Wednesday, December 31, 2014

People Affect Us

Poof!  A cloud of flour and sugar puffed into the air when I turned on the mixer, and I was immediately transported back to a time, just a week or so together, that J and I were baking Lemon Squares.  I'd someone forgotten to raise the mixing bowl and the entire box of powdered sugar, it seemed, flew all over me, her and the kitchen.  Her eyes flew to mine, because she thought I'd be mad.  I laughed and tickled her and she ended up practically taking a bath in the sink since she'd been sitting on the counter to be able to see into the mixer and therefore was absolutely covered.  It was a fun, light-hearted moment for us, but a telling one for me, too.

She's on my mind all the time.  I'll see a Hello Kitty jacket and smile knowing how much she would like that.  I'll be walking around the creek by our house and see a little girl learning how to ride a bike with her dad and remember times we did the same thing.  She was in my life for 8 months, and she's been gone from me for 10 months now.  Longer than she was with me.  But she will be in my heart forever.  Her impact on my life was enormous, to say the least.  

We all impact the lives of the people we touch.  It makes me want to be sure I'm leaving the kind of lasting impression I want to be remembered by.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Life Change

I have decided to discontinue my work on my doctorate degree.  This has been a tough decision, because I'm not a quitter...yet, I'm quitting.  Honestly, that's been a point of pride.  As I met people and loved making contacts with people across positions in a variety of school districts, I was encouraged about the direction education is heading.  Let's be honest.  Some things need to change in education.  And I see some of those changes happening.  I see other changes on the horizon and it's exciting to see and to be a part of.  Yet, this degree was in Educational Leadership, meaning most people want to be a superintendent.  I do not.  So, the more I talked with others and the more I learned and the more we read books on leadership, the more questions I had about if this was where I needed to be.

I talked with a former professor, who understands my heart is vocabulary and teaching curriculum courses some day, and she said I would be pigeonholed into teaching educational leadership courses since many people with this degree are superintendents, thus universities need professors to teach these courses.  I don't want to be pigeonholed into teaching a course I don't want to teach.  

So.  I love the cohort model.  I love the idea of starting a process and seeing it through to completion with one group of people all along the way.  I am not a quitter.  But it doesn't make sense to stay with something that could potentially be the exact opposite of what I need.  So, I'm discontinuing the program.  

I was talking with a friend a month or so back.  My dad had just had triple bypass heart surgery and my grandpa's health was rapidly declining.  I said something along the lines of "This has been a rough couple of months."  My friend kindly, wisely and succintly said, "I think it's been a rough year for you."  

Well, now that you mention it.  J left in February.  I tested, applied and was accepted to a doctorate program in the spring.  I sold everything I own and moved in with my family in July.  I started a doctorate program in August while beginning my 13th year of teaching (We can definitely call August "busy season" for teachers.), my dad had heart surgery at the beginning of October, my grandpa passed away at the end of October and I'm quitting my doctorate in December.  Yes.  Yes, I think 2014 might have been a rough year.  Moving in with my family hasn't been rough at all.  In fact, it's been a humongous blessing.  But change, and some stress with the selling/boxing/moving of everything.  

I was talking with a dear friend on Tuesday and confessed I was limping along until Christmas break.  I love talking with her.  She's known me for over 10  years and loves me dearly.  It's nice to be know?  She compassionately said she didn't think anyone would question it at all if I huddled under the covers and hibernated for a bit.  

Ok.  Don't mind if I do.     

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Children provide writing material

I haven't posted in a long time.  I was thinking about that the other day.  How therapeutic writing was for the time J was in my home and then the time when she left.  Children definitely provide writing material!

Don't get me wrong.  Life has definitely not been dull since she left.  I applied and was accepted to a doctoral program.  I sold almost everything I own and moved in with my parents.  My dad had major heart surgery and my grandpa passed away.  Life has had it's ups and downs this past few months.  But I haven't felt the burning need to write like I did when J was being boisterous and fun or my heart was tender regarding something happening in her case.

Hmmm...maybe I'll start writing again anyway.  Or maybe something will happen soon that drives it. ??

Friday, May 09, 2014

My Second Mother's Day...

Last year, C arrived the Monday before Mother's Day.  She left the day after Mother's Day.  A few days later, I wrote this post about my first Mother's Day.  To summarize: it was HARD!

I have learned so much about mothering in the last year.  I have gained so much insight into the journey of foster care.  I still have much to learn, but I am not in the same place I was a year ago.

J came to my home June 12 and left February 14.  We celebrated my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Valentine's Day together.  We are not together for Mother's Day and as much as she had already started planning her Frozen birthday party, we won't be together for that either.

Everyone's mother is special to them in a unique way.  Whether you have a wonderful relationship or you have a strained one, your relationship is uniquely yours.  No one can take it away.  J always called her biomom "Mommy".  Always.  In the last few weeks she was with me, she had begun calling me "Mama".  Not all the time, but enough I knew it was purposeful.

I love her with a mother's heart, but she will not be with me this Mother's Day.  I hadn't thought much about it until today, but now I'm wondering if I should prepare myself to be a little emotional on Sunday.

My second Mother's Day will be one without a child.  And, frankly, that just feels weird.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Preparing for a Home Study

You've finally finished all the paperwork, and you are facing what to do for the home study.  Maybe your agency has given you a checklist and you feel overwhelmed at everything that is required or prohibited.  Or perhaps your agency has simply said, "Pay attention to what we say in all the trainings and do that."  Ummm...."that" was a LOT of information spread out over 30 hours of trainings over several months.  Say wha?

Either way, you're probably a little overwhelmed.

Here's my advice.  Take a deep breath.  You're ok.  You've made it this far!

Now.  Talk with another foster parent, within your agency if possible, but really anyone will do.  Figure out what "temperature" your agency is about the home study.  Are they going to be there for 2 hours per person in your family?  Or maybe they'll be there for 2 hours total.  Are they going to open cabinets and scour your refrigerator for expired items?  Are they going to expect your children to be available for individual interviews?  What are you expected to provide for them while they're there?

