Friday, September 29, 2006
Five Ingredients Friday (Sloppy Joe Casserole)

It's Friday again and time for another recipe Five Ingredients Friday exchange!
I'm a big fan of casseroles, possibly because they're usually quicky and easy to make and comforting to eat, especially in the fall and winter months. I have an entire cookbook devoted to just casseroles!

With that in mind, my Five Ingredients Friday recipe for this week is...

Sloppy Joe Casserole

  1. 1 pound lean ground beef
  2. 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  3. 1 (15.5 ounce) can sloppy Joe sandwich mix
  4. 1 (11 ounce) can Mexi-corn whole kernel corn with red and green peppers, undrained
  5. 1 (6 ounce) can refrigerated buttermilk flaky biscuits
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In large skillet, brown ground beef with onions; drain. Stir in sloppy Joe sauce and corn.
  3. Cook 2-3 minutes or until heated thoroughly, stirring occasionally.
  4. Spoon mixture into ungreased 1 to 1 1/2 quart casserole.
  5. Separate dough into 5 biscuits; cut each in half. Arrange, cut side down, around outside edge of hot mixture with sides of biscuits touching.
  6. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until biscuits are deep golden brown.

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

Thanks so much for your participation! I do appreciate it!

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4:30 AM

Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Challenges faced by working moms
I'm curious, how many of my readers are working moms (working outside of the home), PT or FT, it doesn't matter?

What are the challenges that you face as a working mom?

There are times when I feel a bit isolated as a working mother. Many of my female friends are either women with no children or SAHM. And for some reason, it seems to me that many of the Bloggers that I read are SAHMs as well. So, I'd love to hear from some of the working moms out there.

Here are some of my challenges that I face as a working mom:

1. Guilt- I struggle with the guilt of not being at home with my child, for spending more time at work than with Snuggle Bug. Don't get me wrong, I have a good job. I work typically exactly 8 hours a day, rarely any overtime, and I don't have to take work home with me. I do have to travel about twice a year, but I'm allowed to invite my family to join me on my business trips and when we can afford it, I do that. But during the week, I often leave the house at 6:30 a.m. and get home at 3:30 p.m. Snuggle Bug goes to bed at no later than 7:30 p.m. in most cases, so that means I only get a maximum of 4 hours with him each weekday. For the 3 months that Snuggle Bug was in daycare (5-8 months old), I felt an enormous amount of guilt that a stranger was raising my child. I'm not saying daycare is evil, I'm saying that I struggled with feelings of guilt when Snuggle Bug was there. It didn't help that the daycare we picked turned out to be not so great.

2. Not enough hours in the day- After working 8 hours, I get home and I'm immediately on-duty with the care and entertainment of Snuggle Bug. I wouldn't have it any other way and I try really hard to devote my entire energies to Snuggle Bug when I get home from work until it's time for him to go to bed. But, if I get him to bed at 7:30 p.m., that leaves me about 3 1/2 hours time before I go to bed. Do I spend that time frantically cleaning the house, giving attention to my husband, or trying to find some relaxing time for myself? Let me just say that my house isn't as clean as it should be.

3. Jealousy- I think most of you know by now that Oronzo does contract work from home and cares for Snuggle Bug during the day while I'm at work. He does a fantastic job with this and I'm so thankful that this arrangement is working out for our family, but I have to be honest and say that there are times when I feel jealous that Oronzo's type of work allows him to be the SAH parent and mine doesn't. I know being a SAH parent isn't a cake walk, I understand that, but I also know that the rewards far outweigh the difficulty. Oronzo gets to take Snuggle Bug to swim lessons and story times, he gets to make new friends with the SAH parents out there, he gets to be the first to see and hear all the cute things that Snuggle Bug does (he's good about calling me to share those milestones). When school starts for Snuggle Bug, it'll be Oronzo that walks him to school and probably picks him up. He'll have more time to volunteer in the schools than I will.

4. Fear- I fear at times that I'm not doing enough. Children don't care what job you have or how much money you make, they only care about the time you spend with them. I work so hard at making the most of the time that I have with Snuggle Bug during the weeknights and on the weekends, but is it enough? Will he know that he's so much more important to me than any job I'll ever have? And if I worry about this with one child, what's it going to be like with two or three children? I also fear being judged. For the longest time I was afraid to admit to others that I worked FT outside of the home because I know there are some SAHMs that strongly disapprove and have a tendency to judge. I even fear that an expectant mother will look at our situation and not pick us to adopt their child because they'd rather have a mother, instead of a father, that stays at home.

5. Longings- I long for things that are not to be, at this point in time anyway. I long to be independently wealthy or at least financially comfortable enough to be a SAHM. I long for the opportunity to not feel so rushed all the time. I long for the confidence in knowing that I'm doing a great job raising my child.

I'm not sure why I'm writing this post, except to get these feelings off my chest because my heart just aches with these challenges sometimes. I hope to learn that I'm not alone in my struggles. I'd love to hear how other moms are managing and perhaps what works for them in trying to balance work, family, and personal life. And I can't help but wonder, do working dads faces the same challenges, pressures, and fears?

Thanks for listening.
7:55 AM

Monday, September 25, 2006
It starts early!
Good morning Blogland! I hope you all had a great weekend, as I did!

I have some pictures to share with you from this past weekend but before I do, I'd like to tell a story.

Saturday morning, Snuggle Bug woke up, called for his mommy to get him up, and then immediately walked into the living room and asked, "La La?"

To Snuggle Bug, La La is the generic term for his Baby Einstein DVDs. The first one he ever watched was the Neighorhood Animals DVD and it reminded him of his "Moo Ba La La La" book by Sandra Boyton, so he started calling all Baby Einstein DVDs "La La."

