Sunday, November 30, 2008

Too Busy

Jack and Aidan are busy. Very, very busy. And when you are as busy as they are, you just don't have time to do certain things. Some things just take up sooooooo much time, that you just can't take the time to do them. Frequently, I am reminding them of things they should do, and they tell me "Dat take too long". They are just a victim of the overscheduled lifestyle we live.

A few of the things that take too long:
  • Clearing your plate after dinner.
  • Giving Mommy hugs.
  • Flushing the potty.
  • Washing hands after using the potty.
  • Cleaning up any messes they have made.
  • Waiting for Mommy to meet whatever demand has been made.
  • Waiting for the pancakes to cook.
  • Pulling up pants.
  • Getting dressed in general.
  • Waiting for food to cool down enough to eat it.

What can I say? Some things just take too long. It can't be done.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The worst part of having family visit...

Is that you remember how much you like being around them, and how much you wish they lived closer!! We had so much fun with Camille, Scott and Kirsten this week! And Penny and Daniel too!


We miss you guys already! And I was pleasantly surprised that the kids all acted really, really good while we were traveling, having crazy schedules, and lots of unexpected changes to our plans. We had a great Thanksgiving!
And for those of you who spent the week/weekend with us, and are staring at the above paragraph with a puzzled expression, I will just say that YES, that IS their good behavior, and just be glad you didn't see the bad behavior!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Food Friday: Goal Update

Sorry to report there has been no new progress this week. I was planning to make a can-rotation shelf with my Father in law, but we looked at it for a few minutes and decided to postpone the project until Christmas vacation time.

So, instead, I will do a little goal-check/update. It is good to frequently reassess and check up on any progress you are making. This is my 9th food Friday post, so I have been at this for about 2 months. Lets see where I stand!

Goals:
  1. 3 day supply of water (1 gal/person/day) = 15 gal
  2. 30 freezer meals
  3. 3 month supply of non-perishables
  4. 1 year supply of basic necessities

1. I have my 15 gallons, plus an extra 4 liters. I considered this goal done, but I think I may want a little more- mixing powdered milk and cooking from scratch takes quite a bit of water, so I may add in more one day. But for now I do at least have the minimum of 15 gallons.

2. 30 freezer meals: I have 25! Almost there! Once I have my supply of 30, I will start using them a little more often, and that will save me from cooking once or twice a week. I am so excited to be so close!

3. The 3 month supply is a work in progress. I have a few things that I have been buying extra of, and I finished my spreadsheet, so now it is just a matter of time and working to get all the things on my list.

4. The 1 year supply of basic necessities intimidates me. But in the morning I am headed off to can some things. I am going to get wheat, sugar, and powdered milk. It isn't everything, but at least it is a start!

What is the next milestone you are working toward? My next milestones are starting the 1 year supply (that should be good tomorrow), getting to 30 freezer meals, and making progress on the 3 month supply.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving


From your friendly Preschool Indian.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Blog Love

Kim gave me this blog award! Thanks so much! I started this blog just as a way to keep people updated on our family. It has turned into a way to keep people updated, but also a way to document a little of my life and thoughts and feelings. It is so great to know that people read it and enjoy it! Thanks!
The five blogs I nominate are:
  1. Ali
  2. Kori
  3. Melinda
  4. Rebecca
  5. April

I also got this one from Caroline:

And I nominate:

  1. Kelly
  2. Sue
  3. Alison
  4. Kim
  5. Sarah

It was hard to choose- there are so many that I love to read! I hope you guys enjoy your awards!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Twilight Moment

Saturday I was making arrangements to go see Twilight. The kids always scream and cry when I leave, and even if I just tell them I am leaving, they get all upset and they all get really clingy and cry. (Told you I am popular). Because I was going to the movie after they were in bed, I saw no reason to upset them and cause anxiety and drama. So I didn't tell them.

But they heard me calling people to go with me. They heard me calling Kydon and Dane to arrange for someone to be here while I was out. I tried to disguise it, but eventually the questions came "Mommy- what it Twilight?"

I did what any drama-avoiding mother would do. I told them the truth. Twilight is the time when it starts to get dark but it is still a little light outside. "Mommy, are you going to twilight?" Yes, do you guys want to come too? "Yes!!"

So after dinner, about 5:30, we grabbed a bunch of blankets, and headed out to the porch. It was me with the kids, and it was freezing. We were all huddled up together, and enjoying the twilight. We talked about our favorite things to do (Abigail- go to the ice cream place, Jack- go to Auburn, Aidan- stay home), and we sat really quiet and listened to the sounds.

It lasted about 4 minutes before we got too cold and too wiggly and had to go inside, but those 4 minutes were pure family bliss! Moments like that remind me how beautiful life is and how blessed I am to have these amazing children.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

National Adoption Month: An amazing story of adoption

As I was blog-browsing the other day, I came across a quote on a blog. It is now my favorite adoption quote, although I do not know who said it.

"When you were placed in my arms, you softly slipped into my heart"

Great adoption quote!

If you have some time, grab a cup of hot cocoa, and click on over to visit my friend Katie. She has shared her adoption story on her blog, and before you are done reading, you *will* believe in miracles. I first read this story over a series of emails. I think it took about 4 to get the whole story, and I found myself thinking and wondering and checking email every few minutes until I got the next installment. She is currently working on a book about her story, and I can't wait to buy my copy.