The more detailed they are, the more prepared you will be for the state inspection when it comes.  And, y'all, it WILL come.  My home study developer was not very detailed and I led her around showing her things I thought she should ask me about.  I didn't feel prepared when the state came.  (It was fun.  (I mean, it was fine.  By fun, I'm being a little sarcastic....but it really was fine.)  I was prepared.  However, I didn't know what they would ask for and what if I couldn't show it to them because I didn't have the mythical "it"?)

Some agencies want you to have a "disaster" bag with 3 days worth of food and water in a safe place in your house as well as one in the car.  My agency never mentioned anything like that.  My agency did want me to have a list of emergency phone numbers handy and the children in my home to know where they are (which I thought was ridiculous since J didn't know 911 and wouldn't have been able to give them my address even if she did know 911 and I wasn't going to teach her my address because her mom couldn't have it, but....whatever.)

So, preparing for a home study.  Bottom line: talk to other foster parents within your agency and see what the agency expects.  Talk to your agency is they're helpful and knowledgeable and the person you're talking to as worked there long enough to be able to answer your questions.  I personally have found that foster parents are more helpful than agency personnel, but every agency is different.

A list of things that seem to be "across the board" with agencies:
a fire extinguisher on each level of the home
no food on the floor (even in the pantry)
evacuation map posted somewhere
medicine locked up
Child needs a bed
Child needs clothes or you need to have a place for their clothes to go when you do get the clothes

See?  Not so hard.

My home study lasted 2ish hours.  The last 15 minutes she walked around my home.  The first, and major part, was the interview.  Everything from my childhood to how many times I'd moved to why I hadn't chosen to do in vitro if I wanted to be a mom. (No, I'm not kidding.)  We talked about the ages and ethnicities and genders of kiddos I was willing to take and behaviors I was or was not willing to have in my home.  We talked about my rules for food.  This is a major one.  Food has to be available.  If you're planning to lock the refrigerator, please do not get into foster care.

The home study seems to cause a lot of anxiety for a lot of people, and I think the reason I was nervous was because my agency didn't communicate their expectations well.  I know other people are nervous because their agency's expectations are so high, they aren't sure they've met them.

Don't worry about how clean your house is or how neat and tidy it is.  You may already have kids.   Your house will look lived in.  It doesn't have to look like you're trying to show it to new buyers.  Promise!

You can do it!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Out of Season

Y'all.  I published this post a few weeks ago.  In it I mentioned I was almost done with the Christmas soap and was excited to pull out the Spring smells.  Well, I finally finished the Holly Berry Wreath and Winter Candy Apple and reached in to bring out the Tangy Tangerine and Kitchen Lemon soaps...and instead I saw the Cinnamon Pumpkin that was half finished.  Ahhhh!

The Tangerine stayed under the sink.  The Kitchen Lemon is brightening my cooking days.  The Cinnamon Pumpkin is hiding in wrong-season shame in my master bathroom.  I can practically smell the Tangerine from here!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Child Friendly?

When I became a mom of a 5-year-old over night, I felt comfortable in many areas, but I was completely lost in other areas.  I asked many friends for help, and they came through with flying colors.  As I continue my series on preparing for foster care, I think this post will be very helpful to adults that desire to be parents, but are not yet parents.  If you're already a parent and opening your home to little ones that need a safe place, then this may not be as helpful to you since you've already walked the path of parenthood.

And with that, I'm just going to jump right in! :)

I had NO clue about children's clothing sizes or TV channels or movies (other than Disney).  I knew the obvious child friendly foods, but those were mostly snack items.  I needed ideas for child friendly meals.  I also learned I needed help with age appropriate apps and advice on toys that she would enjoy but wouldn't drive me crazy.  I wanted to have things in my back pocket for rainy day back up plans.  I just needed ideas!

So, I've compiled this list from my own experiences and those of friends who have parented awhile.  If you're new to parenting, you may find this helpful!

Food (child friendly, "typical" allergy friendly, etc.)

dipping and finger foods – 
      carrots in ranch
      nuggets in ketchup
     oven fries
     veggie chips
     granola bars
     cut-up fruit w yogurt dip 
     apple sauce packets

Relatively healthy “treats”:
     berries with dairy whipped cream (in the can – makes anything cool)
     fruit parfaits (made with  yogurt) 
     smoothies (made with yogurt)

Easy well-liked meals include:
     pasta and sauce
     pizza grilled cheese (add pepperonis to a grilled cheese sandwich) 
     breakfast (pancakes or French toast and scrambled eggs) for supper
     sloppy joes
     simple soup (plain Campbells) 
     mac and cheese
     organic chicken nuggets (Costco)
     nitrate free hot dogs
     sandwiches (cute sandwich cutters that use everything but the crust may be helpful!)
     rotisserie chicken (most grocery stores have these heated and in "warming" stations for easy pick up)

Apps and Websites
     Duck duck moose 
     Hungry guppy
     PBS Kids is a great place for younger kids to play games and watch videos.
     ABC Mouse is a preschool-kindergarten website
     SUMDOG is a great learning website for older elementary kiddos

TV Shows and Movies
     Phineas and Ferb
     Veggie Tales
     Disney Jr
     Nick Jr
     PBS (non-cable)
     Qubo (non-cable) 
     Redbox for movies and Wii games
     Amazon prime has lots of free streaming kid videos and shows. 
          ** be mindful of shows about orphans. 
                  This is by no means a comprehensive list, but I'd steer clear from:
                         Stewart Little 
                         Despicable Me 
                         Series of Unfortunate Events
     Disney movies are typically well loved:
          This is all a matter of parents' comfort level. I personally thought very carefully about each story line before turning one on.  There are some scary messages and some child-specific messages that I wasn't willing to show.  

