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Monthly Archives: February 2018

Update on Our Journey

 

We are a few weeks away from working toward our adoption for a year and there’s been another delay.  I don’t know if we’re allowed to talk about it, so I won’t, but I can say that this is starting to take an emotional toll.

 

When we were at the ninth month it felt kind of right; an expectant mother has that time to prepare for and fall in love with that little miracle.  When we hit roadblocks or long waiting periods I would fall back on that concept and find my strength again.  We’re unsure of how long this delay will last and it’s honestly worrisome that we won’t have enough time to go through all of the stages and get to placement by the time the new school year starts.  We still need to go through private profiles, go through the BIS process (a conference call between the officials to decide if it’s a good enough fit to allow more in depth consideration), making the decision on who to meet, meeting them (and if we make a match the first time we don’t have to go back through the profiles, BIS, and deciding who to pursue this time), have at least four visitations with one being an overnight stay, and, if all works right, we get legal custodial rights and Kiddo is placed with us.  After six months the case gets reviewed, make sure things are going well and we’re bonding, and then we get to adopt Kiddo.  If this delay takes more than a couple more months I really can’t see how Kiddo will be ready to start school here next year.  I hate the idea of having to change schools in the beginning of their year, especially if Kiddo is just starting high school.  I had hoped we’d have placement by summer, so we’d have the time to work at really bonding and it’d be a little less stressful for Kiddo, since school itself will be a lot of stress, not to mention living in a new town, making new friends, etc.

 

I think one of the hardest parts of the waiting period is how much of our lives is in someone else’s hands.   Realistically, if everything goes well, our entire future is in the hands of a social worker, a case worker, a foster parent (or parents), a judge, and Kiddo.  We have the bizarre ability to pick our preference like a puppy in a litter, but it doesn’t mean that we’re going to get to take the puppy home and raise them.  We don’t just want to raise them until they’re 18; we want to be the forever family for Kiddo.  And there isn’t anything we can do right now to help the process.  If anything we were over prepared, over excited, and we can only do so much parenting and trauma research without knowing Kiddo’s actual needs, so we just wait for the email.

 

As a Spoonie I have so little control over my health and knowing when I’ll have a “good” day, so my natural “get it done” personality is stronger in the other aspects of my life.  Kiddo’s room is done, I’m not really able to shop anymore for Kiddo until we know their needs, wants, and sizes, and there isn’t a whole lot to scrapbook for her about our journey when you’re sitting around waiting.  It’s doggone hard to not have an ounce of control over any part of the most important path in my life.  I’m blessed to have an incredible psychiatrist that not only helps with coping with becoming disabled, but helps me not get fully depressed.  She even wrote a letter for DCF stating that I’m able to parent despite my illness, because I seek out help when needed, have a lot of coping techniques in my pocket so to speak, and it’s been almost 20 years since I went through my traumas, so Kiddo’s traumas won’t trigger me.  We can’t really work on my concern about Kiddo not bonding with me, since that’s a “what if” scenario, and really it’s just me doing my usual “risk analysis” instead of it being a true worry.  When I became a HIPAA Officer and had to learn to do risk analysis, I would never have guessed that the mindset would stick with me for the rest of my life.  *laugh*  Anyway, I’m trying to learn to take one day at a time and focus on what I can control, like coloring in my smart aleck affirmations coloring book.  *grin*

 

We also realized that underneath some of that concern about Kiddo not wanting me is the worry of being rejected once they see the real me.  Ask pretty much any Spoonie and they will admit that they try to always have a mask of “I’m okay” on and that very few people ever see what life is truly like for them.  We hide our bad days because we don’t want to be a burden and we know that people don’t usually want to hear that things are still kind of cruddy.  They usually just ask out of polite conversation etiquette instead of wanting to see behind the mask.  We hide the days we need a walker to make it from bed to the bathroom, the days and nights that seemingly go on forever because we can’t sleep or get quality rest, the cushions, heating pads, and meds that help us have some quality of life.  When Kiddo has stayed here for a bit and the honeymoon period has worn off my body will override my emotions again, and I’ll be back to my normal, so Kiddo will be one of the few to see the real me.  It probably doesn’t make any sense to healthy “normal” people, but it’s a scary thing for us usually.  We tried for so long to be successful in life, then we were told for even longer that we were okay and it was all in our heads when the symptoms made life so difficult, and then we have to endure having a diagnosis that a whole lot of people think is made up because they can’t see it.  If we had our legs amputated or had lesions where our trigger points are, then there’d be a lot more compassion and empathy.  So we develop our mask as a coping mechanism to protect us from rejection.  And it becomes really scary to think about someone seeing the real version and rejecting you.

