Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December was a Whirlwind and saying good-bye to 2014

So the New Year is upon us and I've been slack in writing as of late.

It’s been a whirlwind of holiday activity here since returning from California at the beginning of the month.  I honestly can’t believe how busy we've been with visits, gatherings, travel, and Christmas.
I flew to Atlanta the middle of the month to spend time with friends and we had a blast and the bonus was my friends from Tennessee were able to drive out for the day and ended up staying overnight.  Really had a fantastic time playing games, telling stories, and just relaxing in each other’s company. One couple was approved for Fostering up to 6 children and a couple days after I got home they had a full house.  I hope they had a fabulous Christmas with the kids. We couldn't be happier for you!

After coming home it was a scramble to get the gifts wrapped before Don came home from Atlanta and finish decorating.  That weekend was a “reunion” dinner for the folks who went to Ghana this year as a way to catch up and share food that the hosts felt resembled things they ate while there.  I have to say it was incredible. The 6 course meal was spectacular and the company even better.  I’d only met the hosts as I took their picture with the Ghana group at the airport before they all left, so I was a bit nervous heading to their home for dinner.  I had a great time; they are super people I wouldn't mind getting to know better.

The following day was a get together with our friends we haven’t seen in a few months. Lots of catching up, played a few games, and then so much fun watching the football game together that evening (which we won!).  Wish we could see them tomorrow but we’ll be with other friends and they will be with family.

The week of Christmas has arrived and Mom has Pneumonia so can’t bring my nephew to our house to stay a few days.  She also can’t come to Christmas Eve dinner. I plan to head down to pick up my nephew while mom revisits the doctor and hopes she isn't put in the hospital and Don went to help a coworker move into her new Condo. When he finished helping her move, he went to the mall to do some Christmas shopping and I must say he did a good job! Mom was given some different antibiotics and steroids to help her lungs/cough and was by her account feeling so much better by Christmas Eve, although she still didn't have much of a voice.  I even said “You sound horrible, how are you doing?” and she responded “I feel so much better! No, really, I don’t sound it but I do.” The only thing that saved her from a hospital stay was that she didn't have a fever.  I’m so glad she at least got to be home in her own bed to rest and I could keep her updated with texts. Our nephew immediately wanted to watch Guardians of the Galaxy when we got to our house.  I bring this up because about half way through he fell asleep and I took a picture.  It isn't often teens take naps but they should and my dogs joined in.  The rest of the time was spent playing with our board games, watching movies, and playing video games with uncle Don on my computer.  I've seen the future where I no longer get time on my computer LOL! Joking aside we really had a great couple days and are looking forward to his next visit.

Christmas Eve was our day for Christmas with my family this year so my nephew could be home with his family for Christmas day.  I did most of the food prep the night before so it was a pretty seamless just put it all in the oven on time.  My mom’s husband was coming up so we waited for him to get off work and arrive which was killing Colin who was anxiously counting down to his arrival so he could open his gifts and get his stocking.  I remember those days; I really can’t wait until we have our own family to watch as they wake us early and want to dive right in. He was such a trooper as Tom was here for about an hour before we started exchanging gifts.  He was super anxious for me to find the gift he hid in the tree.  I wish I had pictures of his face as I walked to the opposite side of the tree to look for wrapping paper and he was commenting how it wasn't there.  Turns out he wrapped and hid the gift himself and he was pretty happy about it.  I’d say he did a great job as it took me a couple minutes to find it.  Once the gifts were done, Colin started playing his new game on Xbox while I finished our dinner. Tom would take him home later that evening.

The following morning Don and I spent time just relaxing and talking to family.  We then planned to head over to his Sister’s house for dinner and we introduced them to Cards against Humanity.  They loved it.  It was a blast watching them play and then we fixed a non conventional dinner of steak, stuffed potatoes, crab legs, and broccoli.  It was so yummy and a refreshing change from the normal holiday foods we all typically serve.  Sadly she had to be up early to open the next day so we made it a fairly early night but not before she sent half a pie home with us because no one had room for it after dinner.

