Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween


Sam's first Halloween

Charlotte's first night of Trick Or Treat; she was a little grumpy at first.

But once the candy started coming she got really happy!

Halloween Decorations

This post written in hopes of winning a new camera sponsored by SITS Blog. The following decorations were made specifically for 2010 Halloween in our home.

The candle sticks were made with one piece of molding and one piece of chair leg. The two pieces were attached together and a hole was drilled in the end for the candles. They were then stained. The candles were purchased from Walmart for $1.00 and we learned that cheap candles produce lovely drips.

Jack-O-Lantern eats trick or treaters who forget to wear costumes!

Random experiments from the lab!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Favorite Halloween Memory

This post written in hopes of winning a new camera sponsored by SITS Blog.

My favorite memory of Halloween is from 2006. I was in Hong Kong for a three week trip and on the night of Halloween my co-worker took me out to eat at an Italian restaurant in Lang Quai Fong. I was astonished to find it packed with people in costume, face painters and vendors selling headbands, light-up gear and trinkets. I suppose I thought only American's celebrated Halloween! Blush...

I had even brought a 60's dress with bright colorful flowers but my friend still insisted that we wear headgear and bought two headbands for us to wear to the restaurant. I wore a black furry headband with two bats on springs while she wore a red band with something bouncing off the ends. We also got light up jewelry. Two grown women, giggling like teenagers with headbands and jewelry.

After being there for two weeks, this little celebration made me feel like I had a part of home with me. It was a super fun evening and I'm so glad my friend took me out for the evening. It's a part of Hong Kong I will never forget. Sadly I failed to take any photos! Sorry!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Seriously out of breath now...

This entire week has been a roller coaster ride! When work ramps up, I work longer hours which means I get home late, kids go to bed late, I stay up late working online with Asia on SKYPE, I wake up late then spend extra time with them to compensate, go into work later (10am) then work later! Sigh!

Housework suffers. I just read a great blog post from Supermom about why "cleaning like a hotel" doesn't work. I realized that while I do make my bed every day and put one load of laundry in per day by Thursday I've got 4 loads of laundry to put away!!! So last night I compensated by staying up till 11pm folding laundry and it just so happened The Apprentice was on and folding laundry is which is the only way I can justify staying up that late.

I'm so glad it's Friday because I get off work at 1:30! Now that I have most of the laundry done I can relax and have fun with my friend who's visiting from Pittsburgh!

But wait - first I need to eat lunch, sweep/mop the floors, get groceries, pick friend up at airport by 7pm, stop by work and finish hanger card art that I couldn't finish this morning because I HAD leave work at 1:30 to meet husband at home by 2pm so he could leave for work (at least friend will get to see the really cool toy company I work for!!) After the file is finished we will come home and put the kids to bed, eat dinner and then we can hang out! Or hang out while eating. Whatever!

Okay tomorrow I'll relax because we are going to the beach!!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Working Mom Wednesday

Linking to Work, Wife,Mom...Life! for Working Mommy Wednesday. For this week the discussion is:

#1. What was your college major and did you end up working in that career?

I majored in Industrial Design which is an industry term for Product Development. I focused on Toy Design and got my first job in a toy company where I'm still employed today. It's not an easy field to specialize in because there are not many toy jobs for the quantity of people who want to work in this field! Often times toy designers will break off and create their own toy company and sell inventions or freelance their toy designs to major toy companies. Which leads me to the next question.

#2. If you owned your own company, what benefits would you offer?

If I owned my own company it would be in toys because it's a field I know and love. I'd likely work with my husband to make hand made wooden toys since he's really good at working with wood and I'd make home made plush toys - but first I need to learn to sew. Yes I've worked with plush toys for 10 years but it's all done in Asia and I direct the development through photos and corrections made in Illustrator and Photoshop.

Benefits - if our company were to grow to include finance staff and creative I would offer the following:
  • 6 weeks paid maternity leave
  • State mandates 3 months of maternity leave so the employee could take the remaining time as unpaid, or extend the paid portion by consolidating vacation and sick days.
  • Two weeks of sick time
  • Three weeks of vacation time (from year one)
  • 100% health care coverage
  • Allow 20% work hours to be covered by telecommuting
  • Employees would be encouraged to balance their work and personal life, meaning flex hours to come in early/later and leave early/later for doctor's appointments, children events, pedicures, etc.
Paid maternity leave is something that is dear to the heart of a working mom who's husband stays home with the kids. As the main income earner I HAD to return to work as soon as possible or we'd live off of savings.
  • With my first child I took 5 weeks - 1 week unpaid, 1 week sick days, 3 weeks vacation.
  • With my second child I took 3 weeks - 1 week sick days, 2 weeks vacation (I had used 1 week of vacation already)
Fortunately I had my husband at home to care for the children so I did not panic over leaving them behind, it was chiefly my health and well being that I had to worry about. With my daughter I felt physically healthy after 5 weeks. With my son, I was not ready due to suffering from mastitis over the weekend prior to returning but I did work from home for that entire first week back so I did it at my own pace.

