Sunday, November 30, 2008

Menu Plan: 12/1 - 12/7

Can you believe it's December?!! We had a fun and busy week celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends - I baked and cooked a lot! This week, I'm taking it easy with simple recipes and salad, fruit, and bread for side dishes.

Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup
Sausage Bean Soup
Sweet Potato Lentil Stew
Crockpot Sesame Pork Chops, brown rice

I'll be using my crockpot a lot this week! On a side note, I scored a 6 qt, stainless steel, Hamilton Beach crockpot for $8.50 on Black Friday - it was originally $40. I can't wait to use it - my current one, while very nice, is quite a bit smaller.

We did not get to decorate our tree on Friday due to illness so we will probably do it next weekend and I always make some snacky foods for our tree trimming party. Perhaps some Chex Mix, Cheeseball, Cookies, Tomato Caprese on Bread...we'll see. I'm working on adding more recipes to my recipe blog - feel free to check it out! And, as always, feel free to ask questions, leave comments, or share your menu ideas. Thanks to for hosting every week. Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

And I'm Back...

What a week. It included an ER visit. It included too much eating. It included lots of family & friends. It included travelling. It was a lot - perhaps too much. I'm tired. I think I need a week to recover. :) More to come...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

When I reflect on the many graces of God in my life this year, I'm simply amazed. I am so undeserving and so humbled. It's not just the big blessings (like my family and the best suprise ever in Ty) but it's the small things - the prayers answered, the provision of more food, a nicer home, and better clothes than we really need and so many other things. I thought about making a list but I didn't even know where to begin and I knew I would leave so much out. So instead, I sit here treasuring with great joy and gratitude all these things. And while this year has not been without pain and loss, we feel so thankful for God's faithfulness.

And know, dear friends and readers, that you have blessed and enriched my life this year. May your homes be filled with good smells, yummy food, wonderful family & friends, and reflections of all blessings big and small.


Well, I'm off to clean, bake, plan, and spend time with family and friends for the rest of this week. I can't wait! Maybe I'll even take some pictures to share with you next week! Oh and that's my big, incredible family pictured above for which I'm so thankful!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Calvin and Patrick have been quite interested in Kazakhstan lately. We've been looking at pictures and talking about their story several times a week at their request. I'm glad. It's a great story :) and we love Kaz - we want them to always know and understand their birth story.

Out of the blue, my sweet oldest son told me the other day, "Mommy, in Kazakhstan I cry. I want Mommy and Daddy." And I must say tears immediately welled in my eyes. We've never told him that - I don't know if he has memories (he was 17 months when he came home) or if he just imagines feeling that way. Either way, my heart was glad that he became ours and my heart ached for the children that do understand and haven't found forever homes or are not available for adoption but are living in orphanages.

With more of those words, we may have a whole house full of children! I cannot bear the thought of a child crying because he/she wants a Mommy and Daddy. I'm hugging my kids a little closer and thanking God for uniting us as a family. And praying, praying, praying for children to find their forever homes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Titus Update

His lungs are clear and the doctor is not concerned. She said these coughs are lasting a long time and now that he has another cold, he may be coughing until Christmas. I'm going to get a cool air humidifier to help him at night. I wasn't really worried but I'm glad to know what to look for and that he's okay. He weighed in at 14 lbs. 6 oz. with clothes and diaper so he's probably right at 14 lbs. We are just praying that the congestion and coughing quickly clear up! He is amazingly sweet and happy even when not feeling the best.

Vegetarian Chili

Last Friday, I made vegetarian chili for our church chili dinner. Though I like eating vegetarian, I usually like meat in my chili - it gives it a depth of flavor that I love. So, I was pleasantly surprised that this was actually pretty good. I thought I would share my recipe - it's an original. :)

Vegetarian Chili
1 med.-lg. onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
2 cans tomato sauce
2 cans diced tomatoes (w/chiles would make this really good)
1/2 c. water (I just rinse out my tomato sauce cans and pour it in)
1 can corn (or frozen)
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
1 can white or red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and small cubed (about 3 c.)
3 sm.-med. zuchini, small cubed
1 Tb. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1/2-1 tsp. oregano
salt to taste (about 2 tsp. - 1 Tb.)
1/4 tsp. red pepper

Combine all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for 8 hrs. or until vegetables are tender and chili is bubbling. Top with cheese and sour cream (I like plain yogurt & a little sour cream combined). Enjoy.

You could easily substitute different beans or other vegetables.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgiving Week Menu

This will be a very full week for us! We will be celebrating alot and enjoying wonderful time with family and friends. First, I want to share two seasonal recipes - Amy recommended these pumpkin pancakes so I made them tonight for my family and they were fantastic (seriously, best pancakes ever!) and I also made pumpkin cranberry crumb muffins for our breakfasts this week! And I will be making pumpkin cheesecake for our Saturday gathering - we love pumpkin!

