Monday, August 18, 2014

Answer Me This....

I really like Answer Me This... Thanks Kendra for posting questions.

A quick "Did You Know"-- When John and I first started dating, we did Five Questions on a regular basis.  We were both at desks for part of the day and several times a week, we'd send random questions.  Sometimes the questions were fluff... and sometimes they were thoughtful.  I do miss that part of dating... but I so am glad I am on this side of dating :)

1. What is your favorite room in the house?

Does outside count as a room?  I am an outdoor person. 

I like my home. It's comfy and cozy... I recently decided to put aside my desires for cute and cottage-y for workable and convininet.  Therefore, on our painted antique hutch, we have a basket of bibs, a bowl of bows, and colored pencils.  Utilitarian is a must right now :)

2. Do you subscribe to any magazines or other periodicals?

I use to subscribe to a ton of mags.... and newspapers.  But now I can barely read books and blogs... so I have cut back.  I get my mom's copy of Real Simple which I love.  And I get my own copy of Sunset Magazine... that's a fabulous mag IMO.

3. How do you feel about the sign of peace in Mass? Enriching? Awkward? Overdone? Just right? Some combination of the above.

I loved reading about this last week.  John and I went to mass alone yesterday and had a post-mass discussion.  He thought it was just silly to question it... I totally get it but think it can be reigned in at times.

What I do love about it... It is a great tool to teach for toddlers... for us, it was the first real connection I felt they had to mass (aside from being blessed during communion.)

4. What is your least favorite sound?

Oh, my dear Betsy... love her to pieces but she wears her feelings on her sleeve... and they tend to come out vocally.  Her crying is tough on me.  She is a whiner and crier... and she's happier and expresses joy openly.  I am thankful that she is such a happy girl. It's the ointment for my ears after hearing her penetrating cries.  

Non-child noises-- the quite sound of dry hands on paper bags. Uck!

5. What was your favorite TV show (or shows) growing up?

I was a huge lover of old shows like Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy.  My mom would watch them with me and I loved it.  I also loved Little House on the Prarie.  I may have been that strange kid that wore a bonnet all of third grade when I wasn't at school ;)

6. What are your favorite TV shows now?

  • Amazing Race (satisfies my travel bug)
  • Next Food Network Star (satisfies my whimsical cooking)
  • Downton Abbey
  • Sherlock
  • Community (what a smart comedy for geeks and nerds like John and me!)
Have a wonderfully calm week!

PS-  Baby Jack turned one year old on Saturday!  He's such a good baby... oh, how I'd like another one.... St William of Rochester, pray for us.  St. Antohony of Padua, pray for us... and for our baby Jack's namesake saint, St. John-Charles Cornay, Pray for Us.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Answer Me This...

Answer Me This... also known as the only time I take to sit and write something on this blog...

1. What do you still want to do this summer?

That list is a long one...

We knocked one off this weekend-- we went to the Natural History Museum to look at Dinosaur Bones... we couldn't get in to see the butterflies and that's okay... the girls were amazed at the bird eggs.  Go figure... tiny little eggs and giant eggs.  

Unfortunately John goes back to teaching this week so our summer is sort of over.  We still want a beach day (we live a mile away and only make quick stops.. I want a nice afternoon.)  Swimming at the public pool but we need a babysitter since it's we are outnumbered by our little people by one (and pools require 1 x 1 adult supervision.)   We also want to go to a small local amusement park geared to children under 6.  Unfortunately the prices are higher than I remembered... I just don't see blowing $100 for a Merry-Go-Round.

2. What's your favorite kind of pie?

Easy... berry pies!!  Yummmm!!  I took a peach pie to a 4th of July party and had the best comments--- "Best pie ever" said my SIL and nephew.

3. How much sleep do you need each day? How much do you get?

I need a good seven hours.  Eight is great but seven is my magic number.


