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Lilypie Kids birthday Ticker
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Oh, The Cuteness
Be forewarned, these photos may cause death by cuteness!

She kept making one face that we never caught on film. I will always regret this. It was the cutest face ever! She would stand completely still with her mouth and eyes wide open in shock. The best was when a family was walking towards us down the streets. The three adults were dressed up with big wigs. I can't believe we missed the shot.

Heading out and just happy to be owsigh!

Of course, what's Halloween without Nana? I assume that some day she will allow her dolls to remain clothed. In the meantime, we go for the natural look around here.

We were out for one hour. She rode in her stroller for about 10 minutes.

Our neighborhood has three girls from China. What's amazing is that there are only about 30 homes in our subdivision. You may recognize Snow White from last week's party photos. She and Sera are great friends.

Pure, unbridled joy!

Sera put Nana in the stroller and wanted to push her. She quickly realized this may not work.

Can we do this again tomorrow night?

Needless to say, Halloween was a big hit. It's not about the treats for her yet. She loved being outside, walking around the neighborhood, all the people out walking with us, all the costumes, and all the dogs. I didn't realize that every one of our neighbors seemed to have a dog. Sera was running up and down the street yelling "HI" to everyone.

It's a miracle that a human heart can hold so much joy and love and not just burst from it all.

Last year, this was the time when the wait got really hard for me. We hit our one year anniversary for being logged in and kicked off the holiday season. It's amazing the difference a year can make. For everyone who is still waiting, I know that my words do not ease your pain. Please believe me when I say that it gets so much better. This is what is waiting for you, and I cannot wait to share in your joy when it does.

P.S. My sister and brother-in-law left this morning to pick up my adorable niece, Ava. We are just so excited!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Flashback
This was posted on our local Yahoo group. It's way too fun not to share with all of you. I don't plead guilty to all of them, but far too many for comfort.

IF YOU WERE A LITTLE GIRL IN THE 70'S/80's......

You had that Fisher Price Doctor's Kit with a stethoscope that actually worked.

You owned a bicycle with a banana seat and a plastic basket with flowers on it.

You learned to skate with actual skates (not roller blades) that had metal
wheels.

You thought Gopher from Love Boat was cute (admit it!).

You had nightmares after watching Fantasy Island.

You had either a 'bowl cut' or 'pixie', not to mention the 'Dorothy Hamill'.

People sometimes thought you were a boy.

You had rubber boots for rainy days and Moon boots for snowy days.

YEAH! You owned a 'Slip-n-Slide', on which you injured yourself on a sprinkler
head more than once.

You owned 'Klick-Klacks' and smacked yourself in the face more than once!

Your Holly Hobbie sleeping bag was your most prized possession.

You wore a poncho, gauchos, and knickers.

You begged Santa for the electronic game, Simon.

You had the Donnie and Marie dolls with those pink and purple satiny shredded
outfits, or the sunshine family

You spent hours in your backyard on your metal swing set with the trapeze. The
swing set tipped over at least once.

You had homemade ribbon barrettes in every imaginable color. (Oh yeah!)

You had a pair of Doctor Scholl's sandals (the ones with hard sole & the
buckle). You also had a pair of salt-water sandals.

You wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder really bad; you wore that Little House on
the Prairie-inspired plaid, ruffle shirt with the high neck in at least one school
picture;

and you despised Nellie Oleson!

You wanted your first kiss to be at a roller rink!

PONG! ('video tennis' ) was the most remarkable futuristic game you've ever
heard of !

Your hairstyle was described as having 'wings' or 'feathers' and you kept it
'pretty' with the comb you kept in your back pocket.

When you walked, the 'wings' flapped up and down, looked like you were gonna
'take off'.

You know who Strawberry Shortcake is, as well as her friends, Blueberry Muffin
and Huckleberry Pie.

You carried a Muppets lunch box to school and it was metal, not plastic. With the thermos inside some were glass inside and broke the first time you dropped them.

You and your girlfriends would fight over which of the Dukes of Hazzard was your
boyfriend.

YOU had Star Wars action figures, too!

It was a big event in your household each year when the 'Wizard of Oz' would
come on TV. Your mom would break out the popcorn and sleeping bags! ?

You often asked your Magic-8 ball the question: 'Who will I marry:
Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garrett, or David Cassidy?'

You completely wore out your Grease, Saturday Night Fever, and Fame soundtrack
record album.

You tried to do lots of arts and crafts, like yarn and Popsicle-stick God's
eyes, decoupage, or those weird potholders made on a plastic loom.

You made Shrinky-Dinks and put iron-on kittens on your t-shirts!

You used to tape record songs off the radio by holding your portable tape player
up to the speaker.

You had subscriptions to Dynamite and Tiger Beat.

You learned everything you needed to know about girl issues from Judy Blume
books. (Are you there God? It's me, Margaret.)

You thought Olivia Newton John's song 'Physical' was about aerobics. (?? its
not??)

You wore friendship pins on your tennis shoes, or shoelaces with heart or rainbow designs.

You wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer.

You drowned yourself in Love's Baby Soft - which was the first 'real' perfume
you ever owned.

You glopped your lips in Strawberry Roll-on lip-gloss till it almost dripped
off.

PASS THIS ON TO ALL OF YOUR 30 OR 40-even 50 SOMETHING GIRLFRIENDS.
IT WILL MAKE THEM SMILE TOO!!!

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A Reflection on a Monday
This is why Mondays get such a bad rap.

