Monday, July 27

Nana's Cinnamon Toast

Growing up my mom (Dane's Nana) always broiled our cinnamon toast toast versus using the toaster.  Interesting, right?!  We had a toaster, so I'm guessing it was just her fancy way of doing things.  And I like fancy.  Dane loves his toast this way now.  Try it out with your Monday morning coffee, fruit or eggs!

Nana's Cinnamon Toast 
(serves 4...or double for more)

* 4 pieces of high quality bread
* cinnamon/sugar mix 
* butter

Directions: Turn broiler on.  Spray a cookie sheet with Pam.  Butter the bread and then sprinkle your cinnamon/sugar mix on top (I use a generous amount of butter & cinnamon/sugar).  Place on cookie sheet and put under broiler.  I usually crack the door open while broiling, because this does not take long at all.  Watch carefully to avoid burning.  Remove from oven when the edges are turning a slight brown.  The toast will be crispy on the outside & soft & gooey on the inside!
Serve immediately.  Enjoy!    

Friday, July 17

Friday Favorites...summer children's books!

Welcome, FRIDAY!  It's The Hubs' birthday today, so this post will be short in sweet.  Coffee & a family breakfast out are calling my name.

This edition of Friday Favorites will be about sharing my favorite children's books for summer!  Dane will be 20 months at the end of the month and one of his most favorite activities ever is listening to stories.  #raisingareader 

I started reading to him at a very young age & he just loves it.  Being a former kindergarten teacher, I know firsthand the importance of early literacy encouraged at home.  I am SO thankful that he loves books & can only hope that his love for reading grows.  I think the teacher heart in me also loves organized books, so all of his books are organized in themes based on the seasons.  Don't judge.  We are loving his summer books right now & I just added a few new ones to his bookshelves!  

ONE.  Sea Rex by Molly Idle
I read through this book while at Barnes & Noble the other day and had it ready to purchase when Dane threw a colossal fit upon being removed from the train table.  #toddlerprobs  So, I abandoned the book & purchased it on Amazon that night!  This is an adorable story with great illustrations.  It is about a dinosaur at the beach and learning the rules for swimming: wear sunblock, don't swim after eating, always jump in feet first, etc.  I think it will be one we can read again and again every summer because it is fun & also has great lessons for beginning swimmers. 

TWO.  Baby Loves Summer by Karen Katz
Oh gosh.  We own about 10 of Karen Katz' board books.  Great for infants/young toddlers, they are "lift the flap" books with different fun themes & colorful illustrations.  The summer themed one is perfect for right now and Dane will point out things like "towel" and "hat" that he notices we take to the pool also.  

THREE.  The Boy And The Ocean by Max Lucado 
The Boy And The Ocean is a Christian themed children's story with some of the most beautiful illustrations I have ever seen.  It is pretty lengthy, so geared toward older toddlers+ but tells the story of a boy and his dad near the ocean, with his dad explaining that God's love for us is deep and never-ending, much like the ocean.  We will definitely be keeping this book around for awhile.  

FOUR.  Hello by Highlights 
We all remember the Highlights magazines as kids, right?  They were always in my doctor's office & at the library.  One of Dane's Christmas gifts this year was a subscription to Highlights for babies/toddlers called Hello.  They are short books and include poems, a short story, hidden pictures to look for and other fun things!  The Hello books recently have all been spring/summer themed so it was the perfect edition to his summer bookshelf.  They are also easy to hold for little hands & can be thrown in a diaper bag for road trips!  

FIVE.  Hooray for Hat by Brian Won
I saved the best for last.  Dane requests that we read "Hoo Hoo Hat" at least 10 times.  An hour.  No joke. Sometimes it is the first word he says when waking up in the morning.  When I think of summer, I think of the zoo and this adorable book is about various zoo animals who are feeling grumpy and eventually cheer each other up by giving their friends a hat.  The text is simple and the animals are fun to identify.  I think it is so important to teach our children the importance of helping others and this book definitely helps teach that.  Add this to your summer bookshelf today!  

