Sunday, November 24, 2013

Granola from scratch

Today was the Turkey Trot, a local race, in fact, the oldest annual race in the city. My older boys have participated in either the 10 or the 2 mile race over the years. Today though, I was more than a spectator, more than someone to hold warm-up pants for a I was a runner! 

Yes, a slow runner, but I'm OFF the couch and I feel great! 

Rose and I all bundled up! Seriously...5 layers at least!

After the race, and after we all thawed out (it was about 25F this morning!), I finally got around to making some granola to go with the gallon of yogurt I made a few days ago. Along with yogurt, granola is one of those things that is so cheap to make compared to what you might pay at the store...especially when you have hungry teenagers!

I mixed 9 cups of oats, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 3 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp salt in a bowl. I mixed 1 cup of honey with 1/2 cup of melted coconut oil and 2 tsp vanilla. This mixture gets poured over the oats and thoroughly mixed. 

I wanted to be a little creative today so I put a few drops of DoTerra OnGuard essential oil blend into my honey/oil mix. It just smells like Christmas to me! Containing wild orange, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary, it smells amazing.

I spread the granola out on three baking sheets and toasted them for 15 minutes at 300 degrees. As the granola was toasting and the house filled with the wonderful aroma, I started wondering about fragrances. A lot of perfumes and scented candles give me headaches and me feel ill, but all of the essential oils I've tried do not. I have read about health risks of synthetic fragrances. I love my essential oils more and more all the time.

After the granola came out of the oven, I stirred in some almonds and put it back in the oven for 5 more minutes. Before it even cooled, I had kids hanging around the kitchen grabbing pieces of granola! Yum! I like making things from scratch. I love knowing exactly what is IN the things my kids eat.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Gotta get back...

I received a message and some photos from Ukraine this morning. So naturally, I'm sobbing already and it isn't even 8am yet!

I didn't get bad news or anything like that. Actually, I got some really happy photos and encouraging news. So why the tears? 

A huge chunk of my heart got left behind over there. What a privilege to have met the dearest and most generous people. I think I'm actually acutely homesick. I.must.get.back.there...time to start planning. I absolutely must go. Project TLC does have a really efficient caregiving program continuing to operate in an invalid home there, but I need to meet with our voluntees and the facility director and teachers personally. 

This time around, I must raise the funds for my mission trip. There is no wiggle room in our budget these days and I cannot take funds away from any of the programs or kids we serve. Also, I am praying to take one of my older boys with me. I cannot think of a better way to develop a young person's heart than serving. 

I have two new home businesses to help earn funds for my orphan care habit. I have an Isagenix business, that presently pays for the products I'm using for me and my family. I encourage you to check out the cleansing products and athletes pack. The ingredients are top notch and you know I'm picky! Join my team for additional discounts and to support my work in Ukraine.

I also have a new essential oil home business. I presently offer DoTerra essential oils.  

Did you know that 60% of people look for natural remedies before they make an appointment with a doctor? I was once sceptical about the effectiveness of essential oils but not anymore! 

Over the summer, Zhen developed a scaly patch on his head. I tried hydrocortisone, dandruff shampoo, but nothing worked. The patch grew bigger and nastier...oozing and squishy. When I brought him to the doctor, she immediately knew that it was a fungal infection. I was warned that it woud be very difficult to treat and the medication would need to be taken religiously for two whole months.

I was really uncomfortable with this medication, but I followed the doctor' orders. At the end of the treatment the lesion was still visible, though greatly improved. I agonized over whether to call in a refill. Then I was invited to an essential oils information session. The timing couldn't have been more perfect.

I started using DoTerra's melelueca oil (tea tree oil!) on Zhen's scalp when I learned that this oil has anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties. Within weeks the patch was invisible. I'm convinced that the oil was less burdensome to his system than the anti-fungal pills he was taking. At the very least, the oil worked in concert with the pharmaceuticals. 

I ordered my own Family Physician oil kit soon after that. I find that I use something from my kit each day. A drop of lemon oil in honey for a cough. A bit of lavender for a bump on the head. I can't wait to order a diffuser to ward off colds and flu this winter with the OnGuard (similar to thieves oil) oil blend! 

With both Isagenix and DoTerra, you can order from my site, or contact me personally for assistance. 

Since my son would like to come to Ukraine with me on mission next year, we have had to figure out a way for him to help earn the funds. We have come up with what we call Max Stax! This is just like the table game known as Jenga, but BIGGER and ten times more fun!

This is the perfect party game! A very unique gift! We are taking local orders for Christmas deliveries right now! Wichita area only. Shipping costs would be prohibitive. :(

Some local school children enjoy Max Stax for indoor recess time!

For $100 you get the 60 block game in a rolling carrying case. You may choose painted or stained blocks for $25 more. Email to order. 