In both cases paid maternity leave for 6 weeks would have been adequate time to bond with my babies and get myself back together physically to feel ready to deal with the pressures of an 8 hour work day but realizing some women need more time I think the above benefits would help tremendously!

Think I'll have any trouble filling staff positions?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Welcome to Random Tuesday, a fun blog hop brought to you by "The Un Mom", head over and check out her super cool graphics.

The following random thoughts totally borrowed from NPR's longest serving librarian Kee Malesky who has written a book called "All Fact's Considered", I'm seriously thinking of putting this on my Christmas wish list!

Red hair, the rarest human color (less than 2 percent of the population), is caused by a variation in what is called the "Celtic" gene.

Tiny parasites — eyelash mites called Demodex — live and die on the faces of most of us; they walk around, eat, rest, mate and lay eggs.

The great Russian epic Doktor Zhivago was first published in Italy, not in the Soviet Union.

A Steinway grand piano comprises about 12,000 individual parts, and it takes 450 skilled artisans to create one.

Candidates in the 2008 U.S. elections spent as much money on their campaigns as it cost to build the nuclear submarine USS Jimmy Carter.

At any given moment, there are 10 quintillion individual insects on Earth — flies, mosquitoes, beetles, bees, etc.

There are 785 million illiterate adults in the world, and two-thirds of them are women.

The oldest zoomorphic structure in the U.S. is Lucy the Elephant, a former hotel in Margate, N.J.

The first e-book was the Declaration of Independence, typed into a computer in 1971 by the founder of Project Gutenberg.


The following is something I heard on NPR during Saturday's broadcast of "Wait, Wait, don't tell me", McDonald's in China plans to offer catering for weddings! Obviously it's still a novelty there; can you remember when you were kids and this might have sounded like a brilliant idea? Or maybe you have kids now who might thing this a grand plan!

"Soup to Nuts". Ever heard of this phrase? I started wondering, what does Soup have to do with Nuts??? Fortunately there is a Wikipedia page on that.
It is derived from the description of a full course dinner, in which courses progress from soup to a dessert of nuts.
I've never heard of having nuts for dessert!

And that concludes this weeks edition of totally Random thoughts and new clips. Until next time, keep it random!

Monday, October 25, 2010


In my 3 or 4 years as a sponsor of a child in Bolivia I've written 2 or 3 letters. I may have started the sponsorship out of guilt, I can't remember. It was a typical Compassion Sunday where the pastor stands up and tells us about all the children in the world who have little and gives us all the reasons we should be a sponsor. I made room, a very tiny bit of room to support one child. Then I set up an automatic monthly debit and forgot about her. Occasionally I'd get a letter while plowing through bills, I'd stop and smile as she grew up to be 16 years old this year. I paused briefly to remember my 16th year and vowed to write to her.

This year I've watched Angie from "Bring The Rain" go to India and Ann from "A Holy Experience" go to Guatemala and I learned that writing to the children is a vital part of this thing called Compassion!  I can honestly say I never understood the power of a letter until I read their journeys.

And so I've devised a template in which I'll type a monthly letter to my child in Bolivia.  I've realized part of my crutch was that I hate hand writing, can never find nice paper, too many excuses prevent action.  I was also putting it off until I had time to order photos and then send photos of my family.  It finally dawned on me!  this child doesn't need finely printed photos, any photo would do even one printed from a regular Epson printer at work.  I then made a Word document split into two columns, left side for my words and photos, right side for translation!!!  I printed my first newsletter today and mailed it.

Thank you Lord, for showing me the way.  I pray this letter will bless my daughter in Bolivia. I also pray for the funds to afford a 2nd child in November.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Multitude Monday

One of my favorite bloggers, Ann Voskamp, writes a list of things she's thankful for every Monday, here is my growing list: 

I sit here bleary eyed, almost too tired to type but doing this because I regret that two months have passed without any thankfullness on my part.  How can two months pass without showing some written appreciate for the life, health and wealth I possess?  Even if no one reads this I know God appreciates a written account of my blessings.  So here I sit, humbled, committed and ready to share my wealth of blessings.

