Monday, February 29, 2016

Busy Bags

We've had a lot of doctor's appointments in the last 3 months. 7 to be exact. And we are nowhere near from finishing them. We have several scheduled in the coming months. Since we homeschool, we haven't "missed" a lot of school because we can make them up on the weekends and work on school while we are waiting for the doctor. But sometimes waiting for the doctor and working on school can be a very hard task for my daughter. I am so glad that I found these ideas to take with us to all of our appointments.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Easy Homemade Condensed Soup Recipes

We have a tiny grocery budget for our family of three plus a cat and a gerbil. I like to spend less than $300 each month for everything (toiletries, food, cleaning products, cat/gerbil food, etc...). Sounds crazy, I know. Whenever I talk to friends about our grocery budget they immediately assume that we eat a lot of processed foods because they're cheaper. That could further from the truth in my house! I am very picky with the types of food that I buy and what we eat. I try to buy protein filled snacks and very few processed foods. I'm on this paleo diet minus the no dairy and legumes. I've got to have some legumes-they're so cheap! And dairy, I can't give up cheese. One thing that I've had trouble giving up that is processed is condensed soups. I make a ton of casseroles that I freeze and can pop into the oven on a busy night. Condensed soups are loaded with sodium and have lots of "other ingredients" in them, but they are a staple in American cooking. I've thought about making my own condensed soups, but I feared that is would be a long process and frankly, "I ain't got time for that!". I came across this recipe on my facebook a couple of weeks back and I am so thrilled to try it!

Easy Homemade Condensed Soup Recipe:

Here are some alterations to this base condensed soup recipe:
Tomato Soup:
Use Tomato juice instead of milk or stock. And leave out the salt unless you're using salt-free tomato juice. Also add a dash of onion powder and cook the rest of the ingredients according to the base recipe.

Cream of Chicken:
Use half milk and half chicken stock. Add a pinch of sage and a dash of onion powder and cook the rest of the ingredients according to the base recipe.

Cream of Mushroom:
Use half milk and half mushroom stock. (mushroom stock: take a small jar of mushrooms/or a handful of chopped up fresh and put into a sauce pan. Cover mushrooms with water and let saute.) Once your mushroom stock is done, add the base ingredients for condensed soup and a dash of onion powder and cook the rest of the ingredients according to the base recipe.

Cream of Celery:
Chop 1/2 cup of celery and 1/4 cup of onion. Saute with butter until vegetables are tender. Add to the base ingredients and cook according to the base recipe.

Cream of Cheddar Cheese:
Shred 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar cheese. Add 1/4 tsp of mustard and cook the rest of the ingredients according to the base recipe.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Extras to pack (by Month) for Poland Adoption

These by month lists are suggestions on some extra things you can bring. Depending on the age of your child and their needs, your discretion is advised.













Adoption Travel: What to bring for the month of March

Traveling to Poland during March?

Besides the normal packing gear like clothes, toiletries and etc..., I want to share some fun things for you to consider bringing on your adoption trip. (And that's if you still have enough room in your suitcase!)

But first let's answer 2 questions to help with your packing:
1. What's the weather like during March?
Usually the low is 28 F and the high is 43 F. March has a higher chance of rain than most months out of the year.

2. What holidays are in the month of March?
There's a lot going on in March. Click here for the full list.

March Packing Extras:
  • Plastic eggs (if you're into Easter egg hunts) (and you can buy candy in Poland)
  • Egg dye kits (or you could buy food coloring and vinegar in Poland)
  • Your favorite chicken/egg salad recipe to use after you dye the eggs!
  • Kites (you can find them at the dollar store)
  • Make your own shamrocks (You don't need rice or fruit loops. Let the kids decorate them with markers)
  • Funfetti Cake Mix with icing (an easy rainbow cake!)
  • A couple of children's movies (for when it rains and you have to cancel your plans)
  • Allergy medications (the seasons will be changing!)

That's all that I could come up with. I'll add more as I think of them!

Do you have any creative suggestions to add to this list? 

Adoption Laws by State

This is a super helpful website! Where was this 3 years ago?

Disclaimer: This is a great resource for adoptive families, but this is not LEGAL advice. You may want to hire a lawyer for guidance in your state.