And there you have it.  What are your favorite summer children's books?  I would love to hear & add them to my list!  Happy Reading!

Tuesday, July 14

Tuna Tuesday

There are two types of people in the world.  Those who like tuna and those who hate it.  If you are tuna lover, read below.  ;)

When summer rolls around, I always look for easy, no-mess dinners & lunches.  My chunky tuna salad fits the bill.  It's what the Carters are having for dinner tonight!

Chunky Tuna Salad
(makes 4 sandwiches/wraps)

12oz can of tuna, drained well
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2-3 heaping spoonfuls sweet relish (I use low-sugar)
Miracle Whip (or real Mayo)
1 T sugar or 2 packets sweetener 

Directions: Drain tuna & add in all ingredients.  I hard boil two eggs, but only add in one egg yolk.  Sometimes it dries out the tuna salad if I add in both, but feel free!  I'm not a huge Mayo fan, but it is a must in this recipe.  I don't measure it and just keep adding to get the consistency I like.  Feel free to add more/less salt & pepper and/or sweetener.  Toast bread for tuna sandwiches or use my favorite - lettuce wraps!  Serve with veggies, fruit or chips.  An easy dinner (and lunch the next day!) tonight!
*recipe can easily be doubled to serve more*  

Friday, July 3

Friday Favorites

Happy FRIDAY!  Here are some of my favorites from the week!

Dane's playroom is currently in process.  We are taking my beloved GIRLS ONLY bright pink sunroom and turning it into a playroom for my beloved (still hot pink. #sorrydane).  I ordered this wall art & can't wait to see it in person!  Soooooo true - right boy moms?!

Another library find.  This was on the must-read shelf when walking in and I thought it was non-fiction or a self-help type of thing.  Instead, it was a fictional novel about a young girl going on a 300+ mile hike through the wilderness.  Now I am nowhere near what you would call and "outdoorsy" type of gal, but it kind of made me want to check out the hiking books at Dick's!  I would recommend!


Three & four are both pink favorites.  I love pink normally, but for some reason I am more hot pink obsessed this summer.  I love this Mary Kay lipgloss (Shock Tart) & OPI nail polish (Pink Flamenco).

We finally found our summer binge show...True Detective (HBO).  We are through Season 1 & caught up with Season 2 now.  It is a murder mystery show that makes you look over your shoulder before walking up the stairs at night.  Plus, there's Woody Harrelson.  He is a Hanover Grad so that will always have my heart.   

What are your favorites this week?  Happy Red, White & Blue to YOU!

Thursday, June 25

Remembering The Call..two years ago today

*The names of all birthparents have been changed to protect privacy*

Two years ago today we received a call that would change our lives.  The call when a sweet birthmother asked us to be parents.  This day seems to sneak up on me & we were talking about last night at dinner.  We remember I have kept the notes we took and they are tucked safely in Dane's baby book.  I want him to have access to every detail, and be able to ask any questions he may wonder about.

But, let me back up.

It was the Friday before Mother's Day, 2013.  I was teaching full-day kindergarten at the time & we had just had a big event that morning in my classroom for our mommies.  I had literally just sat down at my desk for my prep time when my phone rang.  Kirsh & Kirsh (our adoption attorneys).  Gulp.  What did we forget to turn in?  That was my first thought.  We had just finished our mountain of paperwork and submitted everything the week before in order to be "active" and available to be matched with birthparents.  And by "mountain of paperwork," I mean Everest-sized mountain.  For months we had traded date nights for laptop nights at Starbucks, typing up biographies, filling out different questionnaires & checking our to-do list.  Three sets of fingerprints...Check.  Federal  & State background checks...Check.  Home study with a social worker...Check.  Doctor approval declaring us physically fit to care for a child...check.  Ten page "Dear Birthmother Letter" indicating why we would be good parents & filled with photos...check.  If we apply to be in the Secret Service, I believe they would already have the necessary requirements needed, and then some.  Geesh.

