Category Archives: charity

Wildcard Wednesday: Third Love bras

Third Love braA few weeks ago I admitted that I am an avid online shopper. In this day and age, I think most people are. However, a more guilty secret is that I am actually one of those people who sees advertisements on Facebook and buys products from them. I actually found my favorite clothing company, eshakti, this way.

Thanks to Facebook, I also discovered Third Love, a company that sells bras and panties.

I have always been a sucker for a good bra. I have a group of friends who tease each other about the amount of money we are willing to spend on certain products. One of my friends will spend outrageous sums on the “perfect” jeans. I have watched as she’s dropped $120 on a pair of jeans that she swears are the best jeans ever. I’ve actually seen her buy multiple pairs of these jeans in case something happens to the first pair. To me, this is nuts. I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than $35 on jeans. I love jeans, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not overly picky about them.

One of my other friends spends gobs of money on shoes. It’s not just that she has a lot of shoes (although she does), but that it’s no problem for her to drop over $100 on a pair of boots she likes or sandals she thinks will go perfect with an outfit she has. It pains me to pay $50 for a pair of really nice dress boots. I’ve only done it once and I’d really like to never do it again.

Another friend has a real thing for purses. Fancy ones. I just don’t get it. I like my messenger type bags and while I do have a small collection of them, none of them have cost me more than a Jackson.

Before I reveal my weakness, I’d like to point out that this is not just some silly “girly” thing. My husband, who does not really give two figs for what he wears, has spent upwards of $400 on ONE card for the collectible card game he plays. He seriously puts all of my spending on clothes, chocolate, school supplies and small trinkets to SHAME. That man can spend.

Anyway, I have two items I am willing to spend exorbitant amounts on. The first is chocolate, which should surprise no one as every Monday I do a chocolate blog. The second is bras and underwear.

I am always on a quest to find the perfect bra. For most of my adult life this means shopping at Victoria’s Secret. I know a lot of people have issues with them because their bra selection gets very limited past a certain size, but I was not blessed/cursed with very large breasts, so I’ve never had trouble finding a bra that fit there. In fact, my two absolute favorite bras of all time have come from there.

Well, until now. For several months I saw the Third Love bra ad. The ad claims that their bras are so comfortable you will forget you are even wearing them. Plus, as an added incentive to buy from their company, they offer potential customers a chance to try before they buy.

For the cost of shipping ($2.99), they will send you their signature t-shirt bra. You can wear it for 30 days. You can wash it as often as you’d like. If you are not 100% satisfied with the bra, you can send it back. According to the flyer that comes with the bra, they donate all returned bras to women’s organizations across the country. If you don’t return it after 30 days, your credit card is charged $68 and the bra is yours forever.

Now, I’m willing to pay quite a bit for a comfy bra, but even for me, $68 is a bit steep. I think the most I’ve ever paid is $52. However, my favorite bra has really been showing its age (ie was so lovingly worn as it was nearly falling apart). The last bra I’d purchased from Victoria’s Secret is that comfy, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and try it.

It is a damn comfy bra. This is the first bra I’ve had in YEARS that has not had issues with gaping between my breasts and the cups. This bra has absolutely no gaps. The website claims that the straps don’t slip, which is another major issue I’ve always had with bras, no matter how much I adjust the straps. While I can’t say that in the nearly 30 days I’ve had this bra a strap has never slipped at all, I can only think of twice that it has happened, as opposed to the twice every few minutes with a few of my other bras.

The only downside to this bra is that it’s not a push up bra, which is what I usually wear. However, I knew it wasn’t going to be one before I ordered. The try before you buy deal is for the classic t-shirt bra. Third Love does have several push up bras and I have looked at them all.

It’s been nearly 30 days and I have no intentions of returning my new bra. In fact, I have every intention of trying one of their push up bras. I should probably just go ahead and order it now.

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Chocolate Monday: Brown County Humane Society Chocolate Chocolate fundraiser

Ok, so this might be cheating just a little bit, but I went to a chocolate festival today and thought there was no way I could let it pass without some pictures and comments. Originally when my BFF brought up the idea of going, I thought it was going to be a bit like a typical “taste” event.