Click here for the adoption laws by state.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

13 Ideas to Help YOU Survive the First Year Home With Your Newly Adopted Child

1. Yeti Tumbler
Your coffee will get cold and your tea will be lukewarm by the time you get around to drink it. And the coke you poured over ice 3 hours ago when you wanted to drink it, yea all of the ice is melted and your drink tastes gross now. The first year home is challenging with an new child. There will be so many messes and so many close calls that you forgot where you last put your coffee. And then when you finally find it, it's cold. I couldn't tell you how many gallons of coffee I had to throw out because it got cold. I know, I could have microwaved it and not have thrown it out. Yea, I tried that too, but some disaster or mishap would happen and I would leave it in the microwave. I got tired of microwaving the same coffee 3-4 times a day. This is why you need to go ahead and buy a Yeti tumbler. Or put it on your adoption registry. These tumblers can keep your beverage really hot or really cold for a long time. After getting one, I could not live without it.

2. Keurig/Verissmo/other fast coffee maker
It's been another long night with your new child. Your child finally went to bed at 2 am. And before you know it, your alarm is screaming at you that it's 6 am and it's time to start a new day. But wait, you hear something in your child's room. What the heck?!? Their waking up! Why?? You haven't even had coffee yet. Lucky for you, making coffee takes exactly one minute. When you parent hypervigilent children, YOU NEED COFFEE to help get you through the day! And you need it fast.

3. Crockpot
Making dinner will definitely be a hassle with a new child in the home. Who has time to stand in front of the stove while your new child writes on the walls with a sharpie (personal reference)? Ummm, I've been there and now I'm pleading with you. Don't have walls of sharpie drawings. Buy a crockpot. You literally throw stuff in there, set on low, and walk away. When dinner time comes, all you have to do is serve it. I love my crockpot. It has made life so much easier since I started using it.

4. Freezer Meals
This goes with the crockpot. A newly adopted child will have many, MANY, many doctor's appointments, dentist, ophthalmology, pediatrician, and other specialists they send you to. You will literally be running around town all day and the last thing you want to do is to stand in front of the stove. For those super busy days or those super hard days with your new child, make it easy on yourself and use a "freezer meal". Freezer meals take time up front but in the long run, but they are so worth it. Pick an afternoon to throw some together in ziplock bags. I have several recipes that I use. I like OAMM, 365 Days of Slow Cooking, or A Year of Slow Cooking.

5. Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad
Most likely, your child will have sleeping issues. They will be scared to fall asleep at night. You might want to sleep in the same room with them as they get comfortable in your home. Sleeping on a hard floor is no fun which is why this product made the list. It's self-inflating, so that means no blowing up or having to pump it yourself. It automatically inflates on it's own. If you're not a fan of sleeping in the same room as your child, you can still get this sleeping pad or a variation for when your child gets scared and comes into your room. This could be their "scared bed" that they can get out and put next to your bed without having to wake you up during the night. Children are going to get scared at night in a new environment and having a "premade" bed that they can just use without waking mommy or daddy up during the night is a wonderful thing!

6. Rocking Chair
Rocking chairs are very calming, even to older children. Rocking helped to calm Smalls down for bed time. If you're child is having a difficult time, hold them like a baby and rock them. Stare into their eyes as you rock. This will help the bonding process between the two of you. The rocking motion is also soothing to the brain. I used our rocking chair with Smalls for several hours a day. Smalls would get so hypervigilent and the only way to calm her down was to wrap her up in a blanket and rock her. In addition to the traumatic times Smalls would have, I also would rock her for 30 minutes after breakfast, lunch and dinner.

7. Calendar
During the first year, your mind will have 10 trillion thoughts. You will have lots of appointments with your new child. Life will get crazy and you don't want to forget an event. Some doctor's offices will charge you for not showing up to your appointments! Write everything down in your calendar. The first year will be exhausting emotionally and physically and your brain could use a break from having to remember all of those appointments and doctor's phone numbers! If you're not a fan of having a physical calendar, get one for your phone and track all of your appointments there. The goal is to make your life easier this first year.

8. Salsa and Chips, Chocolate Bars, Diet Coke, or your choice of comfort food
Parenting a new child brings on lots of challenges. You will have so many different emotions going through your body. While you're out grocery shopping buy some comfort food. If a bowl of salsa and chips will help you to destress for a moment, go for it! You are doing a hard job (parenting) that no one in this child's life has committed to do for them. Your child needs you to be relaxed and able to take on their stress because they never had that before-and it's hard! So, reward yourself!
(Cat from gave me this tip!)

