I like to prepare, think as far ahead as I can and for goodness sake anything to keep me busy is a good thing right? As I had mentioned I love Baby Cheapskate and I peruse the top most played with toys for each age group and try to keep my purchasing to items on those lists. Recently we had a dry run when Bethany brought her nanny kids over. It made me see what I still needed (or needed more of- sippy cups anyone?).
I also did a ton of research on baby gear. Things have changed a lot since I had Bethany. I read tons of reviews and feedback from lots of parents and made gear decisions that way.
For instance I wanted a good highchair. It had to be easy to clean, not have a bunch of little crevices for food to get jammed into and it had to be useable for a while (some parents reported that a few highchairs were too small by the time the baby hit 2 years old) with good durability and it could not be one of those highchairs in the $500 range (INSANE). Seriously they are $500 bucks and they are only a highchair, someone has lost their marbles. I didn’t care if it was complementary to our kitchen decor if it met the other requirements. I chose the Boon Flair and it was still a little pricey but I finally found it on Amazon with a damaged box and got it for $187. I watched Craigslist and contacted all the children’s consignment stores in the area looking for a used version (usually about $100). I couldn’t find one anywhere and these suckers hardly ever go on sale. Figures. It is not my preferred color but it works and I could change the pad and the tray. Did I mention the tray will go in the dishwasher?!? I may need a second tray anyway.
The other really important piece of gear was the convertible car seat. I did a lot of research and narrowed my choice down to a couple brands. I finally settled on a Diono Radian RXT. These have a slim profile, are a steel cage basically and can seat three across (important because we do have the dog car seat as well). We found one with a damaged box in Plum at Amazon and got it. I was so excited. Not only will it match the stroller which is also plum but it was offered at a decent discount and has a great safety rating. The picture on the box is red but the seat is actually in plum.
I Found some bath toys recently. The little boat has stacking cups and was free (using my cash back from Fred Meyer) and the Boon links were on sale and I got those for $2.00. They are foam and make little floating sea creatures.
I’ve been buying board books whenever I see them. I took books into Half Price and basically exchanged them for the two on the right, the three Christmas books were from the dollar section at Target. I’ve found several little little things there. They have great stocking stuffers and those little “new” things for a long trip. I found Chicka Chicka Boom Boom for our collection too. That book is always a favorite.
I found that My Pal Violet for $10.00 on Cyber Monday! I had been watching it FOREVER and was excited to get it on sale.
I grabbed a few more Little People, I mean who doesn’t love those? The headphones are for the trip and the triangle crayons were $1.00 in the Stocking Stuffer area. I found a Dora doll and a Mulan doll both on sale. The Travel Doddler pro will go with us to China it was a $4.99 add on with an order over $25.00 on Amazon (as were the Skip Hop Bee silverware). The little bowls were from Fred Meyer (coupon) and the little cloth doll was from Home Goods for $5.99. I thought the little cloth doll would be easy to pack and since I am not sure of the age our new baby will be I want to be prepared, or as prepared as I can be. Be warned that Home Goods is a dangerous place, you can always find something you “need” there.. and more often than not you will find a lot of “somethings”. Some of the items I’ve been buying will not be given to our new daughter until she reaches the correct age (like 3 years for that Mulan doll) etc. When she first arrives here she will be delayed (usually a one month developmental delay for every three months of orphanage living) so we will focus on younger toys, tasks and activities to help her catch up. This is why I am collecting the board books and the Indestructible books.
We did pick up the Cares Harness for the plane. If your child is over 2 they need to have their own seat. Who really wants to hold a child for 11 hours anyway? That being said who wants to drag a car seat to China? Um.. no one. The Cares Harness works from 22-44 pounds and is FAA approved, it works with the seat belt and will provide a better fit than a seat belt alone. We also bought the Baby B’Air in case we have a smaller child. I found a great deal and snapped it up.
