Friday, April 25, 2008

Playdate with Uncle TJ!

The kiddos finally got to meet their Uncle TJ last week, and he was even able to spend the night with us! Unfortunately the past two years he has been in Okinawa and now the US military has stationed the brothers on opposite coasts. So we won't get regular visits with Chris's youngest brother, but we'll take what we can get.

Here are some photos of our fun together (blogger isn't being cooperative, so I'll update with more photos later):


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Remembering the start

I want to share with you one of my favorite blogs and the post for today. I discovered Heidi's blog several months ago off another blog (can't remember whose anymore) and I have found her musings on parenthood, especially relating to fostering and adoption, to be poignent.

Her post today about the first days after children come home made me chuckle to remember how the only way I could get Garrett to sleep when he first came home was to let him literally jump himself to sleep in his jumparoo -- then I could catch a quick nap on the couch too. Thank goodness God created Mommy amnesia!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mommas Get Toys, Too!

Well, back in December I posted that I was thinking of starting a small photography business. Nothing major -- just big enough to make a little money, focusing on pics of military families seperated by deployments.

I finally saved up enough money to buy my camera -- a Cannon 40D -- and I LOVE IT! I'm still learning how to use all the settings and attachments. Let's just say I have a lot to learn before I start charging. For now, I'm working on learning about my camera and building my portfolio. I'll post a link to my photo site once I get it up and going (Thanks, Kerry, for all the great advice on getting this thing started!).

Here are some photos I've doctored from my first afternoon with my toy (300 photos that day and over 1000 on Friday-- still have to review all those):

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tagged x 2 + 1

Okay, so lately I have been a really bad blogger buddy. I was tagged by Mindy back in January and the kiddos were tagged by Aiden/Christina last month. Finally I am going to post the information and I am going to start a new line. So, here it goes:

7 weird/unknown things about me, Beckie:
(courtesy of Mindy at
  1. I have a "freakishly" accurate memory. Seriously, I can recall conversations verbatim that happened years ago, as well as the most minute details of the scene. Friends laugh, but for some it is the only way that they have any memory of our misadventures.
  2. Some of my best friends today have been my best friends since first grade or earlier. Growing up in a small town we spent a lot of time together and when I am visiting there seeing them is still my favorite thing to do. In fact this past summer I looked up a friend that I haven't spoken to since freshman year of college and we fell right back into old routines. It really is true that old friends are the ones who know you best.
  3. I am constantly reading. I love books -- right now I'm in a British mystery phase (Elizabeth George, P.D. James), but almost any genre will do as long as it is a good story.
  4. I have been in love with Washington, DC since I was in 2nd grade. Don't ask me why, but that city has always had a draw for me.
  5. I am a shopaholic. I have curbed the addiction the last year or so, but I seriously have problems with retail therapy.
  6. Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I love to cook, but do you know how many hours a week I devote to Yahoo!foods site or perusing cookbooks to try out new recipes? We've had very few redos on meals in this house because I always want to try out something new -- like the lamb I made for Easter or the Guatemalan meals I've been tinkering with. Plus, now that I am cooking on a regular basis I've started tinkering with recipes to make my own. Kind of like a mad scientist in the kitchen. If my kids are any indication, I must be cooking a lot because they are always cooking in their "cookin" aka kitchen.
  7. I love the ocean. I have lived my whole life within 30 minutes or so from the beach. I don't think I could live anywhere else. There is something about hearing the surf break, smelling the sea that is peaceful and reinvigorating at the same time. I'm growing to like the Pacific, but the rocky Maine coast will always have my heart and be the measure of what the sea can be.