So here's the plan for this fun week:
Monday: Mexican Lasagna, Guacomole & Chips, Salad

Tuesday: Lentil Soup, Biscuits, Applesauce

Wednesday: Leftovers (hors'devours w/sibs after Thanksgiving service - Honey Fruit & Nut Brie, Tomato Caprese on Bread, Veggies & Dip, Fruit)

Thursday noon (pitch-in at my parents): Cherry Pie, French Silk Pie, Pecan Pie, Blueberry-Raspberry Pie - can you tell I'm responsible for some of the pie? :), Catherine's Sweet Potato Cranberry Streusel Casserole

Thursday evening (my in-laws will be coming): Thanksgiving Sandwich, Corn & Potato Chowder, Baked Sweet Potato Chips, Salad

Friday: Snacky food, egg nog - we will be decorating our Christmas tree during the day! In the evening, we will spend time with friends from highschool - not sure what I will take, yet...

Saturday (extended family gathering): Pumpkin White Chocolate Cheesecake, Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake, Double Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies (I'm responsible for some of the dessert), Cheese, Crackers

Sunday: Leftovers

I think that's it! Lots of baking this week which I love but don't get to do very often anymore! Check out for more menu plans. I've also been adding recipes to my recipe blog so feel free to check it out.


It has been determined that this mama and her baby son are actually sick with another cold. Well, that explains the cough that seemed to worsen by last night. We are both sneezing and coughing. Ty remains happy and laughing - what a guy! I'm still calling the doctor tomorrow. And I think I'll pass on working in the nursery at church tonight. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Day & Doctor

My husband is home today - hooray! He needs to work a little but we have a long to-do list and then a fun evening with the kids!

I think I'm going to call the doctor on Monday - Titus still has a nasty occasional residual cough from the colds we all had awhile ago. It's getting better but it's not gone and after getting a second and third opinion last night (and feeling like I need peace of mind), I think it's time to check in with the doctor. No fever, no breathing difficulty and no other symptoms thus I haven't rushed in. We had lots of respiratory stuff with Calvin and this definitely isn't like that was...scary stuff.

I also think he is having a growth spurt! He wants to eat a lot! :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Moving Right Along

Well, since Thanksgiving wasn't such a great topic, I think we'll move on...

This has been a challenging week/month - Andrew is working hard finishing out the year and isn't home much or is working at home in the evenings. I don't know how single parents do it or how military families do it during deployment. They have my respect, admiration and prayers. I'm exhausted. It's not even that the kids have been particularly difficult - they've actually had a pretty good week, it's just long days. I do not resent my husband - my responsibility as his helpmeet is to support him. This is a decision we've made together and we discuss at the beginning of each week what will be late nights; we are grateful for his job. But we do look forward to the holidays and time together as a family - making memories, enjoying good food and spending time playing with our boys.

There has also been some bad news in our family today - one of my BILs was laid off from his job. His company retired or downsized 1/3 of their employees. We are praying for him to quickly find a new job and for peace for him and my sister.

So, I guess I'm feeling a bit down. Sorry...I think I need to think of some things I'm thankful for, so here are five things I'm thankful for:

- Andrew's work.
- Our boys.
- Beautiful flowers - lavender roses Andrew surprised me with last week!
- Dr. Y. headed to Korea to bring home their twins!
- A brother who can do car repairs.

I'm also thankful for God's faithfulness - no matter what I'm struggling with, how I feel or what has me down, He is in control.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Keeping Creative Kitchens: Thanksgiving Edition

I wish I had a picture of the turkey we hang every year...the paper turkey. It has it's appointed place on the door out to the deck. After sharing an obnoxiously huge and oh-so-yummy Thanksgiving dinner, we groan and moan and then we gather around the turkey (in a manner of speaking :)) and count our blessings. Each person is given a colored feather and spends about 10 minutes writing down the various things they are thankful for. And then with much laughter and a few tears we take turns sharing our feathers before taping them to the turkey. It's a simple but meaningful tradition and every year, I find myself reflecting on the past year with overwhelming gratitude to the Lord.

Now, I'll readily admit that I have never made an entire Thanksgiving dinner and never roasted a turkey. I do, however, make pies. Yes, I am the family pie baker for Thanksgiving. We never have less than four kinds and I almost never make less than 5 pies. I LOVE it. The annual traditions are pumpkin, apple (I like making apple crumb but we usually also have a fruit juice sweetened one) and blueberry-raspberry. Over the years, I've also made cranberry chess pie, cherry (one of my all-time favorites!) lemon meringue, french silk and I think, pecan and peach. French silk will probably become an annual tradition since it is my brother-in-law's favorite (are you reading this, Jeremy? :)).