Once we have a child assigned to us I know our families will go nuts buying cute little things. Looking at the things for little people is so much fun! I’ll post all the little outfits I have collected (be prepared to cry for Paul) later. I have been buying things for very little $, I hope that when our daughter arrives we will not need much for a LONG time. With the exception of diapers/pull ups, creams, lotions and the ever important snacks. I hope to be pretty prepared in that area as well but we shall see right?
Recently we were in Bellevue Square and were running around looking for a Christmas shirt for Miss M. It had to be red and Christmas-y.. you’d think this would be an easy no brainer task. It wasn’t. We went into every store only to come up empty. I even ventured into Janie and Jack.. I backed out slowly not touching anything. Everything is beautiful in there but they were totally out of my price range. I am totally stuck on Gymboree and Crazy 8. They have “collections” for the kids. It reminds me of Garanimals from when I was a kid, Giraffe goes with Giraffe right? Crazy 8 is owned by the same folks that own Gymboree and they seem to have lower prices. Often the items will be cross compatible, they both run a ton of sales and put out a lot of coupons. We did locate some really cute dolls for Miss M at the Disney store, Bethany took them when she left for Ecuador a few days ago. I can’t wait to see the pictures!
We requested the file of a little two year old girl, we were pretty excited to get it and go over it. About half way through the file I had this sinking feeling. We would have to pass on this sweet little girl. It would be too hard for her to get around in this house and perhaps her needs were far greater than originally stated (until you dig into those reports). I’m not going to minimize this I felt really terrible saying no. You fill out these “special needs checklist” stating what needs you would be open to accepting, some of them sound down right terrifying to be honest. Every single box you leave blank is a whole group of kids you are saying no to. Kids that may or may not find a family. Kids that really need a family, I think about that all the time. I hate to think there are so many kids without a mom or dad tucking them into bed at night.
I notice some issues are stated differently in China then they might be stated here. For instance some kids that were uncooperative during testing were listed as having cerebral dysplasia!! It might have been more that they are 2 years old, and who in the heck is this guy anyway? I’ve seen this talked about several times. The whole thing is a little like high stakes roulette, the diagnosis in the child’s file may be right on the money but it might not be. One family brought a little one home this spring and it turns out she is terminally ill. Several others brought home children that turned out to be just fine and the brain abnormalities were not there.
We have noticed a lot of “heart” babies in China and actually I’m taken with a little girl that has a very complex heart issue (she is a doll baby). We can do mild heart defects but this one is way out of our league, but I can’t help myself and look this little princess up and see if she has been spoken for every week. I worry about how much would be covered on our health insurance (and we have great insurance) and how quickly we would hit the lifetime cap with something like a heart transplant.
We have learned more than we ever wanted to know about a bunch of different syndromes, congenital issues and the long term effects of malnutrition.
This morning I am speaking to a program director about two little girls one post op heart baby and one with a muscle issue. The latter is from a state run orphanage and from the description it sounds absolutely dismal. As if an orphanage could sound anything ore than dismal. Apparently the state run orphanages do not get much support so they have precious few resources and the children will have greater developmental delays (lack of PT/OT etc). I know many outlying orphanages do not have heat and I wonder if this is the case with this one. Keep your fingers crossed!
I’ve been decorating the room and collecting things for quite a while. Making sure that we have everything when we make the adoption trip and then for when we get back home. The room our new little bug will occupy is Bethany’s room. The walls are bright and the windows are large letting a lot of light in. It just feels like a happy room. The theme is sort of under the sea and we are going to keep it that way. I made a lifesaver out of a pool noodle and ribbon for the door. I bought cardboard letters (AHOY) and sprayed them a glossy white for the wall. It isn’t finished yet but its getting there. I think I need an anchor up there too.
I have been doing this on a budget, believe it or not and have gathered a good amount of goodies, clothes, toys etc..
I really hate the bibs with Velcro on them. Who thought of this? Where are the snaps? I have made it my mission to buy snap bibs (toddlers tear those velcro bibs right off and who wants that?). I did buy two silicone bibs to keep in the diaper bags. Plus I found a sale on a gro-bag sleep sack 2.5 tog. It is so nice, I just love it.