Anyway, he wanted to watch La La right away upon waking up. If we let him, he'd watch these 24/7 but Oronzo and I will only let him watch one a day and he hadn't even had breakfast yet, so I told him, "No La La, Snuggle Bug."

The wheels must've been churning in his little head because after I told him "No" he walked into our bedroom, where Oronzo was still in bed snoozing. He approached the bed and said, "Daddy, I love lu! La La?"

The little stinker decided he didn't like my answer, so he'd go ask Daddy and see if he would let him watch his DVD. He even made the effort to try to butter up Oronzo with an "I love lu" before posing his question! Thankfully, the bedroom door had been open and Oronzo had heard me tell Snuggle Bug, "No," so he gave him the same response. Then Oronzo got out of bed, came into the living room and said to me, "Wow, it starts early, doesn't it?!"

At barely 21 months old, our son has already figured out how to try to manipulate his parents! How does that happen? We are going to have to be on our toes with this one! :)

Okay, so at what age did you notice your children starting to try their hand at manipulation? Please tell me our child isn't exceedingly young to have learned this trick!

And now, it's time for some pictures. I think I mentioned in my post last Friday that we were going to go apple picking over the weekend. Snuggle Bug and I went with Oronzo's sister and her family and some other mutual friends. Oronzo stayed at home to work. Since I was keeping tabs on Snuggle Bug myself and helping him to pick apples, I didn't get a lot of pictures taken but here are 3 that I managed to snap quickly. Enjoy!

Picture #1- Snuggle Bug walking with his cousin down the long rows of apple trees. Sorry, the picture is a bit blurry. I was walking and trying to take pictures at the same time to keep up with them.

Picture #2- Snuggle Bug and his cousin stopping to eat more apples. Don't worry, they weren't eating the ones from the ground, they have ones picked from the trees. I can't believe how many apples Snuggle Bug ate that day! I'm surprised he didn't get a tummy ache. I ate quite a few myself. The Golden Delicious apples were our favorites!

Picture #3- These are some of the apples we picked. Aren't they beautiful! We had such a great afternoon at the apple orchard. This coming month we'll be back out at this farm picking out pumpkins!

7:30 AM

Friday, September 22, 2006
Five Ingredients Friday (carmel apple butter)

It's Friday again and time for another recipe Five Ingredients Friday exchange!

Before I get started with that, I'd like to bring your attention to my upcoming Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style recipe exchange that's scheduled to take place on Monday, October 2nd. I hope I can count on you to participate! Now, back to my regularly scheduled program.

I've got apples on my mind, probably because Snuggle Bug and I are joining a group of friends on Saturday morning and driving to a large orchard for a day of apple picking. I can't wait!

With that in mind, my Five Ingredients Friday recipe for this week is...

Carmel Apple Butter

  1. 1 cup granulated sugar
  2. 1/2 cup water
  3. 8 ounces butter
  4. 8 ounces apples, chopped
  5. 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Place the sugar and water in a thick bottomed sauce pot and heat it over a medium heat until the ingredients melt together.
  2. Continue heating the mixture as the water evaporates and the remaining sugar begins to caramelize.
  3. When it is a deep golden brown color add the remaining ingredients.
  4. Stir them frequently and continue cooking until the apples are mushy, about ten minutes.
  5. Place the hot mixture in a blender and carefully puree until very smooth.
  6. Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate until chilled.

This is really yummy on pancakes, French toast, cinnamon & brown sugar muffins, or even plain old toast!

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

Thanks so much for your participation! Please, spread the word!

One last thought, if you'd like to share some more apple recipes with me I'd love that! If they're more than 5 ingredients, no worries.

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4:36 AM

Thursday, September 21, 2006
Mark your calendars for Monday, Oct. 2nd!

If you're looking for the post that has the actual list of shared recipes, please click here.

Many of you know that I'm addicted to collecting recipes, which is why I host a Five Ingredient Friday recipe exchange without fail each week. Thank you to those of you who participate!

As the holiday season draws near, I thought it might be fun to host a holiday specific recipe exchange called Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style! Don't worry, these don't have to be just 5 ingredients they can be as long as you'd like. I don't mind the extra time and effort in the kitchen during the holidays, I just ask that they are tried and true recipes.

I want to give those of you that are interested time to go through your recipes and pick out your favorites so here's what I propose, on Monday, October 2nd, I will post the specific instructions for this holiday recipe exchange as well as my favorite holiday recipe and then open up Mr. Linky so that those interested in participating can be listed in one central location.

If you plan on joining in, and I sincerely hope you do, feel free to grab the graphic above for your actual post or leave me your email in the comments and I'll send you the button code to make it easier for you to use on your sidebar.

I'd be most appreciative if you would be so kind as to help me spread the word.

Thank you so much! I can't wait to see some scrumptious holiday recipes!

4:30 AM

Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Works-for -Me Wednesday (list of age appropriate children's chores)

Edited on 9/27/06 to add:

This week Shannon has asked that, instead of publishing a new idea, we go back into our archives and re-print the best WFMW tip we've ever run. I'd have to say my Children's Chore List was by far the most well received. So, per Shannon's instructions, I'm linking it again this week. For those of you who missed it last week and would like me to email you the list, now is your chance. Just leave me your email in the comments section and I'll send it!

It's time to post another WFMW tip.

