Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Day I Killed Santa

My friend Jen Hatmaker has the BEST blog posts. (And by friend, I kinda mean, like, I know her. Like, she's an adoption mommy friend. Or really, like, she kinda posts on our yahoo group board occasionally and I follow her on facebook. So kinda like she has no clue who I may be. But hey, I'm still callin friend rights.)

SO, my friend Jen posted the following post a couple weeks back that immediately went viral and was reposted, retweeted, and read outloud on media outlets across the country.

The Christmas Conundrum

And it made me think, really think - what have we done right, or wrong in bringing our brood up to celebrate the season correctly? or incorrectly?

So the afternoon of me reading the above post about the cons of creating the god-image of Santa Claus --- who often trumps our kid's own God-image of the Christ child and his reason for coming on that night 2000 years ago --- my littlest angel says to me:

"Mommy, is there, or is there not a real Santa Claus??? Tell me the troof. Cause JoJo says there is a Santa Claus and Nicky says there is not!"

And at that moment I had a decision to make -
1) lie to my child, or bend the 'troof' again or
2) take this newfound wisdom and run with it. So I ran.

"Well honey, many, many years ago there was a man named Nickolas. And he loved Jesus SOOOO much that he would make and give presents to children on Jesus' birthday because he loved him so much."

Angel - "So the Santa at the mall is not real?"

"No, the Santa at the mall is just a man who is dressed up and is pretending to be that man who lived so long ago, because he was such a good man....... and loved Jesus so much"

Angel - "So that man lived a long, long, long time ago??"

"Yes Baby. He lived a long, long time ago."

Angel (in an octave and volume slightly higher than a 757 engine -
"SO SANTA IS DEAD!!!!!???!!!!!!!!!!!!!???!!!!!!!!!!!!"

aye-ya-ya. So that my friends, is how to gently kill Santa. Feel free to take notes if needed. The cost of later therapy is entirely your responsibility. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Demon Chickens

(I bet you clicked on the link just to see where I was going with this didn't you ???)

My eldest son is extremely artistic.
Like, better-than-his-mom, artistic. Which I am completely ok with.
About a year ago, he gave his dad this egg he had made at school that
never fails to make me giggle. I leave it in our car, just so on bad
days, I can put the visor down and smile at the silly. Here ya go, I
present to you - the Demon Chicken:





So it seems we have made the chicken mad. We've kinda known the chicken was mad. Maybe it was the way we
started loosing friends in really random, weird ways. Like the WEEK we
decided to adopt. Maybe it was the way weird things started making us
have to leave churches we loved. (loose a church? loose your prayer
support, your spiritual support, your emotional support) Maybe it was
the way Tony kept loosing jobs. Maybe it was the way things started
breaking and money owed started piling up. Or health scares. Or the
lies whispered that made us doubt. But yes, I think we have definitely
made the chicken mad. And yes, I think he has bit us, kicked us, and
thrown us to the ground. More in the last two weeks than ever. And I'm
getting sick of it.


1 Peter 5:8
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around
like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.



And as I read somewhere recently - lions don't look for the big
kill. They look for the straggler, the weak, the small. They are
chickens. They don't go head to head usually with the big bull
elephant. They go after the little, the innocent, the weak, the
helpless. They usually go after the young.
It's the same with the enemy. He goes after the children. The helpless.
All over the world, there are little ones who are being picked on:
Stolen. Sold into slavery. Suffering from poverty. Dying. Prostituted.
Abandoned.


But adoption is God's plan to thwart that. Those children who otherwise
would fall prey to the enemy are led by God to a safe place. A place
where they are loved. A place where they are taught to love HIM. A
place where their story is used to show others God's miracles and God's
power.


And the chicken hates that. So he tries to stop it. Again, and again,
and again.


It would boggle your mind if I had every adoptive parent list every
weird or strange thing that has happen to them since they decided to
adopt. It's not in our heads. It is an attack. And it is on us, so that
we will back out, and leave the little ones prey to his cowardly
attacks.


But being pecked at isn't fun. It isn't pleasant or funny. It is real.


BUT - my God is bigger. And HE is stronger. And HIS angels are around
my daughter, and around us. BUT the battle, while raging above and
around us, we know who wins ultimately. And that makes me so much
stronger, and more angry, and a little more ticked off at the attacks,
and will help to sustain me until we have her home in our arms.


Silly demon chicken.


Psalm 138: 7-8
"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you
stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right
hand you save me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever - do not abandon the works of your hands."

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Beans, beans, good for the heart....


For those of you who haven't been following me for as long, I will always lovingly refer to Amy of "Building the Blocks" as my 'pickle jar lady'.

You see, Amy had just started her own adoption (her 4th!) a week or so before us and had set aside a pickle jar for her family to contribute their loose change to. Just a symbol - "God, we've got it started, we're going to work towards the goal, but we know you can fill it.." A couple days later, their pickle jar was running over as their entire adoption was generously donated by a spirit-led donor. So what did our family do? We put out a pickle jar of course!!!

