Thursday, October 30, 2014

To buy or to make

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Photographic year in review

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

November 2013
Driving to CA to see family
 Date night

our nephew at our place for Christmas

January 2014
Our Maui trip

Playing games


Our 18th wedding anniversary

grandpa's 91st birthday

Don's birthday
 Las Vegas trip

 my birthday

family time

Seeing friends and family in Dallas and Brady

 redid the front deck

BBQ and movies with friends

 Swimming at the lake

4th of July

Dragon Con in Atlanta with friends

Finished the upper patio and walkway

The guys out salmon fishing

Happy dogs

baking bread

Ghana trip to build schools

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Letter...

To Someone I've never met,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respectfully yours,


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

When in a crunch....

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 13, 2014

Prepping for Ghana

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

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

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

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

Carrying bricks 

Last year's team 

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

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

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

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fishing with dogs for the first time

I was going through some pictures today and came across the ones I took the first time we took the dogs fishing. It was also Don’s first time fly fishing and it was so much fun.

We drove out to our friends’ house then changed and headed to the river.  We kept the dogs leashed until we climbed down the bank to the river and Tucker dove right in after Don.  I really didn't expect that!  He was the one I thought would avoid the water, except to drink it from the bank.  Every time we take him to the beach he avoids the water as much as possible.

Parker sees Tucker swimming out towards Don and thinks sure let’s jump in and PANIC! He really freaked and turned immediately around and got out as quick as we could reach him.  My poor baby loves running in the waves at the beach but swimming isn't his thing. Tucker stayed with Don as I leashed up Parker and took him back to the car to dry off and rest.  Don said as soon as I left Tucker started toward the shore so he brought him back to me at the car and headed back out to fish. I've since bought the dogs Life Jackets for when we go out.

Fishing at the river is a catch and release zone so Don’s first catch got away without a picture but here he is holding a small second catch that day.

I don’t fish but love going fishing with our friends and Don.  Not only do they have fun fishing but I get to watch from the shore with a good book and just enjoy the beauty of the river and mountains.  I love to walk around taking pictures too. We can't wait to go fishing and camping with our future little one!
 On the way down to the river - He really blends in
 heading down river to fish
 Back in the car and drying off
that's the "it was horrible" look after the river

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A picture is worth a thousand words!

I always find it interesting when I come across various Adoption Profile pictures.  The prospective parents varied styles and my reaction to them.  I don’t know that I’d ever paid much attention before starting our journey but our agency was very concise with what we needed for ours.  One of which was the expectant mom should see your faces so no long shots and no selfies.

Other things seemed like a no brainer, like what do you want to convey in your pictures about your life.  While writing our letter I agonized over how bad some of our pictures were of things we’d have loved to put in, like Don playing the drums on stage, but poor lighting and distance didn't accurately describe him.  So I instead chose better pictures and tried to put our likes into the websites.

 I try to put myself in the Expectant mom’s shoes of envisioning what her child’s life will be like. So let’s take a look at some of the more recent photos I've seen around the adoption sites.

They’re sitting in a dark bar with neon lights with their significant other with the top of the wine bottle in the foreground between them.   What this conveys upon first glance to me is we probably drink and drive.  Now that isn't to say that’s the case (they certainly could be walking, taking a cab or have a DD) but it isn't want you’d want your first impression to be, right?  The same is true of sitting in the grass at the park with full wine glasses.  That says we’ll be drinking in the park while our child is playing.  True? No, I’m sure it isn't but again in my opinion and from what I've read you should probably leave alcohol out of your first impression picture. The other is the long shots and time and date stamped photos from years ago. Now maybe you've been waiting years but if so try to update that first impression picture to something more recent or at least crop the date stamp out.  We all have those pictures and they work great on your online profile but may be sending the wrong message as your first impression. 

I read the dos and don’ts post of a guest blogger who creates Letters for prospective parents and while she doesn't specify no alcohol in photos I’d think she’d try to sway her clients away from it (maybe not, I am speculating).  One thing she does mention is no sunglasses, well in a lot of our outdoor supporting pictures I/we are wearing sunglasses.  Simply put I wear glasses that get very dark outside, even in the shade on a bright day. It made our photo shoot extremely difficult actually and so some pictures we just had Don put his sunglasses on.

Most first impression pictures follow the eyes open and smile approach.  Even in a lot of the pictures I've seen and mentioned everyone is looking and smiling it’s just the “extras” that made me think to write this because I haven't seen it mentioned before.  I know when we started this journey we didn't have very many pictures of us together and we've tried to make sure we take some now. That said we chose additional pictures we liked that may not have been the best pictures but they said who we are. 
As it’s said “A picture is worth a thousand words!” and “The eyes are the windows to the soul.”
A favorite selfie from a baseball game we were at

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Some of our Adventures and Hopes for the Future Ones

Don and I love to travel and have been fortunate enough to go many places.  Don’s job used to have him traveling every week and home weekends and vacations.  Luckily, he’s home every night now but those years of business travel gave us looks into other parts of North America and Europe.
Places we've gone together include Paris, London, Victoria BC, Birmingham, Atlanta, New York, Florida, St. Croix, and Texas to name a few.  Don has also been to Calgary BC, Nova Scotia, Ghana, and Amsterdam.
 Don in Ghana at the Monkey Sanctuary
Silliness with friends in New York
Paris Cafe across from the Louvre 
Going on any adventure brings excitement and learning whether it’s to see the city, go to the beach, museums or special places like the Grand Canyon.  Going out to explore can be as simple as going to a new part of your neighborhood on a walk or driving to the coast and visiting a new town for the day or going for a hike in the mountains. We’re pretty lucky where we live to be able to do all those things.  We also aren't far from the city to visit museums, the zoo or Pike Place Market.  I really look forward to raising a child in such a rich, culturally diverse environment they can explore and experience firsthand. 
Arizona trip
Whistler trip
We also get excited at the prospect of a child joining our family and getting to take them to new places.  Places we visit frequently like California to visit family and friends to places none of us have been like Alaska, Nashville, Italy or Japan. I’d love being able to travel all around the US to Major ballparks, go to the games and explore the cities.  We've been to quite a few and one day I’ll take all my baseball shirts and make them into a quilt.  I already have the pattern and a box of shirts started for that.   I’d love to take our child’s shirts and do the same for them once they get to college.  I think it’d be fun for them to see all the places in one quilt and be able to trigger those memories (at least I hope).
Until then we’ll continue to travel as much as we are able to and as often as we can to visit the places we've never been (actually places we both haven’t been because we like to see them together).  So below I’ll list the states we've never been to and if you live there make a comment about the great places to see and things to do.
I've/we've never been to:
  • Montana
  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • Kansas
  • Wyoming
  • Mississippi
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Iowa
  • Arkansas
  • Indiana
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
  • Maine
  • Missouri 
  • Utah
  • Alaska
Wow, I didn't think we’d been to so many states but seems we've done pretty well, only 18 more to go. Although he’s never been to Wisconsin and in turn I've never been to Colorado (airports don’t count). I’ll leave you with a link to see some of our travel adventures on Pinterest as well as those shown here.