I'm not sure where I stumbled across this list, and I'm sure there are others out there, but I have this one taped up on our refrigerator. It helps to give me ideas on what tasks to encourage Snuggle Bug to learn. Granted, he's not quite 2 years old (not until December) but he's a smart little guy and he already does #1, 2, 3, 8, 10, & 13 (of the 2 & 3 Year Olds list) to the best of his ability.

I'm sorry this list is nearly impossible to read. If Blogger would let me upload my digital file (I had to use Photobucket instead) it'd actually be an enlarged clearer view when you clicked on it, but that's not happening at the moment. So if you'd like me to email this list to you in a Word document so that you can read it and print off a nice copy, just leave me a comment with your email address and I'd be happy to do so!

This works for me. Maybe it'll work for you too! I'd love to hear about some of the age appropriate chores that your children are doing!

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.

**Edited to Add**

Looks like it's going to be one long email list, but I don't mind! I'll get this sent out later this afternoon, okay?

Oh, and for those of you who somehow managed to read the list as it is now, I'm very impressed. Maybe I need to get my eyes checked because, for the life of me, if I didn't already know what was on the list, I would have no idea what any of it says! :)

One last thing, those of you leaving me your email addresses, I promise I will not try to get rich quick by selling them to a mass marketing firm. :) I'll use them just to send out this list, well unless I already know you and email you in response to the comments you leave, then you'll probably hear from me again anyway.

**Edited again to add**

Wow! I had no idea this list would be so requested. That's great! I think I've gotten it emailed out to everyone that's requested it thus far. If I've missed anyone or if anyone else still wants the list, just let me know!

My past WFMW entries:

linking within comments
baptism gift
creating blogger categories
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


4:30 AM

Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Fall is in the air!
Fall is in the air, can you feel it? Can you smell it? I can, despite the fact that my calendar says that autumn doesn't officially begin until this Friday.

Fall is absolutely my favorite season of the year. It evokes memories of my college days, wearing a sweatshirt and shorts, standing in the stadium bleachers to cheer our team on to victory during football Saturdays , cozying up with my favorite guy and a cup of hot chocolate.

If only the fall season wasn't so short! I wish it could last 6 months out of the year! I love the brilliant colors of the changing leaves, the crackle of them under my feet. I love the crisp air filling my lungs, cool and clean. I love putting flannel sheets on the bed and piling on more blankets. I love wearing thick warm socks and flannel pajamas around the house!

Some of you may remember me posting earlier this past June about taking Snuggle Bug to outdoor concerts in the park. Well, the fall session of this has begun and this past Sunday Oronzo and I packed up our gear and took Snuggle Bug once again. He had a blast, as he always does, and we did too. I was prepared with a spare blanket to snuggle up in because the air is turning chilly in the evenings now, but do you think I could get Snuggle Bug to snuggle with me? No way, he was too busy frolicking and playing with 3 other small kids on a blanket near ours. I have a cute picture of Snuggle Bug at the concert to share but I'll have to insert it later today, it's at home and I'm at work.

This fall we'll not only be attending outdoor concerts in the park, but we're also going to go apple picking this weekend, then pumpkin picking before Halloween. Of course, there will be trick or treating. Our house will be saturated with the delicious aromas of baked goodies in my oven, pine and cedar logs crackling in the fireplace, and spiced apple cider simmering on the stove. We'll take bike rides and walks in our neighborhood, bundling up in jackets to keep warm in the cool air. Snuggle Bug will love being in his Red Flyer wagon again (he likes it better in the fall for some reason).

So, what are some of your favorite things about fall?
10:31 AM

Monday, September 18, 2006
Pictorial view of our trip to Mexico
Remember how I promised you that I'd share details about our Labor Day weekend vacation? Well, two weeks later, I've finally had a chance to upload the pictures that I took with my camera. I've got plenty of pictures to share, sorry no videos yet, I'm still working on those.

So, if you're interested in seeing a bit of Mexico, which is where we vacationed, then grab a cup of coffee, kick your feet up, and enjoy this long overdue but lengthy post.

Picture #1- Here are Oronzo and Snuggle Bug exchanging U.S. dollars for Mexican pesos. Snuggle Bug was trying to help his daddy, but the nice man at the booth understood his baby babble even less than he understood Oronzo's textbook efforts at speaking Spanish.

Picture #2- We arrived in Mexico on 1 Sept. and, after checking into our rental house, we took Snuggle Bug to the ocean. He was a bit afraid of the crashing waves, but when we set him down next to 3 local children playing in the water, he relaxed a bit and enjoyed their antics. Sorry, I have no pictures from that day. Oronozo had the camcorder going, but no camera. This picture is actually from 2 Sept., our second day out. We spent about 2 hours at the beach playing in the ocean that morning and this shows all of our beach "stuff" drying outside on our patio. Notice all the shells I collected, just that day?

Picture #3- I know you can can't see Oronzo and Snuggle Bug very well in this picture but they're standing on a rock, admiring the ocean waves.

Picture #4- This bird captured my attention and obligingly sat and posed for me for several minutes.

Picture #5- This was taken on 3 Sept. during the one rainy day that we had to deal with. This day was the result of Hurricane John. Only one day of rain and rough waves was not too bad, all things considered.

Picture #6- More rainy day pictures of the ocean waves.

Picture #7- Since we couldn't spend the day at the beach, we decided to do what many people do on rainy days, go to the mall. The little coastal town that we stayed in didn't have a mall but there was a bigger city about 20 minutes away that did so we drove there and let Snuggle Bug run to his heart's content. While there, we decided to get some groceries inside of Ley, a large supermarket. While in this supermarket, I saw some interesting things that I wanted to note, so I took pictures. Oronzo thought I was nuts to be taking pictures in a supermarket so he wouldn't walk by me. I didn't mind. :)

Picture #8- One thing I noticed was that all advertisement depicted very fair skinned models.

