Friday, October 22, 2010

A Little Late, First Day of School For My Princess.

I have been wanting to post these cute pics for a while. My Princess started Pre-K just 2 weeks ago. She loves it! She already has good buddies. In fact she went to her first birthday party for one of her classmates today. It was great.







Boo'ing The Neighbors


So, many of you blog stalkers have read about the "Boo Your Neighbor" concept. I think it's brilliant and wanted to try it out with my kids this Halloween. We had a blast from choosing our goodies to the actual "Boo". Here's what we did!





Excited!

Lovin' The Crafty Time



First, we made our door hangers with some scrap booking paper, folding it "hot dog style" in half. Then we cut a circle by folding it again and made little cuts around so that it would fit around a door. Then printed out a cute Jack 'O Lantern graphic with "We've Been Boo'd" and glued it on the door hanger. 




Then we attached this little poem to the gift bag:



We used black gift bags with tissue paper that said "boo, trick or treat, happy halloween" all from Target. (PS the black bags were on clearance for .24 cents each!)

We put in them:
Halloween Sugar Cookies (from Target bakery)
Marshmallow Puffs, ghosts and pumpkins
Small First Aid Kit (for a safe Trick Or Treat)







The kids also wanted to make pictures and while we weren't revealing our secret "phantom" identity, I thought that who could resist an adorable picture drawn by my cute kids!


He wanted to make sure they knew that his "bath" was really a bath :-)




And we can't wait to do it again! My Aunt was telling me that there is an old tradition called May Day which follows the same concept of leaving surprises for your neighbors. You do it the first day of May with Spring goodies like cleaning and household supplies, seeds or flowers and spring treats. Wouldn't that be great? I can't wait!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pumpkin Sausage Pasta

This recipe is one of my all time favorite fall recipes. It is earthy and warms you to the core. Shop the BOGO sales for great deals on pasta and parmesan cheese. I want to try this with mushrooms as a vegetarian dish as well.

Pumpkin Sausage Pasta - Printer Friendly Version

Serves 6-8
1 pound pasta, cooked (This can be made Gluten Free by using a rice pasta, it is just as yummy!)
1 15 oz can pumpkin (not pie filling, regular pureed pumpkin or you can roast and puree your own)
1 lb. turkey sausage (I used Jenny-O because they were on sale and I had coupons making it $2.99 a pound)
1 drizzle around the pan of EVOO
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup of cream, half and half or fat free half and half (for dairy free try substiting with coconut milk)
salt and pepper to taste
chives or fresh chopped herb of your choice.
shaved parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook pasta according to package. Drain and set aside.  With a large saute pan, do a drizzle of EVOO around the pan and heat over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until tender about 5 minutes. Add sausage and cook (you may have to remove sausage from casing) until browned. Add can of pumpkin puree and stir well. Add cream and salt and pepper to taste, stir until combined and warmed through. Add pasta to sauce and serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped chives and shaved parmesan cheese.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

No one should ever face this....

The Mathews Story

Please take a moment to read this story and pray with me and many others for this family. Months ago I read this story from a friend on facebook. She posted the link and asked for prayer and ever since I read about their family I can't get them off of my mind. I have never met the Mathews. I don't even really know what they look like except Ezra from the pictures on their blog.

 I know that what the Mathews are going through is tragic. It's aweful. It's not fair. There are things that happen in this life that I don't understand. The suffering of a child is high on that list. 

God be with those who have loved ones with cancer. God be with those remembering the ones they have lost and God help us all to make sense of such tragedy. God, wrap your loving arms around the Mathews family and may others be inspired to be their support and love during this difficult time.


Sesame Street "I love my hair"


What a great way to help encourage confidence in our curly hair girls!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Glazer Children's Museum- Making Downtown Tampa The Place For The Weekend!

We have been wanting to visit the new Glazer Children's Museum since it opened last month and just hadn't made it yet. I've heard some good reviews for it but I was honestly in L*O*V*E with this place!


When you walk in the door there are water play stations which are very entertaining for the kids. It's nice when the big kids don't hog the balls! There were supervisors working the stations and asking kids to take turns which really helped because there were some unsupervised big kids hogging the fun. Next there was a "boat" with a "sand" digging area. The sand was actually chopped rubber which was very cool. No mess!




Up stairs on the second floor is the coolest climbing gear for ages 3 and up. The signs say things like "imagine you are a water drop falling from one leaf to the next". The kids loved climbing through. Very cool.

Plant and Pick Flowers!
Plumbing Area

Plant and pick Veggies!

 The kids had so much fun at each station that they didn't know what to do next! There was a "plumbing" section where the kids could pretend to add plumbing to a bathroom. That was so neat, there were gloves and goggles and you could actually run pipes from the tub to the toilet and to the sink. 




