Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Foster Care | Update

I've got some onions and celery slow cooking in my turquoise dutch oven for some Italian stew and it smells so good, so oniony and earthy and buttery. 

This was lucky since I had no idea what to make for dinner. I haven't felt good lately and Witt is working through the evening so I thought about just having a salad and letting him fix Annie's macaroni and cheese when he got home. (Sorry 1950's).

 But there was spinach, Italian sausage, white beans, onions, garlic- so soup it is...


It's gotten a little chilly out, especially at night, and I wish I could get out and enjoy the fall weather but weekends are so full and so I try to get an evening run when I feel like it.

 But I can see a breeze out the window right now and the trees are turning and it reminds me that no matter how run down I feel right now it's fall, my favorite season. 

(On a side note, I just got a Mac laptop and as a PC user this is so different! I'm enjoying it but is there ever a learning curve...)

I thought I would give an update on our foster care process. 

When we decided to become foster parents I learned more from other blogs than I did from any agency website about the process and I still love reading about the experiences of other parents. It is so vastly different and circumstantial. 

Every agency or DSS will require different things and especially depending on the State. This is what we have had to do so far which I'll highlight below.

Everyone says that foster care is a waiting process. 


I thought they meant once you are licensed and are waiting for a child to be placed with you. I didn't realize the actual licensing part is a loooong waiting process. 

At first it was busy busy getting paperwork together. We had to have copies or certified copies of our marriage license, driving record, criminal record, fingerprints, car insurance, vehicle registration, college diploma, drivers license, vaccinations for pets, medical forms, doctors forms, and a lot of other paperwork signed.

 I got all that together in about a month because I was so excited, so anxious, I love paperwork and I hated it hanging over my head. 

I gleefully filled binders with our copies and application and got the house ready for the first home visit and fire inspection.

When I first heard of all that we needed to do and information to gather I thought it was a lot. But then I realized that A. Every child is worth the process and B. The agency isn't so much vetting us to see if we are good people as they are trying to find the right children to place with us. 

They want us to succeed as foster parents and they want the children to be placed as few times as possible to minimize their trauma, so they want, as best they can, to find the right fit.

It makes sense and makes me feel like our agency and we are a team- which we are.

Right now we are in Foster Care MAPP classes. These are every Saturday from 9-4.

I enjoyed our first class last Saturday but I think because of my obsessive research I did not hear a lot of new things. 

But one thing that really stood out to me is that foster care is not cut and dry, not black and white, there are a lot of grey areas, a lot of circumstances you can't judge right off the bat. We heard interviews (that must have been filmed in 1999- just saying) with birth families and foster kids and foster parents. I learned that:

Not every family that has their children taken away are horrible people, many do love their kids, they have either found themselves in bad situations or made poor choices.

Most children love their families, even if the family didn't do a great job taking care of them. 

To be able to be compassionate on all sides of foster care is so important. We are parenting together - and yes sometimes those parental rights are taken away. And then adoption is an option. But until then everyone involved in the process is a team. 

OF COURSE learning all this from a chair at a table will be completely different than being deep in the trenches. I realize that. But I do like hearing from all sides of the story.


Ongoing: we should have 2 more home visits and then I have a portfolio of photos of our house, selves and life I have to get together for the adoption side of this process.

I don't know why but I am completely procrastinating on this. It just seems so daunting to describe our life in 10 photos. 

Something they don't tell you, but many blogs did and I agree, is that this can feel like a lonely process. It's not that no one is interested in the process- they are.

But the people who are excited for you are just kind of waiting around too, there's no baby bump pictures to post on Instagram, no one is asking you if you have any morning sickness, and you can only inform people of your home studies or fire inspections so many times before they may start to snooze...or maybe you are just afraid they will...

All in all- everything we have had to do, everything we have learned, every experience so far has only made me want to do this more. I feel like this is our calling and I'm excited about the future. 


Here is a recipe for my Italian Soup that I posted back in the Little Brick House. Sadly this is a post with the photos lost from that episode where all the photos were lost, but I'll leave you with some from tonight. I just used spinach tonight and I didn't have a mushroom or green pepper and I added fresh rosemary. So there you go. 

Harvest Italian Soup

2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 Italian sausage links, out of casing
1/2 cup red wine
12 ounces mushrooms, sliced
5 cups of chicken broth
1 14 ounce can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups shredded kale
1 cup fresh spinach, stems removed
1 14 ounce can white beans, drained
3-4 drops hot sauce

Salt and pepper

Saute the onion and sausage with the olive oil until nice and browned. Add the celery, pepper and mushrooms and red wine. Saute for about five minutes. Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, white beans, kale and spinach. Simmer for at least thirty minutes or until everything is tender. Add the hot sauce and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese and serve.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Warrior Pose

Lately I've been setting small goals for myself because huge goals just do not fit in with my busy work schedule or brain. 