4. Do you prefer to swim in a pool, lake, river, or ocean?

Swimming pool!  I love swimming... and I am most comfortable in a pool. I was a lifeguard in HS and a bit in college.  Also taught swim lessons for years.  I am so glad my girls are getting comfortable swimming.  I am contemplating Fall swim lessons and/or a pass to our local university pool so we can swim into the warm Fall months.

5. Do you know any poems by heart?

Um... do nursery rhymes count?!    
In all seriousness, I want to memorize e.e. cummings "I Carry Your Heart".  It became a poem that unites us to our children's birth moms.  

6. Do you use the public library?

I am terrible about returning things on time.

There, I said it.

In theory I love the library but I am a bad patron.  Well, maybe I am a good patron since they make money off of me.

I grew up going to the library so I want to become a library mom as my children get older.  

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Answer me this....

1. When driving, are you more likely to listen to the radio, to CDs or an iPod, or nothing at all?

Talk radio.  If I am driving "Mama Car" aka our family car I listen to the Catholic Channel.  I am sometimes blessed with Cardinal Dolan.  Normally it's just pure entertainment from The Catholic Guy, Lino Rulli, or Broken Halo with Father Dave Dwyer.  Both shows have me laughing.

If I am in a commute car w/o Sirius radio, I'll listen to all sorts of talk.  My favorite, though, is Dave Ramsey. I get so excited as I hear families get out of financial debt.  Totally inspires me to be thrifty!

2. Do you prefer window or aisle?

The answer to this one depends on the type of flight.
International-- a window seat so I can sleep.  
Short domestic flights-  aisle for quick access out.

3. Do you fall asleep on your side, back, or stomach? What position are you in when you wake up?
I tend to fall asleep on my back and wake up on my side.

4. When is the last time you attended a zoo, circus, carnival, county fair, or parade?
Zoo-  a year ago.  We had membership for a year and would regularly go.  Sort of miss it and debating whether it's a good investment or not.

5. Do you have a favorite quote or inspirational saying?
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” 
― Plato

6. What's the best thing about summer?
Watermelon :)  Love everything watermelon.
Oh, and swimming.  Is there really anything better than a swim on a hot day?
I have friends that won't swim because they won't get in a suit.  Psssh!!  I'm chunky and out of shape looking but I love swimming with my children.

Monday, June 23, 2014

little Happies!

In my quest to blog/write more, I am linking up with Stephanie at Blessed to Be and sharing my week's little happies.  By the way-- I love the name "little happies".  Isn't that what life's all about??

1.  Stephanie's love of her Vera Bradley blanket made me realize that my Aden and Anais Day Dream blanket definitely is a little happy!  A+A blankets are big in our house... we probably have a dozen of them to swaddle and then to lovey with... they remain our favorites.  When I heard from a friend that they make an adult size bamboo dream blanket, I had to have it... and wow!! It's wonderful.

It is that cool and light and makes me think of summer nights or afternoon naps after reading a good book. 
My mom made me laugh when she pointed out I have no time for reading or naps... so I could simply go by and touch it for a quick fix of what it would feel like to have frivolous time :)

2.  Hearing my Mary Jane sing Tom T Hall's Sneaky Snake is definitely a little happy.  As a child of the 70s, I grew up camping and listening to Tom T. Hall's children's songs.  I'd completely forgotten about them but then my aunt sent me the CD.  Oh, my... so fun!!  And Mary Jane has the cutest little determined voice as she sings!  

3.  Okay, so this is a bit lame... but I gave up cream in coffee last year.  So my little happy today is that I stopped and got half and half, and I am treating myself to a delicious cup of rich and sweet coffee.  Sometime removing something from our diet makes it even better when it returns!

4.  I watched this video last night.. definitely gave me pause to think about lots of things.  Definitely a little happy that I wish more Catholics would reflect on... I sent it to three people... won't you??

I don't know if I'll make changes after watching the video but the ideas definitely resonated with me. 