9. A Friend
During this first year of getting to know your new little one chaos, you will need to call on someone throughout the day. You need someone that you trust, who will not judge you and say "well you knew what you were getting into right?". You need to be able to cry to this person and share your thoughts-you will have many thoughts, some nice and some not so nice. This friend could be a relative, spouse, or a neighbor. Have them call on you several times throughout the week to see if you need anything. You will need lots of support parenting your little one. I called Wes almost everyday for the first 6 months. It was brutal, but I'm glad he had a flexible schedule at work to listen to me.

10. A Reliable Babysitter for your Self-Care time
You need someone that you can trust to watch your little one while you take care of yourself. It could be the same friend from #9. They need to be trauma informed and know some background on your child. One requirement that I had for our babysitter was to read The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis or to read a pamphlet that I made on Smalls' issues and disabilities. I want our baby sitter to understand what Smalls is going through and babysitting her will be different than babysitting other children. If you are fortunate enough to trade out with another adoptive mom for babysitting, that's amazing and do it! You will need some alone time to destress and to take care of yourself. You can go grocery shopping all by yourself, get a hair cut, manicure/pedicure, or even clean your house. Those are all great things to do to take care of yourself. Do something you enjoy or something that makes your life easier throughout the week for a couple of hours each week. The first week of the month, I would take a whole Saturday or Sunday to do once a month grocery shopping and meal prep for the whole month. It was a hard day, but for the rest of the month I didn't really have to worry about dinner, except which meal I wanted to serve that day. And the best part about it was, that I got to "take a day off" from parenting. Of course, once a month grocery shopping and meal prep might wear some people out, but I found it therapeutic and it helped me out during the month.
 The next couple of weeks, I would take a couple of hours each week to do something fun like go shopping, go out to eat with a friend (no kids allowed!), or visit a coffee shop to read in peace. Being proactive in self care will help you to keep your cool when you parent a child from a traumatic background.

11. The Connected Child
This book by Dr. Karyn Purvis will be your go to parenting book. It will help explain some of the behaviors that your child is experiencing. The Connected Child outlines strategies for you to take to help calm the fears that your child is experiencing. I also have a list of other books that were helpful the first year of parenting Smalls-click here. Knowledge is power when you are parenting a child from the hard place!

12. Feelings Chart
Your child may not know how to express him or herself in a healthy way. If you've adopted an older child, you will probably need to teach them how to express their feelings with words and not behavior-that's the never ending challenge at my house! Having this feeling chart helps Smalls to point at her feelings because sometimes saying how she feels is too traumatic for her. Using this chart has changed some of my daughter's negative behaviors to teaching her to use her words to express how she is feeling and then we can dissect to the reasons behind why she is feeling these emotions. I also use Emotion plates to help as well.

13. Date night with your spouse
Your new little one will be a master at triangulating between you and your spouse. It is CRUCIAL to have a healthy marriage when parenting a child from a traumatic background. You have to work extra hard to protect your marriage. Try to go on a date night at least once a month with your spouse. Make time for your relationship because your child will suck all of your free time away if you let them. Yes, chaos and troubles will come up when you make time for your spouse, but show your child that you are committed to your spouse and that is first priority. If you can't go out on a physical date, put the kids to bed a little early, make some coffee and chat with your spouse about life and catch up with one another.

Did I forget anything? What would you add to this list?

Find Polish Restaurants Near You!

Here's a list by state of all the Polish restaurants. 

Of course, there aren't any in Louisiana! :(

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

March 2016 Meal Plan

photo credit: Happy St Patrick's Day.....xx via photopin (license)


1. Scrambled Egg Muffins
2. Breakfast Balls
3. Rice pudding
4. Breakfast Oatmeal Cupcakes
5. Green Eggs and Ham (March 2nd-Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!)
6. Yogurt, toast, eggs and bacon, and oatmeal.

1. Sandwiches (pb and j, ham and cheese, grilled cheese, etc...)
2. Leftovers
3. GREEN! Mac and Cheese
4. Irish Root Soup with Soda bread
5. Corned beef and cabbage (slow cooker version)

1. Collard Greens, pinto beans and cornbread.
2. Spinach Quiche with Roasted potatoes
3. Red Beans and Rice and salad
4. Chili Cheese Lentils over Fritos
5. Black Bean Soup with Cheese Quesadillas
6. Crockpot Roasted Chicken with rolls and veggie
7. Cheese Pizza with salad
8. Sloppy Joes with salad
9. General Tso's Chicken with rice
10. Loaded Baked Potato Soup with bacon, cheese, and sour cream
11. BLT sandwiches with macaroni and cheese
12. Creamy White Bean and Apple Chili with salad
13. Slow Cooker Pot Roast with veggies and roll
14. Hope's Meatloaf with veggies and roll/brown rice
15. Pepperoni Pizza with salad
16. Hamburgers with roasted veggies
17. Caribbean Jerk Chicken with rice and veggies
18. Crockpot Chicken Nuggets with veggies
19. Lemon-Dill Salmon with veggies
20. Mediterranean Chicken with Cucumber Salad
21-31. Leftovers, eating out, church, etc...