October 25, 2010

37.   Brothers – who are always there for me, growing up and now.
38.    Play spaces – for Charlotte to explore and socialize.
39.    Compassion missionaries - for showing me charity is more than just donating money, it's a gift of time and energy spent on the well being of another.  
40.    Nap time – I can honestly say I’ve never been so thankful for sleep. 
41.    My husband is thankful that I keep the cars full of gas so that when he’s running late for work they are full.
42.    Realizing that I had a wonderful childhood to be thankful for.  I went to school at a private Christian school affiliated with the church I grew up in.  I’m friends on Facebook with my kindergarten teacher and I love seeing the comments she makes about my children.  What a gift to know someone who still cares about me 30 year later!
43.    I read a statistic that two-third of women in the world are illiterate.  If you are reading this and you are a woman, be so thankful for the gift of reading. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pumpkin Patch - WIN

Last weekend was not fun for Charlotte so we tried again today and it was right before a big rain so the sky was sufficiently defused to make great photos with zero shadows!

Charlotte insisted on bringing her new favorite blanket; the cowgirl hat was my idea.

Where'd the Pumpkin go?

Here it is!

Dad! You know I can't share magician secrets!

Later that evening we had a family Halloween celebration with steak, garlic and mashed potatoes followed by this lovely pumpkin chocolate cake with cream cheese icing and chocolate chips for decoration. I used a sheet cake recipe and added 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree and 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. The orange icing totally reinforces the pumpkin inside which makes every bite very tasty!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Pepper Shaker and Survey phone call

Tonight I got a call for an election survey. Not a great time since I was hungry but I couldn't put Sam down since he was in a mood so I figured might as well pass the time.

I go into the kids bedroom to avoid Charlotte's noise but eventually she shows up with a pepper shaker and the lid is open!?! I continue to answer questions as she puts a finger in her mouth after touching the top - GOOD maybe that will teach her, I think. No reaction. She leaves the room and then comes back to sit on her brown chair and shake it onto her pajamas. Sigh! If I take it from her she will shriek into the phone. So I indicate furiously from the rocker that what she is doing is BAD! I rock back and forth harder and harder as she aggravates me with the pepper. She moves on to dumping it onto the brown chair until I can't take it anymore and grab it from her, and stalk out of the room. Fortunately the lady is done with her questions, Sam has finally fallen asleep and Charlotte doesn't shriek. It's over, I can finally lay Sam down, put Charlotte in bed and go eat dinner in peace.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Writer’s Workshop: About Me

I'm about to turn 35; there is something about 5's that makes one pause and consider the past and future.

Reflection on last 10 years
The year I turned 25 I got married, we financed our first vehicle purchase, I graduated from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale with a degree in Industrial Design and got a job at a small, start up toy firm where I'm still at today. We convinced Hasbro to buy our Monsters, Inc. plush line and sold millions that year; enough to finance a move to California to do a joint venture with another company that lasted 2 years.

California was amazing; husband and I enjoyed our life tremendously but it was too expensive to buy a home and Florida was looking like a more affordable place to raise a family so we moved back when the boss said time to return.

2nd life in Florida was fun for two years and then it got monotonous. I tried to fill the gap by going back to school for an MBA but got bored and impatient with all the classmates with no work experience and nothing to contribute. I decided instead to pour myself into work and traveled throughout Asia for 3-4 week stints, several times a year. I eventually moved up to Director of Product Development where I manage 100+ projects with a super fun creative group.

We started our little family in 2007 with Charlotte born in June 2008 and Sam born in July 2010. Don't ask me if we are having more, we are still getting used to these two!
Current life
Along with the two kids, we have one dog, three cats, a fish tank and lots of hungry ducks who visit every day and identify our 2 year old as their new best friend.

My husband is a stay at home day Monday - Thursday and works as a dog trainer on Friday and Saturday.

We have Sunday's off as a family together where we attend church at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale.

I started this blog 4 years ago this month to record my travels to Asia and let friends and family know what's going on in our lives because we live alone in South Florida. Husband's family is in Texas, my family and close friends are in the Maryland/Pennsylvania area.

But more than just family and friends - this blog has grown into a friendly place for readers of all countries, faiths and working professions. I count Atheists, Mormans and Christians as dear friends. Through Working Mommy Wednesday I've met doctors, lawyers, scientists, fitness instructors and government employees! I've learned tons of great ideas from my favorite home educator Grit. This has become a favorite place for me to share stories and read your stories. I just want you to know you are all welcome regardless of your background, I will not judge you.
Future life
I've never been good at projecting future goals, life just seems to happen regardless of my plans. However I would like to find time to get involved with some local charities but with two small young ones it might take some time to fulfill that dream.

I would also like to move closer to family but we are stuck in our condo right now with a lousy market so it might take some time to make this dream work out.