Go ahead. Click. You won't regret it!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Food Friday: Menu tweaking and book review

My original 3 month food supply menu went like this:

Breakfast: breakfast burrito, cereal, oatmeal, pancakes. Repeat x 7 (per month).
Lunch: peanut butter/honey, tuna and crackers, ckn noodles, roll up sandwich, mac and cheese, peanut butter/jelly, tomato soup. Repeat x 4 (per month).

Dinner: Lemon Chicken Pasta, Chili, Ground Beef Taco Bake, Chicken and Rice Bake, Black Bean Soup, Bean/Cheese Burritos, Beef Stroganoff, Pizza, Quesadillas, Tuna noodle casserole, Manicotti, Mexican Noodle Bake, Haystacks. Repeat x2 (per month).

There were a few problems, most notably the excess amount of cheese and chicken I would need to store (6 huge Costco bags of cheese, 72 cans of chicken). So this week I did a little tweaking, and I looked for some recipes that would be easier and cheaper to store (mainly trying to include more meat-less meals). I am trying several recipes from a home storage cookbook (more about the book in a minute), and once I determine which recipes are keepers, I will adjust accordingly. Here is my *new and improved* plan:

Breakfast: Pancakes, Oatmeal, Pancakes, Cereal. Repeat x 7 (per month).
This reflects our current eating habits. We eat a lot of pancakes, some oatmeal, and a little cereal. This will also be much cheaper. I can have the other breakfasts at other times, as long as we are working through the stored items in a reasonable manner.

Lunch: Peanut Butter and Jam or Honey Sandwiches, Tuna and Crackers, Roll up sandwiches, Mac and Cheese, Tomato Soup. Repeat x 6 (per month).
Dinner: Lemon Chicken Pasta, Chili, Black Bean Burgers, Haystacks, Rice and Beans, Spaghetti, Vegetable bean teriyaki, Salmon chowder, Bean and cheese burritos, Pizza, Tuna noodle casserole, Black bean soup, Beef Stroganoff, Mexican Noodle bake. Repeat x 2 (per month).

This will reflect a much more cost-effective plan to store food, and if I make each of these meals once every other month, or once every 3rd month, it will rotate the food with no problem.

***************************************
Book Review: Cookin' with Home Storage by Peggy Layton and Vicki Tate

I opened this book to find an inscription from Kydon's mom: "To Kydon and Shanna, Christmas 1997". I know this is the first time I have cracked it open! But I have kept it all these years, knowing that one day I would get it together and work on my home storage!

This book is very practical in some ways, and in other ways it is not useful to me. First the negative: It seems to operate from the perspective that one day soon, you will pack all of your belongings, move to the middle of the dessert, and have to live for a year on whatever you brought with you. As I have said before, this is not my plan. I am using my freezer to some extent, and I plan to supplement my storage meals with things I buy fresh. If I were in a situation where I had to survive only on what I had, I would just be up the creek along with everyone else. For example, it has a section on how to make "meatless meat" using wheat gluten. And it announces with pride when a recipe is 150 years old. That is a flag to me to find another recipe, because I feel like cooking and flavor has come a long way since then! :)

The positive: There are a TON of recipes, and all of them use canned, dehydrated, or storable food exclusively. It also has a good list in the front of things you should store, and a pretty detailed 'emergency substitutions' page. I looked through and marked several recipes to try. If they turn out good, I will post them here! It also had a few fun things that I want to try, like how to make your own cream of chicken soup (or mushroom, celery, etc.), how to make some spice mixes like taco seasoning (I used that this week, and it was good!). And it has a section about how to reconstitute dried foods.

The most unusual thing that I thought I might try is it suggested using unflavored gelatin as a substitute for eggs. Here are the instructions:

To substitute for 1 egg: mix 1 tsp. gelatin, 3 T cold water, 1/2 c boiling water.

Before starting to mix cookies, cake, or something else: Place cold water in a mixing bowl and sprinkle gelatin in it to soften. Mix thoroughly. Add all the boiling water and stir until dissolved. While preparing the batter, place mixture in the freezer to thicken. When recipe calls for an egg, take the mixture and whip it until it is frothy. Then add it to the batter.

I plan to buy a box of unflavored gelatin and try this out! I will let you know how it goes.
********************************

Bonus Hint for making it to the end: To improve the flavor of powdered milk, add a small amount of vanilla and chill.

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

What are you currently focused on? How is your home storage progressing? Any hints or tips or ideas to share?

It can bring a grown woman to tears... twice

So, Kydon was in a minor crash last weekend. No one was hurt, but now we deal with the annoyance of getting our car fixed, and driving a rental for a couple weeks. Not a huge deal. We have done it before, and it was annoying, but not the end of the world.

The problem? The blog-worthy story? The carseats. Times 3. Not surprisingly, there aren't a whole lot of cars that will fit 3 carseats across in a comfortable manner. Where "comfortable" is defined as being able to install them correctly, without them sitting at a 30-45 degree angle, be able to reach to click the buckle in, and not have to shove with all your might to close the door.

This car:
Does *not* fit 3 seats comfortably. Since I was not present during the crash/selection of a rental car process, I was also not there to pitch a fit give my input. Kydon spent a good 20 minutes, and rearranged them a few times, and was able to get them home. He figured it wasn't ideal, but it was possible, and we would just suck it up and deal with it for a couple weeks.



