Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Life Journey, what will the New Year bring?

Twenty years ago, where did you think your life would be, today...  Are you there? Are you doing what you initially set out to do?

Twenty years ago I was fresh out of high school, convinced that I would somehow move to a big city, like New York. I didn't have a plan and I had no idea what I wanted to do in life. I was sure that by 40 I would be married, without kids (no desire).  I saw myself working long days so that I could afford to travel the world. My vision revolved around me, not thinking much about others.

Here I am now realising that 40 is not that far off. Have I traveled the world? Not really, I have been to some amazing places but there are entire continents I have not stepped foot on... Am I putting in long hours behind a desk? Not really, my job is now 24 hours! Am I kid less? Far from it, we are up to three now! Am I married? YES! Do I live in New York City? Not even close, the goats in the backyard are proof...

My Life Journey thus far has been interesting. Hubby and I have owned two different homes. Our cars have ranged from BMW to Subaru. Our savings accounts have ranged from little to quite a bit and now three kids later, little again. Our meals have ranged from Mac N Cheese to Caviar. Our clothes have come from Designer Boutiques and thrift stores. We have employed gardeners, and now own a riding mower. We have been both frugal and silly with our money.

Now that hubby has hit 40 and I am not far behind I realise that there is so much more to life than money and things. Tomorrow starts a New Year in My Life Journey. I look forward to the adventures that lie ahead. I have learned to live for the day and not necessarily for the future. Don't get me wrong, we do plan for the future but the key is making every day special and memorable.

One year ago today I was so frustrated with the process of adopting Ademan, that I wasn't enjoying every day. I was wound up during the entire Holiday Season. Not enjoying any of it, and blaming everyone else for making me that way during the Holidays. Silly, isn't it? It was not as if the adoption wasn't going to happen, it was just that it wasn't happening quick enough. Looking back I realize how silly it was of me to become so wound up. I did not gain anything from it, except maybe a panic attack or two.

I am curious to see what this New Year will bring... I have no expectations, except for hitting the road with my family next summer. I hope to enjoy and make the most of it, after all we aren't getting any younger.

As for tonight, hubby and I will be home indulging on King Crab and Champagne. I hope that you all have a wonderful New Years Eve. Please be safe!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Social Security Offices, make DMV Offices feel like a day at the spa.

For the second time this year I have had to go down to our local Social Security Office. I would rather have a root canal with no pain killers than have to go there twice in one year. Back were we use to live the Social Security Office was no bigger than a coffee stand and the only time I had to go, I was the only person there. We have since moved to a much larger city with quite the wide range of demographics. So, that being said to have to go there twice in one year is awful.

We have made quite the habit out of adopting kiddos over the past few years. Which means name changes and new cards from Social Security. This year when we did Ademans there was a snafu with his name. By the time we caught it, we already had the new Social Security card in hand. So since I had access to a babysitter today, I braved the icy roads and went to the Office. Our office is probably the size of 4 McDonald's buildings. I am going to try and be polite about this... Imagine a building that size filled with cranky people who think a well balanced meal means ordering a hamburger and NOT asking the person to remove the pickles and tomatoes, oh and did I mention they maybe haven't showered in a while. To say that I do not fear for my safety every time I go, would be a bit if a fib. There are the same two security guards manning the metal detector and doing the wand search. Something tells me if there were a true emergency I would have to come to their rescue. Today's conversation (trust me, it was mostly a one sided conversation) with the 400+lb woman who was sitting in front of me had to do with not losing the cell phone she had in her hand, because it was her husbands. She than notified those of us who were sitting close enough to hear her, that her husband would kill her if she lost it, and that she was there at the office because of him... You see he is currently in jail. She then felt the need to announce that she had to go to the bathroom, stood up, and gave us all a show. Apparently when you become a certain size (or have possibly fried yourself with the use of drugs) you lose the sense of feeling. She had no idea the back of her pants had dropped so low that I would have begged for just a mere plumbers crack. Then there was the woman next to me who was telling the world how her baby daughter died a few hours after birth. I cant even begin to tell you how odd that conversation was. She spoke in a way that almost came across as bragging. The more she spoke the more I kept looking at her like, you cant be for real. Thank goodness my number was finally called and I got to go around the corner and take care of business. I did my time, a mere 2 hours, and got his name correctly changed. On my way out I had to pass through the same waiting room, and I almost fell over when I caught a whiff of the body odor filling that room. I was so glad to be out of there...

After that traumatizing event I decided to go to Hobby Lobby, which quickly picked up my spirits. I have a special JayJay birthday party coming up that I need to start working on. So I loaded up with enough supplies and projects to keep me busy up until the party!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

My addiction to Nutella began over 30 years ago... My newest way to savor it, Nutella Stuffed French Toast, enjoy the recipe!