Now our jar (which is actually a juice jug, but let's not split hairs) - hasn't been filled in one day, but I can say, over the last 2 years, God has put more change in that money jar than we ever could have been able to do on our own. Every penny has come from him. And so far, every penny we have needed, he has provided, on time and in the amount needed.

But back to my pickle jar lady.... Last year, I read this post. Amy and her family had sworn to eat beans and rice for dinner every day for a MONTH and then donate the money saved toward their 'pay it forward' adoption fund for another family. I was floored by not only the simplicity of their idea but the lesson that was being taught to their children. The majority of the children in this world will have one meal a day, if that, of the same ingredients. And our children throw away food on a daily basis... or snub their noses or whine and say 'I don't liiiiike this...'.

And while I LOVED the idea, I could only go for one night of a lesson, cause I'm all chicken and didn't want to deal with the recourse of a houseful of 3 men and a month of beans.. (although now that Addison has gotten older - I think I am seriously more afraid of her 'reaction' than the boys. Sister can put up a stank).

BUT, another year of live and learn and I'm all in on the wild side of educating my children now. (says the lady set on taking 3 under 12's on a total of 36 hours plane ride to a 3rd world country..)

SO, our church's children's program is trying to raise money to build a well in Africa and instantly, I fell in love with our new church. How cool is that!! So as the end of the year grows near and their goal is still $3000 away - we were challenged to think of new and creative ways to raise money. So my mind goes back to the beans and rice challenge - and I think I'm ready to put the clothespin on and take it for a spin.

So instead of going on my Sunday afternoon shopping trip for groceries, this week I'm going to just rest my amateur couponing skills and go get a couple more bags of beans and rice.. ( and possibly a cheap rice cooker since Tony claims rice is the only food I am inept at cooking correctly). Usually we spend around $120 for groceries in addition to money a couple times a week or so eating out. So we'll donate that amount of money to help bring children clean water.

I'll let you know how it goes. While I have high expectations -- my family may think the idea stinks quite a bit (and they might be right) - but in the process, I'm hoping their little hearts can be broken just a little bit more through the experience. Beans, beans, good for the heart......

Saturday, November 19, 2011

And we are.....

After almost 15 months of watching our phone with longing.... and begging it to play the stupid little song set aside only for our adoption agency....


we are now going to be obsessively watching our phone everyday..... and begging, no pleading, no - crying, praying, for it to play the stupid little song set aside for our adoption agency....



it's enough to make one go crazy...

(too late, right??) I think I gladly put on the crazy crown and became the queen of crazy when:

#1 I married Tony
#2 I gave birth to three little Tonys
#3 I said yes to our fourth little wild one, who will finally NOT look like Tony.



So what does #1 mean??


besides me taking my phone into the bathroom and having it turned on full volume for the unforeseeable future?



It means that the next little girl that our agency has, which is under 12 months of age, who is completely well, and has every last piece of her paperwork tucked snuggly in her fat file -- will then be matched with our family as we are #1 in line. But we do covet your prayers as it has just been the rainy season in Ethiopia which often brings with it illness and infections for the little ones. And Olivia has to be completely well for us to receive her referral. And with so many new paperwork requirements, it is taking so much more time to get a child's paperwork ready to go as our agency often has to drive many hours to try to track down an abscure person or office to sign off on or provide needed information.


It also means that when that baby is all ready to go, we will get a phone call from our family coordinator. It could be a Monday, but most often is towards the end of the week on Thurs or Friday... often near the end of day (so as not to cause too much stress and anticipation, right?) She will call, I will cry, we will get Tony on three-way call (hopefully) and she will then describe our new daughter. We will then rush to get the 3 littles and run home, screaming all the way, to open our email with the photos that will be enlarged and pasted all over the house. And in the car. And in our wallets. And possibly enlarged as an 8 X 10 around my neck. Possibly.


It also means that she is 'matched' with us. But NOT ours yet. So we cannot show her photo on the blog or internet as legally, she is not ours at that time. We will then wait for 1-3 months until we can get a court date and then travel to Ethiopia to meet her and appear before a judge affirming our desire to adopt her. Only 50% of families pass on their court date. So we may find out that day that she is our daughter, or we may have to come home and wait the excruciating time necessary to complete more paperwork and finally pass court. And then, and only then, will Olivia be OUR daughter and we will be able to post photos and more information.


And then we wait some more time - possibly 2-3 more months, for the US Embassy in Ethiopia to review our case and either pass us on and issue us (me) an appointment for her visa interview and passport; or then request more information, and once again - have us wait....


So the wait's not over... not by a long shot... but at least we are finally seeing the beginning of the tunnel.