10:40 AM - 3rd Period class begins
10:45 AM - Begin quick review of different types of credit
10:55 AM - Give assignment that theoretically should take them the remainder of the class period.
11:20 AM - Class breaks for lunch. Majority of students turn in completed assignment.
11:20 AM - 11:50 AM - Spend lunch time getting video on etiquette in the business world that I should have shown them months ago anyway, printing off relevant worksheet, make class set of copies, turn on TV, start video to make sure it is working, pause video & turn off TV.
11:55 AM - Students return, pass out worksheet to be completed as they watch video
12:05 PM - TV makes loud popping noise and goes black. Spend next 5 minutes trying to turn it back on.
12:10 PM - Have student pass out answer sheet to go with worksheet they can no longer complete. Run next door and make copies of a related worksheet they can do instead.
12:12 PM - Copier jams after making only 5 copies.
12:13 PM - Return to room to find TV back on, but no longer enough time to watch video. Only have 5 copies of worksheet.
12:15 PM - Tell class to divide into 5 groups of 5 and work on assignment as a group project.
12:35 PM - Bell rings and class is dismissed.

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Monday, October 29, 2007
A Gorgeous Autumn Day
I actually wrote the following post yesterday, but didn't get the photos downloaded until tonight.

What a gorgeous day we had today. The sky was blue, the air was crisp, and we were out enjoying the day.

We met up with our friends, the Fisher family, and headed out to a local farm. The farm was set up with corn mazes, hay rides, pony rides, pedal cars, a small train, and pumpkins. The front part of the barn had several photo areas set up, that we didn't use, stacks of hay set up like bleacher seating on one side, The other just had a wall of hay bales, pumpkins, and stuff, including an old sled. The back of the barn had a couple of ponies in stalls and cages of chickens, roosters, and bunnies. There were also some loose chickens and a kitten. There was a children's playground set up, and one lady who was walking two St. Bernard dogs around. They were therapy dogs so were wonderful around the children. As used to big dogs as Sera is, I was surprised that she was not happy when the St. Bernard came over to her. On the other hand, when the animal's head is bigger than your body, it's a little off-putting. She loved all the other animals though. She was running around having a good ole time. This year we mainly observed all the fun. I bet next year she participates more. She was fascinated when Kyra and Sean rode the pony ride and claimed that she wanted to go on the pony. She is too small to ride it, but the young girl walking the pony let us put Sera on the saddle for a minute. She practically sommersaulted trying to get back into my arms. She prefers the ponies from the safe haven of mommy or daddy's arms.

There were also some photo op areas set up outside the bard. They were wooden false-fronts with cut outs for faces and one with a measuring stick. Sera wasn't into the one with the faces, but loved the one with the measuring stick. It had been painted with an anthropomorhic ear of corn and pumpkin. Jim and I really liked the snack wagon set up with hot caramel cider. Yummy!

It was a beautiful day, and we'll definitely make this an annual event.






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Saturday, October 27, 2007
A Nurturer By Nature
Sera is a born nurturer. She loves to take care of her babies. I mentioned before how fascinating I find it to see her mimic what we do with her dolls. It's happening more and more. I took these photos on Wednesday. She had wrapped one of her bibs around her dolls neck and brought her to me to fasten it. She then put her in the seat and prepared her tray. She needed a little help tucking in the dolls feet and getting the tray on straight, but she did most of it herself. She also feeds her babies with toy bottles. She'll cradle her baby in her arm and give her the bottle or share her sippy cup. Today, she was placing her apple slices in the dolls mouth and then eating them herself. It's very clear that she knows it's pretend. She also likes to share her sippy and snacks with mommy and daddy.

The pretend play doesn't stop with food and drink. Her babies constantly need diaper (bahpoo) changes. They prefer life naked right now, too. She's removed all their clothing. Every now and then she'll bring me their clothes to redress them, but it doesn't last long. It's too difficult for her to dress them. I need to find one of those learn to dress dolls, I think.

They also nap often, usually on an old pillow that she has claimed as her own or in the toy pack 'n play. Today, she was putting her baby in the pack 'n play. She placed a blanket over the baby and headed to the hallway. She came back a few minutes later and stroked the baby's back and left again. Then she came back blowing kisses, stroked the baby's back, and left again. I finally caught on to what she was doing as she came back in blew kisses, stroked the baby's back, and left saying, "nigh nigh." When she wakes within an hour of going to bed, I try to avoid picking her up. I just go into her room every 5 minutes or so. I stroke her back, tell her I love her, blow her kisses, and say night-night. I'd say she's noticed, wouldn't you?

The tray is prepared and ready to be served

Here you go, baby.

Let me taste the milk and make sure it's okay.


What does a guy have to do around here to get this kind of service?

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Friday, October 26, 2007
Favorite Ingredients Friday


It's been a crazy couple of weeks, but we're getting back on track. One of us has been sick each of the last three weekends. We're doing something fun this weekend even if it kills us. Ha!

This is a Paula Deen recipe that I've made twice. The first time we thought it was very good, but the icing was a little thin in areas. The second time I doubled the icing recipe. It was awesome. Most people would probably say that it only needed 50% more icing, not 100%, but those people would not be true chocoholics, now would they?

Paula Deen's Peanut Butter Cake

Cake:
1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
2. 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3. 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
4. 1 teaspoon salt
5. 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6. Peanut butter (at least 1/2 cup; if using more, decrease shortening by an equal amount)
7. 3/4 cup shortening
8. 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
9. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10. 3 eggs

Frosting:
1. 2 cups confectioners' sugar
3. 2 tablespoons cocoa
4. 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
5. 1/3 cup heavy cream
6. 1/2 cup peanuts, salted
7. 2 cap-fulls vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F if baking with a metal dish; 325 degrees F if using a glass dish.

