Reformation of Food & Family

I want to win this for our family! Go and check it out on Kim's page here!


New Thinking...exactly what does that mean?

To say my life has been normal the last few years would be so wrong. Nothing about our life is the same as anyone elses. Well, that's not exactly true. We have trials, we have hurt feelings, we have new family additions, but not in the way that other people seem to experience these things. Not that we're special (but come on, you know we are!)...maybe all of the experiences we've had since 2006 have left me feeling like I have no role model to look at. For sure we are having to find our own way in life. Maybe it's also that we tend to choose the path that's least chosen. Not to be stubborn or honery as Don would say, but because it's the path we know we need to take.
Still with me? That said, I've decided 1-no new blog...I deleted it, because we, in fact, the Texas Piglets.  2-I'm just not a huge blogger. I used to be but then I realized that some people used our blog against us so I learned very quickly not to share too much that was personal. 3-I really do want a place that our kids can look over one day and read about what their world was like. Because we all know that memories fade. After all, isn't that one of the reasons people started blogging to begin with? Because it was like a diary?


Webinar Giveaway

Kim @ Life In A Shoe in conjunction with Western Conservatory is giving away a free registration to their webinar on Courtship. http://inashoe.com/2011/08/giveaway-marrying-well-webinar/#comment-51736   You can just read this and I get 3 entries to win, or you can skedaddle over to Kim's site and enter to try and win it for yourself.


I could use the help!

I read these 2 blogs: Kim at www.inashoe.com and Connie at www.smockityfrocks.com. They blog with 2 other moms that have larger than average families. During August they are hosting a book club and are reading Large Family Logistics. I love the way these 2 women write, like that were talking to you. So I imagine their comments as they read will be equally amusing. And insightful. And chocked full of wisdom and been-there-done-that-bought-the-tshirt humor. Head over to their blogs and enter. Each mom is giving away a copy of the book. Or just read their blog and become a follower and be cool, you know, like me.
Kim: http://inashoe.com/2011/07/4-moms-giveaway-large-family-logistics/#comment-49137
Connie: http://www.smockityfrocks.com/2011/07/4-moms-announce-a-book-club.html


Bra Training and Shopping

Yep, you read that right. On Wednesday (6/17) I took the girls shopping. Juli needed some clothes and shoes and a few things that the other 3 had. I also realized (with a little bit of shock) that she needed a bra! I know, she would die of embarrassment, but this is a monumental post, a time to be remembered. No, not for her silly, for meeee! I caught site of the girls in the shower, something they've enjoyed doing together because as they said, it makes it easier to wash your back and to make sure you got all the shampoo out. I can't argue with that...I'd like to have someone wash my hair all the time! My back, mmm, nah, I'll do my own body scrubbing.

Anyway, so back to the bra issue. My mind quickly flooded with memories from 32 years ago when we (me, Elvin, Honey, mom, and Don) were sitting at The Monterrey House in Beaumont, I think on 11th Street. It was a Mexican restaurant, way before the world knew it needed Mexican food. I remember my mom looking across the table at me and telling my grandmother, Honey, to take me to KMart (I think it was on College) and get me a bra when we finished our meal. I don't know why my mom didn't take me. After everything in my life I'm glad to have the special memory of Honey doing it. I have no idea how many she bought, but I do know that it was white. I don't even remember if it had a flower or anything on it. I remember feeling very grown up when I put it on though! I felt like the whole world knew I had changed, that I was a grown lady now. (big cheesy smile)

Fast forward 32 years to my bathroom in Taylor peeking in the shower on my girls because they were giggling so much. The bra hunt was officially on. We found a 2 pack at Target, but they weren't the uncool kind from long ago. No, these were fashionable, in colors, different styles, and the designers were considerate enough to make T backs for different kinds of shirts/dresses. Then at Walmart we found 3 packs, different styles, different colors. Funny how we didn't wind up with any pink or purple ones. The giggles flew from Juli as I had to hold them up to her to see if they would fit. I could help but smile back, because we were after all in the middle of Walmart!

To top the day off, after traveling from home to McDonald's for breakfast (pancakes), to The Children's Place (shorts, shirts, sandals, tennis shoes, pajamas, sunglasses, headbands, belts, scarves), to the Disney Store (gown and rain boots), to Gymboree (skorts, shirts), to the bank, to get milk, to home-to-take-a-shower-because-I-was-soaked-with-sweat, to Target (piggy bank, bra, white sandals, purple sheets), to Dollar Tree (Adam's party supplies), to Office Depot (new pens), to Walmart (more bras, pajamas, capri pants, shirts, bike helmet). And that concluded our major shopping trip.

This morning the bra training began. Jani wants one, but doesn't need one. Juli needs one, but laughs about wearing one. I need one, and quite frankly I wish I didn't! hehehe And now I leave you with a visual and a good laugh.


Every Day is New

So much has happened. I feel like a different person than the person that blogged previously. It's still me, it's still our family, but something has changed. John and I have a year of college under our belts now. We have a new daughter as of June 4, 2011. We have a new reassurance in Christ. And me, well, my reason for living has been renewed. I've come through a dark time and it was scary. I've lived to tell about it and hopefully I've gained compassion because before I could not relate to other people at all concerning depression.