We did not forget anything, however.  Kirsh's assistant (who worked closely with the birthparents and did the matching) simply stated that a birthmother named *Kara was very interested in us and wanted to speak with us tonight.  (Wait, what?!  Tonight?)  We had only been active for a short number of days, and I was in no way prepared for a call like this.  I immediately looked for a paper bag to breathe into.  She went on to say that Kara was a high school senior in the district I taught in.  She was involved in numerous activities and clubs and planned to go to college in the Fall.  Her baby was due in less than a month. (What?!  A month?!  Insert shaking, sweating, etc).  She had been matched with a great couple for the last few months, but they became unexpectedly pregnant (ugh, secretly hated them) & had to back out of the adoption.  She was back at square one, very nervous, and needed to proceed quickly.  Their assistant finished by saying it was very important to Kara that Devin do a lot of the talking on the phone - she had spoken to a few couples already and the adoptive mother had done all the talking, which she didn't like.  Devin, talk?  Well, that one was easy.

I barely made it through the end of the day.  Dismissed my students & drove 45 minutes home in a daze.  I was nervous, but mostly excited.  I really thought this was it.  And what a perfect ending it would be.  I could see the headline now: Couple chosen after 3 days on the active list.  Baby born a month later.  They all lived Happily Ever After.  We sat down at the kitchen table, notepad in hand & made the call.  Kara answered after the first few rings & we put her on speakerphone.  The conversation was to be honest, awkward.  But we were prepared for that.  You are basically selling yourselves to a person who is planning to place her baby for adoption.  Nothing can prepare you for that type of conversation.  In fact, before we called we laughed that never in a million years had we thought we would be doing this back in college when the conversations were based around frat parties & what movie to rent.  #ifourcollegeselvescouldseeusnow

Looking back, I should have seen the red flags, but I didn't.  Kara was nice, but it was more like an interview than a real conversation.  She asked us how we were going to discipline, and if we would be spanking.  She asked us our views on Private Vs. Public Education (public educators here!) & how we would teach this baby not to have sex before marriage.  All good questions, I suppose, but we never really just talked.  She ended the call by saying she was having a baby girl.  My heart all but burst into pink sparkles.  I was ready for a girl!  I could braid!  I liked make-up!  I would help her with cheerleading and dance!  We HAD to be chosen.  We just had to.  Kara thanked us and said she was speaking with another couple as well and would be making her decision most likely after the weekend.  We thanked her as well for even considering us and said goodbye.

We had decided to keep most information about our adoption status private.  Of course our family and friends knew we were in the process of adopting, but no one knew about this call.  Wellllll, except for a small number of my close friends.  I HAD to tell someone.  Who would go with me to shop for girl clothes?  Who would help re-decorate my already finished nursery?  My friends.  They are my people.  I immediately filled them on the call and they were just as excited.  Now we just had to sit back and wait for the good news.  Or so I thought.

The weekend passed & we didn't hear anything.  We weren't surprised because Kara had said she wanted some time to think about it, which we respected.  We had to finish our adoption education classes and had a class scheduled one day early that week.  Towards the end of the class, I noticed three missed calls from Kirsh.  THIS WAS IT.  The good news we had been waiting for.  I couldn't call during the session, so we ran out to our car right after the class & called them back.  I knew as soon as the assistant said my name.  It wasn't the good news I had hoped for.

She went on to say that she was very sorry, but Kara had chosen another couple.  I pretty much blacked out here, because I don't remember the other details.  Another couple.  That was all I heard.  We were devastated.  Of course we had been told that this could happen numerous times, and nothing is set until the adoption papers were signed.  But, we had hope.  We knew we were going to be good parents.  We had been through enough.  We didn't understand.  I cried all the way home.  I went upstairs & cried for the next few hours.  Devin finally coerced me out with a trip to get ice cream.  And we got ice cream...twice that night. (That's when you know it is REALLY bad).  I called the friends that I had told and sobbed to them on the phone.  My friend, Rene, who had adopted twice and totally gets it - just listened.  And then she said, "Abigail.  I know you don't want to hear this, but I will say it anyway.  That baby girl just wasn't your baby."  I cried some more.  I have never been anywhere close to having a miscarriage, but I imagine the pain is similar.  Your heart feels like it is been ripped out, torn into shreds & then scattered every which way.  I wondered if it would ever be put back together.

