A few things...

I'm feeling quite a bit more like myself this afternoon. Not so sobby. [She says, embarrassed.]

Thank you, each one of you, for your kind words of encouragement this past week, and for your prayers. I appreciate you all so much. Mark, too. He was reading through my comments with me on the couch last night, and said, "They're all so nice."

You are all awfully nice. Thank you for your friendship. (And for putting up with my raw, emotional self over the past few days.) I'm hoping that much of that is due to sleep deprivation and is not the new me. ~smile~

I'm sure you're all wanting to know more news about the little girl we get to adopt.

So do we!!!

But we've heard nothing. I've tried not to be pestery with our agency but at about 4:00 this afternoon I finally called, and was told, for the second day in a row, that the baby's caseworker is still out sick, so... "when she gets back into the office..." Yeah, yeah. So we wait. (You'd think we'd be good at this by now, wouldn't you?)

I don't like it one bit that this precious little girl of ours now has a mommy and a daddy but hasn't been able to hear our voices or be held by us. But we'll have plenty of time for that in the future. At least we don't have to meet her and then turn around and leave her for six months like we had to with Isaias.

A few things have come up in emails or comments that I'd like to clarify:

1) We have only one foster child in our care right now. For one [loooong] day we had both the 6 week old and her 13 month old sister in our care, but I was in way over my head with those two, in addition to my three. The 13 month old was a very YOUNG 13 months, and spent much of that day whining and fussing and needing to be in my arms.

But you see, that's where the baby spends much of her time, so then, that wasn't working so well. It was very apparent that this older girl needed a foster home where she could be getting more attention. Maybe one with less than four children. Our house was so chaotic that day I cannot even aptly describe it to you. My mom was here with us- she stopped in to see how things were going and she immediately saw the wisdom in staying for a good part of the afternoon. And we were *both* overwhelmed. And I would say we are both of the competent-mother variety. (She, especially.)

2) Homeschooling. A couple of you have mentioned that you don't know how I'm doing it; what with the foster care and the regular care of our kids and the house and meals and the homeschooling.

We haven't cracked open a "school book" for weeks. What we're doing for school right now is this: Learning How to Care For a Baby and Learning How to Love and Care For One Another When There's a Baby in the House. And we do actually consider that school around here. Throw in a bunch of stories on the couch and some outside play and chores? A wonderful day of school.

The kids have been absolute gems. (Er, aside from the recent bead incident and a few normal hiccups that come with having a new person in the house.) Our Ella? I could write fifteen posts on that girl. She is *great* with the baby. She chooses the baby's clothes every day, helps with EVERYTHING, including diaper changes, bottle feedings, burping, holding, and distracting the baby until I can get that bottle ready. Here's a common sight around our home lately:

(When I told her the other day I was so enjoying watching her be a little "mama" to the baby, she shrugged and said, "I'm just practicin'!")

And when she's not doing that, she's doing this:

February adoption update

from Psalm 68:
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families.

I barely even know how to begin such a post.

So I'll just jump right in.

We received a call yesterday letting us know that there is a baby girl that is ours if we'll take her.

We'll take her.

The details we have at this point are sparse:

*She is one week old.
*She is African-American.
*Her birthmom used cocaine during the pregnancy.
*She is currently in a facility that specializes in drug-affected babies, and she will remain there until they release her to us. (We've been told it might be two weeks but we know it's usually longer than this, so we're not sure.)
*This is a fast-track adoption. The birthmom has had two children already taken from her and there are no relatives that will pop in to claim her. This is good for us in that the state will move to give this baby a permanent home with us. So our foster-to-adopt journey will almost positively end in *adoption*. (As opposed to many working-with-the-state adoptions where the birthmom will agree to rehab, get the baby back, start using again, get the baby taken away, agree to rehab, get the baby back, start using again,...You get the picture.) Not so, here.

And that is all we know.

We are trying to work out the details with the baby's caseworker and the facility she is in so that we can go and see her, as well as learn how to care for her these first few months of her life.