The problem? The blog-worthy story? Is that he had to do it once. I have to do it 50 freaking times a day. At LEAST twice daily, to get to and from preschool. Then if I have to go anywhere else, add at least 2 more for every trip. The boys seats aren't too bad- once installed, you can just leave them, and use the seat buckles. But Abigail's booster? A nightmare.



I have broken 4 nails. I have to crawl into the backseat, attempt to thread the belt through impossibly tight spaces, then reach actually behind the seat, and underneath Jack's seat to find and click the buckle, all while she is in the seat, understandably wiggling and complaining about being squished. Tuesday, picking her up from school, I spent 20 min in the freezing cold getting her in that stupid seat (and please feel free to substitute "stupid" for a different choice word). After 20 minutes of extreme frustration, I finally heard the *click*! But... it was Jack's seat being *unbuckled*, not hers being buckled. So I had to take both of them out, reinstall Jack's, and start over. That is when I cried. I somehow managed to get her in, and home.




Then I had to run an errand. Getting back in the car after the errand, repeat the above process. I wasn't dumb enough to repeat my earlier mistake, but after 20 minutes in the freezing cold, I finally got it buckled, but when putting the strap over her head, I pulled it too far and it locked up. I had to take her and her seat all the way out and start over. Again. Second round of tears.



Other gripes? No tapes or cd's to keep the kids happy. No backseat that I can move Abigail to when she starts bugging the kid next to her and can't seem to stop. Abigail only fits in the middle, which means she can torture both of the boys instead of just one. No heated seats for me. They are close enough to reach me, pull my hair, and throw things at me. Wah, wah, wah.


I want to swap it out, but Kydon was out of town when he was in the crash, and the rental car would have to be swapped out *there*, not here. I am still deciding if it is worth driving 4 hours to swap it. Yesterday I established a rather complicated and probably not-all-that-safe system of just loosening the belt, and making her shimmy out of/into it, then tightening it again. I will see how this goes, if it is any easier or not. If not, does anyone want to take a road trip with me and 3 kids in a very tight fitting car??? Sounds fun, huh?

I miss my friend.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Before and After

Remember this ugly room? Bad pink/cream/gold fleck wall paper. Shiny gold and plastic accessories that were all breaking and ugly. Gold frame mirror. Towel bar ripped off the wall (thanks kids), toilet paper roll ripped off the wall (thanks, kids). You get the idea. So, after a lot of hard work.....
Ta-da!

No more wallpaper! I painted it the same green/gray that is in a lot of our house. A new light fixture, I painted the mirror frame, and added some accessories!

These cute baskets hide things like extra t.p., some toothbrushes and toothpaste, that sort of thing.

And I love the wire on the wall!

It looks so good! I do still have the ugly faucet, but hopefully that will disappear soon! I can only do so much in one day! (LOL)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Congratulations!

Congratulations to Laura and Dane on their engagement! We are so, so happy for you guys! I would say welcome to the family, but Laura has been a part of our family for a while now. :)

Of course I have to make this about us, so here is the conversation telling the kids what was happening:

Me: Hey, guys- guess what? Uncle Dane is asking Laura if she wants to get married!

Abigail: To him?

Me: Yea, he's asking if she wants to get married to him.

Aidan: We go too? Fly in airplane?

Jack: Dey gonna wear wedding clothes?

Me: This means that Laura will be in our family!

Abigail: Laura is already in our family.

Me: Yep, you're right!

Congratulations, you guys! We are all really happy for you!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Answers to the adoption questions

Happy National Adoption Day!

Here are the answers to the questions I've received!

Q: What is something in the adoption process that you didn't realize (before you started) would be as hard as it was?

A: Good question! There were several things that I anticipated being hard- things like doing all the annoying paperwork, finding the money, waiting for a baby, and an adoption that fell through. Those were some of the hard things that I knew before hand would be hard.

The thing that came to mind that I didn't expect to be hard but was hard mostly has to do with the relationship with the birthmother. First let me say that I formed a relationship with all of our birthmothers much easier than I expected. I am a normally pretty quiet, reserved person. It takes me a long time to feel really comfortable with people. But with each of our birthmothers, I felt an almost instant bond and really deep connection with them. I really mean it when I say that I love them. Seeing these women carry a child/children, give birth, and then give that baby to me, is one of the most miraculous experiences of my life. Both of our birthmothers tried their best to not show us the pain and agony they were experiencing. But even just the little bit we saw was heart wrenching for me. It was so hard being there as they were going through that time. In those years, I wanted so desperately to be a mother. I would have given anything just to have a baby. But in those weeks, days, moments, I would have gladly given that baby back if it meant she didn't have to experience pain.

Before Abigail's adoption, we flew to meet her birthmother about a month before the birth. After the meeting, her caseworker told us that when we came back for placement, to just remind ourselves "we didn't cause this- we are her solution". In other words, when we see her struggling, to remember that this is what she has chosen as the best thing for her baby, and that we did not *cause* the pain. When he said this to us, I immediately thought "of course! Who would ever think otherwise?". But when we were there, and I saw the tears in her eyes, and she handed me that baby, I was so glad that I had those words to repeat to myself so that I could push away those feelings that I caused it. Sitting in a small hospital room, watching Jack and Aidan's birthmom sign away her rights as a mother. Sign a paper saying that she was no longer their mother, and that I was, I was bawling. She was strong, her mom was holding it together, and I was a wreck. I never would have thought that I would care about them so much that I would want their happiness over my own. That was the part of adoption that I never in a million years would have thought would be hard for me, but it was gut wrenching.