Regardless, we will continue to enjoy the local beaches and weather until life takes us elsewhere.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Working Mom Wednesday

Linking to Work, Wife,Mom...Life! for Working Mommy Wednesday. For this week the discussion is:

1. You know you're stressed when...

- Go to the bathroom and realize your sunglasses are still perched on your head like a headband, only it's noon, and you've already been at work 2 hours.

- Forget to take sunglasses off head when you get back to desk.

- Leave for lunch at 1pm and feel moment of panic when sunglasses are not found in purse - still on head.

2. What is in your purse?

I feel this can best be described with a photo montage.

First we start with the purse, it's from Korea. In 2003, the strap on my brand new purse that I had bought for the trip broke. My Korean partner in R&D development took the purse to the sewing room to be fixed and gave me another purse (because she's awesome like that). I didn't start using this purse until I got pregnant and had too much to carry with Charlotte/Purse/Diaper Bag/Water so this became the catch all.

Notice the net pouches on each side - one for my water bottle, one for Charlotte's sippy cup.

Two pouches in the front hold keys and iPhone.

It has a long adjustable strap so I can wear it across my body and chase after little ones without losing anything.

I know you want one now! GyaNimaru is the brand.

It may not be beautiful but I think it just needs a snazzy pattern and some fancy buckles and we'd have a winner for mom's!

As for the inside, I have an array of mini bags to hold various items like:
* clear cosmetics bag - so I can get through airport security
* vitamin bag
* comb/toothbrush set
* and the one with the round silver buckles organizes deodorant, notepad/pen, change purse, business card holder, iPod & headphones.

I wish I could tell you this is my weekend mommy purse and that on Monday I switch to a stylish working girl purse but I never seem to find the time to switch purses! Maybe it's because this one is so convenient; I never lose my keys and phone with the side pouches like I would in a deep cavernous hobo bag. AND It works brilliantly for travel with all the compartments.

Today I felt a twinge of guilt upon leaving the house in gladiator brown sandals which didn't match the bag AT ALL, nor did the remainder of the outfit - but I was running late so I didn't bother. Sigh!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Welcome to Random Tuesday, a fun blog hop brought to you by "The Un Mom", head over and check out her super cool graphics.

Finding efficiencies in my life -

I have a friend with 3 children who refuses to grocery shop with her kids. Before I had two, I thought why not discipline them to behave. Never judge another parent; now I prefer shop without the kids. It's faster and I preserve what little sanity I have left.

I've also found it very efficient to email the grocery list to my phone. That way I can stop at any time and get the groceries - on the way home from work, after they go to bed, on the way home from church when both kids are sleeping, etc.

News report -
This is old news but new to me - two years ago the New York Times reported a story of brides-to-be who were asking their bridesmaids to get botox and boob jobs! BOOB JOBS??? Seriously? Makes the recent wedding Charlotte was in the easiest I've ever seen. In fact, I tried to get a Bridezilla photo but the bride was so calm and sweet this is all we managed to snap:

Celebration of sorts -
- Charlotte is 2 years 4 months old today; she's growing up too fast. I realized this at the Pumpkin patch when she was less than impressed with the beautiful pumpkins. Last year she had just been walking for 2 or 3 months and every place we went was a new adventure. This year she was all MEH!

Baby on Board -
- Have you seen this sign? I used to think it meant drive carefully around this vehicle because there's a baby on board. Now that I have two kids - one who is constantly demanding gummy'
s, iPhone to play games, drinks, or whatever she's just thrown or dropped combined with random screaming/shrieking -- well I think the sign is really meant to warn other drivers that there is a distracted parent ahead.
Hope everyone has a great Tuesday!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Project Skinny Me

This blog theme is hosted by Miss Candy; I'm so excited to join her group challenge and lose post pregnancy pounds. Here is my status report after week six:

Well I did okay with eating all my veggies last week but that's about it. Somehow coming back from vacation put me behind with all my housework and bills so I spent every evening staying up till 11pm which put me in bed till 7:30am thus missing alone time to do a workout. I even missed yoga due to a work commitment! Huge bummer for me.

My BFF Gina finally bought The Shred DVD so I'm going to jump back on the bandwagon. She's coming to visit in two weeks so we have to look great for the beach!! Um yeah I live near the beach and go almost every weekend so that's not really my motivation, it just sounds great to say it!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pumpkin Patch - FAIL

I had big dreams for today. We'd go to a farmer's market pumpkin patch, ride the hay ride, get face painted, take tons of cute photos where everyone would smile at the camera.

About all we got right on that list was arriving at the pumpkin patch. The lines were too long to stand in with two small children. Here, at least one of us is having a great time:

We got her to hold a pumpkin, but it looks like she's working at a labor camp.

So I switched to the other child, but he's sleeping. At least I finally remembered to take down my bun which translates into great curls with no effort!