This year, I have yet to decide on the final flavors - my mom is actually going to do the pumpkin since she has a lot of pumpkin and the fruit-juice sweetened apple. I should also mention that we always make fresh whipped cream to top our pies! I'm thinking I'll make cherry, french silk, pecan, and blueberry-raspberry. That will give us plenty of chioces! :) So in honor of this holiday, I will share a few pie recipes - unless otherwise noted, the recipes are my adaptations from Williams-Sonoma Pie & Tart Cookbook. I don't have pictures - I'll remedy that this year. :)

2 1/2 c. flour
2 Tb. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. cold butter
3 Tb. ice water

Stir together flour, sugar and salt. Cut in butter until well combined - no lg. pieces of butter. Add water and mix with a fork until dough pulls together. Makes 2 crusts and a little more.

BLUEBERRY-RASPBERRY PIE (double crust pie)
1 c. sugar
2 Tb. cornstarch
2 Tb. quick-cooking tapioca
1/2-1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2-1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
8 c. berries (I use frozen unsweetened blueberries & raspberries)
1 Tb. butter

Combine all ingredients except butter and pour into prepared crust in pie pan. Dot with butter and top with top crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until filling is thick and bubbly.

CHERRY PIE (double crust pie)
1 c. sugar
3 Tb. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
6 c. frozen sour cherries
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tb. butter

Combine all ingredients except the butter. Pour into prepared crust. Dot with butter and top with top crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 min. Reduce oven temp. to 350 degrees and continue to bake until crust is golden and filling is thick and bubbly, 40-50 min. longer.

FRENCH SILK PIE - I slightly altered the original recipe I found on
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 c. white sugar
4 (1 oz.) squares unsweetened baking chocolate
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs (because they are uncooked, I use organic, free range eggs from a trusted source - I also don't allow my kids to eat this pie :))
1 (9 in.) pie shell, baked

In the top of a double boiler, heat chocolate, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until pale yellow and very fluffy. Blend in the melted chocolate and vanilla. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat in the eggs, one at a time, taking 5 minutes for each egg. Pour filling into baked pie shell. Refrigerate 4 hours before serving.

I top with shaved chocolate (white & dark) and/or fresh whipped cream!


Happy Thursday, everyone! Thanks for stopping by Keeping Creative Kitchens! I'm looking forward to all your great ideas, recipes, and resources. Feel free to grab the button for your post - you don't have to know me to play along and you don't have to participate to comment or ask questions! :)

Here are just a few guidelines for participating in Keeping Creative Kitchens:
1) Leave a link to your post with Mr. Linky (I am fully aware that there will probably not be many - or any :) - participants but I think this will make participation easier!).
2) Your entry can include a new recipe (either your own creation or a new-to-you-recipe), favorite recipe, success, tablescape/centerpiece, short-cut, ingredient, tradition, book, magazine, tool or gadget, food photos, recipe website or any thing else that keeps you inspired in your kitchen.
3) Please link back here in your participating post.

Hope you have fun, meet new people, learn a few things, feel encouraged, and find inspiration as you prepare meals, care for your family, and entertain!

**There will be no Keeping Creative Kitchens next week - have a wonderful Thanksgiving! :)**

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Passing It On!

My friend, Kim, over at A Yankee in Tennessee honored me with this award! Thanks so much! I don't think it's any suprise that I enjoy blogging. :)

As is the award tradition in blogland, I'll pass it on to:

The Baby Journals - a mom of three girls - she and I were "due" at the same time with our newest additions. She keeps it real and lives in a gorgeous area of the country!

Life in Small Town USA - I met her through another friend. She has an adorable daughter and writes about her life. Her love for and devotion to her family are awesome to read about!

City Streams - an aspiring writer who is sharing her writing in installments every week - I love it! Her blog also journals her cute daughter growing up, her work as a highschool science teacher and many other interesting things.

I enjoy reading all of these blogs regularly and I "met" each of these women through blogging! Keep up the great work, ladies and pass it on!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Themed Keeping Creative Kitchens

This Thursday we will do a Thanksgiving themed Keeping Creative Kitchens! Feel free to share a favorite recipe, tradition, centerpiece, or anything related to your family's celebration of this holiday! I can't wait for some new inspiration for this meaningful holiday. Hope you'll join and share your ideas!

And with that, I'll leave you with an image of one of the things I'm most thankful for this year:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Open House Pics!

I, of course, did not take nearly as many pictures as I hoped. In fact, we have virtually no pictures of the people who blessed us by coming to celebrate with us! We had about 50 people stop in (adults & children). It was so much fun!

The 3 brothers before it started - they couldn't wait for a party and as Calvin said with his hands outstretched, "All, ALL the people!"

Me with the man-of-the-hour. My hair was a little damp from my last minute shower. :)

The Food Table
Our menu: BBQ Pork Sandwiches, Macaroni & Cheese, Veggies & Dip, Apples & Bananas, Heart-Shaped Jello Jigglers, Tortilla Chips & Salsa, Potato Chips, Molasses Cookies, Iced Sugar Cookies, and White Cake w/Strawberry Mousse Filling.

