Friday, July 29, 2011

Busy and writing

This is the sixth post I've written this entire month. All I can say is that Summer is busy. Also, I've been spending most of my writing time knocking out new talks for Engaged Encounter, which has overhauled it's entire outline, forcing allowing all Engaged Encounter presenting teams to rewrite all of their talks. Goody.

No, really, it's a good thing. The outline was horribly outdated. It was originally written in the 1970s, and parts of it gave that away. Badly. So this is a good change. But a little inconvenient.

Anyway, we are presenting a weekend in September, and we had nine talks to write/rewrite. I have written drafts of seven talks. Joe still has to go through them to edit and add his own examples. But we are making progress.

I've had a lot of other writing projects this Summer. I had to do a very important report for our NFP center. And then there was the homestudy paperwork. All while Olivia is dying of Summer boredom and asking me to listen to her iPod, practice writing letters with her, watch her do a handstand, play Dora kitchen with her. The kid is sorely missing her friends. Luckily, she has been sleeping late (allowing me some computer time to get all of this writing done). And her friends will start coming back to babysitting in 12 days. She's so ready.

Guess what Summer project didn't get finished (or even started)? Painting. We still have n@ked baseboards from the Thanksgiving flooring project and walls that need a new color. I'm not sure when that will happen's not that important really. It just feels weird sometimes to realize that it's sort of unfinished.

Olivia is calling. I'm supposed to be practicing letters with her. Gotta get on with my Summer duties.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Alfredo sausage stuffed peppers

This recipe was inspired by my husband, who loves the alfredo sausage lasagne I make for him (tomato allergy). The alfredo sausage came from my grain-free no-tomato lasagne recipe. The instructions for the peppers came from my Grandma's meatloaf-stuffed peppers. The peppers came from my plot in Dad's garden. And they were YUMMY!

Start with as many peppers as you want to stuff. Six large would be good. I had nine small-ish ones. Cut out the tops and seeds, rinse, put in boiling water for five minutes, then arrange in baking dish.

Meanwhile, brown 2lbs of sausage (breakfast, italian, whatever you like. It really doesn't matter). Drain. Add alfredo sauce (from jar, or you can make your own, which is what I did). Heat through.

Stuff meat into peppers.

Cover dish (I used foil) and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why travel sucks even though it is awesome

I have what I think is a respiratory infection, which came on the heels of a nasty cold, which started in the midst of our long weekend of travel in mid-July during which we slept in hotels and spent hours in the car. This awful monster illness is eerily similar to what I got immediately following Spring Break week, when we took a short vacation trip. I think I am sensing a pattern...

When I have a cold, I feel like I am just waiting out life until things get back to normal. My energy is sapped. I have very little to offer Olivia, who is bored stiff and watching her upteenth episode of Disn#y Jr crap just to pass the time. I am so sorry, kid. I would love to take you to the pool or the park or, heck, the backyard. But the steamy, hot weather sends me into fits of coughing, and I'm just trying to keep breathing as it is. (Ok, let's face it...I would avoid the steamy hot weather even if I was well. But I might be more inclined to drive to the library or something.)

The thing is, I really look forward to trips. It is fun to plan and think about doing something out of the ordinary. It's good to have a diversion from the routine. But the price I just sucks.

Here's what I don't get...I am the only one getting sick. How is that possible? What makes me more susceptible to whatever germs we are encountering when the three of us travel together? And how can I fix that?

Ugh. There are no answers. I hate that I'm spending precious Summer time wasting away the days being sick. Babysitting resumes on August 10th. That's just two weeks away! Must get out of the house while we can!

So. We are going "to town" to buy canning jars and spices to make some dill pickles this afternoon. High excitement going on here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Whoa, baby. Summer is busy.

Geez. It's been almost three weeks since I posted. Whoever called it Summer "break" was seriously disturbed.

We have been busy. That is the understatement of the year. Our homestudy has taken off. In the last three weeks we have completed all of the paperwork, attended our homestudy interview and class, had our home visit, and now we sit on our hands and wait until the agency finishes our report. Probably about four weeks to activation. And away we go!

Olivia has been talking a lot about baby brother or sister. She often says she wants a baby brother AND sister. I tell her it's a tall order. She's been repeating that to everyone. "I'm going to have a baby brother and sister, but Mommy says it's a tall order, but that's OK." So. Possible, but not likely. But she can keep praying.