If you don’t know what I mean, there are tons of towns that do these sort of events. They get local business to line up by the truckload and offer a small sampling of their wares. The ones I have been to sell tickets and then different food vendors charge different numbers of tickets for their wares. For example, two meatballs from an Italian place might cost 1 ticket (or $1). I thought this event was going to be along the same lines: local chocolate places offering up bite-sized versions of their wares. Since there was a “gate” price of $10 and a promise of 80 different kinds of chocolate to choose from, I thought maybe we’d get so many tickets to spend however we wanted.

This was not what we were greeted with when the doors finally opened though. We were instead pointed to a pile of plates and napkins all stacked in cute spiral patterns next to several banquet length tables full of circular trays loaded with chocolate treats. Each treat had a label explaining the particular bite filling it’s circumference. To my surprise, there were no bakery or chocolate shop names anywhere on the cards.

As we made our way around the table, we started plucking yummy sounding flavor combinations off of the trays and piling them on our plates. I made grabs for several types of brownies (including German chocolate, mint, turtle and double fudge) as well as some fun sounding truffles (turtle cheesecake, chocolate peanut butter and something or other raspberry). I also snagged a cake sample, some toffee, and some sort of raspberry cookie looking thing. My plate was getting pretty full and I felt a momentary stab of guilt. I mean, the event had just started and there were three more hours to go, and here I was hogging everything I could. Then I looked at my BFF’s plate and it was stacked just as high. So was everyone else’s. I felt a tad better.

We decided to stake our claim to seats. We headed for the back tables where we’d be less likely to have to make small talk with strangers. Not that either of us are anti-social per say, but neither of us relish the idea of discussing someone’s grandchildren or ailments. We just wanted to snarf down some chocolate and enjoy a day out. On our way to the back, we spotted a chocolate fountain and after dropping our plates at an empty table, we headed back for second plates to get some angel food cake and strawberries to dip. We also stopped at the beverage station where we got some non-alcoholic champagne (read sparkling grape juice). My BFF was appalled to see they also had both milk and chocolate milk sitting out slowly warming to room temperature. We quickly walked away before she lost her super yummy lunch.

After my first bite of German chocolate brownie bite, I realized why there were no confectionary names on those little cards: they weren’t from local sweet shops at all. The chocolate tidbits were obviously made by volunteers, then cut into tiny pieces and placed in cute little wrappers. I was expecting to get a taste of local chocolates, and I did. I just wasn’t expecting them to come directly from the homes of those locals. 

Now, I’m not mocking some no doubt very sweet animal lovers, whose hearts are no doubt in the right places. I’m just saying I didn’t get what I expected (or wanted). Every item was obviously made with cheap chocolate and inexpensive ingredients. The mint brownie for example, which looked a bit like a Mint Meltaway from Fannie May, was a very bland brownie (no real cocoa flavor to speak of) with an overly artificial mint flavoring nestled between it and the thin layer of what tasted like Hershey’s fudge on top. The peanut butter truffle, which actually was a nice mix of chocolate and peanut butter (even though it had a decidedly stretchy, non-truffle texture), was doused in what I’m pretty sure was just Hershey’s Cocoa powder (or possibly an even lower rent knock-off version of the stuff) and the slightly tinny tasting powder took a lot of the joy away from the candy.

The fondue was not even remotely warm, so biting in to the angel food cake was very odd. The chocolate was not the creamy milk I expected, but rather a watery semi-sweet which I think might have had some oil added to thin it out even more. There was nothing wrong with the cake or the strawberry dipped in it, but once again, I expected milk chocolate and got a slightly bitter semi-sweet. And by the way, what the hell is with people using semi-sweet in chocolate fountains? I know it’s cheaper in a lot of cases, but there is a reason for that. When there is a chocolate fountain, people want warm, creamy milk chocolate to dip their goodies in. If you can’t give it to them, don’t even bother with the fountain!