The BEAUTIFUL cookies my mom made. She surprised us by decorating them all - it made me get a little teary. They were so cute and it was so thoughtful! They tasted as good as they looked!

The Cake - I love how it turned out!

The boys with one of their friends. I realized we've reached a whole new level of independence - the boys took all their friends upstairs to play with the toys. We barely saw them except when they wanted more food :) or when we checked on them. They had a blast!

Uncle Noah & Uncle Wesley with Patrick and one of our friend's little ones.

Our friend, Heather, loving on Ty. He was passed around and didn't mind at all.

Our family photo that arrived on the door step on Saturday. I had won an 11x14 print of a photo of my choice and had no idea it would come then! My dad took the photo (you've seen it before) and I sent it to a lady who touched it up, blew it up, and mounted it for framing. We are thrilled with it!
The five of us at the end of the evening. We were tired but it was worth it!

The star of the show. It seemed like he knew it was all about him - he worked so hard to stay awake. :) He took a couple of cat naps during the party but he loved all the attention and was a perfect angel. :) Oh and he slept for 10 straight hours afterwards (he's never slept more than 7) - I think we wore him out! His 3 month pictures are on the boys' blog.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Menu Plan: 11/17-11/22

BBQ Pork Sandwich (leftover from our open house), Veggies & Dip, Chips
Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup, Salad, Rolls
Butternut Squash Soup, Bread
Pancakes, Bacon, Eggs, Fruit
Chili, Carrot Salad (for our church chili cook-off)

Not much commentary today. :) We had a full but great weekend. Andrew will be working many hours this week. Check out orgjunkie for more menu plans!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

How Can He Be 3 Months?!

Here are a few 3 month pictures of Ty - I can't believe how big he's getting! He is very social, loves to laugh, loves to be held, smiles a lot, and is sleeping 6 hours at night - hooray! Overall he is easy going and adores his big brothers. What a blessing he is to our family!

Thoughts as We Celebrate

Today is a big day - not only is it Ty's 3 month birthday and the open house celebrating his official adoption into our family (pictures to come for both!) but it is also National Adoption Day. We did not plan it all to be on the same day but what a happy coincidence! In light of the latter, I would like to share some statistics.

Did you know? (italicized info from here - thanks, Michelle S.)

- Every 15 SECONDS, another child becomes an AIDS orphan in Africa. 1
- Every DAY 5,760 more children become orphans.
- Every YEAR 2,102,400 more children become orphans (in Africa alone).
- 143,000,000 2 Orphans in the world today spend an average of 10 years 3 in an orphanage or foster home.
- Approximately 250,000 children are adopted annually, but…
- Every YEAR 14,050,000 children still grow up as orphans and AGE OUT 4 of the system
- Every DAY 38,493 children AGE OUT.
- Every 2.2 SECONDS, another orphan child AGES OUT with no family to belong to and no place to call home.
- In Ukraine and Russia 10% -15% of children who age out of an orphanage commit suicide before age 18. 60% of the girls are lured into prostitution. 70% of the boys become hardened criminals. 5
- Many of these children accept job offers that ultimately result in their being sold as slaves. Millions of girls are sex slaves today, simply because they were unfortunate enough to grow up as orphans.

Reliable statistics are difficult to find, even the sources often list only estimates, and street children are rarely included. But even if these figures are exaggerated by double, it is still an unacceptable tragedy that over a Million children would still become orphans every year, and every year 7 Million children would still grow to adulthood as orphans with no one to belong to and no place to call home. They are totally vulnerable and easily fall prey to predators and slave recruiters.

2. According to figures from the United Nations. These statistics include children in the American Foster Care system
3. This is an estimate. Infants may stay as long as 18 years while children who become orphans at an older age stay a shorter time.
4. To AGE OUT means to grow to the age where a child is forced to leave the orphanage or foster home with no place to call home.

There are so many more children waiting to be adopted than families willing to adopt them (though perhaps not infants). The number of children in U.S. foster care alone needing homes is staggering, plus there is a need for families to open their lives and homes to minority and special-needs children (all races, regardless of physical and mental health, are often considered special needs if they are older). There are also countless precious little children in orphanages and foster care around the world! While adoption can take awhile, it's often due to the required paperwork, homestudy, education, and legal requirements - not always due to lack of available children.

Andrew serves on the board of a local agency and they are working hard to advocate the adoption of minority children. When we've talked to local agencies and attorneys, we have been told many times that if we are open to race, placement is usually quick (often 3- 6 months) - for a newborn. We've also looked on our state's waiting children list and read what these children would like - a pet, a family to take them to church, to be adopted with their siblings etc. - they long for a family and it absolutely breaks my heart. And while adopting an older child is not what God has called us to at this point, we are open to His leading.

There are children waiting in every state and there are not enough families. I've also heard this statistic (though don't have the originating source) - if 7% of Christians would adopt one child, there would be no more orphans.