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Add graham cracker crumbs, peanut butter, shortening, milk, and vanilla. Beat mixture with electric mixer on low until moistened, and then beat on medium for 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat for 1 minute. Bake in greased 9-inch by 13-inch pan for 30 to 35 minutes. Do not remove from pan to cool.

For the frosting: mix all of the ingredients together. Pour into a saucepan and bring mixture to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Cool slightly. With a wooden spoon handle, poke a few holes in the cake, and then pour the warm frosting over it.

Go visit Overwhelmed with Joy for more fantastic recipes!

Past FIF recipes:
Eye of Round Roast
Mozzarella & Tomato Sandwich
Marcia's Taco Soup
Chicken Parmesan Casserole
Cajun Baked Catfish
Jim's Snickers Pancake
Crawfish Monica
Grilled Meats and Vegetables over Saffron Orzo
Crockpot Red Beans
Better Than Almost Anything Cake
Fruity Sangria
Outrageous Brownies
Enchiladas de Pollo
Lescó
Catalina Chicken
Croissant French Toast
Corned Beef
Sloppy Joe, Mac 'n Cheese Casserole
Shredded Chicken
Baked Bean & Burger Casserole
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
Crab Rangoon
Sausage con Queso and Ro-tel Cheese Dip
Blueberry Multigrain Coffeecake
Banana Bread
Bananas Foster
Old-Time Beef Stew
White Chocolate Snack Mix
Gorilla Bread
Ginger Shrimp
Roast Chicken
Tex-Mex Chicken Taco Soup
Shrimp Mold
Pasta Puttanesca
Pork Milanese
Pumpkin Dip
Oven-fried Chicken
Best Bundt Cake Ever
Hot Dog Casserole
Chicken & Rice
Peanut Butter Fudge
Omelets in a Bag
Shrimp Boil
Apple Cheese
Pulled Pork BBQ

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Playing Hooky
Sera and I played hooky today. Well, is it playing hooky if you plan ahead for a sub?

The playgroup we went to all last Spring and Summer was having their Halloween party this morning. I decided it was worth using one of my three annual personal days to go. Knowing that I wouldn't have to get up until 6:30-7ish, I decided to be a wild 'n crazy girl and stay up all the way to 11:00 pm last night. Sera showed me the error of my ways this morning. I wake her at 6 am on school mornings. When I let her wake on her own, she usually wakes between 7 am and 8 am. Today, she woke at 4:45 am. Yes, you read correctly. 4:45 AM She was awake and happy and ready to play. I suggested going back to sleep, and she laughed in my face.

We played until about 7:15 am when I put her down for a nap. I know it was incredibly early, but I also knew she would not make it through the party if she didn't have more sleep. Since she fell asleep within minutes of being put her in her crib, I knew I'd made the right call. The party started at 10 am, so I had to wake her around 8:45 am. I dressed her in her black tights and a fleece top. I saved her costume for when we arrived. I bought two costumes for her this year. I bought them both on Ebay. The one I wanted, a bumblebee, was ending after my second choice. My second choice, however had virtually no bids. I got it for about $10.oo, including shipping. I thought the bumblebee would not be good for the party as the wings would make it hard to play. We'll save it for Halloween.

When we got the party, I put on her witches costume and the hat. She loved it! She really loved the hat for the first few minutes before she decided it got in her way. She gets very clingy in a new place, plus she hadn't seen her playgroup friends in months, so we spent about half an hour with me holding her or sitting with her on my lap. I tried to take this picture of her and Snow White too early. She was not pleased that I put her down. Poor Snow White was upset that Sera was upset. She and her mom are neighbors and know Sera well.

After she acclimated, my child was off and running. She had a great time at the party and ate her fill of grapes, apples, and carrots.


Snow White and Her Happy Witch Friend
Sera's eyes lit up when the Princess arrived. She loved her pink and sparkly dress.
Sera will make a chair of anything that is her size
A much happier witch
Snow White and the cute lil kitty cat
One darn cute ladybug and a kitty cat's older brother
At the end of the party. Costumes have been discarded. Sera refused to sit on the couch. Maybe next year?

I think I got everyone's picture except for a good one of our second cute ladybug and the first one's brother. A good time was had by all!

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Sunday, October 21, 2007
Socks Are A Girl's Best Friend
My girl is a girly-girl. She likes to pick her clothes and her shoes. Any toy that has a ring to attach it to a stroller instead becomes a big bracelet. She loves to play dress up with hats. She's also very dainty. When she sneezes, she reaches for a tissue and wipes her nose. When she fake coughs (imitating the way I've sounded for days), she even covers her mouth. She shares her sippy with her dolls and this morning fed one pancakes. When she's finished eating, she picks up the food that's fallen on her tray and puts it back on her plate.

But it's her latest obsession that has me cracking up. She takes off her socks and puts them on her hands. She then pulls them up to her elbows so they look like elbow-length gloves. She gets so excited when she finally gets them both on and to her liking. It can take several attempts and some parental help to accomplish this. In fact, the first day she discovered this new game, she played it for hours. In case you're interested, bobby socks work best.


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Wednesday, October 17, 2007
18 Months

Our little baby is 18-months-old today. She's not our little baby any more. She's our little girl. It's amazing how quickly she is shedding all signs of babyness and turning into this fun, happy-go-lucky, intrepid toddler, including screams of frustration when inanimate objects do not obey her every whim.

