and References that address how you are as parents. We have to have two visits again as well.

You do not have to redo your background information on your Autobiographies.You will have to update your autos as to your Motivation, Parenting style, new family system and how it works. Any other things that have changed.

As for renewing your certification, if we can get your "new" information to the courts before the 18 months is over, then we call it an extension, and for that we charge $650.00 (a bit more for China adoptions because they require more visits). Now this extension is only good for an additional 12 months, not another 18. The court will allow 2 of these extensions. After that point if you haven't been matched up, then we would have to do another complete certification which presently is the $1000.00 that I quoted you.

If you want to go ahead, we can send you a new packet. We can also, do it by email now if you prefer.

Hope little Snuggle Bug is well and you both are enjoying him immensely.

[insert adoption agency owner's name here]

Well, now I have some concrete information. I'll probably try to talk about this with Oronzo soon.

Oh I don't know, should we wait until we at least have a somewhat solid lead to pursue before doing the homestudy or should we do it now (or at least in the near future) and deal with the possibility of renewal later? What do you think?

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12:06 PM

Wednesday, June 21, 2006
"Special Needs" Child
Wow, I have a clean slate to write with. No Adoption Journey story to work on, although I have adoption thoughts swirling in my head that will have to be released at some point soon. I do have a BOTW to put together, but I think I'll do that tomorrow. I think I'm in the mood to write about my life as a "special needs" child.

I never, for a second, take for granted that I am blessed with a loving husband and a spectacular child, especially since I never expected (hoped for, prayed for, but never expected) these life blessings to happen to me. You see, I was born with multiple complications and was in and out of the hospital my entire childhood. My doctors didn't expect me to live to adulthood and yet with each life-threatening surgery that I went through, I somehow survived.

I was what was referred to as a "special needs" child, a miracle of modern medicine. Oh how I hated the word "special". It was used with frequency throughout my childhood. I didn't want to be special, I wanted more than anything to be just normal!

I'm not going to get into all the nitty gritty details of my "special needs" (you all know now about the infertility portion of it) but despite the frequent hospital visits, I lead a fairly normal life as a child, as far as physical activity was concerned. I went to school, I came home and had to do homework and housework before I could go out and play, I played hide-n-seek with my siblings and my neighbor friends, I learned how to swim and fish, I picked mulberries as I walked a mile with my brother down to the river. My childhood wasn't easy, by any means, but I have some good memories, in large part due to my siblings and the small town I was raised in. I was treated like everyone else by my siblings and the neighborhood families and for that I was thankful.

In 2001 I had to have two complete hip replacement surgeries, one for each hip. Growing up, I had always walked with a lip and oftentimes suffered pain after a long day of activity, but by the time I had reached my early 30's the pain was unbearable! It hurt to sit, stand, or walk for any length of time. I finally accepted that I needed to see if a doctor could do something about the debilitating pain. No more with my "suck it up" attitude. I was too young to have such a loss of mobility!

To make a long story short, I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon who told me, "I can fix this, but you'll need total hip replacements on both sides." You see, my cartilage was entirely shot and it was bone rubbing against bone between my hip and my hip socket. It took me a year to overcome my fear of the risks of such a surgery (paralysis, blood clotting, death) before scheduling the first one.

As a child, I never thought about the life-threatening aspects of my surgeries. I just accepted that they needed to be done and trusted that all would go well. And each time, I woke up after the surgery and continued on. Suddenly, as an adult, my mortality really hit home when the doctor discussed the risks. It terrified me!

My first surgery was in May of 2001. That went pretty good. It was painful, but I was young, in good health, and I healed quickly. The next one was in August of 2001. That one was a bit more complicated but I pulled through and made a full recovery, with Oronzo's help. He was there for me every step of the way and took care of me during my recuperation periods. I also had fantastic support from his family and my out-of-state family.

Today, I walk with hardly any limp at all and I'm pain free. I can walk, hike, bike, and carry my child around on my hip with no pain. It's an amazing feeling! I have to be searched at the security gate every time I fly, and listen to the security employees tell me, "But you're so young" when I explain that I've had hip replacement surgeries on both sides, but that's a minor annoyance and I'll take that over the pain I used to experience any day!

So, each day that I have on this earth, I'm thankful. I'm thankful for my health. I'm thankful that God placed Oronzo in my life to accept me and love me unconditionally, as I do him, and for allowing me to become a mama to the most amazing child. I had hoped and dreamed for such a life like this and shed many tears thinking it wouldn't happen for me. Now, I shed tears of joy when I stop and reflect on how blessed I am with my own little family.

Occasionally, there are times when I fear that this happiness will be snatched away from me, that Oronzo and Snuggle Bug will die in a tragic car crash, or something horrible like that, and leave me to struggle through life without them (am I the only one that has these crazy thoughts from time to time?)! When these thoughts course through my mind and leave me cold with fear, I take a deep breath and remind myself to love my "boys" as much as possible during the time that we have together so that I'll have no regrets.

