Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Skinny No Bake Cookies

I'm obsessed with sugar. I can't help it. How can we still keep yummy cookies in our diet without eating a day's with of calories in one sitting?

No bake cookies are my favorite cookies. As a child, my friend's adult cousin would make them when she was around and I was hooked. I had no idea what they were called. After I was married I found the name, recipe, and started making them all the time.

Recently I've been thinking about them and how I could make them healthier (if that were even possible).

So last night I gave it a try. I tossed out the recipe, only keeping 3 ingredients: oats, chocolate chips and peanut butter.

3 cups oats
1 12oz bag of chocolate chips
1 cup of peanut butter

I took a big short cut last night that totally paid off. I popped the chocolate and PB in a bowl in the microwave instead of making it on the stove. Then I added the oats. (I think the bowl spent maybe 3 minutes total in the microwave-but at 1 minute intervals mixing in between).

I had to guess how many it could have made...I did the math with 30 cookies (depending on the size of cookies you can make more or less).

30 cookies = 137 calories per cookie and 7.4 grams of sugar.

They still tasted like normal no bakes (with much less sugar...obviously the originals are tastier, but these are still great!), and still hardened into cookies too
Get the feel of eating no bake cookies with less guilt!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Play Date

After living here for 2 years, we've finally had our first official play date!
Well, it was under 30 degrees all day, so actually playing was out of the question! We ate at Chick fil A, played in the play place, (Carousel's first time!), and then we went to Hobby Lobby.
At Chick fil A another little girl befriended the girls. :) Also notice the 2 little "head"mirrors...I told them it was them. They got a kick out if it the whole time we were there!
We look forward to many more days like this! :)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Like "Mommy," Like Daughter

Carousel is quite proud of Bristol's wheelchair. :)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Adoption 101

