Friday, January 31, 2014

Our third Foster Child placement...

There we were, we had just finished taking our Oath with the Judge to complete our adoption of JayJay. We stood up to give hugs to everyone who was in the court room, including JayJays Social Worker. She no sooner hugged me and the words, "you know I need to get an answer from you" came from her mouth. To which I said, "we can't do it".

Four months prior I found out that JayJays biological mom was pregnant. About 45 days prior to JayJays adoption they asked us if they could place him with us, (he had not yet been born). We thought long and hard about it, but at that point in time we were aware that we realistically could not do it. At that moment we had a 18 month old and a 15 month old. JayJay who was 15 months old was also undergoing both physical and occupational therapy. I could not imagine a newborn thrown into that mix.  Then about two weeks later he was born, prematurely, with major medical issues. They of course called us again once he was born, and again I said no, but I also said if you cant find anyone please call me.

Fast forward three months... I was checking my messages on our answering machine when I heard her voice. The voice of the Social Worker, and when you do not have a Foster Child in your home but you have a Social Worker leaving you a message you immediately are overcome with emotions. I nervously called her back, and she explained to me that they needed to find a new home for him (JayJays brother). Again I told her no, but left it open by also saying, if you cant find a home call me back.

They were able to find him an adopt home, and that made both me and the hubby feel good. I would be lying if I told you that I didn't think about him. I hadn't even met him and yet I worried for him. He was after all, family.

Fast forward eight months. We had decided at some point during those last eight months that we were done. Our family felt complete and we were not interested in being Foster Parents. So, we let our Foster Parent License expire. There is an old saying, 'If you want to make God laugh, tell Him what your plans for the future are'. Again our phone rang, again it was the Social Worker, but this time there was urgency in her voice. She again needed to find him a home. There was a Court ordered removal and it was going to happen in less than 24 hours. I told her I needed to think about it, and talk it over with the hubby. She gave me until the next morning to get back to her. All I remember from that evening is that we were up late, and I was going rounds with myself. Hubby was ready to bring him home, I was in turmoil. I wanted him, and yet I was not wanting my "perfect" little family to change. I cried through most of our conversation that night. By the time we went to bed we had decided to welcome him home.

The next afternoon we watched the Social Worker pull up our driveway. We bolted out the door before she was even out of the car. Hubby and I watched on as she opened the door to where he was sitting. I gasped, and literally almost crumpled to the ground. I was hysterical, the type of cry where you are sucking in air and not really breathing out. The Social Worker handed him to my hubby since at that point I had to walk away to compose myself. I was overwhelmed for two reasons... 1) He looked exactly like his sister, so it was like looking at JayJay one year prior (almost like seeing a ghost) 2) I knew he was mine, and he was home.

He was not a perfectly healthy baby, he had actually just spent the past four months in and out of the Hospital. He had a stomach surgery called fundoplication.  Fundoplication is used to help with severe GERD, during the surgery they wrap the esophagus around the stomach and then sew it into place. This then helps with reflux. His problem was that he would reflux and then aspirate, so what was coming up was then going back down, but down the wrong pipe. Causing him to develop pneumonia (more than once). At the same time as the surgery they also installed a G Tube (gastronomy tube) for feeding. A G Tube is a tube that is inserted through the abdomen which delivers nutrition (food) directly to his stomach. They opted to do the G Tube because he was also aspirating during his meals. I was scared more than I can ever describe. I made hubby do all of the feedings the first day, because I was terrified of the process. After about a week I was a pro. I was even starting to get the hang of pulling food back out of his stomach when he would get sick. Don't ask, you don't want to know...

The first four months he was with us were very nerve wrecking. There were a lot of people who suddenly wanted him in their homes. All I could think was heck no! It was quite a roller coaster ride with all of the normal Foster Parent emotions. It was month seven when we received the news that mom had relinquished, and he was for sure going to be able to stay with us.
Three months later he legally became ours.

I think it is important for me to be honest with you. I still struggle with the chain of events from the first year of his life. I know I did the right thing by not taking him the first few times they asked. I had to focus on the health of my family meaning my girls. Bringing him into our home with all of his health issues would not have been good for anyone. That being said, I HATE that he had to go through what he went through the first year of his life. By the time he came to our home, he had already lived in 5 homes. That makes me so unbearably sad. Sometimes that is just how life plays out, and you have no control. This little man has completely changed me, even more than my girls changed me. I now see that God already has my life planned out. Why I thought I was in control, still remains a mystery to me. Clearly He is guiding me. I would have never thought I would have the strength to take care of a medically fragile child, and for that, had they called me with the possible placement of some random medically fragile child I would have said no. If it was not for Him, I could not have cared for my son the way that I needed to. Since the hubby and I have now had our aha moment, we will never let our Foster License expire, because you just never know...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I am hosting a Joanne Fluke House Party! A Blackberry Pie Murder Mystery Party...

About four months ago I signed up with a company called House Party. Anyone can join, so I was in. So far I have applied to host 3 parties. I was rejected for the first two, and accepted on the third one. Not bad, if you ask me...

So let me explain to you what House Party is. House Party is a company that provides the fun (the party), all you do is provide the food and the people. You and your friends are given access to products for free. The parties are brand sponsored, for example some of the upcoming parties are Zatarans, Go-Gurt, and Nerf Rebelle. By hosting, you and your friends get to try new products, you don't pay anything, and you don't sell anything. All they want in return is feedback, it is almost like a PR party. As the host you receive a party pack a few days prior to the party filled with all kinds of goodies. A great example was the Keurig party last December, every host was sent a free Keurig (the big deluxe one) and all different yummy Pods for the guests to enjoy.

I am excited because I was selected to host the Joanne Fluke Blackberry Pie Murder, House Party!
Joanne Fluke is a New York Times best seller of more than 20 novels. She has three 'collections' of books. The Joanne Fluke Thrillers which are edgy, suspense novels. The Jo Gibson Collection which is written under the pseudonym Jo Gibson, these are thrillers written for young adult readers. Finally you have the Hannah Swensen mysteries which are 'cozy' mysteries. Each book is packed with a great story and delicious dessert recipes, as this small-town baker solves another murder in this otherwise quiet, small town of Lake Eden, Minnesota. This is where I come in...