I researched carriers and bought an ergo baby carrier we found it at Nobetterdeal.com, granted the box looks like it was tossed onto the freeway in front of a semi but everything is perfect in the box.
Paul and I avoid using plastic as much as possible for food items, particularly hot food items. Melamine is not so great either but options are quite limited if you don’t use either of those for kids. I found Brinware and have purchased seven of these little plates. There are two pieces to each plate, a glass disk and the silicone covering. What a brilliant idea! I am also fond of the sets by Bamboo Studio and the silicone sets by Oogaa. All three of these brands are offered on Zulily every so often, so keep an eye out.
I bought a few different bottles but we plan to take the Playtex with the drop in liners (yes these are plastic) with us. All the other folks say this is the best way to go because of the water situation in China.We picked up a portable drying rack and brush for the trip, sippy cups, take and toss containers to hold dry snacks (again more plastic) and the little formula and snack containers. Travel silverware, baby and toddler silverware.
I found a Skip Hop Bumble Bee toddler backpack to put all of her little treasures for the plane in. We found a neck pillow to match the back pack, too cute! I have been buying the “Secure a toy” and the links to keep things from being all over the floor. We picked up a few little books about airplanes and some stickers to help with understanding what will happen next.
I bought a Diaper Dude for Paul (manly diaper bag) and picked up a hard shell wipe container. Paul might not want to be seen hauling a frilly dilly pink diaper bag anyplace. This one totally looks like a guy.
I do have a few stuffed animals, a doll, 2 lovey blankets, and a couple Wubbanubs (just in case she takes a pacifier). Over the past year I have picked up Little People, Mega Bloks, stacking cups (that goes with us on the trip for sure), Weebles, stacking rings etc..
I frequent Baby Cheapskate to see about deals and I love their toys that get played with series. BC does a survey every year to see what toys are getting used consistently, nothing more frustrating than buying what you think is a lovely and probably expensive toy, only to see it overlooked within the week. I like the idea of not wasting time and money on toys. BC has the thought that all toys should do two things. So now I do look at toys a little differently and luckily everything I bought before I stumbled across the site actually was actually on the list. I watch for sales on Zulily too pretty much every day, I love that site! They have an iPad app and I use it every morning.
I found a brand new (still in the box) crib on Craigslist for $100.00 (they had received two for their shower apparently- SCORE). We also found a gal with a baby changing table that she had painted spring green. It’s a wild color but the whole room has crazy colors so I snatched it up and surprisingly it holds a ton of stuff.
When I go to Trader Joes (or get my hair cut, or any excuse I can manage) I look at both Homegoods and Tuesday Morning (what a strange name for a store, but you never know what you might find). I scored a bunch of Weebles there a while back.
Last Christmas we went to a craft fair at the Commons Mall and I found a lady that had made the softest baby blanket. I bought it right on the spot. Since then I have been grabbing goodies on sale at Carters, TJ Maxx and using the cash back from Fred Meyer to put toward kid clothes, gear and toys.
I watch the Amazon lightning deals for good buys and shop sales, use coupon sites like Retail me not to get some money off. I look on Ebay for items in the sizes I anticipate we will need. You’d be stunned at how many cute Gymboree outfits I have scored for CHEAP. As you can see I have found a ton of items, each box is sized from NB all the way to 5T. I got the boxes at Lowes on clearance last year for $3.00 each. So handy!
Every time we go to Ikea I grab an extra item for the baby room. They have a number of really good toys actually. I bought a couple of the drawer organizer sets (perfect for baby things). We picked up 4 of the blue and green bins for kids toys and I am desperate for that 2×4 glossy teal cube thing they have there. For whatever reason they discontinued the glossy teal shelves that match it (totally would have bought those too). I bought three white frames to go on the wall and found a clearance on bright turquoise burlap at Joann Fabrics so I printed a seahorse out and pinned it to the burlap, and I am currently beading the damned thing. Holy cow, I somehow did not have any idea how long this would take. It will be cute when its finished but I might do a button starfish next (no more teeny tiny beads). I will show and tell when I get it finished.
