December 31, 2011

No Resolutions

I'm not one for making "resolutions." I don't even really like the word. It just seems like the label people put on the things that they hope somehow they can pull off in the coming year, with no real plan or motivation to do so.

So, I don't have any New Years Resolutions. But I do hope to make some changes in 2012, because 2011 has darn near worn me out! The sole reason for my attempt at change is this: I AM TOO BUSY.

I'll let you in on a little secret. I don't sleep. Well at least not nearly as much as I should. And when I do finally get to bed, I don't sleep well. So I'm constantly in this cycle of grumpiness and sleep deprivation and I'm pretty sure my hubby and kids have noticed that I'm frequently not well rested.

I also can't seem to say "no" to anyone or anything. And even though I feel like there are lots of women who are more efficient and more productive and more involved than I am, maybe I'm not cut out to be one of them. I'm going to start with trying to use that little two-letter word more..."no." If I say it to you, don't take it personally.

Mostly, I just want to be a wife, a mom, and a Christ follower, and not much else. I want to focus on my family more and everyone else less. I want to read more books and read my kids more books. Go to bed at a decent time and get up without feeling like junk. Study the Bible more and spent more time talking to Jesus. Do more of the things I WANT to do and less of the things I feel like I HAVE to do. Spend more time with friends. And maybe even blog more, because I'm kind of enjoying this a little bit :)

If you make resolutions and keep them, I applaud you. And if you don't, well that's fine too. We shouldn't need a new year to roll around to decide it's a good time to change. But it does seem like a good time to revisit goals. So if you have any tried and true suggestions for cutting down on busyness, let me know. I'd definitely be interested, as long as it doesn't involve me saying "yes" to something!

December 22, 2011

A Little Christmas Sparkle

If you happen to need one last gift for the little princess in your life, I have a closet full of adorable dresses that need homes. We have several dress-up dresses left, all hand-sewn with love by my mother-in-law. If you missed us at the craft fair but would still like one, please let me know. I would love to have them gone for Christmas, and as always, our adoption fund will thank you! Each dress is $20, and I do have a few boas, princess crowns and accessories left as well.

Here's the current inventory:

2 piece silver/black stars - size 5/6
Black/Silver leopard - size 5/6

Black/Silver star sparkle - size 5/6
Rainbow Animal Print - size 5/6 SLIM
2 piece black/silver sparkle - size 5/6
Red/Silver Hearts - size 5/6

Purple Leopard - size 4/5

December 15, 2011

Waiting Game - Round 1

A lot of people have asked recently, "Where are you in the process now?" My answer is one that I think is going to become a very common one. "We're waiting."

Even though that answer is pretty un-interesting, I'm glad people keep asking. It reminds me that we're surrounded by people who care about how things are going for us. We're so thankful for everyone who is supporting us on this journey!

So, as for where we are right now.....

We recently became well acquainted with this little sheet:

Thankfully it wasn't because either of us were arrested. We had to have a couple sets of fingerprints taken; one for the state and one for the FBI. We sent the state copy back to Bethany with all our initial paperwork, and the other went to the FBI as part of our background checks. They usually take 6-8 weeks to process. Up until a couple of months ago, they were being moving along quickly (dare I say, "efficient" to describe the government?) and getting them done in LESS than 6 weeks. Now suddenly they're taking the full 8. We sent them the day after Thanksgiving, so unfortunately it looks like we'll be well into January before we get the go-ahead to begin the home study visits. We had hoped to begin the visits before the end of the year, and although our agency said that if you're sure you'll have no record they sometimes will start the visits early, we aren't holding our breath.

So until then, we WAIT. I hear it's something we'll become good at by the end of this process. In the mean time, we filled out an 11 page questionnaire on our childhoods and have 10 hours of required online training to complete.

In this busy season, it's probably OK we aren't having to schedule home visits. Instead we can focus on celebrating our Saviors birth with the crew we already have here.

December 8, 2011

To juice or not to juice?