Ok. I'm glad this is typed, because I am totally tearing up right now!! I hope I can answer the rest without bawling! :) And I hope all the answers aren't as long- this might take a while! :)

Q: What did you do to find your babies?

A: When we first started the adoption process, not quite 6 years ago, there wasn't much of a push to 'find your baby'. When we adopted Abigail, the rules at the LDSFS agency were such that if you knew identifying information, such as a last name or address, the agency would not facilitate your adoption. So we told people we were looking to adopt, but we didn't do much networking. We had a pretty short wait, and we never really did anything besides create our agency profile and we created an online profile for the LDSFS agency.

When we were getting ready to try for another adoption, the rules had totally changed, and 'finding your baby' was a big push. So I was getting all geared up to try some things that I had heard other people doing. We hadn't quite made the step of applying yet when my sister called and asked if we might be interested in twins. We said yes, and she put us in contact with Jack and Aidan's birthmother. The connection came about because of a Yahoo group that my sister belongs to, and she had mentioned that we were trying to adopt. When a girl on this Yahoo group heard about this situation, she thought of us. So although we were matched outside of the agency, we usually say that Jack and Aidan found us, not the other way around.

Q: If you already have children, is it harder to get a baby? Like, do they offer them to the couples without kids first? Also, how long did the whole process take for you the first time?


A: I will answer the second part first, since it has a shorter answer! We started our application in December of '02. We were approved in March of '03, and we waited just 2 months before being selected. When that one didn't go through, we only waited 2 more months before we were selected again. Abigail was born in Jan of '04, so it was only about 1 year from application to when we had a baby. We were matched with Jack and Aidan in Jan of '05, and they were born in May. We had unusually short waits.

I don't think other children in the home makes it harder to adopt, nor does it make it easier. Agencies generally do not match the baby to the parents (there are a few times when the birthmother asks the agency to choose, but normally they encourage the birthfamily to choose where their baby will go). Because of the birthparents choosing, it can happen at any time for any one. I have talked to birthmothers who wanted to make sure that their child was not the oldest, or wanted to ensure they had siblings, or felt a connection to a child in a family, and made their choice based on that. I have also talked to birthmothers who wanted to help a couple who didn't have kids, or they wanted their baby to be the spoiled one, or whatever, so they used that to help choose. It really comes down to the preferences of each individual birthparent. But in general, I don't think that having other kids makes it any harder to adopt.

Q: How do couples pay the costs for adoption?

A: There are a lot of things people do to pay for adoptions. In general, most people will pay somewhere in the range of $15,000-$30,000. The first thing that helped us was the Federal Tax Credit. In 2008, you can get up to $11,500 of qualified adoption expenses credited back from the taxes you would normally pay.

After the tax credit, it is just a matter of finding money. It might come as a gift, savings, working overtime, many people do fundraisers for adoptions, getting loans, selling expensive items (we sold our really expensive car and bought a really cheap car), etc. Also, many companies offer adoption benefits.

In our case, we had a portion of the money given to us. We used our employee adoption benefits. We cut out vacations for a while, I worked a ton of overtime, and we just saved all we could. Once we paid for our first adoption, we used the money that came back from the tax credit to pay for our second. After the second, we again got most of the money back, and we put it away as our 'emergency fund'. We originally thought that if we adopted again, we would use the money for that, sort of a perpetual fund.

Q: Is overseas adoption easier or harder than U.S. adoptions?

A: Both. There are things that are harder, and things that are easier. The homestudy process is much harder. You have to do a lot more paperwork, plus you usually have to do things like get translations, send things to the State department, send it to the country you are adopting from, etc.


It can be much harder if there is political or other unrest in the country. In Guatemala for example, there were many, many adoptions coming from Guatemala to the US. I think it was second only to China for the number of adoptions. Then there were major problems uncovered with the way some of the adoptions were being handled, and it became a big mess. People who were already in the process had to either stop, losing all money and time invested, or try to keep going and hope that it would somehow go through, taking much more time and money than they first thought. A similar thing also happened recently in Vietnam. China is making changes to their program, and what used to be a 1-2 year wait has now turned into 5+. You are at the mercy of 2 different countries- the US and the country you are adopting from. If anything legal or political happens to disrupt things, it could become very difficult to complete the adoption.

On the other hand, international can sometimes be much easier. Except for big disruptions or changes, there is usually a known timeline. You can plan for your child a little easier than with domestic. In domestic adoption, you could wait 2 days or 6 years, there is no way to tell. But in international adoption, there are children in orphanages, waiting to be adopted. That makes it easier in many ways.

Also, the money that you pay for an international adoption is usually doled out in smaller chunks as you go, rather than one lump sum due at birth, so it is easier to finance. I wrote more about the differences in domestic v. international adoption in this post.


Also, domestic adoptions are usually newborns, and international are usually older infants or toddlers. It is harder to take care of a newborn, but you don't have as many worries about attachment and difficult transitions. It is easier to take care of a toddler, but they may have problems from being in an orphanage. Like most things, there are pros and cons to each choice.

