Thursday, August 31, 2006
I'm taking a vacation but my blog is not!
Labor Day weekend is nearly upon us. Oronzo has arranged a mini-vacation for our little family. He's complained that we never go on trips for just the 3 of us, we're always traveling to meet up with family or friends, and he wants some quiet time alone with his wife and son. So, I told him to book something and we'd go!

Now, I can't tell you exactly where we're going. As much fun as I think it'd be, I don't think Oronzo would appreciate it if some of my blogging friends showed up to join the party. :) I will tell you that we're renting a cute little 2 bedroom, 2 bath house within walking distance from an ocean beach. We'll do some swimming, eat lots of seafood, shop in open markets, and probably indulge in frequent napping. We may even do a bit of biking or snorkling, depending on what type of equipment is available to rent. I think I'll try to catch up on some hand-written correspondance as well.

But, fear not dear readers, while we're vacationing (1-5 September) my blog will still be active. No, I'm not bringing my laptop. We won't have Internet access or cell phone coverage where we're going. I hated the thought of my poor little blog sitting here, all alone for 5 days, so I've lined up guest bloggers to come and write some posts. I'm giving them free reign to post on topics of their choice, I've just asked that they include a link to their own blog, so you all will know who posted in my absence.

I've never had guest bloggers before, but I've seen other bloggers do this and I thought it was a fun idea! I hope that while I'm gone you'll show my guest bloggers some love by leaving a comment on their posts, letting them know that you've stopped by. And, of course, make a point to check out their blogs as well, if you don't already have them on your list.

Oh, and don't worry, I'll post my regular Five Ingredient Friday post just before we head out the door early tomorrow morning. I won't be able to check out the recipes until I get back, but I'd still love it if you'd participate. I rely on your recipes for my weekly menu planning!

All right, enough of that. Now, time for a sneak preview of our vacation destination (I pulled these off the property management's website).

I hope you all have a fantastic Labor Day weekend! Leave me a comment letting me know your plans! I'll chat with you when I return.

Picture #1- the patio where we'll be eating breakfast

Picture #2- the kitchen area where we'll cook our meals

Picture #3- the hammock where I'll spend many hours napping

Picture #4- the dining area where we'll dine in the evenings

Picture #5- the living room that we'll walk through to get to the ocean

Picture #6- a portion of the ocean where we'll be frolicking

8:08 AM

Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Works-for -Me Wednesday (creating blogging categories)
It's time to post another WFMW tip.

One of my readers requested that I post instructions on how to create categories within Blogger, as my Works-for-Me Wednesday tip, so here it goes.

1. Visit the script generator here.

2. Enter your blog URL in the first textbox. Leave out the "http://", and very importantly, leave out the "www." as well (this is because is actually an alias to the actual

3. Next, enter your first category in the next textbox.

4. To add one more category, click on the link "click this to add one more category" and enter it in the textbox that appears. Repeat this step, if necessary, to add more categories.

5. Go to your blog Template and look for the section called sidebar. Then paste the copied code at the place where you want the categories to appear. In my blog, I have a Sidebar title called “Categories.”

6. Save your template and republish your blog.

7. Note that this technique (or hack) actually makes use of Blogger Search to categorize your posts. Thus it is important that you name the categories appropriately so that the search results return the correct posts. The category name should contain keywords that appear in your post. One extremely effective way is to either (1) prefix every post's title with its category name, for example, "Blogging: categories categories...", or (2) ensure that your post contains the category name somewhere. You can also manually add a line at the bottom of your post that says, Tags: and lists your relevant category words for that post.

8. (You may need to republish your entire blog sometimes, to let Blogger index your pages.) If you find that Blogger Search is not searching your blog, check that you have activated the "Site Feed" and "Notify" features for your blog (under Settings), and that your template does not contain a meta tag to stop the search bots from indexing your blog.

This works for me. Maybe it'll work for you too! If you have any questions, just let me know and I'll try to help! And if you want to see screen prints of each of these instruction steps, visit this website

If you'd like to share something that works for you, please leave me a comment. And be sure to link yourself over at Shannon's, the host of Works-For-Me Wednesday.

My past WFMW entries:

alternate use for pot rack
cake decorating tips
unique way to stay connected
cake baking tip
comforts of home while traveling
quenching the thirst of your little one
pie crust made in bulk
hot chocolate kicked up a notch


4:52 AM

Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Will my baby's face be scarred?
When I got home from work yesterday afternoon, I discovered that Snuggle Bug had been scratched while playing with one of his small wooden blocks that he likes to stack.

I'm terrified that this nasty scratch will scar his little face. Oronzo thinks it will heal just fine, since it's not a cut (there was no blood), just a scratch. Although Oronzo thinks I'm being paranoid, and he's probably right, I'm not taking any chances! I'm placing a call in to his pediatrician this morning, as soon as the office opens, to get him to look at it for us. There's got to be some type of ointment we can put on his face to prevent scarring or infection!

The scratch doesn't seem to be bothering Snuggle Bug in the least, but it's concerning me a great deal. I know I'll feel better after speaking directly to his pediatrician!

Wish us luck! I'll let you know how it goes.