"I love you!" is spoken frequently in our household. Hugs and kisses are given each day. Our home is filled with laughter. Yes, Oronzo and I have our disagreements from time to time, but we work through our anger and frustrations pretty quickly, especially when we talk it through. We work at communication and compromise. Yes, Snuggle Bug throws temper tantrums from time to time but they're short-lived and we take them in stride. I'm not trying to say that we are perfect or that our life is perfect but in my mind, life is pretty darned good! Our home feels like a refuge and a haven.

Wow, I didn't expect to want to write of this stuff, but I'm glad I have. And now, I'm going to post a few pictures from around our house that remind me of the simple joys of family life.

Okay, maybe not. Blogger isn't letting me (why is it always such a struggle to post pictures?)! I'll try again in a bit.
7:21 AM

Monday, June 19, 2006
It wasn't supposed to work this way! (Part 10- Adoption Finalization)
I left off in Part 9 anticipating Snuggle Bug's Adoption Finalization. That day arrived before we knew it. He was a week shy of 3 months old. The previous day, we'd had him baptized and some of my family came in from out of state and some of Oronzo's family attended as well.

Snuggle Bug's Adoption Finalization Day was a day of flurried activity with some of our family with us to be a part of the moment. I dressed him in a brand new outfit and we hustled out the door to drive to the courthouse.

Oronzo was viewing this day as merely a formality, since he already considered Snuggle Bug his son and a part of our family. I was treating it as a major milestone in our adoption journey and was sufficiently excited and a bit nervous.

I didn't consider the Finalization as the end of our journey because we'd be raising Snuggle Bug with the knowledge that he joined our family through adoption, but I was excited that this day meant the focus would shift from what the lawyers and the adoption agency needed from us to what we as a newly created little family needed. I was most excited about the fact that we would be officially recognized as a family in the eyes of the law.

Snuggle Bug's Adoption Finalization Day was a bit unique. Since Peyton, Oronzo's father, is a judge he was able to request a judge in our city that was a family friend of sorts. And because of that connection, we had a specific time and a courtroom reserved just for us, rather than being one of many families that day who didn't know when their time would arrive to step forward. Ours was a private affair.

Most Adoption Finalization court proceedings take about 10 minutes. Ours took about 30 minutes. We had some family members from both sides there in the courtroom with us. We also had our lawyer, the adoption agency social worker, the judge, a court reporter, us, and the star of the show, baby Snuggle Bug.

"Our" judge was spectacular! Not only did she do the normal legal stuff (reviewing the paperwork submitted by our lawyer and the social worker, asking them to explain why they were recommending us, asking us if we understood the importance of what we were about to do) but she also asked us to tell her our adoption story. She wanted to know more than just the facts that were presented to her on paper. I told our story in a voice shaky with emotion and had to stop to collect myself when the tears overcame me. Oronzo picked up where I left off and finished.

When the adoption was final, she then asked if any of our family members had anything they wanted to add. There were a few nice comments but the one who stole the show was Peyton. He had cleared his own court schedule (Monday's are always the busiest for him) to come and be a part of this day.

Peyton stood up and spoke with an emotion filled voice, "I am proud to welcome Snuggle Bug into our family. I'm happy to see the family name being carried on by my eldest son's eldest son. Snuggle Bug will always be a much loved part of our family."

Peyton's speech filled my eyes with tears again (yes, I ended up being quite weepy that day and Oronzo positively beamed with happiness). It meant so much to Oronzo and I to know that he (and all our family members) were accepting Snuggle Bug into their hearts with no reservations or differentiation. He simply became, "one of ours" in their hearts and minds the day the termination paperwork had been signed. It was nice to have them there to witness this final step in the adoption process.

After all the legal words were spoken and the paperwork was signed, we took pictures. We took pictures of the 3 of us as a family, pictures with our lawyer and the social worker, and we made sure to get a picture of Snuggle Bug with his judge. We even mailed her a copy of that picture after the fact. A quick side note, we see this judge nearly every Sunday now at a little cafe that we go to after mass. She's tickled that she gets to watch him grow, since she normally has no contact with families after she finalizes their adoptions.

When we were finished with the pictures, we all went out for lunch to celebrate! Snuggle Bug was passed around the table and showered with love. He also got some thoughtful gifts. One of my favorites is an adoption related picture frame that Alezia picked out for us. I don't have it's saying with me at the moment, but I'll add it when I can. Oronzo bought me a Precious Moments figurine that showed a mother and a father, with a little boy between them, holding an adoption decree.