A dear friend of mine requested that I do an Adoption 101 type of post.
Read our whole adoption journey, here.
Besides the fact that I love this friend, I also jumped at this request because adoption and orphans are a passion of mine.  Honestly, if you are a Christian, it should be your passion too. God is very clear in the Bible that Christians should care for orphans. Whether that is through adoption, fostering, helping friends pay for their adoptions etc- just do it!
Us on Carousel's Gotcha Day- 10.29.10 :)
Ok, let's get down to business:
Types of Adoption:
1. Foster to Adopt: This is the route we took to get Carousel. We found an agency (Arrow), went through all the trainings and home study etc. (During this process your home will have to be inspected and that will be the first time you pay money- to the inspectors. Not too much, a couple hundred dollars.) This was the last penny we spent to adopt Carousel. I am not kidding! You see with foster to adopt, the MOST you will pay is $2500 in lawyers fees when you consummate the adoption, sometimes you don't even have to pay that- we didn't.
You let your agency know what you want and wait. If you want a newborn you will be waiting awhile they say, but I was called about 3 newborns the first month after we were okayed! So, I don't want to get your hopes up, but it is possible. :)
If you adopt a "special needs child", you receive help from the state because you are taking kids that usually spend their life in foster care, so the state gives incentives to get them off the state's meal ticket. I am not going to go into detail about the incentives because I do not want someone to adopt just because of this, nor do I want someone thinking this is why we chose Carsouel. We chose her before we knew anything about this. If you want more info, contact me privately. :)
Now when I say special needs, I don't necessarily mean a child with special needs. It is actually referring to hard to place children. What is considered special needs by the state of Texas, (and it is pretty similar across the board I believe)? A Caucasian child over the age of 6, a minority child over the age of 2, a sibling group, or of course a child with special needs. :) (This is how we didn't have to pay for Carousel's lawyers fees.)
The timeline for this is up to you at first, (like all adoptions). The speed you get through training will depend on you. Once you are okayed, the wait will start. Some people wait a long time, we did not. :)
2. International Adoption: We considered this type many, many times. I do not have first hand experience here, but I will give a little info. :) International adoption is pricey, but a good chunk of that money is for travel, so it is not so bad when you think of it that way. Read about $25k for the cheaper agencies. There is a long waiting period. Let's say you get matched with baby, by the time you get them they will probably be 2.
BUT I cannot express enough the NEED these babies have to be adopted.
Yes it is true that every child's greatest need is to have a family. Period. It is undeniable!
But, look at it this way. The children waiting in America have a foster family to care for them. They have education, running water, food clothes, etc...need I say more? Kids over seas have nothing. NOTHING. They NEED to be adopted!
We do not plan on adopting again, but if we do, this will be our route, (unless God has other plans). ;)
3. Private Domestic Adoption: You will end up paying around the same you would for international adoption, but you will not get to travel. ;) (an agency in Rosenberg quoted me over $20k). You will adopt a new born directly from the birth mother.
4. Snowflake Adoption: I am MOST excited about this one!! It is perfect for those of you who desperately want to experience pregnancy. More info here! Basically, you adopt an embryo that is implanted into your uterus and it is yours! :) SUPER COOL!
There is always a risk, with any adoptions- same with pregnancy of course. You risk losing the kiddos whether to birth parents who decide not to give them up (private domestic), a foster placement that gets reunified (foster to adopt), something going wrong with the child, agency, or if the country closes adoptions (international), etc. BUT keep in mind, that when you are pregnant, you run the risk of miscarriage or still birth. SO don't let the risks stop you from pursuing adoption!
I will never judge you for pursuing IVF, and if you get pregnant that way I will rejoice with you. But if you want my honest opinion, I do not like IVF. It is costly and risky- why not save the cost and risk and use it on a child that is already alive, waiting to be loved by a mommy and daddy! I have friends who have used infertility treatments and I am thrilled they are pregnant/have babies, and I walked the road with them as they struggled to get pregnant. So, like I said, I will never judge you here, but I would never encourage it either if you asked for advice. :) AND like I said, if you really desire to be pregnant, why not try embryo adoption?! ;)
Dealing with infertility, not having birth children:
Some of you may not know, but we did NOT suffer with infertility. God led us to adoption and made it clear that we should NOT pursue pregnancy. Even with God leading us here, I still did struggle a bit.
At first I struggled with seeing friends who were not married getting pregnant. Ok, why do they get to have babies and here I am married and God says no?! {ps I do not judge them, it was just something that added to my struggle} :)
More recently my struggle is feeling like a second class Mommy. When someone is pregnant, they get attention the whole nine months they are pregnant. They get MULTIPLE baby showers. Everyone, everywhere talks about their pregnancy, labor and delivery, whether a day or 50 years post partum. For reals.
What I am about to say may make some people feel guilty, that is not my intent. I am sharing this though, for those who are considering adoption so they can be prepared and so those friends/family don't make these same mistakes. :)
Do you know how many baby showers I was given for Carousel? One. From my church. If they didn't throw me one, I would not have had any. People are usually showered by multiple groups: friends (sometimes different showers for different set of friends), family, church, work, etc. I am not angry about this, but I will admit that it did hurt and it certainly contributes to my feelings of being a second class mommy citizen.
Another area I have felt like a second class mommy citizen is in regards to Carsouel's surgeries and hospitalizations.  Whenever some one- whether child, husband, pets even sometimes- has surgery or are hospitalized, people come out of the wood work to support, visit, provide meals, etc.
Carousel's first hospitalization, we spent 2 weeks in the hospital where Carousel endured TWO BRAIN surgeries. I was blessed by 2 friends who alternated spending the nights (and days of course) with me. I was visited once by another friend and once by my mom and sister. That was it. In 2 weeks! I was not contacted by my church to provide meals, etc. Her second hospitalization, I was contacted about the meals issue, but that was only after I complained to a friend that we were not cared for like others. (Carousel has had 5 brain surgeries and I was only visited by my family twice (both times it was one family member, and once another member joined them). Now, two of her surgeries were in Dallas and my fam lives in Houston. But what about the first 3 surgeries?) So I am not just experiencing this from friends, but family too.
Now I am not complaining, nor do I think that we ever deserve special treatment. BUT as I said, I have seen people come out of the wood work to take care of people when someone has surgery/is hospitalized.  We did not receive the same treatment and I have to believe it is because Carousel is adopted and not my birth child.
Same thing for the shower issue.  Some will argue that they weren't sure we'd end up with Carousel. Ok, then you better treat pregnant women the same way.  In the light of such tragedies like still birth, there is no guarantee that a child will survive until birth. Even then, a child can die months after birth because of SIDs, etc. Does that mean you don't shower the mom? NOPE, you shower her regardless!
Like I said, this is just me bearing it all and being honest about my feelings of being a second class mommy citizen. Don't let this happen to your friends. If they are adopting, treat them like any other parent!