It's funny - a friend just told me that we are "blazing the trail for those who would dare doubt the soverignty and might of God..." However, I told him I think we are more, "blindly and clumsily hacking our way at the bush with a machete." We'll get there one day but it ain't gonna be pretty.


Someday soon friends, someday soon. We pray. But in the meantime, we can bask in the joy of being #1. And hope it is a very, very short stay at the top..

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Precious Photos

May I just point out the precious children captured in this perfect photograph??

And may I also point out the status of how valuable a digital camera is with 3 children?? And the sheer beauty of capturing the perfect picture? When you have faces like these ------

With these gorgeous eyes ---------


Or these loving looks ---------




And these award-winning smiles -----------


Or with expert (but unplanned) prop placements ----------------


It's only with the most precious photos that we capture the preciousness of these children ----


6 snaps to get 1 good shot...
can you imagine how much footage I'll go through when we increase the child number to 4??? Although if you evaluate the above, I think it may be one child in particular that I am having the most difficulty with??

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mustard Seed Faith

So it's taken me a good week to write this blog... cause I knew I needed to.

But I didn't want to. Cause it's embarassing. And I knew to tell you the good thing I learned, I would have to confess to you the bad things I said. And that's not easy. But God said 'write' so now I write.

"I just want to stop. I don't want to do this anymore!"

Not the words that any child, anywhere, should have their parents say about them. But words that poured out of my soul 2 weeks ago. Out of a soul that was hurting, that was grieving, that was giving up in a snotty, exhausted fit of tears. So don't judge me too fast. Don't tell me I'm not fit to be her parent. That I haven't fought hard enough - cause let me tell you friends, 2 years is a long time to have your boxing gloves on. How could I give up on my daughter when we are so close??? (All these comments by the way, went through MY mind).

But you see, our baby Olivia, at that moment - didn't exist to me any more. She was a dream. A beautiful dream that God had given me two years ago that was not destined to come to fruition. So to me, it felt like she had blown away like a vapor. An image I had created in my own mind.

I should have ran, without stopping, to my Heavenly Father. Clinging to my current life verse as if it were a small island in the midst of a storm. But I didn't. So much for this strong Christian example.

Isaiah 41:13 "For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you 'Do not fear; I will help you."

Or how 'bout my other current verse of the day - written down in my car and read almost daily?? Did I go there? Nope.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 "Blessed is the (wo)man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. (S)he will be like a tree that is planted by the water who sends out its roots into the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought; but never fails to bear fruit."

But finally, after a day of pouting, and crying, with fear AND worrying (good to know those verses sunk in my thick brain, huh?)... I prayed the next morning on the way to church for God to just talk to me that morning. Let me hear His voice. Let me know if I had heard him wrong 2 years ago. Let me know if we were making a big mistake. If it was time to turn the ship around.

First a great sermon - but nope, no 'ah-ha' moments.
And then after, during the invitation, the pastor goes off to a different tune sung just for me, something to the tune of: "The enemy does not want you to be happy. He is a liar. He wants you to be unhappy. He does not want you to fulfill the purpose God has for you..... stand strong... run from the darkness and into the light."

And then, the next song - again, just for me:



The verses saying "YOU wont relent until you have it all.... my heart is yours...... come be the fire inside of me"

So it hits me.... IF God isn't going to give up until His purpose is fulfilled.... and IF I claim to be His child, with Him taking residence in my heart..... and IF He is the fire inside of me.....

than who am I to say 'I give up'?
who am I to relent and throw my hands up because I am tired?
am I not acting in the face of all I say is true?
where is my fruit in the face of this drought?
and since when did this become all about ME?

So I come home, with the puzzled, slapped in the face kind of heart.

And then my neighbor sends over a big bag of yellow banana peppers. (I AM going somewhere with this, I promise..)

And I like to can them for a salad I make. So I get out my recipe box and start pulling out ingredients. Mainly THIS one:

And then laugh. Cause my Daddy knows I need to be thumped in the head every once in a while just to get His point across. It was just like He was saying to me, "Tracy, you see this???? This is ALL I'm asking from you. This much Faith. That's all I need from you. I've got the rest covered."
Matthew 17: 14-21 "....Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”


And then tonight, as I looked for images for this post, I came across this blog and quote:

•A mustard-seed may in fact be small in size, but the miracle is in the relationship between the seed and the reality of the mustard tree. The seed produced phenomenal growth, point blank. Does your faith produce phenomenal spiritual growth in your own life? Does it produce phenomenal results for God’s Kingdom in the spread of the Gospel? That’s faith “as” a mustard seed.

So yes - my tree did kind of run away from the water... and my fruit kind of stunk... but I needed that moment of desperation to figure out where I was planted was all wrong. As another song says, you have to be at the bottom before you start looking up. So that's why I wrote it all down. So you can laugh at me or shake your head in disgust. But at the end of the day, so you can see what mustard seed you may be holding that needs to be planted and watered - cause God only needs that much from us, a tiny seed of faith - but the fruit He will bear because we allow Him to work in us... that's where the real fire and beauty comes from.