Her new book is being released around the beginning of March and I get to help promote it! We will be getting a sneak peak at her new book, making cocktails, playing Fluke bingo, and eating sweets lots of sweets. I cant wait to write my after party post. Stay tuned!!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Updates! From my Addiction to The Real housewives of Beverly Hills to Sammies seizures and everything in between ...

I feel like a lot of little things have been going on around here, but nothing big enough to warrant a post. So I think I am going to cram a bunch of little updates into one big post.

Let me start with LeiLeis' 'Funky Toe' as we like to call it. It is starting to bother her almost on a daily basis so I have been putting her in larger shoes just to try and cut down on the rubbing. Unfortunately I think that means surgery is in her future. We were at the Pediatricians office today (for JayJays well child, but she gives all the kids a once over every time we go in) and she could not get over the change just since the last time she saw it. I have been trying to put it off because I cant imagine that the recovery is going to be fun, and honestly I hate the idea that my baby girl is going to have surgery. Not a procedure we are talking full blown surgery. I am thinking I might have to ask my Mom to fly up and help us that week... Hint, Hint Mom...

This month we packed away JayJays baby blanket and to my amazement she never asked for it back. Since then her big sister LeiLei made the executive decision that her baby blanket also needed to be packed away. So we folded it up, gave it a kiss, and then packed it next to her sisters blanket. It is so odd to not have those two blankets laying around the house anymore, kind of sad actually.

Our weather continues to be gloomy with a side of gloomy. We have not seen the sun since?? I have no idea when. We are talking weeks probably since we have seen the sun. I am trying to cut back on the coffee, but lets be real I have three kids and no sunshine. So, its either coffee or whiskey. I guess I will stick to coffee, whiskey is just to darn expensive.. I have discovered these little treats... So if you own a Keurig I highly recommend you try these. Just don't blame me once you are hooked.

Our beloved Sammie dog is doing better. She is taking anti seizure medicine and it is really helping. She still seems weak, but I don't know if that is from the medicine or whatever it was that caused her Grand Mal Seizures. It has been a week since that horrible experience. Finally, just yesterday she was able to go outside and spend the day with her buddies. Our dogs don't mind spending the day outside during the middle of winter. Want to know why? They have access to our garage, and last year my Hubby installed a heater in the garage just to keep the dogs warm. Yes, we are those people. She looks a bit dopey in the picture for two reasons 1) she is 2) I woke her to take the picture...

I am still dealing with Medical Insurance junk. As of this morning the Emergency Physicians Network has placed my bill on hold (thank goodness). So hopefully this will give us some additional time because as of Feb. 1 they were going to turn us over to Collections. (For a bill that we do not owe)... This is the second time they have placed the bill on hold, which doesn't always happen, so I am grateful for that. Now I sit and wait and continue to make twice weekly calls to both the insurance company and the billing company.

On a much lighter note my addiction to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills might be over. They have spent a lot of time talking about witchcraft/ Wicca this season. Something I am totally against... So I might be gaining an hour a week to do more crafts...

I think that gets us pretty caught up. Now on to bigger and better things...

Monday, January 27, 2014

How will Obama Care compare to traditional health care? Something has to change, I am stuck in an Insurance Nightmare right now...

Its Monday the start of a new week and even though I hate to say goodbye to the weekend I always enjoy the start of a new week. Its like a clean canvas, and you are the artist... What are you going to make of your week? I think my goal this week is to start my Valentines projects research. Which means I will be hitting Pinterest pretty hard this week.

This is also my week to hopefully get some medical insurance 'junk' squared away. You see the last 3 months I have been living in a medical insurance nightmare. To make matters worse about three weeks ago I was hit with another piece of insurance 'junk' and then this last Saturday I was thrown yet another blow... Let me explain...

Last August I made a trip to the ER. In case you were wondering some people have kidney stones, apparently I get stones in my ears...If you are wondering what it feels like, imagine trying to pass a kidney stone while dealing with Vertigo. It came on so fast, I honestly thought I was dying. Hubby and I had gotten up and made breakfast (I was feeling great), shortly after breakfast I told my hubby that something wasn't right. Everything was starting to move in slow motion. Within about 90 minutes I was completely down. Everything was spinning and it didn't matter if my eyes were open or closed. We made the decision to go to an Urgent Care (because nothing says its the weekend, like a trip to the Urgent Care) and the car ride almost did me in. When we walked (technically not sure you can classify it as walking, but I did make it through the door) in, the woman behind the counter immediately said, "You aren't feeling well, what do you need, a blanket, water, a bag?" If the room had not been spinning so horribly, and I could have seen her I would have probably tried to have a conversation with her. Instead in my sick stupor I think I said, "oh, I am o.k."...Ya, because healthy o.k. people are at the Urgent Care on Saturdays... Long story short, the Doctor was concerned that I was having a serious medical issue that warranted the ER. So, one shot to my 'Bum' and off to the Hospital we went. Prior to leaving the Urgent Care, we called our Insurance to make sure we went to an approved ER, and sure enough we were. So by the time we got to the Hospital the meds were starting to work. I was seen by Dr. McDreamy (I am sure it was the meds that made him look like Pierce Brosnan, but whatever) and was told that I was probably passing a stone in my ear. Here is the funny part, he also said if it worsens then I might actually be having a stroke... Really? Isn't there a way to figure that out now? There is, but that is another story. So Dr. Dreamy then proceeded to tell me I was Peri menopausal and fat... Somewhere around that moment he went from Dr. Dreamy to Dr. Jekyll...

Then October came and all of bills from that day started to roll in, all but his. His did not come till the very beginning of November. The bill was for the full amount, minus a community discount. Meaning this poor person has no insurance so we will throw them a bone and take off $40.00. Do they really think if someone does not have insurance, that a $40.00 discount will really help? Anyway, it didn't bother me because I figured they forgot to bill my insurance. I quickly called them and gave them my insurance information. Fast forward three months.... and probably 50 telephone calls between my insurance company and the company that the Doctor uses for billing later. The Doctor is still coming after me for a lot of money. The insurance company is saying that I saw an Out of Network Doctor. Here is where we enter the 'cat chasing its tale' part of the story. I went to an Approved In Network Hospital Emergency Room. Unfortunately the Emergency Room Doctor was Out Of Network. How in the world would I have ever known that. It is not as if you know who you are going to see once you are at the ER. If you ask me, if the ER is approved then EVERYONE who bills you once you are admitted should be approved. The Doctor is giving me until February 1 to pay, or they are turning it over to a collections agency. My insurance is telling me that they cut them a partial check, and that my Co-Pay is $15.15... and not to pay a dollar more. The Doctor is saying that they did receive a payment but that I still owe the remainder... The remainder is still Hundreds of Dollars. It has been a nightmare...