Fast forward and here we are on New Year’s Eve.  I can’t believe another year is about to pass.  We’ll be having dinner with a couple friends and then heading to a gathering of live music and food at their friends place to ring in 2015! Here’s hoping 2015 is even better than 2014 and that we all remember the importance of family, friends, and community. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Decorating for my Favorite Holiday

We’re back from our drive to California for Thanksgiving.  It was great to see our family and friends but so nice to be back home. The fun has started with Christmas right around the corner.  I already have my shopping done, just need to wrap what’s here and wait a couple more days for the remainder to arrive. I hope the kids enjoy the gifts from their wish lists this year.

On Sunday we went to the farm to get our tree and we normally get a 6-7 foot tree but not this year.  This year we picked out a HUGE 9-10 foot tree and cut the top and base.  It was extremely full with no holes in the foliage.  We just couldn't pass it up even knowing my angel tree topper wouldn't be going on top of the tree this year.  I even had to go out and buy more LED lights for the tree.
Decorating the house and tree make the holiday for me. Don moves the tree in and sets it up then leaves me to start decorating it. I can’t wait to share the decorating with our child.

 I love the smell of a natural tree in the house and the ornaments that bring back memories or new ones that I buy to remind me of the year. 

The year we moved to Washington we spent Christmas in our apartment with his parent’s visiting. We had a small tree with few ornaments but Don did get me the M & M lights I really wanted and they still work to this day over 20 years later.  Christmas day would stick in my mind forever as he left the room after we opened gifts, only to get down on his knee and propose.  We've never looked back from that day on and it makes Christmas ever more special to me.

I’m still putting out the decorations this year and hope to get the outside lights done on Sunday.  We have rain slated for the next couple days, tapering off on Saturday so it should melt the ice on the roof so we can safely put the lights up. Saturday night we hope to go to Zoo Lights at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. I’m super excited about the light displays this year and can’t wait to make new memories with our future child.

I need to finish the decorating and get down to our Christmas cards this week.  We got our first one in the mail today. It can be hard to sum up the year for the cards, especially when adopting and having no new news to share. Some folks are great with the year in review family newsletters and it just hasn't ever been my strong point.  I like adding just a small personal note to each card but may try the newsletter approach again. Time will tell which approach wins out this year.
Here are a few favorites to leave you with as I get back to decorating and listening to Christmas music.
Movies: White Christmas, Elf, Miracle on 34th St (original), A Christmas Carol (Patrick Stewart) and A Nightmare before Christmas

Music: A Merry Affair CD with Various artists singing new and classic songs, White Christmas, Now that’s what I call Christmas! vol. 1

Friday, November 14, 2014

Holiday Traditions

As the holidays are fast approaching some of our Holiday Traditions begin with when we’ll be visiting family in California.  This year it’s for Thanksgiving.  Since we drive down I actually prefer going in November because there is a lot less snow and ice. I love taking the dogs to the beach to run and play and the warmer temps make it more enjoyable for us all.

Our drive down typically has us stopping to visit long time friends in the Sacramento area before heading south to spend the holiday week with our families. While we get to visit with them the dogs have a blast in the large fenced yard playing with our friend’s son. I think besides the beach it’s what they look forward to every year.  They get super excited as we pull into the driveway and literally pull us to the house. The other must is In n Out burger. I've actually made a list of where they are for the drive down this year.

Once we get to our hotel we break up the week with a day to visit each family cluster with Thanksgiving Day with Don’s family. Usually after Thanksgiving we will stop at Don’s parents for breakfast before we head out to drive home.  We once again stop in at our friend’s place for the night and head out early the next day for the longest portion of the drive home – 12 hours.  I drink lots of coffee that day.