 

In the first six months we had so much to look forward to, so much to work toward, and it seemed like we’d fly through the adoption stages because we were so prepared, so there wasn’t time for fear.  The waiting period is almost completely spent in the dark corners of my mind.  Once I realized this and she helped me acknowledge that it’s something that I can’t change, so I need to let go of the concern, my mind went to how many more delays will there be?  Can we emotionally handle another six months or year of waiting just to get to the next stage?  The imaginary time line is gone and every extra day tears at the heart.  It’s hard to focus on the hope and joy of the future when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore, and it is even harder as a Spoonie.

 

So we’re going to quit looking at the featured kids and picturing the one we think would be a good fit in our lives actually in our lives (now that complicated sentence is almost as complicated as our feelings!  LOL).  We’re going to quit hoping that the one profile we really liked will still be available by the time we get the chance to inquire about her.  We’re just going to wait.  Our hearts break over how many children are in the system and how scary the statistics are for them if they age out, but we’ll try to focus on patiently waiting for the one ripple we’ll someday make in that sea of need.  We need to find a way back to the joy and hope we had as we painted her room, put in the bed and imagined having our own daughter sleeping in it, and those moments when we felt our hearts would burst from the love for her – the love for our own future daughter.  And we will have a laugh the next time someone says we’re jumping in the deep end by adopting a teenager.  Raising a teenager is hard, but we’re all ready going through hell just to get the chance to raise one.

 

Since the long waiting period has been so difficult to endure, and has tested us to remain patient, hopefully God will help us make the right choice the first time and we will minimize the extra trauma by getting her settled before the school year.  Then we can worry about rejection, the risks and stress of teen life, how to help her with her traumas, and which store will have a prom dress she might like.  🙂

Butterfinger Cookies Recipe by Leah

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Butterfinger Cookies

If you give me the chance to curl up and read a cozy mystery I’m going to take it.  Especially if it’s a series centered around a lovable woman in her 50’s who finds herself bumbling around the mysterious situations.  Did I mention that she also loves to cook?  😁

Josie Kilpack’s culinary mysteries have been a fun series with some great recipes.  This one came from book #4, Key Lime Pie.   

Butterfinger Cookies

Yield: 4 dozen

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup butter, softened

2/3 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 1/4 cup peanut butter (chunky or creamy)

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

5 (2.1-oz) Butterfinger candy bars, chopped* (about 2 cups)

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cream butter and sugars.
  2. Add egg; mix.
  3. Add peanut butter and vanilla; mix until smooth.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, and salt.  Mix well.  Add butterfingers; mix.
  5. Roll into 1-inch balls, use a 1-inch scoopo, or drop by 1-inch spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes, just until browned.
  6. Allow cookies to cool 2 minutes on baking sheet before moving to cooling rack.

*Do not use a food processor.  The pieces will be too fine and you lose the lovely crunch from the Butterfingers.  My 10-year old got a little overzealous trying to crush them with a rolling pin and we had the same problem.  You want the delicious peanut buttery crunch of a Butterfinger bar in the cookie.  It’s worth it to chop them.

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Sunday Dinner Potatoes by Leah

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Sunday Dinner Potatoes

Just after college my sister moved to Idaho for a couple years.  When she came home for Thanksgiving she brought with her this dish, calling them Funeral Potatoes.  Funeral?  Yes, funeral.  Evidently these always make an appearance at funerals in that area.  I can see why.  These potatoes are comfort food at it’s finest – ooey gooey cheesy potatoes with a perfectly crunchy topping.  However, the name left something to be desired for us.  Over time we made alterations here and there to the original recipe and they eventually came to be known as Sunday Dinner Potatoes.  If you’re not making it for a crowd feel free to halve the recipe.  Just make it in an 8×8-inch dish and bake for about 45 minutes.

Sunday Dinner Potatoes

INGREDIENTS

2 lb bag frozen cubed hashbrowns, slightly thawed*

2 cans cream of chicken soup

2 cups sour cream

2 cups medium cheddar cheese, shredded

1 medium yellow onion, diced

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup butter

1 cup cornflakes, crushed

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl (I use my KitchenAid) mix together the cream of chicken soup, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and diced onion.
  3. Add the hashbrowns and mix by hand and pour into a 9×13 casserole dish.
  4. Melt the butter and mix with the crushed cornflakes.  
  5. Spread on top of the potatoes and bake for 1 hour.

