Monday, August 20, 2012

Meat Free Monday

Here we go!  Tonight's dinner is in the crock pot, love having dinner all prepped before 10am! (no, it's not the norm here!)

Our menu for tonight is Black Bean Soup and corn bread.  The actual recipe we follow is for a spicy soup, I cut back on the cayenne and skipped the hot sauce.  2 yr olds and cayenne aren't a good combo!

Spicy Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup Recipe

Here is the recipe:

  • 1 pound dry black beans, soaked overnight
  • 4 teaspoons diced jalapeno peppers
  • 1/2 diced red pepper
  • 6 cups chicken broth (veggie broth would work well too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce


  1. Drain black beans, and rinse.
  2. Combine beans, jalapenos, and chicken broth in a slow cooker. Season with garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, pepper, and hot pepper sauce.
  3. Cook on High for 4 hours. Reduce heat to Low, and continue cooking for 2 hours, or until you are ready to eat.
Serve as is or if you prefer a thicker base, blend a cup or two of the soup.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

She's Gone

Last week we had a huge decision to make regarding A.  We had requested that she remain in respite type care while we continue to work with her, going to therapy, family visits...  Our hope was for a very long transition home as she was therapeutically (safe) ready.  This was what was recommended by the staff during her most recent hospitalization.  Their opinion is that she is avoiding dealing the abuse and neglect she has experienced and as a result is beginning to repeat some of the abuses on smaller children and animals.  Huge red flags, right?!  The best advice we received was from the same hospital staff, which was, make it clear to the social workers what we were willing to do and not willing to do, and be prepared to walk away.  (a lot easier said than done!)  We did that, didn't expect a positive outcome, but we sure did hope.

A is officially no longer part of our family.  There is no plan to work toward coming home.  She is back into the "system" as a foster child instead of being a pre-adoptive placement.  We don't understand why they couldn't try to make this work, but we are not part of the decision making process.

We are packing her things.  Unlike other foster children we have had, her things are everywhere.  She was staying.  "Her" movies and mixed in with the families.  "Her" toys are blended in with all the others.  I'm trying to remember what were her specific Christmas, birthday,  Pictures.  Her pictures are everywhere.  I need to make an album for her to document these past 2 years.  E and J's wedding, she was a flower girl.  Her and baby E in their matching football wear.  Group shots that the kids surprised me with for Christmas this year.  So many photos.

I have been packing in bits.  Gather and organize until the emotions get to be too much.  Leave it for the day and come back to it.  Her room is beginning to look like a storage unit.

This is the most challenging thing we have ever gone through.  Both living with A and realizing we can not continue to do so.  We want her safe and happy, whether it is with us or someone else.  She needs to learn she is worth loving and deserves so much.

What completely kills me is we don't know if we even get to say good-bye.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Roll Call!

This whole blog world is pretty neat.  Writing is really a personal thing, but enter blogging and we connect with people all over the world!  I've been shocked to see how many people have found me.  Simple me.  But through shared life experiences we make connections.  This is SO cool!!

Here is a run down of the countries (countries!) you all are from:

United States
Nicaragua (hi Wendy!)
United Kingdom

Isn't it amazing?!  We all live our day to day lives, doing laundry, planning dinners, shuffling kids, working... But thanks to the web, we can connect with someone else who is sharing some of the same experiences and find out we are not alone.

So, don't be shy...say hello and let me know where you're from!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Meat Free Monday

We have a vegetarian wannabe in our house.  Not a bad thing.  It's opening our eyes to new meal ideas.  Because of a chronic illness, and to be perfectly honest, my not wanting to make that drastic of a change, we have let her go beef and pork free for over 2 years now but draw the line at poultry.  I know, chickens have feeling too.  It's amazing how having one person change their diet effects the whole family!  Steve misses it the most, oh the excitement on those rare (pun intended!) occasions that beef hits the dinner table!  