Meanwhile, Olivia seems to get the whole adoption thing. She knows that she grew in Miss Samantha's tummy and knows without a doubt that we are Mommy and Daddy. I guess that's good enough. I'm sure more questions will come with baby, but she seems to drink stuff in and process it pretty well, so I'm not really worried.

We spent last weekend in the car, mostly. We visited Joe's Grampa (10 hour drive), who just turned 95 and was having a big party. He is 95 but with the energy of most people in their 70s, and it's always fun to see him. We came home by way of my brother's house (5 hour drive), where we saw my niece in their local amateur circus. It was fabulous. It's really amazing what those kids do. Then we came home. Five days, four nights, four different hotels, more than 25 hours in the car. Olivia napped less than 90 minutes (total) in the car in ALL that time. But she slept well at night. And she was pretty well behaved in the car. The trip went so much better than expected, except for the "trip cold" I contracted that is now beating me down. *Sigh* The joys of traveling.

Today I'm processing garden produce and trying to rest and stay inside. IT IS HOT. We've had temps in the 90s and dew points in the 80s for, well, what seems like forever. Swimming doesn't even feel good now because most pools are now bath temperature, and the air is so damp that it just feels like pouring hot water over you in a steam bath. Yuck.

Olivia has picked this horribly humid time of year to decide that she wants to experiment with straight hair. So we bought a straight iron and tried. It started out straight-ish. Then after an hour outside it looked like this.
I won't even bother showing you what it looked like by the end of the day. Yikes! But it did give me an opportunity to trim the ends, making it infinitely easier to style. I didn't realize the ends were so damaged and tangled. I blame the hours in the pool.

Oh, speaking of the pool, while we were swimming in one of the hotel pools, Olivia decided to get brave and swim the entire length by herself! I was just a few steps in front of her the whole time, but still...she never needed me. Just jumped in at one end, swam underwater a few feet, then doggie-paddled to the end. The kid is a fish (no lessons, just inborn talent). Too bad the chlorine ruins her hair.

Monday, July 4, 2011

A very happy 4th

Our last visit with Samantha went so well that we decided we wanted to invite her up to see our house and go with us to Local Theme Park. Today seemed to work out well for all of us, so plans were made and cleaning was done (because let's face it...when new people come over, we can't help but clean).

The day started out a little iffy. Samantha had trouble getting to sleep last night and was very, very tired. It rained all morning. But we held fast to our plans and charged forward.

She got here around 10 am, giving us plenty of time for her to play with Olivia in the house and backyard a bit before lunch. We had hoped for this because she hasn't been here, ever. She's never seen Olivia just be Olivia in her own environment. They had a great time. We ate lunch, got things ready and packed the car for our trip to Local Theme Park.

Our afternoon consisted of mostly waterpark attractions. The rain that hung around all morning disappeared by lunchtime, and by about 2 p.m. the sun had shown up and it was getting steamy. Perfect for a little water. Olivia found a new favorite she had been reluctant to try before (to say the least...she would melt down once she got to the front of the line and refuse to ride). But for some reason (maybe because she didn't want to back out in front of "Miss Samantha") she agreed to let me push her down this super tall water slide. And then we rode it 11 more times. Yeah. She loved it.

We stayed until the end of the day and then watched the fireworks display. Aside from Olivia freaking out a bit over the noise, it was a perfect end to a darn-near-perfect day. Many great memories were made for Olivia AND Samantha. I was thinking that this is what a good open adoption can be. So positive.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A very good day

Joe took the day off Wednesday and we all got dolled up and headed "to town" to attend the ordination celebration for our new bishop. Big event. Lots of people. We were lucky enough to find some of our friends with preschoolers and sit with them, which helped Olivia (and the other kids) survive the nearly-three-hour liturgy.

It was beautiful. The kids were surprisingly well behaved. We left with our good humor still intact (which cannot often be said after certain behavior issues during a regular Sunday Mass, so this was definitely a win).

Close to the end of the liturgy, Joe whispered to ask me if we should call Samantha and see if she was available for a visit. So I texted her, and she promptly texted back, and an hour later we picked her up for what turned out to be the nicest visit we've probably ever had. We went out to eat (at a place that a bunch of our ordination-attending friends also coincidentally chose). Olivia was a little grumpy at first, having taken a 45-minute nap in Daddy's arms at the end of Mass and still not fully awake, but she perked up after a bit. It was relaxed and enjoyable, just like old friends catching up.

Our relationship with Samantha has not always been easy. She has had a lot of drama going on in her life, and it tends to cloud her ability to be fully present to Olivia when we see her. But Wednesday was great. I am really, really hoping for more visits like this one.