**Edited to add**

So, I went to the doctor's office a bit ago. I didn't have an appointment, I just showed up with Snuggle Bug and asked to see either a nurse or the pediatrician. A nurse came out into the waiting room and examined Snuggle Bug's face. She said the scratch doesn't look infected or overly irritated in any way. If it did, she'd advise me to put neosporin on it. She told me it was a good sign that it's already formed a scab. She did advise me to use lotion on it (I told her I had been putting Aquaphor on his scratch and she said that was just fine). She also recommended that we keep him out of the sun or a hat on him to shade his face when he is outside, to help prevent scarring. She assured me that the scratch should heal just fine.

Whew! What a relief! I feel much better having had his face looked at and getting advice from the nurse. Best of all, I wasn't charged a dime for my drop in visit. How nice is that?!

Now, if I can just convince Oronzo to keep a hat on Snuggle Bug when they're outside, while I'm at work, all will be fine.

I think this is as good of an excuse as any to go shopping with Snuggle Bug for a new hat or two, don't you think? :)

4:35 AM

Monday, August 28, 2006
Active Family
Oronzo and I are doing our best to be an active family, to set a good example for Snuggle Bug. We don't watch a lot of T.V., our T.V. viewing is usually done in the evenings after Snuggle Bug has gone to bed. And, more importantly, we try to spend a lot of time outdoors.

Oronzo is, by far, more active than I am and he's in a lot better shape! He hikes, he bikes, he plays Ultimate, he plays tennis, and he walks a lot. Me, I do hike and bike and walk, on occasion, but not nearly enough. I'm trying to improve.

Not long ago, Oronzo went out and bought a bike carrier and a kids helmet so that he could take Snuggle Bug biking with him. Snuggle Bug loves biking with Daddy!

This past weekend, we went to a local bike shop and bought me a new bike. We hadn't intended on buying one right away, we were going to shop around and compare prices but we found one that was on clearance because it was a discontinued model. We got a really nice deal on it! I love it because it's got a quick release seat, making adjusting oh so easy! It also has quick release tires which allowed us to break the bike down and fit it in our car trunk with ease to get it home. And because we bought it at a real bike shop, I get free tune-ups on my bike whenever I want.

I love my new bike! It's comfortable and it suits me. It's much nicer than the previous bike I had, a poor quality bike that I bought years ago at Wal-Mart because it was cheap.

This morning, I convinced Oronzo to get up by 7 a.m. (he's not a morning person by nature and I am) so that the three of us could take a quick bike ride before I had to go to work and before it got too hot. Granted, we only went about a mile each way and we treated ourselves to Starbucks so we probably didn't burn many calories, but it was a lot of fun! I'm going to do my best to incorporate biking into a regular routine to get into better shape!

So, what do you and your family do to try to stay active and healthy?

9:39 AM

Sunday, August 27, 2006
My first attempts at home movie production.
Oronozo and I got a new toy. It's a Sony DCR-DVD405 camcorder.

The only kind of video recording device we've had up until now is a low resolution video recorder built into my digital camera. We discovered that the images are not very high quality, so we decided we needed something better to capture special moments in our lives. Okay, who am I kidding, we bought it to capture Snuggle Bug moments!

Oronzo worked with my yesterday to teach me how to upload the .mpg clips from our new camcorder onto our laptop, then convert the files to .dv files so that we can make movies out of them in iMovie (a Mac software program). Then, I have to convert the movie into a Quicktime .mov file so that I can upload them here. Complicated, eh? It's okay, I take good notes!

So, what you're about to see is my very first attempt at home movie production. The star of the show is, of course, Snuggle Bug.

After uploading my movie to Blogger, I realized that Blogger (or maybe it's YouTube) doesn't give you very good quality, the images looks so far away, but hey at least the music is loud!

Okay, here it is. Enjoy! Feel free to leave me encouraging comments so that I can be inspired to make more movies. :)

P.S. This was depicting Snuggle Bug playing at the neighbor's house.

1:18 PM

Friday, August 25, 2006
Five Ingredients Friday (Cheesy Hash Browns)

It's Friday again! This week just flew by for me, thank goodness!

Before I get started with my Five Ingredients Friday recipe exchange I have a couple of posts to point out. Please stop by and visit my Blog of the Week post and then go on and read the excellent comments that I've received thus far in response to my How do you cope when your child goes down the wrong path? post. My readers never cease to amaze me with their encouragement and support. Thanks to all of you!

Oh, and I have a quick question, do any of you have a simple and yet sophisticated salad recipe (the kind with lettuce) that you can share with me? We've been instructed to bring salad to a nice dinner party this Sunday and I have no idea what to make! It'd be nice to have a recipe that's tried and true. It doesn't have to be your Five Ingredient Friday recipe. If it's more than 5 ingredients, please just leave it in my comments or link it anyway! Thanks!

Okay, finally my Five Ingredients Friday recipe for this week is a quick and easy potato recipe made for grilling!

Cheesy Hash Browns
  1. 1 large potato (serves about 2 people)
  2. grated cheese (whatever kind you like)
  3. coarse garlic salt
  4. several dabs of butter
  5. pepper to taste

  1. Peel potato skins off the potato.
  2. Grate the potatoes into hash browns & place them on tin foil.
  3. Sprinkle hash browns with coarse garlic salt & pepper.
  4. Add shredded cheese and dabs of butter.
  5. Wrap the hash browns securely in the tin foil and cook on top rack of your grill for about 15-20 minutes.
I look forward to seeing your Five Ingredients Friday recipe! Don't forget to link your blog on this post so I can see what's cooking at your house! Oh, and be sure to put in parenthesis your recipe title! It makes it so much quicker for me to go back and search for recipes as I build my weekly menu.

