Friday, July 6, 2012

Quickest Iced Coffee Ever

I think everyone is trying to beat the heat these days.  It's been a scorcher here with heat close to the 3 digit mark for a few days now.  Most evenings my poor hubby comes home so weary and doesn't feel like eating at all.  We've pretty much turned into vegetarians...eating all the fresh produce that comes with this season.  Last nights supper was grilled cabbage, corn on the cob, tomatoes, and cantaloupe.  We were all satisfied and it tasted so good!

This is my go to drink when I want something quick and delish.  Not to mention the caffeine that I need most mornings and I don't feel like drinking a hot cup of coffee.  This recipe was shared from a friend a few years ago and Brad and I both LOVE it!  Enjoy...

Just 2 ingredients, that's all you'll need!  A pot of coffee and a can of sweetened condensed milk.

Brew a pot of coffee.  I make mine extra strong for this.

I pour the milk into the bottom and the coffee on top.  After a few stirs it's all dissolved.

Mmmmm so yummy.  This time I made it with the "fat free" can and thought it was good and not as sweet.  We'll see if hubby can tell the difference!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Just a Swingin'

While browsing Pinterest one day I noticed a picture of a bed hanging from a tree and got lost in the idea of how relaxing it looked.  Perhaps on such a bed one could escape the many demands of motherhood and even of being a wife/homemaker sometimes.  While lounging on said bed I was pretty sure all cares of this world would disappear!  I showed my hubby the "pin".  My hubby has such a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.  I've tried many recipes from there lately and some have been a flop and others a hit!  It's not uncommon to be eating our supper and have him ask "Is this a Pinterest idea"?!  I can usually tell by his tone if he's loving or hating it at the moment.  So anyway, I showed him the pic and said "Doesn't that look so relaxing?"  His mind immediately went to the pile of barnwood in the garage and he started planning it all out within a few minutes.  We walked around our property and found a tree that looked like a good sturdy tree.  One that could probably withstand people not only lounging, but kids probably bouncing! 

Brad had off of work July 4th so he decided to spend the day making this thing for me. 

So get this...I was regretting saying something to him because I would've loved a day "to myself".  Baby C is outgrowing everything and it's tough to go shopping with 2 in tow.  Brad knew I wanted to get out a little so after he was done with the first part of the bed he sent me out the door to go shopping oh and while you're out...get yourself a pedicure.  Spoiled much?  Yup I am and I have no trouble admitting it.  I so LOVE this man and the way he showers me with love!

He had a very willing "helper".  She follows him around all day when he's home.  So he got her a hammer, some nails and a few pieces of wood and she was entertained for a while!

An hour or 2 later it looked like this!

I dug this old thing out of the corner it was dwelling in.  I got it free at the auction I used to work at.  It was going to be used in a scene at our Christmas Nativity but never made it there.   Brad fixed it so that the light parts went up instead of down and stripped the wires.  I spray painted it black, put candles in and hung it above the bed.  We need to figure out how to hang it lower because it's kinda hidden in the tree!

I wasn't home when Brad drug the bed out to the spot in our backyard we picked out so I have no idea how he got it there.  He set the bed on jacks to allow him to work with the rope.

Pretty much my only instructions to him were that I don't want to be laying on it and be afraid that I'm going to fall down or off.   He used thick heavy rope and used heavy duty loop thingys and knots to fasten the rope to the frame.  We looped the rope around the end closes to the truck for added support.  This tree is growing weird.  It grows on an angle so that allowed us to hang it this way and yet have room for the bed to swing freely.

After he had it hanging I told him he has to be the first to try it out!  It moved and creaked but held fast!  We seen right away that we would have to do something about the foot end.  We didn't think about it that that side would hang down farther and so we should use less rope on that side. But that's a project for another day!  Once he was on, I could barely persuade him to get back off again!

Then we both got on and gave Miss A the camera!  She was delighted to snap some pics of us! : )  We laid there for a while but couldn't ignore the screaming kids for too long!  See what I mean about the lower end hanging down?

I think my favorite part of the whole bed is the headboard.  He used old lath to make it.

I was so so happy with how it turned out.  It's so relaxing and I can't wait to spend some time out there.  It's really close to our fire pit so I'm picturing many relaxing evenings out there! 