June is a wonderful month for us. It's almost like the beginning of the year. We were married on June 2, 1990. Adam was born on June 23. Jani was adopted on June 6, Jace and Jovi were adopted June 2, and Juli was adopted on June 4. We have many other special dates in June, but for our immediate family, this is when it grows bigger. See the pattern? While I'm glad it's June, I dread it too.

We've already broken several records for heat this month. The heat makes me want to go far, far away from the Austin area. It's unbearable. Besides John's job, the only thing that keeps us here is our friends. I know we could and will make new friends, but man, we all love our friends. It's so nice to be able to just go sit in their presence and chat sometimes. For Adam, I'm sure it's a great escape from The Littles. But still, the mountain views, cooler air, trees, 4 seasons...all of that still beckons to me almost everyday. I often wonder what God's plan is for us. Why aren't we there? Has the place for us not come available yet? Is there something here we haven't done yet? Maybe we have more children on the way...I always said I wanted to adopt them while we lived here since we were both born and married here. Maybe there is another reason though?

My dear friend, Juannell, told me something this week that I had never thought of before. I shared with her my decision from Sunday 6-5-11 to not go back to school. In her email back to me she told me "Isn't it interesting that when we come to a crossroad, we only know the outcome of the path we take.  We never know what would have happened on the path we didn't take."  Those words have just stood out to me. I've never thought much about what would have happened if I had made the other choice, except for that guy I didn't marry. I've wondered about him. But that's another story that won't be told. So anyway, about this path not traveled, it made me think about how my heart is turned towards my children. The Bible says in Malachi 4:5-6 says, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." I've taken this a bit out of context, but how much more can I give my children, how much more can I pour into them, when my heart is turned toward them? If my heart is turned toward school, even though it's something I enjoy, how can my heart be fully turned toward my children? When I examine the reason that I am in school right now (at age 41) I realize that I am only there because of fear...right? The reason I went to school is not because I desire to work full time right now or even part time. I am there because I think 'what if something happened to John, how would I support us'. Instead, I've realized this week I need to let that thought go. Because the truth is, as the daughter of the King with an endless supply of wisdom, money, and anything else I could possibly need, I cannot say "my trust is in Jesus" if I don't trust him to take care of our future. Because really, I don't know what the future will bring. But I know what the path I've chosen to travel will bring.


A New Year, A New Path

Our first day of coop, 8-29-08, one of the last few posts we did. And now here we are 2y4m later and starting our first day of coop, spring semester, 1-28-11. No longer even typing an 0 for the year. So much has happened during this time...therapy appointments, school engagements, coop semesters. We've lived them, we just haven't blogged them.

Adam has continued on, picking up where we left off. I think we've got it going now and have figured out the path we need to follow, only now we have a new twist...John and I are going to school also! We're are taking courses at ACC for the occupational therapy assistant program and in 2 years (provided we get accepted into the program in May) we should be done.

Jani is working on reading and loosing teeth. And the little boys are just trying to figure out their letters. Such chaos here.


Monday Monday

The kids were supposed to have the other side of their noses cauterized on Tuesday. When the pre op nurse finally called her line of questioning was way off base. She asked why we would have 3 kids getting cauterized, were they just punching each other in the nose? When I mentioned Jani being Chinese her questions became even more rude. She told me previously I just needed to bring in a photo id and an insurance card. But now she also wanted their adoption papers as proof that I had a legal right to seek medical treatment for them. My blood ran cold. And then fiery hot. I told her we would not be bringing our children to that center and that she would NEVER see their adoption papers.

I had a dentist appointment at 10am. To go meant leaving 3 13 year old boys at home with my 3 and 4 year old boys. I took Jani so she wouldn't be in the line of fire. I have a cavity. There is now a hole in my tooth. Amazingly it doesn't even hurt. That's the beginning of my day.

But before I could leave for the dentist, the Northwest Surgery Center called. The littles have surgery scheduled for this morning. I should say had. I thought it was Seton Northwest. But no. NSC operates completely on its own in the basement of Seton Northwest. I know this because when I called up to talk to their attorney it made them very nervous and they asked if I meant NSC. And then quickly gave me the # to the Director of the Surgery Center. :o)

I called and asked for Mr. Gordon and was told he was in a meeting. I left a message on his voice mail with my name and cell (twice). That's believable, right. So I went on with my day.

I dropped Adam's 2 friends off on our way to the allergy office. Normal allergy shots, blah blah blah.

And then we were all off to ACC for John and I to retest on the Math section. We both failed it when we originally took it last Monday. You should know (just for the sake of knowing that the Bridge classes really work) that John got a 30 and I got a 32. In order to not take remedial math you need a 39. ahem.  So off we go into the testing center. BTW, a Bridge class is a 3 hour lecture you take to help you brush up on different things. It's $10 and you get a certificate allowing you to retake the placement test again that cost $29. Do the math, it's basic math. :o)

John finished before me. I didn't notice that he left. It took him a solid 37 minutes which is better than before when it took him 6 minutes. And you have to know that he completely failed Geometry. He had one of THOSE coaches for a teacher and he would sit and talk with the jocks about the football games. I wasn't sure when he left, but he was gone. I kept plugging along, verbally moaning that the C test kept giving me something that looked the same. It was one of those 'if f(x)=8x2(that's a square)+7x-16 and g(x)=4x3 -9x+3 then f(g)+x3-8x=? Don't work that, I made it up, but can you see why my brain got fried? And then it would toss it and absolute value sign on some of them. I tried, guessed a few, but continually rolled my eyes in true Jeri form. My previous time was 26 minutes. This time it was 66 minutes.When I left the ladies told me that John said he was waiting in the car. I asked if he passed and they said they didn't look but he squealed. Really? My John squealed?