*******
Whew! Did you make it to the end? If you have any follow-up questions, or thought of any new ones, please continue to ask! And Katie should be posting her questions and answers today as well, in case you need a little more reading!

Now for the fun part! The prize! There were 4 people who asked a question, and I picked an name out of a bowl. The winner is.........


Jennifer!

Ok, I know a lot of Jennifers, and I think this might be my sister Jennifer? But there isn't anything identifying on your profile, so I can't really tell! (I do feel kind of dumb for not knowing) If you are Jennifer my sister, then let me know and I will send your prize. If you are another Jennifer, send your address to momto3under2@gmail.com and I will mail it out to you! And Melinda and Rebecca, I haven't forgotten your winnings from the guessing game! I got those today too, and they will go out this week! Well, Rebecca's will.... Melinda, yours will be in the pile of 'stuff that needs to go to Melinda'. ;)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Food Friday: Those who can't do, plan.

Actually posting on Friday this week- woo hoo!

Wednesday of this week, I was thinking about my Food Friday blog post (thank goodness for the weekly accountability- it sure does keep it on my mind). I was feeling pretty down, thinking that there was minimal progress last week, and it wasn't looking good for this week either.

Then a friend gave me a link- http://www.foodstoragemadeeasy.net/. I checked it out, and it looked awesome! They have an excel spreadsheet you can download that will make the 3 months of food supply very simple! It is the sort of thing I would think that I really need, but there is no way I would have the time, energy, desire or know-how to do it myself. I went ahead and put in all my meals, and now I have a shopping list of things I need, and I will be able to buy things on sale, and gather things as I go, but in a deliberate and planned way, instead of the haphazard way I normally go about things.

You will have to check it out on their website, the link to go straight to the excel spreadsheet is here. Here is a simplified breakdown of how it works:

  1. Plan out your meals for 1 month. Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.
  2. Then make a master list of ingredients (ex: you use beans in 3 different recipes, but you would list it in the master list just once).
  3. After your ingredients list is made, you go back to your meal plans, and choose which ingredients are in each meal from a drop down menu created by your master list.
  4. Once that step is done, you return to your master ingredients list and put in how many servings are in the size you buy (ex: if you have 2 c. noodles listed as an ingredient, and you usually buy boxes that have 6 cups in them, you would put '3' as your servings/box. Or if you use 1 can of beans, you can list '1' as servings/can).
  5. Now- all done! You click on the tab at the bottom, and your shopping list shows up. It lists how many you need to buy, etc.
  6. It also has a place to list normal prices for each of the items, so that you can look for sales and stock up when things are cheap.

The process was a little tedious- it is pretty detailed. They have a video tutorial, which helped a lot, but I got bored and just wanted to jump into it! It took me about 6 hours to work through all of the above steps (except #6- I haven't done that one yet). But all of those 6 hours were while kids were awake, so I was jumping up every few minutes to do things with them.

I did 4 different breakfasts (to be repeated 7 times each through the month):

  • breakfast burrito
  • Cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • pancakes

7 different lunches (to be repeated 4 times each through the month):

  • peanut butter/honey
  • tuna and crackers
  • ckn noodles
  • roll up sandwich
  • mac and cheese
  • peanut butter/jelly
  • tomato soup

And 14 different dinners (to be repeated twice each through the month):

  • Lemon Chicken Pasta
  • Chili
  • Ground Beef Taco Bake
  • Chicken and Rice Bake
  • Black Bean Soup
  • Bean/Cheese Burritos
  • Beef Stroganoff
  • Pizza
  • Quesadillas
  • Tuna noodle casserole
  • Manicotti
  • Mexican Noodle Bake
  • Haystacks

I decided at this point to use my freezer to store things like meat, cheese, some vegetables, and bread. Eventually I would like my 3 month storage to be all non-perishable, but I will be happy with this to get started.

There is also some further tweaking needed. When I printed out my shopping list, it said I needed 72 cans of chicken! I need to find some good vegetarian/bean recipes and swap them for some of the chicken options. Also, I didn't include any side dishes. Most of the recipes are casserole type meals, and I will have stuff on hand to make breads and rolls, but eventually I would like to add things for side dishes.

But this gives me a GREAT place to start! I can add these things into my meal planning (I'm thinking once every other month or once every third month to rotate the food), and I can start buying extra at the grocery store. I like the idea of buying extra, but I don't like the idea of random, disorganized stuff at home, so this works really well for me.

Have you done anything this week to further your supply? Is there a way to plan something, even if you can't buy something this week? Do you have a good recipe to share that would use canned or non-perishable items?

It ain't always cute

Yesterday, Abigail was at preschool. I was working on a project. Jack and Aidan were playing nicely in their room. Or so I thought. When I went to check, I found that they were actually playing in *my* room, never a good sign.

First I found this: My nicely folded laundry, all dumped out on the floor. Granted, in the big scheme of things, not that bad.

But they also did this... with my new nylons. Not exactly sure what they were trying for, but it looks like some sort of sling-shot contraption. This started the steam-out-the-ears, because I destest buying nylons, and I just bought these a week ago. Now they are ruined.And then I turned to find this pile:
Yes, that would be every blanket, sheet, and pillow off the bed in a big pile. And since it wasn't quite big enough, they proceeded to empty out every single drawer in our bedroom; that would be 12 drawers full of folded clothes, socks, and underwear. That I now had to fold and put away. I had them help, but I had to do the majority of the work. It took a good hour.