We will spend today celebrating adoption and marveling at God's gracious gifts to our family. We praise God for adopting us as His children and for His love for orphans everywhere. And we will pray earnestly for children still waiting - born and yet to be born - for families to love them and raise them. This is my heart, my passion, my desire. To God Be The Glory!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing… even as He chose us…In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace….
Ephesians 1:3-6

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Joys of this Week

While this week has had its frustrating and upsetting moments for which we are praying for wisdom on how to proceed (there is no resolution just more stress), I would be remiss to not focus on the joys. So here is a small, incomplete list of the many joys of this week:

- Patrick telling me a meal was, "dewicious, Mom."
- Chinese food and a movie at home with my husband - the older boys were invited out.
- Both boys increasing recognition of letters and interest in the words that start with them.
- Titus looking into my eyes and smiling after I kissed him.
- Titus sleeping 6 hours.
- Calvin falling asleep on my lap while I rubbed his back.
- Dinner out with a good friend.
- Talking about and looking at pictures of Calvin & Patrick's adoption journey - with them.
- Seeing their delight and hearing there age-appropriate understanding that they were born in my heart and not my tummy.
- Titus laughing.
- Patrick telling me he loves our family because he lives here. :)
- Calvin praying.
- Andrew pitching in and encouraging me as we get ready for the weekend.
- Patrick telling me he has candy for me in hopes of getting some for himself.
- Understanding more and more of what Calvin says.
- Time with sisters.
- My awesome husband - I can't even begin to count the many ways he has blessed me this week.
- Receiving giveaways in the mail.
- My older boys adoring their baby brother, "Mom, I want to sit by Ty."
- Meeting the newest member of the Thompson family.
- Reading books with my boys.
- Calvin smothering me with kisses one morning.
- Knowing that I am the "lucky one."

This week has definitely had more joy than frustration as does pretty much every week and every day - I wonder why I often allow frustration to overshadow joy. I have so much to be thankful for. God is good all of the time. The trials I have experienced pale in comparison to the suffering of Christ and to the suffering of many others. I have been overwhelmed and close to tears this week feeling blessed with my incredible sons and husband. I need to focus on joy, pray for wisdom, and walk closer with my Lord. May you have a blessed and joy filled day.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Keeping Creative Kitchens #6

Herbs and spices are, in my opinion, the backbone of the kitchen. It would be a rather bland kitchen without them and the dishes coming from that kitchen would be rather boring and blah. I'm a bit of a dump-and-pour-eyeball-it-it's-fine cook (yes, that's definitely a technical term :)) and I love going to my spice cabinet to see what flavors appeal for whatever sauce or soup I'm creating. Some of my favorites are rosemary, dill, cumin, chili powder, Italian seasoning, and curry. Andrew's favorite is cilantro.

Herbs and spices are expensive when you go to buy them at the grocery store. And I've heard you should refresh your spices frequently but who can afford to? I pretty much use them until they are gone with no negative flavors thus far - I think they have decreased potency over time. So here is my tip - go to your local health food store or bulk foods store and you can buy all of your favorite spices by the ounce at a fraction of the grocery store cost. I also love the fact that I can buy a small amount of something I want to try without breaking the bank and without being stuck with a big container of something I'll never use again.

For those of you in the area, I use Georgetown Market - hopefully the rest of you have something similar. It's fun to go in and see all the options! I'm just amazed at the offerings and happy that I can measure the amount I want. This week I bought pizza seasoning and can't wait to try it in the sauce for our next pizza night!

I also want to highlight this magazine, The Herb Companion. I first saw this at the Green Festival in Chicago and loved it! Growing fresh herbs during the spring and summer is one of my hobbies as well as using a variety of dried herbs and spices. The magazine includes recipes as well as health & decorative uses for herbs. It also has tips on growing them successfully. One of my goals is to start a window herb of these days. :) So next time you are in need of some spices - forgo the traditional grocery and check out by-the-ounce availability!

Happy Thursday, everyone! Thanks for stopping by Keeping Creative Kitchens! I'm looking forward to all your great ideas, recipes, and resources. Feel free to grab the button for your post - you don't have to know me to play along and you don't have to participate to comment or ask questions! :)

Here are just a few guidelines for participating in Keeping Creative Kitchens:
1) Leave a link to your post with Mr. Linky (I am fully aware that there will probably not be many - or any :) - participants but I think this will make participation easier!).
2) Your entry can include a new recipe (either your own creation or a new-to-you-recipe), favorite recipe, success, tablescape/centerpiece, short-cut, ingredient, tradition, book, magazine, tool or gadget, food photos, recipe website or any thing else that keeps you inspired in your kitchen.
3) Please link back here in your participating post.