As I mentioned earlier, this was an emotion filled day for me. A day of joy, celebration, relief, and a bit tinged with sorrow as I thought of Giselle and Quinn, and they were in my thoughts the entire day.

I've noticed in the Adoption Community that many parents refer to this day as "Gotcha Day!" and celebrate it like a birthday or an anniversary day. At the risk of offending, I'm going to admit that this "Gotcha Day" phrase makes me cringe. To me, it conjures up images of bragging about taking possession or ownership. Snuggle Bug is not a possession to own. He's a beautiful soul that we've been entrusted to care for during our time here on earth. I find the phrase insensitive to both adoptees and birth parents and I will never use it with any of our children.

As for celebrating Adoption Finalization Days, I don't have a problem with that, although we don't in our household. Snuggle Bug will know all about his adoption history. The pictures are carefully arranged in a scrapbook and will always be accessible for him to look at whenever he chooses, not just on the anniversary date of his Adoption Finalization Day. He will know of Quinn and Giselle. We'll answer any questions that he has along the way with complete honesty. But, we won't constantly dwell on the fact that he was adopted, mainly because we view him as our son, not our "adopted" son and we don't want him to grow up thinking it is only his adoption that defines him.

We don't have all the answers and we've never claimed to. We plan on taking things one day at a time and doing the best we can for Snuggle Bug. And if he ever questions my love for him, I will tell him, in the words of Jenna (one of my favorite bloggers), "I couldn't love you more if I had given birth to you."

If you think this is the end of my adoption posts, you're mistaken. As things pop into my head regarding Snuggle Bug's adoption I'll be posting. As we get more into our 2nd adoption, you can bet I'll be posting! So please, stay tuned for more.

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9:44 AM

Sunday, June 18, 2006
World's Greatest Daddy, hands down!
Snuggle Bug and I made a card to give to Oronzo for Father's Day. I'm posting it so you can see how it turned out.

I didn't realize how difficult it is to get a non-smeared handprint of a little boy! It took several attempts and each time I'd dip his hands in the paint, I'd have to uncurl Snuggle Bug's little fingers, then carefully press his painted hands to paper, trying desperately to keep him still long enough to get a decent imprint. We did it over and over until I got some good ones.

I also made extra prints so I could make Father's Day cards for Snuggle Bug's grandfathers. Their cards read, "World's Best Grandpa's...hands down!"

Oronzo, who's getting to sleep in, is also getting a t-shirt that has the message "World's Best Daddy" on the front, with Snuggle Bug's handprints imprinted in paint. On the back reads, "Happy Father's Day, 2006, and has Snuggle Bug's feet prints on the back. I hope he likes it well enough to wear it today in celebration of Father's Day.

As a tribute to Oronzo for Father's Day, I'd like to make a list of many (not all, but many) of the things that makes him the World's Best Daddy.

Top 22 reasons why Oronzo is the World's Best Daddy
1. He stays at home and cares for Snuggle Bug while I work. He tells anyone who will listen that caring for his son is his most important job.
2. In addition to caring for Snuggle Bug, he also works from home, while Snuggle Bug naps and in the evenings and on the weekends while I'm home. This makes Oronzo a very busy Daddy.
3. He knows all of Snuggle Bugs tickle spots and takes great pleasure in eliciting uncontrollable belly laughs from our son.
4. He often carries him up on his shoulders to give Snuggle Bug a better view of the world. I do this sometimes too, but it's not nearly as effective because I'm only 5' tall.
5. Since Snuggle Bug's arrival into this world, he's gone to church with us, as a family, every Sunday. In turn, we go to breakfast with him afterwards. I love how this is creating a solid family routine and great memories for Snuggle Bug.
6. He frequently lavishes Snuggle Bug with kisses and hugs, and tells him, "I love you" all the time. He's not afraid to display affection or emotion for his son.
7. He goes to the mall and purchases clothes and toys for our son. How many men will actually willingly go shopping?
8. He dresses our son in clothes that match.
9. He changes all diapers (even the poopy ones) and always has.
10. He always took his turn with night feedings and other bottle feedings.
11. He often takes Snuggle Bug out to lunch at a small neighborhood cafe where all the waitresses like to spoil Snuggle Bug rotten.
12. He gets down on the floor to play with Snuggle Bug, he's very hands-on with him.
13. He sits down at the table to have a family dinner with Snuggle Bug and I, even when he'd sometimes rather be watching some sports game on TV.
14. He gives Snuggle Bug his bath every night.
15. He reads books to Snuggle Bug when he brings them to his Daddy.
16. He teaches Snuggle Bug all sorts of things, like most recently how to count out loud to 3. Along the way, he encourages and praises him to build his confidence and self-esteem.
17. He has an infinite amount of patience with Snuggle Bug, never yelling at him or raising a hand to him. He would never consider doing either of these things.
18. He sings and dances with Snuggle Bug.
19. He's teaching our son to be a soccer and baseball fan, I've already caught the 2 of them sitting on the couch engrossed in a game together.
20. He takes Snuggle Bug to various playgroups and storytimes and doesn't mind a bit that he's often the only Daddy amongst a group of Moms. In fact, he's become accept by them and has made friends with some of them, arranging playdates for the kids.
21. He's great at the rough-n-tumble play with Snuggle Bug that I'm afraid to do. Snuggle Bug loves this type of play!
22. He loves Snuggle Bug unconditionally with all of his heart and always will!