I was raised in a family that believed Nutella on toast was a well balanced breakfast. Who am I to complain? I was raised on an item that was rarely even found here in the States. Unless you had access to a German Deli, you were at the mercy of either traveling abroad to buy it, or rely on friends and family who live in Europe to send you some. Thank goodness we had both family and friends in Germany that kept us well stocked. Now you can find it in almost every grocery store, thank goodness!!! So now I begin the tradition with my kids, Nutella on toast for breakfast. the only difference is that I do try and balance it with fruit and yogurt.

So a few weeks ago, I stumbled across a fancy shmancy recipe for Nutella stuffed french toast. For our family it was over the top, requiring a Corn Flakes crust. I came up with a much simpler recipe. I hope you like it! This recipe makes 8 pieces of French Toast.

Nutella French Toast
16 slices of Texas Toast
4 eggs beaten
1/4 cup cream
1-3 teaspoons vanilla extract (depends on how much you want)
confectioners sugar

Take eight pieces of the Texas Toast and slather one side with Nutella. Place two slices (one coated in Nutella, one plain) together to make the eight sandwiches. In a large shallow bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, and vanilla. Take a sandwich and dip it in the egg mixture, make sure you coat both sides. Heat your skillet to medium and cover it in butter. Cook the sandwiches for just a few minutes on each side. You are looking for a golden color.

When you are ready to serve place sliced strawberries on top, and dust the entire meal with confectioners sugar. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Lowes, Costco and Hobby Lobby without kids. It's no mani and a pedi but I should still be thankful!

I have been looking forward to Christmas break, since September. Christmas break is when our babysitter comes back home. I had such daydreams going on in my head, as to how I would spend my time off from mommy hood. I had envisioned manicures, pedicures, a massage, a day out with my girlfriend. You know, pure, kid less bliss. Instead she has so far been used four times... Let me tell you about those four times...

1. Take LeiLei to foot doctor. Not exactly a pedicure, but does have to do with feet.
2.Go to grocery store, Ademan was low on his Pediasure so I was able to stock up on twenty, 6 packs without worrying about where to put the kids once the cart was full. I think I broke two nails during that outing. Far from a manicure..
3. Go to Lowes, bank, Costco and Hobby Lobby. Accomplished = paint samples, deposit kids $, grab dinner for New Years Eve, and take advantage of after Christmas sale. Not exactly a massage...
4. Last minute dinner with the hubs. Cant complain about that one. 

At least I have her for another full week. Lets see, I have her scheduled two times next week.
1. Go to Social Security office, without kids... Three kids in the Social Security office is as bad as it gets. So I am actually quite thankful for that one.
2. Take LeiLei to therapy. 

I guess that is life and I should be thankful that I can even pay for a babysitter to help make my errands a little easier. But darn it, I am going to figure out a way to get my mani and pedi and another date with the hubby before she takes off for the other side of the country.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

What just happened? How can Christmas be over? How many pieces of Nutella French Toast did I eat? Oh dear...

What a blur the past five days have been! Friday my husband brought home a new electric fireplace from Costco.  We have been waiting for weeks for them to restock this item. We were so excited when (on my daily call, yes I have been calling every day for at least two weeks) they told us they were stocked. You know how it is with Costco.... Buy it when you see it, because when its gone, its gone. So hubby rushed down there Friday and bought it. We spent our Friday evening assembling it, like two kids with a new toy.

Then on Saturday our new sofa was delivered, so exciting after waiting 7 weeks. We purchased this sofa about 7 weeks ago from Ashley Furniture and have been waiting somewhat patiently for its arrival. They tell you to make sure that you have your home clear of snow so the delivery men will not get hurt. That has not been a problem because we had yet to receive snow. As dumb luck would have it, Friday we finally got snow. There was no way to clear the snow in time, so this is how you roll when you have furniture delivered right after a snowfall...

During all of this we also realized that we needed to start assembling kids Christmas presents. So a good chunk of Saturday was devoted to Santas Workshop. A Kid Kraft doll house needed to be built and bicycles needed to be adjusted, I knew just the man for the job.

This was suppose to be our baking weekend, but with all of this going on my hubby had to abandon me in the kitchen. So I had to fend for myself in the baking of traditional German/Swiss cookies. I think I did pretty good. I completed 4 out of the 5 cookies I set out to make. For the first time ever I made Mailanderli, Zimtsterne, Totenbeinli, and Planta Herzli. All cookies you would find in a traditional German Christmas Market, but this year you can find them in our kitchen!