5.  My last little happy-- a new hint-- chew gum while cutting onions and you won't cry (much).  It works... not 100% but a little happy worth sharing.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Answer Me This.....

I love Kendra at Catholic All Year.  I especially love that she's a SoCal Catholic blogger since it seems like a small circle.t +

I am linking up with her weekend link up-  Answer Me This...

1.  When's the last time you got a new bathing suit?
I actually bought a swim dress at Walmart the last time I was in Arizona.  For whatever reason, Walmarts in CA are awful!!!  But my mom's Walmart has all sorts of fun things... including this modest suit:

Most of my suits for the last ten years have been Land's End suits... it was nice to buy a "cheap" suit for a change.. and not drop $100...

2.  Who made the last incoming call on your phone?
My mom!  My parents just returned from driving from AZ to Seattle to see my cousin graduate from Seattle Pacific University... yes the Seattle Pacific U where a shooter made the news recently.  I am so thankful my cousin wasn't on campus and was safe at home.  Terrible...

3.  If you receive communion, do you receive it in the hands or on the tongue? 
No set answer here... it depends on where my children are.. often times I am carrying someone and so the tongue is easiest.  Other times I am wrangling someone and it's easier in the hands.  At this point, I am glad to receive it... one way or the other.. but I do see how I feel as if it's a more intimate experience taking it directly into my mouth.

4.  Do you have a tattoo? 
My first response... NO WAY... but then I remembered... I have tattoo marks from radiation therapy... so if they count, I have what seems to be a tiny constellation of stars tattooed on my back neck.  I am a cancer rebel that way :)

5.  How many plates are in your home?

I am only going to guess..
We have switched to a Melmac type everyday plates with photos of the girls.  Makes it easy to eat outside which we love doing.  We have eight of those plates.

We have probably ten (had 12) plates from Crate and Barrel  They were an every day simple French Country design.  I still love them but they aren't sold anymore.

We have a setting of twelve of our wedding china... Wedgewood India. I love it but we don't use it often.

And then we have lots of odds and end china from my Mother In Law.  I love it.. it's special to me but I don't know anything about it.  

6.  Do you have an accent?
I am a CA girl... I don't think I have an accent :)
But I do think I have a distinct cadence as I speak.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Five favorite Summer recipes

Summer is here!  While we don't get extreme heat in Los Angeles, summer brings a sense of wanting to be outside and not inside cooking.

So as I link up with Hallie at Moxie Wife, I bring you five fun summer recipes that are a hit with my family.
(Mind you, I love to cook but now that I am a busy mom, simple and quick... and affordable are key!)

Also, anyone that knows me knows I don't follow recipes... so I searched for actual recipes but you'll see each one has some modification.

1.  Watermelon and Cucumber Salad

I modify this salad a bit... lose the vinegar, oil, and pepper.  Add a squeeze of lime.  It is the freshest summer flavor.  The little ones gobble it up.  This with a side of grilled chicken is perfect for an informal cookout.

2.  It's not summer without some homemade salsa.

My modifications here--- add honey instead of sugar (makes the flavor deeper).  Lose the extra jalapeno if it's for my family since it's too spicy for the girls.  Serve it on top of grilled chicken for dinner or chips for a snack.  It could last a few days in the fridge if we didn't devour it so quickly.

3.  Happy for hummus!

Hummus is a perfect summer food and it's so easy to make.  It's great  because I always have the ingredients and can make it in a flash.  We often have it as a side to a Greek salad so it becomes dinner.  Otherwise it's great as a snack with carrots and celery.  And of course my girls love dippin' and eating!

The changes I make to this recipe--- I add two tablespoons of sesame seeds since we have sesame seeds on hand in the cupboard and I never have tahini.  I also change it up by adding fresh basil or cilantro.  Both are yummy.