We made it through the weekend & I decided to at least shower and put the cleanest pair of pajamas on that I had.  I went back to school that next week and finished out the year.  Nothing from Kirsh.  We were officially waiting again.  Summer began & we were busy with friends, going on lots of dates, grilling out & just enjoying that time of year.  Devin's sister was getting married, I had a baby shower coming up planned by family & friends & things were looking happy again.  Even if the nursery was still empty.

June 24th.  My mom's birthday.  I had met a friend for lunch & was leaving when I checked my phone and saw a missed call from Kirsh.  Hmmm.  I called back & their assistant first told me that Kara had gone into labor & decided not to place her baby for adoption at all.  Another sweet couple's hearts had been ripped out as well.  I said I was sorry, but wondering what the call was really about.  She went on to say that another birthmother was interested in us.  Her name was *Lauren and she was due December 17th (she gave more details that I won't share in order to respect privacy)  Lauren wanted to speak with us tonight.  She had narrowed down her choices to us and another couple from Chicago.  Here we go again.  I drove home in another daze.

Devin came home early from football, we sat down with our notes & made a promise that we would not get our hopes up again.  (But who I am kidding, I was ready to finally press "checkout" on my Amazon order full of baby stuff.  Not getting hopes up & Abigail just don't mix).  We called Lauren and she answered on the first ring.  This conversation just flowed from the start.  We all just "talked." We didn't feel like we were being interviewed, yet she did ask plenty of questions.  She knew our ten page Dear Birthmother letter like the back of her hand.  She loved that our families were so close by, that we were involved in our church & that we were teachers who had the summers off to spend with this baby.  My Hopes Meter was raising again.  I didn't want to look at Devin in the eyes.  He knew the promise was broken.  Talking to Lauren was like talking to an old friend.  Nothing awkward or uncomfortable like with Kara.   We spoke with the birthfather, *Matt, as well.  He was quiet, but did ask a few questions.  Lauren shared that when she had made the decision to place her baby, she invited her friends over to go through the Dear Birthmother letters with her.  They highlighted things they liked in each packet.  My heart fluttered.  Her friends.  Her people.  That is exactly what I would have done!  The phone call came to an end and I didn't want it to.  Did we tell her everything?  Did we share that I planned to make all of my own baby food and that Devin would be a hands-on-play on the floor-type of dad?  Did she know how much we would love this baby?!

The conversation ended similar to Kara's.  Lauren needed to time to think and would be letting Kirsh know of her decision very soon.  We thanked her and Matt & said goodbye.

The following morning was June 25th.  Devin was downtown for a training and I was home worrying watching tv.  I wanted to know the outcome SO bad.  But then again, I didn't.  I couldn't handle any more bad news.  A basket case is putting it nicely.  I was literally sitting on the couch staring at the wall when Kirsh called.  No news.  They wanted to see how the conversation with Lauren went and what we thought of her (in order for a match to be set, the adoptive parents have to be comfortable with the birthparents as well).  While we were talking, an email from Lauren came through to Kirsh.  She said she would like to talk to us again tonight and had some additional questions.  Where was my paper bag when I needed it?!  Devin came home from the training, we got out all of our supplies & called.  Lauren answered and we had small talk for a few minutes.  I could tell she was nervous.  Was she going to tell us over the phone that she had picked someone else?  While a polite way to do it, I didn't know how much more I could take.

Then she said quietly, "Do you have plans this weekend?  Because I would really like to meet the parents of my baby." 

Total silence.  I looked at Devin & saw that he was crying.  I felt like I was in The Twilight Zone.  The man doesn't cry.  No one spoke for a solid 10 seconds.  I'm not even sure which one of us said something first, but something came out indicating to Lauren that YES!  We would be this baby's parents!  YES, YES, YES!

