Tuesday, September 27, 2011

~*Confessions of a Hippo!*~

I'm a hippo...

actually a hypo....

a hypocrite, to be exact!

I will NOT use a sticky icky highchair at a restaurant.  ~Shudder~

But I have to chisel and sandblast the weeks old sticky icky mess on the one at our house.  What gives?  I suppose it is because I know what the mess is!

Seriously, though, the Lord gave me a verse yesterday. But being the crazy busy mother that I am I didn't read it until like 2 or 3 a.m.  Philippians 4:19 reads, "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."

I've been a hippo...err, uh, hypocrite again.  Should I dare even WORRY a teeny tiny bit over the financial aspect of this adoption?  Nope, not even a little.  

In verse 18 it says, "I have received full payment and have more than enough.  I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God".  

That just blew me away again!
This adoption will be PAID IN FULL!
  We will be AMPLY SUPPLIED!

How dare I even worry the tiniest little bit about the finances we need to bring this little man home! 

Mark my words! 

It WILL happen!
We serve a miracle working, mountain moving, awe inspiring God!  Watch HIM work!  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

~*The Welcome Mat*~

Every Autumn the crisp air and equally crispy colorful leaves are welcomed to our home by a shift in attitude and behavior.  What could throw such an ugly welcome mat out to meet such a lovely season?  

RAD, Anxiety, PTSD (And now VPD)

But!  There is wonderful news!
 We know how to parent that RAD thing better than ever!  Oh, I have my moments where I lose my sanity along with the car keys, but we're making progress on this productive parenting thing...thanks to the Advanced Parenting class courtesy RAD-U (Reactive Attachment Disorder University)

I'm ready for the Autumn weather, the gratefulness I have in my heart for another bountiful harvest, and RAD, I'm ready so bring it on!  (No, really, I can do without but I can handle it if your gonna throw something at me!)

Have a blessed weekend folks!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


My little one, Peanut, is 19 months now and talking up a STORM around here!  As she strolled through the house (aka clumped along wearing her brothers shoes that 20 something sizes too big) she was clearly singing something....

I listened intently "Gee-wah!" "Bye-ba"  A lump climbed up into my throat, my eyes became all misty, and I had butterflies dancing in my stomach. She was singing "Jesus Loves Me" (Because the Bible tells her so!) 

Such sweet innocence! 
I sang the song a few times with her and those butterflies began to fade.  I am so grateful that the Word has not faded from our house.  That it is alive and living and breathing in each of my children! 


So, how does this affect his daily life? 

You see a playroom, he see chaos.
You see a stack of books or puzzles, he sees chaos.

Too much visual information to properly process.  

Another perfect storm for behavioral responses (fidgeting, hyperness, elevated excitement response, inability to control impulses, etc).  

To keep my child from becoming overwhelmed (what you see as a child excited to see a room full of new toys) I will require that he play with ONE item or toy (or set) at one time.  
I might, also, be a huge meanie and require him to play with the toy or items for a certain length of time before moving on to another activity.  More oft than not he will be engaged for twice the required time (10 minutes expands to 20 minutes or even 30 minutes) simply because he is engaged and focused on that ONE item.  


Understand that your definition for success for a child is different than what I define success for each of my individual children.  

So, yes, I might seem like an over-protective, controlling, bore if I don't allow my child to wreak havoc on your generous offer to play with anything he wants or try out all the play things but I am teaching my child the skills he will need to keep HIMSELF regulated in a chaotic world later in life as an adult.

Self-control or regulation of emotional and excitement responses is not something that comes easily to my child.  It is something he will constantly and continually be challenged with.  

He is healing!  
He WILL be successful in life!  
He will raise the roof in Praise of the Lord because this kid knows how to Praise!

He is my Sunshine!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

~*Lack Of Vision*~

My Sunshine was blind.
 No, seriously, he could not see.
 Had we any clue that his left eye was NOT functioning (at all) we would have gotten him intervention months earlier. His left eye was so weak that his brain shut it down, relying solely on his right eye to process visual information.  

We had never pushed academics with him.  We spent the entire first year (age 4-5) simply going over and over the Alphabet and Numbers.  He wanted to read badly but I *knew* in the pit of my stomach that I had to hold him off as long possible.

I will never regret that decision!
He got his first pair of specs in April of this year and after a series of prescription changes to force his brain to wake up a sleepy, unused eye, my Sunshine learned to read!  Just two months after receiving the gift of sight!

Each visit to the Vision Specialist I am reminded yet again how incredibly he was affected by his visual impairment.  The fact that this child was even walking without bumping into EVERYTHING is nearly a miracle.  
His disability is THAT bad!