Then around three weeks ago I received a bill from a Laboratory we used when JayJay was sick back in December. Not just a little bill we are talking a $600 bill. Again I was not worried because it showed no Insurance status. So I called them up, and found out that they typed in her insurance number incorrectly. So I filed the incorrect bill and thought we were good, until I received the same bill last week. So I called them up and they told me that insurance was saying that JayJay was not eligible for insurance... WHAT?!?!?!!! After a few (try to keep your cool) phone calls we think the problem was that they were spelling her name wrong.. I am in the keeping my fingers crossed stage that we might have cleared that one up.

Now for the icing on the cake. Last Monday I called in Ademans prescription for his reflux. It is so very important that he takes this medicine, since he no longer has his feeding tube. Long story, just know that feeding Ademan is like walking a tight rope. So last week with all of the commotion of our dog Sammie becoming sick, I forgot to pick up his meds. So, Saturday when I realized we were on his last pill I called the Pharmacy to make sure that it was filled and still sitting on the shelf. That is when I was told that his insurance is denying it. WHAT?!?!?! He has been on this pill for at least a year, and now they are denying it? You should have heard the desperation in my voice when talking to the Pharmacist. We came up with an over the counter concoction until I can see his Doctor. I guess at that point we will have to find a new approved medication.

I am so over Insurance companies. I would love to say, well maybe we just have a bad Insurance company, but the sad thing is that my kids and I don't even have the same Insurance companies. Which tells me that this kind of stupidity is widespread throughout the Insurance industry.  I wonder how Obama Care will stack up against traditional Insurance. I will be upset if it ends up being hassle free for people. I wouldn't be upset for the people who can sign up for it. I will be upset that I can't since we are eligible for Insurance through work.

Anyway, that is what my Monday holds for me. Telephone calls that will probably cause my blood pressure to rise. At least I will have my Pinterest browsing to look forward to, and to help me calm down.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

It doesn't 'Get Better', it gets "Different"...

I will be the first to admit that my kids are driving me absolutely batty this week. We have had a lot of commotion in our home, so I kind of understand why they are acting the way they are. At the end of the day, they are still driving me batty. My hubby keeps reassuring me by saying "its just a phase, and you before you know it, they will be out of it", and yes that is true, but on the flip side they will just be in a new different phase.

This is one of those weeks, o.k. I will be honest more like the past few weeks, that makes you feel like a failure of a mother. Like, I must be doing something wrong because my kids are acting like idiots 24 hours a day, and everybody elses' kids seem to mind their parents. I feel like if JayJay who is 4 knew what putting her middle finger up in the air meant, that she would quite possibly do that to me right now. I just feel like I have lost control over my kids. Maybe its the fact that we are all coopt up in a house and haven't seen sunshine in quite a few days, maybe it is their age, maybe it is the coming down off of the Holidays, or maybe it is a combination of all of that. Whatever it is, it can be over now. Mommys patience is wearing thin.

When I had two babies the reaction was always oh how precious, because everybody loves a baby. A baby can do no harm, and always brings a smile to your face. Then when I had two, 2 year olds it was always, "don't you just love this age" ... Quite often I found myself thinking, "I guess". I mean really I had nothing to compare it to. So compared to a baby who likes to projectile vomit, keep you up all night, and let out ear piercing squeals, well ya, I guess I love that age. Then I had two 3 year olds and a 1 year old, that's when the comments began to shift it was more like, "oh my, you have your hands full". I never knew weather to take that as a compliment or an insult. Now I have two 4 year olds and a two year old... Most of the time I don't get comments, I get looks. Most of the time, it is a look of cant you control them. The comments and stares that I receive now, almost make me feel like I am traveling around with a circus side show. Heck, half the time I feel like I am traveling around with a circus side show.

When I think back to life without kids and the numerous, are you going to have kids one day, comments. You know the comments, the ones were people tell you how AMAZING it is to be a parent, and how they (kids) will change your life, and blah, blah, blah... Let me tell you, I will be the first one to say, do not start a family unless you are ready to be pushed to the brink. The brink of what? The brink of everything... I never new tired, frustration, exhaustion, crankiness, snarkiness, being wound up, not having a moment for yourself, letting yourself go until I had kids.

There are women out there, who will look at me and tell me, "honey, it will get better". You know what, I have been hearing that for a few years, and I have come to the realization that it does not get better, it just gets 'different'. Different is o.k. because different at least changes everything. So lets stop saying that it gets better, lets be honest with each other and say it will just be "different". You may be out of one phase with your kids but I guarantee you have entered a new phase, with new challenges and new struggles. Here is the cool thing about our minds and our spirits, we are quick to forget. We forget how difficult it was, and we start to remember the good. When the hubby and I reminisce about our kids when they were younger, I cant tell you how many "annoyances" my hubby can remember that I have completely forgotten and vice verse.

So as I sit here and complain about my kiddos, I know that in no time, it will get "different". Please don't get me wrong, I love my kids more than life itself. Everything I do, is now for them. They have for sure made me a better person, and I will forever owe them for that. Some day when my girls have started their own families (assuming they want to, because let me tell you, I will NEVER pressure them for grandbabies) I hope the Internet will still be around so that they can read this post and know that they are not alone. Not alone in feeling tired, exhausted, cranky, snarky or whatever it is they are feeling. We have all been there, and if you weren't, you either didn't have kids or you had one heck of a nanny!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

From Grand Mal Seizures to Swim Therapy we are off to a crazy week

Yesterday was such a treat, and a treat is exactly what I needed. It has been a hard week at our house. We have been dealing with a very sick dog. Our beloved Sammie the one eyed wonder, had 2 Grand Mal Seizures between Monday and Tuesday. It kind of rocked my world, I had never experienced human and or animal seizures before. So, I was a little unprepared when she had her first one. It was a classic Grand Mal Seizure including clenched jaw, jerking of the legs, urinating and defecating. Then there was the 45 minutes that followed of walking into walls, legs collapsing, and just confusion. Two of those in two days left me pretty exhausted. So I needed this one hour break, girls got to stay at home with their grandpa, and Ademan got to experience a pool for the first time.

