Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving recipes

Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats - Read the comments of the recipe and blot out excess moisture from the pumpkin puree to prevent soggy treats.

New England Cranberry Duff - This might be one of my top three things I've ever made.  I used fresh cranberries and doubled the cake part of the recipe as suggested in the comments.

Thanksgiving photo roll

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Friday, November 23, 2012


I'm thankful for a little guy that is finally really happy in our home.  I don't think he's cried at bedtime or during the night for two weeks.  I can't remember a day when he's thrown himself on the floor in frustration over... and over... and over.  He plays nicely by himself with toys, mostly cars.  Hannah and Hudson play  wonderfully together 90% of the time.  Hitting, pushing, and grabbing of toys is rare.  We kiss.  We hug.  We sing songs.  We share treats.

We've found solutions on how to make him feel less frustrated because of our communication barriers.  He used to scream and throw himself on the floor at breakfast time because he was hungry and didn't think I was getting him food fast enough.  I'll set him on the counter top and have him watch me make breakfast and sometimes help with tasks like putting bread in the toaster or pushing buttons on the microwave.  He can SEE that we're working on breakfast, he isn't being denied food, and he likes to help.  Kevin does things like gets the kids playing together in the living room before he starts making breakfast, so Hudson isn't thinking about "Where's my breakfast?!?!?" during prep time.

Hudson's receptive vocabulary has grown by miles.  We can tell him to do things like pick up trash on the floor and put it in the trash can, and he does it.  He can help pick up toys when asked, and will come to us and tells us "peepee" or "poopoo" when he'd like a new diaper... and will run to his room when we say "let's go get a new diaper."

He feels badly when Hannah is upset.  If she's in trouble and has to stand in the corner... (usually with tears streaming down her face), Hudson will run to a nearby corner and sand there in solidarity with Hannah.

When I dreamed of having a daughter, I imagined taking my daughter to singing and dancing lessons... and being a swing choir mom when she was high school age.  Hannah is very shy and doesn't like strangers looking at her.  I don't think singing and dancing will be in her future.  Singing and dancing are favorite activity of his... right after playing with cars and trains.  We sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Happy Birthday, Wheels on the Bus, and Old McDonald together.  He loves to shout EIEIO repeatedly and make animal sounds, especially "ssssssss!" for the sound of the snake on our farm. :)

We are having some issues with hives on his chest that come and go.  I've never seen him itch them or look uncomfortable because of them.  I suspect a food allergy, but perhaps a food that he's been eating frequently.  Hudson had some hives the day we met him and I chalked it up to anxiety.  As he's become more comfortable in our home, we're getting more hives... so I don't think that is it.  I've made an appointment with an allergist to see what he thinks, and I'll be bringing all of my iPhone photos of these mystery hives.  I'd like to know what the source(s) is/are so we can avoid whatever it is rather just scratching our heads and giving Hudson antihistamines.  Also looking forward to getting a weight on him next week.  He's getting heavy to carry.  We're on our 3rd size of shoes with him, and moving from 24mo to 2T pants.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2012

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2012
This is the second year that I have participated in the Adoption Bloggers Interview Project.  Please check out the link and discover the interviews of the many other bloggers.  Last year I was paired with Abbey who blogs at Our Little Hope, and we were both quite surprised to learn that we live very close to each other.  We answered interview questions via e-mail and then met for lunch with our kiddos.

This year I am paired with Amy at Jim and Amy Hoping to Adopt.  Unfortunately, a drive from Indiana to California is a little far to go for lunch.  Sigh!  Amy and husband Jim are faithfully waiting for a domestic open adoption match.  Amy was very gracious to answer all of my questions, and I've found getting to know her to be an enlightening experience.  I haven't even asked some of my domestic adoptive mama friends some of these questions!  My questions are posted below with Amy's answers in italics.

Amy blogged my answers to her interview questions today HERE.

Sarah:  In my opinion, waiting to be chosen for the adoption of a domestic infant takes a lot of faith that you’ll eventually be chosen.  Do you ever find yourself thinking “what would that look like to a potential birth mother?” when making life decisions on where to live, employment… or even superficial things like a hairstyle?