P.S. Anything that you list as optional doesn't really count toward your 5 ingredient maximum, just so you know. :)

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5:45 AM

Thursday, August 24, 2006
How do you cope when a child goes down the wrong path in life?
I have a Blog of the Week chosen and I even have a partially written post in draft, but I'm waiting for the chosen blogger's responses to my questions before I can publish the post. She sent her responses to me some time ago, but I got over zealous in my efforts to clean out my inbox and I accidentally deleted her email with her attached answers. I'm such a moron sometimes! So, as soon as she gets a chance to re-email me her responses, I'll publish my Blog of the Week post. Stay tuned.

Until then, I have another topic on my mind that's weighing on my heart and I'd appreciate some perspective from my loyal readers.

Here's the deal. I have a cousin (to be referred to as Inara), about 6 years younger than I am, who's in trouble with the law. She was arrested for distributing drugs (meth, I think) and pleaded guilty to a felony conviction. She's now in jail awaiting her sentence.

Let me say, that I'm not writing about this to pass judgment on Inara or her parents. I'm just trying to wrap my head around this tragic situation.

Inara was raised in a loving, Christian home in a small town. She was the baby of the family, the only girl in a family of boys. She went to a private school and was smart, but during her teen years she started having problems with drinking, totaling cars, and probably doing some drugs, although no one ever talked about that part. She did graduate from high school but appeared to have no desire to go on to college as her parents had hoped. She worked odd jobs off and on and moved out of her parents house, moved back in for a time, and then moved back out to live with a friend.

Her parents loved her dearly and did what they could to help her. Her brothers too, although they were a bit frustrated as they watched their parents bailing her out of her minor scrapes over and over again.

Over time, it became blatantly clear that she'd gotten involved seriously in drugs and her parents did their best to encourage her to seek professional help but she wouldn't admit that she had a problem. For a long time, they didn't hear from her, unless she needed something, usually money.

Finally her luck ran out and she found herself in serious trouble with the law, put in jail in fact and facing a prison sentence of up to a year, or possibly more. She didn't tell her parents any of this, another family member found out and made that call to them.

As you might guess, her parents are absolutely devastated by this turn of events. They are agonizing over every minute of parenting their daughter, trying to figure out where they went wrong and what they could've done differently to prevent this from happening.

Now, they are desperately trying to get her into a State funded rehab facility so that she can get help. They couldn't afford to bail her out of jail and, even if they could, they were terrified to do so because they have a strong suspicion that she would flee. They can't afford the $15,000+ to send her to a private rehab facility and there's at least a 90 day waiting list for state funded facilities. Apparently the judge that is about to sentence her is allowing her to spend part of her sentence in a rehab facility.

My heart aches for this family. I've always been close to Inara's parents. They've been very good to me throughout the years, thinking of me as a daughter, not just a niece. I'm particularly close to one of Inara's brothers.

Obviously, I've been keeping Inara and her family in my prayers, although I'm not even sure what exactly to pray for in a situation like this. I guess I've been praying that God give them all strength to get through this adversity and that God bless Inara with the will to want to heal and make positive changes in her life by sincerely seeking professional help.

What I struggle the most with is the fear that this situation can happen with any of our families! I'm not so foolish as to think, "This would never happen to my child," because I know that it very well could! We could do our very best to provide Snuggle Bug with a loving, stable family life and raise him with an understanding of right and wrong but he could make poor decisions in life too. He could get in with a bad crowd in school. He could give in to peer pressure and start doing drugs (or other things) to be part of the "in" crowd or to be more popular.

We don't raise our babies thinking, "I wonder if he'll wind up in jail or become a druggie or worse." We raise them thinking, "I wonder if he'll be an architect, engineer, or even a doctor?"

This morning, as I was leaving the house for work, Snuggle Bug ran up to give me a kiss goodbye. As I turned away he called out, "Mommy" and I turned back just in time to see him blow me a kiss, an impish smile on his face. My heart swelled and I thought to myself, "I will move Heaven and earth to protect you, my child." Perhaps that what Inara's parents were thinking as they watched their child struggle through life.

If I put myself in their shoes, what would I do? I honestly don't know. I pray that I never have to be in those shoes. I pray that Snuggle Bug retains his sweet honesty and innocence as he grows older. I pray that I can help him to form a strong character that will stand by the values that we try to teach him.

Without disclosing information that you feel is too private, have any of you experienced the struggle to cope when your child goes down the wrong path in life? Or have you seen a family close to you go through this? How have you handled such situations? How have others handled it? Does anyone have any words of wisdom to offer on trying to prevent these tragic situations from even occuring? At what point to you, as a parent, pull the plug and withdraw your support in the hopes that your child will learn to solve their own problems and assume responsibility for their actions?

I'll bet you wished I had just posted my innocent Blog of the Week post today, don't you? :) As always, I appreciate your perspective and your support!
9:01 AM

Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Works-for-Me Wednesday (alternate use for pot rack)
It's time to post another WFMW tip.

We bought a new house last summer and when we moved in, we realized that we had more than enough cupboard space to store our pots and pans. I wasn't quite sure what to do with the pot rack that we had been using up until then.