What we have learned in our very minimal training is that cocaine-exposed infants are very sleepy and are difficult to wake to feed. They do not have "sucking power" and may fight the bottle. They generally cannot eat more than one ounce at a time. The two main concerns for these babies are failure to thrive and dehydration.

The average time it takes for a baby to withdraw from drugs in their system is 30 to 60 days. The long-term studies done on such babies is positive.

My heart is aching for our sweet little baby right now. Her tiny body is ridding itself of this drug, and we are praying that she is a little fighter. I want so much to see her and to hold her and to get her home to us.

In the meantime, we continue to care for our foster baby, and I continue to wrestle with how this will be for us to have to let her go.

As I stood at the kitchen sink this morning, full of the news of this new baby and pondering our foster baby, I tearfully whispered to God, "Do You really think I can handle all of this at once?" Apparently He does. But my emotions are so all over the map these days I am doubtful.

I weep even now to think of saying goodbye to this precious girl who is sleeping down the hall from me. Oh, how I love her.

But she is not mine.

And then, today, God reveals a little girl who is to be mine. Ours. A baby I know so little of, a baby I have not seen; not even a picture.

Honestly, I'm struggling beneath all of these emotions. There is heartache. There is gratitude. I am so thankful to Him for answering our prayers, for bringing us to this stage of the journey. And. A baby. (We were licensed for ages 0-3 but I so wanted (and prayed for) a baby. I love babies. I am so thankful she's so young.) That is all mixed in with my wonderment at God's timing (Right *now*? Really? Are You sure?). And then there are my fears of attachment and bonding issues (which is always my greatest fear in terms of adoption). Toss in my feelings of inadequacy (Can I do this? What are we in for with her exposure to cocaine? And-- will I even be able to do her hair?)

Is it awful to admit that joy has only crept in a few times today? I think there's a part of me that needs to see her, and then I may need to get past the goodbye that will need to be said, in a couple of weeks, to our foster baby. (~sob~. And truly, I am literally sitting here sobbing at the moment.)

I trust God. I may not "get" His timing, but I do know it is right and good. I know He will equip us for what lies ahead. I know He will be there, guiding us, through every step of this journey. I know He will be my Comforter, my Helper, and my Strength.

Aside from all of that, I also happen to know what we're naming this baby girl of ours. But I'm not telling you that yet. (Well, except you, Amy. And Micah. And mom and Stef. And Michelle.) Actually, we only have her first name chosen. Chosen in one day, thankyouverymuch. We're still working on her middle name.

So there you have it.

God is placing another orphan in our home.

He's in the business of doing that, you know. Watch out.

Day by numbers

One exhausted mama. (Just over three hours of sleep last night.)
One little boy who peed all over our living room rug.
Two needy foster babies (Baby's older sister (13 months) joined us today).
Two boys, found downstairs amidst a mess of little beads.
Two beads, stuffed up the nose of my 2-year old. (Way, way, up the nose.)
Two times mama was found in a pile of tears on the couch.
Three social workers, at my door and in my home today.
Three meals made and served.
Four loads of laundry.
Seventy-five phone calls. (Okay, maybe not that many, but after about twelve calls by 11:00 this morning I lost count.)

One even more exhausted mama who plans to go to bed in about ten minutes.
It's 7:45.

**Updated to add**
This post sounds awfully grumbly, doesn't it? Sorry. I also have...
one AMAZING husband who is home with me now,
three BEAUTIFUL children God has given to me, and
one FAITHFUL, wonderful God who gave me strength throughout this day.
(Not to mention several GREAT bloggy friends who I know are praying for me. Thank you.)

My heart

Bear with me as I continue to share about being a foster mom.

I was an emotional wreck last night.

Our small group was here, meeting in our home. They are an amazing group of people. They wanted to know all about Baby and her situation, and then when we prayed together at the end they prayed over her life and the lives of her siblings (she has three sisters, ages 3, 2, and 1. Yes. Four girls. That young. Her sisters are in another foster home (one that didn't want a baby in addition to the three.))