We are really excited about the good things that are happening in Ukraine and cannot wait to get back and deliver love and Good News. Thanks for your support and for even reading this far. I never take you for granted. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

School Photo Fails

We've been battling the snot monster here. It's been rough. At least Zhen and Theo are trained to allow me to do a sinus rinse. It must make them feel better because they are very compliant. 

In other news, I got Max's school photo retakes order form. He was gone for picture day, so we don't get a real retake. Even though we apparently NEED retakes. Unless they really think I'm going to pay money for this. Would you? The restraining hand on his arm is creepy if you ask me.

We got some really nice school photos last year, but this year we are striking out bigtime. Check out Ralph's photo...

Don't you like the hearing aid cords coming out of the side of his head? 

I'm not really angry. I'm actually more amused. It's not our first set of awful school photos. Have you ever had school photo fails?


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Waiting for the bus with Zhen

This boy. Waiting for the school bus. I don't always know what to say about Zhen...

He is a tough kid. Literally tough, a product of his rough beginnings. Tough to understand. Tough to love. No sugar coating here. Zhen is a perfect example of the invisible damage that institutional care can do to a kid.

Thank goodness he's sorta cute.

And he is really stinking clever. I think he'd be talking and reading if he hadn't been deprived of a loving family experience for his first 3 1/2 years. 

Tonight he is lying in his bed, feverish and miserable. He doesn't get sick often, but when he does he is a pitiful mess. He's gonna hang out with mommy all day tomorrow. As much as I enjoy putting this boy on the bus each morning, I think a day with mommy is just what we both need. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Adventures in avoidance

 What do you do when you really ought to be doing something else? How do you practice avoidance?

Not too long ago I might have taken a nap, but now that I'm all full of energy I had to do something extreme. I cleaned the fridge! It was an honest to goodness workout. 

So, what am I avoiding? 

What else. Paperwork. Bills. Paperwork. I'm going to hit those hard tomorrow. Promise.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hummus for a crowd

We are reclaiming our health as a family. A large part of this journey involves finding new ways of satisfying hungry young eating machines. My soon to be 14 year old son can eat for two solid hours after school and then sit down to a full supper! One of my daughters was seemingly born with a bread addiction. 

Helping your children improve their dietary habits without giving them a complex is a tricky stunt. How do you explain what will happen if one eats an entire pan of brownies? We don't really want to go there, especially with our mix of sensitive personalities.

So, when it comes to food, we focus on "healthy" choices as much as possible. As it turns out, healthy choices can be CHEAP choices! Win/win.

Lately I have been introducing my family to the wonder and deliciousness of various types of dry beans. We've been doing a lot of chili and split pea soup, but the real crowd pleaser here has been hummus.

I love the roasted red pepper hummus from the grocery store, but I am too cheap pay grocery store prices when chick peas are only about $1 per pound. Let me tell you, a pound of chick peas makes a boat load of hummus! I made up my own version of roasted red pepper hummus. It's not authentic, but we love it.

I soaked one pound of chick peas all day long, because who thinks about soaking beans before going to bed. Not me! Except at the end of the day, I have these beans that I have to do something I simmer them overnight. This is probably the exact wrong way to cook beans, just sayin'.

In the morning, after the last child had been buckled into the school bus, I took time to deal with my cooked beans. At this point I could have slipped the papery skin off the beans, but nah...who has time for that. I got out my hand blender and start whipping them up. A regular blender is fine too, but my hand blender works well with really hot food.

Then came the really fun part, making it taste good. I chose to use my natural peanut butter (not natural peanut butter SPREAD! There is a reason they have to label it as spread and it can't be good.) instead of tahini. I just added a little more than half a cup. It's optional anyway.

Lemon juice came next, no idea how much, maybe 1/4 cup? I might experiment with lime juice next time. Salt to taste. It tasted kinda boring still. Then I got a bright idea to throw in some red curry paste. I blended in about two big tablespoons of that delicious, dreamy red paste to get it to taste just right. Boom! Perfect! It was a major hit on pretzels and carrot sticks alike.

Don't you just love the way I throw things together? It's an art, not a science. I actually thought I was a hummus genius until I did a bit of Google-ing. There are all sorts of recipes for curried hummus out there! Who knew? 

So go out and grab yourself a bag of chick peas and a jar of red curry paste, do a little Google searching and you too can make an awesome pot of curried hummus...enough for a crowd. Try something new, something healthy, something cheap!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Preparing to report on Theo

Theo. My little love.

He has come so far! 

I tried to get some photos of him a few mornings ago because he always wakes up happy! He won't sit still so I get blurry pics. But, you can see what a tub he has become! Look at that physique!

He is growing out of his size 5 diapers! I'm not gonna like buying size 6's, cheap as I am.

He was the cutest little dinosaur, playing in the leaves at grandma's house.

I'm gathering photos of Theo and each if my other Amerikrainian boys for their annual post placement reports. I'll be sharing about each of them here in the next few days. When we adopted the boys, we signed an agreement with the government of Ukraine to submit periodic reports about their condition and development. Every family that adopts a child from Ukraine must sign the same agreement.