Why call it a disability?  Because it is akin to a learning disability.  As I sat there in the room full of eyeball's and space-age looking contraptions I read a poster called, "The ABC's Visual Learning".  I wish I'd copied it or taken a picture of it as it inspired this post.  

Many children have vision impairment that can not be "diagnosed" through the traditional vision screening given at many public schools.  Only a trained Optometrist can make this definitive diagnosis and the vast majority of parents are not having their children seen by an Optometrist unless they suspect an issue.  So, it is going undiagnosed in many children.  

Let me get to the nitty gritty of this post.
Visual Processing Disorder is very often misdiagnosed as ADD and ADHD.  School aged children must be able to coordinate in the brains the ability to move both eyes as a team; follow a line of print, without losing their place; maintain a clear focus as they read or make quick focus changes when looking up to the board or teacher and back to their schoolwork.  Most importantly, they must be able interpret and accurately process what they are seeing.

Children with this type of vision impairment are often easily distracted, finding it difficult to concentrate leading to fidgeting and agitation.  The strain on their eyes becomes so great they cannot remain focused on the task and what is perceived as frustration or even ambivalence is often exhaustion from having to concentrate so hard.  

Behaviorally, it sounds similar to ADD or even ADHD and that was our son's original diagnosis.  He was challenged with multiple disorders but ADD/ADHD were not on the horizon for him.  He is in the RAD/PTSD/Anxiety Disorder spectrum and throw in there Vision Processing Disorder and you have the perfect storm for a misdiagnosis.  Throw a child on Ritalin or Adderall that should not be on it and you have a seepy, weepy, ugly mess.

This was our challenge.

A drugged up 4 year old who could not process emotions, terrified to attach, emotionally a wreck from past trauma, and really a big toddler.  We saw through the initials (RAD, PTSD, etc) and saw the child.  These do not excuse his behavior they are simply his daily challenges.  Some children have physical challenges our child has emotional and visual processing challenges.

Consider yourself educated now!

I am blessed and honored to be in love with this child!  I am in awe of him daily!  Have I mentioned how much I dig this kid?  Who can't resist that sweet face?  I sure can't!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

~*News That Can't Wait*~

I just received the BEST news!  

Immigration* found our paperwork and we were assigned an officer!  They do need one piece of paper that is vital to them continuing to process our application but we can get that to them on Monday!
Also, we were DTC (Dossier To China*) on Sept. 15th and not the 8th as we'd been led to believe. So, despite being a week later I am thrilled to hear its on its way!

So, two HUGE praise notes!  
Thank you, you miracle working, mountain moving, awe inspiring King! 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

~*From The Heart*~

Adoption is on my heart, as if this were news to any of you, and encouraging others to take the step to adopt is always on my heart as well.  However, yes, there is an however, I would be doing you all an injustice if I didn't tell you the TRUTH about adoption.

The truth.  The truth is that it is the hardest, most beautifully rewarding and painful thing you will ever go through.  Many families are blessed with children without attachment, adjustment, abandonment and adoption challenges.

  Then there are the REST of us!  
We all KNEW it would be hard. We read the right books, we talked to all the right people, prepared our hearts and our children's hearts, but until your THERE in the thick of the tantrums, the cussing, the pee, the poop, the blood, the defiance, the rudeness, the fear and the pain, there is nothing you can do to prepare for THAT.  

I kissed each and every breath with a prayer those first 6 months.  I could not take a breath without uttering a prayer.

  Am I weak?  Did I ask for this?  Am I uneducated?  *Gasp* How dare you even suggest such a thing!  

I think the strongest people in the world are the ones that can truly humble themselves before the Lord.  You want to be humbled?  Adopt.  It will ROCK your world!
I have been so blessed by late night urine and bloody nose cleanups....I have been so blessed by holding a screaming, crying, struggling child.  It brought me to humility in the simplest of ways. To rely on and lean into my God in a way I had never done before.  It brought such a precious intimacy with Him that I treasure.  

In the next few weeks I will attempt to introduce to you this miracle working mountain moving awe inspiring King that I serve.  I cannot do Him justice with my words; yet I will try.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

~*Pie In Your Eye*~

This blog started off as chronicling our adoption journey and its morphed into so much more...from meeting RAD, to throwing in the random recipe, to simply our everyday lives...its chronicling US; as a family.

One thing I cannot deny is that I *love* food!  No, really, I think food is divine and I love to cook and bake and feed people. I tend to cook for a crowd even if just one extra person is gracing our table.  