Snuggle Bug loves his daddy dearly, and with good reason. I love Oronzo for those reasons and more. I always knew Oronzo would be a fantastic father, and now seeing him in action, I realize how truly blessed Snuggle Bug and I both are!

For all that you do, I thank you my dear husband! Happy Father's Day!

Before the end of the day, I'm going to make Oronzo get on here and read this Father's Day tribute. If you'd like to leave him a comment, please do so and I'll have him read those as well.

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6:54 AM

Saturday, June 17, 2006
My recent projects.
My sister-in-law threw her husband a 39 1/2 surprise birthday party today and she asked me to make his cake. I looked through my plethora of cake decorating books and found this beach theme. She came up with the phrase, "Getting OLD is a beach."

It took a couple of hours to decorate this cake. We used crushed graham crackers for the beach, a pretzel stick and green gummy candy for the palm tree. Teddy Grahams & Goldfish were decorated with frosting. We even made little floating innertubes out of gummy candy. It was a lot of fun to design! What do you think?

I also made this birthday card to tie in with the beach theme.

Snuggle Bug had fun at the party. He played with his cousin. He got to see his grandparents, Aleiza & Peyton. He also got a piece of cake and got blue frosting all over himself. The large crowd was a bit overwhelming for him so he was a bit clingy to Oronzo and I. I think his 2nd birthday party in December is going to be a small affair.

Speaking of birthdays, my MIL (Aleiza) is celebrating her 63rd birthday tomorrow. It kind of stinks for her that her birthday falls on Father's Day this year, but she and Peyton are going to mass and then out for brunch with us tomorrow to celebrate both events.

I made Aleiza a birthday card as well. My designs are nothing fancy, but I like making my own cards because I can personalize them.

Tomorrow, I'll post the Father's Day card I'm creating for Oronzo. Hopefully he'll like it.
8:59 PM

Friday, June 16, 2006
Five Ingredients Friday (Beefy Pasta Skillet)
It's time to exchange recipes for Five Ingredients Friday! Before you read my recipe for this week, glance below and see my post on 1 Real Life Person now knows about my blog.

The recipe I'm posting for today is what I made for dinner this past Monday. I got it from my Campbell's Classic recipe book (great cookbook, by the way). Ironically, I substituted Oronzo's homemade Italian marinara sauce for the can of tomato soup that the recipe called for. Oronzo's marinara sauce is so much more flavorful!

Beefy Pasta Skillet
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (10 ¾ oz) tomato soup
¼ cup water
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 c cooked corkscrew pasta (1 ½ c uncooked)

In medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook beef & onion until beef is browned, stirring to separate meat. Pour off fat.

Boil water & cook pasta until al dente.

Add soup/sauce, water, Worcestershire, cheese and pasta. Reduce heat to low and heat through.

I look forward to seeing your Five Ingredients Friday recipe!

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7:50 AM

Thursday, June 15, 2006
1 Real Life Person now knows about my blog.
Well, I've done it. I've finally told Oronzo about this blog. I just didn't feel right keeping it from him (despite the fact I've done just that for the past 3 months). Here, listen in on our conversation:

Me: "So, remember when you told me to go get my own blog and stop posting non-family related stuff on our family website?"

Oronzo: "Umm, yeah."

Me: "Well, I did. Back in April I started my own blog."

Oronzo: "Oh." (I don't think he knew what to say.)

Me: "I don't like keeping things from you, so I thought you should know. It's called Overwhelmed With Joy. I've written about our adoption journey, about our son falling in the pool, about weekly meal planning, and other assorted things."

Oronzo: "Did you create it through myblogspace or something?" (possibly fishing for more info so he can go read it?)

Me: "No, I chose Blogger. Oh, and I'm writing anonymously to protect our privacy. Would you like to know the fictitious name I've chosen for you?"

Oronzo: "Let me guess, Grumpy? Mopey?"

Me: "Nope, I'm calling you Oronzo, since that's what you would've been named had your grandfather and father had their way."

Oronzo: "Great." (sarcasm dripping)

Me: "So, do you want to make a guest appearance on my blog and do a post?" (I love how Ellen's husband occasionally does that.)

Oronzo: "Not if my name is Oronzo."