Anyway... our small group. Here. Praying. And while they prayed the tears streamed down my face. I was so incredibly blessed that these godly men and women were fervently praying for this little girl I've grown to love so much over the past three days. (Has it only been three days?) And I wondered: before Baby came into our home, just who was interceding for her and her family? Now there are so many. I am so thankful. God answers prayer. That is no small thing, and I do not take it lightly.

Then later on, as I rocked Baby before lying her down, I cupped her tiny head in my hand, held her close to me, and sang a blessing over her.

And I wept.

I climbed into the tub after that and cried there, too. And when I came into our bedroom, I wailed, "Honey, I didn't even like the name '------' three days ago and now I truly love her." And I do.

Amy asked me the first day if I felt like I was babysitting, and I said yes.

Boy, has that changed.

I have grown to love this baby girl like she is my own. I feel like she has become a part of us. Sad does not even begin to convey how I will feel upon her leaving.

Thirty days. That's what I was told today. I'm not sure if that's thirty days from yesterday, when the judge decided that, or from when she came. Either way, it will go by fast.

The most difficult part is that I don't know what will happen to this precious girl when she leaves here. Will she be safe? Will she be loved? Cared for? When she cries that dear little cry of hers will someone go to her? When she's hungry, will she be fed? Will she be held and rocked, sang to and snuggled?

I don't know.

In my journal today I wrote:

You know, oh, Lord, how much I love little '------'.
And I know, oh Lord, how much You love her.

And that is where my heart can find peace in all of this. Her Father in heaven *loves* her so much. When this precious girl leaves our home she may be out of my sight and out of my care, but she will never be out of His.


And that brings me great comfort.

Thoughts on Day 1

* God's timing is so perfect. Our first full day with baby was also Mark's day off, so I had his help all day long!

* I'm not allowed to post pictures of baby *or* give you her name. That's hard for me to do. Especially the name part. It seems so generic to call her simply "baby". She is adorable. Really, so very sweet and a very good baby.

* Last night we discovered that she's a great sleeper, too! [...er, in my arms or right beside me, that is.] That made for quite the sleepless night for me, but she slept like a champ. [Another reason it was great to have Mark home today... I got a NAP this afternoon!]

* It's been hard for us to figure out what she needs, primarily when it comes to sleep (and how to get her to sleep!) Mark and I would normally let our babies cry it out a bit, but throw the word "neglect" at me and then I'm unsure if that's best. This morning I prayed, along with strength and energy for the day ahead, that God would give us real wisdom and discernment as to what she needs from us. On one hand I think that if she's going to go back to her birthmom it would behoove us to "train" her to be a good sleeper... then birthmom could lie her down and get a good night's sleep and be refreshed for the following day with her. But then I worry that if she was neglected, she may have spent time screaming with no one to comfort her, and maybe what she needs is love and attention. Anyway, we're figuring it out. God is faithful to lead us.

* Last night as I held her I just marveled at her little self. (Babies. One of the very *best* of God's creation, aren't they?)
Such tiny fingers!
Such a small head to cup and gather in close to my chest.
Those light, contented sighs only a baby can give.
The little sucking they continue to do as they sleep!
Oh, so precious. We're all just loving it. I am so full of joy that we get to be her keeper for this season. Thankful to God that He would use us in this way in her little life.

* I absolutely feel like one of the reasons this little baby is with us is so that we can pray over her life. And we're doing it. Every time she's in my arms I'm whispering prayers over her. One time in particular, this morning, as I was holding her, my eyes welled up with tears and I got all choked up as I told her how very *much* Jesus loved her. And then I prayed for her; for her protection in the days and months and years to come, and that she would grow to know and love Jesus. And her whole family, too.