Once we get home the real fun for me begins.  After unpacking I get to drag out all the Christmas decorations and begin decorating while I listen to Christmas music or watching my favorite holiday movies. Christmas is my favorite holiday by far.  I will probably pull the boxes out and put them upstairs before we leave this year since Thanksgiving is so late in the month. On years when we’re home we go to the farm and get our tree the day after Thanksgiving and I spend the day decorating it. Then over the next few days, as the tree settles, I will move things around. I can’t wait to share getting the tree and the decorating with our little one.
Colin loves to play with the trains around the tree

Once the weekend hits we move outside to put out the lights. I love just sitting outside with nothing but the shine from the Christmas lights. I enjoy seeing all the decorations as I drive down the streets; we have some spectacularly decorated homes on our street.  We go with the basics though, Santa in a sleigh on the roof and lights around the house and garage.

I love cooking and baking for my family during the holidays and can’t wait to share that with our future child.  I remember doing that with my mom and aunts every year and can’t wait to pass it in. So we host Christmas most years sometimes for my whole extended family and others just my immediate family. When it’s just a small gathering rather than use china, I always have fun bringing out the Looney Tunes Fiesta Ware for Christmas dinner.  Other people use china and I go with a fun approach more than a formal one.  It’s always fun asking the nephews what character they want and setting it all up on the table. This year will just be us, my mom and her husband and my nephew and it’ll be Christmas Eve dinner instead of Christmas day. I don’t mind though as we want to spend time with my nephew and with his mom having Christmas off this year, Christmas Eve is the day.
wish they still made these

My mom no longer eats meat so I called to ask about certain dishes this year for the Christmas dinner and our nephew yelled out I want ham! Well OK I guess we’re having ham and lots of Veggie dishes. Don will be on board with that since he’d rather not eat 2 week’s worth of turkey in a 4 week span. This seems to be a new tradition we’re forming after I made ham for Colin last year.

We will wind down the holidays on New Year’s Eve by watching the movie of the same name, playing games and then watching the ball drop in Times Square or watch the Space Needle fireworks. We don’t like going out unless it’s to our friend’s place earlier in the day and then we just stay the night.  We don’t want to be out on the road.

Friday, November 7, 2014

November is National Adoption Month

I've been reading a lot of quotes and statements so far this month and prior (thanks Pinterest) and I thought I’d say what open adoption means to us.

Adoption is a journey without a time frame

Adoption is not for the faint of heart or weak of patience

Adoption is “The Wait”

Adoption is the path to fulfill our dreams of becoming parents

Adoption is not an easy path to parenthood

Adoption is a way to bring us joy with an extended family

Adoption is about trust

Adoption is about loss for all involved

Adoption is stressful

Adoption is an expectant mom making the choice out of love for her child and herself

Adoption is the community that brings you up when you’re down

Adoption teaches you to play to your strengths; you will need them in the wait

Adoption is about living everyday waiting for the phone to ring, email to come in, or text

Open Adoption is about families coming together

The Adoption Wait is taking vacations to take your mind off the waiting

Adoption is having faith and hope that your child finds you

Adoption is about the child having a connection to their birth families

Adoption is a unique journey for all involved

Adoption is going to be so worth it!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

To buy or to make

So someone I follow on Twitter mentioned making baby food tonight and it got me thinking on the subject.

I used to make our dog food and dog treats along with meals for ourselves to put in the freezer for the week, every Sunday.  A few hours’ worth of work to ease the work week was so worth it to me.  We had a friend who’d come over on Mondays and ask what kind of “Pates” I’d made for the week and could she have some (She loved the beef or liver with vegetable ones).  I usually gave her some for the week and she’d eat it with bread or crackers more than her dog would.  You may be thinking ewwww! But it was human food ground up so it was a Pate.  She even asked how to make it when we moved away.

I rarely make the dog’s food or treats anymore with so many organic 100% USA sourced grain free products available but do enjoy making the whole families pet’s goodies for Christmas.

Since I no longer work outside the home I don’t need to do our food  anymore but I already know I’ll be tackling the baby food around here so I know exactly what our baby is eating. I’ve seen these elaborate baby centric food makers in the stores and online and I think, WHY? A good Cuisinart or blender does the same job and I already have them.  I also have strainers to ensure it gets the right texture and without chunks for stage one and two foods.  I understand that maybe you’d like to be able to pouch up your food for trips with a toddler but that won’t be me.  I’d prefer to keep the aluminum away from their food as much as possible.

I have canning jars in a 4oz size and those will work great for baby food. They even make plastic lids now for the jars.  I also have tiny glass Pyrex containers I can freeze the food in.  With the cost and/or additives even in organic baby foods, I just prefer to have them eat what we are eating since I’m cooking it anyway.

I realize I am writing this without a baby and the sleepless days and nights aren’t upon us yet but coming to us eventually. So I may be reverting to the once or twice a week cook and freeze method of a few years ago but at least I know it’s that important to me to make it myself. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Photographic year in review

It’s officially our one year anniversary for the adoption “Live” date. 
Here is a picture review of how we've spent that year. You'll notice I'm usually behind the camera and didn't include all the gardening, pumpkin picking, and pet photos. 
October 28, 2013

November 2013
Driving to CA to see family
 Date night

our nephew at our place for Christmas

January 2014
Our Maui trip

Playing games


Our 18th wedding anniversary

grandpa's 91st birthday

Don's birthday
 Las Vegas trip

 my birthday

family time

Seeing friends and family in Dallas and Brady

 redid the front deck

BBQ and movies with friends

 Swimming at the lake

4th of July

Dragon Con in Atlanta with friends

Finished the upper patio and walkway

The guys out salmon fishing

Happy dogs

baking bread

Ghana trip to build schools

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Letter...

To Someone I've never met,

I know we talked through messages about 6 weeks ago.  I know you are being proactive in searching your soul for an answer that only you can find. I want you to know I am here if ever you need me.

I can only see what you let me and what I do see is an incredible lady who is wise beyond her years and has a great sense of humor.  I see that person hurting and lonely and yet loved and supported. I see your faith, determination and strength of will.  Hang onto that as you continue forward.

Only you can determine what is right for you because ultimately it’s your life.  Don’t let those with closed minds or hearts disrupt yours.  You are a beautiful person inside and out.  Let yourself shine bright and enjoy everything around you even if it seems hard, you will get through it.  If life didn't have challenges we’d never learn how to navigate the world and the others in it or to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.  

I've been asked why I care about someone I don’t even know and the answer is simple.  I care because it’s who I am and you reached out to me.  I care because as I watch from a distance my heart breaks as I read some of what you’re dealing with.  I can’t imagine how you feel but I can empathize with you. I know when something happens and I send a message that it will go unanswered and that’s OK.  I’m sending it anyway because I want you to know you aren't alone.

As you travel along the pregnancy road remember to be kind to yourself.  It isn't easy navigating pregnancy as your body changes and growing baby is keeping you up.  It’s increasingly more difficult to keep up with work and school when you’re exhausted and sick.  You are doing it though!

We don’t know if you will make an adoption plan or if you’ll parent but either way please know we are here and we care about you.  You can talk to us anytime if you need someone outside your circle to talk to without pressure to choose one way or the other.

Respectfully yours,


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

When in a crunch....

Last week Don was asked to make large stencils for Adanu, the charity he is working with for the school buildings.  He came home and said they need to be 3 feet by 3 feet.  My reaction was one of panic. Stencil materials sold in stores are at best 12” by 18”.  My mind went into a spin of what the heck can we use that is durable, easy to cut, thin, and can be rolled up to get over to Ghana in checked luggage.

After some time double checking the internet and no time to order the stencils made from a specialty shop, I went in search of whatever may work at the various stores in our area.  I looked at For Sale signs but they didn't come quite large enough and would probably crack if rolled.  Next up, carpet padding but it isn't thin enough and would absorb too much paint. I even looked at car mats and desk mats but they have those carpet grippers on them.

Off to the vinyl flooring which I didn't hold out much hope for since it is usually sold in boxes of 12” by 12” tiles these days. I got lucky because they had pre-cut rolls that were 6 feet by 9 feet and affordable. It was also nice and thin so it’d cut easily and just like regular craft stencils it won’t absorb the paint and will be durable to use over and over.