I will say the ambience was great. It was very elegant looking (considering it was in a room with Kountry Krap and antlers hanging on the walls). The soft music was a nice touch. So was the “champagne”–and they did have a cash bar as well. The people at my table, who did not seem to have any sort of refined chocolate pallet, really liked the food. They had piles which put mine to shame and gobbled it without any real thought. My BFF and I were quietly analyzing each piece.

Even though the chocolate wasn’t exactly top shelf, it was still a fun event. And, it was for a good cause, so I have to be ok with the $10 I dropped to get in. I thought it was a great idea for a fundraiser and now that I know what I’m getting in to, I’d definitely do it again. It was nice, after all, to have a day out with my BFF (we not only had chocolate, but a nice lunch at a place I almost never get to go to and we got to do some shopping). It was a bit of a drive, but that just meant more time to talk. Heck, good company and a good cause helps negate the mediocre chocolate.

Overall:

Taste: 4/10

Appearance: 7/10 (most items looked quite good but didn’t deliver on taste)

Value: 7/10 (since it was all you can eat and plates were piled high, I have to give it credit for filling me up).

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Chocolate Monday: Endangered Species Chocolate

One thing I really, really love about the organic fruit and veggie delivery service I subscribe to, is that each week they offer me tons of extra non-fruit and veggie items to add to my delivery. Some of these extras have become essential to my enjoyment of food (like their Asian vinaigrette, which is super scrumptious) and some, well, not so much. The cool thing about all the add ons is that they are all organic and much of it is even local. Oh, and they have chocolate. You have to love any place that will bring chocolate to your door. At least if you are me you do.

So, a few weeks ago, I decided to add a candy bar to my order. I thought I was ordering an organic dark chocolate raspberry bar from Endangered Species Chocolate, but when I took my first bite, I realized I must have hit the wrong button on the menu, because I wasn’t tasting raspberries. It took me a moment to figure out just what the fruit involved was, because at first, all my mouth thought was, “wow, this is definitely dark chocolate.” The first bite left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth and only an ever so slight hint of fruit. I had to look at the wrapper to see that the fruit was supposed to be cherries. I thought it was more of a tiny hint of cherries.

The chocolate itself was creamy, but had just a slight greasy feel to it. It left a film of sorts on the roof of my mouth, which I honestly found a bit off-putting. I did, however, like the fact that when I took the second bite, it was far less bitter, although it did have a coffee taste, and  it had a much more powerful cherry undertone. I also noticed that the chocolate had a faint pink sheen. Each bite I took made the flavor grown on me. By the time I’d finished the first square (there were three), I actually liked the flavor. Not my favorite candy bar ever, but I could definitely eat it slowly and savor the flavor.

When I bought the cherry one, I’d actually snagged a peanut butter one for my husband as well. I figured I’d get a taste or two for reviewing and then hand the rest over to him. I expected to bite into a chocolate bar with an inside pocket of peanut butter, much like you’d find in a PB Twix or a Reese’s Cup. I figured there’d be far more chocolate in this bar than on either of those, but I definitely thought I’d be getting peanut butter surrounded by chocolate. What I got once again threw me for a loop. The chocolate was infused with peanut butter flavor. The chocolate was really creamy, which totally reminded me of the texture of actual peanut butter. Oddly though, it wasn’t heavily peanut butter flavored. Once again, it was more of a hint, and that hint was a bit more straight peanut than peanut butter. Unlike the bitter aftertaste of the previous bar, this one had a kind of nice peanut butter aftertaste, which kind of made me crave some milk to wash it down with. Although I liked it fine, I was glad to pass it on to my husband. I think if I really get a craving for peanut butter and chocolate, I’ll stick to a Reese’s.