And then, when I was checking for more damage, I opened my closet, and discovered that the cat had been locked in the closet over night, and she decided to express her displeasure. All over the carpet.

The bright side? I found 2 pairs of jeans that I had stuck in a rarely-used drawer and had forgotten about. I am wearing one of them today, thank you very much.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Win For Auburn!

Q&A for Adoption still going on! Click here to ask a question and enter the contest!

Jack and Aidan playing "football"- they came up with their own outfits. Jack had on Dane's T-shirt, pants over his footie pajamas, and pants for a helmet. Aidan had his "Auburn shirt", it had to be tucked in for some reason, and pants for a helmet.

They were both on the same team, since they both had to be 'Auburn'.

This is the touchdown celebration!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Q&A for National Adoption Month

Happy National Adoption Month!

Is there anything you can do to celebrate adoption this month? How about going into your kids school and reading a book about adoption? You don't have to be an adoptive parent to spread the word that adoption is a wonderful thing! I'm sure you could find a book at the library, or you could buy one to donate to the school library. My personal favorite is "Tell me again about the night I was born" by Jamie Lee Curtis (yes, that Jamie Lee Curtis- it is an awesome book).

To celebrate on this blog, I am going to copy my friend Katie and have a contest! Ask any adoption-related question in the comments section. I will answer all the questions here, and pick a random winner. You will get something fun in the mail!

I am pretty open about all things adoption related, and I love to tell people more about adoption. Don't worry about offending me- I am not easily offended! Ask away- the contest ends on Saturday, which is National Adoption Day!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Who's the Man?

When we needed an extremely heavy peg board hung in our new garage to organize the tools, who did it?

When we have a home improvement project like removing wallpaper, painting, mudding, sanding, caulking or changing hardware, who does it?

When we need a light fixture changed out, who does it?

When the furniture needs to be moved, who uses all their strength to move big dressers and desks up or down several flights of stairs?

When the shelf in Dane's closet completely collapses and all the clothes, boxes and shelves are in a big heap, who gets the tools, puts it back together and cleans it all up?

Is it one of the TWO big, strong, men in the house? Or is it the little woman who spends her days cooking, cleaning, washing clothes and looking after the children?

I'll give you one guess. Hear me Roar.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Food Friday: Something is better than nothing

Food Friday on Sunday again. Friday I was busy doubling my weight. Goal for next week is to actually publish my Friday post on Friday. I know, I am ambitious.... what can I say- I like to shoot for the stars!

I almost did nothing this week. Well, I did my freezer meal, but it wasn't looking good for anything else. Then I was at the grocery store, and just decided to buy *something*, even if it wasn't hardly anything.

I bought 2 of those giant bags of Malt-O-Meal cereal. My kids love the honey-nut O's. I spent $10, and now I am another tiny step closer to my goal.

My problem lately has been finding the cash to further my goals. We have switched to a cash budget system, and I seem to be running out of money a lot faster than when I just swiped my card! LOL.

How do you find the extra money to stock up? Especially when money is tight, gas was high, food is getting more expensive, and Christmas is coming? I would love some ideas. Right now we are just going slowly, doing what we can and utilizing extra money that sometimes comes our way. Do you have any great ideas?

I would love to make major progress each week, but like all things, it happens mostly in spurts. As long as I remain committed, and don't give up, the prize is still in sight. And, now, if there is ever a morning when we really need some honey-nut O's, we have them. I couldn't say that before this week. :)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Emotional eater, who?

The total? 2660. Two thousand, six hundred, sixty. One bag of ruffles and an entire tub of Dean's French Onion Dip. Almost double the amount of calories I should eat for an entire day.

I didn't eat it all in one sitting, but I did eat it all in one day. Ugh. Lets see.... I usually burn about 250 calories in 40 min on my exercise bike, so it should only take me about SIX THOUSAND HOURS to burn it off.

Rebecca wins for remembering my snack of choice, and Melinda wins for having the closest guess to the number of calories. Your prize will be coming soon!

What could you eat way too much of? What do you reach for when life is driving you crazy? Please let me know- Kydon has 2 more weekends plus one whole week of school- I need to stock up! :) And Turtle chex mix is on the list! And salsa and cream cheese, and peanut m&ms. Well, so much for my weight loss the past few months. :)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Guilty confession game


Today started out rough. No sleep through the night, tantrums at 2 am, 3 kids awake and wild at 5 am, time outs and extra jobs by 6, and I knew it was going to be a looong day with Kydon at school.

I took the boys grocery shopping. They were W-I-L-D. Jumping around, yelling, throwing glass bottles of spaghetti sauce out of the cart, running away, etc.

I decided to buy myself a snacky treat. I bought plenty, thinking I could have it all weekend, share with Kydon and Dane, and I would just eat a little.

Yea right. I.ate.the.whole.thing. All of it. All gone. I just barely stopped short of licking the bag.