* When the social worker dropped her off last night, she came with two big bags full of stuff: diapers, bottles, formula, clothes. We (Ella and I) peeked at all the clothes but were a bit disappointed: so many of them were clearly generic (blue, green, yellow... some not even the right size.) Obviously it was stuff that they had at the office and just gathered it together to send her with something. She had nothing that was *hers*. Kind of sad, don't you think? Even the blankets were worn and dirty.

* I'd saved a small bin of clothes from when Ella was a baby, so we went through those things last night and added some pink and purple to her wardrobe! I also had a little bin of baby socks, hats, tights, onesies, so Ella spent about 30 minutes last night selecting pretty socks ["Oh! Mommy! I *love* this one! See the cute little flowers on these socks?"]

* Ella is practically walking on air. She is enthused about EVERY part of this. She's also a great helper in holding the baby and feeding the baby and getting stuff for me when I'm tied up with the baby. Isaac is disinterested for the most part, but sweet with her when he does tune in. He's been the most needy of me. He's my little snuggler so has said a few times today: "Mommy, I want to sit on your lap without her there." So I'm working at giving him a little extra love and attention, while at the same time teaching him that his needs can also be laid aside for others. Isaias has been sweet and gentle and very attentive. It's been very sweet to watch him with baby. He's always stopping in to rub her head and is very concerned when she cries.

* Baby had her first visit with birthmom today, too. Two or three times a week she'll have visitation. Two hours each time, supervised visits. Because Mark had the day off I offered to take the baby and pick her up after the two hours were up. I saw her birthmom and was briefly introduced: "This is the foster mom." First time I've been called that.

Birthmom is young, and looked tired and run down. She didn't make eye contact with me. I suppose I'm the enemy. I felt such compassion for her. I wanted to reach out and hug her, but of course I didn't. I prayed hard on the drive there and back, for the birthmom especially.

* We got another call today from the state (not our local office; but another city)... saying they had two little boys who needed a home. Another "emergency". Could we take them? Oh, there is such a need. I wish we had a bigger house, more rooms.

* One thing I know: God loves these babies, these broken, splintered families. We have prayed that He would give us His heart; that we would be captured by the things that capture His heart, and I truly believe He has answered that prayer. I am so thankful.

* I remember after we adopted Isaias so many people would say things like, "It's so wonderful that you're doing this." I was never quite sure how to respond to that. Because the only reason we're doing it is because of God- because of His work in and through us. At the time I marked this verse in my Bible, and I think it sums it up:

Not to us, O Lord, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.
(Psalm 115:1)


A sweet baby girl (5 weeks) was placed with us today.

She was removed from her home due to neglect.

This placement was via the state, so it is a temporary, emergency placement. This little one isn't on the foster-to-adopt track. She'll be here with us for... we're not sure how long... 45 days was mentioned, 90 days was also mentioned... but then we know that could change at any moment. It could be 3 days.

And now I'm off to check on Mark, who is rocking her to sleep.

I hope you all had a wonderful day!


This post got me to thinking...

What are some of the best movies you've watched together as a family?

It'd be great to compile a list of decent movies and since many of you have been in the season of family-movie-watching longer than we have, I figure you'll be a great resource.

Leave a comment and tell me your favorites!

Quick question

***UPDATED*** You guys are the best. We just finished up Lady and the Tramp, and it was a hit. So a huge thank you to all of you who steered us in the right direction. :)

...for anyone who happens to check my blog within the next two hours.

The kids have earned a family movie night tonight (for keeping their designated areas clean all week).

Our kids watch no TV, and very little in the way of videos (think: Kids Sing Praise, Zoboomafoo, Signing Time, Sound of Music (parts of it), some Veggie Tales, and maybe a few others). Thus, their exposure is limited. We watched Old Yeller together last time, and they were good with that. The death of Old Yeller didn't bother them too much but I know that anything remotely scary would bother them.

We borrowed the following movies with which to choose from for a movie tonight, and it's been so long since I've seen any of these that I really can't remember what's in each of them. So, in your opinion, from the following movies, which is the "lightest" fare?