I'd like to tell you that we passed the test. But we BLAZED it! John got a 43! I'm so proud of him!! This means we don't have to pay $500 for a class that we don't need.  You know those ridiculous equations I mentioned? It turns out that was college algebra! I spent 19 minutes on algebra and 47 minutes on college algebra! My score? 63 on algebra and 26 on college algebra! I was really proud of myself! And I learned that there are 4 parts to the exam, we just never made it out of the basic part last time.

Then we see and advisor and they let us sign up for the new class only now everything is full and the only slots open are all the way in Austin. Yuck. But we digress and take them. Now come on, someone signed up for the RRC classes miss you payment deadline so you get dropped.

Are you wondering if Mr. Gordon called? He didn't. At this point it was about 3 so I called him again. Secretary answers and ask my name (I give it) and who am I with (myself). That last answer didn't take me far. She put me on hold then came back and said Mr. Gordon was unavailable. Really? "Ok, well, I can understand if he doesn't want to talk to me. I'll just have our attorney contact the surgery center attorney. Thanks for you time, Bye." Um, yeah, you know that's exactly what I said. A few minutes later my phone rang. The conversation was rather lengthy and involved me telling him just how wrong it wasChildrens Brackenridge (which is now the Dell Childrens Hospital and Specially Pediatrics) they would find that a few years ago I challenged the same policy and as a result CB's attorney told them they were in violation for asking this.  It's wrong, it's discrimination, and you should NEVER allow it to happen to your family/child. By the end of the conversation he had seen my point and said that hopefully should we find ourselves needing surgery again we would find the policy changed. It certainly gave him a new perspective and he hoped that sometime in the future my kids would know that their mom challenged an archaic system and made a difference for other adopted kids. Yep, he really said that. So now the kids are having surgery on 8/26 at our favorite surgery center. Wouldn't you fight for these 3 faces?

The rest of the day just happened. We spent time hanging out as a family cementing how much we love each other. Love your family....it's the only one you get.

oops! PS: I knew I forgot something. When we got home our 1st floor ac wasn't working. It was 85 in the house and a bit warm for me. A quick jog outside and yes, the unit was making a noise but the blade wasn't running. A call to Ray at Sierra Air and he sent someone out within an hour. It was the capacitor.  The exact same thing that gave out on our 2nd floor ac last week. $274 last week. Yesterday $224. But at least we all were able to sleep in our own beds.


I think it's time...

I think it's time to pick up our blog again. Like spring is in the air only it's mid summer here in Texas and hot. Did I mention that it's hot? Most days we are ~95* heat. I hate the heat. It makes me wither. :o)

We've had a lot going on in the last, ummm, 8 months.
Birthdays: I turned 40 in January (surprisingly it felt just like 39!), Jani turned 6 in May, and Adam became a full blown teenager in June.
Anniversaries: Jani came home 5 years ago, Jace and Jovi came home 2 years ago, and the biggest one was John and I celebrating 20 years of marriage. We celebrated on the top of Pike's Peak. And it snowed!

We took a trip to Colorado in June.  It was our first time west on a vacation...we hadn't even been to north Texas before so it was all a surprise. Our biggest shocker was really how barren the land was. Acres and acres and acres of wheat and corn. Oil rigs and wind turbines. And even a few dust storms and tumbleweeds. The mountains were very cool but not like the mountains in our beloved Virginia. These mountains had scraggly trees, not the big and colorful ones that we are used to seeing in the east. Still it was a beautiful site.

We had a big remodel project of our whole house starting in October and ending in March. The clean up from is taking forever. Most likely because the boys keep getting into stuff as I keep going thru it. Well, that's at least the story I'm sticking with!

We also had a fantastical school built. It's 20x24 with 7 windows, ac, fans, bright lights, carpet, bookshelves. It's a homeschooling families dream.

That's all I've got for now. Time to feed people lunch...it's 2pm already!


John turns 50!!!!

My beloved husband, my best friend, has turned 50 today. To mark this special occasion he was given things in 50. I didn't get all that I wanted to because quite frankly 50 cost a lot! But it's been a good morning. For breakfast we had cinnamon rolls but we don't have any pictures...we ate them all. But we have pictures of the gift giving. And thank you to all of you (about 50 not counting our family) that sent him birthday wishes for his book. I even caught the ones that came this morning. Enjoy.

the birthday boy

Jovi giving Daddy 50 Hershey Kisses (gold for 50, red for love)

Jani giving Daddy $50 Starbucks gift card

Jace giving Daddy an empty cassette of with $50 iTunes gift card

Richard giving John Starbucks coffee and sitting on his lap like everyone else did

Jeri giving John 50 First Dates...probably not the greatest movie but it was about 50

Adam giving Dad the book of birthday wishes

the kids watching John read his book

Jani giving Daddy the 50 double chocolate malted balls that I forgot about

And of course kids being kids they all wanted the candy. Thanks again everyone for remembering John.


Reunited & it feels so goooood!