Clothing stores:
One thing I found is that some run small, while other stores' items wear out quickly.  Here's an easy list of what you can expect from kids' clothing stores!

Once Upon a Child/Kid 2 Kid all the way – use their discount programs, sign up for email and get discounts – sell back when you’re done.

Carters runs small
Children’s Place runs a little slim
     Children's Place has awesome deals on clothes.  They have a free rewards program and also 
     have coupons most of the time.
Old Navy runs big but can vary widely
Stuff from WalMart usually only lasts through one kid 
Osh Kosh and Levis that have lasted through at least 3.  
Champion tennis shoes are 1/3 the price of Nikes but we had one pair last a week and our used Nikes have lasted almost a year

Outside Activities
     shooting a basketball
    Grapevine Botanical Gardens
    Downtown Grapevine
    Heard Museum
    Frank Buck Zoo
    Grapevine has fun things all the time!! 
          Butterfly festival
          Thomas the Train
          Amazing Christmas stuff!

Inside Activities
     Grapevine Aquarium
     Perot Museum
     Public Library (most have children's programs year round; some even have trails or ponds nearby that children enjoy)
     Family movie night (make it special with pallets or special comfy chairs, lots of popcorn, etc.)
     Family Game Night (board games, card games or Wii)

Specific Toys to Encourage
    Discovery Toys 
     transportation sorters
     Legos are huge (esp. with wheels and doors pieces)
     a couple puppets
     A Mini Tramp and IKEA tunnel are great indoor gross motor play
     Everyone needs a balance board too – got a cool one at Aldi for 12 bucks.    (Vestibular/balance input helps with emotional balance and control.)
     A dish tub with rice put down in a (dry) blow up baby swimming pool is awesome (just dump the spillover back into the tub when done – add extra kitchen measuring cups, small bowls and things to hide in it – we also put our Banagram letters in there. 
     Melissa and Doug (worth the investment!!) simple and minimal noise
     Arts and craft stuff
     Montessori type play stations or busy bags (dollar store loot ;) 
**multicultural dolls, super heros, books....have a rainbow of cultures and races in your toys**

Specific Toys to Stay Away From (due to any number of reasons)
     Electronic toys
     Zhuzhu pets (they can burn skin and rip hair out)
     Anything small with a zillion pieces. Often too overwhelming for kids to clean up :(

Tips – 
   -  stuffed animals and kid things that say you can’t machine wash often survive the washing machine
   -  IKEA is a great place for kid’s stuff (esp. inexpensive gross motor and sensory play toys) – They have adorable cheap tents and play rugs. 
   - buy shorts/pants with the adjustable waist. (buttons/elastic inside to move as they grow)  It makes it so much easier for everyone.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Saving Grace Meals

Saving Grace Meals Menu

Saving Grace Meals was born out of a desire to help others in a time of need.  Maybe this means a family with a new baby by birth or growing their family through foster care or adoption.  Maybe this means a family going through a tough time for any number of life reasons.  I enjoy helping people out with meals, and it occurred to me that maybe people would like to have meals available more regularly, so I decided I would keep my freezer stocked and make meals available to be ordered.  Having dinner ready is a saving grace, don't you think?

Email me at to place your order!

Large (Feeds 4-6): $17
Small (Feeds 2-4): $12

Chicken Spaghetti
    chicken, spaghetti, cheese-y goodness

Salsa Chicken Casserole
     black beans, corn, salsa, rice and chicken

Potatoes and Sausage
     exactly as it sounds....except yummier

Mexican Casserole
     beef or chicken

Chicken Salad **
     apples, pecans (optional), pickles and pickle relish plus family recipe seasonings make this a wonderful entree by itself or you can use it to fill a croissant

Chicken and Rice Casserole
     chicken and rice with water chestnuts makes for the perfect creaminess with a crunch!

Spicy Shredded Pork
     This is one of those melt in your mouth dishes because it has been in the oven for hours and hours and just falls apart.  It can be medium or hot depending on your preference.

Teriyaki Pork Sandwiches
     I provide the pork goodness; you provide the bread!

Deliciously Marinated Grilled Chicken
     Works wonderfully well to top the Spinach Salad or shred for tacos or just eat by itself!

One Order: $10 (serves a family of four-six)
Texas Potatoes
     potatoes, sour cream, cheese...yumm!

Chili Roasted Potatoes
     diced potatoes with slightly spicy seasonings ready for you to roast and serve

Large: $12
Small: $10

Spinach Salad **
     spinach, pecans (optional), craisins, goat cheese, pepperoncinis and a creamy dressing

Southwest Cornbread Salad **
      cornbread, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, red onion and cilantro with a light dressing for a           refreshing yet filling concoction of goodness

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad **
     good 'ole classic!
     *add $2/person for chicken

Seasonal Fruit Salad in a Light Syrup **  $2.50/cup

Blueberry Muffins: $6/dozen
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread: $6/loaf

Brownies: $6/pan
Lemon Squares: $6/pan
Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies: $6/dozen
Snickerdoodles: $6/dozen
Dump Cake: $15/pan
     fruit pie filling of your choice
          apple, peach, cherry, blueberry

Most things I make will freeze well.  There are a few things that should be refrigerated and eaten more promptly.  These items are noted with **.

Delivery $4

April 13-14 Meals

Our family has a lot of family favorites and these are definitely a part of the list!  :)


Mexican Casserole: Large: $17   Small: $12
      Your choice of chicken or beef ($1 more for beef)

Creamy Chicken Salad: $6/serving
     *includes pecans     

Texas Potatoes:  $10 (square pan)

Fruit Salad: $2.50/cup
     Fresh fruit in a light syrup


Dump Cake: $15 for pan
     fruit pie filling of your choice
        apple, peach, cherry, blueberry

Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies: $5 for dozen

Snickerdoodles: $5 for dozen

Brownies: $5 for pan


Blueberry Muffins: $6 for dozen

Email me at by Friday at noon with  your order!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Meals for April 6-7

I'm pretty excited about this menu.  These are either long time family favorites, or I've tried them out this week and they're new family favorites.  :)

Deliciously marinated grilled chicken $3.50/breast
     chicken breast marinated in a delicious marinade and then grilled

     (This is perfect to top Spinach Salad (below) or dice for tacos or warm and serve by itself!)