So, in an effort to make healthier dinners and broaden our eating horizons, we are starting Meat Free Mondays.  While it's the time of year to get yummy veggies at local produce stands, we are going to try to focus on plant based meals too.  Not every week, but it kicks the challenge up a notch.

We don't want boring meat free dinners, or the obvious pancakes every week.  I'll post our successes (last weeks Chipotle style veggie bowls were amazing!) and flops.  If you wanna join in the challenge, please let me know what your faves are too!

Tonight was rather boring, but I'll own up to it.  Just 3 of us were home so I let myself be a little lazy.

Meatless Monday Menu:

Potato and Onion Perogies (we love Wegman's brand), baked.

Roasted broccoli

Tossed salad

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I'm a pool mom, and proud of it!

I am so excited, I'm a pool mom again!! Oh the glorious sounds of splashing water, yelling kids and the smell of sunscreen! I am sure if you asked the older kids about their favorite memories growing up, summers at the pool would rank right up there. There are songs that we hear now that take us right back to the summers at our then neighborhood pool. No need to plan play dates, everyone was at the pool! Kids playing, moms chatting, life was good! Then the kids got older and busier and hanging out at the pool faded away. Last year we joined a pool, but with a fair skinned toddler in tow I just never got in the swing of packing up and spending the day at the pool. Steve and took them many evenings, but it just never had the same feel as before. Well, that has all changed!! We listened to friends, switched pools and glory be, I'm a pool mom again! So, while it's great that the kids are having the time of their lives, I suspect we moms are enjoying it even more. The conversations, both light and heavy, the camaraderie and the makings of both new and stronger friendships are priceless. And what is even better, the dad's join in too!! And in the end, we are able to recreate the same sort of memories for the little girls that our older kids so treasure. Our cupboards are once again full of snacks to pack, and I have a brand new lemonade jug....this is going to be the best summer in a long time!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mother's Day

We had many traditional Mother's Day years. Handmade cards, various breakfast, flowers. I adore the handmade anything. Pencil holders, poems with handprints. Love, love, love! This was our first year as adoptive parents and it really had me thinking. How to best celebrate this day as well as acknowledging the fact that 2 of our children have another mother. We don't scoot around this in our home. We are as open and honest as we can be, given their ages. We have a very open adoption and relationship with Baby E's biomom. So much so she texted me to wish me a happy day. We want this to continue, we don't want Baby E to ever feel uncomfortable with knowing her biology. As she grows we will have to begin explaining to her who this woman is, for now she is a nice lady we see who is fun. But then there is A's biomom. We can't have contact. No way, no how. She is extremely mentally ill and there is no way to be assured that she will respect what is in A's best interest. Not to mention, we are coping with the fall out of anger poor A has toward her biomom. This is anger she has earned, and getting through it is a huge step in her attachment and healing. But her biomom would never be able to understand that. So, for the past week I have had on my mind how we are going to acknowlege her heritage when there is nothing positive to say about this person. She gave birth to her. But she has neglected A, abused her and left her in situations where she was abused by others. How can we look past the hurts? How do we get past the anger we have? We are angry at the abuse, angry that we are the ones picking up the pieces. We have been thrust into a world we never imagined, trauma parenting. It's not fun! It's pretty darn icky at times. Other times it's heartbreaking beyond belief. We want A, but for A's sake, it would be so much better if she didn't have to come to us. She should have a "normal" childhood, raised by the people she was born to. There is no easy answer here. Lots of wishes. As with everything, we will continue trying our best to adapt to the new situations as they come. Mother's Day will never be quite the same. But, as in years past, we had a yummy breakfast! I also received a beautiful handmade card. Having kids in the make a card age again is such a blessing and I am treasuring every minute!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Little Secret