Duke is home as of 4:30pm and the first thing he did is growl at Daisy and Braveheart (his original name, we're searching for a new one). What a welcome, eh? They are all resting comfortably in the big crate, though we can tell it's a tad crowded. Adam is going to take Duke upstairs to his bed and hope that he makes it through the night with no accidents. He is better mannered than the other 2. Could be like Kim said...pups that stay with mom longer have better manners. Could also be because the other 2 have been outside in the big pen unsupervised since we've had these beautiful days. They'll be spending more time inside but we had to get them past their tummy sickness after we accidentally switched their food last week. That was a fun 5 days! Enjoy


Isn't that just like a mother? Look at Lady above, she's looking so lovingly at him. Of course she could be thinking "son, mind your manners, you don't pass gas around ladies", but we'll never know. :o)

Adam and his very own dog...Duke!

Duke slept almost the whole way home, either between John and Adam or in the back seat with Jani.

Reunited and it feels so good...
Reunited cause we understood....
There's one perfect fit and brother this one is it....
We both are so exited cause we're....errrrrrkkkk!

nah, they were just playing...but she looks vicious, doesn't she!?!?

We had lots of scratch and sniff going on...and some good ol' leg chewing too. Look at the color difference between them. He is a beautiful blond with darker ears. Daisy looks more like her mom in the pictures. And Braveheart looks dark like his dad, Texas Ranger.

But at the end of the day, they all just went to sleep peacefully. Except Duke snores!

Daisy is on the left, Braveheart has his head on top of Duke.


This morning at 8:30 John, Adam and Jani left to go to San Antonio to get Duke. When we went to get the 2 puppies Oct 1, we initially thought we were getting Duke and Liberty. It wasn't until we were going home and talking more we realized it wasn't him. But what's important is that the kids took the puppies they wanted. We had talked about Duke so much that even though we brought Braveheart home, he was renamed Duke. But now, now...Kim posted that Duke was the last one not sold. How could someone not take Duke!

Adam wanted Duke. A call to John at work on Thursday and the deal was done. Why not?, John said, you only experience life once and I can't think of anything better for him to spend his money on. Yes, this is the money that has been safely stored in a savings account since before Adam was born. Over 12 years. And now his very first big expenditure. A friend by his side for the next 14 years or so. Congratulations, son.
(pictures to come later)

So on to my post. I'm home not feeling well from something I ate last night and I have the 2 boys. If you have kids then I'm sure you're well acquainted with the many uses of toilet paper rolls. The most common use in our home is telescopes. But today they became pirate telescopes. Light bulb! I can make eye patches!

So I'm proud to present my 2 33" pirates. The only ones not afraid to be seen in their underwear. :o) And for the first time ever you get to hear Jovi. (scrap that...I can the video thing anymore to add a video. =(...)


Hmmm...what to make of this?

Last night we decided to go out for Chinese food, an early dinner. I got the mail on my way out and was baffled to get a letter from USCIS. It seems we're not through with them. Maybe God is still calling us overseas? Maybe the door didn't close like we thought it did? Maybe?

And then to add an underscore to it... (Let me state here that anyone that knows me knows that me/we don't believe in horoscopes/fortunes/fortune cookies.) Usually we sit at the table at the restaurant and open our cookies and laugh about them and gobble them down. Today Lan brought them to us as we left. Adam is the only one that opened his, the rest are still on the counter at home. Here's what it said:
"Travelling to the east will bring you great rewards."
 So does that mean Virginia or Taiwan? What are your thoughts?


The Surprise Unveiled

Remember the surprise I taunted about on Wednesday (9/30) on Facebook? Well here's the surprise!

Aren't they adorable!?! We have 1 girl (left) and 1 boy (right). He's darker than she is. They were born August 7 and are 8 weeks old today. I have no idea how much they weigh currently but they are almost as big as Lady who is all of about 15lbs, give or take a few. She's still a bit afraid of them and runs away. Athena (our cat) just hisses at them, even when she can only hear them.

We traveled to San Antonio yesterday, the kids didn't know where we were going, only that we were packing lunch. I'm so glad John took off and went with us. Kim definitely wins for living out in the country! You can visit her blog at Life In A Shoe. She and her girls and Perry were very welcoming to us. It was so great to meet Kim in person, Deanna their oldest was very cool :o), and Nadia (did I get that right? she's #4, right) was quite engaging. It was great to talk to them. Very bright young women.

Now we need your help.

We have 2 names for the girl. Kim's family has called her Liberty, a very just name. But our kids have settled on Dixie (Adam) or Daisy (John). I like Dixie, it's very southern, sort of rebellious. :o) But I like Daisy too. It makes me think of daisies, very girly, very sweet. Other names our family thought of were: Princess (Jace), Puppy (Jovi), Sugar (Adam), Flower (Jani), Duchess (my choice, it goes with Duke you know) but I also thought of Bluebonnet and call her Bonnie.

For the boy Kim's family called him Braveheart, a very cool name, right? Coming home we thought we had his brother Duke so we tossed around that name too. I'm not sure how we got on the D's, seems J names would be more fitting. We don't have his name narrowed down at all. Other names we like are: Spider (Jovi), Prince (Jace), Donut (Adam), Bullseye (John), and Jack, Texas, and Duke were my ideas.

So what do you think? Tell me your favorite girl name and favorite boy name from our lists above. And if you think you have a better one, post it. We'll consider it if it's not goofy. So go ahead, leave us a comment with your vote.


Dear Disney

Take this trip and shove it
We ain't comin' there this year
You've gone and messed up all the reasons
We were comin' there.
You better not try to 'pologize
It's a little too late
Take this trip and shove it
You lost $4000 this date...