*You want them thawed enough that they break apart but not soft or they’ll become mushy as they bake.

Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe by Leah

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I have loved stuff mushrooms for as long as I can remember.  It’s my go to starter at any restaurant and have tried so many different kinds I’ve lost track.  I decided I needed to just start making them myself and after some trial and error have created these.  They have everything I love about a stuffed mushroom – a creamy, strongly-flavored filling with some kick from the sausage and cayenne.  These are one of my most requested appetizers.

Stuffed Mushrooms

yield: 36

INGREDIENTS

36 large (2 1/2- inch) while mushrooms

1 lb Italian Pork Sausage

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 Tbsp minced garlic

2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel.  Carefully break off stems.  Discard half the stems.  Chop the remaining stems extremely fine, discarding tough ends.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook sausage, breaking up as you cook, until done.  Remove sausage and set aside to drain on a paper towel.
  3. Add vegetable oil to a skillet.  Add garlic and chopped mushrooms to skillet.  Fry until any moisture has disappeared, taking care not to burn garlic.  Set aside to cool.
  4. When mushroom mixture is no longer hot, stir in cream cheese, Parmesan, pepper, onion powder and cayenne pepper.  Mix in sausage.  Mixture should be very thick.  Using a spoon, fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of filling.  Arrange the mushroom caps on prepared cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of the mushrooms) in preheated oven.  The mushrooms should be piping hot with liquid forming under the caps.

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Quick Note

Hey there! It was brought to my attention that the blog posts aren’t showing the logos on social media unless you click the link to read more, so I just wanted to send out that almost all recipes on the blog are by one of my new guest bloggers, Leah. I have two now, since most of what’s going on in my life can’t be written about yet. I’ll try to remember to have them put their names in the title or at the start. Thank you for the heads up that the logos aren’t showing and sorry about the confusion! — Georgia 🙂

Shredded Barbecue Chicken Over Grits

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Shredded Barbecue Chicken Over Grits

 

This recipe is one my sister gave me.  She saw it in a Taste of Home magazine, knew I’d like it, brought me the recipe, and volunteered to taste-test it when I made it.  She was right.  I did like it – so did she, my husband, my kids, and my parents.  The grits have a wonderful flavor.  You can tell something has been added but no one could guess it was pumpkin.  

When I served the chicken I was generous with the sauce and still had a lot leftover.  Next time I’ll make 2 lbs of chicken for that amount of sauce rather than 1 lb.  The leftover chicken would make great tacos.

 

Shredded Barbecue Chicken Over Grits

Prep:20 min

Cook: 25 min

Yield: 6 servings

 

INGREDIENTS

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/4 tsp pepper

1 can (14 1/2 oz) reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 cup hickory smoke-flavored barbecue sauce

1/4 cup molasses

1 Tbsp ground ancho chili pepper

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 1/4 cups water

1 cup quick-cooking grits

1 cup canned pumpkin

3/4 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped

6 Tbsp sour cream

2 green oinons, chopped

2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, minced

 

PREPARATION

  1. Sprinkle chicken with pepper; place in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup broth, barbecue sauce, molasses, chili pepper and cinnamon; pour over the chicken.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees F.  Shred meat with 2 forks and return to skillet.
  3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring water and remaining broth to a boil.. Slowly stir in grits and pumpkin.  Reduce heat; cook and stir for 5-7 minutes or until thickened.  Stir in cheese until melted.
  4. Divide grits among 6 serving bowls; top each with 1/2 cup chicken mixture.  Serve with tomato, sour cream, green onions and cilantro.

 

 

 

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Words

Have you ever stopped and realized the power of simple letters made into words?  Words can whisk you away on an adventure of fantasy, mystery, or romance.  They can tear a heart apart or make it soar with love and joy.  Words can make you dance, become your anthem during a breakup, or be the first song you dance to with your spouse at your wedding reception.

 

Words can bring a community together or tear it apart; unite a nation or start a war.  They can even be a call to action, to help your fellow man.

 

They can introduce you to your first child, be your final goodbye to a loved one, or forge a deep friendship.

 

Words have the power to endure long after we have passed away and they create these characters and worlds that we actually invest our lives in; we care about them and their journeys, their loves and losses, and lose ourselves in the magic of a mystical land that we would never have gone to otherwise.  They empower us to solve mysteries, to battle foes in harsh environments, and learn the lessons that our faith has for us.