H has been sick for going on 5 years now. 5 years she will never get back. 5 years that she has been homebound more than not. I hate it, with every fiber in my being. I want her well. We feel like we are finally on the right track and are seeing mini steps toward improvements, but there is still a very long way to go. When I let myself to go the dark what if places, or think of the regrets of all she has missed, one thought brings me back. And it's totally selfish. I would miss her. We have spent more time together, just she and I. We have battled the doctors trying to figure out what is wrong. We have shared a love of reading, corny movies and music. (okay, she keeps me up on the latest music and introduces me to bands I know I wouldn't find on my own!). We have shared watching baby E grow and confession time, H is much more strict that I am! All of this I would miss terribly. So, maybe this is my way of turning one ugly lemon into lemonade. I'd give anything to have her well, but part of me would have a hard time giving back this time together.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Why the lemons?

Okay, I am so not getting this format thing and I am completely a computer idiot. Day 2 and wondering why I'm doing this?! Lol. Bear with me please! So, I had a post..forgot to title it and when I went back for the title it seems as though I lost the post! Sheesh. Something tells me that writing on my iPad is the problem. We shall cope! So, why the lemons. Well, first know that we love all things lemon. Baby E will eat wedge after wedge. Daughter in law, J, is sure it's the secret ingredient to any dish! And man do I love really tart lemonade (think Chick Fil A). I am also a glass half full kind of gal. I have my parents to thank for instilling optimism. On top of that I firmly believe there is a reason for everything, and all of life's experiences are lessons and opportunities to grow from. Sure, I'd like to wave the white flag at times and say I've learned all I want, no more please! Did I mention I took up half of A's therapy session today?! Yep! We have plenty of lemons waiting to become lemonade...will H ever achieve her goal of being a vet? Will A function in society without someone watching over her shoulder? These are the lemons that wake me up in the middle of the night. But, through it all I hope I can find the proverbial lemonade. It's mighty difficult some days. Thanks for putting up with my lack of paragraphs..eventually I'll figure it out!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

And so it begins!

Where to begin?! How do you explain this crazy life? Baby steps. That pretty much describes much of our life, so that's the approach I'll take here. In the beginning..... I'm Cari, head lemonade maker. Then there is Steve, provider of the lemons! We have been married 24 years, looking forward to the big quarter of a century celebration this summer. Going on our first cruise! We have 3 kids by birth. E, is 24 and married to J. They are going on two years married and are just too cute. E is finishing a short Naval career and is looking forward to going back to school. That'll mean moving back to the hometown area! L is beginning her senior year in college, we'll soon have our own CPA in the family! H is 17 and home with me. She has been my lesson in how to turn a lemony life into lemonade. She has long term Lyme disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and POTS. Through this mess she has been virtually home bound for going on 5 years. She has never, ever, complained. She is my walking (okay, reclining!) lemonade girl. She inspires me. And then we began our adventures as a foster family. We have been fostering for almost 3 years now. We have had 25 children stay with us. It is an rewardingly challenging job. Right now, we still enjoy it more that we have become jaded so we'll keep going. February of 2010 we received a call to pick up a baby girl from the hospital. At the time, we were told it would be a simple placement. Bioparents just needed to work out a living arrangement. In December of 2011 we adopted baby E. No, adoption was not our plan. We were the only family this little girl had ever known. We had no idea how much we needed this little angel. She is our sunshine. She has by far been the best medicine for H we could have ever hoped for. Now, it is funny to see the looks from strangers trying to figure out who's kid she is..teen mom, young couple.'s us old people! We have an open adoption, and see her birth mother regularly, which brings many nuances. What is in baby E's best interest is all we care about. And finally we come to A. A is 8 and technically a foster child. She has been in care since she was 4 and with us for going on 2 years. She has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), PTSD, Mood Disorder...a full alphabet soup. She has rocked our world. She has made me question my sanity. She has brought me to my knees. But, she is also a little girl who needs a family, even if she has no clue how to function within a family. She has come a long way. She has a long way to go. We are fighting harder for her, in ways we never imagined. So there we are, lemons and all!