Spinach Salad: $6/serving
     spinach, craisins, pecans (optional), crispy jalapenos, pepperoncini peppers, feta cheese and a wonderfully creamy dressing

Southwest Cornbread Salad: Large: $10  Small: $8
     This salad is a light and refreshing salad with black beans, corn, salsa and cornbread.  I admit I first saw all the ingredients and found it intriguing.  My family absolutely LOVES it!

Greek Marinated Chicken: Large-$17   Small-$10
     chicken marinated in yogurt with fresh herbs and spices
     yummy to bake and serve warm or shred and add to below couscous

Lemony Cucumber Couscous Salad: Large-$7    Small-$5
     exactly as it sounds :)

Fruit Salad: $2.50/cup
     Fresh fruit in a light syrup

Dump Cake: $15 for pan
     fruit pie filling of your choice
        apple, peach, cherry, blueberry

Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies: $5 for dozen

Snickerdoodles: $5 for dozen

Email me at by Friday at noon with  your order!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Finding a Support Group

I'm going to be writing a series of blog posts on various fostering topics.  This one is first, because it is dear to my heart, and because my fingers seem to itch to write about certain topics at certain times, not because it's really "first" in the process of fostering.

Finding a support group is critical.  I grew up with my mom founding the Down Syndrome Guild and taking a year position as president of the Dallas chapter of the ARC (Association for Retarded Citizens).  She had dinner with others moms of children with disabilities on a regular basis.  They would meet to discuss upcoming ARD meetings and how they were fighting for the educational rights of their child with a disability.  Angela and I went to a monthly "Sunshine Kids" Friday night hang out time.  It was parents' night out, but it was specifically for families of people with disabilities.  They had counselors that would talk to the siblings and fun crafts and activities and sports that all the kids could be a part of.  I realize this has nothing to do with support groups for fostering, but I'm starting this off because I grew up with "support groups" being a regular part of my childhood, though we didn't call them support groups.

During the licensing process for fostering, there is a LOT of mandatory trainings.  They would encourage you to find a support group.  Find other foster parents you can talk to and seek information from.  I always thought it was ridiculous since they never told you about any you could join.  I mean, how am I supposed to find a support group?  I'm a go-getter and don't give up if I'm looking for something.  I'm also a pretty out-going personality, so I was able to connect with several other foster moms.  However, you know there are people out there that NEED support groups and aren't a part of one.  I just think it makes sense for agencies to have a list of some options.  Or maybe even offer for their own foster parents to use their facilities and meet occasionally.  Anyway, I digress.

I had just moved to Plano and recently started attending The Village.  I asked around on Sunday mornings about foster parents and was put in contact with Kristi.  We have a secret Facebook group.  This means none of our friends can see on their timeline when we post in the group.  Only members can post and you have to be invited to be a member.  We ask each other about doctor and dentist recommendations.  We provide respite for each other.  We ask each other questions about how to handle certain behaviors.  We meet once a month at someone's home and every one talks non-stop with questions about court cases and certain judge's or case workers or agencies or behaviors or foods or allergies or trainings or fire marshal visits or home studies or.....and the list goes on.  It's awesome!

One day, I was in pretty desperate need of child care.  J had come, but I had to go to work for a few days and needed someone that could watch her.  Kristin called and said Arrow (our mutual agency) had told her I was looking for child care.  At the time, she was a foster mom (she's now a forever mom, woot-woot!) and she was willing to watch J for several days.  It was AMAZING because Kristin is a former OT and has 5 forever kids and J LOVED going to her house.  It was a huge blessing.  Well, Kristin is a member of a different church and they also have a support group and I got connected with them, too.  We also meet once a month.  It's way closer to home, so it's easier to make these meetings.  This group also offers trainings pretty regularly and family fun nights each month.  It's great!

Both of these groups have their own personality and both of them offer something different, and I absolutely adore ALL of the ladies I've come in contact with.  We help each other with meals, babysitting, encouragement, a shoulder to cry on, a laugh and joyful yell when milestones are reached or court decided something that was truly for the good of the child.  We don't see each other daily, but we're in and out of each other's lives and provide knowledge, support, wisdom, connections and a plethora of resources to help each other walk this journey of fostering.

If you're not in a foster parent support group, I strongly encourage you to find one.  If you don't know of one, start one yourself!  Open your home.  Start a Facebook group.  Invite others that are at any stage of the process to join you.  Help each other out!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Want a new ____? What's wrong with the old?

Lotions?  Soaps?  Candles?  Conditioner?  Mousse?  Leave-in conditioner?  Eye shadow or liner?

I could go on and on.  I have bottles with one squirt used, bottles that are half empty, and bottles with only one or two uses left.  I have bottles that are still sealed.  These are bottles I forgot were there, so new bottles were purchased.  I have bottles I received as teacher gifts and bottles I bought myself.  I have eye liner pencils that are perfectly fine except when I needed it, I couldn't find my sharpener, so I bought a new pencil instead.  I have samples of products I would not have ever purchased myself.  I have multiples of one scent or brand because they were buy 2 get 1 free, you know!