Hope you have fun, meet new people, learn a few things, feel encouraged, and find inspiration as you prepare meals, care for your family, and entertain!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Because It Must Be Asked

Oh where, oh where has 2008 gone?
Oh where, oh where did it go?
With the months gone by and the seasons so past,
Oh where, oh where did it go?
(sung to the tune of, Oh Where, Oh Where Could My Little Dog Be?)

How can it already be nearly halfway through November and only about 7 weeks until the end of the year? I do not like it, not one bit - okay maybe a bit - it does mean that Thanksgiving and Christmas are almost here!


...that it is indeed impossible to get three children and a dog to look at the camera at the same time...much less smile naturally. (Sigh)

This is the best of the bunch and the camera focused on the dog and blurred the kids...yeah, she only wishes for that kind of attention these days...not to say she isn't loved and cared for member of the family...okay, I'll stop now... :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


First...thank you all for your kinds words and rejoicing with us in Titus' adoption finalization - we just feel so thankful!

Do you ever have a day where all you want to do is crawl into bed and never come out? That was my yesterday...

I'm struggling with a situation (nothing to do with any of you or my husband or kids, I assure you :)) and I'm pretty sure I'm blowing things out of proportion but I'm frustrated. I think that was the start of my bad day but I just felt myself emotionally falling apart throughout the rest of the day - and no, it's not my monthly visitor. My very sweet husband came home, fed the kids and put them to bed so I could have a little space. I'm praying that the situation will be resolved and really won't be a big deal and I'm praying for renewed emotional energy today - I need it!

I have made a practice of not dealing with upsetting things (thing that upset me - not disagreements involving another person) in the heat of emotion - usually if I give it 24 hours or so, my perspective improves. I'm not espousing going to bed angry but rather seeking a better outlook, a more Godly response and hopefully a more gracious attitude.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Review: Sleepy Wrap

I knew when we found out about Ty that I wanted a baby carrier. We inadvertently left our Baby Bjorn in Kazakhstan and I didn't care for it very much anyway - it hurt my back. I polled friends and had it narrowed down to a couple of options and then I unexpectedly won a giveaway for a Sleepy Wrap. I was so excited to try it and was so blessed to receive it - with all the adoption expenses it was nice to have a baby item provided!

My gray sleepy wrap arrived (they have lots of color options) and I wasn't sure how easy it would be to use but after the first couple of times, it was a breeze. It holds the baby securely, has three or so different ways to wear it, and best of all - it's comfortable! I like the fact that it is worn over both shoulders - I was concerned about a sling because it only went over one shoulder and I have a lot of back and neck problems/pain. I get many compliments on it and Ty LOVES it! At under $40, it is also one of the most reasonably priced carriers on the market. I like wearing it - I'm a big fan of baby wearing though I definitely don't do it constantly. Anyway, it's been perfect for me! Oh and it is great for attachment. Though I haven't used this through a heavier child/toddler years yet, I highly recommend this baby wrap - I have not been disappointed at all.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

MPM: 11/10 - 11/16

Here's my plan for this week (last week was not the best :)):

- Creamy Broccoli Cheese Soup, Salad, Breadsticks or Biscuits
- Lentil Soup, Salad, Crackers
- Sausage & Egg Casserole, Toast or Blueberry Muffins, Fruit
- Sweet 'n Tangy Pot Roast, Rice Pilaf, Roasted Butternut Squash, Fruit
- BBQ Beef or Pork Sandwiches, Macaroni & Cheese in Crock pot, Veggie Tray, Fruit Tray, Jello Jigglers, Chips, Salsa, Cookies, Cake (our open house celebration for Ty's adoption finalization!)
It will be a busy week and Andrew is working a lot of hours lately so hopefully we will get to enjoy all of these! We'll see. :) Thanks to for hosting every week! Have a great week!

And The Winners Are...

Heather of My World (As It Happens) for caption #1: "Mom, you think I look pretty, don't you . . . ?"

Jen of Just Passing Through for caption #2: "The corndog is really the rarest of meats and should be paired with a glass of pinot noir to really release the flavor" (said in a very snooty voice)

My Dad aka Papa who doesn't blog yet :) for caption #3: "HEY how about a WARM washcloth for the next diaper change..."

Jenna of The World of Jenna for caption #4: "I have three children under the age of four... so yes, this is a good hair day!"

There were some close votes! Anyway, the winners may make their acceptance speeches :) and prize choice ($5 giftcard to Starbucks or Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson) in the comment section or you can e-mail me. Congrats everyone and thank you to all of you who entered - we LOVED reading the captions!!!! And thanks also to all of you who voted! Stay tuned for another caption contest in the coming weeks. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming... :)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Sinking In

I think the reality of Titus becoming forever ours is sinking in slowly - I started getting teary in the store as I was ordering the cake for our open house celebration next weekend. As I contemplated the wording for it, I completely choked up. We couldn't imagine him not being a permanent member of our family but there was this nagging knowledge that things were not final. I can't get over how blessed and happy I am - if you had told me three years ago when we were starting the process for Calvin and Patrick that we would have 3 boys in less than two years, I wouldn't have believed you! What a wonderful blessing!