Sera is fit as a fiddle, but I'm a bit under the weather, so Jim stopped on his way home and picked up dinner. We drove separately the last two days because he had meetings after school. I'm the one who is always noting our adoption and Sera related "monthiversaries." We even mentioned today in passing a few days ago. To be honest, though, I was so focused on just getting home today that it slipped my mind. Not Daddy's though, Jim stopped and picked up our favorite Sichuan Shrimp for us and Mai Fun Noodles with Shrimp for Sera. She rarely eats the meat in her noodles, but she does like extra carrots. Her shrimp were more for us. He also bought a half cake for her half birthday. She had absolutely no interest in her cake on her birthday. It was much too soon. Tonight? Totally different story.

Happy Half-Birthday, my beautiful Sera.



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Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Giggles
All the photos I've been posting lately are the ones Jim took on our Sunday at the Japanese Gardens. He's a pretty good photographer.

Sera is all better now. She's back to her happy, bubbly self. As well as I think she's bonding to us, I think this weekend made her attachment even stronger. Every time we meet her needs, we strengthen that bond. Yesterday afternoon, I was in our bedroom with her when Jim came home. I was sitting on the edge of the bed letting her drink the last dregs of her melted shake. He came in and sat down beside us. She climbed off my lap and was playing on the bed between us. Jim lay on his side to play with her. She "pushed" me down so that I was lying on my side as well. Then she lay inbetween us on her back and just burst into giggles as she looked up at both of us.

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Monday, October 15, 2007
The Dark Side of Mama
Just one week ago, I posted about Sera finally calling me mama. Little did I know that word could cause me as much pain as it did joy. Hearing Sera call mama mama over and over while she was in pain this weekend and knowing there was nothing I could do to help her, but hold her and rock just about broke my heart. She actually seemed worse Sunday afternoon and evening than she had all weekend. We were giving her all the medication we could, but she got to the point that swallowing caused her such pain. She would sign for food or a drink and take one bite or sip and scream before rejecting the item. It was as if she thought the juice or the grapes or the scrambled eggs were causing the pain. We got her to drink one glass of juice, 1 1/2 slices of American cheese, and several small bowls of orange sherbet. That was it...all day.

I made arrangements for a sub and went in to school at 5:30 this morning. I made my copies and my lesson plan for the day and was home in time for Jim to get to school on time. Sera had actually slept through the night. It was the first time since Thursday night that she slept for more than a few hours at a time. When 8 am finally arrived, I called our pediatrician and made an appointment for 11:50 am. Sera finally woke up around 9 am. She still let out a few screams but she drank an entire yogurt drink and ate two French toast sticks. Then she played the rest of the morning. She was wound up and playful at the doctor's. She was herself again. I went ahead with the appointment to make sure, but the doctor confirmed. Her ears are almost completely better and her throat is only slightly red.

To celebrate, we stopped at Target. We loaded up on more YoBaby yogurt drinks, a few things I needed, plus a treat or two for Sera. She is now the proud owner of a coloring book with pages as tall as she is and the cutest Halloween t-shirt. I was torn between the orange ghouls just wanna have fun and the black peek-a-boo kittie until I saw the orange one with spiders hanging from their webs. Sera's into spiders right now. Her favorite song is Itsy-bitsy Spider, including hand movements and she loves her LeapFrog Alphabet Spider. She saw that t-shirt and yelled, "pie dah." SOLD!

On the way home, I went through the Chick-fil-A drive-thru for lunch. I decided that we'd share a milk shake. Don't milk shakes make your throat feel better? Let me tell you. She's now a big fan of the cookies 'n cream milk shake.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007
Another First, But Not So Fun

Friday started like a normal day. Sera was a little whiny when she woke up, but she was soon laughing, then whining, then laughing. I even joked to Jim that she was a little bit of a Jekyll and Hyde that morning. When I picked her up after school, she was happy to see me as usual. I was told that she had been quieter than normal for the last hour though. We had to drop something off at a shop about 30 minutes in the opposite direction from home. Since Sera was acting tired, I hoped she'd nap. She didn't. She cried and fussed the whole way there. When we finally arrived, I got her out of her seat thinking something must be wrong. She laughed and played and was happy to be out. We thought she just didn't want to be in her car seat. We decided to stick with our original plan and stop for dinner. She was great through dinner. She ate a lot and only destroyed the normal amount of placemats (2) and creamers (1) and bowls of applesauce (1). She was fine the whole way home.

When we got home, I decided to take her temperature because Jim and I both thought she felt a little warm. I changed her into her pajamas and noticed her body was really hot, even though her face and head had just felt warm. Her temp was 103.8. I gave her some Tylenol and let her play in her room for a few minutes. After 20 minutes, I checked again - 104. I let her keep playing. She was acting fine, but I wanted to make sure her temp was going down before I put her in bed. After another 20 minutes, it was down to 102. Jim, in the meantime, is researching fevers and children before joining us. The rest of the night was us trying to get her to bed. Her temp was now completely gone, but she wouldn't sleep. We finally got her asleep about 10 pm. She woke screaming at 10:30. This was all so out of character. I went in her room and held her in the recliner. She went back to sleep, and I feel asleep until 11:30ish when she woke screaming again. This woke Jim who joined us in the nursery. We were both so bewildered and didn't know what to do. Her fever was gone, but something was obviously wrong. We decided to call her doctor's emergency number. Jim talked to the doctor on call who told us to take her to the emergency room. He said it was probably an ear, kidney, or urinary tract infection. We threw on shoes and bundled her up and headed out. The emergency room was not busy at all. Of course, her crying stopped the minute we took her out of the car in the hospital parking lot.