1. Pot O' Gold Chex Mix
2. McDonald's Shamrock Milk Shake
3. Taste the Rainbow Cake or Rainbow fruit kabobs
4. Leprechaun dip with sliced veggies
5. (for mom) Coffee with homemade Irish creme coffee creamer

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Important March Dates for Poland

photo credit: giant clovers (actually, wood sorrels) via photopin (license)

Here's a list of all important dates for Poland in March:

Click here for April's list of important dates.

For a complete list of important dates in Poland, click here.

Traveling to Poland during March? Here are some extras to bring to help bond with your child!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Kompot Recipe

I made Kompot for one of our family Christmas gatherings. It was so good! I used a combination of dried and fresh fruit. I will definitely be making this again!

Here's the recipe that I used as a guide to make our Kompot.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

I just made $30 by sitting on my couch!

Well, we've been having quite a few doctors appointments for Smalls and have seriously made HUGE progress into maxing our deductible out and it's not even the end of February! Since we are strapped for cash, we are trying to get creative on how to bring in extra income.

I can't sale Avon, Pampered Chef, Mary Kay or essential oils because I don't ever buy those products. I don't feel comfortable trying to get others to buy it when I don't buy it for myself. And plus I feel like you need to have an out going personality with lots and lots of friends who have money to buy your products. I don't have friends with lots of discretionary funds. I have friends who are like me-trying to save every penny that they bring in.

I also homeschool during the week and then on Saturdays I work for our pediatric office. I don't necessarily have time to pick up a second job. If I could work from home and not have to pay for a baby sitter, that would be a great job! But most of those jobs are internet scams-blahhhh!

The other day Wes was on Reddit. (We are always on Reddit. Reddit is our favorite past time!) He heard about an app where you can teach English to Chinese students. Well, that really intrigued us, because we have been teaching English to international students for over 10 years. You make $10 an hour. It sounded too good to be true. Wes signed up and tried it out. He got a $10 sign up bonus to start with. During this past weekend, he made $26 in calls. He just chatted to Chinese students about their lives and about his life. He also helped them with practicing their English. It was an easy $26 (plus $10 sign up bonus) to earn. And you don't have to leave and drive to a job. You just put on a nice shirt and talk on you r couch or comfy chair. How sweet is that???

So I tried it. I signed up on Saturday and by Sunday night I had made $29 (with the sign up bonus). Not bad for a non-demanding job with no boss! I used Wes' referral code so he could get the referral bonus of $20 if I talked for 100 minutes. Together we've made $85 this weekend! Not bad since we are just starting out with this app. We are hoping to get an hour each day, so we can have an extra $70 or so a week to help pay for our medical bills.

I do want to point out that this isn't a multi level marketing job where the top dog gets the most money. This is a easy way to make money from your home with minimal effort. If you don't like to talk to new people, then this might not be your thing. Wes and I love to talk to international students and teach them English, so this is perfect for us.

Ok so what is this app? The app is called NiceTalk Tutor. Click here to sign up with my referral code. Once your approved, you can go online and wait for calls from your students. Make sure you fill out your profile. Students want to read about you before they call you. Most of the students that call me only chat for 10 minutes. The students load money onto their account in order to call you. You get paid through paypal, so make sure you have that before you sign up. NiceTalk pays you every Monday if your account has over $20 in it. You automatically get $10 bonus for signing up. One important thing to remember is the Chinese time zone. In Central Standard, China is 14 hours ahead. I try to stay up late or I wake up early to go online. I've gotten the majority of my call from 7 am to 10am (9pm-12am China time). You can also give out your referral code for others to sign up. You will get $20 for every person that talks for 100 minutes that uses your referral code.

Update 2/10/16: If you're running iOS 9 you may run into the "Enterprise Developer Not Trusted" which can be resolved: Settings >> General >> Profile You should see the app listed at that screen. Tap on it. Tap "Trust (name here)"

Here's another review for NiceTalk Tutor.