Recently, I came upon the most amazing recipes and my taste testers threatened to tar and feather me if I didn't cough up the recipe by today, Tuesday.  So, here it is folks!  Please at least mention me when your getting a bazillion complements! 


Peaches and Cream Pie

1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shell
2 lbs ripe but firm peaches,
   peeled, halved and pitted
2 Tbls plus 1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbls all-purpose flour 
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1) Cover pie shell with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 40 minutes, then freeze for 20.  Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower middle positions and heat oven to 375*.  Line chilled pie shell with two 12-inch squares of aluminum foil, letting foil lie over edges of dough.  Top with pie weights.

2) Place peach halves cut side up on aluminum foil lined rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with 2 tbls sugar.  Bake peaches on upper middle rack until softened and juice is released, about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through baking.  

3) Place crust on lower-middle rack and bake until edges are lightly browned, about 15 minutes.  Remove crust from oven and carefully remove foil and weights.  Continue to bake until bottom of crust is light brown and peaches are caramelized, about 5 minutes.  

4) Reduce oven temp to 325*. Cut peaches lengthwise into quarters.  Arrange peaches in crust.  Combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar, flour and salt in bowl.  Whisk in cream, egg yolks, and vanilla until smooth.  Pour cream mixture over peaches. Bake until filling is light golden brown and firm in center, 45-55 minutes.  Cool at least 3 hours.  

**Notes**  My own short cuts after making this several times.  I freeze the bottom crust while I prep all the other ingredients (instead of chill 40 and freeze 20) then pop it in the oven at the appropriate step.  I use a French Pastry and use a top crust, although, this recipe does not call for one.  I also use a whole egg whisked up on the top pie crust then sprinkle liberally with sugar.  (Whole egg= yolk & egg white) 

Also, I use the traditional boiling method of removing the peach skin.  Roasting the peaches after removing the skin is essential as it releases the juices prior to baking them in the pie. (Recipe found in the June/July 2011 Cooks Country magazine.)

Carolina Sweet Potato Sonker

2 boxes prepared pie crust (from cooler section) or 2 double recipe pie crusts
1 large egg, beaten
2 cups apple cider
4lbs  sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup packed light brown sugar
4 Tbls unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 Tbls all-purpose flour
2 Tbls lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbls granulated sugar

Custard Dip
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1) For the Sonker: Working on lightly floured counter, unroll 2 dough rounds.  Brush half of 1 round with egg and overlap with the second round. Roll out dough to 17 by 13 inch rectangle and fit into 13x9 -inch rectangle baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.  Repeat shaping and rolling with remaining 2 dough rounds; reserve beaten egg.  Trim dough into rectangle and cut into ten 1 inch strips.  Transfer dough strips to parchment lined rimmed baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375*.  Bring cider to boil in large pot or dutch oven. Place steamer rack in pot and fill with sweet potatoes.  Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, until potatoes are nearly tender, 20-30 minutes.  Remove and reserve sweet potatoes aside, leaving the cider in pot.   

3) Cook cider over high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes.  Cool sweet potatoes at least 20 minutes before placing them in prepared dough-lined baking dish. Combine brown sugar, reduced cider, butter, flour, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, allspice, and salt in bowl.  Pour mixture over sweet potatoes.

5) Brush edges of dough with reserved egg. With long side of dish facing you, lay 4 dough strips lengthwise over sweet potato mixture.  Weave remaining 6 strips into lattice pattern.  Press dough strips into bottom crust and trim excess.  Fold dough sides inward under lip of baking dish and crimp with fork.  

6) Combine sugar and remaining 1/4 tsp cinnamon in bowl.  Brush dough with reserved egg and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake until deep golden brown, 55-60 minutes, rotating dish halfway through baking. Let sonker cool on wire rack at least 1 1/2 hours before serving. (Sonker can be refrigerated, covered for up to 1 day.  Bring to room temperature before serving.)

7) For the custard dip: Meanwhile, bring milk, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt to simmer in medium saucepan over medium heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, whisking frequently, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.  Off heat, add vanilla.  Transfer to bowl and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Serve with sonker.

**Notes** I used the premade dough as they suggest but honestly I'd go the extra step and use my favorite french pastry recipe.  Its more work but worth it!  Also, I did not use the custard dip.  It is NOT truly a custard dip (no eggs). I will come up with another version (spiced icing, a true spiced custard dip, or spiced whipped topping) next time. 

My tasters *loved* this beyond words!  It was compared to apple pie.  The cider used to infuse flavor into the sweet potatoes during steaming is so worth it.  If you use apple juice instead I recommend using allspice and cinnamon in the apple juice.  The spices are essential. (Found in the October/November 2011 issue of Cooks Country)