Picture #9- Even the baby models were fair skinned.

Picture #10- Yet another light complexion model. I just didn't get it. We were in Mexico, surrounded by beautifully dark-skinned people, and yet all their ads had only fair skinned models. Why is that? We speculated about a few reasons but I'd love to hear from someone that possibly really knows the reasoning behind this. Anyone?

Picture #11- At this supermarket they had candied fruit and these limes stuffed with coconut. I've never seen anything like it!

Picture #12- They also had a pile-o-calamari sitting in large chunks in an open bin. Again, I've never seen anything like this.

Picture #13- And all their pastries were sitting out in the open, unpackaged. I'm used to seeing pastries behind a glass door. It was neat to see the unique pastries that you can't get in my neck of the woods!

Picture #14- Here's Oronzo being a daredevil, trying to get shots of the rough, crashing waves. Even the locals were impressed with the power of these waves. As I mentioned before, we think the rough weather was a result of Hurricane John.

Picture #15- We went to dinner, more than once, at this local place called Charley's Rock. The restaurant is built into a cliff side and we sat at a bar that overlooked the ocean. Snuggle Bug had fun with two little girls. They were all looking at a turtle that the restaurant had in a large glass-enclosed area.

Picture #16- You didn't think I'd leave out pictures of Snuggle Bug playing on the beach, did you? These were taken on 4 Sept.

Picture #17- Snuggle Bug had a wonderful time digging in the sand. Every now and then the waves would wash away his pile of sand and we'd have to chase after his beach tools, but he found that funny.

Picture #18- See this beautiful little girl that Snuggle Bug picked up at the beach? Her name is Jordan and she was enthralled with Snuggle Bug. He liked her too. He goes for older women. :) He's such a little chick magnet, I tell you what!

Okay, that concludes my picture show of our Mexico vacation. Suffice it to say that we had a wonderful time there! We met and interacted with a lot of nice people, ate lots of seafood, took long naps, played in the ocean, did lots of exploring, practiced our rusty and limited Spanish, bought lots of trinkets, enjoyed the nice rental home, and savored our alone time with each other on our family vacation.

If this hasn't bored you too much, I'll do a similar post later this week on our time together in Las Vegas. I took lots of pictures there too!

6:00 AM

Saturday, September 16, 2006
Fear of flying

I’ve traveled quite a bit in my 38 years, both for business and for pleasure. You’d think by now I’d be over my fear of flying. I’m not. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t give in to my fear by not flying, but it’s a struggle.

Yesterday, as I headed back home from my most recent business trip, the fear resurged again the instant the airplane began its take-off. As we began taxiing down the runway with neck-breaking speed, my heart lurched, I gripped the arms of my seat, and I repeated my prayer, “God, please allow us all get home safely!” As the plane cut up at a sharp angle into the sky, leaving the reassuring solidness of the ground, I broke out in a sweat and felt clammy all at once. My stomach felt a bit nauseous.

My mind began racing with random thoughts. I told Oronzo that I loved him just before I boarded the plane, right? If something happens to me, Snuggle Bug will know how much I loved him, right? All my affairs are in order, I think. God, please forgive me for my sins! I don’t want to plummet to my death in a horrible plane crash, surrounded by strangers , I have so much living to do yet! Did I tell Oronzo of my recent Blogger password change? I meant to tell him he could share my blog with my family if something happens to me. Climbing up into the sky at an alarming speed in a very heavy metal object just doesn’t feel natural. Why is there so much turbulence? Is the plane falling apart around us?! I wish the guy in the window seat next to me would slide the shutter down so I don’t have to see the ground beneath us from such a steep angle and getting farther and farther away. I’m closing my eyes now. God, please let us get home safely!

Once we got level in the sky, I stopped sweating and the chills passed. I was able to concentrate on the magazine I was reading and even managed to relax a bit and take a few sips of water. I don’t typically eat anything while flying. It’s safer if I don’t. I even took a few peeks out of the window and saw the checkerboard landscape beneath us and the fluffy white clouds all around.

Landing in the plane didn’t bother me nearly as much as take-off, but listening to the ear-splitting thunder of the brakes working frantically to slow down the momentum of the plane to a stop alarmed me a bit. It always feels as though we’re going to be flung into the nearest building because the plane couldn’t slow down in time. Thankfully this flight went well and I arrived home safe and sound to a smiling little boy and a grateful husband, both happy to see me again. Thank you, God, I thought as I reached out to each of them.

I think the biggest reason I dislike connecting flights so much is because I have to be subjected to these moments of panic more than once in one day!

My fear of flying is diminished greatly when I’m traveling with Oronzo. There’s something comforting in knowing that if we crash, I won’t be alone, I’ll have him to hold my hand. I know, it’s rather a selfish thought but there you have it.

I’ve heard that flying is much safer than driving a car, and I’m sure it’s probably true. But when I’m sitting in my seat, feeling as though the back of my chair is flat against the floor of the plane because of the crazy angle of ascent and my entire body is shaking due to the vibrations of the plane as it labors up farther and farther into the sky, I’m not feeling very safe!

So, is there anyone else out there that has a lingering fear of flying that you just can’t overcome? How do you cope? Please tell me I’m not alone in this.
7:26 AM

Friday, September 15, 2006
Five Ingredients Friday (dried beef over toast)

It's Friday again and, even though I'm traveling today to return home from Las Vegas (hooray, I can't wait to get back!), I still wanted to make sure to publish my regularly scheduled Five Ingredients Friday post.