 Ademan has transitioned from traditional physical therapy to swim therapy. I was convinced that he would love it, so imagine my surprise when my two year old became hysterical and started screaming "I can't do dis"... So here is where the evil twisted mama comes out. Part of me was feeling so sad for my son, the other part of me was kind of laughing. I know it is a little messed up...

He actually did really well in all but one of the activities. I did not take a picture of that activity because he was REALLY upset. I am sure it has a little something to do with the fact that his face went in the water, and we think he got a good amount up his nose. We all know, that burns!

It is really impressive, he is in a heated pool which is probably 15' x 25'. He has two women in the pool with him, (hubby was impressed that his two year old boy was able to lure two woman into a pool) both the physical therapist and an assistant. So any fear I was feeling was quickly released, and yes I was a bit nervous. It is one thing to be in a pool holding your kiddo, it is another thing for your kiddo to be in a pool and you have no control.  But let me tell you, this mama would have jumped in immediately had something gone wrong.

The reason we switched  our type of therapy was because he lacks self confidence. The therapist thought that this would be a good way for him to build muscle while building self confidence. Sure enough like I said earlier he was saying "I can't do dis". That was heart braking,  because I thought I was raising my kids to be brave and try new things. The therapist even looked at me, as if to say "where is this coming from". I was suddenly hit with mommy guilt. The first thing I did when I got home was have a conversation with the girls about words we will no longer be using in our home like, I cant, I am afraid, I am scared, ... Lets nip this in the bud!

I will be happy when this week is behind us. I am tired, and my kids are acting like wild childs because of all the commotion going on in our home. We do better with routine around here, if too many things are out of our normal routine my kids become these little terrors that are almost unrecognizable. Unfortunately, it is going to be another hard 7 - 10 days, due to the meds that the Veterinarian has started Sammie on. She is taking Phenolbarbarol which is pretty harsh. So one of the side effects is stumbling around and legs giving out. It took about 24 hours for the meds to kick in, but now that they have she is stumbling around and that is hard to watch. I am hoping we have her on the correct meds and that she will now bounce back. For all of you pet lovers out there I am sure you can agree with me when I say, "No matter what, I hope she is at least pain free".

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

and so the process begins... I have begun the process of having our kids seen at our states Fetal Alcohol Clinic... Fetal Alcohol I fear you not!

Back in October I requested applications for all three of our kids from the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Clinic here in our state. We have one main clinic here in our state, and go figure it is on the other side of the state. I am just grateful that we have one. We are only talking about a 4.5 hour drive (assuming good weather and no pit stops) but with three littles you can easily tack on an additional hour. Oh the joys of parenthood!

The goal at the clinic is to evaluate individuals of all ages at risk for FASD, and to provide them with appropriate referrals for their care. They hold clinics on Fridays, and they are able to see two patients every Friday. So in theory if all of our kids are accepted that means we will be making two trips to be seen at the clinic. Two trips with three kids across the state and back, does not sound like much fun to me. Isn't it amazing what you will do for your kids?
I had been avoiding the application paperwork like the plague. You see it is 12 pages front and back per child. Finally about a week ago I dove into it. I knew it would be exhausting but I did not think it would drain me the way it has. I have had to open up my kids adoption boxes and go back through all of their paperwork. Here is what I have discovered in the past few days...

When adopting, and they present you with family "history" and medical records, even though you are reading it, you really are not processing it. You are in the "she is my baby" stage and nothing else matters. Don't get me wrong, it does not matter. But when you are in the "lets help my daughter" stage and you are reading the same paperwork, it changes how you process all of it. I was much more upset and emotional when going through the files this time, then when they were first presented to me. It seems every time I have to go into their files I learn something new, and quite often disturbing.

That being said I am 95% complete with application #1, 50% complete on application #2, and still staring at application #3. I will be thrilled when these applications are sealed in a manila envelope and are in the mail.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Thinking about Martin Luther King Jr. and George Junius Stinney Jr. today

I found this story to be horrifying. As a white woman with three children (one vanilla, two chocolate) I am quickly reminded that it was not all that long ago that this scenario would not have been allowed. Meaning a mixed family... I cant even fathom that. I don't know if you had the chance to read this story over the weekend, but it is quite appalling. 14 year old executed in South Carolina his name is George Junius Stinney Jr and it took place in 1944. The police enticed the boy with ice cream, if he admitted to killing two little girls. In honor of this little boy whose life was cut very short...

I was raised in an area that seemed to love and embrace all cultures, but when I look back on it there was truly not much diversity. I am not sure why that is... We now live in a much larger town, that is a bit more diverse, but there is such a disconnect. I can't tell you how often I have to answer the question "where did they come from" (in regards to my two kiddos) and I would say 75% of the time, when I tell them  they came from our town I am given a look of astonishment. It is usually followed by a "really"... As if they are finding out for the first time that they live in a town that is not solely Caucasian. Those are usually the people that I try to immediately wrap up conversations with. I have no need to socialize with someone that ignorant.

We have come a long way, but still not far enough. Until we can help transform the minds of ignorant people, we will continue to stumble. On this day that we honor Martin Luther King Jr. I hope everyone takes a moment to evaluate what they want their role / impact to be in life. Be kind, make a change in the world. Be that change, live it, breathe it, do it.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

German Pancakes, its whats for breakfast

Yesterday was hubbys morning to make breakfast, to which he came up with some tasty breakfast burritos. They were so delish that I almost asked him to make them again today. But I was craving German Pancakes, so I took to the kitchen duty this morning.

If you have never made them you are truly missing out. This is one of the simplest recipes that you can adapt to suit your tastes. Personally, we like ours with jam and powdered sugar, or with Nutella (I know, I have a Nutella problem).