*The Fox and the Hound
*Lady and the Tramp

Any recommendations?

I'd love a little input, if you happened to stop by!


Valentines day recap

{Dinner} for the kids
Mark and I ate later, after we put the kids to bed.

We dressed up and had a quiet candlelit dinner.

On the menu?

Crab legs (with butter and fresh-squeezed lemon juice for dipping)
Roasted garlic mashed potatoes
Salad (with crumbled feta cheese and raspberry vinaigrette)
Homemade bread

And then, dessert:
New York Cheesecake with a dollup of chocolate mousse. (We couldn't decide which dessert we wanted most, so I made both!)

Utterly scrumptious.

Some traditions: Valentines Day is the one time of year I purchase pretty pajamas. And it's also the day that Mark gives me the Valentines day CD he makes for me. It's a good one this year; I love it. My favorite song so far is Nothing Fancy by Dave Barnes. You can listen to a bit of that here. (Scroll down to track #9).

There's really just one gripe I have with my husband

And it's this:
He's WAY more fun than I am.

Anyone remember the pancake post?

See what I mean?

A few days ago, the kids and I were reading stories on the couch and one of the books had the word "moat" in it. My four-year old wasn't familiar with the word, so after storytime I grabbed some gray paper and whipped this out:

I must say, I was feeling quite pleased with myself about being such a creative homeschooling mama. Do you see that blue "water" in the moat, there? We even snagged some Playmobile guys and made a queen and king. And then we dressed the queen. And put crowns on them. The kids thought it was MARVELOUS, and spent the rest of the day playing with their "castle".

My only mistake was this: during the construction of the castle I said, "Your daddy could make a better castle than this, though."

Fast-forward to yesterday, Mark's day off. I went out for a couple of hours and came home to this:

Um, yeah. Just a little outdone, dontcha' think? (And I'm sorry that photo is so dark. Clearly the flash wasn't on. But in case you can't see accurately, that would be my husband building a kid-sized (*as opposed to a Playmobile-sized*) castle in our living room.)

But you know, just one little castle turret (Mark's word, not mine. I called it "that round part") wasn't quite enough. Oh no.

Because why would he do only that when he can do this?

Yes, that is built around the kids' bunk beds. You can imagine how very sleepy they were at bedtime last night.

And lest you think he's even remotely done? Think again. Last night over dinner he was making plans to add a drawbridge. And I heard him saying he wanted to draw the stonework on the outside. And Isaac has already made him promise to work on some shields and swords.

But just so you know, I don't think he has a plan for the moat yet.

Good morning!

I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from all of you. Really. I've told Mark several times over the weekend that those of you who read my blog are some of the nicest women out there. Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement. I sure love you all. I wish I could give each of you a great big hug.

We are all doing *great*. Truly. In fact, I had to go back and read my post on Friday to ensure that I hadn't misled you to think that I was devastated by the events that took place. Because I am not. I really am 100% okay with it. My heart was aching on Friday because I was concerned about my Ella girl. I truly was fine myself. (I mean, a bit perturbed with the foster care system, sure, but as far as my heart and emotions? Solid.)

But then maybe that's because I've been so covered in prayer, too. :)

And Ella? She is perfectly fine. So often in this role of being a mama, I watch the way she is and I learn from her. She has not dwelt on this one iota. She had her 10 minutes of heart-wrenching sobs, her clinging, broken self, and then that was that. She has gone on merrily as before. A few times over the weekend she did mention baby L, but only in passing, and we used that as a reminder to pray for her and for her mother.

It would serve me well to take notes on Ella's response. How often when something is hard in my own life, I dwell on it. I sort of cozy up in a chair with it and rest there. My conversations take me there and my mind stays on that difficulty. I could take a lesson from my dear girl: Pour out your heart to God, sob it all out, and leave it right there at His feet. And then pick yourself up and keep right on your merry way.

