Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Home visit

This past weekend we had our first post-placement home visit. I was originally told that we would not be able to finalize our adoption until we had Jack home for six months and completed our three home visits during that time. I have recently learned that our adoption was finalized in Korea since we both flew there to receive him, but that it is strongly recommended that you re-adopt your child within the United States just to make everything a lot easier. So for us the home visits are so that we can re-adopt Jack and he can easily get the paperwork that he'll need for the rest of his life, like an American birth certificate.

It was nice that for this home visit we didn't have to be nervous like we were for our first visit, which was to put together a home study on us. Besides the fact that the first visit was a evaluation on our family, we had to talk about all these personal questions that you answer for them to get a better understanding of what makes you tick. So I was nervous about that visit for weeks before, whereas this one I just had to get the house completely clean and look halfway nice, which is not easy but certainly not nerve racking.

It was less than 30 minutes, she just asked us some quick questions about Jack's adjustment and ours. She looked at his room but didn't even look at the rest of the house, which I expected but had it all clean just in case.

We only have to two more and then we can re-adopt Jack and be done with home visits forever, but she mentioned that some countries have you do a home study every year until the child is 18 years old! Can you imagine? She said by about the 12th visit the people answer the door wearing their bathing suit and their house looks exactly the way it always does, which she said is great, because we just want to see their normal lives.

So if you have a home study coming up for your adoption, just relax and be yourself, they are not looking for perfect families, just regular families wanting to start an amazing journey!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Carrot Cake

There's this carrot cake that I make once or twice a year and it's good, really good. I said to Kyle the other day in a moment of complete openness, "Everyday when I'm having a stressful moment I look forward to the piece of carrot cake I'm going to have that evening and every evening as soon as I finish eating it I can't wait until the next day so that I can eat a piece again"

Now if that's not good cake I don't know what is. Normally I would never expect to get all crazy about carrot cake, but really it's the best cake I've ever eaten. And normally I would never make a cake from scratch but trust me it's easy and it's worth it, the box one does not even begin to come close. So if you could use a really good piece of cake to help you through a hard day (such healthy copping, I know) here you go:

From Cooking Light
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. sweetened flaked coconut
1/3 c. chopped pecans
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp. canola oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 c. grated carrots
1 1/2 c. canned crushed pineapple, drained
Cooking Spray

2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 (8 oz.) block 1/3 less-fat cream cheese, softened
3 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. To prepare cake, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Combine oil and eggs; stir well. Stir egg mixture, 2 c. carrots, and pineapple into flour mixture. Spoon batter into a 13x9* in. baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 35 min. or until toothpick in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack.
3. To prepare frosting, combine butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer a medium speed until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla just until smooth. Spread frosting over top of cake.

Yield 16 servings (serving size 1 piece). Calories 322, Fat 10.4g

*This last time I made it in a bundt pan instead of the 13x9 and just added 10 min. of cooking time, I then cut the frosting recipe in half since it was less surface area, it was still delicious!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

One Month

We've had Jack home for a little over a month now, really only one month...who knew you could squeeze in as much as we have in the past month, I was sure it's been six.

I love when I have time alone with him, the day Kylynn is at "school" and the times when Kyle takes her out just the two of them. It's during those times that I'm able to just slow down and do what is really important but what rarely gets done during a typical day with two children, just be with my son. He is so different from Kylynn at this age in that he loves to laugh, really it's like he's just waiting for any excuse, and of course it's one of my favorite sounds, so we spend a lot time doing activities that make him laugh. I also love when I get to give him a bottle and all is still, when we get to look into each others eyes and just feel loved.

He has added many new skills in the past month, crawling the "normal" way, pulling up to standing, eating a cracker, and taking naps on a semi-regular basis (that one's my favorite!).