They had building blocks that you could configure any which way. They also had cars and tracks on the other side to make roads.


Yes, this would be My Princess! Only "supergirls" wear tutu's while climbing on walls! I totally wish they had a wall for adults to climb, this looks like fun!


There was a Publix grocery store where the kids could shop with carts and ring up their items (there were actual barcode stickers on the play food and computer check out stations!). There was a Veterinarian station. There was a Doctor station with X-Ray puzzles and more! The boys favorite was the Firehouse. They had a fire-truck and a pole. 

Inside the fire truck
Fire Station Pole. (You can actually go up stairs and slide down the pole).

They also had a Restaurant and Theater where the kids could prepare meals and perform shows with costumes and a show curtain. We could easily have spent a whole day on each of the levels in the museum. I highly recommend taking your family! If you have little bitties they have play areas for three and under with soft cushy toys and floors. There was something for all age groups. The admission is reasonable, especially if you get a years pass. It was $90 for a years pass including five family members. The cost per ticket is $15 for adults and $9.50 for kids 1 and up. If you go even twice in a year with a family of 4 you are saving money with the pass. 



On top of the amazing museum there was a gorgeous field out next to the museum. There was space for a picnic, plenty of room for the kids to run, dance, play ball or play tag. There were several college students out playing ball and frisbee. They also had fountains for the kids to play in.We plan on coming for a picnic and another trip to the museum again this month! Add a trip to our favorite  restaurant Pane Rustica and you have got yourself a wonderful weekend in Tampa! 




Playing Tag!




Disclaimer-this is NOT a paid advertisement. I am just simply a huge fan! I am not affiliated with Glazer Museum in anyway. These are all my own opinions and statements.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oven Baked Fish Sticks

I really don't enjoy frozen fish sticks. Besides the fact that frozen fishsticks are not yummy, they are also processed and are higher in bad fats and also contain preservatives and additives. Ever since I saw Jamie Oliver talk about how chicken nuggets are made (blender of skin, fat, odds and ends, resulting in gross pink stuff - see video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKSoiDtdi9s) I haven't wanted to eat any sort of nugget or fish stick or anything that isn't fresh cuts of meat. So, I ran across this recipe from kalynskitchen that uses fresh fish like Tilapia for a breaded and oven baked fish stick. I know my son who is the world's pickiest eater actually likes fish sticks, so I thought I would give this a go. This is my version of this family friendly dinner using a yeast free alternative to breadcrumbs. You could also substitute with ground Chex or a Gluten Free cereal for a Gluten Free version.


Oven Baked Fish Sticks (Yeast Free)
adapted from kalynskitchen

1 # fresh tilapia
2 cups Publix Greenwise Flax Flakes
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tsp. Old Bay Spice
1/2 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning.
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
1 egg
1 Tbs. mayo (I used garlic herb mayo because I had some from BOGO's to use up)
splash of water
Pam Cooking Spray

In your food processor or mini prep add cereal, almonds and seasonings and process until about the consistency of panko breadcrumbs. In small bowl whisk egg, mayo and splash of water. Cut fresh tilapia into strips and dredge the strips into the egg mixture, and then the breadcrumb mixture. Place on well greased cookie sheet (I grease the pan with Pam ). Bake at 400 degrees about 6-7 minutes, then flip and bake for an additional 6-7 minutes or until fish is flakey. Serve with steamed rice with broccoli and cauliflower along with tarter sauce or ketchup.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

No, her father isn't really tall. No, he isn't black.

It's fairly common to ask someone if their spouse is very tall or tan skinned like your child is when you are obviously not. There is really nothing wrong with that question. I do have a really hard time answering those questions though. I don't like to just bring up our family information to total strangers. Especially when I'm with my children and I don't know what type of follow up questions or responses a stranger will throw at me. I want to protect my kids. I want to not have to explain it all of the time. I'd like to think everyone sees adoption as this beautiful dream come true just like me, but sadly that is not always the case.

Sometimes people ask questions in order to appear sociable and friendly. Sometimes these questions are based on first appearances and obvious curiosity. Sometimes the questions are personal and sometimes they are TOO personal. With a blended family such as mine, sometimes these questions can be a source of frustration, anger, hurt, or annoyance. Let me talk about some of the questions which are just NOT OK to ask an adoptive parent.

"Are you hoping to get pregnant now that you have adopted?" -Seriously...stop asking people this question! Either you are asking a woman who is hurting because of infertility or who chose to adopt in place of giving birth. Both situations make this a dumb question.

"Does your child ask about his/her real parents?" -Adoptive parents ARE REAL. Pinch us, we'll scream.