Monday my good friend and her kiddos came over for a Christmas celebration. We even had enough craft supplies to include them in that days '24 Days of Christmas' project. My kiddos were so tired by the time they left... Come dinner time LeiLei was doing head bobs at the table.

Christmas Eve day the hubby surprised me by taking the day off. We went to our local German Deli to get all of the fixings for our Christmas Eve dinner. I hope we always live near a German Deli because that is quite the tradition in our home. In our home the kiddos open most of their gifts on Christmas Eve. Usually about the time we see they are no longer enthused by each gift yet wanting to open more, we call it quits. The rest of the gifts are opened the next day.

Christmas morning began with a visit by Santa.
We opened a few more presents and then I made Nutella stuffed French Toast. For those of you that have never had it, you need to make it, like now! It is so crazy good... We spent most of the day relaxing and eating. It wasn't until the end of the day that I realized I had not even brushed my hair or put on make up.

So now I sit here on December 26 wondering what just happened? How in the world can Christmas be over? I am not ready to celebrate New Years, or a few days later JayJays birthday. Maybe its the cold medicine talking, Santa also delivered head colds to our family, hurray. I think I am going to stay in Christmas mode until the end of the weekend, Christmas music will continue to be played and Christmas movies will continue to be watched. Maybe by Monday I will be ready to move on, but not today.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

What do Steve Jobs, Babe Ruth and Faith Hill all have in common?

Did you watch A Home For The Holidays last night? I will admit that I did not. There were two reasons that I did not watch it, the first being my three kiddos were being so loud and unruly that I could not watch anything. The second reason was because I am emotionally pooped at the moment. I feared that it would have put me over the edge. For those that do not know, A Home For The Holidays is a program that ares right before Christmas on CBS. This was the 15th year that this program has been on. The purpose is to raise awareness for adoption/foster adoption.

Did you know that Babe Ruth, Malcolm X, Dave Thomas, Steve Jobs, Scott Hamilton, Melissa Gilbert and Faith Hill are all adopted... When I here negative comments about adopting children especially those in Foster Care it really makes me want to scream. I don't know about you but I think that list of names all turned into pretty incredible people. None of them had an easy start at life, as a matter of fact they all had it pretty tough from birth.

I understand Foster Care/Adoption can be intimidating, largely due to the miss information out there. Having adopted three children from Foster Care I realize it is not nearly as daunting as people make it out to be.
Is it a challenge? Yes
Is it emotionally exhausting? Yes
Is it frustrating? Yes
Is it rewarding? Yes
Does it fill your heart with love? Yes
Cant you answer all those questions the same way, when asked about traditional parenting? So whats the problem? I think it is easy for people to say that they have thought about doing it, or would really like to do it. When in reality they will never do it. You know what? That is o.k. not everyone makes a good Foster Parent. So if it is not for you, that is o.k.

For those that truly have thought about it and do have questions here is a link to some great information put out by the Dave Thomas Foundation.
Dave Thomas Foundation

One of the biggest misperceptions is that a biological parent can come after a child after the child has been adopted. That is not true... Once a child is legally free the birth parent cannot petition for their return.
Another large misperception has to do with the cost of adopting a Foster Child. Many think that it can be just as pricey as a private adoption. That also is not true. Generally the cost can go from $500 to $2,500. For parents that choose to adopt through Foster Care there is financial assistance. So most are refunded the money they spend on the adoption. I could go on and on...

In a season when we are all so busy being 'Thankful' for what we have I hope that we all spend a moment and think about the hundreds of thousands of children in the United States Foster Care System. Many legally free and hoping for a forever home for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Toe Surgery, Really???

It is always something around here. Having three kids is a level of crazy that I had no idea existed. It seems we are at an age 2, 3, and 4 that has made me put the pediatricians phone number on speed dial. I swear the first two years of having kids we would see the Pediatrician only at well child visits. Now, the nurses know us by name without even looking at the chart. I am pretty sure I should not be proud of that.

Monday evening Ademan decided to do a death defying leap off of his sisters ladder that goes up to her bed. Lets just say I don't think he nailed it. It has been 44 hours and in another 4 hours I will be able to let out a sigh of relief. Per the advice nurse 48 hours and he will be out of the woods. He seems to be doing pretty good, but you can tell he is pretty stiff.

Today LeiLei had an appointment at a foot clinic for her 'funky' toe. I assumed it was nothing more than an infected toe nail. Imagine my surprise (oh get real, nothing really surprises me any more) when the doctor told me it was bone pushing up. The white I am seeing under her toe nail is bone. The only way to fix it is with surgery, and because she is a kiddo it cant be done at the outpatient facility. It will have to be done at the hospital. The Doctor does not think it is urgent, so we are going to put it on the back burner until she starts to complain about it.