I really do try to not spend excess money.  I buy economical brands or choose carefully if I'm going to decide to pay more money for a finer quality item.  As a teacher, lotions, fun soaps and candles are an easy, cute and fairly inexpensive gift, so they're very popular.  I used to keep the Christmas scented soaps in my Christmas decoration boxes to pull out next year since they weren't even half used...except I received more the next year, and then what?  As of right now, I have twisted peppermint, holly berry wreath, and winter candy apple soaps going at the kitchen sink and bathrooms.  They're almost finished and I can't wait, because I've already purchased fresh new spring scents that are sitting lonely under my kitchen sink just waiting to brighten the room with their lively colors and smile inducing smells.

I reached in my bathroom cabinet today for a bottle of lotion and stayed my hand because of how many there were.  I don't use lotion all the time, but I think there are currently 5 containers in some stage of use in my bathroom cabinet.  I'm positive there are more in my car and one under the sink in the half bath downstairs.  Throwing perfectly good items away is ridiculous.  Purchasing new scents just because they smell good is equally ridiculous.  My goal is to start using what I have regularly.  Lotion is good for my skin.  I need to be using it.  One person can only wash her hands so many times, so the soap takes time, but soon, very soon, I will be able to throw away and bring out the new.  Candles will be burning because they create welcome smells.  I'm out of my regular conditioner, but I have another bottle of a seldom-used conditioner that I will be using in it's place instead of buying a new bottle of my regular.  Perfectly good items need used.

I'm not allowing myself to buy one single item in any of these categories until I have made sure I don't have something else that will work equally well, even if it's not my favorite.  Being a good steward of finances means exactly that...not spending money when I don't have to.  We all have ways we'd rather spend our money.  I'm trying to get into grad school.  I'd really like to buy a house some day.  Yes, soaps and conditioners and concealer isn't expensive.  I get that.  But every $5 and $10 adds up and if more money can go in savings, then there is more in a down payment account later!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Next Week's Meals

Thanks to everyone who is ordering!

I'm learning a lot and enjoying this immensely!  I love hearing your feedback!  Repeat customers are the best!

I'm getting in the groove and am now able to post menus a little more in advance.  This gives you time to order and me time to plan and grocery shop! :)

Next Week's Meals:  These will be available for pick up March 30 or delivery March 31.  Please click here to order via my new order form!  I will email you a confirmation email with your order total within 24 hours of your order!

Dinner Entrees:

Teriyaki Pork Sandwiches (I provide the pork goodness.  You provide the bread.)
     Small: $10     Large: $15

Salsa Chicken Casserole
     Small: $15     Large: $17

Breakfast Entrees:

Breakfast Casserole (Sausage)
     Small: $10      Large: $15

Blueberry Muffins

Chili Roasted Potatoes
     Small: $4     Large: $7

Lemon Squares
     Pan: $7

     Pan $5

    Small feeds 2-4 people.
    Large feeds 4-6 people

Please place orders by Friday at noon.  You can place an order by submitting this short and easy form!


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Menu #2

Want some yummy meals that can stay in your freezer for awhile and pop in the oven whenever you're having a crazy day and need a ready-made meal?

The Logistics:
We can schedule a time for you to pick up or I can deliver for a $4 fee.

Large: Feeds 4-6
Small: Feeds 2-4

Chicken and Rice Casserole
Large $16
Small $12

Spicy Pulled Pork
Large $17
Small $13

Deliciously Marinated Chicken Breasts (Perfect for Baking or Grilling)
$3.50 per breast

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
$6/large loaf

Standard Items:
Brownies: $5 per pan or $0.50 each

Blueberry muffins: $5 per dozen or $0.50 each

Monday, March 03, 2014

I've always had good skin. (ducks to avoid the Clearasil bottle)

I've always had good skin.  I know.  You hate me.  I'm sorry. :(

My skin is pretty dry, so moisturizer, GOOD chapstic and lotion are necessities.  But other than that, I've never had to do much with my skin.  I've never had major breakouts.  I've never dealt with acne.  I rarely had zits as a teenager.  I didn't even wash my face regularly until about 2 or 3 years ago.

I'm now thinking ahead for the future and want to be sure I'm taking care of my skin.  Are there any women out there with pretty good skin that are maybe 10-20 years older than me that have recommendations?  Of a skin care regimen or maybe even a particular product?

And before the hate builds too much, I have horrible feet and literally cannot wear a heel.  Cute shoes have been dead to me for several years.  Shoe shopping is a HATED activity because I can never find anything that fits that I can wear to work or the fancy wedding or even just out to dinner that isn't flat out ugly or kills my feet.  I have other issues, too, but I'll stop with the feet.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Want some easy meals?

I enjoy cooking.  You need food for your family.  I think I have a win-win.  =)

I'm planning to start small.  I will offer the below items for the below prices.  You can come pick it up Sunday afternoon or we can arrange a meeting place.  I can also bring them to work with me Monday morning.  I will begin Sunday, March 15.  At this time, this is my menu, but it may change or grow in the future.

These will all work to freeze or cook and serve immediately.

Chicken Spaghetti:
4-6 people: $12
2-4 people: $6

Russet Potatoes and Sausage
4-6 people: $7
2-4 people: $5

Beef Chili
4-6 people $10
2-4 people $5

Blueberry Muffins
0.50 each or $5 for a dozen

0.50 each

Preparing for Grief

A friend of mine asked me to write something.  I told her I'd have to have a little more direction than "something." ;)

The first thing that came to her mind was "Preparing for Grief."  Well, you can tell we were already talking about foster parenting, specifically a child leaving.  She has an open door to think of other topics later, but for now this is her request.

The topic has mulled in my mind for a couple of weeks now, as topics are wont to do.

How does one prepare for grief?

How did I prepare for grief?

Is grief different for different things?