That night two years ago will never be forgotten.  And so started a relationship with Dane's birthparents that is very special to us.  We met them the following weekend, were invited to doctor's appointments, & were there for the birth of our precious boy.

I wish I could go back and tell myself two years ago that everything will be ok.  To ditch the paper bag.  Just fall asleep.

That Dane was always meant to be ours.  

Monday, June 22

Summer Book Review

Growing up I always had my nose in a book.  At home, school, in the car, anywhere.  However, babies tend to put a hold on novels & instead I have found myself reading Duck & Goose, Where's Spot? & anything with a turnable flap.  (I would be happy to do a book review of my favorite children's books if any readers would like!)  The last few months I have returned to my love of novels & can't stop!  And the library?  You can actually borrow books & not have to pay $28 at Barnes & Noble for them.  #mindblown

Below is a short list of my favorite books as of late!

Gray Mountain by John Grisham

I haven't read Grisham since A Time To Kill & I missed him!  Great if you are looking for a good suspense to dive into!

For The Right Reasons by Sean Lowe

I have been watching The Bachelor since before this new cast was born.  Ok, maybe not that long - but definitely a long time.  This was a fun little read by my favorite Bachelor & it includes a lot of "behind the scenes" info that I always think is interesting to hear!

The Secret Lives of Midwives by Sally Hepworth

One of my favorites in the past few months.  Checked out at the library...cha-ching!

Beautiful Day
The Matchmaker
The Blue Bistro...all by Elin Hilderbrand

Elin Hilderbrand's novels = summer reads.  I always read several of her books every summer.  They are all set on Nantucket which seems like a magical fairy tale in itself, and they are just fun reads!  Beautiful Day was probably my favorite of the 3.

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle

Whoa.  This was so, so good.  SO good.  Author of the popular blog, Momastery.  She is a former drug/alcohol addict who battled depression & just about everything else.  She has a way with words & will make you laugh, cry, think & strive to be better.  Two of my favorite quotes, "I still remember the days that I prayed for the things I have now" & "Life is hard not because we're doing it wrong, but just because it is hard."  Amen.

Nobody's Cuter Than You
The Antelope In The Living Room
Sparkly Green Earrings ...all by Melanie Shankle

Hands down my favorite books so far this summer.  All three were very quick reads (like one day each) and sooooo good.  They are all memoirs from this Christian author on friendship, marriage, and motherhood.  I highlighted so many parts of each one.  Nobody's Cuter Than You was my favorite because 1) it was given to me by my bff and 2) I think so many of us young mamas get so caught up in working on ourselves as mothers & wives, that we forget how important our friendships are.  Changes are our friendships were there before wifehood or motherhood even came along in the first place.  I know I need to be better friend & reading this book was a good reminder.

And there you have it!  What books should I add to my list?  

Friday, June 19

Friday Favorites

YAY, Friday!  I'm trying something fun & linking up with one of my new favorite mama bloggers, Erika, for Friday Favorites!  Here are some things I am loving right now...


I have four words.  The park is open.  Two more words.  Chris Pratt.  Get your popcorn, smuggle in your candy & run to the theatre.  


THE BEST chocolate chip cookie.  Google Sally's Baking Addiction "Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookie" & be prepared.  There are none better.  


I hate drinking water.  Like really hate it.  I could survive on two cups of coffee a day & rarely even drink anything for meals (I know, so bad).  However, a friend gave me the above tumbler & it has helped soothe my water hatred.  Check out Quest Hydration if you are a fellow water hater. 


Erin Condren Life Planner.  My sister-in-law bought my first few & I have been hooked ever since.  My whole life is in this thing.  They are pricey, but SO worth it.  The above picture is the design I ordered (photo from website) but I added a family picture on the cover.  


Skechers GOWalk sandals.  These were a gift & also like walking on clouds.  Perfect for around the house or the pool.  They also come in a variety of colors!  My friend Adrienne has the GoWalk flats that are equally as cloud-comfy & super cute.  

What are your favorite things right now?  Happy weekend!