All I can say is thank you for medical insurance. I can't imagine what our yearly medical tally for these kids would be. A few months ago Ademan got to ride in the ambulance from our house to the hospital and they forgot to bill the insurance company. So, I received quite the bill in my mailbox, $1800.00! I simply called them and gave them Ademans insurance info, and if by magic... the bill was taken care of. If only all of life were that simple.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Our Second Foster Placement

We were in the midst of transitioning JayJay out of our home (to live with her Bio mom) when we received the call which turned out to be our next placement. We were told she was a healthy six month old girl. She was living with her Bio Aunt (and her half brother) who wanted to find her a good home. Three days later the Aunt (Half Brother)  and the Social Worker drove up to our house and dropped her off.

That was a very emotional moment. I was already dealing with the grief of losing our first placement. I was highly sensitive, you just looked at me wrong and I broke into sobs. So here was a woman who obviously loved this baby and had been caring for this little one, realizing that in the best interest of this child she needed to find a "final" home for her. I think I sobbed the entire time they were here. This baby was so amazingly beautiful, and maybe the chubbiest thing I had ever seen.
She had the opportunity to live with JayJay for one week, and then JayJay left our home. The day JayJay left our home I fell apart, even though I had another living being I was responsible for I couldn't do it. It was a good thing I am married to an amazing man, because he stepped up and took care of this baby for a day or so until I could pull myself together.

She was a pretty healthy baby, the only challenge she had at the time was breathing difficulties. She needed four breathing treatments daily, via a nebulizer. It took about a month to get her completely off the nebulizer. We did not know much about her medical background when she came to us. It was not until later that we discovered that she had heavy prenatal alcohol exposure.

We were told pretty soon after she came to us, that it looked like mom was going to relinquish her brother, and that she would probably relinquish this one as well. The one thing you learn quickly as a foster parent is to not hold your breath. The first two months her bio mom stayed very involved, 2 visits a week as well as a parenting class that this little one had to attend. I was starting to get nervous once again. I wasn't sure I was cut out for this Foster Parent role. Around the three month marker things started to unravel. Over the course of the month her bio mom became less and less active. By August she had completely disappeared. I was very angry with her at that point, because she had left this beautiful baby stranded in the Foster Care System. Thank goodness the Biological Aunt stepped in... She took it upon herself and arranged a 'drive by appointment' with the social worker. The plan was for the Social Worker to have all of the relinquishment paperwork ready (and in her hands) for the Bio mom to sign. The Aunt (who was aware of the location of the Bio Mom) would pick up Bio Mom and drive her to DSHS where the social worker would be waiting in the parking lot. All they had to do was roll the window down and get her to sign. I could not have been more shocked that afternoon when I got the news that it worked. She relinquished... By September we had a legally free baby!

This was not a normal case. It is not common for a child to enter your home and be legally free that quick, five months is very quick. By the time we finished all of our adoption paperwork it was October. We decided to wait until December to have the official adoption.

As you can see JayJay was able to attend her sisters adoption. Pretty cool! LeiLei looks eager to get this finalized, she is even raising her right hand like mom and dad. Three years ago (almost to the date) she became our daughter, an amazing time for us.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Update! Hair color to dry wall, a lot of changes around here...

It hit me this morning that I have a few updates to share from previous posts. Lets start with the most recent, my hair... As you know I am a bit over my blond hair so on Saturday I went to the Salon (equipped with my Pinterest 'hair' board) and said "make me look funky, not safe". To which my hairdresser replied, "not on your life". We came to a compromise...
I am fortunate to see one of the best stylists in our town. Not only does he do hair at a local salon, but he is also an educator, and photographer. This man does hair for photo shoots as well as fashion shows. I am talking about BIG fashion shows. Like Style Week in New York.. He is pretty fabulous. o.k. o.k. so here is my before and after...

A few weeks ago (during the middle of an arctic blast) our heater gave out. Thanks to a handy father-in-law we were up and running that night. Thank goodness because the heating repair company was a week out on their jobs. Thank you to all of our local friends who made my phone ring off the hook (after that post) your generosity was so sweet. Offering up room heaters, and even extra bedrooms in their homes, again thank you.

During the hustle and bustle of the past 16 days I have managed to keep up with our 24 Days of Christmas. Dont get me wrong, some days have been a struggle. Like last Friday night when all I wanted to do was put my kids to bed but they had not forgot that I mentioned all of us watching Veggie Tales Christmas in mommy and daddys bed. We did, and it was fun. We have been doing everything from making decorations for our tree, to donating gently used toys, to caroling at the neighbors. My only concern is that come January my kiddos will still be expecting a craft project or activity every day. I will cross that bridge in January...