As I'm thinking of these questions and my one personal and recent walk through grief: the thoughts that crashed in my brain as a mosaic of words and images included me covering my face with hands while tears were leaking through.  Racing for the trash can and hurling up everything that was in my stomach while trying desperately to get my hair out of my face.  Needing, desperately needing, to talk to Mom on the phone and hear the partnership of anguish that can only come from pouring so much love into someone else and realizing that someone, through no decision of ours, or hers, was about to walk away.  It meant stepping out of my pain and picking her up from after school care and acting 100% normally for the next 4 days.  Smiling, hugging, hearing stories of her day, helping with homework, reading stories together, cooking dinner, negotiating the length of time playing at the park, practicing her bicycle riding and convincing her to try a new vegetable. It meant I was constantly praying for the best way to let her know.  Where?  When?  What words?  It meant doing what was best for her.  Smiling, speaking softly, answering questions, sometimes the same one repeatedly.  It meant packing and smiling and giggling and laughing and reading stories and rocking in the rocking chair a little longer at night.  It meant holding her after she fell asleep and letting myself cry, but eventually realizing I needed to put her to bed and finish the final details of packing so all of her well-loved things would go with her.

It meant allowing myself to cry.  It meant crying so hard that once again I needed to race for something to empty my stomach.  It meant telling close friends and asking for mountains of prayer, but not making it public.  Not just yet.  It meant going to school on Valentine's Day knowing she was here for just a short time more.  It meant a dear friend saying, "I'm not going to hug you right now, but I'm here for you."  because she knew a hug was the worst thing in that moment.

The thoughts that jumbled together in answers to those questions were a collage of emotions.

I prepared for grief by loving her to the very best of my ability to the very last moment she was in my life.  I allowed myself to cry, to mourn the upcoming loss.  I didn't keep it secret, but I did keep it off social media until she had actually left.

I knew the phone call would come some day.  I even knew it was a possibility to come that day.  I was truly surprised that was the decision, but I hadn't been living in denial.  I had been living life, making decisions as if she would continue to be with me, but also knowing she might not.

Preparing for grief.  I'm not sure I did it well, but I'm also not sure I could have...or would have...done it any differently.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Am I a bore? or Am I an Adventurer?

I'm so inspired by my friend, Laura.  She is specifically studying a different word each month.  She wants to purposefully live life and not just meander through, letting the days pass her by.  It's so easy to get caught up in the mundane of life.  I get that!  But, she's encouraging me, just with her own purposeful study, to think outside my box.

In early February, Laura emailed us what she learned about Purpose in the month of January.  Then she ended it with her February word and question.


And now for my word for February... It is ADVENTURE. So friends, what does the word adventure mean for a believer? 


How fun!  My first thought was "Ha...I'm not adventurous at all!  I don't think Scripture says anything at all about us being I'm okay."

Then...I've thought about it...and my spirit yelled for attention and said, "UM, HELLO!  You're on a Foster Mom ADVENTURE" and I paused.  And prayed...and took a big sigh of relief, in all honesty, because I've always thought of myself as a boring, safe person...not an adventurer...and I like having a new definition for myself. :)  

I think the word Adventure means trusting God for the bigger plan.  I think it means stepping out in faith, not always knowing the answers or what is coming next.  I think Adventure for a believer means saying, "Yes" to the Spirit's leading, before even knowing the question.  I think Adventure means doing whatever you have to do, with all the resources the Lord provides you with, to use all the gifts the Lord has given you, so you can say "Yes" to whatever passion or purpose He has given you.  

For me, that meant quitting my job in Houston, moving to Plano, finding a new job and being a foster mom.  Because the Lord called me to it.  Hey, it's been an adventure!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

What's my purpose?

At the beginning of January, a friend of mine emailed several people.

Dear Friends,
I have a quick favor to ask of you.  For the first few months of the year I am doing a few word studies. I’m picking a different word each month to study and praying through. As I have been praying through the beginning of 2014 six words keep coming to my mind.
My word for January is purpose. I would love for you to help me as I study what the word “purpose” means in the life of a believer.
Here are three questions I want to ask of you. You can answer as many as you want. 
What verses do you think point to our purpose as believers? 
How do you know you are walking in your purpose? 
Do you know someone who is walking with purpose? If so, what does their life look like?
Thanks for taking the time and helping my study.


I LOVE her heart and her willingness to study and her willingness to reach out to others to ask for their honest feedback.  This was my response.

Hey Laura,

I LOVE that you're doing this!  I've wanted to respond several times...and am actually composing this over a couple of different "sittings", but I am loving it!

What verses do you think point to our purpose as believers? 

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

(It doesn't surprise you that I'm using this one, does it? ;))

But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

(I love this!  I know God is talking directly to Moses.  Reading it in context is key, of course, but His purpose is always to proclaim His name, and we are created, in part, to do just that!)

How do you know you are walking in your purpose? 

This one is hard to explain.  There are days I question it.  There are days I'm not sure I'm doing what He has called me specifically to do for HIS purpose.  For the most part, it's a quickening in my spirit that this is "right" or "nuh-huh, that's "off", don't step that way".  I just have to know that the path I'm on is leading me towards Him. I  have to know each step I take is for His glory.

Do you know someone who is walking with purpose? If so, what does their life look like?
I think Jerrell Altic walks with purpose. I see him living his life, pursuing the Lord and I think, "I need more of that certainty...more of that definitiveness."  Also, I love hearing my pastor give stories of his parenting and husbanding.  He is a purposeful parent, husband, pastor and leader.  I know he prays about decisions, does NOT make those decisions lightly and works hard to communicate them (personal or pastoral) clearly.  

Love you, Laura!  And, I'd LOVE to hear what the Lord is teaching you through your study of purpose this month.  :)  Can't wait for next month's questions!


So, what do you think?  What's your purpose?  Are you walking in purpose?  How do you know?  

February's word study is Adventure.  I'm looking forward to that one! :)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Day After

I would guesstimate that most of us don't have a routine for what we do the day after an extreme life change occurs.

Why?  Because it's extreme enough that it doesn't happen often, so we don't have to have a routine for it.

I'm kind of thinking I might need to think through a routine.  Something comforting.  Something stress relieving.  Something that cuts through the tangle of emotions and weirdness that is "extreme life change" and helps me to see my new normal again.

