For Those in the Valley

•July 4, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Everyone goes through the valley at one point or another, but for some it’s a very familiar place. Some have even been in the valley so long, they can barely remember what it looks like on the outside. I’ve been in the middle of my valley for almost five months now, and the trenches keep getting deeper and deeper. But this valley is not the end. There is life on the other side. We may not know how long it will take to get there, but we will eventually make it!

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“In the Valley”

In the valley you find us bleeding.
In the valley you see our tears.
In the valley you walk beside us
And give us strength to face our fears.

Valley Scar Closer

It’s in the valley where you’re most visible.
Your blazing glory shames the night.
For in the valley we realize our weakness
Gives you space to show your true might.

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By your grace we’ll reach the other side.
Then we’ll turn around and finally see
That with our blood and tears you painted a masterpiece,
And through its beauty we’ll be set free.

Yosemite-at-Sunset-CoutesyGrovelandHotelatYosemite1

Fostering and Attachment: Riding the Line Between Enough and Too Much

•June 12, 2014 • 5 Comments

Fostering and Attachment: Riding the Line Between Enough and Too Much

So they tell you in your training to TREAT YOUR FOSTER KIDS AS YOU WOULD YOUR OWN. Okay. That sounds great in theory. I mean, why wouldn’t you? You are their legal guardian and, essentially, their parent for that time, especially if they’re young. To treat them like some kid you’re babysitting long-term would be unfair to them.

But if you treat them like your own child, won’t you get too attached? That is the most common excuse I hear from people who say they “could never be a foster parent.” “I would get too attached,” they say. Or “It would be too hard to let them go.” Or on the flip side, “I don’t know if I could be a mom to someone else’s kid.”

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So HOW DO YOU GET ATTACHED ENOUGH BUT KEEP FROM GETTING TOO ATTACHED? I don’t have the answer. I don’t think anyone does. Each situation is completely different. All I can do is share my experiences. Being a foster parent three different times now, I’ve seen THE GOOD, THE BAD, and THE MESSY in regards to attachment, and I’ve learned so much!

In all three experiences I feel like there has been one common factor in determining how attached or not attached I became to my foster kids. And that is HOW TEMPORARY OR PERMANENT I VIEWED THEIR TIME WITH US TO BE.

Our first foster kid was 4 ½ years old, and we had him for only a month and a half. It being our first go-around and me not being used to having kids in the house, especially over summer break as a teacher, I felt like a babysitter who never had the privilege of going home. I’m ashamed to admit that when he finally did go home, I silently rejoiced and quickly settled back into my old normal life. The first placement is always the hardest, but knowing we were only going to have him for such a short time made it feel more like a temporary babysitting gig instead of being an actual mom.

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Our second experience as foster parents was much better. We took in two siblings, two and three years old, for eight months. At first, when we thought they would only be with us for three months, it felt temporary again, like our watching these kids was just a little disruption in our normal lives. Then we found out their stay would be much longer. My reaction to that news was not what I expected. I’d been so stressed adjusting to being a mother of two toddlers that the thought of having them a lot longer should have made me feel overwhelmed or frustrated. But somehow, I felt better. I realized what had been making those first few months so stressful. I’D BEEN HOVERING ABOVE MY LIFE, WAITING FOR EVERYTHING TO GO BACK TO NORMAL. When we knew the situation would be a little more permanent, I could finally stop hovering. This life with two precious toddlers was no longer a temporary disruption but my new normal. Once I settled into that idea, life was better. Because I was no longer a babysitter, but a mom. Even if I wasn’t their real mom, I was their mom for that period in time. Real motherly attachment came much more easily at that point.

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The faster you can ACCEPT the NEW NORMAL of your life, the faster you can ADJUST and ATTACH.

So that helped getting attached enough, but what about getting too attached? The main factor that helped with this was knowing the whole time they would be going home. WE KNEW IT WASN’T PERMANENT. The parents were doing what they needed to do to get them back and we could tell they loved them. I think when you know the kids won’t be staying with you permanently your mind erects a barrier in your heart that helps keep you from getting too attached. Like a self-preservation technique or something.