Food?....or eraser?

http://www.hapaculture.com/life/kids/raishapa/erasers.html I just saw these on another blog and had to take a look. They look so cool! The original poster said they were cheaper at Disney World. She found them at the Japanese store at Epcot. I can't wait to see what else they have at Epcot. Maybe they didn't have this stuff when we were there in 2000. Will be an adventure for sure!


Chicken Box give away

Southern Farm is having a give away! http://georgiafarmwoman.blogspot.com/2009/07/chicken-nest-box-giveaway.html They make these very awesome chicken boxes, I've been eying them for awhile, but just wasn't ready to buy yet. But now they are giving away a 4hole box and a 1 hole box! Go see them...go enter!


Charlottesville, Virginia

Who are you? We would love to ask you some questions! We saw that someone from CV has gotten on our blog a few times. Did you know we were thinking about moving there? Can you email us? John and Adam are headed that way in 4 weeks. We would love to pick your brain about the area.


So what have we been doing?

Someone asked me if we had abandoned our blog. The answer is no, we haven't. We have been really busy doing a few things that are private. Making some moves we aren't ready to announce to the world yet. And just living life. And planning our future, really trying to discern what God has in store for us, where he wants us to be both physically and spiritually.

But all is well in Pigletland. Never fear, we have some exciting changes ahead!!!
Because aren't things always exciting where we're concerned?


Take Off the Judicial Robes

'Take off the Judicial robes, God doesn't need your help.'

Jesus made it very clear, He really did not leave us any 'wiggle room.'

"Stop judging." (Matthew 7)

It's really risky business, it's like walking on thin ice...eventually, we will crash through the shaky foundation of our wrong assumptions.

It's really sneaky, isn't it? We tend to judge another Christian in two areas - their MOTIVES and their CHARACTER. Amazingly, we tend to do this with very few facts!! We know 10% of what is true, but we judge like we know 90% of the truth.

All Christians stumble at times and all Christians have tough days and all Christians have times in which we are certainly not a good witness for our Father. Ok, do you want to spiritually demote them when you see this happen? Throw them out of God's family? Question if they are truly saved? Assume that their faith is weak? Voice disappointment in them? Use a Bible verse as a spiritual hammer? Wow, no wonder Jesus ordered us to take off our Judicial robes....Can you imagine the damage done, in God's family, by judging?

Let's get off the thin ice, ok? If we are going to make a mistake, let's err on the side of love. God's love is very practical how it shows itself.....one very loving act is verbal silence, refusing to judge.:

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Matthew 7: 1-2 (No Wiggle Room)


where has the time gone?

So much has been going on the last 2 months. So much. Our blog wasn't one of the things that made the radar though! God has done so much in our lives that it's just amazing. I meant to write it all down with the dates things happened, but I failed. All is not lost though. I can still get many of the details down. Our highlights (while providing me a list to remember):
*sold land that we've owned for 16 years
*got out of debt (except the house, but hey, we have LOTS of equity!)
*celebrated our 19th anniversary
*celebrated Jani turning 5
*celebrated 1 year that we've had Jace & Jovi
*celebrated 4 years that we've had Jani
*made it through the 13th (or 12th or 14th--we've lost count) layoff
*had a job change complete with paycut
*have the ability to work overtime now
*have heard God's direction in our lives and are heeding it
*are formulating a plan of action, just in case God says go
See? we've really been busy!


Strawberries! We finally canned 'em!

We went to pick strawberries on March 30 and while John hulled them for me, I just could not get it together to can them. I've not ever canned before so I think that's why. Just a little intimidated. But I finally did it. Or rather we did it. I had thought I would do it with Jani while the boys were napping one day. I'm so glad I didn't! Hot sugar is, well, hot. And John and I discovered that we really enjoyed doing this together.

We also learned that 13.5 lbs of strawberries will yield:
5 cups of freezer jam
4 cups of freezer jam without sugar
17 cups of jam
and almost 2 cups of crushed berries to put over french vanilla cake for Easter!

I can't believe how incredibly easy this was! And I know we'll never again spend $$ on store bought strawberry jam. Our berries were from a farm in a neighboring town, organic, and yummy. Not counting the jars in the cost since they are reuseable, I think our cost were:

$34 for strawberries (fyi, my friend in WI only pays $1.25/lb!)
15.5 cups of sugar (I know! we couldn't believe it either!) I'm guessing $3 for 2 bags???
freezer jam fruit pectin $1.54
freezer jam no sugar needed $1.56
1 cup of apple juice .12 (for the no sugar needed, on sale for $1 and it was organic!)

Total is $40 for almost 28 cups of strawberry yumminess which equals $1.42 per cup. That would be even better if we paid less for strawberries! I wonder if the ones at Sams are organic???

Just for the record I paid $8.82 for the small 1 cup jars (Kerr quilted crystal 12/8oz) and $6.82 for the pints (Mason regular mouth 12/16oz). So initially the cost are higher. The last thing I want (because we made do) is the water bath/pressure cooker so that it's easier finish them.

now for the pictures!


Picking Strawberries

We love this farm, we just wish it was closer. It's an almost 2 hour drive from our house. A nice scenic drive, but still, it's a long way. And for strawberries. My brother said "you know they sell those at the store by your house"...yeah, I know, but it's the experience. Kind of like driving to Brenham for Blue Bell ice cream!