Now for the cost of the project:
All the wood we used was FREE...salvaged from the old barn we tore down a few years ago

The Rope:  Salvaged from an old tug of war Brad was at years ago.  The rope tore and they were going to throw it out.  I know what you're thinking... THE ROPE TORE and yet you trust it to hold this thing up?  Brad assured me that it only tore after being pulled by a truck on one side and a tree on the other...

The heavy duty hook thingys were about 6 bucks a piece...
Mattress cover and candles came to about $20. 

$26 buckaroos...not bad huh?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Holding Them Close

Tears stream down my face as I hold closely the wriggling body of my infant son. He has no idea what is going through my mind, but I can't help but hold him close and cry into his shoulder.  I go to the table where his preschool age sister is happily playing play-do and scoop her up in my arms. Surprised, she wraps her little arms around my neck as I quietly sob. She has no idea that tears are streaming down my face and has no idea what possessed her mother to interrupt her play and scoop her into a tight hug. I let her go and turn quickly so she can not see my tear stained face. But shes smart and says “Don’t cry Mommy, you may play with me”. I choke out a smile and go back to her wailing brother.
When my husband and I started the journey in foster care we tried to prepare ourselves for the heartbreak that inevitably comes with losing your heart to these kids but nothing could’ve prepared me for the fear that coursed through my body when I found out that we can not move towards adoption at this point like we had hoped. By this time we should be well on the way to adopting our daughter. Even though nothing is finalized, just the thought that things don’t look as good for us as they did at one time, makes me panic. 

I feel myself wanting to distance myself from these children to protect myself but I know that is not the answer. The risk of being a foster parent/hoping to adopt is just that…a risk. We knew that when we signed up for this and yet the reality is so tough. It’s impossible to halfway love these kids, impossible not to dream of a future of when we change their names and they become “ours”. So for now, I will love on them like they deserve while I have them. Make memories while we can, try to teach them things that will last for a lifetime, and hold them a little closer today.

Smokey Mountain Chicken

Don't know what to make for supper tonight?  Try this yummy, yummy chicken.  You know you can always count on chicken when you don't know what else to make!  Seriously though, this recipe is so easy and delicious.  It came in handy last week during one of those "What do I make tonight" days.  The best part is that the sauce it's baked in makes a delicious sauce for rice.  I usually make something green for good measure and wal ah...dinner is served.  Hope it comes in handy for some of you!  It comes from one of my favorite cookbooks...Fix-It and Enjoy-It 5 Ingredient Recipes.

This is all it takes folks:

Slice a giant onion and spread on the bottom of a 9x13 pan
Lay chicken on top of this.  I usually use thighs.

Mix together 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup maple syrup (I used pancake syrup), 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 TBL mustard.

Spread sauce over chicken pieces

Bake uncovered for 45-60 minutes @ 350*

Serve over rice

Hope you enjoy it!  It's a hit with our family, even my anti rice hubby!

Here's the short version:

Smokey Mountain Chicken
1 onion sliced
3 lbs chicken pieces: legs, thighs or breast pieces
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vinegar
2 TBLS mustard

Place onions in the bottom of 9x13 pan.  Arrange chicken over onions.  Combine remaining ingredients pour over chicken, covering completely.  Bake uncovered at 350* for 45- 60 minutes, basting serveral times.  Chicken is finished when juices run clear after meat is pierced with a fork.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Catch up Time!

It seems like forever since I've blogged.'s BEEN forever!  I had a few posts started but never got them finished.  Seems with all the changes life has thrown our way this just got put on the back burner.  But now with Sissy in preschool and Baby napping in the afternoon, I have time to myself again!  And yes, that's right..I did say Baby!  So it looks like I should catch you all up on a few things.  Here is the past few months in a nutshell....

