making produce last

this seemed the easiest way to share this information.  if i could put it in a post for southernsavers, i would.  but since i can't, and i wanted to let all you people that i love know about this great deal, i am awakening my blog.  :)

basically, if you have been following my writings at southernsavers, i have been blogging about how to keep produce fresh longer.  i learned that there are three things that we can do to help.

1.  control the humidity.  this is essentially the job of our produce drawers, but carrots have different needs than squash, and so it gets tricky to do this well with the humidity settings on those drawers.

2.  control the ethylene gases.  these are emitted in varying levels by different kinds of produce.  ethylene is our friend in that causes things to ripen, but once things are ripe, these gases will continue to work causing things to spoil faster.

3.  avoid excess water.  most of the time water causes produce to deteriorate faster than if it was dry.  (ever notice water in your lettuce bag that turns your lettuce to slime?  yep, that's the idea.)

so, in my searching for ways to make produce last, a friend told me about these containers made by tupperware called fridgesmart containers.  they are designed to help us with all three issues!!  there are vents in the containers that you can open or close to control humidity (and a lovely chart printed on the container that tells you what to do for each different type of produce!)  just putting your produce in an individual container will keep it from being affected by another produce's gas emissions.  and finally, there are ridges in the bottom of the container that allow the excess moisture to gather there and elevate your produce out of it.  sounds amazing, right?

well, when i went to price out these awesome containers, i was immediately deterred by their cost.  a set of four containers costs $84.  on the christmas wish list they went.  then, a friend shared that right now (until FRIDAY), the set of four is on sale for $50 off, making it $34 (plus tax and shipping).  i wanted to tell everyone i knew about them because from all the research i've done, these really are amazing.  one friend said that her romaine lasted for a month!!  sign me up!  i am TIRED of wasting fresh produce because it goes bad so quickly.  i figure these will more than pay for themselves.

i am having a party (but please, please know that i couldn't care less if you order or not, i just wanted to share my fun find!) and if you want to order, just RSVP NO (because i'm not having an actual party to come to) and then you can order on-line (just look for my party when you order).  if you live close to me, don't order online, just let me know by thursday night, and i can add your order to mine and cut down on your shipping cost.

if you have questions, let me know.  :)


a new kind of family

my friend, stacey, posted this video on her blog this morning. now that we are a transracial family, it hit me deep. take the 17 minutes or so, and please watch.


meeting benjamin

first off, let me tell you that was happens now in our story isn't the norm. going to the hospital to meet the baby is a rare thing, and direct placements (when you get to take the baby directly home from the hospital) aren't so common either. there is a good reason for this which i totally understand. in georgia, the birthmother has 10 days after she signs away her rights to change her mind. jon and i had decided before we met erin that we did not want a direct placement. we were quite okay with whatever child we adopted being with a foster family for those 10 days. and we were okay not so much for ourselves, but more so for our girls. how do you explain to them that this is your "maybe" brother? we just didn't want to go there, but erin fought hard for direct placement. she didn't want us to miss a minute of bonding with benjamin, and i am grateful for her persistence and God's leading us to trust Him and to change.

so april 5, 2011. we loaded up the girls and drove to the hospital to meet benjamin. two quick stops first. we went by our kroger (with a vase in hand), and they prepared the most beautiful flower arrangement even throwing in some extra flowers for free because the ladies there are just so sweet to our family (all the time!) oh, and i remember getting some ginger ale. yeah, must have been nervous. then we stopped at chick-fil-a to get lunch for everyone to take to the hospital, and then, we're there. a phone call to the caseworker to find out which room, and in we go.

having the girls there was a gift. it was a buffer and gave me some time to process without all eyes on me. because let's get honest, babies are not all cute...especially a mere 12 hours or so after they have been born. and he was really, really different than my girls. for one thing, he was huge! my biggest baby was julia at a whopping 7 lbs 2 oz. benjamin was nearly 10 lbs! and he was purple. i am grateful that someone, somewhere had prepped me that bi-racial babies are often purple for a bit after birth. yeah, that was good to know beforehand. :)

when we first walked in the door, i handed my camera to someone (janine, the caseworker?) and then the girls were just like magnets to benjamin. i let them look, and then made them wash their hands! then the lovin' began.