4.  Bring on the soup.  Gazpacho, that is!

Everyone in our family loves soup... so when summer hits, it's time for cold soup.  We enjoy a yummy gazpacho.  In this recipe, I will use fresh tomatoes if we have some getting older... or a can will work too.  I love that either is okay.  I serve it with toasted cheese bread because who doesn't like toasted cheese bread?? (My husband!... his is cheeseless.)

5.  Every good meal needs dessert!  Eclair Cake

This is one dated recipe!  My best friend's mom in grade school made this dessert and then I made it for a
4-H project (can I get a head, heart, hands and health!!).  

The Eclair Cake is my go-to summer cake.  I love to modify it... but the basic concept is soggy graham crackers are super yummy!  The recipe I am copying has homemade frosting.  I use to do that... but these days I often succumb to substandard tubs of frosting.  No shame..... it's easy.  

The reason I love this cake is it's good to make ahead and all the ingredients can be stored on your shelf.  
Some modifications I've made-- folded in berries and topped with cool whip and berries for July 4th and most recently I folded in pineapple, topped with cool whip and added shredded coconut for a tropical flavor.  

Stay cool and enjoy summer!!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Five Faves: Children's books with Adoption Themes

Good morning!

I am linking up with Hallie at Moxie Wife to share Five Faves.  (For the record, I'd like Hallie to be my next door neighbor! She is just so much fun.)

In thematic fashion, I am sharing five children's books that  have adoption themes.

What?? Your children aren't adopted?? No need to read this list??
I challenge you to read it and read one or more to your children.  Check them out from your library.
Do it as a favor to me and my family--- help your children come to know that there are all sorts of families and all should be appreciated and respected.

So without further ado:

1.  This book is definitely my favorite.  It took me many reads before I could read it without crying.  It's a sweet story about a bird who is looking for a mom and soon finds that the perfect mom for him may not look like him.    I love love love this book.  

For little people, this book can open up a discussion how not everyone in a family may look the same.

2.  This book was written after the authors wrote God Gave Us You.   This book is clearly an adoption book as opposed to some of my other favorites.  I think this is a great book to read to young school children who ask questions about classmates or friends that maybe adopted.  It's a sweet story about a Mama Fox praying and waiting for the perfect baby.  God ultimately provides a baby for the Fox family.

3.  This book is not an adoption book but it's a book that discusses the beautiful shades of skin.  I think every family should read this book-- whether you are home schooled, in an urban school, or in an all Caucasian school (like me growing up).

Mary Jane, my 3.5 year old, gravitates toward this book right now.  The back page has drawings of different hands.  Each is a different color. She likes to name off people in our community who have each color skin.  I love it!  My prayer is to raise children who are happy with the color of their skin and the differences we see in the world.  

4.  My cousin gave me this book.  I was familiar with the title... but I was not interested because none of my children came from an orphanage in China.  

Hmm....  isn't that a good reason to read the book?  To teach my children about other families??!

This is a sweet story of a mama (I sense she might be a single mama) who adopts from China.  Mary Jane is fascinated with the drawing of the babies in cribs in the orphanage.  There are several babies in each crib.  She always stops at that picture and asks questions about why they share a crib.  As soon as she did that, the light bulb when off-- this is an important story too... she needs to know how all babies join families and some start off in an orphanage. 

5.  Big box stores sold this book a few years ago so it's likely on your shelf already!  My BFF gave us this book and it was instantly a favorite.  It is not an adoption book but it's a world view book of how different babies live and how we are all the same.

For me, this was the first "adoption book" I read to my girls.  (I need to start reading it to Jack!).  It opens the discussion about looking different but being the same.  

There are so many more favorite adoption related books... I may have to do a 2.0 version next week :)


Welcome to my humble blog.

I am Jill.  I debated about using names vs pseudonyms on this blog.
Names won out. I love when I am reading blogs to know what the author's name is and what she chose to name her little ones.