I found a sale at Pish Posh Baby and bought a Baby Jogger and saved more than $100.00!! It is purple!!! Perfect for a little girl. Glad we waited for a sale. Actually right now Pish Posh has the Sand one on sale for $119, if this is your stroller.. go go go. Love this place. They have a great Instagram account and highlight new products all the time, and they run a bunch of promotions as well.
I bought a pack and play at Albee Baby, Tip they have 20% off coupons OFTEN (sign up to receive them) and you can use that on those soft Aden & Anais dream blankets that are never on sale (I’m so going to get one of those).. ever. They also have a good amount of other sale items on all the time. If you are in love with the leg warmers for baby, Baby Legs has promotions, coupons and deals all the time. I think this is a must for your baby bag. If someone gets cold this is a great item to have on hand. People that fly with infants often mention dressing baby in a onesie and baby legs to make diapers easier to change.
Another favorite place to visit is Baby Steals, they have deals for kids, women, babies and scrapbookers. Love it!! They have really great deals on nice things. They are another of my very favorite sites to check. They have two sales every day for each category and are worth a peek. You can also look at the archive and if the item you desire is still in stock you can buy it. Love that!
Target ran a promotion earlier on and we bought the Fisher Price Rock and Play Sleeper and then got the matching bouncer for free. I am not sure we will end up using these but my daughter and her husband will need them in the next few years I’m sure. Paul bought a Peg Pergo car seat in Tangerine (infant) from Amazon and we are looking to buy the convertible car seat next.
I found a pop & play on Ebay for less than half price and I know that occupational therapists recommend baby gyms for children all the time. Again if we don’t use it I’m sure my daughter and son in law will eventually have kids and need all these things.
Almost every time we make an Amazon order we toss in a small item from our list, and then of course you see the Mega Bloks wagon, that was $14.00 on a lightning deal and the wooden puzzle (love wooden puzzles) was marked down to $9.00. Other adoptive parents say to have a good collection of board books because the kids may not have ever been around them before and are generally pretty hard on them at first. Because there will be a language difference we are looking for the basic first word books to help in that transition. After I sell a bunch of books, games and videos at Half Price Books I will haul home a few more board books and puzzles for the collection. Which by the way is a great way to stock your library and you won’t have to be upset if the books are ruined.
I am compiling a list of things to drag with us on the “gotcha trip” or whatever you want to call it. I think I printed out 8 or 9 different packing lists and I am compiling them all into one (lots of duplicate items) because I don’t want to miss anything important. I figure if I do this I won’t forget anything right? I know I will need things to keep a scared little girl busy on several long outings and a really long flight to the US. It sounds like I am fussing around a lot doesn’t it? I’m trying to keep busy, I need to feel like I’m doing something, accomplishing something. So I am hunting for items I can use on the plane and in the room. I found Skidderz Shoes for toddlers (they encompass more than one size) and I will take them in three sizes so we can be sure one will fit her feet (they pack pretty flat). I saw a post from one mama that went over and took 6 pairs of shoes and NONE fit. We will buy the squeaker shoes there but I think we need something until we get to the last place. We also found some Growing Socks, supposedly these will fit from 0-24 months. We’ll see right?
November is National Adoption Awareness Month and probably as good as time as any to talk about adoption and why we are adopting. I have ALWAYS wanted more kids and had planned to adopt from the beginning but things just did not turn out the way I thought they would as I mention here. As Paul and I became more educated about adoption and in talking about it we came to the same conclusion. The China Special Needs program was what we wanted to try for.
If you can see the huge amount of paperwork on the table, this is just a small fraction of the paperwork that goes into a Home Study. This does not include the paperwork from the agencies or the government.
I’ve been asked a number of intrusive questions about this and I will try my best to address those questions and tackle some of the myths I keep hearing (even from friends and family).
MYTH: The children are unwanted. China has a very different system. Think of all the children that are born out of wedlock in the US. Now consider that if your child is born out of wedlock this is against the one child policy and the child can not be registered. If your child is not registered they can not attend school or get a job. For all intents and purposes they do not exist. Please take a look at this article in News China.