This is all you need:
6 eggs
1 cup of flour
1 cup of milk
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp butter

You want to talk about easy.... Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the first four ingredients in a bowl and mix. Then place the butter in a 9"x 13'" baking pan. (Make sure your pan has 2" walls, your pancakes will rise). Then place that pan into your preheated oven to melt the butter. Make sure the butter coats the entire pan. Then carefully pour the batter into your warm, buttered pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

Easy, right? Now it is up to you to be creative with your toppings. From sweet to savory I am sure you cant go wrong! 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Our cold, foggy, weather... My poor Keurig is constantly brewing to keep me warm!

We have slipped into a dreary weather pattern. We are hanging right around the freezing mark, which is normal, but mother nature has thrown us the FOG... Our seven day forecast has no sun in sight. All I can say is yuckers!!! but with the yuckers comes some beauty.
On days like these it is easy to stay inside and just complain about the cold, and the wet. making macchiatos with my Keurig.
It is days like this that I like to make myself go out and breathe in the cold air.
I like to open my eyes, and really take it in.
Living in an area with four seasons, you learn to appreciate each and every day.
I hope you enjoyed these pictures from our property. Take a moment this weekend to get out there and take it all in.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

We are not a Montessori family... but we are a Laura Numeroff book reading family!

We just got back from our weekly Therapy appointment. LeiLei goes weekly to a Behavioral Therapist, and let me tell you it it is magic. We have been seeing her since October, and she is phenomenal. Each week she sends me home with a list of "corrections" I can use with LeiLei. Ways to help her comply without getting angry. Ways to help her play with her siblings without becoming the alpha kid in the room. Ways to help her express her feelings. In just three short months she has become a different girl. A loving, tender, caring girl. It has warmed our hearts to see this transformation. We knew there was this tender soul trapped inside of a non compliant vessel. We also knew that we needed help, and we realized we could not help her on our own. We were fortunate to be referred to an astonishing professional who has helped us all.

This week we changed things up a bit. This week, her sister JayJay accompanied us to the appointment. We now need to start getting to the nitty gritty "triggers", and yes any mom can tell you that siblings are triggers. It did not take long for the Therapist to see that LeiLei is the leader, and JayJay has 'no voice' when playing with her sister. JayJay just kind of follows, and gives in. Then when she has had enough she makes it very clear that she has had enough.  LeiLeis' response because she is caught off guard (since JayJay has not been giving her any warnings that she is becoming frustrated) is with anger. So our homework for this week is to work on asking to trade toys, and that we can respond with a yes or a no thank you. Then once the response is made we ask the other person if 'maybe later' works for them. On top of that I have to work on giving positive praise to my girls when they are playing together and working together nicely. I know that this sounds like common sense but let me tell you, giving positive praise for something you think should be happening without praise is difficult to do. So that is something I have to work on.

She has also confirmed that our kids are not Montessori type kids. We do not do well with the idea of taking one toy out, playing with it, and then putting it away before we get another one. We are very creative, we like to incorporate many toys in our play process. We might be playing with a dollhouse, and if you have a dollhouse you might also need a tree house (a weeble wobble tree house works just perfect), and if you have a house you also need a car (brothers remote control Cobra is perfect). For our family this style of play works, but it is not for everyone. No wonder we love the book, If You Give A Mouse a Cookie. The author (Laura Numeroff) hit the nail on the head with her books and our family!!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Don't forget to claim your Adoption Tax Credit when you file your taxes with the IRS, that is if you qualify...

Why does tax season always fill me with anxiety? It shouldn't, all I have to do is mail everything to my CPA and hope for the best. Something about making sure I have everything in the envelope just twitterpates me... (Yes, in our house twitterpate is a word. Meaning wound up, can't focus, at a loss for words).

I do want to remind all of my friends who have adopted in 2013, to not forget about the Adoptions Tax Credit. Unfortunately this year it is non-refundable, but on the bright side you can carry it for 5 years. Don't ask me how to file it, because like I said earlier I send all of my stuff to my CPA and if like magic a week later I have my Tax Return in my hand a waiting our signatures.

Here is what I do know... For a special needs child you might qualify for the full credit (even if you have no qualifying expenses) which is $12,970... (Don't forget it is not a refund, so that means you may not receive a refund in that amount, it will depend on what your tax liability is). For those who adopt a child without special needs, you will need qualifying expenses. An example of qualifying costs would be Lawyers Fees, and Court Fees.

Here is a link to the IRS website, which may answer more of your questions.
Adoption Benefits

Lets hope for a good, easy tax season!!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Lisa Vanderplump from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills adopted her son from Foster Care...

Imagine my surprise when I sat down to watch one of my "garbage" shows and found out that one of the characters has a link to Foster Care. O.k. so my "garbage" show is Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. It is garbage because there is no value to it. It does not better me, I do not learn from it, and every week it robs me from an hour of my life. That being said, It has sucked me in. I don't have many vices, but garbage T.V. may qualify as one.

So, that being said I chuckled a little bit while watching this weeks episode. You see this weeks episode revolved around the women cleaning out their closets and donating their formal wear to girls in Foster care. The reason I thought it was funny, was because of how extreme their donations were. We are talking about couture gowns, and probably all of the gowns were a size 0. They would have been better off auctioning the gowns off, and using the money to purchase many more inexpensive gowns for many more girls in Foster Care that wanted to go to prom. Just saying....
What really caught me by surprise was when Lisa Vanderplump admitted to adopting her son from Foster Care. I am having such a difficult time picturing her dealing with Social Workers, or dealing with visitations. Lets just say I am shocked, there are so many aspects of being a Foster to Adopt Parent that just do not have her name written all over it. Apparently she adopted her son Max a little over 20 years ago from Foster Care. All I can say is good for her and her husband. Now hopefully they can use their voices to raise Foster Care awareness. Ha! maybe now I can justify my "garbage" show... Probably not...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Foster, Foster to Adopt, or Adoptive... Determining the Foster Parent Role that is right for you...

When we decided we wanted to start a family, we made the decision to adopt. We had no intentions of doing a private adoption, we knew that there were children who were already born that needed homes. What we did not realize is how large of a crisis it really is. The number of legally free children in the United States is just mind blowing. Our choice was to adopt through Foster Care.