We're just a small seed that has to be plucked in the head once in a while to figure out where our roots need to be firmly planted...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Passing by

"I forgot my book bag"

"How can you forget your book bag!?! This one time - this is your one time. I'll go back and get it but you need to take responsibility and remember or you'll have to face the consequences next time. Consequences are real life. What if Mommy forgot to pay my car payment...... blah. blah. blah. blah. blah. blah"

So we go home. And return towards the school in a direction opposite of usual. Just a couple minutes to spare.

And there he was. Running. Fast walking. Jogging. Fast walking. Obviously late to school. Obviously upset. Book bag and gym bag over his shoulders. Walking.

I feel that Holy Spirit nudge - 'don't pass by'.

But I keep driving, and take the littles on to school. And then come out to go back home a different way, this way he should have walked. And there he is. Maybe 9th grade. Hurriedly walking to school with only about 5 minutes left to make it and a 12 minute walk ahead. So I pull over and offer him a ride. And he was a sweet kid. Good manners. Appreciative. Ran out to his bus only to watch it pulling away.

Not saying all this to toot my own horn. I'm saying all this just because it has eaten and eaten at me since yesterday.

How many passed him by? And why? Were they late? Were they in their pajamas (which I would have been on ANY other morning except this one)? Or were they scared? Of his age, or of his color, or of both?

Others told me, 'you just have to be careful now'.... 'you just never know anymore'....'it's just too risky'.

But how many others have we passed by because we are scared? How many have I passed by????

The foster child; cause they might have too much baggage for us to handle.

The orphan with a now-treatable HIV; cause just imagine how hard that would be for our friends and family.

The sibling set, cause that's just too many kids for us to feed.

The homeless man outside Burger King, begging for money; cause what if he uses the money for booze?

The neighbor with cancer that may just need someone to talk to; cause I don't have time to invest in someone else's problems.

Sponsoring a child in another country; cause what if the organization doesn't use the money like they say they will?

How many? And why?

Although such a small, small deal - getting a kid to school on time. I don't know if he was a child of God.... but God orchestrated every minute for that moment, so I have to think He had his reasons. Those reasons I may never know. The only day I felt like pulling on my clothes early. The only day we would have been coming up the road in that direction because of a forgotten book bag. I don't know why. But I'm glad I didn't pass a good thing by even if it was risky.

Cause dying on a cross was risky. But thank God, HE didn't pass me by.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pouty McPouty


What you behold in front of you was the object I hated most in middle school. Except mine were white. And I had big feet. And yet, my dad just knew that the beloved Chucks would turn this awkward, spastic pip-squeak into a mad dribblin ball player.

uh, no. I still stunk. Even with 2 large rubber planks strapped to my feet. Airball queen, I was. I mastered keeping that bench down and firmly rooted to the floor.

(Really funny thing is that when I traded the Chucks in for high heels and a pageant walk, I was entirely more successful. Not to brag, but you are reading the blog of one of THE Lexington BBQ Festival Queens. Just sayin')

But yet, little Braeden. My sweet son whose goal in life is now to be cool (i.e. look like the drummer from Guitar Hero). He begged for new Chucks. And I found them! Uh, sorta. At Goodwill, for $3.50. But also a half size too big. And hence the drama ensues....

Him. "I want to wear my cool shoes"
Dad. "Your cool shoes are too big"
Him. "No they're not."
Dad. "Oh, yes they are. Go change."
Him. (bringing shoes and putting them in kitchen) "Take them back, I don't want them."

The shoes he had a fit over. The shoes he drooled on when he saw. He didn't want them. Because he couldn't have them right now.

So he pouted all morning. Big lip waaaay out. Cried in his bed. "stupid shoes"

On the way to school I chastised him for his pouting. I reprimanded him for his ungratefulness. And then - get this - God smacked me on the behind as well as I heard the words come out of my mouth ---

"You really are so lucky. You wanted those shoes so badly and when Mommy saw them - I knew that you would love them and got them for you, because I love you. Even though I knew you would have to wait to wear them. It doesn't make sense that you would want to give such a gift back just because you have to wait. It doesn't make sense to pout like this. You will have them, just later."

And my big mouth continued - "It's just like with Olivia. God knows I will love her and is giving her to me. He just knows for some reason that I need to wait to have her. She doesn't 'fit' us yet. But it wouldn't make sense to want to give her back because of that......... it....doesn't.....make.....sense.....to....pout.....like.....this? We will get her, just later."

And here is where I take that size 3, big, black rubber sole and chew on it awhile. I'm sorry for pouting Daddy. (but can I have my gift soon??? please???)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oh, I have a blog????

