Monday, December 28, 2009

Why Has It Been 2-1/2 Months?


Time flies when you're having fun! Goodness, but it has been a LONG time...and this blog tends to get a bit neglected. I guess that's what happends when it's low on the priority list. Things have changed so much in the past two months!

Our little man, whom we adopted last March, has turned 3 and started special needs preschool. In January, when school starts up again, he will be riding the bus, which is a HUGE thing! I'm praying that he LOVES it, because we are a family of 5, with only one working car. Things get a bit hairy at times!

In October, we got a call from our adoption caseworker, who knows we have been waiting for a little girl. She told us of a baby girl, who at that time wasn't even 2 months old. She asked if we wanted to be considered, knowing very little about the situation, other than the age of birth mom and baby. We of course said YES! We were chosen from a group of 12 families. But then, we went to an AWESOME church retreat, where many of our friends there were sick. As soon as we got home, we got hit HARD with the H1N1 virus. All four of us. So that put off getting to go meet the baby. We were working hard to be patient, and that paid off. As soon as we were all better, we went and met her, and three days later, we got to bring her home!

A week before Thanksgiving, Little Man started his preschool, AND we got Baby Girl....at the same time! YIKES! But God is good, and we were blessed with some time off for the boys and for Papa Bear. And then we were blessed again by being given a couple of weeks of prepared meals by the wonderful ladies in our church.

Then of course, Christmastime was upon us. We have not gotten enough sleep, but we are so grateful for this precious life...especially at Christmas. There is not a 100% guarantee that we will get to keep this baby, and we knew this going into it, but we gave the whole situation to God, and we know He is in control. If we get to keep her, then we will praise Him. If we don't get to keep her, then we will praise Him. He knows what she needs, and knows the desires of our hearts, and He is sovereign. We know that His will will be done, and we are ok with that, no matter the outcome.

So, as we begin the new year, we pray for more sleep, and we pray that God will allow us to be the very best parents we can be to all three of our children. We pray that He increases our faith, and that we grow in Him each day. We know it won't always be easy, but we sure know it will be worth it all in the end, when we get to stand before Him.

I hope you have a blessed New Year!

Mama Bear

Monday, October 12, 2009

"With Our Busy Schedules, What Are Your 3 Valid Tips for Getting Dinner Ready in a Flash?”

Twittermoms and Samsung are at it again! They are collaborating together to give away an award-winning Samsung French Door Regrigerator. All you have to do to enter, is blog about your top 3 tips for getting dinner ready in a flash.

My top 3 tips for getting dinner ready in a flash are:

1. Marinate meats before sticking them in the freezer in Ziploc bags; then when you want to use that meat, get it out in the morning, and it's thawed, marinated and ready by the time you're ready to cook.

2. Create a weekly menu, so that you know what you're going to serve each day. Have the groceries on hand so that you're not running to the grocery store at the last minute.

3. Cook several pounds of ground beef in one day, and then put in Ziploc bags and freeze (or refrigerate) in meal-size portions. When you want to make tacos or spaghetti, just pull out one meal's worth of cooked ground beef and you're ready to go!

Happy Cooking!

Mama Bear

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Win a Hasbro Family Card Game from Seven Dogs and a Baby



Check out how you can win a fun card game for your family. Hasbro Family Game Night was September 23rd, but you can make it a Family Game Night any night of the week with all the great games from Hasbro! You can WIN by clicking on this link and entering to win a Hasbro card game from Seven Dogs and a Baby.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Where Is the Heart of Your Home? -- A Samsung Giveaway Entry

Twittermoms (Click on the word to find out how you can enter to win.) has announced that Samsung Home Appliances is giving away a brand new washer and dryer, and they are asking the question, "Where Is the Heart of Your Home?" Here's my answer:

The heart of my home is anywhere where I am, or where my husband and I are, it seems. We live in a very small apartment with our teenage son and toddler son. Our kitchen is teeny, but it never fails, that when I am in there fixing dinner, everyone seems to somehow gravitate into the kitchen. It's rather comical at times; our teenage son is putting away clean dishes, my husband is washing dishes or helping get dinner ready, and sure enough, the little guy has to come in and hang on to our legs, or sit down in the middle of the kitchen floor with the "toy of the hour". Our kitchen floor is only about 5-1/2 feet by about 5 feet!

If my husband and I are in our bedroom, folding clothes, the boys want to come back there, and be right there with us. Trust me when I say that I'm not complaining! Our teenage son is closing in on 16 (next week), and for him to prefer hanging out with Mom and Dad, to closing himself up in his room, doing his own thing, is awesome! We love it!

If I am working at the computer during the day, our little guy has to be close by. Even if he is 10 feet away, playing in the living room, he has to run over and check in and get a hug every now and then. Both boys want to hang out right by me, no matter what is going on.

We have said before that if we ever DO have a big house, it will not be the same, because there will be so much more room for us all to spread out, and be in our own space.

So I guess you could say the "heart of our home" is wherever family is...and I wouldn't want it any other way!

Now, if you want me to win this washer and dryer, I hope that you will leave a comment...because "she who has the most comments wins"!

Have a blessed day!

Angie

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Prayers Have Been Answered!!!!

See that post below? Well, guess what??? I WON THE BIKE! Thank you Jesus! I had been praying about it, because I had $70 saved up, but I told the Lord that if He wanted me to give the money to Him, that I would, whether I won the bike or not. So now, I just need to figure out where I want to give. We have a team from our church going to Mozambique in just about a week and a half, so it might go there, to help fund the trip.

YAY!!!!! I'm SO excited!!!! Thank you Schwinn and Resourceful Mommy!

Mama Bear


Monday, June 15, 2009

I've Been Praying About a Bicycle



Some of you may know that I am on a slow journey of trying to get healthy and lose a LOT of weight. I have been wanting to get, and praying about getting, a new bicycle. I have $70 saved up, but that hasn't grown since Christmas. We just don't have a whole lot of money right now....kind of like pretty much everyone else, I'm sure. So, my dreams of a bicycle are kind of on hold now. But, if I could WIN one, I would be absolutely THRILLED! I have about 100 pounds to lose, and so a comfy bike would seriously help! I would LOVE to win this bicycle being given away on Resourceful Mommy:

You can enter to win it too! There will be THREE winners chosen! But hurry, because your time ends on Tuesday, June 16th at 11:59 PM.

Mama Bear


Monday, June 8, 2009

Spring Cleaning Online "Yard Sale"

Well, it's spring cleaning time, because it's almost SUMMER! We are thinking ahead several months, about when it will be time to move out of our tiny apartment (we hope!), and we're trying to do some purging and serious organizing right now. We sure could use your help. I have loads of things that I am wanting to sell, so I'm going to start listing them here.

The lovely "decorated" pieces you see, are things I had made to sell as "boutique clothing", and I gave up on that because of Ebay's high fees. The other pieces are items I had bought with the intent to decorate, before I gave up because of Ebay's high fees. All you have to do is click on the "Pay Now" button, and pay through Paypal's secure website. Here goes...

"Guess Jeans" Girl's Size 12 Denim Jumper -- $5.00 (plus Priority shipping)




"G.H. Bass & Co." Red Gingham Denim Girl's Jumper Size Med/8 -- $5 (plus Priority Shipping)




"Gymboree"? Infant Denim Jacket Size 6-12 M -- $8 (plus Priority Shipping)




Green, Red, and White Calico Boutique Shortalls Girl's Size 2-3T -- $15 (plus Priority shipping)
(Pink Shirt NOT included)





"Sage Green Calico w/Red Rosebuds" Boutique Shortalls Girls' Size L (6X)
-- $15 (plus Priority Shipping)




Ok, that's all for now, but I will be listing more in the coming days/weeks.

Mama Bear

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Blankie to the Nose--and a Giveaway


I love how my 2 year old will comfort himself by rubbing the edge of his nose with the edge of a soft blankie. I think it's kind of funny, but kind of cute too. I love this age, when they find soft things to comfort themselves with.

Speaking of soft blankies, Etsy It Up is featuring a giveaway of a two handmade burp cloths from Sprout Boutique. Want to win? Enter before June 8th.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The HP Mini Vivienne Tam Edition



Yep, this little Mini has been talked about with much excitement for quite some time now. And I want one! It's SO cute, and lightweight, and fun! Well, I'm entering to win one over at Blissfully Domestic. Who knows? Maybe my name will get chosen. I hope so! It will be such a help to make my business a little more mobile.

Mama Bear

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I Have Just Opened my First Ever Artfire Shop!

The Perfect Place for Bears to Eat


Looking for a great place to eat a yummy meal with your bear cubs? Look no further than the Black Bear Diners. You can find them in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado. We ate at the Black Bear Diner in Monterey this past weekend, and really enjoyed everything...from the newspaper style menu, to the kid's fish sticks, which were the best I've ever had, to the bear decor everywhere! I mean, I AM Mama Bear, right? We definitely felt right at home. I love the carved wooden bears everywhere, and they even have a great little gift shop.

Their menu has a large array of items to choose from, including healthier choices for the dieters or health conscious bears. We were SO full from our meal that we didn't get to indulge in any of the desserts, but from the looks of the dessert case, we might just have to visit the Black Bear Diner JUST for dessert! Bear claws filled with seasonal fruit fillings, thick handmade milkshakes, bread pudding, blackbeary shakes, and Grandma's Fresh Baked Cobblers. And that's only HALF of the dessert menu!

So whether you're in the mood for breakfast (which is served all day!), lunch, dinner, or just dessert, be sure to stop by and visit the folks at the Black Bear Diners. You'll be glad you did!

Oh, and yes, they DO have a website! It's www.BlackBearDiner.com.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Win a UV Skinz Shirt of Your Choice!


Frugal Mommy of 2 Girls is hosting a giveaway for a UV Skinz shirt of the winner's choice. I LOVE these shirts! I have one for myself and one for Baby Bear. Brother Bear has one from a different company. These are great because you can really save on the amount of sunscreen you use! Our family goes lake camping every year for about 4 days, and when you're at the lake 1/2 the day, you'll want a UV Skinz shirt, so that you don't have to constantly re-apply the sunscreen everywhere.

So click on over to Frugal Mommy and enter to win! But hurry! The giveaway ends today!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Win Kleenex Anti-Viral Tissues and a $50 Visa Gift Card



Over at The Mom Buzz, they are giving away some Kleenex Anti-Viral tissues and a $50 Visa gift card. I hope you will head over there and enter to win. Contest ends May 25.

Mama Bear

Win These Earrings from Jacaranda Designs


Yes, you can win these pretty and whimsical earrings from Jacaranda Designs on Etsy.com. Check out her giveaway blog post to find out how!

Mama Bear

Win a Baby Blanket from Paputsi


I have just discovered a cool blog, called "Etsy It Up". They feature loads of items from Etsy.com, and have some amazing giveaways too!

Speaking of giveaways, you can enter to win the minky baby blanket you see above, made by Paputsi, a shop on Etsy. Even if you don't have a baby, or aren't expecting, you may know someone who does or is! Just click HERE to go to the giveaway page.

Mama Bear

Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Weight Loss Coach


Papa Bear just ordered this for me, to use with Brother Bear's DS. Not that he is thinking "Boy! She really needs to lose weight, so I'll buy her a practical gift to aid her with her efforts.". No, he knows how much I really want to stay focused and have accountability. Not that a "game" is really a lot of accountability, but it will help.

Today is my first day using the pedometer that comes with the game. If you have this too, I'm sure you know that the pedometer is NOT accurate! I took it off while driving, and it bounced around a couple of times, and added a few extra steps to my total. Oh well. I wasn't wearing it all day, and I was walking, so I don't mind.

I will be starting a weight loss program at my gym too, so that's going to be great! I'm excited about it. I will be able to work with 3 personal trainers, get some nutritional advice, and work out with other women who are wanting to lose weight. The class is for 8 weeks, twice a week. I'm kind of bummed that the classes are in the evening from 7:30 to 8:30, because that's really time with my family, but I think this will be worth it. Papa Bear will have to tape The Biggest Loser for me!

If you are wanting to lose some weight too, I have a blog just for women who are really wanting to lose weight and need some (private) friendships and accountability to help out. Just email me, and I'll give you the details. Anyone can join the blog at any time. There's no fees to join. There's no minimum time required. The gals who are there now are super friendly, open and honest, and working hard at losing 15% of their weight. The name of the blog is The 15% Club, but you can only find it if I give you an invite. Yep, I told you it was private. No one else can see it, except for those who have the secret handshake. :-)

This is going to be an intense journey, but my baby brother is getting married one year from this coming Saturday, and I plan on being about 50 pounds lighter by then...if not more. Are ya with me?

Mama Bear

Monday, April 20, 2009

Baby Bear's First Fishing Trip


This past Saturday was beautiful, and it was a great time to head over to the Reservoir to go fishing. Notice, I didn't say "catching". We got a few really good bites, but the fish got away! A little frustrating, but a good time had by all anyway. It was Baby Bear's first fishing trip, and we think he really enjoyed it. Once he got used to the place (it was all new for him), he settled in and got down and dirty....in the dirt that is. Almost in the mud!


We all had poles in the water, trying different baits about every 45 minutes like the fishing report suggested. They bit on the chunky cheese Powerbait (don't think that's the actual name, but that's what we were calling it), and on the garlic Powerbait. We even had worms on the hooks, but no worms got taken, even by the diving ducks!



A few snacks, lots of water (because it was hot!), some sunscreen, a camera, a DS game, a little bucket and shovel, and a good book...it all made for a wonderful day together as a family. And a "cheap date" too! At least if you don't count the cost of the fishing licenses for Papa Bear and me.

Baby Bear even caught a few zzzzzz's while out there. He actually fell asleep in his chair, so we covered him with my jacket and the umbrella, giving him a little breezeway, so he wouldn't get overheated.

I'd love to hear about your fishing trips, and see your photos. Or even about a fun family outing. Leave me a comment, and I'll head over to your blog to check it out!

Mama Bear

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Feeling a Little Bogged Down

I haven't posted in awhile. Not because I don't have anything to say. That would pretty much never be the case. Instead, it's because I have SO much going on right now, that this seemed like one of the things I could let go without a negative effect.

So what's been going on since I last posted? Well, Brother Bear got his green belt in jiujitsu. He's been taking classes for nearly 3 years now, and we think his instructor is great. Brother Bear is in a class with kids who are 7-12 I think, and he towers above everyone, but because of his special needs, that's where he fits right now. His instructor is very cool and works with Brother Bear on a personal basis. We are so proud of Brother Bear! He's gotten a lot stronger, and has been able to learn balance a lot easier. Having had strokes that parazlyed his entire right side, he was often off balance, and was falling a LOT. He has learned how to fall in jiujitsu, and it has helped him when he does fall. It's been so good for him.

Baby Bear is still taking his ST, PT, and OT classes twice a week. I go with him to those classes, and I am right there with him as he learns and works. Sometimes I get frustrated because he doesn't obey, and just wants to do his own thing. There are only 3 other kids in his class, and the classes are only 1-1/2 hours a day, twice a week. BUT, the other three kids are all girls, so go figure. He wants to see what they're doing.

Oh, and Baby Bear has also gotten into this whining thing lately, which is new for him. It tends to get on my nerves, because he can be in the middle of doing something, and all of a sudden he will cry out. I don't know if it's weariness, or frustration or what, but I'm not sure how to handle it. He's still taking two naps most days, but we will be changing that soon. He has speech delays, so I think he may be frustrated with the fact that he can't express himself the way he wants to.

Papa Bear's workplace is in the middle of a small uproar. Their union contract expired a week and a half ago, and they're threatening to strike. I don't think they will. I think it's a little silly to even think about striking right now when the economy is so bad. I know we can't afford to go for a week with no pay because of a strike. I also know that Papa Bear would cross the line, because of his convictions and his commitment to Christ Jesus. It's a long story that I won't go into, but I totally support him 100%.

We have been searching for a larger home to rent for oh, about the past 3 years! Our lease was up last Sept. at our apartments, and they never had us re-sign, even though we asked them a few times about it. So we thought we'd look. Trouble is, most people want about $2500 to $3000 for a security deposit. Then there's the first month's rent, and sometimes the last. Hubby's company was supposed to get their annual bonus, but this year didn't receive it, because of the economy. That bonus would've been about $3000...a deposit! So we are trying diligently to save up every little penny to work towards a good amount for a deposit. We have looked at a couple of places in the past few weeks. One looked VERY promising, but the rent was just a little too high for us. We could've done it, but not easily. We would've had to rob Peter to pay Paul, and we would've been stretched to the limit too often. But we know that God is good, and He has a plan for us. Even though we REALLY liked that place, and it was only 4/10ths of a mile from Brother Bear's high school, the kitchen was tiny. Seriously. Like about the size of our kitchen in our 1100 sq. foot apt.! The rest of the house was pretty much just about perfect. God knows what we need, and He knows what we want, including a big yard, and a fairly good sized kitchen. A short commute, and not having to change schools with Brother Bear. He knows, and He will supply. We are completely trusting in Him, and we are at such peace about it all.

Besides, we just got a phone call from our apartment leasing office, saying that they would knock our lease down by $150. Praise God! Guess where that extra $150 is going? Yep! Towards our little nest egg for when we find a bigger place. We have to sign a 6 month lease, but we're ok with that. Especially since there's a pool here, and the warm weather is coming.

God is so good. He supplies all of our needs. I have been racking my brain, and talking over and over with Papa Bear about what I can do to increase my income from my Etsy shops. We have even thought about putting an ad in a local parent magazine. That would cost just under $500. Do we do it? Or do we just trust that God will bring us all the business we need? Do we fret and worry about it? It surely won't add a single day to our lives. Do we try to manipulate things to work the way we want? NO! We can do that, but ultimately God's plan is SO much better than ours. And just the very next day after talking about taking the ad out, I got close to $200 in orders and ad space sales!!! See? He IS GOOD!

Alright, I know this was long, but I had to make up for lost time. I hope all is going well with you. I'd love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave your comment below.

God bless!
Mama Bear

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

Ultimate Blog Party 2009


Well, it's party time again. 5 Minutes for Mom is holding their annual Ultimate Blog Party, and you can enter to win some amazing prizes! How to Party with the Ultimate Blog Party:

(Simplified version. Details here.)
*Read and comment on THIS post to be entered in the draw for PRIZES.
*If you have a blog, write a party post on your site, include a UBP 09 BUTTON, and tell us which prizes you want if you win.
*Add your blog url AND/OR your facebook link AND/OR your twitter link to the appropriate Mr. Linky below.
*Visit tons of blogs, facebook pages and follow new twitter friends from the Mr. Linkies. (To be eligible for prizes, we ask that you visit and comment on at least 20 blogs.)

Here's what I would pick from the list of prizes, if I won:

INTL 19 -- $130 Sponsor spot on Tip Junkie

INTL 14 -- 4 week ad spot on Boutique Flair

#19 -- $50 Target Gift Card


So what are you waiting for? Oh! You mean you want ME to give something away? Ok, I can do that. I will give you a choice of what you would like to win:

1. A $10 Amazon.com gift card.

2. A $10 Target gift card.

3. This custom made "Biker Chick" jacket that is size 6-9M (infant size).



4. This custom made peasant dress that is size 4T (worn only for modeling purposes).


5. This custom made Pink Sequin Cross t-shirt that is size 4T.



The winner chooses which one of the 5 items they would like.

To enter, simply leave a comment with your name and email

and which prize you would like to win.

Deadline to enter is Sunday March 29 at 11:59pm.

The drawing will be held on March 30, 2009.

Giveaway available to US residents only.

Please make sure you leave a valid email address, or that there is one attached to your Blogger account when you enter. If we can not get ahold of you easily, we will pick someone else.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Slow and Painful Death


Our house phone is dying. It's not a quick thing. It's been a slow and painful death. We have gotten new headsets twice now. Maybe it's just the headset. Maybe it's the phone. Who knows? But when I saw my email from the Mom Buzz, I just had to enter to win the phone that she and VTech are giving away! It's a VTech CS6129-31 phone, that has 3 handsets. Now, we don't really NEED three handsets, but I figure, when one goes out we will have another one to quickly replace it with!

Need a new phone? Be sure to head over to the Mom Buzz to enter to win.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Very Special Day


Today is a very special day for the Bear Family. Today is the day that Baby Bear gets to change his last name, and his two middle names! Today is the adoption finalization. We are SO excited, and can't believe that this day has finally arrived. I'm pretty sure Baby Bear and Brother Bear are excited too. Baby Bear woke me up at 5:30 this morning, which is SO unlike him! He normally sleeps in until about 7:30. So I decided to get up with him, figuring that he could get up early and then nap before our court appointment. Fingers crossed...

Brother Bear is also up early. He leaves for school at 7:50, but he was up at just after 6am. He's such a good kid! He gets up and showers on his own. (He's a special needs teen, so sometimes his daily responsibilities get forgotten, or we have to remind him about things on a regular basis.) He fixes his lunch for school. Papa Bear and I must've done something right! This kid is good!

So, at 1:15, we will stand with family and close friends, before a judge who will be granting permission for Baby Bear to legally be our little boy. We have prayed for this for about 3-1/2 years now, and it's here! This whole journey sure didn't come about the way we expected, but God knew what was best, and he brought a little BOY (we had our hearts set on a girl) to our home, and brought with him LOADS of smiles and giggles and wiggles and dancing and just full on laughter at his antics. Thank you Lord, for not always giving us exactly what we want, but instead, what we need.

And yes, we will be taking pictures! I hope to post some next week. No, can't do it tomorrow. Papa Bear is taking me down to Monterey for two whole days! We have gone on a total of 4 dates since Baby Bear made his debut in our home. We have not done any overnights. This time, we have a wonderful Grandma-friend who will be watching the Bear brothers, and Papa Bear and I get to stay at a hotel on the beach, and we get to RELAX! I'm looking forward to not having to "take care" of anyone, and I'm looking forward to just getting to hold hands with Papa Bear, and walk on the beach together, and explore Moss Landing together. YAY!

By the way, it's our engagement anniversary tomorrow! And it's Papa Bear's 40th birthday on Monday, so it's kind of a full circle celebration.

Well, have a GREAT weekend.

God bless,
Mama Bear

Digital Moms on MSNBC.com


Monday, March 9, 2009

Why My Heart Breaks at Times

Do you have a child or other family member with disabilities, or do you know know someone with disabilities? If so, you may see a glimpse into their lives, and how they feel about themselves, or how they feel about how they are treated by others.

I have two boys with disabilities. Our two year old, whom we are adopting, has tactile defensiveness, which means he has major issues with textures. He hasn't learned how to chew properly, so weird textures in his mouth tend to make him gag. So, even though he is 28 months old, he is still eating baby food, and drinking from a bottle. When we first got him last May, he wouldn't touch a sippy cup, let alone drink from one. He's come a long way since then, but it's sometimes difficult having to explain why my almost 2-1/2 year old still eats baby food, and not much table food. Or why NOT to give him goldfish crackers in kid's church. (Because he doesn't chew well, but he likes the salty taste, he will stuff them in his mouth and basically let them stay there, and then ends up gagging or choking on them.)

Our 15 year old was born with only 1/2 of his heart and as a result, has had 5 strokes...two major and three minor (if you can call a stroke "minor"). The two major strokes took his speech and hearing, (although his hearing came back, he still has many problems with processing sounds--phonics for instance, and has problems with his speech), they took a lot of cognitive skills, and they paralyzed his entire right side. He is able to use the right side, but not much. He walks with a very pronounced limp, and tends to drag his toe on the right foot. His right hand is practically useless right now. For one reason, he won't do the strengthening exercises, but for the other reason, he simply can't move the fingers and hand like most people can. He wears a brace on both the leg/foot, and on the hand.

Other than the obvious physical issues, Brother Bear looks like a normal 15 year old kid. But he is in a special day class in high school, and hasn't met a whole lot of people outside of that class, other than the guys in the Bible club, which Brother Bear voluntarily attends. There are many times when he comes home from school with tears because he has eaten lunch by himself, or because of the way someone has treated him, or because he so BADLY wants to play "real" basketball or football.

My heart breaks for him! I had a hard enough time in high school, because of being "different", but without disabilities. I never "fit in" quite right. I didn't wear the right clothes, or it was because I am SERIOUSLY fair-skinned, or I was slightly (and really only SLIGHTLY) overweight as a teen. Whatever the reason, I got teased. You know what I'm talking about...it's the norm. The part where someone has to make someone else feel inferior because they are lacking self-confidence themselves.

But Brother Bear wears pretty much the same kind of clothes as many 15 year old boys, and he tans really well, and he is tall and lean, with even the occasional muscles showing through. He's a good-looking kid.

For some reason though, MANY people have a really difficult time knowing how to relate to people with disabilities. I know...I have been one of those people in the past. What do you say? What do you NOT say? How do you act? Do you stare? Do you look away? Do you ignore? I think it may be because no one has educated us on what to do in those situations. People with disabilities are people. Just like you and me. We ALL have things that we consider our "issues", right? Things that we think people wouldn't like us for. Things that we consider "ugly" or "stupid" or whatever. If everyone could understand that this is something that humans constantly deal with, then maybe we would be more comfortable around those who have the more obvious issues...like physical or mental disabilities.

So, what do we do? I think there are a few things. Especially if you are a Christian. Educate your children. Teach them to be kind and compassionate to everyone. Teach them to not be afraid to go up and talk to someone with a disability...especially if it's another kid at their school. PLEASE teach them that these kids are just like them, but that God has just given them something different to deal with, than what your child must deal with.

CVS Pharmacy has a website, CVS Caremark - All Kids Can, that deals with exactly this issue...kids with disabilities. They are committed to making life easier for children with disabilities. They are striving to do what they can to help out, and to educate:

"We recognize the importance of providing children with disabilities the opportunity to participate in everyday activities. CVS All Kids Can will support activities that promote the value and importance of inclusion. Through greater awareness of the needs of children with disabilities and support for programs that bring children of all abilities together, CVS All Kids Can will touch the lives of many children."

I hope that you will go check out the website, and I hope that you will put some thought and action into doing what you can to reach out to those with disabilities, and to teaching your children or grandchildren (if you have them) how to love, and show kindness and compassion to other children (and adults) with disabilities. I know that this will go a long way to ease the heartache that these people and their families deal with on a daily basis. I know that it will help to ease my heartache, and that of my boys.

God bless,
Mama Bear

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Family Favorite Recipe -- Green Jello Salad

Green Jello Salad
Ingredients
1 pkg. lime Jell-o
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup Cool Whip
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans
1 (8oz.) pkg. cream cheese
Directions
Mix the first three ingredients with 1 cup hot water until marshmallows dissolve; let jell.
Then whip with mixer and add pinepple, Cool Whip and cream cheese. Whip until well mixed. Fold in toasted pecans.
Enjoy!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Make Something Monday -- Italian Rice Supper "Mold"


This dish isn't really a "molded" dish, but that's what it's called. I imagine that back somewhere in time...like in the 60's or 70's when "molded" foods were in, this dish was probably created. It is one of the dishes my mom made for us when we were growing up, and, while I hated peas back then, I love this yummy dish now!
INGREDIENTS:
1 chicken bouillon
1 Tbsp. butter
3 c. water
1-1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1-1/2 c. rice
***********************
1 small onion, diced
1 pound Italian sausage
1 c. milk
1/2 pound mushrooms
10 ounces frozen peas
14 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
3 zucchini, sliced


Directions:

Set oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the rice with the first 6 ingredients.

Cut up the sausage into bite sized pieces. Add to a skillet with 1/4 cup water, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the cover, then brown the sausage. Drain on paper towels.

Slice the mushrooms and zucchini. Add the mushrooms, zucchini, and chopped onion to the skillet with the sausage drippings; cook until tender.

Stir vegetable mix, peas, sausage, cheese and milk into the rice in a large bowl. Place into a greased 9x13 pan, cover with foil, and cook for 30 minutes. Let stand for about 5-8 minutes before serving.

Serves approximately 4-6 people.

Win a Set of Spreadheads

You can enter to win a set of absolutely gross and disgusting Spread Heads over at the Mom Buzz. What a perfect gift for the little boy (or big boy) in YOUR life! Or you can buy them for yourself over at Spread Heads!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Let Me Tell You About My Mom

I want to tell you a story. It's a lengthy story, but I hope you will bear with me. The reason I am writing this story is because CVS Pharmacy has asked people to write about a caregiver in their lives for the "For All the Ways You Care" contest. I would LOVE to win this contest, because my mom is still a caring and compassionate person. She is a foster mom, and currently has 10 kids who she cares for on a regular basis, including my 9 year old sister, whom she and my dad adopted a couple of years ago. She also gets up to 3 more kids on the weekends, and needed to purchase a 15 passenger van. I would LOVE to be able to help her pay that van off, because of all the love and care she has given to me, my son, my husband, and now our new little guy, down through the years.

My story begins long before the "meat" of this story. I grew up in a home with lots of siblings (5 to be exact), and lots of rules. You kind of have to have a lot of rules with that many kids. As a teen, and even as a younger child, I thought my mom was pretty strict. There were so many phrases that started with "you may not do...", and "If you do this, you'll...". I hated the rules. We were a Christian family, and so we had to follow the rules.I thought for sure that no one else's parents were this strict. Of course, later in life I realized why my parents instilled these rules in our home.

So, let's skip forward to 1992: I was 22 years old and living high on the hog, doing whatever I pleased, without a thought to my parents' rules. I was single, attractive, making fairly good money, living in my own apartment, and going out at least 3 nights a week. I was not living the good and Godly life that should have reflected my 8 year old decision to accept Jesus in to my heart. I knew the difference between right and wrong, but at that point in my life, it was so much more fun to NOT follow the rules. I rebelled against those rules since I was in the 2nd grade! If you ask my mom, she would probably tell you that she never would've dreamed that her sweet little baby girl would grow up to be such a defiant and rebellious person.

Then it happened. I ended up getting pregnant because of not following the rules. I eventually lost my job and had to move home with my mom. She pretty much did not speak to me my entire pregnancy because she was so ashamed of what I had done. It was awful! I was ashamed of what I had done too, but it sure didn't help to have my mom not speak to me. It was an uncertain time for me, and I needed someone to lean on, and talk to. I had just walked away from my former lifestyle, friends included. I basically went into hiding. No one knew where I was or what had happened, and no one called either.

I ended up having my baby, a sweet baby boy. He looked so beautiful and healthy. But he was not. The day after he was born, the doctors were doing the discharge physical and realized that he had a heart murmur, so they decided that he needed to have some tests done to see if it was anything serious. It was. They weren't able to get the full story yet, but they did find out that not all of his heart had formed. They wanted us to come back in three months so that they could do a cardiac catheterization...they wanted a better look at what was going on with his heart.

So three months later, my sweet little guy was admitted to the hospital for the first of many surgeries. The results of the cardiac cath? The doctors found that most of the right side of his heart had not formed, and that there was a hole in the middle of all four chambers. He had a lot of "blue blood" in his body because of leakage. His heart was working overtime because only one of his pumps worked.

I was devastated. My family was devastated. We prayed and cried together, and very quickly, my mom and I got very close. We had never been close, but this "tragedy" forced a bond between us that we would've never expected. We knew that God was in charge, and that He would give us the strength we needed to get through all of this. It wasn't easy.

At age 8 months, my baby boy had his first heart surgery (the first half of a Glen shunt operation), after it was postponed because of bronchiolitis (and another hospitalization). He was in surgery for nearly 8 hours, but came through it wonderfully. They took one of the main veins that takes de-oxygenated blood to your heart to get to the lungs to get oxygen, and attached it right to the main pulmonary artery, bypassing the right side of the heart altogether. My mom was by my side the entire time. In the waiting room. In the hospital room. She even stayed overnight with me, on an uncomfortable makeshift chair/bed in a room down the hall.

We noticed an immediate improvement in his coloring and his activity. He was monitored by a wonderful pediatric cardiologist, who had been his cardiologist since birth. The next year and a half, he did so well. He did so well, that I decided it was time to go back to work. My mom offered to keep him while I was at work, so that I didn't have to pay for childcare. That in itself was a HUGE blessing. I still had 3 younger siblings at home, so he was well cared for.

Then, when he was 2-1/2 years old, it was time to finish the second half of the Glen shunt operation. By this time, he was a little firecracker. He was talking really well--in full sentences; and he had wrapped all of my family around his little finger. Our worlds revolved around him. He was a smart, charming, and sweet little boy...not to mention, very handsome!

So, off we went to the hospital for his second heart surgery. Things went well, and we went home after a week's stay. Then, something happened. I was at work, and my sister was getting him ready for a nap. He started shaking, and he went very limp. Through loads of panic and heartache, and quite a few medical tests later, we found out that he had had a major stroke: one that paralyzed his entire right side. He was walking within three days, but he would always have impaired mobility on the entire right side. At this time, the doctors were able to determine that this stroke was actually his FOURTH stroke! He had had three minor strokes earlier in the year, that were completely undetectable.

We were out of the hospital within a week. Again, my mom was with me the entire time. Until she had to get ready for her annual trip to the Navajo reservation to do VBS (Vacation Bible School) for a week. She didn't want to go. She was worried about her daughter and her grandson, and kept asking if I wanted her to stay. I knew this trip was her heart, and I encouraged her to go. So she went. To a place where there were no telephone lines. It was a 45 minute drive to the nearest phone. She took a team of kids, who all slept in sleeping bags on hard concrete floors the entire week. They also had no showers, and water was scarce, so they really had to conserve.

Halfway into my mom's trip, my little guy had another MAJOR stroke. This time, it took his hearing and his speech. I freaked out. My mom wasn't there, but my dad was, so he took us to the Emergency Room. He stayed with us as long as he could...until midnight. Then he was so tired, and had to work the next day, so I sent him home. I cried and cried that night, because I needed my mom so badly. A wonderful and motherly nurse came into the room, and put her arms around me. She prayed with me, and spoke comforting words, and even cried with me. But she wasn't my mom. I desperately needed my mom. We tried to call her. Several times. We had to call to this trading post that had the nearest phone. When we finally got through to someone, they said they would get the message to her.

The message never got to my mom. She came home on the date they said they would return, only to find out that her grandson was back in the hospital. She was horrified, because no one had been able to get ahold of her. She showered, changed her clothes, and rushed in to the hospital. She stayed there with me and my little guy until we were discharged. We took turns staying in the room with my son. She had not slept in a comfortable bed for a whole week, and here she was, taking this on again, without anywhere comfortable to sleep, and with the PA system going off every few minutes, paging someone in the hospital.

Eventually my son got out of the hospital, having regained his hearing (only by a true miracle from God--even admitted by the doctors!). We settled into our routines again, but with things being slightly different. We had to teach this toddler how to talk again. My mom started learning a little sign language so that she could teach him something that would help him remember. We went through some seizure episodes during the last hospital stay, and so we were also dealing with the side effects of the seizure meds, which meant my son was usually up until midnight or later. Much of that time, my mom helped by staying up with him, because I had to work.

Down through the next few years, my mom was always there. She helped with the re-potty training, and the re-learning to talk. She faithfully administered medications, and took my son to doctor's appointments when I wasn't able to get off of work. She helped with the therapy he needed to get better. And when he was 4 years old, she started teaching him his colors, letters, numbers, and more. She began homeschooling him, and homeschooled him up until the time that I got married, when my son was 10 years old.

There is no way I could've gotten through the first 10 years of my son's life without a faithful and strength-giving God, and without my son's caregiver: my mom. She was and is a huge blessing to me, and because of what looked like a tragedy, something really good came out of it: My mom and I became best friends. I am SO thankful that my mom was there for me, even after at least 15 difficult and rebellious years from me. I know that God can take something that is tragic, and bring good out of it. The good is my mom. She has always been this good, but it took me going through a devastating time with my own child, for me to realize what a wonderful mom (and Grandma) she is!

Thanks for sticking with me long enough to get this far in this post. I hope this will encourage you to think of someone who has been a caregiver in your life, and that you will take the time to let them know how much you are grateful for what they gave/give you.

Have a great weekend!
Mama Bear

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Freezer Full of Meat

I have the very best family. Papa Bear's Mom and Dad came over on Sunday, in the pouring rain, to bring us a large cooler plus a small cooler FULL of meat!!! I mean FULL!!! We got ground beef, ribeye steaks, ribs, pork chops and more! I couldn't believe it! My mother-in-law had called me earlier in the previous week to let me know about a sale on ground beef: $1.67 a pound at Raley's. WOW! I said "We will definitely have to go and get some, because we are pretty close to having an empty freezer, so we can stock up." I didn't make the statement for any reason other than mentioning that we had plenty of room to stock up.