the girls first meeting benjamin (look at abby trying not to touch)

the girls fighting to see who would hold him first

jon and i getting to hold him

feeding him a bottle

the mood was VERY upbeat. so much so that i was a bit worried for erin. i thought she would be sadder, but she wasn't. (probably helped that she had just gotten drugs before we went in.) she was so so gracious. letting us hold him. letting us change his diaper. letting abby see what uncircumcision is all about before it was too late (is that tmi?)

but there was also strain for me. it was hard to be there and not be the parents. to be the "almost" parents. decisions needed to be made, and we weren't the ones making those decisions. when i fed benjamin, he projectile vomited. erin wanted to move him to soy-based formula which was fine for her to make that call. no judgement from me. but it wasn't what i would have done. so having to defer to her just reminded me that he wasn't ours.

some might wonder if we felt that bond instantly. i mean, i've watched tons of videos of people meeting there soon to be adopted child for the first time. there are tears, weeping, and a tidal wave of love pouring out of them. i'll be honest, i didn't feel that. it took me about 30 minutes or so to start to feel the least bit connected. if you want to read more about all of that, go here. i think there was a difference for us though. we were adopting to bring God's redemption into brokenness instead of adopting to have redemption brought into our brokenness. does that make sense? (and don't get me wrong, adopting had definitely brought redemption into our brokenness, it just wasn't our primary reason for adopting)

we stayed for about an hour and a half. benjamin needed to leave to be circumcised. erin had just had a baby and needed to rest. there were super sweet moments that God let us have....

like the ceremonial eating of a huge chocolate chocolate chip muffin (abby and i shared one in the hospital bed when julia was born).

and this...(notice how ginormous he is in abby's arms!)

and honestly, it wasn't so hard to leave. we knew that the hard day was to come.


one week from today

Lord-willing, one week from today...he will be legally forever ours. i am so ready. past ready, actually.

just thought i'd share.


benjamin's birthday

here's some from my journal april 4th:
9 am-well, big sister shirts and benjamin's onesie are made. erin's letter is written (i wrote a letter to give her in the hospital). the diaper bag is packed. the bottle warmer is working. everything is in place. erin went to the hospital around 5 am. her mom was going to text janine updates (which she'll send to christie who will tell us). so now, we wait. yesterday, my heart was sad and heavy, grieving for erin and fighting against anxiety to fully trust You to hold our hearts come what may the next few days. Lord, today I just feel excited.

12:08 no news. checking e-mail and trying to stay busy. julia just played uno and won twice. so ready to know something!

the updates we got via e-mail:
6:14 pm (Erin's mom) sent a text to Janine simply saying that a c-section may be needed b/c baby’s heartbeat drops unless Erin in sitting up. No details re: dilation, when they will know further, or anything else. Will let you know as soon as I hear anything else.
8:32 pm Latest update is Erin is at 8 cm and the baby is moving down birth canal. May have a vaginal birth after all, but they still do not know for sure. Since she still has not delivered, we may need to rethink tomorrow, depending on how she is feeling and if she has a c-sec. I don’t know how late Erin's mom will call Janine, but if I hear I will let you know!
8:52 Now they are saying baby’s heart beat is really strong and are more hopeful for vaginal delivery.
9:52 pm He should be here soon…head all the way down and she is 9 cm!

back to my journal:
he's here! after a long day of waiting, praying for no c-section (his heart rate would drop unless she was sitting up)-he's finally here. 9 lbs 10 oz 20.75 inches long. thank you for so many answered prayers today.

re-reading all of this brings back so many memories. having had two c-sections myself, i so didn't want that for erin. the physical scar and permanent reminder (not that she will ever forget), the super long physical recovery (in addition to dealing with her grief). we begged God, and He was gracious.

this was also a night when a huge, huge storm came through. we had the girls in the hallway, flashlights ready, and jon and i were in benjamin's room sitting on the floor, praying when the power went out, and we were interrupted with the girls' needs. by the time we were able to pray again, benjamin had arrived. the prayers then were soaked with my tears. he was healthy and here.

i love the tenderness of this photo.