We quickly realized a) it was nap time by the time we got there which meant Jovi was c.r.a.n.k.y; b) the boys could not pick them as they would grab them and squeeze the berry as they were trying to get it off; and c) we should have brought scissors, would have made it so much easier.

We did have a nice picnic, well, in theory it was nice. A little cool, a lot windy, and 2 boys that did not want to eat. Bad combination but we muddle through and tada...wound up with an overload of berries.

There were the cutest baby goats to watch while we were eating. The reward for finishing your food was getting to go pet them. I was amazed that none of the kids were afraid. The boys just walked right up and stuck their hand through the fence.


No Spending Challenge

MomAdvice has a great playdough recipe with several links at the bottom for other flavored recipes. I'd love to try this with the kids, as soon as I get their table cleared off.

She also just completed 28 days of a No Spend Challenge. And this gave me thought. I wondered how she could still make things with buying milk or eggs in the middle of that. I found her blog on the tail end of her journey, actually just yesterday. I saw that she did in fact give them a $250 budget for food/essentials (like diapers) and did shop. While I'm up for the challenge, I'm not quite up for doing without milk or eggs. So I decided that what John and I could take away from this is that we would need to set our own rules, but still working to be true to this challenge.

In the past I've seen families do pantry challenges, usually for a week at a time. A Pantry Challenge is just that, challenge yourself to feed your family out of pantry...no quick trips to the store for something forgotten, just relying on what you have in the pantry, fridge, or freezer.

We've not ever done this before, but given that we just got our first reduced paycheck, the rumor mill still buzzing about something happening April 1 at John's job, what better time than now, right? So here we go. I've decided that like Amy, I'm going to give us a budget of things we need, not want, for the month. The main things I'll be buying though are milk (because we drink it raw), eggs (because you need those for baking), and fruit (because it keeps the family fortified with vitamins and healthy.

We blew it for today, because while I thought about this yesterday and figured John would agree to it, we scored some kolaches from The Donut Shop and a tiny trip to Walgreens for more supplies for the boys recovery. We could have continued making due with our current "supplies" but I realized something yesterday that would work much better for Jace.

So that said, March 1 (11am) - March 31 will be "spend as little as we possibly can month". My goal is to post daily, though honestly, we all know I'll probably fall short, about what we ate, and what if any money we spend. I will not be counting monthly bills, gasoline (since we're careful with that anyway).


A week long of OUCH!

On Monday (2/23) we took both boys in to get them circumcised. In the adoption world this is sometimes a very hot topic. Did I say hot? I meant HOT. We decided to get it done because 1-hygiene and boys, not a good combination; 2-health; 3-the skin was not coming back like it should be starting to on either of them.

We had Jace go first because he was more aware that something was going on. The cocktail of versed and Tylenol did nothing to him. It didn't relax him but rather woke him up as he was just falling asleep because it was nap time. (We have some very cute pictures of the boys in their gowns, on the bed together, and also post-op but they are stuck on our cell phone and we don't know how to get them off.) We also learned that Tylenol with codeine makes him wide eyed too.

Jovi on the other was quite funny once he had the cocktail. I brought a mini magna doodle for them to play with and we were drawing things for Jovi. When we drew a horse/cow, he combined their sound: imagine the word moo being whinnied like the horse sound neigh. It was funny. Another time we drew a smiley face and he just leaned over almost nose to nose to it and just stared at it. He really was quite loopy.

The boys made it through their surgeries just fine. It took them about an hour to wake. They looked so sweet just laying their sleeping. This isn't something we hardly ever see because both are light sleepers and when you go into their room they wake up.

Once home we had to call the doctor. Great doctor. If you want a referral in the area I'll be glad to give one. We had Jovi just kind of chilling, drinking water, relaxing, and we had Jace completely hysterical, screaming, and still trying to demand we give him certain things. I'm sure it did hurt, but the doctor said the local they gave them in the surgery room should last 6-8 hours and it had only been 4 hours. He called them in Tylenol w/codeine and off I went to get more bandages and the med. He said he didn't like to give it to kids because it can make them gassy. Guess who got gas and kept us awake all night? Go ahead, guess. Eventually I moved him into our bed during the night so we wouldn't have to keep going into the other room. Jovi was already in the pack-n-play in our room. But no one slept.

The doctor told us to use Jovi as the barometer for how they were feeling because he could see easily after Jovi's surgery and how Jace was behaving that Jace was all about drama. All night Jovi slept on his back, if he was awake, he just layed there. Jace kept going to his tummy and yelling and crying about it hurting. Well, son, get off our your surgery spot!

Tues, Wed, Thurs saw us still dealing with Jace's drama. When he thought you weren't looking he would hop around, climb on furniture, climb on Adam, and move like there was no problem. When you were looking he would walk with his legs apart and gingerly move. Jovi on the other hand was moving pretty well by Wed. Both boys were coming back to life and behaving like we thought they would.

Jace also refused to pee for a long time and as a result peed on the carpet Monday night, one time Tuesday and 2x on the kitchen/bathroom floor. By Wed he knew better but still peed on the floor. The doctor did not want Jace going to the bathroom by himself nor holding himself given his affinity for picking at things. The last thing we need were pulled out stitches. So we would have to take Jace every time. And every time he would cry and tell us it hurt, but the doctor said it did not hurt him to go pee because there was nothing done to his hole to cause any kind of pain. Just drama. He also would not poop, so he went from Sunday to Wednesday late before he pooped. Not good for his body at all. No wonder he had stomach pains.