So here is the game. We will play hi/low to guess how many calories I consumed eating it all myself. Make a guess in the comments, I will say higher or lower, and the winner will get a little surprise in the mail! There will be a bonus if you can guess what it was I ate. May as well have a little fun with my guilt!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Simple Pleasures

Conversation today on the backyard swings:

Abigail (to Jack): Jack, are you a butt?

Jack: Waaaahhhhhhhhh

Me: Abigail, that isn't a nice thing to say. If you say it again, you will have to go inside.

Abigail: I didn't call him a butt, I just asked if he was a butt.

Jack: Waaaaaahhhhhhh

Me: Abigail, not nice.

Abigail: Can I call the backyard a butt?

Me: No calling anything 'butt'.

Abigail (under her breath): I just want to say "butt".

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tag for National Adoption Month

I got tagged! It was a long time ago, but that's how thing happen sometimes. Wendy is an amazing person. I find myself constantly wishing I could be more like her. It is an honor to be tagged by her! Thanks Wendy!

Here are the rules:

1.Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Share 6 nonimportant things/habits/quirks about yourself.
4. Tag 6 random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
5. Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.

Well, since it is my blog, I can change it a little, right? I've already done lots of random things about me here, so I thought I would list non-random things. In honor of National Adoption Month, I am going to list 6 things about my adoption experiences.


  1. Our first match with a birthmom did not result in an adoption. We were very upset, and in my desire to be in control of an uncontrollable situation, I decided that the 3 months we had spent on hold had been way too long. I determined in my head that I wasn't going to agree to be on hold for any longer than 2 months. I realize now how silly that is, and I don't know what I would have done if I had been contacted by a birthmom during that time, but I think it was just part of my grieving reaction to try and put more things under my control. Anyway, one of our adoption miracles is that when Abigail's birthmom wrote us an email telling us that she had chosen us to be the parents of her little girl, one line said "I have known for a while that you were the right family, but I felt like the timing needed to be just right". She wrote us the letter on November 12, and her due date was Jan 10. I cried when I read that, knowing that it was a small but meaningful miracle that she had waited to tell us, knowing that it was important somehow. Not important to anything or anyone but me. And I am grateful for that miracle.

  2. From the time I was very young, the picture in my head of my 'future family' was always multi-racial. I always thought I would adopt children of another race. As we feel a deep satisfaction and peace with our family, that seems like less and less of a reality. I don't mourn this loss, as I am very content with my children and situation, but it is a different reality than what I had always pictured.

  3. I like it when things happen the way I picture them. After learning some basics of adoption, we sort-of had some things planned in our head. We figured we would do an agency adoption first, then a private adoption, then do an international adoption and adopt two at once. We had a successful agency adoption, we then were lucky enough to find a birthmom and do a private adoption for our second. We didn't do international, but we did adopt two at once. Mostly life does not go according to plan, so it is nice when sometime it does.

  4. Another miracle story. When we adopted Jack and Aidan, they were what is known as a "legal risk" placement. That means they are not legally free for adoption, but we take them home anyway, hoping for the best. We were worried and stressed, thinking that we might have to take them back, and knowing how badly we wanted to keep them. The whole time we were getting them, and taking care of them, I kept having the thought come to my mind "It will be hard, and there will be a lot of things happen, but in the end, they will be yours". This was the answer to my prayers. There were plenty of times I doubted this feeling, but when I could let go of my fear and hold onto my faith, I knew that it would be hard (which it was), and a lot of things would happen (they did), but in the end we would get the boys (and we did). Those thoughts and feelings were one of our many miracles.

  5. I have never, ever felt like I was raising someone else's kids. They are mine, all mine. I have never had a biological child, but it simply wouldn't be possible to feel more like someone's mother, or that they were more my child than what I feel now.

  6. Of everyone in our crazy family, the two that look the *least* alike are Jack and Aidan, who are the only two that are biologically related. Kydon and I get told often that we look like brother/sister, Abigail and I are always told we look alike, I often get that Aidan looks like Kydon and that Jack looks like Abigail. But when I tell people that Jack and Aidan are twins, the usual response is "Really??" "Wow, they look nothing alike"!

Ok, in keeping with the adoption theme, I will tag 6 friends that I know through adoption:

Holly, Jennifer, Kara, Amanda, Amanda, Kim, Mary Kate

A Day to Celebrate

Today is a historic day in our country. Today will be a day that our children and grandchildren will ask us to tell them about. I am celebrating the election of our newest president!

I agree with some of his policies, but there are many I don't agree with. I said the same thing for McCain. I realized pretty early on in this election that there just wasn't a candidate that truly represented my views. So then it was just deciding which one was closest, which one I felt would do the better job, and which one I simply liked more. I was on the fence for a long, long time.

But have you heard his speeches? This man is inspirational. I feel hope and power when he speaks. I feel like he will listen to advisers, but still be the commander-in-chief. I feel he has the ability and ideas to get us where we need to be.

And I love that this is a historic moment. It is overdue, in my opinion, but I'm happy it did happen. Recently I had a conversation with a 6 year old who told me that Obama can't win because "he doesn't look like a president". No longer will kids (or adults) be able to say that. It will no longer be an unconscious message that we send. No longer will leadership and power be only associated with old, white men.

I celebrate this day!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Do us all a favor

I went to the polls today. I took a 4 year old and two 3 year olds with me. I dread things like lines, crowds, and no shopping carts or wagons to contain all the children. But I went. While I was there, every single poll worker told me 'thank you'. At first I thought it was strange- why are they telling me thank you? Isn't this my responsibility? They are acting like I am doing them a favor. How strange.