Me: "My readers know you as Oronzo. I'm not changing it."

Oronzo: "You have readers?" (surprise registering in his voice)

Me: "Um, yes." (defensiveness lacing my response) "Well, at first I had next to none, but I'm slowly building up readership. Right now I get a little over 100 hits a day, and anywhere from 5-25 comments per post." (I'm no Dooce by any means, but I'm quite happy with my readers.)

Oronzo: "Hmm..." (signaling the end of his attention span with this topic)

So, there you have it. Oronzo is now aware of this blog. I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't stop by to read parts of it, even if only to see what I'm writing about him (I know I would). He'd probably never admit it though. Who knows, maybe he'll at least post a comment letting me know he's stopped by.

One thing is for sure, even though he knows, I'm not censoring what I write about for him. That's what caused me to start this blog in the first place!
10:52 PM

Tuesday, June 13, 2006
I'm almost afraid to post this.
I had something happen Sunday morning that scared the life out of me. I wasn't going to post about it for fear that readers would judge and think, "What a horrible mother she is," but I think it'll help me process it by typing it out. And maybe, it'll serve as a reminder to others as it's done to me. Tears are welling up in my eyes just thinking about it, but here it goes.

Early Sunday morning, Snuggle Bug and I were outside playing, while we let Oronzo sleep as long as possible before we all went to mass.

As always, Snuggle Bug wanted to go inside the gated pool area so that he could throw his water balls in there. Since I was with him, I let him in and watched him throw his balls in, retrieving some of them for him.

At one point, I made the mistake of turning my back on him and taking a few steps away from him. I can't even remember why. It was a poor decision on my part.

In the few seconds that I was turned away from him, somehow Snuggle Bug fell into the pool, the shallow part of the pool. I'm sure he was trying to follow me, cut the corner a little too close, and fell in.

When I heard the splash, my heart leapt in my throat! I whipped around, took the few steps in the direction that I heard the splash and saw my beautiful baby underwater! Time froze. I froze! My mind was sluggish in deciding to dive in after him and then I saw him floating up.

As he surfaced, I crouched down and plucked him out of the water, immediately enfolding him into my arms, holding him tightly! His cry was music to my ears! I rocked him and attempted to soothe him (and myself) by repeating over and over, "You're okay. Mama's got you. You're safe now."

Poor baby, he was terrified and shivering. After doing a quick search of his skull to see if there were any bumps, swelling, or bleeding, I scooped him up and headed inside to get him wrapped up in a big towel. As we walked in, I noticed that his bottom lip was bleeding a bit. It looked as though he bit his lip, probably when he fell into the water.

Snuggle Bug clung tightly to me, still terrified. I was terrified too, my heart beating rapidly and my body shaking at the thought of what might have been!

Once I bundled Snuggle Bug in a big towel, I took him into his nursery, sat down in his rocking chair, and began to rock, cradling him close. He was content to stay on my lap, wrapped tightly in my arms for quite a while. Eventually his sobs subsided and my heart began to beat more normally. I must've said a thousand thank yous to God as we rocked.

Once I put Snuggle Bug in a dry diaper and clothes, I took him into our bedroom and woke up Oronzo, telling him what had happened.

Oronzo was so sweet. He told me, "You didn't leave him in the pool area unattended. You were right there. You did everything right and he's okay."

Oh how I love this man. He knew I was beating myself up inside for allowing this to happen and he did his best to nip that in the bud.

I love having a pool in our backyard but despite the self-closing, self-latching gates that we have around it and despite our rule of no cell phones in the pool area, there is still danger and this past Sunday I was painfully reminded of this.

I thank God that Snuggle Bug didn't smack his head on the side of the pool as he fell in, or swallow too much water and stop breathing, or any other of the horrible things that I imagined in the seconds that seemed like hours as I watched him float to the surface. Thank You God for protecting my precious baby and not letting him drown in our pool.

Please don't be too harsh on me if you choose to comment. What you think can't be nearly as harsh as what I've thought myself. The thought of loosing Snuggle Bug still chills my blood and I don't need to be reminded of what could've happened.

And please, learn from my mistake. If you have a pool, please, please, please, keep your children in eyesight and arms reach at all times.

And now, I'm going to share a HAPPY picture of Snuggle Bug in the pool with his daddy.

(Okay, maybe not. Blogger isn't behaving. I'll try again later.)


8:26 PM

How stupid can I be?!
Okay, you're going to laugh at me. I had comment moderation on and didn't know it until just now.

I found myself feeling a bit sad that no one wanted to comment on my Weekly Menu Planning post from Sunday, but figured that maybe people were just too busy.