Last but not least hubby has been working away on our basement. When we purchased our home it came with a roughed in walk out basement.So some walls were framed and the plumbing was roughed in. He has been devoting every free moment to getting the basement finished. We completed our final inspection a few weeks ago, which gave us the green light to begin insulating and dry walling. I would say we are half way complete with the dry wall.

I am sure hubby will be happy to move on from dry wall to texturing. Then we paint, hang cabinets, and move in furniture. I can't wait!!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Joy of Cooking and finding old cherished recipes

This morning hubby and I were discussing our upcoming baking day. A day that we really look forward to. We do really well in the kitchen together, which is probably why we look forward to it. We had planned on making nuss torte (nut tort) a recipe passed down from his grandmother. The kind of recipe that when people try it for the first time you can almost see their eyes roll back in their heads from the amazingness of it. It is not a complicated recipe but there is definitely some time put into it. So I was a bit surprised when hubby announced he also wanted to bake some cookies not just any cookies, German cookies. I think we are going to end up spending two full days in the kitchen between cookies and the nuss torte.

I spent today's 'quiet time' going through a box of my mother-in-laws recipes. For those of you that do not know, my mother-in-law passed away a few months prior to my hubby and I meeting. I have all of her recipes packed away, and occasionally peak in there to find particular recipes that hubby might be craving. It saddens me that we no longer keep recipes the way other generations had. Such pride was placed in writing up their recipes on the the cards. She not only had multiple recipe boxes but she also had these amazing notebooks. Granted they are all in German which means occasionally hubby has to translate for me. I do o.k. with key ingredients but when the recipes deviate from the basics I get lost.

This is out of her 'Menu" notebook.you will see it is on graph paper and she even has columns for the price of the item, and then the total price.

While digging through the box I was surprised to find these three gems. I do not remember ever placing them in the box, but let me tell you I was excited to find them.

My first discovery was  JOY of Cooking, circa 1961. So cool, I have a cookbook that is over 50 years old! I cant wait for a bit of free time to explore this great cookbook.

Then came my other two finds. Two pocket sized Julia Child cookbooks. It appears that they were given away when you purchased Dove soap around 1970. Not that old, but fun to have.

I need to make it a priority to make nice recipe folders for my girls. I hope that one day they will be able to go through them and be filled with joy as they reminisce about their baking and cooking times with mom.

For now,  I cant wait until next weekend, the aroma in our home from two days of baking ought to be pretty amazing.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Cruella Deville out, Funky Diva in!

What a busy busy week! That being said I am in relax mode (for the most part) from now until Christmas. My shopping is done, my packages are in the mail, my decorations are up, and all of our gifts are wrapped. Yahoo!!! Now I can enjoy my eggnog (high octane of course).

 I can also enjoy my hair appointment tomorrow. I must admit my hair was about to go on strike soon if I did not cover up the gray. My Cruella Deville look just doesn't quite work, she pulls it off much better than I. I am going in there tomorrow and telling him to make me funky. I am tired of the same old blond. I don't know if it is because I am getting closer to 40, or an early mid life crisis, who knows. I just know I need a change. You know its pretty bad when you are looking at your daughters Barbie doll ( a doll with soft pink highlights throughout her hair) and thinking... I wonder if I can pull that off?

Maybe I am at a point in my life when I can do things because I want to. I don't need to worry about what others might think. Not only do I not worry, but I just don't care. I am happy with me inside and out and if the outside has funky hair, well deal with it.

I hope you have a relaxing weekend filled with Christmas movies and yummy treats!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ademan is rockin a new accesery, its ankle braces... They are all the rage you know!

Ademan now has a new fashion accessory, ankle braces.

I would love to say that I was the super diligent mom that caught the ankle problem, but I was not. Imagine my surprise after his second visit to Physical Therapy, I was told he would need braces. Here we are three weeks later wearing custom fit ankle supports. We are in the testing phase, meaning he wears them for an hour and then we take them off for a few hours. We are testing to make sure there are no spots rubbing on his feet.

Thank goodness he seems to get a kick out of wearing them. The only bummer I have found is that they are so large you need shoes that are three sizes larger just to accommodate them. He is normally a shoe size 7 so I had to run out and buy larger shoes to fit the braces. He is now running around in size 9 and 10 shoes. He has quite the 'clown' look going on. Its a good thing he is stinking cute!