It dawned on me that it'd be nice to have some hooks out by the pool, to hang up various items (i.e. swim trunks, towels, pool toys in a basket). So, I tacked up the pot rack to the side of an exterior wall near the pool to be used for this express purpose!

This works for me. Maybe it'll work for you too!

If you'd like to share something that works for you, please leave me a comment. And be sure to link yourself over at Shannon's, the host of Works-For-Me Wednesday.

My past WFMW entries:

cake decorating tips
unique way to stay connected
cake baking tip
comforts of home while traveling
quenching the thirst of your little one
pie crust made in bulk
hot chocolate kicked up a notch


5:15 AM

Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Older Parent (revealing my age)
I've been thinking a lot about my age, as we prepare for the adoption of a second child. I thought a lot about my age when we adopted Snuggle Bug too. I was 36 1/2 years old when he was born. I've just recently turned 38.

I know, 38 isn't really that old. I certainly don't feel old yet. I'm able to be active with my son and I consider myself fairly progressive in my perspective, not set in my ways and inflexible as my own parents sometimes come across. What I'm doing though is mentally calculating how old I'll be when Snuggle Bug starts school (I'll be about 41), when he graduates from high school (I'll be about 54), or when he is my current age (I'll be 74).

I wonder, how will I measure up to the younger mothers of Snuggle Bug's classmates as he goes through school? Will I fit in or will Snuggle Bug be embarrassed to have older parents? I also wonder, will I be around to play with my grandchildren? How active will I be? What will my health be like then?

What really got me to thinking of this again was hearing of the second adoption lead, mentioned in Wednesday, August 16th post. The expectant mother that we've heard about is only 16 years old. I'm old enough to be her mother! When we adopt a second time, I'll be pushing 40.

My older sister, Tia, had her first child when she was 25 years old. My youngest brother became a father for the first time this year at the age of 26. My younger sister had her first child at the age of 28. My other brother, Cole, became a first time father at the age of 33.

Amongst my close friends, for the most part, I'm seeing a trend of couples starting their families later in life, becoming first time parents in their mid to late 30's as we did. One of my closest friend will be come a father for the first time at the age of 42 1/2, when his daughter is born in February 2007.

The reasons our friends have waited to start families are the same reasons we waited. We focused on college, establishing our careers, traveling, and enjoying the single or DINK lifestyle. I know other older parents out there didn't have a choice in the matter, infertility prevented them from starting families as soon as they would've liked.

Overall, I don't regret waiting. I've got my college degree, I'm financially stable, I've climbed the corporate ladder (now that I've become a parent I realize how meaningless all of that is, in the grand scheme of things because being a parent is far more important to me than a high paying job will ever be). I've traveled to Europe more than once and lived in several states. I've dated, partied, frivolously spent my money as a singleton. I got all of that out of my system so that when we made the decision to adopt, I felt prepared, confident, ready, and at ease with being a mother. I think I appreciate parenthood and my son so much more than I would've had I done it all earlier, although my siblings who had children earlier in life seem to have no lack of appreciation. They struggled more than I'm having to, but they still appreciate their children.

So, no, I don't regret being an older parent, but there are times when I feel a bit sad that I'm not going to have as much time with my children and grandchildren as I would like.

So, what are your thoughts on being an older parent, if you are one? And if you're not, what's life like as a younger parent?
8:47 AM

Monday, August 21, 2006
I'm back from an unplugged camping trip!
Good morning Blogland!

I'm plugged back in, after a quiet, relaxing weekend camping with my little family and some of our friends!

Give me a bit of time to upload the pictures off my camera and then I'll come back and post several of them on here, along with more details on our trip. I might even include a video clip too! :)

Check back, okay?

**Edited to add**

So, I've got the pictures uploaded. The video will come later.

Our camping trip this weekend was a lot of fun. This was Snuggle Bug's second time camping. We took him last summer when he was 7 months old and decided we were long overdue to take him again.

Snuggle Bug had a fantastic time, although he woke up in the middle of the night Saturday, crying because he was scared and cold in his pack-n-play. To get him back to sleep, I had to bring a camp chair in to our tent and hold him close to me, with a couple of warm blankets over both of us. He sat on my lap facing me, tucked his arms under his chest, laid his on my shoulder, and fell back asleep. I held him there for a long time, loving the weight of him, feeling his heart beat and his light snores, and inhaling his sweet baby smell. I stayed in the chair until he was in a deep sleep, then I put him on the air mattress with us and he snuggle close, grasping my hair in his hand for assurance. He usually is too squirmy and won't sleep with us, so this was a treat!

Here's our tent. We got a great deal on it last summer, when we took Snuggle Bug on his first camping trip. It's a 3 room tent and our friends called it the "Hilton" tent. To give you an idea of it's size, Oronzo brought a queen sized air mattress to put inside and Snuggle Bug had his pack-n-play in there too and we still had plenty of room.

Here's a picture taken during a hike that the three of us took. Oronzo is carrying Snuggle Bug on his back. It's a good thing Oronzo is so strong, because I don't think I could do this!

Here's Snuggle Bug wearing my hat. As we were hiking and I realized how out of shape I felt, I couldn't help but think, "I wish someone would carry me on their back!" Snuggle Bug just sat back and enjoyed the ride.