Then, I noticed that people were linking their blogs to my Treasure Tuesday post (just below this one) but leaving no comments. I found that very odd. So, I opened up my comments and discovered that comment moderation was on. How did that happen?! I've never had it on before! Hmm...I messed with some setting somehow. Silly me, I'm still a bit of a novice about this blogging thing!

Well, I went and turned comment moderation off, so now you can comment without restriction...well, you still have to type in the verification code so that I don't get stupid advertisements in my comment sections.

I'm feeling a bit more loved now that I know I had comments just waiting for me to read. :) Thanks!
5:31 PM

Friday, June 09, 2006
Five Ingredients Friday (Filo-Wrapped Fish)

It's time to exchange recipes for Five Ingredients Friday! This is really helping me with meal planning for my family, so please participate!

Remember, post a recipe that involves only 5 ingredients or less. It can be a main dish, an appetizer, a side dish, a dessert, a beverage...I really don't care...but it must only have 5 ingredients or less.

Here's my recipe for Friday. I've made this twice now, just last night in fact, and Oronzo and Snuggle Bug seem to like it!

Filo-Wrapped Fish

Select a chunky variety of tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce for this simple but delicious recipe. The choice of fish can be varied according to what is in season and what is freshest on the day of purchase. When working with filo pastry, keep it covered with clear film (plastic wrap) or a damp dishtowel, as once it's exposed to air it dries out quickly and is difficult to handle.


  1. 4 1/2 oz filo pastry (6-8 large sheets)
  2. 2 Tbsp olive oil, for brushing
  3. 1 lb salmon or cod steaks or fillets
  4. 2 1/2 cup fresh tomato or spaghetti sauce
  5. mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F. Take a sheet of filo pastry, brush with a little olive oil and cover with a second sheet of pastry. Repeat, until you have 4 layers of filo.
  2. Place a piece of fish on top of the pastry, towards the bottom edge, then top with 1-2 spoonfuls of the tomato/spaghetti sauce, spreading it in an even layer. Top with mozzarella cheese.
  3. Roll the fish in the pastry, taking care to enclose the filling completely. Brush with olive oil to seal edges and brush the top. Arrange on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining fish and pastry. You should have about half the sauce remaining.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden.
  5. Additional step added by our household: When filo-wrapped fish is crisp and golden, add more tomato/spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese to the top of each, then set in oven to broil until cheese is melted.


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6:49 AM

Wednesday, June 07, 2006
It wasn't supposed to work this way! (Part 9)
I left off in Part 8 with us receiving the call from our lawyer that Giselle had terminated her parental rights and that we were free to keep Snuggle Bug and petition to adopt him.

When we got home, I got Snuggle Bug out of his car seat, walked into the house holding him close, and started crying again. I had an outpouring of tears of relief, joy, sorrow, and of hope. The tears just kept coming and coming. Poor Snuggle Bug got quite a shower. He didn't mind. He was fast asleep, his tiny head resting against my heart.

Eventually I laid Snuggle Bug in his bassinet to sleep and shortly after that, the phone rang. It was Giselle.

"OW, it's Giselle. I just wanted to make sure that you'd heard, I signed the paperwork a bit ago." Her voice sounded calm, but I thought I detected a bit of a catch in her words.

The floodgate of my tears re-opened and I sobbed, "I'm so sorry you had to do this!"

Giselle started crying as well, "I've been preparing for this day for 9 months."

We cried together over the phone. I wished she were next to me so that I could reach out and hug her.

"If it's not too painful, can I send you some newborn pictures of Snuggle Bug soon?" I asked Giselle tentatively.

"I'd like that," she said quietly.

We talked more about our hopes and dreams for Snuggle Bug. Before ending our conversation I told Giselle, "Please keep in touch. I really want to know how you're doing. Call me, email me, whatever works best for you."

I wasn't sure if she would keep in touch. I was so afraid to be the one to contact her and cause her more pain than I was certain she was already feeling. For the next 3 months, as we waited to finalize Snuggle Bug's adoption, I found myself missing Giselle far more than I had anticipated. I missed seeing her. I missed her updates. I missed her company. I felt a connection to her (I still do), the first mother and the adoptive mother connected forever by a child.

Giselle set the precedence of contacting me after she received pictures and an update from me. She'd email me to let me know how much she enjoyed the pictures and she'd tell me a bit about what was going on in her world. Our post adoption agreement was to send pictures and an update once every 6 months, but I found myself wanting to send them more frequently. I had to tread lightly with this, for more than one reason.

First, I was afraid of invading Giselle's privacy and I wasn't confident that she'd tell me if it got to be too much. I've heard many first mothers say that they were afraid to speak out for fear that the adoption would be closed. I’ve always tried to assure Giselle that we would always honor our commitment, but I’ve never been certain that she still doesn’t have that fear.