Okay, enough about me -- onto the kiddos. Here are 10 random facts about the little 'uns -- 5 apiece since I have two. (Courtesy of Aiden/Christina at

  1. Elena thinks bubble juice is delicious. She loves nothing more than to pull the wand out of the bucket and suck it before dipping again. Garrett thinks bubbles are yummy too, but he prefers trying to catch them floating in the air to sucking the juice.
  2. Garrett is in his cars phase right now. He loves everything and anything that has to do with automobiles. Chris thinks that he only needs so many Matchbox toys -- then he realized that with more cars the world is less likely to end if one is missing for a day or two.
  3. Elena loves to clean. Give the girl a Swiffer and she'll literally be happy for hours. That is behavior I know that she didn't learn from me. Hmm, maybe she's trying to say something?
  4. Garrett's new thing to do is shriek like a banshee whenever our cats come into the room and then cry when they leave. Seriously, dude, can you not realize the cause and effect relationship here?
  5. Elena has taken to calling herself "Princess." If she wants a book, "Princess see." If she wants to be held "Princess up" or "Princess lap". I guess the nickname has stuck.
  6. Garrett loves the swings at the park. He sits on a "big boy" swing and asks to be pushed higher and higher still. After a few flying landings, he has learned to hold on with both hands which does Mommy's heart good.
  7. Elena woke up the other morning singing the Little Einsteins theme. I walked into her room and up she popped saying "Trip, Momma, favrite rocketship." What is the best is to hear her shout "shake yur bdy, shake it all ower" in the middle of the night when she is all alone in her room and we think that she is sleeping. Keeps us giggling.
  8. Garrett loves to practice his ABCs. Whenever I am on the computer he'll get all excited and ask, "Cs Momma, please?" with the biggest smile. Who could resist such cuteness wanting to get smarter?
  9. Elena has decided that she is a tree monkey. I'm not sure the exact species, Gibbon, Siamang, or some other. However, she loves to hang from branches in a tree, climb trees, and swing from branches that she can grab from the ground. So my little girly-girl still has a tom-boy spirit. I think I can handle that.
  10. Garrett loves flowers, and thinks that I should wear his pickings in my hair. Several times a day he'll bring me a flower he's picked from the garden/yard/street. "Umm, flower smell good" is promptly followed by "Hair Momma." I then have to put the flower in my hair. He'll then either go pick me another flower or literally climb up me to smell the flower again. So glad I am here to entertain my children.

Okay, so that catches me up on tags. Since everyone I know has pretty much been tagged for the above two, I'm going to start a new one -- the 5 bravest things you have ever done. If you are tagged, link your post to the blog that tagged you then tag five new blogs. Have fun!

The 5 bravest things I've ever done (in not particular order):

  1. Adopt my children -- giving up control to God and other people to bring home my beautiful babes one of the most difficult things that I have ever done, and one that renewed my sense of faith. You can't make it through this process without faith -- faith that your babies will come home, faith that the process will work in the babies and parents best interests, faith, faith, faith.
  2. Marry my husband -- I married my hubby while I was still in college and I stayed in DC to graduate while he worked his way through the beginner program at flight school in Florida. We only saw each other once ever 4-6 weeks. We've moved countless times, especially the first few years we were married. Over the years he's been deployed 4 times (2 9 mo deployments and 2 7 months), attended 2 double-cax in California for 2 months while I stayed in NC, as well as been gone for numerous work-ups, exercises, training missions, and conferences. This summer we celebrate our 10 year anniversary but joke that he's only been married for 5. Knowing that this man was to be the father of my children and my husband from the first moment I saw him has helped me stay sane and centered through this leg of the journey.
  3. Attending college in DC -- I grew up in a small, rural town in Maine and decided to attend college 10 hours away in one of the country's biggest cities. At the time it had a high murder rate, but I felt fine walking across the city at 4 am by myself. I stayed in college, exposed to people who had grown up so different from myself all four years while many of my friends from high school who went away to school went back home. I'm thankful for those years in the city, but I don't think I'll ever live there again.
  4. Stop working to stay at home with my children -- I am not a stay-at-home type. I don't begrudge those that are (though for years I couldn't understand choosing that life); it's just not for me. I have had to realize that these first few years that my children are home are so much more important than my personal satisfaction from working. With all the changes in their lives I get to be the one constant. There are times that it is a struggle for me to remember that, but I know that it is worth the short-term sacrifice in the end.
  5. Changing my profession -- this sort-of goes hand-in-hand with marrying my hubby. Entering college and through most of high school I wanted to be in politics, work behind the scenes, manage campaigns, even run for office. Marrying a Marine makes that extremely difficult with the moves, living in a area where I have no historical connection. So I changed by career to ... Yeah, for the first several years after graduation I floated aimlessly. Then I decided to give up a paycheck to get my teaching certification. Then came the day that I stood in front of students, students whose first teacher ha died from a heart attack in front of the class. Let's just say it was a humbling experience to realize how little I knew and one that required my chutzpah to stay and learn from.