I hope this fixes his ankle issue, and that we will not have to do anything more than these braces. We have definitely learned to roll with the punches around here. So if this doesn't take care of the problem, onto the next fix. For now we will run around in shoes three sizes too big, and not try to take life to seriously!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I want 'Time' for Christmas

Every year my hubby asks "what do you want for Christmas?" every year I say "nothing". I truly mean it, there is nothing I want. We spent our first 13 Christmases exchanging gifts, many of them were amazing and extravagant and sparkly. Now I am at a point in my life that I don't need all of the 'stuff'. I could not tell you all of the gifts my hubby has given me. I remember some, probably due to the fact that I still have some of them. Many of them I probably do not even have any more and that is silly. Christmas shopping does not come easy for my hubby. So the idea that he would spend all of that time and energy on a gift for me that I dont keep forever seems silly to me. Besides if there is something I want or need he will always run out and get it for me. I know I will be needing a new computer this next year and I know he won't even think twice about going out and getting me a Mac.

 For the past few years we have not exchanged gifts, and I have to tell you it the best feeling. It sure gets rid of one of the biggest 'stresses' of the Christmas season. All I want is time, more time with him, more time for us. Time creates memories and memories you will have forever. If he were to take a week off of work to be at home with us I would be the happiest girl in the world. Two years ago for Valentines Day he surprised me by taking the day off and hanging out with us all day. That meant more to me than any gift he could have wrapped up.

So if you ask me what I want for Christmas, and I say to you "nothing" please believe me. If you still feed the need to buy something please buy a toy for a child in need, or a coat for a homeless person, or a bag of pet food for a no kill animal shelter. That is the best gift you could give me.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The stockings were hung on the mantle with care...

What a weird December we are having, mother nature is definitely not acting herself. There is not a spot of snow to be found. I am even starting to think we might not have a white Christmas. That will be no fun at all. On top of that the wind seems to be a bit of a nuisance this year, so Santa and Chilly have decided to spend the Holidays inside. I think I will take you on a little tour of our home during the Holidays.

I hope you enjoyed a little glimpse of our Christmas decor. It sure takes a lot longer to get all of the decorations up now that we have kids. I have to start the day after Thanksgiving, it takes me all weekend to accomplish the decorating. Between kids wanting to touch everything as I unpack it, to cats batting ornaments around the floor it is an excruciatingly long process. Some day I will be putting Christmas decor out minus the kids and I will be sad. I will not remember how big of a pain it was to put up the decorations with three kids running around my legs. I will only remember the excitement on their faces when we plug in the lights on the tree and on the house. I hope you have all your decorations up, and are able to enjoy the Holidays.

Santa Breakfast for Foster Families, from Barbie Dolls to Disney Princesses, it was spectacular

We had the opportunity to attend a really amazing event on Saturday. We attended the Santa Breakfast for Foster families, put on by our local Junior League. For three years I have called to RSVP only to be told there were no spots left. For years I have heard other Foster families talk about this breakfast, and how large of a production it is. This year we were lucky enough to go. Words nor pictures can do it justice. I took a few pictures but I have to be very careful to protect the privacy of all of the Foster kiddos at the event. I wish I had better pictures to share with you.

The breakfast starts at 9:15 with the arrival of Santa. Everyone is lined up outside the room to witness the arrival of Santa.

 At around 9:45 they open the doors and allow you to go to your table. Walking through the doors almost made me feel like a kid again. Three out of the Four walls inside that room were lined with Christmas trees. This was a large room (large enough to accommodate 500 people for this event), so I would say there were at least 30 Christmas trees. Each tree was not only decorated but had a theme complete with gifts. A good example was the Disney princess tree, it had a Disney princess table with four chairs in front of it, a princess bicycle, Disney movies, princess dolls and so much more, either on the tree or around the tree. Now imagine that with thirty trees. It was spectacular. Before breakfast each child is given a raffle ticket and they get to choose a tree to place that raffle ticket in. During the event the emcee (a local news reporter) raffled off all thirty trees. It was so neat to see the excited winners. The fourth wall was actually a stage where Santa spent his morning. Each child got to go up and sit with Santa and take a picture with him. After your visit with Santa you were ushered to a long table of books, (I am assuming donated by Scholastic Books) and every child got to pick out a book.

 Then you went back to your table to eat your breakfast. Each table was assigned a volunteer who guided you through the activities and made sure the mommys and daddys had continuous coffee, and that the kiddos had continuous hot cocoa. While you were eating breakfast your volunteer brings each child at the table a gift from Santa. Our girls each received two Barbie dolls, and our son received a Fisher Price toy phone.