Was it still tough seeing them go? You betcha! I knew it was the right thing for those kids in that situation, which sadly doesn’t always happen, and that helped tremendously. But it was still hard, and I missed the heck out of those kids.

Gianna and Draydon Easter

Then we got a two-month-old, and our world ended. Foster moms told me having a baby is different. They weren’t kidding. DEVELOPING A BOND WITH A BABY IS ALMOST INSTANTANEOUS. And I don’t even like babies. With babies, you are their entire world. They are solely dependent on you. But my attachment to this little girl didn’t stop there. It kept growing. With each new day. With every new first. With every smile and laugh. With every hug and cuddle. With every bedtime story and song. As she grew closer to me, I grew closer to her.

I told myself in the beginning I would try my best to guard my heart. Looking back now, I have to laugh at my naivety. There’s no guarding your heart from the natural love that develops between a mother and baby. WHEN YOU ARE HER WORLD, SHE BECOMES YOUR WORLD.

Angel holding my arm

Still, it’s not impossible to keep a little healthy distance in your heart from a baby you’re caring for. I have a friend who was able to do that. Want to guess what the key ingredient was? She knew the whole time he was going home. Sadly, this time we did not get that luxury. Our baby’s case was up in the air as far as whether or not she’d go home. So, since there was always a chance her stay could be permanent, there was nothing to stop my attachment. She has become and is our little girl.

Angel with headband

Without getting into too much detail (since legally I can’t), we may lose our little girl. As I write this, we’ve had her for fourteen months. We are all she truly knows. I will say if she does end up leaving us my heart will shatter into a million pieces, and I will never be the same. Only by God’s grace will I recover.

It’s not over yet. But I can say with certainty that no matter what happens, I don’t regret being her mommy for the time I was allowed. The love, joy, and pride I’ve experienced being her mother and knowing I’ve made a huge impact on her life was worth every tear, every anxious thought, every sleepless night, every gut-wrenching prayer, and every heartbroken “Why?” cried out to God. The bond we’ve shared was what she needed. But it was also what I needed. And I will forever be grateful to her for that.

Angel walking in yard

Fit Friday – Low-calorie Microwave Berry Dessert

•April 11, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Do you ever have a craving for a berry cobbler or pie but don’t want to go through the trouble to make a whole dessert? And/Or you’re trying to be good, so that’s not an option anyway?

Enter  SUGAR-FREE PUDDING MIX and MICROWAVE to save the day!

I saw a recipe recently that used corn starch with berries in the microwave. I didn’t have any, but I did have sugar free pudding mix. It not only thickened the fruit, but it also added some lovely flavor! And at only 63 calories and 8 grams of sugar! Delicious! You can then top the warm, pie filling-type fruit with cool whip, sugar-free chocolate syrup, granola or other crunchy cereal, or my Greek yogurt based fruit dip (see recipe below). Either way, this dessert is easy, quick, and low in calories and sugar.

First, put your berries in a microwavable bowl. I used 1/2 cup blackberries and 1/2 cup strawberries.

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Second, sprinkle 2 tsp sugar free vanilla pudding mix onto fruit and stir it in until coated.

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Third, microwave for 1-1 1/2 minutes (preferably with a microwave cover because it tends to boil up). Watch it carefully. This is what it will look like.

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Last but not least, top with whatever you want or eat by itself. You’ll probably want to let it cool down for a few minutes though…unless you want to burn your tongue.

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You could use that cool-down time to make my fruit dip to use as a topping! It’s only 68 calories and 2 grams of sugar. This makes a pretty big portion, so if you used it with these berries, it would be more like berries and cream rather than a topping. You could do half. Here’s the basic recipe.

  • 2 Tbsp Plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 3-4 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp sugar free cheesecake pudding mix
  • 2 Tbsp Cool Whip light

Stir the first 3 ingredients together until lumps are gone. Then stir in the cool whip. (You can use any pudding mix with this for different flavors!)