She didn't do any better with the other parent.

We still have next weekend to try other Pumpkin patches! I'm determined to get great/happy photos out of this Fall Season!!!

ps. I thought the unhappy photos weren't supposed to start until the teenage years!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Struggle with food

I don't struggle with my weight, I'm 128lbs.  I struggle with a love for food.  I spend too much money on food, exceeding my weekly budget when I should be saving money.  I throw away food that I've lost interest in, let it get old, spoiled.  I get Starbucks latte's every weekend when I could make them at home.  I love eating at Chick Fil A, Whole Foods buffet, Bonefish Grill, Cracker Barrel, the list could keep going.

Then I read this from Ann Voskamp

and my heart breaks because I know I can do better.  My parents didn't raise me to consume food like this.  We rarely ate out and by rarely I mean once a year if that!  We never ate fast food, except on vacations.  Mom didn't throw food away and the scraps that were available were given to the chickens.

How did I get so careless as an adult?  Too big of a paycheck?  Enough money to spend frivolously but yet not enough to sponsor more than one Compassion child?

I ask my husband if we can sponsor another child and he tells me sure, if we can afford it.

I read an article saying Walmart noticed a spike in sales at midnight on the last day of the month because that's when food stamps and government checks are renewed so they started stocking larger bulk items at this time, making sure plenty of formula and diapers were available.  A family of five sets aside $500 per month for all food and necessities.

We spend $600 - 700 per month, sometimes $1000 for two adults and two small children.  I cringe and cry with shame.  How can I ask God to help me with our mortgage crisis when I'm so irresponsible with what he has given me?

Can I redeem our budget in his eyes?

Answer to Prayer

My first child was born 5 weeks early and had to stay in NICU for 5 days.  I knew I wanted to breastfeed her but never counted on having her so early.  Her mouth was tiny, she was 5lbs 6oz and no one in NICU encouraged me to breastfeed her.  When I finally got her home I tried and she cried and cried as I tried to get her to latch on.  We tried for almost a week.  Meanwhile I pumped every 3 hours to build a supply.  Finally I got her to latch on when she was so angry and hungry that it just finally worked.  That week my mom and in-laws came into town.  As the first grandchild everyone wanted to hold her and give her a bottle.  I relented because I didn't know any better.  The following week I went through some extreme stress with my job, my boss was making it difficult for me to return to work.  I cried and struggled until the day I had to return, just 5 weeks after she was born.  In summary, I was never able to breast feed her more than twice a day but I was faithful with pumping every 3 hours.  Subsequently my supply was less than her need so I provided about 2/3 of her meals this way, and eventually that fell to 1/2 and then 1/4 to finally at 9 months I stopped.

With my second child I prayed throughout the entire pregnancy that I'd be able to breastfeed him entirely.  My dream and prayer have come true!  I've had to work really hard at it, but I believe the Lord blesses those who put in the effort.  Not only do I provide every meal he needs, I have an excess growing in the freezer that exceeds his daily need!!!  I feed him every meal except for 2 bottles while I'm working.  He's so in love with me that he hates bottles.  Now we need prayer that he will be more accepting of the 2 bottles his dad needs to give him while I'm at work.

I'm so incredibly thankful to God for his answer to a prayer that was so important to me.

5 ways to love your pumpkin!

Check out this beautiful pumpkin bought for $4.99! Forgot to check the weight but it's a nice medium size.

First pumpkin of the season get's made into pies, pancakes, muffins and pumpkin roll!

Step 1: Cook the Pumpkin
We cut the top off, cut the pumpkin in half, then quarters. Scrap out all the inside pulp and seeds, cook flesh side down in the oven at 350 for one hour. See detailed recipe here for more information. Save the seeds if you want to roast them!

Step 2: Make Pumpkin Puree
I'm not going to lie, this is alot of work. After the pumpkin is done cooking, remove the flesh from the skin; discard the skin. The recipe instructs making puree immediately but I made mine at the end of the day and was too tired so I saved it for the next day. I don't have a large enough mesh strainer to handle a pumpkin of this size so I couldn't let the puree sit and drain overnight. Instead I let it drain for about 15 minutes before packing it away in tupperware containers.

Step 3: Measure/Weigh/Store
The recipe says to store for one month in the freezer and 2 days in the fridge so plan your pumpkin size according to how much pumpkin you will need in a month. I need the following portions:

Pumpkin Pie - 15oz (use kitchen scale)
Pumpkin Muffins - 2 cups (use measuring cups)
Pumpkin Pancakes - 3/4 cup (use measuring cups)
Pumpkin Roll - 2/3 cup (use measuring cups)

I put each portion in a tupperware container with tape listing the date puree was made along with recipe it's intended for.