Amy:  Waiting to be chosen is a daily exercise of faith! There are days when I am at peace and know in my heart that it will happen for us. There are days when I really struggle (especially with our longer than normal wait) and question why it hasn't happened for us yet. I say "yet" because I haven't given up hope! I believe we are meant to be parents. It may not happen in the time frame or in the way we expect, but I do truly believe God has a plan.  There is always the temptation for waiting adoptive couples to change their letter/profile to "attract" more potential birthmothers. Thankfully, my husband and I received some great advice at the beginning of our journey. We are not selling a house! We don't need to "market" ourselves to try to connect with most potential birthmothers. We need to be ourselves so that we can make the right connection. We really tried to take that advice to heart. With that in mind, we decided to write our own letter and set up our own website rather than hire a professional designer (not that there is anything wrong with hiring a designer- we just wanted to make sure our letter and website reflected the real us!) Not that I don't overanalyze at times! I maintain our website as well as a Facebook page and blog (I sometimes joke that adoption is my part-time "job"). So it can feel very personal sometimes that we haven't been chosen yet. I have worried about things like whether we look too conservative, or live in too rural an area, or about the extra weight around my mid-section. But that is who we are! We aren't perfect, but I don't think birthmothers are looking for perfect. They are looking for real.

Sarah:  With your experiences, what is it like to meet with a potential birth mother for the first time? In what kind of settings do these meetings take place? What have you talked about? How did you break the ice? What surprised you about the experience?

Amy:  Most of our contacts have been by phone or email (although we have had a few experiences with meeting a potential birthmother face to face). I will talk a little about both. I still get nervous when we received a phone call or email from a potential birthmother. My hands get sweaty, my heart rate increases and I feel a little out of breath. I try to take a deep breath, admit that I am nervous too and focus in on listening and letting the conversation develop naturally. Easier said than done! With phone calls, there can be uncomfortable periods of silence while one side or the other is gathering their thoughts. It can also be difficult to hear details if the connection on the phone is bad or there is distracting background noise. With emails, there is more time to breathe and think. However, a lot can be misunderstood when there are no verbal or body language clues to go on so word choice becomes very important. We have had a few face to face meetings with potential birthmothers. The most notable was a match that we had the summer before last. A friend of a friend had given our letter to M (for privacy we are not including her whole name). We talked with M several times on the phone and she also talked with our agency. She indicated a desire to match with us and so we traveled 5 hours away to her hometown for the meeting which our agency facilitated. (Sometimes there are informal meetings first, but M was due in less than a month and so she wanted to match and have everything settled.) We picked M up and drove her to a local restaurant where we were met by Annie, an adoption counselor from our agency. We ate lunch and started with small talk- just picking up from where our phone conversations left off. Then Annie went through a list of questions with us and M- everything from family values, parenting styles, and childhood experiences to what M would like to happen at the hospital (ie did she want us in the room, did she want to breastfeed, who would hold the baby first) to what type of contact we all wanted after the birth. It was very helpful to have Annie there to ask the questions that we or M didn't think of and to bring up any potentially sensitive topics. The meeting lasted a few hours (we found out later that they typically go even longer). We spent the rest of the day with M getting to know her more, shopping for a few things she needed and helping her look online for a place to live. Ultimately this match didn't work out, but we did learn a lot from the experience.

Sarah:  Have you ever been asked to do something or say something in your adoption process that you did not feel that was ethical? If so, what happened and what did you do about it?  I've had friends share some good stories in answer to this question.

Amy:  Thankfully no! Our agency is very ethical about this and stresses how important it is to be honest and truthful throughout the process. Unfortunately, it does happen all too often- either due to pressure by an unethical agency rep or out of desperation by potential adoptive parents. Open adoption is based on honesty and respect. It really upsets me when I hear of couples promising things -like ongoing contact with the birthfamily- and then failing to keep their promises once the adoption is finalized.

Sarah:  What do acquaintances ask you the most about your adoption process? What questions frustrate you the most?

Amy:  Most of my experiences have been positive and I love talking about adoption so I am usually pretty open. Many have questions about what open adoption is. Several share a story about someone they know who adopted. Most wish us luck on our journey. There are some questions that frustrate me...mostly because of the insensitive language. Phrases like "children of your own", "giving up for adoption", and "the real mother," can be tough to handle. I try to remind myself that the person is usually not trying to be offensive or insensitive- they just don't know the right words to use. But there are days when I steam about it all the way home.

Sarah:  If a new reader from the adoption triad came across your blog for the first time today because of these interviews, what would you want to say to them…  If the new reader is an adult adoptee?