Exercise is so good for me emotionally and physically but usually my goals are to sign up for a 10k, train extensively for several months, race it in the scorching heat, and then don't run again for 6 months.
 (I see you, last year).

Instead now my goals are smaller and as they are more attainable, they'll get bigger. 

One of my goals has been to do at least 15-30 minutes of exercise a night.  I've been really loving yoga this summer as the days have been too hot to run and it's amazing what my body can do with time and practice.

I'm probably the least flexible person there is, but as I've been continually stretching and working poses I've improved a lot. 

Last Saturday I went to an outdoor yoga class that my lovely friend Aislinn taught and it was really fun.

Gypsy Slow Down

I was nervous to go, since I'm so new at yoga, but doing yoga outdoors with the breeze blowing the hot air away and a community of people doing it with me was really nice. 

And despite the hilarious car alarm that kept going off at the end it was so peaceful and relaxing. We ended with a glass of wine here and I had a wonderful time meeting new people.

Another goal of mine is to always be working on a project. 

Being creative makes me happy.

I have burnt myself out on projects in the past by making 3 baby blankets in a span of 3 months and so forth but this time I'm going slow and I'm making something for my family.

Gypsy Slow Down

 My friend at work taught me this beautiful chevron pattern and I love how it's turning out. When I started working on it Witt said, "Is that for your baby?" 
That made me happy.

It is for my baby.

 I just haven't met them yet or know when they will show up.

 God is continually showing me that being unconventional is a good thing.

 It can be really fun, actually.

Gypsy Slow Down

I leave you with is this incredible tilapia dish I made last night. 

Just don't let the fabulous I-need-a-new-phone photos above fool ya.

I got the idea from this beautiful blog and used what I had on hand, changing it up quite a bit.

The white wine with the sweet onions and herb butter made the most flaky, tender fish. I love the soft herb and the tangy flavor of tomatoes.

 I think you could use any white fish, such as cod, as in the original recipe.

I used the little lemon tomatoes from our garden for this and some of the grape tomatoes and they added a nice acidity and freshness.

I eyeballed how much of the herbed butter I used and I had some left over so just use whatever feels good to you. That's pretty much my cooking philosophy :)

Herb Butter Tilapia

5 pieces tilapia, fresh or frozen and thawed
1 red onion, diced
2 leeks, chopped and washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 stick butter, softened
3 tablespoons chopped thyme
3 tablespoons julianned basil
1 cup sliced fresh grape tomatoes, or any small variety
1/2 cup white wine (I used chardonnay)
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400.

In a pan or skillet, saute onions, leeks and olive oil for 5-10 minutes until soft and starting to brown. Remove from heat. 
In food processor or mixer, combine butter and herbs and mix until combined.
In a 9 x 13 baking dish, rub 2-4 tablespoons of the herb butter on bottom of dish. 
Place fish in dish and salt and pepper. 
Rub fish with 2-4 more tablespoons herb butter. 
Pour onion/leek mixture on top of fish and top with tomatoes. 
Gently pour wine over fish, leaving onions and tomatoes on top.
 Cover dish with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes or until fish is white and flaky.

 Uncover and top with parm cheese, and broil until melted. Serves 4-5.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Foster Care | The Journey Begins

"A child is always worth the process and more valuable than the costs"


As my brush touched the first stroke on the wall this song came on.

"Just know you're not alone, cause I'm gonna to make this place your home..."

That's my sweet promise to our future foster children, 
however long they are with us.




What a summer (!!)

 Some highlights:


A big crop of honey! (can you say crop?) from Witt's bees.
Just some of the jars above which they sold at the Company Shops.


It was fun having Cate and Gabe in town from Kansas with my niece Ayelee.

For the 3rd summer we had fun going most Saturday's to the outdoor concert in Saxapahaw.

My family joined us one night when the Griffins were here.

We had to take Ayelee's clothes off it was so hot out there! 
We all wished we could join in but we aren't babies so we had to keep our clothes on.


The best garden produce this year was okra. Literally tons and tons. My favorite way was to roast it at 400 with some olive oil and tomatoes. 

Fried okra is always delicious.


My skinny cocktail repertoire continues to grow. 

Here a fresh mint and agave mojito. 


It has been so much fun getting the kids room ready and the nursery for our foster kids. 


We had our first home study this week.

It went really well. I love our caseworker and she loved our house and neighborhood. 

We are knee deep in paperwork, every time I turn around its another document I have to find, but I don't mind that part at all. 