August 11th: we got a call asking us to take 2 little girls.  Sisters, ages 5 and 2.
September: the 2, 5 year olds started kindergarten every day, all day.  I was quite grateful!
October and November: I was busy just keeping my head above water.  We thought "J" was going home to his father earlier but it kept dragging out and the reason we said yes to the girls was so that Sissy would have someone to play with and help with her depending less on her brother.  There were days I wanted to pull my hair out, and quite a few trips to the bedroom to cry a little and regroup myself! : )  But somehow we made it through.  Along with the business of taking care of all the children we were also doing some fertility treatment.  Nothing too invasive just lots of trips to the doc for bloodwork and tests.  Sometimes I took the girls with me and sometimes my mom came to my rescue!
End of November: we got a call from the agency saying the mother of the first 2 kids we had was pregnant..would we want the baby?  After some thought we said yes.  She was due the middle of December.  We knew J was going with his father in the next week since he had started spending weekends there.  The girls were going to leave soon after Christmas because it was just too much here.  The oldest and "Sissy" did not get along and when the family that was caring for their brother and sister said they would be willing to take them, it was an answer to prayer for us!  So even though we knew it would be a crazy few weeks, in the long term we would have 2 that looked good for adoption!  I promptly went knocking on doors of Amish neighbors and found me a helper!  She came once a week to clean and was ready to come any time I needed her to help look after the kids etc.
Beginning of December: birth mom was having cramping so she went to the hospital where they did an ultrasound.  She told the caseworker that it was a baby girl and she is due the beginning of January.  We were tickled pink at the thought of a sister for Sissy and relieved that the baby was due in January!  I went shopping! ; )
The beginning of this month: I had another miscarriage.  I had been under treatment and on some hormome stuff but it wasn't enough to keep the baby in my womb.  It was devastating and yet the thought of a baby soon to be joining our home made it somewhat easier.  It's hard to say how I feel about this 4th loss.  I feel almost immune to the fact that I was even ever pregnant and it's like a part of myself hardened yet again.  Maybe it's because that with the craziness of the month I didn't really have or take time to grieve.  We still pray that God would bless us with a biological child but at this point have put all treatment on hold.  It's just too hard...
December 9th: Sissy turned 4 and had not one, but 2 parties!  I had fun putting together a princess party for her and some of her friends!
December 9 -11: was our church's Live Nativity.  Brad and I are on the committee so it was a busy weekend for us!
December 15th: J went home to his birth father.  It was hard to see him go but the transition was rough on all of us so it was almost a relief to have him in one spot instead of back and forth.
December 16th:  Got a call from the caseworker that BABY had arrived.  Oh and by the way...IT'S  A BOY!!  Thank goodness I hadn't washed all that cute little girl stuff (just in case)!  I went shopping again! : )
December 18th: Brad and I went to the hospital to pick up an adorable little 6.5 lb baby boy!
The Christmas season was somewhat of a blur....I was running low on sleep! : ) 
December 26th: we took the girls to their new home to live with their brother and sister.
January 21-27:  Brad and I went with our church worship team to sing in Alabama Prisons with WeCare.  SOOO hard to leave the kids but they were in good hands with a foster family from church.
End of February: Sissy started preschool.  She loves getting out and playing with other kids.  She's there every day but Monday from 12:25-4:00.  It's been nice to have some time to get things done around here and even take a nap sometimes!

After that things settled into a new normal.  We love having these 2...and have been able to really work on bonding and attaching with "Sissy". She loves having us all to herself and getting special privileges since there aren't any other kiddos around.  She didn't even go through anything major with the baby.  I started rocking her every evening and making sure I take time to hold, cuddle and sing to her, just like I do her baby brother.  Speaking of Baby brother.  He is so adorable and growing like a weed.  The tiny 6.5 lb baby boy is now a whopping 14 lbs!  I spent the first month being his primary caregiver so that he would definitely attach to some one.  I ended up sleeping on the recliner most nights because I loved holding him.  Although Brad fed him a time or 2 and my mom once or twice, I wanted to be the only one to feed him.  Basically I pretended I was breastfeeding!  It definitely helped with attachment.  He lights up as soon as he sees me and it's humbling to be the center of his little world!

Being a foster parent isn't easy especially when we find ourselves so in love with these children and realizing they could be taken from us so easily.  And yet, I keep reminding myself that having a biological child wouldn't be too much different....they could still be taken at any time.  It's just a different way of thinking about it.

Life has been good...It's had it's challenges and days of tears.  Any foster mom can tell you that the waiting game is so so tough.  I want to write more and have posts waiting but for now, I felt like I should let you all know that I am among the living! : )

Friday, July 29, 2011

This Thing Called Parenting & Girls Night Out

So it may come as no surprise to many of you that everything I thought I knew about parenting is pretty much thrown out the window.  Yes, there are lots of things I've learned in my years of being a nanny and teaching school that definitely get applied to the way I parent and yet no one could have prepared me for what it really was like.  You see, in the years of nannying and teaching and even the countless times I took care of my neices and nephews and thought up all kinds of fun stuff to do with them, there always came a time when they returned to the ones who "parented" them.  But now?  Now, I am that parent.  With these precious souls there is no returning them to the ones who parent them, because it's me.  Well, me and the man I could not do this without. Seriously, I have no idea how single moms do it.