I made an appointment with our local Adoptions Social Worker direct from DSHS to discuss the process. She sat me down and explained to me DSHS works with three different types of Foster Parents. There are traditional Foster Parents, Foster to Adopt Parents, and Adoptive Parents. From there she explained that if we only wanted to adopt we would most likely end up with a child that is age 3 and up. So that meant no possibility of adopting a baby. Since we did not have any biological children we really wanted to experience a baby.  We did not know what we were doing as parents, so we kind of wanted to start at the beginning, a baby. Being an adoptive parent, especially if you are going to try and adopt a young child, means you can be waiting a while. I really did not want to wait all that long. So we ruled out Adoptive Parent...

Then there are the traditional Foster Parents. Generally Foster Parents are not adoptive parents. They have no 'intentions' of creating forever homes for these children. They are there to give these kiddos a safe, warm, loving home during a challenging time. A foster parent could have a child in their home for one day or for 18 years. This does not mean that they will never adopt. There have been many Foster Parents that have ended up adopting many Foster Children just because of the bond they have all developed by the time the child is legally free. For us (at that point in time) we were not wanting to be traditional Foster Parents.

That led us to Foster Adopt. By stating you want to be a Foster Adopt parent you are saying your end goal is adoption. DSHS will try to place you with children that seem like they will need a forever home. Still very risky, because at any time the Biological Parent may succeed and the child may go back with them. Or, they may find a family placement (which will almost always out rank a Foster placement). Usually the child will have been in Foster Care for 4-12 months before they will place that child into a Foster Adopt home. That is usually about the time that the Courts want to know what the long term plan for the child is. This seemed like the best option for us.

We were very fortunate that our first placement ( a newborn) actually became our daughter. We were told that we will probably have 3-4 babies go through our home before we had the chance to adopt (even as a Foster to Adopt parent). A scary proposition... As I have stated in other posts she did leave our care for a short period of time. I will never forget what the Social Worker told us... A child has a higher chance of death the first six months of their lives than any other time. Immediately my mind went to SIDS, but I knew you are not out of the woods until age two with SIDS so that didn't make sense to me. I gave her a confused look, to which she immediately replied...Neglect and Abuse... As sad as I was, she made me realize that we may have actually saved that babies life. At that moment I realized the importance of traditional Foster Parents.

All three roles are important and the truth is all three roles overlap. So, just because you choose one, does not mean you cant change your mind or not end up with what you set out to achieve. You could be an adoptive parent who receives a placement, and come to find out you are not a good fit with that child. The department will find another suitable home for that child. You could be a Foster Parent that falls in love with their Foster Child and ends up adopting him or her. You could be a Foster to Adopt parent who after having a child in their home for 14 months, loses the child to a family placement. So when choosing your role think about your end goal. What reasons are leading you to be a Foster Parent? What do you want the outcomes to be? Just know that as a Foster Parent you will need to learn to roll with the punches.

Feel free to e-mail me any questions you may have. Becoming a Foster Parent is quite the confusing process at times.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

JayJays baby blanket is packed away, and I only cried a little, o.k. a lot...

Last night was a big night in our home. We have been going back and forth with JayJay about how it is time to pack away her minkie. Her minkie use to be about 4' x 4', now it is in three pieces and one long string. For a few weeks we have been preparing her for the fact that she is going to have to surrender it to mommy and daddy, before it becomes one long string.  We had a few attempts, which always led to tears at some point during the night, when she would realize it was no longer there. Last night we had a breakthrough. She surrendered...
What I was not prepared for, was the stream of tears that I shed. Holy cow, I almost went into the ugly cry.  That was the last of her "baby" items for me... Need I say more? This minkie was extra special, it was the one she came home from the hospital with. This minkie was made by a stranger. This person put time and effert into a baby blanket for a baby they would never meet. A blanket for a child that she know was going to have a hard start at life. A blanket for a child that she knew may not have much to call their own. Amazing...

Before she went to bed we promised her that she could help us wrap it up and put it in a keepsake box tomorrow (today). We also promised her that she could see some of our keepsakes from when we were her age. Amazingly she went the entire night without asking for it, and the first thing out of her mouth this morning was, "daddy, I want to see your special things from when you were a kid".

Well, I guess its official... My babies are growing up...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Breakfast in Paris? Why Yes I would love to... just as soon as I give my kids Mickey Mouse Nuggets from Costco

If you were riding in the car with the kids and myself this morning you would have heard me say (more than once) "sliding, ya we're definitely sliding". Followed up with Ademan (arms up in the air, as if he were on a roller coaster) saying "Ya, mommy!". It was a little slippery this morning, o.k. it was a heck of a lot of slippery this morning. We made it to our destination safely, and that is all I can ask for.

I had about 75 minutes this morning in which I was without kids. I figured that was the perfect grocery store opportunity. I only needed the basics like milk, eggs, lunch meat. Or so I thought...
Imagine my surprise when I was walking down the coffee, tea aisle and I was asked if I wanted Breakfast in Paris. O.k. I wasn't really asked, but I saw that they had Stash Tea on sale. So I grabbed my favorite (mango, passion fruit) and there right next to it was, Breakfast in Paris. Something that sounds that amazing (probably because I am also suffering from the travel bug) must be good. So into the cart it went.

I quickly ran back to pick up my son from his Therapy appointments, and then to pick the girls up from school. What a change in a few short hours... What was ice this morning was flooding by noon. We are talking about the type of flooding that makes the slow lanes not a smart choice. An even worse choice is being the poor person walking on the sidewalk. We have a pretty steep hill we have to go up right before we are home (9% grade). In the winter you may go up and down it sideways. It is a doozy... By the time we hit it this afternoon it was complete slush, which I hate worse than anything. I will take ice and snow hands down over the slush. Long story short we did pretty good going up it, until the very end. The last little bit of the hill we ended up going up it sideways. Unless you live in a wintry climate, I know it is hard to wrap your head around driving sideways. Truly, that is the best way to describe it.

As soon as we got home I filled my kids tummies up with Costcos', Mickey Mouse Nuggets, and then sent them to there room for quiet time. I dove into my grocery bags, so that I could have...
Breakfast in Paris.....