Amy:  I hope you have found love, security and a sense of belonging. You are who you are because of your birth family and adoptive family. You are important. You are special. You belong. I hope that your experience has been a positive one, but if it has been a struggle know that you are not alone. There are so many others who share your pain. Reach out for help. Reach out for answers. I wish you the very best on your journey.

Sarah:  If the new reader is a couple contemplating adoption and researching their adoptions?

Amy:  You are about to start the most intense, hard and rewarding experience of your life. Don't rush the process. Research all of your options. Talk about what is right for your family. Make sure you have a support system- your faith, your family, your friends. It's important to have someone to talk to when things get rough or you are having a bad day. Be yourself and always keep hope alive! No two adoption experiences are the same, but there are so many families out there willing to be a listening ear, a cheering section or a shoulder to cry on. Don't try to do this alone. I wish you the very best as you begin your journey.

Sarah:  If the new reader is a woman that relinquished her child for adoption a year ago?

Amy:  You are strong. You are courageous. You are amazing. I don't pretend to understand everything you have gone through in placing your child for adoption, but I do have a great amount of respect for you. You made the hard choice to put your child's needs before your own. You have shown an incredible amount of love and have helped make the dreams of a hopeful adoptive family come true. I hope that you are at peace with your choice. I hope that you have a great realtionship with your child's adoptive family. There will be struggle, but you are not alone. I wish you the very best on your journey.

Thank you, Amy!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

then and now

In celebration of November's National Adoption Month, I'm sharing the first pictures we saw of our children and as they are today. We became parents once in the middle of the night by opening an email and then again with a phone call with photos following. I'm so happy we found each other, kids!

"By adopting a child and helping them reach their potential, they help us reach ours. An adopted child is not an unwanted child; to the contrary. They are a child who was searched for, prayed for, cried for, begged for; received by arms that ached, making empty hearts full. Love is meant to be shared." - Author unknown

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hudson's expressive vocabulary at 22 months (4 months home)

food words:  eat, rice, juice, apple, grapes, cheese, cookie, more
people words: Mommy, Mama, Daddy, Daddy, Hannah, Papa, Gogo (our dog Sedona)

shoes, hat, socks, diaper, peepee, poopoo
car, beep beep, choo choo, ball, crash, outside
thank you, please, up, uh oh, no

songs he "sings":  Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Happy Birthday, Wheels on the Bus

four months with two littles

This is a common sight in our home. Two kids being silly kids together,
 sometimes playing together nicely, other times fighting over stupid stuff like a blanket.
The kids recently recovered from colds that turned into ear infections, and mine turned into ear infections and a sinus infection. Sickness in our house leads to a clutter and messy house problems... and laundry build up.  We're digging out of it this week. I'm so glad we have solid surface flooring. It makes me nauseous to think about what kind of grossness my kids could do to carpet.
 4/5 year old preschool photo 
Hannah loves her new preschool. She likes to talk about what to bring for show and tell for the letter of the week, and is starting to figure out how to write some words other than her own name. She loves drawing, painting, and making crafts more than playing with toys. I laughed when I saw her preschool class photo, as she's sitting on the teacher's lap!
We still see this mad face frequently.
Hearing the word "no" is very hard for Hudson.
Redirection is much easier and avoids tears and fits,
but sometimes no just has to mean no.
And when no means no, fits happen.
He throws himself down on the floor or thrashes against the wall.
It is very trying, but it's getting better... most days.
Bedtime is a battle when he's not tired enough.
He's very mad when he has to stop playing to go to bed.
Bedtime is a breeze when we've just been to
the playground and his batteries are on low power.
We've been blessed once again,
we've doubled our happiness,
and we're twice as tired.
Hannah tries so hard to be a good girl.
I can't imagine having any daughter but this one.
Hudson tests our patience daily, gives big kisses, likes to snuggle,
and smells so good thanks to Chinese Johnson & Johnson baby wipes.
These smell so good, and the US J&J wipes don't have the same scent.
Smelling a child after wiping him down with one of these wipes is like...
instant relaxation and love for baby.  How can one not cuddle
with a boy that threw his cup of chocolate milk across the room and
splattered it all over the wall when he smells like baby love?
You can find them at SASA DOT COM, shipped from Hong Kong.
Yes, I love these so much I had baby wipes shipped to me from Hong Kong.
Please stop growing so fast and stay little for awhile longer.
Pretty please.