The on call doctor was right. She has an ear infection and a slightly red throat. We got a prescription for amoxycillin and instructions to switch off between Tylenol and Motrin as needed for the pain. Our nurse started chatting with us after giving her a dose of Motrin. He'd been adopted from Korea when he was five years old. He was brought to the US on a military transport and remembers the whole thing, including living in the orphanage. He seemed to be very happy with his experience. He was adopted through Holt and went back on an organized trip through them when he was 18, with other 18 year old adoptees. They visited the orphanage and toured the country. He'd last been back 8 years ago. He strongly recommended bringing Sera back when she was older. We told him we were planning to go back when she was around 12. I would have liked to talk to him more, but it was 2 am, and we were all exhausted.

When we got home, we put Sera in her crib and collapsed. She woke at 4 am and slept with me in the recliner until 6:30 am. I then put her back in the crib and came to bed. She would not settle down, so Jim got up to be with her. Apparently, when she's sick, only mama will do. He ended up bringing her to our room. We gave her some Tylenol and all fell back asleep. This was the first time Sera has ever fallen asleep in our bed, and we all slept for a few more hours. When we woke again, Jim headed out to get her prescription filled. Sera and I dozed and watched TV until he returned. He bought all her favorites to tempt her while she's sick: grapes, bananas, orange sherbet, orange juice, and Golden Grahams. We then had the longest day of my life. Sera would go from fine to screaming in no time. The pain relievers were barely making it the two hours needed before the next dose. I remembered that I had some prescription ear drops to numb her ears. I got them for China, but never used them. I called my sister, who is a pharmacist, to make sure it'd be okay to use them. She said definitely. They couldn't hurt her in any way. The drops worked, but only for two hours at a time. She napped for one hour. We dosed her up again, and she napped for a second hour. I could only sleep when she slept. I didn't sleep two solid hours in a row all night or day.

Last night, she would not go to sleep in her crib. She screamed and screamed. I kept going in there and stroking her back. She had taken her medicine just before bed and would stop screaming when I walked in the room, so I knew she wasn't hurting anymore. We finally broke and brought her in our room. We were still doing the meds every two hours bit. She hadn't eated much at dinner and started signing she was hungry. Jim kept going downstairs and coming back with a new offering. She'd take one bite and reject it crying. She finally ate a slice of American cheese and a few snap pea crisps. We finally gave up. We just turned off the lights and all went night-night. She woke two hours later screaming. I gave her more meds, and she slept until 7 am. Hallelujah! It wasn't unbroken. She did wake a few times and cry out, but we were able to settle her down each time rather quickly. Jim and I woke with backaches, headaches, and just generally exhausted. We agreed that co-sleeping is not for us. We couldn't move the whole night long. We had the dog across our feet and her between us. She kept alternating between us for snuggles or was lying spreadeagle across the middle. We hugged our respective sides giving her room.

Shadow was great with her all night long. He slept across the foot of the bed, which protected her from moving down there and rolling off. In fact, she almost did that when I woke up at midnight to get her meds. I'd sent him off the bed when I woke and realized he'd climbed in with us. While I was sitting up and putting on my glasses, she'd managed to roll all the way down the bed. I caught her mid-roll as she was going off the edge. Just that quick! She also realized last night that Shadow has eyes, a nose, a mouth, and ears, too. He lay there as she poked and yelled out each body part. I think this is her revenge for all the full body licks he's gotten in.

She was acting sleepy again around 8:30ish. I put her in her crib, she cried and being left alone, and then fell asleep. Yay! It's now 11 am, and she's been napping for just over two hours. I think she's more comfortable in her own bed, too.

I am so glad to have a sister and brother-in-law who are pharmacists. It sure comes in handy being able to call them whenever we have a question. It really came in handy yesterday. Besides the ear numbing drops, I had a question about the Motrin. I had never needed to even open it before. The few times I had given Sera Tyelnol she hadn't even needed a second dose, much less the switching between every two hours. The emergency room doctor had told me to give her a teaspoon of the Motrin. I had misplaced the dispenser that came with it and was going to use a different one. I read the bottle label. It said to give her 1.8 ml. The dispenser was labelled for both ml and teaspoons. I realized that a teaspoon was 5 ml. Far more than the the instructions called for. I didn't give any to Sera until I talked to my sister. I had the concentrated infant drops, not regular Motrin. If I'd followed the doctor's instructions exactly, we would have overdosed her on Motrin and probably ended up back in the hospital. Always question!!

Now for those of you who've stuck with this long post, here's a little funny I found on another blog. We need a laugh today and a nap. Click the picture to find the blog it came from.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007
Ow Sigh
Feel free to remind me when she becomes a chatterbox and I'm going insane, but I love that Sera is talking. Her newest word is ow sigh or outside to you and me.

Tonight's conversation:

Scene: Sera is on my lap, and we're sitting in the rocking chair.

Me: Is it time for night-night?
Sera (loudly): YEEE AAAHHH

Sera climbs down from my lap and walks to crib. She stands there holding one of the bars.

Me: Let's pick up your toys.
Sera (loudly): YEEE AAAHHH
Me: Do you want me to play your music?
Sera (loudly): YEEE AAAHHH
Me: Do you want NaNa?
Sera (loudly): YEEE AAAHHH
Me: Okay, here we go.
I pick up Sera
Me: Can I have a hug? Hug! Kisses! I love you. Sleep well all night long and have wonderful dreams, and I'll come get you in the morning.
Sera (loudly): YEEE AAAHHH
Me: Night-night, sweetheart
Sera: Nye Nye

Honestly, have you ever read a more scintillating conversation? It's right up there in my top five conversations EVER!