My pumpkin made enough for 2 recipes of Pancakes, 1 recipe of Muffins, 3 Pies and 1 double recipe Pumpkin Roll

1. My favorite Pumpkin Pie recipe can be found here. It's Libby's which is the brand we can buy locally in cans and I've found it to be the best mix of ingredients.

2. Pumpkin Pancakes recipe can be found here. Christina creates her own recipes and works for the Rachel Ray show. I love her food blog!!! Personally I've found this recipe needs more milk; it's too thick and my pancakes tend to not cook as well in the center when they are too thick. I suggest adding 1/4 cup milk or more depending on pancake preference. You might have a hotter griddle that can cook through the mix. It takes a little of trial and error. Take your time with this recipe but the end result is amazing.

3. Pumpkin Muffins - I've fallen in love with Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins and after buying over 5 muffins this month at $1.99 each it's time I made my own! This recipe claims to match and I'm trying it this weekend.

4. Pumpkin Roll with cream cheese filling - check out the recipe here. I'll probably make this in two weeks and freeze the entire role, taking it out one section at a time to enjoy throughout November.

5. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds - if you like snacking on pumpkin seeds or using them for garnish check out this recipe.

I'd love to hear about your adventures with Pumpkin! Please direct me to any blog postings you've written or can find. It is one of my favorite parts of the fall season!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Writer’s Workshop: My last babysitting gig

Mama's Losin' It

A memorable babysitting job.

When I was in my first year of college, a local family asked me to babysit their foster daughter. I had attended high school with their twin sons and they knew I was from a Christian family so I guess it gave me credibility in their minds.

It was usually a situation where the family wanted to spend some private time with their biological children who were into sports. I remember they lived in a very large expensive house so I'm pretty sure they were not doing foster care for the money; it was probably out of a Christian duty to help the less fortunate.

I already had a great part-time job at a coffee shop and didn't need the money; I can't even remember what they paid me. I just remember thinking it might be a one time gig and couldn't find a reasonable excuse to say no.

On our first meeting the foster mom was exasperated with the 10 year old girl. She explained that the girl had been sexually abused as a child and was thus very sexually outgoing in school - in other words, she was too young to have sex but flirted outrageously with all the boys and they were all terrified of her having not gone through puberty yet.

I remember feeling overwhelmed with sadness, sympathy and protectiveness for Becky. She was an absolute sweetheart and she adored me. Since I had my own car, I started taking her places - to the City Park for a photo shoot to support my photography class, to the movies, to my mom's house for good home cooked food and any where else we could think of. I had to get her out of the house or she would sit on the phone and call the boys in her class and that really freaked me out because of what her foster mom had said.

Once she convinced me to drive by her biological mom's house; I didn't have the heart to say no. She was so convincing, she just wanted to catch a glimpse of home. Later her foster mom called to ask me kindly to not do that again, I can't remember why but it had something to do with them trying to separate her from the abusive situation. It was heartbreaking, I couldn't imagine being separated from my mom!

On my last babysitting gig with Becky, she begged me to adopt her. I had no idea how to do this as an 18 year old with plans to move away to Pittsburgh in the fall and attend art school. I tried to tell her that she had it good where she was at, with a good Christian family who cared for her but she wanted more. She wanted a friend and a mom.

I know I was the best babysitter ever to this girl! I only wish I had found a way to stay in touch with her. I still have the black and white photographs taken at the city park and processed in my first photography class.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Working Mom Wednesday

Linking to Work, Wife,Mom...Life! for Working Mommy Wednesday. For this week the discussion is:

1. When work seems overwhelming, I ....
I had one of these days today and all I can say is I delve into the problem until I figure out how it started, how to fix it and how to make sure it doesn't happen again. I don't like leaving in the middle of a problem; I literally cannot leave work behind when something is urgent pops up.

I can't offer any coping mechanisms because I don't have any. I just become extremely focused and work towards resolving whatever problem is causing the stressful situation.

I'm looking forward to the suggestions of others!

2. Little things I love

* Little travel bottles by Aveda

* Staying at a hotel that has really nice bath products like Aveda and L'Occitane

* Gummies and how they make my daughter's eyes light up.

* Favorite coffee mugs - I have a vast collection and it seems to get bigger every year.

* Lindor dark chocolate balls

* Bang Bang Shrimp and Key Lime Pie at Bone Fish Grill, sometimes I stop by just to order these for take out.

* Chocolate Peanut Butter cups from Kilwins

* Bubble bath in grapefruit scent from Origins (although I've run out for some time now and tend to use my daughter's SpongeBob bubbles)

* Husband opening car doors

* Husband making breakfast or any meal for that matter!