*sweet, precious erin sent us tons of photos printed out and in an album, and she also sent us CDs with the photos. are you starting to see why i love her so??


countdown to his birthday

it was a dark and stormy night...well, it really was, but let me back up a bit to the days that preceded it. erin was due on the 7th of april, but she was scheduled to be induced before then as benjamin was measuring quite large. in previous conversations with her, i had told her that julia's birthday was on the 31st of march...so, could she do what was in her power so that they wouldn't share a birthday?? i felt ridiculous asking, like she was God and could decide when he entered the world, but she was scheduling an induction, so i figured it was pertinent info. she told us that when she went to schedule the induction, she informed her doctor that she wouldn't do it on the 31st or april 1st (i begged God that julia wouldn't be an april fool's baby--silly, but true, and apparently, erin and i are of like mind on that!) so that only left her with monday, april 4th. three days before she was due. guaranteeing that she would be delivering a big baby. but she was willing to do this for our family. this is just more of why we love her so.

so, have you ever been pregnant and waiting to go into labor? you know how those days just drag on? or ever had a dear friend due soon and you are longing for an update to know how they doing? well, the week or so before erin had benjamin, i thought i was going to crawl out of my skin. her first priority was not to call her caseworker with updates every day about how her contractions were progressing...but i was DYING to know. we would get an update every few days towards the end. how she was uncomfortable. how far dilated she was. how she was put on bedrest about a week and a half before she was scheduled to induce because her blood pressure was high. from then on, i was all nerves. so a little time line of events...

friday, march 25th--we find out that erin was put on bedrest the day before
saturday, march 26th--julia's birthday party. we decided to celebrate early, just in case.
tuesday, march 29th--we hear that erin is doing well and she told christie that she was excited (i kept wanting to know how she was feeling)
thursday, march 31st-julia's birthday and the beginning of our spring break

now, we had to wait. no school to take up time. no birthday party's to prepare for. nothing left but waiting. and praying. and hoping. and praying some more.


erin and the girls

you know how stressful it is when you really, really need your kiddos to behave? as much as we train them, love them, pray for them, counsel them, we still cannot control what they will do and say. meeting erin WITH the girls was in some ways more stressful than the first meeting. what if they did something that horrified her or said something that appalled her? they are the testimony to how we parent, and if she didn't like how we parent, she could definitely walk away. i mean, what if they both had major tantrums? what if they were totally disrespectful? what if????? how would you feel if you were trying to find a family for your baby, and then when you saw how the family interacted, you were shocked and dismayed??

i know many of you will say, "but amy, your family is so precious!" or some other kind thing. and yes, we have a great family, but EVERY family has bad days. days when i would get out if i could! yes, i should have trusted that the Lord was sovereign over all this, and yes, i tried to rest in that. but i ain't gonna lie, i was stressed!

i don't remember how the girls were feeling beforehand. (isn't that terrible! a true indicator of how self-centered my thoughts were at the time!) i know abby was a bit apprehensive at first. but a burger king playground to herself and the promise of ice cream for good behavior helped.

when we walked in, the playground area was completely empty (thank you, Lord!) erin was there with her mom (oh yeah, we were meeting her mom for the first time too). shortly after we got there, our caseworkers arrived. this meeting, they sat at a table at the end, pulling away from our conversation to give us some more space.

the girls did really well overall. there were a few altercations over food, but all in all, they were splendid. our interaction with erin and her mom went well too. nothing stands out in our time together. it was just laying more groundwork for our relationship.

oh, but this. this was precious. benjamin was moving inside of erin, and julia had wanted to feel him move. so she asked if she could, and erin graciously let her. abby didn't want to, and i wanted to, but something held me back. i tried for a long time to figure out what it was, but i never could figure it out.

love the tenderness of julia's little hand on erin's belly and erin's hand on julia's head.
such a sweet moment.

julia telling ben "hi, hi!"

oh, and julia wanted to ask erin if benjamin would pull her hair. when we asked the girls what questions they had for erin, that was very important to her. gotta love it.
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