I live in Los Angeles with my husband and three children.... all three are within three years of age!  Fun times!  We are a Catholic family and I struggle figuring out how to keep them quiet during mass while getting something out of it for me (open to tips!).  I work part of the time outside of the house... my heart's desire is to be a SAHM but it's not possible at this time. Ugh. But  I make the most of it with a flexible schedule and smart work habits.

I like to read and knit.  I loved traveling before kids... now it seems impossible.  

Anyway... I am Jill... and this is me (I also love pics on blogs!):

I am a wife.  To John.  We got married in 2006. We were both "older" when we got married.  Glad I waited!! He's an English teacher at a Catholic High School.  He likes teaching and he loves coaching Academic Decathlon.  He is a wannabe Jeopardy star.   He blogs some about our family... mostly quick stories that involve kids or bunnies.  Bunny on the Head

We love being parents to Mary Jane, Betsy, and Jack.  (See their adoption stories on the Adoption page.)
Mary Jane was born in 2010.  She is our leader.  She is strong and determined.  She may be quiet but she has an opinion. 

And then we have Betsy.  Betsy is my funny girl.  She experiences life with high highs... and well the lows ... hmmm... lots of crying :)  She is also determined and focused but she loves to make people laugh. 

Last but definitely not least.. Jack!  Also known as Jack Jack and Goo!  We love our brother!  He is so laid back and happy!  What a blessing he's  been!

That's US! And this is my imperfect blog.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Answer me this..."

My first post here...  My inaugural post... and I am linking  up to a favorite blogger-- Kendra at Catholic All Year.
Maybe an actual introduction would be better... instead I'll answer these random questions from Kendra!

1.  Do you have a land line?
Yes!!  And someone our friends at Ho me De pot must have sold our number because we get 15,012 calls a day from solar companies and home construction companies.  We need some minor work done this summer and John suggests that the 100th construction company to call this summer will get the work.  Sadly, the 100th call will probably come at the end of the week.

2.  What is your least favorite food?
There is nothing (NOTHING!) worse than mayonnaise.  I hate it.  I've always hated it.  I always will hate it.  Done.

3.  What's on your summer reading list?
After complaining about tough times, a friend recommended this book:

Queue it up!!

Seriously, I've read most the other Louise Bates Ames books and they have really helped me mentally cope with struggles with my little people.. so onto the three!

For fun, I am trying this book:

Just started it... so no review yet.

I also have this on my Nook and anxious to read it:

And the girls and I have read this ten times since yesterday... and will probably read it a million more times.  (FWIW.... it's  a sweet book that connects ideas to the Holy Spirit.  What I didn't realize is that it's a Mormon book.... but it works well in our Catholic family.  Changed a few words.... the holy ghost is like Bringham just kidding... no LDS references in the book... just wanted a disclaimer since some people might choose not to by it.)  

4.  Is there something that people consistently ask you for advice on?  What is it?
For friends my age, I tend to be the quick source of info for cancer related stuff... not fun but my connection to City of Hope positions me to be that person for friends.  I am always happy to help. I've had a few friends have relatives come to City of Hope for second opinions.  Clearly not happy times... but I am always happy if I can help in some small way.

5.  What's the most physically demanding thing you've ever done?
That's a hard one... because anything tough in the moment seems like the toughest of all!
I maybe chubby and out of shape... but I love a good challenge.  John and I had a crazy hike from one side of Catalina to the airport... that was tough and we had herds of buffalo staring us down.  We also played at Flagstaff Extreme.  That was so much fun... but SO HARD!!  Total challenge.  

Alas I need a knee replacement.  My last year of HS I tore my ACL in my knee.  I had it replaced but now my whole knee is shot so I need to have surgery and until then my extreme activities are limited.

6.  How do I feel about massages?
Conceptually it's sort of weird... but man do I love a good massage!!  

Maybe tomorrow I'll finish a "get to know me" sort of post w/pics and everything!