Cause I obviously forgot that....

just realized I have been awful about updating.

'Banding Together' update - our yahoo group's one day, full-court press to raise money for the famine relief organizations raised $4030!!!!!!

The breakdown goes like this:
  • World Food Programme - $190
  • Doctor's Without Borders - $425
  • Children's HopeChest - $1,085 (most earmarked for the TOG well)
  • World Vision - $2,195
Thank you so much to anyone who went and donated. And don't let it stop there, continue to spread the word about the situation in the Horn of Africa because every little bit helps. We may not have any more prizes to give out, but just the joy of knowing you helped to feed a little one in the midst of starvation will be more than worth it.
** our site is still up and running as a link to other aid agencies



In other news, or really, non-news:

We received our 'on deck' email June 22, 2011.

Yeah, I'm a little behind the 8 ball on that one. Two whole months behind. BUT, in my defense, it was met with little fanfare. The 'on deck' email that I had been wishing for for months didn't rock my world as I had hoped it would because it was also sent around the same time as another email stating the wait times for infant girls had increased from 8-11 months to 12-18 months.

On deck status is 'suppose' to mean that you can expect a referral in 1-3 months. I have always said that I thought that when someone goes 'on deck' it means they have been matched with a child, she is in the transition home, and they are working on her paperwork. How else could it explain them being able to say your referral is forthcoming soon? But as the current waiting families have been waiting on deck since September, the excitement waned as it just doesn't hold true. Things happen, countries change, government policies change... so we are still waiting.

Another miss - July 27th we had been waiting 11 months DTE. And were at number #5 on the waiting list. As this number was UP one since the month before due to a family ahead of us changing their request - I didn't make the kids suffer through doing their drawings and picture post. We switched ice cream brands as well. Eddi's girl scout cookie ice cream was MUCH better by the way.

However, the ice cream change didn't work it's magic as on Saturday, we will be :

1 Year DTE
and we are still #5.

Nuf said bout that.



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Banding together


Worst in 60 years. Lack of law and order. Very dire situation. Any idea what I'm referencing?? Many I have spoken to have no idea about the current status in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia. Kenya. Somalia. Uganda.

The worst famine in 60 years. Most of us are old enough to remember Live Aid and "We are the World" -- when artists and the world banded together to make a difference and do whatever they could to save the lives of children suffering. But today, in the midst of debt ceiling debates, double dip recessions, rising food costs - our minds are anywhere but on helping others. Unfortunately. We are turned inward with our eyes on our own needs. But.... 26,000 children already dead and millions more in danger.

"What this boils down to is children dying." - Anderson Cooper, in Somalia.

So tomorrow, Thursday, August 11th - our adoption agency yahoo group, a family of families who love Africa. Who either have children home from Ethiopia or like us, have children still in Ethiopia -- we are banding together, small as we may be, to do our best to raise awareness and raise money for the faces that we love so dear.

Tomorrow until midnight, if you go to our site and follow a link to a reputable donation organization to donate to alleviate hunger and famine in Africa, you can choose a token gift which has been donated by our families, as supplies allow. Just a small, ultra-cool gift as our thanks for standing with us and showing God's love to the least of these. Donate $5. $10. $25. Any little amount helps and adds up.

Adoptive Families for Famine Relief

And please share the link. That doesn't cost anything.

And we know, cause we've heard in regards to adoption - you can't save them all.

But you also can't out-give God. And His Word says that when you bless others that blessing will be returned to you, more than you can even imagine. So when we think about our low savings account, or the price of our weekly groceries, and we worry about making ends meet and feeding our own children - are we trusting God to take care of us when we hold tightly to the money that He has entrusted us? Or do we trust Him even more when we open our clinched fists to allow Him to use that money for His good?

Yes, it may mean a week of eating out less to give $25. It may mean having your kid wait another month before buying those new $30 school shoes if you donate $50. But when we stand before God - do you think he will ever look down on you and frown because you EVER gave too much? Especially when it is the faces of the children HE loves that are suffering? Just a thought.

And a couple more images to occupy your thoughts....


No, we can't save them all - but are you content to say it is o.k. to not even try???

James 4:17 "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."

James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

Luke 6:38 "Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back." (NLT)



Anderson Cooper's interview with model Iman re: famine in Somalia

Just to remind you of the images of Ethiopia's famine:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

When all else fails -- comfort food

The words 'comfort food' may be an understatement.

I had hoped to fill the last few blog posts of glorious details of milk chocolate pudgy fingers, dark brown eyes, and little ringlets....

but instead - you get pasta. Cause that's all I got folks. One baby boy referral in past weeks has led to.... zip. zero. zilch. Floodgates opening turned into, well, not.