Since my first two experiences were ok and I was sort of craving raspberries, I figured I had to give Endangered Species one more shot and try the raspberry bar. This bar was even darker than it’s cherry cousin. I had to really let it melt in my mouth to get the raspberry flavor. It was subtle at first, but then a tartness hit me that made my mouth pucker a little at the end. There were actual raspberry seeds imbedded in the chocolate which accounted for the tartness, which, I should add, got stronger the longer I let it melt in my mouth. And to get the full flavor I did have to let it melt in my mouth. When I tried just biting in to it, the flavor was mild at best. This seemed to be a savoring chocolate.  I really liked the pockets of raspberry seeds, but the actual chocolate was just too dark for me. I found myself nibbling it very carefully to find the raspberry seeds, but ignoring the rest of the candy bar.

I’ll admit I wasn’t thrilled with my Endangered Species experience. The chocolate bars were good, but there are lots of other chocolate companies out there with better chocolate (however, anyone who loves dark chocolate may really find some kindred taste but spirits here as they have a very dark line). One thing I really do like is the environmental message of each bar. Each bar is dedicated to an animal, and inside the bars there are facts and information about those animals. It was definitely the first chocolate that sought to educate me, and that really appealed to the teacher in me. I’m not sure I’m looking for intellectual chocolate though. I fear my mouth and my brain may be at war if I buy too many more of these bars.

Overall:

Taste: 6/10

Appearance: 7/10 (wrappers are pretty cool, although chocolate itself isn’t really special)

Value: 6.5/10

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Chocolate Monday: Jennifer’s Kitchen

 Today at lunch, one of my friends brought in a coffee cake to share. Now, I know, your first thought is, wait a minute, this is chocolate Monday, why are you bringing up coffee cake? Well, it just so happens that this wasn’t just any coffee cake. It was a banana chocolate chip coffee cake with peanut butter streussal topping. So see, it does qualify.

I don’t usually go for coffee cakes. Not that I have anything against them, I just never really think of them. I enjoy a good cake of any sorts, although I usually prefer mine full of devil’s food and extra creamy chocolate frosting. But as it was free cake and this is my 29 and a half week of pregnancy, so I was all about it.

 Of course, that was before I looked at the flavor. Usually anything with chocolate in it makes my heart go pitter pat, but I have some banana hang ups. I love the actual fruit. In fact, I’ve had one every morning this week for breakfast. But banana flavored foods often leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. I won’t buy banana ice cream or shakes. I won’t eat banana candy (especially Runts). I don’t like that artificial banana flavor. Heck, I often don’t even like the real taste when it’s added to other recipes. I do, however, love banana bread, so I figured what the heck…gotta eat the free cake!

 This cake is from a company called Jennifer’s Kitchen, located in a Southern Indiana town called Evansville. I’d never heard of them before, but my friend got one as part of a birthday present. Apparently Jennifer Korb, the owner uses old family recipes to make her six varieties of coffee cakes. After I tasted the cake, I checked out her website and I’ll be honest, the one I got to taste is not the one I would have chosen for myself. The others, although sans chocolate, sound more up my alley. In addition to being a small town baker, Korb also donates a portion of every one of her sales RHINO (Rebuilding Hope in New Orleans). Kind of cool to see she’s got cake and compassion.

 But wow, by now you are probably wondering if I’m ever going to actually talk about the cake. Fear not dear readers, of course I am! The cake itself was quite moist. I’m always warry when I get packaged food in the mail, especially baked goods. I’ve had many turn out to be dry and flakey rather than moist and tasty. It’s hard to describe the taste of the cake. One of my co-workers said the banana and chocolate seemed to be having a bit of an argument in her mouth as to which flavor would win.

 Thankfully it wasn’t the banana. I only really tasted the banana strongly for the first bite or two. After that, the chocolate mellowed the taste. I was worried the peanut butter topping might also be a bit overwhelming, but the flavor was more subtle than expected. It tasted like a typical crumb topping with just a hint of peanut butter. And let’s face it, peanut butter and chocoalte, even with a bit of banana, is just a great combination. The chocolate chips were present, but not giant chunks. They also didn’t make it too rich to eat without a cup of milk. It did make it hard to buy as a breakfast food. I’m not sure even I could eat when first waking up. It definitely seemed like more of a dessert.