Friday after school, I stayed late to talk with Sara.  Sara has become a dear friend...someone I go to with joy and with heartache.  I left work about 5:30 or so.  I had thought wine, chips/queso and pajama pants.

I went with diet coke, pizza and chocolate lava cakes...and pajama pants. :)

I thought I'd watch DVR, but several people called to check on me.  I am blessed.

I slept on the couch, because I couldn't brave sleeping down the hall from her empty bedroom just yet.

Saturday, I slept in a little and worked for 9 hours.  It was good to stay busy.  Sunday was the first day I got ready of a morning without her.  Our morning routine wasn't there, and my heart was tender.  Our family celebrated Mom's birthday that afternoon, and it was good to have a family day.  We played cards, went for a walk, and just did family things like we used to, and we all enjoyed it.

Monday, I made an appointment for a massage and a hair cut/hi-lite and a house cleaning.  I'm looking forward to each of those in the coming days.  I hadn't been in her room since we left Friday morning.  I wasn't scared, per se, but neither did I want to go in.  Monday, I realized I hadn't checked an issue maintenance had come out to fix on Thursday, so without even thinking about it, I went in to her bathroom to check the faucet.  It was good to break the ice and enter.

Tuesday evening, I stripped the sheets from her bed to wash them, so the ladies coming to clean today could put new ones on.  This was weird.  It seemed so final.  Like, I was getting rid of the last remnant of something that was J.  I just had to do it pretty matter-of-factly.

Many people are asking, "How are you?" and I don't know how to reply.  I'm okay.  My heart is bruised, but beating.  I'm working more.  I'm reading more.  I'm talking on the phone more. (gotta up those minutes!) I miss her.  I think of her regularly.  I still use her as my example in class for a lot of things.  (Teaching commas, she is the subject of the sentence.  Character development?  She is my analogy.)  My kids relate to her.  I relate to her.  We can laugh and smile at her antics.

Friday morning wasn't a good time for hugs.  I was too close to an emotional meltdown.  But now?  I like hugs.  Several moms of students hugged me Friday afternoon, and it was good to feel human and not like "the teacher."  Friends hugged me Sunday at church.  Friends have checked on me via Facebook and text message and stopped me in the hall at work.  Hugs are a good way to connect and show support.

It takes a village?  No joke.  I feel like I'm surrounded by a village of loving, caring, wonderful friends and family, and I so appreciate every one of you!

I think my routine for extreme life change will be prayer, comfort foods, comfortable clothes, alone time, friend time, and giving myself a few days of grace where kind of anything goes.  Then, some pampering: whatever seems to be needed or wanted right then.  Many friends are reaching out this week and most of my evenings have something.  That's nice, too. :)

I am loved.  By my Heavenly Father, my earthly family, my friends near and far.  That's a pretty good routine to have. :)

Friday, February 14, 2014

My heart walked out the door today

My heart walked out the door today in the form of a little 5 year old girl.

How do I even comprehend this?  What do I do?  How do I wake up tomorrow morning and live life without her here?

We've known for a few days this was coming.  I actually got the phone call about 2:15 on a school day.  Sara covered my class and my team covered my dismissal duty.  (Because I have the best partner and best team ever.)

After all the kids were gone, I tried to call Mom, but she had a client and couldn't talk right then.  I began to cry.  I knew when I started, I would not stop.  And I didn' was ugly.  I didn't care.  My heart was shattering while still beating.  How does that happen?  I raced for a trash can and heaved up my lunch.  That had never happened before...and wasn't really on my bucket list if I'm being honest here.  I called Janell and she came out and just hugged me.  Sara came back from duty, and she and Janell both kept saying, "I'm so sorry.  I don't know what else to say."  And, can I just say, that is the PERFECT response.  There is nothing to say to this kind of pain.  They are my friends and they were there with me during the most painful moment of my life.  That is all that I needed.

I told J a few days later.  We weren't sure of the exact date of return, and the uncertainty was hard for an adult.  A sweet, innocent 5 year old didn't need dragged into that uncertainty any sooner than she had to be.  She was quiet and had some questions.  Later that day we began some packing.  I was a little nervous about this, but it was amazing.  She walked straight up to the dollhouse and knew exactly which dolls and stuffed animals were hers.  The same with the bookshelf and the toy chest and the dresser drawers.  She even got a fun, silly grin on her face when she held up a stuffed animal I've had since I was a little girl and said, "Alyssa, can I take this one?"  I just looked right back at her with a fun, silly grin and said, "No, you can't take that one with you." and she laughed and put it back.

As life always goes, and humans make life messy (y'all know that already though, right?), the timing changed.  There has been more uncertainty than I would like.

But today was the day.  She is gone.  As far as I know, I will never see her again.  God knows where she is.  My prayer for her is to know Him intimately.  That they will be best friends.  I was at If: Gathering in Austin a few days ago, and Christine Caine challenged us to pray for a miracle.  Something so big, only God could make it happen and all glory would go to Him.  I'm praying for J's biomom to become a believer.  I'm praying for women in her life to surround her with truth and love and grace and support.  If her mom becomes a believer, then she will lead her children to love Jesus, too.

I bought a recordable storybook called Under the Same Moon.  As I read it out-loud, recording my voice for her to listen to whenever she wants, I was thinking of the days she will be gone.  And on the last page, my voice broke just a bit.  She will always have my heart, but she is not mine to have.

I wrote her mom a letter.  I want her to know how much J has been loved.  I want her to know I'm cheering her on and rooting for her, even though we don't know each other.  I want her to know that J is getting good at riding her bike with training wheels, and doesn't like green beans but loves broccoli.  I want her to know nights are still a little hard, but she loves cuddling and reading stories.  I want her to be able to experience the time J has been in my home so that, as a mother, she doesn't feel quite so disconnected.