And, this week we received an email stating that wait times from DTE to referral had been extended for infant girls to 11-18 months. (we will be 11 months July 27th). When we signed on, the wait times for infant girls was 7-10 months with many receiving their referrals in 5-6 months. Which is why we banked on February 2011 as seeing her face. Then, conservatively, early summer. Now.... who knows! We knew it was coming as things were moving too slowly, just kinda hoped that we would be 'luckier' - but we've been told to go ahead and broader our expectations for longer.

So anyway, since Tony is home now, my desire to cook my heart out (literally) can be appeased without knowing that it would be me eating leftovers for 5 days straight after a real meal. Real as in = not from a can.

So my comfort food of choice is spinach. Some it's mac & cheese; me, I go for the super food. I give you one of my favorites........... eat your broken heart out:

Spinach Manicotti

You'll need:

  • 1 pkg manicotti or jumbo shells (I think shells are easier to fill) - cook as directed
  • 1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta (small container)
  • 1 cup (4 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning (OR I add any fresh herbs I may have - basil, oregano, thyme)
  • 1 (10 oz) chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeeze water out
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • 1 jar favorite pasta sauce

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and boil pasta
2) Combine spices, eggs, cheeses, and spinach
3) Run pasta under cold water to stop cooking and then fill with cheese/spinach mixture.
4) If not using baking clay (which I do, surprised??) -- spray 9X13 with cooking spray.
5) Pour sauce over filled shells and bake for 20 minutes.

**there really is no way to mess this up and it is simple and oh, oh so good. Eat your heart out adoption process..... I'll just use spinach to bulk up my strength again if I have to.

**And yes - those are toasted hot dog garlic breadsticks. Cause we is just so-fist-if-i-cated like that. Keepin it real folks, keepin it real!!

**And P.S. - even if you aren't a spinach eater - you will love this. I MADE my 17 year old babysitter try it and she is now begging me for the recipe. My boys have also come over to the Popeye side of life and love spinach pastas and pizza. Green stuff that's good for you!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The day the excitement died

So you know what?? We are still waiting on our referral! Shocking, I know.

BUT, as of last Monday, we were officially

10 Months DTE

Or dossier to Ethiopia. Or ten months from when we celebrated as we dropped that huge package that contained our entire life story, and then some, into that glorious FedEx box.

Ten months ago. Gee. And the official time from DTE to referral for a baby girl is/was 7-11 months.

Instead of being a little late, I'm, oh, 8 days late in this post as it took almost that long for my kids to finally color their monthly numbers for the photo. They were thrilled.... or not. I think they are a little over our monthly pics. As you can tell. And no - I didn't pose them this time... and the handmade hearts were also completely their idea.

And as you can see from the close-up --- I'm thinking that it is starting to sink in that this is taking longer than we had hoped. Across the bottom "We haven't changed in like 6 months"


Also indicative of their waning patience would be their total rejection of my ice cream of the month! Gasp!!

They wanted no part of it. Didn't even ask the flavor. Just went for the popsicles instead. A true tragedy.

Just in case you are again waiting on baited breath, the flavor of the month was :

Late Night Snack
Vanilla ice cream with a caramel swirl and fudge covered potato chip clusters. hmmm. Can you tell we were running low on the pickins after 10 months of variety???

Let's just say that
1) I am very surprised that potato chips CAN stay crunchy in the middle of ice cream and
2) My usual pattern of buying 2 pints for the family has indeed backfired as with the rest of the family on an ice cream hiatus --- I will from hence forth be lugging around Ben & Jerry on my thighs. And I didn't even like them this month that much anyway...

*************************

All joking aside - I know there HAS to be a reason. A reason why our expected February referral still hasn't materialized. A reason why our homestudy is expiring. A reason why we are now caught in court closures. I know God HAS a plan. And it is better than mine. But I also know that no matter how much I try to explain to my kids delays, or waiting times, or closures - they still don't get it. They just want their sister home. And month by month, I've watched their excitement about her turn to frustration. And their hope in God's miracles in bringing her home diminish, bit by bit. And I don't get that. I guess we aren't doing a very good job of 'pumping them up' or being good role models of patience. But it's hard folks. Truly. The miracles may come, and I know we will look back with complete peace about the wisdom of our wait - but it's just hard to see that now. Through the eyes of children or an adult.

I've heard countless, well-meaning friends say: "Well, you know God's timing is perfect.."

And I know that. And agree that His way is perfect, and is best. Even if I don't like it.

But again, even IF we get our referral now, we ARE officially stuck in closures so we wont be able to go to court, at the earliest, until mid/late October.