I'm going to share a recipe with you that my mom used to make for us as kids. We loved it! I still love it today, but I keep forgetting to make it so I haven't had it for a long time. Perhaps I'll make it this weekend.

So, my Five Ingredients Friday recipe for this week is...

Dried Beef Over Toast

  1. 2 tablespoons butter
  2. 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  3. 1 1/2 cups warm milk
  4. 1 (8 ounce) jar dried beef
  5. 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  1. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter.
  2. Whisk in flour all at once to form a roux.
  3. Whisk in milk, a little at a time, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring, until thickened.
  4. Bring to a boil, stir in beef and cayenne, heat through and serve over buttered toast.

Optional: You could serve this over mashed potatoes and that's good, but over toast is my favorite!

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! Forgive me if I don't get to your blog right away to look at the recipe you've posted. If you link, I will get to you, I promise!

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

Thanks so much for your participation! Please, spread the word!

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4:30 AM

Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Works-for -Me Wednesday (linking within comments)
It's time to post another WFMW tip.

Not long ago, I experimented with linking within comments, so that readers could simply click on a key word or two and be taken right to my post or the website I was trying to use to illustrate a point. I was tired of doing a copy and a past of a big long website address or URL (which stands for Uniform Resource Identifier) into the comments section, you know like

Well, it took some experimenting within my own comments section, but I managed to figure it out. I've noticed others have too but for those of you that haven't tried this yet, follow these easy instructions and let me know how it goes.

These instructions may be hard for you to see, so click on the image and it gets bigger. If you'd like me to email these instructions to you in a Word document, just leave me a comment with your email address and I'd be happy to do so!

You might want to check out Kelly's WFMW post. She also decided to offer instructions on how to link within comments (great minds think alike, you know) and takes a different approach at accomplishing the same task.

This works for me and Kelly. 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:

baptism gift
creating blogger categories
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


4:30 AM

Tuesday, September 12, 2006
How I met my honey!
Barb, one of my favorite bloggers, over at A Chelsea Morning asks the question, "How did you meet your honey?" I thought I'd share our story, from my perspective of course.

It began with the end of a 4 year relationship with a man whom I loved, but couldn't see myself married to. Yes, it took me 4 years to truly understand this and to let go. As part of the effort to make a clean break, I decided to move away from my Midwest town to another state. Having returned from Europe earlier that summer, I'd felt a yearning to see more of the world anyway and I worked for a corporation that had offices throughout the United States, so I didn't think moving would be that difficult.

I interviewed in 3 states and accepted the one that offered me the most money. Yes, I was fairly young and thought that money was the most important thing. Because I was in management, the company paid all of my moving expenses, so that part was easy.

Moving half way across the country, leaving all my family and friends behind, was not so easy. It was especially hard because I knew absolutely no one in the city that I moved to. The first year was rough but thankfully I made a few good friends right away and adjusted fairly quickly. I missed my family though.

One Friday afternoon a dear friend of mine, who ended up being the best man at our wedding in Ireland, invited me to go watch him play soccer. He told me, "After the game, a bunch of us go out for dinner and drinks afterwards and you'd be welcome to join us. I think you'd have fun!" I agreed because I was always willing to meet new people.

Oronzo was part of my friends soccer team, but I didn't pay attention or notice him at that time. It wasn't until after the game, when I sat next to him at the table for dinner, that I noticed the handsome, dark-haired Italian man. During dinner, we chatted, and found out that we had a lot in common. A smaller group of those that met for dinner broke away after eating and went on to a club for drinks. My friend and I were part of that small group, and so was Oronzo. Again, Oronzo and I sat next to each other, but this time it's wasn't by accident.

It became obvious to my friend by that point that there was a spark of attraction between Oronzo and I. To clear the path for Oronzo, my friend loudly announced at our table in the club that he and I were just friends. I blushed fire-engine red with embarrassment and Oronzo beamed with delight.

Before the night was done, Oronzo had secured my phone number and he went to sleep off the affects of his drinks at my friends apartment, while I went home to my own apartment. The three of us agreed to meet for breakfast the next morning.

That next morning, Oronzo and my friend were already at the table when I arrived for breakfast. Oronzo stood up upon catching my glance and waved me over to the table. When I arrived within earshot, he opened his mouth and blurted out, "Wow, you're a lot shorter than I remember!"

Needless to say, I was not amused! I shot back, "Perhaps you'd like to return my phone number that I gave you last night!"

Oronzo quickly apologized with a sheepish smile and we carried on. Later that day, he called me and asked me out on our first date, which ended up being on Valentine's Day. He invited me to his home to cook me dinner. I was nervous about going to the home of a stranger, but my girlfriend, who was with me at the time that he called, talked me into accepting. She made me give her his address and name and I promised to call her when I got home so she'd know I made it home safely.

Oronzo cooked me a fantastic Italian dinner, using one of his grandmother's recipes. We had wine with our dinner and he even played lovely classical music in the background. He was a perfect gentleman that evening, only giving me a modest kiss when it was time to leave.

That was the beginning of our romance. Not only did I gain a boyfriend and eventually a husband after that first date, but I was quickly folded into Oronzo's family as well, which helped me cope with the distance from my own family.

At the time that we met, I was 29 and he was 30. I had never been married, he had been married once but had been divorced for 2 years by the time I met him. Neither of us had children. Both of us had graduated from college and were established in our careers. 5 years after our first date, Oronzo proposed on bended knee and I accepted. We were engaged for a year as we planned our overseas fairy tale wedding in Ireland.