Also many children are born with issues, for a moment think what if your child were born with congenital heart defect and the cost to repair it is staggering. The only option in some cases is for the parents to leave the child in the hope that the child gets the help they need.
Things I would really like to not hear anymore: any comments regarding why do we want a defective child and why not a “normal” child? This makes me crazy and I feel as if I may develop a nervous tic over this sort of crap. These are normal children. Some have special needs yes, this is true. If you have a biological child, that child could be born with special needs. The difference is that I know what the special needs are before saying yes. Could there be other un-identified issues? Yes, but this is the same as your own biological child. Things come up. Thankfully we have good health insurance.
Some point out that we’ll be starting over. Yes, this is true. We have three big kids and the new one will be in diapers. I think it will be wonderful. Little people look at everything with wonder, having a little person around makes everything more fun. I know I did a number of theme birthday parties for the kids and it was so much fun to plan them. The kids always had a good time (you had to come in costume) and it was a chance for the adults to be creative as well. We look forward to taking the new child to the beach for the first time or to see snow for the first time and then there is that requisite Disneyland trip when they hit 5 years old.
I’ve been asked “Don’t you guys want a baby?” A newborn is wonderful and special, but I don’t need that. I do have everything to take care of a newborn but my heart just isn’t in it. I have said I can’t really explain in words why I feel so pulled in the direction of the China Special Needs Program but I do, we both do. If they give me an infant (very unlikely) I’d sure take her, but we are planning for a toddler.
Why don’t you have your own? Really? Then I get “You’ll probably get pregnant after you adopt”. We are not trying or hoping for that. It would be pretty unlikely.
I’ve been told our adopted child won’t look like us. Paul and I have not only discussed this but we have taken several hours of training in how to handle this with both the child as well as how to handle invasive or rude questions from total strangers. We do live in a very diverse area so our new daughter will not be the only Chinese person at Gymboree. We live close to two Asian markets and plan to integrate familiar foods into her diet as she is getting adjusted to our family. We plan to celebrate her heritage and develop a few new family traditions.
Will you tell her she is adopted? Of course, I’m sure she will know she is adopted because A) We are Caucasian and she will be Chinese, see above question. B) She will be a toddler and will have some memory of her life in the orphanage. C) We want to be honest and open about the information, in an age appropriate way of course.
What if they want to search for their real mother? I think this is totally normal. We will help our child search. We will try to obtain a picture of the finding notice and the finding place so we can get on a registry. We will ask for all information from the orphanage that we can get. It is a basic need to want to know where you’re from.
You won’t know anything about his or her background. Yes also true. This is how it works when you adopt from an orphanage. It will be hard and it will get messy but that knowledge has not deterred us in the least.
There are 147 million legal orphans in the world. Can you wrap your mind around that? This is not including foster children who may be legally adoptable. Children growing up in orphanages are generally developmentally delayed by one month for every three months they are in care. Both growth and development are effected. Think gross motor, fine motor, cognitive, emotional, language and daily living activities are all delayed to some degree. I find this number astounding.
I believe every child deserves a parent that loves them will kiss boo-boos and tuck them in at night. Every child not only deserves that but needs that.
This is where we need your help. Not every person can adopt and perhaps not every person should adopt but everyone can help orphans by supporting adoptive families. It really does take a village. No matter your income most people do not have 30-40K laying around the house, I know we sure don’t. I have an adoption expenses page so you can see where all this money actually goes. Currently we are refinancing the house to bring our monthly payments down, get debts paid off and be able to set more aside for the adoption every month. Thankfully we do not have to pay the entire amount up front, but we will have to pay everything before we are allowed to travel to pick up our new daughter.
If 4000 people donated $10.00
If 2000 people donated $20.00
If 800 people donated $50.00
If 400 people donated $100.00
As you can see it all adds up, every dollar helps get that little girl home. We are running a Shave Ethan Bald promotion. When we hit $5,000 Ethan will shave his head bald, we will post pictures and video. His Christmas break is coming up, if we can get this out there and funded we can shave bald him over the holiday break.