Okay, so that's my five. I'm tagging:

Angel at

JuJu at

Cynthia at

Kelly C. at

and Kim at

Can't wait to learn more about the rest of you!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Happy Forever Family Day, Garrett

Garrett's Forever Family Day Celebration

Sunday we celebrated Garrett's Forever Family Day. This was the first year that Chris was home to celebrate with us (he's been deployed to Iraq the last two years at this time of the year), so it was even more special. We'd like to think that Momma Olga, Garrett's foster mom, and his birth mom were there with us in spirit too, and we pray that they know how very loved he is.

Momma CiCi and Jack, and Angel and Zach came over to celebrate with us and enjoy a Guatemalan dinner. I think that I finally have the recipes for Pollo en Pina, Arroz Guatemalteco, and Fried Plantains down. They turned out very yummy (the key to the fried plantains is very, very ripe to brown plantains). The cake was yummy too, but I over beat the batter so it came out a much denser cake than for Elena's celebration in February. I think the secret to Pastel de Tres Leches is to add the milk and flour mixtures to the butter mixture at the same time then mix, versus add the flour mixture then mix then the milk mixture then mix etc. It still tasted good, but it didn't soak up the three milks like I wanted.

Garrett told me Monday morning that it was the "best burfday evert". I tried to explain that it wasn't a birthday party, but he corrected me saying "but I had cake!" Guess that Chris and I still have some things to learn from our kids -- like how the best celebrations involve spending time with our best friends and cake. Gosh, how I love that little man so.

Here are some photos of our fun time together:

The kids (Zach, Jack, Garrett, and Elena) playing in the backyard

Pollo en Pina

The kids enjoying dinner, take 1

take 2

Bubby and Sissy snuggles

The Zach man, or "Zachy" according to Elena

Pastel de Tres Leches

Thank you, God, for sending us this angel boy!

Gotta Go Until I Drop

Garrett has decided several times in the last week that he really doesn't need a nap. Of course, hours later he goes from full tilt to full stop. The day I got this picture he was literally running around the living room and then there was silence. When I checked on him, this is what I found. Too cute for his own good.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Guatemalan Recipes for Forever Family Day

Today is Garrett's Forever Family Day! It is the first time the whole family is actually together to celebrate (last year Chris was deployed, and two years ago he was deployed when I picked him up). We are very excited to celebrate our family all together.

I am still trying to get my montage of Garrett's year done so that I can post it. However, I have been having technical difficulties all day and the little ones have demanded snuggle time.

For now I thought I would post the recipes for our dinner tonight. We are having Momma CiCi and Jack, Angel and Zach, and hopefully Meg, Ben, and Nathan up for dinner. I've already started cooking and I can't wait to dig in. Give these recipes a try -- not too difficult and super yummy! (I combined three recipes for the pollo en pina to make this delish meal, but the rest of the recipes I found as is on the cookbook wiki or at RecipeHound.)