Second, I had to also think of Oronzo. He made it clear to me that he committed to what he knew he could and updates every 6 months, nothing more, nothing less. He was honest about that with all of us involved (including Giselle and Quinn) from day one. I knew he wouldn't appreciate it if I was reaching out to Giselle with far more frequency than we had agreed to.

It was tough. It's still tough. I feel like I'm doing a balancing act, trying to please everyone, including myself. I have always made a point to share the info from Giselle's emails with Oronzo (she has emailed me a few times over this past year and a half) and he listens and occasionally asks questions. And this Valentine's Day he took an awesome picture of Snuggle Bug dressed as a cupid and I let Oronzo know I wanted to send a copy to Giselle then, so she'd get it on Valentine's Day, rather than have to wait for our next scheduled update in June. He was fine with that.

We occasionally get phone calls and gifts for Snuggle Bug from Giselle's grandmother, Ellen. She mainly mails him children's books, and the occasional stuffed animal. I'm careful to mark each book from her with a note on who it came from. After he's outgrown them, I'll store them in a special place to give Snuggle Bug when he's older.

We've also received the various letter or two from Giselle's mother, Clara, and one from Ellen. I have these tucked away in my hope chest, along with Giselle's printed out emails, saving them for Snuggle Bug. I'm hoping that Giselle will one day send the letter and pictures of her and Quinn that she's mentioned wanting to do, but so far she hasn't and I'm not going to pressure her.

We don't hear from Quinn. I've learned, from Giselle, that Quinn's way of coping with this adoption is to not talk about it. It hurts Giselle at times because he doesn't look through the update packets that we send, although she said she has caught him looking at the pictures of Snuggle Bug that she has framed and displayed in her room.

I know that Quinn loves Snuggle Bug. Perhaps one day I'll get an email or a phone call from him, asking for an update. I'll gladly give it to him, informing Oronzo in the process. For now, I have to be content with knowing that he and Giselle are still together and that he has access to the info that we send her.

Well, that's all for now. I meant to discuss Snuggle Bug's Adoption Finalization Day, but I guess I'll do that in Part 10.

To read the final chapter in my 10-part series describing our first adoption journey, see Part 10.

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4:45 PM

Sunday, June 04, 2006
Will he be a musician or a conductor?
The outdoor concert we attended tonight.

Oronzo and I took Snuggle Bug to an outdoor concert tonight. It's not the first one he's gone to. We've been taking him to these spring/fall concerts (6 in each season) since he was 5 months old.

At first, it was simple. We'd wheel Snuggle Bug in his car seat/stroller combo, lay him on our blanket, play cards with our friends until it got dark, eat our picnic basket dinner, drink a bit of wine, and listen to fantastic music. He didn't go anywhere and he'd fall asleep in my arms, so it was no problem.

Snuggle Bug started crawling at 7 months, but he didn't like the feel of grass for the longest time, so he wouldn't stray off of our blanket and he still fell asleep in my arms.

This spring he's walking and now it's a bit more challenging to take him to these outdoor concerts, but still a lot of fun!

Now, Snuggle Bug runs all around our blanket, and weaves in and out of the crowd, pausing to flirt with strangers as one of us follows close behind. He likes to roll in the grass, pet dogs, play ball with the big kids, and when the music starts, he likes to go right up close to the amphitheater stage and watch the musicians and the conductor. He dances to the rhythm of the music, claps at the end of the songs, and tonight he also took a plastic spoon to use as a baton and he imitated the conductor with great enthusiasm!

Once again, he again fell asleep in my arms, to the melodious sound of pops orchestra music swirling up to the stars!

I wonder, will he grow up to be a musician or a conductor?

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10:31 PM

Diaper challenges
We're having challenges with diaper changes in our household again. Yes, Snuggle Bug has said, "Poop" and pointed to his diaper and that's fantastic! But when it comes down to the actual changing part, it's nearly impossible to get him to stay still.

"Lay down, Snuggle Bug, it's time to change your diaper," I tell him.

"Up!" he retorts, as he twists and squirms, like an expert contortionist, to escape my grasp.

Round and round we go. He gets frustrated, I get frustrated, and sometimes I end up changing his diaper as he's standing up and on the run. It's not so bad, unless he's poopy, and then it's just disgusting! I also have a tendency to tear his fresh diaper tabs as I'm attempting to get them on a mobile little boy.

I've asked for advice and tried many things, including the "let him play with a special toy only during diaper changes" trick. I tried various toys and even once resorted to letting him hold his baby nail clippers (closed of course) to see if that would keep his attention long enough. No go.

Then, a few weeks ago, we stumbled upon his Elmo phone. Anyone else that has this knows that it sings, "La La La La, La La La La, Elmo's world!" when you open it up. And when you close it you hear, "Thanks for calling," in this high pitched sing-songy voice. And when you push the phone buttons, it calls out the number, in the same annoying voice.