 

Storytellers, authors, and scribes have kept history intact for future generations; to learn from, to feel a bond with those that came before you, to keep hope and joy in our hearts forever.

 

When you turn on your favorite television show, open a new book, or listen to someone’s podcast, I hope you take a moment to just be amazed at how simple letters fill your life.  And I hope that you realize how much value your words have; you have such power to impact other lives.

 

I thank you for inspiring me and the guest bloggers.

Taco Salad Recipe

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Taco Salad

 

My sweet 10 year old desperately wanted to make dinner for me on my birthday.  Hmmm.  What can I ask her to make that is both tasty enough to give her confidence from her efforts and requires minimal cooking experience?  This is the recipe I pulled out for her.  She did have to ask my husband a couple questions, like how to know when the meat was done, but overall she did wonderfully and gave us all a delicious meal.  She even asked to take some of the leftovers to school for lunch the next day.  That’s what I call a success!

 

Taco Salad

 

Yield: 6-8 servings

 

INGREDIENTS

1 lb ground beef

1 packet taco seasoning

1/3 cup water

1 large head romaine lettuce

15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups crushed Nacho Cheese Doritos

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1 cup chopped green onions

1 avocado, sliced

3.8 oz can black olives, drained

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Bolthouse Salsa Ranch Dressing (or your favorite salsa with a little ranch mixed in)

 

PREPARATION

  1. Cook the ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat.  Brown the meat and break into small pieces with a wooden spoon.  Stir in the taco seasoing and 1/3 cup water.   Simmer until the water is absorbed, then remove from heat.
  2. Chop the lettuce and place in a large serving bowl.  Pile the taco meat and beans over the top.
  3. Add the crushed Doritos, tomatoes, green onions, avocado slices, olives and cheese.  Top the salad with Salsa Ranch Dressing.

 

 

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A Little About Bre

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I don’t often discuss the online community that I’ve been on for around ten years (yes, it could be considered a game, like WoW, but most old school players never call it that).  For some reason I keep my gaming pretty private except for those that I’m close to.  Second Life (SL) has allowed me to virtually visit places around the world, dance when my illness made it too difficult for me, and even meet people all over the world, (including two of my closest friends, Z and Kat).  We’re so close that we are friends outside of SL even and Kat is the younger sister I never had.  *smile* 

 

Needless to say, my second life is an important part of my life and has allowed me a version of leaving my house even when I’m bed bound.  Plus, we get to play board games together while chatting on Skype, which makes my nerdy heart so happy.  *laugh* I’ve been on SL for so long I’m actually considered a “legacy avatar”, so I’m an old fart on there.  *grin*  What’s awesome about that is that I get to help new users (noobs) and provide them with tons of resources to help them get the most out of their experience.  It’s another way that I can have a good impact, sometimes, plus I cherish the friendships I have developed on there; Z, Kat, Derek, Emme…and the list goes on (since you guys may read this, this is the one time I will get all mushy and say how much y’all mean to me.  We never speak of this – NEVER. LOL).  Anyway, Breana has been my avatar all of this time and even I call her Bre; she’s the version of me that’s a little more daring and a lot better looking than me.  *laugh* In a lot of ways she’s helped me learn to be more comfortable being me, since I was able to find “my people” – people that actual get and enjoy my weirdness.  I learned to let that nerd flag fly high and proud.  Plus, she’s the little vixen  and badass I’m too shy to be.

 

I’ve slowly taught myself how to build things, edit mesh, add animations to furniture, landscape, and became a texture hoarder, because you never know when a marble floor might look better than a rug.  *laugh* I don’t have the strength and energy to move my furniture, plus L hates when I move things, but in SL I change houses, the landscape, textures, and the furniture quite often.  I’m a bargain shopper, freebie hunter, and have a virtual closet that would fill our entire real house (not to mention bankrupt us!).  On any given day I may be in exercise clothing, a Victorian dress, a formal gown, ripped jeans with a sassy tee, or even be a fairy complete with pink skin and wings.  I think that’s one of the things I love the most about SL.  It’s an environment created by the users and there is such creativity in the designs, the lands, and even homes.  There are even actual companies, churches, and museums that have created virtual versions in world, so a person can attend church, a support group meeting, or see a spectacular art installation and marvel at the beauty of manipulated pixels.  Once I even went to an Othello interactive event, with displays of scenes from the book, a land painstakingly recreated that I had never pictured so vividly before, and other little adventures along the way.  There was even an actual partial play read by real people via their avatars, bringing Shakespeare to life and introducing some people to his incredible work for the first time.  There are such adventures and resources available that it’s almost beyond comprehension; it’s literally another life that awaits you when you log in.