Here's some more information on NiceTalk.

Have you used this app to make money? What do you think about it?

Traveling to the southern part of Poland soon?

The Swine flu has made it's appearance in the southern part of Poland. It might be a good idea to check with your doctor about necessary precautions!,Swine-flu-spreads-in-Poland

Friday, February 5, 2016

With all this talk about the CDC trying to tell women how to live their lives....

Life is important. 

Life is valuable.

Every life counts.

The CDC came out with this press release on February 2, 2016. I am not surprised by all the snarky comments that the government is trying to tell women what to do with their bodies again! The CDC knows what alcohol can do to a developing fetus. Before you develop an opinion on this subject, you should know the facts on what alcohol can do to a baby's brain, too. Here's a great resource on how alcohol can affect the baby from conception to delivery.

Still don't believe me?

Come visit my house. I live with someone who has FASD. My daughter tries harder than any kid I know to fit in, learn in school, and follow directions. Things don't come easy to her. She gives her 110% and it's still not enough to measure up to her peers. She doesn't pick up on social cues and has a hard time understanding jokes. My daughter doesn't have that many friends because of her inability to connect to another person. My daughter also doesn't understand consequences of her actions. She doesn't know why she can color with a red marker but not a red sharpie. She doesn't know why she has to look both ways to cross the street EVERY time and EVERY street and not just the street in front of our house. Sometimes my daughter can have some pretty severe behaviors at times. Some of these behaviors would send typical parents running to a psychiatric hospital, but as her mom I know it's brain damage. I know some parents with kids who are affected with FASD have to send their kids to a treatment facility because their behaviors get so violent in the home. Her birth mom drank alcohol while she was pregnant with my daughter. We don't know how much or how little. But we do know they affects that it has on her daily living. It's not easy at times living with my daughter, but God put her in our lives because He knew that she needed a mom like me to take care of her with all of her disabilities.

As I'm writing this post, I am sitting in a coffee shop waiting for our neuropsych appointment to tell us how much the alcohol has affected my daughter's brain. I have tears running down my face as I type because my daughter didn't get a fair chance at life before she came into this world. She was already impaired from the beginning. There isn't any medicine or treatment that can cure FASD. We have to teach my daughter to learn to live with her disabilities. No kid should have to learn that.

A common response that I get when I post anything about drinking alcohol while pregnant is "well, we don't know how much is too much or how much is safe". Ok, so we KNOW that alcohol is a teratogen and can hurt the developing fetus, but you still want to play Russian Roulette? Would you want your mom to play Russian Roulette with your brain? I don't think so. If you really can't go 9 + months without drinking alcohol, you might have an alcohol addiction and should therefore seek treatment.

As parents, we make a lot of sacrifices when we are raising our children. It should be no different when your child is still in utero.

So is it really worth the risk to have a sip of alcohol if you're trying to get pregnant?

Is alcohol more important to you than a human life?

What would you do if someone tried to impair your abilities to live a normal and healthy life?

It's not worth the risk.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Comprehensive List of Important Dates in Poland

I will add more in the coming months, so check back frequently!

January 1: New Year's Day
January 6: Epiphany Day/Day of Three Kings

Fat Thursday/Pazcki Day (This date changes every year. It is the Thursday before Mardi Gras.)
February 14: Valentine's Day

Fat Thursday/Pazcki Day (This date changes every year. It is the Thursday before Mardi Gras.)
Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter and Smigus-Dyngus Day (These dates change every year.)
March 8: Women's Day
March 19: St. Joseph's Day
March 21: Drowning of Marzanna

Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter and Smigus-Dyngus Day (These dates change every year.)








December 6: St Nicholas Day
December 24: Christmas Eve
December 25: Christmas Day
December 26: St. Stephen's Day
December 31: St. Sylwester's Day/New Year's Eve

Monday, February 1, 2016

Easter in Poland

photo credit: sorbish eggs II via photopin (license)

If you're traveling to Poland during Easter, here are some resources to help you navigate this holiday while in country:

After Paczki day and Shrove Tuesday, comes the Lenten season. If you're not familiar with Lent click here. During Lent, your favorite restaurant in Poland might not serve meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays leading up to Easter. Some restaurants will only serve fish on those days.

All about Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday

Blessing of the Easter Baskets

Decorating Easter Eggs/Pisanki 

Traditional Polish dishes for Easter

Babka Recipe

Traditional Easter Basket

Other links about Easter in Poland: