Thursday, May 26, 2011

Devilishly Good Chocolate Cupcakes

After several weeks without having a chance to bake, I finally got back to it this week. It felt good to be at it again! I decided to start off slow and easy, especially since it was another busy week and because I will be making lots of desserts for our family get together this weekend. I've been saving this recipe for a while now. I have no idea why because it's so easy it's ridiculous. It only uses two ingredients and totals one Weight Watcher point, if you follow the diet. I added icing and chocolate chips just because I knew my kids would want something extra.

Devilishly Good Chocolate Cupcakes

1 box Devil's Food chocolate cake
15 oz pumpkin puree
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Beat cake mix and pumpkin together until blended. Add chocolate chips if desired. Batter will be thick.

Line muffin pan with cupcake liners. Fill cups 3/4 full.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Makes about 24 cupcakes.


6 tablespoons softened butter
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time until blended. Add milk and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

"Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with cupcakes"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Welcome Home USS Kearsarge

After the stress of the adoption situation, our family was anxious to get out of town for a break. We had already planned to go to meet my brother this past weekend when his ship, the USS Kearsarge, came home to Norfolk Naval Base after 9 months on tour, including a stint as the flag ship in the Libya conflict. After many emails to the ship's Ombudsmen (contact personnel for military families) and much planning, we got to the Naval Base on Monday at 6:30 am.

The Ombudsmen, military and businesses around Norfolk set up a very nice area at the pier for the military families. We had chairs under a large tent, lots and lots of food, music and much hoopla to keep us entertained.

Around 9:00, everyone started moving towards the railings. Someone saw the ship come around the corner and cheers and screams went up! Flags were flying everywhere and everyone who had a sign held it high in the air. You could just about make out the sailors in their whites all standing at attention around the ship perimeter. It was a sight to behold. As the ship slowly made it's way around the pier, tug boats went out to greet it. They helped to pull the ship in and dock it, a long and slow process.

Finally, the ship was docked. After a bit more waiting the families were allowed on the pier. We waited anxiously for my brother, who had warned me that he might be one of the last off the ship. True to his word, he was. But I was so happy to see him I didn't care. He dropped his sea bags as soon as he saw me running towards him. We had a long hug then the kids joined in. My brother and husband even gave each other one of those manly hugs, the ones that end with pats on the back.

My brother was able to give us a tour of the ship. I have no idea how the Sailors and Marines handle being in such tight quarters for months at a time, but they should get special awards just for being able to handle that :) The ship was quite impressive and gives you a new appreciation for what the military does to protect us all.

After the tour, we gave my brother a ride home to Chesapeake and took him out to lunch. I asked him about his plans for the next few weeks, and he said all he wants to do is sleep.

Welcome Home, Jim! We are so proud of you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Not So Good News

Things did not turn out so well in the adoption situation. I had such hopes that I could finally, after three long years, have a child or children as part of our family. But it seems it isn't meant to be.

The situation I wrote about in my last post with the respite for the two children not only didn't work out, it ended up with my husband and I being called liars and everyone angry at us.

The initial meeting with these children was with me, the adoption counselor, the pre adoptive mom, and the kids. We met at my house, so the kids could meet me and my kids and get used to the surroundings. We met for over 3 hours. I was a little concerned when most of the meeting was about the pre adoptive mom and no one told me any information or was able to answer my questions, but I chalked it up to her bad situation. By the end of the meeting, the agreement was for us to take the kids starting Saturday until Tuesday. Then we would take them again for a longer periods of time until the pre adoptive mom had a chance to make up her mind about the adoption and we had a chance to get to know the kids.

Well, she dropped them off Saturday without car seats, medical cards or even so much as telling us their last names. We coped the best we could, going out and buying all the supplies they needed ourselves. We tried to keep them busy all weekend running in the yard, going to McDonald's, and having as much fun as we could fit in.

Then, come Sunday night, the pre adoptive mom calls and tells us she is not coming back to get the kids. We were floored. We called the adoption counselor and explained what had happened. We were told, "Well, aren't you were interested in adopting?" After a series of phone calls and emails, it was decided that the pre adoptive mom would come back as planned on Tuesday. On Tuesday she did show up but she was very angry. She came, grabbed the kids and left.

I contacted the adoption counselor and asked what was happening. She explained that the pre adoptive mom could never have abandoned the kids like we told her and that we were wrong by not taking the kids on permanently. I explained that a day and a half was not long enough to decide if we were a good fit (the agency promotes a good fit ad nauseum in their trainings), and she kept implying we were wrong not to take the kids. I also asked why we didn't get any support with this situation and she again said we were wrong and that she did support us.

My husband was pretty upset by this whole conversation and decided to contact the director of the agency. She listened to him, had me send all the relevant emails between us and the counselor, then never contacted us again. My husband emailed her yesterday after waiting a week and she told him that we were liars (it was all "miscommunication") and that the counselor did everything right. She refused to allow us to change counselors, saying this counselor is the only one who does matching (we know there are two) and basically blew us off. So much for being the best adoption agency in Pittsburgh.

So ends our adoption attempts. My husband keeps saying we should try again with another agency, but that means starting all over from the beginning with trainings, CPR certifications, clearances, letters of reference, home inspections and all the stacks of forms you have to fill out. I just can't bring myself to go through it all again, just to sit and hope. It's time to count my blessings and move on. It breaks my heart and I can't stop crying about it, but sometimes you just have to know when it's over. And it's over.