 

LOW-CALORIE MICROWAVE BERRY DESSERT

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup berries (I used half strawberries and half blackberries)
  • 2 tsp sugar free vanilla pudding mix

Directions:

  1. Mix berries and pudding mix in microwaveable bowl.
  2. Microwave for 1-1 1/2 minutes.
  3. Let cool and top with your favorite toppings!

 

 

Teen Tuesday – Facebook is Life?

•April 1, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I just read this thought-provoking article written by a teen who, heaven forbid, doesn’t have a Facebook account! I have a Facebook account and have had one for a few years now, and although I use it daily, I am completely aware of the massive way it has affected not only my life but society as a whole and the way we interact as humans.

What she has to say is quite interesting and worth a read! Check it out! Click on the Teen Ink icon to take you there. :)

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Fit Friday – Herbalife Chocolate Chip Cookie Shake

•March 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Fit Friday post coming at you a tad late. If I haven’t shared this shake recipe with you yet…shame on me. It’s tastes amazingly like a chocolate chip cookie and is only 279 calories with 10 grams of sugar! I’m eating/drinking it as we speak, actually. :) Okay, without further ado…

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Shake (Herbalife)

  • 2 scoops Vanilla PDM
  • 2 scoops Cookies and Cream HM
  • 1 Tbsp SF Butterscotch pudding mix
  • 1 Tbsp quick oats
  • 1/2 Tbsp mini chocolate chips
  • vanilla extract to taste

Variations:

  • Add 1/2 Tbsp chopped pecans
  • Use 1/2 Tbsp butterscotch and 1/2 Tbsp vanilla pudding mixes
  • Add 1 tsp cocoa powder for a Double Chocolate Chip Cookie shake
  • Add 1 Tbsp PB2 for a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie shake

Tuesday Toddler Tip for Teething!

•March 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment

No this is not a new weekly feature. In the past I’ve done Teen Tuesday posts, usually YA book reviews or some post relating to teens. I’ll still do those, but who knows! Maybe a Tuesday Toddler Tip or even just a Tuesday Tip post will show up again. :)

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I just had to share this because I know how many frustrated parents go through teething, especially the molars around 1 year of age! I’m going through that right now, and it’s horrible! Little angels become holy terrors with irritability worse than a woman on PMS and tantrums worse than a 3-year-old spoiled brat. Parents wake up 10 times at night to a screaming baby, barely getting any sleep. Random vomiting, diarrhea, fevers, and other strange physical issues.

But worst of all is them crying out, “Mama!”  clearly in pain, and you’ve got nothing left up your sleeves to help.

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I’m here to add one more trick to put in your Super Mama bag!

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Now, I can’t take credit for coming up with this myself. I read a stranger’s comment on a friend’s Facebook post about her child teething. Also, after googling it, I’ve found it’s a fairly common thing, but I’d never heard of it before. Anyway, I decided to give it a go. And…it worked wonderfully! I’ve used this trick 4 times so far (once just last night), and each was a success!

Okay, so here it is. Ready? Brace yourself. It’s mind-blowing.

Frozen Waffle.

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I know, right? Super simple, yet brilliant. It’s something most mom’s of toddlers have in their freezer anyway. It’s cold to soothe their gums without being shockingly cold like a teether (which my little one pushed away several times while crying in the middle of the night). It distracts them from their crying by giving them something to suck and chew on and gradually eat. Plus, it puts food in their bellies and soothes their tummies to help them go back to sleep! Every time I’ve used this trick, I give her about a third of one and let her chew on it while I sit down with her and let her relax. Then I give her a quick drink, and off she goes to bed again! If you’re giving her ibuprophen/tylonel too (if you haven’t just a few hours earlier, lol), give it to her first and by the time she’s done with the waffle it will have kicked in.

I’m sure it won’t work for everyone as every child is different, but, hey, it’s worth a try!

Fit Friday – Refreshing Citrus Herbalife Shake Recipes

•March 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been craving fruit and citrusy things lately. I think I’m just anxious for the cold weather to go away. Seriously, here in Oklahoma we’ve gone from snow days to 70s to freezing rain back to 80 degrees and then back down to the 30s…all within a few weeks! As I write this, it’s spring break, yet it’s raining and 36 degrees out.