But Papa Bear's parents felt bad for us, because, see, Papa Bear's company normally gets a bonus this time of year, which amounts to about $3000 for Papa Bear. Because of the downtrodden economy, the company announced they wouldn't be getting the bonus this year. OUCH! We had plans for that money. Well, my in-laws, like I said, felt bad that we wouldn't be getting it, so they, in their usual generosity, filled our upright freezer!!!

I am so thankful that God has given me such an amazing and generous family...my parents and Papa Bear's parents. They are SUCH a blessing to us. I just had to share.

Have a blessed day!

Mama Bear

Stretching Myself Out of the Costco.com Comfort Zone

Have you heard of Winkflash? I just found out about it recently because I design photo greeting cards, and am always on the lookout for inexpensive printing options. One of my customers told me about Winkflash, so I decided to check it out for myself. And guess what? They have REALLY reasonable printing charges!! 4x6 prints are $0.08, 5x7 prints are $0.25, etc. Their shipping is reasonable as well.

Yesterday, I ordered 10 5x7 prints, because I am building a portfolio of my work. I am used to using my local Costco for all of my photo printing needs, so I am anxious to see how Winkflash stacks up. The shipping on my 10 prints? Only $0.89! So it was still cheaper to order 10 prints through Winkflash, rather than through Costco. My Costco charges $0.40 per 5x7.

I will come back here and let you all know how my order turns out.

In the meantime, Winkflash has this great deal: 50 FREE Prints!!! Give us a try and get 50 4x6 prints free, just use coupon code WF95WF27 when you place your order. Click HERE for more details.

Winkflash has free image hosting and unlimited storage space for your photos. They have all sorts of photo gift items that you can order, and they even have photo contests. I hope that you will check them out, and let me know what you think. Also, if you have used Winkflash, I'd love to hear from you!

Have a great day!
Mama Bear

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Bittersweet Farewell

Yesterday was our last day at our church, where we had been worshipping and serving for over four years. It was a bittersweet farewell. Why? Well, we have grown a little attached to some of our friends there. We know that we will continue to see them still, so we are happy with that. It was hard to say goodbye though. While we've had our ups and downs there, we know that God brought us there for a reason, and we believe that His hand and His will are in us leaving. We left with the prayers and the blessing of our pastor and the elders.

What does this mean for us? Are we quitting church altogether? Are we moving?

No, we are not quitting. We love the Lord, and we will not forsake the assembling of ourselves with other believers. No, we are not moving (although we ARE praying to find a larger home to rent!). We are simply changing churches. We feel that Papa Bear has possibly been called to be a pastor, church planter or assistant pastor. He loves the Lord so much, and He loves to preach the Gospel. He's really good at it too! We feel, that with the move to our new church, there will be a greater accountability, training, development and possibly a window of opportunity for him to follow his calling. Our new church strongly believes in church planting, and training pastors, church planters and assistants from within. We have spent almost a year praying about the move, and more time than that praying about Papa Bear's calling. We wanted to make sure that this was the Lord's will, and not just our own. We really feel that it is God's will, and so we are very excited about the move. We believe that regardless of his passion that if that is really what the Lord wants for us, then by loving, submitting and serving our new church, God will put us whereever He wants us to be, whether it is by picking up trash, cleaning bathrooms, teaching a Bible class or anything in between.

I'm not quite sure I'm the best choice to possibly be a pastor's wife, but I know that the Lord brought Papa Bear and I together for a reason, and I know that his calling is true, so I know that God will and has equipped me with everything that I need to fulfill my calling. He will give me the strength, the grace, the meekness, etc., that I will need. Thank you God, for showing us so clearly, what you want for us, even if it means moving way out of our comfort zone. We trust you with our lives.

Mama Bear

Sisterhood


It's such a blessing when you have a girlfriend with whom you are so close, you can call her "sister". I have a friend like that. She is such a blessing to me! We are exactly two weeks apart in age, and we get along so well.
I was surprised to find out that Kim over at Caldwell Cuties nomintated me for the "Sisterhood Award". What a blessing! Thank you Kim!
The rules of the Sisterhood Award are...:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award
Unfortunately, I don't get a whole lot of time to read a lot of blogs, even though there are a LOT that I love to visit! I'll try to choose different ones than the ones I chose earlier in this blog. But I still can't come up with 10, because I'm not able to read that many, and I have a horrible memory! Here they are:
4. Octamom (not to be confused with "octomom" the gal who had 8 kids all at the same time!)
Have a great week!
Mama Bear

Thursday, February 19, 2009

We're Adopting!

Some of you may already know, but WE'RE ADOPTING!!!!! Baby Bear will be officially ours on March 12, 2009. He came to us in May of 2008 through our county's foster care system, after 2 years of praying and waiting. We are SOOOO excited!!!! We set the date with the caseworker today. Yes, we will take pictures...yes we will share them on the blog. We would appreciate your prayers as we still need to "raise" the money for the $500 adoption fee. We are praying that God will provide it through my business: www.RioOsoDesigns.com.

Thanks!
Mama Bear

A Rite of Passage for Brother Bear -- His First Shave