So you tell me ANY mother, who would be o.k. with loving a child she hasn't seen for 9 (or 10 months) giving birth to her baby, seeing her beautiful face and then when the hospital staff says "o.k., now we are going to keep her with us, take good care of her, and send you monthly pictures for the next 4-6 months". No mother would be able to say - "Great!!! Cause God's plan is perfect!! Sign me up for THAT!" It may the best thing in both their interests for right then - but it is not something that her, or me, would be able to smile about and say they are excited about.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bestie, BBQ, Beans, and Brownies


I can FINALLY share my pain!! I have been a single mom for about 12 weeks now as the hubs was getting bruised, bashed, and bullied at the police academy. I didn't post about it as well, there are crazy people on the net (not calling any of YOU crazy) - and didn't want said crazy person to know I was by myself for TWELVE.LONG.TEDIOUS.WEEKS.

And while the troops at home were pretty well behaved, pretty helpful, and pretty satisfied with the lame excuses that I labeled dinners for those 12 weeks.... I am so, so, SO happy to have him home. And not just cause he takes off the stinky trash (vs. Seth and I throwing it in the back of the Expedition and hence forth having the stink of rotten chicken traveling around with us from now on). And not just cause he is the only one who knows how to iron in the house, and clean the bathrooms well. And not just cause I only cook real dinners when there are two adults who aren't satisfied with frozen pizza or ravioli in residence.

But cause I missed my best friend and watching him wrestle, kiss, and play with the kids like I can't. Cause nothing replaces a Daddy.

So Daddy, we are so glad to have you home with that badge on your chest, finally!

So to celebrate, I am grilling out in true Southern girl fashion tonight. We are originally from the BBQ capital of the world - Lexington, NC. If you have never tried Lexington BBQ, DO. It is primarily a vinegar/ketchup based BBQ and is so moist and tangy that you will crave it. We have seriously had to made BBQ runs for friends in whatever city we were currently living in. And just to show how much I crave it - my oldest child went to the BBQ joint when he was 6 days old - as I couldn't stand being in the house sans pork for any longer than that.

Without any more intro, here is our menu for tonight:

Lexington BBQ Style Grilled Chicken
Lexington BBQ Baked Beans
Coconut Brownies


Lexington BBQ Style Grilled Chicken

You will need:
2 cut up whole chickens (or I just buy a 10 lb bag of quarters when they are on sale)
2 cups cider vinegar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

3 T crushed red pepper
4 tsp salt

2 tsp pepper


1) Start in the morning (or night before) by marinating the chicken quarters. I usually pull the skin off to reduce those Southern calories. It's easiest to halve the above marinade recipe into two gallon zip lock bags and do half the chicken at a time. Turning occasionally throughout the day. Chill at least 2-8 hours. (I ran out of freezer bags so just used the rubbermaid, it infuses better with the bags, I think)

2) Remove and discard marinade.

3) Grill with lid on 35-40 minutes.





Lexington BBQ Baked Beans

You will need:
1 roll sausage
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup favorite BBQ sauce

1 cup brown sugar
3 cans pork-n-beans


**I notoriously forget to take photos until I'm cooking mid-stream. So pay no attention to the ground turkey in the photo - but I didn't have an extra sausage to photo! This also explains the opened cans.

1) Cook sausage, drain. Add chopped onion, saute.

2) Add ketchup, BBQ sauce, brown sugar - simmer about 5 minutes.

3) Stir in beans and simmer another 5 minutes.

4) Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.





Coconut Brownies

You will need:
1 pkg fudge brownies - prepare as directed
10 oz sweetened, flake coconut
1 pkg chocolate and peanut butter chips (these have gotten hard to find - I had to use half a bag of peanut butter and half a bag of milk chocolate this time)
14 oz fat free sweetened condensed milk

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Spray 9X13 pan with cooking spray. Prepare brownie mix and bake 16-18 minutes.

3) Layer coconut, then chips, then sweetened milk.

4) Bake until chocolate is melty and coconut is beginning to brown. About 20-30 minutes more. Allow to cool before cutting.



And now, dear friends, you know why my husband will always come home to me. Cause the above is the recipe that = true love on all counts.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Real Champion

Have fun. Honor God. Hustle. -- the team motto.

The goal being not only to win - but to train up strong boys to have respect, to love God, and to be role models for others.



He loved playing on the team.

But as time went on, struggles started to show. Self esteem. Confidence. Domino affect of missed balls and fumbled plays.

Traveling on weekends. Finding churches in random towns. Returning home Sunday nights.

Until --- he tells me:

I miss church.

I remind him, we haven't stopped going. Just busy traveling.

He tells me:

I think that's why I've not been doing good.

God is trying to tell me to quit the team.


I tell him - then you need to think it over, pray about it, and let us know what you want to do. It needs to be your decision. But why do you think that?

He tells me:

Church just feels right. Like it is where I am suppose to be.

Because I think I have been thinking too much about baseball.


And not enough about Jesus.



Three weeks later, the last tournament of the season. After a good game. With good performance. He tells his Daddy:

I think I need to tell coach this is my last game.

We have to buy uniforms soon.


And I would rather that money go toward bringing home my baby sister.