Please help us by re-posting, sharing and tweeting the Shave Ethan Bald fundraiser. Thank you!
In recent weekends my very sweet husband, Paul has gotten up in the wee hours of the morning and taken Carl to a skilled nursing facility in Renton to finish his clinicals for a Certified Nurses Aide class both he and Bethany were taking. He let me continue to snooze with the four dogs. Ok so probably he let me sleep because of the dogs but I’m not splitting hairs here.
Because Paul is a HUGE fan of everything cinnamon I made him the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Squares, which are pretty much his favorite thing I make to be sure. He sure deserved a special treat.
I found the recipe here and I’m so glad I stumbled onto their website. I might not be able to create a recipe from scratch but I sure can follow directions. I’ve tried a bunch of different Low Carb and Keto Coffee Cake recipes, and none can compare to this. One was so foul we actually just tossed it out, it was one I whipped up for Easter. The Cinnamon Cream Cheese Squares however are even adored by non-low carbers. I know I heard you gasp, but it’s true. Do not be scared by the 47 steps, follow them and you will be rewarded. This is scrumptious with a cub of coffee.
- 2 C almond flour
- 2 T coconut flour
- 3 T Swerve
- 6 T butter, slightly softened
- 6 egg whites, whipped until stiff (about 5 minutes- Use the stand mixer if you have one)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. xanthan gum
- 12 oz. cream cheese (1 ½ bricks), at room temperature
- 3/4 C Swerve
- 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract (I have also used Vanilla Paste and the Paste is better)
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon and 1/3 C Swerve, mixed together
- 3 T melted butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease an 8×8 square pyrex pan. I use the Trader Joes coconut oil Spray.
- In a large bowl, mix together crust ingredients almond flour, coconut flour, sweetener, salt, baking powder and xanthan gum until evenly mixed.
- Cut in butter by adding it in small chunks and using a pastry cutter to make a fine, crumbly meal out of it. There will be small chunks of butter remaining, but no large chunks should be visible. **I did it this way once and then I probably over softened the butter the next time and it turned out fine. The recipe is forgiving. **
- Fold in egg whites by hand. You will lose much of the volume from the egg whites, but fold slowly and carefully. The resulting batter should be evenly mixed and somewhat fluffy in texture. **At this point you will be sure you have done this wrong, you are probably fine**
- Place half the crust dough into the center of the greased baking dish and use a spatula to carefully and evenly distribute it throughout the bottom of the dish. **Be sure it is roughly the same depth all over**
- Par-bake the bottom crust for 10 minutes or until it begins to slightly firm up. While you wait, prepare your filling.
- To prepare the filling, combine room temperature cream cheese with sweetener and vanilla extract. Stir or whisk well until it is all combined and smooth. **WARNING do not, I repeat DO NOT let your son try this or he will try to eat it all and you might not have enough for the squares. It is really good**
- Remove the par-baked crust from the oven and allow to cool for about five minutes.
- Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the top of the par-baked crust. **Stop eating the filling**
- Carefully spread the remaining crust mixture over the top of the cream cheese layer. To avoid mixing the cream cheese in with the top crust layer, I recommend applying the top crust in small dollops all over and then smoothing them together as opposed to doing one large dollop in the middle of the dish. This will prevent the cheese from mixing into the top crust. **This step sounds elegant but is a mess. I finally did it in little bits pressing them flat in my hand**
- Smooth the top crust and sprinkle it evenly with all of the cinnamon and sweetener mixture.
- Carefully pour the melted butter over the top, taking care to drizzle it all over so that it doesn’t all settle in one place.
- Bake the dish on the middle rack for 30-40 minutes or until the top is deep golden brown and caramelized and firm to the touch.
- Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing, or let sit over night. **These have NEVER waited overnight to be eaten, NEVER** The squares are delicious warm or at room temperature.
- Slice into 12 squares and enjoy. **OK I am getting about 9 squares, I’d start a mutiny if I tried to make them ay smaller**
Head on over and see what other fabulous recipes the Fluffy Chix have come up with.