"Does your baby cry because he/she misses her/his real mom?" - The only mother my kids know is me. Again, I am REAL!

"Did you adopt because you couldn't have your own baby?" - My children are my OWN babies. Beyond that, the question is incredibly personal, so myob.

"Are the both yours?"

"Wait, they are both yours? They look nothing alike!" - We have a great UPS guy.

"With the same dad?" - Who the ____ do you take me to be? I am married to one man.


And let's not forget the things people say just to volunteer information...


"You know that now that you have adopted you are bound to have your own baby." -This is factually wrong, emotionally really hurtful and an incredibly personal thing to say to someone. You have no idea what brought someone to the road of adoption. This is the most personal of territory, I don't ask questions about strangers sex lives do you?

"I always hear horror stories of birthparents taking their kids back."- Again, wrong. Also, stupid. Why do people think that adoptive parents want to hear horror stories about adoption?

"Well bless your heart, you saved a child." - I didn't save a child, my children saved me.

"You must be an amazing person for taking in someone else's child." -Again, they are my own, and I am not special because I adopted. I have had special circumstances and adoption is the road we chose.

Oh I could go on and on...I've gotten strange questions, rude comments, confused glances and even stares. Most of this in front of my kids. I am a very open and honest type of person so I tend to just blurt out truths, but now I am having to be careful of how I talk about things with total strangers. It's like my Aunt told me once about her son and his adoption story " it is his story to tell, when he is comfortable and wants to tell it". This put it into perspective for me. I don't have to tell the world when they ask why my son looks nothing like his father that he is adopted. I don't have to explain to a stranger why my kids look nothing like each other. I may want to so that people don't assume I'm a slut who sleeps around...(which trust me, by their looks and stares I am pretty sure that is what they are thinking).  I also don't like to tell un-truths so I try to just be straightforward and only give as much information as is necessary without being rude.

The truth is, my kids saved me. They made my world seem right again. I thought that I would never realize the dream of becoming a mom and through adoption my dream came true. The truth is, they are my own. I am their mother. I am the only mother they will ever have. I did not give birth to them and they do not carry any of my DNA (which sometimes I think is a great blessing for them!). I have been there from the first day of their precious life, loving them, holding them, feeding them, changing their diaper and mopping up vomit. They are not second best. They are the best thing that has ever happened to my husband and I . Anyone who thinks they couldn't love a child that wasn't genetically like them, well, they are not cut out to be adoptive parents. They are also self obsessed in my opinion. Why do you have to be like someone in order to love them?


My advice to those of you who get asked questions that violate your privacy or make you feel angry, educate. Tell people about adoption. Be an advocate and stand up for it. Not everyone understands. Not everyone knows someone who has been touched by adoption. Most of the hurtful comments I have experienced have come from people who are totally uneducated about adoption. Sometimes though, it is OK to change the subject. It is OK to say "that is a personal question". It is OK to use humor too. My friend who reciently adopted told me how her social worker said that she answers personal questions with personal questions like " how many orgasms have you had this week?". I  know it is harder to use humor when you are upset or hurting but sometimes humor is what it takes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Curly Girl Haircare

When we set out to adopt hair care was absolutely the LAST thing on our minds. I always thought it would be lovely to have a daughter with curls. I'd always been drawn to curly girls. When we found out about our daughter we literally had weeks before she arrived. I was excited because her beautiful birthmother had amazing coloring and she told me that her hair was naturally very curly. I shared with her that I had always wanted a daughter with curls and I think that it meant a great deal to her to hear that. In truth I have a journal entry describing what I pictured our daughter would look like a year or so before we ever started looking into adopting again. The description was tan skin, almond shaped brown eyes and chocolate brown curly hair. Sound familiar?

My Princess is everything I ever hoped for in a daughter. Those curls, I adore them. I love her hair! She's unique and beautiful and amazing.

Now...it can be a lot of work at times. For this fine haired momma I find it a bit of a challenge. But, lets face it, momma loves a challenge!
Mighty Mike and My Princess with a Deep Conditioning Treatment on.

Now, I don't do anything with My Princess's hair without major research and advice from hairdressers, friends and (strangers in the mall who have my daughter's hair type). I have done A LOT of different things and I will tell you what has worked, and what hasn't. 

  • Curly hair does not need to be washed more than once a week (if that). I know that to us fine haired people that sounds crazy but it is really true. Curly girls need the natural oils to keep their scalp and hair moist.
  • You CANNOT brush through curly girls hair when it is dry. I don't even advise it when it is wet without some sort of conditioning treatment because you will break hair and hurt your daughter's head trying to push a brush through corkscrews.
  • Doing twists or braids will help with hair growth and elongate curls


Here are some of the products that we have used that have failed:

Carols Daughter-
 this line while it may work for some made my daughter's scalp dry out and flake. She also developed a rash on her neck. It is "all natural" however it is heavily scented.