Some families have mixed feelings about providing these reports, particularly if their children suffered trauma, neglect and abuse at the hands of their Ukrainian caregivers. Why would the government care so much more for these children now? Why not do more to ensure the safety and health of the kids while under their care?

I cannot answer those questions. I can only do my best to hold up my end of the bargain. 

It's been reported that a very low percentage of families are providing these reports as promised. The Ukrainian government has no authority to enforce the agreement, and they can't come and take the kids so no big deal, right?


Since "rehoming" or "disruption" have been in the news lately, anti-adoption forces have renewed their quest to restrict adoption in Ukraine or shut down all together. The lack of compliance in post placement reporting is a serious matter. An adoption shut down would be tragic, particularly for children with disabilities or medical conditions. Lack of information on the whereabouts of disrupted children will be used as ammunition by adoption foes to keep other children in bondage.

If you have been neglecting your promise to provide reports, or maybe you just lost the address or instructions, you can find out which consulate you need to contact based on your state of residence, instructions and forms HERE

Let's be thankful that our reports are not required to be completed by accredited agencies, like other country programs require. So costly! But above all, let us be honorable and live up to the promises we made.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Max's Isa-story

Theo came home to our family in 2010 weighing in at 13 the age of four. He was placed on a special, and very costly, high quality, elemental formula for his malnutrition and GI problems.

Once he turned 5 years old we were forced, coverage wise, to switch to a popular kids drink that claims to be a healthy source of complete nutrition. It's sugar water, folks. Well, sugar water with added vitamins. I was so thankful that Theo was able to chew well enough to transition to real, table food soon after. I never felt good giving Theo that sugary "nutrition" drink stuff. It felt wrong.

Fast forward to last spring...Soon after Max came home, a tiny little 25 pound, eight year old skeleton with some very obvious gut problems, I began to earnestly search for additional nutrition for him.

When he did not make the sort of immediate catch-up weight gain that I expected, I had a wild idea to find him a super high calorie body builder formula from the local supplement super store. I was giving him sugary complete nutrition drinks on top of fatty, sweet muffins - super high in calories - but was still not feeling good about the sugar and other cheap ingredients he was getting.

What I found in the body builder formulas SHOCKED me, and not in the good way. Most of the high calorie "gainer" formulas included artificial sweeteners (really?), artificial flavors, colors, partially hydrogenated oils, and soy, soy, soy! I could not find one formula that met my standards. Are bodybuilders really putting this sort of garbage in their bodies? Defeated, I put this search on the back burner.

Soon after starting my Isagenix 30 day cleanse, I took a real close look at the label on the shakes. I knew that I was getting high quality ingredients before I started, but just then it dawned on me that this shake formula was exactly what I was looking for when searching for Max. Why didn't I think of this sooner?

Isagenix shakes are high quality food. Containing undenatured whey protein, which is nutritionally superior compared to protein isolates, it has a full range of amino acids. Also, the shakes are free of artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, and soy! It only contains good fats, nothing hydrogenated. At 120 calories per scoop, this is what I was originally looking for to supplement Max's diet and calories. Bingo!!

So, how do I use Isagenix shakes to supplement Max's diet? He is presently getting one scoop of Isalean shake for breakfast, but he cannot drink properly yet, not reliably from a cup much less a straw. I am unwilling to waste a single drop, so I needed to come up with a different plan. Right now I'm adding this to his oatmeal, or mashed bananas or applesauce each morning. I blend in some additional coconut oil, avacado, papaya, or whatever I can mash up for variety. I expected to see improved health and weight gain by supplementing with Isagenix, but I didn't expect to see exploding verbal skills!

On just one day last week, a week after using Isagenix shakeson a regular basis, Max was reported to have spoken four different words to many different people. He said "bye" to his paras at school when I picked him up to take him to therapy. He said "hi," "eat," and "ball" to his physical therapist and his speech therapist. This made me wonder about the gut-brain connection and has let me to do some research. (I'll know more about his growth when we see the endocrinologist in January.) Now, as a result of my research and Max's results, all of my boys with DS are getting Isagenix "Isa-mash" for breakfast!

Ralph was resistant at first, and still is a bit difficult. His favorite breakfast is bread with butter and a glass of milk. This is what he requests every single day and he is very set in his ways. He still gets a piece of bread if he wants it, but only after his Isa-pudding! His favorite is when I blend bananas with chocolate shake mix. It looks and tastes just like chocolate pudding! His speech is improving constantly anyway, so it's hard to say if his results will be as dramatic as Max. But, I'm confident that I'm giving him the best nutrition and that can't hurt.

I am so pleased to have found this company and I believe in the high quality of the products. If you would like more information about how Isagenix products could help you or someone you love, just shoot me a comment or email to

Come back to find out how Isagenix has helped some other people that I love!