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I’m not a huge fan of the smoothie-type shakes, though. I’m more into the shakes that mimic desserts! So, to appease my fruit and citrus cravings, I decided to experiment with some different Herbalife shake concoctions using lemon and/or lime juice. Basically, I just google different types of desserts and then try to mimic them as a shake. These turned out wonderfully! I included pictures of the desserts that inspired these shakes. If you click on them, it will take you to the recipe for that dessert. :)

If you’re craving spring and summer like I am, maybe these will tide you over until it actually gets here for good!

Coconut Lime Berry Cake Shake

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  • Vanilla PDM
  • 1/2 Very Berry HM and half French Vanilla HM
  • 1 Tbsp SF White Chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice (remove 1 Tbsp of the water for this)
  • splash of coconut extract

 

Lemon Pistachio Cookie Shake (Or Lemon Blueberry Muffin Shake)

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  • Vanilla PDM
  • French Vanilla or Dulce de Leche HM
  • 1 Tbsp SF Pistachio pudding mix
  • 1 Tbsp pistachios (I used almonds and it tasted just fine)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (remove 1 Tbsp of the water for this)
  • (You could add 1/4 cup blueberries instead of the nuts and it would be a lemon blueberry muffin shake!)

 

Lemon Cheese Bar Shake (saw recipe for lemon cheese bars and they looked amazing! This shake is amazing too!)

  • Vanilla PDM
  • French Vanilla HM
  • 1 Tbsp SF Cheesecake pudding mix
  • 1 Tbsp pecans, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (remove 1 Tbsp of the water for this)
  • I added 1/4 tsp butter buds to add to the whole crumb topping thing – you could probably do 1/2 tsp)

 

Lemon Berry Cake Shake (I haven’t tried this yet, but I don’t think you can go wrong with lemon and berries. I have to try this dessert too!)

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  • Vanilla PDM
  • Very Berry HM
  • 1 Tbsp SF Vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (remove 1 Tbsp of the water for this)
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • A few shakes of cinnamon
  • (Adding 1/4-1/2 tsp butter buds  probably couldn’t hurt with this recipe too)

 

Key Lime Pie Shake (I linked the recipe for the Weight Watchers Key Lime Pie on this one for you!)

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  • Vanilla PDM
  • French Vanilla HM
  • 1 Tbsp SF Cheesecake pudding mix
  • 1 square graham cracker
  • 1-2 Tbsp lime juice (remove 1-2 Tbsp of the water for this)
  • (you could add coconut extract for that coconut lime flavor)
  • (For a Coconut Lime Cake Shake – I would add coconut, use only 1 Tbsp lime juice, and change the cheesecake pudding to vanilla.)

 

Key Lime Cinnamon Roll Shake (saw this Pillsbury recipe for Key Lime Pie Cinnamon Rolls, so I had to try it! I will warn you, this shake has a very unique taste but is still good if you want to try something different.)

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  • Vanilla PDM
  • Cookies and Cream HM
  • 1 Tbsp SF Butterscotch pudding mix
  • 1/2 Tbsp SF White Chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 square graham cracker
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice (remove 1 Tbsp water for this)

 

Lemon Cookie Shake (I’ve shared this creation before – Awesome!!)

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  • Vanilla PDM
  • French Vanilla HM
  • 1 Tbsp SF White Chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 Lorna Doone shortbread cookie
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (remove 2 Tbsp of the water for this)

 

Chocolate Lemon Cake Shake (So weird! You can’t taste the lemon juice like you’d think. I put 1 1/2 Tbsp in it, and all it did was add a refreshing crispness instead of having a heavy chocolate cake flavor. Interesting… Maybe I’ll try 2 Tbsp next time?)

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  • Chocolate PDM
  • Dutch Chocolate HM
  • 1 Tbsp SF White Chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice (remove 1 Tbsp of the water for this)
 
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