I get asked a lot about how he's adjusting and bonding to us. He is doing just wonderful, God has answered our prayers in amazing ways. He is completely bonded to me (and has been since about day two) and in the past week he has seemed to figure out who Kyle is and will now let him feed and rock him as well. As far as adjustment, truly I cannot believe how well he has done. His little world was turned upside down and he has taken it in stride. The first week he was not easily comforted when wanting to sleep, but since then even that has changed. I can tell that he is understanding more and more words and he is constantly chattering away. He loves Kylynn and they play games in the back of the car where she can make him giggle on and on, which I love. I am so grateful for the bonding that we have all done as we will soon begin the process of surgeries for his cleft palate and I am sure there will be a lot of comforting needed.

I know it might sound strange and truly I would not have believed it coming from someone else but everything feels perfectly "normal". I feel like we've always had him. I have no sadness over the first nine months of his life spent away from us, nor do I feel like I have to work at bonding with him. It feels exactly the same as when we brought Kylynn home from the hospital, instantly my son, instantly loved, but taking time to learn each other and how this all works.

Sometimes I let myself forget and I have to remind myself that this process, this child, his homecoming, our family bonding was all handled by God down to every detail. It is not a coincidence that so many details have worked out perfectly, that we have been granted peace in a time that for many is stressful. He has answered our many prayers and may He receive all the glory and honor that may come from this stage in our life.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Debate gets ugly

Ok, so Kyle and I disagree about whether or not to get a minivan, if you read by previous post, you grasped that. Well Kyle has decided to take the debate to the streets passing on my blog to his friends to get their feedback, which is fine with me this is a blog after all the more people who read it the happier I am.

But I feel the need to defend myself after some responses of:

"does she realize the gas mileage that thing (Suburban) gets, what is she going to go off-roading with the kids??"

"I think both the minivan and Suburban are dorky when driven in the city...Ecclesiastes would be a good read for her"

Kyle gets to tell me these fun response with a little giggle thinking it's funny, I mean after all I look like a stuck up, earth hater and he looks like the holy practical one. So it's time for me to defend myself. My previous blog was not about loving a suburban or thinking that it was "cool", it was about not loving the minivan and feeling like it would make me extra un-cool. I must make it very clear that I did not say, "Hey, let's get a suburban" no that was my husband. I allowed him to give me choices and there was only three and the suburban was simply the only choice he gave me that was not a minivan. On top of all of this if Kyle was being honest he would say, "Jenny doesn't want a mini but she is trying her best to try and like it because she loves me and knows it's what I think is best. She has even said to me we can buy the mini if that's what you want." Of course his response is that he is not fully decided either...bet he didn't confess up to that did he! :)

Here's the thing, let's try and be a little more understanding that everybody is different and likes different things, just because I don't want to drive a mini doesn't mean I want people to think of me as having a higher status or that I am not as holy as you!! Give me a break it's a car, and no matter what we get my values of how I look at money will not change, nor will the budget we decided in advance. Is it so hard to believe that not everyone enjoys the same things, I actually liked that the suburban drove more like a truck (I love my truck) and I thought it was much more comfortable.

Oh and PS, the mini we're looking at's gas mileage is 17/23 compared to suburban's 14/20 so yes it is a difference but it is not a huge and people are saying, nor can you say that minivans get great gas mileage.


I've added a new "gadget" to my blog, What I'm reading, I have no idea why it is called a gadget, but that's what blogger calls all those quotes, lists, links, etc. on the side of people's blogs.

I love to read, it is probably my favorite past time. So I will update what all I'm reading, and don't worry I won't add anything to the list that I'm not enjoying...I've been known to stop a book 50 or even 200 pages into it, if I decide I just don't really like it...so many books to read, why waste my time.

I know you are all excited I see a "Jenny's Book Club" logo in the future ;)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Now that's love

We have good friends. If you've read this blog for long, you will see a reoccurring theme, we have good friends who love us well. If for the rest of my life I never have more things, more money, more success, I will be entirely happy if just this remains the same. Because at the end of the day I feel safe and loved and really what more could I ask for.