 

Of course, when the general public are the creators of the world, there are some less enriching places and activities that can be found, but it’s easily avoidable.  Just like the real world, there are dark alleys in SL, so to speak.  However, it’s probably a much safer way for some people to live out other parts of their personalities and desires than in person.  And when can you be a vampire, a gunslinger, a builder, and a regular girl, all in one day?  Not even Halloween allows for that much change.  *grin*  

 

So expect to start seeing Bre on the blog, along with my friends at times, with information about what they’re wearing, etc., in case anyone is a user (or becomes a user) and would like to find these items.  Plus, it’s great practice in case I ever get to join an SL based blog!  If you decide that you would like to join SL and would like some help, don’t hesitate to contact me!  Just expect me/Bre to probably be in a sarcastic tee with fabulous hair when we meet.  😉

 

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Christmas decorating is exhausting

 

 

And a few collages of some adventures in the past few months…

(Never realized I wear that outfit so much lol)

And my incredibly landscaped and peaceful “home” with my “roommates” (before I went and changed it a couple of days ago; I need some new pics I just realized)

Enough?

I’ve been really sick lately and it’s left me with a lot of time to think, when the cold medicine or fever haven’t made a mess of my brain. Most of the time I think about our future daughter.

There have been some delays in the process and while sick I’ve worked toward removing one roadblock. I’ve done what I can and everything is in other people’s hands. I’m a girl who loves spreadsheets and organization, so obviously it’s hard for me to not be in control or working personally toward a goal. Yet adoption has a lot of balls to juggle and the prospective parents only have control of a couple of those juggling balls. When someone like me doesn’t have any control at all and isn’t well enough to lose my mind in other projects, I begin to mentally circle the subject, think about the risks, think about possible ways to fix or prevent such risks, and whatnot. No matter how much I circle it, research, and prepare for, I keep coming to one theme of questions. Will I be enough? Can I do enough? Will my love be enough? And what is “enough”?

These foster children have been through such trauma in their short lives, and although we are working toward adopting a teenager, she may have not received the help and love that she has needed to work through her trauma. If I’m bed bound for several days, how can I ever be enough? Although the flu and possible pneumonia will pass, my illness will remain. Due to that, I have a weak immune system and there will be more days like this in my future. Is love enough for her when I’m unable to be at a sporting event or some other teen activity? Can I ever be enough for her?

Thankfully I have been blessed with an awesome support system who will be able to help when I’m sick or I’m unable to do something. And deep down I know that my questions, my doubts, about being enough, are born out of fear. I’m scared of her never attaching to us, never being able to truly bond, and never being able to feel like we will always be there for her, even if she makes youthful mistakes or slams her door in that incredibly passionate way that only teens can. The heart of my fear is when we meet her will she look at me and wonder if I’m enough for her. What if we fall in love with our daughter and she finds us lacking?

I have realized that this is why adoption requires strength and faith. I cling to my faith that God chose this path for us; cling to that moment when that strong sense of purpose and joy filled me. And you have to be strong enough to know when to reach out for your partner’s hand any time you can’t see the path anymore.

When fostering or adoption is such a difficult thing to do, and the system beats at their hearts and confidence sometimes, isn’t a person bound to wonder if they are enough? So many classes, binders full of paperwork, tons of research, and tons of time waiting; they eat away at you. The doubts attack in the darkest hours like childhood monsters under your bed.

A wise man I thankfully married told me during one of those attacks that we all ready came this far, so we have to keep our faith to see it through. Even though I’m sick, I will be enough. God believed it when he set us on this path and although there has been a rough journey so far, I will have to remember that God is preparing us for our daughter. I’ve often looked at myself as if I’m a broken toy, due to my illness, and our daughter is somewhere probably feeling the same way, although for different reasons. As my friend helped me realize, I’m not broken. I’m strong because I survive and I try, and it’s made me “enough” to find our daughter and be the best that I can be for her, regardless of my fears. And if I’m enough, then I’ll be able to help our daughter learn that she’s enough, too, no matter what she’s gone through. She may never open her heart to us, but at least she will learn that her past has made her into who she is and made her strong enough to overcome her fears. We are all “enough”.

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