Table for Seven

Last Thursday we had a little angel delivered to us.  Our foster baby girl is 4 weeks old and simply wonderful.

We got the call last Thursday around 3 in the afternoon.  We were informed about this baby’s immediate situation and we were asked if we were up for fostering her.  We said, “Yes.”  Within a few hours, she was at our doorstep in her car seat carried by a DSS worker.  What an amazing experience it was to see her and take in those life changing moments.  After the DSS stork left, our family stood by her with mouths opened wide with amazement.  She sat, angelic, in her seat sound asleep.  For the next hour and a half we stared, smiled, giggled, and cried.  Our lives would never be the same.  There is one more to love in our home and for that we are extremely grateful.

She is a healthy baby girl.  We don’t know how long she’ll be with us.  It could be for a short while, a year, or maybe forever.  We are enjoying the chance to give her all the love and attention she deserves.  As the next few weeks come and go, we will learn more about her history and what direction the Social Services think this case is heading.

I have to find out if I can blog about her in a personal way.  It would be fun to share pictures, but I will have to check that with our social workers.

I have to say that our children have been amazing.  Julian, Madelyn, Kalen and Brayden have shown so much love to this foster child.  Each of them, for the past five days, have asked to hold, feed, and carry this little one.  I have seen each of them talk to her in a real endearing way.  Scott and I have seen a sincere willingness and helpfulness from all of them, which is so refreshing.  Just now, Julian came to me and showed me that he had put the leftover spaghetti in a storage container.  Then he went back downstairs and outside to help Scott put away the bikes that were left out.

We are continuing our conversations with our kids about what fostering really means and how much uncertainty is involved.  We had a little family meeting this morning.  I complimented them on how caring and flexible they have been.  We talked about how we don’t know how long we will have our foster baby, but we can give her love daily as she is now one of us, a sister and a daughter within our family.

How are Scott and I doing, you ask?  We are doing well.  As parents, this is an amazing opportunity.  There have been moments over the past few days that we just stare at one another and grin.  We can totally read one another’s mind.  There have also been moments where we cackle, then wipe our brow and keep our head down as we work hard at giving to our children — all five.  We can already tell this won’t always be easy, but we truly wouldn’t have it any other way.  If you looked into the eyes of the child that we now hold, you’d see why.

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Stella Books

My kids and I go to our public library weekly, sometimes even more than once.  This week we found several wonderful picture books that we want to read over and over again.  Among those that we can’t seem to get enough of are these two books pictured down below by Canadian author and illustrator, Marie-Louise Gay.  The main characters are Stella and her little brother, Sam.  The exchanges between these two are just precious.  The nature that is illustrated within these books is so sweet and pure.

As I was looking up these books online to read about the author, I was pleased to find a long list of other books she had written within the same Stella and Sam series.  Let the hunt begin . . .

(comments below were taken from here)
Gay has created two lovable, fun and wise children who live an enchanted life in nature. Her stories and art work appeal to parents and children alike.

Marie-Louise Gay is one of Canada’s most celebrated authors and illustrators of several books children ranging from pre-K to twelve.  Among the most popular of her contributions are the Stella and Sam books.

The versatility of this series shows in the age-range in which they are popular: preschool to Grade 2. Sam, the preschooler, will make the youngest readers feel at home, while they can look up to Stella, the big sister, who is the hero of the older readers.

Children as well as parents will adore the illustrations. The lovely pencil and watercolor and pencil works of art are neither loud nor insipid – the extremes that many children’s book illustrators are falling into these days. Gay’s soft pastels are boldly enlivened by flaming colors, such as Stella’s red hair and an object here and there.

Sam, the younger brother, is a charming and inquisitive, somewhat timid three-or four-year-old. Stella, his big sister, is his teacher and guide. Their exchange is funny and sweet without being clichéd or syrupy.

Tipping My Hat

He just swooped them all out the door.  With helmets on and wheels in motion, they were off.  Scott took the kids to a nearby park.  They’ll be back for supper, as the sun is setting.  They’ll be sweaty and hungry.  Not only that, the kids will feel loved.

Our kids love these little adventures they take with Scott.  They trust him and he manages carting around his four children well.  He delights in them and they delight in him.

Today, I want to say a special thanks to Scott for being an amazing Dad.  Within the past ten years, I have enjoyed watching him love his children and grow with them.  I am thankful he is the man my kids call Daddy.

My Favorite Vegan Brownies

A friend asked me yesterday for some of my favorite vegan recipes.  This brownie one came to mind.  I posted this recipe on my previous blog and I thought I would repost it here. It continues to be the best vegan brownie recipe I have found.

Double-Chocolate Brownies

2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 c coffee (the liquid, not the grinds- I use our decaf from breakfast)
2 tbsp ground flaxseed (if you have never ground flaxseed, get yourself a coffee grinder for just grounding flaxseed)
3/4 c water
1 cup plus 2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt until combined.

2. Add coffee, ground flaxseed, water, oil, and vanilla, and mix with a spatula unitl mixture is thick and wet.

3. Spread batter into prepared baking dish, and sprinkle with chocolate chips (I used more chocolate chips than suggested). Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Enjoy!

Kind Hearts

I’ll never forget it.  I was lying in bed and I knew it was morning.  I heard the ding of our waffle maker.  Now, this is an extremely odd sound for me to hear just as I am waking.  I threw back the covers and scooted downstairs to see my two little early risers, Julian and Kalen, making waffles.  With mix on their elbows and grins on their faces, they were making breakfast for our family.  After the shock of realizing that my kids were actually cooking and using a hot waffle maker and such, I was able to smile a sweet smile and truly express my joy.

I feel like I hound my kids about being kind.  Like when they argue, fuss or fight, I tend to tell them to be kind.  When they use harsh words or show selfishness, I remind them to be kind.  What a complete surprise it was to see this genuine act of kindness come from them instead of seeing it nagged out of them.

Caregivers, they are watching.  They see the kindness we show them.  Sure, reminding them to be kind is necessary.  However, showing them kindness is stronger than any words we can muster up.

Just in case you are curious, here’s our waffle recipe.Vegan Waffle Mix

Vegan Waffle Mix

(we normally make 5 times this recipe for our family of 6)

1 cup flour
1 cup soymilk
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 T maple syrup

Whisk all ingredients together, pour onto oiled waffle iron and cook on medium.

Pool Fun

Our family has been doing a lot of swimming lately.  There’s no cure for these hot Carolina days like that of visiting our neighborhood pool.  Thanks to my Dad and Sally’s generous gift to all of us for our birthdays this year, we’ll be spending our summer months at our pool.

Julian, Madelyn and Kalen are great swimmers.  I think all of the exposure last year allowed them to get really confident.  Brayden is almost there.  I think by the end of this summer, he’ll have it.  He’s such a cute little fish.

Being a pool mom is enjoyable.  I totally have to have my ducks in a row though.  🙂  It can be a little bit nerve-racking at times.  I am constantly counting heads.  I stay with Brayden and watch the others from a distance.  I am so glad the bigger three have each other.  It is fun to see them ride the slide together, play with their diving toys and just wrestle around with one another.  Ah . . . the gift of siblings.

Thanks, Dad and Sally, for paying for our membership!  What a sweet way to treat us.

The following photos are of us with our dear friends the Givens.  Sadly, they will soon leave us and head to their new home, California.