Aren't these woods beautiful? The crisp air smelled sweetly of pine. The only sounds we heard were the clacking of flying grasshoppers, the rustling of the wind, and the crunch of pine needles under our feet. It was Heavenly!

Here's Snuggle Bug at the campsite, playing with our camping cookware. He'd never seen these before (I keep them tucked away in storage), so he was fascinated. And as for camp fire, off to the right, we told him right away that it was hot and the entire time we were there he steered clear of it and often pointed and said, "Hot!" looking to each of us for confirmation approval.

Here's Snuggle Bug hanging with the guys, listening to their tall tales. Believe me, there were some very tall tales being told!

Here's an action shot of Oronzo with some of his Ultimate teammates. Ultimate is kind of a cross between soccer and Frisbee. Most of us who camped together played in an Ultimate tournament yesterday. Snuggle Bug and I were on the sidelines cheering Oronzo on and taking lots of pictures. Snuggle Bug was quite enthusiastic in his cheering, shouting "Hooray!" a lot, even when the opposing team scored. He was just happy to be outside.

All-in-all, we had a lovely weekend with our friends. We didn't get home until 9 p.m. last night. It felt so good to take a shower and be clean again! I fell asleep the minute my head hit the pillow and woke up this morning and stretched with pleasure in my bed!

So, what'd you all do this past weekend?

8:36 AM

Friday, August 18, 2006
Five Ingredient Friday (Raspberry Crème Brulee)

It's finally Friday, thank goodness! It's time again for my Five Ingredients Friday recipe exchange! Thank you to all who participate. I'm excited to see new faces so please spread the word!

My Five Ingredients Friday recipe for this week is a decedent dessert that you shouldn't probably eat very often, but once in a while isn't so bad. Are you ready? Here it is!

Raspberry Crème Brulee
5 large egg yolks
2 c heavy cream
¾ c sugar
½ c white chocolate chips
4 T raspberry jam

Optional: fresh raspberries for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°. Heat the cream in a saucepan, remove just before it boils. In a mixing bowl, combine yolks and sugar with a whisk. Spoon a T of raspberry jam into the bottom of each ramekin. Add the white chocolate chips and hot cream to the yolk mixture and stir well. Divide mixture into 4 ramekins and place in a baking pan. Fill the baking pan with water about ½ way up the side of the ramekin. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the mixture sets. Remove the ramekins and chill.

Before serving, sprinkle the top of each ramekin with ½ T sugar and caramelize with a kitchen torch (I love the one I got at Bed Bath & Beyond!). Garnish with fresh raspberries.

I look forward to seeing your Five Ingredients Friday recipe! Don't forget to link your blog on this post so I can see what's cooking at your house! Do me a favor, put in parenthesis your recipe title, like EaglesWings did. Thanks EaglesWings!

P.S. Anything that you list as optional doesn't really count toward your 5 ingredient maximum, just so you know. :)

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6:54 AM

Thursday, August 17, 2006
Spiritual Nourishment, that's long overdue!
Can I just say, I think Blogger hates me? I haven't been successful in posting pictures through Blogger for a couple of days now. How frustrating! I guess I'll just have to follow Sarah’s Works-for-Me Wednesday tip for posting pictures without using the Blogger upload.

If you haven't already, please stop by and take a look at my Blog of the Week.

And now, the real message behind this post. I'm excited because tonight I'm attending an adult religious education study at my church. It's a 4 part series being held on Thursday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in one of our church halls. I have no idea how many others will be attending this study, but it doesn't really matter. God promises, "When two or more meet I will be there." I hope there's a good group though, it'll make group discussions more interesting!

It's been far too long since I've made the time for some spiritual nourishment through a study group like this. I've made excuses as to how busy I am with work, motherhood, household duties, etc. and it's all true, but I'm feeling the need for some spiritual recharging so I'm making the time to do this. Oronzo is going to stay home with Snuggle Bug and get him down to sleep so that I can go and give my undivided attention to this study. I hate taking time away from Snuggle Bug, even just an hour, but I need to carve a bit of time for myself too.

So the book we're studying, Antioch & Rome, New Testament Cradles of Catholic Christianity, looks promising! Following the advice of Stephanie’s Works-for-Me Wednesday tip I had my paperback book spiral bound at Kinko's and I love it! It'll be much easier to take notes in now.

So, how do you rejuvinate yourself?
**edited to add**
The class went well! There were about 21 other people in attendance and this first part was like an interesting history lesson. It was done lecture style by our parish priest, but with questions encouraged along the way. I'm excited to read a few chapters in this book this weekend and discuss topics with Oronzo!

Those that sat around me marveled at my spiral bound book. Several asked me where I got it and I explained that I had purchased the paperback and then took it to Kinkos. While others were jotting notes on notebook paper, I was taking notes within my book with ease. It was wonderful, definitely worth the $5.00 at Kinko's! Thanks again for the tip, Stephanie!
2:04 PM

Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Follow up to Long Shots post & another adoption lead
Before I get started, if you haven't already checked out my Works-for-me Wednesday (cake decorating tips) tips, please do so.

Earlier this month, I posted about Long Shots (adoption/job related). I promised to follow up and let you know how things turned out.

