Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Girl Scout Cookies

Hey Blog Followers!

Smalls has recently joined a local Girl Scout Troop. We are selling Girl Scout cookies! If you are interested please contact me. If you are not interested in purchasing the cookies for yourself, you can buy cookies for donation. We will give the donated boxes to a local homeless shelter. The proceeds of our cookie sales will go towards our troop's events. We are hoping to go on a camp out in the Fall. It will be Smalls' first camp out! Yay-should I be excited or scared? We will see...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Calming Youtube Video

Ever have one of those days or weeks, where it is just bad? Adopting an older, traumatized child, we have many of those days and weeks. And for you non-adoptive moms, it's not a typical tantrum that will go away on it's own. Tantrums or behavioral issues are much deeper than not just being able to have a candy bar after you said no or leaving someone's house because it's time to go. Adoptive kids don't know that they will get to have a candy bar later. They think "now is my chance to get a need met so I behave this way because that's how I got my need met for the past fill in the blank years". Or they think "I don't want to leave this place because I think I'm never coming back". It's an emotional issue that brings up painful memories that are hard to deal with when you are 8 years old.

Well, we are currently in the midst one those bad days or weeks. I am hoping that this will just last one week. It's tiring when you are trying to calm and connect with your child when they are not having it! I need my sleep and coffee to be at maximum capacity. How am I able to get that when my kid is out of control? I just need a 20 minute break to not loose my cool. How can I get that brief break?

Yesterday, we were at the aquarium and a wonderful idea came to me. I bet there are youtube videos of fish swimming around in a large aquarium with calming music to it. And sure enough youtube has a 2 hour video of fish swimming in a large aquarium with calming music to it!

Last night, Smalls was having a hard time calming down to go to sleep-go figure. I put this youtube video on my tablet for her to watch while she was laying in the bed. She enjoyed just watching the fish swim around. She got calm enough to fall asleep to it while watching it. Yea! That means I got sleep too!

So if you are in the market for a calm down tool, I highly recommend that you check this video out. I am able to get a few minutes of peace to think for myself when the situation is feeling out of control.

You can also use the youtube search bar and search for "aquarium calming music" and that should bring up many videos for you to choose.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Vegeta Recipes: Bread Sticks

Yesterday, I posted that I am starting a Vegeta recipe collection. I'm starting off my recipe collection with a simple recipe. It requires very little ingredients or time to make.

Bread Sticks using Vegeta

Some type of bread (store bought dinner bread, bread sticks, whatever bread you like)
I made my own bread sticks using this recipe. But if you are in Poland, I highly recommend you pick out something from here or a similar shop. Yummy!
3 Tbsp. of butter
1/2 Tbsp. Vegeta
1/2 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese

If using a frozen bread loaf, cook according to package instructions. If using fresh bread, toast the loaf for 5 minutes on 400 degrees.

My homemade bread sticks!

Mix Vegeta and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl and set aside.

Melt butter in a sauce pan. Once melted, baste the top of the bread with the butter.

Sprinkle the Vegeta and Parmesan cheese over the buttered bread.

Let sit for 5 minutes.

And you have this wonderful, awesome tasty bread!

Now there were some complaints from Wes that it was too salty. You could omit the Parmesan cheese or use less Vegeta or do this:

Put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on a plate. Sprinkle a couple of pinches of Vegeta and Parmesan cheese over the olive oil. Dip your plain bread sticks or dinner bread in this magic! So yummy! It makes for a great side dish for your meal and it is relatively inexpensive.

Keep visiting this post because I will be posting new recipes using Vegeta!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Vegeta Recipes

 If you've ever been to a European country than you probably know about Vegeta or at least heard of it. Vegeta is a type of seasoning. You might find it in your local grocery store in the ethnic food aisle or at World Market. I bought mine at World Market for about $6.

We bought Vegeta in Poland for our apartment. We did not want to buy tons of spices for 2 months and then have to throw away all of it in the end. And besides it would have cost us a small fortune to have bought all of our spices for cooking. We did bring the basics in our suitcase like salt and pepper, but nothing too fancy to give flavor to food.