But then, maybe her response to this has been because of your prayers, too. So I thank you.

God is so gracious.

This morning I read Ephesians 2:10:
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that some of the works that God, in His graciousness, has prepared for me to do involve being a wife and a mama. My heart is full to the brim with praise and thankfulness.

So I'm off to love on these ones God has entrusted to me. And I am truly full of joy.

Much love to each of you today as you do the same!

Our day

For anyone who has been reading With Great Joy for any length of time, you know that we are in the process of adopting through the foster care system. When I say "in the process" I mean that we have a completed home study, and a foster care license. We are now waiting for a placement of one or two children under the age of three.

Last month I updated you briefly about some changes within our agency. The short of it is that they have recently lost some case managers and are currently not making any new placements. We are not sure when that will change, but for the time being, we wait.

We have a room across the hall that is also waiting. We had to have a ready room in order to do our home study back in May, so it is filled with a crib, changing table, rocking chair, and space for a bed if we end up getting a sibling group. When we learned that our agency was not making any new placements, I began wondering if we shouldn't do something in the meantime. We have room in our hearts and home and there is such a need for foster parents. I asked Mark what he thought of doing short-term foster care while we wait. (I was pretty sure he'd say no.) Of course when I asked him, he said, "That's exactly what I've been thinking we should do." Oh.

We cleared it with our agency-- would that be okay, if we do some short-term foster or respite care in the meantime, while they are experiencing this slowdown?-- and our contact there said that was fine. So we made the necessary phone calls and got our names on the list. The state told us at the time that they are "desperate" for such families and were so thankful we were willing. That was a month ago. They made it sound like our phone would be ringing off the hook, but we haven't had any calls.

This morning that changed.

A placement coordinator from the state (not our agency) called to ask us if we'd be willing to take in a 14-month old baby girl. They knew very little about her, really, except that her mother was a drug addict and had been in and out of treatment. She was asked to leave her current treatment center, apparently because she wasn't abiding by the no-drugs policy. The facility she had been at was one in which she had her baby with her. Now that she'd been kicked out, the state had decided to remove this little girl from her mother. They wanted to know... could we take her on Monday? She mentioned that this was a girl who would not likely be returned to her mother so we would have her awhile. (Think: months.) When I asked about the little girl, she gave me her name and said she was Caucasian, but that was all the information she had.

I wondered immediately why on earth I didn't have a manual to consult for this type of thing. I felt so unprepared for this. What questions should I even be asking right now? I came up with a few, told her I needed to speak with Mark about it, and asked her if I could call her back within the next hour or so.

And then I prayed. And as I prayed, I kept thinking:How could we NOT take this little girl in? We have a stable, secure, loving home to offer her and that's exactly what she needs. We can take good care of this girl and pray over her little self while she's in our home.

I called my mom and asked her to pray.

I made a phone call to a friend of mine in town who has fostered several children and asked her for her thoughts. I told her the situation and she said before I'd barely uttered a sentence, "Take her. If you don't, we will."

Mark came home for lunch and I told him about it. He wanted to call our agency to run it by them to be sure they were okay with us accepting this placement. We did, our agency placement coordinator said to go for it.

We talked with the kids about it over lunch. We told them there was a little baby girl whose mama was very sick and we were asked to watch her while her mama gets well or until another family could adopt her. Ella shouted "YES!" with utter joy, Isaac wanted to know if the baby would be here "all day", Isaias told us he wasn't going to be shy. (?) "Okay...", Mark said, "but are you going to be gentle and loving?" He assured us that he would be.

We called the state back and said we were willing to take her. We were told we would hear from the social worker sometime on Monday and that arrangements would be made for her to come to us sometime that day.

Ella promptly got up from the table to go "clean up the baby's room". It has become a playroom of sorts, so she busied herself cleaning up the extra toys, changing the sheets on the crib, laying out pink blankets everywhere, and making things all cozy for the new baby. (Note: this was all her own doing. I didn't ask her to do a thing. This is just my Ella. She was absolutely beside herself with happiness. And of course, needed to be doing something.) She came in a little while later to ask how to spell the baby's name. I wasn't sure, but guessed, and she carefully copied it down.