Speaking of "the man"...last weekend we decided to put the kids in respite.  The agency we are with says we can do that once a month.  We thought it would be best to try and not use it especially while they are still adjusting, but after a crazy week we went ahead with plans.  It was definitely the right choice.  The kids missed us and we talked to them every night assuring them we would pick them up on Sunday.  My man and I enjoyed just lounging around, sleeping in, going out to eat and just making sure we were still on the same page on all kinds of stuff.  Friday night we went to Ichiban, a Japanese Steak House, for dinner.  I got sushi for an appetizer and we enjoyed a lovely meal with fun entertainment too!  Saturday night we met our friends at AppleBees at 10:00!  Normally we would be in bed by that time but hey, why not live it up!  Such a fun refreshing weekend we had.  And it was good to see the kids again!

It used to annoy me when Moms would complain and get frustrated with their kids especially when they had a hard time getting pregnant or having kids.  To be honest, it still kinda annoys me and yet, I am definitely a little more sympathetic towards mothers in general!  I feel it is important to spend time with your children and I do not want to put them at a sitter too often, even if it is Ma-Ma, but sometimes we as mothers just need a break.  I am fast realizing how refreshing even an hour of alone time can be.  Yes, I know that we just jumped right into parenting without the 9 month prep but it is the role we chose, and the ministry we feel called too so we (I) need to "suck it up" and realize that my time of being alone and having things the way I like it is over.  Notice all the "I's" in this paragraph.  Motherhood brings out the selfish side of me.  I am realizing more and more how hard it is to lay aside the things that "I" want to do and tend to the needs of my children, even if there are lots of other things that seem more important at the time.

Yesterday, I was supposed to have a root canal done so my dear Mom came and picked up my children.  My appointment was pretty early in the morning and I would've had to wake them up to take them down.  And while I'm at it, can I just say that I pretty much have the most amazing mom ever?  She comes up every Tuesday and hangs out with them while I work at the auction and is always ready and willing to help in whatever way she can.  These kids of mine have stolen her heart and she is an amazing Ma-Ma!  Anway, back to the root canal.  It never happened!  After my consultation the Dr. said she would suggest pulling the tooth because it is cracked and a root canal wouldn't take care of the problem.  My dentist won't be impressed, but that is definitely what I am going to do.  The tooth is in the bottom in the back and no body will notice if I get it pulled.  I would 10 times rather be knocked out and get it pulled than do through the trauma of a root canal.  So after my root canal that didn't happen I came home and got some things taken care of.  Mom said the kids were fine and having fun so I took advantage of the alone time and did some shopping.  One of my stops was a Christian Book Store.  I realized the other day that in about every stage of life I have been in, I have read books relating to it.  Like when I was teaching, I read books on teaching, when I was single, I read books on how to deal with that.  The same with dating and then marriage.  Suddenly it dawned on me that I possessed not one book about parenting.  So I bought a few books that seemed to be filled with tips and advice for mothers.  Ahhh well now, that should make it all better! (yeah right). Would love to have you guys tell me the best book on parenting you've read!  I know that parenting foster kids is different in a way, but alot of things are still the same.

Last night I went with a group of ladies to this darling cafe to celebrate a birthday.  This particular group of ladies is not made up of friends that I grew up with but when we get together it has that comfy feel.  You know, the kind of feeling that you can open your mouth and say anything and you won't get judged?  Yeah, that one.  There is no better kind of friend, I am convinced.
The ever famous tomatoe pie was actually quite good although I was quite happy with my Turkey Panini.  Some of us gals who wanted to try the Tomatoe Pie but weren't quite brave enough to have it as our meal, bought a piece to share.  It really was yummy.  So was the cupcake I had for dessert!!!

I find these evenings even more refreshing now that I am a mother myself.  It was nice to sit with other mothers and share frustrations and tips and advice.  Not all of the group were mothers but everyone participated in the lively conversation.  A few of us are also foster/adoptive mothers so it was good to get that perspective as well. 