Now in addition to loving my friends, I love food. I have no idea how to celebrate any event of my life that does not involve food...good food! I can tell you great meals that I've had in my life and I remember those events or people fondly in part because the food was good. If I love you, I will try to love you with food. I will want to bring you food when you're going through hard times, I will share food with you when I bake a great cake, or have you over and cook you some food!

So I love that right now my friends are loving me with food! How perfect in so many ways, they are bringing me meals for dinner so that I don't have to cook. I think that the fact that I'm a part of a group of women who do this for each other whenever we add a baby is at least partly to blame for the thoughts of, I can have more children it's not so hard. We've had half of our meals so far and I love that each of them has been different and each has been amazing. I know you think I'm being nice, but oh no, they have been all out full meals with dessert that are better than my cooking (and frankly I'm a decent cook). We have had homemade apple pie and homemade chicken pot pie! who does that, not me, I have neither the patience nor the talent. Luckily, my friends have both.

Right now I'm sitting here with that wonderful full feeling from eating wonderful catfish, hush puppies, cole slaw, and cake (jealous, huh!) and I feel completely satisfied. Not just my belly, I feel at perfect peace, in this moment I am fully loved by my friends and family and by my Maker who placed them here and it's a great feeling.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Ok, C, says that I'm tagged and I'm suppossed to pull up the fourth folder, then the fourth picture and tell you about it.

It was from April 2008, we went out early in the morning to try and get family pictures in the bluebonnets. This was one of the thousands of outtakes. We were not able to get any that we liked at all, except for some of Kylynn by herself. But we had a wonderful day, it seems like every year we are blessed with at least one of these days where the weather is perfect, the scenery is amazing and we just drive around and see what we see with no agenda. I can't wait to do it this year, it is one of my favorite days of the year!!

The Great Debate

We need a new car. Not want, not really, but need. Our car is 11 years old and has 130K miles on it, and since it doesn't say Honda or Toyota on the bumper that means lots of repairs as the time goes on. I guess we kind of want a new car too, but only if it were given to us free and clear, no work required. Because buying a car is work, you have to research every different possibility and for us that was a lot (any vehicle with three rows), then you have to look at them all, then drive some, then drive some again, then eventually make a decision (we hate doing that!), and then hand over a chunk of money that you've been saving for years. No I can't say that I really want to buy a car. Thank goodness we like to keep our cars until they just stop working for us so maybe we won't have to do this again for another 10 years.

So we've done all the work mentioned above and narrowed it down to a Toyota minivan and a Suburban. Kyle wants the mini. I know those of you who know him had to re-read that sentence, it is sad but true Kyle wants the mini. For those of you who don't know my husband he has said as part of his statement of beliefs for the past 8 years, we will Never drive a minivan! To which I used to look at him, laugh, and say yes we will. But eventually the more we became one, I started to feel the same way, so that when he would say, we will Never drive a minivan, I would answer, Amen! So what does he do, he goes out and looks at cars for an entire Saturday and comes back and says I've narrowed it down to two minis and one SUV. What!! Who are you and what have you done with my husband, because I want him back.

Here's the thing. Minivans are very practical. They cost less to buy, to fuel, to own. They drive easy and still fit lots of people and have lots of space for luggage. And you can get them tripped out these days, with leather, dvd players, all the latest gadgets. There is only one problem, for me that is, they're ugly and they're dorky! There I said it. I'm sorry if you drive a minivan, I know that you love your mini, so many of you have told me that since we began this debate, and I believe you, even see why you love it, so what is wrong with me. Every time we go to look at one or I see one driving I think, I just can't do it, I can't drive a minivan.

I really don't know why, it's not like I'm Gwen Stefani or something, but somewhere way back in my head I apparently feel like I'm too cool to drive a minivan. I have no idea why, I am a realistic, I am fully aware of who I really am, which is a stay at home mom with two kids that is far from cool. I still wear clothes that I wore in college, have some sweat pants that are part of my "nice clothes", have no idea what movies/music/tv shows are popular right now, and I don't really care, I am not cool. But maybe, just maybe there is something about me that is cool (I'm racking my brain for something to put here and it's taking a long time, so I've given up) and if there is I lose even that if I start to drive a mini.