 Since I got to try it free, it wasn’t until I went on the website that I found the pricing. Each cake, which seemed to serve 8, is priced at $25.99. That’s about $3.25 a slice. That’s not counting the shipping, which I’m guess will put it closer to $4 per slice. Now, I liked the cake, but not quite enough to pay $4 for a slice of cake. It’s pretty tasty, but too steep for the banana chocolate peanut butter. I might be willing to spring for it for one of the other varieties, particularly the vanilla cream with coconut brown sugar topping.

 Overall:

 Taste: 7.5/10

Appearance: 8/10

 Value: 6/10

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Savor the Summer Garden: A vegetarian delight

For anyone who happens to live in the Indianapolis area, wants a tasty lunch and likes the idea of trying something new (and supporting local chefs and veggie suppliers), might I suggest attending Savor the Summer Garden. Here is a link that gives you all the info you need (where to get tickets, where it is, etc).

Below I’ve included the tentative menu. I’ve been to a few of these in the past and they’ve been pretty good. I’m not a vegetarian, but I like, no, scratch that, LOVE food, so I’m always up for an adventure. My sources tell me that this year is shaping up to be the best one (read tastiest) so far, so if you aren’t busy and want some good food, this is the place for you!

Main Dishes
Oven roasted cauliflower
The slow roasting of this vegetable brings out the unique nuttiness and earthy flavors that often go unnoticed when steaming or boiling the product.  The cauliflower is rinsed and dried clean cut into quarters and rubbed with EVOO, S&P, smoked paprika, onion powder, pinch of cayenne pepper, ginger powder, cinnamon, whole garlic cloves, golden raisins, red currents, and dried dates.
Vegetables in curry sauce
Eggplant, potatoes, red, yellow, and green bell peppers, yellow and green summer squash , yellow or white onions, green beans, purple Thai basil, light coconut milk, lemon grass with a spicy red curry and a savory mild green curry.
Ratatouille
Large Black eggplants, green and red bell peppers, portabella mushrooms, yellow onions, tomatoes, green and yellow zucchini squash, garlic cloves, fresh flat leaf parsley, and fresh sweet basil served on on a bed of whole wheat rigatoni pasta.
Quinoa with dessert fruit and legumes
Red quinoa cooked in vegetable stock and tossed with assorted dried fruits – apricots, cherries, golden raisins, dates, figs. Minced garlic, lemon and orange zest, ginger root, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, chick peas, kidney beans, fresh basil leaf, diced carrots, celery, onions, and blanched broccoli. Garnish with cilantro leaf and lime wedges
French Green Lentils with summer mushroom salad
Green Lentils cooked in vegetable stock and shocked to keep a bit firm. Sautee minced celery, and garlic lightly in olive oil with assorted summer greens – sorrel, frisae, arugula, spinach, lemon juice S&P. For the mushroom sauté assorted – crimini, portabella, shitake, oyster, and button mushrooms. Mushrooms are sautéed lightly in assorted minced fresh herbs –tarragon, flat leaf parsley, and basil
“Mini Burgers”
Smashed chick peas and medium soft tofu seasoned with S&P, garlic, minced onion, and A1 steak sauce, served on mini buns with crispy fried onions, and spicy whole grain mustard.
 
Assorted cold salads
Fennel and orange salad

Fennel bulb thinly sliced with orange segments, diced red onion, dill and mint, EVOO, S&P. Served on a bed of mixed greens. Marinate the fennel and oranges over night and emulsify the juices with EVOO and use as dressing.

Greek potato salad
Oven roasted fingerling potatoes, EVOO, balsamic vinegar, minced fresh basil and oregano, the pulp of roasted garlic, minced sundried tomatoes, grape tomato, cucumbers, celery, olives, banana peppers, and S&P.
Roasted root vegetable salad with almond pesto
Vegetables are oven roasted & partially steam to prevent drying – baby carrots, turnips, kohlrabi, yellow beets, celery root, baby radishes area allowed to cool. For the pesto puree almonds, garlic, walnut oil, lemon juice, S&P, and caramelized sweet onions.
 