Vegeta is like a catch all for seasonings. It will add flavor to almost anything you want. For my New Orleans friends, it's like Tony's. We put Tony's on EVERYTHING in South Louisiana. I wished and wished we would have brought some Tony's with us to Poland and of course hot sauce. Never again will I forget to bring hot sauce. A small bottle of Tobasco sauce in Poland cost around $8!

So, back to Vegeta. I will be posting some recipes that use Vegeta seasoning. I realize for my friends who are adopting in Poland/other European countries are probably having a tough time figuring out what to cook in a foreign land, especially with different seasonings. And we don't want the most expensive meal to cook either. You still have to pay for those airplane tickets to get back home. Check back frequently as I will be updating this post with the links to Vegeta recipes on my blog that I have created or found online.

Vegeta Recipes:
Bread Sticks using Vegeta

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Monthly Money Goal: January

With all this talk about setting goals and resolutions for the new year, I've decided to set some myself. Some of these goals I've already accomplished but need revising. One big goal I have is to save as much money as humanly possible. I really want to go on a vacation, but with me not working full time, adopting Smalls, and hubby is in grad school, our income can feel pretty small. So, one of my resolutions is making the most of our income. Each month I will post a monthly money goal that I hope to accomplish.

January's goal: Make A Budget

If you haven't made a budget before, now is the time to do it. It's a new year with new opportunities. If you currently have a budget in place, give it a good look over. Can you cut back in some areas? Are any expenses increasing this year?

I know a lot of people call budget the dreaded b word. Some think that it limits their giving or their life, but all I can see are possibilities of not having to worry about money and whether or not I'm going to make it till the next pay check. That's a hard life that I don't want to live. I want to be free from the burden of money and having a budget helps to obtain that feeling. It's amazing how setting boundaries on yourself can be a form of freedom.

If you are adopting, I highly recommend having a budget. While we were saving for our first adoption, our budget helped us to save an enormous amount really fast. We had a zero-based budget. Before the month began, we portioned out the amount we needed to spend and the rest went into our adoption savings. We didn't have room for that spur of the moment treat. If we wanted treats we had to plan for it in a month advanced because at the beginning of the month our money "was already spent".

Since we already have a budget in place, we revised ours a bit. I am challenging myself to lower our grocery budget by $100. Wow, I know crazy huh? I've been couponing and my skills have gotten better, so I am confident that I can actually achieve this goal. But if I can't, I'm not going to beat myself up over it-any amount saved is good in my book. I am also trying to homeschool for free as much as possible. I know I will have to buy some stuff for the school year, but most can be checked out at the library or printed from home.

 Do you have any budget tips or ideas? What are some spending areas you could cut back?

In my homemade calendar, I've printed these budget sheets on the back of one of the calendar pages. I am a pen and paper kind of girl. I need to have my budget written on a piece of paper. Although, if you aren't afraid of the techno world you can create a budget using or Those are great resources that also have apps for you to download, so your budget can go with you everywhere you go! Or if you are tech savvy you could create an excel sheet with your expenses.

Ok, so here goes! Let's let 2015 be a year of massive savings for the Barnett household so we can go on a fancy vacation!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Guess what website is linking back to my blog?

I love to see where people are finding my blog. I love to know where all of you are from and what country you live in. This blog has given me many international friends that I cherish.

As I was reviewing the stats page on my blog, I found that Creating a Family's website is referring to my blog on one of their pages. Cool! It's a great link about adopting from Poland. It's titled 25 Factors to Consider When Adopting From Poland.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I've finally updated the About Me page!

It's not much, but I finally update the About Me page on this blog. Click here for a link or just press the About Me button up top!

I'm Back!

Sorry for leaving everyone hanging in the middle of December. It has been an absolutely HARD time for us. The holidays with an adopted child can be really hard. We tried to keep a normal schedule with our normal activities. We made sure Smalls knew where we were going, what we were doing, how long we are going to be at a certain place, and all that stuff. It still wasn't good enough. I can say that this 2014 holiday season was better than our first holiday season back in 2013 (we had only been home a little over a month).