Jovi just got busy with peeing and pooping right away. No hangups for this kid.

So what did the doctor say? Initially he thought he might have to adjust the hole on Jace because you could not see any of it. He didn't but he said he had never seen that much scaring from infection on a child that young. He said Jovi looked like he had 2-3 infections over time, but Jace had several of them. The skin was stuck very bad to the tip and he had to cut it off the tip which is why we had so much bleeding from him. Jovi's wasn't stuck nearly as bad, which is why we could pull his skin back further.

On Friday I called to see what he thought about Jace still bleeding. I love that this doctor actually gets on the phone with you. I told him I was about 3 blocks away, and that he said the bleeding should stop by Wed, so he let us come in. They took us right back, but after 10 min of waiting the other kids needed to come in also. So I went back to get them. After 10 more minutes, he came in and wound up taking a look at both boys. Now we don't have to go back 2 weeks. Both look fine and normal. He said for about 6 months it will still look rough, but then it will be fine.

If I had to do this over again, I don't think I would do them both at the same time. Monday was not a fun day at all. At the same time, it got it over. But Monday was just a bad day no matter how you look at it. The things we endure as parents.

So what did we learn from all of this? We learned that if you have an uncircumcised (adopted) son, you should get him checked out by a urologist. The doctor said he had never seen so much scar tissue from infections on such small children. He didn't know if it was a normal Asian thing or if it was just bad hygiene on the part of the foster families. He said had we not done it now, they would have had to endure this as teenagers going through puberty because there would have most definitely been ripping and bleeding then. And it probably would have been a whole lot more painful. At least get them checked out, because you never know what germ can be lurking in a place you can't see.


911...What's Your Emergency?

It went something like this:
5:30pm, Friday 2/20
I'm feeding the 3 little kids dinner as they stand around me because the kitchen is still a mess.
John is leaving work in about 30 more minutes as he's trying to get a plate to run, or something like that, but he can't talk because he needs to concentrate.
My cell phone rings, I answer via speakerphone, and the conversation goes something like this.

Jeri: hello

, 5:47pm: Mrs. Riddick, this is Wayne at TPI. John wanted me to call you and let you know that 911 has been called and EMS is here. I think they're gonna take John to the hospital.

Jeri: are you kidding? you're kidding right? (because I'm thinking John is just harassing me after a not so fun day of parenting)

Wayne: No ma'am, I'm not kidding. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but John said he couldn't feel his left arm and was stuck to his chair and they wheeled him out of the cleanroom. They're outside now trying to get him set to go.

Jeri: Do not take him to RRH, you must take him to SWC. Tell them that. Do not go to RRH, they've almost killed both of us.

Wayne: Yes ma'am. I'll try. Steve will be calling you soon to give you more details.

Jeri: ok, thanks. I'll wait for his call so that I know where to go.

So after I hang up, I come THISCLOSE to losing it, but catch myself as I realize I'm sitting before 3 small children that can easily take on my emotions. A quick call to my wonderful brother Rich lets me know he's about 10 minutes away. By a miracle he was coming out so that the 3 of us could go to dinner after we put the kids in bed. And he was planning on spending the night. While still feeding the chompers, I called my friend JO and told her to pray. I had a feeling John would be ok, but it was going to be a long night. So JO prayed for him and got the same feeling I did. My mistake here was keeping her on speaker phone, because Jani got hysterical, scared. The boys pretty much just still wanted to eat, but Jani got it.

I had enough time to finish feeding them and shower before Rich got here and then I was off and flying down the road, flashers and all. I had to call TPI back and they said Steve was trying to get my # to call me. They did take John to SWC so that was great. Fabulous new hospital. By the time I go there it has been 1hour and 10min since Wayne had called. I was relieved to see Colleen, his boss' boss, turns out someone from management has to stay with the person until family arrives. She stayed longer and I was glad, she had all kinds of info on John, like the fact that he drank a triple espresso for breakfast!

So what happened? Here is John's words:

Around 5:30 or so I got really weak and put my head on the table next to the screen. I told myself you can’t take a nap at work and so I made myself sit up. I think when I sat up it felt like my head was spinning like a globe. I sat there trying to tell if I was really feeling wierd or if I was faking it. I decided I wasn’t faking it and I called to Mike and said "Mike, something’s wrong with me". He came over shortly and asked if I was kidding. I said no. My left arm was numb from shoulder to finger tips and for some amount of seconds I felt frozen in my chair. I tried to stand with his help but Steve and Mike had me sit back down (I think). After that a bunch of people helped me. I had severe motion sickness when trying to talk or move even an inch.

We were there until about 11pm, though the doctor said he could go about 9:30 or 9:45. So much for dinner at a normal time. The doctor diagnosed him with a severe case of vertigo and said the numbness/feeling stuck to the chair was his body trying to reset itself after being so dizzy. And it was all brought on by not drinking enough water and eating more solid food. We wound up eating at Chilis because besides IHOP or Dennys, not much is open at that time. We had some yummy potato soup, not what we were thinking we would have. I'm so thankful it wasn't more serious, and that we still have many more years to be together as a family.


Feb 16-19, hmmm...