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Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Night-night, School, and Cookie
I bet you're wondering what these words have in common? These are Sera's new words last night and today. It was more of a nye, nye, kool, and cuckey (rhymes with her duckie). It's just amazing. It's as if a little switch got turned on and the words are just coming faster than I can keep up with them.

About two weeks ago, a friend called me. We had been talking at our monthly mom's night out about local consignment shop who had a Little Tykes playset in their store. She called to find out if I was interested in getting one. We have one that is square with a slide, but I've been keeping my eye out for any Little Tykes play stuff at yard sales, consignment stores, etc... She had a friend who was going to sell hers in a yard sale, but would save it for us, if we were interested, for $50.00. I'd say we got quite the deal.



Okay, Daddy. I'll try the slide.

Whee! That was fun!

I'm gonna climb up this time!

I missed the last shot, sorry. She slid down by herself, and Jim caught her at the bottom. Her face was just precious. She was exhilarated and terrified, not sure whether to laugh or cry for just a minute. She didn't cry. She decided she liked it, but reached for me and gave me a big nod when I asked her if she was ready for dinner. She's going to love playing on this.

Please ignore all the brown patches in our yard. What can I say...we have a dog.

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Monday, October 08, 2007
It May Have Stuck This Time
Some time back, Sera started saying mama. Not often though, mainly when she was hungry. I often thought she thought it meant feed me. Dada came easily and early. About a week and a half ago, he even became dadee. If you showed Sera a picture of me, she called me dada, too. We've been playing a game for a long time. Where's your nose, where's dada's nose, and where's mama's nose? She could identify the right person, but she still didn't call me mama. This weekend we were playing that game along with where's Sera using her blanket. At one point, Jim asked, not for the first time, where's mama? It was the first time that I wasn't under the blanket though. She was sitting on my lap at the time. She started pounding on my chest with both hands chanting mama, mama, mama and laughed. Later, in the car, she sat in the back and chanted mama, mama again. She's called me mama a few times since.

It looks like it may stick this time.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007
The Only Constant Is Change
Change...she changes every day. Every day, she's a little less baby and little more grown up.


It's funny to me that just a week ago I started wondering if she was falling behind verbally. I even asked the woman who heads up the Family Consumer Science department at my school. She is in charge of the daycare and spends time with the children every day. She told me that Sera was fine and that I shouldn't expect her to become really verbal until closer to two or older. I know that my asking made her pay even closer attention because when I saw her later she commented more. She told me that Sera is actually very verbal for her age. She doesn't have a lot of words, but the ones she has she says very clearly. I even checked the What To Expect: The Toddler Years book. She's way ahead of age according to that book. It says by the end of her 18th month, she should be able to say three words and point to one body part. She was about 20 words last week and can point to her head, eyes, nose, mouth, hands, belly, and feet. We're working on ears now.


In the week since she's decided to show me why I shouldn't worry. She has become a parrot this week. She is repeating words we say constantly now and is adding about a word a day to her vocabulary. Just this morning, she added diaper and shower. Her favorite new word of the week was bye-bye, which sounds just like her baby. You definitely need to watch the non-verbal cues and get the context to know which one she's saying. On Wednesday, she was practicing. Jim was at parent conferences, and we were on our own. I was sitting on the couch in the living room. She'd come to me, say bye-bye, and wave. She would keep doing this while blowing me an occasional kiss as she left the room. She'd then go in the hallway for a few seconds. Then she'd run back in to me and yell, "HI!" Then she'd start all over again. At daycare, there are a few paraprofessionals who work in the daycare all day. They really run the place and help oversee the student helpers. The one in charge of Sera's room brings her son every day as he's not quite two yet. His favorite way of saying bye is to wave and say, "See ya!" They warned me on Friday that all the kids, including Sera, had picked it up last week. All weekend long, she's been alternating between bye-bye and see ya. It's too cute.


Since this is summer's last hurrah (I hope) with temps in the high 80's/low 90's, Jim and I took Sera to the Japanese Gardens for a photo shoot. I brought three outfits and we let her run around. We're going to go for a professional sitting soon, but the gardens are so beautiful that I really wanted one there. We had put all of our things in a gazebo towards the back and that is where I was changing Sera's outfits. We went into the gazebo to sit down out of the sun for a minute. I asked Sera if she wanted me to change her dress. She doesn't like things around her neck (another odd little trait we share). She tugged at her neck and told me yeah. Jim was still holding the camera taking shots as she ran around the gazebo. That's how he got this shot. It's the best photo yet of Sera. Isn't it breathtaking?


And, yes, we're working on changing that yeah into yes ma'am or yes sir. I didn't realize how much we said yeah instead of yes until she picked it up first. Oh, and I had her hair cut. Her hair was starting to look like a mullet as it grew out. I had the back bobbed as the sides are now that long. Her bangs haven't needed a trim yet. They're still filling in from being shaved off before she got her.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007
Musical Interlude II
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcRiXOONqf0

I enjoyed this, too. Can't get it to embed though, so click the link instead!

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Farmer's Market
Aren't these pretty? The largest one on the top is a little larger than the palm of my hand. Now what to do with them. I'm thinking of some sort of ratatouille since we bought some tomatoes, too.