Ornozo and I have had our ups and downs throughout the years of dating and 3 years of marriage, but thankfully we've had more ups than downs. We've both made a commitment to work through the rough patches that any marriage has and, so far, we've managed to keep our relationship strong. I love this man with all my heart and I can't imagine life without him, I don't want to even try. He's my friend, my lover, and the most excellent father I could ever ask for. I pray that God will bless us with long and happy years together as Man and Wife.

There you have it, the story of how I met my honey!

If you're interested in sharing your own story, be sure to link your post over at Barb's blog. And please, leave me a comment letting me know to stop at your blog and read your story!


2:47 PM

Monday, September 11, 2006
Remembering 911
Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer is hosting a "9-11-01 I remember" link exchange. I felt compelled to participate.

Here are my memories on that tragic day 5 years ago.

Oronozo and I were woken up by the shrill ringing of our phone. The first time it rang, I didn't answer. Then it rang persistently again. As I groggily fumbled to answer it, I glanced at the clock and it was around 6 a.m. our time. I remember thinking, Who in the world is calling this early on a Tuesday morning?! I also remember muttering to myself, "This had better be important!" It was a friend of ours, calling to share the tragic news of the first tower being struck.

I was in shocked disbelief as I turned on the T.V. in time to see the second tower being struck and collapse. I was physically ill as I watched in horror as people lept to their death from the towers. Then the 3rd plane hit the Pentagon. It all just seemed so surreal. My mind was struggling to grasp what was really happening! I kept thinking over and over, How can this be happening?

On 9-11-01, I felt a strong urge to be close to my family. The problem was that they were all in another state, far away, and hopping on a plane wasn't an option. I had to settle for phone calls. I berated myself for moving so far away from everyone that I loved! My career move just didn't seem all that important at that point in time. I felt so helpless and afraid.

Oronzo and I spent the entire day, no the entire week, glued to the T.V. We worked when we had to, but when we couldn't watch T.V. we were on-line trying gather more information. I knew no one personally, but my heart ached for each victim of 911. I felt as if these people were family and I truly cared about their outcome.

I watched as our nation pulled together. I saw strangers helping strangers. I saw people joining hands in prayer. I saw flags flying proudly everywhere . I saw Americans coming together as one and my heart swelled with love.

Unfortunately, there were negative effects of 911 as well. We are less trusting. Some hold even tighter to certain prejudices. We are now at war.

So many lives were effected that day, and as this 5 year anniversary comes to pass, I think we all need to stop and remember 911. I, for one, will be offering up prayers for those whose families suffered great loss that day.

If you have your own memories of that day you'd like to share go leave your link on Shannon's blog.

**Edited to add**

This morning I listened to the news as Oronozo, Snuggle Bug, and I had breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Story after story was recounted by the newscast and by family members of fallen victims of 911. One story in particular caused a lump in my throat and prickles of tears in my eyes. A woman and her 4 year old daughter died on one of those planes and the husband and father of these two beautiful souls recounted how painful his life has been without them these past 5 years. He choked up with tears during the interview.

That story stayed in my head as I drove Oronzo and Snuggle Bug to the Las Vegas airport just an hour ago. Having to send off the two people who I love the most, fearing the worst kind of fear for their safety in my heart, and imagining how desolate my life would be without them caused me to have to wipe tears from my eyes as I kissed them goodbye and hugged them extra tight. I tried to smile for Snuggle Bug, so as not to upset him. It was painful to turn and walk away from them as they entered the airport.

I'm praying with every fiber in my being that my son and husband arrive home safe and sound today. And I'm also praying that my older sister and her husband arrive safely here in Las Vegas this afternoon.

I must admit, having loved ones flying on the 5th anniversary of 911 is making me quite emotional. Please God, please watch over them and keep them safe!

**Edited once more to add**

Whew, I just got a call from Oronzo letting me know that he and Snuggle Bug made it home safe and sound. Thank you, God! I've been worrying this whole time.

Now, I just need to get my older sister and her husband here safe and sound. I'm sure their flight will be fine.
4:30 AM

Saturday, September 09, 2006
Entertaining a toddler in Las Vegas
It's not easy finding things to do in Las Vegas when you're trying to entertain a toddler!

Of course, Snuggle Bug is fascinated with all the bright, blinking lights, especially when we passed through a casino on our way to a restaurant. It's hard, however; to explain to a 20 month old that Mommy and Daddy don't want to risk paying a $15,000 fine so that he can have a few minutes to explore all the flashing buttons on the slot machines. Snuggle Bug threw a bit of a fit when we didn't stop.

We thought about taking Snuggle Bug to the zoo, but one of the local pilots that I'm working with at Nellis AFB cautioned against that. He said the zoo is small and quite depressing with the tiny spaces the animals are given to live in. I think we'll skip it.

Upon the advice of Chelle we took Snuggle Bug to see the birds and penguins at the Flamingo hotel. He thought they were neat, but they didn't hold his attention for long. It was the same with the lions at MGM Grand. Oronozo took him to see dolphins at the Mirage and those kept him entertained for quite a while. He loved watching the dolphins twirl, jump, and splash in the water.

Snuggle Bug enjoying the sharks and fish at Shark Reef- 9/8/06.

Yesterday, we both took him to Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay. It cost us $16 per adult and we were only there for about 45 minutes, but Snuggle Bug had a good time, so it was worth the expense.

Today, after breakfast, we're going to explore Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Oronzo spoke with a cab driver about this and was told there's a small tourist town nearby that offers train rides for children. Snuggle Bug will love a train ride! I'll do my best to share some pictures when we return from this little jaunt.

So, does anyone else have any entertainment suggestions? I'd love to hear them!