One of the first things we cut out when started eating more whole, natural foods was juice. Not necessarily because I disapproved of juice in general, but more because I couldn't find any that I DID approve of when I read ingredient labels in the store. And while they often don't contain nearly as many confusing, chemical-sounding ingredients that other items that come in a box at the store, the simplicity of the single ingredient "orange juice" is almost as disconcerting as the long, chemical laden lists.

Have you ever juiced a real orange yourself? Tastes incredible, right? And different, depending on the size, ripeness and type of orange. (Sorry for picking on the orange, but it's the easiest example. The same applies to other fruits). Ever wondered why when you buy a carton of Tropicana, Minute Maid or Simply Orange that they all taste EXACTLY the same? Here's why:

"The technology of choice at the moment is aseptic storage, which involves stripping the juice of oxygen, a process known as “deaeration,” so it doesn’t oxidize in the million gallon tanks in which it can be kept for upwards of a year.  
When the juice is stripped of oxygen it is also stripped of flavor providing chemicals. Juice companies therefore hire flavor and fragrance companies, the same ones that formulate perfumes for Dior and Calvin Klein, to engineer flavor packs to add back to the juice to make it taste fresh. Flavor packs aren’t listed as an ingredient on the label because technically they are derived from orange essence and oil. Yet those in the industry will tell you that the flavor packs, whether made for reconstituted or pasteurized orange juice, resemble nothing found in nature. The packs added to juice earmarked for the North American market tend to contain high amounts of ethyl butyrate, a chemical in the fragrance of fresh squeezed orange juice that, juice companies have discovered, Americans favor. Mexicans and Brazilians have a different palate. Flavor packs fabricated for juice geared to these markets therefore highlight different chemicals, the decanals say, or terpene compounds such as valencine.
The formulas vary to give a brand’s trademark taste. If you’re discerning you may have noticed Minute Maid has a candy like orange flavor. That’s largely due to the flavor pack Coca-Cola has chosen for it. Some companies have even been known to request a flavor pack that mimics the taste of a popular competitor, creating a “hall of mirrors” of flavor packs. Despite the multiple interpretations of a freshly squeezed orange on the market, most flavor packs have a shared source of inspiration: a Florida Valencia orange in spring." {SOURCE}
Mmmm...sounds delicious. I know I love drinking flavor packs.....ICK! So why are "flavor packs" not listed in the ingredients? Because they're made from by-products of the original orange. Nevermind that the by-products are so checmically altered that they don't resemble anything that occurs naturally in nature. I'm going to blame that one the US's messed-up food labeling system.

So what can you do instead if you aren't comfortable with giving your kids (or yourself!) flavor packs with their breakfast? The answer to this question is the same as it is for a lot of questions in the "real food" world.....make it yourself. The taste is far superior to the carton anyway, especially when juicing Valencia oranges in the Spring. And you get pure, fresh juice. Nothing taken out, nothing added.

The best way to accomplish this is of course, to buy a juicer. Not a small investment, unfortunately. But, a very healthy one, and, if you purchase the right juicer, one that would allow you to be ultra-healthy and juice veggies too. Ever had fresh carrot juice? It's amazingly good! And so unbelievably healthy! While I haven't had the privilege of purchasing my own juicer, my brother owns one and willingly shares with me. It's really pretty fun to come up with new juice combinations, and (somewhat to my surprise) my kids love it!

If you're interested in getting a juicer, PLEASE do your research! There are many different types and there are pros and cons to each, depending on what qualities you're looking for. Because high-quality juice and maximum nutrient preservation are important to me, I prefer a masticating juicer. If speed is more important to you than nutrient content, you'd probably want a centrifugal type.

And of course, even if you juice your own fruits, limiting intake is important. Fruits still contain lots of natural sugar, and drinking several glasses of fresh juice is still going to give you a sugar overload. But fresh carrot juice with just a slice or two of apple?...Now that might be a good place to start!