While people make me feel second class sometimes, I would not trade Carousel for anything in the whole entire world! I am so in love with her and I am very proud of our adoption journey. I just wanted to share those struggles so people can be aware of them.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means. This is just a quick, off the cuff, info post about adoption. I will be launching an adoption non-profit this year that will raise funds to help people adopt and will be a place full of adoption information. For now, please accept this post. :) If you have any questions, feel free to ask. :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

2024 Paralympics, Here She Comes!

It may not look like much, but for our little angel with Spina Bifida, this is HUGE! I can't wait to see how far she takes this- the Paralympics maybe? ;)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

My Little Elsa Singing "Let It Go!" From Frozen

(pardon the volume of the original song- it wasn't as loud when I checked it on my camera) :/

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Adopting Belle

When we went to the Fort Worth Zoo on Christmas Eve, and in research I found a treat for Carousel. Like any zoo, you can adopt animals, and there was a baby elephant at the zoo- named Belle! Can you think of anything more perfect?! Unfortunately, it was too cold for the elephants so we did not get to see them. :( Also sad, the head of adoptions was out of the office so we had to adopt Belle online- which meant we had to wait for her to arrive as opposed to taking her home with us that day.
Every year, (and possibly every zoo trip, depending on how often we go), I will let Carousel adopt an animal. I mean, with your one time (completely affordable) donation you feed the animal you adopt for a year, and you receive a box full of goodies, including a stuffed version of her adopted friend. Either I could allow her to buy a toy from the gift shop, or adopt an animal. Adoption it is! Besides, adoption is quite special to us. :)
 Ready to see the elephants, and BELLE!
 The pachyderm that started it all, Carousel's BFF, Dumbo. :)
 She wasn't there, but we were happy to at least take pics near her home. :)

 With the baby elephant statue.
FINALLY, on Monday night it arrived!
 Clearly she was ecstatic!
 What a happy box! :)
 Belle is HERE! 
 Very proud of her adoption certificate. :)

Tuesday we did a proper shoot:
 We got her a Belle tshirt at the zoo. :)

 In her adoption box, she also received a picture of Belle, and a few other goodies. :)
 I gathered all of her elephants and Bristol for a group shot:
 Two girls with their beloved elephants. :)
Oh just stop! :)
When Carousel received Dumbo, her grandpa suggested the name. In my head I was screaming, "NOOOO!" I knew one day she would come to know the real Dumbo, and I didn't like the idea of the confusion to come. Well, to my annoyance, Dumbo stuck. lol Oh well, she loves all of her Dumbos, her two Emma Kates, her Belle, and all of her future elephants that we will collect. ;)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Christmas Photos 2013

So I was a complete Bah Humbug this year and did not have a Christmas outfit for Carousel. But I guess it is good I did not because Carousel's grandma had bought her one. :)
Our two babies :) 

She loved seeing herself in the ornaments:

 ooh, there's mommy!
 so I had to get in the shot too :)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Christmas Eve 2013

We started a new family tradition in 2010, Carousel's first Christmas with us. Every Christmas Eve we go to the zoo where we can share the Creation story which leads very nicely into the first sin- the Fall of man. So when we celebrate Jesus's birth the next day, Carousel will understand why we needed a Savior in the first place. Christmas morning we have a birthday party for Jesus, complete with cake, (come on, cake for breakfast- what kid wouldn't want that?), and we save gift giving for later that day (if we even do that).
With all that said, on Christmas Eves 2011 and 2012 we missed our zoo trips. It is hard to keep this tradition when there is no zoo nearby, (we started this tradition when we lived in Houston).
However, this year we were able to go to the Fort Worth Zoo. :)
 We sure do love our elephants!!

hippos are behind them...

 the sun was impossible that day!

 This little guy is a Sloth Bear. Could there BE a better name for him? ;) Notice his tongue hanging out? :)
 with the zebras

 lions behind...

Feeding the birds:

 Notice what is really cool about this pic? Look in the right top corner... ;)

 our favorite letter :)
We ate inside a really cool place:

 (and yes, we had to eat Burger King! lol)
I'll leave you with some zebras :)