On another note, I do NOT like the cold...

Friday, November 07, 2008

How All the Boys Feel...

...about the events of yesterday! :)

I think it's fair to say that they're happy and love each other - don't you think? :)

Thursday, November 06, 2008


We are so, so excited to announce that this morning around 10:30 a.m., Titus Paul became forever ours. We have copies of the official adoption decree and we couldn't be happier. I've been smiling ever since. We opted to keep the date quiet for the same reasons that we waited to post pictures of our precious son.

It was such a pleasant surprise that we were able to finalize so quickly. With the unknowns surrounding his birth, I've been so anxious for this day to come. While we trusted that it would and it had already happened in our hearts, I think we are breathing a sigh of relief. I feel exhausted beyond belief - I think emotional exhaustion. It has been a whirlwind few months and I'm so glad that Ty is officially, legally, and forever a part of our family.

What a beautiful day. We were a little emotional at the hearing - hard to believe, right? :) Having had the privilege of being in court now for all three of our children, there is nothing like hearing the wonderful words granting your children a permanent, legal place in your family. We feel so blessed. We could never in a million years have chosen a more perfect way for our family to be formed or more perfect children for us. God has been so gracious to our family.

So please rejoice with us today! We are SO happy!

Keeping Creative Kitchens #5

It's time for another edition of Keeping Creative Kitchens! This week I want to share a new recipe we enjoyed last week. I talked about how good it was in my menu plan but I wanted to share the recipe here with a (not great :)) photo. My family loves soup and I'm always looking for new recipes. I am also interested in how to get my kids to eat more veggies and to have diversity in their diet. Soup has been hands-down one of the best ways. They are nearly always excited about it and this soup was no exception.

I found this positively reviewed recipe, created by Alton Brown, on the Food Network website. I changed a few things and put my own spin on it but I have to give the majority of credit to Brown - it was his foundation and his inspiration. So without further commentary, here it is :):


2 tablespoons butter
1 med. chopped onion
1/2 - 1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tblsp. minced fresh garlic
1 3/4 c. dried green or yellow split peas, picked over and rinsed
5 c. chicken broth (can use 4 c. broth & 1 c. water)
1 Tb. curry powder
6 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled (opt.)
Chives for garnish (opt.)
Sour cream or yogurt for garnish (opt.)

Place the butter into a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Once melted, add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and sweat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sweat for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, making certain not to allow onions or garlic to brown.

Add the peas, chicken broth, curry powder, and bacon pieces. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook at a simmer until the peas are tender and not holding their shape any longer, approximately 45 to 50 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Using care and a stick blender, puree the soup until the desired consistency. Watch out for hot splatters.

It doesn't look very green but that's just my poor photography. :) It's not overwhelmingly curry flavored though you can definitely taste it. I think carrots would be a wonderful addition. Anyway, I served the soup with biscuits. Andrew ate the leftovers the next day and thought it was great. Patrick told me it was, "delicious." What more can a mom want? :)

Happy Thursday, everyone! Thanks for stopping by Keeping Creative Kitchens! I'm looking forward to all your great ideas, recipes, and resources. Feel free to grab the button for your post - you don't have to know me to play along and you don't have to participate to comment or ask questions! :)

Here are just a few guidelines for participating in Keeping Creative Kitchens:
1) Leave a link to your post with Mr. Linky (I am fully aware that there will probably not be many - or any :) - participants but I think this will make participation easier!).
2) Your entry can include a new recipe (either your own creation or a new-to-you-recipe), favorite recipe, success, tablescape/centerpiece, short-cut, ingredient, tradition, book, magazine, tool or gadget, food photos, recipe website or any thing else that keeps you inspired in your kitchen.
3) Please link back here in your participating post.

Hope you have fun, meet new people, learn a few things, feel encouraged, and find inspiration as you prepare meals, care for your family, and entertain!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Fashion Help

Please someone tell me what kind of shoes to buy for the winter. I've worn out about four pairs and don't really have any cool weather shoes. I looked today to replace with one pair of black, one pair of brown, and/or one pair of casual boots and I could not figure out what works. HELP!!! Post links, describe the right style...I just don't know...I find the selection overwhelming all the while not really liking much...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Vote for the Winners!


We've chosen our top three and one honorable mention (okay, two for #3 :)) for each picture and now it's your turn! Vote on your favorite of the top three to help determine the winners! Winners will have a choice between a $5 Starbucks gift card and the cookbook, Forever Summer by: Nigella Lawson ($30 value). If one person wins more than one, than you may choose both prizes OR a $10 gift card. I'll leave the voting open until Saturday and then the winners will be posted - if you are one of the nominees, feel free to send people over to vote for you. :) Thanks to those of you who entered - I'm sorry you couldn't all win because you all made me laugh! Maybe I will make this a more frequent feature - what do you think?!

NOTE: The captions are listed in no particular order.


#1 - “Who? Me? I'm pretty sure you got the wrong guy.”
#1 - "What? Do I have something on my face?"
#1 - "Mom, you think I look pretty, don't you . . . ?"

HM - #1 – “Ate what... I didn't eat anything...”


#2 - "The corn dog is really the rarest of meats and should be paired with a glass of pinot noir to really release the flavor" (said in a very snooty voice)
#2 - “AHHH the bliss of on exquisitely prepared tube steak...”
#2 - “Oh... you only wish you looked this good eating a hot dog!”

HM - #2 - "Yes, I enjoy a corn dog . . . doesn't every boy?"


#3 - “HEY how about a WARM washcloth for the next diaper change...”
#3 - "You're going to stick THAT, WHERE?"
#3 - "I should have told the waiter to hold the jalapenos."

HM - #3 - "Did you see my Mommy in picture #4?"
2nd HM - #3 - Titus just saw the Colts record for the first time this season.


#4 - “I have three children under the age of four... so yes, this is a good hair day!”
#4 - “3 boys - no wonder my halo slipped!”
#4 - Infomercial announcer: "Great news, Ladies, in just five simple steps, you too can look like this!”

HM - #4 - What, you think I look this way naturally?

Please do take time to read the post highlighting giving opportunities below.


As we head into the holiday season, I've been wanting to highlight some organizations that I really appreciate. While we give all year, we always try to give a little extra this time of year and to find some worthy causes. I am so grateful that my parents desired to instill in us a giving spirit and every year we participated in some kind of charitable organization.

Perhaps you are looking for a way to give this year. These are all charities that we plan to make a priority and perhaps these will be causes that you might consider also.

TWO HEARTS FOR HOPE: I personally know Kim & Stacy, the two founders of this great organization. They recently were recepients of an Angels in Adoption award. They champion a cause very close to our hearts. They raise money and donations for orphanages in Kazakhstan. Two Hearts recently was granted non-profit status so your donations are tax-deductible. This Christmas season, $15 will provide a Christmas gift for a deserving child. The very best part is that the child will be taken to shop for his/her own gift. It is a rare day that a child in the orphanages of Kazakhstan are able to leave their orphanage much less to buy something for themselves. When I learned about this opportunity, tears came to my eyes. We will never forget our amazing time in Kazakhstan and we will never forget the MANY children still there waiting for their forever families.

KARAGANDA KIDS: Muriel is also a friend of mine, fellow adoptive mom, and also passionate for the orphans left behind in Kazakhstan. She is accepting undergarment donations for her OPERATION UNDERGARMENT to send for the children in Karaganda. She will collecting donations of new underwear and undershirts for children age 2-5. You can find all the information at the link.

COMPASSION INTERNATIONAL: This is an amazing organization that reaches children all over the world. When I learned about Compassion earlier this year, I knew it was an important ministry for our family to involved with. We sponsor a little boy in Ethiopia and have even exchanged letters with him. We send a monthly donation to help with his schooling and needs. And we have a few opportunities every year to send a little extra for him. The ability to identify a specific child is so meaningful. We can show our children the picture as we pray for this precious little boy. There are many children all over the world still waiting for sponsors - you can choose a child today.

SAMARITAN'S PURSE: This is a relief and evanglism ministry and one of my favorite projects they sponsor is Operation Christmas Child. They have been doing this for several years and my parents had us participate in it - we LOVED it! We made an evening of it as we shopped for our boxes and tried to stuff as many gifts as possible into them. We talked about the children we hoped would love the gifts and imagined their delight - we knew we would like the boxes! :) We have done this a few times since being married and hope to enlist our boys help this year in choosing things for the special boxes. The deadline is rapidly approaching for this project so check it out! There are donation drop-off sights around the country and many around our city so you can find a location near you.

There are always local opportunities as well - with local missions, serving or delivering holiday meals, donating toys and clothes, participating in Angel Tree, and many others. I challenge you to consider how your family might be involved not only this time of year but all year.

Do you have favorite ministries?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Quick Note

What a beautiful day!!! I took the kids to the zoo this morning and we really enjoyed it! There weren't very many people there which was awesome - C & P ran all over until they came to the baboons. We watched the baboons for a long time and they laughed so hard at the babies antics. It was such a wonderful way to spend this gorgeous, warm, fall day. I did forget my camera which made Calvin sad - he wanted me to take a picture of him petting the goat. :)

I worked on a project Saturday that has left me in quite a lot of pain. I struggle (as you may recall) with tendinitis/carpal tunnel/neck injury. So I'm praying that the pain will be relieved - I head to the doctor tomorrow.

Also, I'm working hard to update my recipe blog with many more recipes. If there is anything you would like to see included, please let me know via comment or e-mail! I'm hoping to take it under construction one of these days and see what other features would make it more user friendly.