For the job interview that Oronzo went to, nothing came of it. He interviewed and discovered that they weren't offering $100,000 salary. They were offering $70,000-$75,000 (still not bad but not enough to allow me to be a SAHM) with the potential to earn up to $100,000 through performance bonuses. So, it was definitely not a sure thing. And, as expected, they would require Oronzo to work a minimum of 60+ hours per week on a regular basis. Oronzo walked out knowing he wouldn't accept a job offer if they called him with one. He discussed it with me, and the next day he beat them to the punch and called them back to tell them it wasn't a good fit. So, we're maintaining status quo with Oronzo continuing to do contract work from home, caring for Snuggle Bug while I'm at work during the day. We're both feeling a bit relieved, although I'm a bit disappointed that my dream of becoming a SAHM has been postponed for now. Oh well, what's important is what's best for our family, not just what I feel is best for me. And right now, our current situation is what's best for our family.

As for the adoption lead, I have no new news to share on that. My dad has attempted to get more information about the expectant mother, but has had no luck. I guess this situation wasn't meant to be for us, and that's okay too.

We have had another recent adoption lead! Oronzo's uncle has an employee who's teenage granddaughter is 3 months pregnant. They're considering adoption and Uncle R. has shared with his employee that we desire to expand our family with a second child. He said he'd let us know if his granddaughter decides to form an adoption plan for her unborn child. The baby is due in February 2007 (lots of babies I know are due in February). In speaking with Uncle R. about this possibility, I made it clear that we'd be happy to speak to this expectant mother if she does make that decision. That's all we can do.

Of course, I can also pray and I do! I pray to God that he show us His will and that, in His time, he bless us with a second child. I do have faith that it will happen the way it's truly meant to happen.

I'm relieved that we're at least hearing of some adoption leads. For several months we heard nothing and I was starting to question our decision to try to adopt through a private, domestic adoption, as we did with Snuggle Bug. Now I have hope that we can do this again.
9:45 AM

Works-for-Me Wednesday (cake decorating tips)
It's time to post a WFMW tip. Earlier this month I posted a cake baking tip. This time I think I'll post some cake decorating tips!

Tip #1- Leveling a layered cake. When you want to created a layered cake, it's important that both cake layers are fairly level. Most cakes come out with a rounded cake top. You can take a knife and cut that round part right off. I actually use a cake leveler that I bought at Michael's. It looks like the picture shown off to the right. I love it because it's got a thin wire that cuts through the cake better than a knife, it has notches at each side that you can set higher or lower, depending on the thickness that you want to cut off, and it helps produce a more even cut.

Tip #2- Frosting with a crumb coat. Do you ever wonder how some cakes look so smooth and perfect? Well, the professionals accomplish that with what's called a crumb coat. All that means is that they frost the cake more than once. The first layer is a thin coat of frosting over the cake. It shows all the crumbs that get stuck in the frosting. Once you frost the cake with a crumb coat, let it set out for about 10 minutes so that the frosting has a chance to get a bit crusty, trapping in the crumbs. If it's not getting crusty by sitting out on your counter, then throw it into the freezer for a few minutes to let it harden a bit. After it's hardened, pull it out and frost your cake a second time. The second time make it a thick coat of frosting. You'll find that no crumbs appear in that second coat because they've been taken care of by the crumb coat!

Tip #3- Using a protective base while frosting. I don't know about you, but when I frost a cake, I like to put it on the plate that I'll be serving it on and then frost it, so that I can avoid having to move the cake after it's been frosted. But frosting can be a messy business, so I've started using a protective base on my serving plate while frosting. What I do is cut a few large triangles of wax paper and place them on the serving plate, edges either touching or overlapping slightly. Then I put my unfrosted cake on top of the wax paper and begin frosting. Right after I'm done frosting with my second and final layer, I gently pull the triangles of wax paper out from under my cake, one by one, and wipe away any minor frosting smudges or crumbs that may be lingering on my serving plate. I often pipe a shell boarder of some kind on the bottom too, just to make the cake look prettier.

Okay, I think that's all the cake decorating tips I have time for. These work for me. Maybe they'll work for you too!

If you'd like to share something that works for you, please leave me a comment. And be sure to link yourself over at Shannon's, the host of Works-For-Me Wednesday.


4:30 AM

Monday, August 14, 2006
Pictures from this past weekend
Good morning Blogland! How was your weekend? Good, I hope!

We were out of town this past weekend, at Oronzo's parents' house. Snuggle Bug had a great time with the ranch animals. It took me a while but Blogger has finally allowed me to post some pictures!

Snuggle Bug visiting the horses & donkeys- 8/12/06
A goat comes to check out Snuggle Bug.
The goat gets up close and personal.
Snuggle Bug decides he's had enough of the goat.

The goat persistently follows!

I think if Snuggle Bug were allowed, he'd spend all daylight hours outside! He loves not only the outdoors, but the also the animals. The donkeys are his favorite and he spent the entire weekend tugging at our hands to pull us along and saying, "donkey, donkey." When we didn't give in to his pleas, he'd go grab Grandma or Grandpa's hands to see if they would. He's already learned that the grandparents like to spoil him!

I love how Oronzo's parents, Aleiza and Peyton, adore taking Snuggle Bug out and about amongst their small town, showing him off to their neighbors and friends.

"This is my grandson, my oldest son's son," they proudly boast, holding him up for closer view. And when the neighbors and friends respond with a, "He's such a handsome little boy," comment Aleiza and Peyton beam with pride and pleasure.