My dear mother got him this phone this past Christmas and, for a while, he loved it. Thankfully, he eventually lost interest and it got buried in his toy box, only to be recently re-discovered. Now he loves it again.

So, what did I do? I took it away from him, and put it up where he couldn't reach it. Yes, I can be a unfair mommy sometimes! Now, he only gets it during diaper changes. And guess what, it's working like a charm! It keeps his attention long enough to change even poopy diapers and I only have to listen to the annoying sounds that it emits every now and then! It's a win-win situation!

Thanks, Mom, for the annoying cell phone!

7:44 AM

Friday, June 02, 2006
My blog's been spotlighted, a new baby, matters of poop, & other loose threads!
Wow, 2 posts in one day. Yes, occasionally I am guilty of doing this. I'm loving the Five Ingredients Friday recipes I've gotten so far today, keep them coming!

I've got some news and some loose threads to sew up, so here goes:

1. The tables have been turned on me and my blog has been spotlighted over at Princesses, Dogs, and Chaos. Thanks Jenn! Stop by Jenn's blog for a peek. I've disclosed some tidbits about myself that you haven't seen before, for enquiring minds that want to know!

2. There's a new baby in the family! No, we haven't been matched again (not yet anyway), but my niece has arrived! Hooray, finally a girl to offset all the little boys we have on our side of the family!

She was born last Friday weighing 5 lbs., 15 oz. She was 18 1/4 inches long. Isn't she a beauty?! Since she's a preemie, she wasn't due until mid-July, she's currently in NICU. They were worried about her lung development, but she came out screaming! Now they're working on getting her to eat better and gain some weight. Other than that, she's doing well.

I wish I didn't live so far away. It'll be a while before I meet her. Thankfully, my family is good about taking lots of pictures. I nearly cried at the sight of a picture of my youngest brother (the only sibling that wasn't a parent), holding his baby girl. He's going to be such a great daddy!

3. If you don't want to hear about poop, avert your eyes, because I'm excited about this and I'm feeling the need to share! Last week, I decided to try to teach Snuggle Bug the word, poop. As I was changing his dirty diaper, I told him, "Poop. Your diaper has poop in it. You pooped." I even showed him his poop inside the diaper, to help him visualize what I was talking about (yes, I know, gross). He obediently repeated, "Poop" several times for me.

My hope with teaching him the concept of poop was that he'd tell me when he had pooped and needed a diaper change, a step towards potty training. He's much too young to start potty training, but it doesn't hurt to get him thinking along those lines, right?

This weekend I was wearing a ratty t-shirt with white paint on it, leftover from our house remodeling efforts. Snuggle Bug pointed at the paint splatters and said, "Poop."

"No, honey, that's paint," I explained to him. It's all so confusing, I'm sure.

Now for the exciting point to this story (well, exciting for me). Oronzo called to tell me that this morning, he went to get Snuggle Bug up from his morning nap. As he walked into his nursery, he was was assaulted with the ripe smell of Snuggle Bug's most recent poopy diaper. Oronzo pulled him out of the crib and stripped off his shorts, setting him on the floor as he turned to grab a diaper and some wipes. Snuggle Bug sat on the floor and proudly informed Oronzo, "Poop, poop, poop" while pointing to his bottom!

Yes! My instructions are working! Oronzo laughed at the fact that Snuggle Bug was stating the obvious, but I'm thrilled that the concept is sinking in. Our baby is so smart!

4. I don't know if I've mentioned that the visit from my dad last month did a world of good! When he left, I felt more connected to him than I have in a long time. We talk more frequently on the phone now and it's not just superficial conversations like it used to be. Who knew that one visit could make that much of a difference! God works in mysterious ways.

5. I think I've discovered my next BOTW, if she's willing to participate. I'm winding my way through her archives and loving it! When I'm done, I'll email her to see if she'll play. Stay tuned for that next week.

Okay, I think that's it for now. Part 9 of our adoption journey will be coming soon.

Have a great weekend everyone! And keep those recipes coming!
12:33 PM

Five Ingredients Friday (Pork Kebabs)

Good morning, Blogland! It's time for our recipe exchange. Thanks to those that participated last Friday with my launch of Five Ingredients Friday. I've really enjoyed the recipes that you've submitted and I hope to get even more this week! I'm in desperate need for simple ideas. I scorched a sauce that I was trying to make for dinner last night. It wasn't pretty!

Remember, post a recipe that involves only 5 ingredients or less. It can be a main dish, an appetizer, a side dish, a dessert, a beverage...I really don't care...but it must only have 5 ingredients or less.

Here's my recipe for this Friday. I've made it for Oronzo and Snuggle Bug and they loved it!

Pork Kebabs

(Serves 4)

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


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


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

Cook's Tip

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


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7:41 AM

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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