Pollo en Pina (Chicken in Pineapple)

3 ½ - 4 lb chicken in pieces (I use “pick of the chick” or Fryer chicken) – remove skin
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. lime juice (juice of 2 limes)
1 whole ripe pineapple (save juice) or 20 oz. can of pineapple chunks in juice
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 whole cloves
1 in. stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
½ c. olive oil
½ c. white vinegar
½ c. dry sherry
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Chicken stock, if necessary
Red peppers, to garish

Marinate the chicken in garlic and lime juice for 2 hours
Cook chicken in skillet w/ marinade or oil until browned (about 15 min)
Combine the chicken and other ingredients in large sauce pan or casserole. If using fresh pineapple, be sure to save the juice to include. If using canned pineapple use the juice. It may be necessary to add a little chicken stock to cover the chicken, especially if using fresh pineapple.
Cover and simmer over low heat until the chicken is tender, about 45 minutes.
If the sauce is abundant, partially remove cover and cook down sauce for another 15 minutes.
Serve chicken and sauce over Guatemalan style rice w/ red pepper slices as garnish

Arroz Guatemalteco (Guatemalan style Rice)

2 Tbsp. oil
2 c. long grain rice
1 c. mixed vegetables (carrots, onion, celery, sweet red peppers finely chopped, and sweet peas)
4 c. chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in skillet
Fry rice until it has absorbed the oil stirring constantly
Add vegetables, salt, pepper, and chicken stock
Bring quickly to a boil
Cover and reduce heat to low
Cook 20 min or until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed.

Fried Plantains

1 qt. oil for frying (I never use this much vegetable oil)

Preheat oil in large deep skillet over medium heat
Peel the plantains and cut them in half
Slice the halves lengthwise into thin strips
Fry strips until browned and tender
Drain excess oil from plantains on paper towels

Frijoles Negros Volteados (Fried Black Bean Paste)

1 15 oz. can black beans, partially drained
1 Tbsp. oil

Mash black beans in can with a fork until paste-like consistency
Heat oil over medium heat in skillet
Add mashed beans and mix well w/ wooden spoon
Stir until mixed bean thicken and liquid evaporates
Continue to mix until bean paste begins to come away from the skillet and can be formed into a sausage shape by shaking the skillet
Serve warm (with tortillas, cheese, sour cream, or bread)

Pastel de Tres Leches (3 Milks Cake)

9 eggs, room temperature
1 ½ c. sugar
12 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cream of tartar
Three milks:
2 c. heavy cream
5 oz. evaporated milk
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
Cream icing: 2 c. heavy cream
1/3 c. sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Separate egg yolks and whites, keeping whites at room temperature.
In bowl of an electric mixer, cream Sugar and butter together until pale yellow and fluffy.
Add egg yolks and beat until fluffy again, 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high speed.
In a separate bowl combine flour and baking powder.
In a third bowl mix milk and vanilla.
Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter mixture (a fourth at a time) until all are combined. Beat until smooth after each addition.
Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form and, using a large spatula, gently but thoroughly fold into flour-and-butter mixture.
Grease bottom of a 9- by 13-inch metal baking pan. Pour in batter and bake for approximately 25 minutes, until golden brown.
Allow to cool. (May also be baked in an 11.5- by 17.5-inch sheet pan for 20 minutes; this size rises very evenly, helpful for inexperienced cooks.)
Milk mixture: Stir the milks together thoroughly; do not beat. Do not refrigerate canned milks before using.
Cream icing: Whip cream and sugar together until stiff.
When cake is cool, slice or peel off the thin top crust.
Ice sides first, creating a small lip on top to catch milk mixture.
Pour milk mixture evenly over top of cake (if necessary, poke holes in cake with a knife or toothpick to facilitate soaking; you will probably need only 3/4of mixture).
Finish icing top.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Oh, the changes time brings

For those of you who weren't with us when we started this crazy journey, here's a brief insight to how Garrett came to be in our arms. Check out how this blog started.

I never went back and updated the posts with photos. To be completely honest, I didn't post once we returned stateside for over 8 months, and by that time we were preparing to visit Elena in Guatemala for the first time. Like I said, what changes time brings.