I plan on finishing my advent calendar so we can have that for the 2015 holiday season. If you see advent calendar posts in January, don't be alarmed. I do realize that it is January. And of course I will continue to post how our life with an older adopted child is going.

Here's what we've been up to for the past month:

Finishing our first Fall semester of 1st grade! May not seem like a big deal but Smalls has a long list of issues that makes learning difficult or rather teaching her difficult. Out of all the issues that Smalls has the EMOTIONAL ones are the hardest, not the auditory processing disorder, the sensory issues, the attention issues, or the learning disabilities. If she is having an emotional day or can't handle her own emotions, nothing can get done. And of course the holidays can bring up a lot of emotions for adopted children. Smalls gets frustrated when she can't replicate her relationships that she had in Poland or she doesn't really know what to expect when we are going to a new place. Her frustrations come out in her behaviors-grrr why can't she just use her words and describe her feelings to me?? Oh yea, no one has taught her to do that. During the holidays I have learned a lot and have come up with some ideas to help us out in the coming Thanksgiving/Christmas season and I will post them soon.

Our Christmas went well. She did ok with opening up presents. She enjoyed receiving and the opening up part of presents, but after she opened up all of hers she wanted more and more. I guess that is normal with any kid-always wanting more presents, but with Smalls it's not really what presents she receives (whether it's something she really likes or doesn't like) its the fact she can't have enough. When you are learning and studying about adopted/foster children before you adopt, one of the main themes you will read about is hoarding food and wanting more and more of food. That is true for some adopted children, but not Smalls. She hates to eat and we have to force her to get proper nutrition. Small's issue is the need for things. She can never have enough of things and this includes trash. Yes, she hoards trash but not food. Receiving things is emotional for Smalls. She didn't receive very many things in Poland. She kept everything she got. Tags on clothes? We keep them. Gum wrappers? We keep them. Broken toys? We keep them. You name it we probably have it. And this is hard for me to accept, because I throw away everything. We haven't used it in 6 months. Give it away. Too big or small? Give it away. Present I can't use? Sell it or give it away. When I first noticed Smalls tendency of hoarding things, I would secretly get rid of stuff she didn't use or was broken. I, of course, realized that this is an emotional thing for Smalls and stopped getting rid of her treasures. This is so hard for me. Her toy collection is out of control. She doesn't play with most of her stuff. But it is emotional need for her to have all of that. We will keep the gum wrappers and the other "trash" until Smalls is wants to make room for more treasures. Another issue that we had with Smalls opening presents is that other children receive different presents than hers. She of course wanted what other kids had even though she got everything on her wish list. The emotional need of missing out on toys or the "she/he gets that, why can't I have that?". Smalls not realizing that children/adults ask for different types of gifts and that it's ok she didn't get what everyone else received. We are still learning about holidays and I'm sure the next couple of ones will continue to be learning experiences.

We started back school this week. This has been a challenge for Smalls. She doesn't like change and going from the holiday routine to the school routine has been a challenge for us this week. Smalls has revolted against her school work. She doesn't want to do any of it, which is very frustrating and probably why I started dying my hair because of the gray hairs!

I know I don't mention Wes very much on my blog, but if it wasn't for him, I would have lost my mind a long time ago. Wes passed his presentation on his proposed thesis. Yea! Maybe 2 or 3 more years of school and he will be finished! Wow, it has been a long journey, but we are able to have glimpses of the end. Wes is now working hard on his research to complete his PhD.

What about me? If I'm not researching, learning, or studying about behavior modification, I'm couponing. I started learning this skill back in August and I have gotten quite good at it. It is my little hobby that I enjoy all by myself. I love figuring our how little I have to pay for stuff we need. It is my break from parenthood or being a wife. Wes watches Smalls while I take a break for a couple of hours each week. And couponing has saved us so much money! It has helped us pay for the extra medical care for Smalls. I will continue to coupon this year and I hope to get our grocery budget really low so we can take a much needed family vacation together.

So that's the run down of what's been going on in our life. Lots of ups and downs, but we are glad Smalls is progressing in our family. She is continuing to learn how to live in our family and how to treat us as her parents. Let's hope this new year will bring lots of joys for our family!