I like our quick weekend trips to Aleiza and Peyton's house. It's a beautiful, small ranch, and so peaceful. I was able to take a long nap on Saturday and I spent the weekend catching up on my email while Snuggle Bug played with Grandma and Grandpa!

Sorry, no profound post this morning, I'm just expressing my appreciation for family!

7:59 AM

Friday, August 11, 2006
Five Ingredient Friday (Grilled Bell Peppers)

It's time again for my Five Ingredients Friday recipe exchange! Thank you all who participate.

My Five Ingredients Friday recipe this week is extremely simple and possibly something you already make yourself. I was surprised to learn that a couple of my friends didn't know about this recipe until I made it for them at dinner one night.
Are you ready? Here it is!

Grilled Bell Peppers

Red, Yellow, or Green Bell Peppers (I like to use all 3)
Olive Oil
Garlic salt (coarse ground version)

Wash the peppers, then cut them into thick strips, julienned style

Put them in a bowl, drizzle olive oil over them.

Sprinkle a liberal amount of garlic salt over them.

Mix together well & then throw on the grill for about 5 minutes for each side.

That's it. That's all there is to it. These are so delicious!!! If you haven't made them already, give it a try. I think you'll like them!

I look forward to seeing your Five Ingredients Friday recipe! Don't forget to link your blog on this post so I can see what's cooking at your house!

Oh, and if you haven't already, stop by and take a look at the pictures of my adorable little Snuggle Bug!

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5:55 AM

Thursday, August 10, 2006
Several recent pictures of Snuggle Bug
I can't believe it! Blogger actually let me upload several pictures without any issues. Alleluia!

Before I get started explaining these pictures, I'd like to encourage you go scroll down to my previous post and check out my Blog of the Week if you haven't already!

So, I thought it might be fun to share some recent pictures of Snuggle Bug that I've taken over the past few days. Of course, they're not face-forward pictures, as is my style, but I still think you'll enjoy them. Isn't my Snuggle Bug just adorable?!

8/6/06- This picture was taken at a professional baseball game. Oronzo and I took Snuggle Bug to see this game and we were amazed when he lasted through all 9 innings with no problems! He cheered when the crowd cheered, he had fun watching the "ball", and he flirted with all the people around us.

8/7/06- This was taken at one of our local bookstores. They have an awesome kids corner that Snuggle Bug loves to play in. It has a train table, these fun chairs, and of course lots of children's books.

8/8/06- This is Snuggle Bug wearing a new outfit. He's 19 months old now, but he still wears mainly 12 month (as long as they're 2-piece) outfits. He's just now starting to fit into some of his 18 month 1-piece outfits. He's getting tall enough. I just love the little tug boat on his bottom and the matching hat. The hat he kept on all of 2 seconds, long enough for me to snap this shot.

8/8/06- This was taken at an outdoor wildlife museum. One of the volunteers was showing Snuggle Bug this cool hummingbird nest and Snuggle Bug was fascinated! The hummingbirds were amazingly friendly. They'd come flying right up to us, within touching distance!

8/10/06- These last 3 pictures were taken today. Snuggle Bug discovered my stash of hats (I have tons of them) and decided to try them on. I managed to snap a few cute shots!

Well, that's all for now. I hope you've enjoyed my little picture presentation!

Just for fun, please be so kind as to leave me a comment to let me which is your favorite picture and why.

3:40 PM

Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Works-for -Me Wednesday (unique way to stay connected)
It's time to post a WFMW tip.

How many of you have family living in another state? Even in the technically advanced world that we live in today, it's hard to maintain that personal touch over thousands of miles with those loved ones isn't it?

Sure, my family and I are good about sending emails filled with updates and pictures, talking on the phone, and the occasional in-person visits, but when it came to keeping in touch with my eldest nephew (to be referred to as Rowan) it just didn't seem to be enough.

Rowan and I formed a close bond from the day he was born. I was still living in the same city as my older sister, Tia, when she had Rowan. Up until he was about 4 years old, we were thick as thieves, and then I moved across the country for a job.

Rowan is 13 1/2 years old now and we're still close, but I wanted a way to connect with him on a more personal level, despite the miles between us. During one of my visits back home, he and I went to browse through a bookstore (one of our favorite past times). We came across the Wrinkle In Time series of books and both talked about how much we would love to read these books. So, we both ended up purchasing a set for ourselves.

After purchasing our individual sets, we decided to read each book together, aloud over the phone. This was the beginning of our Sunday afternoon story time.

Every Sunday, I'd call Rowan's house. He'd get his book and I'd have mine handy. He'd start out reading a chapter while I listened, then I'd read a chapter while he listened. We usually read for about an hour together and discussed the plot along the way.

Eventually, Rowan's younger sister (to be referred to as Regan) and Tia started listening in too, over their kitchen speaker phone, as they prepared dinner.

Rowan and I have to pick another book to read together, so we're not reading at the moment, but I'll make sure we start again soon. It's been a wonderful way to keep in touch and share our passion for reading!

It works for me. Maybe it'll work for you!

If you'd like to share something that works for you, please leave me a comment. And be sure to link yourself over at Shannon's, the host of Works-For-Me Wednesday.


5:04 AM

Saturday, August 05, 2006
Public or Private?