Something happened during this time, something I wanted to blog about, but this is what happens when you fail to blog on the day as things occur. Are you a fellow delinquent blogger like I am? Do you: find yourself too tired to post at the end of the day? too tired/lazy to get out the sd card from the camera and put it in the little slot on your computer? maybe you have a sick child? Either, the days ticked by, almost 2 weeks now, and I find myself sitting here unable to remember what I thought was important.


Happy Valentines to You!

Today was probably the first time that Jace and Jovi celebrated Valentines Day. And probably the first time a family loved them so completely. We actually did it on Sunday the 15th because Saturday is still a work day for John. And by the time he got home the kids were in bed. I could very much relate to another mom, Jackie from Taiwan-On about her feelings about the day and her husband working. So our celebration was a day later. I completely agree with her on that the day should serve to make us aware of the ones we love, to cherish love, and to not take it for granted (my words, but similar to her feelings).

I had to laugh a little because the boys were singing happy birthday, only it wasn't anyone's birthday. I think since we had them in their highchairs for their birthdays and gave them their gifts there, any present that is given while in that chair must surely mean it's their birthday, right?


Discount Food Store

This morning I learned of a dent store, a place to buy things where cans are dented, or promotions are over, items are past expiration date, boxes were crushed...you get the idea. I didn't call first, I just figured they were open.
There hours are M-Th 9:30am - 5pm, and F 9:30am - 6pm.
They do not take coupons and are cash only.
Anyone going into the store must have shoes shirt and pants on. =)
And no smoking outside their door on their benches.

I think they have 6 baskets. We filled up 3.5 of them. The owners were very nice helping us store the filled baskets and move the little boys into empty carts. It isn't very big, about the size of a convenience store. There is also a little back room (really little, your cart will barely go in there)with non food items from cat litter to paper plates to dish detergent. Surprisingly we were in there an hour. We'll be going back for sure. The shipments seem a bit sporadic but she did say there is one coming in sometime next week she thought from Colorado that was from Safeway and she said it always had good stuff. Today we spent $71.57.

Examples of food we found: pop tarts, cereal, koolaid packets, jello, spaghetti sauce, canned peppers, canned veggies, soup, pie filling, cake/brownie mixes, icing, juice, yeast, condiments, dressings, crackers, fruit snacks, gum, dog treats, paper plates, cat litter, dish detergent, dry beans, big cans of veggies; there was a lot more but we can't remember it all.

Note: The lines are running together. I've listed the item, the size of the item, the expiration date

Brand Size Exp Date Price ea
GM Cheerios 3x 18oz 9-09 2.59
Stokelys whole kernel corn 2x 106oz 1.50
Stokelys diced potatoes (lady charged me 1.50) 106oz 3.00
SureFine Rice squares cereal 15.6oz 9-08 0.69
SureFine fruit rings cereal 15oz 9-09 1.00
GM Cheerios 14oz 10-09 1.59
Post Honeycomb 14.5oz 4-09 1.59
Ralston Foods froster shredded wheat 3x 19oz 2-09 1.00
GM Kix 12oz 8-09 1.59
Post Selects Cranberry almost crunch 13oz 7-09 1.69
GM Kix 18oz 8-09 2.00
SureFine Raisin bran 20oz 10-09 1.85
Kelloggs apple jacks 2x 12.2oz 7-09 1.59
GM honey nut cheerios 2x 12.25oz 7-09 1.00
Post select great grains 16oz 6-09 1.69
Ralston Foods frosted flakes 20oz 12-08 1.00
ShurFine parmesan cheese 8oz 11-08 1.00
Chef Boyardee pizza 3x 1 9-08 1.00
Stove Top turkey stuffing 2x 6oz 1-09 0.59
ShurFine stuffing pork 2x 6oz 9-08 0.59
Betty Crocker Wild blueberry muffin mix 10-09 1.29
Orville Redenbacher butter popcorn 2x 6pk 8-08 0.59
Smuckers organic strawberry preserves 12oz 5-08 0.69
Kraft lite mayonnaise 32oz 12-08 0.50
ShurFine marshmallow crème 2x 7oz 12-08 0.10
ShurFine pineapple juice 46oz 11-08 0.39
Shurfine organic applesauce 4x 25oz 11-08 0.89
Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk 14oz 6-10 0.79
SureFine whole cranberry sauce 16oz 9-10 0.25
Smuckers peach preserves 12oz 9-08 0.69
Smuckers organic red raspberry 12oz 10-08 0.69
Fleischmans yeast, jar 4oz 9-08 0.10
Fleischmans yeast bread machine, jar 4oz 10-08 0.10
Grey poupon 8oz 9-08 0.29
Taco Bell soft taco dinner kit 2x 12-08 1.00
Crayola lemon lime drinks (missed the exp date on these) 8x8oz 6-07 0.50
Miracle whip squeeze 10oz 1-09 0.75
SureFine dried blackeye peas 3x 16oz 1-09 0.49
SureFine oyster crackers 12oz 0.39
La Choy chow mein noodles 8-08 0.10
Hunts spaghetti sauce, various flavors 6x 26.5oz 7-10 0.55
ShurFine sloppy joe 7x 15oz 12-09 0.40
Manwich 16oz 4-10 0.40
Morrisons sopapilla mix 2x 11-08 0.25
Bakers German chocolate 2x 4oz 10-08 1.00
SureFine whole kernel corn 6x 25oz 2-10 0.35
Rosarita refried beans 3x 16oz 3-10 0.45
Lifesavers, bag 6.25oz 0.79