7:36 AM

Friday, September 08, 2006
Five Ingredients Friday (Ktipiti- feta spread)

It's Friday again and, even though I'm in Las Vegas, I still wanted to make sure to publish my regularly scheduled Five Ingredients Friday post.

Normally, I like to share tried and true recipes with all of you, but this is not one of them. In fact, I found this recipe in the Southwest Airlines magazine as I was flying to Vegas just this morning. It looks quick and easy and I'm going to try it for our next dinner party. I'll let you know how it turns out when I do. If you make it before me, please let me know how you liked it!

So, my Five Ingredients Friday recipe for this week is...


  1. 1 cup feta
  2. 1/3 cup cream
  3. 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  4. 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, divided
  5. extra-virgin olive oil, 1 Tbsp. or to taste

  1. Blend feta, cream, vinegar, and 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Spoon in a bowl or onto a platter and drizzle olive oil on top.
  3. Top with an additional 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes.
  4. Serve with sliced tomato and pita, French bread, or crackers.

Optional: garnish spread with parsley before serving.

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

Thanks so much for your participation! Please, spread the word!

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4:30 AM

Wednesday, September 06, 2006
On the road again- to Las Vegas!

Tomorrow morning, bright and early (as in 5 a.m.) I'll be on the road again, traveling to Las Vegas on business. I'll be there 7-15 September.

This isn't my first time in Vegas on business. I think I went twice last year. Vegas isn't so bad, but the strip looses it's charm after about 3 days.

Oronzo and Snuggle Bug are flying out to meet me there tomorrow night and they're staying until next Monday, late morning. I'm thankful that I'll have some time with them when I'm not working.

What's even more surprising is that I'm going to have time with my older sister, Tia, as well! It ends up that her husband has a work conference in Las Vegas and she decided to tag along, leaving their two children behind with the grandparents. They'll be in Vegas 11-15 September!

I haven't seen my older sister since last Christmas, so I'm really excited to have the opportunity to hang out with her next week, when I'm not working. We're still marveling over the odds that we'll both be in Vegas during the same week!

I know I owe my faithful readers some pictures and videos from our Labor Day weekend vacation and I promise I'll produce them, soon. It's just been so hectic. We arrived home from that trip late afternoon yesterday. I unpacked, threw laundry in the washer and then prepared for work today. Now, I'm taking a break from packing to leave again tomorrow for eight days! Whew, I'm exhausted already.

I'm hoping to post at least a brief account of our Labor Day trip this weekend, or early next week. I'll have at least a couple of pictures to share, although the bulk of them still need to be uploaded to our computer. The readers digest version of our trip, we had a fantastic time! Snuggle Bug had a blast at the beach and frolicking in the ocean and our little house was just perfect! I'll tell you more when I can!

So, does anyone live in Las Vegas? Any recommendations on fun things that I can do with Snuggle Bug that don't involve the strip and would appeal to a toddler?
9:03 PM

Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Family Fun
Hello and welcome to Overwhelmed's blog! I'll be her last guest blogger today as they enjoy their house by the beach! Some of you already know me and are familiar with my blog, but for those that don't know who I am...I'm Michelle from Big Blueberry Eyes. I know, it's Tuesday and you're used to reading about Overwhelmed's Treasure (I bet this vacation will be a treasure - I mean, you did see pictures of the house by the beach right? What a wonderful place to get away and relax!) I'll have my own Tuesday Treasure up on my site as soon as I finish posting this if you want to go take a peek.

Ok, Family Fun! I wanted to share a couple of neat sites with you all ... a great idea of something to do as a family ... a neat way to explore your neighborhood.

First there is Letterboxing. It's an outdoor treasure hunt. You follow the clues/directions to a hidden weather-proof box. Once you find this box there is a log book and you "sign" it with your own rubber stamp - whatever you want to use to represent you/your family. It's neat to look through the log book and see how many others have found the box and the different stamps.

The other site is very similar - it's called Geocaching. You also find a hidden box with this one as well, but you'll need a GPS. When you find this box there is also a log bok and usually a pen (bring your own just in case!) so you can sign that you were can leave messages as to how you felt the hike was (easy, hard, fun etc), or just sign you name! It's fun to read messages that other people have left. With Geocaching there are also little items left inside the box - little trinkets/toys, just something small. You can take something from the box, but you should leave something behind as well. We went on 2 geocaches with friends and it was pretty neat!

So there you have it - something to do on a weekend when there is "nothing to do" - go out and explore!
6:53 AM

Sunday, September 03, 2006
New Era
My name is Mieneke. I refer to my daughter as “Munchkin” too. Just like Overwhelmed’s previous guest blogger. She was also born in December 2003. Just a coincidence. I have been blogging for Munchkin for two years but have recently started my own. Feel free to drop by!

My little Munchkin is starting playschool on Monday. She will be three years old in December and this is the very first time she will be in the care of someone who is not related to her.
The idea of leaving her in the care of this lady (who we have checked out thoroughly, and who was completely adored by one of the cousins who was in her class last year) makes my heart race and my stomach tighten.

She is entering the big, wide world. On. Her. Own.
Thinking of her, with her little backpack and her navy and red school uniform, standing in a room full of kids she’s never seen before.…… With nobody there that she’s hasn’t known all her life. It’s the first big challenge that she will be facing on her own. One of many milestones she will be experiencing.
The twist with this one, however, is that this is the first one that I am nervous about.
Up until now, all milestones have been met with unbridled enthusiasm. Not a stomach knot in sight.
Rolling over? Delightful! Walking? Excellent! Spending the night for the first time at Nannie’s house? Fantastic! Potty Trained? Brilliant!