But then I realized..... I am doing them a favor. Just as everyone who makes the effort to vote today is doing us all a favor. Go ahead. Do it. It isn't always easy, or convenient, or the funnest thing in the world, but it is important. Cast your ballot. Make your preference known.

If I can do it, so can you!



Monday, November 3, 2008

Inspiration

Well, a while ago I posted about not feeling very inspired. A few days ago, I got two different emails, each with very good news. All of a sudden, I felt the inspiration hit! I felt a huge motivational push! I wanted to *do* something! Get something done! Work on something!

Did I focus my energy on this.....
Uh, no.

Did I make progress on one of my many "started but not finished" projects?
Of course not.
I started this:

But don't worry, I have help (?).

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Food Friday: Freezer Meals

Yes, I know it is Sunday. I was busy. Ok, I just forgot. But better late than never, right? That seems to be the motto for my life lately.


Today I thought I would talk about freezer meals. I first found out about this idea several years ago from a friend of mine. I thought it sounded like a good idea, and filed it under "I should do that someday". Someday came when we were expecting the twins. I think it was actually after they were born and I realized that finding time to make dinner was pretty hard. And even more difficult was thinking of something every single day to make. Creativity is not one of my strong points. So it was freezer meals to the rescue! For a while I had major stockpiles- easily a month or two of meals, and I used them pretty much every day.


S0 there are a few ways to do freezer meals. We tried the book recommendation. Freezer cooking is often called "once a month cooking". Basically you take one marathon cooking day, make all your food for a month, and stick it in the freezer. Then you are done until next month. We did that method twice. It usually took both of us working all day, and we never got it all done in a day- it usually took 2 or 3 days to finish it all. After trying it twice, we decided to adjust it a little. We have tried several different methods, and what we do now works best for me. At least at this stage in my life. Once a week, I make a 'freezer meal'. I make enough for at least 3 meals, we eat one for dinner that night, and I stick the other two in the freezer. Since once a week I make 3 meals, that means that twice a week I can pull meals out of the freezer for our dinner. Once you get a supply of different meals, you can rotate them so you are eating different things every night.


Some things freeze better than others. I have 3 different freezer meal cookbooks, and there are a lot of websites with good recipes. In my freezer right now I have:
  • Enchiladas
  • Sloppy joe mix
  • Chicken and broccoli curry
  • Squash and sausage skillet
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • hamburgers
  • Black bean soup
  • Tamales
  • Lasagna

The next two weeks I will be making meatloaf and honey dijon pork chops. I love having food in the freezer, all cooked and ready to go. I don't like it for every single night, since I do have time to cook and I like different things, but those days when time is tight or energy is non-existent, or the fridge is bare, it is wonderful to be able to open the freezer and pull out a home-made dinner all cooked and just needing a little heat.

Goal progress tracker:

3 day supply of water: I consider this goal accomplished. I have my 15 gallons of recommended water, and I have two 2-liter bottles of water in the freezer. I might like a couple more, but I consider myself done with water.

30 Freezer meals: I have 14 in the freezer. In order to build up my supply, I am currently freezing 2 meals a week, and using one. It will build slowly but surely. 14 is much better than the zero I had when I started my food Friday feature.

3 month supply of non-perishables: I made one baby step for this one. I have one dinner plan, but there is still a long way to go on this.

1 year supply of basic necessities: No progress here yet. I have an appointment for the Home canning center. This is a good reminder that I need to stay focused on getting some of these things in place.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween, past and present

I've seen several blogs show pictures from the past Halloween's, and it has been so cute to see that I decided to copy the idea!

Here we are in 2003:

We used to have a huge Halloween party every year, with decorations, costumes, all kinds of awesome food, pumpkin carving, and lots of friends.

Then 2004, with the arrival of Abigail:
I spent hours and hours and hours searching the stores and internet for just the perfect costume! I was so in love with this one! And then even more hours posing her and taking pictures and sitting her next to pumpkins! What an adorable butterfly!



Then 2005, the arrival of Jack and Aidan, and the loss of life as we knew it.....


Yep, Abigail still fit her butterfly costume, and that was the best we could do.

I was going to have Jack and Aidan be a cowboy and an indian. I got the indian outfit made (it took all of 1 hour, but it took at least 3 weeks to actually get it done). But the cowboy never got done. So at the last minute, we dressed Aidan in his Carolina Panthers outfit and smeared makeup under his eye. Not really sure what we were going for, but he looked miserable festive.

2006: Abigail was a princess (pink this year), and Jack and Aidan were Thing 1 and Thing 2.

I went as myself. Didn't even have to dress up or change. It was nice.

2007 got a little better! The boys were obsessed with trains, and were loving these outfits:
And Abigail was a princess (what else?)
And here we are in 2008!

I wanted to get a picture of my 3, and this little cutie just jumped right in! She was so happy to be in the picture that I just couldn't ask her to leave! Of course it is the one time that all 3 are facing the same direction and smiling!

Abigail as Dorothy, Jack as Spiderman, and Aidan still loves Thomas.
Here is the whole crowd at my sister's Halloween party. Good food, lots of friends, and a bucket full of candy. Who wouldn't love Halloween?