 Then after breakfast your children are escorted to Santas workshop (without mommy and daddy) where they each get to pick out a gift for mommy or daddy, and then they get to wrap it. JayJay was so excited about this, that when they were done she came running to the table with her gift for mommy and immediately told mommy what was inside. So make mental note... JayJay is not the secret keeper in our family!

By the time we left our kids where pooped. Like I said, words do not do it justice. There were times I would look around the room at all of the commotion and think wow this is craziness. Then I would start to take it all in, this could easily be a 'first' Christmas experience for many of these kids. We had a special kiddo at our table who was eager to win one specific tree because it had gifts on it that he could give to his sister and his mom. Sad, because I realized that he and his sister were not in the same foster home. Every child there was beautiful, every child there deserves so much more than just a Santa Breakfast. A home, a stable home, a forever home.

Friday, December 6, 2013

As women and mothers why are we not real with each other? This is for all the tired and lonely mommys out there...

This morning I received such an uplifting message from an old high school friend. It came on a morning that I really needed it. I was tired and snippy with my kids, I was no where in the ballpark of being the ideal mommy this morning. I got the girls all the way to school (almost a 20 minute drive) when I realized I left their school bags at home. That is the kind of morning I was having. Then out of no where this message shows up on my computer, it immediately put a halt on my horrible mood. To my old friend, and fellow mommy, who wrote that note... Thank you I needed that today.

As I was driving my kids to their various destinations this morning, I just kept thinking why in the world do we not lift each other up more. I really feel like we have steered off course as women. We should be helping each other, mommy hood is no easy task. Mommy hood is also a lonely task, I think any mom can tell you that they have never felt a level of "alone" like they do once they become a mommy. It is hard to develop deep relationships with woman once we are in the mommy zone. We no longer come first, but that is were the problem lies. We need those deep bonds with our fellow mommys and friends. We need to see their joy and sadness to make us realize that we are not alone.

It is odd to think that someone with so many 'friends' on Facebook, and so many 'Followers' on Pinterest can feel so alone. Then I think about social media and how it actually creates more of a competition than a coming together and lifting up of each other. We read about 'friends' who are doing cool crafts, making amazing meals, going on elaborate vacations, making us think that we too need to be doing that.  Why do we feel we need to keep up to be the perfect mother?

There are evenings that I just want to cry, because I do not know how I got myself into this mess, with three kids. There are other evenings spent talking to the hubby about adding on to our family. I think that is normal, but who am I to say? It is at least what I have come to accept as normal. As women, and mommys, we need to reconnect. Offer a bit of praise to a fellow mommy. If you see a mommy with no make up on and her hair not done, give her a hug. Chances are her day has not gone as planned. Send a message to a friend and let them know you are thinking about them.

Just remember, you are not alone.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Baby its cold outside, An arctic blast and our heater gave up...

I know I should not complain, there are parts of the country experiencing temperatures lower than ours. That being said... oh my gosh its cold! As I write this it is 16 degrees outside. I just checked the forecast for the next two days and we are looking at a high of 10 degrees... Do you want to know the low? Are you sitting down? With the windchill factor they are forecasting lows of -25 degrees! Is there such a thing? I am from Southern California originally, a low for me is 55 degrees, and at 55 I would have had the seat warmer on in my car. I am trying to brace myself for a day of running errands (tomorrow) in the negative temperatures. Those are the perfect days for going through Starbucks drive thrus, right? Wrong! Half the time your windows are frozen shut. I cant tell you how many times I have gone through drive thrus, and pulled up to the Order Here box, and not been able to get my window to go down. I am going to have to wear long underwear on top of my long underwear. For those who don't live in cold climates I can not even begin to tell you what those frigid temperatures do to your skin, your eyes, your nose, and your hair. There is nothing glamorous about temperatures that low. Let me give you a little scenario... Your nose can (and will) be running, but since your face is so numb from the cold, you will not even feel it. Your nose will not be the only thing running, your eyes will also start to leak, and then you run the risk of blinking and having your tears freeze your lashes together. 

So maybe I have a little room to complain. Not only is it freezing, but as of about three hours ago our heater stopped working.  Well now that is a problem! It is a whopping 63 degrees in our home, but I am sure that will not last long. I foresee many a room heaters throughout our house very soon. Hopefully I can still find some at our local Walmart. For those of you that don't know, it is Murphys Law that when there is an arctic blast your heater will poop out. Can you blame it? Think of how hard your poor heater is having to work. The bummer is, not only does yours poop out, but so does the rest of the towns. So I am looking at a week out for repair... Shoot, a week out, the repair man might pull up to the house and find a family of popsicles. 