This one? This one is throwing me for a loop. On one side, there is the fact that Munchkin will be in a completely new environment. That I will need to rely on someone else to make sure she is treated fairly and is happy. That I can’t be there, to either praise or console her.

On the other side, I am so excited about the possibility of new friends for her. About all the new things that she will learn and experience. I can not wait to see the first bit of artwork she will bring home from school! To listen to the new songs she’s learned and stories about new friends she’s made.

I am very much aware of the fact that we are “ending an era.” It’s no longer just her and me, or her and Nannie. (Her Grandmother minds her three days a week while I am in work.)
From this Monday on, she will be going to school until she’s eighteen years old. A whole new part of her, and with that: my, life will start.
We have told her about it, and have taken her to go see her school. When we talk about it, she just kind of shrugs, no biggie. The idea must be very surreal to her.

I am expecting tears on Monday….. but don’t worry, I’ll be sure to hold them until I get back to the car…..

So, mamma’s out there, have your kids had their first days of school yet? Or are they about to have theirs? How was it? How do you feel about this new period in your child’s life? It would be lovely to read some of the experiences of others.

1:05 AM

Saturday, September 02, 2006
Is she gone?
Overwhelmed left me the keys to her place, to check in, water the plants, post on her blog. hehe. I am quite honoured to do so really. You see I really admire her as a woman and as a mother. It seems like I am on a constant search for women that are amazing mothers that share their stories.

When I first started reading Overwhelmed, she was posting her journey to motherhood in a series. I was captivated and would long for the next part to be shared. At the time, I was healing or attempting to heal from the loss of our second pregnancy. Taking Overwhelmed's journey with her gave me a hope I had not had.

We were trying desperately since the miscarriage to conceive again. I wanted the baby we had lost so badly and was crushed to discovered it had not made it. Thankfully we did not get pregnant for months, even though that stressed me out, it did give me time to heal.

Everything happens for a reason they say. I believe that more than ever now. My daughter has had some medical issues that have needed my full attention and I am grateful that I have been able to give this time to her.

I am scared to death that I will lose the little baby that is suppose to be growing ever so safely inside me. I am trying to keep my faith and believe that everything will be ok.

Experiencing Overwhelmed's journey helped me come to terms with the very notion that everything happens for a reason. I read the love that they share for their little boy. Every event that they had to experience, good and bad led them to be his parents. Nothing beats that. It is amazing to be touched by someone else's words like this, and I am glad I can give back by posting today.

No matter where this road leads for us, I am grateful that I share in the experiences of amazing women and mothers. Oh, I better go water the plants before go ... Have a great long weekend everyone and thanks for letting me come over and share!

7:22 AM

Friday, September 01, 2006
Five Ingredients Friday (BBQ Ribs)

It's Friday again and I'm off with my little family for a mini-vacation. I wanted to make sure to publish my regularly scheduled Five Ingredients Friday post before I leave and let my guest bloggers take over.

Most of you know by now that I love crockpot recipes. We received a 6 qt. crock pot as a wedding gift and we love to use it!

My Five Ingredients Friday recipe for this week is a family favorite!

Sweet BBQ Crockpot Ribs

  1. 3-1/2 lbs. pork loin back ribs
  2. 1/2 tsp. salt
  3. 1/4 tsp. pepper
  4. 1/2 cup cola beverage
  5. 2/3 cup barbecue sauce

  1. Cut ribs into 2 or 3 rib portions and place in slow cooker.
  2. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pour cola over.
  3. Cover crockpot and cook on low for 8-9 hours until the ribs are tender.
  4. Drain liquid and discard.
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.

Have a safe and fun Labor day weekend!

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6:30 AM

We're getting family pictures taken this morning. Actually in almost exactly one hour. Neither Josh nor I are showered. And Nicholas is back in bed after waking up far too early for his liking this morning. Can we pull it off? Most likely. I'm not all that worried about it.

Instead, my mind is eight hours East, wondering what the Munchkin is doing this morning. Will she by some strange connection be dressed in red and blue today? Will she feel the same empty spot in her heart this morning?

Family things get to me. There should be another child in this family picture. She should be wild and crazy and have the most beautiful hair known to mankind. She should love and hate her brother all in the same breath. And if we want to get technical, my belly should all ready be swelled with fourteen weeks of Rose, but she's gone, too. These losses in my life still sting.

Often we hear that firstmothers "complete" anothers' family. Thankfully this is usually said by those less attached to adoption on a personal level. But even well-respected adoptive parents have said to me in casual conversation, "I'm so thankful that our son's firstmom completed our family."

At the price of her own.

My family will never be complete. There will always be a missing Munchkin in family pictures. On Christmas morning, there will be missing presents. On Thanksgiving day, we won't have enough place settings on the table. Easter? One less basket. Halloween? One less costume to make. December 13th will never be spent, in Ohio, blowing out candles, unwrapping presents and snuggling my precious daughter to sleep.

I know, I know. I should buck up and be grateful for my Son. I am! November 17th is our celebratory day. This Christmas should be full of wrapping paper and squeals. And on Thanksgiving, I'll even give him some table mashed potatoes.

But my family will never be complete. She will always be missing even though I know exactly where to find her.

Zoomed in HappinessJenna writes an adoption blog entitled The Chronicles of Munchkinland. She most frequently writes in her family blog, Family Living; Hatfield Style, where she just recently shared the fact, with the world, that she is a firstmother. She lives in Ohio where she is a wife, a Mom to Nicholas and, most shocking, a brand new work-at-home-mom.
6:26 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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