After last evening, I decided I needed to be much more consistent in things.  When I say "No", that's exactly what it means.  It's been quite an exhuasting day to say the least.  I think Miss A had at least 15-20 time outs.  Mostly for saying things like "I'm not listening" and "No" when she was told she was not allowed to have candy or watch a movie etc.  I promptly put her in time out without a warning each and every time.  It was exhausting and draining and I told Brad it takes more energy to remain calm than it does to just deal with stuff like I would want to!  By the end of the day though, it was amazing how they started listening right away without complaining.  Hopefully tomorrow and the next day I can stick with it and give these kids the security they need.  There is such security in boundries and guidelines and kids thrive in that. 

Well, this post has been long enough and it's time to join my hubby in bed.  This was written in the course of the day so there are probably plenty of errors!  I have so much I want to blog about and it's so frustrating that I can't blog about all the memories we are making with our kids.  It kinda makes me want to yell at the big bad caseworker person and say "FINE, I JUST WON'T BLOG THEN" (as if they care if I blog or not!).  In reality our caseworker is very sweet and when I think about how it probably is protecting the kids I can't help but comply.  Maybe someday when we can really call them our own, I'll catch you up on their history with us in pics!  For now, it's good-night...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Meltdowns and Garden Sheds

Oh my, my life has changed!  I wish I had time to blog about my days every day.  Truth is, I rarely get on facebook more than once a day now.  Gone are the days of sleeping in, surfing the web, playing swag buck games, reading blogs, taking a nap, watching a movie, meeting my friends for lunch/coffee,  relaxing by the pool and the list goes on.  Sure, I watch movies...only now it's Thomas and Dora!  Relaxing by the pool...doesn't really happen because a certain little lady would dive right in if I didn't keep an eye on her.  Sleeping in...that's getting better, the 6:00 wake up time has stretched to about 7:30.  I set my alarm for 7 and try and get in some Bible Reading and Prayer before little ones join me. 

I'm not complaining though.  These children have become such a blessing to Brad and I.  We really do have it made.  Because they were in another foster home before coming to our home, I know that alot of work went into helping them.  In conversations with their previous foster mother who tells me they spoke only Spanish, ate with their hands, and were "wild", I know we are blessed.  They are very polite, eat well, play together nicely and go to bed without a fuss (most times)!

Sure I've had an occassional meltdown or 2 and spent an evening or 2 crying in my room after Brad gets home.  Just keepin' it real people.  My dear patient husband has been so understanding and is so so supportive.  Saturdays, he keeps the kids entertained while I sleep in and then doesn't mind if they follow him around all day asking him all kinds of questions, while I get my cleaning done and just bask in the silence!  I think that has been one of the biggest adjustments again.  The constant chattering, noisy playing, music going, lots of "Why" and if an answer doesn't satisfy.."But Mom...WHY?"  To say that one of my favorite times of the day is naptime is an understatement.  That's when I should be napping, but like to catch up on reading blogs, facebook and get some work done and just be quiet! 

I've learned a few things in the past few weeks.  If I set aside about an hour in the morning to play games, read books etc. they entertain themselves well the rest of the morning.  Sure there are other things I would rather be doing, and feel like I need to get done, but that hour fills up their love tank for a while.  I also feel like we are finally in a routine.  The bed doesn't have to be made perfectly, the table doesn't have to be set exactly, the washcloths don't have to be in a perfect square, the fact that they love to help and are showing responsibility is worth it!

We've done all kinds of fun things the past few weeks and I wish so so bad I could share pictures with you all.  I think that is one of the reasons I don't blog that much anymore.  I am such a picture person and love to write about all we did.  Maybe I can fnd a way to be able to do both.  The agency we are with stressed over and over again that we may not put pics of any kind on the web.  We've done things like Oregon Dairy Farm Days, seeing Thomas, pool parties, weekly library trips, campfires, days at the park, etc. 

The children have adjusted well and are fitting in so good with our church family and extended families.  This week we had Bible School and the children were so excited to go every night.  I was at a different location teaching the older girls and Brad was busy running sound, but the children had no problem finding their friends and doing ok without Mommy and Daddy nearby.

So now it's Friday and then the weekend.  Weekends are so looked forward to now for sure because Brad is here to help out and give me a break.  We are looking forward to family night tonight and a party with friends here tomorrow night!

The past few weeks, Brad spent hours building a garden shed from our barnwood.  It looks even better than I pictured in my head!  I've got a bunch of perennials waiting to get planted around it this weekend.  So thankful to have a hubby who enjoys making all kinds of stuff that his wife dreams up!