After a couple of hours, she had that room looking well-prepared for the new baby. She'd carried in every baby toy we own, and removed anything that wasn't baby. This little sign was carefully taped over the crib:

And how dear is that? "Soon you will go home but I love you so much."

While Ella did her thing, I spent time on the phone with Amy, hearing about their lives since I spoke with her on Tuesday: all of them got the stomach flu (poor sweet tired mama who ended up getting it herself!), and talking about this new turn of events in our lives.

The phone rang again a little before 3:00. It was the woman who'd called us initially about the baby girl. She said, "Guess what? We won't need you to take her after all."

I was sort of stunned. WHAT?

I managed to ask what had happened and she told me that they're doing this new thing now where they have one final "family meeting" and during that final meeting they decided to let the mom keep her baby. Apparently she'll go to a different treatment center and they (I'm not sure who "they" is. The social worker? The court?) decided to let her take the baby with her. So. End of conversation.

I walked, heartsick, to the living room and called Ella over, breathing a prayer for help as she came towards me. And then I told her, gently. "Honey? That was the lady who called about the baby girl. She said baby "L" doesn't need to come and stay at our house anymore." Ella looked stunned and I saw such sorrow in her eyes. I said, "I know that makes you sad, sweetheart." And as soon as I said that she wept. Loud, heart-wrenching sobs, crying, "l want her to still come. I wanted to take care of her. I wanted a baby." Me too, honey.

So I held her on my lap and we cried together. And then we prayed together. For her heart, for my heart, and for this baby "L". By then Isaac had joined us with questions and concern for his weepy girls.

So, that was our day. A bit of an emotional roller coaster.

Ella is doing okay, now. And me? I'm okay, too. A jolting introduction to the world of foster care. (Could they not have waited to call us until AFTER that final meeting?)

And we continue to wait...

[For anyone who would like to catch up.] Our process, so far:

February 2007: A New Journey
May 2007: Update, Our Home Study visit, Found
August 2007: August adoption update
September 2007: September Adoption Update: Part 1, September Adoption Update: Part 2
December 2007: December notes
January 2008: January adoption update

More handmade

My plan for today was to title this post Handmade {by Isaias} and show you a photo of a gigantic mess of toys on the floor, but you know what? We've all been doing such an amazing job cleaning up after ourselves that I haven't been able to take that picture! :)

I did finish this, though:

This is from an Amy Butler pattern, and is a simple A-line skirt. Simple, but lined. With an invisible zipper. This would be the second zipper I've done, but this was my first attempt at an invisible zipper. And with a new zipper foot, the pattern instructions, the instructions that came with the zipper, a sewing book and two different "how-to-put-in-an-invisible-zipper" tutorials, I STILL ripped that zipper out four frustrating times, and by the third time I was literally praying over it.

But evidently I did it wrong.

Because I think we can all see that zipper.

So it's clearly not invisible. Which I would be fine with (because it does actually zip), if it weren't for that pucker there on the bottom of the zipper. Can you see that? Here. (You can click on the picture below to zoom in a bit. I think.)

I'm not sure what, exactly, it's supposed to look like right there, but I assure you it's not supposed to look like that.

No matter.

I love the fabric (also Amy Butler), it fits, and I plan on wearing it proudly. I was even able to lengthen the skirt a couple of inches to the length I wanted.

Oh. And I also made these headbands a few days back for a birthday party for our niece:

That top one, there, I made from this Heather Bailey pattern.

The one with the ribbons I adapted from a pattern in Amy Karol's Bend the Rules Sewing book. I just love grosgrain ribbon.

I am really enjoying this whole sewing thing. However, we do not have a category in our budget for all these trips I've been making to the fabric store so I'm not yet sure what to do about that.