My heart walked out the door today in the form of a little 5 year old girl.  And I may not ever get it back.  But there is a little girl out there that knows she is loved.  And that is worth losing my heart for...

                                                     "Blessed Be Your Name"

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

212 degrees...or Pi Day...whichever

Updated...because life changed

You may know that 212 degrees is the boiling point for water.  211 degrees is really hot water, but it does not boil until 212 degrees.  One eensie weensie degree makes a big difference in hot and BOILING.

Last year, my principal asked the staff to go an extra degree for someone else on February 12.  Our campus is a kind and friendly campus.  But, what could we do to go an extra degree for a co-worker?  I loved it.  It was a HUGE morale booster.  I sent dinner home with a friend with sick kiddos.  Another friend gave each person on our team extra large sticky notes with a sweet note written on the first page.  One team member sent our team cupcakes.  And on and on it went.

February 12 is coming up again.  I've been thinking about what I can do to bless someone that day.  I'm going to be talking with J about what she can do to bless someone that day.

Would you like to join us?

Maybe it's buying the meal of the person behind you in the CFA drive-thru.  Maybe it's taking a new co-worker to lunch.  Maybe it's writing an encouraging note to someone that is down.  You certainly don't have to tell them it's 212, but maybe if you do, it will encourage them to go an extra degree, too.

We might do something for a stranger.  (I've thought of taking steaks to a fire station.)  But, I'm leaning more towards doing something intentional for someone that is close to each of us.

Or, we may do both.


Well, we ended up not doing anything for 212.  J left on 2/14, so the few days before were focused on different things than 212.  I would have enjoyed teaching her about giving.  I would have enjoyed the blessing of giving.  But at that time I was more focused on J's needs than paying kindness forward.

So, 212 went to the wayside.  Then, I saw a post on FB on March 14.  It's Pi day because of the whole 3.14 thing and all, so lots of people like to make/eat pie.  I decided I would combine the two.  I called my local fire station to see if they would be welcome to the idea of me dropping off a pot of chili and some pies.  They were very receptive, so I made a couple of my family's favorite chocolate pies and a big pot of chili and some fruit salad and dropped it by for them to enjoy.  I have no idea if they liked it or not, but I enjoyed doing it and smiled through all the prep and dropping it off.  It's just fun to do something for someone else.  I will definitely do it again, but hopefully won't have to wait until next 212 day or Pi day to do it. :)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Balanced in this Tension

Each day has it's ups and downs, but life definitely has a feeling of routine to it now.  The first 6 months had more wild swings of up and down than the last four weeks have had.

Over the last seven months, I have:

- questioned my sanity
- wondered how anyone could be a single parent
- thought about changing careers because holy cow, teachers don't make enough money to support a family
- cried a lot, which says a lot, because I'm not a crier
- taken mental snapshots of beautifully glorious moments in our lives that I want to treasure forever
- connected with friends that I'd lost contact with (being a mom is an awesome glue that pulled us together)
- relied on the wisdom of women who had previously been strangers, but they are also walking this oh, so difficult path of "middle mom", therefore they are now friends, confidants and sage advisers
- learned anew how to balance the personal and professional aspect of life
- figured out how to keep her engaged while getting necessary paper work or house work done, or even just make a quick, but necessary phone call (This is huge!)
- learned more of the vernacular of foster care
- begun to understand what the underlying question is based on a stated question, whether from her or from a case worker
- been blessed beyond measure to be a little girl's middle mom for whatever amount of time she will be here

We are balanced in the tension of the unknown.  How long will she be here?  Should I make Thanksgiving plans?  Can we travel for Christmas?  Should I go ahead and buy a PRECIOUS Easter dress I saw the other day?  Should I make her 6 month dental appointment?  What about the upcoming summer?  Should I make any plans for a small vacation for the two of us?  Anyone on a budget knows you make plans as far in advance as you can to get the best deal.  That's very hard to do when I have no idea how long my family will be a family of 2.

Balanced in the tension of planning for the long term: I'm hoping to buy a house this calendar year, Lord willing.  If I do that while she is living with me, it means I have 30 days from move-in to have all the inspections, paperwork, etc completed for the new home that I had for my current home.  Ha!

Balanced in the tension of my heart.  Do I protect it?  Do I give it away?  I've been to the trainings.  I know.  GIVE IT AWAY!  is the best answer for her.  She needs to know she's loved.  She needs to know she's emotionally safe.  There are days, I give her my whole heart.  There are days I don't.  I'm just being honest here.  There are nights I'm 100% emotionally available for her for as long as she needs me, and there are nights I just want to crawl back in bed.  There are days I drop her off at my parents' house, because it's easier to run errands on my own.  And there are days we run errands together, because she needs to learn how, and we need to be together.  There are days I answer "why?" 1,001 times without blinking an eyelash, and there are days I stop the questions after #10.  I'm getting better at giving her my heart 100% of the time.  I want her to be so emotionally safe and secure and loved because she has so much of my heart that I am in the fetal position when she leaves.

Balanced in the tension of ownership: She often wants to know "Is this mine?" and I have to cautiously answer that question each time.  There are many things that are 100% hers and will go with her whenever she leaves.  There are many things that are hers for as long as she lives here.

Balanced in the tension of timing:  This was harder in the summer time, because I was so unaccustomed to the interactions from the state and CPS was still figuring out a schedule for family visits.  It was hard to leave for a few hours and be an hour or so away, because they may call and say they were on their way to get her.  Also, the long term timing.  Each court date could change something drastic, or it may change nothing at all.

Balanced in the tension of names: She knows she calls me Alyssa.  She knows what my students call me, too.  She knows she calls her mom "Mommy".  We call ourselves a "team."  We work together and play together.  We're in this together.  We're a team.

She has a place in my heart.  When she leaves here, she will still have a place in my heart, even if we never see each other again.

Balanced in the tension of this thing we call Foster Care.