* Estee Lauder cosmetics give away with purchase; I time my bi-monthly foundation and concealer purchase with their give away, it's where I get my entire lipstick collection!

* Girl Scout cookies - isn't it about time for them to start selling those again?? Tag a-longs are my favorite.

* My two month son's smiles

I could keep going but I need to get on with my day!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Welcome to Random Tuesday, a fun blog hop brought to you by "The Un Mom", head over and check out her super cool graphics.

- I get too much mail. It's driving me crazy. My time is so shortened now with two kids that I don't have time to open all this mail and shred all the credit card applications! My mom had a great idea, she said to send the mail back to the company in the envelope they provide with the pre-stamped corner and eventually they will stop sending it. I think I'll also add helpful notes like "I DON'T WANT YOUR STUPID CREDIT CARD"!!!

- Strange news story of the week - a 20 year old college student took his car in for an oil change and discovered a loose wire hanging that was connected to a black box. The mechanic removed the box and handed it back to the kid. Later that week, FBI agents showed up at his door asking him to return their tracking device. Anyone else find this a little strange?

- Corn meal & flies - Sunday I went to make cornbread but stopped in horror when I realized there were flies in the container! Fortunately I had a back up container with a tighter lid and no flies. Maybe I'll just save this for our Halloween collection.

- Bubble Funnel - It cheers Charlotte up every time, now if I could only turn this into a marketable toy!
Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Project Skinny Me

This blog theme is hosted by Miss Candy; I'm so excited to join her group challenge and lose post pregnancy pounds. Here is my status report after week five:

For the past two weeks I've been off the bandwagon. Our trip to Maryland was fun and the wedding was a success! I've even lost one pound by doing nothing but you don't want to hear that!! Here's more on how I plan to get back on track.

For this week I've made a commitment to eat more fruit and veggies. I often struggle with this area due to prep time and I'm not a fan of eating veggies so I really need a push to include them in meals. Stopping at my favorite Italian market did the trick, they have beautiful veggies and fruits at cheaper prices than Publix (our local grocery store).

Putting everything in a wooden bowl helps me to see and remember to eat them every day, although I don't recommend leaving open corn out for long, it starts to shrivel fast.

Sunday night I made the following dish -

Fresh Tomato & Spicy Shrimp Linguine

prep & cooking time - about one hour

Start with your favorite skillet, we like our cast iron skillet. Crush 3 cloves into a hot skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil. Stir fry for about 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of diced onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of diced green pepper and cook for 3 minutes (add more oil if necessary so the veggies don't stick). Add 2 cups of diced tomato and cook on medium temperature.

Spice to taste and here are my favorites: oregano, parsley, sea salt (also known as kosher salt), black pepper and sugar.

The sugar helps cut down on the acidity of the tomato sauce.

Since this is a small dish for 2-3 people I sprinkle the spices in for color and flavor. For your sake I'll advise the following amounts:

1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Once the mixture is bubbling for 5 minutes turn heat down to a low simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

In the last 15 minutes of cooking make the pasta.

Start with thawed or fresh shrimp, remove the veins, shells and tails. Spice as follows:

1/2 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika (it can be found in a red can in most stores, if not available just use regular paprika)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/16 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/16 teaspoon hot red pepper

Those last two measurements are really a dash or a pinch or even a sprinkle!

Sprinkle seasonings over shrimp and cook in olive oil for 5 minutes on medium heat.

You may notice I didn't fill the plate with pasta, that's because we each had a fresh ear of corn.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

My Amazing Cornbread Recipe

I have to share this recipe because I've gotten really good at Cornbread. First I use a cast iron skillet that has been treated lovingly with salt and oil for years so nothing sticks. Then I do the following:

1 ¼ C flour
¾ C yellow cornmeal
¼ C sugar
3 t baking powder
½ t salt
1 egg
1 C milk
¼ C oil (cooking oil, can be canola or sunflower)
Pre-heat oven to 375.
Rub oil in the iron skillet, don’t leave any extra floating around. Just wipe along the sides and bottom.
Mix Dry ingredients in medium bowl.
Mix Wet ingredients in small bowl.
Make a hole in dry ingredients by moving mix against the sides. Pour wet ingredients in center and carefully fold into dry. Try to fold with as few of stirs as possible while making sure all dry ingredients are mixed with wet. If mixed too much, cornbread will become tough.
Pour into skillet and cook for 20 – 25 minutes.

The Wedding

On the morning of our departure flight, Charlotte woke up sick with a fever. We should have immediately run out and got her Pedialite but we were distracted with packing and a Tropical Storm that was threatening to cancel flights that day - oh and there was the matter of husband's sudden back pain. I swear if there wasn't a wedding and three paid tickets + the dog's ticket we'd have called the whole thing off.