Cause that's more important to me than baseball anyway.

I am so proud of my player. Cause I think that in the real game, he stepped up to the plate and he hit a grand slam. And while we will miss the experience and the friendships - the experience of having my son show a maturity and an understanding so beyond his years - that experience will be cherished in this mommy's heart far longer than any trophy gathering dust on the top of a dresser.

Who knows what the future holds, or what battles he may face. But to see the way God is starting to work on him already - I can't wait to see what position he plays on HIS team.



1 Corinthians 9:25 "Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bad things come in threes?

Oh Lord, I hope not.

The runner-up for first ER visit of 2011 goes to......


Seth

Who won with the assistance of his best friend and a precisely thrown plastic cup. How very nice of them to arrange our visit the same week as Addison's ER debut to cut down on follow-up doctor's appointments for me.
At home viewing his freshly glued gash for the first time.


Little man was pretty nervous. Pretty scared. Very scared. Scared to death of having to get stitches.

Triage nurse says - they can't glue the head. He might be o.k. But might have to have staples. His eyes tear up.

ER nurse says - they can't glue the head. He might be o.k. But might have to have staples. He clams up and stares at the TV.

Physicians assistant says - they can't glue the head. He might be o.k. But might have to have staples. He completely shuts down and wont speak to anyone.

Good old boy country doctor says - We could staple it. hmmm, how you feel about me just gluing it???

Seth says - YES SIR!!!!!!! And breaks out in the biggest smile I have seen in about two years.

The Dr. also offered to glue his lips shut to reduce my grocery bill but I declined, seeing that my child is about 1/2 the size of other children his age as it is. Kid got a strawberry milkshake on the way home just to try use the occasion to fatten him up more.

And I am SO proud. No ---- not with Seth. With ME. I am a fainter. And have been since high school. I see blood and my heart races and breathing increases. But when you see your 10 year old come out the door with blood running down his face in every direction, and Daddy isn't there to save the day - something about that situation allowed me to stay upright, amazingly. I even washed his entire blood-covered face and hair off to find the gash (which was over an inch long). And it was still bleeding BAD. Chalk one more up to 'things I never want to have to do again'.

Especially this week. Or even the next. Braeden will now be wearing a football helmet and pads indefinitely to avoid any semblance of another head injury. I don't want to test the 'theory of threes' any further..

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fresh Strawberry Bread


By request, my Mom's recipe. It really is almost more like a cake than a bread. So soft and yummy warm:


1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
4 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped small

Makes 1 loaf
1) Use 9 x 5 pan, grease and flour

2) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

3) Using electric mixer cream butter with cream cheese. Add sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time.

4) Sift flour and mix with baking powder, baking soda and salt.

5) Add flour to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk. Mix until just blended.

6) Fold in chopped strawberries.

7) Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. (Mine took a little over 60 minutes).

Sunday, June 5, 2011

And the first ER visit of 2011 goes to......

Miss Addison. Who kindly scheduled her first debut at approximately 10 pm --- after being at the ball field all day, with us all still sweaty and smelly, and tired beyond belief. Great date night for her daddy and I, to be hanging out with the county's miserable until 1 am.

(this morning after a good bit of swelling had gone down. You'll have to excuse the hair -- No - it is NOT that greasy/dirty. The photo is right after her bath during her first band-aid switch-a-roo. The three stitches will be fashionably covered by Hello Kitty bandages tomorrow)



Running Girl = 0
Chair = 1


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Overdue

You know how women hit that 9th month of pregnancy and not a single thing makes them happy?? Just ready for the end, friend. Well, we are officially at 9 months, and still no baby. My ankles aren't swelled and my butt hasn't expanded to the size of a city bus (like last time, ahem)..... but I am ready for this baby to get here!! So tired of being 'pregnant'!!!!!!!!

So when we hit our DTE-versary date, I told the kids what day it was and Seth remarked, "I don't feel like celebrating anything". So we didn't.

We waited a couple days til the pouting was over (for mommy, not kiddos) - and then had our signature ice cream night (or two......or three)

9 MONTHS Dossier to Ethiopia

STILL number 4. Yes, same as last month. A couple referrals have been given out but we still haven't moved any closer to number 1.

And as much as I wanted to break up with the boys - Ben & Jerry's came a'courtin again.. This month (and I mean it - this had BETTER be the last time I have to post an ice cream flavor!!! Seriously!!! This is getting ridiculous!!!!!!!)

Americone Dream

Which is kind of ironic considering this is the longest dream I have ever had.. it just keeps on going, and going, and going.

Anyway, vanilla ice cream with caramel swirls and chocolate covered waffle cone pieces. Need I say more?? I would be more excited if it weren't for the fact that Stephen Colbert seems to be mocking me from the label --- I'm breakin up with them I tell you. We are SO through. Til next month...... but I hope not.