I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine (to be referred to as Darla) this morning. Let me provide some background before I go any further.

Oronzo got to know Darla before I did, through a library story time group. When he came home and told me that he'd met a single mom who had adopted her son (to be referred to as Jordan), I was excited! This was the first adoptive family we'd met in town and we hadn't even had to join an adoptive play group to accomplish this.

I made a point to get to know Darla and her son, Jordan, by inviting them to our house for play dates and arranging play dates at other places. Now, we interact with her and Jordan on a regular basis. She's a great woman and her son is adorable, he's just a few months older than Snuggle Bug. We have every intention of raising the boys to be long-time friends.

Darla adopted Jordan through the State and she's been very willing to answer my questions as I ponder the idea of one day adopting through the State myself. But, that's a discussion for another post.

This morning, we were with Darla and Jordan, taking the boys horseback riding at a nearby stable. While we were there, she excitedly told us about a private school she'd found out about that she was going to investigate further. She told us what she knew; you could enroll your child as early as 3 years old (part time or full time, it's your choice at that young age), it was pre-kindergarten through 8th grade, tuition was $3,000-$5,000 per year, and they boasted an unstructured learning environment that focused on an approach of play and creativity to learn. She thought it sounded fantastic and admitted that she didn't like the rigid structure of public school and had no intention of enrolling Jordan in public school.

We listened to what she was sharing, asking questions along the way, but making no commitments when she encouraged us to check out this school with her. At some point we'll have to share with her how we feel about public vs. private, but that didn't seem the right time with the horse riding activities going on.

So, how do we feel about public vs. private, you might ask?

Well, let me start off by saying we intend to enroll Snuggle Bug in a public elementary school. There’s one that’s only a few blocks from our house. We're told that it's currently rated in the top 5 elementary schools in our city. I'm not really sure what the ranking criteria are, but it sounds good. Not only that, but the grade school and the high school are also walking/biking distance from our house and they are touted as excellent within the school system.

But it's not just the convenient locations or the excellent rankings that are compelling us to send Snuggle Bug to public school, although those are important factors, it's probably most of all our own personal experiences that are motivating us.

I went to public school for my entire school career and had a pretty good experience. My teachers were approachable. They cared about their students. They were passionate about their subjects. They were more than willing to help any student that asked for it. I feel as though I got a well-rounded education that adequately prepared me for college. There were not a lot of drugs or violence in our schools and what little was there I managed to avoid without much effort.

Oronzo, on the other hand, was shipped off to a private boarding school in another state. He felt abandoned, isolated, and miserable in the beginning. Eventually he made friends and adjusted well enough, but overall he didn't appreciate private school life. In fact, his dyslexia was undiagnosed throughout grade school and high school, despite the fact that smaller classroom environments were offered in this private school. It wasn't until he got into college and a girlfriend recognized what was going on that he was diagnosed and received assistance. Up until then, he simply struggled painfully with his studies and had to deal with his father's frustration that he wasn't getting higher grades. Oh, and drugs were quite rampant in that small private school.

As a result of our personal experiences, we both agree that we want to give public school a try. We're firm believers that you get out of a situation what you put into it. We want Snuggle Bug's public school experience to be as positive as possible so we intend to be those annoyingly involved parents who volunteer time in the classroom as a classroom attendant, go to every extracurricular activity practice & game that Snuggle Bug is involved in, and volunteer in other ways as well. We're also firm believers that we have a responsibility at home to mold our child's value system, support him in his education, and help build his confidence level. I don't want to leave that all to a school, public or private, to handle.

Perhaps we're naive in our views because we haven't had a child in school yet, but we're saddened to hear some of our friends who feel that public school isn't good enough for their child. These parents are not even willing to give the public school system a chance. Is the public school system really so inadequate and evil in this day and age? Is there no redeeming quality to public school?

I'm interested to know, are you sending your child to public or private school? Maybe you're doing neither and you've decided to do home schooling. Whatever your decision, what led you to that decision and how's it going so far (if your child is old enough to be in school)?
11:04 AM

Friday, August 04, 2006
Five Ingredient Friday (Tuna & Noodle Casserole)

It's time again for my Five Ingredients Friday recipe exchange! Thank you all who participate on a regular basis.

My Five Ingredients Friday recipe this week is a dish that my mom used to make for us when we were kids. It's nothing gourmet, but we all loved it.

Every Tuesday evening, Oronzo goes out to play tennis with a couple of friends and then they go out for dinner. Oronzo gets a night out and I get a night of having Snuggle Bug all to myself. It's a win win situation.

So, this past Tuesday evening I was craving the dish I'm about to post. I made it for Snuggle Bug and myself and we both enjoyed it! If you make it, I hope you enjoy it too!

Tuna & Noodle Casserole

package of egg noodles
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup of milk
3 Tbsp of mayo
1 can tuna

Cook the noodles.

In a glass casserole bowl, mix can of soup, milk, mayo, & tuna.

Add egg noodles into the casserole bowl.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Optional additions: sprinkle on the top a handful of crushed potato chips and/or shredded cheese and bake for 5-10 minutes more.

I suppose you could also add peas to this recipe, but I despise peas so I never do. :)

I look forward to seeing your Five Ingredients Friday recipe! Don't forget to link your blog on this post so I can see what's cooking at your house!

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4:30 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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