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Friday, October 05, 2007
Musical Interlude I
Not my usual style of music, but I really liked this.


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Holiday Cooking, Blogger Style - 2nd Edition

I must admit to feeling very challenged this year. Last year's post pretty much is my holiday menu now. I do try different things most years. The dessert is almost always different, but I didn't cook last year, so did not add anything new.

Then I decided to travel down memory lane. It was 1993. I was living in Gulf Shores. My sister, Kati, had her first baby in November. This was the first grandchild in our family. Everyone was coming home for the holidays. We decided to have Thanksgiving at her house for several reasons. It was big enough, plus that way she didn't have to go somewhere with a baby who was less than two weeks old.

She only lived an hour from me, and had the good timing to have her baby during the off-season for tourists. This meant I had plenty of free time. Thanksgiving dinner was going to be my responsibility. I decided it was time to go all out. I poured through all the foodie magazines and planned my menu. Some of the standard side dishes had to be included, but some things I jazzed up. The three things I picked from the magazines to shake up our holiday table were the turkey, a vegetable, and dessert.

Food & Wine magazine published an intriguing recipe from Mark Miller of Coyote Cafe. It was extremely labor intensive. It's definitely a very special occasion turkey, but it's the most amazing turkey I've ever made. The stuffing was just out of this world. I tried making it by itself one year, but it really needs the turkey to do it justice.

Coyote Cafe's Yucatec Stuffed Turkey
SERVES: 8-10

1 cup dried black beans
2 dried chipotle peppers*
1 imported bay leaf
2/3 cup long-grain rice
3 dried cascabel chiles* or 2 small dried hot red peppers
2 tablespoons achiote (annatto seed)
1 bunch of fresh marjoram or 1 tablespoon dried
2 cups fresh orange juice (from about 5 juice oranges)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 medium red bell pepper, finely diced
1 pint freshly shucked oysters with their liquor (about 20)
1/3 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)*
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 teaspoon finely chopped orange zest
10- to 12-pound fresh turkey
*Available at Latin American markets and health food stores

In a medium saucepan, cover the black beans with cold water and soak overnight. Or bring to a boil, remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 1 hour. Drain well.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, soak the chipotle peppers in 1 cup of hot water for 1 hour. Remove the stems from the peppers. Place the peppers in a food processor. Add 1/3 cup of the soaking water and puree, adding more soaking water as necessary to make a thick paste. Strain through a coarse sieve and reserve.

In a medium saucepan, combine the black beans with 4 1/2 cups of water, the bay leaf and 1 tablespoon of the chipotle paste. Bring to a simmer over moderately low heat and cook until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Drain and let cool; discard the bay leaf.

In a small saucepan, combine the rice with 2 cups of water. Cook, uncovered, over moderate heat until tender, about 12 minutes. Strain in a sieve and let cool.

In a small saucepan, combine the cascabel chiles with the achiote and 1 cup of water. Cook over moderately high heat until the chiles have softened and no liquid remains, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer the chiles and seeds to a blender and add the marjoram, orange juice and lime juice. Puree for 10 seconds. Strain through a wide-mesh sieve. Season with the salt and black pepper; set the achiote puree aside.

Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the shrimp and sauté over high heat, tossing, until just pink, 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a plate to cool. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet and reduce the heat to low. Add the onion, carrot and red bell pepper and cook, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

In a medium skillet, combine the oysters and their liquor with 2 tablespoons of the chipotle paste (see Note). Cook over high heat until the edges of the oysters just begin to curl, about 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, gently transfer the oysters to a plate. Boil the cooking liquid until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 2 minutes; it will be very thick. Stir in any liquid that drains from the oysters.

Place the pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven until they begin to pop, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the toasted pumpkin seeds with the black beans, rice, shrimp, sautéed vegetables, oysters and reduced oyster liquid, fresh coriander and orange zest.

Fill the chest and neck cavities with the stuffing. Sew or skewer closed; truss the bird. Set the turkey in a large roasting pan and pour on the reserved achiote puree. Roast, basting every 20 minutes and adding water to the pan if the drippings start to brown, for 3 1/2 to 4 hours or until the temperature measured in the inner thigh near the bone reads 160° and the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced. Cover the turkey with foil if the skin gets too dark. Let stand, loosely covered with foil, for 15 minutes before carving.

NOTES Any leftover chipotle paste can be refrigerated, covered, and used as a hot seasoning. It will keep for at least three weeks.

WINE The added spice and heat that the chiles give this bird point toward an equally assertive red, but one with some fruitiness for balance. A California Zinfandel, such as 1990 Round Hill or 1990 Ridge Sonoma, would be just the ticket. Alternatively, soften the southwestern bite with a fruity California rosé, such as 1992 Joseph Phelps Vin du Mistral Grenache.

Recipe by Mark Miller From Favorite Thanksgiving RecipesThis recipe originally appeared in November, 1993.

The vegetable came from either Gourmet or Bon Appétit. It was a very simple Julia Child recipe. I basically sauteed fresh brussel sprouts in butter and tossed them with seedless red grapes, cut in half. I can't find the exact recipe.

The dessert came from Bon Appétit.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Caramel Swirl
Bon Appétit November 1993
Serves 10.

Crust
1 1/2 cups ground gingersnap cookies
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
9 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
4 large eggs

1 tablespoon (about) purchased caramel sauce
1 cup sour cream

For Crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Finely grind ground cookies, pecans and sugar in processor. Add melted butter and blend until combined. Press crust mixture onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides.