Dips and spreads
Watermelon salsa

Cubed yellow and red melons, cilantro, red onion, lime juice, and jalapeño, serve with freshly made corn chips.
roasted red bell pepper humus
Sun Dried tomato Tapenade
 
Soups
Cold melon, cucumber, and mint soup with grilled pineapple relish

Miso soup with cubed firm tofu, chives, and mushrooms
Brown miso, firm tofu, chives and thin sliced button mushrooms.
Gazpacho soup
 V8 spicy flavor as base, cucumber, red onion, carrots, celery, red and yellow bell peppers, parsley, chives, garlic, red wine vinegar, EVOO, lemon juice, S&P, spicy pepper sauce, chives, and tomatoes.

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I’m getting too old for this sh*t

I am not now, nor have I ever been what you might call athletic. Despite being pretty tall, much to my father’s dismay, I was not born with anything resembling coordination. During my freshmen year of college, I stepped off a curb on my way to work (at the dinning hall across the street) and managed to pull all of the ligaments in my ankle. I crutched it around campus for the next several weeks. It was misery.

My lack of athletic prowess is not only well known among my friends and family members, but also among the students and faculty at my school. So when our student council sponsor sent around an email asking for volunteers to play in the charity basketball game against students, I thought I’d be cute. I offered to be the best bench warmer she could ever ask for. In spite of the fact she KNOWS I am a klutz in any sporting arena, she not only put me on the team, but put my name first on the list.

Being the fairly good sport I am (unless it’s a board game), I decided I’d do my part. That included going to school today in sweatpants, an official charity b-ball shirt, tennis shoes, Nike swoosh socks and best of all, my hair in two very short pigtails. Once I got to school, my room was freezing as usual, so I added my hooded sweatshirt to the outfit. My first period class was VERY amused. One of my students passed me later on in the hallway, looked at me, started laughing and said, “no way.” She repeated herself several times, each time the laughter got a little louder.

I was not offended though. This is exactly what I expected.

When game time came, I felt fairly confident. The teachers’ team had far more players than bench space. I thought my spot as benchwarmer was solidified. Especially since most of the other teachers seemed to actually want to play. One of my dear friends (who actually still holds records in her town for her mad basketball skills), made me do some sort of shooting drill as a warm-up while the kids were filling up the gym. I think I missed the point because I just kept grabbing the ball and shooting it (I made half my shots, but I was really close and no one was trying to get in my way). I guess I was supposed to be running up, getting a ball and throwing it to someone else. It was all very confusing.

The first quarter looked good. We were up by 4 or 6 points and the guys were sweating, but handling it. I was safe. All the really good players were showing off and having fun. I clapped a bunch and even did the wave whenever we got a basket.

The second quarter was also great. I sat, drank some water, and clapped a whole bunch.

Third quarter was when things went seriously wrong. In an act of utter betrayal, my teammates decided I needed to go in. I immediately reminded them I wasn’t very good. To which one of the guys said, “no problem, we’ll play zone, ok?” I nodded at him, no doubt with a blank look on my face. “You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?” I shook my head vigorously. He pointed to a spot on the floor and told me to stand there. That I could do.

As it turned out, I did not, in fact, get to stand there. I had to run….a lot. I only got to stand in that spot when we had the ball. And even then I had to run around that spot more than just stand in it. Unfortunately it seemed every few seconds the other team got the ball and I found myself hauling ass down to the other side of the court. I ran up and down. And up and down. And then up and down some more.

We had a time out called and I was offered a chance for a sub. But my pride was up a bit and I was still feeling pretty good. I think I had one of those adrenaline rushes I’ve heard so much about. So, like a fool, I stayed in. I played (and ran) as hard as I could. Not that it did me much good. I never even got to shoot for a basket. But, I was a warm body running around the court.

When the buzzer rang, I fell into my seat and downed my remaining water. We were down by about 6 points, so the big guns went back in. We ended up winning with only five seconds left in the game, thanks in part to a free throw by one of the former basketball coaches and an excellent layup by another coach (of a different sport, I think).