Handmade {by Isaac}

i got this picture a couple of weeks ago. it's hanging on the back of our bedroom door and i smile every time i look at it. (it's those legs that make me so happy!)

but this one? ohmygoodness i love this one. it's my favorite thing he's ever made for me. personally, i think those clothespins are a nice touch.

Handmade {by Ella}

Thank you to so many of you who have asked about our health. We are all much better! I did get sick last week for two days, but had none of the feverish symptoms the rest of the fam had... just the respiratory stuff. But I feel great now! Thank you for your prayers!

Now, more handmade items...

i just think this is so cute i can barely stand it.

the pattern

the cutting

as for what she's making?
(why, a little dress for her doll, of course!)


and, another day... a "welcome home daddy" sign, so carefully drawn.
just because.


and this is a "money purse", lovingly sewn for isaac one afternoon.


and this?
"a quilt for your bed, mommy"
(made with fabric scraps and scotch tape)

Handmade {by Stacy}

This week I'm detouring from the norm to show you some creative ventures.

Aprons for the kids, a Christmas gift
{made from a set of stripey Martha Stewart tea-towels}

Smock for Ava, a Christmas gift
{and a matching one for Ella, not pictured. from Amy Karol's Bend the Rules Sewing}

Apron for Amy , a Christmas gift
{and another one for Michelle, different fabric, not pictured}

Twirly skirt for Ella, because I love sewing for my girl
{made from this superb tutorial. and, can i just say? i heart tutorials. i will definitely be making this one again. it took me a couple of hours, start to finish. and i love the result. as does my twirling girl}

Food stuff

I keep forgetting to share some food links so I'm here for a quick post.

One of my favorite things to purchase at Trader Joe's is their Tandoori Naan bread (Indian Style flatbread).

Have you had this? It's scrumptious. But also a bit pricey.

I had wondered if I could find a recipe online but hadn't looked into it. Then one day Mark said, "You should really see if you could make this stuff, Stacy." But we talked about it and figured you probably had to use some fancy brick oven or something, so we didn't pursue it. Shortly after that conversation, I was at this blog and she linked to this recipe, so I tried it that very day, of course.

Delicious! And easy. And it made a TON! (If I remember correctly, about 16 of the size you see in the above picture).


Someone (Christy, I think) had asked for the Butternut Squash Lasagna recipe I made for Mark's birthday.

This is the recipe I used, but I wasn't perfectly happy with it. (Though I will say, most people really liked it, I'm a bit of a perfectionist so I'll be tweaking it until I am perfectly happy with it.)

Also, when I follow a recipe I never follow it to the letter, so here's what I did differently:
-I had already roasted and pureed my squash, so I didn't do it the way the recipe says.
-The white sauce I made, and then added in some cinnamon.
-I used regular lasagna noodles.


And finally, a recipe.

This is what's marinating for dinner tonight at our house:

This is one of our favorites, and I have no idea what it's called. We had something like this once at Mike and Amy's, years ago (do you guys remember this? At your old house? It was one of your 'Dream Dinners'?). And I remember we were sitting outside on the patio eating, and I was quizzing Mike, "What all do you think is in here?" So we came up with a vague list of ingredients, I went home and tried to duplicate it and this is what I eventually came up with:

3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup dried cranberries
8 small green olives
2 T capers (with juice)
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T oregano
1/4 cup olive oil
salt, pepper to taste

*3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white wine

Combine first group of ingredients, mix well. Spread mixture in bottom of 8x8 dish. Add chicken. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°.
Sprinkle brown sugar on top and pour white wine over chicken.

Bake for 1 hour, basting. Serve over white rice.

*Generally I use 6 chicken breasts in a 9x13 pan and double the sauce.

My kids, who don't like green olives, cranberries, or capers, *LOVE* this meal. Truly. As does everyone else I've ever served it to. Try it. And let me know what you think. (Or what it's called, if you have a similar recipe! ;))

Have a great weekend, everyone!