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Time to start cleaning and organizing... I need Peter Walsh to come organize my home!

I have such the bug to start organizing. I feel like our home has hit complete chaos, clutter mode, and I am sick of it! Everywhere I turn there is a pile that I keep meaning to get to. But rather than getting to any of them, I just keep adding to them. Where is Peter Walsh when you need him? O.K. I know he is famous and all, and it would cost a ridiculous amount of money to have him come work over our home, but a girl can dream can't she?

So yesterday was my breaking point. You know that moment... You have tripped over a pile for the last time, or you have knocked a pile of papers off of the counter onto the floor for like the hundredth time. Yep that was me.

My kitchen counter was first on my list. I am embarrassed to say all of the horrible things that were happening on that counter. Right after Thanksgiving I knocked over a wax warmer, and spilled wax all over the counter. Yep it was still there, apparently I never got around to scraping it up.  Now having scraped it up, I see why I put it off for so long.  Then there was the section of counter that still had a filled grocery bag (from like 2 weeks ago) that needed to be put away. I realized the reason I had not moved it, was because it was holding up the stack of books and junk mail I had been meaning to go through. I wish I could say that was all, but it wasn't. What I can say, is now it is all clean, and I have a functioning kitchen counter again.

Second on my list was the girls hair clip drawer in their bathroom. I was at a point where I hated to open the drawer. I could never find two matching clips, and head bands were so jammed in there that we were starting to brake them when we tried to pry the drawer open. So I decided to take an artist canvas and cover it with fabric and ribbon to make a clip and head band holder. It actually isn't completely finished. I still need to add 3 or 4 small coffee hooks to hang their soft hair bands. They will hang just to the right of the headband holders. I think it turned out kind of cute.

Today I plan on tackling the stack of papers on top of the refrigerator, and my horrific bathroom counter. They both make me cringe. I would like to say that I will be all done after that, but not even close. I still need to tackle the coat closet that will not close, my sock drawer which I have started just throwing socks in without matching them up, a craft room that has disaster written all over it, and lets not forget about the laundry room.

I hope you are doing better than I, and did not let your home get away from you over the Holidays. I really don't know how this happened, but I also don't know how I gained ten pounds. Doesn't matter, now it is time to take care of business.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Time to up the Vitamin D intake

We are on Day 2 of no sunshine, and I am feeling it. My Vitamin D levels are dropping and I am sleepy! I could close my eyes and fall asleep, even with kids running around me.  So, like every winter it is time for me to up my Vitamin D intake. Hopefully I can get it under control this year, without having to do my normal winter Prescription that my Doctor has to write out.

Day 2 of no sunshine also makes your kids CRAZY... Or at least it makes my kids crazy. I mean we are talking about a level of crazy that cookies and ice cream doesn't even make better. Yesterday we did a bunch of their 'favorite' activities, to still end up with melt downs left and right. I promised them baking cookies, and playing in the snow today. Both activities are quite a lot of work for me so I am keeping my fingers crossed for a nice afternoon. As any mom would know, there is nothing worse than doing an activity with a child, and having the child be grumpy the entire time.

I know I am not the only one dealing with this cabin fever crazy. How do you combat cabin fever? Any ideas for making the kids happy? If I did not have kids, I would be curled up on the sofa, reading a book, and drinking Trader Joes sipping chocolate. But I do have kids which means maybe making a cup of tea, that I will have to place in the microwave at least 10 times. I don't remember when the last time was that I was able to enjoy a hot drink in one sitting. Let alone curl up on the sofa and dive into a book. Oh well, I wouldn't have it any other way. Crazy kids and all!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Talking about Adoption

I like most Adoptive parents break out in a cold sweat when I think about the moment that my children finally understand that they are adopted. It is difficult to find the words when having a conversation with your children, about adoption. Our kiddos are young, so our conversations have been very light and fluffy. We look at pictures from their special Adoption Day, and we talk about the Judge who is the man that that declared that they will forever be our kiddos. Then we talk about the Social Worker, who was their special buddy and made sure they were well taken care of. Then we talk about all of the other people in the court room from friends to family, to workers from other agencies that wanted to be there. The truth is right now all they are hearing are words, they are too young to really get it.

There is a cartoon on Nickelodeon called Ms. Spiders Sunny Patch. There is actually one episode that deals with Ms. Spider adopting a baby bug that needed a mommy. Whenever it is on, I let my kiddos know that it is one of my favorite cartoons, because Ms. Spider also adopted some of her Buggy babies. Which usually results in one of my kids saying, "Ya mom, they had an adoption day?" So I know they are slowly starting to hold on to the bits and pieces I am telling them . Every once in a while my kids will throw me a curve ball with a random and very specific question about adoption. My hands immediately start to sweat and my head starts to spin, but then I remind myself that they are only 4. The question they are asking me, isn't really the question they are asking me. So for the moment I have learned to not over think my answers. At the moment they are looking for simple answers to a simple question.

It won't be long though, before the questions really start to come at us. We are a blended family of different races. So it will not be long before we will have to address the fact that we do not all look the same. Which will lead us right into the real adoption conversation. We also have an open adoption with two of our kiddos. So, twice a year they get to see their biological mom. That in itself will cause the adoption conversation to happen sooner than later. Thank goodness we took the advice of a Social Worker and had the mom agree to supervised visits at a Therapists office. This way when some of the more challenging questions arise we will have a neutral third party who can help our kiddos understand the reality of the situation.

For those that do not have access to a Therapist, there are many good resources out there. All adoptive parents will need help at some point to navigate their way through some of these tough conversations. I know we will have good conversations, and bad conversations, tearfull conversations, and happy conversations, angry conversations, and confusing conversations. Hopefully by starting the conversations now, it will ease the pain and confusion that our kiddos will inevitably experience. We will do whatever it takes to help our kids come to terms as to why they came to be with us. For now I will continue to have my simple conversations with my easy going 4 year olds, and my non caring 2 year old.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Did you know that Foster Children have a Bill of Rights?