I managed not to fall down or get a ball in my face (not everyone was so lucky), so I call the game a success. However, as I sit writing this, my back is aching in places I didn’t even know existed and although it’s barely after 8, I’m exhuasted. I think next year when they ask for volunteers I will keep my fool mouth shut and my butt on a bench cheering where it belongs!

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New additions to the family

I got to meet my new cousins yesterday. It was really pretty exciting. I’ve seen pictures and had about a hundred conversations about them, even heard them talking in the background, but yesterday, I got to actually play with them and even hold one of them. For once my son didn’t freak out at the sight of me holding another baby. He seemed pretty cool with it. Probably because he also had someone to play with.

My aunt, who is 40 something, seemed thrilled to be able to sit down on the couch and not run after her kids for a few minutes. In all fairness, getting two at once is a little hard. Especially when they are already 15 months and 3 years old.

My aunt and uncle are fostering to adopt. It’s been a bit of a whirlwhind for them. They found out about the brother and sister about mid-February. They’ve been on the foster care list for several months now, but I think my aunt had sort of put it at the back of her mind. Within a few days, they were planning their first visit to meet the kids. There were several short visits, then an overnight, then a weekend visit. Within a month, they were bringing their new kids home.

It’s been a big adjustment. My aunt is currently off work to spend time with the kids. Luckily her job is pretty flexible and they are letting her have up to three months off. I think she’s only going to take about a month, but I know she’ll need every second of it. The kids have only been at her house for two weeks now, but I’m happy to report that it already looks like a kiddy tornado has hit it. Toys are everywhere! It’s comforting to know it’s not just me.

The kids are very sweet. The little girl (15 months) is a darling! She has the prettiest red hair and these gorgeous pale blue eyes. She even kind of looks like my uncle, which is odd. The boy (3 years) has blond hair and the same pale blue eyes. It’s amazing to me how sweet they both are, especially considering what they’ve already been through in their short lives. They’ve been in the system for over a year now–since the baby was 6 weeks old. Luckily they spent most of that time with the same lady. She obviously loved them and took pretty good care of them (although all of their clothes are like two sizes too small). But before they came to her, they were seriously neglected.

Now, I don’t understand why in the world anyone would go the trouble (and yes, it is a fair bit of trouble, getting fat, nausea, swollen bits, random pains, constantly sleepy, irritable, hormones raging…and that’s not even the birth or recovery part) only to abuse or neglect their child. It’s so easy to either not get pregnant or at least not have a baby, that people who abuse their children are complete mysteries to me. I believe there is a special place in hell for child abusers.

These sweet little kids were left for hours on end in their cribs and swings while their parents got high and did God knows what. Thankfully a doctor was paying good attention and noticed that the baby had only gained 4 ounces in 6 weeks (on average, babies are supposed to gain between 6 ounces and a pound a week for the first few weeks–they triple their birth weight by one). He sicked DCFS on the family and the kids were promptly taken away.

Thankfully they were not given back for any period of time. In fact, the parents haven’t had any contact with them in about a year now and their hearing to terminate parental rights is coming up this month. The damage doesn’t seem to be too severe. The little boy is a bit behind developmentally (he walks fine, but still is awkward with some of his climbing–he doesn’t know any of his letters, stuff like that) and has some problems with loud noises (and overstimulation in general). The baby girl, who is DARLING, can’t walk yet, but I’m not sure if that’s a developmental issue or an emotional one (wanting people to hold her and cuddle her). Either way, my aunt and uncle have their work cut out for them.

Still, just watching the three kids play yesterday, I couldn’t help but think about just how resiliant kids really are. Even with all they’ve been through, they were laughing and playing and having a great time. They seemed every bit as silly (and willful) as my own son, who is a bit spoiled and showered with love and attention. They are really lucky little kids. My family may have its flaws and quirks (a LOT of them), but we always come together and really love each other. Even though they’ve had a rough start, they are going to find out very quickly what it’s like to be really loved.

Plus, now I get to buy adorable clothes and toys for a little girl. Score!

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