It is important at a time like this not to panic. Insert vision of tropical beach, and calm blue ocean. I do know of one other way of heating up the house, baking. Looks like I will be doing some serious baking just to keep this house warm. So if you run into me in the next few weeks and it looks like I have gained another 10 pounds, you will know why. Oh and please, no snarky remarks!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Why do family photos give me such anxiety?

We have not done family photos in two years, so it was time. Especially since the last photos do not even include baby brother. There is just something about family photos that make me cringe. There is just so much work that goes into family photos even before you take the photos. Last time, we had a wonderful photographer come out to our property for the shoot. Lets just say it was an all day event. We were all cold and exhausted by the end, but it was so worth it. The photos are amazing! There is something so special about having a professional photographer capturing the beauty of not only your family, but also your property (home). It truly makes the pictures have so much more meaning.

Hubby and I got on board about 5 weeks ago to do it again. I notified the same photographer and she was excited to come out and photograph us, again. Well lets just say that by the time I gathered our outfits, (which any mom of a large family knows, is an ordeal) mother nature decided to throw us a cool down. Which means we will not be doing outside family photos until next year. Such a bummer!

It was weighing heavy on my heart that Ademan is not in our large collage (which the kids look at every day because it is right in the middle of our living room) of family photos. Our girls have started to ask where Ademan was, and why isn't he in the picture. So I decided I could not put it off another minute. I decided to go down to a local portrait studio and have the kids photos taken. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. The photographer shot our kids for nearly an hour, and not a single problem. She was amazingly good with kiddos.

Not bad for a portrait studio, right? She really captured the inner cuteness of my kiddos. What a relief to have no family photo anxiety for at least another ten months. Hopefully by then I can loose those 10lbs that have somehow (no really I don't know how, o.k. maybe its the fact that I haven't had a workout in oh lets say six months, ugh!) worked their way onto me. Until then I will enjoy these photos....

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Jesus is the Reason For Christmas, Everything Else Follows... A New Family Tradition...

It is no secret that I am a Christmas fanatic, I love Christmas, everything about Christmas. I love all of the fun stuff that goes along with Christmas, decorating the house, baking, and watching Christmas movies. Now that I am a mom I want to make sure I prepare my children for 'The Reason For The Season'. It is my responsibility to create loving, kind hearted children. It is also my responsibility to teach them that Christmas is about Jesus, everything else follows.

I saw this wonderful idea on Pinterest that I am going to incorporate into our Christmas tradition. Unfortunately, it will have to wait until next year because it involves a Nativity with moving pieces and I do not have one. You better believe I will be picking one up this year!

Set out your Nativity the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is usually a pretty calm weekend allowing you to take the time to explain the Nativity with your children and how as a family you are going to prepare the Nativity for Jesus arrival. Set out all of the pieces except for baby Jesus, he will be placed in the Nativity on December 25. Next to your Nativity place a jar of straw (pieces of straw, toothpicks, dried and torn corn silks, anything that is small are resembles nature)... It then becomes your families job to create a warm and comfortable bed for Jesus.

Here is the amazing part! Every time you perform a random act of kindness you get to place a piece of straw in the manger. The best part... No one can see you lay down that piece of straw. The idea is for it to happen anonymously. So many lessons to be learned. Experience the pleasure that comes from doing good, and enjoy the act of being kind. Even if there is no one there to see the act of kindness you have done... you are blessing them, and as a result you are blessing Jesus.

After your kiddos go to bed on the 24th of December you will place baby Jesus in his manger. The kids will wake up to a filled manger (and of course presents)...

I would love to hear ways that you incorporate Jesus into your Christmas Traditions.

Monday, December 2, 2013

24 Days of Christmas kicked off with The Polar Express and an appearance from Elfina our Elf on a Shelf

We have officially kicked off our 24 Days of Christmas. Just a quick refresher, our 24 Days of Christmas will involve Family Time, Crafts, and Giving. It took me at least two weeks to gather everything we need for all of our activities. Not only gather but prep. My goal was to have everything ready so that the day of the activity I could grab the bag for the day and watch my kids have fun.
Each activity or craft was placed in a Ziploc bag and appropriately labeled. I then placed all of the bags in a basket so I could grab and go. I am looking forward to taking time out of every day to spend time with my kids. Don't get me wrong, I am a stay at home mom so I spend time with my kids every day. Unfortunately that does not mean that I actually 'spend time' with my kids.

Todays activity is making paper Santa hats. Too cute!
Yesterday also kicked off our Elf on a Shelf. Last year a girl Elf arrived at our home and we named her Elfina. Yesterday she made her first appearance on the Christmas Tree, today she was in one of the stockings. Looks like I need to do a quick Pinterest search for Elf ideas. What are some of your Elf ideas?

Have a great day!