We left 4 hours before flight departure to cover all possibilities (with a storm you never know what can happen in traffic). Five minutes out of the house and I realized husband had forgotten his cowboy boots and only had Converse on his feet. Can't wear Converse to a wedding so back to the house for the boots and on the way I realized wearing sandals was a really lame idea in the rain so requested he grab my Nike's.

Ten minutes after our second departure Charlotte threw up everywhere - it hit the car seat, covered her outfit and hit the floor. Fortunately there was a Walmart nearby so we stopped and husband ran inside to buy Pedialite. While he was gone I cleaned the mess, changed her outfit and repacked the diaper bag with another back up outfit just in case. I was so thankful we had a minivan! I could not have done all this in the pouring rain with a car.

We arrived at the off-site airport parking 2 hours before departure and thankfully they bring the bus directly to our van which limits lifting and lugging heavy luggage. Then they dropped us off directly in front of curb side check in which again limited our need to carry luggage (with 2 car seats, suitcases, two kids and a dog well it's a ton of stuff). I'm so thankful of these small mercy's in travel.

Inside there were no lines; we took our time going through security with dog, Charlotte, Sam along with unpacking bag of liquids, water bottle, laptop and removal of shoes/accessories.

On the plane both kids fell asleep for the entire flight.

More to follow.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Working Mom Wednesday

Linking to Work, Wife,Mom...Life! for Working Mommy Wednesday. For this week the discussion is:
Top Ten _________ (give us a top ten list of anything!)

I think one of the biggest struggles I've faced as a mom and full time employee is taking care of myself. With two children I often prioritize their needs above myself and husband but I've had to make a few iron clad rules to take care of myself and I believe doing these things makes me a more productive mom and employee. Here's my top ten list:

1. Shower - I literally cannot start the day without a shower. Even if I'm not going anywhere it's critically important.

2. Exercise - if I can fit any form of exercise into the day I'm happier. It could be 1/3 a mile walk with the family in the morning or 20 minutes of Shred DVD with Jillian Michaels. Every Wednesday I give myself a night off to do a yoga class and it's amazing how fast the week goes by and this marks the mid-point of the week.

3. Blogging - it's a form of networking which is always helpful in the work world. I love connecting with other bloggers and learning through shared experiences.

4. Breakfast - a well balanced meal in the morning is critical to starting the day on a happy note with co-workers and boss. I've noticed people are genuinely nicer and easier to be around when I start the day with a smile.

5. Snacks - this is a carry over from being pregnant but I've found that if I have snacks in the morning and afternoon I'm a much happier person.

6. Water - another cross over from being pregnant! I have to drink 64oz of water a day. It gives me energy, supports breastfeeding and makes me a happier person. I get really tired and sluggish without enough water in my day.

7. Cosmetics Kit in my Purse - because looking great makes me feel great. Often times I rush out the door without taking the time to do make up but with several guaranteed red lights on the way to work I always manage to feel presentable by the time I arrive.

8. Chocolate - once a day is a great perk!

9. Coffee or Tea - it can even be decaf! I love coffee or tea in the morning and afternoon. It makes me incredibly happy.

10. Small meal or snack before coming home at the end of the day - with a newborn in the house it's highly unlikely husband has gotten dinner started. As soon as I get home I try to help get it started but usually my daughter climbs all over me and everyone wants my attention all at once. It can take 2+ hours to make dinner. If eat before leaving work then I'll come home happy and settled. No one wants to see a frustrated impatient mom at the end of the day.

I don't follow this list every day; usually I fall short on the water and snacks but I've found if I really stay focused on these things then I'm far more likely to get through the day with the happiest of attitudes.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Random Tuesday Thoughts

Welcome to Random Tuesday, a fun blog hop brought to you by "The Un Mom", head over and check out her super cool graphics.

Today is our last day in my hometown of Hagerstown, MD, here are some random photos taken this week.

Giant Political Signs! I'm used to seeing small yard signs, check this out!

And have you ever seen signs for the Register of Wills position? I don't even know what that is!

Upon arriving to the nail salon my cousin announces "oh look, cow". Presumably it's owner was inside getting a pedicure?

Here's a photo of a poodle mailbox standing on what appears to be a giant drill bit.

Have a great Tuesday everyone!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

I met my husband 16 years ago today

16 years ago I attended my 1st day of college at The Art institute of Pittsburgh. I sat beside a tall skinny guy from Texas with long hair and no Texas accent. He asked me out for Chinese food and a few years later he asked me to be his wife. Tonight we celebrated with our 2 children, 16 years of friendship at Hong Kong Chinese restaurant.