Excited to start classes in October and even more excited to start on our foster to adopt journey. 

Some of my favorite posts about foster care are here:

And this one. As well as this.

This book  has been so eye opening for us and helped me feel more confident about our future in this journey. 

Working with kids from troubled backgrounds is a whole other set of skills but with love and patience I know we can make a difference in their lives. 

Looking forward to fall....


....for so many reasons. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016


"You'll never find peace by hating, lad. It only shuts ye off more from the world. And this town is only a cursed place, if ye make it so. To the rest of us, 'tis a blessed place!"
-Brigadoon 1954

Oh Canada. 

Brigadoon is the name of my parent's lake cottage (and also a wonderful movie) and this year we ventured up yonder into the wild wild wilderness. We stopped twice overnight on the way up to go by Watkins Glen and Ithaca and a few other adventurous places. 


Lovely view from the park we stopped to have lunch at on the way. Shikellamy Park.


Watkins Glen was everything Witt said it was and more.


An incredible Greek feast in Downtown Ithaca.



Drinking Lauren's no fruit Sangria.


Silly P.


Witt and Ela's mad skills on the board.



Ela caught her first fish with Uncle Witt!


Piper doesn't love the water, or getting dirty or the bugs so basically we are the same person.


A new favorite, and the reason I have eaten super healthy for 3 weeks since, Poutine from a food truck in Barry's Bay. 
Gravy. Fries. Cheese.
You're welcome. 


While Witt and Dad fished Mom and I colored and drank Italian white wine I bought in the bay. Lauren and Mary gave me this coloring book and I mean....Cats in Paris. Hashtag INLOVE.


Catch o' the day


Red on the dock.


Writing in my journal, coffee, and feeling anxious about big decisions this fall.

Nothing calms me down more than writing it out and giving it to God.


Pretty much where Mom and I were when the sun was out.


Eating the catch. Yum!


"This is the place of places and it is here."
Gertrude Stein

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Your Cup Will Never Be Empty, For I Will Be Your Wine

Last weekend we celebrated six years of marriage in Edenton, NC at a beautiful B & B, walking distance from downtown and the water.


This year has been challenging in some ways but I'm so thankful that the challenges have brought us so much closer and not further apart.

I can't imagine navigating life without Witt by my side. His positivity, his common sense, his smile, his laugh, the way I always feel completely safe when I'm with him. I love that he can take charge of any situation and I know that it will turn out ok.

Infertility has been the hardest thing I've gone through but Witt never stops saying "when" we have children not "if."

Front porch sittin'

I know its often been hard to understand what I'm going through but he's put aside his own feelings so many times and encouraged me when he didn't understand why a pregnancy announcement or another baby shower upset me so much.

He's also helped me many times to put my feelings aside and realize that every baby is a gift from God, and to celebrate every life, regardless of my circumstances.

One thing I've tried not to do is let infertility define us. There are times where all I want to do is  try all the latest diets and read all the books but the majority of the time I want to focus on living life and enjoying these moments we have before kids, even if it's lasting longer than we thought.


I want to look back and think of fun trips, and laughter and date nights, of serving at church and making gifts and parties for family, instead of misery and impatience.

I believe there is a reason we go through things and I'm happy to be saving for adoption and letting God be in charge right now.

Everyone's story is different and life is a ebb and flow with many different paths.

I can honestly say I am happy with the journey God has given me and so thankful to have a best friend by my side.


Our B & B had the most delightful front porch and when it rained on Sunday we sat at a table and drank rosé and read books and magazines.



The lighthouse
of Edenton, NC.


When we got to Edenton we ate lunch and then walked around the tiny town. We stumbled into a wine shop and found they had a beautiful little patio squeezed between the downtown buildings and filled with plants and tables and chairs. We bought a glass of wine and sat outside.
It was an auspicious beginning to the trip.



 Sunday was rainy and so we did a trolley tour around Edenton and learned about the history of the town.





One of my favorite afternoons it continued to rain and rain but we borrowed umbrellas and explored the graveyards and towns on foot.





At night we walked downtown and sat by the water with a glass of wine.





Witt was inspired by the gardens which we learned are maintained by local volunteers.




Witt gave me my favorite book in hard cover which was so thoughtful.


 The trip was our real gifts but I did give Witt Bob Dylan's latest CD. This CD ended up being Sinatra inspired which are my favorite songs so it was a gift for both of us.
I love this song.


Looking forward to many more.

"With this hand I will lift your sorrows. Your cup will never be empty, for I will be your wine. With this candle, I will light your way into darkness. With this ring, I ask you to be mine."
-Tim Burton

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