I'm trying, I really am, but on the inside I feel like a toddler who wants to throw a tantrum and say no, no, no! this is not what I was supposed to end up with. We'll see what happens in the end I promise to make peace with what we get and even try with all my might to like it. Who knows maybe 2009 is going to be about God teaching me humility, driving a minvan, who knew, God really hit the nail on the head in a way I wouldn't have known before this whole thing began :).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

To my B, Happy 8

I may never understand how I could in that first instant, love you and know who you were, but now eight years later I feel so blessed to have seen then, what is now, two people as one.

"I do not love you as if you were a salt rose, or topaz
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
So I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep."
-Pablo Neruda, Love Sonnet XVII

You ate what?

Kylynn has some "free" time now that Jack is home. One day before Christmas I came out from rocking Jack to sleep and she was chewing something..

Me: "Kylynn, what are you eating?"
K: "baby Jesus"
Me: "What? What are you eating??"
K: "baby Jesus"
Me: "How did you manage to eat the baby Jesus figurine?"
K: "No mommy, the other baby Jesus" at this point she takes me into the kitchen and sure enough she had eaten baby Jesus.

At playgroup that day the kids had done a craft where they made a tiny manager with a peanut baby Jesus inside and I guess she just couldn't resist. Oh yeah, she ate it just like it looks, shell and all!


When you have your first child your entire life is turned upside down, in a wonderful amazing way. You no longer have the huge amount of free time you once had (you realize in retrospect) nor the energy to do much with the free time you do have. But then amazingly the days go by your baby grows up and more and more you find that you have time to get things done, that your life has returned to a new (even better) normal.

So you think, this is easy...we can do this again, and you add a second child to the mix. And suddenly you realize, wow! now this is an adjustment. Who knew that a person could do so many things in one day, become so exhausted, and at the end of the day have absolutely no evidence to show for it.

It has been three weeks now since we brought Jack home and we are finally finding some quasi-routine. I am asked (with a grin I might add) by my friends with multiple children, "So how are you adjusting to two?" The grin tells me, they know too, that it's not just me, that it is crazy going from one kid to two. Not too crazy, not so crazy I don't love it, not so crazy that I can't handle it, just crazy enough to realize that without God's help I cannot find the energy to repeat the whole thing again the next day, and just crazy enough to realize that my parents are indeed saints.

If I had to pinpoint what is so hard about two verses one, it's that there is no downtime. With one you have huge chunks of time (even when their 2 1/2) when they're sleeping each day, and during those times you can catch up or even if your lucky, sleep yourself. But with two there is not much of the day when they are both sleeping, so I am always occupied. And perhaps more than that it's the re-adjustment to one of my children being so young. Jack is sleeping, drinking a bottle, or eating all but a couple hours a day, so I have very small windows of time when I can go anywhere or spend real time with Kylynn.

Here is the good things and I promise they outweigh the challenges. I get to love two kids like crazy, it is one of God's miracles how much we love our children and the fact that we can love more than one child with that intensity amazes me. I'm so in love with that boy, I can't wait for him to get up from his nap so that he can take up more of my time :). Kylynn has had a huge attitude adjustment ever since we brought Jack home. She of course has seemed jealous a time or two, but to my great surprise, she seems to truly love Jack (and wants him to get up from his naps even more than me!) and lives to help take care of him. On top of that Kylynn has learned how to play by herself (a necessity when I'm feeding or rocking him), and she has become very affectionate.

Most of all I get to serve the Lord in a way I love, all day long and do it well. I no longer have to wonder what can I do to serve Him today, it's right there in front of me. And I am being refined daily, learning how to put others' needs before my own, learning to serve and love and sacrifice my wants in order to be Jesus in two people's lives that so desperately need Him.