Aubrey Organics-
I was really not impressed with this product for curly girls and I really wanted to be. Again it is heavily scented and itchy on My Princess's scalp. I do love their products, just not for DD.


Some of my favorites products are:






Curls Quenched Curls works well for tight curls when used on wet hair for combing or styling. It is light and doesn't make hair crunchy. It is probably lower on the list for it's conditioning but I love the scent. It's pineapple-y and really Yummy. I also like their styling lotion for setting hair in braids and also for piggy-tails.












Mop C-System Curl Defining Cream was an OK product. It does work well as a detangler but it is not my favorite. The smell is a light citrus scent and isn't too strong. Sometimes I can find this product at TJ Max.



















Kinky Curly Custard is really pretty awesome stuff. I buy several products from this line and they are only available locally at Whole Foods. It is pricey, but if you have a Whole Foods close by it is a great product for detangling, moisturizing and styling.














I have to say that my favorite products so far have been the Deva Curl Collection. The products themselves are great and affordable but the thing I love about the Deva Curl Collection is that it is a whole system that teachers proper curly haircare. It is simple, natural and the results are really beautiful. Here are some clips that show how to use Deva Curl:
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ssKMFXI1Fg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0BMVAXmZ6U



These Youtube video's I love because they show how to handle ethnic hair, however please NEVER use those products that are full of chemicals on your DD's hair. Natural products can be much more effective and won't strip your DD's hair or expose her to harsh chemicals.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ax1-xHe_tvo&feature=channel

Here is a link to a blog that talks about biracial hair-care: http://treasuresfortots.blogspot.com/2009/08/biracial-hair-care.html
I like many of her tips however My Princess has more of a corkscrew curl and her hair is a bit more complicated to style.

Here is our daily regimen now:

  1. Wash once a week with a possible cream rinse (condition and rinse) if she gets something sticky or messy in her hair between washes.
  2. After bath use either TRESemme Naturals  Sulfate Free Conditioner or Deva Curl One Condition to hydrate curls. I will very liberally condition by sections and comb or brush through to detangle. 
  3. Use the Deva Arc Angel or Curls Styling Lotion. I scrunch her curls with the product and then leave it alone to dry.
  4. If I'm putting her hair up or twisting/braiding it I will section it out before putting anything on it and then moisturize and put style product directly on each section then twist or braid. Same is true if I am doing pigtails. 
If her hair is dry (in between washes), I will  use a water bottle maybe with a drop or two of jojoba oil or lemongrass oil to wet her hair completely before combing or brushing. Then I will use conditioner like Deva One as a leave-in.



Do you have any products tips or style tips? I'd love to hear from you!






Sunday, October 10, 2010

Birthday Cake! Lemon Chiffon Cake

Lemon Chiffon Cake With Lemon Buttercream Icing and Lemon Curd Filling ( or as I like to call it Tres Lemon Cake)

Cake:
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour 
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbs lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • enough Sprite or Sierra Mist to add to lemon juice to equal 3/4 cup liquid
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 jar lemon curd (for filling)


Icing:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 pound (one box) 10x powdered sugar
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 Tbs heavy whipping cream


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and Flour your pans. I used two ten inch round pans, you can use square, or 8 inch pans.
In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and 1/2 c sugar. Add oil, egg yolks, sierra mist, lemon juice and zest. Beat with a whisk until smooth (or use mixer). 



 In a small bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks form. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, and beat until stiff and shiny peaks form.

Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain. 



Turn into greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Time of cooking depends on the size and shape of pan. My cakes cooked in about 45 minutes for 10 inch rounds. 

For the Icing:

Beat the butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar (make sure the mixer is off) and slowly blend until creamy and well combined about 2 minutes. Add zest, juice, vanilla and whip for an additional minute. Add 4 Tbs. heavy whipping cream and whip for about 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. To darken the icing to a yellow add a few drops of icing coloring (available at Joanns or Michael's).

To put the cake together:
Cool the cake layers completely. Cut them in two with a serrated knife. Layer on round on a cake platter. Spread 1/2 a jar of lemon curd and add the next layer (there will be four layers total). Add some icing. Layer another piece using the remaining 1/2 jar of lemon curd. Cover with final layer and frost the cake any way you like! I added a slight bit of yellow coloring to the remaining icing and used it to pipe around the cake and add wording. Then I sliced a lemon very thinly and twisted them, placing them around the top of the cake. Enjoy!







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