Did you know that Foster Children have a Bill of Rights, ratified in Congress in 1973? Did you know that Foster Parents in 10 States also have a Bill of Rights? I will save that one for another day. It seems so simple and basic when you read through the Foster Childrens' Bill of Rights. It is sad to me that they even have to come up with such a thing. All Ten Articles are so simple and basic, and yet they have to be stated. I wish all Foster Parents took Fostering as seriously as we do. Every child that came (or comes) into our home was treated (or will be treated) no differently than if they were our biological child. It makes me sick to think that many Foster Children are removed from there homes for whatever horrific reason, and then sometimes placed in a Foster Home that is not much better. If only our country had the resources to provide a true safe spot for these kiddos. I wish more people would adopt from within our country to help ease the burden on the Foster Care System. For all of the Foster Kids out there, you do have Rights!

Even more than for other children, society has a responsibility, along with parents, for the well-being of children in foster care. Citizens are responsible for acting to insure their welfare.

Every child in foster care is endowed with the rights inherently belonging to all children. In addition, because of the temporary or permanent separation from, and loss of, parents and other family members, the child requires special safeguards, resources, and care.


Article the first be cherished by a family of his own, either his family helped by readily available services and supports to resume his care, or an adoptive family or, by plan, a continuing foster family.

Article the second be nurtured by foster parents who have been selected to meet his individual needs, and who are provided services and supports, including specialized education, so that they can grow in their ability to enable the child to reach his potentiality.

Article the third receive sensitive, continuing help in understanding and accepting the reasons for his own family's inability to take care of him, and in developing confidence in his own self worth.

Article the fourth receive continuing loving care and respect as a unique human being...a child growing in trust in himself and others.

Article the fifth grow up in freedom and dignity in a neighborhood of people who accept him with understanding, respect and friendship.

Article the sixth receive help in overcoming deprivation or whatever distortion in his emotional, physical, intellectual, social and spiritual growth may have resulted from his early experiences.

Article the seventh receive education, training, and career guidance to prepare for a useful and satisfying life.

Article the eighth receive preparation for citizenship and parenthood through interaction with foster parents and other adults who are consistent role models.

Article the ninth be represented by an attorney-at-law in administrative or judicial proceedings with access to fair hearings and court review of decisions, so that his best interests are safeguarded.

Article the tenth receive a high quality of child welfare services, including involvement of the natural parents and his own involvement in major decisions that affect his life.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

We survived a Doc McStuffins Birthday Party

I am tired! Today we had JayJay's much anticipated Doc McStuffins Birthday Party. I was shocked when I discovered that there were very few options for Doc McStuffins party supplies. A few searches on Pinterest led me in the right direction for ideas and free Doc McStuffins downloads. Thanks Disney Junior !!! The only thing I learned from this party, is that an 11:00 a.m. party is hard to pull off when you have three little kids. I did not get all of the decorations up, and I realized after the party was over that I did not put out the veggie tray. Oh well!!!

Most of my time was spent on coming up with a Doctors table that the kids could fix their stuffed animals or dolls at.

I had to make sure my little Doctors looked the part.. So we starched men's white t - shirts and cut them down the center to make Doctors coats. They also had to have their I.D. badges, complete with their pictures.

The Doctors quickly got to work!

No party is complete without a game, so we played pin the Band Aid on Stuffy.

I could not hold the Birthday girl back much longer so we dove into cupcakes.

I am pretty sure they all had a great time. All I know is am tired! Thank goodness the next birthday is four months away. I have some time to bounce back.

Friday, January 3, 2014

I am up to my eye balls in Doc Mcstuffins party planning

So Jay Jay wanted a Doc McStuffins Birthday party this year, for as popular as Doc is, there are very few party supplies with the Doc theme. So, I did what any good mom would have done, and hit the Internet.

I began by looking at Etsy and Ebay hoping to purchase some hand made decorations. Let me tell you, I almost fell out of my chair when I saw the prices. Ah, supply and demand. Same thing happened at Christmas, right after Black Friday the prices on Doc items went sky high (if you could even find what you wanted) So back to the party, after realizing that I was not going to be purchasing pre made supplies I dove into Pinterest and started copying ideas. A trip to Hobby Lobby, a party store, and the 99 cent store and I was ready to start crafting.

On my to do list:
*Create a doctors table complete with medical supplies, where the kids can fix their stuffed animals BooBoo's.
*Make Doctors coats for each child. Cut a men's XS T-shirt down the middle, starch and iron.
*Make Docs signature headbands. Purple with a pink flower
*Make Doctors bags for each child
*Make a Doctors name badge for each child
*Make a Pin the Band Aid on Stuffy game
*Make a Doc is IN sign

This is what my craft room looks like at the moment.

I must admit I am totally cheating on food this year. I will be hitting Costco for pre made trays! I cant wait to share party pictures with you, so stayed tuned!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Who would have known that one call on my cell phone, while shopping at Costco, would change my life forever...

Four years ago today, my life changed forever. I had just finished paying for my purchase at Costco when my cell phone rang. I wasn't expecting any calls, nor did I recognize the number, and yet I still answered it. I don't want to think about what would have happened had I not answered it. You see a baby had just been born, and that baby needed a home, and I answered the call.

Four years ago today, JayJay was born. She was born into a world of problems and chaos, and I was to be her shelter. She did not have an easy start to life. She was born addicted to drugs... Her pediatrician fought to keep her in the hospital for a few days so that she could be surrounded by medical staff while she went through her withdrawals. I did not get to see her until day three, which is when she was released from the hospital. She was so small, at 5lbs her baby blankets engulfed her. I was not prepared but thank goodness we have a local Babies-R-Us that sells Preemie clothing and supplies. Not allot, so I was at the mercy of buying what they had. I look at those little outfits now, and laugh they won't even fit the baby dolls that she now plays with.

I do not have any idea where the past four years have gone. That scares me, part of me secretly wants it all back. I would give anything to hold that 5lb baby in my arms again. To sit in the rocking chair with her until she fell asleep. To be doing dishes and have her in her swing next to me babbling away. But I am thankful for now, for today, and for what tomorrow may bring her. I hope and pray that she will remember only the good from her childhood, and none of the bad.

Happy Birthday JayJay, your mommy and daddy love you more than you will ever know. We will always be your shelter. Whatever life may throw at you, we will be your constant. May you have a wonderful year ahead of you.