I bought the flooring and brought it home.  Don took it to work to project the images and get them traced for cutting.  Everyone was floored and excited because they never would have thought to look at vinyl flooring as an option for making stencils. Don will finish the last stencil tonight and get it packed up with the others.

When in a crunch always look in the most unlikely of places to find what will work. So if you ever need to make large stencils cheaply; head to the local home improvement store before spending lots of money elsewhere.

I now have a pin for Pinterest that doesn't seem to be represented much, if at all, so thanks for the challenge! I'm glad I met it with creative success.
The front of the flooring and flip it over to trace out your design.  Don uses a ruler, box cutter and Xacto knife to cut it out.

Friday, October 17, 2014

I talked with our AC (Adoption Coordinator) yesterday.  It’s always nice to touch base and get her perspective on our questions.  I love that she’s an adoptive parent and can give that insight from her personal experience as well as her professional.  

We are in a non-IAC state meaning we have a different set of regulations we’ll go through once we are matched with an expectant mom. It’s all the same paperwork and processes but it will go between the state the mother lives in (unless it happens to be an IAC state) and our state agency. We also had our Home Study completed by our state.  Our State social worker is also an adoptive mom and she’s such a wonderfully supportive woman. This year at our home study renewal she told us she just had her first grandchild. I can’t wait to say that one day.

I can’t imagine trying to navigate adoption without all the support we've had. Not just through family, friends and the agency but the community as well.  It’s great to be able to ask questions or just vent and get the insights of others going through it now or in the past.  It also helps reading other peoples posts to the forum or blog posts. It’s been invaluable through our journey so far.

So as we close in on our go live date 10 days from now I have to say we've come a long way and are looking forward to what lies ahead. Here’s hoping our baby finds us soon. Visit our Iheart page or Adoptimist

Monday, October 13, 2014

Prepping for Ghana

Don is going to Ghana again this year with some of his co-workers and the charity Adanu. They build sanitation facilities and Schools for the local Villages.  He went last year and loved every minute of it. I love his enthusiasm about going and helping this Charity. We believe in the work they do and I’m glad Don can be a part of it.

Last year they stayed in town but this year they will be staying in the village. Don is excited about that. He enjoyed the town last year but not the long bumpy drive every morning and evening getting from the inn to the village and back.
Team arrival
This was the good part of the road

They don’t just build but get a few side trips while there as well.  They went to the Monkey Sanctuary, Water Falls, The market place in Accra, and the beach last year.  I think they are only going to the Market and Monkey Sanctuary this time.  Don said he wants to take video of the monkeys this year.  They are so quick to grab the bananas from you and run.

The prep this year has been a lot easier than last year and we've gotten some great deals on things to donate.  We found 192 notebooks for .22 cents each.  That was the best deal of the day I think. We also found boxes of 48 crayons for .45 cents a box so we bought every box they had.  These are going to be great for the schools and the kids. I just bought Soccer ball pumps and needles today so once they get to the Charity headquarters they can begin pumping up the soccer balls they are taking. Don is also taking 400 dice to donate and teach the kids and adults some dice games similar to Yahtzee.  The dice can also serve as a math teaching tool for the younger children. The balloons they took last year were a huge hit with the kids but they don’t last, so Don thought the dice would be a great alternative.

Carrying bricks 

Last year's team 

I know they plan to visit schools from previous villages they've gone to so I'll be excited to see how it's going and if the kids remember them.  Above Don is in the classroom teaching the kids how to play hangman. Last year we made and donated a bunch of Science project books to the teachers and other team members made books for Math, English, etc. I hope they're well used. The teachers were super excited to have new creative ideas for teaching the kids in fun and interesting ways. 

While we have bags upon bags and boxes all over right now, the prep is pretty much done for this year.  Don is going to check one more store for additional classroom supplies and pick up what he can then the fun begins, the packing of the bags.

If you'd like to know more about Adanu and what they do please click the link to visit the website.