For Filling: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light. Transfer 3/4 cup mixture to small bowl; cover tightly and refrigerate to use for topping. Add pumpkin, 4 tablespoons whipping cream, ground cinnamon and ground allspice to mixture in large bowl and beat until well combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until combined.Pour filling into crust (filling will almost fill pan).

Bake until cheesecake puffs, top browns and center moves only slightly when pan is shaken, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer cheesecake to rack and cool 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around cake pan sides to loosen cheesecake. Cool. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Bring remaining 3/4 cup cream cheese mixture to room temperature. Add remaining 5 tablespoons whipping cream to cream cheese mixture and stir to combine. Press down firmly on edges of cheesecake to even thickness. Pour cream cheese mixture over cheesecake, spreading evenly. Spoon caramel sauce in lines over cream cheese mixture. Using tip of knife, swirl caramel sauce into cream cheese mixture. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Release pan sides from cheesecake. Spoon sour cream into pastry bag fitted with small star tip (do not stir before using). Pipe decorative border around cheesecake and serve.

Epicurious.com © CondéNet, Inc. All rights reserved.

These were outstanding recipes, and I have no excuse for not making them more often. I hope you try them and enjoy them. If you do, please let me know!

Go visit Overwhelmed with Joy for more fantastic recipes!

Past FIF recipes:
Eye of Round Roast
Mozzarella & Tomato Sandwich
Marcia's Taco Soup
Chicken Parmesan Casserole
Cajun Baked Catfish
Jim's Snickers Pancake
Crawfish Monica
Grilled Meats and Vegetables over Saffron Orzo
Crockpot Red Beans
Better Than Almost Anything Cake
Fruity Sangria
Outrageous Brownies
Enchiladas de Pollo
Lescó
Catalina Chicken
Croissant French Toast
Corned Beef
Sloppy Joe, Mac 'n Cheese Casserole
Shredded Chicken
Baked Bean & Burger Casserole
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
Crab Rangoon
Sausage con Queso and Ro-tel Cheese Dip
Blueberry Multigrain Coffeecake
Banana Bread
Bananas Foster
Old-Time Beef Stew
White Chocolate Snack Mix
Gorilla Bread
Ginger Shrimp
Roast Chicken
Tex-Mex Chicken Taco Soup
Shrimp Mold
Pasta Puttanesca
Pork Milanese
Pumpkin Dip
Oven-fried Chicken
Best Bundt Cake Ever
Hot Dog Casserole
Chicken & Rice
Peanut Butter Fudge
Omelets in a Bag
Shrimp Boil
Apple Cheese
Pulled Pork BBQ

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Beautiful Babies
One of the families in our travel group put together this slide show. The families are from our agency's October 2005 DTC group.


video

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Monday, October 01, 2007
Six Months

Six months ago today, Sera became our daughter. We went from a family of two to a family of three in about an hour and a half. Our situation was very unusual in that our adoption took place immediately. There's usually a 24-hour period between receiving your child and the official adoption. That change did not even phase us. We knew Sera was our girl from the very first minute.

Sunday evening I made Sera's dinner. It wasn't fancy. I made some blueberry muffins from a mix. I heated up some English peas, and I scrambled an egg with some diced ham. As I sat in front of Sera watching her eat with gusto. I realized that nothing in my life had satisfied me as much as knowing that I'd just made food that my daughter loved. There's nothing like watching a toddler eat something she likes. The fork was tossed aside as too slow. She had a piece of muffin in one hand, while the other fist clutched a handful of peas. Those hands kept a steady rhythm releasing their contents into her eager mouth. As she started to slow down, she noticed her eggs. The fork was reclaimed; she dove in. This meal definitely ranks near the top of her favorites.


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Review - Pledge Multi-Surface & TV Guide & Some Exciting News
First, the exciting news! My sister, Marcia & her family received TA today. They hope to be travelling in early November. Her son, Ben, is now sharing her blog. Be sure to stop by and tell him hi.

Months ago, I agreed to receive and talk about different products. I am not paid for this at all. I usually get a sample of the product and coupons to pass on. Sometimes I get samples to pass on, too.

I did one review months ago on the Coppertone products. The next product I sampled, I didn't like. I don't think it's right to bad mouth a product, so I passed on that one. Next I received some of the new steam bags to try out. They came just as I was getting Sera started with daycare and me back to school. I put them in a drawer and forgot all about them. Not such a great start, huh?

About a month ago, I received a sample of Pledge Multi-Surface wipes. I really like them. They can be used on wood, glass, metal, and best of all, electronics. My computer screen is always in need of a good dusting.

Today, I received some coupons and issues of TV Guide. I love TV Guide. I remember sitting on the couch with my sketch pad and a TV Guide. I would spend hours duplicating the artwork on the cover. Back in the old days, the cover was drawn, not photographed. I specifically remember drawing Cagney & Lacey. I remember being very proud of that sketch. I thought I nailed it.

The old small digest is gone. It's been replaced by a larger glossy magazine, but it's still fun. It gives you gossip, interviews, and all the dirt on new shows, and it even tells you what's on TV that night (haha).

My latest TV Guide obsession, however, is their website. I follow my favorite shows on their blogs and Ask Ausiello is a must stop every Wednesday.

I have 10 samples of the wipes and 10 coupons for $1.00 off an issue of TV Guide. I'm going to bundle them together for the first 10 people who contact me through comments or email. One of those 10 will also receive the sample Pledge Multi-Surface Duster kit (handle, 2 dusters, & spray) that I received.

It's not a fancy giveaway, but, hey, it's free!

I'd love to know your experiences with these products.

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